|Fabulous reflective vest and head lamp. |
I couldn't resist the chance for a fabulous photo!
In between my first and second races, we stopped for the night. The van was parked, but no sleeping was done. It was too loud and too much was going on. I was able to chat with a friend on the phone for awhile, which was very nice considering I couldn’t sleep anyway! It was at this stop that I had another spiritual experience. We only had two men on our team, and as I said before that my team was comprised of all members of my church. Most of us didn’t know each other, but that didn’t matter. Two of the women on my team were feeling really bad and the guys we had were awesome, and really helped them. We were able to have a special prayer for them and it really made a difference for them, and they were able to run their races and feel strong. I am moved and touched when I see men who honor their responsibilities and can be prepared at any time and in any place to be of assistance. Much thanks to them and our whole team. It was a moving and motivating experience for me. My second run was hard. I felt like I gave everything in my first, and didn’t have enough left. At this point I was wondering what the heck was I doing?? I started in the early hours of the morning so it was still dark. Much of the course was through quiet country roads lined with woods and farms (and still much of it was hilly! I thought I did all the hills the first time!). Could be fine if it wasn’t pitch black! As I started running, I put my music on, but then heard rustling in the woods and decided to keep alert and go without the music, AND run in the middle of the road! Other than being slightly frightened about what might have been tracking me in the woods, I really enjoyed the peaceful solitude of the run. I listened to the crickets chirp, looked at the massive sky full of stars, and did a lot of thinking. Some men passed me, which I was ok with, then a couple of women passed me, which I didn’t like. Then I had to come to the realization—I am running MY race and doing MY best. It didn’t matter what anyone else is doing and I can’t compare myself to anyone here. I enjoyed my moment and was really glad for my time in the dark of night. I found my own light while there. Because I was in some winding country roads, I didn’t actually get to see the gradual sun rise. More like it was dark, then all of the sudden it was light. Really. At some point, when I felt like I was going pretty slow, a woman came up behind me and was going to pass. We started chatting, I ran faster, and we ended up jogging together and supporting each other to the finish. What a great comfort this gave me! To know I could do it alone, but to have someone else there really lifted me and almost carried me to the finish and gave me that extra umph I needed to push through. Oh, and about the fuel belt from the first leg: the bottles bruised my back and I was reminded of my novice mistake for the rest of the race with my back hurting! A few hours and no sleep later, it was time for my last run. I would cover Virgina, D.C., and Maryland in my last leg. Initially I thought I would breeze through it. My first two races were over 7 miles; this one was 4 so I would push hard. But I reminded myself it wasn’t actually 4, it was closer to 5 miles and it would probably take me about 45 minutes. That realization apparently didn’t stay with me when I started the race BLAZING through. I passed a woman, was booking it around the streets of Alexandria, VA, then soon realized I was going to fade fast. The woman I passed came up and we chatted a bit. She told me she couldn’t keep up with me but would stay with me as long as she could. I laughed and told her I was going to fade fast and started too strong, and to feel free to pass if she needed to. We seemed to make a good team and together we pushed ourselves. She was amazing and in her 40’s. We were running across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and it was feeling mighty long to me and I was feeling the fatigue. She would speak little motivating things to me, such as, “we’re just going to get to that girl up there. Let’s get there”. So we got to that girl and kept going, and found a new goal to get to. It was such a valuable experience for me. My short little legs were flying, faster than ever I think. With about ½ a mile to go, I really couldn’t keep up with her anymore and thanked her, told her to go ahead and I would come up behind her. I kept pushing and finished STRONG. My team was waiting there for me since I was the last runner and we would all go across the finish line together. It was so AWESOME. One of the guys on my team was a little ahead of me actually, and I even said to him, “let me finish first”. It was such an accomplishment for me to push that hard and I had to finish strong and see it through. I ran faster than I knew was possible for a considerable distance and finished 4.8 miles in 37 minutes. Then to top it off, the finish was in the National Harbor which is the new home to the Awakening Statue, which I have LOVED since I was a teenager. I was lifted; I was carried; I was illuminated. I was naive and made mistakes. I wore my fuel belt too tight in my first race and had pain for the rest of the time. I compared myself to others and had to remember that it doesn’t matter what anyone else does, because this is MY race. I enjoyed God’s great creations and soaked in some great moments of solitude in nature while only hearing crickets and the sound of my own two feet on the pavement. I started way too strong and was carried when I couldn’t handle it anymore. I accomplished what I set out to do, and thanks to the support of others, was able to surpass my own expectations. It was really a beautiful experience and I would so do it again. I taught a lesson on fasting the next day and could tie so much in. Not focused on the lack of eating, but on the fact that it is individual and we want to do all we can to accomplish our goal. God loves us and wants us to succeed and will give us support when we need it. He only cares about OUR best and doesn’t want us comparing ourselves to others. If we start out something to hard and too fast, he can be there to help us when we fade. Or if we are too naïve and don’t quite get the magnitude of what we are doing, He is there. God wants us to try and to hang in there even when it is tough.