Thursday, April 18, 2013

We Rocked the Parkway

I have trained a great deal with Tiffany since last June.  First we did our sprint distance triathlon in September, then we were on a Marathon Relay team in October, and then we traveled to Memphis together (running different distances) in December. 

She can be quoted as saying, "You can talk me into no one else can."

Like swimming.
In a like.
She says she's still on the fence for this year's tri, but I know she's not.
She'll triumph over that lake swim again.

This past weekend, she ran her first Half Marathon!  I am honored to have been a part of it.  I have loved sharing our running journeys.  So many accomplishments, so many conversations.  Occasional bouts of doubt and discouragement overcome by more determination than I'd previously known possible.

There is something about distance running.  You learn a lot about yourself as you push through pain and head for a finish line well beyond what you think is possible.  A distance well beyond anything that you will ever need to run in everyday life.  As you realize you're dousing yourself in biofreeze ... to keep covering miles, propelled by your own two feet and sheer will, knowing that you'll ice for the next 24-48 hours.  Especially when you think back to 12 months ago and remember that your furthest distance was a 5K.

(And this was my second Half Marathon.  Someone pinch me.)

Race day is the culmination of all the hard work of training.  It's the day we get crowded in with other runners - hip to hip, heel to toe - to cross that start line, enjoy miles of scenery, bands, spectators, running partners, and the spiritual experience of running, cross the finish line, and collect that medal.  I really love the medal.  It's a day of celebration.

You train for months to get to race day.  This winter we were able to run through mid-February without any trouble, but then it started dumping snow on us and temps were miserable.  Running outside just didn't happen as often as we'd planned.  And I simply can't imagine 10 miles on a treadmill, so our training was interrupted...  Tiffany didn't run at all between Feb. 27 and early April.  That last February run was 7 miles, then she sat out for 5 weeks and came back to a 5 mile training run, then a 9 mile run two days later.  That 9 mile run was the furthest she'd been ever, so every step beyond that was a new PR for her.

A week later - 2 days before the Half - her shins and my back started screaming.  But we did not bow out of the race.

We popped some Motrin, donned cheerful tutus and rainbow socks to offset all of the odds stacked against us, and high-fived spectators for 13.1 miles.

Rachel didn't run the Half, but she came out to cheer and take photos.  She also carried jackets and gloves that we discarded (and then I had to pick some up off the ground a mile later because I have wimpy cold hands) and she was our pharmacy.  Thank God for Rachel!

She caught us passing through mile 5.  You can see Tiffany's tutu...I'm off to her right.

And she was there again (I'm guessing mile 9?) when we were in pain.  At this point I bathed in her little packets of biofreeze.  This is my DRUGS, PLEASE face.

From here on in, my left knee was bothering me and I had to be very mindful of each step, but there's no stopping when the finish line is a 5K away.  We can run 3 miles in our sleep!

I love when you reach the point in the race that you stop counting up and, instead, count down the distance remaining.

Till you reach the finish line.

Where we were photo bombed.  Or maybe she thinks we photo bombed her.  Either way, note to self:  don't finish directly behind someone if you can help it.

I am always so blessed to get to spend time with these girls.

And with Rachel ... who isn't in a single picture I have from Saturday.  Thank you, Rachel, for cheering us on and being behind the lens so we have proof that we ran 13.1 miles in 2:50. 

Congratulations to Tiffany on her first Half Marathon!  You have got oodles of determination and sheer will...and you are somehow relatively immune to injury and exhaustion!  Sometimes I think I ought to check you for batteries, as you don't know the meaning of the word quit. 

The 2013 race season has been kicked off just right.  

I'm loving life.

Friday, April 12, 2013

I {heart} what racing does for me

My race season kicks off tomorrow with my 2nd ever half marathon.

I realize now that I never posted anything to the blog about my first half marathon...even though it was a pretty monumental accomplishment.  It was on Dec. 1, 2012.  I traveled down with fourteen girlfriends to run the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon.  It was incredible.

I'm still in awe that I can run so far.

Many of those same girls will be running tomorrow.  We're quite a crew.

However, tomorrow's race - as fun and far is it's going to be - isn't the only race that's been on my mind over the last couple of days.

I'm thinking about all of the year's upcoming races, the people I train with, the people I race for.

I'm thinking about my rinky-dink 5K that I do every year.  It's next weekend.  The race itself is not rinky-dink...but the distance is, anymore.  I'm thinking about the Run for Mercy.  The cause is dear to my heart - HIV/AIDS infected and effected orphans in South Africa.  I've had a heart for orphans and missions work since I was a little girl...and a couple of years ago I found out that my father (who abandoned me) had HIV/Hep C when he lost his life.  In a sense, I'm an HIV orphan. 

This year my kids are running with me.  I was actually dreading this detail a little, as I'm sure Luke will cry and I'll have to peel him up off the sidewalk to continue on.  I might even end up carrying him on my back.  (I'm tempted to get him some wheelie shoes or hide a razor scooter in a bush on the course for him to pick up and ride - ha!)  I can already hear him, "Why are you making us run THREE MILES????  Do you hate us?  Can't we just give them money and eat Chris Cakes?!"  Considering past experiences, it's a very long-shot that he will love the running.  But I am praying that he will.  I'm praying that both of my boys catch the running bug (or any other physical activity bug!), and commit their lives to health and fitness.  And that they'll be surrounded by friends and family who will support and encourage them in healthy choices.  Even more than that, I'm praying that my boys find causes that they are passionate about and willing to sacrifice for.  Not that running is an enormous sacrifice, but it's a start...  And you just can't help but connect with the orphans this particular race is for...nor can you avoid the emotional tug as you run through the throngs of patients and parents on the St. Jude campus.  It just makes you want to do something.  Something far beyond running.

While my brother Kerry was here last month, we ran a few times.  After one of our runs, Bryan texted me and said something along the lines of, "I just love how what used to be an isolating escape for you (running) has turned into a way to genuinely connect with others and deepen relationships."

He is so right.

I talk while I run.  And I listen.  And I'm no shallow talker.  If we're talking, we're talking matters of the heart.  The people I run or bike with know my inner-most thoughts, desires, fears and struggles.  We're real.

Through running, I have come to know myself, my savior, my friends and my family better.  Great stuff.

I look forward to another year of training.  Swimming, biking (ugh) and running.  I'm not thrilled with biking, but I'm keeping an open mind.  I look forward to long talks with my friends, my kids, my husband and my brother.  

My husband bikes with me.  He makes biking way better.

And...  Kerry is planning to run a half with me in October.  Yes, the Florida brother that I just met!  Can you believe it?

Life is good.  GOD is good!

"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  Hebrews 12:1