The Journey Of 13.1 Miles

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…  ~Hebrews 12:1-2

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My race bib and cool "free" shirt

I ran a half-marathon this weekend!

Many of you already know my purpose in this physical and mental challenge was to glorify God.  The past ten years or so my husband and I have had to endure one life crisis after another.   Through it all, God has proven Himself faithful over and over again.

Time and time again, He has carried us through every storm.   While my spiritual strength has grown by leaps and bounds,  and I hardly recognize the much better person God has molded me into, my faith {as many of you can relate} has still been on a roller coaster of ups and downs.

In early May 2011 I struggled through three or four days of broken faith.  I was emotionally spent, depressed, and tired of circumstances that seemed to have no end in sight.   As God lifted my spirits, pulling me out of the pit of darkness I seemed to be falling in, I felt Him speaking to my heart about how strong I really am, particularly when I put my faith in Him.

So I followed His lead, putting myself out there boldly, even at the cost of looking like a fool to those who happened to stumble across my writing with regard to this journey.  The truth is, sometimes life just feels like it's a difficult mental and physical race.

Therefore, running a half marathon would be my way of taking my own symbolic stand against Satan proving he never has and never will have power over my life.  As I contemplated the challenge I was about to face, God's truth echoed within my soul.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. ~Philippians 4:13

Training Recap

  • I trained from May 18th - October 11th, inadvertently taking 4 weeks off during August
  • I ran a total of 42 training runs
  • While I tried to run 3 times per week, my actual average was 2.3 per week.
  • Only 6 of those training runs were 7 miles or more, with the longest being 10.22 miles.
  • In the span of 4 months of active training I ran a total of 209.84 miles.
  • The average distance of all my training runs combined was only 5 miles per run.
  • I frequently struggled with the mental discipline to get beyond my running wall of 4 to 5 miles.
  • As the distance of my training runs increased, I struggled to stay motivated due to exhaustion throughout each week.
  • I only had one training run in cold temperatures and the sun was shining that morning.

Interestingly, the week before race day, I had an emotional meltdown very similar to the one I experienced the week leading up to God's decision for me to sign up for a half-marathon.  My faith was faltering and I was feeling like life's present storm would never come to an end.

On one hand, I think Satan was trying to break me - maybe hoping I would turn away from the upcoming challenge with my tail between my legs.  On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if God was using it as a time to get me "all fired up" in my faith the way He had months before.

Either way, I thank God for all of you, for my prayer warrior Bible study friends, and for my family.  You all stepped in as His hands and feet, to intercede in prayer, quote scripture, and wipe my tears.  I felt your prayers and your support so powerfully.  There's no doubt in my mind, God used all of you to love on me and encourage me.  For that, I'm so truly blessed and grateful.

Pre-Race Jitters and Preparation

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The sweet good luck photo Faith took of me and Abby on the way out the door

A day or two before race day, my husband and I both had our eyes fixed on weather predictions.  The forecast was calling for a rainy and windy, 45 degrees.  I certainly had no experience running in these conditions, so Mark started doing research on how best to protect me from the elements.

During this process we learned of the potential for hypothermia.  45 degrees with rain and the wind chill can feel more like 30 degrees on a wet body with wet clothing hanging from it.  So I cut head and arm holes into a large trash bag as a makeshift poncho.  We also made sure I had cold gear Under Armour running clothes and socks to help keep my body warm.

On a slightly different note, I had read during my research that one way to determine if I was properly hydrated to run a half-marathon was to watch the scale.  If my weight increased by 4 pounds leading up to the race morning, that was a great sign.  I pigged out on pasta all week and I drank tons of water, soda, tea, and milk.  Did I gain 4 pounds?  Nope.  I lost 4 pounds!  Why can't it always be that easy to lose weight?

The night before the race, my husband was very quiet as I gathered my supplies and charged my iPod.  He knows how stubborn I can be and was understandably concerned that I would refuse to listen to my body if weather conditions became too difficult to endure.  I assured him that I would call him to come rescue me from the course if I felt I couldn't make it any further.  But then reminded him, "God's got this!"

Then I went off to have some time alone with God.  During this time, I felt His presence all around me.  I cried out to Him.  I felt Him giving me peace.  I sang worship songs to Him…you know…when you feel your soul surrounded by His love while you sing.  It's such an awesome feeling!  I told Him that I would endure whatever He wanted me to go through with this race, because it wasn't about me, it was about glorifying Him.

Race Day

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A very cold, very nervous 1st time half-marathoner...ME!

The morning of the race, I had only a few small bites of toast and a small drink or two of Gatorade on our way out the door.  The weather was indeed cold and very windy, with a little bit of sprinkling rain.

By the time we arrived to the registration packet pick-up area, the rain had stopped but it was still very windy and cold.  I was surprised by how many people were standing around in running shorts with bare legs and bare arms.  Of course, I think seeing this helped put Mark's mind at ease a bit.

After shivering in a long line to pick up my race bib, a "free" Buffalo Creek Half Marathon shirt, the race timer strap for my ankle, and a bag of "free" goodies, it was finally time to give hugs and kisses to the family and hop on the bus for the ride to the start line.  And I had to go to the bathroom really bad too!

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Long lines doing the pee-pee dance

Getting off the bus at the start area, I saw about 6 port-a-potties in a row and each line was easily 25 people deep.  So I shivered, doing the pee-pee dance for about 20 more minutes as I waited for my turn in the nasty port-a-potty.

As God would have everything planned out perfectly, I finished up just in time to step out for the National Anthem and the race horn indicating the half-marathon was under way.  Of course, I wasn't prepared to start running.  I hadn't stretched and my headphones for my iPod were still wound up on my arm under my running jacket.

But I started running anyway, while trying to get situated with my music at the same time.

 

Here's Where God Gets All The Glory:

  • Considering my average training run was only 5 miles, I was blown away at how easy running 13 miles was.  It was a BREEZE.  I'm totally serious.  I wasn't out of breath.  There was no mental battle happening.  In fact, as I neared the end of the race I felt like I had only been on the path for an hour.  There's no doubt in my mind, God literally carried me to the finish line.
  • On a day with an overall predicted 50% chance of rain, there wasn't a single raindrop during my run.  The course was on a narrow trail running through a valley and the trees blocked most of the wind, making the cold more bearable.  I was able to take my running jacket off and tie it around my waist before mile 3.  The sun even came out, causing the beautiful burnt orange and red leaves to sparkle brightly for a few miles.  I believe that was God's answered prayer and protection.
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    Butler-Freeport Trail is beautifully surrounded by nature

  • The run was such a smooth experience that I was able to pull my iPhone out of my running belt and take pictures along the way.  I even posted pictures to facebook, particularly of the mile markers as I was passing them so everyone cheering me on could watch my progress.  I felt like God was telling me to take the pictures and post them.  Maybe someone was spiritually inspired through it.  Only God knows for sure.  The pictures are somewhat blurry, but it's not really easy to take a great picture when you're bouncing all over the place at the same time.
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    Mile 11 - Woo Hoo! Almost Finished!

  • God shared the beauty of His creation with me.  During my run, I had my worship music turned up really loud and was completely engrossed in it.  Out of nowhere, I heard water running.  This was a miracle really because there is no physical way I would have heard this water over the sound of my music, but God made sure I heard it.  So I took my ear bud out and turned my head toward the sound, to discover a beautiful waterfall coming down off a high cliff.  It was nothing spectacular or large, but it was gorgeous and it was apparent to me that God was asking me to take notice of the beautiful scenery all around me.
  • God encouraged me to stop and quench my thirst.  During 5K races, it's uncommon for me to stop at the water station for a drink, but for this half-marathon I felt like God was saying, "Go ahead, Rosann, this water is for you."  So I slowed to a fast walk as I approached and enjoyed a drink at three different water stations.
  • I couldn't help noticing several people throughout the run stopping to walk out into the bushes to "cop a squat" and laughing to myself, I wondered what God was trying to show me in that.  Then just before mile 9 I felt my bladder pressing hard for me to find a toilet.  Thankfully there was a port-a-potty at mile 10, but of course there was a short line.  I stopped to wait and suddenly realized how stiff and sore my legs and hips were.  {When I shared this story with my husband, he suggested maybe God was trying to tell me to "cop a squat" long before mile 10.}

A few minutes later, I was on my way again to hear my pace time called out at 1 hour 50 minutes.  Impressed that I only had 3 miles left and was on target for the time I expected I'd finish the race in, I allowed my poor legs about 2 minutes of walking.  Then I started running again.  The last mile had a steep uphill climb which I had to walk because my legs had virtually no strength left, but once I reached the top of the hill I ran the last half mile or so through to the finish line, completing my first half-marathon with a time of 2 hours 28 minutes.

Now…are you ready for this?  I realize this is just a number and probably means absolutely nothing, but I discovered this morning that I ranked at 666 {CREEPY!} out of more than 720 runners.  Yes, I know that's way at the bottom of the pack.  But I didn't go into this race to win it.  I went into it because I knew God would carry me through and bless me along the way, like He always does.

Today, I can barely walk, stand, sit, climb stairs, or kneel down.  My lower body feels like someone beat every muscle with a baseball bat severely bruising me.  But Oh the joy my soul feels!!

Have you ever had a God glorifying experience like this?

~Until next time, may God bless you with victory in your storm!

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 The Journey Of 13.1 Miles
Rosann is wife to the man of her dreams and stay-at-home mom to two delightful little girls. Her heart's greatest passions are loving her family well, long-distance running, writing, and pretty much anything dark chocolate peanut butter. Rosann loves to encourage women whose husbands are in a season of unemployment, at her other website UnEmployedFaith.com. Her writing inspiration comes from a strong desire to glorify God while sharing the heart of her journey through a life of faith. She is also the Author of two books - UnEmployed Faith: Clothing Yourself in Strength and Perseverance Through his Season of Unemployment, and Refuel Your Inner SuperMom: A Practical Guide to Getting Your Groove Back.
 The Journey Of 13.1 Miles

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