Back in the fall, my trainer encouraged me to sign up for the Go!StLouis Half Marathon in April. Heaven forbid, not running! I’ve always detested running, becoming like an asmathic by the second mile. At 47 with arthritic knees, it was even hard to picture myself walking in a competitive half marathon race. Are you kidding me? Even walking. I get bored by anything aerobic that lasts more than a half hour.
Chalk it up to competitiveness. Chalk it up to ignorance. My trainer challenged me. I accepted. (Then she got sick and never went on race day!)
My neighbor and friend, Mary, agreed to do it with me. We started training, walking The Park which is a hilly, 4.5 miles. Some weeks, it’d be 2x a week, sometimes 5. We suffered through 20 and 90 degree midwest temperatures, swollen aching joints, trying to push ourselves that much harder. We jogged for small spurts, stopped at park benches to pump out sets of push-ups, lunges, and arm dips. Two weeks before race day, I was feeling achy, tired, and nervous. Although intending to push myself twice around the park to clock 9 miles, it never happened. We were still averaging just ahead of a 15 minute mile, which was at least a minute slower than we’d hoped.
Race day arrived amidst excitement and sunshine. Before the sun rose, the thermometer was registering 72. Literally thousands of people gathered, taking pictures, smiles plastered across their face. Mary and I, posing for the camera with the rising sun and St. Louis Arch in shadow, had no clue what we were in for.
It’s just a walk.
By mile 2, I was shocked that it was only two miles. My shins were aching from foot flexion. Mile 5 hits, and I’m sure I have blisters forming on the balls of my feet. By mile 6, I’m sure they’ve split. Cardiovascularly I felt strong, but I prayed for strength that my feet would hold out.
Each turn, I thought, “This must be the last one”. The temps continued to rise. Then one of several runners with “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. ~ Pillippians 4:13” on their back would pass by and I’d take a refreshing breath. I finished my water bottle by mile 10, losing the lid and having to toss it away. We had to stop at a porta potty twice – once feeling that Mary had keeled over inside, or worse, fell into that cess pool, she’d taken so long. Her bladder had frozen!
But finally, that finish line was in sight. We pushed each other to jog. Passing people, cheering each other on. Women with butts waay larger than my own, doing their thing. Pushing on through. Finishing.
Between a jog and a run, and only because of Mary pushing me that last tenth of a mile, we crossed the finish line at 3 hours and 3 minutes. Over a minute faster per mile than our average in training. Faster than 1000 other women.
I’m nursing a 3 x 3 inch blister on my right foot and it looks as though I might lose a couple toe nails, but holy mother of God! We did it! I’m so proud of me. So proud of US. For setting the goal and doing it as fully as we possibly could have.
I’ve always been impressed with marathon runners. But I never have been, nor will I ever be a runner. My knee joints just can’t handle that amount of pounding.
This was about meeting yourself where you are and going for it. God doesn’t ask any of us to wait til we’re pros, but to move forward as we are. Just get going. Quit making excuses.
And we did! Hurray!