I am a runner.
This past March, I participated in my first ever Marathon in Little Rock. The training schedule is a commitment in its own before even making it to the start line for a whopping 26.2 miles. Training began in mid September and ran through the entire winter all the way up to March 6th. I enjoy running in the cooler months, as it makes it more bearable versus the heat and humidity of an Arkansas summer.
Training for the 2011 Little Rock Marathon was not an easy task, and I had my share of ups and downs. When training for that kind of distance, it is hard not to run into injuries. In late November, while building up into the 15 mile range, I experienced a stress fracture in my right leg. At that point it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to run for the next six to seven weeks to allow it time to heal. The only way to stay in shape was to join a gym and hit the bikes. I could not help but feel discouraged as I looked at the schedule during that time of injury and see the mileage I was to build, slowly slipping away. I knew I would have a lot of ground to cover to make up for missing those six weeks. But with help and encouragement from my family, friends, and most importantly God, I was able to gain a full recovery.
It was just a month before the race, and the 2011 Marathon finishers medal had revealed to the public and what a beauty it was. This was a mega medal and would become my prize for crossing the finish line. The coolest part about the medal is that the globe center spins.
On Saturday March 5th I was able to get my hands on one displayed at the Marathon Expo in the Little Rock State House Convention Center. After inspecting its coolness, I was even more determined and focused at the feat ahead of me the next morning.
Race day arrives and I am feeling good about my chances at completing my Marathon in about 4:30:00 as planned. I am so excited that as I await in my designated coral for the start command, going through a pre-race check of my equipment I noticed I had forgotten to fill up my water bottle. I smiled and laughed inside with God about the blunder. But of course he took great care of me at the start by providing bottled water at the first aid station I came to.
Since having the injury, I had backed off of trying to complete the Marathon in a set goal time limit. That non focus enabled me to relax and enjoy the ride.
The crowd is always guaranteed not to disappoint in cheering and encouraging all the participants. They energized me throughout the course and helped me to the finish line. I enjoyed interacting with the crowd with an occasional high-five and woot woot back at them.
As I ran, I always made sure to thank the volunteers that sacrificed their Sunday to help us navigate safely around the course. With out them none of this could have been possible.
My run through the course was comfortable through about mile twenty-three. At that point my thighs started cramping. I had to stop running for the first time since the start of the race and rub in some pain relieving gel. I continued, but struggled through the last remaining three miles to the finish line.
Seeing the finish line was the most amazing sight. I couldn’t help but smile, raise my arms in victory as the crowd cheered for us, and as I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride as I kept telling myself, “You did it, You did it”.