Monday, November 7, 2011

The Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon

This weekend was the most amazing weekend of my life! It all started about 2 months ago with an invitation to run a half marathon in San Antonio with Dave Ramsey and his team.  When I got the email something in me stirred.  Even though I just began running I had this pull... and when I saw the date was 12 days before the one year anniversary of my husband's death, the pull became stronger.  I thought, I've just walked through one of life's hardest experiences and how awesome would it be to do something so amazing within the first year?  Yes I need to do this! I need to run a half marathon before the one year mark.  While many people do things like this in some one's memory, for me it was quite different.  I had to do this for me.  I had to show myself that I can make it through difficult situations. (For more on why I ran the half marathon see the post "I have to do this" from October.)

So I started training, 8 weeks ahead of time.  At the 4 week mark I realized it would be a poor financial decision to fly to Texas to run the half marathon.  I resolved that I couldn't go.  The disappointment was overwhelming, but I pressed through, deciding to keep training anyway.  I specifically remember where I was on the trail on my 6 mile run when I decided I have to do this.  And I started praying for God to make a way.  The following week I found a closer race that fit my "deadline", the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon.  It was a lengthy drive, but close enough to make it fit the budget.  So I cut another week off the training plan, and committed.

About 2 weeks before the race I started asking some girl friends to come along.  Each one I asked wasn't able to.  It was then I had this gut feeling the that I was supposed to do it alone.  I continued to ask friend after friend, and each time they couldn't go, I knew in my heart that's how it was supposed to be. For some reason God was telling me, through the "No's" and in my heart, "go it alone girl!"  So that's exactly what I did.  Now let me preface this by saying I was married for almost 9 years.  My husband was an organizer, a planner, and took really good care of me.  I always felt safe when he was there.  When we went somewhere, he drove.  He made hotel reservations, printed maps, etc.  So for almost a decade I'd followed his lead.  So driving 6 hours to a new city, staying overnight in a hotel, running a half marathon and driving home the same day, was a pretty new experience for me!

Friday I arrived in Indianapolis and I walked from the hotel, several blocks, to the expo for check in.  I had no idea where I was, and little idea where I was going.  I was all alone, a young woman, on the streets of this strange downtown city.  Not at all a scene I've lived out before.  On my way back, as I looked up at the high rise buildings, my head held high, heels clicking on the side walk, I smiled with such a confidence and satisfaction.  At that moment I thought, look at me... I'm alone, I'm comfortable, I'm content, and I'm "making it happen" (as Jonathan would have said).  A new level of independent confidence hit me.  I was having a great time, and I was all alone.  For a social person this sounds like an oxymoron.  But it was true.  The whole day I had accomplished some pretty significant tasks, and the race hadn't even started yet.

Fast forward to the next morning- 36 degrees, or so, at the start line, I'm standing there ready to go.  An excitement fills my heart that I can't explain.  I've worked hard, I've committed, I've trained.  And now I'm ready.  Let's get this party started!

My first goal was to finish under 3 hours, that's 13.1 miles running at a pace of 13:44.  I knew I could comfortably run faster than that pace, but hadn't run past 9 miles... ever! So I decided to run at 13:30 for my pace, because I knew I could do it very comfortably.  Then if I had extra energy I would speed up at the end.  My second goal was to finish... and finish without walking.  One thing I learned during my training was if I paced myself right, and could breathe comfortably I really can go the distance.  I think endurance is my strength.  I'm not the fastest runner out there, but the tortoise wins the race, right?

It took 6 minutes after the gun went off for me to reach the start line.  Apparently 10,000+ people were running the race, so it took some time.  I set my pace, breathing comfortable, and started off.  It was a little cold, but made for perfect running weather.  In the first 1/3 of the race, I continued at a steady pace, as person after person made their way past me. I wasn't worried because I knew I had to maintain for 13.1 miles.

I stayed steady, talked to a few random people along the way, and had a smile on my face when I thought about what I was doing.  I made sure to take it all in.  Turning my music down for all the water stations, or entertainment, reading every sign, and thanking officers stopping traffic.  I read many great t-shirt backs along the way, and enjoyed the cheering crowds, along the way.  I had enough energy to talk, smile, and shout along the way.  I gave high fives to teens at the water stations, while Eye of the Tiger, or Rocky's theme song played in the back ground.

Towards the end of the race, I was still comfortable and steady with my pace.  At this point I began passing people, those who had slowed down or were walking.  When the last mile hit my legs were tired.  I could feel a dull pain starting in my thighs.  One more mile... I can make it.  No walking, just keep going. Then I got a text from my BFF, perfect timing.  Between that and the cheering crowds I was able to push through, and I crossed the finish line at 2:48:55.

The moment my foot crossed, and I started to walk, a flood of emotion hit me.  I can't put into words what I felt, it definitely wasn't sadness.  It was as if all I had been through the past few years, had just been washed over by what I had done in the last 3 hours.  Like the tide coming in, pushing over the sand castles of yesterday, and leaving a fresh beach ready for a new day.  And I started to cry.  Not a single tear, no this was a face contorted, serious cry.  I wasn't expecting this response.  It was the joy of knowing I had done it! I had taken what was horrible and let it fuel me to do something amazing.  I DID IT!!!  The only problem with this emotional outburst was I couldn't breathe.  I had been breathing just fine the whole race, but the moment I started to cry, my breath was taken away.  I managed to stop crying, and regained my breath.  Once again taking it all in.

There I stood in the middle of thousands of people, medal around my neck, a half-marathoner! It was the most amazing moment of my life.  I felt so accomplished, so proud of myself for completing this race!  I had never felt that way about myself or any accomplishment, ever!  And even though I was there alone, I didn't at all feel like I missed out.  I believe I was supposed to be alone.  God needed to show me something about myself that I have been struggling with for almost a year now: All I need is God!

I've said it a million times, I got a tattoo to symbolize it, and I wear rings to remind me.  But it wasn't until I traveled to Indianapolis and ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon that I truly understood and believed it.  Jesus is all I need!  I don't need a man to believe in me for me to accomplish great things.  I don't need his support, or encouragement to push through when it gets hard.  Every part of this half marathon journey has been on my own: just me and God.  From the training, to the trip, to the race; He's been the only one there with me.  And I did it!  He really is all I need.  With God I can do anything!  I can do great things by myself.  And even more than that I can enjoy them.

This weekend I had the most amazing time of my life, and no one was there to celebrate it with me.  And that's okay.  Its actually more than okay- it was perfect.  I did this race for me.  And I know that it changed my life.  It gave me a level of contentment I don't think I have ever had. It proved to me that I am a survivor- more than a conqueror!  I'm really am alright, just me and God!


  1. this made me tear up! You are an incredibly amazing woman. Im lucky the Brea brought me to the running moms group and that I have gotten to meet you. I can only hope I have half the courage you do, when im faced with tough situations!

  2. Thank you Megan, but I'm really nothing special... just someone who found her self in a hard place and reached out to God to help me get through it! Thanks for reading!

  3. Good for you! I am right now doing something alone for the very first time in my life at age 59. Yesterday I drove myself to the Smokey Mountains to stay alone in a cabin for the 2nd anniversary of my husband's journey to heaven. The drive here was pretty emotional. So many memories of doing everything together for over 36 years. I don't know what to expect for the next 4 days, but will take it as it comes.

  4. Dear Anonymous, I am so proud of you for taking this trip! I understand how scary and intimidating it can be, but also how healing and rewarding. I'm so proud of you, and believe God is going to do an amazing work in you this week while you are there, just as He did in me! Praying for you!