Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 109...

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:31

I don't even know where to begin. WE DID IT!! :) :) In strength not our own. So much has happened in the last two days. So much God. So much.

The basics are these: I blew a hole in my goal time by a full 6 minutes today! 3:24:19. Wow. God, how on earth?? :) It was an amazing, amazing day.

It started at 5:00 a.m. when I got up and did a little packing, eating and stretching. Momsy and I prayed, and I left the hotel at 6:00. Travel to Boston Common was an easy train ride, and I got there in time to load the buses to Hopkington. What was REALLY cool was that my friend Quinn (who did her first 22-miler with me and Jackie earlier) saw me and flagged me down. Hallelujah for a familiar face to ride the bus with! :) We took in the experience and got there in plenty of time to set up camp in Athletes' Village. We connected with Jackie and another buddy, Mark, for a while before they (fast runners that they are) had to leave for the start of Wave 1.

I waited for a while by myself until it was time for Wave 2, but just before I was putting my phone in my bag, I got a call from Brenda at Military Ministry. What a blessing!! :) She connected with me for a while and then she put General Dees on the phone. WOW! Talk about an unexpected blessing!! :) That was amazing. And it totally gave me the best reminder of why I was running. God bless our military! :)

The start of the race was awesome. As expected, I had to rein myself in to make sure I kept it slow for the first 5 miles. That was hard because I was getting passed left and right. But I managed to keep it slow by telling myself that they were all the people I'd be passing at miles 22-26. :) haha! (So true, by the way.)

The weather was unreal. Absolutely perfect. Slight wind. Cool temps. Absolutely tailor-made for a marathon. The uniform was perfect and the arm-warmers were key. :)

Boston is the most amazing marathon. They have water stops, like, every mile. I never worried about being hydrated! Though, I almost got a side cramp at mile 9, which really kind of made me nervous. I've never dealt with those before, but I know they're not good. My friend Carl (who placed 5th in the Master's division!) got a bad one at mile 15 and got a dose of pain management today. :)

But the race, for me, was just unreal. There was only one really tough mile mentally, and that was mile 10. It was just a few minutes when I realized how far we had left to go, and I really don't think I'd found my stride, yet. But that's when Isaiah 40:31 came alive. I repeated it to myself a few times, and really meditated on the truth of it. I WOULD soar on wings like eagles. I would run and not grow weary. Before I knew it, the Holy Spirit had lifted me out of the funk, and we were running again with confidence and peace.

One thing the Lord really used to keep me engaged today was the abundance of soldiers lining the course. I made it my personal goal to thank every one of them for what they did. :) And, wouldn't you know it, whenever I'd feel like the race was getting hard, a soldier would appear in the crowd, and I'd connect with him or her and forget my own pain. It was so humbling knowing that I was able to thank so many of them today just because I was running a marathon. And their encouragement back to me fueled me more than I can tell you.

The Boston course is pretty gritty. There's no flat. You're either going up or going down. And what is surprising is that, by the end, the coming down is more painful than the going up.

They don't lie. The hills of Newton are tough. Heartbreak isnt' so much the hardest hill as it is simply the last one in a long line of them, which makes it tough. But once you're up, you're set. A lot of people say that the miles after Heartbreak (21-26.2) are the hardest, but I think I'd heard that so many times that I was prepared for it. Therefore, they were the BEST for me! :) After the hills, I expected the downhill to hurt, so I wasn't thrown off when it did. I just gutted through it. By the time I reached Boston for the last three miles, the crowd was so intense that I couldn't help by lay it all on the line and push it to the limit! :) "I don't want anything left," I kept saying in my head. So, for the last three miles, I practically sprinted. (As much as you can after running that far.) I think my miles were under 7 minutes for the last two. Praise God. Run and not grow weary. Soar on wings like eagles.

I wanted to blog about this many times, but it never seemed right until now. There's a song that the Lord gave me when I started training that has been my theme song all the way through. And it VERY much was today as I ran. It's called "Carry Me Through" by Dave Barnes.

In this song, he talks about a mountain, a river and a city that he has to climb/cross/reach in strength not his own. This fit everything about Boston.

The mountain: Heartbreak Hill
The river: the Charles
The city: Boston

The verse about the mountain was something that I sang to myself through the tough points today, as well. These mean so much to me now.

"There's a mountain
here before me.
And I'm gonna climb it
with strength not my own.
He's gonna meet me
where the mountain beats me.
And carry me through,
carry me through."

Praise God. He carried me through. He met me at every point where the mountain was about to beat me today and He carried me through.

Friends, your support has meant so much to me during this process. Your prayers have carried me more than any of us will ever know this side of Heaven. Your encouragement has lifted me. Your belief and faith have inspired me.

As I did my post-race interview with K-LOVE today, I was reminded of what one of my friends told me before this race began: "What is done for Christ will last." This medal will eventually be packed away. This jacket will eventually not fit (or get coffee stained). :) The injuries will heal (I hurt!). But what has been done for Christ will last. We rallied for our troops. We raised enough to send out more than 3,000 RDKs!! We fueled chaplains. We provided combat trauma materials. Thank You, Lord, for letting us bring You glory through this! I pray that you all are encouraged to know that you were a part of something much bigger than a one-day race. You were a part of eternity. God bless you all. :)


P.S. I've had so much fun blogging throughout this whole thing! I'm SO not going to stop. I think I'll keep the blog open and start making a running diary of sorts and record what God does through it in the future. I'll keep you posted! :)Until then...Ciao! :)

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