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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Marathon Day

Three weeks ago today we ran the Minneapolis Marathon.   It was my and Traci's second full marathon, and Jen's fourth.   It was amazing.   Go sign up and run this race.   Today.

First of all, Minneapolis, YOU are underrated.   The website for this marathon sucks.   The Facebook page is barely existent.   The orange maple leaf logo made no sense at the time.   If it weren't for Ikea looming in our brains, we may never have given it a second thought.

This race is the best kept secret in the world of running.   There were only about 10,000 runners, I believe.   This is 1/4 of the number in the Chicago Marathon.   But the Expo rocked---gear galore!   And this course....wow.  On October 7th, this must have been the most beautiful place to be in the whole United States.   The leaves were red, gold, orange.   The hills were rolling.   The Mississippi River was stunning.   The architecture of the homes and buildings was awe inspiring.   And the spectators, all 300,000 of them, are now my very favorite people ever.   After my own friends and family, of course.  And the Finish line was epic.   The last 0.2 miles was downhill, with firetrucks, American flags, and screaming crowds.

It does not get any better than that.

Oh yes, and my endorphins are writing this story if you have not yet picked up on that.   Want to know why?   Because it was the first race ever, EVER, E-V-E-R, where I did not totally lose my s&*% and have a meltdown.   I ran 26.2 miles (26.5 by my Garmin---stupid corners we didn't cut close enough), and I did not cry.   Hallelujah!

I was a bundle of nerves riding into Minneapolis, but the car ride was very fun.   Johnny and Marc were driver and shotgun, and at 4:00am they drove their three sleepy Miss Daisies from Kansas City, into Missouri, across Iowa (one Cracker Barrel stop), and finally into the Promised Land.

The night before the marathon we had dinner at an Italian restaurant with my brother Cliff, and his wife, Jill.   They live in Minneapolis, and I never get to see them enough.   We laughed and ate all night until we went back to the hotel to face the music---laying out race clothes and an early bedtime.

Oh, spoiler alert and red flag combined.   When you go to a race expo for packet pickup, and one of the swag items is a headpiece/earmuff thing, that is bad news.   Our last marathon was a life-sucking 88 degrees, so we weren't exactly prepared to run in the Arctic.  I whine when it's 50 degrees.   So Jen and I decided we needed warmer running clothes.   Where to go?   Oh, the Mall of America is here?   Really?   Well, how convenient.   And thank you, Nordstrom's Rack for Nike Dri-Fit Thermals at $25 a pop.   Saved.

The night before the race I slept really well.   And I dreamed about the 23rd Psalm all night.   I have NEVER dreamed about a Bible verse.   But I fully believe that the Lord put this verse in my heart so that I would think about Him the whole race.   And I did.

Johnny and I shared a room with Traci.   I was a little scared because she almost punched Jen the morning of our last marathon.   Traci does not know when she became a long distance runner, and she's not sure she's on board yet.   But bless her heart, she lets us drag her along.   Sure enough, the next morning when the alarm went off, the first words out of Traci's mouth, "This is gay!"  And I'm pretty sure she threw something.   I hid in the bathroom long enough to let her punch Johnny if she was that irritable, and then popped out with a pair of scissors and some athletic tape.   Officially I was taping my foot.   Unofficially, I was not putting those scissors down until Traci was nice and caffeinated, key word being "nice".   But that girl surprised me.   Johnny left the room so she could dress, and she says to me, "Do these underwear look lucky?"   That's when I knew it was going to be a good day!  (A good 26 degree day.  Holy moses.)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.   He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.   He leadeth me beside the still waters...

This verse jumped out as we ran past not one, but four lakes.   We just wound around one after another.   I smiled inside---"still waters".   Oh, and funniest moment ever.   At mile 7 Jen's daughter, Audrey called.   Jen answered.   She's a good mom like that.   Aidan, Ava, Coop, Mommy loves you, too, but I'd have dumped that call.   Anywho, here's what runners around us are hearing while Traci and I are cracking up!

Jen:  "Hello?   Hi Auds....oh, just running a marathon.......yes, we're winning.....no, don't put Avery on.....Auds?......Auds,tell Avery I'll call her later....I love you, too."

Our cell phones were invaluable to us.   First race we have ever run with them.   But Marc and Johnny installed stalking, I mean, tracking devices on them, and every time they wanted to find us our phones would start beeping, letting us know they were looking for us.   It was the most encouraging thing, to be running along, fighting to stay motivated, and hear, 'BEEP BEEP BEEP'.   We would instantly pep up.  "Where are they?   Can they see us?"    Those boys drove all over town.   We must have seen them 6 or 7 times.  Love them so much for that.  

 He restoreth my soul.   He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake.

Most of our run was on paths.   So in order for others to pass you---and there are always people passing us!---they run pretty close, and they usually speak to you.   Our shirts were all a shout out to our Creator.   As runners ran by, they kept saying things like, "Great shirts!"  "Love those shirts!"  "Amen!"   It was almost like we were worshiping as we ran.---"paths of righteousness for His name sake."

We hit our Half marathon mark, and I was feeling high on life.   I have NEVER felt that good in a race.   Not that they needed me to, but I was encouraging the other two!   This is shocking in our world.   Prior to showing up that day, one of them probably could have guaranteed you they'd be begging me not to jump off the bridge that crossed over the Mississippi by mile 20.   I had my phone with me though, and at mile thirteen I turned on one of my favorite running songs to motivate us,(Click HERE to hear the awesomeness), blasted it out not caring who I irritated, and said, "Alright girls, we're going to run a Half now.   Let's do this."  

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.  Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

The Valley of the shadow of death showed up about mile 18.   Our girl Traci was HURTING.   Jen called ahead  to Marc and Johnny with instructions to have some BioFreeze out and ready.   But they were still 2 miles away from us.   Traci was hurting so badly that I wanted to cry for her.   But she didn't want to walk.   She insisted we keep running.   When we finally found them, Traci crashed under a tree, Johnny helped her with the BioFreeze, and then we were off again.  It was like having a support van.   Each guy had a backpack full of our "what if" essentials.   So helpful.  Johnny and Marc became the rod and staff to guide and protect.   Sent straight from our Father who loves us.
Pit Stop for BioFreeze
When you are running a marathon, I don't care who you are, things get REAL after mile 22.   Nobody feels good at that point.   Your body just starts to break down.   And Jen saved my neck.  I started feeling like I was hitting a wall.   I didn't understand what was happening though because I had been fueling with Shot Blocks every 4 miles and drinking water at every station.   But Jen knows me better than I know myself.   She just looked at me and said, "Your sodium has to be low.   You need electrolytes.   Get some Gatorade."   So I did, and she was right.   I came right back.   (Gatorade upsets my stomach so I never take it.) So grateful she said that to me.

Though annointest my head with oil;  My cup runneth over.

As we ran down our last 0.2 miles, I kept starting to cry.   I was over the moon happy.   It was just the best feeling ever.   We were almost done with our self torture.   And people in the crowd kept yelling, "Way to finish together, girls!"  "Go Team Green!"   That's what we do.   We do not leave each other.   If someone is having a bad day, we are all having a bad day.   Because what good is a P.R. if you do it alone?   Where is the glory in that?   These girls are like my family.   I am not in this for personal glory.  I am in this to run with my friends.   That's it.    Crossing that finish line was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life.   My heart was filled with pure joy.   My cup definitely runneth over.
Finish Line!
Time:  4:40.   Not bad.

Until the next time, ladies...:-)