Monday, September 14, 2015

I'm Only Half Crazy:My Half Marathon Adventure Part 1

Last year at about this time I traveled to the Adirondacks to watch my friend Anna run her first marathon, the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival .  The marathon and the half marathon are run on the same course and as I watched runners racing towards the finish, I saw a number of half marathoners.  I was struck by how many of them had my build and ran at about my speed. Watching them, I thought "I could do that" and so an idea was planted.

I'm not a speedy runner. In fact my run is more of a plod…sprinkled with bouts of walking in between. I don't necessarily enjoy running as much as I enjoy the sense of accomplishment I feel after I've run. And to keep me motivated to run, I try to have a race scheduled for which I have to train.  When I returned from the Adirondacks I was training for the annual Turkey Trot 5K held on each Thanksgiving Day.  After that, winter came and I put my running shoes away for the season. With sub-zero wind chills and ice covered streets, no sense of accomplishment is worth frostbite or a broken hip.  I spent much of my winter sitting under a blanket in my chair close to the heating vent.

Still, under the warmth of heavy blankets, watered by numerous cups of hot tea, that seed of an idea of a half-marathon began germinating. I started looking in to different races, the Pittsburgh Half Marathon being one of them. As a Pittsburgh native, this race appealed to me for many reasons.  The race route snakes its way across many of the city’s bridges, offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel across them without dodging traffic!

But the Pittsburgh race is in early May requiring winter training – not practical for me. Many other races I looked at didn’t fit my schedule, either.  Spring races require winter training.  Summer races mean I’d be training and racing in the hottest weather.  Winter races are held in warmer climes requiring larger travel expenses and extra vacation days.  A fall race, though requiring training in the hot summer, seemed the best fit. And what better place to spend a fall weekend than in the Adirondacks?

So on Sunday, September 27,  I will be running 13.1 miles around Schroon Lake, in my first ever half-marathon.  I started serious training around July 4th during which time, God has taught me much. In instances in the Bible, the life of a Christian is compared to running a race. I can now relate more intimately to these examples. Over the next fourteen days I plan to post some of what the Spirit has shown me. 

Until now, I haven’t told many people about my race. Saying “Oh, did I tell you I’m running the Adirondack Half Marathon?” did not sound natural coming from my mouth.  I’m more likely to discuss the Marathon candy bar than a road race, and I’m more knowledgeable about the candy bar, as well!

Still, one of the things God has been teaching me is that I need to enlist more prayer support for certain things.  To that end, I am asking that you all would pray for me for my race.  I have some specific requests here:
  1.   Pray that I finish!  If I ran the first mile in under 4 minutes but didn’t finish the race, it would all be for nothing.
  2. (OK, this request is pure pride, I confess) They close the road to vehicles until 2:30 pm (or 4-1/2 hours after the half marathon begins), at which time they reopen the road.  Pray that I finish the race before they reopen the roads. Though I think I’ll be finished by then, I’m not sure.  I’m a slow runner and this is a hilly course.  It’s hard enough on the ego to finish at the back of the pack, if not last; but to be running while cars are driving by, seeing people check their watches and mouth the words “is someone still out there??”…  It’s embarrassing. 
  3. (This one’s a stretch goal) If all goes well, if conditions are right – good weather, I eat right, I dress right, I feel right, I run the course right - I guess what I’m saying here is if conditions are perfect) I could finish in under 3-1/2 hours. Still slow, but acceptable for my dignity. Pray that I finish well.
  4. Finally, pray that I not be so concerned with results, keep my pride in check and just enjoy the experience.
“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:1d

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