Wow - that kind of sums up how I'm feeling right now. I'm in awe and overwhelmed at God's strength that got me through today. I'm going to back up to Friday. My friend Mary went with me to pick up my packet, and we saw a booth "Team 413" We stopped and talked to them. Team 413 is based on Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." The founder of the ministry, Chris, gave me this card and it was such an encouragement to me. This card really sums up how I was feeling - life has been hard, but God has been with me all along the way!
I went back to the Expo to get a shirt and I was hoping to hear Chris speak, but it got canceled. I did get a picture with him though. He is an amazing person with an awesome testimony and deep love for the Lord. It was such a privilege to meet him and talk with him. Check out his ministry at www.Team413.org
I left after talking to Chris on both Friday and Saturday with a new-found confidence.... not in myself or my abilities, but in the Lord and His ability to get me through. Saturday night I got all my stuff together... one of my favorite parts of getting ready for the race... it must be the OCD in me!! There's something fun about laying all my stuff out and making sure I have everything I need for race day!
I was fighting a headache and earache all day Saturday but went to bed feeling pretty good. I got up bright and early Sunday morning and headed down to Des Moines. I think I got there earlier than I ever have. It was a little after 6 and the race didn't start until 8. But, I found a pretty good parking spot and had plenty of time to just take it all in.
Before the start I heard over the loudspeakers they were interviewing Rebecca from Biggest Loser. I HAD to go find her and talk to her. It was awesome - it was a short visit but I got a picture with her and Daniel, from the same season - they are such a cute couple! They were so encouraging, and Daniel even said "Good job" as he went by me during the race!
When it came time to start, my headache came back with a vengeance. Chris had asked that at 7:30 for everyone on Team 413 to stop and pray. I did, and I know others did too. My head started feeling a little better. Chris had suggested I run and walk 2 minute intervals for the whole race. I started out great and was feeling really good, until I hit mile 8. I got a really bad pain in my left thigh. It was SO sore. I stopped and stretched, but it just hurt so bad to just walk. I kept walking... through the pain. I just prayed and asked God to give me wisdom if I needed to stop. I even felt a little light-headed and felt like I was going to throw up a few times. I just kept pressing on. The music I was listening to helped to encourage me along the way. Other runners also encouraged me. I saw Chris, and Kevin (another Team 413 friend) and other Team 413 friends along the route. Them, and everyone else along the route were so encouraging. One gal walked by me and seeing the verse on the back of my shirt said "Amen sister!" That really helped because at that point I was hurting pretty badly. Her encouragement helped me to remember that I really could do it with the Lord by my side. I felt the prayers and support of so many of my friends and family as I trudged along. Toward the end I saw a couple walkers and had in my mind that I really wanted to pass them up and beat them to the finish. Not that it is about beating anyone, but I needed something to push me forward. I started running a minute and walking a minute and boy did it hurt! I wanted to finish in less than 4 hours and I kept looking at my Garmin and knew that I needed to push ahead to meet that goal. I ended up finishing in 3:58:48. Phew... I made it!!
This race was honestly harder than the marathon last year. This past year has been so full of emotional and spiritual healing and it all kind of culminated today. I am so grateful to my wonderful counselor, Jessica H. for all the hours she spent crying with me and helping me to find my strength in the Lord. I am so thankful for my Aunt Gail who has never ceased to believe in me and sends me encouraging e-mails and so much love from far away. I am thankful to two of my very best friends Mary and Debra for always believing in me and for all of their love and support - always - but especially the past year and a half. I am thankful for my running friends Wendy and Anne who have encouraged me so much along the way - I even got a high five from Anne as we crossed paths today... she finished in less than 1/2 the time I did.... great job Anne! I am thankful to my amazing church family... I can't name them all but do want to thank Jessica C. who texted me a couple different times this morning - you'll be rocking those 13.1 miles next year Jessica!
At the end of the race there was someone there retrieving medals that people wanted to donate. I'm really not sure what they use those for, but to me the medal is important to hold onto. It symbolizes all of what I've written about here. It symbolizes all God has faithfully brought me through. It symbolizes me finishing the race! It is JUST a symbol, but I'm gonna keep it! As I was driving home I heard a song on the radio. "All Because of Jesus" by Casting Crowns. You can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Il5Rh-12p_0
I had been convicted the past few weeks that everything in my life - including running should be to honor the Father. It's NOT ABOUT ME! It is my prayer that I was an encouragement to those I spoke with along the way out there today. Even through the pain, I made a point of saying good job and smiling to people along the way. One of the walkers I passed toward the end was really struggling. She had a friend walking along side her encouraging her but as I passed her I felt led to encourage her also. I told her "You can do it, there's no quitting now - you've got this!" I pray that my words encouraged her and pointed her to the Lord. That song by Casting Crowns sums it up so well - It's ALL BECAUSE OF JESUS I'm alive! I know without Him I would not have made it through the past year and a half, let alone this half marathon! Last year after the marathon was when things went down hill... I started gaining weight and my workouts were terrible if they even existed. I spent the year healing emotionally and spiritually and it is my goal to move forward from this point, be healthy all around and all the while glorify the Lord in all I do.