Julie’s Journey to the Marathon: Race Day!

I will be honest with you. I have tried to write this post many times, but every time I sit down to write I am struck with writer’s block. How could I not know what to write? This was one of the biggest events in my life, yet I still struggle with putting it down on paper. There was so much happening, and so many thoughts running through my mind that it seems like a jumbled mess when I write it all out. I will do my best in my attempt to explain some of the details of the day, but let me explain that this is just a small part of all that I experienced on that marathon day.

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Thoughts Before the Race

I had no trouble waking up at 5:00am to catch the shuttle to the starting line at 6:40 am. I was ready to go, and tried to stay calm and focused. I actually surprised myself with how calm I was, until I was standing in my corral minutes before the race started. My husband could see me physically shaking. He told me I would be ok, and to just finish. The support that I had on my side was overwhelming, but when you put something like this out there, you feel so much pressure. You have to follow through, people are expecting you to do this. It was good pressure, but it made me nervous nonetheless.

The Marathon Begins

We started moving forward, and I was off heading into the biggest race of my life. The temperature was in the 40’s, which felt cold while waiting, but ended up being perfect by the time I started running. I started off slow, much slower than I had planned. At this point, being in a marathon was surreal. I saw my husband at mile 4, and even stopped to give him a kiss. He said,” Just finish.”

 The Crowd

I continued on in this little stretch where people had signs, and were cheering my name that I had put on the front of my shirt. I had to force myself to slow down because I found myself going too fast because of all the cheering. That was the last stretch of cheers and people until mile 17. Twelve miles with no one there to clap or push you forward. It was so great when other runners would encourage you to keep it up though. I ran with my friends for a little while, and then I just ran. I ran exactly like I had trained.

Running with God

Training on the trail in the woods, alone paid off for me during this race. This marathon was smaller, and pretty desolate. My training completely prepared me for race day. I found myself running alone most of the time, surrounded by a beautiful landscape of trees that were turning colors. I didn’t use any music during the run because I wanted to soak up the experience and actually hear the race. I remember Austin saying that when you don’t have other things to push you forward, you are forced to rely on God for strength and support. My whole marathon was seriously one of the greatest worship experiences I have ever had. It’s not typical, but I promise you that it was genuine and I felt so close to God while running on those trails.

 Motivation During the Race

Before I started the race, I used permanent marker to write a name of a person or group for each mile. This was so that I could look at my arm, and focus on that name for that mile. It broke up the miles nicely for me, and pushed me as each of those names had a huge impact in my reason for running the marathon. This helped me more than I thought it would.

 

A New Goal

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I finally saw my husband and friend at mile 17. By this time, I was looking pretty tired. My legs felt strong though, and I continued. I saw them again at mile 21 where the course looped back through where I was before. Halfway through, I realized the time goal I had in my head of five hours wasn’t going to happen. I began to slow down, putting one foot in front of the other. I decided to enjoy the race, and definitely held back some in order to make the experience a positive one for me. I didn’t want to cross the finish line dying and uncomfortable. My goal was to finish strong and leave the race with a positive experience. That’s exactly what I did.

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I Ran a Marathon!

I never hit the wall that runners talk about, I had hit this on my training runs a few times. I just kept running, and realized that I was capable and there was no doubt once I started that I wouldn’t finish. I heard someone say there was point six miles left. I took off at an 11:00 pace when I had ran most of the race at a 12:30 ish pace. I held that pace until I crossed the finish line with my arms up in the air, where I saw my husband with tears in his eyes. I had tears in my eyes, with my face in my hands, while some lady tried to put my medal around my neck. I did it! I finished, and I finished strong with a finishing time of 5 hours and 37 minutes.

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This journey to the marathon has taught me so much! I truly am capable of anything. I was just a fearful girl, who didn’t dream much or set big goals. And here I am a marathoner!

 

YOU are capable of anything also! Dig deep and dream big! Thank you again to everyone who helped get me to the finish line, an experience I will never forget!