Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Chickamauga Battlefield Half

I know a lot of people run and I know that a lot of people aren't really impressed by a half marathon. I get it. But today I'm reminded more than ever why running has become such a motivator for me. I know it's hard for people to understand--so you went for a run and you feel better, good for you. Yes, endorphins probably play a huge role for me, but that's not quite it. You know what I think it is more than anything else? I think it's that I finished something. I'm home with our children, day in and day out. My job is never done. I'm never done parenting. I'm never done with the laundry no matter how hard I may try. You know what else I'm also never done with? Cleaning floors. I mean, it's just every little thing that I do throughout the day is never done. It's never done because I'll have to do it a few more times again in the very near future. But somehow when I lace up my shoes and set a goal of running some miles, I do finish that. I complete something I set out to do. It feels finished.

I set a goal a few months ago to run another half marathon. The last time I ran one was a few years ago. I wanted to officially beat that time, but I also wanted to run for thirteen point one miles straight without slowing to walk, something I had never done. Every other half marathon I've done before (3 others), I did not train for. I just winged it...and it showed. For this one, I purposed to train for it a few months in advance. I was ready. But then I fell ill a week before the race and I began to feel very discouraged. Hoping my symptoms would go away, I largely ignored them as best I could. I ended up at the doctor a day before the race and she told me that I had an ear infection and a sinus infection. I was determined to still race. It would have killed me to not get to finish. I trained and trained. Miraculously, we arranged an overnight babysitter. That in itself felt like a lot of work that would go wasted if I did not get to run that day. Nope. No way was I missing this race. Hopped up on an antibiotic and lots of prayers, I set off for our old Chattanooga stomping grounds for a night at a hotel near the race.
I woke up feeling pretty good. Jordan signed up for the race, too and decided to pace me. Because I felt myself getting faster, I began to create a goal in my mind that I wanted to finish around two hours, a twenty one minute improvement over the last half I completed. Honestly, I felt like two hours was a big stretch for me, especially being sick. But I would finish and I would beat my previous time. I was certain of that!
The Chickamauga Battlefield was a place we had visited a time or two before. It was lovely to experience it running on two feet, though. By mile two, we were running by deer meandering through the trees. We started off pretty fast in spurts, but it was difficult to get through the initial crowd of runners so we were nearing nine minutes for the first few miles. Miles 3-5 were the fastest and were closer to eight minutes. I was feeling amazing. I think I was surprising myself that I could keep up with that pace for five miles thus far, but I was also aware that I should probably slow down so I didn't run out of gas since really the race had just begun.

Miles 6-8 I started to settle into my typically comfortable pace around eight and a half minutes. The elevation gain of the following miles slowed me down considerably and for miles 9-13, I was closer to nine minutes. I was keeping a close eye on my watch, paying attention to the time and around mile eleven I realized I was definitely going to meet my goal of two hours if I could just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I felt myself getting a little emotional thinking about how God had brought me so far and how blessed I was that my health would allow all of it. At mile twelve, Jordan said, "You are going to hit your goal, but you have to turn it up." He kept pointing on me to run right beside him, but I felt smoked every time I caught up to him that I would slack off again. We were wearing shirts that matched and said we were doing this together so that was motivating for me to stay as close as possible to him. I had never run that many consecutive miles so my pace was slowing. My ankle had pain shooting through it and I felt like I was barely moving and limping at that! Still, I managed to hold under a nine minute pace and finished the race at 1:55:10 with an overall pace of 8'48. FIVE WHOLE MINUTES UNDER MY GOAL. Twenty six minutes better than the last half marathon I did. I felt great.

I was so proud. It wasn't because I think I'm a great runner or because I think this is some big feat. No, I was proud because I set a goal and I knocked it out of the park. I finished something for ME and I didn't have to stop to change a diaper. If I had written down my goal, I could have crossed it off my list. I was done...and it felt so good.

(Big thanks to my sister for watching the kids so we could make this happen. Plus, I am grateful to my husband for pushing me to finish fast and for all the hours he watched the kids while I was out running with my girlfriends to prepare. I was so thankful to him on Saturday. It was Veteran's Day and my veteran was sacrificing his own goals to run alongside me instead...and he looked great doing it! )

Designed By Poppiness Designs