Thank you for your prayers, support and words of encouragement! I am glad to be on this side of the weekend. As a matter of fact, I have never been happier to see a Monday come in all my days! I love running and staying fit but this was a tough one! Several ask if I would share about my journey and what I experienced during the race so that is what I would like to attempt to do.
First off, I must say thank you to all those who participated in giving towards my financial support so I can continue doing the ministry of New Life Design. I was overwhelmed at those who wanted to participate and give. Each of you have just blown me away with your generosity and love for me and Tony. We are so grateful for each of you and with the risk of sounding a bit “cheesy”, please know that many lives will be changed because you gave! May God bless each of you beyond belief for your generosity!
Now for the story….We were all very excited as we left Atlanta on Friday around lunch time. We arrived at the Race Expo in time to get our numbers and do a little shopping! If you did not get to see the picture of my shirt let me know. The caption read, “Running Is Cheaper Than Therapy” Ha-Ha!!. We had a great dinner that evening with our friends but I think all of us had a hard time sleeping as we were all wondering what kind of race we would have and how “hilly” would the course be.
Saturday morning the clock went off around 4:20 and I must say I was relieved to be getting up and getting this thing started and done. I noticed the weather was not very cool but I really didn’t think much about it at first. We found our corrals and were ready for the start. The first five miles were done at a very fast pace due to the excitement and push of the crowds. We were running with about 30,000 other runners. I should have slowed down after the first mile but I got caught up in the excitement with everyone else. I was pretty hot by mile 5 and had to do some adjustments with my clothing and re pinning my number which was very frustrating but I didn’t lose very much time because we started out so fast but I had depleted some much needed energy in those first 5 miles and that would come back to haunt me later in the morning. I was doing pretty good until about mile 10 and it became very apparent that I was not going to be able to keep up my pace. I was having severe problems with my feet. I was not sure what the problem was but later learned that I was putting my Body Glide lotion on the wrong parts of my feet which was causing my feet to slip in my shoe which was causing chaffing. Add that to continuous pounding on pavement that was extremely hot and my feet felt like they were on fire. By mile 11 when I got to see Tony I was just about in tears and very tempted to split off with the half marathoners and just finish at 13.1 and call it a “bad” day. He kept encouraging me not to quit in those few moments we had to chat so I decided to tough it out and keep going with the full Marathon. One really cool thing that God did was as I had started running again after seeing Tony our good friend Glenn Rigby that was running the marathon too had caught up with me and he was a great encouragement and that got me passed the 11.5 mark where all the half marathoners were branching off to head to their finish. Glenn and I ran together until about mile number 14 and my feet were burning so bad that I just had to walk some at that point. After mile 15 the cramping and dehydration had hit and it was becoming impossible to run much farther that a couple of tenths at a time. I stopped at the medical tent after mile 16 and they confirmed my problem with my feet and wrapped them with ace bandages and gave me a new pair of socks and told me that I needed to take some salt packets for the depletion of sodium and potassium. I’m not sure that I understood all of that due to the frame of mind that I was in. I tried taking some after mile 17 and the packets got wet so I didn’t get much in my system and there was this awful hill looming in the distance. The temperature sign on the bank said it was a whooping 80 degrees at this point and I have never in my life seen so many people sick and dropping out of a race. Ambulance siren’s were heard all around you from time to time and the medical tents were full of people with heat exhaustion and dehydration. I struggled on to mile 19 because I knew Tony would be there. I must admit in the back of my mind I secretly had hoped to just tell him that I was going to walk the rest of it and wanted to talk him into walking it with me to keep me company and keep my mind off the pain. I think every muscle in my legs were cramping at this point and my feet were back to burning again. When I saw him we walked and talked a moment and he continued to encourage me to keep going but reminded me that there was so shame in bailing out if I needed to. I decided to keep going, so off I went. Ironically, at this point our route paralleled the half marathoners route and once again there was the temptation to just hop over there and join them on their 12th mile and head to the finish line and be done with this thing. The only thing that I can say kept me on my course was God Himself! The temps were continuing to climb, more people were getting sick and dropping out but I saw an overpass coming up and knew I could stop and stretch for a moment in the shade and that was a God send for sure! As I stopped off to stretch many more followed suit so I was glad not to be the only one. After this a tough stretch of road was ahead. Again there wasn’t any shade and not a cloud in sight. We got through miles 20-22 on this stretch and it was tough. At a moment when I really needed to see a friendly face, our friend Sally who had run the half marathon called out my name. Boy, was she ever smart just doing the half….you know, come to think of it….she is a doctor and all. Maybe that should tell us all something! She was at the 21 mile marker watching for me and she ran out to chat a few moments, took my picture, gave me some good words of encouragement and took a few things from me to lighten my load (my old, smelly socks, and shirt….what a wonderful Christian servant to carry someones smelly socks-thanks again Sally). At that point I kept going and headed into Shelby park to finish miles 22-24. I must tell you, it was a beautiful park but I just hurt to bad to enjoy it! I stopped at the medical tent again just after mile 23 and through tears told the medic that I was cramping really bad. He gave me a moment to get myself together and then gave me 3 salt packets and I told him I wasn’t sure I could get that down but he told me that if I wanted to finish I had to take them. Well, I got all three down and drank some Cytomax Sports drink and headed out once again. I noticed that after a few moments the cramping seemed to decrease (FINALLY) and I was able to do some serious power walking….and before I knew it I was doing some serious running again and was able to run straight to the finish line! I was broken hearted at seeing one fellow loaded into an ambulance at the 25.5 mile mark….so close to finishing. The finish line was the most glorious sight I had seen all day. They had this sprinkler system going and I went over and just stood there in it forever just relishing the medal around my neck and clinching the stale bagel in my hand. Funny thing is….I just thought my journey was over at that point but due to the finish line being so crowded with people, Tony couldn’t get anywhere near it so the plan was to meet under the “D” banner in the friends/family reunion area. As I struggled through the crowds wet and still clinching my stale bagel I couldn’t find the stupid reunion area. I walked forever only to FINALLY hear Kay hollar “Dana!” It was so nice to hear a familiar voice. As they rushed over tears just couldn’t be held back and we all relished the moment of having finished. At this point…no one really cared about race time because we all knew we were extremely blessed just to have finished on our own two feet. I got to soak my feet in this barrell of ice water which was really awesome after 26.2 miles! Afterwards we enjoyed calling our families, exchanging our stories and eating at chick-fli-A….a Kay Rigby favorite!
If you had asked me on Saturday afternoon or on Sunday what I thought God wanted me to learn out of the experience, quite honestly I would have said, “NOTHING!” I was a little disappointed in how the race went, my time, the weather etc…. We had felt so good about our training, the race itself and all our prep going into it and so for the day to just turn into a disaster I was a little confused. But on Monday morning the fog began to clear and I started putting together a few points of how the marathon coincides with our faith walk with Jesus Christ. I am going to go ahead an apologize for leaving you hanging here but I am going to have to finish the points tomorrow due to our Board of Directors Meeting being tonight. So tune in tomorrow afternoon for some interesting parralls about life and marathon running!
See you tomorrow!