Today was a day that I have been anticipating for months.
In November 2012, shortly after my first Cross Country season at Lancaster Bible College ended, I began meticulously following a plan – a guide to movement.
I’ve awaken early. I’ve gone to bed late. I’ve consumed gallons of water. I’ve developed blisters. I’ve spend hours icing and stretching. I’ve hobbled up and down stairs. I’ve breathed, heavy, labored, and deep. I’ve fought nausea. I’ve logged miles after miles after miles.
All for this: 13.1.
This random number has such significance for me; today I conquered it.
Today I ran the Garden Spot Village Half Marathon. The weather was a runner’s dream. The day started out cool with the sun low in the sky but began to warm up gradually. The wind was minimal and not enough to create a serious setback. The vicinity of Garden Spot Village was humming with activity. Lines for the porti-potties stretched on. Runners talked “runner’s talk” – stories of races past, training methods, goals for the day. One of my favorite moments of the whole day was when my dad prayed with me as we were walking over to the starting area. I love you, Dad.
I experienced a combination of pre-race jitters and excitement.
Finally, the runners were instructed to line up behind the start line. The countdown began, the clock struck 8am, and the race began. About 1,300 runners were participating, whether relay team members, half marathoners, or full marathoners.
As the pack started to move forward, I was ready. My toes were a bit numb, but I had managed to control my nerves to avoid an upset stomach. On a repeating loop in my head were the words, “It’s just another long run – with a lot of pals. It’s just another long run.”
I had done everything I could to prepare.
It consisted of:
- A cup of coffee
- A whole wheat English muffin with crunchy peanut butter
- A whole banana
It was the perfect race fuel. (And it was happy, right?)
So, with my body fueled, my GPS watch ticking, my bib pinned on, and my laces
tied perfectly, my race began.
The first few miles were interesting. It was a challenge not to get ahead of
myself and go fast. I was being passed and passing others; the pack around me was constantly changing. I sought to find my zone. The streets were scattered with families waving and cheering as the runners moved by. One young boy sat alongside the road repeatedly blasting his trumpet. That was original. I barely even looked at my watch for the first 3 miles. Miles 4, 5, and 6 brought some varying inclines with them. The path took us through a beautiful wooded area. With the morning sun streaming through the trees, the race route truly was aesthetically pleasing. During mile 7, I passed my family! They are seriously my biggest fans. Getting up early on a Saturday morning to cheer for me? I am so thankful for their consistent support.
Props goes to my Gran for being an excellent crafter of signs. At a later point in the race, after a fellow runner that I knew yelled, “Go, Lindsey!” A runner next to me asked, “Are you the famous one with all of the signs and cheerers?” “Yes,” I replied. “I guess that’s me.”
I grabbed a Cliff Energy Block during mile 7. I knew I needed some sort of carbs and sugar to keep me going til the end of the race. I did not want to take time to survey my flavor options, so I went for a red variety. It looked promising. It was flavored “Cran Razz.” I had never tried one of these before (I know, you’re never supposed to try new things during a race, but…). I attempted to chew one of the blocks and ended up swallowing most of it. Those things are difficult to chew, let me tell you – especially while running. That one block was about 50 calories. I did not want to risk intaking anything beyond that.
Mile 8: the killer mile. Why? Well, there was a really significant incline. It was the biggest hill of the race, and everyone had been talking about it. I was nervous for it, but I knew I could get up it without stopping to walk. I do not really remember much from that climb, except that I somehow managed to get over the top of the hill and approach the straight path after it. “We made it!” I exclaimed to the man running next to me. He didn’t say anything in response, but I was still excited. I passed my family once again, while they waved their signs and cheered for me enthusiastically.
Once I reached the mile 9 point, the rest of the race was rather enjoyable. The perks of going up all of those inclines at the beginning of the race was that I now got to go down them in the fashion of a decline. A spectator yelled out, “Only a 5K left!” and I knew I was headed for the finish line. Perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of training for this half is that a 5K sounds short to me now, rather than the lengthy distance it used to be. I hope that helps me come this fall’s cross country season.
Before I knew it, I had reached the 12 mile marker. The entrance to Garden Spot Village was in sight, so I pushed forward. This mile felt slow – mostly because of the anticipation of crossing the finish line. My family was stationed at different points along the last few meters, pushing me to the end. Finally, I turned the last corner and saw the finish line ahead of me. I broke out into a sprint, crossed the line, threw my hands up in the air, and was given my finisher medal.
“I DID IT!” I exclaimed to my dad. In that moment, I felt so accomplished, so rewarded, so complete.
The home stretch…. Crossing the finish line…. Post-finish reaction…
13.1 miles, I ran step after step to conquer you.
I could not have done it without these people:
I was also so encouraged by the influx of texts, tweets, and other words from friends asking how the race went and saying they were proud of me. Your support means more than you know.
But this was more than just a run, a race, or an event.
This race… it represented so much more than a physical feat.
Because running has changed me.Running has changed not only my exterior, but also my interior. It’s taught me how to be strong and independent. I’ve gained much confidence this past year, and I believe running has played a key role in that. The lies in my mind? I’ve learned how to defeat them.The whispers that say “no?” I can now replace them with a counteractive “yes.” This whole process – it’s enriched me.
It’s taught me discipline and patience.
It’s taught me how to prioritize.
It’s taught me that I can be, that I am strong.
It’s taught me the beauty of being alone on an open road.
It’s taught me how to push myself further than I have before.
It’s taught me to be ready to absorb sights and sound that I engage.
It’s taught me how to breathe deeply.
Running is a beautiful act. There is much to be gleaned; with each mile comes a new lesson. I know this to be true with certainty.
Because running has changed me.