Saturday, October 12, 2013

An Unexpected 15K

It all started last Tuesday when a friend posted on our church's running team's Facebook page that she couldn't run a scheduled race due to another commitment.  She asked if anyone wanted to take her place.  I asked questions and checked the information about the race and the course.  When I first heard it was a 15K (9.3 miles), a distance I've never run before, I thought I could alternate running a mile and walking a mile and do it with no problem.  Then I found out that they have a 10K and a 5K and the challenge is to run one at 7:00 a.m. and then the other at 8:15 a.m.  Oh.  My two 10K times were between 1 hour and 20 minutes and 1 hour and 25 minutes, so that presented a problem.  With some input from my running partner and a couple other friends, I decided to try it.  If I wasn't able to run the 5K due to taking so long to run the 10K, that would be okay.  Usually Wednesday is one of my rest days from running, but since I now had a 15K to run in three days, I figured I'd better hit the pavement.  I like running two mornings a week in the dark with my running partner, but I realized I missed running a little later so I can see the sunrise.  There were some beautiful ones on those few training mornings!

I ran 3.1 miles on Tuesday, my usual distance, with no problem except the blinding sun in my eyes. 
At first I didn't like it, but my perspective changed after a few more times of turning and running into this BOOM SUN! It was the SON saying, "I'm here! I'm more present than this sun that's bothering you. I'm closer than this sun and you don't want Me to go away like you want it to!" No, Jesus, no I don't! Sometimes Jesus is like that - BOOM! IN YOUR FACE! and sometimes He seems far away in the sky and not bothering you. Yesterday, on my first training for this unexpected race, He needed me to know how close He was.
I ran 4 miles on Wednesday, 5 on Thursday, and somewhere between 5 and 6 on Friday.  I tried for 6 but just ran out of steam.  I wasn't used to running so many days in a row, and increasing by a mile a day is a huge jump!  I knew I had done the best I could in such a short time, and God would have to do the rest.  On the way home, though, I started feeling like I should've pushed through then felt like I might have fainted from dehydration if I had.  I asked God, "Why do you keep throwing such big challenges in front of me?"  He answered, "Because I work on a large scale, Michele.  You can't do this on your own; only with my help."  If it was just an easy little 5K, which I do several times a week, no problem.  Even a 10K I've done twice now.  But a 15K, well…that's different.  And only 3 days to prepare for it?  Definitely God.   
This bench sums up my training:

The night before the race I was feeling my usual pre-race jitters.  I decided to pack the things I would need and a few more things just in case.  That took all of 10 minutes and did nothing to ease the nervousness.  I woke up on time, and my mom, daughter, and I made it down to the venue without being late.  I put my watch on and noticed that the band has started to crack. 
I got it as a birthday gift and it's had a good three-year run.  Time to shop for another one.  It still works and still straps on; I've just gotta "watch" it.  J  I picked up my race packet and warmed up my legs for the start of the 10K. 
I'm off and running!  It felt good to be among other athletes (it still feels weird to consider myself an athlete).  The race atmosphere was not making me run faster, though.  I walked about 1-1/2 minutes after each water station.  I'd get a cup of water and pour it on my head.  Then I'd get another cup or two to drink.  They had only Gatorade at the second station.  Gatorade = chemicals going into my body.  I started wondering why I didn't make my own Gatorade the night before.  I found a recipe for it on Pinterest and have made it before with only water, salt, Sucanat (less processed sugar), and fruit for flavor.  Well, there was nothing I could've done about it during the race.  I figured I was sweating and would be drinking enough water the rest of the day to flush out the chemicals.  Still…

About halfway through the second mile I smelled wood smoke.  BBQ!!!  Mmmmmm!!!  It was coming from the Saturday Morning Market.  I wanted to stay right there and just breathe, but I had a race to run. 
I saw no one I knew either running or lining the route except my friend's husband from church.  He's a policeman and was stopping traffic for the race.  I called his name and waved as I ran by.  He congratulated me, which carried me quite a while. 

As we rounded Mirror Lake, at about mile 3, I saw a woman ahead of me wearing a T-shirt that on the back said, "True strength is not giving up even when everyone would understand if you did." 

I told her if I had a camera I'd take a picture of it!  I continued running and finally made it past the farthest point I had gotten to in training.  I was in unfamiliar territory.  Well not really, since I was born in this city and have lived here my whole life, but I had never run and probably never even driven on this particular street.  My right foot felt like it was developing a blister, maybe from running on the slope of the road for 5 miles.  I tried to get more toward the middle.  We turned onto Coffee Pot Boulevard, which I've been running once a week for a few months.  I started to run faster the last 1/10 mile when I saw the finish line!  I made it in just under 1 hour and 25 minutes.  I walked straight to my mom and daughter,

took a big drink of water, got a square of Dove dark chocolate, and asked them if the 5K had already started.  One of them said it had and one said it had not because she never heard the announcement.  Okay.  The 5K *had* already started but I saw walkers just past the start line.  My feet hurt but I speed walked and half ran.  The chocolate didn’t seem to give me much energy but it sure tasted good!  I was trying to catch up to the back-of-the-pack walkers.  I wove around people with dogs, people with strollers, and people lined up 8-wide across the entire street.  Sometimes I had to walk because it was so crowded, sometimes because of fatigue, and sometimes because of drinking water.  At certain points I jumped up onto the sidewalk to get around people and sometimes jumped back down to the street for the same reason.  It was almost like an adventure run!  I finished in 2 hours 11 minutes and 41 seconds, but I didn't stop my watch the couple minutes between races.  I ran the 5K in roughly 43 minutes, slower than I usually do, but not bad considering how much walking I did.  I stopped where my mom and  daughter were but then went to get my medal. 

All the way through both races I was prepared for the fact that I might not get a medal because I wouldn't finish the 10K in time and then didn't make the official start of the 5K.  I told myself it was okay and that I had the personal satisfaction of doing a 15K with three days of preparation.  I walked up to the medal tent and they must've seen that my bib said 15K (I really hadn't compared my bib to others) and they gave me a 15K medal with no questions asked.  J  It made me very happy! 

Race organizers had set up about eight kiddie pools filled with ice and bottled water.  After making my way down the avenue of vendors and getting a massage (ahhhhh!), I walked back past the pools.  Several hours after being filled most of the ice had melted and almost all of the waters had been taken.  A few of the pools had just melted ice in them.  I bent down and soaked first one hand and the other in the icy water.  My feet were wet from having poured water on my head at each water station, so it was an easy decision to put first one fully shod foot and then the other in one of the pools!  It wouldn't have taken much to convince me to sit down!  I had brought dry socks and shoes but no dry clothes, so I just got my feet wet.  I stood there for a few moments until it got too cold and then I stepped out and went back to my family. 

We went to lunch at Cracker Barrel and I ordered protein to rebuild my muscles.  Eggs, sausage, and yogurt, along with a blueberry muffin for carbs, a strawberry on the yogurt parfait for yumminess, and sweet tea for...well, because it's sweet tea! 

Terry, thank you for not being able to run the race yourself and giving me another opportunity to let God work through me!  Like I said in my very first blog post, my reason for blogging is to encourage people to allow God to dream big within them so that together they and He can do amazing things, hard things, things that they'd never be able to do on their own.  And to encourage them to give Him the glory and credit for them.


  1. Michele, this is very inspiring. and Lately I been feeling like I needed to ask you if you have ever given thought to having a bible study or group of ladies meet at your house or someplace so that you can lead others down the path that you have been down. I always believe that we go though things so that we can use what we have learned to help others. I don't know if you have ever thought about it but if anything like this comes up I defiantly want to sign up to attend.. Great Job in your Race! this is Tina, I didn't know how to use the profile thing so i just picked anonymous....

  2. Thank you, Tina! I did co-lead a Made To Crave study at my church a year ago. I'll pray about doing something at my house. If so, I'll definitely let you know.