The Story of the Marathon—Finishing

Mile 23 marker laughed at me. I could hear that dumb sign laughing at me, so I turned my music up louder. Stayin’ Alive met I will Survive and I chuckled and breathed in deep. The Play List saves and then it doesn’t. The day I trained for 20 miles was the longest run of my life. I planned out the hours. First, I’ll listen to music. Then I’ll listen to a podcast. Then I’ll go back to music, and so on and so on. I remember getting to 15 miles in that training run, and I was just plain tired of listening to anything. Just as I was yanking out my ear buds, I saw a guy on a bike getting close to me. I didn’t pay much attention until he slowed down and rode right with my running pace. It was my friend Dave from the runners club. I laughed as I breathed out and told him how much further. He asked me about my nutrition and reminded me to eat a gel at that point. I got one out and started to chew on it. He kept talking and talking. I released him from having to ride with me, but I think he knew that I was struggling. He encouraged me to do some stride outs to fix my gait, and I did and it helped. I hadn’t realized how tight I was. I finished that 20 miles feeling pretty good thanks to help from a fellow runner. Sometimes you just need some help.

I shook my head and was blinking back to the present. I was passing a medical tent, and there were two runners inside injured with medical people helping them. The agony on their faces was tough to take and not at all about a foot or a calf of which each was holding. I felt their agony of being so close, and it sunk down deep into me that their race was over. And then I saw mile marker 24 and I realized…..my race was not over. I glanced down at my watch; adrenaline shot through me. My tired legs began to find some rhythm; I began to feel everything and nothing all at the same time.

The race path turned left and then left and then we were back in the city; the side lines began to crowd up and the race path began to narrow. I became aware of how soaked I was from four hours of sweating and working and rubbing and struggling and chafing. I had to shake that off….just a little further. The crowds cheered and the words they produced collectively invigorates.

And there it was—mile 25. My heart jumped….one more mile! The sobered, pain aware part of me reminded me of the .2 miles that I had left off in my excited heart-jump. The inside mind conversations that I have are one of my favorite parts about running long distances. Suddenly I knew, I had a lot left in this body. I could go farther. Farther than 1.2 more miles. But how far? I didn’t know….but I knew at that point I conserve a lot on the unknown possibility of running out.

I began to stretch out my stride. I ripped out my ear buds and shoved them in my little pouch. I breathed in and out. My arms stretched out. My feet and legs hesitated at first, but then they too found their rhythm in my breathing. My feet pounded the ground. I couldn’t feel them. I just ran. It felt so good to run. What a funny thing to think on that last mile! It feels good to run!

And then it was there and I could see it and I couldn’t believe it and then I was through that finish line and trying to wrap my head around it.

But my feet were slowing down, and tears were running down my face. And everyone was telling me great job, you did it! A race worker held my arm gently to stop me and put my medal around my neck. I was holding it and crying and grinning like a fool. And we all were ushered inside and someone took my photo. I called my family who were at a rodeo in Uvalde and cried and yelled that I did it. They were all so excited. And then someone handed me an ice cream sandwich and I ate it. I went in the T-shirt line and received my finisher shirt. Someone handed me a chocolate milk and I drank it. I felt happy and stiff and automatic and unreal all at once.

I kept moving until I found my sister in law. She had been in the medical tent. She had not had a good race, but she was dealing with it. She was happy for me. I had exceeded my own expectations for my time. We hugged and cried together. And then we picked up her shirt. After cleaning up, we had a big meal together before heading home. It was a great end to a long training and a long race.

When’s your next one? I hear a lot and I even heard it that day. But I wouldn’t even think about it. I let myself just bask in that finish line. I mean, you know what it meant to cross it, right?

But you also know it wasn’t really about the finish line.

All the way on the drive home, I squinted hard into all that training, all that sweating, and all that planning….trying to find the moment I learned the most, or I accomplished the most or I was humbled the most. And its like I couldn’t describe a piece of this experience without all the other pieces, and I wouldn’t trade one for the other. I learned so much…about me, about limits, from the road, from podcasts, about running, about life, from other runners, about breathing, and so many more things.

The first marathoner (in the history books) died at the end of his race having delivered the message he needed to give. So, let’s go on a race, shall we? A race to give the message we are meant to give. I assure you…every piece will be worth something in the end.

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4. Poetry Patience

258.jpgPatience.

For your voice.

For what to say.

For when to say it.

For who to say it to.

For mostly to listen.

Do you know what you are waiting for?

Do you know when it will be here?

Are we there yet?

Why?

What?

When?

Did you even know you were waiting?

Say something.

What are you waiting for?

What are YOU waiting for?

What ARE you waiting for?

WHAT?

Listen.

Carefully.

Listen for your own voice.

I’m finding mine here.

Thanks for your patience.

Thanks be to God.

The Story of the Marathon Part 3

So 15 miles went by me and 16 did also. I kept running like Forrest and I was enjoying every minute. And while I pounded onto mile 17, my mind wandered to the memory of training…of running 16 miles the day after Thanksgiving. It started like this.

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It was the most ill prepared training run that I did. I had had too much food and drink the night before, but I was sticking to my training plan no matter what. I didn’t have enough KT tape to tape my feet and my good socks were dirty. I set out that morning ready for a long haul, and 6 miles in found myself in a common situation for runners. I had to go. And I was in the middle of nowhere. On a highway. All I can say is that I’m thankful to the rancher whose pasture I borrowed in a little grove of trees. I felt like a fugitive; it was an emergency.

I ran and ran on that training run until I could feel the blister forming on the bottom of my foot. It was the longest I had ever run, and I struggled hard from mile 14 on. I remembered the very moment my watch said 16 miles, I slowed to a walk. My muscles had tightened and I bent over to stretch…then I saw that tears were coming out of my eyeballs. Then I noticed that I was sobbing actually and I couldn’t pull myself together. My husband had come to pick me up in his truck at that point, and with a look of concern asked why I was crying and what was wrong. I shook my head. I didn’t know. My feet had hurt like hell at that point, but not enough to cry. I cried for awhile and then I stopped and I was okay. I just needed ice for my feet. I felt so released.

Jolting myself back to the present, I saw that 17 mile marker flow passed my line of vision. I grinned….I had gained some grit along the way in all that training. I looked around me again, and the same folks I had seen before were in front and behind me. I also saw a member of the sideline crowd with a sign that said, “Run fast, in two weeks, Trump will have nukes!” I laughed loudly, and I exhaled long, satisfied with my pace and feeling connected to people. I made a quick pit stop…as quick as I could realizing how tight my muscles were getting. It was hard to get going again, but eventually I found my rhythm. I don’t remember much about mile 19, but passing 20 was triumphant. I had heard all these stories about how people break down at 20 and start crying and walking. I was feeling alright, and I was beginning to get excited about how this race was going to end for me.

Then I passed mile 21, and my legs began to ache. My feet were starting to cry out, and I thought about how far away mile 22 was. So. very far. All my bravado at 20 was gone, and then I saw the beer stand. Just what the doctor ordered right? The smiling man shoved the beer cup in my hand as I kept running, and I drank it fast, sloshing most of it out. It did help some, but I kept thinking how long the park in Houston must be for it to go on and on and on. I knew that the city had to be coming up at some point, right?

I felt around in my runners pouch and my fingers wrapped around an energy chew. I’m mostly an energy gel person, but I had brought one chew to mix it up. I popped that chew in my mouth, and started chewing. It was tough to get it down, but it helped me increase my speed to get to mile 23. I heaved a sigh of relief seeing that dumb 23 but then my tired old brain freaked me out with the thought of 3 more miles! 30 more minutes of running! Good God! I had to make it. I couldn’t tank in the end. I was out of nutrition. I was out of motivation. I was out of grit.

And so…I turned to the playlist…

To be continued…

3. Streaks


If you have teenagers who Snapchat, then you know what streaks are. Streaks in that world are daily snapchats with the same person. It doesn’t matter what you chat or snap. As long as you don’t miss a day. Well you and I….or rather the blog and I planned this 30 day streak and it only lasted a few days. So much for consistency in 30 days! But so much has happened since Day 2!

The good thing about streaks is that you can always start again and do better the next time! So I’m just picking right up where I left off with a Snapchat of my own. 

That photo up there…may look like a street sign to you. Well…it is also a true statement. I saw it this weekend on the way to a rodeo. I laughed out loud while the children made fun of me. Then I proceeded to pull my truck and trailer over on that country road and push my daughter out of the car to snap the pic. 

She laughed at me but was game for it especially bc the pic I took from the truck just wasn’t working. 

Rodeo is the best streak we have right now…and it’s good sweat producing, grit building family fun. I am so thankful for the experience of it with the girls. You should go experience it…at least once. I’ll see you tomorrow. 

2.  Nature and History

You have to discover what brings you rest and rejuvenation.

Nature and history are two friends of mine that have always brought me peace. 

Experiencing days immersed in nature settles me through a journey/series of reflection and aesthetics. 

Learning and seeing history yields an emotional walk that inspires me to follow strength and to pursue transformation and redemption. 

Day 2: Create space for you to experience nature and history. You might find the way to peace and that jump you need during a break from work. 

Photo credit….L. Sciba

1. I had a baby yesterday 

She said this is Clickbait. But I really did have a baby yesterday 17 years ago. And look at her now! Also, do you see that cake?  I made part of it before work yesterday morning and finished the rest when I got home. She picked it from some website called Sally’s baking addiction and said, “only if it isn’t too complicated Mom.” It was certainly worth the effort that I got because of it. 

That’s the reason I didn’t blog yesterday. So today is day one people. This day I became a mother. What a magical day that was! Truly it was. 

And every day since has been magical! Not. Someone told me the other day that I made parenting look fun. Yay! I was so happy. 

Then I thought about all the things that aren’t fun. And I pondered about the evidence that caused my friend’s conclusion. 

Parenting is fun. But you have to make it fun a lot of times and I work hard at that. I truly enjoy my children but I also have to help them learn to be enjoyable to be around. A wise woman told me the other day that making any situation fun is a poor man’s therapy and the way to cope with the hard parts of life. 

So Day 1 of the story of 30 days:

Make it fun….what ever it is. 

P.S. Goodness! Look at her 17 year old face…she’s having fun. 
 

The story of 30 Days-

Yes, we are playing the Oregon Trail. Three of the girls are still alive. Also I just died in the game so now I can blog. Hey so instead of being perfectionist and all that I’m just going to post every day for 30 days. Cool, huh? Probably not but I’m inspired by a podcast about this 30 Days of New Things. And I’m in. But with writing. Oh no, there’s only two girls left on the Oregon Trail. At least they’re splitting their supplies to survive. With teamwork evidenced, I’m going to sleep!

P.S. You should play board games with your kids. It teaches patience. Also you laugh a lot. Then you wonder about the level of competition that has been passed on.