Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Big Race...

On May 18th, Todd and I traveled to Joplin, Mo., to pick up my race packet along with my brother's for what was the biggest race I had ever done. I signed up on January 19th for the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon after some coaxing from my sister-in-law and best friend who also was doing her first half marathon on April 14th.

I never really expected to finish...I thought I would become injured like last time...I expected to walk a lot, but here's how it went:

8:30 pm--picked up race packet and race jersey
9 pm--ate an entire meal from Olive Garden, which I have never done, carb loading you know...hee!
11:30 pm--fell asleep reading Fifty Shades of Grey (oh my, I'm blushing!)
4:30 am--up and at 'em to get ready, use the bathroom, eat some breakfast
5:30 am--meet my brother who did not sleep at all the night before as he was at an Eric Church concert in Topeka. Thank goodness his girlfriend, Deidra, was with him to keep him awake on the drive down.
Deidra and Brandon at the start line

Me and my brother at the start line

6:15 am--Remember those we are running for...161 people who passed away because of the May 2011 tornado and those thousands of people, including my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who were first responders in the aftermath of the tornado.
161 balloons let go in honor of those lost in the May 22, 2011, tornado. 
6:30 am--It's GO TIME BABY!!!

I spotted the 2:25 pace leader and thought I can try to keep up with that. They were two fantastic leaders who were very nice and pepped everyone up. We ran downtown and on the route of the tornado damage. I was fighting back tears from mile 1-4 while looking at all of this:

Right around 26th street where most everything was wiped away. 
St. John's Regional Medical Center where Christina worked/s and was destroyed by the tornado.
Around mile 4 we entered into McClelland Park and had climbed two hills at that point but I was still sticking with the pace group. I got through mile 6 and spotted Todd on the side of the highway cheering me on, and that was a huge relief and happy point to keep me going. By mile 7, I stopped to grab some water and take my gel and lost the pace group leader and was deeply disappointed in myself. Yet, I knew I couldn't walk or stop so I ran on. I LOVED the news crew who gave out cold towels soaked in water at mile 7. That was my saving grace as it was starting to get hot.

At mile 9, I thought I got this...then heard the ambulance behind me from someone on the race course being hauled off, and thought whoa, this is intense. I walked a teensy bit through the water stations so I didn't drown myself in water and choke.

At mile 10, I thought wow, I never thought I'd see double digits, never thought I would say only 3.1 miles left!

Starting with mile 12, I was overcome with such joy and relief I only had 11 more minutes to go. The Walgreens employees were the last to give us water at mile 12 and I needed it. By mile 12.5, Eric Church came strumming on my iPod and sang "Springsteen". I repeated that four times I think. I needed that music. I charged through the last half mile with a full-on kick. I passed by a man in full military fatigues and cried when I saw him knowing what my brother meant to me and everyone in our military. I was in a sprint through the finish line and finished in 2:26. I averaged an 11:09 mile throughout the race.

I got my medal, walked through the corral for runners to grab water and fruit and saw my brother and Todd. They were so proud of me, and I was so proud of me.

I never thought I'd run the whole thing, but I did. I never thought I'd do good, but I had a great time. I thought I was in the last part of the runners, but I wasn't. I worked hard at something, and it felt so good to finally do something a lot of people cannot say they have done. It felt good to finally feel like I am an athlete, which I never felt in high school. It felt good to not feel like I failed, but instead did good and felt great. There also was a lot of prayer involved. I prayed so hard to feel great, to be strong, to not feel the pain in my body, to watch over everyone who was running, to remember and honor those who lost their lives, to be thankful for what I have, to be full of gratitude always and so much more.

Now my brother wants me to do another in if only I can convince my body to stop hurting when I run, I'd be all for it. I am proud that I got right back into running four days after my race. I know this is a new found peace for me. Just me, some good tunes and good fashioned hard work to get to a finish line. :)

The professional finish line pic.

Christina, me, and Brandon sporting our medals after the race. 

Can't forget the beef! I wore my Team Beef jersey and proudly posed
in front of the KKOW cow. 

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