So our trip continues on to Chicago. At one of the stops along the way we found some inspiration on the wall. Little did I realize as I took the pictures, that the second one would be foreshadowing of my race day. And the crazy thing is…that I just reread it today and realized how true it was! God is so good…He knew I would need to read the words and find encouragement once again. The first picture was true too…we all planned to give our best to the streets of Chicago and not sacrifice the gift we had been given. I truly believe each one of us did that on October 11, 2015. Now, here’s the rest of the story….
As you can see from the above photo gallery, we had fun. #1 goal = accomplished. We all said we wanted to train hard but have fun. God blessed each one of us with a desire and gift to run. He then allowed our paths to cross due to running. Now, we are friends because of running but the thread that holds us together is our love for our Lord Jesus Christ. We encourage one another and lift one another up. We obviously have fun together and do all we can to point upward as we live.
We exploded through the expo. We gathered our numbers…took photos, many photos….We bought a few items(just a few)…We got our pace group info for race day….we just had fun with the MANY other runners who were doing the same. Once we were done at the expo, I split off from the girls to go meet up with a few Team Hoyt members who were running Chicago too. I met some new running friends at dinner as well. We had a great time catching up and celebrating these friendships. God started the Team Hoyt journey in 2012 and though I don’t run Boston with them any more, I am still part of the alumni and they will always be family.
One of the very cool parts of this story is that Jim and Riley, who I am seated next to, were part of the first group of DUOS allowed to run the Chicago Marathon. This was the first year they allowed Jim to push Riley after trying for the last two. I guess third try is a charm. 🙂 Jim is really fast – even pushing Riley. I had the great fortune of beating him at Boston 2014 because he started before me but stopped to walk and finish the race with Dick and Rick as I did. We finished together but due to my later start I beat him. I decided to mention that to him at dinner and then the next day I got a Facebook message stated that he beat me even having to push Riley through the crowds of people. They did not give them preferential treatment…they had to start way back in corral E. I was in D. 🙂 His chip time was 2 minutes faster than mine. Oh well, like I said, he is really fast. And, I deserved it! Go Team Hoyt! Yes, You Can!
Dinner was great and then off to the hotel to prepare for the next day! The hotel I met Team Hoyt in was about 2 miles away from my hotel. I took a taxi so I didn’t have to walk in the dark alone. 🙂 My taxi ride was a fun one. We started talking football….college football. Being a good SEC fan and an Arkansas fan I had to talk about the Arkansas vs. Alabama game I was missing and headed back to watch. We were actually leading and I wanted to see it played out. Throughout the ride through the city, the driver I continued to banter back and forth. He was from up north and didn’t have a dog in the fight but he sure had the last laugh when I exited the taxi. I told him to make sure he cheered for the Hogs and he quickly said, “Roll Tide!” At that point I was tempted to take my tip back. 😉
I beat the girls back to the room which gave me a chance to get my race gear ready. Once I was prepared I put my PJs on and settled in to watch the game. I was alone and able to enjoy the Arkansas lead for a while. As soon as the girls got back Alabama took the lead and kept it. It didn’t help that Deirdre is a HUGE Alabama fan. 🙂 She was very gracious unlike several I received text from that evening. 😉 At least we held our own and didn’t get slaughtered. Go Hogs!
I was able to fall asleep…but sleep was not easy. It was a lot like Christmas Eve. The anticipation for the next morning made the night a long one. It gave me time to pray and reflect but boy I was glad when the morning alarm finally went off….
RACE DAY is here! This is the day we have worked so hard for. Now we are all hoping and praying our training pays off and we finish well! We all got up on time and started our individual routines. It was real. We were doing this whether we liked it or not. We headed downstairs to the sea of runners headed to the start line. There were so many people. We jogged a little to warm up and get the nerves out. We finally made it to the welcome gate….and we had to stop and stand. There were so many people waiting to get through the bag check. It was crazy. It was a sign of things yet to come. Here are some statistical information provided by Competitior.com on the number of runners:
- 45,000 entrants are selected to run through a lottery, which had more than 70,000 applicants.
- A total of 37,182 runners finished the race (20,144 men, 17,038 women)
- Dickson Chumba won a slow men’s race in 2:09:25, while Florence Kiplagat won the women’s race in 2:23:33.
Crazy numbers – number of finishers and winning times. I will come back to some of the additional stats later.
We did make it through the bag check and in to the porta potty lines. Thankfully they were short. While we were waiting it dawned on us that this would be the last time we would be together. We all had different corrals. We grabbed hands – yes, as we waited on the porta potty to come available – we prayed. We asked the Lord to bless our steps, keep us injury free and help us to glorify Him as we ran. He answered those prayers…we all finished for Him! Once we all finished up we gave one another hugs and off we went….To run our own race! We all had had numerous texts and messages from dear friends and family encouraging us to do just that – run our race.
Run my race is just what I had planned. I decided to get with a pace group to help me do so. Nike provided runners who led different pace teams. A pace team is a group of runners led by an experienced leader who run together in the marathon. The pace leader runs a steady pace and keeps track of that pace so that the group can achieve their goal of finishing the marathon at a particular time. I wanted to finish in 3:45. My personal best is 3:48:59. I wanted to beat this time and go for around 3:45. Pace groups can be good and they can be bad. My experience was the latter. Here is how marathonpacing.com describes problems for marathoners: One of the biggest mistakes that marathoners make is starting out too fast and then hitting the wall in the later portions of the race. The pace team will run at an even pace per mile. Sadly for me this is what the pace group did after having two slower miles in the beginning. They did all they could do to catch up and this caused us to have 9 miles too fast. We were supposed to stay steady at 8:35 and we did not.
I have trained all season not looking at my watch and trying to run on feel…so on this day I did the same. If I had looked at my watch I would have realized we were way off on pace. I didn’t realize it due to the fact I felt like I was always jockeying for position to keep up with the pace group leaders. It was a constant up and back for those first 9-10 miles. There were SOOO many people out there. I constantly felt like I was in someones way or I was going to trip. It was crazy crowded! It was fun being with like-minded souls, in the city of Chicago, running a world major – but it was crazy crowded! 🙂 As you can see from my splits above I slowed down significantly the second half. You also may notice I had a record-setting mile 22, 23 and 24. I should be in the record books for mile 24. 🙂 I have NOOO idea what happened here…but I do know my watch said I ran a personal best 26.2 as seen below. LOL!
My mind raced during the first half. I was constantly talking to myself while trying to stay close to the pace team. Water stations were tricky and oh the turns in the course. Between the turns, the crowds and the water stations I was back and forth like a yo-yo with the pacers. Mentally it was exhausting. Finally, I remembered those words – run your race.
When I let these sink in and let the pace group go, I ran my race. Granted it was slower than I wanted but I ran it and finished well. The second half was mental as well. It was get through this course and enjoy. I was hurting and feeling every ache and pain. I know now it is from pushing too hard on the front end. You can not bank time. You can not start too fast in 26.2 and not have it bite you…you just can’t.
I would go through my ups and downs like the training. I had moments that I knew I could and would do it. Then I was trying to figure out ways to get to finish line without walking or running. Was there someone who would carry me or drive me? 😉 Then the amazing crowds would lift me up. I had on my music but seldom heard it because the crowds were electrifying! I did hear some of the music at just he right time. The song Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave came on. Mike and Chase sing this as a duet and I could hear them in my head. It lifted me and kept me moving. Another highlight was running through Moody University. I listen to Moody Radio daily and am encouraged daily. It was a quick shot of encouragement on the course. I kept putting one foot in front of the other repeating the faster you do it the sooner you get to quit. 🙂
Once I made to mile 20 I knew I had it. I can do a 10k in my sleep. But, then I remembered it would take me at least an hour. Oh, I didn’t want to run another hour. At this point, I took it one mile at a time. I had a PBJ on the run. I had Peanut M & Ms as well. My fueling was on target…now to get my mind and feet to follow suit. During the last 10k I did have to walk through some water stations and pull over to put BioFreeze on my hamstring. It was slow going but it was going. I hit the 5k mark and knew I had it. 3.1 miles was a walk in the park. One mile at a time….one mile at a time…. So the sign I was waiting for….ONE mile to go…finally came. At this point, I finally looked at my watch. I knew it had taken me 10 minutes to get to the start. The clock showed 3:58 and my watch had 3:48. I knew then I had 12 minutes to finish in under 4 hours, which was my secondary goal. The last mile was broken down in meters for us. At the 800 meter and 400 meter sign I was in the mode of “I so have this!” We did so many 400 and 800 meter repeats in training I knew I had it…and I did. I finished in 3:57:39. This was my official time and my watch time….even with the crazy splits…the two were identical. 🙂
I am thrilled with my finish and my run. How can I not be? I ran Chicago. I ran my 3rd world major. I ran with my amazing friends and I ran for HIM! He gave me desire and gave me the opportunity. Did I finish like I wanted? No. Is that okay? Yes! As Albert Einstein said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow!” I lived for the day. I will learn from it now that it is a yesterday and I will hope for tomorrow which is NYC, November 1.
Also, I was 10,336 out those 37,000+ finishers. I was 2995 out of 17,038 females. I was almost an hour faster than the average finish time for my age group – it was 4:50. I am thrilled! God was good. He showed up that day in many ways. He showed up in China Town in the form of music to keep me going. He showed up several times along the route when people yelled “Go Iron Lady!” (I had Iron Sharpens Iron on my shirt.) He showed up in a sign that had Philippians 4.13 on it – I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. He showed up every time I crossed a timing mat knowing it was sending a text to many of you. He showed up in the last mile when I saw 8oom LEFT and 400m LEFT. He showed up every step of the way! He was there and will continue to be there during my next steps. I felt Him! I felt the prayers! What a glorious day for a run!!!! Now to find my running angels…
We all found one another in the mass of people…the runners + spectators = unreal numbers. We hustled through the crowds to make it back to our hotel. We managed to stop and have our picture taken as a group – Chicago Marathon Finishers. We did it. Yoli and Deirdre met their goals of around 3:30. They both qualified for Boston 2017. Shannon and I finished our race and enjoyed leaving all we had on the streets of Chicago. This trip was a gift from God. He allowed me to run with like-minded friends and we have amazing memories we will live with forever. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
We made back to hotel in time to shower and get on the road. The second marathon of the day – the 12 hour drive home – was about to begin. We relived the day and kept one another awake as we made stops to refuel the car and ourselves on our way back to home sweet home – TN. Now on to the next one….NYC! I will learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow!
26 scriptures for the MARATHON – Marathon of life! Thanks to Dorothy Beal from MilePosts for compiling this list!
Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of age.
The Lord will work out his plans for my life.
I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as the mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.
To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.
I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we can not see. Hebrews 11:1
‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope.’
Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
I Timothy 4:12
We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.
With God’s help we will do mighty things.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3
We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:9
The Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you.
2 Thessalonians 3:3
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.
2 Corinthians 3:5
Be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.
Whatever you do, do well.
He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.
Anything is possible if a person believes.
The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize…
Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
2 Corinthians 4:17
I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.
Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.