Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Journey to 26.2: The Finish Line! Pt.3

Well I know it's taken me longer than I would have liked, to write the last part to this three part series (check out Pt.1 & Pt.2) regarding my experience running a marathon last month.

Honestly I had started a draft, last month! Yet after reading it, I decided to actually start all over.

Here goes...

It was race day! The race would begin at 5a.m. even though I never got up once in all my training to run at this time! I was up by 3:30a.m. the adrenaline was pumping! I was glad to have some friends come, along with my wife of course there with me. Made a difference to have their support!

We arrived to encounter the nearly 600 people that would join me in running (or I them:). The excitement inside of me was now really high. Yet I kept reminding myself to run my race, stick to my game plan and let nothing nor anyone deviate me from running my race.

It was obviously dark but several folks, including myself had little flashlights. I was in the middle of the pack sticking to my pace, watching my heart rate and relying on God for endurance and an ITB syndrome free run! Another concern was the weather. It was expected that it would rain, though as the race began it wasn't raining. But it would come!

I really have to praise God, because as I began to run I just fell into my zone as they say. It was like taking one of my long runs before my injury. Actually it felt a bit smoother because it wasn't as hot or humid and I had trained a lot in very hot and humide weather (easy to do in MS:)

I essentially broke up the race into four parts (mentally): 0-6.5m; 13m (half way), 19-20m, finish line. I felt that this was more of a mental thing for me. I tried to not focus on the finish line, nor mile 20 where many talk about the 'wall' (felt that when I did 26.2 on the treadmill!). I simply thought, "keep strong to 6.5m, then only think about 13.1" and so on. Call it what you want but it works for me.

Amazingly at the half way mark I was feeling good with no ITBS pain! It was raining on and off and though I had good running socks and even applied powder to help prevent blisters. The rain, the wet roads, naturally had my feet wet. Therefore, I could feel a blister forming but simply asked God for help and ignored it. Nothing I could do, plus it wasn't really hurting too bad.

My wife and friends were going to meet me at the half way mark, but I got there before them :) so when they realized that I must have come and gone they went out looking for me. They finally found me at around mile 19. Friends by this time I was feeling it and I was going up a hill. Sure it wasn't a very steep one but at nearly 20 miles this is where training was paying off!

Pushing up the last hill on mile 19
They cheered me on and that lifted my spirits. For the most part I had kept to myself through out the entire race (did speak to one guy a few words) and now I was aiming for the finish line. I was really beginning to feel it as I was approaching the last water station (about mile 24). I had picked up my pace a bit for several miles (trying to have a negative split, last half faster than the first) and now I was paying for it. I made sure to drink water and gatorade at the last water station. Now I was really speaking to myself and saying "2 more miles Javi, that's nothing!"

By mile 25 my ITB wasn't hurting praise God but the thighs were simply burning yet I kept pushing, only 1 mile left and the rain began to pour down! I made the turn toward the finish line and though I was tired I kept pushing and even sped up the last 200 yards or so to the finish line!

26.2 done!
I've been involved in competitive sports for a good part of my life (basketball, baseball, softball leagues, intramural football etc.) I've been part of 3 mens softball teams that won it all. Yet there was something special, at least for me, in finishing a marathon different from other sports.

No doubt that the parallels (of running a marathon) to one's spiritual life are many:

1. Proper preparation is important~~It is the same with our spiritual lives.
2. Having folks cheering you on helps~~Community and fellowship is a necessity in our spiritual journey.
3. Running a marathon is not just physical it's highly mental~~the spiritual life is a battle for the mind
4. Training for a marathon or other endurance sports you will encounter some tough times, don't get discouraged, stay focused~~our spiritual life is no different, we'll get discouraged, yet we must keep our focus on Jesus!
5. When you sense the finish line is so close you can see it, you will be revived and do what it takes to finish~~Jesus is coming soon, the finish line we can almost see, trust in Him, hold on to Him and He will take you to the finish.

It's been over a month now. I already have another marathon set for next February. I'm still battling some injuries but I've learned and I'm not giving up. I hope to run several more marathons (beyond next Feb.) and I'm beginning to train for an Iron Man (no date for that).

Along the way though, one of the greatest reminders (as previously mentioned) is to fully depend on Jesus in all things. As I mentioned in Pt. 2 my identity is found in Him not in running or anything else. Everyone that finishes a marathon is called a 'marathoner'. I'd rather be known as a committed follower of Jesus, who finished the race and helped many along the way to also finish and finish strong...


Intense Debate Comments - Last 5