Finishing the Race

Surprise!  I’m still alive!  Yes, I haven’t written in a very long while. What, you want excuses?  Hmmmm.  I don’t think I have any good ones, just melancholy head cloudiness going on.  It seemed to set in right after finishing the big 5K race.  Yep, 2nd man and I with the extra gracious help of the Lord ran and finished our first 5K race.  Upon finishing I felt, exhilaration, a great sense of accomplishment, humbleness, all on top of pain and gasping.  Here’s how the whole thing went down.
            I’ll begin with the fact that for over a month now I’ve been suffering from insomnia something terrible.  I don’t know why, I don’t have any unusual stress (outside of training) going on and I’m not depressed so I don’t know…hormones or something maybe.  Anyway, mistake #1 was that 2nd man and I got a run in on Friday before the race. Found out on race day that that wasn’t such a good idea.  Mistake #2 was that I went to bed early Friday night in the same room as 2nd man.  Of course I do this every night, but 2nd man harbors a deep dark secret…well not really, but he does occasionally sleepwalk.  Of course he did that night, of all nights, which awoke my insomniac self with adrenaline rushing through my system.  Arghhhh!  So off to the living room I went to try and bore myself to sleep via late night infomercials.  That’s not a good idea either.  I almost bought a steam mop, a bra, and an “everything” tool for 2nd man.  Thankfully the pocketbook is empty.
            Saturday came and I found out why it’s probably a good idea to run those races that take place in the morning.  I was so jacked up on adrenaline from nerves that my teeth were chattering.  I hadn’t had that happen since I gave birth to my last child.  2nd man likes to call it my Katherine Hepburn look when she shakingly says’, “you’re my knight in shining armor.”  (Not sure what movie that’s from just heard it somewhere.).   Anyway, I was just a bundle of nerves.  I wasn’t sure what a race would be like.  Would everyone be a pro at this?  Would there only be like 12 people even in the race or would I be able to blend in with the masses?  Then of course my worst case scenario thoughts kept plaguing me like coming in so far last that the police would be like, “lady are you coming soon?  We need to open the road back up.”  I wasn’t in it to win of course, but I didn’t want to be totally last either.  My mother-in-law (who is normally a fantastic and wonderfully godly woman) cheered me up by pointing out that these thoughts were prideful…sigh.  Now I was full of nerves and guilt! 
            Thankfully, I had booked a few things into the schedule that day like lunch with friends who were in from out of town and a baby shower too.  I had to inform my kids that they’d have to get themselves prepped for Sunday on their own.  I normally walk them through picking out their clothing and getting their stuff all together like offering, Bibles and Sunday school homework on Saturday.  However, I was useless in any area of practicality for the day.  I even went to the local grocery store to take my blood pressure because of a fantastic headache I was harboring.  Sure enough it was pretty high.  So with all of these conditions and the fact that I’m used to running in the crisp morning air, I learned that the next race will be a morning one.
            However, we did make it to the race.  We had our pastor and his wife come to sit with our kids and watch.  Thankfully, there were a lot of people there and they were all very friendly.  I had read several places that runners have a friendly camaraderie about them, but I just wasn’t sure about our town.  Thankfully it was true.  The vibe in the parking lot was so much fun to be around.  There were all levels of people there.  We were specifically impressed with three lanky young men who were practicing in the field next to us, running like gazelles to warm up. I run very hard, heavy and frenetic.  These guys looked like feathers floating across the horizon…amazing.  There were those in their gear that looked like the ads for athletic footwear, there were chunky ones like me and then there was a pregnant woman.  I figured I could at least beat her.  She looked like an avid runner who was maybe 8 months pregnant or so. 
            When we lined up in the roadway, the organizers announced that people running for best time should move to the front, 2nd man and I sheepishly and slowly started backing up.  Then, in true Oklahoma fashion they started the race, not with a pistol, but a shotgun.  After all of our hearts started beating again, the race began.  I put my I pod on and focused in.  I was pretty amped and feeling good until about three minutes in, the pregnant lady passed us never to be seen again until after we crossed the finish line…way behind her.  Oh well.
            2nd man was great through the whole thing encouraging me along the way.  A few minutes in, people sort of separated into packs of like fitness levels.  2nd man would shout out to me over his headphones, “your looking great babe! We’ve got this!” to which a lady running near us shouted back, “thanks!” 
Although we’ve run together dozens of times in the mornings, for some reason all of the excitement must have worn me out.  That was the toughest run yet.  Even 2nd man said it was tough.  I wasn’t sure I’d finish until I actually did.  I mean, even like 20 yards away, I was actually unsure I would make it.  You know how people have pictures of crossing the finish lines with big smiles and hands held high?  Not mine, nope, I looked like I had just been tortured.  And Nope, I’m not posting that picture online for anything.  I couldn’t even hold the water bottle someone handed out to me.  I threw my I pod and sunglasses on the grass and took a good 5 minutes to catch my breath.  Then I felt like crying.  I don’t know why, I was happy, but also I was so thankful that God helped me finish…and not last, I might add.  We were somewhere in the last half, but not last.  We finished in just over 37 minutes, which was really good for me, having not ever been a runner until 10 weeks before this race.  I’m sure 2nd man could have blown that time out of the water, but he was my coach and encourager and stayed with me the whole way. 
            The whole thing was a very spiritual moment for me.  I don’t mean that in a hokey kind of way.  But finishing this race wasn’t going to be any world changing event, but God cared enough about me that even in my simple small requests, he took the time to listen and acknowledge me.  I appreciate and am humbled by that thought.  I’ve felt throughout the whole training process that it was just full of spiritual symbolism with our Christian race.  The times when your body is shouting at you just quit, it doesn’t matter, but you have to push through anyway.  Then there’s the whole idea of finishing whether it affects anyone else’s life or not.  Even down to the lady at the end of the race who was in our little “pack” that said, “you two encouraged me the whole way.” And we didn’t even realize it.  I can only hope I would live my Christian walk the same way…no…even better and stronger.
            In the days since the race, the perfectionist melancholy in me has been down in the valley.  The high I got from that race didn’t last very long and I still struggle when 2nd man and I go out for a run.  I haven’t lost weight through this whole process and wonder if I’ll ever really feel like a runner.  The mountaintop didn’t last long, but it was enough encouragement to help me push through this valley and keep going.  Part of that is truly why I haven’t been able to even sit and write about it.  God is good all the time, on the mountain and in the valley he’s there with me just like 2nd man encouraging me and saying, “Keep going, we’ve got this!”  Even though he could move on without slow learning me.  So, a grunting onward I go.
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