“Don’t over train”  were the words of wisdom I heard at my first group run for this particular marathon.  When I heard this, I seriously wondered if one could ever really over train for a marathon.  As it turned out, as the events in my life during the 18 weeks of training, it became difficult to train and let alone over  train!  Over training was not a concern getting enough training in was the question.

Between a stress fracture and the medical/life issues with my parents, I missed 6 weeks of training – the 6 weeks that I consider the most important.  I missed the 2 – 18 mile runs and the 2- 20 mile runs!  The longest distance I ran prior to the marathon on the 6th of June was 16 miles!  So there was concern on my part as to whether I had enough training, conditioning and endurance to go a full 26.2 miles.  Since I had run 2 previous marathons, I decided to go for it!

Saturday was cold and rainy. While I enjoyed the cooler temps, I really detest running in the rain!  There is nothing worse, as far as I am concerned, than getting soaking wet and running for miles.  I was praying for overcast skies and no rain, cool temps for the morning of the race.  The forecast was calling for isolated thunderstorms.  Things were not looking good for race day!

Sunday morning I awoke to clear skies, coolish temps (about 56 degrees) and the sun rising on the horizon.  My son called the weather number and we heard that the humidity was at 94% at 5:45 AM.  It was not a good sign!  Upon arriving at the race site, it was chilly in a tank top and shorts, but once the race started, I warmed up quickly.  The humidity began to take its toll around mile 3 and by mile 5 the routine that would be followed through out the rest of the course was 1/2 packet of gel washed down with water at every water stop.  I went through more gels in one race that I did in all of my training!  But it worked and I didn’t cramp during the race!

This is around mile 3 - I think

This course was a challenging one.  It had some major hills – the first one coming between miles 17 and 18.  It was incredibly steep but thankfully fairly short.  There was this elderly Asian man running up the hill at the same time.  His comment is priceless, “This one a bit steep.”  That was an understatement.  It took some time to recover from that hill.  There were two other hills at miles 25 and 26.  By mile 24 I just wanted to be done so the hill at mile 25 was walked and then from deep within, I was able to get enough energy to push through and run the hill at 26.  With only .2 to go, the crowd was helpful and while I thought I was totally spent at by mile 23 or 24, I found the energy to Kick that last .2 and actually sprinted  most of it.

It was a beautiful course that ran along the Mississippi River

The conditions were brutal with regard to the temps and humidity, the course was challenging and I still was able to run a personal best.  I completed the 26.2 miles in 4:59  – breaking the 5 hour mark  on this my 3rd marathon.  Which  makes me wonder – what would have I done if I had not lost 6 weeks of training?  I will never know – but with each marathon I continue to shave 20-30 minutes off my time.  So  at this rate only 2 more marathons and I will qualify for Boston!

This is when I knew I had finished under 5 hours - my PR!

My son also ran the marathon and finished in 4:19 – it was his first race and he did well given the conditions.  The mother of one of his Cross Country team members helped him through the hill at mile 26.  He is a bit stiff today and extremely tired, but should recover somewhat quickly.

And just like only God can do – the rain held off until after I was home, showered and off to a luncheon at church – then it was a torrential downpour.  I am so thankful that the Lord held the rain back until after the race course was clear!

Meeting up with my son post marathon!

While I was able to finish this race and push through the pain, the medal I received at the end of the race is not the reason I run.  I run to gain the discipline for the rest of my life – to run the race to finish the course that has been set up for me before the beginning of time.  To make my maker look marvelous and glorify Him with every breath and step that I take. There is truth in the following verses –

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control,  lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  – I Corinthians 9:24-27)

I do not run for the medals and stuff one gets for registering and finishing races – but to finish the marathon of life well.  To do all that the LORD has already laid out, to bring Him glory in completing this life well, to not be disqualified.

That is the real marathon.  To Him be the glory forever.

(All photos in this post were taken by and purchased from Marathonfoto)