I ran a marathon on Sunday. This is not uncommon for me as this was marathon #6. In many ways I am still feel like a novice marathoner. In other ways, I am past the beginning stages and moving to the next level. Sunday’s race was on one of my favorite courses, but it is challenging. The Minneapolis Marathon is a beautiful course as it runs along the Mississippi River and through Fort Snelling State park. It is challenging because of the size and location of the hills along the course. The biggest hill comes as you begin mile 18 – it is a long, very steep hill that will knock the legs out from under you. This hill has been nicknamed, “Hill McNasty”! Plus there are some long and steep hills at miles 25 and 26.
On top of the course challenges, race day was the first HOT and HUMID day we have had. Since the spring has been generally cool and rainy – my body was not ready for the temps and the high humidity. The day started at 80% humidity and the sun was shining.
There was the fact that 2 weeks earlier, I ran Fargo. While I have been running since that race, my body was still recovering. It was the first time that I ran 2 full marathons so close together. While the humidity was high in Fargo, the temps were not as high and it was overcast, which made it an almost perfect running day. There was a wind that day, but it was nothing compared to the sun beating down on you as you run. So I knew going into this race that I would not get a personal best time.
There were about 5,000 runners and three races – the full marathon, the half marathon and the marathon relay – all starting at the same place and time. This was one of the few races where the racers seemed to stayed bunched up for the first 5 miles. The pack was tight and it was hard to find a place to run where I could stretch out and hit my stride. It generally takes me a couple of miles to hit my stride in a race, and this time, I never really hit my stride. I struggled with pace and stride the entire race.
Running a marathon is mainly mental and nothing will test your mental edge like a fall during the race. A fall at anytime is challenging but when you fall in the first 7 miles, it is difficult to recover. For the first time ever, I fell in a race. I am not sure what happened exactly, but there were some pot holes in the road and I must not have hit one quite right and down I went. I looked like I was sliding into 3rd base! It must have been pretty impressive as several runners stopped to help me up and make sure I was ok. I ran most of the race with pain at various places – left elbow; right knee, and hips. Later in the race, my left foot was having some difficulty as well. Mainly it was my pride that was hurt. It was hard to recover and run strong – always lurking in the back of my mind was the question, “will I fall again?”
While it was a hard race and a tough day, I was able to finish. My time was not great, but then sometimes there are more important lessons to be learned than getting a personal best! I was able to persevere and finish the race on my own two legs – the first goal I have for every marathon. While it was not a pretty race, I stayed the course and finished the race.
Life is like a marathon. It takes perseverance to make it from the beginning to the end. There are hurdles to jump, pot holes to navigate around and injuries to manage! Life is a panorama not a snapshot. Looking at Sunday’s race, one would think I was not a strong runner. But when one looks at what has been going on in my life over the past few months or years, one would be cheering that I had the courage to go to the start line and then the endurance to make it through the race and finish.
I am thankful to those who encouraged me along the way. But mainly I am thankful to God who has given me endurance to run the race of life with perseverance. Life is hard, but God is Good!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1).
Thankful to be running with endurance the race that God has set before me.