Why would anyone feel the need to push their body to run 26.2 miles straight? Why would anyone want to train and commit to exhausting their muscles?
I know at some point in my life those questions have popped in my head...or maybe it was, "A marathon? How many miles is that?"
Let me begin by saying that I have never been one to run distance. The farthest I had run the moment that I had made the decision to embark on this journey was 3 miles...and that was in high school. Before that moment, I would never have considered myself athletic. I liked running...when it was a mile or two. Past that, I was a wimp and considered running too hard.
Now, now I've run 26.2 and might I add that it would have never happened without a very specific moment from the Lord. A picture that He put on my heart that only He could have done. A vision of running the race.
"Life with a brain injury is a marathon not a sprint." I heard those words over and over. What does that even mean?! Will Cale walk? Talk? Live life?! Will he be in a nursing home or in a hospital for the rest of his life? I don't know anything about a marathon and I don't enjoy sprinting.
Although I understand the picture the doctor, therapists, social workers, and nurses were trying to paint. I didn't like it. It wasn't something that I could reach out and grasp onto. It was just empty words that left an echo of more questions in my heart.
I didn't even know what a brain injury was!
As I was sitting across from April having dinner with Cale and another friend, I looked at her amused. Somewhere in conversation it was brought up that she has run a marathon. A marathon?! She started to tell us how when people ask her how she does it, she'll tell them she just doesn't stop and her goal is to beat the truck that comes to pick up all the cones.
I instantly started to think about how when people ask me how I do it, how I stay with Cale and keep going so strong, I say that God carries me. When things are so difficult and it feels as if I can't take another step or even my next breath, God carries me. It's not by my own strength. Thinking about this and as April continued telling me her story, I was brought back to sitting in the ICU hearing "Life with a brain injury is a marathon not a sprint." Everything started to unfold in my mind; the challenge, commitment, God carrying me and one day after running this hard race we will cross the finish line into Heaven and Cale will be whole and we will be in glory. The pain will be over. The tears will be gone. The aching of loss will be no more. We will have victory.
As soon as I made it back to the hotel room with Cale I announced that I was going to run a marathon. I told him it might be in 5 years or 10...but no matter what I'm going to run 26.2! The tangible picture of training for the run and the desperation for the finish line and knowing that God would carry me every step was exactly what I needed. It was a special kind of gift from the Lord.
All of this took place March 2012. Soon it was summer and life kept going. When August hit I realized that if I just wait-wait for the "perfect" timing to start training, waiting until I was brave enough, it would never happen. I decided to start training. I will confess that I didn't really have a clue of how to go about it either...and had to ask for help.
I started with a training plan for a half marathon and then picked a full for the end of June to run. Through this process, God has made Himself known to me in a very intimate way. He's revealed things in my heart and met me in a very deep real way. He's also made the journey really exciting with the people that he's brought into my life to run with! Relationships were made that wouldn't have been so close if it wasn't for the time we ran together.
It has been a beautiful struggle of mile after mile.
On June 22nd 2013 I ran my very first full marathon. All 26.2 miles were God given and blessed. My heart in all of it was representing Cale and myself and our walk on this journey with the Lord. So many times through the run I teared up! Rachel ran with me and for both of us it was such an emotional experience. I do realize that some people are just crazy amazing and can just run a marathon with no problem, but that wasn't us. This was hard work training for it and committing to it. It was grueling at points during the race. Through the entire marathon, I was picturing the accident and the moments right after. I pictured all the days and months spent in the hospital. I pictured all the people that have been brought into our lives because of the accident. I thought about the progress Cale has made and the times that felt as though we were going backwards. I thought about all the times that I've had to keep going even when everything within me cried out to stop.
There came a time when the finish line was in sight and as I looked to my left I saw Mama and Cale. A little further I looked to my right and saw Mike. A little farther and Rachel and I grabbed hands and ran past the finish.
As I was running and would tear up it was the thought of how it was really happening. This chapter in my life that I had walked (or ran!) with the Lord was closing. It was this picture that for months I had pictured and thought of. I had prayed and surrendered and as I my legs ran pass the finish line the joy of all the promises from my King rang deep in my heart.
It meant the world to me to have those that were at the finish to be there. It was beyond perfect to run with Rachel and have her by my side just like she's been through this entire journey. It was such a comfort to know...
...He carries me.
When life sucks.
when life is full of disappointments
when thing after thing doesn't go the way we want
when all we feel is anger and bitterness
when we feel like giving up
when test results come back
when we lose jobs
when we can't financially feed our family
when the rope seems to have ended
when it feels like the next breath is forced
when your muscles are going to give out...
He carries you.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. -2 Timothy 4:7
This was our longest run before the marathon. We felt pumped and ready for the race!
So thankful to experience this with one of my best friends. We hit traffic on the way up...which created more memories :)
During the expo Friday night I was terrified! Suddenly the idea of what I had committed to seemed a tad too big for me to complete...on my own strength that is!
My biggest fan :)
She made this run possible! Mama was so great about staying with Cale so I could get all my runs in!
At this point my heart was pounding! Cale was the sweetest husband!
The start and finish!
Rae, we did it girl. We did it! Thank you Jesus! I'm so thankful for our friendship and all that you've been for me. I love you friend! In a big serious way.
Huge hugs after I was done along with "I'm so proud of my girl!" His was the face I saw while running! Thank you Jesus for this man of mine! He is worth every mile...
Here's two videos of the start and then the finish...
So...Cale and Kylie made a little sign for me for when the race was over. This first video I had no clue about and no clue that Mama was sneaky enough to bring it on the trip. The second video is me seeing it :)
Gear I used...
-Hal Higdon training plans- 13.1 Novice 2 (started with Novice 1 and moved up to 2 after a few months) and 26.2 Novice 1
-Nike App to keep track of runs and progress. I also had used Map My Run App but felt after time that the Nike App was more accurate.
-My favorite shoes http://www.mizunousa.com/running/products/mizuno-womens-wave-inspire-9
-I used a camelbak while running and loved having it! I didn't use this same one but here's what it was http://www.rei.com/product/832314/camelbak-marathoner-hydration-vest
-I listened to audio books while running. I mixed it up and found that books that were deep were frustrating because I couldn't underline and mark the nuggets!
-I wore http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/womens-ua-authentic-17-capri/pid1238184-001 for all of my long runs and the race (while weather was warm). I loved them!
-I used http://www.mappedometer.com to help plan out routes once we were home from the hospital
Hmm...I can't think of anything else!
Except that once I get to Heaven and finish this race of life...I won't feel the soreness! :)