Friday, May 11, 2012

Reflections on Broad Street

 My "Medal" (blurry, but there it is!)

On Sunday morning I accomplished something that just one year ago I would have never dreamed I could do.  Scratch that.  Six months ago, I would have never dreamed I could do.  In fact, Sunday morning at 8:30 am, I was still not sure I would be able to do this....

I ran the Broad Street 10-Mile Run with 40,000 other people through the streets of Philadelphia!  Without stopping!

What a rush!  What an amazing experience!  What a complete shock! :)

Yes, I have been training since January.  Yes, I have run approximately 3x per week.  Yes, I have been working very hard.  But up til this race, the most I have ever run at once?  Six miles.

I have to give major props to my college roommate and "running coach" Rebecca.  After deciding to run together, she kept on my butt kept me accountable to my running schedule and texted me many, many messages of encouragement.  She is the one who kept telling me that I could do this.  I was not so sure.  I can't imagine having a better running partner that day.  She kept pace with me, she checked in with how I was feeling, she gave me those gummy sugar thingies that runners use for energy boosts, and she made me run out the last few hundred feet full speed.  (Let me tell you - there is not much better than PASSING PEOPLE on the way to the finish line!)
I was surprised by how emotional I felt at different points throughout the race.  I thought I would be excited....but didn't know I would also develop a big ol' lump in my throat and find tears springing to my eyes.

The first time was as I passed the 5 mile mark and realized that I still felt good.  We could see City Hall looming ahead, and I was just enjoying seeing all the different neighborhoods, people, architecture as I ran along.  One of the things I really enjoy about cities is how they are just a patchwork quilt of all of God's people.  It really is amazing.

My second teary moment occurred around mile 7-8.  I had already exceeded my own personal best, and I was still feeling strong.  It was around that point that I realized I could finish this race and run the whole way.  That alone was exciting, but at that point, I felt overwhelmed by the community? solidarity? oneness? (not sure what term to use) with all the other runners. Let's just say that I was not at the front of the pack with all the die hard runners, and the people around me seemed very similar to me - people who just wanted to cross that finish line!  Yet along the race path there were people holding signs that said things like "Don't give up" and "You can do it" and even "Free high-fives here"!   I know that these signs were not meant for me personally, but it kind of felt like they were anyhow.  It was just what I needed to keep going.

Finally, as we hit the last mile, there were a lot more spectators along the sides of the road.  At one point, they were all cheering and yelling for the runners, and the verse Hebrews 12:1 came to mind.  It says:  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  It was such a tangible reminder to me that in running - AND in life - we are never alone...and we should never give up.  The cheering may not have meant much to some of the runners, but it was a powerful moment for me. 

So where do I go from here?  A few people have asked me if I will do it again.  And my answer is:  I don't know (and probably not!)  It was an amazing experience, and I am so, so glad I did it.  I can cross it off the bucket list.  And I now have this wonderful memory to carry with me in my heart.

BUT, it was a lot of training and work.  Like, A LOT. At times it felt hard to juggle the need to "train" with the reality of my life, which includes small children who can't be left alone while I go out to run.  And there is the pressure of running longer and longer distances, which stressed me out sometimes.  And honestly, I think I am more of a short distance running kind of gal.  A 5K sounds great right about now!  

I do want to continue running, however.  I just want to incorporate other forms of exercise into my this point I feel like I have muscular legs - but puny arms and a poochy tummy!  But I hope running will always be a part of my life.

Finally, I want to thank each of you who encouraged me in this process.  It means more to me than you will ever know!  Thanks for sharing this journey with me.

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