Do you have those times in your life when you say, “I’ll never…”
“We are NOT moving to Mankato.”
“I am done having kids – tie my tubes Doc!”
“I will never lose my temper like that again.”
“This is my last marathon.”
Well I may never say never again… because after the last race which was a black flag day in Duluth, the worst conditions and many friends who didn’t even finish, I said that. I would never put my body through this pain and agony again. I didn’t eat for 3 days. I would complain about that race… well I still complain about that race!
Soon after that race I ran a trail marathon and said I was converted! Trail races from here on out!
Then we moved to Mankato (note the above “I will never move to Mankato”) and have very limited access to trails and races on trail…(Friends you have great paved biking and walking trails, but where I have been for 20 years we call it a trail if it has big rocks, big roots and dirt. Lots of dirt. No concrete.)
Well as I was celebrating our move, the completion of a hard church history paper and surviving some kind of Influenza B from the bad place where only people who throw garbage out their window on a highway go to… I said to Brian, “What if I ran the Mankato Marathon?”
I texted a new friend who was also going to run it. I considered my health and time availability this summer. And then I clicked on “register” and considered it a way to embrace my new community.
Training went awesome. Other than that one day they were telling people to stay in their AC all day in July and the heat index was deadly and I ran 12 miles… All my miles seemed to go smoothly and I wasn’t injured.
This last week I was anxious about getting enough rest. As I get older my body feels better and better, but man I can sleep like a rock after those long runs.
Thursday night: the most important night according to some, let’s just say I did not sleep enough.
So Friday night I did better and woke up at a restful 6am since the race started at 7:30am about 1.5 miles from my house. I took my Vaseline bath, laced up my trusty purple New Balance shoes and drove my happy self to the starting line while singing Lauren Daigle’s “Rescue” – my fav tune of late.
Team World Vision runners were gathering for prayer and encouragement (people who run races but also raise money for clean water through World Vision). I was listening to them pray and just was overwhelmed.
Over the past 24 hours I had gotten so many texts and Facebook messages of encouragement from my new Mankato community I started to cry. I turned to my new friend Kristin and told her why I was crying and she hugged me. I said, “Kristin, I need to get my crap together. I am about to run a marathon!”
We lined up in drizzle and took off. Immediately shin splints took my breath away and I had to pull over and stretch. I managed to make it to where Brian and our new Network Church launch team was serving water and told everyone to pray for me.
It struck me that sometimes hard things happen right away and you just can’t overcome them.
Like we are trying to find a location for our new church and we haven’t found one yet.
Or sometimes your first year of marriage is NOTHING like a honeymoon
. Or you have a new baby and the kid cries, won’t poop and hates to nap.
Well, thankfully, Brian performed a healing (and all those who prayed!) and I was quickly feeling better.
Pain gone, I started to settle into my 4.5 hour run. I saw friends from church. I told a police officer thank you at an intersection and he responded with a “you betcha!” I met others who had run that ridiculously hot Grandma’s race. I met someone who recognized me from church. I ran with friends for a bit and then was alone for a few miles when my friend Clarice, who had trained with me for a bit, found me on the race course. She was such an encouragement to me while I trained, then there she was on race day!
There was some confusion with the mile markers that literally just about took my mental state to the same bad place where the garbage tossers go… I trucked up a hill and found the 23 mile marker and relaxed. I mean, as much as one who has run 23 miles can relax with 3.2 left…
I knew I had a friend waiting around 25. She has gone through the bad place and back, watched friends and family go through the same and I had been praying for her, her family and her situation for miles. I couldn’t wait to see her.
And then I saw her. Her whole family. New friends. We may become friends more quickly because of this new grief of hers. Isn’t it funny how God works!? I get excited just thinking of how excited I was to see her even now as I type.
Then there were my kids. My husband yelling “You are doing it! You are going to do it!” “Go Mommy!” and my daughter holding our friends’ baby Aurora. Even Aurora was waving at me.
The last few miles I wanted to quit. I thought about quitting in the sense of, “What if I walked it in right now?” But once you run that long, unless you are injured or simply worn out, you get into this place where you realize your heart won’t stop. You will keep breathing. And your legs – the legs just keep going.
I didn’t walk except 2-3 water stops and those shin splint stretched at mile 2. I kept shuffling. I pumped my arms so hard on hills that my biceps hurt today. I started counting my steps (10 steps, 10 times, .1 mile). I told myself I would finish. I would not die. I would finish.
I had a goal of 4:15 but didn’t make it. 4:20. 2+ min faster than my fastest in 2015. I enjoyed the fall colors. My new friends. Students I met 8 days ago who made me a sign to say “yay Sandi!” and posted it on Facebook. I drank my energy drink at just the right time. I was blessed with orange slices at just the right time. The sun came out and warmed me up at just the right time (like when I realized I couldn’t feel my fingers and hadn’t for a while).
I licked my lips a lot and Clarice, you were right, I needed to drink more! I licked my hands. I licked my arms. I licked the rain off my face. I needed every last drop to get me through.
Oh the parallels to real life. But 2 things stick out from this weekend.
I miss my life in Duluth. The trails. The races. Grandma’s. My friends who ran those trails and races. My backyard which must be gorgeous right now with fall colors.
But I am now here in Mankato. And God has given me so many friends in so many unexpected places. And many of them love to run or love that I do!
And secondly, we are all running our own marathons. Of grief. Parenting. Sickness. Parenting a sick child. Tough patch in your marriage. A break up. Loneliness. Lack of faith in humanity. Loss of faith in God. Hopelessness.
We need one another. Race day brings out the best in us and apparently, the best of Mankato. There were teams holding out grapes, Gummy Bears, water and Gaterade in the rain so we who are insane (someone told me that 10 times today at church) could run our race. Community matters. Friends matter when the race is going well or when shin splints sideline us. Or when we feel like we can’t take one more stop. Or when we expect to see mile marker 22 and it says 19.
So let’s be kind to one another. Cheer for one another. Send a letter. Make a meal. There is a good saying right now, “Be kind. We never know what the other person is going through.” And may other people’s hard races bring out our best.
And I am so grateful for all of the people who are helping the Askers who are going through a transition that isn’t life-threatening, but difficult nonetheless.
Brian ran the water stop, got donuts and coffee for his volunteers, coached XS at soccer then got all our kids plus 1 to watch me finish. Then took care of us all weekend so I could rest. He did that so I could run my race. Thank you dear one. I need you to run races and this race of life.
And to all of you who cheered for me thank you!
And to all of you who need cheering as you run, may God meet you and bring you a cowbell or a T-Rex at just the right time.
Oh and don’t worry, I won’t ever say this again: “That was my last marathon.”