I have been excited to write this blog for a long time. Processing through my first marathon is exciting, tiring, full of dreaming.
I joined ASICS Mammoth Track Club a year ago. Feeling like God wanted me to run full-time was a leap of faith at first, and now, in hindsight, I see His intricate way of revealing His plans. He has walked with me every step, showing me that when I say “yes” to Him, He will faithfully carry out all He has for me.
I’ve known that the marathon would be the distance I wanted to pursue for a long time. However, I never expected to race a marathon so young. At 23 years old, I feel so thrilled and excited to start my marathon career.
I picked Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, as my first marathon for many reasons. Firstly, I felt like it was the marathon that gave me peace, that made me excited. I’m all about scenic courses. I don’t really get to see much of it while I race; I’m grinding. But, I love racing new places, and in the Midwest or East Coast, despite sometimes difficult weather. Plus, I liked that it gave me a bit more time to train, versus an earlier race in the year. It also isn’t a major marathon, but it’s still competitive. Perfect combination for me. I like courses that let you have some peace and quiet. I love to focus, but also to feel the crowds at points. And, it’s the 16th oldest marathon in the US. The whole town takes it on, and it’s special. The marathon even takes over the local paper the day after the race.
My prep for my marathon and build up went perfectly, so I was fit and ready to go. The plan was to race conservatively the first 16 miles and to be patient.
I got to stay with a sweet friend when I flew into Minneapolis. We ate a trendy vegan restaurant downtown. It was the perfect way to end a long day of travel. After enjoying the next morning and running in a torrential downpour, I took a shuttle to Duluth. I was thankful I made it to Duluth safely and quickly. Many professional runners getting to the race were delayed or stuck in Duluth, due to weather.
When I got to my hotel, I found that my roommate had dropped out, giving me a quiet, peaceful, and clean room. The days leading up to the marathon went smoothly and were relaxing. More than anything, I felt like God was prepping me for a good race. However, truthfully, I was nervous about the distance and nervous I’d have to pee (sorry; TMI, but the truth is the truth). But, I also knew I was ready to go. I did all I could to prepare well, to put in more miles than I ever have. I was the fittest I’ve ever been in my entire life. So, I prayed that God would give me joy, that He would delight in me as I raced, that my confidence would be in Him alone.
Race morning, my Garmin was malfunctioning. I raced with a good friend, Brianne Nelson, from Adidas ADP, so she brought me an extra watch in the a.m. As I walked quickly to Starbucks in the a.m. for a few sips of coffee and plain oatmeal, I prayed that God would make my Garmin work. After completely reseting it, it read: “0%,” despite charging it the day before. Brianne and I got on the elite bus and I showed her my watch, continuing to beep and say, “low battery.” Then I prayed, “God…you can make my Garmin get through this marathon. I mean, even if it’s just the first few miles.”
And, as I raced, my Garmin functioning on “0%” battery made it through the entire race. And, as it beeped for every mile (and also that it was low on battery), I was reminded that God was giving me strength, that He was with me. I didn’t expect my Garmin to be God’s voice over and over, every mile, whispering to trust him, to focus on him, to praise him.
As Brianne and I raced next to each other, a few men in the race decided to act as pacers, helping us through mile 20, reading each mile split, pointing out the elite bottle table, and encouraging us. Racing the marathon with Brianne was encouraging and so helpful. The men took pride as we passed Kenyan women that had gone out too fast. The entire race was in a fog cloud, as the lake water spewed it’s mist at us. For the majority of the race, we couldn’t see very far ahead, making it difficult to take tangents. But, just like faith, you can’t see what’s ahead. Instead, God asks us to faithfully trust him. Patiently we pushed. We rode the grind of the marathon. As we got further into the race, spectators let us know we were 4th and 5th women in the race. We then passed one more, making us 3rd and 4th.
I didn’t hit a wall, even though I started to feel the real fatigue in the last mile to half mile left. As I took the hairpin turn after mile 26, my legs decided they were done. Perfect timing with .2 to go. As I crossed the line, I felt excited and relieved, and joyful. Taking 4th with a time of 2:35.17, hitting the Olympic “A” standard, I feel confident that this is just the brim of marathons for me. A few days after the race, with tired legs and a tired body, I’m already thinking about what my racing schedule will be this next year and which marathon I’ll race next.
My sweet friend, Brittany, who I got to see before the race sent me an acoustic version of Jeremy Camp’s ‘My God’…
It played through my mind race morning.
All of who You are reaches the darkest parts
Lifting the weight and erasing the scars that had a hold on me
Here I am bearing all, tearing down every wall
So amazed by Your grace and the way You’re still holding me
Whoa whoa, whoa whoa
My God, You are the unchanging love
My God, Your heart sends hope from above
The great Creator, beautiful Savior
I’ve been redeemed
There is life now from Your victory
You are my God
You are my God
Now, it’s time to rest. rest. rest. And, repeat.