Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thoughts from an UltraMarathon…

It has been almost two months since I ran the Lakefront 50. I have had two months to process my feelings regarding race day and the season as a whole. Please note that this might be long, but I truly hope you read it.

This season was such an incredible journey. When I stepped out in faith to set two big goals, I was scared. I was constantly second guessing my ability to train my body for 50 miles, and I often feared people would laugh or scoff when they heard I was trying to raise $20,000. As always, God put people in my life to reassure me that this was what I was supposed to be doing in 2017.

Early on in my fundraising, family friends committed to donating each month to my page. This jumpstarted my belief we could all change a lot of lives together. For my birthday in April, I had numerous people help me run and come to my birthday party fundraiser. These two events helped me believe that raising at least $10,000 was possible for the third year in a row.

A huge fear of mine didn’t have anything to do with race day. I was simply doubtful I had it in me to actually train properly for a 50 mile race. I kept looking at different race training plans, and I truly believed there was no way my body would allow me to log that many miles. Plus, how in the world would I even find that much time to train?

Thankfully I have incredible friends who also dream big and have hearts for Africa. As I watched friends train for IronMan, I slowly convinced myself I could do the same. When I read about people running the Longest Day Marathon, I was inspired to keep going.  Facebook can actually be a pretty motivating platform JAs I helped lead the Blaine Group Run, I realized that I could follow my own advice. One run at a time.

I also have friends who were willing to give up their own time to help me train. My friend Jen wasn’t even training for a race, but she ran with me almost every Sunday morning so that I could always have company on my back to back weekend runs. My friend Holly woke up bright and early many times so that I could beat the heat or the rain during my long weekday runs. I had an entire entourage when I completed my 31 mile training run.  Plus, that day alone, friends and family donated almost $1500!!! I seriously have the best people in my life.

The Twin Cities Marathon was another definite destination on my journey, and it is a day I won’t forget. Simply running to run without any goal in mind was fantastic. I loved being with Amy, and we even survived the HORRIBLE weather. My hamstring injury was there, but it wasn’t bad. The best way I can describe it is by simply saying my hamstring was saying hi. It wasn’t overly painful, it was just noticeable. When I woke up the next day with only hamstring pain and zero soreness in any other muscle, I felt confident that I could truly run a 50 mile race.

And this is where my story took a slight turn. When I woke up from the Twin Cities marathon without added soreness, I was stoked. For the first time ever, I could walk up and down stairs without a problem post marathon. To be honest, I could have used a dose of humility, as I was pretty proud of this. I should have also been smart and taken time off. Instead, I ran full out on that Tuesday. I felt great during the run and was once again a bit too proud. The next day, my hamstring wasn’t happy.
For the remaining couple of weeks, I dealt with a nagging hamstring. I never felt the need to take any time off to rest, but I did cut a few runs a couple miles short. In retrospect, I should have taken extra time right after TCM to let my body heal properly. I didn’t, so race day fell apart.

Race Day was COLD. This did not make my already angry hamstring any happier. I also had stomach issues that kept me visiting the porta potty. By mile ten, I was doubting my ability to run 50 miles. If you follow me on FB, you know that I almost quit after mile 25. Despite being on track to finish with plenty of time at the halfway point, I knew it would be rough, and I wasn’t sure I had it in me. But I kept going.  Thanks to constant crying out to God, perfectly timed prayers and donations from family and friends, and my older brother, I crossed that finish line. It was ugly, and I was a blubbering mess, but I did it.

If I am honest, I was rather angry on race day and for a couple of weeks after the fact. I trained so hard for that day, and it was disappointing to barely finish (if all had gone according to plam, I should have finished at least an hour sooner and with at least some energy). I was in so much pain that I could barely move. My hamstring was shot, my quad was super swollen, and I had blisters all over both feet. I felt stupid for even trying.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, it wasn’t about me. Unfortunately, though, it had become about me. I was so focused on accomplishing 50 miles that I forgot why I set that big goal in the first place. I was so proud of being able to cross off mile after mile on my training plan that I forgot to focus on the kiddos who needed me to advocate on their behalf. In short, I made it about me, and that was my mistake.

I don’t necessarily believe God was punishing me on race day, but I believe that race day happened the way it did for a reason. Being in pain made me cry out to God in a way that has only happened one other time in my life. Bleeding blisters made me admit that there was NO way I could do this on my own. Barely finishing made me remember that I don’t do this for my benefit. I do this so that others can have life. I do this as a way of honoring God. I do this so that kiddos in Africa can feel the love of Jesus through my running and fundraising. I choose to run so that others don’t have to.

And that my friends is the condensed (ha!) version of my 2017 journey J

I am still seeking support, so if you want to still donate, you have a few days! If we can get 23 clean water donations in the next three days, a total of 200 people will have new life this year. Let's see how many lives we can change!!!