Race Day

On Sunday I experienced my first real “race day”. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I discovered was fantastic!

I stumbled out of bed at 4:00 in the morning, found my clothes and convinced my eyes to accept my contacts.

We joined 27,000 other runners in a stock-yard-type corral fencing, waiting for the countdown to begin.  I was filled with adrenaline and excitement – ready to cross the starting line.

My team members waited outside the fence, encouraging me and giving me some great words of advice. Matt’s Uncle warned that the adrenaline would affect my breathing. He reminded me to keep MY pace, to ignore the people around me and keep my breathing under control. I had a long 9 miles ahead of me and I would need to start strong so I could end the same way.

As the music accelerated in volume and tempo, the countdown began. The gun fired and we were off!

Running through the streets of downtown Oklahoma City was amazing. The streets looked like the rolling waves of the sea, filling every space between the buildings. I couldn’t stop smiling as I let myself be swept away in the rolling tide and was SUPER thankful for my playlist – it kept me grounded and running at a consistent pace.

I came upon two runners who were standing very close to each other. As I came closer I noticed each man had formed a tight first with their hand and their hands were touching. I thought this was odd until I realized one of the men was blind. The two men were in perfect step with each other, with only their knuckles touching. I thought about that man for quite a while as I ran. His disability wasn’t stopping him from running and I was in awe of his friend who was willing to lead him through the course.

A couple blocks later my emotional state moved from sentimental to humorous. I actually started laughing after reading a sign held by people along the road. It said: “Keep going complete stranger! You can do it!”.  From laughter to shock, I almost tripped on the curb when I saw a guy running barefoot while wearing a kilt.  People said at mile fourteen this same guy had flagged down a medical team to help with his bleeding feet…ouch!

While running through a neighborhood a huge banner hung between the trees read “Gorilla Hill”.  When I made it to the banner I was greeted by a dozen or so people, dressed in full-body banana costumes, reaching out to give us encouraging high fives.At first I didn’t understand the banner, but I was very thankful for the distraction of people in banana costumes – Gorilla Hill had an extreme slope and was a killer to climb!

After finishing my six miles, I met up with Matt’s mom and continued walking/running with her during her 5K section. We finished our part and handed off our timer to Matt. He bolted down the road and I was so excited to pass the responsibility for this race to someone else! :o)

We loaded the bus that took us to the finish line and enjoyed waiting for our last team member to cross. I barely caught a video of Uncle Pat crossing the finish line but it was an amazing moment to see our team time at around 4:20 for the full marathon distance – we did great!

Some of you have written me such kind and encouraging notes as I’ve been on this journey to push my mind and body toward this goal, THANK-YOU!

To my sweet family who helped me prepare and then pushed me to do my best on race day, THANK YOU!

When it comes to your own personal “race day” I know God will give you what you need to succeed.  When I didn’t want to go to the gym or run outside I kept remembering Paul’s challenge in 1 Corinthians 9:24  to “run in such a way as to get the prize”. My prize was to finish the race. I wasn’t interested in getting the best time or winning a medal – I just wanted to finish and to know that I didn’t give up along the way.

For some of us our prize will come when we are able to accomplish the race of time-management, physical fitness or even helping our children conquer their own “race” of sorts (potty training, temper tantrums, sibling rivalry). The important thing to remember is that our pace is unique to us and it’s okay if others run the same race a bit faster or slower. Sometimes we need to follow my Uncle’s words – to focus on our pace and enjoy the journey without worrying about what other people are doing around us. Each of our children will run their races at a different pace and in a different way and that is okay, as long as they don’t give up!

How about you? What race are you running or preparing for right now? Maybe you’re getting ready for a life change or some sort of challenge has come up against you. What “prize” are you focused on? Share in the comment section and let another mom know that she isn’t alone!

You guys are so wonderful!


3 Responses to “Race Day”

  1. 1 PDX Running Chick May 1, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I like Hal Higdon’s marathon training schedule out of all the ones I’ve tried, but I don’t follow it strictly. I believe more in listening to your body. I run 5 days a week, which is what Hal recommends (and he’s run a bazillion marathons so he must know something) 🙂 and I try to stay close to his recommended mileage, but if I feel like I can go a little further I do, and if I can’t make his mileage, I don’t. I am not trying to win a race, I’m just trying to finish. I just love to run. 🙂

  2. 2 PDX Running Chick May 1, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Great post, congratulations on your first “real” race! I’m sure it won’t be the last 🙂 I am preparing for the Newport Marathon on June 2 — I’m excited to give it another try — my first marathon of the year did not go as I would have liked so I’m working hard to make the next a better outcome!

    • 3 Kasey Johnson May 1, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      I’m so impressed that you are running the entire marathon! I hope one day I can do that – for now I’m going to try and run a couple 5Ks to prep for a half marathon here in Kansas City in October – any suggestions for training resources or regimens? Suggestions appreciated and thanks for liking my post! Good luck to you!

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