Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Against the Wind

I awoke early Sunday morning in a cute little cottage by the sea and I could hear the wind howling outside.  It had finally quit storming, but no one had informed the wind and it was still going strong.  As I listened to it whip around the palm trees outside my window I said a prayer.  I try not to rush into the presence of God these days full of requests and things I want Him to do for me, but on this blustery day I walked quickly to His presence and said good morning.  I told him I knew He controlled the winds and told him of all the stories I'd read where He had done it.  Then I asked him if He would consider bringing it down a few knots.  I had a half marathon to run in 5 hours.

I had very little emotionally invested in this half-marathon.  Sure, I would have liked to PR and I believed I had it within me to do so.  But, I was still basking in my marathon PR and that was a bigger deal for the time being.  Still...listening to that wind I did not look forward to running in that at all.

My alarm woke me up again around 5:30 and I laid there listening...I could hear it, but it did not sound as angry as it did earlier.  Weather.com said it was 24 mph and 54 degrees outside.  I began to prepare myself mentally to just get through it.  I needed a long run that weekend and this would just be a way of getting that done.

Jason and I had coffee and got dressed, and then walked the 3 quarters of a mile to the start line.  I wore my long sleeved red Rocket City Marathon shirt and my black shorts from the Mercedes marathon.  Normally I would wear short sleeves in those temperatures, but with the wind I figured I would want sleeves for protection against it.

When the race began I still hadn't decided what sort of pace or strategy to follow.  In those few seconds of inching my way to the start line I decided to experiment.  Since I really was not emotionally invested, what if I tried to run hard the whole way?  If I bonked, I bonked.  But if I didn't, I'd PR.  So I ran.  I held my pace under 8 minutes until around mile 8, and that mile was an 8:01.  I told myself I did not need to run over 8's yet, and to get it back down to 7's.

I tried to utilize something Jason had told me.  He said he tries to run each mile for that mile only.  So in a marathon, he does not think of all the miles to come, he thinks only of the mile he is currently running and how fast he wants to run that mile.  So that is what I did.  I told myself I was not tired and for one more mile I could keep a sub-8 minute pace.  And then for one more and one more and one more. 

I did begin to feel fatigued around mile 10.  And it got worse after that.  Still, I did not want to drop pace and so I began to think about my friend Katie and her amazing 3:18 marathon.  Toward the end, when she began to grow tired, her mantra became "disassociate yourself" and she told herself she was really lying on a beach somewhere relaxing.  So, holding my pace as hard as I could (it had begun to creep over 8 by this point), I disassociated myself but not before I reminded myself that there was some GREAT seafood waiting for me after I finished this thing. 

At this point in the race the crowd of runners had thinned considerably.  I was still running with many of the people I'd seen in front of me, and as I watched their legs move over the pavement I wondered how they could run that fast.  Then I wondered how I could stay with them.  Little whispers of doubt crept in saying I was not that kind of runner. I could not hold sub 8 that long and I needed to slow down.  I fought these thoughts while willing my own legs to keep moving.

At last I saw the finish line and I knew I had a PR.  I ran for all I was worth telling myself to give it if I had it.  I started to catch a girl who had been running a good deal ahead of me the whole race.  She wasn't having it though and she shot forward, slowing back down after her brief spurt.  Still, I was not racing her.  The only girl I cared about beating on this day was myself and I took her DOWN.  I crossed the finish line in 1:44:19, a little over 3 minutes below my current PR of 1:47:44. 

I heard Jason's cheer and I smiled at him.  As I walked through the finishing shoot he said, "Don't pick blue."  I wasn't sure what he meant until I spotted the tables of Vera Bradley bags we got to choose from as our prize for finishing the race.  I picked green. 

I exited the shoot with my bag, banana and water bottle and told Jason I had PR'd.  I asked about his race and he said he had not run as fast as he'd wanted, but that he had still finished 2nd over all with a 1:19.  He said the course was much hillier than he thought it would be and I agreed.  He also complained about the horrible wind. 

The wind...I had hardly noticed it.  Thinking back, I could remember a few strong gusts at the very beginning but nothing after that.  I had run an average of 7:56 pace in supposedly strong winds, and I had not even noticed.  God may not have calmed the wind that day, but he made me strong enough to run against it.  As I stood on the beach looking out at the ocean the next day I told Him thank you.  It doesn't seem like enough, but my heart was much fuller than those two words can express.


  1. WOW, that is so amazing. I can't believe how fast you ran. 7:56 is just absolutely AMAZING!!!!!! You are on a roll!! Great job!

  2. congratulations, janie! that's awesome. you are so fast. [and i have that same red rocket city shirt...]

  3. Thanks, guys. I can't believe it either. I have wanted to run sub 8 minute miles at that distance for a long time, but I did not think I could. I'd like to get all the miles that were over 8:00 down a little. That would improve the overall time some. :) and I think this race may give me the confidence to start out a little faster in the marathon...

  4. Congratulations Janie! Even though I can't begin to relate to your passion for running I still celebrate with you! Happy for you, lovely lady!

  5. This has got to be one of my favorite posts of yours of all times!!

    Not only did you run a GREAT race, and give an excellent recap...but the recap of the real life experience of answered prayer is priceless! More often than not it's been my experience God doesn't change circumstances, but ME and my ability to withstand what's going on around me (with His strength). I love that--the wind was still whipping, but you didn't even notice as you were running a super fantastic PR time!! You focused on what you needed to do not what was being done to you.

    I think I'll go back and re-read this before I "run" McKay!! :D

  6. Thank you, Dana! And good luck in McKay!!!