29 January 2012

My First Half-Marathon

As I am sitting here, trying to wrap my thoughts around the fact that I just finished my first half-marathon this morning, I have to admit that I am pretty whiped out. But I am definitely happy that I did it and it was for a good 'cause'. But let me start with the reason why I did this massive race today.

When we started talking about Beth carrying our baby last year, she had issues with her legs that afflicted her running. She had to stop and that was hard for her. Now, today, I DO believe that it was God trying to get her ready for a pregnancy where her focus would be more on growing a baby inside of her, and less on her running. I also believe that once the baby is done 'baking' and ready to enter the world, God will give her full healing, so she can go back to what she liked doing: running. So last year in January, she ran this half-marathon..... this year she is not able to do so.

So I made a 'deal' with her: on the day of our pregnancy test, I would sign up for that race, and either we run it together (in case of a negative test), or I would run it for her! Yep.... I thought of it as my (little) sacrifice of my body for what she is doing with her body right now..... We got a positive pregnancy test, so I had to run it by myself, for her. It's a great cause!

I knew I wanted two things to happen on race day: run the entire time, no matter how slow, and make it to the finish line. I did both!
So I ran the entire 13.1 miles from start to finish! No water breaks, no bath room breaks, no walking. I ran slow, NO, really slow! But I made it. I made it to the finish line at a decent time. Also, I like to convert it to kilometers, just because it sounds like so much more; so 13.1 miles are 21.08 kms - awesome! I am pretty proud of myself for accomplishing that today.

Now I said I ran it for her, right? So in advance, I made a sign that I was going to wear on my back on race day. I am sure you all know, when you do cancer runs and walks, there are always lots of pictures 'in honor of' or 'in memory of' someone. Well, I ran for a live person, I ran for my best friend because she couldn't do it because she is busy 'baking' a little blessing. Here is my sign:

I got lots of encouraging words throughout the run, words that blessed me and reminded me of why I was running and that I needed to keep going. "That is so awesome." or "That's cool." or "Congratulations." were most of  the reactions. One lady said that she "really liked my best friend" - well, I agree. Later in the race, I saw her again and she said: "That baby is going to be so proud of you." Well, I hope so. When I met Beth at the finish line, I told her about her and sure enough, we saw that lady again and I was able to introduce her to Beth. It was beautiful.

I had seen the route before, I knew that it was mostly downhill, and I knew that I could make it. What I didn't realize was that we ran along a lot of "icons" that play a big role in my life, and foremost that play a huge role in this entire process. The first building was our fertility center. When I saw that I started to choke up.... it took my breathe away and I realized that being 6 miles into the race, there was no room for crying. I had to stop and concentrate on NOT crying but running, or I would have fainted. Right next to that building is my oncology and I was silently thanking God for the people working inside that building. A little later, we ran past my favorite Vegan restaurant - for those that don't know, I became a Vegan after the cancer. Then we ran past the Hubby's university building and the local football stadium. It was a bit emotional at times. The best part was coming up the last hill and turning the corner to sprint to the finish line. Where Beth was waiting for me. It blessed me greatly that she agreed to come see me finish the race. Thank you.

Usually, when I run, I need some upbeat music, but I knew, for this particular race, I needed God right with me, so I played worship and praise music and it was a great comfort. Knowing that God designed my body to do this and knowing that He wanted me to run and finish this race today gave me strength and endurance. Beth had texted me the same bible verse that I saw on a sign that somebody was holding up on the sidelines during the race: Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." How true!

It was perfect timing, too.  We are 18 weeks pregnant today.

Also, I saw this race today as my "Labor and Delivery", a small token of my appreciation of what Beth will do in about 5+ months. I come a long way from being able to finish a 5K to this now! Also, or especially, as a cancer survivor! So, I consider the first ten miles as my 'labor'. I was barely aware of running the first five miles at all. It was easy to keep my pace and enjoyed the attention I got with my sign. Then it got just a tidbit harder, but I still enjoyed running. I had thought that the hardest mile would be Mile Nine, because it said that there was some uphill, but it wasn't. The hardest mile was ten - as it had been before in my practice run. I would call that mile my 'transition'. I started hurting just a bit, mostly on my left hip. Mile eleven and twelve were a piece of cake, seriously. We were really going downhill and I just ran as fast as I could, knowing I still had a bit to go. Miles 13 was my 'pushing', because it was really hard to get to the finish line. It went uphill again and I was just so tired, and hurt enough to want to stop running. Then there was a big uphill right before the finish line, I barely made it up. The thought of Beth waiting for me and God wanting me to finish this kept me going.... and I made it up really, really slowly! Turning that corner for the last 0.2 miles was like seeing the end of the tunnel. Baby's head is out, the rest of the body is 'easy'. So I sprinted to that line that would be the end of 'torture' and that made me real happy. I crossed it with a big smile on my face! "Baby was delivered and Mami happy.'
(My timing was much better than anticipated: 2 hours and 39 minutes.) and 2 seconds.)

It was hard and yet oh so worth it. Something that Beth anticipates with the birth of our child.Why am I even trying to compare the two? Well, for one, I can not do it myself - I mean the pregnancy and delivery - but I wanted to show my appreciation of what Beth is doing. Also, when she is in labor, she can not just stop and walk away, she has to finish it. Well, I wanted to treat my race the same way: I could not walk away or stop running, I had to finish it! It was worth every pain to be blessed with the encouragement of others and seeing Beth's face when she saw the sign at the finish line - it was priceless! This was for God's glory. He brought us together, brought us to this place, and has a plan for all of us! He deserves all my praise, especially today.

More pictures are right here - enjoy.
Ann right before crossing the finish line. (The time is the clock time, not MY chip time.)
Tired but happy.
My back.
Ann and Beth after the race, filled with drinks and food and happiness.

Added by the editor:
It felt more like a warm-up, but I thought this was way too funny not to share!


C. Beth said...

I LOVE this post! When I do my own post I'll link to yours because your description of the route & the "labor and delivery" is awesome!

Unknown said...

Ann, I am so proud of you for doing this, for finishing and for a GREAT time. I don't call that slow! I ran a Half yesterday and keep keenly aware of the hard work that goes into it. You are an inspiration to us. Beth's dad

Cathy said...

Wow, what a wonderful post. I love the way you connected it to Beth's labor, transition and delivery! Awesome!

beckiwithani said...

Totally crying right now ... Beautiful! Congratulations, Anne!

Amanda said...

Amazing! Congratulations, Ann!

Unknown said...

Congratulations on your half marathon Ann! I loved your post!

Tiffany said...

I'm so very proud of you too! Both of you... so proud to call you both my friends!

Patti Murillo-Casa said...

OMG Ann you inspire me. I have been thinking of doing this myself but the number 13 scares me but you are my inspiration. I'm so proud of you not only for running this half marathon but for the way you see things, everything as a blessing. We are blessed. Proud to call you my survivor sister. xoxo Patti

Megan Fletcher said...

Way to go! I am amazed...at you both. What beauty! Congratulations!

Call Me Cate said...

Beautiful post. Congrats on such a big accomplishment! My husband is a runner and the psychology of it all fascinates me - every person on the course has their own reasons for being out there and not stopping. You had some powerful motivation!

SurvivorBlessing said...

Marie said:
"I am so proud of you too! You made me cry reading that, but it was a good cry because I see how much God is doing in you. You are an incredible women and someone I'm so proud to call a friend. :)"

SurvivorBlessing said...

Jennifer said:
"Wow - such an excellent post! Way to go, Ann!! You & Beth are such an inspiration to me - your heart for Jesus, your love for family, your willingness to press through & purpose to see God in it & your friendship! Thank you for sharing this amazing season of your beautiful lives with us!! Love you!"

Tales of Cheerios and Sleepless Nights said...

Ann, what an inspiring post. Congratulations on your first half marathon and congratulations on the pregnancy. This post (and your sign) had me in tears. :)

jolav.blog said...

There are many things I love about this post. First, it is the opening image of you - the very sincere smile of accomplishment! And, in this case, the accomplishment has been huge. I love how you and Beth are standing in for each other at these challenging missions - And the fact that Beth met you at the finish line. I so wish, I could have been there to cheer you on. That smile.. - it is so reminiscent of the times we laughed at ourselves, and we believed in ourselves, while doing it. Run on!