Sunday, October 11, 2015

Twin Cities Marathon 2015 Recap

A week has passed and I finally have the chance to sit down and write about last Sunday, the day of Twin Cities Marathon.  I didn't write much during training.  Partly because I was just so busy and partly because I haven't felt like I've had much to say lately.  I've sat down to write about this day many times and stopped because there is just no way I can adequately relay my feelings through words, but I'm going to try.

I trained really hard this year, but I never really felt confident in my ability to run.  I had a hard time maintaining a consistent speed, and when I could, it was extremely slow.  I went into the marathon really unsure of how things would go, and my prayer was that God would give me peace no matter what the outcome was.  

In the days leading up to the race, I started to get really nervous.  Going into the unknown is always really scary for me, and that was definitely what I was doing.  When race day finally came, I was feeling alright.  I was excited to get out there and just be done with it so I didn't have to wondering how I was going to do anymore.  

James drove me to Minneapolis bright and early so that I could attend the worship service prior to the race.  There were a lot of familiar faces and good conversations early on, which made the time pass quickly and the nerves stay away.  I found most of the Woodland Hills team and snapped a pre-race picture.

After the Team World Vision rally clap, it was time to head to our corrals for the start.  I found some friends and we chatted until we started moving.  I had hoped to stay with one or both of them for the entire race.  We crossed the starting line and the excitement in the air got the best of me.  I took off, in what felt like a conservative pace, and was feeling great.  I decided almost immediately to abandon my plan of doing 2:1 intervals from the get go and instead decided to run until the crowd thinned out a little bit.  I started my intervals around the half mile mark and was still by Elspeth, one of the friends that I was hoping to run with.  She was also doing intervals, and was getting hers going around the same time and I planned to run with her, but for whatever reason, my body just wasn't adjusting to my normal slower pace.  I felt clunky and out of sorts and decided to run ahead.  My watch beeped indicating I had completed mile 1, I glanced down to see what my pace was and saw 11:47 min/mil.  I uttered a few profanities....that was much too fast.  

Over the course of the next mile, my goal was to try and slow my run intervals down.  I didn't feel like I was pushing that hard, but my pace kept indicating otherwise.  I was still feeling good, so I decided to roll with it and try not to stress out about it.  But as each mile passed at a pace that I knew I wasn't going to be able to sustain, I knew I was bound to hit a wall at some point. As I was coming around Lake Calhoun, my right foot started to hurt really badly.  I thought perhaps my shoes were too tight, so stopped to loosen them up.  The pain slowly went away and I kept going.

I saw my family and some friends around mile 7.5 and was still feeling really great.  Shortly after I passed them and had taken my second Gu, my stomach started to hurt like I have never experienced before.  I decided maybe I wasn't drinking enough water, so I tried to start drinking more.  As I was going through miles 8, 9 and 10, my stomach started hurting worse and I now had a new pain on my right foot, blisters.  For whatever reason, I can go through a full training season accumulating ridiculous amounts of miles and run blister free, but on race day, something strange happens and I get blisters every stinking time despite doing the exact same thing I've always done.  I knew that my family was going to be somewhere around mile 11 and after learning my lesson last year, I asked my husband to bring my body glide along and have it with in case I needed it, and I did.  I plopped down next to them at the corner of Cedar and Minnehaha and pulled my shoe and sock off and wanted to cry.  I had two giant blisters on my big toe and big toe knuckle.  I covered them in body glide, got my self put back together, told my family to pray for my feet and my stomach and I kept on going wincing in pain with every step I took.  

I remember passing a guy who I think may have been the same man I passed last year who said to the person he was with "Oh, I'm so proud of her" after I had passed, only this year, he was telling a different story, "oh, she really looks like she is hurting". Apparently the smile on my face wasn't doing a very good job of concealing the pain I was feeling as the giant knot in my stomach got tighter and the blisters on my foot grew.  I could feel my body slowly giving up.  My legs started to feel like lead, I'm guessing whatever fuel I was taking in wasn't really getting anywhere given the condition of my stomach.

I went through the TWV cheer station at 11.5 and gave my friend Kelley a great big hug, it was so nice to see a friendly face.  I kept moving forward and really wondered how I was going to keep going when I hurt so bad.  I made it to Lake Nokomis and saw an aid station with Vaseline and decided to pull off both of my shoes and socks and cover my feet to try and help the blister situation.  As I was doing that, I heard the worst sound you can hear on marathon day, the sound of a diesel engine rumbling.  I turned my head and saw the dreaded sag wagon heading slowly towards me.  In that moment, my mental game was over.  I got my shoes back on and tried to keep going, fighting back tears with each step, knowing that staying in front of the bus for 2 miles was possible, but staying in front of the bus for 12 more was going to mess with me.  My family was stationed at mile 14.5, but I didn't know they were going to be there.  I think I had already started to cry because the bus was at my heels and my husband could see the defeat.  He motioned for me to come over, told me my life is in Christ and said, lets go back to the car and have a sandwich.  I cried into his shoulder for a few minutes, feeling like a complete failure.  When I regained composure, we were just about to head to the car, but I saw an orange shirt in the distance.  I knew I had team mates behind me, and I knew that they weren't going down without a fight.  I decided right then that I wasn't done yet, I was going to keep moving forward and finish no matter how long it took.

I saw my friends Dan and Bradley heading up the street and I decided to join them.  Bradley was doing his best to keep Dan moving, and Dan was doing his best to not swear, at least that was my take on the moment.  They were doing 2:1 intervals, just like I had been doing, so it felt good about continuing on with them.  Our run/walk slowly morphed into an all out walk, but we kept moving.  The number of people fighting for a finish dwindled as the road opened and anything indicating that a race was taking place vanished.  We were very lucky though, and one of the best guys around, Carl, who had been at the 11.5 cheer station, decided to follow us around and check in and see if we needed anything.  We stopped shortly after passing the Wabun Picnic area so Dan could roll out his hip and refuel.  We gave Bradley the go-ahead to start running and try to catch up to the pack as we trudged along and Dan and I pressed on.  

We soon encountered the only other person who seemed to be committed to finishing the blasted race and Dan started chatting with him.  His name was Mike and he decided to join us.  The three of us continued along, chatting and getting to know each other.  We discovered that Mike's kids go to the same school as mine, something I was really excited about.  Dan and Mike were almost instantly like friends who had known each other for years.  They chatted about literature and history for so much of the race, each of them thinking the other was joking because they had so much in common.  I joked with them about intruding on a budding bromance.  The hours that the three of us spent together that afternoon will forever be high on the list of my favorites.  

We had so much great support from my husband, mom, mother in law and kiddos.  Between them and Carl, we never went more than a mile without someone checking in on us.  My sister in law and her family popped out of a bush with words of encouragement at just the right time.  

My friend Paula and her girls stayed out there a REALLY long time to cheer for us on the mile 21 hill and my sister and her husband and their girls waited for us at the top and kept us going on the right track.  As we neared the last three miles or so, we were greeted by Scott and Sandra, both team mates who had already finished the race and come back to get us (after doing the same thing for multiple other people).  It was at that point that I realized just how badly I wanted to be done so that I could just sit down with my kids rather than continually walking by them.  Sandra and I started walking and talking and my heart just grew bigger and bigger as I asked about how others on the team had done.  Eventually we made it to the Cathedral and I could see the finish line.  The timing mat was gone and most everyone had gone home, but the banner was still up and the finish line was in my grasp.  With a few blocks left, I started to run again.  I wanted to finish strong.  I took off and as soon as I crossed under the finish my eyes welled up with tears.  I was finished.  26.2 miles done for the 2nd time.  

I didn't get a race medal, but Sinead put the medal that mattered the most to me this year around my neck, the Team World Vision Hero Medal.  This medal indicates that you helped me provide clean water for over 60 people.

I thought Mike and Dan were right behind me but didn't see them, so I started to get a little bit concerned.  I started asking everyone to make sure they were ok, and was quickly reassured that they were close behind.  Mike's wife and kids joined us at the finish line as we waited for them and it was so much fun anticipating their arrival.  Soon we saw them coming down the hill and my heart swelled at the joy and pride I saw in every one's face as they made their way to the finish.  I had trained for this day, trained really stinking hard, but it just wasn't my day.  Dan's training was cut short by an injury and Mike's training was non-existent.  The strength and perseverance those two showed to get through this was incredible and I was so proud of them.  

There is an old African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together."  There isn't any way that I would have been able to go so far that day if we hadn't gone together.


I had struggled all season with trying to make running about clean water and not about me.  I have a really hard time making the connection sometimes and it is easy for me to become absorbed with my pace and progress, but it all became very clear to me on race day.  My stomach hurt, my feet were screaming and my legs were very tired, and yet I had the most precious of gifts, clean water, in my hand the entire time.  I wasn't carrying a 40 pound jerry can filled with water that would perpetuate the ache in my stomach.  I wasn't afraid of being captured and taken advantage of.  I was choosing to be out there, despite the pain, for a chance at offering hope and water to others who desperately need it.  As I walked down Summit Ave with Dan and Mike, I was just so overwhelmed with joy at the incredible honor it was to be able to offer my time and every bit of strength I had so that someone else might have a better life.

There is so much more I could say about the day, but I'll save that for another time.  Just trust me when I say that it was by far one of my favorites.  The fact that I was able to continue and find joy in the day shows the incredible progress that God has been making in my life.  The Tammy of two years ago would have gone home crying, throwing things around the house and pouting while feeling like a failure.  The Tammy today recognizes that her worth isn't found in a race time and it doesn't mean I didn't work hard, it just means it wasn't my day.  

I am not gifted at running and I'm not particularly great at fundraising, but I am doing what I can so that people in Africa can have a chance at a better life.  If I were in their shoes, I would hope that someone out there would do the same for me.  You don't have to be great to change someones life, you just have to be willing to try.

I am at 41% of my fundraising goal right now, and I'm not giving up yet!  My fundraising page will stay open through the end of the year and you still have time to give.  Maybe you have a few people on your Christmas shopping list who already have everything.  How about giving someone else the gift of water in their name?  It is a gift that keeps on giving and I'd be honored if you'd consider it. I believe that we will see an end to the clean water crisis in our lifetime and you can help.

You could give to Dan too if you wanted