After months and months of blood, sweat, tears, asthma attacks while running, runner’s knee, putting my marathon on the line, amazing moments with Jesus on the beach, rainy, sunny, hot, and cold runs, healthy foods to sugar comas, awe-inspiring runs to questioning if I will ever put on running shoes again; I completed this runner’s ultimate victory: a marathon; specifically, the MS Blues Marathon on January 11, 2014, in Jackson.
One of my newfound close friends Renee’ Hood was doing her first half marathon, so we spent all week freaking out together, questioning if we could do it, and spent the night before being quite livid that we were not sleeping.
The gun went off, and thousands upon thousands of runners from every state in the U.S. and as far as Canada began to embark on a sweaty, trying, determined tour of the Jackson-metro area.
I just enjoyed the view the first seven miles or so and went at my own pace. I told myself as long as I finished around 4 hours and 45 minutes (4:45), I would be content. At this point, I knew the Lord had great plans for my race, but I had no idea just how amazing He was going to be.
The first half was pretty easy, which is good since I had another one ahead of me! Around mile 10 or so I was running with some guy, and we caught up to a group that was running to achieve a certain pace. Little did I know it was the 4:30 pace group!
I had been tracking a nine-and-a-half minute mile the past few miles, and I had no idea! Jackson hills and all! (I had trained at a 10:15 pace). So I hung with them for a few miles, and then decided I could go faster around mile 15, so I took the risk and went for it.
When I was passing mile 20, I realized that many people were walking, and I remembered hearing testimonies about marathoners ‘hitting the wall’ around this point and began to mentally prepare myself for it. By the time I hit 24 and was still trekking, I realized that I did not hit the wall, but I CRUSHED it. It was an awesome feeling knowing I did not stop to walk ONCE. No bathroom breaks, no tears from pain. The Lord provided.
My dad was waiting at mile 20 to take pictures and cheer me on with an encouraging sign he had made. I also have such wonderful friends who came to see me at mile 23 with signs, screams of encouragement, and even the hand off of an energy gel. Just to see their faces was a boost to the finish. I got texts all along the way from so many friends, and I am endlessly thankful for the support and belief.
I finished 26.2 miles in 4:23:33. Turning that corner and seeing the line of people cheering me on was one of the single best moments in life.
Renee’ finished her first half marathon wonderfully, I finished my first marathon, and we both lived to tell about it! If I could tell you how convinced I am that I am a living miracle, I would.
I can hardly believe this kid one year ago was struggling to run half a mile at a 13-minute pace. This kid six months ago picked a triathlon that had less running, because that is how much I hated it. This kid has an amazing Savior, Jesus, to prove everything wrong by human standards.
Jesus gave our bodies adrenaline to power through and not experience the pain until done racing. I never realized how amazing this phenomenon is until the marathon. (Although, let me tell you, pain hit hard the next few days-for anyone who may have seen me hobbling on my route to class.)
As I was starting the race, this guy told me that I was about to join the ‘1% club’ because 1% of people finish a marathon. And I stand here today as a member.
If there is one thing I could share for anyone pondering getting into running, it would be this: Every runner approaches running differently, so every runner has a different methodology and believes that he/she is right because it worked for them.
My tip: figure it out yourself. Go through trial and error because it makes the finish line all the sweeter. Do your research, and form your opinion. I must say that was my ‘method,’ and I have a plethora of stories of success and failure to share from it. I would not have changed a step of it for the world.
Find a friend, decide to go through the roller-coaster of a process, and do not stop until you get there. I promise it is worth it; the friendships that are formed through running are priceless and will easily last a lifetime. So commit to join the 1% club. It will change your life. I know it changed mine.
– Megan Anderson, Contributing Writer