Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Race!

Marathon weekend has come and gone! I truly cannot believe it. This past weekend was one of the most incredible, difficult and inspiring experiences of my whole life.

Four months ago, I set out on this journey to train for something that seemed completely impossible to me. Running 26.2 miles without stopping seemed completely beyond my physical and mental capabilities.

But I did it.

I ran the WHOLE marathon. No walking. I could cry just typing those words.

Here is the story in pictures.

Waiting to board the plane at the Birmingham airport. 
Lots of butterflies at this point! 
 Picked up my race day packet at the Expo. 
So excited, but so nervous. 
I got overwhelmed just walking in to the Expo. There were so many people inside, and everyone was so excited about the race the next day. 
Once I had that number in my hand, it got real. 
 The course map. 
Check out how long it is! 
So glad I am not familiar enough with Chicago to fully grasp how far this is. 
 After the Expo, we were off to explore Chicago for the day! 
We enjoyed some breakfast and then hopped on a boat for the famous Chicago architecture tour. 
Here we are getting ready to depart. 
Love this family! 
 Enjoying being on the water with my favorite man. 
 Added bonus: We got to spend time with one of our faves: Francisco! 
And then I FINALLY got to meet Amy! 
After about 15 months of emailing, Facebooking and texting, we finally met face to face! 
This girl has such a special place in my heart, and I am so thankful for her friendship. 

In the cab on our way to the race! 
It is still quite dark outside. 
Waiting in our start corral! 
Such nervous anticipation right now. 
 And we're off!! 
 This is around mile 11. 
Still feeling good at this point. 
 This is mile 25. 
Don't let that smile fool you. 
Right after I passed my family, I hit the WALL. Marathoners talk about hitting a wall somewhere at or after the 20 mile mark. My wall came just after we hit 25 miles. 
And it hit hard. 
I wanted to stop so badly, but I had already come so far. At this point, it was completely a mental game. I told myself that I had a decision to make. I could decide to be the person who almost finished the race and then stopped to walk, or I could be the person who finished the race. I made the decision to finish the race. And I am so glad I did. 

We did it!
So excited to have run with Team World Vision. 
Clean water for 26,000 people on the African continent from TWV!
I love this man so much! Thank you, darling, for loving and supporting me over the last four months as I have trained for this race. I absolutely could NOT have done this without you. 
Enjoying some Ethiopian food the day after the race! It was delish! 
Here's hoping we get to do this again in Ethiopia! 
We might have been moving slowly, but we got our medals engraved! 

This whole experience was so much more than just running a race. It definitely started out as just trying to run a certain distance, but along the way, I learned so much, and I think I really changed as a result. Training for and running this marathon has helped build up not only physical strength and endurance, but mental strength and endurance, as well. God has used this time to build up His strength in me and and grow my faith in and reliance on Him. I think I was ready for the physical challenge when I started training for this race, but I was not ready for the mental and emotional challenges. Overcoming these different barriers and obstacles has been an incredible experience for me, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. 

I have talked all along the way about how all of this training and running has paralleled our adoption journey. Well, running the actual race proved to be a parallel in its own class. There were moments along the way that felt awesome, when I felt like I could keep going forever. But then there were moments when I would have given ANYTHING to just be able to stop. I was in pain, and I had been running for SO LONG. It only made sense to stop. But I couldn't. I had to keep going. I had to finish the race before me. It was such a clear picture to me of what we are enduring right now. 

But here's the best part. There came a time when the race ended. 

When I rounded that last corner and saw the finish line, my eyes filled with tears. Tears of relief, tears of joy at the fact that I had finished the race laid out before me. God had gotten me through it. It was over. I cannot really explain to you what that felt like. But when I think about it, I get choked up and completely overwhelmed just like I do when I think about stepping off that airplane in the Birmingham airport with my children in my arms. I know that in that moment all of the hard work, the pain, the tears, all of that will be completely worth it. And I cannot wait. 

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:12-14


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