Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First Light Half-Marathon

Most likely, you are in for another short story made long, so if you are interested, grab your favorite beverage and I'll reminisce about the events of the past weekend.  A little background knowledge for you, Scott and I have lived in Mobile on two different "power company stints" (as I fondly call them).  We have lived in Mobile for a total of 8 of our 17 years of marriage.  Considering all of our other moves in between, Mobile is in a unique way kinda home for us.  Both of our children were born in Mobile, ahhhh, memories.

Once I picked up my race packet, I decided to explore part of the course that I was not familiar with. The first 4 miles took lots of twist and turns on roads that were off the beaten path.  I took a few snap shots of this beautiful old downtown area that is very historical in nature. 

Below is the picture of the home stretch.  I knew that once I saw this, I would be running the final steps to accomplishing my goal of completing a half-marathon.

After my little tour, it was time to get checked into my hotel. I was so thankful when I realized that my hotel was two blocks from the starting line and two blocks the opposite way from the finish line.  I never could have imagined just how helpful this would be.  I debated about going to eat dinner with a close friend of mine, which I should have done!!!  I guess I let my anxiousness get to me a little.  I was all settled in and didn't think I wanted to go back into another part of town.  I chose to eat the provided pre-race meal, which turned out to be cold spaghetti and COLD peach cobbler. 

One of the main reasons I wanted to go over the night before and stay in the hotel is so I could focus and go to bed early.  I got all nestled into bed at 9:00.  11:00 is my "normal" bedtime, so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that I wasn't just going to nod off to dreamland.  It didn't take long before my stomach went into a dimension of it's own.  No, not nerves, it had to have been either food poisoning or something viral.  I will spare you the details of course, but I finally went to sleep around 1:30.  I know that I was "awakened" again in the the 3 o'clock and 4 o'clock hours.  At 5:23, I was wide awake for good. 

At this point, all of my attempts to hydrate all week long, were since exhausted.  My mouth was dry and I started drinking Propel.  I did actually feel like eating, so I headed down to the breakfast buffet provided by the hotel.  I had already called my best friend who was boarding her plane to some game out in Arizona and asked her to pray for me.  I also called Scott around 7:00 to tell him that he may find me at a local hospital, but I was about to head out to try to run the race. 

I sat down after breakfast and wrote out the Bible verses that I had been praying during my eventful night.  I knew that the ONLY way I would get through more than two hours of running would be with HIS help.  With less than four hours of sleep and almost dehydrated, I was learning the lesson to make sure He was glorified through this whole experience.  I still consider myself a toddler or perhaps a preschooler in my journey with the Lord, but these are the verses that I prayed and took with me on my 13.1 miles:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good,
not for evil, to give you a hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:30

At 7:22, I darted out the door to jog to the starting line.  My body didn't allow me to leave any earlier and I probably did not stretch enough.  I turned my Garmin on as soon as I went outside, but guess what, the satellites would not load.  After a few adjustments and a little bit of panic (I so rely on my Garmin to keep my pace), the satellites were loaded and POW! the gun went off.  If there was any pomp and circumstance, I had missed it by my tardiness.

As I started running, I turned on my I-Pod only to find that it TOO was malfunctioning.  At this point, I just had to giggle.  Every time I turned it on, Anoop Desai's version of "Beat It" from American Idol was playing.  Blake loved that when it was on American Idol and it is on his playlist.  I could get it to stop and go back to the main screen, but could not get it to load my running playlist.  I tried no less than 6 times and decided just to give up on the I-Pod.  At mile three, the I-Pod fell off and I took that as a sign to try one more time.  Victory! it went to my running playlist where you might hear anything from Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy" to Aaron Shust's "My Savior, My God". 

After this long oration, I must tell you that the next 13.1 miles were fantastic.  Simply stated, I couldn't have asked for it to go any better.  After about mile 8, it was vital that I stopped at every water stop.  Just needed the fluids. After about mile 10, my body started saying-you have never pushed me this far, I think that this hurts and I will show you many places where I am uncomfortable.  It NEVER crossed my mind to quit though.  This was a done deal. 

About that time, I start running by USA Women's and Children's Hospital.  Emotions...that is where our precious Blake was born 10 years ago.  Believe it or not, there's a much longer story that goes with how the Lord orchestrated his birth.  That was the little extra push I needed to keep running.  I started visualizing seeing my family at the finish line.

Running into the home stretch was exhilirating!  Scott and Blake were on one side of the road cheering me on and taking pictures and my dad was on the other side.  I am thankful they got pictures of me actually running.  No huge strides at this point in the journey, but still putting one foot in front of the other.  Bryant was stationed at the finish line and I didn't see him until he startled me after I had come through the crowd.  My boys think it is the funniest thing in the world to scare me. 

My Garmin time said 2:18:38, the official time from First Light was 2:18:57.  I still don't understand how these bibs are suppose to work.  I purposely got in the back of the crowd and started my Garmin as I was passing the start line.  Oh well, I'll learn and let you know.

My goal was to finish with a time somewhere between 2:15 and 2:20.  I am thrilled that I did just that, especially considering my lack of sleep and hydration issues.  My next half is scheduled for February 13th in New Orleans.  I am so glad I did this one first.  The Rock-N-Roll Half-Marathon is going to be huge!  I think there are more than 20,000 people registered.

Thank you Lord that I was physically able to complete my first half-marathon!

My first medal and the love of my family!

Scott is my biggest supporter.  Due to a torn miniscus and surgery, he no longer can run with me.  He said he never wanted to run the half-marathon distance, but I know that if he had not had surgery, he would have been there every step of the way.

Below is a picture of me with my boys and my dad.
My dad wanted to get this picture of me in the hotel after I got all cleaned up. 
 So, this is an "after" picture of one tired, but elated girl!

Now, if you stuck with me for this long, you certainly deserve to know that one of the big reasons I run is so I can eat some of my favorite things, like Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Mozzerella, and seafood from The Original Oyster House.  On Monday night, I treated myself to a pan of  M and M bar cookies.  I would show you a picture of those, but they are in my stomach.  Maybe I'll do a short post soon and share my favorite dessert with you! 



  1. WOW Leah! I had tears in my eyes reading this! I cannot believe you did so well after being so sick the night before! You are truly an inspiration girl! I am sooo proud of you!!!! Can't wait until NOLA!!!!!

  2. Leah!
    Your story is so inspirational! I would have rolled over in bed after "getting sick" and said Forget it! I love you and your strength! I am sure Scott and the kids are so proud. I am proud of you too because I remember working out at the school rec center way back when and all we did was walk and talk!
    Congrats! I thought of you all morning and prayed for you to make it! xxoo Tanya