Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Seriously - one of my best days EVER! Completing my 1st Marathon!

And, I got to see SPACE DEBRIS, too!! Check it out:

I actually did see this while I was running. I think I was around mile 20 or so.
I thought..."what the hell was that?!". And, one spectator alongside the road had the same look on his face. We then looked at each other & shrugged our shoulders in bewilderment.
Many people have run a marathon before, but not many can claim they've run a marathon under a flurry of flashing space debris!
So...my 2009 Austin Marathon Race Report!!!
Simply put, I had an incredible day!
It started out early, 4:30am wake up. A bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar & coffee immediately & a little downtime on Facebook.
I felt calm & somewhat prepared (Trev assured me I'd be fine, that I had enough "base miles" under me) - and, I just had a peace around me. I really felt like I could go out & give it my best, despite having only had run 18.7 miles as my longest run ever.
I got dressed in my super-cute Beef Running Team jersey & Laura & Karen met me here at my house at 5:30am.
We arrived downtown without problems & parked with ease. I worried a little about traffic & parking ahead of time, but all turned out good.
Trev called to check in with me & tell me where the bag check in was.
Walking to the start, I still felt calm & got another call from Trev. I was actually amazed at how good I felt! I did have a twinge of nervousness & I told Trev that, but it wasn't bothering me at all.
I made my way up to the bag check & hung out with Trev until the start. Talking with him kept me distracted and still totally calm.
Eventually, the start was upon me & I was slowly inching my way up to the start with the hundreds of others doing the marathon & 1/2 marathon.
We made it up to the line around 7:30am, I believe. I started my watch & off I went!
Very, very slow start - on purpose. Made my first mile an 11 minute mile, "respected the early hills" as my new friend Noelle told me to & got to the 3mile mark around 31 minutes.
I wanted to gradually pick up the pace & my goal all along had been to have a negative split - where my 2nd half (13.1 miles) was faster than my first 1/2.
I eventually got to mile 10 in 1 hour 39 minutes - right around where I wanted to be at that point - around a 10 minute/mile average.
I felt GREAT & nothing was hurting - not my legs, not my hips, NOT MY STOMACH -- thank God!
My nutrition plan was to take in sips of watered-down gels consistently, take 1 electrolyte pill every hour & sip on my very concentrated drink mix (Cytomax) and grab water as needed at the aid stations. Based on how good I felt the whole way through, I'd say my nutrition plan was a full-blown success.
At mile 13, the half-way mark, I called Trev because I had my phone & I felt great & wanted to let him know that! I got to this point at 2 hours, 9 minutes & was psyched because I was on pace for finishing under 4.5 hours, which was my goal all along.
When Trev answered he said "uh, oh - what happened?" I said "nothing - I'm just at mile 13 in 2:09 and feeling great!". He asked my why I was carrying my phone & I told him it was because I was on-call and have a mom who is due to go into labor at any minute! He thought that I had left my phone in my bag, DNF'd the race & was calling to tell him that! NOT SO! I was rocking it!
At this point, I felt so good that I really felt that my goal was doable.
I kept my pace - slow & steady - made every effort to be in each moment and really love it for what it was.
My music was awesome & really kept me entertained, too & I had so many people along the way cheering me on & cheering for "Team Beef". I felt like I was almost floating along at so many points.
Around mile 20, or so, I think - I saw my new friends, Noelle & Brian, & saw them cheering. They are so awesome! I am so glad I have gotten to know them & I was totally not expecting to see anyone I knew along the course...so, to see them out there cheering was really cool!
By mile 22-23, I did feel the fatigue setting in. I could sense that my hip went out and it was a tad funky, but it didn't really bother me. I just felt the exhaustion of being on my feet for 3.5 hours! I would say that this was where I hit the proverbial wall and the mental game ensued. But, honestly, the exhaustion & mental game were not even as bad as I had imagined in my mind ahead of time. I had a few quick thoughts about how I wanted to be done and how I was tired, but I knew I had it in me. I really knew it. I looked at my bracelet (which reads: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phillipians 4:13) and I felt renewed and pushed on.
By mile 24, I knew I had it in the bag! I had gotten myself just under the 10 minute/mile mark around mile 17 & I knew that if I just kept going, I would be able to hit 4 hours & 15 minutes. Despite some rough final hills in those last 2 miles, I kept pace. I crested the final hill and then turned the corner onto Congress Ave - to see a downhill & the FINISH LINE!!! My heart leaped & I looked at my watch - 4 hours 13 and some minutes & then the sprint was on! I took off down the hill & knew I could make it under 4 hours, 15 minutes. AND, I DID!!
I sprinted & crossed the line in 4 hours, 14 minutes, & 45 seconds!
The feeling at the finish line was incredible! I found Trev, got a big hug & showed him my watch & my finish time.
I was so psyched! The goal had been to stay & average under 10 minute/miles the whole way & I did what I set out to do.
This race & my outcome was seriously one of the best days of my life! This understandably sounds cheezy and quite possibly the most ridiculous thing anyone has ever heard, but it was really that intense and special for me.

Primarily, it has given me the confidence to tackle the serious Ironman training that is about start. More than that, though, it has really given me the confidence that I can accomplish what I set my heart & mind to when I plan, prepare, train, and give it my all.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Meaning of Life...at least for me....

Reading through Colossians in the Bible the other day - I came across this passage that I have read before many, many times. But, it struck me in a different way this time.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God...
Colossians 1:10
I thought - "you know, this is really the ultimate meaning of life. The true meaning of why we are here on this Earth."
Often I think about and ask myself - "why am I even here?" "Is there a point to our day to day life & the struggles that we endure?"
So, I read this scripture and find some answers to these questions.
First, what really is a life worthy of the Lord, what pleases Him?
Well, we get all the direction we need from the Word as to what kind of things please the Lord. We have Jesus as our ultimate model of a life worthy of the Lord. We have the Holy Spirit living inside us if we are a believer in Jesus & if we humble ourselves and quiet our spirits, we can actually hear the Spirit speaking to us -- giving us living directions at almost every turn in the road. But, the key here is really listening and being obedient when we know the Spirit has given us guidance.
Lately, I have been trying hard to do that -- to quiet myself & listen. And, to commit to being obedient. If we take each decision one at a time, living a life that is pleasing to God seems easier.
Second, what is the fruit that grows when we do good works?
I think good works are a natural outpouring of humbling ourselves before God & living a life that is pleasing to Him. As we strive to do this, good works come naturally!
Another scripture says..."do everything as unto the Lord". When we have our focus on God, I believe He gives us the ability to get our eyes off ourselves and onto others around us. He will give us the desire to love & serve others!
The fruit of the Spirit cannot be contrived or worked up. They grow out of a life and heart that seeks God. Remember the fruit of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness & self-control. We need to be doing constant self-checks to see what kind of fruit we are bearing. If we are not bearing the good fruit, then we must ask if we are humbling ourselves before Him & if we are living that life that is pleasing to Him.
Third, how do we know God & grow in the knowledge of God?
I think this the easiest of these 3 points that help us to know the meaning of life.
I really believe knowing God is easy. Easy if you are taking the time to do that, that is. Initially, before we become Christians, we don't know Him at all. We may believe there is a God (or not) but, the Bible says we can't really know, know Him until our spiritual eyes of understanding have been opened. Spiritually, we are dead before we come to know Him. And, to truly know Him, we must first accept that He exists and accept that we are sinners. From there, we can then know and understand that in order for us to have a relationship with Him, we must be reconciled back to Him because this sin that we carry does separate us from Him.
And the Bible says that there is only ONE WAY to have that reconciliation. It comes only from our belief in Jesus Christ. Believing that God sent His son to be the sacrifice - the bridge - we needed to get back to Him.
Finally, how do we grow in our knowledge of Him after we come to initially get to know Him? That's simple! We need to pray, to read our Bibles, and to worship Him. Simply put, we need to get our eyes off of ourselves and on to Him.
The answers to & the meaning of life are all found in Him. He really is the way, the truth and the life.
He is my meaning for living!