Medals

I came, I saw, I’m sore.

I couldn’t sleep the night before. I decided to reorganize my iTunes playlist and accidentally deleted my running mix off my phone in an effort to add one.measly.song. Then I panicked, fixed it, and went to sleep.

5:45 came quite early. I had laid out all of my clothes and my bib the night before. I got up, felt nauseous with anxiety, choked down a piece of toast, and got dressed. I then took a Sharpie and wrote one of my favorite Bible verses on my hand as a mantra.

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Eric was a saint and drove me as close as he could to the start line. I was going to have him write a Bible verse on my other hand as I lack ambidexterity, but with all of the fluster I forgot. 😦

I found my lovely running partner and fellow GMGer, K, and we headed to our corral. The Pittsburgh Marathon was so large (30,000 runners) that it started at 7 AM and I’m guessing we didn’t move till 7:30. Here’s the start line!

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The first few miles felt decent (warming up never feels good) and then we crossed our first bridge. It was a bit nerve-wracking because National Guard members in full camo were taping everything…I assume as an anti-terrorism detail. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond grateful and appreciative they were there, it was just a vivid reminder of Boston and our mortality.

Around the second bridge, someone had a sign that said “Go Ravens Racers!” (That’s pretty bold in Steeler Country.) I of course yelled and cheered loudly.

Here’s a crappy shot of the Runner of Steel banner that I saw the other day – it’s hard to run and photograph at the same time, believe it or not!

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One of the best things about the Pittsburgh Marathon is that all of the neighborhoods work hard to provide spectators and special things like unannounced water stops, orange slices, gummy bears…apparently on the full marathon route, someone hands out Jell-O shots and beer? It’s a great town for sure, but nothing beats it on marathon day.

Around mile 11, there was a sudden fluid station after you turned a corner. I remember feeling surprised that it was RIGHT around the bend…then I understood why.

THE HILL WAS

THE HILL WAS THIS

THE HILL WAS THIS STEEP.

Mile 11 of 13, man! At that point, most people walked. But K and I pushed through – she pushed me a little and I loved it. The girl has endurance – and it was her first half!

Then we got within sight of the finish line, downhill, and I hit a little bit of a wall. I stared at the verse on my hand a LOT and chanted “Less than a mile” to myself repeatedly till I made it over the finish line!

Then we hit the finish line festival for medals/cookies/bananas/water and then parted our sweet ways. And then Eric and I couldn’t get home for an hour for road closures and I sobbed in the car – a mix of anger and exhaustion I think. But when I got home, I discovered I cut 6 minutes off my personal best!

I wore my favorite cross necklace to work today, and then it hit me – the medal that we receive at the end of the race signifies all of the practice and sacrifice we put into achieving a goal. But it’s just a symbol. Similarly, when we put a cross around our neck, it is a physical symbol of our time spent in service to the Lord, our time in devotions, and the sacrifices we make to follow His heavenly footsteps during our finite time on this earth.

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About CMN

She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
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