The day began at 5:30 am at the sound of the alarm.  Today was the day that I faced my biggest challenge in my life:  my first half marathon.  Normally, my stomach is nervous and I have “competition” butterflies; however, this morning I was pretty calm.  The farthest I have ever ran was seven miles during my senior year at college, so I really didn’t know what to expect.

The start line was within walking distance, so Denise and I headed that way around 6:00 am.  Several men, women and children were heading in the same direction.  The closer we got to the start line, the louder the music and the more excited I got.  Denise and I spoke with a few of the ladies that were running.  Some of them had already completed a few half marathons, while others were running their first.

The DJ was announcing that the corrals were now open.  Denise and I were in  number 5.  There were at least 1500 ladies ahead of us, but we were all there for our own reasons.  All of a sudden, a wave of emotions came over me.  Tears were streaming down my face.   The half marathon was for leukemia and lymphoma, and all I could think about, at that moment, was my dad.  He didn’t have either one, but HE was who I was running for.   From that moment on, I knew I could do this.

We approached the start line.  Our countdown had begun: 5-4-3-2-1 WOO HOO!! It’s now one foot in front of the other for the next 13.1 miles.  I didn’t have my Ipod, nor a watch to monitor my speed, heartrate, etc.  What I did have was the faith that I could complete this race.  I relied on the Word that was hid in my heart.  The JOY of the LORD was my strength.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I’ve got this!!

The first three miles seemed to go by fast.  I was on pace.   I wanted to finish at 2 hours and 30 minutes, so I needed to maintain an 11.5 minute mile.  So far so good.  It was at the three mile mark that I met Katherine, a Run Tampa team member.  She had a two hour and forty-five minute goal, or simply finish.  We stayed together for the next three miles.  I remember hearing someone ask if we were in mile five.  I thought we were only in mile four and the next sign I saw was mile six.  GLORY TO GOD, I had another mile under my belt and didn’t even realize it.

Around mile seven, there was a group of young men that were cheering us on.  They had their Speedos on and a small, hand held sign.  I will let you use your “imagination” as to what the sign said.  😀  There were several others dressed in nylon, neon green body suits, giving us “high fives” and cheering us on, as well.

One of my goals was to make it to mile 8 before walking.  I made it, walked about three steps, and began running once again.  My legs felt like rubber and I knew I had five miles left, so walking was not an option at that time.  Guess who was still running beside me?  Yeap, Katherine, from the Run Tampa team.  She and I had “teamed” up since mile three.  Woo Hoo!!

Yes, made it to mile nine but had to walk.  Katherine decided to walk with me.  We shared how we were feeling and I found out that this was her first half marathon, too.  We decided to start running again after the water station.

Now the mental game began.  I could hear her talking to herself, “Kat you got this.  You can do this Kat.”  I, too, was talking to myself.  My words were, “the pain that dad went through, while taking chemo was far worse than what I’m feeling now.”  I kept running.  I saw mile 11.  Woo Hoo!!  Only two miles to go.  The mental game was on again.  I wanted to walk the rest of the half marathon.  My body wanted to quit.  Why not, I had made it 11 miles.  I deserve to walk the rest of the way.   Yes, only two miles to go.  You can do this.  You are almost there.  Think, eight laps around the track.  You can do it.  My spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak.  I had to walk, once again.  When I was walking, Katherine showed up and walked with me.  We shared feelings, once again and it helped, tremendously.  We came to an agreement that at mile 12,  we were  running to the finish line.

The people that cheered from mile 12 to the finish line were lifesavers.  The best part was watching two little boys see their mama and hearing someone tell them to “go get her”.   That helped me.  I visualized my grand-babies meeting me.  I imagined Oaklee running the last half mile with me.  I can do this.  I was getting emotional at the quarter mile mark.  I did it!  I actually completed a half marathon.  As I crossed the line, I thanked the LORD for helping me achieve this goal, and I know my dad was looking down on me, too!!

God is good ALL the time and ALL the time God is good!!

St Pete Half Marathon2 JoyLord