Monday, September 30, 2013

My Marathon Journey: #9 St. Louis 2010 - 2:58:15

1 Corinthians 9:24-26 - "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing."

St. Louis 2010 gave me a taste of 2 firsts in my post-collegiate running career, both equally awesome, but in very different ways. The first was that I earned myself a spot in the "Elite Starting Area" for the St. Louis Marathon. I was quite excited because we got a little special treatment and were guaranteed a spot at the front of the starting line of a race of over 17,000 competitors (only 3,000 in the marathon, the rest ran a half-marathon). Granted, a sub-3:00 marathon was all it took to get a spot, but when I picked up my race packet the day before and saw my BIB number was 10, it was exciting! I ran that race thinking to myself, "I'm one of the best runners in this race. WOW!"

The other was perhaps more significant in the grand scheme of things. I had decided to run for a charity organization for the first time. I was running for the Hall Steps Foundation, an organization started by elite American distance runners, Ryan and Sara Hall. They are setting the marathon goal of ending world-wide poverty one step at a time. I raised money prior to the race for their organization, and kept the kids and families that could be positively impacted by my fundraising on my mind and in my prayers all throughout the race that day.

With these two new things as a backdrop to this race, I did have one additional new experience in this dad would not be on the sidelines cheering me on for the first time. No doubt it was different not having him there, but I did have my soon-to-be-wife, Jen, and her mom with me on the trip, so I still had some familiar voices on the course cheering me on.

The race went by quickly, at least the first 17 miles did. Around that point, I started having some negative thoughts creep into my mind and some self-doubt surfacing about whether I could keep my fast pace going. For the first time ever in a race, I began audibly singing worship songs to get me going. The 2 songs I sang are at the bottom of this post, "Stronger" and "Mighty to Save." These songs spoke to God's mighty strength and power, something I truly needed to get me through the part of the race I was in at that moment. I was so glad I did that, because there was a boost of energy I got from that, something I'd never felt in a race like that before, at least not that late into a race.

I reached the finish line with a new P.R., something I hadn't done in almost 4 years, running 2:58:15, to finish 25th overall. I was extremely happy with my race and how I had made it through some tough spots along the way. My first phone call was to my parents after I got my bag back, and they were great voices to hear. They had said they were cheering from all the way back home in Minnesota, and it could be felt by me!

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