Upping the Mileage (and what it feels like to be beat by a 71 year old runner)

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that during my marathon training this time around I have a goal other than to “just finish.”  In January I had zero thoughts of a time goal, I just wanted to get through the race in one piece. I took my time and had fun; it was Disney World! It ended up taking me (don’t laugh) 6 hours and 20 minutes. This time around I have a goal in finishing under 6 hours. That sounds impossible considering most people struggle to take just 2-3 minutes off of their marathon times, but at Disney I spent 20 minutes waiting in line for the bathroom several times. My time was slowed way down because I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t push myself because I didn’t know if my body could actually do it. This time around I have a better grasp on bathroom breaks, water breaks, nutrition breaks. etc. and find every minute to be valuable.

This week my training is getting serious. I am to the point in my training where I need to start logging approximately 30 miles a week, and I’m almost there.

My training this week will be as follows:

  • Monday: 4 Miles
  • Tuesday: 5 Miles
  • Wednesday: 3 Miles/Cross Train (weights)
  • Thursday: 4 miles
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 9 Miles
  • Sunday: Rest/Cross Train (cycling)

My marathon training last year looked something like this:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Run 45 minutes- 1 hour
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Run 45 minutes- 1 hour
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Long Run (eventually working up to 20 miles)
  • Sunday: Weights

Looking back, I really wasn’t running enough last year. Even now I’m still building up my endurance; I would eventually like to be able to run about 50 miles per week. Little by little I will get there.

This weekend I was really encouraged and inspired by a woman that I run with. She is 71 years old and can outrun just about anyone I know. She’s been running for 40 years and is simply one of the best. She wasn’t naturally a great runner, she worked hard to become one. It’s very humbling to run with a 71 year old woman (when I myself am not yet 25) and have her smoke you. It’s not just humbling, it’s incredibly inspiring. And with that  a thought hit me, “I am young. I am capable. I can push myself harder and I can be great.”

With proper nutrition and dedicated training, I know I will become better. My 71 year old running partner gave me some wisdom this morning: “It’s not the pounds that get heavier, it’s the years.” I have a few more good years in me, and I’m going to put them to good use. I want to wake up at 71 years old and be able to outlast a bunch of 20-some year old runners myself.

 

 

Running Fears

Saturday mornings I wake up at 4:30am and prepare for my long run that I usually do with a couple friends. This morning I woke and was flooded with anxiety and doubt.

I began noticing every tiny ache or pain and thinking of how I could use it as an excuse to cut my run short. I had every intention of only running 4 miles today, blaming a pain in my ankle. It was 4:30 in the morning, I was tired, I ate pizza yesterday which is COMPLETELY out of my healthy eating plan, and last week I really struggled with the route that I would again be running today because it is full of steep hills. I was allowing myself to be beaten down by the enemy.

I got around, hydrated, ate a small pre-run meal and put on my running clothes. I grabbed my socks and shoes and started to lace them up and thought “just suck it up and do it. You have no real excuse. You’re not injured, you’re intimidated.” So I got in the car to drive to the starting point of my route and began to pray. I asked for the strength, the endurance, and the confidence to be able to complete this run.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Christ gives us strength, He knows what it means to endure. A run is nothing compared to the pain He endured while on earth. But He promised to give us strength, and in that moment I decided to rely on Him to get me through this.

I think many will agree that the biggest challenge in running is the mental aspect of it. We often have the physical strength to actually run, but mentally we are weak. It takes an incredible amount of mental discipline to run a marathon; to tell yourself that you’ll be OK, to just keep going even though it hurts. This is why running brings me closer to God. I don’t have the discipline, the focus, the confidence or the mental strength to run on my own. But every time I call on Him, God provides.

After a moment of quiet prayer in the car I was at peace and I was ready. I pulled up to our starting point, said hello to my friends and we were on our way. As I said, this route is tough for me because it is full of steep hills, and I typically don’t run hills very often. Every other Saturday I have fallen behind my group and had to stop and walk to try and get the cramps out of my side after hauling up those hills.

Today was different. My body felt strong, even comfortable, the entire time. Even the largest hill that I dread the entire way didn’t slow me a bit. I ran up it without even being winded. “Wow!” I thought, “Are we running slower than last week?” No, our pace was actually 20 seconds faster than last week’s. And this time I didn’t get left behind.

So why was I struggling with so much fear? Because today my fullest potential was going to be unlocked, and the devil didn’t want to see that happen. My friend Hannah shared this last night and it couldn’t be more perfect:

“Keep your head up. Don’t look back. The pain is momentary. The finish is worth it. We run because our God is good.”

5:00am, cookies, and the guy that doesn’t like running

When you’re behind on blogging your blog titles never make sense because you try to cram everything that has happened into one post. Or maybe that’s just me.

Training the last two weeks has been consistent and good. My (very vague) schedule goes a bit like this:

Monday: 3.5-4 mile run at 5am

Wednesday: 3.5-4 mile run at 5am

Friday: 3.5-4 mile run at 5am

Saturday: Long run at 5am

Note, they all happen at 5am, which has left me feeling utterly exhausted. I’m not quite back into the swing of marathon training. I’m doing it but my body hasn’t adjusted to the early runs yet. I took about 2 months off after my January marathon which was a big mistake. After the break I began running small distances at 5am once again, but something about steadily increasing my mileage plus these early mornings is just wearing me out. If you are naturally early riser, I’m envious.

I’m so very thankful that I have a great group of friends to run with this year. Last year I ran just about all of my long runs solo, which I don’t mind doing, but once in a while it’s nice to share the pain of those runs with someone. My runner friends also never let me skip 5am in favor of my bed, so I am very thankful for them!

I have yet to incorporate speed work into my training. I know I need to because I want to improve my marathon time desperately. My plan is to work on speed every Wednesday starting next week. I plan to incorporate speed drills and tempo runs into my schedule. I am a newbie at speed work so I really have no idea what I’m doing. Last time I trained I simply wanted to finish the race. This time I want to be better.

Now onto my addiction to cookies…

I love baking, and last year I tried a new cookie recipe and gave some of them to our neighbors. A few weeks ago she asked me to make more of her “favorite cookies” so I obliged. My husband and I are both eating very healthy diets so I planned ahead and made plates of cookies for all our neighbors, leaving my husband and I four cookies left so we wouldn’t blow our diets. Little did I know, one of my friends was eating healthy like we were, so she politely denied her cookie plate. This left me feeling a little bit like this all week:

pug

I ate the cookies. I did it; I’m a terrible person. Lesson learned, I have no self control. I’m paying for it in the gym and on my runs this week. Oh well, moving on…

 

Often I come across people that don’t like running. That’s fine, I used to hate running. I really do understand. I worked at it and somehow forced myself to like it. And now I love it! But it’s not everyone’s thing.

Last week we had dinner with some newer  friends of ours. I had to decline staying out late because I had to be up at 4:30 the next morning for a long run. A gentleman we were with gave me a scolding look and told me that “it’s a terrible addiction” and wouldn’t I rather “wake up late and have pancakes and enjoy the day?” Well yes, I would. And I do that on weekends from time to time. But that next morning I had a plan and I wasn’t going to stray from it. Sometimes it’s tough to have people stare you down and tell you what you’re doing is “very unhealthy” and “an addiction.” The main thing I focus on when I train is listening to my body. If I feel even a tiny tweak in my knee, foot, or anywhere else that might be an indicator of an injury, I rest until it’s back to normal. Thankfully eating a fairly healthy diet (you know, other than the cookies) and running with proper form have saved me from dealing with any serious injuries. All I know is that I feel healthier, stronger, more disciplined and more determined than I ever had before I started running.

Not only that, but running is a time when I feel very close to God. I use that time to pray and seek Him. I’m sticking to it.

 

So friends, how do you handle sticking to your training plan when friends try to convince you to stray from it? Let me know in the comments; thanks for reading!

-Mel

 

 

 

It’s official: I’m addicted to running

This summer marks one full year that I’ve been running. That’s so short compared to so many of my avid runner friends, but what a milestone it is for me. For years I tried to be a runner but could not run for more than 1 minute at a time. I tried the Couch to 5k plan countless times but just never followed through with it. I had convinced myself I would never be able to run for 30 minutes straight, so I never got past week 1 of C25k. I would finish week one, then repeat it the next week, then stop for a week, then get discouraged and just quit.

Looking back on the old me I think “what the heck?!” What was wrong with me? I had created a mental block and could not get past it. I was healthy, capable, a perfect contender. I just didn’t want to put in the effort. It wasn’t until one day when I realized that I had Christ strengthening me. If I had God as my helper, what is there that I possibly could not achieve? So I said I would run a marathon. I signed up for one having never completed a race in my life, and I started training. And I did it.

And I’m going to do it again. I just signed up for my second full marathon that I plan to run in February of 2015. Hopefully with a year of running and several races under my belt I will be able to improve my time a bit. I know what to expect this time around, what I need and don’t need (large hydration pack that got tossed at the WDWM at mile 20 was a lesson learned) and have become comfortable peeing in bushes…that’s already saving several minutes! Last year I had one goal: don’t die. This year I would like to put a little more “umph” into my training and set a time goal. Nothing too intense, but something to aim for other than just finishing it. Now that this blog exists I plan to record all of my training on here. It will be fun to post pictures, times, and watch progress unfold. It’s easy to forget how far I’ve come.

I am just in awe of the way God has carefully constructed our bodies and what they are able to do. I feel so blessed to be able to go out and run. I hope some of you will follow along this journey with me.

Mel

Just Keep Running

Sometimes after a big race it’s hard to get back in the swing of training. This has been me for the last two months. I’ve been stuck running 3-4 miles 3x a week and not pushing myself to go any further. After the marathon, I experienced a sort of runner’s depression. I’m a newbie, it was my first big race and I wasn’t sure how to get back into the swing of training after completing such a big goal of mine. My body was tired, and my head wasn’t in the game. 

Yesterday I watched a documentary on the Badwater Ultramarathon, and of course it flipped that little switch in the back of my mind that made me crave more (not that that is something I’ll be attempting any time soon). I realized that to keep on trucking I need to continue to sign up for races. Races make me train, they give me a goal. I’m still waiting for the day when I’ll wake up and go run 25 miles just for the sake of running, but sadly that day hasn’t arrived yet. 

Next up on my list is the Williams Lake 10k Trail Challenge next month. This will be a fun race and my first ever trail run which I am SO looking forward to! 

Just have to keep moving. Complacency is no state to live in. Bigger challenges stretch my faith, I want to rely on Him more. 

We are here, today.

I think it’s fair to say that most of us are never satisfied with ourselves. Sure, most of the time I am very happy and feel accomplished, yet I know that I am not where I want to be. That’s the beauty of growing! We are never “done.”

However, sometimes it’s easy to let the expectations of tomorrow hold us back from experiencing today’s joy. This was me a few days ago. As a college student, I have a lot of things ahead of me. I also have a lot of important decisions to make. Sometimes I feel a little lost, or maybe I second guess myself. Occasionally, in a grande total of thirty seconds, my thought pattern will go something like this:

“Am I choosing the right degree path? Is my GPA high enough? How can I make myself better? I like marketing, but I also like politics! Maybe I should be studying politics! Aw, look…a picture of a baby. Oh my gosh, maybe I’m supposed to be a midwife. Quick! Someone help those people who just crashed! Oh man, I’m supposed to be an ER doc. Don’t argue with me! Of course I’m right! …HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT I’M DESTINED TO BE A LAWYER?! Ugh, I need to go for a run. That’s it! I’ll just get really fast a be a professional runner! No, I don’t want to work that hard. Back to marketing it is.”

Yes, sad but true. And no, I don’t have ADD, I just drink a lot of coffee. These thought processes usually come when I’m supposed to be working on, say, a paper that’s due within the next hour. That happened to be the exact circumstance that I was in the other day. So back to the paper I went, when shortly after I came across a bit of information that I needed and knew my mother-in-law was the person to ask. I gave her a call, we discussed, and then began to chat (clearly I was procrastinating). She asked what else was knew and I replied with the ever so common, sarcastic answer of “oh, just trying to figure out what I’m doing with my life.”

And she snapped me out of it.

“Stop thinking like that right NOW,” she said. I was caught off guard. 

“You are EXACTLY where you are supposed to be! You are here, today. You are writing a really cool paper on an important issue in our society. You are doing exactly what you need to be doing. That’s what you need to think about. What you’re doing right now. So cut it out.”

Wow, she’s right. As much fun as it is to Google the salary of a successful ER doc and think about how that might be me one day, doing so isn’t going to change my life within the next five minutes. Then and there, my job was writing that paper. She’s a wise lady. We are here, today. This is where we are, this is what we’re doing. Dreaming of the future is beautiful; it’s fun, it’s encouraging, but sometimes the future can really wig you out. Sometimes we just need to focus on today. 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” Colossians 3:23

Image

This moment changed my life. This picture was taken after I completed my first full marathon this past January with my mother in law. This was my first race I had ever run…I hadn’t even competed in a 5k! (Probably not advisable, but I enjoyed myself). I still remember the moment I decided to do it. I was on a treadmill at the gym struggling to run for 30 seconds at a time. I thought…if there are athletes who run marathons relying solely on their own willpower, surely I can complete one if I rely on Jesus. For 9 months I trained hard, praying daily that I could run just a little bit further than the day before. 

Christ held my hand through that race. Yes, it took me 6 hours to finish it…but I FINISHED IT! I ran 26.2 miles and I truly loved every step.

Today the scale didn’t reflect the progress that I wanted it to. It’s a day that I feel like drinking coffee for hours while snuggling up with a book while the rain beats down on my window. But I saw this picture and was reminded, while this was one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve ever achieved, it was just the beginning. This picture marks a turning point in my life. I must press on, because Christ is with me, holding my hand, ready to take me on the next journey. The work hurts, but it makes me strong.  Sometimes I’m tired, but He gives strength to the weary.

I have a half marathon to run in November, and am planning on another full next January. Those are great goals, but today isn’t about those goals. Today is about realizing that it isn’t about race day. It’s about every day that leads up to that starting line. It’s about the small, daily decisions that at the time seem insignificant but in the long run determine who is successful and who is still stuck in a pit. Today I choose to look forward, to press on, to get off this couch, shut my coffee pot off, praise God for another day and work hard. 

Those are my thoughts, and now I gotta run! 

A Brutally Honest Post

Sometimes you just need to get something off your chest. Beware of grammatical errors. I’m just typing my thoughts as quickly as I can.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’d normally tell you that life got really busy and I simply haven’t had time to write, but in all honesty I fell off the bandwagon. I completed 30 days of a completely plant based diet with no oils or processed foods and felt great, but I also seriously struggled with my addiction to processed foods and sugar during that time. Since finishing the 30 days I really have had no desire for red meat at all, and have eaten small amounts of chicken and fish, but where I’ve really messed up is with all the junk food. I felt like I had deprived my body of it and suddenly went on a binge. It’s not fun writing that, but it’s true…and I believe honesty is the best policy.

A few weeks ago my sister called and told me that she felt like she was really being convicted for not eating healthy. Obviously, I was feeling the same way. We vowed to create a family support group and put God at the center of it. I struggle with an unhealthy addiction to food, and I’m asking my Savior to help me with it. Some people might not understand that, but if I give every other area of my life to God, but am hiding my binge-eating behavior from Him, what good am I doing myself?

 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19

When we fall down, we can’t stay there. Staying down is the reason I’ve gained weight and gotten myself into a pit that I haven’t been able to climb out of. So here I am, standing back up and taking baby steps forward. This is a long process. It’s not an easy process. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it because I want to honor God in all that I do. It’s worth it because I want to run my next marathon under 5.5 hours. It’s worth it because I have a family who needs me to be at my best.

So what changes am I making? I’ve hired a trainer who is holding me accountable to my exercise routines. I signed up for a half marathon that I’ll be running in November and will be training REALLY hard for. I’ve realized that there is a big connection, at least for me, with organization in the home and a healthy diet. If my house is out of order (I am horrible at organizing) my life starts to fall out of order. This effects my diet, which in turn effects my mood, my energy, my self-discipline, and my relationship with Christ. I don’t know if anyone can follow that, but I’ve seen it happen time and time again in my life. SO. I am on a “purge,” so to speak. Every day I’ve been going through closets, dresser drawers, cabinets and getting rid of things I haven’t used in the last year. Even if it’s something I like, but haven’t used in the past year…it gets donated. There are people who would enjoy using the things I have simply have sitting at the top of a closet shelf collecting dust, so it’s time to get rid of stuff. It feels great! Getting rid of excess things helps me simplify my life. I try to ask myself, if I were to live aboard a small sailboat (a dream I’ve always had) what would I take with me? And those are the things I keep.

And with that, I’ll end this very scatterbrained post.

Until next time, stay classy.

 

Disney World Marathon 2014

I began training for the WDW Marathon in May of 2013. This would be my first ever marathon…ahem, my first ever race, actually. I’m always embarrassed to say that, most likely from fear that people will think I’m absolutely crazy. But that’s why I run, right? 😉 I set out to achieve this goal with my mother in law, Mary. After my “epiphany” that I had while on the treadmill one day, I realized that this was a goal that God would see me through. I’ll warn you now, this post is going to be long and include far too many details, but I’m writing it for myself and for Mary. So when it comes to the point where we can’t remember the details we can look back and read through this and make the memory fresh again. I want my children to know the story of “when Mom and Grandma decided to run a marathon together.”

So here I am! Writing the race recap! The rest is history. On with the show. I arrived at WDW Friday evening (Mary had been there a week already with Nellie, Anna, Isa, Christina and Asa) and the race was Sunday. Saturday Mary and I focused on trying not to walk too much (always a temptation when you’re at DISNEY WORLD!) which was almost impossible with all the walking we had to do going from the Expo, to our hotel, to find food, etc. I ate a big plate of pasta for lunch and had a very small dinner since I would be up at 3:00am the next day. I knew I would be better off keeping dinner small or I would feel heavy on race day.

Here’s what we referred to as our “last supper.” 

pre-marathon dinner

After a late lunch we headed back to the room, where we momentarily got stuck in the elevator on the way there. We seriously debated not telling anyone that the elevator was stuck and just staying in there until the race was over. We had food and water with us…we were good! No one would ever know we missed the race! Needless to say, we were terrified.

Saturday we went through all the stages of grief. Denial, hysteria and somewhere along the line (probably more around 3:30am on race day) acceptance. We could not believe  we were actually there at Disney and tomorrow was the big day. The day we had been training for 8 months for. Wow. After lunch, a run to Target for painkillers, and an attempted escape plan by hiding in the elevator we went back to our room and started getting everything around for the morning. We finally crawled into bed around 6:00pm and surprisingly, we slept.

2:30am rolls around and we’re up dressing for battle. At least that’s what it felt like.

marathon morning

We kept imagining the beginning of the race being like the starting scene of the Hunger Games. A bloodbath. Running for our lives.

We thought we were going to die. 

We grabbed a bagel and got on the bus that would take us to the starting line. It was an interesting ride there. It’s Disney, so many costumes were involved. Hopping on the bus and seeing two elite male runners dressed as pink flamingos just makes you feel better, you know? We decided to ignore the fact that this was it, we were on our way there, so we started talking about midwives and babies instead. Typical.

The race began at 5:30am but we were in the very last corral, so we didn’t start until 6:30. Being there surrounded with all the other runners was comforting; some nervous, some excited, some indifferent. We slowly began moving towards the starting line. About every 6 minutes fireworks went off for the start of each corral. It was coming. Finally we are where we can see the starting line. We’re next.

And there was Mickey Mouse on stage ready to count us down! “Three, two, one, GO!” Oh my gosh we’re running.

“Melanie, we’re running a marathon!

start

mickey

Wow! Hello adrenaline rush! We were running out of Epcot onto the main roads on our way to Magic Kingdom. There was a band cheering us on, plenty of spectators and encouragement. The first three miles FLEW by! Heading into Magic Kingdom we saw the Pirates of the Caribbean ship and Jack Sparrow, always fun. Right after that I found out that I cannot run in a knee brace. I had very light sleeve on because my knee had been “clicky” a few days before. I never ran with a knee brace before and thought I’d bring one along just in case (rule #1 that you shouldn’t do during a marathon…try new things), but I knew I would rather be over prepared and chuck it than on the course wishing I had one. By mile 3 the knee brace had made my foot fall asleep, so I pulled to the side and yanked it off as quickly as possible. It was my job to keep us on pace and I certainly didn’t want to slow us down. The WDW Marathon has a requirement of averaging a 16 minute mile, which was plenty of time, but being that it was our first marathon we didn’t know what bumps we might encounter along the way that could slow us down and potentially get us picked up by the “pace patrol,” the team that pulls you out of the race if you aren’t going fast enough. That was our biggest fear. We didn’t come all this way to get kicked out of the race.

We were in Magic Kingdom before we knew it and man, that was fun. Huge crowds of people cheering us on, high-fiving us, holding up signs…and there it was. A beautiful, beacon of hope…Cinderella’s castle. We ran through it and came to the mile 6 marker where we took our first supplements. From there my body was in cruise control mode and I was just loving it. I felt great.

magic kingdom

I can’t remember exactly where but sometime around here we saw our awesome friend, Mary Ramsower! She purchased a cheer squad package and followed us through the entire race. Not only that, she hooked our family and friends up with race text updates so everyone knew where we were. Basically, Mary was our angel. Seeing her face right around this time gave us confidence. We were running out there like scared puppies until we turned a corner and there she was! Screaming for us! We got a big bear hug from her and she told us she’d see us at the end. That’s when we knew we could do this. We’ll never be able to thank you enough, Mary.

After seeing Mary we came across a lot more volunteers who came out to give us whatever support we needed. Whether it be food, water, a high five or a hug, these guys were there for us. I will never think of race volunteers the same way again. I never could have imagined what each and every volunteer meant to me; not just volunteers, but the average Joe’s who came out to watch and support the runners. You guys are what got me through the race.

The majority of the race was out on the main roads that take you from park to park. Not much time was spent running through the actual parks, but when we would get to one it was magical. As for our pace, neither of us had a goal in mind other than to finish. I was surprised how much the water stops and bathroom breaks slowed us down. This is something I’ll want to work on in the future. For the first 10 miles we were averaging about a 12 minute pace. After that we decided to slow down to make sure we didn’t exhaust or hurt ourselves.

The weather that day was, in my native Floridian opinion, perfect. High of 73, low of 49 and sunny.

I was feeling great and before I knew it we were at mile 10…double digits! Mary and I constantly were checking on each other during the race. One of the many reasons I was so thankful she was with me. Pretty soon we were at mile 13, half way there! We were still feeling great. It was probably around this time or a little after that things started to get real. By that I mean that the moods of the runners around us started to shift. I heard people that were really hurting and began seeing more and more people pulling to the side to puke. At first this freaked me out. I thought, “these people are here to run a marathon and they’re pooping out at mile 15? Why? Did they not train enough? Could I be next?” That little voice of doubt tried to creep in my head and freak me out but I squashed it…quick. I felt fine. I was properly hydrated and properly fueled. I trained hard for this. I was prepared.

Mile 17 came around…almost to 18 (which I heard was the breaking point). Mary and I were very focused on our running, but of course we made time for jokes and the usual comment “I can’t believe we’re really doing this. And I can’t believe we still feel good!” And there it was, mile 18. Two more miles and we would be in the twenties. We felt strong, we felt good, we were going to finish this.

By this time we were averaging a 14 minute pace. I wasn’t going to complain. We were having the time of our lives! I had read that it was good to keep an eye on the people around you in your corral during the race, to make sure you aren’t falling behind or speeding up too much. There were a few people that had been running near us for about the first 10 miles, so we decided to keep an eye on them. At mile 18 I realized we hadn’t seen any of them in a long time. Especially the guy in the kilt that we pin pointed. Yes, there was a guy running the marathon in a kilt…and he was our favorite. We realized that we had probably gotten way behind. Discouraging, but it was OK because we were only in this thing to finish it and not get picked up by the pace patrol.

People around us were drained, but we still felt strong. Thank you, Jesus. I don’t remember exactly what mile it was at, but at some point we were on back roads going through a very swampy, sewage area. It wasn’t exactly the pretty part of the run. Right around then a large, enthusiastic man behind us starts singing “We Are the Champions” by Queen. A few moments pass, and suddenly all the runners around us are singing it together.It’s at moments like this that you realize that these people aren’t machines. They feel pain. Running isn’t easy…it hurts. It’s the people that hurt and choose to sing through it anyway that are champions.

Eventually we were in the Wide World of Sports and holy cow. We felt like we were trapped in that park. It NEVER ended. At least it seemed that way. We were doomed to be trapped running in the Wide World of Sports forever and ever. And I had to pee. And there were no bathrooms, or bushes…greaaaaat.

All that water I had been drinking caught up with me. Earlier in the race we had managed to find one bathroom in Animal Kingdom with no wait at all. That was a miracle! After that every bathroom had a line that would at least take 8 minutes to get through. It got to the point that I couldn’t wait, so we jumped in a line at the Wide World of Sports (our least favorite park). Mary was gracious to accompany me. She’s a good mom. It took 8 minutes to get through the line, which really made me worried about the pace patrol grabbing us and kicking us out of the race. We hopped back in the crowd and started running faster. Then about 5 minutes later we see kilt boy run past us. Then the next few ladies we had been watching to keep pace with. “Oh my gosh! Mom! We didn’t get behind! We got AHEAD of everyone!” That bathroom trip put us back to the group we started with. That was very encouraging. And suddenly, were were out of the Wide World of Sports.

running

Running up the highway we approached mile 20. Holy cow. 20. Where did the time go? It seemed like we had just started this thing (well, kind of). And there it was…20. We passed it. Onto mile marker 21. Let’s finish this thing. We were both surprised how good we still felt. Obviously our feet hurt, but overall we were fine. We had been running for a very long time and wanted to see that finish line. “There goes mile marker 21. Keep going. We got this. We’re good.” Those were basically the phrases that we kept repeating for the next 5.2 miles.

Mile marker 22 came. Only 4.2 more miles. Holy. Freaking. Cow. “Ok, where’s 23? I want to see 23! No sign of 23. We’ve been running a long time and haven’t seen mile marker 23. What the heck? Ok some guy just said we’ve already passed 23. Three more miles!”

Those were the longest three miles I have ever run. I was tired; I felt good, but I was tired. At this point was the only “mistake” I would say I made in the race. I had been drinking a ton of water the whole time, and at mile 23 I was not about to stop and have to use the bathroom again, so I stopped drinking water at mile 23. Lo and behold, mile 25 comes around and I got the first cramp I had gotten during the race. Really?! Now?? We’re almost done! I had to stop and try to walk it out. Mary talked me through it, gave me pickle juice and started praying over me. Like I said, she is such a good mom.  I am so incredibly thankful that I had her with me. We walked it out for about 5 minutes and after that prayer she told me to start running. “I’m good. I’m good. Nope.” It came back. Walk it out, stretch it out, drink some water…we’re almost there. At this point I think it was more mental than anything, so I had to say enough. We called on Jesus, and this time I had confidence. He brought me this far. I was not about to walk across that finish line. So we ran. And right around the corner was our entire family!

Our family is LOUD. And they know how to have fun. Seeing them then and there could not have been more perfect. They cheered, they ran with us…they were so proud of us! Seeing them made it real. This was it. We were about to actually finish this thing. The next half mile was a celebration of how hard we worked. Our spirits were lifted. We reflected on all of our hard worked, joked about how we said after this race we would never run again, and before we even saw the finish line we started to get weepy. This had been our thing for nine months. It was the ultimate mother-daughter in law bonding experience. And here we were at the end. It was time to finish strong. This was the race to the finish line. 

Around the next turn was a gospel choir singing praises. How perfect! Wow. I heard some coaches on the side line telling us that the finish line was just around the next turn. I really hoped they weren’t lying. Those last three miles I had heard about 20 people saying “you’re almost to the finish line!” The encouragement is great, but it gets to be a little annoying after the 15th person says that and you aren’t there yet. We started turning a corner and there was the biggest crowd we had seen yet! We got all the way around the curve and there it was! The finish line! OH MY GOSH! I had never felt such an overwhelming happiness. There was Donald Duck dancing and cheering us on. We grabbed hands and put our arms in the air and I hear over the speakers,

“Melanie Yost and Mama Yost! Congratulations! You are a marathoner!”

finish

mary

finish2

Wait, Mama Yost? What? How did they know that’s your nick name? That was strange…and super cool.

And we crossed it. And I cried. That was it…we did it. But then we kept running! (Plot twist! Ok, not really…)

Mary goes, “Are we done now? Can we stop?” Hahaha! That was the best. We were delirious. How could we actually be done?

We were presented our medals, got some food and went to find our family to celebrate. I couldn’t believe it was over. We felt so proud. Having our entire family there to celebrate with us was just the best. Wow. Just wow. Here are some pics of our celebration:

melandnellie

Me and my sissy, Nellie

martyandmary

My husband, Martin, got to watch his mom and wife finish together

nellieandmary

Our family is very loud and emotional. There were lots of happy tears

isa

My youngest sister in law, Isa.

1017655_10202000046897548_465615301_n

Mom and daughter

mart

Martin and his mom…and his dad in the background disguised as a tourist 😉

marathon

medals

As soon as it was over we started talking about our next race. We got the bug. I was officially addicted. And now we start training for our next marathon.

To all the volunteers, you have no idea how much you meant to me during this race. To the lady with the pretzels on the bridge, thank you. Your generosity and smiling face gave me extra energy. To the kid and his dad in the stands around the race track, you were so sweet to come out and just watch and wave to everyone.  To the woman who clapped for us and told us we still looked strong at mile 24, bless you. To every volunteer who filled up my water bottle and gave me food, thank you. You kept me going, literally. To the lady on the overpass with the sign that said “Pain now, wine later” you have no idea how excited that sign made both of us. And to every other person who showed us support, you are the best. I used to thank race volunteers probably didn’t mean much to the runners. Wow, was I wrong. From here on out I don’t care if I’m the only person standing on the sidelines of a race with a sign. I’ll know that to some person, that sign, that presence of just being there, will get them through their race.

And of course to my mother in law, Mary. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life. You took care of me, you pushed me past limits I never thought I would be able to go through. You were the best training partner anyone could ever ask for. I couldn’t imagine doing this race without you.

There you have it. Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us both through that race. In the end, You are the one that truly brought us to the finish line.