Sanity runs and unanswered prayers

You know, life is tough. Not always, but often enough. My life is so filled with blessings that I would never complain that my life is tough. But, I have people in my life who are struggling and it’s tough to see. Friends struggling with cancer, loss of a spouse to death or divorce, infidelity, having to start life over at middle age. As a complete control freak and certified (or certifiable, depending on who you ask) know it all, the hardest part for me is that I don’t have answers. Sometimes, there aren’t answers. It’s a matter of learning to live with the problem, not “fixing” it.

So, this morning started with a sanity run for me. It wasn’t long, I still haven’t been cleared by the doctor with my knee. And, it certainly wasn’t fast, but it did blow out some cobwebs, a much needed release. And some truths presented themselves, as they so often do when it’s just me & God running.

I listened to a podcast by Andy Stanley last week about having faith when God is silent. You know the time I mean: when you’ve prayed diligently for something for such a long time and there seems to be no response. I think it’s one of the hardest things we face as Christians, not just in relation to our faith, but also when we present our faith to non-belivers. How to explain that sometimes, often times, God’s answer is “No”, or “Wait, the time isn’t right yet.”  I’ve had prayers like that. Some I’ve prayed for so long I don’t even remember when I started praying them. Some I’ve finally had answered, others I’m still waiting on.

So, what to do? How do you keep on? Andy Stanley reminded us in his message that even some of Jesus’s very favorite people were told no. Remember Mary, Martha, & Lazarus? Lazarus was sick and his sisters sent word to Jesus who wasn’t far away to come heal him. They had faith that Jesus could heal him and would come, but Jesus didn’t go. He waited until Lazurus died and had been dead for some days before making the journey. Why? For us. So that we could see His glory in bringing Lazurus back to like.

What does that have to do with me, with you, with our unanswered prayers? It’s a reminder that God’s strength is glorified through our weakness. When we struggle with something for such a long time, we have to learn to depend on God.

 Sometimes, God’s answer to our fervently whispered prayers will be no. Remember Paul & his thorn in the flesh? God never removed it, whatever it was. But, He used Paul mightily. If not for Paul, I wouldn’t be the faith filled woman that I am. Even with his “thorn”, he went on to lead centuries of people to Christ.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12: 7-10

God has different timetables for each of our lives. We have to learn to wait for His answer. How is that good news? Hopefully, knowing that pain comes to everyone’s lives and knowing that it’s not necessarily caused by something you did, or your lack of faith, will give you hope. It is, without a doubt, a time in your life when God is growing you. Helping you to become more patient, more loving, more dependent on Him and therefore, more faithful. How long will it last? I don’t know, but I do know that He’ll give you the grace you need to get through it.

Morning people

I am not a morning person.  This is no secret to those of you who know me.  I like to ease into morning, preferably at Starbucks, gently working my way into the crazy, hectic day.   I’m also not much of a gym rat.  I prefer the wide open outdoors, where I can get my prayer time on and gently ease my way into the day.  So, when my husband and I joined a local gym last month in order to utilize their spin classes, I had some reservations.  When I found out the class that works into our schedule best is at 5:30 a.m., I was filled with something approaching dread.

However, good sport that I am, I put my game face on, laid my spin clothes out the night before, and set the alarm for 4:30.  We went a few times before the marathon, and those seemed to be okay.  I’m giving my legs a break until I can get to my ortho doctor to get checked out to begin half marathon training, so spin is a great alternative to running.  Good workout, stretches out my legs, really works on what ails me.  So, this week we got up on Monday morning and headed to spin.  I brought back a lovely sinus infection from New York, so Monday was not my best effort.  I just did an easy spin, while Gary pedaled to Natchez & back.  That’s the great thing about a spin class, you can go at your own speed.

This morning rolled around and I woke up grouchy.  That’s not terribly unusual, but I was a little grouchier than normal.  I’m feeling better, so I decided if I’m going to get out of my comfy bed that early, I’m going to at least get a good workout.  And I did.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I probably hit 7 a couple of times.

My complaint is this.  5:30 is early.  Too early for dark rooms, loud music, disco lights, and obnoxiously happy people who sing along to all the songs off key.  I’m just saying.  It’s one thing to get up at 4:30 in the morning and go out for a glorious run where you get to hear the birds and night creatures, then be amazed by the beauty of a sunrise.  Sweaty men in bandanna skull caps and bike shorts really aren’t a great start to my day.  Although, they do make me laugh.  So, there is that.

For now, though, I’ll keep on getting up three mornings a week at that obscenely early hour.  I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for it.  And, I’ll admit, I do feel great and I’m glad my workout is done and I’m ready for my day by 7:30.  We’ll see how it goes.  😉

The view from the back of the pack

It’s been almost a week, I’m walking normally again, and the last glow of finishing has faded from my cheeks.  It was a back to reality type of week, I hit the ground running mid-week to make up for time away from the studio at this busy, busy time.  But, I couldn’t resist one last post about the race.  I wanted you to know how it feels to run at the back of the pack.  I had a bird’s eye view from there, so I’ll fill you in.

The view from Staten Island before the race

Starting in the third wave of a 47,000+ racing field allows you to know that you’re among friends.  The third wavers are mostly running enthusiasts who race to enjoy the experience, not to set land speed records.  The race announcer noticed the difference immediately as we crowded together at the bottom of the Verrazano Narrows bridge.  He commented that we were definitely the rowdiest group to start.  There was lots of laughter, shouts of joy, singing, even dancing around with glee.  We sang along with “God Bless America,” even the runner beside me who spoke little English and asked me twice what the song was.  She hummed along and raised her hands just as the rest of us did.  There were lots of older runners, groups of women run/walking together, a husband and wife team dressed alike in running bras and skirts (yes, really), fun costumes, and joy abundant.  Off we went.

I mentioned in the previous post how much I liked Brooklyn, and I just want to re-emphasize that here.  It was still early enough that thousands of people lined the streets.  Kids, parents, grandparents, maintenance workers, all manner of people were out, shouting for us, calling our names, high fiving us, encouraging us. Many brought signs to encourage, some for specific runners, others for general encouragement.  One of my favorites was “Black toenails are sexy”, held aloft by an NYPD fireman.  Made me laugh.  And, for those of you who are keeping count, I lost my third toenail after the race.  No matter, it was worth it.  Brooklyn was amazing.  I would run that section of the race over again tomorrow if I could.

On into Queens, and then that wicked, wicked bridge.  I won’t whine about it, but it did take the wind out of my sails.  I was really looking forward to rounding into Manhattan onto First Avenue, I had heard stories about the solid wall of people who would be there to give us fresh legs with their yells.  Alas, I had not counted on it being so late in the race, and many of the merry makers had left their posts to get on with their days (or head into the pub).  There were still a fair number there, and that was when I realized one of the benefits to being a back of the packer.  The people who were left cheering knew that we were the ones who would struggle to the finish line, and their encouragement became very personal.  I had not put my name on my shirt as many racers did, because my name is not pronounced the way it is spelled and I didn’t want to hear people yelling for “Jane” the entire race.  (It’s spelled Jayne, pronounced Janie,  not a big deal, but it is my name, after all.)  However, I began to wish that I had put it on my shirt, anyway.  The encouragers yelled to me, some of the bands sang for me and yelled encouragement into their mikes, and made me feel like they were truly rooting for me.  And, the fun thing about this race is that they really were.  One guy even ran into the road, picked me up, and hugged me!

Through Manhattan, into the Bronx, then that long, seemingly endless 5k through Central Park, out onto Central Park South, then across the finish line.  I’ve read comments posted by some of the earlier finishers that there was a lot of congestion at the chute leading away from the finish.  Another advantage to being a back of the packer is that there was no congestion by the time I got there.

I share this back of the pack experience because I want anyone who has a desire to run to realize there’s no shame in being there.  Do I wish I was faster?  Of course.  But,  another advantage to my race is that I remember every single step, each mile, many of the faces.  It was a fantastic, bucket list experience that I wouldn’t change in any way.  

Added bonus: when you run at the back of the pack, there’s no lines at the port-a-lets!  😉

Central Park Monday after the race

This one is for the old broads!

You know how you when you look forward to something for so long, prepare for it, work for it, bleed for it; then it gets there and it’s kind of a letdown?  Well, today was not like that all!  This was everything I dreamed it would be (except the time, which I’ll get to later).  I finished the New York City marathon today and it was a beautiful thing.

The day started obscenely early, as I had to be on the bus in front of the NYC Library at 6 am.  My man got up with me & walked me there.  We passed a fake Rolex vendor just outside our hotel & he asked me if I was on the track team.  I said no, and he wanted to know why I was dressed like I was.  I told him I was running the marathon & he said, “I hope you win.!”  I laughed and said, “Me, too!”

If you can’t be fast, be fashionable

Arrived at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island with 45,000 of my closest friends and headed to the starting village.  This was probably the hardest part of the entire day.  I got there at 6:30 & didn’t start racing til almost 11.  Tough wait.  Soon enough, though we were herded into Corrals (is there anything more aptly named?), and headed up to the starting line.  I was in Wave 3, the last wave, and after “God Bless America” was sung, the starting cannon boomed, and we were off to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”  We crossed the Verazano-Narrows Bridge and headed into Brooklyn for the next 13 miles.  Now, let me say that when I saw we were running 13 miles through Brooklyn, I wasn’t all that excited.  But, oh my gosh, did those Brooklynites change my mind.  The crowd support was amazing, they had prepared wonderful signs, I’ve never high fived that many people, and the entertainment was superb.  There were tons of great bands, including steel drums, bagpipes, hard rock, soft rock, jazz, even a Lady Gaga wannabe.  All awesome, but my favorite of the entire race was at Emmanuel Baptist Church, where they had the entire choir on the steps singing for us.  The only neighborhood that was very quiet was the Williamsburg Hasidic Jew community.  But, having done my homework, I already expected that.  And there was some cheering, just not by any of the men.  My man met me between Miles 3 & 4, and did a pretty great job of documenting the race with my camera.  He deserves a medal for his race around all five boroughs.   He navigated the subway and raced from one point to the next.     He met me approximately every 4 miles, although we somehow missed each other on mile 19.  He met me as I entered Central Park & encouraged me and helped me pick my pace back up a little.  He wished he could run it for me, and by that point I kind of did, too.  He’s already asleep, by the way.  He’s more tired than I am.

Still smiling.

On into Queens, and then the Queensboro Bridge.  May I just say this is a Wicked Witch of a bridge.  I had done great until then,  maintaining my pace, running my :30/:30’s, and then there it was.  My knee began screaming in earnest and I slowed down to a walk.  I picked up the pace some on 1st Ave, but still had to walk a good bit.  Or limp, I guess I should say.  This was the only disappointment of the race, my knee giving me the bum’s rush.  But, it was okay.  I really, really enjoyed sightseeing as I ran and embracing my inner tourist.  I don’t think I ever stopped smiling.

The limp had started

I was a little afraid my emotions would overtake me, but there were only a couple occasions where I teared up.  The first was at Mile 9 (I think) when I saw the Asics jumbo tron, and as I ran past, the messages from my family and friends appeared.  I didn’t realize it at first, until I saw the one signed “Bratchild”, which has been Kaitlyn’s nickname since she was a kid.  Read the message & she had included a picture of her, Misty, and Carlos and it was like all my kids were here with me.  It was definitely one of the high lights of the race.  Also had wonderful messages from Connie P, and several other friends.  Didn’t get to read them all, had to keep moving.  Thanks, guys.   You were all running this race with me, my prayer list included all of you.  
Let me say,  I felt the power of my prayer warriors throughout the day. You kept my stomach contents intact, my legs moving forward, and the sore throat I woke up with completely at bay.  Thank you so very, very much.  I could not have done this without you lifting me up.  
On into the Bronx for my other, somewhat surprising favorite band today.  A group of young men were rapping and it was very personal by that time, as I was in the back of the pack and running by myself.  They encouraged  sang to me and got my feet moving again.  
Finally got back to Central Park and there was my man, taking all the junk I no longer wanted, and walking with me the last three miles.  I can’t even describe how much that meant.  On mile 25, I dug very, very deep and picked the pace way up.  My legs didn’t like it, but hopefully they’ll forgive me in a few days.  Ran the last 200 meters or so and crossed the finish line upright and smiling.  Actually,  I was laughing.  Got my medal, and then came the tears.  Couldn’t find Gary and walked around for nearly an hour looking for him.  Yeah, my legs kind of hate me right now.  But, we found each other and started the trek back to the Belvedere.  That was the longest ten blocks of the day.

100 meters to go

After a cold bath, then a hot one, a Venti coffee from Starbucks, a warm salty pretzel, and a bottle of Gatorade recover, I’m icing my knee and basking in the glow.   You never forget your first time, and the great thing about this one is that it didn’t matter what my time was, it was still a PR for me.  🙂  I don’t know what my final time was, and don’t really care.  It wasn’t the time I wanted, but I’m okay with it, considering how much my knee bothered me.  

The final teary moment came when I opened my Facebook page and saw how many of you were tracking me, praying for me, rooting me on from Mississippi (and other states).  I was completely bowled over by the messages and comments I received.  You guys are absolutely amazing.  Thank you.  
I saw a LOT of real heros on the course today, and Gary made pictures of a lot of them, which I’m sharing below.  One of my favorites was the man I passed about mile six who was a quadruple amputee. Yes, that’s right, missing all four limbs.  He had double prosthetics and was moving from side to side on the course, high fiving the supporters.  Really took my breath away.  Here are some of the other true heros of the day.

The wheelchair frontrunners.  I think the winner was under 1 1/2 hours.  
This man ran the entire race bent over.  He was never able to stand upright. And I think he beat me!
This guy did 26.2 in full gear
Female frontrunners

Thanks, New York, for a true bucket list experience.  It was second to none!!  And if I see the fake Rolex dealer tomorrow, I can’t wait to tell him that I did win, after all.

Marathon Eve

As promised, I did take some pictures last night. I always regret not bringing my D3, and this trip is no exception.   Hopefully, though,  the images will convey some of the excitement that’s in the air here in NYC this weekend.  
My first glimpse of the finish line
Delegations from around the world at the parade

The honor guard

Meb Keflezighi is the first honorary finisher, click the link, he has a great story

The evening ended with an amazing fireworks show over the Park

 This morning dawned bright and beautiful, and after our coffee, we headed back to the Park.  There really is nothing quite like Central Park on a crisp fall morning.

New York Road Runners sponsored their first Dash to the Finish Line 5k to give runners and their friends and families a chance to run the last 3.1 miles of the famed marathon course and cross that famous finish line.  We arrived at the perfect time to document the finish.

Looking forward to seeing this banner tomorrow

The men’s 5k winner was from Great Britain

A New Yorker was the first female finisher

Got to love a US Champ!

There were lots of fun costumes, including many from the runners’ native countries.  Where do you think these guys are from?  

Love this – that’s the true spirit of  running, finishing together , faces full joy.  

The true heroes of the race – the thousands of volunteers!  These guys work harder than the athletes in bitter cold; before the crack of dawn;  long, long hours.  In a race of this magnitude, it wouldn’t come off nearly as smoothly without them.  Thanks to all who volunteer!

I think I’m finally ready for tomorrow.  Bib number is pinned to shirt, clothes laid out, UPS bag packed, Garmin & phones charging.  Have 2 alarms set and am calling for a 4:30 wake-up call, so hopefully the bad dreams from last night have been taken care of.   After much ado, we finally have Gary’s phone loaded with the Track My Runner app so he can follow me and he has his subway card ready & his route planned out.  My nerves have calmed and now I’m just excited.
See you at the Finish Line!!