Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Time for the Home Game! #blessedtorun

That's right! The annual "big" marathon of central Arkansas, the Little Rock Marathon, is tomorrow! For those of us who live in the center of The Natural State, it's like a home game in any other sport. We get to sleep in our own bed the night before, and the night after. It's a short drive from home to the starting line. We don't even have to eat in a restaurant if we don't want to. When you run marathons, days like this seldom come more than once a year. But our annual home game is tomorrow and that's exciting!

Today I had the pleasure of meeting some Facebook friends at the Expo, only two of whom I'd met outside of cyberspace before. Janice and I first met Elena and Aimee at the Day After the End of the World Marathon in Humble, TX last December. Today we enjoyed meeting two more, Roger and Ashley, in Little Rock! All four of these fine folk are members of an online running group I belong to, the Red Felt Running Club (formerly known as the Marine Corps Marathon First Timers Running Club).
" 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up." -- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

From left to right: Janice, me, Ashley, Roger, Elena, and Aimee

The MCMFT was formed in the months leading up to MCM 2011, my very first marathon. It quickly grew to hundreds of members before that big race a year and a half ago, some who were running MCM for the first time but had run other marathons before and some like me, who were running their very first 26.2 mile race. Once the race was over, the former name no longer fit so the group began proposing and debating various new monikers. Eventually it was decided to rename the group the Red Felt Running Club.

If you're wondering how we went from MCMFT to RFRC, I'm about to quench your curiosity. Before the big race in 2011, someone figured out that a group of hundreds from around the country were going to have a difficult time recognizing each other along a 26.2 mile course amidst 20,000+ other runners. Ideas were floated to remedy this dilemma and it was decided members would make red felt squares with the letters MCMFT and our names to be worn on our backs to make it easy to identify each other. And that's the story of how our online running club came to be known as the Red Felt Running Club.

The club remains extremely active today with members joining each other for races around the country. Many group members compete annually in the Marine Corps Marathon, including some of the folks I was with today. It's really pretty neat that people who would never have known each other except for our shared love of running and an online group can meet up at a race and get along like the best of old friends. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these great people today and look forward to seeing them and meeting other RFRC members in the future!

Now I'm back home with my clothes all laid out for tomorrow. I've got an early and long day tomorrow so I'll be headed to bed shortly. I'll be up at 4 AM to leave the house by 4:50 and get to the starting corrals by 5:30. We'll meet all who want to join us at 5:40 for a TEAM 413 pre-race prayer in front of the Perks tent near the open corral. That's so the early starters can join us, then we'll hold another pre-race prayer at 7:30 AM for the regular starters at the same location.

I'm meeting a friend and colleague in the corrals so we can keep each other going in an effort to run the half under two hours. My wife and I will meet up after she finishes the 10K and I've finished the half, then make our way to the 25 mile marker of the full marathon course. There we'll join members of our local running club, the Cabot Country Cruisers, to cheer on runners in the closing stretch of the big race. I've never participated in this before so I'm kind of excited about getting in on it, especially since part of our duties will be to run alongside our friends who get to this point struggling to finish, helping them through the final 1.2 miles of the course.

It's going to be a long, but rewarding day tomorrow and I'm super thankful God has given me the ability and desire to run and race. It's a wonderful community, this family of endurance runners, filled with so many great and interesting people. I am truly #blessedtorun!

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