I think my time was actually a little slower this year than last, but the weather was much, much nicer. The race started at 6:30 pm with partly cloudy skies and temps around 85 degrees. Last year it was 20 degrees hotter at the start. That's right. Last year the starting pistol fired with the mercury marking the temperature at 105 degrees! So 85 made for a much more pleasant race.
The weather definitely wasn't what slowed me down this year, but I went into it with the idea to take it easy. In the morning I'd run 6 miles in temperatures only 6 degrees cooler but humidity around 90%. I'd planned to run 10 miles on Saturday morning, but the first 6 in that humidity made me call it quits early. The rest of the day I spent shopping for and putting together a new crib for our 7 month old granddaughter. (She's outgrown the bassinet she was sleeping in.)
All-in-all, it was a pretty easy day pre-race. We left the house around 5 and were on the road only a few minutes when I realized I forgot my socks. I already had to stop for gas, but my absent-mindedness now mandated an additional stop at Fred's in Vilonia to pick up socks too. So it took a little longer than I'd planned to get to the ranch.
We finally pulled through the gate and into the parking area a little after 6, got checked in, pinned on our bibs, and had about 15 minutes before the race started. I was glad to see quite a few people there I knew. Several of our cross country kids showed up and ran. Another friend, his wife, and their three sons were all there to support the ranch. And of course, Andrew and Marla Watson (who founded and now run Soaring Wings) were there. So the 20 minutes prior to the race were spent enjoying the conversation with all these great folks.
I'd told myself I was going to take it easy, nice and slow. (Seems like I tell myself that a lot before races.) I had every intention of doing just that. I even started at the back, way back in the back. But then the idiot in me took over when the pistol fired.
I felt great and weaved through the slower runners, nice long strides eating up the gravel road beneath my feet. The first aid station was only a half mile into the two loop course so I opted to keep on trucking. As I passed by the water station, I glanced at my watch. That was the first time I realized just how stupid I was being. My Garmin showed me running a 7:45 minute mile pace to that point. Way too fast, and a pace there was no way I could maintain.
I told myself I needed to slow down and started backing down. The second water stop was just shy of a mile into the run, and I didn't pass it by. I grabbed a cup and a wet towel, thanked the great kids from the ranch who handed them to me, and walked as I drank. My watch beeped during the walk and informed me I'd finished the first mile in 8 minutes. I downed what was left in the cup and took off again.
The second mile was dotted with a couple of walk breaks, at the water stop and one more. I managed to cover it in 9:05 and knew mile 3 would be even slower. It was, with even more walk breaks. Mile 3 took me 10:22 to complete.
I don't really know exactly how long it took me to finish the race, but I made it across the line. I forgot to stop my watch for several minutes, and results haven't been posted yet.
When I crossed the finish line, I congratulated the cross country kids and my friend's boys who had already completed the course. (It's just awesome to get to work with so many great kids at school and then to see them doing great things in the community outside of school.) Then I walked back over to the table where they were handing out watermelon, peanut butter crackers, and ice cold water.
Last year they had popsicles in coolers at the finish line. They were awesome! They weren't there this year, but there was something even better. The Kona Ice truck was there handing out the snow cone like snack for free! Even better than the popsicles from last year!
As I milled around enjoying the refreshments, I had the opportunity to tell Amanda's story to a couple of people who asked about the sign I wear. That always makes any race worth it. I also met a young lady, another teacher from a different school, who said she reads here and is running her first marathon later this year (Three Bridges Marathon in December). I always enjoy meeting our readers. :)
We hung around until everyone had finished. When all was said and done, it was another fantastic time at a race, sharing Amanda's story and our faith to raise awareness of the dangers of teen substance abuse. I still look forward to fall and cooler temperatures, but I plan to do this race every year regardless of the weather.
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." ~ Hebrews 13:16
Soaring Wings is a great place, doing God's work. The kids they take in get an opportunity to grow up in a loving, stable, Christian home. You can donate to Soaring Wings and help support their ministry through our Soaring Wings fundraising page. And every dollar you donate this month will earn you one entry in a drawing* for a $200 Walmart gift card. We'll draw for the card the first weekend in September and announce the winner on September 3rd.
So even if you couldn't make it out for the race, you can still make a donation to Soaring Wings and you might just win a $200 Walmart gift card too!
*For more details on how to enter the drawing, click here.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.