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, January 25, 2014

Team Loco Marathon Recap

Today was marathon #10 for me, #2 for 2014. It was the inaugural running of the Team Loco Marathon in Conway, AR, apparently the first marathon ever in that town. I missed a PR by less than 3 minutes, but it was an awesome race for several reasons. It was close to home, lots of volunteers and organizers are great friends, lots of the participants are great friends, and the 10 loop course guaranteed that you saw everybody several times along the course.

One of the hardest things about running marathons is having the money to run them. Entry fees, hotels, gas or plane tickets to get there, and lots of other related costs make it a pretty expensive habit. So any time you get a chance to run one close to home, it's a big bonus. I left home an hour and a half before the race start and had plenty of time to get there, get ready, and make it to the line. It's always nice when one's close to home.

In December last year, I was sitting at Olive Garden with a bunch of friends the night before the St. Jude Marathon was supposed to go off. While we were eating, our phones began to blow up with messages the race had been canceled. Later that night, some of these same friends came up with the idea for this race. They wanted to do something for all the folks who had trained so hard, specifically for St. Jude, only to have the race called off due to inclement weather. They set it up for this date to get everything just right so it would count as an official race for Marathon Maniac and 50 States statistics. And these same awesome friends were all over the course today -- working the race, running the race, and cheering for participants. It's always great to see so many friends, but it makes a marathon even better!

The volunteers were fantastic too! And again, lots of them are friends. Manning the start line, lap counters, water stations, on bicycles, and at the finish lines. Friends were everywhere, taking care of us as we ran, seeing to our every need. They were cheering, taking pictures, and just being great friends. Again, you've gotta love a race with so many friends working it.

The 10 loop course gave us lots of opportunities to see the many friends running the race too. It was a 2.6 mile out-and-back, repeated 10 times with a little 0.2 mile add on at the very start. To many this might sound boring, but it's really pretty nice to get to see everyone over and over again. You see the fast ones, the slow ones, and those who run your own pace time and again on the course. And, with so many friends running this race, it was just perfect! I absolutely loved it!

The Race

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:14

My plan was to just take it easy since I just ran the Louisiana Marathon last week. And take it easy I did for the first six miles. The slowest of those miles came in at 11:20 and the fastest at 10:19. I was probably averaging somewhere north of a 10:30 pace. Then the sun came up and it started to feel a little warmer.

It was then I started to pick up the pace, not so much intentionally, but reverting to more of my normal pace as I became more comfortable. Miles 7 through 10 were logged ranging from 10:05 to 10:11. Even after a short bathroom break in mile 11, I realized this could turn out to be a really good race (time wise) for me. I was feeling fantastic and the weather was right, so I decided to push a little harder for a while and see what happened.

All of miles 12 through 15 came in in the 9:50s. Then I slowed down for some reason on mile 16, running it in 10:33. But that was followed by miles 17 through 21 all in 9:50 or under. I finished my 8th lap just after my Garmin beeped to tell me I'd gone 21 miles. That meant there were only 5.2 miles left, but I was starting to feel the miles now.

I was still able to run though. I took my last Gu before trotting back out for the final two laps. Now my pace had slowed though, and on this lap I did take a couple of walk breaks for 100 yards or so. For the last 12 or so miles I had been feeling a 4:30 finish, or at the very least a PR was possible. But in this 9th lap, I realized that wasn't going to happen. And I wasn't even upset about it.

All those miles had been great for all the reasons listed earlier in this post. God had smiled on me for this race. Twice I'd had the opportunity to tell Amanda's story when asked about the sign I wear on my shirt. I was blessed to get to run this race, and just pleased to be feeling good. So even when the PR and the 4:30 possibilities evaporated, I was still happy to be running and happy to be out there.

The rest of the race was a run/walk, but not really much walking. The run part was at a much slower pace than I'd done most of the race, but at least I was still able to run. I eventually ended up crossing the finish line in 4:37:21, less than three minutes from my PR.

Now I have two weeks before the Mississippi River Marathon! I am just so grateful that God has given me this gift of running and I pray that He will keep me focused so that He is glorified whenever I run. Thanks to all who made today possible, but especially thanks to Jesus Christ, for all He's done for me, for all He's doing for me, and for all He will do for me.



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