Hi there. Beth here. I’m currently sitting in my kitchen. My eyes are bloodshot, my knees are locking up when I walk, and the bottom of my feet are on fire. I ran a half-marathon today. I moved my body 13.1 miles, and lived to tell the tale. Here it is.
The day before the race, we made to long trek from Dallas to the sleepy little town of New Braunfels. We got hungry along the road, of course, but we had approximately 11.5 bagels from Einstein Brothers to snack on and we stopped at an HEB. Some people subscribe to the idea of “carb loading” where you eat a bunch of carbs before you do lots of exercise so you’ll keep your energy up. Well, my ideas are more in-line with the notion of “fiber reduction” so yesterday before the race I my diet was two cheese bagels, cheese nachos, and some so-so orange vegetable stir fry from a place called Mama Fu’s Asian House, which got bad reviews online but we ate there anyway. This morning, I had a cheese bagel and called it a done deal. There was enough cheese in my system to keep my system in stasis (rather than moving up and out) for a while.
The race started at 7:00 so Alex and I and my parents had to wake up butt early in the morning. Yes, that’s an accurate time measure- now don’t sass me. Although we had been training in an environment that was comparable to the surface of the sun, the morning of the race was frigid- 45 degrees! We had on all that dry-fit stuff that’s supposed to keep you cool, not warm, so it was a cold morning. We met up with Ashley, Rebekah, and Lindsey, whom I like to refer to as the perfect trifecta and Team Wise was complete. I regretted not having tutus or floral headbands for my team to wear, but I think that they were able to sufficiently cover their disappointment. About 15 minutes before the race, they had a zumba-like class for the warm-up, which we participated in halfheartedly.
Then, we got all lined up and the shot went off! Rebekah and Ashley threatened to run with me but I threatened right back that I would run in place until they got bored and left. You see, I didn’t want to slow anyone down cause I knew I was going to be at the back of the pack.
They ran with me maybe the first half-mile, but then I gave them the slip when we got in a big mass of people and they went on ahead.
Because it was so cold, I had decided to wear a jacket, but my sister Leah had told me that professional runners wear throwaway clothes so they can layer. I’m obviously a professional so I had picked a jacket that I could jettison and so I did. I thought it had been a couple of miles, but it turns out I hadn’t even hit mile 1 yet.
The large group of runners quickly dissipated into two groups- those that can run and those that are trying to run. Yep, it was me and the old people. We were running on a two lane road and they had asked us to stick to the right lane so that cars could pass, if need be. Well, I started leap-frogging with this family of six that were doing the run/walk tango. The problem is that I would pass them when they were walking and then they, all six of them, would start running, swarm around me and then start walking again right in front of me, forming an impenetrable wall of slowness. They stopped short of locking arms so that no one could pass them but it did feel a little like a nasty game of Red Rover. I thought it was an odd coincidence the first two times, but then I started to suspect that they were doing it on purpose. At one point, the grandpa (yes, there was a grandpa) ran past me using the same gait that I suspect Quasimodo would use and my paranoid self though he might have been making fun of me. When they, again, stopped in front of me and slowed to a slower crawl than what I was doing, I got fed up. I started sprinting so that I could get a big enough lead for them to leave me alone. And then I never saw them again…until they passed me on the return run (but they kept running this time).
The course was 6.5 miles out and then you turned around and run back the other way, so about mile 4, I started seeing the people who were making the return run.
People that were running faster than me:
- Women who were two feet shorter than me and had to take two steps to my one
- Two women wearing tutus
- A lady pushing a stroller
- An acorn that fell off a tree and rolled downhill
People that I was faster than:
- The man who was walking and playing an over-sized flute (true story)
- Another grandma, although we were neck and neck for a few miles
- The guy who was cramping up
- A dead squirrel
At the halfway mark, I drank some water and ate some Goo (energy gel) and stood for a minute. Could I finish this? Could I do it?
Yes, I could.
So I started running again.
The course was pretty evenly uphill and downhill both there and back but there was one killer hill on our return run. I decided that I should stop and use one of the conveniently located port-o-potties before I tackled killer hill. I was the first in line and then another girl ran up. Please note that, at this point, I can look and see maybe 10 people in either direction, so we’ve definitely lost the pack. We’re the last kids to get picked in dodgeball. I wasn’t fooling myself. The girl behind me in line said, “I don’t want a full bladder to affect my race time!” I looked at her like she was crazy and thought, “Race time? You’re running with the wrong crowd, sister. Those of us back here aren’t worried about our time. We’re worried about surviving. Have you seen the guy with the flute? We’re in the same category as him.” Instead, I made some lame joke about how it was better that we were at the end because we didn’t have to wait in crazy long lines for the bathrooms, which Ms. Worried About Her Pacing did not find amusing. Then, the port-o-potty opened up and so I stepped in. We were at the end of the race, so there obviously was no toilet paper. But that doesn’t phase me one bit cause I’m a camper and if I could tell you the places I’ve gone, you wouldn’t even believe me. I stepped back out into the fresh air and Pacing Girl stepped in. Before I had even reset my Zune to play my favorite Jo-Jo song again, she came out and said, “Uh-oh, no toilet paper. Guess I can’t use it.” I stared at her, wondering if she thought I had used the last of it or if she knew the awful truth. Then I decided that I didn’t really care so I wished her luck and went on my way.
(Quick aside: The playlist that I edited for the race was perfecto. It was the perfect blend of Bieber, R&B songs from 3 years ago, late 90s/early2000’s pop, and the Whip It soundtrack. It kept me grooving. If you want the list, let me know.)
I was tackling one of the killer hills when I looked up to see a man running downhill (towards the halfway point) talking to the other runners. When he spotted me, he started waving his arms side-to-side like I was “out” in a baseball game or like he was telling me “no”. My first thought was, “Oh no. I’m too slow. He’s gonna tell me that I’m too slow and the sag wagon is going to pick us up. The race is over for me. I failed miserably. ” As he got closer, I realized that it was my dad, who wasn’t running the whole thing and had been dropped off at the 10 mile marker so he could finish the race with me.
He told me that, at the top of the hill, it was 3.5 miles until the finish, which surprised the heck outta me because I didn’t feel like I had run almost 10 miles.
So, we ran together. At one point, he started doing the Monster Mash, which I guess is in his running playlist, and I had to inform him that, if he was going to run with me, he needed to pretend like he was running hard, not walking slowly and definitely not doing the Monster Mash.
We got passed by the lead marathoner (26 miles!) which meant that he was running more than double my speed. At about mile 11, my legs began to cramp and it wasn’t fun anymore. We ran past this lady who was holding a sign that said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:18)” and dad turned to me to say something about it and I told him to shut it because I wasn’t ready to cry yet. When we got to the final mile, I was super ready to be done.
As we rounded the corner for the finish, I saw my friend Kara, who was cheering for me, and I burst into tears. Then Alex ran out to finish with me and I was crying like a little newborn baby. I think the announcer guy wasn’t quite sure what to do with me, so he said, “Let’s give that lady a round of applause!” I claimed my “medal”, which is a bracelet made by orphans in Kenya and met up with the rest of our crew. We didn’t stick around too long, as we were all ready for a shower, so we parted ways with the perfect Trifecta (who did awesome, by the way) and headed back to the hotel.
In the parking lot of the hotel, I started crying again because my legs wouldn’t obey me but they finally took notice that I was telling them to stand. We took a quick soak bath, got in a wreck in Austin (which is a story for another day), and then limped on home to Dallas. (I won’t give the story of the wreck now but I will say that the passenger door won’t open, so I had to crawl on my gimp legs out of Alex’s door whenever we stopped.)
It was so cool to be surrounded by thousands of people that are taking God’s call for justice seriously. Everyone there was connected with orphans in someway, either through adoption or financial support, and the race was a wonderful celebration of the movement among Christians to take part in God’s redemptive work.
A huge thanks to Team Wise- the fact that you guys took the time to train, drive, run and put yourself through hours of physical pain means so much to us. You will forever be part of our daughter’s journey into our family!
So, there you have it, the end of the Death Wears Purple Running Shoes saga.
If you need me tomorrow, I’ll be in bed and at the Korean Spa (which will also be another story for another day).