Remember how these last few months I’ve been talking and talking and more talking about the Soaring Wings race? Yep…it didn’t happen. Without fail, I signed up, paid the money, picked up my race day packet, laid out my race day clothes, set my alarm, hydrated like a champ and hit the road for the start line on Saturday morning. But, then ALL of these things came to a halt when I realized I wasn’t going to make it to the actual start line on time.
Let me rewind back to the beginning of this ultimate running race day fail of mine.
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you’d know I’ve run my fair share of races in the 10 years I’ve been logging miles as a “runner”. I’ve made it to the start line countless times in my past with 0 issues to be noted. But, I guess it’s true when they say there’s a first time for everything, right?
Everything lined up perfectly on Friday (the day before race day). I even blogged about my pre-race day routine for goodness sakes! I was plenty hydrated, fully rested from a good nights sleep Friday night and hopped right out of bed come Saturday morning at 5:30AM. I had my coffee, downed more water, ate a small Honeystinger waffle, let the dogs out and safety pinned my race bib on with my timing chip laced to my shoe. Nick was ready to go and we jumped into the car before the sun came up to head towards Conway. Everything was smooth sailing. I used to go to college in Conway which I had the route memorized in my brain years ago, so I didn’t even worry about that part. But, for some reason when I plugged in our race day destination into my GPS, it said 45 minutes away instead of the expected 30-35…I assumed my GPS was just not awake for the day yet and was off by a few minutes so I wasn’t really all that stressed until 6:55 (start time) was approaching faster and faster by the minute. It started to sink in as we got even closer that I may miss the actual start….How on earth could that be??? I was so confused and felt like I was just having a bad dream! But, it was REAL and definitely happening! This had NEVER happened before, never even came close. How could I have timed things so badly?? I had it all planned and I was ready to go! I even had my race chip on my shoe and my race bib tightly secured on my tank! I WAS READY TO RUN MY 10K!!!
Nick dropped me off as fast as possible right when we started to get closer and see other runners heading towards the start line. I took a deep breath and assumed it was going to be okay, they hadn’t even started yet. (Insert: Sigh of relief!) What I didn’t know then was that those were the half marathoners heading towards their own separate start line. I started running towards the direction I assumed where ALL the runners were and decided to double check and ask to make sure I was headed towards the actual start line. A random runner told me yes I was headed the right way. But, what they didn’t know was that I was a 10k runner….not a half marathoner. Then, I started to notice everyone’s race bibs were different colors than mine only to find out that I was heading towards a different direction with the wrong group.
I took off in the opposite direction where a few cyclists were heading and a few straggler runners too. As I started getting further and further out (about .25 probably) I decided to ask another random stranger if they knew where the 10k start was because I had somehow missed it. They checked their watch and sadly told me they had already taken off and started.
At that point, my heart sunk and I slowed my pace to a walk and grabbed my phone to call Nick.
I was literally heartbroken as I realized I actually missed the race and the 10k runners were nowhere in sight. I still couldn’t believe this had happened. I felt like there were no directionals anywhere telling me where to go! Apparently what I didn’t know is that they moved the actual start line and the race start pad that kick starts the chips to go off to the half marathon start right after the 10k runners took off.
So, I never even FOUND the 10k start! I was looking for something that wasn’t even there anymore.
A random security guard stopped me as I was walking back to the car and asked if I was running the race, but I explained I think I had missed it. She said that I could still go back but my chip wouldn’t go off so my time wouldn’t count. I decided that it probably just wasn’t my day and sadly thanked her but said “no thanks!”. I made my way back to Nick and we decided to head to breakfast instead. It was barely 7:10 AM and I had already wanted to go back to bed and start the day all over. I really was so shocked and couldn’t believe that the morning unfolded this way. The thing that kept replaying in my mind was that I had already had to take the half marathon off my goal list for Soaring Wings, but now I didn’t even get to do the 10k! All of that training had just gone down the drain in my mind.
After pouring out my frustration to Nick (poor him!) on the way home and realizing it wasn’t actually the end of the world, I decided to go home and run my own race. My training wasn’t going to go to waste! Even though, I had had a rough month of training due to being sick and traveling, I had built myself up to run a race of some sort on Saturday. So, after breakfast we headed home and I took off for the river trail. In my mind, I decided to just run my 10k solo and see what my time would turn out to be.
I took off in perfect running weather, sun shining down and my frustration started to lift. I started to have a change of perspective and it sunk in that running is running, no matter the crowd or lack there of to cheer me on. Maybe I wasn’t going to get a medal at the end, but I was lucky to still even be able to lace up and run. The timing of this race day just must not have been in my favor, but it was going to be okay! Life happens and directions change all the time! I knew deep down, it just wasn’t meant to be for me to get to that start line that morning, but that didn’t mean I had to give up!
6.2 miles came and went and I realized I wasn’t ready to stop. I had hit a PR for my 10k pace which instantly made me feel better! I pushed pretty hard the entire time and didn’t take a single walk break. Although it was positive splits to the end of those 6.2 miles, I still kept my pace at an average of 8:56 finishing in 55: 28. So, I took a small water break to cool down and stretch out for a minute and decided I still had a few more miles in me. Plus, I was about 4 miles away from my car anyways, so I had to get back either way, walking or running. I stopped my RunKeeper and restarted it so I could save my 10k PR time and start up my last few miles with a slower pace. Halfway back it started to DOWNPOUR on me. I’ve run in rain before, but not like this. It was a complete and total rain storm that was going by and I was caught right in the middle of it. I wasn’t even close to my car so I just decided to embrace it, dripping hair and all. It’s also true when they say that running in the rain is therapeutic. Saturday morning I didn’t run through just one rain storm, but 2 before I made it back to my car. But, the funny thing was that I felt so clean! I felt refreshed and renewed again! I was tired, but proud of myself for turning those miles into more than just my scheduled 10k.
I’ve been learning a lot of life lessons these past few months and this morning was more like the cherry on top of the cake of this season of life. But, I think I was able to take more from it than I would’ve if I would’ve made it to the start line that morning. I was able to take the negative circumstances and turn them into something positive. I pushed myself further, made it through the clouds and the rain to finish stronger than I even expected. I took it as a gift from God showing me that if I just trust in Him and keep running my race– head up, eyes on Him–one step at a time, that I’ll be able to make it through to the other side of this “life mountain”. I’ll come out stronger, refreshed and renewed just like I did Saturday morning, post 10 miles.
While we’re not created to predict the future, I’m honestly learning it’s most importantly about the perspective we have on things to get us through to the next moment. It’s how we can take life’s lemons and turn them into lemonade, no matter the circumstance.
While Saturday morning came and went, those 10 miles will be something that sticks from here on out. I learned a lot that morning completely unexpected, but none the less absorbed and learned. Another reason running keeps me coming back for more. It’s not just about lacing up and hitting the pavement to add more miles to my running bank. It’s about the constant life lessons that are learned with each mile. Every run teaches me something new about myself and the journey of life we’re on. I know without a doubt, I wouldn’t be who I am today without running and every hill and valley crossed has led me to this very moment I’m in right now. And, while I would’ve liked to have earned my medal on Saturday at the finish line, I crossed my own type of finish line of life that day. I learned to stop trying to force things and enjoy the journey along the way instead. Letting go and watching God work is much more fun than trying to make my own way work instead.
There will always be another race, another finish line to cross and another lesson to learn. So, here’s to all of that and life in between! (I just may wake up a little earlier for that next race ;))
Because, at the end of the day my legs run for a greater purpose.
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1