This whole crazy journey started with a proclamation. In the summer of 2006 I said that I wanted to run a marathon before I was thirty. From that point on it felt like a safe attainable dream to consider in the next few years. I got so caught up in the romance of running that it became a reality about nine months later. The completion of my first marathon was beautiful. It was everything I hoped it would be. Linked in stride with an amazing friend, surrounded by the cheers of my family, and adorned with the hard earned medal.
I was sore for days, unable to walk let alone run. I loved it. I hobbled as if it were a crown of glory. I relived the course as if I had forged on to new land.
I had taken a new love or better yet, it had taken me.
I decided about a week later that I would go after my love once again when Wichita hosted it's annual marathon. That gave me months to prepare and be ready to be as beautiful as I could for my next time around.
I ran races in high altitude. I went on long runs all alone just to keep the fitness I had. I joined a class to help me be as ready as possible. I finished two triathlons. I assented Pikes Peak. I won several medals at short races. I woke up at 5:30 AM for nearly 18 weeks straight to go run and get those precious miles in. 25 miles a week, 30 miles a week, 44 miles, 50 miles, 51 miles, 58 miles in seven days.
I was tuned and ready. I was going to be lovely for my marathon.
Race Day. Sunday, October 21, 2007. 8 AM Start. Derby, KS.
Nerves all over the place. Countless trips to the bathroom. Smile through it all. Don't let them know you're scared.
I got in line and told myself, "it's just a long run, take it slow and steady." Kenton prayed for me and then I waited.
The horn blew and there it was, months of preparation ready to show their stuff. I ran past my Dad and retorted to his joke, "So, how you feel so far?" "Uh... I feel pretty good." Who wouldn't about ten yards from the start?
I did my best not to get caught up with the gunners and keep my pace. Mile one had not passed and I experienced the first twinge that this might not be a good day. Side stitches. What are they, why do they happen, and how do you make them go away? No one really knows. I tried all I knew and instead of getting better it got worse. The pain spread from my right side to my left and at this point I couldn't breath without being in pain. I pulled off my long sleeve shirt and tossed it to my husband, with a quick shout of, "I already have side aches." Hoping the fear in my eyes would be enough for him to decipher, "I really need you to pray!"
I passed my Dad around mile three, cheered to see another familiar face, almost in shock that this was the reality of the marathon. I let him know my condition and he encouraged me to take advantage of an approaching downhill.
As I trekked on I had to think to myself, what if this never lets up? "Are you going to quit?" I pictured what it would look like if I pulled out and quit. I couldn't stand the sight of it. I resolved to finish even if the pain never went away. I called out to the Lord and demanded his healing. I tried to recall all the truths about healing and believed I was healed. I was discouraged when the pain would peak and I had already claimed healing. I wrestled with the Lord. I praised him when it seemed to subside and I tried to keep believing when it returned.
I found myself next to a friend and I began to talk with him. As we chatted, the pain seemed to go away. I was ecstatic. I remembered Maria's prayer for me from the night before. She had asked the Lord to give me a chance to share Him with another. As my conversation was continuing I mentioned how I was believing that the Lord was healing my side aches. Nothing seemed to bait a conversation, but I was glad to have had the chance to share my faith. Our paces changed and I didn't see him again for some time.
I was tired but relieved to be free of the sharp pains in my side. I saw Kenton , wearing his bright orange tee and started waving my hands. He finally saw me an jumped in with me to supply me with the requested aid. My, it was already a long race and it was only mile seven. He made sure I was equipped and headed for the shuttle to take him into McConnell Air Force Base. This was the only way he could see me for many miles. I pressed on, finally seemed to hit a good stride and play the new play list that so many of my friends helped me construct. As I turned to the north I was greeted with a new element. The wind. The wonderful Kansas wind had shifted and it was chilly. I ducked down and ploughed on. My Dad was surprisingly near by. He gave me some water and some encouragement and planned to be up around the next mile or so.
Pretending to be Rocky and listening to the Eye of the Tiger isn't nearly as effective when you press pause three or four times in between. However, I was happy once again to see my Dad, even if it meant I had to wake up from dreaming that I was at the top of the steps and raising my arms. Dad was there to get me the goods I needed because I was about to enter the air force base and I would be all alone as no civilians were allowed to spectate. He helped me down an orange and get my sports drink in it's holder. He checked on my pain and was just as happy as I was to know I was doing better. I told him goodbye, knowing a lot was going to change before I saw him again. I had nearly ten miles to run on the base, making it over twenty miles before we'd met up once more.
I entered the base to be served water by Darth Vader, voice modulator and all. I immediately passed the Air Force Guards to see a sign informing all marathon runners that no headphones are allowed on base. "Ah, great!" I'm all alone, the wind's blowing in my face, I'm cold, and I can't just listen to something to take my mind off it? "Obey the laws of your land, Lacy" FINE! Off I went picking out land marks where I would give myself permission to walk and take a drink. I watched as the two man relay-ers were reeling in their day. Mile 13 was just ahead and I thought, "Why didn't I just run the relay, I'd be done real soon." Finally the loose gravel turned to pavement and there appeared to be life ahead. Halfway had been achieved. The course ran us under a B-47 and a KC-135 plane. Kenton was there waiting with hoops and hollers. Others were kind enough to read the names off our bibs and cheer for us too. I met up with my friend once more. Paul said to me, "so I just have to do that one more time, right?" I was glad to share a few more steps with him again. It made the gloom of what lied ahead seem brighter. As he carried on I was so happy to watch a first timer look so healthy and so strong. We shared little bits of this and that and then we separated once more as our paces changed. I turned down the street where the course runs both ways and was happy to now be the one passing. I waved to those I knew from the class and continued on. Volunteers were dressed in costumes all along the way as I made it out to the loneliest part of the course. I was running on a far end of the base. Nothing much to see, no one to talk to, and an increasing awareness that my body was giving up. I knew I had to make it to the old airport before I'd see a familiar face again. My legs were sceptical that I could get to that building. At the time it seemed so far away. I called Kenton and requested that he be ready with some muscle cream as soon as possible, I also included, "It's not going well." He promised to pray right away and I pressed on. I caught myself starting to cry. I was in pain, I was tired, and I had so far to go. I literally cried out to the Lord with nothing more than fear and tears. I was impressed with this notion that, "Now is not the time, you have too far to go,keep it together." I nearly had to slap myself to recompose, but I got it back together and there was the air port. As it is now a museum, there are several airplanes in the field and I ran under them to get out of the base. As I turned out of the fence I was so pleased to see my husband come running toward me. This time he had someone with him, his brother. Since the route was near Reid's home he interrupted his video game play to come and support me too. They are both good for a laugh, especially when you desperately need something to smile about. As all inhibitions are loss during such a feat, I slathered muscle cream all over my tight legs. I mentioned that I was out of steam but was pretty nauseous. Kenton suggested I eat something anyway. He ran with Reid to get ahead and bring my some oranges.
As they ran, yes faster than me, and let me know it, I just smiled. Yes, let's see how fast you are after 19 miles! I managed to pass 20 miles and Reid jumped out of Kenton's car and trotted along with me. Poor guy was in over sized shorts and flip flops, but he hung in long enough to watch me manage a few orange wedges down. I was happy have him there, he's the brother I always wanted and I miss him terribly at times. So, to have him support me as my nose is running and I'm trying to inhale food, spoke volumes of his love. As soon as they we there, they were gone and I was alone again. I could finally put the headphones on and try to just zone out. I was pleasantly surprised at the selection I would hear. Duane and Maria dropped off a mix CD the night before and I purposely didn't listen beforehand, just to have some surprises along the way. Whether it was the Black Crows or Guns N Roses, I didn't care. I laughed with joy at their sweet gesture towards me.
Even though the miles were coming to an end, it felt like an eternity lye ahead of me. The legendary "Wall" had been hit and I was running on fumes. To my surprise my Dad popped out from behind a tree and smiled the smile I couldn't. He was ready to run the rest of the way with me. I had asked him to several weeks before, because I knew the loneliness would have beat me down by the end. He was peppy and positive. As assumed, he did most of the talking and let me know how close I was. Even though I stopped to walk up the peaking overpass, he continued to let me know, "that's okay."
Finally we made it down and around to the bike path into Linwood Park. We came out from under an overpass and my sister was standing on a hill with my nephew. He had a sweet sign around his neck. It said "Go Aunt Lacy, Run Fast." I was so happy to see him. My smile would have fooled anyone, I didn't look in pain. She raced down to the rest of my family where I saw them all, especially my favorite fan, Judah. He was holding a hand drawn sign and smiling from ear to ear. This was the first time I'd seen him all day. He'd been with Auntie Lindz all morning and I'd been dying to tell him, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY!" I gave him a salty kiss and took in all the support around me. My mom, Kari, Landon, Kenton, Judah, Lindsay, and my Grandmom. She'd come all the way from Pittsburg for this and I was overwhelmed to have them all there.
There were less than three miles left, but I was fading fast. At every water stop I gave my mind a chance to walk. I walked from landmark to landmark, embarrassed but comforted by my Dad. Finally it was mile 25. There was a "Magic Dog" there. According to the sign, you rub his head for a wish. Whatever, I'll rub a dog's head, so I did. When the sign displayed 25 I knew I had to run all the way in. I managed to find a pace and keep it. My Dad managed to find something to say about everything we passed just to keep my mind off of the pain. We made it out to Douglas and the final turn was in sight. My Dad kept saying, "you're there, you're there, it's going to be great!" All the while I'm thinking, "I'm not there yet!"
Glorious beautiful Mead street was in sight. Kenton took a pic and ran like the wind down the street. There were people down the street and lots of them. I thought, "Wow! Really? Here in Wichita?" and then a wonderful white and red sign stated it was mile 26, praise GOD! I looked up again and a little figure in light green appears. "WENDY!" I scream out her name and gush with pleasure that she was there. She let me know I had a lot of people waiting for me, "Just like when you go to heaven, they're all waiting to see you!" "You've taken like an hour off our last time!" I almost couldn't take it, I miss her so much, especially right then.
As it all spins into one big blob of a memory, I believe she ran on and my Dad yelled, "there it is!"
Oh and there it was.
I look left and there's my whole family, I look right and a huge group of friends scream my name. It's loud and I feel strong. I slap the hand that reaches out for me and smile from ear to ear. There's a little yellow line just ahead and once it's behind me I stop and I stop good.
I was alone again. My Dad had slipped off. A nice man gives me water and places the medal around my neck.
It all goes so fast that it's hard to take in. The love, the cheers, the reality, the finish. It needs the slow motion option of the movies, just so one can give the moment what it deserves.
I needed to tell Wendy, how I needed her by my side and how blessed I am to have shared my first marathon with her, and I can't believe she's running along side me in flip flops right now. And that I know I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for her. And that I just love her so much.
I'd tell my Dad thank you a million times and then try to find another way to say it a million more. I'd tell him I'm glad I'm his daughter and I'm really lucky to have him as my Dad.
I'd tell my Mom, thank you for telling me in middle school that she knew I could do anything I ever wanted, maybe not other's, "but you can."
I'd tell my Grandmom that having her there was a dream come true and that I wished I could have shared this with Granddad too. But someday I know I will get to hear about his view.
I'd tell Lindsay that I don't deserve her, I never have, and I will spend my life thanking God for our life long friendship.
I'd tell Kari that twenty years of being sisters meant nothing compared to 6 years of being best friends. I love her and am glad to know we'll be better than sisters for life.
I'd give Landon a hug and tell him, I'm lucky to have such a wonderful nephew and he makes me want to be a better Aunt.
I'd tell Jamie that her friendship overwhelms me. Why she would love me so much is a mystery and I'm always afraid I take too much and never give and somehow she always has so much for me to take.
I'd tell Rachel that I know she's only there because she wants to be. Her honesty with me is a gift I don't take lightly, and I would somehow find a way to let her know how grateful I am.
I'd tell Paul that I've always been impressed with his kindness and especially today. He's never treated me with anything but overpowering respect and kindness.
I'd tell Dave that his words of encouragement in my life have never left me and his presence here today never will either.
I'd tell Jeremy that his soft side has been a reminder for me to love my brothers and sisters, everyday, just like he loves his brothers and sisters, myself included.
I'd tell Duane that only a few of us get the rare chance at an irreplaceable friend like him and what his "tall" cheers mean to me.
I'd tell Maria as much as I could before I'd fall apart. I'd hope that my tears would tell her just how much I love her and how she takes care of her friends like no one else can.
I'd get on the phone and tell James and Stephanie that if it weren't for the constant encouragment and love I recieve from them, I would have given up on myself a long time ago.
I'd tell Kenton, my best of the best friend. That I love him, not like the love that you read on cards, but the kind of love that I can't explain. The, "I got your back", "I'll catch you if you fall", "I will always be here for you", "There is no me without you" kind of love. I'd tell him none of this would be happening without him, I'd tell him that it took him believing in me, that his sacrifices did not go unnoticed, and that I'm forever humbled by his support of me.
Finally, I'd tell Judah, that I hope he sees me as strong. That I hope he knows he can do this too. That any dream he wants, it's his. All he has to do is go after it holding the Lord's hand and never look back. I'd tell him that he is my greatest gift, my best inspiration, my motivator to be better.
I'd tell him that he was born for such a time as this and the stars are his.
As days have passed, I've been seeking for the "big lesson" I was to have learned from this unique experience. Was it endurance? Was it trust? Was it faith...what was it? I don't believe I could ever run a marathon and it just be a marathon. God has moved too much in me through running to let it be just another "thing" I do.
I'm not sure still. But I do know, humility is in the forefront of my mind. I'm humbled by the love I experienced from those in my life. Not all were there that day, but I know others were praying and I don't take any of the support lightly.
I'm blessed to have such love in my life.
So if a treacherous 26.2 mile trek does nothing more than leave me speechless with humbleness before the loved ones in my life, then I believe I learned a huge lesson. I am more aware now than ever before what an amazing gift I have been given. For that gift I am eternally grateful.
There still is that element of unrest in my spirit and I've still been searching for a place to lay it down. All I can gather is, this was just one race, there's a lot more to come. There is going to be great victories ahead, along with some defeats, but I am far from done.
So maybe I'm not unsatisfied as much as I'm just hungry for more.
My lovely marathon wasn't all I planned it would be. In some ways it was more. In others it was less. The pain has not left me scorned, just ready to try it again.
My legs are healing, my heart's never been more alive, and with such a great backing of love and support, I say, bring it on.