What lied ahead was some of the toughest running I've ever known. Miles 20-23 or 24 (I can't remember, it was such a feat) lead us out into a straight head wind. It was worse than back at the lake. It had increased dramatically in the last few miles. It became clear that our group of now 3 had really grown tired. We powered through the first mile pretty strong and we stayed together.
Live music was being played to one side of us and it was a little bit of a distraction. We passed under an overpass and no amount of distraction could help us anymore.
Stacey fell back and Bill and I began our personal battles to take on the wind. I put my head down and pushed. A gust would come and take my breath away. I'd tuck back down and push again. I'd catch Bill and then pass him. A gust would come and I'd be knocked back. Bill would then pass me. I managed a few words to him, all consisting of, "Don't we turn out of this soon?" "That turn has to be soon, right?"
I managed to catch back up with a man I hadn't seen since the halfway mark. In his thick Latin accent he said, "Oh, there you are again, wondering abo
ut you." I think I made the same redundant reply about the wind to him. As we pressed on, to our left a fellow runner had probably hit the wall. His body had apparently had enough as he was puking into the storm gutter. It was awful, a horrible image to take in this late in the game. The wind was causing his chucks to splatter every which way, poor guy. All I could do
was cover the left side of my vision and power on by. It took me a bit to shake that image.
Kenton came strolling in my view. He had the phone up to his ear and called out, "What mile are you at?" I looked down and saw I was only at 22.5. I was freaked. I had used so much energy in the last 2.5 miles that it felt as though I should have been further. He replied back to my family and then let me know, he'd see me at the finish. I kept up my back and forth game with Bill, the only one of the original 5 still in my sights. Our beloved cowbell man came walking up t
o a bus stop bench and I mustered one of the last phrases of the day to him, "Come on, I gotta have more cowbell!" He responded joyfully with, "I'm working on it." He unzipped his bag so quick and banged that bell like there was no tomorrow. I couldn't see him anymore, but I raised my arm in appreciation. Kentonzoomed by in the car and honked from the other lane and then I was alone. Bill and I hit one of the busiest aid stations t
ogether. I grabbed up all the GU I could manage as I ran through, took a powerade swig, grabbed a water gulp, and then chugged right on. I don't remember where Bill was in that transition, but I was getting scared. I could easily look down and tell that I wasn't keeping an 8:20 pace in that wind and I was losing time. I could see the course turn up ahead and I knew if I could just get out of the wind, I'd be able to get my pace back up. I was doing the math in my head. 23 miles came and I knew I still had just enough time to make it to the finish in 3:40. Finally, I was able to turn left and escape the direct wind. I even welcomed the dang hill they place at the end of the course. I was just so thankful that it was calm and now it was even quiet, without the howl of the wind in my ears.
Part excitement, part fear rose up in me as I knew the race was almost over. I was getting hoops and hollers from the crowds when they realized I was a full marathoner coming through strong along the course. I was having to compete for a space on the course at this point, because it was still quite saturated with people walking the half marathon. I now regret that I was a little short with these people, but I was trying to run and they were walking at a leisure pace sometime 5-7 people abreast. They were making it hard to pass. Eventually I'd holler excuse me and just plow right through their group. When the volunteers saw me coming they'd help me out by alerting the walkers. I had gotten in to the zone, I had less than two miles left and I was running hard. I looked down at one point and saw my pace had increased to 7:45 per mile. I did the math and knew I had it, if I'd just maintain an 8:20, but I was still scared. A fresh relayer, finishing up her 10K came bounding by and I started to hustle after her, then I realized there was no need for that, She could have her finish, we were not in the same race, I needed to calm down and finish smart. I felt so supported that the neighborhood would recognize me as a full marathoner. They shouted my name if they were close enough to read my bib. Otherwise, they'd scream my number, " Number 1495, you're looking great, you're almost there!" At this point I had no idea that I was only the 14th female to pass by with a full marathon bib, what an honor to be one of the first few to pass them that morning.
With a hand full of gu that I had no intention of using and a heart pounding like a drum, I looked left and saw my Dad. He was on his phone too. All I heard was, "I got her, we're coming!"
I waved and watched as he jumped in the street, still wearing his half marathon number, and bright yellow shirt. We said little but I do remember him getting in front of me and some how communicating that he was going to block the wind that we were now competing with once more. I nodded or something. I asked him if he could hold the GU I had and then we ran on. We were past mile 25 and I dribbled out the words, "I think I got it." He replied back, "You got it." The last and final aid station was up ahead as my Dad pointed it out, I slowed for a second to grab one last drink. I didn't even need it, but I was operating like a robot at this point. I think there was
more live music playing, but I could barely focus on anything, I knew I was so close. The last two miles were the longest two miles of my life though. I called out, "Is that it?" "Is that the final turn?" My Dad called back, "Yep! That's it!" Down a hill and around the corner we went. The corner nearly knocked me back as the wind needed to show it's face once more. My Dad jumped right in front of me and said, "Let me know if I need to go faster!" I looked at my garmin and knew I was set, I just had to maintain for a few more yards. I could see the finish line. It still seemed too far away, but I just kept going. The crowds got thicker, it got nosier, and my heart thumped harder. Balloons, faces, an announcer over a loud speaker, there was so much
commotion. I was so close. I heard my name being screamed and couldn't make out where it was coming from. My Dad pointed left. I saw my sister standing above the crowd on a bench waving and screaming my name. Her husband was there too. I looked and looked some more
and then I saw my mom, my nephew, and my baby boy. He blew me a kiss and I sent one right back at him. I was so glad I saw each one of them. Even though this all took place in a matter of seconds, I can still see it in slow motion. I instantly had time to ponder about Kenton's location. I started making assumptions that he got caught in traffic or something else had prevented him from being there at that moment. No sooner did I finish those thoughts then I heard, "LACY!!!!!" I looked right and there he was, red in the face from screaming my name so loud. He made it, it was perfect, everyone was there. My Dad turned to me and let me know he was stopping there. How I wish I could remember his words exactly, but he gave me my last boost and told me to "Take it, It's all yours."
And I did. The announcer jumped in front of me, read my name, and announced that Lacy Jaye was finishing 26.2 miles. With just a few more foot falls I crossed the painted line and finally the timing mat. I had finished, I was done, and it was over. Garmin was set to chip time and said 3:37, the clock was set to gun time and it said 3:38. Either way you sliced it, I got it, I qualified for Boston.
I could go on to tell you how I met up with Rick and heard how he dropped out at mile 16 due to illness. I could tell you how I pilfered free Carl's Jr. burgers to my entire family. I could tell you how one by one my friends came across that line, I could tell you the war stories they acquired out on the course. Bill's battle with the wind. Stacey's exhaustion. Brad's cramps. I could tell you how my legs hurt so bad I didn't know if I would ever walk normal again. There's a million side stories I could tell, but there's just one I must tell.
I know I didn't get to that finish line by myself. Friends, running partners, doctors, my son, my mother, my sister, my grandmothers, my in-laws, strangers, acquaintances, and my wonderful, irreplaceable husband all got me there. There are million ways I could tell of their support and one day I will. But today I must tell you about my Dad.
He got me to run my first mile. He walked me through everyone after that. He held me up when each race nearly did me in. He let me cry to him when I was taken out by an injury. He quietly, but strongly let me know he understood and supported me in this quest for Boston. He got it, he knew that it was more than a race to me. He knew that I had to do this. He understood when I told him I needed Judah to see me accomplish this. He didn't bat an eye when I showed weakness or fear. He knew I was running to get away from everything else in my life that had said, "no you can't." He knew that I relied on strength that wasn't my own. Mostly he knew I could do it and that was, at times, all I could believe in. I could believe because he believed in me.
As long as I live I will cherish the moment that my father jumped in front of me in my time of greatest need and forged a path for me, because I was too weak to do it on my own. Is there any greater picture of the Father's love than this?
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
I eventually made my way back to him after I got through the finisher's area. He grabbed me and held my weak sweaty body tight. He spoke into my ear my most cherished words. Words that will remain between him and I. Words everyone needs to hear from their Dad. Words that filled my heart with delight.
So, Boston had my number. But the Lord has my heart. What a priceless day. To see my God in my family, in my father. To have a heart's desire come into reality. To have so much thankfulness that I didn't know where to start.
The once overweight, out of shape girl. The girl who got out of gym class by petitioning the principal the allow her to play her violin instead. The girl who was never picked first. The girl who was too quiet to have many friends. The girl who was set-up as an easy target. The girl who could never quite find her place. The girl who didn't have a great deal of confidence. The girl who didn't really even know her dad that well. Can confidently tell her son,
"You know you can do anything, right?"
"Anything?" he replied.
"Yes, Judah, look at what God did for me, I shouldn't have been able to run that fast. Jesus even said if you believe, you can move mountains."
"Well, I'm going to move 46 of them, or maybe just 6."
"O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!"Psalm 34:8