Now, here's something interesting. Up until now, you can see that I've taken a picture of every. Single. Mile Marker. So something may surprise you.
I missed 23. I was told later it was behind the final sweeper bus. I remember thinking it was taking forever to get to 23. I was now running one song, walking the next. Still on an ankle that felt as if it were going to fall off. And now I had another thing to add:
I was starving. Smelling the food going by ABC Commissary did not help matters much.
Heading to Crossroads of the World and my favorite spinning Mickey!
Yes, that dude is wearing a blue tutu. Just roll with it. I've come to appreciate it.
And soon. . .
I was on the Boardwalk and no longer in danger of being swept from the race!
It was here when I realized that, I began to cry.
Not a cute, princess-like cry. An ugly cry.
By now, I was just walking 19 minute miles, more or less. I was attempting to get over the fact that my ankle felt like it was swelling out of my shoe. It was a problem for later, because I was now at Mile 24!
In France, and see-19 ish minute mile.
But this sight was making it all worth it!
Having run the Princess Half, I knew what was coming up next!
I clapped and sang along with them like a nut!
And by mile 26, I was limping
Forget ugly cries. This was the worst ever.
Back at Race Retreat, I had all the food my plate could hold. I know lots of people who don't think Race Retreat is a big deal. For the marathon, I would never skip it at Disney. Having a place to change and sit for a while before boarding the bus was worth it all. I then printed my live race results and watched the last person cross the finish line about 45 minutes after me surrounded by and cheered on by Team in Training. No wonder I didn't see the balloon ladies or the sweepers. They were 45 minutes behind me.
I'm reminded here of the lyrics of a little known husband-wife duo, Russell and Kristi Johnson from Conway, South Carolina. (Seriously, look them up:)
I want to run the race,
Embracing every moment I'm given,
Whether mountains or valleys You're leading.
I want to fight the fight, keep the faith,
Trust in You day by day,
Through the storms and the pain You stay the same,
You never change
It's only by Your power and Your grace
I run the race.
("Run the Race", Russell and Kristi; From the album, No Other Name)
I went through both valleys and mountains in this marathon. More than any fun time, I finished. I finished slowly, with fear of being swept, with a throbbing ankle, and with fear that I would not finish just because I'd never done 26 miles before.
But God does something interesting or really, amazing.
Every time I wanted to stop, I got a text or a phone call, or someone on the path handed me chocolate or pretzels. The right song would loop through my iPod. A race sign would make me laugh. A fellow runner would encourage me.
I've known people who scoff that God can't even be bothered with those little things that are seemingly inconsequential, but I disagree. His Word says:
"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. . .What, then, shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him,graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:28, 31-32
I believe wholeheartedly that because He calls me to His purpose, He gives me the strength to run the race. He gives me every nudge along the way that brings me to a finish line. It is by His power and His grace that I run and finish a race.