I’m not sure how long it will take to process last weekend and all the ways God moved mountains to get us to a place of victory. New epiphanies come daily and as the devil tries to distract us with the normal day-to-day-stresses that never seem to cease, God reminds us of just how much He is working in our lives. This is the story of our first (and possibly only!) marathon.
We drove 6 hours and arrived in Detroit to meet Cheryl Hile and a few members of our Run a Myelin My Shoes teammates. I was able to hold in the ugly cry and just bubbled with weirdo excitement instead.
I mean, what in the world am I even doing???
When we left the expo, I suddenly felt very alone. My husband was with me, of course. We had a wonderful time with our teammates and I was so excited to see them at our team dinner the next day. Maybe it was because it was raining and we were in a strange city and I was missing our kids and it was much colder than it was at home and we found ourselves carb-loading with our sweet potatoes in a parking lot because we skipped lunch.
Whatever the reason, I was very anxious and sad. I know it was the enemy… trying to distract me from all the good and the people loving and praying for us back home. As we drove to our next location–my husband’s friends who were hosting us that evening–I received an odd phone call from my specialty pharmacy. It was from an odd number that I didn’t recognize though, so I didn’t answer it. She left a cryptic message and asked that I call her back immediately. That was 5:59 pm. I called right back and her voice mail said her office hours were from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. I mean, for reals? I knew it was likely one of their “checking-in” calls that they do from time to time since I’m on a medication that retails for $65,000 per year, but it’s so frustrating to receive a call with words like “urgent” and “call us as soon as possible” when it’s in regard to your medication and then they leave the office right after they left the message. Unfortunately, stuff like this happens often and people are not always patient and understanding, especially when dealing with someone with a chronic condition who’s life very much depends on the service they are providing. It was very frustrating, to say the least.
I prayed as we made our way to Warren, Michigan. I prayed that God would fill the empty spaces in me and give us an evening of rest. Oh man, did he deliver.
Jon and Rachel welcomed us into their home and we had the best time visiting. It was exactly what my heart needed.
On Saturday morning, we had our final training run… 2 easy miles. It was a great time to reflect on what God has done in our marriage and in our lives over the past few years.
Saturday afternoon was our team dinner. I’ve seen so many of these faces and communicated with them all on social media, but what a pleasure it was to hang out in real life! I was reminded how this disease seeks to make us feel so isolated, but we are not! I mean, look at all of these beautiful people banding together to fight this dumb disease!
And that’s not including all of our other teammates around the world or our other MS Soul Sister and Brothers finding their own way to celebrate what they can do instead of what they are limited to around the US and beyond. We are MANY and we are NOT ALONE!
Saturday evening, Brian, MO, and I went out for an extra dinner (I mean, we WERE carb loading, right?!?!) and then Brian took MO back to his hotel while I spent some time in our hotel room laying our gear for the run the next morning.
It’s become part of my pre-long run ritual. I lay everything out and think from head to toe to make sure I don’t miss anything. And as I lay it into place, I pray God, help these gloves to keep our hands warm, God help these knee straps to keep Brian’s IT band healthy, etc. I brought many cards and notes from home that our sweet friends and family had given us. I re-read each one and all of the texts and comments from so many. I took lots of deep breaths and tried to stay off my feet for the rest of the night. Alarms were set for 4:45 am. We tried to go to sleep around 9:45 pm…
I woke up about every hour. It was a very sleepless night of sleep :).
4:45 came and we began moving.
I pulled my hair into a pony tail, layered up my clothes, put on my headband, and lots of coconut oil to try to keep my face from getting chapped.
We made our way to the shuttle at 5:25.
We almost missed our team picture because it took us a long time to get from our shuttle dropoff to the charity village.
Then we made our way back up to the corral where our sweet friend MO was waiting to give us one last high five before our run! (Seriously, we love this guy so much!)
The start line of the Detroit Free Press Marathon was so organized and I truly appreciated having a countdown for every single corral. Made it so much more exciting!
Miles 1-3 were easy peasy.
Mile 3, we began our ascent to the Ambassador Bridge where many Border Patrol Agents cheered us on as they looked for our bibs to make sure we were legal to cross! Brian said that I held my hands in the air as we approached every one of them like I was some kind of criminal :).
The bridge was beautiful. The sun was rising and the crowd was awesome! Semi-trucks blew their horns for us as they passed on the other side. We loved it!
At mile 4, we were in Canada. I tried to grab a picture and video, but they didn’t turn out great :).
At mile 5, we waited in a long port-o-potty line. The delay was annoying, but we figured it was only going to get worse the longer we waited.
Miles 6-7, we ran along the river in Canada and were greeted by cheers of beautiful fans as we past. The signs were hysterical!
Mile 8, we ran in the tunnel. It was so cold that morning, I had been running with a warm headband, thick jacket, and gloves. As we approached the tunnel, I tried to push my sleeves up and remove my glove and headband so I could get a little chilled for the hot mile run under water in the tunnel. They weren’t joking when they said it gets stuffy in there. But thankfully we made it out in good time and I didn’t get over heated.
By mile 10, I felt sore in my knees and hips which usually doesn’t happen until 16-18 miles. I didn’t realize it then, but later discovered it was because of the concrete roads in Michigan. We’re used to training on blacktop with very few sidewalks so our bodies weren’t quite conditioned for the pounding on that texture of pavement.
By mile 12, my stomach joined in on the aching. There’s so much I could share, but maybe I’ll save that for another time. Let’s just say, I visited every port-o-potty from 13-17 and prayed out loud for relief as we ran! It was bad, y’all!!!
The worst, by far, was when the half marathoners split off from us and turned for the finish line. People had told me how bad it was, but nothing, I mean, nothing has ever compared to the lonely depression that sinks in when you realize they are done and you have another half to go. And the course suddenly gets VERY. QUIET. If I ever go to cheer at a marathon, that’s where I am going to position myself… right there at 13.2 for the marathoners. I’m telling you, there were no fans. No cheers. And if felt like only 5 of us were on the road running. I kept looking behind me to see if we were the very last ones!
This is where God met us. I prayed. So much. The stomach agony, the aches in my knees and hip were horrible. I prayed. Out loud. As loud as I could pray. I don’t know if the other runners around us thought I was crazy or were joining me in prayer. Either way, we made it through that wall and came out on the other side ready to finish it.
At mile 20, we made our way onto Belle Isle. The breeze made it much colder on there, but the beauty made up for it!
Brian was having issues with his IT band. Every running step was agony for him and he had to slow down considerably. But he kept trucking along. His tenacity and determination to finish was inspiring. I wanted so badly to speed off and finish quickly, but God gave me patience so we could finish together.
At mile 23, we made our way off the Isle and ran along the river walk. It was so quiet. It felt like there were only a dozen or so of us left and like we were never ever going to finish.
At mile 24 my stomach issues came up again and I found myself speeding off to a port o potty and then having to speed again to catch back up with Brian.
l faked this smile for the camera at mile 25 when I was trying to catch back up to Brian :).
Finally, this sweet angel cheering on the road let us know we had two turns left and then we were finished!! Every pain was agony at this point, but we dug down deep and picked up as much speed as we could muster.
When we made the final turn and saw the finish line in sight, I took Brian’s hand and said, “Do you see that? That right there is our reward for 20 weeks of training, sore muscles, lack of sleep, and 3 years of fighting this dumb disease! Let’s finish strong!”
The exhilaration of crossing that finish line with this incredible man by my side is not something I’ll soon forget.
The screams that flowed from my mouth felt instinctively carnal. Like a lion roaring as a warning to predators nearby. Not today, MS. Not today, Satan. Not today, depression or knee pain or stomach cramps or exhaustion. We were there to glorify our God and nothing was going to stop us.
Someday I may tell you the rest of the story of that day. Your body goes through some very violent and weird things when you ask it to run 26.2 miles. I remember crying out “I have done irreparable damage to my body!!!” At one point, but we recovered enough to go out and have dinner that night :).
I feel like I can’t finish this blog post without saying something about my precious husband. I can’t begin to understand what he goes through as my husband, my primary caregiver, cheerleader, and partner in all things. He gives so much, y’all. And then gives some more. He provides, protects, encourages, gently critiques, guides, leads, and walks me through all the good and bad moments of our lives. I can positively say I could not have completely this training or this marathon without him. We are a team, forever and always.
The marathon is such a great symbolism for life. There are so many highs and lows and moments when you feel like you can’t go on. But if we fix our eyes on the finish line and take one step at a time, we can achieve our ultimate reward.
Today, you may be facing something that seems impossible. I promise you, NOTHING is impossible with our God.
During the race, we carried little cards that had our fuel plans so we knew when to eat. On the back, I wrote this verse:
Press on, dear friends. Press on. Jesus Christ is calling you to finish the race and finish strong.