14 October 2013

Mara Marathon

Well, we finished!!!!  

We can now check off the bucket list that we ran a 1/2 marathon in a national reserve in Kenya.  

That was not an easy run but wow, I'm so glad we did it.  I would love to make it a run we do yearly.  The race itself was very organized and very much safe.  Going into it, we didn't know what to expect.  Bud googled info to find out from people that ran it in the past and the info was a bit crazy.  One guy said by the time they got to water stations, the water was out because all the elite runners had drank it all.  Another said there was gun shots before they started the race and the announcer came on the loud speaker to say they were just chasing elephants off the path.  Elephants?!  Do you know how big and aggressive they can be?!  I joked leading up to it about just not wanting to be eaten by lions, which I guess there was the slightest possibility, but in all reality we were in no danger of lions.  But before I describe our race anymore, let me back up a few weeks.  This will be a lengthy post since really, I want it on here for our sake so we can look back on it one day. 

The training.

One of our Kenyan sons, Ian, who is 16 years old, trained with us.  It was his first race to run and he discovered how much he loves it.  Our oldest Caleb, he's not into running but more passionate about soccer.  Ian though, he loves it and just thrived.  Saturdays were our long runs.  Usually Bud, Ian and I would at least do our long runs together.  Ian would always run way ahead and we told him not to let us hold him back (or rather, not to let ME hold him back since my husband could of kept up with him but stayed with me for this race).  Not knowing this course, my husband was SO gracious to train with me and run the whole race with me.  More on that in a bit.  

So two weeks before the race and we are running 10 miles.  I was enjoying this beautiful new dirt road we went down.  We had to find new courses to train on as the milage increased.  It was a great run that day.  Ian and Bud would go ahead of me and I just enjoyed the scenery and music I had in my ears.  At one point, I was enjoying it so much, I had to snap a quick picture of the scenery.    


At about mile 8, it was the furthest I had gotten so far and I was getting a little sluggish.  And then without any warning, I BUSTED.  Hard.  And yall, being an adult and planting on your face on an asphalt road, that HURTS.  I remember falling as a kid and this was just not as easy to bounce back from.  Of course I was right in front of a lot of people on a busy part of the road that wasn't dirt road like most of the roads we ran on but was asphalt.  It was such a shock though, I rolled on the ground a few times then popped up and kept going without giving myself time to think what just happened.  When I came to my senses I realized my elbow, hand and knee were busted up and bleeding.  I was so determined to finish though so we finished the last 3 miles we had to go.  God definitely used that to teach me a thing or two.  

We face a lot of warfare over here.  We're brining the love of Jesus into some of the darkest corners of the earth and darkness does not like the light so it often tries to oppose us.  Sometimes we get hit out of no where, just like I did on my fall.  And lesson number one that I continue to learn is DO NOT STAY DOWN.  You must keep standing, pursue, overtake and conquer.  Yes, there's a time for rest, there's a time to stay still and let God fight on our behalf.  But there is also a time to stand WITH the Lord and battle.  "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force!"  Matthew 11:12.  So when we think we've conquered an area in our life, the enemy can often come in and hit unexpectedly but I can tell you, standing up and not slumbering is a must.  Thankfully the day after our long runs are to rest and do no physical activity at all.  But I found Monday was even harder to get out and run than it was right after I was hurt.  But we did it.  I'm so thankful to have had my husband as a motivator through this!  It took up until a few days before race day to not have pain on the places where I fell.  I was thankful though to not have pain on race day.  The week of the race though I did get a virus and had to push through that too.  My stomach was in knots on the days leading up to the race and thankfully again, I was not feeling pain from it when it came to race day.  

When it came to race day, I had three goals:  Finish and finish well (according to what I had trained for, not according to any runners around me), not to be last and not to be eaten by lions :).  And yay, we accomplished all three!  This was my fourth 1/2 marathon to do so still a rookie at it but it was overall a great race.  

We were able to go a few days before the race and took our visitors and some friends with us.  It was great to go camping and go on safari in the Masai Mara.  This is one of the most famous places in the world to go on a safari.  It's beautiful!  You can find almost every African wildlife here.  There are a lot of lions.  Which is why I had number three on my list as a goal :).  Thankfully though, the Mara is HUGE and its in the southern part that it's so lion populated.  We ran in the north where there aren't many.  So we camped in the south for a few nights and did game drives, then race day we took a Masai person with us to show us where the race was up north.  We drove around an hour or more to get there and showed up with plenty of time to spare.  They start the race at 10 so it's warm and not many threatening animals are out :).  It was odd to show up in the middle of a game reserve and find massive tents and a huge stage set up.  It was quite the show they put on.  

Our friends, Sean, Meredith and Maurine watched our three little kids while we went to the start.  At one point, some important government person showed up in a helicopter to help kick off the start.  Right before starting, Meredith got a picture of us three.    


This race had the options of a 5k and 21k (half marathon).  They kept calling our race a marathon, which I would agree, but most would say its a 1/2 marathon.  I'm thinking 13 miles is crazy enough to call a marathon!  They lined up us 21k runners.  There was maybe 200-300 runners which included Kenyans and internationals.  Most of the people there were running the 5k.  When we were almost to the first water station, they let the 5k runners start.  And that's when I got to eat the dust of some elite Kenyan runners!  Right as we were about to grab water at the first station, here comes a stampede of runners and I decide getting water wasn't that important for the first station!  Yeah, we were almost ran over.  I would suggest they not make the race path to split the 5k and 21k right at the corner of the first water station.  So on we go and the group we're running with thins out until we occasionally are running with people.  And then the hardest part happens.  The path we're on is in the middle of open planes.  We are on an incline for most of the first 6 miles and running into HARD wind.  At the time, I was miserable.  My time slowed down from going between a 8:30-9 min mile down to 11-12 min miles.  It was bad.  I get bad earaches in wind so I'm trying to get my headband over my ears.  Bud was pretty frustrated it was slowing me down that much, good reason to be frustrated.  I was glad I couldn't hear him for some of that part!  I was so happy to see each water station.  They were great about having water and sponges unlike what we had read about.  Every 2.5k there was a station fully stocked and people nicely handing out water and being encouraging.  About the 7th mile is when the course started to be more flat and would give us some times of going downhill.  I really was happy about mile 10 when we came over a hill and could see the big white tents in the distance where the finish line was.  That was also about the time we started seeing more gazelle run across our path and also a huge family of giraffe not far from us.  Before the race started, there was a line of of a dozen or more motorcycles with game wardens on them.  They went alongside the path off and on the whole race ensuring no animals were on the course.  Then we would occasionally see a couple game wardens walking along the path or hiding in bushes, all having large guns and looking out for wildlife.  I never felt threatened at all and really, between mile 10-13, I might of called a lion over to drag me to the finish line had we seen one!  I was tired.  Once again, my husband stayed by my side and kept me going.  We finally made it to the end where our friends and children cheered us on.  What a glorious moment it is to finish.  Although all I wanted was to jump in a pool and lay on a float and not move.  I managed to grab a metal and take it over to our kids.  Claire got my finishing metal and Elisha got Buds.  Not sure what we'll do when Ezra is old enough to want one :).  

I remember during the race having a few conversations with Bud that helped motivate us.  Some corny but a good conversation anyways.  One was Bud shared that sometimes when he's super weak and tired, he thinks back to when he played sports and his dad would be out there cheering him on and that's what he envisioned at some of his weak points.  That was good to think back to the days my dad was my biggest motivator in sports.  You'd think having a dad that was a high school football coach, played for chicago bears and was a navy seal, would be tough as a dad when I played sports but he wasn't at all.  He was always supportive and never pushed me to the point of hating any sport I did.  Then I brought up that on my runs the past several weeks I keep thinking back to the new movie that came out with Will Smith and his son.  After Earth?  I don't remember what it's called.  But in it, the dad has to coach the boy through a really bad future earth to get to a satellite to save their lives.  He trained him to "take a knee" where the boy would stop in the middle of chaos and take in his surroundings, sight, smell, etc to help regain focus.  So I would do that on runs.  When it got really hard and you just want to walk and give up, you have to pause and remember where you are.  Especially on this run.  How lame to have run this and not take in the beautiful scenery and the wildlife we would occasionally see.  It was an adventure and fun but had we not paused in the pain to remember what we're doing and why, the pain could have robbed us.  And then at almost the finish when my knee just did not want to pick up the pace, I remember Bud reminding me that our kids are at the finish line and we want them to see us finish and finish strong.  Now that, that was a good motivator.  We want to be good examples to our children of what it means to train for something and finish it through.  And on this race, we did!  They probably didn't really get all the importance of the race, being wrapped up in wanting mom and dads metals. But we know one day they will.  At least Ian understood it.  He finished in 1 hr and 38 min!  He easily beat our personal best record.  We think we have a runner on our hands who just might have a future in this :).    


 Bud and I finishing.  (yes, please take note of Bud smiling and I'm about to DIE!)

 Finish line!




So.... who is doing this race with us next year?!

3 comments:

Lucy Reyes said...

Fun! Congrats on crossing the finish line

NeNe said...

Way to go . I'm proud of you!

Stacey Harder said...

I love the headband! You are such an inspiration! I have always wanted to run a 1/2 marathon!

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