"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Monday, December 16, 2013

How Not to Run a Marathon

Or, alternatively, What Was I Thinking!

There are no pictures, no words of advice, no pace charts; in fact, there is very little detail I wish to provide for stop number 9 on this 50 state train. Exactly four weeks post-Savannah, I ran the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon. Check that, I completed the Baton Rouge Marathon.

Why? Well, at this stage of the game, anytime travel is involved, I search for potential race opportunities.  With a drive from Atlanta to Texas and back to North Carolina, I figured surely one of my open states had something going on. Sure enough, Louisiana came through. Below, I leave just enough of a summary to remind myself that Baton Rouge did happen and to give testimony to the old saying, "Momma always told me there’d be days like this."

The plan was simple; just finish. I had nothing to prove and no PR to target. I ran only a few miles since early November, so I figured I would treat the BRBM like a training run. I would leisurely stroll across LSU-land while checking another one off the list. Yep, that was the plan …..

Fast forward to race morning.

I decided to arrive early, around 5:15 for a 7:00 start, in order to claim one of the fifty or so parking spots near the start / finish line. This was a major mistake. With temperatures in the mid-30’s, wind gusts between 10-15 mph and dark skies threatening rain, the reclined front seat of my heated car was soooooo comfortable. As to just how comfortable it was, let’s just say I set my alarm and emerged from the car just as the National Anthem was kicking off. Not even a warm-up walk, much less the customary jog and porta-jon ritual. (It really does sound a lot sillier now than it did then!)

The idea was to pace to a 4:30 finish. Nice and easy 9:30 +/- miles would allow me some time for the post-race feast and still get back to the hotel before late check-out. Want to guess what my first half clocked in at? Well, even if you know nothing at all about math or pacing marathons, you probably know that a 2:01 half just doesn’t add up for an even to negative split kind of guy. The worst part was that it was a painful half. Somewhere around mile 8 my knees started reminding me that I had just put them through this 28 days ago. Then around mile 12 my feet chimed in with a similar complaint. I knew I was in trouble.

With that, we should go ahead and bring this race report to a close. Truthfully, after the first half, it was no longer a race, but more of an attempt to remain vertical. Shuffle a quarter mile, stop and stretch. Shuffle a quarter mile, stop and stretch. Shuffle a quarter mile, stop and ice knees. Shuffle a quat - well, you get the picture.

Coming in just under 5 hours (the only mental goal keeping me going - that and the need to beat late check-out), I stumbled past the food tent, grabbed a bowl of gumbo, some catfish, fries and hush puppies and fell into the front seat of the car. I saw several well wishes from family on the phone, but couldn’t respond for about thirty minutes due to frostbitten fingers. To the hotel, hot shower and on the road for an 8 hour drive to Atlanta. Once more, all together, ”WHAT was I thinking!"

Anyway, I will conclude by saying that Baton Rouge, minus the weather and my own physical condition, makes for a very nice run. The LSU campus was much more scenic than I had envisioned (even Tiger Stadium) and the extremely large University Lake, provided for several species of crane-like birds in the shadows of lake front mansions. And of course, the post-race feast is far-and-away the best that I have ever experienced.

And now, we move forward to Arkansas in March. As for Louisiana, I made it, it’s over. The End.

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