"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.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Bluegrass Homecoming!

The official Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon playlist: Purple Rain, Who’ll Stop the Rain, I Wish it Would Rain Down, Singing in the Rain, Raindrops Keep Falli ..... I think you’re starting to get the picture.  And have I ever mentioned that each race is a totally unique and unpredictable experience. This one happened to be an extremely wet one!

Excitement for a 1st half-marathon! 
But despite the less than ideal running conditions, Louisville will forever be memorable for more than the consistent soaking that we received. Yes, this one will be extra special for the single fact that my wife and youngest daughter shared in the adventure. And if that wasn’t enough, the opportunity to once again run with our good friends from Henderson, KY, and stop off at our old stomping grounds outside Lexington, made for a highly enjoyable, albeit whirlwind, road trip.

As to the family that runs together, it started around Christmas when my daughter challenged my wife to run a half-marathon. Neither had ever run more than a 5k, and when we started training we began with 2 minute run / 90 second walk intervals. But they stayed at, woke up early for runs, and put in a lot of hard work to run every step of the half. A proud husband and dad for sure.

The weather could have always been worse, but it could have always been a lot, lot, lot better. What looked like a beautiful weekend ahead with the 7 day forecast turned into a period of near 100% precipitation as Saturday morning neared. So we prepared with ponchos, layers, and a tub of vaseline. And as we walked to the starting line in dry conditions, we counted our blessings. The bugle called us to the gate and right on cue I felt the first drop as I crossed the starting line mat.

For much of the first 10 miles it wasn’t too bad. Oh, I don’t think it ever stopped, but it was light and the temperature was mild. Miles 11-15 were a different story. As we made our way up into Iroquois Park the sky opened and it was time to put my head down and plow ahead, one drenched shoe step at a time. Ultimately it slowed again and stayed light for the remainder of the race. Character building indeed. We didn’t melt and we will be that much more ready the next time rain swamps the course.
Not much more immanent than this race morning projection

Speaking of the course, it was nice. Nothing especially challenging, other than Iroquois Park, and nothing especially exciting, other than the trot into Churchill Downs and around the infield--which I’m sure would have been more special had the tunnels not started to puddle up due to the rain.

Personally, it’s a spring survival race for me. I don’t run a lot of distance in the spring and I pray that muscle memory pulls me through. I survived with a four and a half hour run that was easy on the legs and allowed for immediate recovery.

A couple of final takeaways; a) I have found a new favorite GU - Salted Caramel, awesome;    b) I am grateful to the course angel around mile 22 who offered me chocolate after seeing that I had pulled up slightly with some hamstring tightness. She actually pulled it out of her private collection, deep in her purse - I always appreciate race day kindness; and c) running through the heaviest of the rain, I just kept thinking to myself how stubborn most marathon runners are, and how it came in particularly handy for times such as this.

Coming up for air at the finish line

Number 14 is in the books, it’s on to Tupelo, Mississippi over Labor Day weekend. You read that right, Tupelo in early September. Check back for what will definitely be a post of either determined survival or insane folly.

Ready to go pre-race

The after-glow is always worth it! 

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