RUNNING on borrowed time….

James 4:14 "…whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

Winter Win! White River Marathon for Kenya Recap

on December 2, 2016

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On September 19th, I completed the White River (Half) Marathon for Kenya with a friend. It was one of the BEST experiences of EVER!

I met my friend Jen when we were in college Spanish classes together. So… we’ve known one another for quite a while. (*Note: She’s a wee bit younger than me… I was “back to college” at that point). She has always amazed me with how she just lives life BIG from a wheel chair… except she does it so well, I often absolutely forget that she is in a chair.  Jen was born with spina bifida, and it has NOT slowed her down! Seriously!

After completing Women Can Run training this year  with the celebration 5K, she began contemplating new goals! The 5K was impressive! Jen wheeled herself -all by herself- down those rough 3.1 miles of city street in a regular wheel chair. It has no special accoutrements to make it faster or easier to maneuver. It’s a chair with two big wheels and a sassy woman to power it around!

She decided a Half Marathon was the natural next step! Sooo…. we searched until we found the RIGHT ONE! I sent out emails explaining the chair situation and inquiring about course descriptions. “Flat” for feet, and “flat” for a standard wheelchair are NOT the same. This lesson was pounded home for us during training…. as Jen progressed from 3 miles up to our last 11 mile practice run. A slope in the structure of the road may be virtually invisible to me… yet have her fighting with one side more than the other. However, it’s part of road racing for her. So she trained, and we prayed for the best conditions possible. I received a very favorable response from the race director of the White River Marathon for Kenya, which I’d been eyeing for a couple of years. So, we signed up. Committed!

We left immediately after school to make it to the expo/packet pickup on time. We were SO HAPPY to find arm warmers for Jen at the expo, since the weather was looking pretty frigid for the start. I had packed several layers since I planned to be the support crew, and would be walking most of the race. Then, we drove to Mountain Home and ate a FANTASTIC meal at Colton’s. It was a very nice Colton’s already festively decorated for Christmas. (Note: Don’t throw your peanut shells on the floor there!)img_20161118_212157-1

The next morning we prepped as best we could. I stacked on my layers, while Jen tried to eat her breakfast stew… She ended up not getting fueled as well as we’d hoped/planned.

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We made it to the race site in time for a photo, a potty break (looooong lines), and then the hike up to the start line…

When the “gun” sounded, she started rollin’! It was a little rough right at first, and then there was a LONG DOWN HILL! I probably PR’ed that mile trying to keep up with her. I actually had to physically brake her at one point because she was going too fast for comfort. Once again, this was not a racing chair! I was sweating under all my layers from the run, then it leveled off. The course was fantastic for a runner on two feet trying to PR. The hills were few and easy… for legs. They were tough on a wheelchair runner. Jen worked so hard. She did SO WELL! We jammed for almost 5 hours to the iheart app set on the Christian Hits station. The playlist was PERFECT!

It remained cold.  Jen tossed the arm warmers after the first couple of miles, and I added them to my layers. My sweat in the first mile had chilled my core, so I ended up adding a rain jacket while we traveled the river bank miles. Throughout the race course we were encouraged mile after mile by the other runners. The returning 5K, then half marathon, and finally marathon runners took time to cheer for Jen. They touched her. They high fived her. They spoke words of courage to her! I LOVE RUNNERS! What a fabulous, tough, awesome group of people! The very first full marathon runner, traveling at an obscene pace, went out of his way to give Jen a high five.  Later on, a returning marathoner coming up from behind said, “you don’t know me, but I’d really love a ride in your lap.” A couple of girls coming toward us told him, “Ladies first!” Humor in the midst of physical agony is truly helpful. People in cars stopped to cheer as well…. or rolled by several times shouting happies at her! One hunter said he’d offer her a beer, but “…you shouldn’t drink and drive.” I can’t number the people who spoke strength into us. We were SO BLESSED! The Honey Stingers were providing perfect fuel for the trip, but near the end we were VERY grateful for the mini candy bars I picked up at one of the ample aide stations.

FINALLY, we saw the finish line! The journey was truly arduous at this point. So tough. But, we can do hard things. We can. Jen did. She dominated it! I was so thrilled to be there for that victory! It was a lovely autumn morning along the White River, and doubts died all along its banks.

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What one person sees as ordinary, another person sees as his miracle.” That’s a quote that struck me when we were praying for feeling to return to my son’s foot and leg… and then when we were praying for the intense pain to pass into normal nerve impulses. The idea has struck me often as I have watched my sweet friend Amber battle for “normal” life, and my courageous amiga Jen overcome “obstacles” to meet her goals!  A miracle… walking, running, rolling, seeing, hearing, FEELING… we are miracles! We are fearfully and WONDERFULLY made. Praise the Lord!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:14

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One response to “Winter Win! White River Marathon for Kenya Recap

  1. Tammy J Allen says:

    Great Post! Amazing and so Inspiring!! Congrats to you both.
    Thank you for sharing.

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