The four of us were still rubbing the sleep out of our eyes as we left our hotel room last Sunday morning at 5:45 am. The 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga has been on my bucket list for the last couple of years, but I never dreamed I’d get to run it with my husband and our two oldest boys.
The start was cold (40-ish degrees). We debated whether to bring trash bags to wear at the start to keep us warm. We decided we didn’t need them. Bad choice. But once we got started and warmed up, it was an absolutely perfect day for a race.
Ryan’s finisher medal.
The big news of the day is Ryan finished his first marathon! He and Drew ran together for the first few miles until Drew pulled ahead. One of the things I love most about running is the life lessons we’ve been able to teach our kids through it. Ryan learned some important ones Sunday. First, he learned the importance of being prepared. Ryan was a bit under-trained for this distance and his body let him know that around the half way point. He said running miles 15-23 was one of the hardest things he’s ever done. But he DID IT!! He also learned that he can do anything he puts his mind to. For more of the lessons our kids have learned from running go here. Congratulations, Ryan, on a job well done. Less than 1% of people have the dedication and determination to finish a marathon, and you just joined that elite group.
For winning his age group, he got a beer stein. I guess he’ll be using it for root beer floats for the next several years.
Drew also had a great race despite having some pretty tired legs from a marathon 5 days before and “PR-ing” at his cross country meet 3 days before. This course was not nearly the mental battle that last week’s course presented. It was a beautiful, flat course ….. Drew’s tired legs prevented him from getting a PR, but they didn’t keep him from winning his age group!! Way to go Drew!
This was a tough, but beautiful, race for David and me. We ran it much smarter than last spring’s Knoxville marathon, but we didn’t get enough training in to make it a comfortable race or to even come close to a PR. There are two things I learned from this race that are more important than any PR. First, I learned (okay, I’m still learning it) that pace isn’t all that important. I really struggled from miles 16-22 to just put one foot in front of the other. As I watched one pace group after another pass us, I got more and more discouraged about my slow pace. That’s when David reminded me that pace is irrelevant. He reminded me that I was out there running a marathon. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m a “real” runner because I’m so slow. But he reminded me that a fast pace doesn’t make a “real” runner….running does. And he reminded me that at the finish line I would have covered the same 26.2 miles that everyone else covered which is a heck of a lot more than the person still sitting on the couch.
The other thing I learned (well, I already knew it) is that I have the most amazing running partner in the world. After 21 years of marriage, 8 kids, and a gazillion moves he is still my best friend and biggest supporter. He runs every single training run and race with me even though I’m as slow as a snail in peanut butter. He’s an amazing runner and could probably win his age group at a lot of races. Instead, he often finishes near the end of his age group. He says he doesn’t care and that he’d rather spend that time with me. This weekend he listened to me whine and complain from about mile 17 to 23, but he never gave up on me. He just kept encouraging me and telling me I could do it. There are so many reasons to love running, but my favorite part is the kindness, selflessness, generosity, and encouragement of other runners….especially this one.