It’s done. I completed the Royal Victoria Half Marathon this last Sunday.
But before I get to all the race details, I want to back up to last Friday night, just a few hours after my last post.
Jason & I were in the car going to Road Runners to pick up some last minute gear. He was asking me how I felt about the race and I told him I was excited but also wondering about meeting my goal of 2:10. His response was “Elisabeth, I think you can more than meet that goal. I think you can run it in under two hours.”
I didn’t like that comment. It was throwing a monkey wrench in my plans. I started to feel my chest tighten. I started to feel the pressure–not that Jason was really pressuring me to do anything. He was just trying to encourage me.
Then came the excuses, the anxiety thinking about if I could (or really wanted to) push myself farther. I know that I tend to set my goals low because I’m afraid of failure, but I certainly wasn’t going to admit that to Jason. But the writing was on the wall.
I set the thought aside to contemplate it later (which is a miracle in and of itself). I slept okay that night and we got packed up and headed out Saturday morning.
Our trip to get to Victoria included two ferry rides, about two hours of driving and lots of waiting in line, but we made it there by about 3pm. The city was beautiful and the weather was perfect–clear, cool, and sunny. Our hotel was only a couple blocks from the dock and we soon discovered only a block from the starting line. I thought about the race at various points throughout the day, but I was excited, not anxious. And I felt a bit more comfortable contemplating Jason’s sub-two-hour comment.
We walked the streets of Victoria and grabbed some dinner that evening. And then I proceeded to have the crappiest night of sleep I’ve had in a really long time (including right after Ian was born). I think I got about 5 hours total, but woke up about every hour and a half, either to Ian crying (the amazing sleeper was not amazing that night), my bum shoulder aching (how convenient), or my race nerves raring to go.
I got up at 5:30am and got ready. And I didn’t freak out about how tired I was. That’s another miracle. More than that, I was able to thank God for the opportunity to see that if I was going to run this race it was going to be with His strength and not mine. I know that sounds so Christian cheezy, but it was really true.
Jason went down to the starting line with me and hung out while I warmed up, used the porta-a-potties, and figured out where I was going to line up. At about 7:25 I got into the pack. And then at 7:30 I started running.
The race itself was absolutely amazing. As I started off, it was such a cool feeling to be running with thousands of other people. Everyone was excited and optimistic. I’ve experienced that before with smaller road races, but I had forgotten how neat it was.
We ran through the city streets first and I remember at one point a lady on the side yelling out “Have a good race!” And I thought “Yes I will, thank you very much!” That’s how great I felt, mentally and physically.
I spent a lot of my race just talking to God. Talking to Him about Him. Talking to Him about this journey I’ve been on the last few months. Talking to Him about Beacon College and asking Him to remind people to pray for the kids there. I prayed for Elysia & Justus (who were running a half marathon in LA at the very same time), and Jason & Ian.
I remember several times thinking about Psalm 19–“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands” as I looked out on the water and the beach, the park we ran through, the city streets, and the fall colors.
I thought about how Paul says that we are to run with endurance the race set before us. And out of that I realized this: A lot of times I don’t know what the race looks like, or where the course will go on any given day. But on that morning I could actually physically see it. I could see myself moving forward, gaining ground. I thought to myself “this is exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.” And there’s no better feeling than when you know you’re walking in the will of God. It was awesome.
As for my pace, from the very start I tried to pick it up a bit, knowing that Jason was right and I could push myself (a little bit). About three miles in I wondered if I had started out too fast because I’d passed quite a few people, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. I just kept going. I felt like I slowed down a little at about mile 8 or 9, but picked back up again in the last few miles.
To be honest, for most of the race I didn’t really know how much ground I’d covered. All the signs were in kilometers and I didn’t even know how many kilometers the race was (21–I had to ask another runner). And of the signs that were posted, I missed a lot of them anyway.
The first time I saw Jason, Ian & Mother Teresa was I think at about mile three and at that time I told Jason I didn’t want to know how I was doing. When I saw him at I think six miles I forgot to ask. And then the last time I saw him I wanted to know my mileage.
He didn’t know but a nice lady with a fancy gadget on her wrist pulled up next to me and told me we had come 11.42 miles. I looked at my watch and it said 1:36, I think.
“Do you think I’ll make it in under two hours?”
“No, I don’t think so, but you’ll make it under 2:10,” said Jason.
I ran off and thought to myself, “that doesn’t seem right. I think I’m going faster than that.” But I didn’t do the math, I just kept going.
At two kilometers to go, I thought “I think this is actually possible.” And at 1 kilometer I thought “Yes, it is possible!” I kicked it up and sped off to the finish line, really sprinting those last several hundred meters. I looked at my watch and it said 1:59 and some odd seconds.
Jason didn’t get a photo of me crossing the finish line. He thought I’d be coming in a minute or two later, only to find me already waiting in line to get my chip removed from my shoe. My official time was 1:59:24.
Here’s a little video I put together with the footage Jason took:
What an experience–the whole thing, from the first contemplation of running a half, through the training and to the finish line. I will never forget it.
It required self-discipline, some embracing of the unknowns (can I really stick with this? what if I don’t meet my goal? can I push myself farther?), some humbling, a lot of prayer, and a whole lot of fun. It was worship for me. And I really need that right now in my walk with God. Thank you, Lord.
It was a pleasure and a joy to tell you about Pilgrim‘s Beacon College and to pray for the kids there who are recovering from a life of child soldiering while I ran. Thank you to all of you prayed for them, too, or gave a donation to to the organization. I raised a total of $125.
Thank you to my husband who could see that I needed to do this, accomodated my training schedule, and then in the end pushed me a little bit farther. Thank you to Ian who came along on most of my runs. And to Mom who traveled with us and took care of Ian so I could run and Jason could cheer me on.
I also want to thank all of you who have asked me how my training was going and took an interest in this part of my life. It felt great to know you were supporting me.
Will I do a marathon now? I don’t think so, at least not yet. But another half? I hope so. And then maybe I’ll think about that marathon again. 🙂
See the rest of the photos from our trip.