Redemption Race Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

So after my terrible, awful Kaiser Realty Half Marathon, I took off running for a week. I am a fitness instructor at our local Wellness Center and taught my classes for the week. I teach cardio and strength training so I did get in a few workouts. I had no desire to run. In my mind, I was finished…DONE with distance running. I registered for the Dopey Challenge at Disney a long time ago and I have not been able to train like I should for 4 races back to back. Fortunately, I was able to run Disney Princess in February and know Disney races are non competitive and all about FUN. At that point I wasn’t sure what to do. I had been looking at Mississippi Gulf Coast Half for as long as they had been advertising it. I was supposed to run St. Jude, but after my bad race, I was so afraid to go with the group from my community. I really don’t like it when fear gets in the way of things I want to do, but I know it was the right decision. I had been to Memphis the last two years, needed to regroup and sit out this year as hard and sad as it was. I had the blues all week and weekend during the St. Jude race. 

I knew a couple of people that were running Mississippi Gulf Coast so I gathered up the courage to ask my husband if I could register and if my family could go with me. I went to Kaiser by myself which added to my nerves I think. I used to be able to go to half marathons alone, but now… I was so thankful my husband said I could sign up and that he would take me! It had been over a year and a half since my children watched me cross a finish line. I was excited and nervous about it. 

My friend Katherine, said she would ride down to the expo with me. We made a quick trip to Biloxi to pick up our packets. My mom’s birthday was the same day and my daughter had an away soccer game. That was a busy day! 

On Saturday before the race, I had a headache all day and my stomach was in knots. I was so nervous, I felt sick. Bless. I have a prehydration ritual where I drink half Gatorade and half water all day before race morning, no matter the distance. I probably drank over 100 ounces of fluids no joke. 

I got up race morning around 4:20 and husband soon after. We had to wake up our oldest daughter who is 13 and my baby boy who is 5. My 9 year old little girl had spent the night at a friend’s house. We got ready with no problems and headed down to Gulfport to Jones Park. We made it just in time! I found my buddy at the starting line. We were freezing!

The gun went off at 7 and we were off. Katherine was way ahead of me from the beginning!  My chest hurt at first due to the cold air, but it went away. I had my music going and tried to run half mile slow, half mile in the 10 minute range. I really have no complaints about this race at all. This picture was around mile 5 I think? 

I even “ran” into an IG friend, Jodi! We had on the same socks! I hope I will get to see her again at another race! I started texting my husband after mile 7 so they would know how I was doing. My interval running slowed down at mile 9. I was running steady 11 minute mile and was satisfied. I could tell I was getting tired, but kept putting one foot in front of the other!

I ran into Katherine around 10 and a half miles and she was having some dizziness. Her sugar may have dropped and I took about half my gel around mile 9. A lady beside me offered her cliff block and I think another runner gave her a gel. I offered to stay with her, but she told me to go on ahead. The lady running beside me said I couldn’t slow down because little did I know I was pacing her! I had no idea she was beside me! After mile 11, I knew I was almost done, and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I was in tears! The song “Hallelujah” by Casting Crowns came on and I began to sing and worship the Lord. I was so overwhelmed by His goodness. It was like He was saying “See! I told you, you could do it!” 

Mile 13 was the longest mile ever, but I saw my family coming into MGM Park ringing their cowbells. My son was saying “Go Momma! Go Momma!” My husband was taking pictures and my daughter was smiling down at me. I was so thankful I made it 13.1 miles again and had a great race! 

My official time was 2:26:28. Wow, so much better than two weeks before. What a great half marathon to end 2016! I’m so glad I had the courage to do it and so thankful my family woke up early to bring me to the race and support me. I think I did so well because I knew I had my people waiting for me at the finish line. Sometimes that makes all the difference!

I’m so glad to end the year on a happy and positive note. All it takes is one good race or run to get your confidence back! Some races are awful, and some are simply amazing. I think that’s why I keep running! I was so discouraged, but now I am ENCOURAGED. With God, all things are possible! 

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