This past weekend, May 10-12, was really a big one for me. My baseball season ended, I ran my first ever Half-Marathon, and I spoke in Church on Sunday. Bam, bam, bam.The conclusion of the baseball season included a blowout 12-2 win. We finished the season with 16 wins and 2 losses. I'm pleased with that, but not as pleased as I am with my race the following morning.
Back in January I was cold and not in good shape. I wasn't in bad shape per se (perhaps I was emotionally, though not physically) but I wasn't exercising any. I decided to make a goal of running a half-marathon before the year was out. I found the Harper's Ferry Half in Harper's Ferry, WV and then found a nice 10 week training schedule. I began running on Monday, March 4, in very wet conditions. It was cold and rainy that afternoon, I remember clearly, but I just knew if I didn't start on the appointed day I never would start. So run I did. In my ten weeks of training 4 times a week I never missed a run. Some of them were in the drizzly rain at 6:00am, some of them were in the fearful dark of 9:30pm, and one of them was in a blizzard big enough to cancel school. Seriously, school was cancelled for snow but it was on a running day so I still went out with my hat, gloves, and sweats. I trained on hills, in the sun, bundled up in the cold, hungry, full, and with different shoes. I just really wanted to be prepared. And then it all came to a head on Saturday as I completed my goal. I ran the race with some great friends and my brother-in-law. Saturday was a drizzly, humid morning with temperatures in the 60's, which I was fully prepared for. What I was not fully prepared for were the hills. I ran hills in training but they were nothing compared with the Harper's Half. In their own words:
Local runners have crafted one of the most challenging and beautiful half marathons in the country.The biggest hill of them all was at mile 11, when you were already dog tired from the other hills you'd conquered. It was a heart break hill. I was oh so tempted to walk up but I knew I hadn't spent 10 weeks of training so that I could walk my Half. Instead I put my head down and powered through. It all paid off in the end. I got a personal best (obviously) time of 1:40:33. That's an average of a 7:41 pace for 13.1 miles straight. Out of 213 runners who finished (and several that never did) I came in 11th. Not too bad for a first timer. I came in fourth place in my division, Mens 20-29. The time difference between me and the guy who got third was 2 minutes, and the time between me and the guy who got 5th place was 9 minutes, so I was right with the front pack. My two sisters and their families came out to support me, which was wonderful. There was free pizza for the runners, which was also wonderful. And then there was the fact that I wasn't sore the next day. Totally awesome. It was a testament to my training. I would do it again for sure. I'm so grateful for goals.
The half marathon course is almost completely enclosed in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the preserved Civil War era towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry. The route includes close to 1000 feet of total elevation gain and 2000 feet of total elevation change. You will experience a mix of trail, road, and crushed gravel paths. You will view the confluence of the Two Rivers- the Shenandoah and the Potomac. The steep uphill portions will test each runner’s strength and will. The fun and challenging downhills will be a wild ride you’ve rarely experienced in a run. Breathtaking views of the rivers, historic buildings, mountains, scenery will stimulate the senses and inspire you to reach the finish line.
Then Sunday rolled around. I spoke in Church on how my Mother has strengthened my testimony of Jesus Christ. It was delightful. Probably not my greatest public speaking moment, but the topic couldn't be beat. My mother has absolutely strengthened my faith in Jesus Christ and taught me how to be more like Him. The ways I specifically mentioned where her love of the Scriptures and her love for our family. I hope to marry a woman who loves the Scriptures and our family one day. Things are getting sticky around here. Must be all that sap.