My half marathon recap for team World Vision

I recently ran my fifth half marathon {13.1 miles} and have had some time to reflect on the experience.  I ran for the first time with Team World Vision and it was a great experience.  

After seeing first hand the work that World Vision is doing in subsaharan Africa for the kids and families there, I knew that I had to run.  Mentally, though, this was the toughest race I've done so far. I'm throwing down my thoughts on the Seattle Rock n Roll and all that training today.

©2015 Chris Huber/World Vision

I had heard about Team World Vision before, but didn't really look into it until one of the members of our church, that also happened to go on my first trip to Uganda, decided to be team captain for a group of runners and walkers from our church. It's always fun running a race with friends, so I signed up when I got home from church that afternoon.

I had done a half marathon before but had taken a nearly two year break from training since my last one.  I was ready to put on those running shoes again and start training.

I even had the opportunity to do a barefoot training run with some kids on the track team in Zambia. Who gets to do that?!  Training started out great.  I was getting some good strong runs in and was a part of the Team World Vision Seattle Facebook page that was full of encouragement.  Every Saturday on the long run days, there would be at least three different groups meeting for long runs around the area.  I met up with the local group for the first time to do a six mile training run.  

Long runs are the worst when you are going solo.  It's always more fun to run with a friend so I was hoping to find someone around my same pace at that group training run but I didn't.  I also got hit hard with a nasty upper respiratory bug that weekend that took me out of training for about two weeks.  I couldn't catch my breath and was struggling to find the endurance or energy to run.

I knew I needed to jump back into it with training, so I jumped right back in with both feet!  I had some really hard runs while I was recovering that left me feeling really disappointed.  I remember coming home one morning from an eight mile run and feeling like there was no way I could do this race.  

The next week, I convinced my husband {who I might add hadn't been training and rarely runs more than a 5k} to join me on my long 9 mile run before church.  We smashed that run with an 8:15 pace and I felt good enough to think that I could tackle this race again.

Until a few days later when I was out for a five mile run and had these shooting pains in the tops of my feet.  I could feel a rubber band like snap anytime I flexed my toes in one of my feet.  Of course I did internet research to diagnose myself and was pretty sure I had tendinitis in both of my feet.  I took a week off to see if my feet would feel better, but when I laced up to take my 10 mile run I couldn't even go a quarter of a mile.  I did more research and found out that you get tendinitis from poor fitting shoes which was interesting because several months prior I had been fitted for running shoes from a shoe store and hadn't had any problems up until then. 

I did my own little experiment and put on my old running shoes and shockingly enough, I was able to run 10 miles.  Physically I ran those 10 miles but mentally, I was struggling.  I hit mile 8 and just couldn't seem to push myself to keep going.  I had so much negative self talk.  Run after run, short run or long, this kept happening.  I was short on stamina {from what I am assuming was because I was still recovering from my respiratory sickness} and I couldn't get out of my own way mentally. 

The weather in Seattle was gorgeous!  But it didn't make for the best runs. Even though I would get out there early, the day would heat up and it was slowing my pace.  Speaking of pace, I am the worst pace setter!  I found though that I was comfortable training and very consistent around an 8:30 pace.  I would try to slow down to see if I could have better runs but I didn't seem to have any luck doing that. My body just naturally settled at an 8:30 pace or it wanted to quit and walk.  

Race day was sneaking up on me and I was still the least mentally prepared I had ever been for a race. I wasn't sure I was going to make it through the run.  There were days in a week that I could go out for a 6 mile run no problem and then turn around and not be able to run the whole 3 miles on a 5k run.  I was beating myself up and questioning whether or not I even wanted to do this race.

Thankfully, this is where Team World Vision comes in. The Monday before the race, TWV was hosting a team dinner where all of the runners would come together for dinner in Seattle. I knew I had to be at this dinner so that I could get pumped up and encouraged by the runners that were training around me.  I hadn't been able to make any of the other team training runs and I needed this connection.  We had a small team from our church running, and we carpooled together to the event. It was so encouraging to hear the stories of fundraising and training and get excited about the race that weekend.

At the team dinner our amazing leader Lindsay shared with us that every mile we were running had a name.  I am beyond grateful for my trips to Africa and was thankful that not only do those miles have names but they have faces of children that I have met whose lives will be changed because of the fundraising that Team World Vision Seattle were doing. I made a list of names that night and prayed over them.

The team was posting photos like this on the Facebook page and I was getting ready.  In all honesty, I was really just ready for the run to be over and to have it past me because I kept thinking that I just might not make my goal of running the whole race like I wanted to.

Early that morning {and by early, I mean 4am early!} I wrote the names on my hands of the kids I was running each mile for.  The first two are our sponsored children in Uganda.  The rest are names of the mostly children I have met while in Africa {7-13 are on my right hand}.  Knowing the statistics of child death {largely due to the conditions of contaminated water}, some of these kids may not even still be alive. 

We gathered under the space needle as a team for some encouragement and for prayer.

©2015 Chris Huber/World Vision

Even though I have about six double chins, this is by far my favorite photo of the morning. I can't even tell you how nervous I was before the start of this race.  I can see it on my face. Because there are over 17,000 runners, the start is done in waves where you stand in corrals and wait your turn until your pace time comes up. I was in corral 12 and it took about 15 minutes from the actual start of the race to actually get running.  I would be lying if I didn't tell you that I wanted to sneak out and just not run the race.

©2015 Chris Huber/World Vision

Finally, the race started.  Despite the wave start, there was a lot of weaving through people for the first four miles.  I did my best to stay in front of the two hour pacer.  I found two girls that were running together and literally stayed behind them since that seemed like a comfortable pace for me. I wanted to run at a pace that I didn't feel winded and that I wasn't breathing hard at. I didn't even bother to look at my Garmin to see what my actual pace was.  I just did my own thing.

©2015 Chris Huber/World Vision

On mile 5 I knew that the spectators for Team World Vision would be on the sidelines cheering us on and they were there, just like they promised! The course is laid out in a way that there is always a water station or a band or a team cheering section right where the hills are.  This was no different. This was the first big hill and after seeing the team cheering for me, the first time I broke down in tears and swallowed so hard I was chocking!  What goes up, must come down and there were more TWV spectators on the way down the hill.  It was so encouraging.

©2015 Chris Huber/World Vision

I kept running with my pace girls {wish I could have found them after the race to thank them} leading the way.  Mile 7 was memorial mile with the group Wear Blue to honor those fallen men and women that have died in combat.  It was very moving to see the pictures of each of those fallen soldiers and I made a point to look at each one of them as I ran.  

Every mile I continued to look at my hand and focus on the names that I had written down. I can't even begin to tell you how helpful this was to keep me moving forward.  I had a lot of people praying for me during this race and I could tell! Mentally and physically I was going strong.  Not nearly as fast as the times that I had trained for, but I was running the whole thing!

The last half of the race course is hill after hill.  We also ran through several highway tunnels and I thought I would like doing that, but once inside it's dark and hot and while you can see the light at the end, it just doesn't come as fast as you would like it to.

At mile 9 I saw the first medical team assisting a runner that was down. Mile 11 was the second. Both guys, both not finishing the race.  This is when I started to see more and more runners slowing down and some walking.  I was thankful that I had enough juice in the tank to still be encouraging as I ran past them.  I've had runners in past runs do the same for me.  I knew it was helpful for me, so I am hoping that my "you got this" or "you can do it" helped push them those last few miles.

From the start of the race, I noticed that the race course was marked a tenth of mile off from the actual start line.  I knew I pushed start on my Garmin when I crossed the start line and remembered taking note at every mile that the course was running long from the start.  

At mile 12, I started to pick up my pace.  Or at least I thought I did.  The final mile had the worst hill. A slow steady climb that had people dropping like flies.  I kept running though. After I crested that hill, there were a few turns so you couldn't see the finish line ahead.  I stopped my watch at mile 13.14 at 1:56:56.  The finish line was still at least another tenth of a mile up ahead.  I kept running to the finish and had an official Rock n Roll time of 1:59.  

How great is this picture from one of the gals at the finish? It's totally how I felt getting over that hurdle of not thinking I could run this whole race to mentally and physically finishing strong.

©2015 Chris Huber/World Vision

While I got to walk the red carpet at the Team World Vision tent, I didn't have nearly this many supporters cheering me on.  I was one of the first to finish the race from our team.  But I got cheers and high fives and Popsicles nonetheless! 

©2015 Chris Huber/World Vision

I waited for our whole church team to finish and we got this fun group shot after the race.

It was the most beautiful day in one of the most beautiful cities!  I couldn't have asked for a better run or better weather.  I've decided that I am going to end on a high note and while that feeling always comes back after a good half to run another one, I'm calling it quits on the long endurance races.  I think physically my body is better suited to shorter distances.  I've never run an actual 10K race and might sign up for that one next.

©2015 Chris Huber/World Vision

It was such a great experience running with Team World Vision and I was proud to be a part of a group that raised $125, 804 {and counting!} for clean water in Africa.  That's a lot of lives changed! If runners keep running and raising money with TWV the water crisis will be eradicated by the year 2020!  How awesome is that?!

©2015 Chris Huber/World Vision

I would highly recommend finding your own Team World Vision event in your area.  Especially if this is your first event. Meet your team mates every week for those long runs.  That bonding is so important and I could see the fruits of that on race day.  Get encouraged by the other runners at the event dinners and wear that team jersey proudly!
Have you ever run an event for a cause?  Consider Team World Vision and running for water for your next event.
I want to thank all the amazing photographers from TWV for the use of their photos, especially Chris Huber, our official photographer from World Vision.  Thank you for capturing all of the memories!

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