23.1 miles done. Wow!
This morning, I met up with Black Girls RUN! Baton Rouge for our weekly long run along the levee. The plan was to start with the group and continue on to complete 20 miles. The temperature was in the low 40s and winds coming of the Mississippi River were wicked cold and strong. Running against the wind on the 4th and 6th returns felt like running mile after mile uphill. This is the longest run I’ve ever done and overall, I felt surprisingly strong and enjoyed the experience.
I think the key is that my mind was not on my run.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting one of my running inspirations Frederick Davis, III who was here in Baton Rouge for the Rouge Orleans UltraMarathon – 126.2 miles. Frederick is an experienced runner, his accomplishments include the completion of marathons in all but six of the United States and sixty 100-mile races. I have been greatly helped by the knowledge and encouragement he shares in the National Black Marathoners Association so I was looking forward to meeting him. At the host site for the race, I got to see the preparation, excitement and close camaraderie among these 40 or so brave men and women who would run this distance solo. They would be on foot, consistent moving Friday night, Saturday day and night into Sunday. This blows my mind! Frederick shared how the race works, how he plans out his pace/distancing, how he packs supplies, hydration and nutrition (some carried on their backs, others bagged and delivered to aid stations along the route). He also introduced me to one of his running colleagues Sherry, a sweet and upbeat lady with stories and experiences like I’ve never heard. We are fearfully and wonderfully made! Psalm 149:13 It is amazing what these bodies can do with God’s enabling, a clear goal, plan and preparation.
At 8 pm the first wave of the runners, (the solo-unassisted group), took off. I watched their headlamps twinkle along the top of the levee for the first few miles of this long trek and was inspired big time. The victory is not the finish, but that they had the will and courage to start.
During my run today – I didn’t focus on my run. Instead of thinking about how my feet or legs felt, I prayed for Frederick, Sherry and the rest of the runners. When the wind off the levee was in my face, cutting through my jacket, I didn’t ruminate on how cold I was, I wondered if that wind was at their backs or how they were able to keep on after having been on the road, 12+ hours at that point. 2 more waves of the Rouge Orleans runners took off during the time I was up on the levee. (These were runners who would complete the 126.2 miles as relay teams). My thoughts and prayers went to them as well.
The hours and 23+ miles went by rather quickly and God gave me several lessons/reminders today. He showed me what I could physically accomplish. Running has been a goal of mine for a long time and He is making it happen. Psalm 37:4 He reminded me of the blessing of being concerned about others rather than focusing on self. And He keeps bringing people who encourage and inspire across my path.
Ladies of Black Girls RUN! Baton Rouge, Frederick Davis, Rouge Orleans Runners – it was a pleasure sharing the pavement with you today!