Running on a Prayer and Some Inspiration

I woke up bright and early on this Saturday morning to meet my YMCA half-marathon training group to run 10 kilometers (6.22 miles--a first time for many). I had 15 runners show up, plus one runner brought her husband and my neighbor Amy joined us.

I've started a tradition that before each run, I lead the group in prayer. Every week I say a brief prayer asking God to protect us from illness and injury and to bless our efforts to make our bodies healthier and stronger. I'm not usually a pray-in-public type of girl, so this is a bit outside my comfort zone. Oddly enough, I'd never thought to pray before a run (yes, sometimes DURING a run, but not before) until at a half-marathon back in February, my friend Cherilynne asked if she, our friend Suzanne, and I could pray before the race. It was her first half-marathon and she was a bit nervous. We formed a circle right there in front of all the other racers and she led us in a little prayer. The race pretty much stunk--- three miles of it were uphill in loose gravel (seriously!)--- but I had such a feeling of contentment and peace throughout it. I felt happy to be there and thankful to have legs to carry me for 13 miles. We continued the tradition at another half-marathon in March (the one where we ran 13.1 miles in pouring rain), and in all the pictures, I am soaked, but smiling. Anyway, since our training group is through the YMCA, where they try to nurture the mind, body, and spirit, I feel like it is something I should do.

After the prayer, our group of 18 made our way to the starting line of a 10K course from a race back in June. Luckily for us, the course was still marked in spray paint. I corralled them all behind the starting line. They waited expectantly. About that time I wished I had thought of some dramatic way to start the "race," but it more like... "Um, Go?"

And off they went. I ran with the leaders for a mile and a half or so, then Amy and I doubled back to check on the people in the back of the group. You see, we don't run in one big group due to all the pace differences, it's more like several small groups of two or three or singles; we just happen to start and stop at the same place. Some people have found their pace buddy, some people haven't, but we all feel better knowing others are at least out there. (And it helps to know others are waiting when you just want to hit the snooze button at 5:00 a.m. and go back to sleep!)

As we retraced our steps along the course, Amy and I ran into a bit of doggy trouble. There was a Benji-looking dog (I don't know breeds very well) who was CRAZY. He left his yard to our right, came all the way into the road and crossed into our lane, barking and acting like he wanted a piece of us. Most of the time, they are simply defending their territory and will stay in or near their yard and even obey the command "Go home" spoken firmly. Not Benji. Not today. He came at us SIX TIMES. Each time, Amy would sort of jump at him and he'd yelp and run home, gather up some more courage, and come at us again. He was a persistent little thing. It didn't take us long to realize he was more of an annoyance than a threat. And that little nuisance didn't so much as bark at any of the other 16 people on the route. Just us. Weird!

All were successful in completing their 10K today and a few even went up to 7 miles. At the end of the course, I had actually completed 7 from all the doubling back, so I stretched with a few folks and then headed out for my final 3. I hadn't done a double digit run since April 26, when I did 26.2. How soon the body forgets. Those last three were tough. But I stuck it out and got them done.

Marathon training week 3 of 20: check.

For anyone out there who has lost sight of why we do this, I'd like to share a little inspiration. I found these quotes in this month's Women's Running magazine. (Thanks for sharing, Amy G.!) I was reading the ads as usual, and one for Polar watches had a ad highlighting "Women Who Move."

Here's a quote from Sadie Best, whom I can totally relate to. She'd always been "athletically challenged" until right after the birth of her 3rd child, when she trained for a triathlon. Running is her love though. She says,

"I think if an activity builds your confidence, helps you understand yourself and maintains your health, you should find a way to make it part of your life. I am a better mother because running made me realize that I needed to do something for me. If I could wrap up the gift of running and give it to every girl in the world, I would do it today." Me, too.

Carrie Barrett described how it felt to finish her first full marathon. She says, "When I crossed the finish line, I felt INVINCIBLE. I kept thinking, 'I did this! Me! No one did this work for me. No one got me up at 5 a.m. to run 20 miles. I did this all by myself with passion, discipline, and determination.'" It REALLY DOES feel like that-- whether it's your first half-marathon, full marathon, or your first 5K!


I have never prayed before running, but I think I am going to start.

Love the quotes, thanks for sharing.
Stacey said…
I always say a prayer before I hit the road. It makes me feel better, as I am usually out there by myself.

Thanks for the quotes.
Meg Runs said…
I love that last quote, I guess that's because I love feeling invincible too.
Thanks, it was nice visiting your blog!
Lisa said…
I want to run with you!!!
Anonymous said…
Love reading about your new adventures as a run coach. Great quotes. I recently started saying a short quick prayer before I head out for my runs for safety and protection - especially since it's pitch black in the early morning. It does make a huge difference!
Bethany said…
Awesome post! You are a super coach...

So I'm laughing at myself... I thought your were talking about the Life is Good post, which is my family blog and then I see this, so now I get ya on the heading. Total blonde moment, sorry.
April said…
That's great! Sounds like coaching fits you very well:) And I love the quotes!!
StangLuvr said…
I say pray away!!! I usually say a prayer before I start a race. I forgot it this past Saturday, maybe that is why i crashed and burned?!?!?! Anyway, what marathon you planning on doing? I have 5 1/2 marathons planned this fall and hope to get through all of them injury free. If so, I plan on hitting my 1st marathon next spring. Will not be CMM, but probably something in March.
Amy said…
You are awesome!!! Know that your are training not only those people at the YMCA, but those of us who read your blog too!!!!

Love ya,

Legs and Wings said…
Love the idea of prayer. Have you checked out the Runner's Prayers over at Craig is a Running Pastor...awesome guy.

Hope the summer's not too hot for you southern types...haha