Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Race Day, Race Day, Gotta Run Fast on Race Day..

A little "run down" of what goes down on a home race day. 

I sleep in a little more...and run less. 
I also get my dinner ready to warm up as soon as I get home since it will be so late. 
This is what I had for lunch-toaster waffle with blackberry jam, blueberries, and strawberries. I have coffee at school every day, too.
Ya know, just some more evidence of my gift...
I tried a new protein bar and loved it!  It was the Picky Bars Smooth Caffinator.
I love to participate in contests and projects, so I did this one for Camelbak's #LivingColorful and to remind my team to hydrate!
Another new thing I tried before this race was the same brand of drink mix that I've been using when it's been more humid and I sweat more, but the kind with caffeine! I don't know if I even drank enough to make a difference, but it tasted good.
Before our first home meet, things are busy. We do team and individual pictures as well as take pictures with every single banner from each sponsor to send them a thank you. 
We start warming up about an hour before race time, make final bathroom breaks, and change shoes before heading to the line around 15 minutes before where we do strides, team prayer, and our cheer. At this meet Coach Burroughs sang the national anthem and our area FCA leader led us all in a prayer. Coach Farmer is the starter!  (Should we trust him with a gun?)

I'd say it would compare to any of the toughest high school courses you would find anywhere. If you know anything about course record times, my old record was 19:40 (However I've lowered it to 18:38). It's tough, hilly, rocky, and rooty, but I love the challenge. We tell our new girls that if they can race our home course, they can make it anywhere. 
Flat, open start, a loop through/around some trees, the mile loop, a little flat area past the campground, cross the road and onto Old Wagon where there are little spectators but big hills. The two mile mark is at the top of a long, gradual hill about halfway through. After another half mile comes the toughest hills, a short and steep one and a long and steep one. But this is my favorite part!  It's up that hill and you're on the downhill stretch--literally!  You go down the big hill and it flattens out!  From there you run to the 3 mile marker, round the corner, and to the finish!
We are also lucky not only to have the park to practice and host races, but to have an official timing system, too!  We also have some pretty great music, and having a great race makes me want to dance; dance is what I did (just a little after I caught my breath and legs). 
Farmer likes to do his races a little different order than most, where the boys race first. His logic is that they run faster so they'll all finish sooner so the girls can start sooner. (This helps even more at our second home meet because middle school races two 2-mile races after us, followed by an elementary 1-mile race that I get the joy of leading!  It really hurts me trying to run after a race, even after a cool down, but that's just what happens! Racing hard is brutal on a body!  However, I get a big head start and just show them where to go. By the end when they pass me I just tell them where to go.)
That was the race from more of an outsider's perspective, so here it is from a runner.  I won't give too much detail, because running and racing is just something that you can't understand unless you actually do it.
Before races, I am never sure how things will go.  Like James 4:14 says, "You do not even know what will happen tomorrow..."  I always make time to read some scriptures and pray before every race to give me some peace and focus for what I am about to do.  Before this race, I read Psalm 37.  A couple verses from there that stood out were the first words:  "Do not fret..." because I was a little nervous for this first race.  Verse 4 is also one of my all-time favorites:  "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."
  I also wrote 1 Peter 4:11 on my lower leg to remind me that I have to do this with His strength because I literally have none.  Especially with anemia, I have no energy except that that God fills me with.  Then because it is all from Him, it is all for Him.  The result is to use His strength to proclaim that strength.
  This is my calling.  Each race is an opportunity to use my gifts.  Whether I win or lose, feel good or miserable, if I have done my best, the result is God's plan.  I am to use every step to shine for Him.  Win, I praise Him.  Lose, I praise Him.  Racing is not easy.  Start lines are the scariest part.  Hearing that gun go off and the stampede of runners taking off in that first speed out is a bit intimidating!  There are so many bodies all heading for the same place as the trail narrows; I am always relieved when this part is over. 
Throughout races, I pray, sing bits of songs, and remember Bible verses.  Some particular to this race were from the Psalms passage, verse 24, "though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand," and the Bible Gateway verse of the day from the day before from Psalm 119:165, "Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble."  Though I did stumble a few times, literally, I did not fall!  And though I have my fears and failures, God never lets me fall.
The song that was in my head was "Lord I Need You
Races seem to fly by so fast!  The great ones especially.  This night was one of those.  When I have a run where I feel so free and flying and joyful, it is truly a gift from God.  I was so excited and thankful crossing that finish line, feeling better than I had since last season, relieved to have my first race this season done, I was filled with joy to the point of tears!

I have become so attached to my teammates!  They truly are my best friends. These two have been with me running since 6th grade, and Katlyn has been with me since kindergarten. Now we're seniors. We are so much more mature and have been through so much, but we are so thankful to have each other through the struggles. Each struggle is unique, but we can all relate. We are so pumped to be here in this season.
On Monday, we didn't all 3 plan to dress up, but since we did, I wanted to get a pretty picture of us.  Then we decided that we needed one just like it in our uniforms before the race and our first-team shirts after the race.  Again, there through it all!
Not to brag, just honestly what happens, I can't name a Panther Creek race where we didn't get a perfect score.
Farmer always picks out different colored first and second team all-meet shirts to give out to the top and second seven finishers. The individual winner gets a nice embroidered polo (one year was sweatshirts), and the top teams get plaques. 

After awards and pictures, it's time to head up the hill to the parking lot and back home!
It's late. No shower before dinner these nights.  I threw my leftover bows in the microwave and whipped up some dessert, finally cleaning up around 9:30. Now I still had to unpack and repack for school, do some work, and shower before bed. I love my sleep but race nights are just one of those times I am up late!
It may seem like a long day, but it flies by. 
I love it. 
There really is nothing like cross country season.