* Toilet seats are way too short. This week there were times I felt as if I was doing a trust fall to get all the way down to the seat. I never realized how low they are until I had to put both hands down on the seat and slowly lower myself. To get up, I had to put both hands on the floor and push myself up like a gorilla.... if gorillas used toilets. This went on for the two days after the race. Two of the longest days of my life.
* Life is going to suck when I get old. I have always taken walking for granted...until now. Without being able to bend my knees or use my quads at all, I discovered what I imagine it must be like to be really old. I am not looking forward to it. Sure, you get the early bird specials and can say inappropriate comments and let loose flatulence without getting called out, but I had to sit on my butt to slide down stairs and it was not fun. Plus, I was mocked by teenagers who pointed out that I was walking like I had a stick up my butt. Never before have I pushed my body as hard as I did during the marathon and my legs let me know that they were not happy about it. They still occasionally gripe about it but I tell them to shut up.
* Sometimes you don't need what you think you do. I thought I needed porta-potties. I KNEW I was going to need them. When I ran 20 miles, I stopped 4 times. Perhaps this is too much information but that was 4 times of dropping the kids off at the pool. So I was relieved to learn that there would be porta-potties every 3 miles. I could hold it for 3 miles. Even if that meant I would have to do the squeeze, clench, and awkwardly walk for a few minutes. However, when I got to about mile 15, I realized something; there were no porta-potties. I didn't realize it sooner because I luckily hadn't needed one. I realized it at mile 15 because I'm 80% sure I jumped over two piles of human poo in the street. For the next 4 miles, my mind was spinning: "Was that seriously human poo? What other beast could have left that? Did they squat? Did others see? Where else could they have gone? Was that used toilet paper or just trash by it?" We were on remote dirt roads winding through farm land with zero bushes to hide behind. What's weird is, I never had to go once. Perhaps it's a stretch to turn my bowel movements into a life lesson but I was so sure I needed bathrooms, but I didn't. I am often so sure I know what is best for my life, but I don't. Luckily, He does. I've had to remind myself of that several times in recent years as my life unfolds in ways I hadn't imagined. When I start to worry and subconsciously doubt God's provision and think He doesn't really know what I need, I hope I remember that I didn't need the porta-potties.
(That being said, I did head for them straight after the race and experienced the following: First, I walked in on a man peeing who didn't lock his door. Next, I knocked on a door since I didn't want to relive the previous experience and heard, "Occupied." Then I rushed into another one trying to avoid running into the person I just interrupted and in my haste, I failed to check the roll and was left with a tiny scrap of scratchy paper used to cover the rolls. In just one pee break I managed to have 3 of the awkward moments in public restrooms previously mentioned.)
* Birdies are tough when you're tired. At some of the stations there were no people or cups, just jugs of water. I watched one man execute a birdie with such precision that I didn't think twice as I lifted the jug...but unbeknownst to me, my hands were shaking and apparently my depth perception was malfunctioning. I was soaked. I managed to completely miss my face and completely drenched myself. A few miles later, body still weaker than it has ever been, this thought passed through my foggy mind: "am I peeing right now?" To this day I honestly don't know if I peed my pants or not. If I did, it was completely unintentional and it did not drip down to my socks like it did when I peed my pants freshman year of college due to a stress-induced laughing session.
* People will "run" with you in different seasons of life. I'm used to running by myself. Solo was how I trained and solo was how I planned to run the race. But that didn't happen. From about mile 3 to mile 8 I ran right next to a giant. I didn't mean to. At first I ran right behind him but he got such a terribly distracting wedgie that I had to try to pass him but we were running exactly the same pace. So I just stayed next to him for five miles. We eventually parted ways and I found my next running partner: a character from Lord of the Rings. Harrier than heck, he also was too distracting to run behind so I ran next to him. Next, the sweaty Hawaiian man. Finally, I found my Christ-figure. I've already explained how Jesus has been my true running partner throughout this whole process. So when a man with flowing brown locks ran up next to me, I naturally thought, "Jesus?" Sure, he was wearing a bandana, no shirt, and had some interesting tattoos but I saw Jesus- probably because I was looking so hard for him. These four men came in and out of my life for the next few hours; sometimes running miles next to me, other times directly behind or ahead. We never spoke but this motley crew pushed me and spurred me on. At one point I stopped to walk since I thought I was completely alone and had a terrible side-ache. Then sweaty Hawaiian ran up next to me and said something- I know not what since Kelly Clarkson was screaming her angry girl song so loudly in my ear but I couldn't be passed so I labored on next to him. At about mile 21, I was dying. I had probably peed on myself, my legs were numb and my whole body hurt. Then Jesus ran up next to me and resumed my pace. We had run mile 16-18 together which, now that I think back, was kinda weird. It was just two strangers on a deserted road running right next to each other without ever speaking. I was too tired to consider the potential awkwardness of this or notice his too short shorts. We were just running. Our similar pace made us partners.
So it is in life. We find friends with similar "paces" and run next to them. I certainly didn't choose these running mates and at times it feels as if I don't choose my friends- they are simply provided. God knows exactly WHAT I will need and He knows WHO I will need. And He provides. Sometimes these "running partners" stay for very long stretches and other times it is only for a few miles. Regardless of the time spent running side by side, it is necessary to have these partners. They are necessary because it makes the race more enjoyable. They remind you that you're not alone in this often challenging and exhausting "race" called life. They won't let you slow down and will call you out when you try to walk. They push you simply by staying close by and running a similar pace. They are gifts and they are appreciated. So Mr. Wedgie Giant, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, Mr. Sweaty Hawaiian, and Mr. tattooed Jesus, thank you. Thank you for pushing me to finish. Thank you for your presence. And God, thank you for providing them. But more importantly, thank you for providing my real "running partners" throughout my life. I have been richly blessed by them and propelled towards the finish line because of them.
I love this picture because although it appears as if I'm walking (which is the case in all of the pictures towards the end) I am next to tattooed Jesus.