Huddled with my peers at the start of the 3M Half Marathon, I chuckled and asked myself, “Who says prayers don’t get answered?”
The weather forecast for race morning throughout the previous week had threatened scattered showers — particularly ominous when the temperatures were predicted to hover in the 30s and 40s. Thus, after a consistently mild but overcast Friday and Saturday in Austin, I found myself uttering a prayer on Saturday night: “Let it be however cold and windy you want tomorrow morning, God, but please keep the rain away.”
Sunday morning: Cold. Windy. But CLEAR. Let the church say [with numb extremities] Amen!
Then we were off: me, my friend Jax, and over 6,000 other runners. As testimony to 3M’s quality as an event, registration for this year’s race was reportedly higher than 2012 by about 400 people. I definitely noticed this increase at the pre-race expo and in the starting area, but hey, the more, the merrier — especially in Austin, one of the best runner towns in America.
I had come to Austin unsure of whether I would race 3M or just kind of train through it. Maybe my run on Friday, clad blissfully in shorts and a tank top before the arrival of the cold front, went to my head, or maybe it was the delectable Austin food, or sea level giddiness, but I decided for better or worse to go for it. To quote Joan Benoit Samuelson, “When it comes to running, I don’t dwell on it. I just do it.”
So I flung myself at 3M, and landed in the finish chute with 1:27:25 blinking across the clock. I don’t care who you are or how fast you run, no one can tell me that it doesn’t feel cool when the announcer calls your name as you cross that finish line. I didn’t run a PR, but did run my second-fastest half marathon ever — no complaints here!
I didn’t really mentally process that information right away, though, as I was preoccupied with two things: putting clothes on (I swear it was colder at the finish than at the start) and locating Jax amidst the throngs. We found each other, exchanged a shivering hug, did a cursory stumble through the post-race festivities, and quickly agreed that we needed a) the indoors and b) food.
My mom, aunt and cousin, who had done an admirable job as support crew, readily obliged, and we all went over to Kerbey Lane to warm up and fill our bellies. I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed a hot mug of coffee so much in my life.
Reinforcement comes in all kinds of forms. It can be physical — reminding your legs that they DO know how to race; or eating pumpkin pancakes and eggs and bacon till you’re drowsy. It can be mental — reuniting with a friend who inspires you to at once strive and be careful to not lose the fun, in everything. And it can be emotional — being with family, period.
Reinforcement steadies and strengthens us for the future. When we have reinforcements, we can’t help but to go forward with a little more confidence. Because after all, who says prayers don’t get answered?