Anyways, got ready and David drove me to Epcot and dropped me off at about 3:30 am. Hated that I had to walk to gear check by myself – for me running is very communal. It’s all about the peeps you run with. But I knew I was meeting Cindy and Amy and I was looking forward to that. It was about a half-mile walk from the drop-off site to gear check. Checked my gear. First porta-potty stop. Met up with Cindy and Amy. Group pic with some peeps from my running group that were also there. Cindy had planned to help me write two names on my arms. On my right arm, she wrote Beth, for my cousin who passed away this past June. On my left arm, she wrote Amanda, for my running friend that passed away in July. I ran mile 13 for Amanda and mile 21 for Beth. I just wanted to honor them in this run.
We headed to the start line – about a mile away – corralled and packed like cattle. Second porta-potty stop. Cindy and Amy were in Corral J. They decided they wanted to stay with me in Corral M. That was very sweet of them and I accepted their offer.
We started our race at 6:23 am. I was on the struggle bus from the start. Run walking but slow. The first five miles were ok – two more porta-potty stops (one that took several minutes of waiting) and a couple of character stops. I continued to struggle.
Throughout the race, people kept yelling “Go Amanda” or “Go Beth”. It took me a minute to realize that they thought my name was Amanda or Beth because the name was on my arm. I smiled and waved every time they said it because it made me so happy that they were shouting their names at this race.
Another porta-potty stop around mile 17 and the next thing I knew the balloon ladies were right behind us. The balloon ladies are the pacers that determine who gets to keep going and finish and who gets swept. You wanna be with or in front of them in order to not get swept. A volunteer told us that we were just 30 seconds ahead of them. Talk about terror. Cindy and Amy moved ahead and I was still struggling – now with fear too. A thousand thoughts about how there is no way I can keep up this pace for the next 8 miles and I can’t believe I paid all this money for a vacation with my family and I am not even gonna get to finish. No more porta-potty stops now – there was no time. The chatterbox was on a rampage.
Then I looked over and I was literally shoulder to shoulder with the balloon lady. I started to lose it – I was totally gonna start crying during this marathon. I felt super defeated. We crossed mile 18 and the sweep bus pulled up.
I started praying “God move my legs! God move my legs!” and I sprinted forward for about 15 seconds. Stopped to walk for about 15 seconds then sprinted again. It was working. I felt like I might vomit but I was putting room between me and the balloon ladies. I stopped the negative chatter, started the positive self-talk and just kept sprinting and walking and praying God move my legs. Then something took over.
I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit or delirium (my money is on the Spirit) but I just started shouting the positive self-talk to others around me. It was as if it wasn’t loud enough in my own head, so I started shouting it thinking it might help someone else. As I would sprint I would yell “Keep Going! You can do this!” It was working. It was keeping my legs moving and I was continuing to add space between me and the balloon ladies.
I did it for 8 miles. Sprint and yell and then slow and walk. Repeat. Most people responded positively. I got a few ugly looks and a couple snide comments, but overall it seemed to help morale so I kept doing it.
Around mile 21 I caught up with Cindy and Amy. Cindy was so excited and surprised to see me! (she is the sweetest and kindest person you will ever meet) Amy was hurting bad but I told her to keep going. I think I said “keep going” at least 150 times during those miles. I came alongside others and chatted with them briefly and encouraged them that they can do this – that they are doing this – right now. That helped them dig deep – and ME it was HELPING ME!
I was running alongside real champions. A man that was probably about 68 years old or more that was completing the Dopey Challenge (4 consecutive days of races : 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Full Marathon) – I told him I was proud of him. He returned the compliment. I came upon two ladies wearing shirts that said on the back “Through Christ”. As I approached I began to shout, “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME!” They agreed and one began to tear up. I said “You are doing it now! You are doing it! He is in you and He is moving your legs right now!”
Even after they told us we were safe and there were no more bus pick-ups, I kept doing it – sprinting and shouting and slowing and walking. I don’t know what came over me, but it got me to the finish line. And a few other people too. One lady thanked me on the course – another after the race. She said, “thanks you really helped me get through those last couple miles”.
Mile 25 is always the longest. Well, really any last mile of any race or training is the longest. I’m sure you can guess why. But we finished. Cindy, Amy, & I crossed the finish line hands held high together. It was a real victory for all of us.
When we were training, I remember telling Cindy and Amy that I wanted to make sure that my run glorified God. That I was struggling to figure out what’s the best way to do that. I really wanted this marathon to have a meaning and a purpose for Him. I didn’t really want it to be all about me. That’s part of why I didn’t tell a lot of people at least not publicly on Facebook or anything like that until late in the game.
When I found a shirt that said “Run with Purpose” I thought – that’s it!! What I didn’t realize at the time was that His purpose was to use me at the actual race itself. I am thrilled that all of that training came to good use to help others. After all, that is my calling, my mission, my purpose – to help other people in their journey.
Jan 11, 2016 – I love your story, Betty!! Your strong will, determination, perseverance, and faith are inspirational! You have poured out your spirit, ran with spirit and I have no doubt, truly blessed our God in Heaven! I love you and been so happy to call you my sweet dear friend!
Jan 12, 2016 – You are an inspiration and you will bring others to God! Congratulations on a task well done!
Jan 12, 2016 – You have no idea how your strength & Faith gives me so much hope. I am so proud to call you my friend, so proud to walk or limp next to you even during the times I’m in pain and extremely stubborn. You are an amazing testimony whether you think so or not youre a real life hero! I love you friend!
Jan 12, 2016 – What a story! What a strong woman you are! Warms my heart that you finished with your friends. Go, Betty!
Jan 12, 2016 – Fantastic job! I really loved reading your story, how you honored God in this race, and Beth and your friend Amanda. Such a sweet sweet thing to do and to be an encouragement to others. I would say that is a “race we’ll run.”
Jan 12, 2016 – Betty- I was so moved reading this. I know you have a strong will, but what you accomplished here transcends that. I’m so impressed that you completed the race, but even more at your positive self reinforcement and that you persevered despite doubts you could make it. I am truly inspired (but don’t expect to see me run a marathon). This is a lesson for us all about focus and determination. Way to go!!
Jan 12, 2016 – Betty – you are awesome! This was so truthful and inspiring. I had tears the whole time reading this. Congratulations and always keep the faith! Very proud of you.
Jan 15, 2016 –
I’ve read this several times. I can visualize you chattering all the way to the end, the surprise on your friends faces when you caught up with them, even your dismay before you found your inner spirit and it makes me smile. I’ve been with you in many similar moments during other journeys of your life.
I can honestly say I never doubted you. I know you doubted you, that worried me a bit but I was confident that you would find a way to finish strong. You always do, with every goal you take on. This one, though huge, was sure to be no exception.
I’m so proud of you and am honored to be someone in your life. I look forward to continuing to watch your life’s journey as it inspires others. Here’s to a Healthy you. Body Mind and Soul. I love you!
Aug 10, 2016 – Awesome writing and sharing your thoughts. I am proud of you. You have always had determination when you have a goal.