Onward….

And upward…610292FC-90AD-43E8-81AD-39099DEDF624

  • So, I never imagined that not breaking three hours in my first Marathon attempt in Berlin 1989 ,would lead to my going on a mission to see that goal to fruition, There is something entirely seductive about the marathon distance that gets one fixated on how to meet the goal, wherever it is you set your own bench mark.
  • One of my biggest obstacles was not perfecting the art of drinking on the run, so my next Sub 3 hour attempt came the following October in Frankfurt Germany. I only lived about ten miles from the city and so it was a sleep in your own bed the night before type of race.
  • Honestly I do not recall much about this one, except the cobbled streets were a real distraction, and thank the Lord there were not many of them. The crowd support was far less than Berlin, but the people watching were still greatly enthused. I got delirious with thirst once again and the clock stopped at 3 hours and 30 seconds. I ended belly up with dehydration and had my first of what would be many  IV s in my ensuing career, hence this is one runner who can never take a chance with the heat.
  • 30 seconds…how did I miss by so little? That question would plague me all the way into my next marathon, Hamburg in the Spring of 1991…..
  • I had joined a German track club and my Coach who spoke hardly a lick of English had booked me into a hotel in the infamous redlight district of Hamburg……um…..
  • Put it this way, it was a good job I had bought my head phones and praise music, because I was in for a very noisy pre race night no matter how you sliced it.
  • Between noisy revelers and pre race anxiety I barely slept a wink. The one thing I do recall about Hamburg was the weather it was HOT !
  • I managed to get seriously thirsty and in desperation was sucking the sponges meant to wipe the sweat off the runners, yes I know disgusting, but needs must.
  • Towards the end of the race I felt pain under my right foot….I had only tested my socks to 17 miles in training and now at 24 they were creating a huge blood blister. Hobbling in I had done it again 3 hours 1 and a half minutes, yep, I had missed the goal by oh so little…..what to do ?
  • The decision was made to run Frankfurt again that October, and have a friend run with me to half way and my  new Coach, (this one spoke perfect English since he was a fellow Brit) to do the latter half.
  • You think I would vividly recall the day that I broke 3 hours on my fourth 26.2 mile attempt, but no such joy. The two friends executed escorting me through the city streets of Frankfurt perfectly and I was rewatded with a 2:57 for sticking with them. However, I had convinced myself I was not a Marathoner, and took heed to my husband at the time, concerned with all the fall out I endured,  and asking me not to race another Marathon for 10 years.
  • D4C692CD-86AB-4543-BCA8-632B832E2601
  • I ageed.
  • Life lessons, you will have to persevere against all odds which takes moving forward by faith not sight.
  • Faith is the substance of things hoped for and yet not seen.
  • There are times when we need companions to help us in our journey…The Israelites were prevailing in battle as long as Moses hands were lifted, but he grew weary as the day drew long, so Aaron and Hur came alongside him and helped lift his hands, and the battle was won. I needed my Aaron and Hur to pace with me.
  • We may think we have it all under control but every detail needs focus, the socks  were not  tested  properly and caused a bleeding foot, Scripture says it is the little foxes that spoil the vine.
  • You may think this was the end of my Marathon Days, and it was for a long time. Little did I know then, the Best was yet to come.
  • Stay turned 😀
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Journey of life part 1

  • The Marathon
    Considering I grew up as a Sprinter, starting with the 100 meters and venturing occasionally into the half mile realm….the concept of 26.2 miles was entirely foreign to me.
  • I enjoyed running through the fields in England,  inspired by the joy and freedom seen on Julie Andrews face in The Sound of 🎶 Music, the film that impacted my childhood greatly. I also enjoyed racing my brother home from church every week. He was strong and burly, as well as Captain of the school Rugby team ,so it was a real feather in my cap, to prevail. The first one to hit the front door was the winner, and as often as I could I would steer Alex towards the overgrown Yew tree ,protruding from the wall, en route home,, which meant he had to duck his head and I could charge for the front door.
  • Perspective is a funny thing. In my 13 year old mind that distance was a mile or more. As I retraced those steps as an adult…it was perhaps quarter that distance, but we always launched like rockets…the exuberance of youth.
  •  If someone would have said to me at that tender age, that one day I would travel across the Atlantic to live in America, become a citizen of that nation AND run marathons including the US Olympic Trials, well….who would have believed that?
  • life is stranger than fiction and although I ran my first 4 marathons in Germany where I was living at the time, I had certainly set sail  on a distance race journey.
  • Berlin 1989, 11 days before the wall fell….I was toeing the line of the Marathon there with my friend Pam Runquist. I had read in Runners World that “breaking 3” was good for a girl, so I wanted to do that.
  • Drum roll…….IMG_0363
  • Thirst caught up with me quickly, I had not learned to drink and run, uhh oh….
  • The Race was marked off in kilometers made clear by some red balloons and I found myself urgently scanning the air for said floaters as my thirst and pain grew.
  • The crowd of onlookers was very deep and I could not hear my own breathing for the racket the people were making. Chants of Lauf Lauf echoed in my ears, German for run run…….
  • I was so tempted to drop out, but the highly charged energy of the crowd was drawing me ever onwards. I finally became so thirsty that I stopped for the last few aid stations, grabbed a cup of something like Gatorade, and chugged both of them down like a demented pilgrim in the desert.
  • Never had a finish line looked so sweet, and as someone wrapped one of those silvery blankety things across my shoulders, I found myself gazing up at the sky with tears in my eyes, I had concentrated so long and hard on getting to the finish, I was having trouble returning to earth.
  • My time was a respectable 3:01,29 Funny I can recall it that vividly….I remember feeling disappointed not to have slipped under the 3 hour mark, never mind the race was done off my track season and about 50 or less miles per week.
  • When I finally made my way to the lorries that held our gear, I spied Pam propped up,against one of them, she looked ill. I told her she did not look so good, to which she responded “ you don’t look so good yourself.”
  • It turned out my speedy friend had run her first marathon under 3 hrs around a 2 58,  I was so inspired and pleased and a touch envious to boot.
  • Meanwhile I never wanted to run another marathon again, that is until I had replenished my lost energy with some gummy bears, and then sitting in the bath afterwards at the hotel….the thought came to me…. I wonder if I can go faster. After all, I still needed to break 3.
  • So, the journey of life is not a sprint, the quick point to point span that ends with searing lungs and fiery legs. No, it is a marathon.
  • You may be tempted to drop out, just throw in the towel… give up…..but you are not alone. Life presents many challenges, hardships, times of emotional and physical pressure, but the One who gave you the gift of life will never leave you or forsake you.
  • The cheering crowds are reminiscent of the cloud of witnesses gone before, cheering for you and I to “ run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
  • Even with the best preparations it is a journey of faith and not sight…..everything can go perfectly in a Marathon, though that is rare, and everything can unravel. As in life, one must prepare for all scenarios.
  • Physically this is done through hours of running, stretching , strengthening….eating well, getting enough sleep, a single minded focus ….
  • Spiritually, the strength is built through a foundation of faith, hope, prayer, the
  • love and support of like minded believers, a stubborn tenacity not to give up, to persevere.
  • I will be sharing more about marathons and the journey of life, so please join me for Part 2 soon.

Working through the miry clay ……..

IMG_0652To say that this year from a running viewpoint has felt like a trudge through waist high sand, would be about right.

When things are not clicking in running, it tends to overflow into the rest of my life. So when I am under performing, go from one quirky muscle strain to the next, ping a hamstring avoiding a kid on the track, and have another nose dive into anemia… well I found myself in a dark funk in my mind and spirit. All this in the last 12 months, making me wonder why My Maker Was not pulling me up and out of the miry clay.

“God, have you forgotten how old I am?” has been one of my pleas. I am now 57 with a life time of competitive running on this body, it is not as though the races which lie ahead exceed in number the ones behind.

How about “God, are you mad at me?” When life gets hard this can be my default, what did I do to earn one challenge after the next?

Thus the darker thoughts were competing for the bright attitude I try to live life in.

I began to feel weary, depressed, dreading work outs and races, trying to get my body to do what for eons had come with relative ease. I know better than  to not count my blessings, in fact I try to continually cultivate an attitude of gratitude, but somehow Ms Whiney Pants was trying to take over.

Sometmes we just want to be understood, and who gets us better than the One who created us and declares through the Psalmist  “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and my soul knows this well.”

He knows the little push we need to step in the right direction. Yesterday I heard myself say, ” I have been depressed.” In admitting this I felt like a weight rolled off me. Staying under the dark cloud, kept me in it’s clutches…

I was not paying attention to my nutrition, how about a bowl of custard every night…yep, comfort food that only makes you regretful and uncomfortable later.

Dropping the disciplines of cross training and stretching…. why bother, my body was not responding anyway? Despising myself for negative thoughts and  words targeted at  me, I would never level that criticism at anyone else!  Afraid of how slow the next race or training run might be, as if anyone but me really cares, this was my world.

Horrible darkened thoughts and then, God sends a friend along, bright breezy and yes a trifle bossy because that is what I needed.

So today by His Grace, I am back in the marathon of life that I so badly wanted to step away from and just for today plan on good eating and paying attention to the details.

He has lifted my feet out of the miry clay and He will do the same for you. He has given me an amazing partner in life, my dearest Mr Allers, and I must press on.

When I am sad and tired, you may need to push me, and when you are down and out I may need to pull you.

PUSH ME, PULL YOU.

Our God will never ever let us go. Hold on, the best is yet to come.

Sarah M Allers