Monday, October 29, 2012

Soaring Wings Half – Race Recap(s)

So I just completed my 4th Soaring Wings Half Marathon.  As long as they have this race and I live nearby I will continue to support their mission.  This mission has a little bit of a personal significance to me which I will share with you a bit later.

First I’ll recap this year’s race.  I left my house in plenty of time to pick up Scott and easily make it to the start line.  After driving the 15 minutes to Conway I realized I had forgotten my Garmin.  I must run with my Garmin as I’m incredibly addicted to analyzing my races after the fact.  I simply must be able to look back out how I did during different parts of the race.  It’s an odd addiction, but one I know that isn’t peculiar to just me.  So I turned around and headed home, texted Scott to tell him to go on.  I got stuck behind a Blue Ford Truck in Conway that seemed to have misplaced its accelerator pedal.  I parked, jogged to the start line, Scott saw me, I jumped in line and literally went from my walk up to the race to a run in the race in one step.  No standing around at all.  Long story short, I got a PR by 10 minutes finishing in 2:09:48 and running the entire race with Scott while enjoying most of it with conversation.  

This year’s race was a great race for me.  I have now run the SWHalf four times with the previous three not going as planned.  In 2009, my first year and my first race distance longer than a 5K, I way over hydrated and overGUed and finished just over my goal of 2:30.  In 2011, my third year running Soaring Wings, I trained poorly and got a much deserved 2:19 finish (though this was my SW PR until this year).  In 2010 I trained really well, but things went terribly wrong the week leading up to the race and I finished with a time of 2:34.  That year, the one with a 2:34 finish, my worst finish at Soaring Wings ever, was my most rewarding.

First a quick little back story on me that you’ll need to know.  I’m a youth soccer coach.  I never played soccer and didn’t know a thing about it until I enrolled my son to play when he was four and I agreed to coach.  He’s never quit and we are still doing it.  Over the years I’ve coached his older sister’s team as well.  I believe in God and am a follower of Jesus Christ.  (What follows is an excerpt from thoughts I’ve previously shared on FaceBook with friends)

As the 2010 Fall soccer season started my Soaring Wings training was well underway and was going great.  About our third practice a new girl joined the team and it was clear that her skills were a bit behind the other girls, I’m not even sure she had ever played soccer.  She also needed a bit more attention than most of the other girls on the team.  She was a sweet as can be, but you could tell she was wired just a little bit different.  I knew my work was cut out for me with the new girl.  If my team was going to be as competitive as I wanted them to be I was going to have to find a way to get her up to speed more quickly or find a way to hide her on the field.

I didn’t know the whole picture, I didn’t get it.

About 3 games into the season I became aware that she was a Soaring Wings Ranch kid. (If you don't know about Soaring Wings Ranch, go check them out. ) This explained a bit about why she appeared wired a little different.  I had shared with the team that I was going to be running the SW Half Marathon and she was super excited and shared with me that she would be handing out the medals at the end of the race and wanted to personally hand me mine.  I was excited to be able to "do this for her". 

“Do this for her”, like I’m so great.  I still didn't get it.

As the soccer season progressed we were not winning any games.  I had become frustrated and didn't know how to make us better.  I had become convinced that some of my “players” were holding us back. 

Wow, my thoughts were ugly. I really didn’t get it.  I didn’t get what I was here to do.
On the flip side my Half Marathon training was going great, I posted one of my best training runs for a half marathon at 2:05 and I was feeling great.  I was the lightest I’d ever been while running and poised to shoot for breaking the 2 hour barrier. 

I thought I was awesome, I still didn’t get it.

The Tuesday prior to the race I awoke with a fever and some sort of illness.  I was sick the entire week leading up to the race, not eating much and my energy was drained.  I could not believe my luck. I spent a lot of time in self pity that week and not much time thinking about the girl waiting at the finish line for me. 

God was like “Wake Up!”, I couldn’t hear him over my whining, I still wasn’t getting it.

Race day I decided to go on.  I told myself, my friends, my family that I was “doing” this race for her.  How noble of me.  Deep inside I still knew I was doing it for me, I knew I was going for sub 2:00.  As I started the race I went out and ran the first mile on my own, blistering the pace I’d been training with.  Something happened at mile 1.5.  I was done.  I had nothing left in me.  I started to walk.  I had time to think.  I thought about the girl at the finish line, about 1 Tim 4:8 (one of my favorites if you know me), about how I had trained for running good but not trained for being good, I started to pray, repented of my selfishness, and I started to run again.

I still didn’t quite get it, but I was slowly beginning to get it.

I crossed the finish line that day, searched for that young girl and she gave me that medal.  God didn’t give me that sub 2 half marathon that day.  In fact, I’m certain he made sure I was going to do my worst.  But I know he carried me to the finish for something bigger. 

I was slowly getting it.

Below is a picture of her and me at the finish, this was the last time I’d see this young girl.  I don’t know the specifics, but she left the Ranch that week and never made another practice or game.  You never know the time frame you’re going to have to impact someone's life.  You never know when that person will be taken out of your life, so you must do your best by them each day.  I still pray for her.  The 2010 Soaring Wings Half Marathon will always be my most rewarding as I learned more about who I need to be as a person that day than I’ll ever learn from a race about who I am as a runner.

I think I finally get it, and I hope I continue to live it.

Finish Line at Soaring Wings Half 2010


  1. This was an awesome day for sure!

  2. This is an amazing post of an awesome story. Thanks for sharing Kevin. Between yours and Scott's posts, I am seriously considering taking up running again. I'm not sure how my body will hold up to it due to previous injury, but I'll never be sure unless I try. Thank you both for the motivation.

    1. Thanks Cody, glad you enjoyed it. It's always hard sharing an experience this personal for fear people will judge you. I encourage you to try running again and listen to your body like Scott says and hopefully you'll be able to get where you want to be with it.


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