The night before a marathon I always prepare every single item of my running gear by my bedside. So the night of the SF Marathon was like any other except for one. I wrote on a piece of paper "Prayer Run" and laid it on top of my gear. It was a reminder for me that morning to put on my running gear meditatively to prepare me for my prayer run.
It was a good start but the praying was so hard to sustain the whole race. I tell you there were more distractions than inspirations. The "distractions" of course, were my own doing. You see, after 17 marathons, I've learned to pay attention to anything just to get my mind off the running pain. So I have little mind games to continuously dull my senses and hopefully fool my body to think that I'm in a very relaxed mode.
So my mind games prevailed throughout the race but my intention of a prayer run was not entirely in vain. Like I said, I had a very meditative start and had a clear desire to run in prayer. One of the most inspiring moments of grace I had was when I was running through Golden Gate Park, specially right at Mile 14 to 19. I could hear my footsteps, I was aware of my breathing, and I was gazing at the big oak trees that lined the streets of the park. Running aware, I chanted quietly "My Lord and my God" in cadence with my strides. It was beautiful, it was grace. I could clearly picture God, my Father, running towards me just like the father of the prodigal son who ran to him when he saw him from afar coming home.
It was truly a prayerful moment. But at the same time, it was a crucial leg of the race for me to run strongly but conservatively. How I come out of Mile 19 would gauge how I will run the rest of the marathon. Well, I came out strong to my amazement. But I think it was grace.
I finished the race with a negative split. I ran the second half of the race almost 10 minutes faster than the 1st half. I ran the last 6 miles on a 9:30 pace. The last 385 yards, I sprinted against another runner. I was exhilirating.
I am proud of this race. I felt really good after the race. I thought it was a good prayer run even at least for just a small part of the race.