Discarded Vines? A sermon on John 15:1-8

It’s Sunday morning and I look out toward the pews, out into the sanctuary and beyond. How many members will be here today? Will we have any children? Will any guests decide to join us?

From my vantage point, just behind the giant pulpit that I’ve preached from just one time, I don’t have a full view of the sanctuary. I see a few people over by the piano. I see a couple on the other side. I can see that some people are gathered in the narthex (lobby). How many will be with us today?

Our pianist completes his prelude. It’s 10:29. I think to myself, “it’s too early.” I want us to officially start worship at 10:30 not 10:29. So I slowly walk to greet the community that is gathered, and still gathering for worship.

I have mixed feelings as I gaze out. I am so incredibly grateful for each person present. I tell them this. “Thank you for being here today.” I hope that I convey the importance of their presence. I’m also a bit sad, a bit anxious, a bit regretful. Where have all the worshipers gone? Why are there only a few of us when we have a sanctuary that will hold close to 200? Why am I concerned about this? Where is my faith? I suck as a pastor. All these thoughts are mixed with my gratitude for those present.

I wonder, how do the worshippers feel? Have some of them left because of our size? Or have they left for some other reason? Some have moved away. I think of those who’ve died since I came. I miss them. How do those who remain feel?

I know some of their thoughts. One member, resigned to the decline, and resigned to her perception that we aren’t really doing much to address it, said, “I’ve come to accept that we might die. And that’s ok.” Others reminisce about the “good old days” when lots of people were in worship and Sunday School. Some are so excited when we have visitors join us that they are afraid that we overwhelm them with welcome. We have lots of mixed feelings as we gather.

As I reflect on the text for this Sunday, as I reflect on the metaphor

of vines

and branches

and fruit

and pruning

and abiding

and burning

I wonder about our place within all this. In my mind we are just past the pruning stage. There’s a mess on the ground as those unproductive branches have been cut from the vine. They lay there, withering, as their life blood of water is cut off. They lay there, withering, until someone can gather them to feed them to the flames of a great fire.

One day, in a breakfast meeting with other pastors. A gathering that is for support, another pastor (one who’s church has way way more people) told me that his church is experiencing the same decline…it’s just that my church is farther along that road. Any statistical analysis of the church in America paints a similar picture.

I think of this as I think of those cut, withering, discarded branches. Do they represent our church? Have we been pruned? Are we to be replaced with something else? Depressing thoughts, these.

Then I remember the words of Jesus,

“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”

We don’t use the word abide much. Live in me Jesus said…just as I live in you. He said these words to his disciples just as they were about to endure a terrible time. The words were remembered and written to a community that was in the midst of its own difficulties.

The words are filled with hope, with promise. “Live in me,” said Jesus. We might wonder about this. We might feel as if we’ve failed to do this. Or that apparently, we aren’t living as we should have. We might wonder if we are the discarded branches. “Live in me, as I live in you,” said Jesus. Does he mean us?

I remember a sermon and discussion with our congregation. It was over the concept of “all are welcome.” I had asked the members to think about who might hear these words and subsequently think, “they don’t include me.” We had quite a list that included many who’ve been marginalized by religion. Not long after this we chose, as a congregation, to be explicit in our welcome to our LGBTQ neighbors.

Of course Jesus means us! It is Jesus living in us that allows us to see the value and dignity of our neighbors. It is Jesus living in us that calls us to that first story…that beginning story in which we are told that God created human beings in God’s image and then declared that creation to be good. Jesus invites us to live in him just as he lives in us.

Jesus lives in us! This is good news. Jesus lives in us and there’s nothing that we can do to change that. Jesus lives in us even when we don’t feel it. So how do we know this? Sure, we can take the promise at face value, but we also can look at the evidence around us.

Here’s what I see.

• On this Sunday children are with us…just as they are most Sundays. Today, they gather at the Wiggle Spot and commence building a tower of cardboard bricks. When the congregation receives Communion, these children are included. The expressions on their faces as I give them bread, “this is the body of Christ, given for you,” are enough to warm any heart. They know they are receiving something special…even at the youngest age. Most respond with the word, “amen.” Amen indeed.

• Others are gathered who came because they discovered they are truly welcome at our church. Our church is now their church.

• I ask a question during my sermon and a few members of the congregation share their thoughts, allowing us as the gathered community to learn from one another.

• It is time for prayer and our community members share their concerns, their joys, and their thoughts of others. We have become more intimate in our praying.

• It’s announcement time and we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. The members love acknowledging one another. I am blessed as I give a blessing to those whose birthdays we celebrate.

This is life. This life is a reminder that Jesus is living, in and with us. We are not the branches laying on the ground awaiting the fire. We live in Jesus, as Jesus lives in us.

It’s just past the grape harvest and the vines have been pruned. We’ve been pruned. We don’t like it. It hurts. We feel bare and exposed. We are small. But all that is ok because we live in Jesus and he lives in us. I hope and pray the our knowing Christians join the cause of the oppressed in the fight for justice not because of some philosophical principle of “the Good” or because of a religious feeling of sympathy for people in prison. Sympathy does not change the structures of injustice. The authentic identity of Christians with the poor is found in the claim which the Jesus-encounter lays upon their own life-style, a claim that connects the word “Christian” with the liberation of the poor. Christians fight not for humanity in general but for themselves and out of their love for concrete human beings.” this will give us courage live with Jesus in such a way that we make a difference in our little part of the world.

The text…

John 15:1-8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Recovering from the Boston Marathon

It’s Saturday morning and hard to believe that my first Boston Marathon was almost 2 weeks ago. Almost two weeks of my least favorite part of the marathon training and racing cycle – recovery. Why? Because for me its boring. Even more so this time.

As a Des Linden fan it was exciting to meet her parents

Recovery Week 1
Recovery starts immediately after the race. So, when the very dedicated volunteer handed me a protein bar (and opened it for me) I ate it. I wasn’t hungry yet but wanted to get some protein and carbs into my system. The protein bar was followed by a banana (they opened that for me too).

Along with this food, my immediate need was to get warm!

After a nice, long, and warm shower I put on my compression tights and realized that it was already after 6pm. Where did all the time go? I’m definitely used to late start marathons! We chose to eat close to the hotel…but still had to brave the rain.

That first night sleep was hard to come by. My muscles were very achy and I resorted to taking a couple Advils. I think the achiness was due to the cold more than exertion…or maybe it was a combination of both.

The next day we were tourists. We even had the special treat of meeting Desi Linden’s parents. That was exciting! I got a fist bump from her dad for finishing the race. Interestingly my legs were not nearly as sore as they usually are the day after a marathon. They were sore of course, but I was walking fine. Maybe all the tourist style walking was helpful recovery.

I was supposed to run an easy mile on Saturday (4/21). Instead I ran an easy 2 miles on Friday. This very short run felt good…which was definitely not normal post marathon. I ran 3 miles on Sunday and that felt good as well.

Recovery Week 2
On Monday I talked to my coach. “I surely didn’t run hard enough! I’m not sore like normal.” He suggested we look at my heart rate to compare. This was interesting in that it was almost the same as my last two marathons. The max at Boston was actually a bit higher but the averages were all similar.

Hmmm, my exertion was pretty much the same. The big difference was that my pace at Boston was so slow (3rd slowest of 8 marathons). My body was working overtime in trying to keep me warm! I remember thinking mid-race that it felt more like a training run.

So my coach has increased my recovery mileage a bit…not where I want but where I need to be. One good reason to have a coach is to have that guide who stops you from going too hard, especially when the temptation is great. Today I will run 6 miles for a total of 17 for the week. Next week will be 24 and hopefully I’ll be back into another marathon buildup after that. Because I’m a bit crazy and marathon number 9 will be July 29th in San Francisco.

My other recovery activities? Daily rehab routine of bridges (regular, marching, and single leg), clamshells and side leg lifts, rolling, and stretching. I’m also keeping a food diary and I’ll write about that in another post.

Happy Saturday.

Did You Finish? A Post-Boston Marathon Sermon

This sermon is based on John 10:11-18

img_0093“Did you finish?”

The most common question asked after my completing the Boston Marathon.

“Did you finish?”

Not, “how fast did you go?”
Not, “did you have fun?”
Not, “what was your place?”
But, “did you finish?”

Why this question? I’ve now run eight marathons and I don’t remember being asked this question. Well, except for after that very first marathon.

So why the question now? I suspect it’s because this was the worst weather ever for the Boston Marathon.

  • 25-30 mph head winds with larger gusts
  • Rain. Sideways sometimes (that wind!). Ever hear of car wash effect in a forecast? Me neither until last weekend. It was always heavy, with the occasional feeling of a bucket of water being thrown on you. At one point I got enough water in my mouth I could swallow it. And, sometimes it hit my face like ice.
  • That’s because it was also cold. 30° at the start. 38° at the finish. Pretty much felt like the 20s but with rain instead of snow. Snow would have been better.
  • Over 2000 people treated for hypothermia – during and after the race. At least 80 hospitalized.

Did you finish? Not everyone did! And (almost) nobody finished as quickly as planned or desired.

Did you finish? Some couldn’t. Some could but quit anyway.

I was tempted to quit. Like the hired hand in today’s text I was tempted to flee into safer places. Dry places. Warm places. The temptation was great because it was so hard.

I’ve always thought of the marathon as an example of the very real challenges we face in life. The 2018 Boston Marathon was an extreme example of this. Extreme because it was a bit crazy to even start running in conditions such as these. A coach who’s podcast I follow said, “no one in their right mind would set out to run 26 miles in those conditions except that it was the Boston Marathon” (On Coaching Podcast).

We all face times when we want to give up, to quit. Sometimes we should…if continuing means literally risking our lives…or our continued well-being. For those suffering extreme hyperthermia this was the case. But in the majority of times, when we face the extreme desire to give up, we can or should push through…we can or should dig deep for the perseverance and resiliency that takes us to the goal. Sometimes we give up when the goal is so close…but seems so far away. I saw it in Boston when so many were stopped in that last mile. I wanted to round them up and say, “keep going, you’re almost there.” How often do we give up when we’re almost there. I think I gave up in this way when I gave up on our Spanish language service a couple years ago.

Can you think of a time you wanted to give up? Did you? Or did you push through? What happened? Would you do anything different if you could do it again? Have you ever felt like the hired hand? Giving up when going forward was too scary, too tough?

Or maybe right now you feel like giving up on something. You don’t see an easy way forward. Heck, you might not see any way forward. So, the idea of quitting sounds appealing. It’s usually a struggle to even decide to quit because alongside any desire to give up is the feeling of loss. The feeling that it’s not the best choice. Maybe even the feeling that in giving up we’ve sacrificed a bit of ourselves.

Here’s some good news from Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Jesus never gives up. Jesus never abandons us. He always goes where we go…even if where we go is not the best idea…even if where we go is to flee the task that is ahead of us. The Good Shepherd loves us, cares for us, and comforts us. Always. Even when we don’t recognize or feel it.

The Good Shepherd also invites us to love, care for, and comfort others (and ourselves). The Good Shepherd calls us to be active in the world…to help others through their own challenges.

Going back to my story of Boston. I experienced this love, care, and comfort from the thousands of volunteers that lined the course. They too were standing in the wind, rain, and cold. One man was so cold, as he handed me a cup of Gatorade, that his hands were shaking. He could have fled to warmth…like a hired hand abandoning his sheep, but he too braved the elements to help thousands of strangers.

I experienced this love, care, and comfort from the thousands of spectators that lined the course. From the cheering and the encouraging to the offers of food. After the race I read a story of another runner who was so cold that at the halfway point he approached a group of spectators. He asked if anyone had a blanket. Nobody did. But a woman took off her LL Bean jacket, gave it to him, and said, “now you can finish.” He did.

I read about this love, care, and comfort in the story of a church that decided to open their sanctuary to the very cold runners who were suffering from the extreme conditions. The pastor called upon members. They lit a fire, gathered blankets and food and opened their doors. The news photos showed lots of dejected runners sitting in the pews. Getting warm. Leaving water everywhere.

I experienced this love, care, and comfort after the race when the managers of an office building opened its lobby to the soaking wet runners, their families, and their friends. I remember seeing a man fruitlessly trying to mop up all the water! We were probably in their building for only 15 minutes, but it was long enough to dry off, change my shirt, put on a dry jacket and get ready to go back into the rain to make my way to my hotel. This probably saved lots of race finishers from hypothermia.

And sometimes it is in giving care to others in the midst of difficulty we find the ability to continue. Desi Linden won the women’s race. I’m so happy for her and I had been rooting for her. I’m a fan. When she started she didn’t feel like she was going to finish. She told fellow American runner Shalane Flanagan that she would most likely drop out, but first she offered her help. To run as a team. So help protect Shalane from the wind and rain by running in front. She later helped other American runner Molly Huddle.

Something happened when she quit focusing on how she felt to help the other runners. She started feeling better and stronger and eventually found herself to be in a great position. So she didn’t drop out. She pushed and won by 4 minutes. What a great example in finding strength in a touch situation by helping others.

It was all hard. It was all wonderful. Just like ministry is hard and wonderful. I would do it again.

My First Boston Marathon – The Race

Living my entire life in Southern California, it is entirely reasonable to hold out hope for a change in the weather, one in which the predicted storm was pushed away by the high pressure system that sets itself up off the coast. It is common for the predicted storms to move north and miss us. So I held on to a tiny bit of hope that the weather wouldn’t be as bad as promised. But Boston is not SoCal and the storm did not get pushed away.

After relaxing down in the lobby/breakfast area of the hotel (Boston Marathon Day – A few morning thoughts ), I dressed with all my new gear (My First Boston Marathon – It was all about the gear – Pre-Race Recap). Scott came with me to Boston Common which was the bus stop. We chatted with a guy from New York while on the T (subway). He was running in honor of his mother who died exactly one year ago. He took a photo for me, and then Scott returned to the hotel. Thankfully the bus area was well organized and we boarded quickly.

I couldn’t see much on the drive because of the water on the windows outside, and the fog inside. I ate my SuperHero Muffin and watched Twitter feeds for the professional women’s news since their race had already started. Go Desi!

Once we arrived, we got off into torrential rain. Walking in to the waiting area I saw the perimeter of porta-potties and headed that way. OMG! I should not have done that…mud and water greeted me and everyone else. I was so so so thankful that I was wearing my give-away shoes. So many runners near me were sporting horribly wet and muddy shoes. A race photographer took my photo…You can see that the pink and cheap rain poncho was too light for the wind. I ditched it way sooner than I thought I would.

Getting off the wet, soggy, muddy field required a very short climb. I tried to step on what was left of the grass but still slipped towards the top. Someone offered to help me up but once I got me feet on something semi-solid I was ok…just had some very muddy hands. I joined the slow moving group of people who were making their way to the start. Looking at my watch we were less that 15 minutes from what was supposed to be our start time…where did all the time go? I learned that we would be walking about half a mile. At one point I asked a police officer if there would be anymore mud. He smiled at me and said, “no, and good luck today.”

With no more mud on the horizon, I looked for a place to change my shoes. There was a slight sloping paved area, where obviously many runners had already changed their shoes. I sat down. Took off my now muddy sweats and shoes…pulled a hand towel out of my bag and dried my feet. A man sat next to me and commented on how smart it was for me to bring a towel. He then asked if he could use it when I was done. I was happy to share it!

With dry feet and clean shoes I rejoined the line of people heading to the start. There would be no warmup… Just before entering the starting shoot we had to wade through ankle deep running water. So much for my clean dry feet…at least they weren’t muddy. But for the others, they probably benefited from the running water washing the mud off their feet.

I was supposed to be in Corral 1 of Wave 4. What really happened is that they told us to just start running when we get to the line. Organized chaos. I officially started at 11:19am, only 4 minutes behind schedule.

The early miles
I remembered Josh’s advice to start slow, which was easy to do. I was already so cold. My greatest concern was my fingers. They felt like ice. I put hand warmers in my gloves and wrapped my fingers around them. Eventually my fingers warmed up. Unfortunately my butt and thighs were cold and thus already achy.

At 5 miles they were playing Sweet Caroline…I managed a fist pump to go with the words, “so good, so good!” It was miserably cold and wet. I took my gloves off and shoved them in some pockets on my leggings.

At 8 miles I was amazed that I’d only gone 8 miles…I felt like I’d already been out there forever!

At 10 miles they were playing Dirty Water.

At 11 miles I was so thankful for all the people who were out in this rain to cheer us on.

The Middle Miles
At 12 miles I walked through the aid station and decided to pause for a photo, thinking any good time is out the window so I might as well take pictures. But I later talked myself out of that attitude.

At 13 miles I thought, “maybe I should go to the bathroom.” At 14 miles I stopped at some porta-potties. Because of all the rain and mud they were the most disgusting things I’d ever seen. I decided that I didn’t have to go that bad. And thinking of the teasing once from a friend while swimming in the harbor…I thought if I have to pee bad enough I’ll just go in my pants and it will warm me up (love you Mary Jones!). HaHa…I never had to go.

But a volunteer saw me and asked me if I was ok. “Yes” I replied and continued.

At 14 miles the cheering at Wellesley was cool even if there weren’t as many people. Were people stopping to kiss? I don’t know because I had to keep looking forward.

I don’t remember when but I eventually put my gloves back on, learning that wet gloves were way warmer than no gloves. All of me was soaked and cold…except my head. I marveled at how nice and snugly warm my head was. The combo of beany , Buff, and Patagonia jacket was working.

The rest of the jacket was so wet that I contemplated taking it off and giving it to my husband when I saw him. But then I decided that with my head being the only part of me that wasn’t freezing, I shouldn’t mess with things. Plus, the jacket probably providing some protection, just as my wet gloves had been.

At mile 18 I thought that I should tell Josh that I won’t need as much recovery time from this race because I was actually going slower than my normal easy pace. I also remembered my two bouts of Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema and wondered if I would get it running while so cold. The things that go through my mind!

I remembered my friend Shandra and a cold rainy ultra that she did last year…and that helped me to keep going.

Also by this time it was clear that my watch wasn’t even close to accurate…so I was going even slower than my splits! But I was only focusing on finishing and getting out of the cold.

The Newton Hills (including Heartbreak Hill) didn’t seem that hard…of course I was barely moving anyway. I was only happy to hit Heartbreak Hill because it meant I’d be done soon…an hour? Or more?

Sometimes the rain would be so hard that if felt as if someone was throwing buckets of water on us. Sometimes a gust of wind would push me back. Sometimes it felt like the rain had turned to ice.

I was incredibly thankful for the volunteers on the course. They were wet and cold too! One man’s hand shook as he handed me Gatorade. Most of them shouted encouragement to us as we passed. The last time I took water it was too cold. This was probably mile 22, so I figured I was ok with hydration.

Every time I felt the wind I reminded myself to stand up straight. Near the Citgo sign at mile 25 I got the combination of rain and water with such force that my mouth filled with water…ok that was my final water stop.

During the last mile I saw so many people that were stopping and stretched. I wanted to tell them to just keep going because they were almost there! Also, the closer we got, the more treacherous the course. People who ran with plastic bags, ponchos, etc were dropping them before turning on to Boylston. The worse was on Hereford. I had to weave my way through the mass of plastic so that I wouldn’t slip or trip. A request for all those faster runners…please drop your stuff to the side next time!

When I got on to Boylston I did my only stride of the day, happily making my way to the finish! My watch thought I’d gone 27.65 miles and I’ve since figured out and fixed the issue (I hope).

The finish area was very well organized. Water, photo, Cliff protein bar with a pleasant “want me to open that for you?” Then a banana, a bag of other food and a heat blanket.

Somewhere in this finish area I heard Megan yelling from the side. Boy was it nice to see her! She gave me the great news that Desi won. I somehow lost track of her and while I was just standing there a volunteer came to make sure I was ok. Unfortunately Megan was on the opposite side of the street from the family meeting area. Once I got there, nobody from my family was there yet. I momentarily wanted to cry.

The managers of this building let us have refuge from the rain. Thank you!

I got out my phone to call and tell them I was walking to the hotel, but it started ringing and it was Matt. We figured out that they were close by. Scott then called to confirm my location. I found them and we found refuge from the rain in the lobby of an office building. The managers of that building were wonderful to let us in. A janitor was trying to mop up all the water that all the wet runners and spectators were bringing in. I changed my shirt, wrapped a towel around my waste, put on a dry sweater and a jacket and we headed to the subway.

My first Boston Marathon. I plan to be back in 2020.

My First Boston Marathon – It was all about the gear – Pre-Race Recap

img_0071-1
The March 18 forecast ended up being pretty close.
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April 3rd forecast looked promising
img_0083-1
April 10…close but it was colder and windier on race day.

Before the race
Like many runners I obsessively watched the weather reports in the days (even weeks) leading up to the race. For a few glorious days the forecast was for mid 50s and partly cloudy. This would have been wonderful. Would have been! Ha!

A week before the big day everything changed. Rain…cold…wind. I realized I didn’t have the right clothing for such a race. In reading various running web pages, and asking my coach, I discovered that I would need tight fitting clothing. This so that the fabric doesn’t become rain soaked and heavier.

I had leggings but no tight long sleeved shirt. I also couldn’t find one on the Wednesday before we left. Josh (my coach) suggested I try a rash guard. At REI I found a tight fitting, long sleeved, rowing/paddling shirt. And… it was only $40. Although I balked at spending $99 for a Patagonia rain/wind jacket.

We arrived in Boston on Thursday (my birthday). Friday and Saturday were chilly but beautiful. I bought gloves (lightweight) at the expo and a buff at a running store. The buff was for warm weather but I figured it was better than nothing. I planned to wear it with a hat.

As I obsessively watched the weather, it just seemed to be the worse case. Rain, with one forecaster saying “car wash levels.” A headwind of 25-35 mph with occasional gusts up to 50mph. HEADWIND!

img_0087
Some good pre-race advice from my coach!

I sent my coach a message, “should I wear two pairs of leggings for the cold?” I think he looked at the forecast for race day after my message and then posted a message on our club page with advice for all of us who were running. The take away for me? Keep my feet dry as long as possible. Try as hard as I can to keep my hands and head warm.

Saturday night I figured I wasn’t prepared…should have bought that Patagonia jacket! Scott (my husband) checked for me and found that the Boston REI was walking distance from our hotel. Yeah! We decided to get there when they opened on Sunday, thinking that we wouldn’t be the only ones in search of foul weather wear.

Everything I would be wearing or carrying the next morning. Except the hats (one to wear and one to change when I saw my family. I decided that with the wind, my hat would probably just blow away.

Arriving just after opening, the store was busy. I found the $99 Patagonia jacket. Yeah! We then joined other runners and spectators rummaging through the sale bins for other supplies. I found a beanie and Matt (my son) found a buff that was for cold weather. I had just about all that I could get!

One more thing…Scott went to Target and bought me a $14 pair of Converse knock-offs. Now to excitedly-nervously await race time. I no longer had a time goal but rather my goals were to finish and not to slouch or bend my upper body into the wind and rain.

Boston Marathon Day – A few morning thoughts

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I’m in my pjs…lots of people dressed and ready to go.

Race day is here. This is so exciting (& a bit scary). In 2014 I ran my first marathon in almost six hours! A year later we went to Boston on vacation and were here a week before that year’s marathon. Boston Marathon was the theme of town that pre-race week. I dreamed of someday running it. Of course I’d need to run a much faster marathon.

In looking at the calendar, I discovered that the 2018 race was 2 weeks past Easter and I would turn 55 four days before the race…new age group! But I would still need to take close to 2 hours off my time!

I began working with a coach…who was initially skeptical but upon realizing I was serious helped me gradually and safely get to my goal.

Now it’s race morning. I’m sitting in the hotel breakfast area, chilling. In a few minutes I’ll go upstairs, cover my body with Sports Shield (the best stuff!) and head to the bus.

I have the honor of joining 30,000 other runners out in the cold and wind and rain. Let’s do this!

About that Rehearsal – Preparing for the Boston Marathon

A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of rehearsal as part of race training. You can read that post here: Rehearsal – Boston Marathon Training, Week 11

This shirt and shorts are so comfortable…maybe my next race.

I adamantly advised against wearing anything new on race day. I still believe this…but then sometimes life throws us a few curves. I had everything ready for race day: shorts, tank, shoes, socks. I was only waffling on “should I or should I not carry my phone.” The only argument for it was for entertainment and photos in the time before the race.

But now the weather forecast is forcing me to re-evaluate. Unless things change dramatically (which is always a remote possibility) it will be raining for all of race day. Thankfully my buildup included a few rainy runs (not always guaranteed here in dry SoCal). Still, as race day gets closer, I’m reminded that I don’t really have a great deal of running in the rain experience. I’ve never run a race, much less a marathon in the rain.

My new shirt. I may wear my tank under this…just in case I get hot.

So I do what I always do…start reading and start asking for advice. I read that tight clothing is a must. Then my coach told me the same thing! So out with the shorts which might ride up when wet. I’ll be wearing leggings. Unfortunately I don’t actually own a tight long sleeved shirt. Today I set out to buy something. First stop our club running store…I didn’t think the suggested compression shirt was there but I did run into my coach who told me that I could also try a rash guard.

My next stop was Dick’s Sporting Goods. Unfortunately nothing there. Then I hit the local REI. No compression shirts but they did have some paddling shirts. I bought one (less expensive than “running” shirts).

I’m not sure if this will work on my shoes but it will work on everyone else rain jackets.

I plan to use lots of SportsShield. I also bought some spray on water repellant. Will it work? Who knows!

At Target I bought a cheap ($1.99) emergency rain poncho. I will also bring a trash bag.

I read additional advice to not put on my shoes until I go to the starting line. I’m not sure if that’s possible but I’m considering it.

Last, my family members just might be carrying a dry shirt, a dry hat, and a small towel for a quick freshen up in the later miles. This is also still under consideration.

While I think about all this, I am also grateful that the weather forecast is not for HOT temperatures. I’d much rather deal with rain than heat. Five days until Boston!

What advice do you have for a rainy race?