And then there was one….On Friday, my wife and I took a late drive over to Indianapolis to meet Matt Nelson for the first time and crash at his house. The alarm went off at 5:30am on Saturday morning and we were up and off to attempt our 3rd Half-Marathon in 3 weeks. This weekend’s task was the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. I’ll give you the short version of this post right now…I LOVED this half-marathon. The course was flat and the 2 1/2 mile run on the track at the Indy 500 was the perfect middle to 13.1 miles.

As with every half marathon, I get a little sentimental about what shirt I will wear. The truth is that when the time came for Indianapolis, I just wasn’t quite sure. I packed 2 shirts we have received in previous half marathon’s this year….Charlotte (my favorite half marathon) and Nashville. There was something that just felt right about wearing the Nashville shirt in support of our friends and the recovery from flooding. I literally had my number pinned to the Charlotte shirt and was wearing it Saturday morning. But something kept drawing me back to the Nashville shirt. I made the change and I am so glad I did….

Around mile 4, I felt a tap on my shoulder and I turned to find a young lady asking if I ran in Nashville. Keep in mind, we are running while this conversation takes place (through winded breaths). I said “yes” and she went on to explain that she had too. She said that they needed our help and that if I knew any churches or people that could help to please spread the word. I explained that our church was working on a mission trip and love offering which we planned to do soon. I also explained that I had been working with Cross Point Church to coordinate our efforts. She said “That is my church”! She then thanked me and slowed back down and was gone.

There are 40,000 people that ran this race

I almost didn’t wear that shirt

In all those people, one simple shirt made a connection that I still can’t believe happened. She didn’t have to say anything. I didn’t have to wear that shirt. God coordinated all of those efforts. Who knew she attended Cross Point? How could she know I just talked to them this past week? I bet she has no idea that I just finished reading her Pastor’s new book (“Plan B” by Pete Wilson). God knew. I love when stuff like that happens.

As for the rest of the race, we entered the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at around mile 5 or 6. The next 2-plus miles were spent running on the same track that the NASCAR and Indy Car’s use for races. It was just what I needed to break up the long race and give me the lift I needed to really pick up my pace. The last 4 miles after that were a blur and before I knew it the race was over. We met up with all those that ran in the finishers area where I got to meet another new friend named Jeff. My wife and I loved this race.

Some “Thank You’s”

First I must thank Matt and Candace Nelson. Matt is a guy that I have had the privilege of meeting through this blog.  After meeting him in person, I am so honored that to call him friend. He and his wife Candance were kind enough to open their home and ran the race as well (Matt finished with an incredible 1:36!!!). They treated us so well considering we had never met in person. They have a beautiful home and family and I cannot wait to get to know them better. Matt has also been my official eyes and ears and sent me timely emails to remind me to get signed up before the race sold out. Heather and I are so appreciative. Words cannot express.

Secondly, I would like to thank my wife for joining me, encouraging me and supporting me throughout this journey. While I still have one more Half-Marathon to go (next weekend in Cleveland, Ohio), this final race we did together was just as great as the first 3 weeks ago. Our time together in the car rides and meeting new friends across the country has been so good for us. Running in Cleveland next weekend without her will be strange but I know they’ll be waiting on me at the finish. It will make every mile and moment worth the race to see them there.

Lastly, I would like to thank my in-laws for making all of this possible. For three straight weekends they cleared their calendars to support our crazy races. To leave town two of the three weeks and not be concerned about out children is such a blessing. We cannot thank you enough.

So there is it. 3 in 3 weekends and one more to go. Sunday’s race will be like none I have ever run. It will be the final race in something that I never really planned to do (4 in 4 weekends). It will be 13.1 miles of time to think about my Mom. We will honor her later that day with a memorial service in my hometown. I pray I honor her in the race but also as I run this race of life. I’m looking forward to the opportunity and cannot wait to roam the streets of a city I that will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s home.

Next Up – Cleveland Half-Marathon (May 16, 2010)