Saturday, March 23, 2013
I ran a 1/2 Marathon this morning.
Before I post my time, I have to reiterate. I am not a runner. In 2004 after running my 2nd 1/2 marathon, I was told by my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapists that I should never run again. My IT bands were shot and my knees in general were a mess. I could elect for surgery or leave them alone and not run any more. My super awesome therapists worked with me for weeks getting me back to normal walking.
I woke up one morning last fall from a very vivid dream of me running...far. I got straight up from bed, threw on some sweats and a t-shirt and from my front door, ran 3 miles without stopping, no problem. When the Zion Half Marathon came across my Facebook feed shortly after that, I decided I needed to run this because we hike so much in Zion, it's my park, my back yard and my stomping ground. I needed to see it differently. I deserved to see it differently. I signed up, because the slogan said, "Run where you play." I still felt motivated by my dream of running that I thought I could actually do this.
Also during this time, I participated with Leanne in the Ragnar Trail Experiment, which ended with the two of us coming home early due to weather but haven given it our best shot. I ran enough to be reminded, I'm still not a runner, but maybe with some training, I could do this.
I never ran again until early January. I ran 5 miles a couple of times. Not fast, but not stopping. And then, I never ran again. One of the gals I hike with, Melanie, signed up for the run with her daughter. I knew she was running and she was getting ready for the big day. This added to my anxiety about participating because I just knew I wouldn't be able to finish or would come in after the cut off time of 3 hours due to my lack of training.
This week, with the race looming in my mind, I decided to withdraw. I even attempted to give away my bib to someone else. Yesterday I drove to Zion to pick up my packet...I mean, I might as well...in it was the t-shirt that I'd paid for. While driving I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the beauty that I see every day here. I decided to leave myself open to the possibility of running today. I texted Melanie with my doubts and concerns and all she said was, "see you tomorrow morning!" She was having nothing of my fears and insecurities. And so, at midnight, I laid out a few clothes and set my alarm clock assuming I would end up going. I was wide awake at 3:15 am, so nervous that I nearly made myself sick.
The thought kept coming to me, "You'll regret NOT doing this more than you'll regret doing it."
Sometime before bed, Mom texted me to let me know that she was planning on me running and that she would meet me out at the finish line. Text her if I slept in to let her know I wasn't going, but she knew I would.
I got dressed and left. No preparation. No special meal or meal plans. No weeks of training. No tapering. No special shoes, other than my 2 year old cheapie Nikes. Nothing. Only a prayer that I would enjoy the day.
I headed out to Virgin, UT in pitch blackness with my car nearly veering off the highway several times due to the winds. When I pulled into the field at the start line, I got out briefly and my breath was literally taken from me with the freezing wind. I ducked right back into the car and turned it back on for heat. And I waited for an hour for the race to begin.
(Break in the story.) I have been typing this post for 3 days now. I think it about it all the time but just can't seem to translate those thoughts to my fingers to type.
(Back to the story.)
Long story short...the gun went off...I took off running with the wind taking my breath from me until the sun rose 10 minutes later.
I will say this:
I ran with a permanent grin on my face the entire time. I think every person I came in contact with, I tapped them and smiled and every single one of them looked at me like I was crazy. I WAS crazy. It was so much fun. Honestly, I felt so much better than I expected to feel. I had a plan, jog on the flat stretches, run downhill and walk uphill. That worked very well for me until I hit a major hill at mile-marker 11 coming in to Springdale and once I crested the top, my body said, "no way". I downed a package of sports jelly belly's and in about 20 minutes...just in time for the last mile, my energy came back up. I crossed the finish line at:
The cutoff for this run was 3 hours. I made it with 12 minutes to spare. I averaged 12 1/2 minute miles, which I know would have been better if I hadn't walked almost the entire 12th mile.
And even in spite of my left foot hurting a bit, I still had that cheesy grin on my face the entire time.
The best part was seeing my Mom waiting for me at the finish line. I went straight over to her hugged her and starting crying. I honestly saw the day as a metaphor for my life on earth. The road is rough with twists and turns and hills..with challenges and obstacles... so is life. There is beauty everywhere in everything, so it is with life. And running 13.1 miles is hard. It's harder for some than others and what is challenging for some, might not be for others. Life is hard. And in the end, it doesn't matter who gets there first as much as matters finishing...enduring to the end. And then, when you cross that finish line, in spite of being exhausted and in pain, you are greeted by your loved ones who are your biggest cheerleaders. And the pain, is gone. And it's all good. Life is good, even though it's really painful, it's good. And all pains...mental, physical and spiritual will all be swept away when we cross our last finish line and collapse into the arms of those who love us and are waiting for us.
I guess for me, it was just an amazing experience that I will cherish forever. I felt alive. I felt so grateful for my earthly tabernacle that allowed me the miracle of movement over miles of incredible landscape, among comrades and fellow travelers, all with the same mission, goal and purpose of finishing the race.
And I have no regrets. I hope when I cross my final 'finish line', I will be able to say the same thing. I don't even care that a woman half my age was already crossing the finish line as I was hitting my 7th mile. That was her experience. I was involved in my own experience. I am living my own life, not competing to live another's life.
Will I do it again?
I pretty well described on Facebook how running for me is like childbirth. Eventually, I may forget the bad and decide to do it again. But right now it's too soon to ask.
One thing is for sure...I'm grateful for friends and family who support me in all that I do. Thank you Mom and Melanie for encouraging and uplifting me. We all need each other in this life's race.
I still don't love running, but I love what it's taught me.
Subscription Updated by Cheryl Kanenwisher at 6:31 PM