As soon as I found out the Ogden Marathon was going to be on my 30th Birthday, I just KNEW I had to run it! Ogden was my favorite race--great volunteers, well organized, beautiful course, perfect time of year! So I signed up a good 6 months in advance. Good thing too, since it filled up so quickly this year.
I started training in the winter with a pretty good running base. But it was about mid-January, when I started running further AND trying to increase my speed all at once, that I began feeling pain in my left knee. It quickly turned from a nagging ache to a sharp, stabbing pain that forced me to stop completely. It got to the point that I couldn't run more than 2 miles without stopping. It was SO extremely frustrating. I knew my weeks were limited and that I couldn't just wait it out for several months while waiting for my knee to heal. The hardest part for me was that I felt so confused. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on what would help, or who to see. Rest it. Don't rest it. Ice it. Heat it. Stretch it. I was afraid to try anything because I just wasn't sure what would help and what would hurt it more.
But I'm so blessed to have a good, loving husband who gave me some wise counsel. After complaining through tears, he gently suggested that I just do all the things I know I should be doing (staying hydrated, warming up and cooling down, stretching, icing it consistently, etc.) and, with a little rest, see if that would help.
During this time, I'd also been struggling emotionally. I felt overwhelmed with my life in general. I felt that there was just way more to get done than I had the time to do. I felt so stretched, that I was doing so many things, but not doing any of them well. Not being able to run (which is such a stress-reliever for me) didn't help. It was around this same time that I was reading an article in the Ensign magazine about being Spiritually prepared. As I read, Vince's words came back to me: "Are you staying hydrated, warming up, stretching consistently? Are you doing those things you know will keep your knee healthy?" And I thought about how I'd been doing spiritually. The words came clear into my mind: "Are you reading your scriptures, praying, attending the Temple consistently? Are you doing those things you know will keep your Spirit healthy?" It was a huge moment for me. I know there is a strong connection between my physical and spiritual well-being. And I know that even though my problems with my knee didn't matter to my eternal well-being, because it mattered so much to ME now, I knew it mattered to my Heavenly Father. I knew it was important to Him because it was important to me.
So I began stretching and drinking more water. I also began praying more fervently and consistently. I originally thought it would be ONE key event, and my knee would be "fixed." But I began to see this as a process. I realized that it probably wouldn't click and be healed, that I'd probably have to baby it and work on it all along the way, and that I would still feel it, but that it would be manageable enough that I could run.
I had lots of thoughts of giving up. Maybe this was a sign that my body wasn't ready for a marathon right now. Maybe it was too much too soon. But I wanted this SO much! After all, this was MY marathon! This was my birthday gift to myself.
I've spent most of my life looking ahead to being a young, married mom. I'd always longed for the days that I'd have babies and start to raise them. I never really looked beyond that. (Who knows, maybe no one does.) I think turning 30, even though it's just a number, forced me to see beyond that. Once I get comfortable in a situation, I'm usually content to stay there. Why change if things are good? It's hard for me to step out into the unknown. Getting old seems so unknown to me!! And I know 30 isn't old. But it's made me realize that changes are ahead. And I hate change. So I wanted so much to run this as a celebration of my 30 years! Rather than mourn the loss of my youth, I wanted to celebrate what I've done, where I've been, and how I've lived!
These were the thoughts I took with me to the starting line.
The day started bright and early. (Well, actually DARK and early. Way too early.) I met my good friend, Heidi (pictured at the end in yellow) at 4:30am and we were able to load on the buses and take the long ride up to the start together. It's so fun to be in her company. She's upbeat and has a wonderful perspective on life. I love chatting with her. We huddled as close to the fires as we dared, trying to keep our muscles semi-warm. I was lucky enough to run with her for the first couple of miles, until she bolted ahead for her big finish.
Those first miles flew by so quickly! I was trying to suck in all the beauty of every mile. It's fun to see all those runners; I wondered what each of their stories were. I wondered at the lady who had pictures of a woman and the words, "Running for Robin" on her back. I wondered at the woman who was running for Huntsman Cancer research, whose note on her back said that one year ago today she was diagnosed with cancer, and here, today, was running for her own cause. I wondered at the couple who ran (and walked) hand-in-hand for much of the race. I wondered at the couple who carried the flags all 26.2 miles. Actually, I wondered enough to ask them. This was their 10th year running with the flags! How cool is that? I loved listening to the stories of the first-timers, and I tried to give them encouragement and told of my first experience, and how much I love marathons! All these helped me remember why I do this.
I wish I could say it was all easy and enjoyable. It wasn't. Inevitably my legs got tired, then sore, then fatigued, then painful! But I love that when it got really tough, I'd see a gorgeous bird, or a sparkling lake, or get a downhill section to help kick me past the hard spots. And if there wasn't something to distract me, that's when my thoughts would turn to my parents, siblings, friends, in-laws, Vince & my kids to help me through. I knew they were cheering me on and had faith in me to see this through. It helped so much to have Vince & Rachel jog along with me at the halfway mark. It was so good to see them and help me transition to OVER halfway there!
I found it interesting that the hard sections came at different points for me this time than the last time I ran Ogden. It was the hardest from about miles 10-12. And then again from 14-17. But once I got to the dam, I felt great! I started to pick up speed again. The last 4 miles, though, were really rough, whereas last time I finished strong. But this time I was tired and ready to be done. I first thought that I'd at the very least, be able to break 5 hours. I missed it by 3 minutes. :( But I was okay with that, all things considered. Plus it gives me another goal to shoot for next time!
But this race was a real emotional one for me. I spent a lot of those hours and hours reflecting on how blessed my life is. I was so grateful that my prayers were answered, that my knee healed so well that I could run! I thought a lot about these last 30 years. I thought about my childhood, and how simple and fun life was then. I thought about my adolescence, and my childhood friends. I thought about getting married and how blessed I am to have found Vince. I thought about my kids and how wonderful they are and how much I need my family. And it hit me over and over again how incredibly lucky I am! I have been given so much! It has been a wonderful 30 years. And yet I still have so much more to look forward to.
When I finally reached that last long stretch to the finish line, feeling so grateful, I couldn't help but spill out all those emotions when I saw Vince, & my sister, & sisters-in-law & their husbands, & my dear friend, Vanasa there cheering for me! And I thought of how far I'd really come getting to this point. Not just getting to this point in the race (which was a huge relief), but in getting to this point in my life. Things aren't perfect, and never will be in this life, but they are so, so good. And I am happy.