It’s been a while since I’ve written and it’s all because I have been waiting for that unique, original, perfect, title for this next post and here ya go, what do you think?
In my last post I talked a lot about fear and my upcoming marathon. It’s now been a little over two months and of course the marathon has come and passed. I bet all of you loyal readers (all 6 of you, thanks Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, cashier lady at the grocery store, and mailman.) have been wondering how it went? Right? Well I finished, my knee gave me no problems at all, and in all seriousness I am grateful and blessed to have been able to have finished. Not only did I finish, I didn’t collapse at the finish line although I did get pretty close. I can picture all of you (Mom, Dad, Grandma, etc… hunkered over your computer faces inches from the monitor waiting for me to post the extremely interesting stats from the aforementioned marathon.) Well here ya go…
1st in my age group*
* There was a total of 1 runner in my age group.
There were a total of 18 participants, and I came in 8th.
My time was 4:33:10.
And if you can’t tell, I’m the handsome fellow in the back, not the one with the bright green hair.
So I’ve been anxious to share my marathon story for months and my time has finally come, and here it is in all of it’s glorious details. (minus most of them)
So the morning of the marathon I show up at 7:45 am, about 15 minutes early. There’s a very small group of people huddled around a couple of small fires at the park shelter where the marathon starts. It’s a very quiet and relaxed, not really many people jogging around to warm up or stretching, everyone was just trying to keep warm. All 18 runners lined up at the starting line, pictured below (photo taken prior to race day),
At the starting line they let us know that the Shotgun was at the start line for the half marathon (our halfway/turn around point) so we would have to make our own bang noise. So right at 8 all of 18 of us yelled bang and took off running.
I’m not going to bore you with all the details but I have a few highlights to share. First of all, my playlist…
For quite a while I had decided against running with music and wanted to be able to hear and focus on everything around me. About 2 days before the race I changed my mind. So what was on my playlist? The Decemberists, Sigur Ros, and LDS General Conference. Yeah, quite the mix. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the first two bands on the playlist you definitely need to check out the Decemberists and Sigur Ros, great running music.
And LDS General Conference, is a collection of religious talks that are given twice yearly by leaders of my church. I know, kind of odd for running a marathon to, but I had some reasoning behind this. In my last post I spoke a lot about my fear of whether or not I would be able to finish this marathon. Even a week prior to the marathon my IT Band had been giving me a lot of problems. This marathon had become very important to me and I was so worried that I would not be able to finish. These religious talks tend to focus on serving others, strengthening family, and drawing closer to Jesus Christ. I felt that if I listened to these it would help take my mind off of my worries about my knee and myself and help me get through the first half (a very tough first half) of this marathon.
Well it worked, and I spent the first 8 miles of the marathon running just behind a runner from Star Valley Wyoming. She had family that would follow her and every mile they would get out of their car, cheer for her, and hurry and drive up to the next mile. I liked to pretend they were cheering for me and I like to think that a few times maybe they were. At mile 9 I passed this lady (all credit goes to the porta potty that distracted her) and hit the tough stretch of the marathon. Miles 10 -13 were a nice, steep, uphill stretch, and they really tired me out.
I need to point out, before I go any farther, that the halfway point for the marathon was also a turnaround point/starting line for the Half Marathon, and while there were only 18 participants in the Marathon there were at least several hundred runners in the half marathon.
My goal was to reach the halfway point at about the time the half marathon started (2 hours and 10 minutes after my start). Well that is exactly what happened but I quickly realized this wasn’t a good idea. I rounded the turn in the road and about 100 yards away was the start line and my turn around point. There I was, one person, running straight towards a crowd of 300+ runners, all waiting for one little signal to go charging down a hill as fast as they can. I got about 100 feet from them and the gun went off. I QUICKLY realized exactly how bad of an idea it was to keep running the direction I was. I yelled out a couple of quick sorrys to those who were about to trample me did a 360 faster than Michael Jackson and headed back down for the second half of my marathon.
It was nice to be running with a crowd now and I saw a few people that I knew. Things were going fairly smooth and I tried to take advantage of the downhill. I thought a bit about the wall as I neared mile 20. I had never ran farther than 22 miles and was wondering what it might feel like, if and when I hit it. Well at mile 23 I passed the table of temptation. This was a special aid station with an assortment of goodies such as pickles, oreos, licorice, twinkies (If only I had known I would have partaken), jolly ranchers, ding dongs, etc etc. I had a nice cup of water at this table, although the nice volunteer lady mistakenly tried to give me Jack & Coke two different times.
About mile 24 I had to walk. I was so ready to be done, so I walked, and then every couple of minutes I would run for a minute and then walk some more. Finally I came up to the final hill before the finish line and I started running again. (Well, I guess you could call it running), I saw my family and friends there to cheer me on and I finally crossed the finish line. I had done it and I felt ummmm… great. Yeah, I think that’s the word for it. Oh and exhausted, slightly disoriented, very hungry, and that sun in the sky was about 3 times brighter than it’s seemed before.
But really I felt awesome!! I was so excited and grateful for what I had just done. Couch to marathon in 9 months. 🙂
So what did I learn from all this? It took me a few months but as I was talking about this later on I realized the big lesson I learned from my whole marathon experience. From the time I hurt my IT Band back in the middle of September up until the day of the marathon, I had been scared and worried about what I may or may not be able to accomplish. This fear did nothing to help me. Even during my taper I still had some knee pain and felt worried about what I would be able to do. But at that start line I started my playlist and started running. The first two hours of that marathon were spent listening to inspired men speak about serving others, bettering self, and drawing closer to Christ. Instead of worrying about my knee I just listened and ran.
Reflecting on that later, I realized it’s just like life. As we go through this brand new year who knows what we will face. There will be joy and sorrow, trials and blessings, tragedy and triumph. But chances are it won’t always be easy. But, when the times get tough, if instead of worrying, fretting, being scared, or losing hope, if we look outside ourselves and look towards serving others and drawing closer to Christ we will make it through ANYTHING that life brings to us. It might be the longest 26 miles of our lives but we will find ourselves on the other side exhausted, tired, hungry, and feeling so grateful that we made it.