Monday, February 7, 2011

I Can Do Anything (My Marathon Experience)

May 17, 2010
Ogden Marathon 2010

My big marathon moment was finally here. Keith and I went up to Ogden the afternoon before to pick up my race bib and packet, along with my friend Jim and his daughter Emily's packets. We made arrangements to stay in the Comfort Inn in Layton, as most of the hotels in Ogden were filled. Gary would bring up the kids the morning of the race and meet Keith at Grandpa's house, then they'd all go to the finish line together. We enjoyed a carb loaded meal together that night at the Cracker Barrel. Jim and Emily were staying with his parents who also live in Layton. They stopped by the hotel that night and then they met us again early at 4:00 am when Keith took us all back to Ogden to make the shuttle that would drive us up canyon to the starting point above Huntsville.

Let me tell you a little bit about Jim. I first "met" him when I first started running and he would always wave to me while on his way to work. He's just a friendly guy to everyone he meets. He attends a different ward (church congregation) that meets in our building and he and I formally introduced ourselves after a while. I already thought of him as a good friend. Then, a few times we'd see each other out on the road while running. He's run 26 marathons, many of them with his 4 children. He encouraged me to run the Ogden marathon with him and his 23 year old daughter.

Jim is a big hearted and insightful man. I was impressed with his thoughtfulness in bringing extra hats and gloves for those of us that weren't quite as prepared for the cold wait at the starting field. He also taught me some other important lessons that day. Sensitive that I might be feeling a little apprehension when we were waiting on the bus to take us to the starting line, he said that I would be experiencing a lifetime in one day. Here's what he meant:

While driving through the darkness and waiting anxiously for the race to begin, I'd get a feeling of being in the pre-existence, feeling nervous and excited to begin my journey on this earth. Then, as we all lined up and took off, that would be our birth. We'd experience childhood; happy and giddy, and full of excitement as we were finally on our way. Adolescence and then adulthood hit toward the middle. It would get a little harder to keep going. Some of the people that we started out with on our journey would now became separated from us. We each would have to go on our own and find the inner strength to continue on alone. At about mile 20, we'd hit old age. Enduring to the end would really hit home. As we would see the finish line approaching, with all the encouraging cheers from loved ones and others who were waiting and so excited for our success, we would feel such joy and know that we made it. This mortal experience would finally be over. Crossing the finish line and receiving that medal would be like the Lord telling us, "Well done, Thou good and faithful servant." We would experience such deep satisfaction and relief that we accomplished what was required of us. Yes, this was a really good analogy that Jim shared with me, and was something that I thought about the whole time I was running.

My sister Felicia and friend Nathan also ran with us. We started out like gangbusters. Pretty soon, we started to separate. Emily, the young philly, was on fire and went on ahead. Felicia said she needed to go slow, as she was dealing with a pulled muscle. Jim stopped to "take a leak"off the side of the road, said that he'd catch up, and then a little later, I realized I couldn't go on without a potty stop. I hated that I had to do that. No time and too big of a line before the race began. When I came out of the port-a-potty, there was Jim waiting for me. Surprised, I told him that he didn't need to do that for me, but he very kindly reminded me that it's just a journey we needed to enjoy. He wasn't just focused on himself or his own performance.

We ran together for a while and I felt bad for him, as he was feeling pain in his rear end. We would walk and run for a while and finally, he said that I just needed to go on. I felt bad about leaving him. The same thing happened with Felicia, who caught up with me later. She also was having a hard time and needed to stretch. I knew how much I would appreciate running with them and feeling their support, but I realized that I now needed to pull the strength I had within myself and go on alone. I couldn't depend on anyone but me. Well, I turned on my music, took off like wildfire, and didn't stop until I reached the end.

I couldn't believe how much energy and power I felt. I was passing most people. I couldn't believe it. I felt like something was just pulling me along. I truly felt the thoughts and prayers that were going on right then on my behalf. I remembered what another runner friend wrote on my Facebook the day before: stay within yourself and have fun. That helped me. I wanted to enjoy the experience, my body, and the gorgeous surroundings. You couldn't have asked for a more beautiful, perfect day. It was such a relief, as we'd had rain the night before.

As I got closer to the end, I worried about hitting the notorious "Wall". The feeling that you just can't keep going. Do you know what? I never really experienced that. I think because I kept drinking and using my GU, it made all the difference. I can't tell you how uplifting it was for me to see all the people cheering and encouraging us from the sidelines. When I hit the mouth of the canyon, I really felt close to all my grandparents who lived their lives in this very town. I knew that they were carrying me along. Most of all, the love of the Lord, His grace and strengthening influence that I felt even through such exhaustion and excursion gave me an inner peace to keep on going in such a miraculous, astounding way.

As I got closer to the finish line, I saw Nathan, and decided that I was going to turn on my jets and beat him. I smiled as I passed him by. That was sweet. Pretty soon, I looked behind and saw that he was pulling in close to my tail. Then, I heard the wonderful, familiar shout of "Mom!!" from my family and I called out that I loved them. Tears were starting to flow. Sprinting with all the strength I had, Nathan and I crossed the finish line together, after 4 hours and 16 minutes of running. We had done it.

There, as they all gathered around me, I said that I felt like I can do anything. I really can. If I could complete this great goal, something that I thought was unimaginable and unattainable, it helps me realize that there really is nothing in this world that is not out of my reach. It takes constant, daily effort and work. It takes determination and courage. It takes sacrifice and pain. Most of all, nothing of worth comes without faith and trust and hope in the love of our Heavenly Father and knowing that it is only through His mercy and will, that good things can be brought to pass in our lives. I've learned that and so much more about what I'm truly capable of and the strength I have inside. I wish everyone could experience a marathon and feel these things for themselves.

After pictures, and some delicious fruit and a much needed trip to the bathroom (I was in such a La-La land state of mind that I didn't lock the door and someone walked in on me with my pants down. I didn't even care at that point.) we headed over to Grandpa's where I took a long, hot shower. I just sat down on the floor and stayed there, relishing the warm water flowing all over my beyond- exhausted body.

Collapsing on the couch, I found myself even too tired to sleep. I was in a Zen state, for sure.
I knew that the kids were hungry, so I gathered myself up and we all headed over to the Chuck-a-Rama in Bountiful for a celebratory meal. I'm telling you, food never tasted so good.

Today, my legs are still a little sore and it takes me a little while to get down the stairs. I'm just so happy and satisfied.

I haven't left cloud nine.


  1. Thanks for sharing your marathon experience. When I think of myself preparing to do this in a few years--I'm giving myself 2 years to prepare--I can't think of anything better. I love the analogy from your friend Jim. That's going to help me immensely as I do this.

  2. yep, if you can run a marathon - truly - you can do anything!!

  3. What a beautiful way to describe a marathon! I am glad you took so much of that experience to help you for life! I have a pretty good idea of the sacrifice involved and I am in awe of you!

  4. Thanks for sharing !
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