13.1 fun run

The Southern Utah Half Marathon began with waking up at 5am to load onto a sticky elementary school bus where we were shuttled to a starting line and relieved ourselves in mass portapotties, then shivered and jumped around waiting for the race to start only to begin running as thick raindrops started to splatter our faces. What about that doesn’t sound fun?!

FullSizeRender(4)Kay, that may have been how the race started, but I honestly have to say, this race was an absolute BLAST!

Luckily the rain only lasted for about the first two miles of the race. And when it was raining, I actually didn’t mind because I love the smell of rain on asphalt! And, because it rained, the race was nice and cool the whole way! I know I was getting an awesome workout, but I honestly didn’t feel sweat anywhere except on my forehead, under my visor! It was the perfect temperature for running a half marathon!

Chad and I ran together for 10.5 of the 13.1 miles. I was honestly surprised he ran with me and so glad he did. We had a really nice time jogging through some amazing red rock scenery! The path was seriously so pretty as it winded along the Virgin River in St. George. We were surrounded by beautiful red rocks and greenery, and sometimes sleepy cows. We saw hawks looking for breakfast and little birds flying in and out of mud nests snuggled in the red rocks. Besides the awesome scenery, the race was all downhill! The air smelled so nice and clean! OH, and it was easier to breathe, being at a much lower elevation than Salt Lake City.It was the perfect first half marathon!

Chad and I also loved looking at all the people running with us. It was pure people-watching-entertainment. People of all different shapes, sizes, ages, and backgrounds were loping along the trail (we saw a girl as young as 10 and a man at least 70). I spent the last four months training by myself for this race and suddenly I felt this camaraderie with all these other people who had done the same; and here we were, together at last!

As we ran, I felt so happy! I was having so much fun!

At about mile 8 my knee started screaming at me and I felt a little worried I wouldn’t be able to run through it. (Downhill is apparently super hard on knees and I had developed runner’s knee problems as a result of my training). I had anticipated this could happen and so I slowed down for about a mile and tried to stretch and just keep going. Gratefully, my knee stopped screaming and resorted to quietly complaining, which allowed me to push through it and even increase my speed. At the end of the race, I was running 8:30 min/miles!

I finished the race in two hours and six minutes, averaging 9:41 min/miles. Not too shabby! Chad finished just about two minutes ahead of me. I was super proud of myself as I sprinted across the finish line! I felt elated and was surprised that I physically felt really good! Except that I wanted to throw up because I ran the last mile so fast. I had to concentrate to not throw up on the little twelve-year-old boy who put a medal around my neck. But the nausea passed pretty quickly and I just couldn’t wipe my stupid grin off my face!

IMG_6517 IMG_6518And of course we took lots of photos!

IMG_6523 IMG_6524I ran this race with zero expectations and only the wish to cross the finish line! This was so fun, I think I’ll definitely do it again! Chad and I are already talking about when to run another half-marthon and what time we want to shoot for (we both want to see if we can run it under 2 hours the next time).

My mom came down to St. George with us to cheer us on and she was great company on the four hour car ride from and to SLC. (Thanks Mom!) When we got home, I felt exhausted, but was excited to see my girls! They seemed less enthused to see me, however, as I guess they were having a grand-ol-time with our babysitter. I was slightly hurt by their rebuffs of my affection, but grateful that their lackluster greeting is implicit permission for more overnight get-aways!

So, in conclusion, this was a really FUN experience, a great achievement, and awesome date with my favorite person. Now to set a new goal…

But perhaps I’ll wait until after I get the results from the biopsy of my thyroid tomorrow to set that goal…I’ll give an update when I know if I have thyroid cancer or not. Right now I’m still riding the high of this awesome 13.1 mile fun run!


Three years feels different

FullSizeRender(1)Yesterday we passed Charlie’s three year angelversary. This year’s angelversary felt different. The last two angelversaries, I’ve had this frenetic energy and need to fill up the day with activities to make it “meaningful.” While my desire to pass the day in a meaningful way, was authentic, I think it also signified serious avoidance and a need to do whatever I had to in order to survive the day emotionally.

This year our house was plagued by an awful cold. Every single one of us has been mowed down by this chest and sinus infection. When I first became sick, I had an internal tantrum, screaming, “Seriously?! Of all weeks?! I do not need this!” Then, I thought about a mantra one of my friends told me a long time ago (I’m sure I’ll paraphrase it wrong): Believe that everything that happens to me is for my ultimate well-being. Great idea in theory; harder to apply in reality. But I decided to apply this mantra to being sick. So I stopped fighting and reframed the sickness as an opportunity to be present and mindful. I abandoned any ideas to fill Charlie’s day with activities.

Instead we mostly spent a quiet day spent at home. And I think that was perfect for us. Despite being sick, I didn’t feel the frenetic energy or need to make the angelversary into an event in order to mark it and survive it. It felt good to just be quiet and reflect.

Emotionally the day was sad and of course I cried. But this sadness felt different from before. It wasn’t a suffocating, dark sadness. It was just plain, unadulterated sad. And the difference felt really nice. I think it feels easier because I’m in a place where I’m ok and I knew the day would pass and I’d continue to be ok. It’s not like the early days of grief when grief waves bowl you over and leave you panicked, stricken and gasping for air. Either the waves aren’t as big anymore or I’ve developed muscles to remain standing when the waves strike, or both.

So I felt I was in a place where I could just be with whatever presented itself to me that day. And the day wasn’t bad. I enjoyed the quiet and welcomed whatever feelings I needed to experience. In many ways, yesterday was peaceful.

We had a family picnic with Charlie and sent balloons to heaven.

FullSizeRenderThe rest of the day involved lots of snuggles and naps and just being together.

Three years later it’s amazing to reflect on where we’ve come. In one way, I don’t think I felt the frenetic energy about this day because I no longer need this day to mark Charlie’s life or passing. I feel I have internalized him into my very being. I really do carry him with me, always. He informs my intentions, motivations, desires, beliefs, and spirituality. I may come across as normal now, but I’m not normal. I’m in a good place but I am irrevocably changed. And I’m glad for that change. I still feel pain, anger, confusion, and sadness and have more grief work to do. But I also hug my children more fiercely, I live more intentionally, I see beauty more profoundly, I experience gratitude more easily, I breathe more deeply, and experience the world with different eyes. I am grateful that Charlie gave me that gift.