Groggy-eyed and weary, I climbed out of bed after my mom gently woke me up from a mere 5 hours of sleep on Saturday morning at 4:00am. My body certainly didn't feel rested and the thought of returning to my bed after quietly brushing my teeth and changing into my running clothes was all too appealing. Nevertheless, I made my bed, grabbed my shoes, filled up my water bottle, and headed out the door with my mom. She drove while I flipped through upbeat oldie songs on my ipod and tried to jam out and keep us awake as we wound our way through the dark turns of Logan Canyon.
The hour and a half drive from our cabin to the starting line seemed to take forever as my anticipation mounted. Once we arrived by the finish line, we parked our car as close as we could to where the buses pick up the thousands of crazy runners just like us. Tired and hungry, we each stuffed a Cliff Bar into our mouths as we made our way past the lines to the buses to pick up our race packets. We evaluated the goods of our packets, attached our bib numbers, made a quick bathroom stop, and then joined the line to board the buses. The short ride up the canyon to the starting line was over too quickly and then the waiting game began as we stood outside in the frigid morning air debating which clothing items we would ditch in the clothing bus and which items we would be willing to wrap around our waists as we ran. We hit the bathroom lines two more times, just to be safe, and then headed up to the start line right before 7:00am.
The space around us became densely packed with people talking loudly with excitement, adjusting their ipods and head phones, and jumping up and down to keep their legs warm. My mom turned to me and said, "Good luck, see you at the bottom," and before I knew it, the gun had gone off and everybody was moving. We were off, ready to conquer the next 13.1 miles of road before us like the crazy people we are.
Despite my hip problems, I kept a great pace-- faster than my mom even-- for the first 6 miles; but by the time I passed the second water station, my mom had passed me up and my mind was completely focused on working through the pain of my grinding hip to keep my feet moving forward. Although the sporadic rain and cloud cover kept the temperatures pleasant, my pain made me want to give up at times. By mile 9, I had to stop for a bathroom break, stretch, and give my hip a minute to rest. The pain seemed to be worse than ever before, but I knew that my pace had been good and I was making my best time ever; I knew I had to push through to make my goal. Starting back into a running step was hard after my pit stop was difficult, but one of the good things about a race is that the people around you are there to encourage you. If I walk for a second, there is always someone there to come along and give you the motivation to pick up the pace once again.
By mile 11, all I could think was, "2 more miles, then my hip can break if it wants. Just keep going until then." Once mile 13 came along, I could see the finish line in the distance and my adrenaline kicked in like clockwork. A half a mile out from the finish, I saw my mom running towards me. She had finished already, but had come back to encourage me along. Once we got to the side barriers where the road is packed with race watchers, my mom ducked off the path to let me cross the finish line. A woman running next to me said that we should dig deep and sprint across, so we accelerated our footfalls, matched our rhythm, and ran towards the line like our lives depended on it. We crossed the line with smiles on our faces and then proceeded to hug like we were old friends; congratulating one another on reaching our goal and fighting through the pain. Once our medals had been placed around our necks, we said goodbye and parted ways.
(I do not own this picture, it is a screen shot of an official race photo)
I wen to find my mom and together we joined the other tired runners as the kind volunteers served us Great Harvest Bread, chocolate milk, and fruit. Food always tastes better after running 13.1 miles.
After checking our times to confirm that we had both done our best, my mom and I picked up our clothing bags and headed out. I was proud to have finished my third half-marathon, and my mom was proud to have beat her slower paces of recent years past. It was an excellent morning.
Due to the unfortunate state of the weather, we were unable to water ski upon our return to the cabin like we normally do. I am fully convinced that the best way to recover from a long run is to jump in the cold lake water and make use of a whole different set of muscles by water skiing and surfing all afternoon. This year was the first time I have ever been sore after a race and I know it must be because I was stuck inside all day long after the race.
Luckily, thanks to the generosity of my mom, my soreness was awarded with my favorite frosted cake as part of a late birthday celebration. I love Marzipan frosting! Eating a large slice of cake while watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with so many of the people I love was a great way to end my birthday week.
I endured the pain, and I have to say, I gained enough to make it worth it. Pride in a new self record, time with my mom, time with my family, and freaking Marzipan cake! Well worth it.