So why 6 long years?
Between sickness, lack of registration money, and having babies, I haven't been able to do it until this year. I was a little nervous because I knew the course was more challenging than any other races I've done, but I sucked it up and forced myself to train on hilly routes. In the process I have learned to not hate hills so much and have built running strength I've never had before.
But let's back up a little bit....
Remember the disastrous half marathon I did while pregnant with Brynlie? The one that left me hyperventilating in tears and pain? The one where I was waiting for the next aid station so I could quit until my mom talked me into finishing? The one that left me in horrific pain my entire pregnancy?
I'm not really being dramatic or joking when I say I think that race caused a little traumatic damage to my brain. It ruined running for me. I was scared to death to race again for the fear of that happening again. Each painful run I tried to take after having Brynlie only made it worse. I have never experienced pain that severe before (during that race) and I didn't think the remaining ligament pain was ever going to go away.
Thankfully with time and lots of strength training, I've been able to overcome the ligament issue for the most part. Occasionally it hurts but overall things feel back to normal. I've felt like I've had a vendetta against running that needed to be cured. I needed to find my love and drive for it again.
I set some fitness goals for this year just for myself. I want to prove to my body that it is capable of doing anything and overcoming difficulties. I can say those goals have made my mental strength rock solid!
I registered for Salt Lake almost 6 months ago. I trained. I ran. I learned how to push farther when my mind told me to quit. I felt ready to eat the course up and spit it back out again. I've never been a fast runner, so I didn't have a goal time in mind. I just wanted to do my best and finish strong. The main reason for being drawn to this particular race was the chance to run along side marathoners for the first 9 miles and for the experience. It's Salt Lake's official race, and I feel like as a Utah native, it's kind of required at some point.
I was feeling pumped and ready to take it on when the Tuesday before race day I started getting sick. I freaked out! I immediately started pumping my body full of vitamins and teas and any and all kinds of home remedies people swear by to try and kick it. I also had Cory give me a blessing. But I never got better. Instead I got worse. My throat hurt and ached like crazy and I had a bad cough and the usual sick-exhaustion. Normally with respiratory illness I stop exercising completely. But I had waited 6 freaking years! I didn't want to wait any longer!
Race day morning I didn't feel any better. I hadn't slept well because K had now caught my illness and was up several times coughing and crying. My voice was disappearing and it kind of hurt to talk. I said a huge prayer that I would be able to race and headed out the door at 5:15 am with my carpool. I kept repeating the phrase "mind over matter" while sipping preworkout (something I usually never take before a run but I needed all the energy I could get) and eating my breakfast. I. Could. Do. This.
I was nervous and excited and just wanted to make it to the finish without it being a traumatic disaster. My racing moral needed this to be a good experience. The second the gun went off, I suddenly felt my lungs clear and the adrenaline rush through my veins. It was literally amazing. I kind of froze in shock for a moment and then started running.
I started out really well and in the first mile was already tearing up because I knew I was experiencing a miracle. I felt like my sickness had been removed just for the race. I felt promptings of when to take my energy gels and shot bloks, which were not at the usual times I would have taken them. I really felt like the Holy Ghost was my running coach, telling me what my body needed before I ever realized it needed it.
I knew miles 5-7 were gradual uphill and I had trained and prepared for that. When we approached mile 5, I felt my legs fatigue quicker than they normally do and I slowed my pace down to avoid killing myself off. Mentally this started to discourage me until I looked up and saw a familiar face! A guy I grew up with in my neighborhood and his wife were standing there along the course watching for someone else, but seeing them and waving and getting excited helped me push it to the end of the uphill. Again, another blessing.
There's not much to talk about for the rest of the race. I walked through every water station so I could drink my water and keep my throat wet and not trigger a coughing fit. The encouragements and shouts of the volunteers helped me pick back up and keep going until the next aid station. The people who donated their time to come out and cheer us on were so touching, and there were a lot of cool drummers, screamers, and even people who used their own money to buy things to hand out to runners. One guy even had free beer shots haha.
I got to run through iconic areas of Salt Lake City that I've always wondered what it would be like to run through. The race went by pretty quickly and my time was better than expected. Not great, but not totally terrible considering how sick I was. I got emotional at the end seeing Cory and my babies cheering me on. It was the first race I've done where I've had enough energy to sprint to the finish line, and it didn't completely wipe me out like all the other halfs I've done did. That gave me great hope for my running stamina. Especially since I was sick!
I was so glad I was able to participate and finish it in good spirits. I am incredibly grateful that Heavenly Father blessed me to get me through it. I never coughed once the whole race. That's kind of a big deal.
About an hour after the race my symptoms returned full force and now Kennedy and I are battling this stupid illness with hoarse voices and barking-seal coughs. She's actually coughing so hard it's making her throw up. Fun!
Anyway, it was a fantastic race and one I will always remember. It was a really cool experience for me.
I'm a sucker for a good race medal and these were awesome. Loved them!