Monday, March 10, 2008

I run for Life!

What a great weekend. The kids and I drove up to Moab and met Shon (who was coming back from a conference in Orlando), so I could run the Canyonlands Half Marathon. It was great! This is something I've been working on for a while. Let me tell you about it.
One of my goals last year was to run 3 miles without stopping. That was a difficult goal for me. I was overweight and I couldn't even run 1 mile, better yet 3! I found a trail near my house that was exactly 1 mile, where no one would see me and I ran it over and over. I called the professionals (Weight Watchers) and lost 30 lbs, in addition to the 20 I lost on my own. Finally, last November, I ran my three miles. I felt invincible!

One of the things that kept me from running is that there just wasn't a convenient time. There is a group of ladies in my ward who run every morning, before the crack of dawn. I invited myself/they invited me to join them. It was the best motivator for me to get up early in the morning. (Y'all know I'm a sleepy head!) We did about 5 miles three times a week. It was a long cold winter, but knowing someone was expecting me there at 5:45, snow or rain, helped me get there. There were days when we ran in the snow and the sub zero temperatures. I tried to get a picture of the icicles on my eye lashes one morning. Don't you love my reflective vest?! Stylin'! I have to say that I really learned to love running in the quiet of the morning, and I even like the snow. Annie, Stephanie, and Debbie, you are the best. I couldn't have done it without you.

Saturdays we ran long. Some of them were hard, some were fun. One Saturday the dirt road we ran on had turned to mud. We jokingly called it our triathlon since half the time we were swimming. Then we ran into a heard of sheep - which wouldn't have been a big deal if there hadn't been big dogs and a sheep Herder with a gun. Oh, so much fun.
When I was 25 I visited a rheumatologist who told me I have ankylosing spondylitis. I asked her what that meant as far as exercising, and she said "you probably won't be running any marathons." I took that as a challenge. Someday I probably won't be able to run anymore. At least I can say that I tried. I feel better now than I ever have.
I have the greatest cheer leaders. Debbie and Dave (Shon's parents) and Becki and Ethan came all the way from Salt Lake to support me. Thanks guys. It means a lot to me. Becki helped my kids make these posters.

The race was fabulous. 4000 people had to catch a bus down the canyon along the Colorado River. The funniest thing to me was the lines to the bathroom. They were so long. Most of the men headed to the boulders on the hill. I'll take the pot-o-gold, thanks. It was so cold in the morning. It took a leap of faith for me to take my warm ups off and wait for the start. Sure enough, I was roasting within a mile. There were piles of clothing strewn along the first mile. I picked the slowest pace time to start at, which ended up being a mistake. It took forever to get through the crowd. I loved the water stations. The kids handing out cups were so excited. And the people on the sides were so encouraging. If I ever watch a race, I will know what to do. They handed out Goo at the mile 6 station. I have to say, it worked, but it's disgusting. I nearly gagged trying to get it down.

It was such a beautiful day and such a beautiful place. I talked to people as I ran. One lady from Michigan had done 10 marathons. Another lady was fulfilling a dream she had after having breast cancer. I told her about my Becki, who is a cancer survivor. I wish I had been strong enough to do this a year ago when she was in the middle of chemo. Better late than never.

Surprisingly, I ran the second half a lot faster than the first. I saw a group of little girls cheering on the side and I gave them a high five and suddenly I felt like flying. The hills weren't even a challenge. I breath in a pattern - in, in, out. I would think along with my breathing, "I am strong," ("We are strong" was the moto of Shon's cycling team.) I never felt like walking the whole race, though I could tell the minute I hit 11 miles. Before Saturday, that was as far as I had ever gone. There was a drum chorus at the mouth of the canyon. It was so motivating. I could hear the drums a mile away.

The last mile was very long. The people cheering me on were very helpful. I loved the kid with the guitar. I could see the finish line up ahead, but it looked so far away. I love finish lines, but it was all a blur. I finished in 2 hours 19 minutes. I'm happy with that. Bryce asked me what place I got and I said "1, 920th" - it doesn't matter, I just wanted to finish. Been there, done that.

I'm not done yet. I totally want to do a marathon. I told Shon that if I got to the end and still felt like running, I would keep it up. I was spent at the end, but looking back, I don't think I felt any more exhausted than the first time I ran 3 miles. I'll just work my way up to it. I can't wait.

Shon has definitely been my biggest cheerleader. Thanks for putting up with all of the Saturday runs and my-feet-hurt, grouchy mom-ness. You're the best.


Hatch Family Beagles said...

Juli that was really well written and very inspiring. I wish I had been there to support you too! Congratulations on achieving a very inspiring goal. Kim

Emily said...

Great blog, Juli. Great job. As soon as this baby gets here, I'm setting some goals. You're very convincing that all the hard work is worth it.

The White Wash said...

Juli, I was invited to do a half marathon in June. I almost gave up before I even started. You have inspired me. I am going to wake up and get going!!! When are we going to get the visit from you and Shon? We usually get at least ONE for each place we live. Keep intouch. Missy

rebecca said...

You're the meaning in my life. You're the inspiration.

I just wanted to quote a little 80's music.

But you are an inspiration. It was fun to watch you and cheer, even though I was holding the sign upside down.

Anthony & Kristie said...

Go Juli, you are amazing. That took a lot of control to get your body ready for a 1/2 marathon. I love your blog.

kristi said...

sniff, sniff... what an amazing thing to read. i loved every word.

i am so proud of you!!!

so what is next?

Cassie said...

You are the woman! Look at you!!! Great job. I love that you had a goal and just worked for it!!!
I didn't know you had a blog. I have been a blog slacker for a while and just got on to see what family and friends were up to and saw your link. I'm so glad that I did. I'll be checking up...:)

different said...
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smash said...

Yay for my big sister! That really is a great thing you did, I'm proud of you. Maybe someday I'll be as cool as you.