20 April 2015

i ran a marathon

On Saturday i ran the SLC, UT full marathon. 

It was an unbelievably emotional experience. i didn't know if i could really do it. Somewhere deep inside me i was still telling myself that i wasn't tough enough or strong enough or brave enough to really finish. i wasn't a REAL runner. 

The half marathon and the full started at the same place and time so i hung out with my runner friends at the start line--one doing the half and the other the full.

It was way colder than it looks. My legs turned purple.
At mile 9 there was a huge sign on the course that said "Half--run straight. Full--turn left." i felt myself choke up as i approached the sign. i was turning left. i was actually running a full!

i have been having major knee pain for about a month now, and there was no respite for the race. My knee almost took me down at mile 10. i didn't let it. But it made for a very long last 16.2 miles.

Throughout the entire race, my older sister sent me funny memes and encouraging texts. She kept me laughing even as the pain became intense. There were also SO MANY supporters there to cheer the runners on. i honestly don't think i went more than a 1/4 of a mile the entire race without someone clapping or holding up a sign or shouting out encouragement. Sometimes their signs made me smile. A few brought tears to my eyes, like the one that said "You are amazing" and the man who said "You are going to be a marathon finisher today!"

Just before mile 17, i saw my little brother and my friend, Mr B, at the corner. Ian shouted encouragement and asked how i was doing. Mr B had his running shoes on. He jumped onto the course and ran with me until mile 21. The whole time he told me how amazing i was, how much courage i had and how he knew i could do this. As he veered off the course, he shouted "I'm proud of you always!" Those words, followed shortly by a text from my sister that said "The miracle isn't that I finished, it is that I had the courage to start" once again got my emotions flowing. 

There were only five miles to go. i was hurting and kept thinking, "Pain. Pain. Pain." But i wasn't alone. My girlfriend had finished her half and started sending encouraging messages, including sending prayers my way. Other friends texted me their support. The other runners were there with me. Supporters offered popsicles, gummy bears and even bacon. i got this picture of my mom, sister and niece cheering me on from home (with the caption "Go Gigi!"):

You guessed it...more tears when i saw it

And then i was almost there. i could hear the band playing at the end. i could see the finish line. i knew that my groupies would be there waiting for me.

Coming into the final stretch

As i entered the final shoot, i ran as fast as i could make my body move. Mr B was waiting at the side and run along with me from behind the spectators.

Right before i crossed the finish line, i couldn't contain the emotions anymore and i threw my hands in the air and screamed as loud as i could.

Screaming for pure joy

i did it!!!!!

Then i had a medal around my neck. And Ian was there hugging me. And then the tears started. i did it. For the next few minutes, i just cried. When i thought i was done, my girlfriend hugged me and the tears continued. Then Mr B was there and i cried some more. And then my sis sent me the inspiration below and i cried some more.

When the tears stopped, all i could feel was gratitude. i am so grateful for my family who supported me from near and far. i am so grateful for my friends who prayed for me, texted me, ran with me and drove all the way down from Idaho to hug me at the finish line. i am so grateful for my body and the ability that i have to run so hard and so far. i am grateful for my legs that pushed through the pain and helped me to fly.

20 months ago i ran my first mile. After all of those months of running four days a week, five pairs of running shoes, so many early mornings, hundreds of laps on the track, suffering through muscle cramps, losing toenails and popping blisters, and THOUSANDS of miles, i did what i thought was the impossible for me. 

i ran a marathon.

 "Would the marathon runner feel the triumph of finishing the race had she not felt the pain of the hours of pushing against her limits?" -Dieter F Uchtdorf

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