Monday, April 13, 2009

I did it!

Scroll up to: review my sweet running glasses (is that Lindsay Lohan running from rehab?), the painful look on my face, and pasty white chicken legs.

Scroll down to: read the (long) narrative.

I am not a runner.

That fact became apparent from an early age. My best friend, Beth lived about 4 houses up the hill from me growing up, and every time I started running home, her mom, Connie had to come rescue me--picking me up off the pavement and applying several bandaids.

I was always interested in running, but it did not come naturally, and I did not excel. In fifth grade I decided randomly to run in a 10K. I did not train. (I did not have a clue what I was getting myself into.) That Saturday morning I woke up, put on my ratty old basketball shoes, and entered the race. Around mile 3 my mom crept up in one of the old Hondas (we've owned like 47 Hondas; can't remember which one it was) and rolled down the window to ask if I was OK. I'm sure my face looked about like the above picture. I nodded yes and kept going.

In high school I used to try to run with my friend, Kate. But she was a real-deal cross-country runner. I would always encourage her to go ahead of me, and would then watch her muscly legs take off and envy her athleticism. In Mexico, my companera, Lorraine, and I would run early in the mornings. I would push myself to my very limits to keep pace with her as we ran through the darling streets of our neighborhood in Guadalajara. Looking back, she--who is now a marathon runner--probably had to slow her pace considerably to keep pace with me!

I ran a bit in college. Mostly, I think, in an effort to keep eating ice cream twice a day without blowing up like Violet Beauregard. But when I left home for my Mormon mission six years ago, all exercise ceased. (Proof: I'm still wearing the same running shoes I bought in 2002 and they are in great shape.)

So when my sister, Kathryn, issued a family challenge to run the 10 mile Pear Blossom Run (a HUGE event in this community), I felt eager to accept, but doubtful as could be. After half a decade and two babies, my body was devoid of muscles and my lungs were weak. The first time I got on the treadmill last fall I ran for 10 minutes and thought I was going to die. My training was haphazard for several months. I didn't do much during the holidays. Then suddenly it was January and the race was almost here. I rededicated myself. I conquered 2 miles, then 3. The first time I ran 4 miles I felt like I'd done the impossible. 4 whole miles! But then I realized I would have to more than double that for this race. In the last few weeks I got myself up to 6 miles. Then the week of the race came and I began to doubt. How could I possibly run 10? How could I keep running for almost 2 whole hours? I hadn't trained as much as my siblings. I was not a runner.

I started to think about one of my favorite Gospel principles--grace. While I usually think about and study grace on a grand scale--how the Grace of Christ is sufficient to save us--I began to apply it to my running. I believe that God cares about the little things that are important to us. And I started to believe that He would take me across that finish line. (Call me cheesy or dramatic, I don't care. When you're not a runner, you need God in all his omnipotent glory!)

Two nights before the race I went for a short run (since when is 3 miles short?!) with my sister, Kathryn. I pushed myself to keep pace with her, and I regretted it. I realized I should have listened to my body and kept my own pace. I knew that I would have to watch all of my family run ahead, and keep my own pace on Saturday.

Race day was utterly inspiring. To watch thousands of people competing in one event or another was so impressive. Children, the elderly, wheelchair competitors, and hundreds of people like me--who aren't serious runners or athletes, but who had challenged themselves to finish their race. Running alongside so many people was energizing. I loved being a part of it.

For the first 2 miles I let The Killers pump me up (Heaven bless ipods!) and I told myself I was just warming up. Slow and easy. Those 2 miles flew by. I took miles 3 and 4 one at a time, focusing on warming up my muscles, taking it easy on my sore Achilles tendon, and enjoying the atmosphere (and GORGEOUS Southern Oregon landscape).

Right at mile 4 I passed my sister/cousin, Christina, who would have made an excellent pioneer. There she was on the return route (walkers started an hour earlier), walking briskly with 6-month-old Eliza strapped on her back. We clapped for each other and went on her way. Seeing her energized me.

As I continued on, the first of the runners started to pass by. Now those are the runners! The first of the men were keeping a pace of about 5-minute-miles! I cheered for them as I kept trucking. A few minutes later my family began passing by. I waved my arms high in the air, hooting and hollering for my blonde brothers, shouted something to Taylor about him being sexy, waved at Kathryn--marvelling at how she motivated all of us to do this. I felt bubbly and enthused.

I made my way up the only hill on the course--the top of which marks the halfway point. I grabbed a drink of water and ran on. Ewan and Nicole took me through mile 6 successfully. Then came the hard part. I had never run more than 6, and I knew miles 7 and 8 would be the most challenging. They were.

I focused hard on taking it one mile at a time. I would give myself little goals like "just make it through this song" or "make it to that tree." At times I would just get in the zone and forget about the blisters I could feel forming or how zapped of energy I felt. Those were the best times.

Around mile 7 I started praying for extra help. I also started thinking about Stephanie Nielson. I thought about all the running she used to do and her new goal to make it to the top of Y Mountain in August. I thought about how blessed I was to have a body that could run and how much (I think I can assume this) she would love to be running next to me. Thinking about how much she has inspired me for the last 2 years kept me going.

By the 8 mile mark I thought, "You are going to finish, Anne!" Though zapped of energy, I knew I could do it, and just kept going--slow and steady. When I passed the giant blackbird (any Southern Oregonians know the store I'm referring to), I knew I was almost done. I wanted to push a little harder, but couldn't find the energy. I blared "Chasing Cars" in my ear buds. That helped.

And then I looked up to my right and saw my tow-head brother, Brian, jogging toward me. He had finished the race.

I knew he would come back for me.

He started running with me, pushing me to up my pace. "OK now you only have half a mile to go. Come on. You got it." I had visions of myself at 4 miles, cheering my brothers on. That exuberance was gone. I could barely nod my head to Brian. He ran two steps ahead of me, encouraging me on. "The faster you run, the sooner it will be over! OK now, don't stop when you get to the corner. You have to turn right and the finish line is just ahead. You turn the corner and sprint." When we got to the corner he hopped off the course. As I pushed on I saw my whole family on my right, cheering me on. I could hear Jill above the rest of the crowd, screaming her lungs out for me. I couldn't muster a smile, but I felt it. I looked ahead to the finish and saw the timer. I had done it in exactly 10-minute-miles. I had met my goal--one hour and forty minutes. As I ran through the finish line I felt tears come to my eyes and I put my hands up on my head. "I did it!" I told myself in near disbelief.

I happily greeted my siblings and the free Gatorade. They gave me the bad news about Taylor--that his calf had given way at mile 9 and he could barely finish (but finish he did!). (It doesn't seem fair that the all-state runner should have to walk in the end, while his uncoordinated wife runs in injury free, does it?) Of course he was as cheerful as always, making me feel like the coolest person in the world for running 10 miles.

If you've stuck with me this long (Holy cow, this is longer than my birth story!), what I'm really trying to say here is that I think anyone could do this. I still don't consider myself a runner. But I love running. I love how energized I feel when I come home from a run. I love having some muscles back in my legs. I love knowing I'm doing something good for my heart. I love that 2 miles feels like a quick jaunt. After being in terrible shape for 5 years, I really believe that if I can do it, you can do it!

It was particularly exciting to run it with my family. The local paper picked up the story here (we're mentioned about halfway through the article). (Are we cool or what?)

Christina, Eliza, and Jason, Taylor, me, and Blaine, Brian and Jill, Stu and Kathryn, Steven and Brianne. (My sister Elizabeth, as you know, just had a baby. But she and Baby Thomas came to cheer us on and run the 1 miler with all the grandkids.) It was euphoric to be all together.

I hope this will be the first of many more races.
The end.


The Llewellyn's said...

Anne you are my inspiration..I, like you, am not a runner by any means...but I have set a goal- after baby num. 2 greets us in Sept...I hope to run a 1/2 marathon by the next Sept. (is that too lofty?) keep running!!!

Alicia said...

Congrats! That is so awesome! I am proud of you. You have inspired me to get back into shape (that and looking in the mirror after baby #2!).

Traci said...

I wish I could have been there! I thought of you a lot on Saturday and actually feel bad that I forgot to send you the good luck e-mail I had wanted to. You really are an inspiration and I am really proud of you!!! I LOVE the news article, I can totally hear your mom saying "it's really hallarious" :) haha!!
We can't wait to see you in a couple of weeks!!
Love you!

Melissa said...

Congrats!! That is awesome, way too go. I still remember loving to run with you at BYU because we ran the same pace. Wish we could still run together!

Kate said...

Well I for one really loved this story. I almost started crying. What am I? Hormonal. Probably. But I am so proud of you!!!! You rock!! I've never run a 10K. I'm nervous just training for my measly 5K in July! (first race since my freshman year in college!!!) I wish I could have been there to run it with you. Maybe we can plan it for next year?

And you crack me up... longer then your birth story. I laughed so hard I spit on my computer when I read that.

Vicky said...

What a great story! And what an inspiration you are! My new goal is to pack the kids in the stroller and get out for a walk every day possible. It's great to get out and move, but finding the motivation is so hard for me. Thanks for sharing your great story!

Katie said...

Congratulations!! I really enjoyed your story, especially because you didn't sugar coat it. I got teary eyed when you crossed the finish line :) And not to sound weird or anything, but seriously, your legs looks amazing!

Christina said...

I was so amazed that you ran the whole thing and you did it in a great time! I have never been a runner either, but I would like to push myself to do it. Maybe I'll sign myself up for a 5K this Summer. And thanks for the lovely hospitality - we loved it at the blue house.

Elizabeth said...

Amazing and inspiring! Pretty much tearing up at the end, wondering how it would all play out. Silly how blogs do that to me! I just couldn't wait to get to the bottom to see how the race ended. I'm totally impressed, that is something I would love to do, especially since the bod is not the same after #3. Way to go!

danielle said...

Gosh I am proud of you! And inspired. It (almost) makes me want to put on my way too new running shoes. Almost.

And since I personally witnessed what you looked like one hour after giving birth...I imagine this was physically more challenging and therefor deserving of extra narrative.

The Lindsey Ladies said...

WOO HOO!! So proud of you! I too found myself tearing up at the end, especially picturing Brian talking you through the end, what family support! I love it!

By the way, cool article in the paper, your pretty famous now...might have to change your phone number.

Emily Anne said...

wow! what an accomplishment, Anne. Loved the way you shared this experience. Makes me want to go for a run (I could probably only run one tenth of a mile :)

Nettie Martin said...

I knew you could do it! It's that Hall personality...Love the post. Love that you said you could hear Jill above anyone else (i am not shocked ONE bit-that's why I love that girl...she's everyone's biggest cheerleader. Little jealous that you get her in OR). CONGRATS!

brittani c. said...

Awesome. What a great story. Now, I don't entirely believe you about dissing exercising while on the mish. I clearly remember you guys jump roping in Kirtland. Am I wrong? :) I think that counts for something.

lori said...

Kate, you're not hormonal - I almost teared up too =)
Way. To. Go, Anne!!! Congrats to your whole family! What a fabulous thing to do together!!! And I can't help it - reading about your older brother along side you, supporting you until you crossed the finish line to be with your family....that's a conference worthy analogy. I expect to hear it someday when you're the General YW President, OK? LOVE YOU! How is Taylor's leg? I hope he heals soon!

Sally said...

Oh my goodness, I totally got choked up at the end of your story. I just bought a treadmill a couple days ago and am trying to pump myself up to run a 5k. I am definitely not a runner either and could only go for five minutes the first time, but you have motivated me to keep trying. Congrats! Your awesome!

Joan said...

No teary eyed here...I am full blown crying, Anne. When you talked about your cute brother coming back for you and how you saw your whole family cheering you o man. What an inspirational story, my dear. Well done on finishing your race...and TEN minute miles?! That is seriously awesome. You have earned to badge of runnerhood. No question.

The Ramptons said...

Oh man Anne, what a cryer! I LOVED reading the whole thing! You are AWSOME, and i think you are the biggest rock star for running 10 miles. Aren't you so glad you did it? We are starting a fitness revolution in our fam! I love it.