I was caught by surprise when I saw the City of Trees Marathon race in progress while I was out running errands this morning. A flood of emotions came rushing over me as I saw those runners gutting it out on the streets of Boise – just as I had done three years ago today.
Just past “The Wall” at mile 20 and near a graveyard that I joked I could just keel over and die into. This photo is deceiving. I was walking and repeating, “This is so hard” over and over just before this. I rallied and mugged for the camera though!
The City of Trees Marathon of 2009 was my first marathon. It was 40 degrees, the sky was gray and it rained the entire race! I was so nervous and excited at the starting line that day! I’d never ran more than 20 miles and in fact, had only gone beyond the 16 mile mark for the first time in July leading up to this race, when my best friend, Bertha had taken me running on the Boise Greenbelt and kept encouraging me to keep going when I just wanted to lay down in the sweltering heat and DIE at about mile 12!
Bertha was my hero! She’d already ran two previous marathons and I could not believe my incredible luck when she agreed to train with me – a total newbie who could NOT keep up with her to save my life! We had grown up together in the small town of Homedale, Idaho, a little farming community only 5 miles from the Oregon border. Though we’d played together as young children, we’d lost touch as we grew older and only bumped into one another again at Wal Mart more than two decades later. We ended up becoming friends on Facebook, which led to our chatting about our common interest in running, which led us to becoming close friends and running partners in 2009. It was a wonderful summer!
Though I had grown up with a fit, athletic, runner Mom, I only took a slight interest in the sport in my late teens, often joining my Mom for local fun runs and I never signed up for anything beyond the 5k mark! I do remember once doing a race called The Oregon to Idaho – which started at the state line in Oregon and had us run the 5 miles right back into Homedale, ending at the City Park. I remember my 35 year old, spandex-clad Mom kicked my 18 year old butt that day and I walked a LOT of that 5 miles! Luckily, not many other teen girls were signed up for the race and I won my age group! Mom won hers too.
Though Mom dragged me along to a few small races, I hadn’t yet developed the passion she had for running long distances like the marathon. She completed her first (and only) one the year she was 40. It was the Great Potato Marathon in Boise. It rained the entire time. My Dad and I were there to hand her bananas, powerbars and Gatorade along the course (I didn’t know it was called crewing back then) and we were there when she finished the race. She’d taken a wrong turn and ran a few bonus miles, so the finish chute was torn down when she came to the end. It didn’t matter – not to her or us! Tears flowed freely and the pride swelled in my heart to see my Mom accomplish something I couldn’t even fathom – running an entire marathon! I promised myself that one day, I would experience it for myself!
This photo was taken a few weeks after the birth of my fifth child. I struggled with depression and anxiety and had been fighting my weight for a decade by this point. I really wasn’t sure I could change (glad I was WRONG!) It would be one more year after this photo before I was willing to make some big changes in my life so that I could start chasing my dream of becoming a marathoner.
I didn’t know that I would end up overweight, out of shape and the busy Mom of five children before I was ready to make my own path into the marathoning world. My Mom ran her marathon in 1995. I didn’t run my first until 2009 — 14 years later – same city, same RAIN! My husband and five kids were there that day to see me cross the finish line. But, the person that I wanted to be there most that day — my hero — my Mom — was there too! She and my Dad had driven along the course, holding up signs that said, “You can do it, Christie! Your’e already a winner to us! and “Pain is temporary, but PRIDE lives forever!” It was an emotional, wonderful day. My dad even had a little trophy (an almost exact replica of the one he had made for my Mom when she ran her marathon) that he handed me at the finish line. It made me cry and I still consider that trophy one of the most valuable treasures I own.
Seeing the racers out today took me back in time to that day, three years ago, when it was my first time on the marathoner’s journey. The exact point of the race I saw today brought back me in that same location, feeling giddy and attack hugging Bertha every few steps and saying, “Can you believe it?! Look at ME! I’m running a marathon!! And, I’m with YOU!!” Bless her heart! I think I annoyed her to death those first few miles with my overzealous enthusiasm. Luckily, she pulled away from me within a few miles and went on to run a PR race — beating her best time (and her hyperactive running partner) by about 15 minutes! It was an amazing day for both of us.
I want to encourage you — if you’ve been secretly dreaming of attacking some huge goal like running a marathon (or a half marathon or your first 5k or your first ULTRA!) Whatever your heartfelt desire is, however you want to put your body to the test — stop secretly wishing or pining for your dream! Go out and make it happen!!!!!! I’m so incredibly happy that I didn’t give up when I was a size 14, overweight, busy Mom of 5, who hadn’t exercised in over a decade! It seemed ridiculous that I wanted to run a full marathon when I hadn’t even completed a half marathon yet. I could not run an entire block in May of 2008 when I decided to change my life! But, I started getting outside 3 x a week for half an hour and just doing what I could do — which mostly involved walking. Slowly, I got better at it, became stronger and my weight started to fall off. I went from a size 14 to a size 4 from running. Running changed my life! It helped me realize my dreams! It made me a calmer, happier Mom — a better version of myself. Please don’t let any excuse hinder you from looking your naysayers in the eye and telling them that you ARE capable, that you WILL achieve your dreams — and then GO DO IT! I’ll be cheering you on!!!!