Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Fascination With Distance

The look on my sons faces as I casually told them of my desire to walk 46 miles on my 46th birthday a few days ago while sitting at the kitchen bar was priceless. I wished I would have had a camera to capture that brief look of "Are you serious?" or "Are you insane?"  It made me chuckle because they both just stopped in their tracks and were speechless for a few moments in time.

Let me back up...From the time I was a young girl I have been fascinated with long distances. About age 12 every Summer the March of Dimes would do a walk-a-thon.  Even though I didn't know any body that this would benefit personally, I still had this strong desire to get out there and participate.  I would go from house to house ahead of time with my walk-a-thon forms in hand getting pledges for each mile walked from all the neighbors.  Then when the day came to walk I gathered my friends or sister and away we went to walk.  These walks were 20 miles long (I think?) and the thing I remember most is just how much I enjoyed the day walking with so many others and getting a nice sunburn.  I loved feeling a part of an organized walking event and seeing so many other people enjoying it as well.

Now jump ahead a few years to high school and I'm sitting in my seminary class in 10th grade.  I have a super awesome teacher that shares so many personal stories and exciting adventures from his own life.  He tells us a story about an activity he participated in with the Boy Scouts called the 50/20.  The goal was to walk for 50 miles in 20 hours or less.  My ears perked up and I was once again fascinated!  He shared all the details of this challenging endeavor and I was hooked.  I learned that one of these 50/20's was coming up in the near future and a few of my friends were planning to participate and so of course I decided to join them as well.  I don't remember a lot of details about it except that we started around 9:00 pm at night in Provo and walked all the way out to what is now the Eagle Mountain area (there was absolutely nothing out there then in 1982 but a two lane highway and a big desert). This was the 25 mile marker and half way point and the place where we ate breakfast and saw the sun rise. We then turned around and headed back to Provo where we arrived 18 hours later from when we started.  It was absolutely one of the hardest things I had ever attempted and completed.  I hadn't done any training for this kind of activity and looking back now I know I didn't have enough proper fueling.  I certainly wasn't in the best shape, but I was young and headstrong and I had friends who encouraged me and helped me finish.

Jump ahead 6 years later in the year 1988.  I am married with 2 children and I decided to try it again this time with my husband.  This 50/20 was set up to start in the tiny town of Benjamin where the course took you all the way around a mountain, West Mountain, to be exact and then continued into Spanish Fork, Springville and eventually finished in Provo.  Well, we got a nice start with a very large group of people in the early evening and walked around about 3/4 of the mountain and somehow in the middle of the night around 3:00 am, we took a wrong turn and ended up off course for who knows how long.  Once we got back on track we were deflated, worn out, and discouraged.  We finally located a support vehicle and decided to climb in and call it quits.  It was a major disappointment for me but I did enjoy the time I was out there walking with my husband.  Once again I don't think I was prepared physically or had the proper fueling or resources.    

Now jump ahead another couple years to me being a young mother with 3 small children.  I decided to embark on another 50/20 journey, this time with a female friend, Becky Weeks.  The route was again different this time. We started in Salt Lake City up on the hill at the "This is the Place" monument, across the street from the Hogle Zoo.  We had to walk to somewhere in Provo.  We started in the late afternoon and walked well into the evening.  Somewhere about 5 hours into the walk my friend had had enough and couldn't continue any further. I was then forced to continue my journey alone.  There were support vehicles at random places along the route to pick up anyone ready to stop.  So she got in and we said our good-byes.  I continued for many hours through the night along a very dark and lonely road along the point of the mountain.  I found one kind person along the way and we kept each other company for quite a number of miles but eventually they were just too fast for me and headed on without me.  I walked on into Lehi and was just physically, and emotionally done.  I was tired of walking all alone with no music (back in the days of cassette walkmans) and nobody to talk to in the darkest hours of the night. I can't remember if I even had a flashlight but I do remember feeling scared being all by myself.  After about 10 hours from when I started I found a support vehicle and decided to call it quits.  The van drove me on in to American Fork and then I was able to call my husband to come pick me up somewhere around 6 or 7 am.  I was pretty disappointed in myself AGAIN for not finishing this walk as well.

Well, now here we are in the year 2012, about 23 years later and I am turning 46 in just 3 days.   All of a sudden one day last week I got a crazy idea rolling around my head that I would like to attempt a 46 mile run/walk for my birthday.  I have been running now for about 15 months and have completed 6 half marathons in that time.  I feel a little more prepared physically and definitely know what I need for proper hydration and fueling.  I am in the process of getting my route figured out and a couple of companions squared away to be my support vehicles.  I'm pretty nervous but excited as well to see what my body can do physically as well as mentally and to see just how hard I can push myself.  I also plan to do this from the moment it is light in the morning and hopefully finishing before the sun goes down so that I don't have to be out there in the dark. Actually if it gets dark I will call it quits.  Stay tuned for a full report .....if I make it. 

I was sad that I didn't have one single photo from any of these walk-a-thons I participated in.  I guess my scrap booking and picture taking desires were pretty non-existent back then.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Shamrock 1/2 Marathon-Saratoga Springs

This was yet another race I participated in to try and stay on target with my goal in 2012 of signing up and running at least one race every month. There aren't a whole lot of options in March for races close to home and so when I saw this one only about 20 minutes away I decided to sign up for it. Plus, I thought it would be fun to run way out in the hills and that it would also have more of a small-town feeling to it. The problem came though when a fellow blogger talked about the elevation change and so I looked it up and then became a little bit nervous. I'm not a seasoned enough runner to check these things out ahead of time.  Too late though since I was already signed up.

So, St. Patrick's Day dawned bright and early at 6:00 am for me with a restless night's sleep. I got up and got ready and had my cold banana out of the fridge with a little peanut butter smeared on it. (pretty delicious) and left the house about 7:00 am.  Mark and Cooper came along for moral support which I was so happy about.  It really isn't much fun to go to races all by yourself.  We drove out to Saratoga Springs and got there quite a bit early so we drove around the little town and checked out the course before we went to the starting line area.  Oh Boy! Was it ever hilly!  We drove back for me to get stretched out and make a final pit stop.  The race started right on time and I was near the back of the pack.  It was fun to see so many people wearing their bright green shirt. I think I read somewhere that it's taboo to wear your shirt in the race you're running in that day.  But I didn't care, and I'm glad so many others didn't care either.  It really was an awesome sight to see so much green and I wished I had a picture.  I don't know how many people ran this race but I'm guessing around 300. (I found out later it was exactly 189 people and I came in at 139th place.  Not that great, but I'm just glad I wasn't at the end)

A number of times Mark and Cooper found me and honked at me.  That gave me a smile and a boost for getting up some of those tough hills.  My whole plan for this race was to just not be as slow as my very first half marathon, Utah Valley, last Summer which was 2:38:02.  In the last couple of runs last week I tried a new tactic with trying to get a little faster.  As I listened to my ipod when a song got over I would pick up the pace and try to run as fast as I could until the next song started and the singer was singing.  This could be anywhere from 10-30 seconds.  Or if I didn't like the song I would keep running fast until I found one I liked.  Well, it helped because I was able to finish this race in 2:25:14 with HILLS, and WIND. 

I know that sign says 2:21:36 but there was a tiny problem around mile 9.5.  It was so windy that one of the cones was tipped over and a lot of people took a wrong turn.  So it ends up that my garmin watch said I had only run 12.67 miles when I came through the finish line so I continued running on around the back of the school until my watch said I had officially reached 13.1 miles with my final time of 2:25:14.
When I finished my run I headed to the goodie table and enjoyed some chocolate milk, banana and grapes. It was a bit chilly with the wind blowing and so we headed to the car.
When we got home I immediately took an ice bath which is never pleasant to do but the effects of less soreness is way worth it.  Happy St. Patty's Day! I haven't decided if this is a race I will want to run next year but I did enjoy the scenery and the super friendly volunteers.

Monday, March 5, 2012

2 Years

My Dearest Porter,

It's been 2 years today that you have been taken from us. 2 years since that nightmare on March 5th,2010 when you went on that hike to Dry Canyon and never returned home to us.  2 years ago today that you slipped on that ice and fell off that cliff and me and daddy went in search of you and daddy found your broken little body.  It's been 2 of your birthdays without you, 2 Christmases, 2 Easters, 2 Mother's Days, 2 Father's Days, basically 2 of every holiday we've had to endure without your joyful personality here celebrating with us. Sometimes it feels like only 2 days and sometimes it feels like 2 eternities.  But trust me Porter, you were here in my heart for every one of those moments.  You are always here in my heart.  I still think about you EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I still break down and cry occasionally.  I still go in your room and sit on your bed.  I still look in your closet at your precious belongings. I still watch your funeral video.  I still watch the funny videos you and Will Petersen made, they crack me up every time. I still listen to the music you created and I listen to it every time I ride in your car.  These past few weeks as I knew this day was coming you have been particularly much closer to my thoughts and heart and I have just felt your presence so near.  So many times I just feel like you are watching me and I have to just turn to see if you are really there.  There are times when I'm out running in the peaceful morning hours that I feel you just there beside me.  Of course you're not but it just feels like you really are.  I was reading through my journal a couple days ago and came across an entry from October 27th, 2011.  This is what I wrote:

I had a dream this morning about Porter and wanted to get it written down so I wouldn't forget.  I was at my old house and Brother Bartholomew and some youth whom I didn't know were at our house.(not sure why they were in this dream?)  I went downstairs and then turned down the hall to Kali's old room.  Porter hadn't heard me coming because he was in there vacuuming.  I startled him when he looked up at me.  I was so surprised and happy to see him and I just kept staring at his face and saying "Porter." I walked toward him and he backed up slowly saying "You can't touch me" and I told him "Yes I can!" Then when I got to him we embraced in a very firm hug.  I was so happy and kept saying to him "You're alive!" And then my emotions completely took over and I started crying. I ran down the hall to find Brother Bartholomew and to tell him what had just happened.  As I shared the whole experience with him he wept for joy as well at Porter's return. 

Then I woke up from this dream and continued crying wanting SO BADLY for this to be real and not just a dream.  Mark had just finished getting ready for the day and heard me crying and came over to comfort me.  I shared my dream with him.  He told me it was a good dream and it's good to know that Porter is still close by.
I think this is one of those tender mercies from the Lord to let me just feel my son's embrace for a brief, small moment, and letting me know he is still very much alive and that I can still feel him nearby.
 I attended the funeral of a very dear elderly gentlemen in our ward, Brother Alfred Young back on February 9th this year and one of the speakers said something that I haven't forgotten.  He said "We left eternity to come down here for time, and then we will be going back to eternity.  This little speck we call time is just a brief moment in our existence.  It's while we are here doing our time that is our real test."  I know you have passed your test Porter, and that you are now enjoying the eternity part of your existence again.  I know you are so happy, and that you are at complete peace.  I also think you are busy doing much good.  I love you so much Porter and I can't wait to wrap my arms around you and embrace you so tight again.  You are my special little 'Po-Po'.  
(Artwork by Elspeth Young)