Here we are, sitting in a "heated tent" (it didn't feel heated for at least an hour after we got there), waiting for over three hours for our race to start. Some of us (and I think it's pretty easy to see who, although one is doing a good job of pretending) are wondering "how did I get dragged into this? And why did I pay money to get up at 4 am to get bussed up a canyon and freeze for hours before running 13.1 miles??"
They started the race in two waves, and we went with the second. The first few miles were awesome, I barely even felt like I was running. The canyon was gorgeous, it was just wonderful. Except that my sister and mom got lost behind my aunt and me somewhere. Then at mile 4 my aunt started slowing up a bit, but waved for me to keep my pace. I decided to keep going since we'd already lost my mom and sister miles before this point.
Then I hit mile 6 and oh. my. heck. (Yes, I'm from Utah.) I started having crazy pain in the weirdest places. The backs of my ankles and lower calves, my hip flexors--just random, strange places where I'd never had pain before. Ever. I'd never hurt so bad running before, and I have no idea why it happened to me on race day. My 10 mile run the week before had felt great, so I was not expecting this run to be so hard. At least, not at mile 6.
Here I am, pausing for a quick picture by stunning Bridal Veil Falls, more than half way through the race.
By mile 7 and 8 I was running out steam already. WHAT THE...?? This was NOT supposed to happen. I'd trained, I'd felt great on all of my long runs, I couldn't figure out what was going on. I kept going, forcing myself to keep running even though I was so tempted to walk. Especially when more and more people around me began walking instead of running. At mile 9 I texted my husband and told him I was completely out of energy. Somehow I kept going, thinking "I can do hard things" and finding good songs on my playlist to keep me motivated.
Then I hit mile 11. I was dying. The pain was horrible, my legs felt like someone had beat me with a sledgehammer, and I was beyond exhausted. I'd never had this hard of a time on a run, ever. Did I mention that already? Well, it's true. I thought to myself: I can either give up and switch off walking and running the rest of the way and at least I'll finish; or I can somehow find the energy to push through this and keep running. I wanted so badly to run the whole way. Then it hit me.
I dedicated this race to Josh and Megan, and was I going to give up now, when I was this close?
I'd gone and visited him the night before my race at the cancer institute to celebrate his 24th birthday. I thought of him up there, fighting cancer, strong and brave and so positive, and I told myself, "if he can fight this cancer, I can run this race!" And suddenly, I could. I had tears in my eyes, but I was able to push through and found reserves of energy I didn't know I had. For the last 2.1 miles whenever the exhaustion and pain crept back in, I thought of Josh, and I told myself, "he's going to beat this cancer, and I'm going to run this race!"
And I did.
This is such a goofy picture of me, but it shows the energy I somehow found for the end of the race. The finish was just ahead, and I caught sight of my beautiful little family cheering for me, and I was cheering back and waving. SonA came running to me, grabbed my hand, and ran the rest of the way to the finish with me.
It was amazing, and such an incredibly touching experience. Josh, somehow you got me through this race. Your courage and strength inspired me, and pushed me on. I ran for you.
After the finish with my awesome new medal. I finished in 2:27:37, averaging an 11:17 mile. I know that's not too impressive to all my running friends (I'm looking at you Ally-Miss-7:30-minute-mile! Dang, girl!), but for me, I was so happy with this time for my first race, 4 months and one day after having my baby girl. I've only been running for a year and three months, and nine of the months I was pregnant. ;)
Afterwards, with all of us (my bro-in-law rode up with us and ran it, too, but he's speedy and went in the first group). Only after the race did my Aunt tell us she'd also run the race for Josh. You may notice her shoes are off, and if you look closely, her socks are soaked in blood. She had to run with her shoes off the last mile, with every toe bleeding to finish the race. Later, she and my parents went up to Huntsmans where she gave Josh her medal, and told him next year, he's running it with us. It was a very emotional and amazing day.
And here's the even greater news:
On Friday, Josh was supposed to do another round of chemo. Instead, he spiked yet another fever, and the doctor's decided they needed to do another PET scan and bone marrow biopsy. They believed his cancer was progressing even faster than they thought and that's what was causing the fevers. In a complete miracle, Josh found out on Saturday, after we ran our race, that instead of progressing, his cancer is getting the *&$% beat out of it!! ALL of his tumors are gone. COMPLETELY GONE. He still has some cancer cells, but they believe after he finishes his chemo treatments, and does his bone marrow transplant, that the cancer will be completely eradicated.
Miracles happen. We are witnessing one right now. I know all of the prayers and faith of those surrounding him and Megan are being answered.
Remember my last post? How I said, "we can do hard things"? Well, we did.