Monday, October 31, 2011

Good News... and even greater news!!

So... first, the good news. A recap of my race:

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:

(Friday night at Huntsmans with Josh and Megan, celebrating his birthday.)

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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm gonna love you through it...

Wanna know a secret? Sometimes "Life" isn't fair. Sometimes we have to do hard things. Sometimes we choose to do hard things, and sometimes we don't get a choice.

I am running a half marathon (my first ever) on Saturday morning. One day after Baby Girl turns 4 months old. It has been an intense goal to meet in such a short time after her birth, and I've spent quite a few runs repeating my mantra in my mind: "I can do hard things."

But now it's here, and I can't wait. I may not be the fastest, or in the best shape, but I am determined to finish. Isn't that what really counts in the end? To run a good race--and to finish the race?

I have pursued publication for years. Has it been hard? Yes. Have I had some blows that were so rough that I could barely drag myself back up? Yes. Am I still going, working, dreaming, actively pursuing my goal--my lifelong dream of being published? Yes, I am. Because I can do hard things.

But suddenly, none of these things matter that much when a truly HARD thing hits someone you love. Something they have no control over, that they had no choice in having to deal with. I chose to sign up for this race, I chose to pursue publication. My beautiful cousin and her husband DID NOT CHOOSE to have to do something this hard. I'd like you to meet Megan and Josh:
This was their gorgeous wedding day, two years ago. A beautiful young couple, full of hope and life and promise and joy.

This is them just last March (and my sister and her DH as well).

Just before they went to Mexico to celebrate their 2nd anniversary recently. they discovered a lump in Josh's throat. They (and their doctor) believed it to be a brachial cleft cyst, because I'd had one just like it when I was a teenager and that is what it ended up being. He'd been training for an intense cycling race called Lotoja, and so it was decided they'd wait to operate until he did his race. After they got back from Mexico, Josh completed his race. He did great the first two legs, but by the end of the third one he was extremely sick and exhausted. However, after riding a bike for hundreds of miles, who could blame him? Or so they thought... until another lump showed up in his collarbone area.

The doctors immediately decided it was probably cancer and that they needed to operate and biopsy it to find out.

Fast forward a month and a half... and he is in a fight for his life. He has a very rare form of lymphoma. It is stage IV and has spread to his bones already. He's getting an aggressive form of chemo every other week. This last week was especially hard, as he's been violently ill with terrifyingly high fevers. They even did an appendectomy and it still didn't help. He's finally doing a bit better again, and will be able to continue his chemo this week. Once he finished chemo, he is going to need a bone marrow transplant and will spend at least a month in the hospital, most likely over the holidays.

Suddenly, the things I thought were hard? Not so much. I love these two so much. They are amazing people. They have shown nothing but courage, faith, love, and graciousness in the face of devastating and frightening blow after blow.

Can we do hard things? Yes, we can. Can he beat this cancer? YES HE CAN. Megan posted this video on FB last night, and it moved me to tears. Even though it's about women with cancer, it obviously can be switched around, as Megan is the one loving Josh through this.

I am now dedicating my race to Megan and Josh. No matter how hard it is, how my body aches, how tired I feel, I am going to push through it with a prayer of gratitude for a healthy body that can take me through all 13.1 miles.

Josh, I know you are going to beat this. We are all praying for you, cheering for you, here for you. Day or night. And I hope that all my followers will be willing to add their own faith and prayers to all those who are already rooting for you.

We're ALL going to love you and Megan through this... because we can all do hard things.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Can we go back?

We went down to St. George for a quick family trip... it didn't last long enough. It was so beautiful. Can we go back??

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Motivation

"Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead. "

- Louisa May Alcott

Isn't that a lovely quote? I think so. There is so much beauty in this world. Yesterday, we took a drive to see the fall leaves; the colors are truly spectacular this year. So much beauty surrounding us, but how often do we stop and look?

Sometimes my aspirations do seem as impossible to reach as the sun, but I am determined to continue to look up, reach for them, enjoy the beauty of my life, and see where it leads.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Four or Five

1. Ben and Jerry's Fro-yo Phish Food is just as good as the ice-cream version IMO. And I am so tired that when I was posting about it on FB and Twitter last night, I didn't even spell it right. Whoops. So, in case any of you were wondering I was not eating fish food. I'll continue to just give that to Cougar (our beta fish [who happens to be blue, for all you local college football fans]) and Goldie (the goldfish) (names courtesy of SonA). But when it comes to PHISH food, I will gladly ingest as much of that as possible. Now, whether or not it was a good idea to eat half a pint of it the night before running 8 or 9 miles remains to be seen.

2. It's been a long week, as evidenced by #1. I'm not one to eat ice cream (or frozen yogurt as the case may be) straight out of the container. Ever. But I did last night.

3. I just had the opportunity to read a friend's manuscript (that is being published), and let me tell you guys -- it was AH-MAZ-ING. I can't wait for everyone to get to read her book. Love. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to tell anyone I read it, so that's why I'm being mysterious about who it was. But trust me, when the time comes, I will be shouting from the rooftops about this one.

4. You know how you write a book, and revise it, and revise it, and then revise it some more? And then you revise it with your agent, and then again, and again. And you think it's as clean and tight and awesome as it can be? And then you wait a year and go back to it... and find out there's always more you can do to make it better? Yeah. That.

How about you? What's on your mind today? Hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Inspiration

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

- Albert Einstein

I personally believe in miracles. I have seen miracles in my life. I am always in awe at how sometimes my hardest trials have also reaped the greatest blessings.

I hope I can always look for the miracles in my life, and keep my vision up, bright, and full of gratitude even when it's hard. Even when I don't know the why's or why not's.

How about you?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Four or Five

1. We are NOT enjoying the cold weather over here. To go from 85 degrees to 35 and snowing in two days? Not cool Mother Nature. Well, actually it is literally cool--or cold, rather--but I think you know what I mean.

2. We are (almost) all sick now. SonB got croup first, and a week later (and many desperate attempts to keep Baby Girl away from him) she and I are both sick, too. All of my kids have had croup before, but never as young as her. It's a little nerve-wracking.

3. I'm supposed to be going on a long run tomorrow (8-9 miles) in preparation for my race in three weeks. That should be an adventure. Maybe the cold air and exercise will help me feel better...? Hey, just trying to think positive.

4. Speaking of the race, I got my costume for it (it's a Halloween Half, and most runners dress up) and I'm really excited about it! Now I just have to convince my sister to dress up too. I think everyone else we're running with us is planning on it. Maybe I'll even post a picture of us all dressed up. But only if I get one pre-race. I don't sweat pretty.

5. Random fact: I hate being scared. I don't do scary movies, or horror stories. I'm already scared of the dark as it is.

How about you? Do you like being scared or not? Any fun Halloween parties (or races) you're going to? Hope you all have a good weekend!