Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Race of Many Mini Miracles

This was the race I thought I'd never run again.
An injury while training in 2008 for the St. George Marathon sidelined me for good, or so I thought.

I registered for the Phoenix Half Marathon way back in August 2012, hoping against hope that my body would support my spirit's willingness to try running one last time.  Training went better than I expected, and as the race drew closer, my spirit began hoping it was really true.
When I held  bib number 2054 in my hand Friday morning, I marveled at all the mini miracles that had come my way since I'd registered almost seven months before--consistent training, no injuries, stronger muscles.  This was really going to happen.

I arrived at the starting line way before dawn, surrounded by over 2500 other runners of every shape and size--some tall and lanky with their defined calves from miles of training and years of races under their belts, and some who were lumpier and bumpier with no less determination in their eyes to complete our collective goal of 13.1 miles.

The starting gun's pop was amplified by the fireworks used to mark the end of "The Star-Spangled Banner,"  and we were off at sunrise on a grand adventure.

Every step of this race was a joy to me, and countless times I wished that I could remove my iPhone from its sleeve so I could take pictures to remember the gratitude I felt when
  • I realized the sun would be to the side or at my back for the entire race
  • my excited stomach settled down around mile three and I knew that I'd be able to run without vomiting
  • I saw my four littlest kiddos with my friends Shauna and Ashley sitting on the curb waiting for me in the early morning light.  Hyrum was shirtless and shoeless, wrapped in his favorite blanket.  Evie was scraggly and slightly grumpy, and Lily let out a whoop of excitement.  Micah ran alongside me and ahead of me for almost a quarter mile before Lily forced him to turn back.  
  • voices from the crowd shouted out, "JENNY!!! GREAT JOB!!! GOOOOO!!!" and I recognized my friend Hope and her sister Jill
  • the AZ weather held true to form and the sky was clear and the weather beautiful
  • signs intended for another racer made me laugh or try harder (Yoda's "Do or do not. There is no try." and Princess Bride's "You mock my pain." or "Chafe now. Brag Later" or "Toenails are for sissies.")
  • the firefighters at Mesa Station #201 hung the flag on top of their ladder truck in front of the station and they stood cheering us on from its shadow
  • the spire of Ben's school came into view
  • little kids would run from the sidewalk and hold out their hands for a high five in passing

  • I felt the bronze statues along Mesa's Main Street silently cheering for me (leap frog has always been my favorite)
  • my cousin Myke trotted over from the sidewalk just past mile nine to give me a high five, its not unpleasant sting lingering on my palm for some time
  • my body was still going strong at mile ten, and my right foot wasn't tingling or hurting, and my bowels . . . well, some mysteries are better left secret, right?  Suffice it to say my bowels cooperated nicely, thank you.
  • 96.9 FM played almost all of my favorite tunes as I progressed along the route.  Around mile eleven, I made a mental list of the three songs I wished they would have played.  No sooner had the list gone through my mind than "Home," by Phillip Phillips--song #2 on my list--came on.  That spurred me faster
  • as I was descending the final hill of the final mile into the final turn, 96.9 aired the song, "Soul Sister"--a song that will forever remind me of Tucker and his ukulele. I almost burst into tears on the spot, because at that moment I knew that God was aware of me 
  • the finish was lined with volunteers who just happen to be my dear friends and neighbors.  The sight of them was glorious--GLORIOUS (photo lifted from Kara's facebook page)
  • I reached my goal to complete the half marathon before the winner of the full marathon crossed the finish line.  My time for 13.1 miles--2:16:31.  His time for 26.2 miles--2:23:something.  Not my personal best, but I totally beat him, right?
  • chocolate milk in the recovery tent--Mmmmmm
  • my iPhone battery died just as I sent my finish time to Brad and Heidi--full battery life for the entire race was the greatest tender mercy of all
  • I did it.  See?  I have the medal to prove it.
    There are a few runners I know who have recently received the devastating news that their running careers are either postponed indefinitely or over forever. After four years of thinking I was part of this group, I didn't take one second of this race for granted.  I reveled in every drop of sweat and every lukewarm cup of water and every rock in my shoe and every loose shoelace and every ache and pain.  I felt each slap of the pavement under my feet and each ray of sunshine in my face.  And I loved it.

    I don't know how much longer my body will hold up to running like this, but I do know that the Phoenix Half Marathon 2013 will probably be my best race ever.

    And God willing, it won't be my last.


    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I was hoping I'd get to see you run by. As fun as it was to watch, I wish I could have been out there running too.

    3. Very Proud of you Jenny! So admire your strength and endurance - so glad it was a good experience too. I saw a few runners on Brown Rd. and they made me cry thinking of their preparation and perseverance. Congratulations!

    4. WOW! I'm so proud of you! I SO wish I could still run, but a knee injury years ago put a stop to it. I miss it.

    5. You're fantastic Jenny! Good job!

    6. I cried through your entire post! Congratulations Jenny! You're so strong and determined. I love that you didn't take one second of your race for granted. Your family must be so proud of you!

    7. Congratulations Jenny...looks like more than running was happening that day.

    8. How wonderful! I'm so proud of you and I wish like anything I could have been there too. Thanks to this post,I almost feel like I was! Big high five from me.

    9. I am so glad that it went smoothly for you! Congrats on reaching your goal!

    10. that is so amazing jen!!!
      i could feel your joy and your sense of accomplisment!:)
      way to go and keep runnin!!!
      have a happy day jen

    11. well, shoot. Now I kind of want to run a 1/2 again.

      Great job, Jenny. What a great feat (with great feet).

    12. Great story. Lots of people are in your corner.

    13. AWESOME! Congratulations! You should come to Rexburg in August and run the Mesa Falls half! I will see you there. This is my year to finally run a half after years of saying I would and then become injured or unmotivated/chicken. Thanks for the inspiration. You rock!

    14. What an incredible experience, I am so happy for you! I am so happy it went better than you could have hoped, and so happy you are happy!! :)

    15. So happy for you, Jen. I just smiled the whole way through this post. And then I cried a little.


    16. amazing!!! i did one half marathon and it was enough for me to probably never do one again. we'll was one of my top life moments, but my back had serious issues after it was done.

      my brother in law who is fighting cancer just finished chemo and is doing radiation. he ran in the 5K in arizona for fallen soldiers a week or so ago. if he can do it, i can do it:)