Pause. Pretend for 26 hours that you’re not selling your house, you’re feeling great, and you’ve trained for the half-marathon that you registered for months ago. That’s what this weekend was for me and my best friend, Davie.
About 3:00 pm Saturday I drove the mighty white bison (nick-name for our Sequoia) through Comic Con traffic to Dave’s downtown office. This would be the beginning of our adventure. My sister graciously agreed to watch our kids overnight and met us in the underground parking to make the swap. We took her blue Honda and she drove off with our treasures.
The Honda reminded us of our first car we bought together – a maroon Chevrolet Prism. It was the car that we drove across the country packed with clothes and an inflatable mattress for our internship-turned-job. It was the car with the close backseat where newborn car seats barely fit and the chatter of toddlers was intimate.
The drive was a gift. Not in a rush, Dave drove and I dozed for the first hour or so. After that we talked comfortably – not in a rush. Sometimes when we get a date at home, it takes me the first hour to relax and then the second trying to fit everything in. When we were dating before we were married, I loved the okay-with-quietness that we had on a drive. This 4-hour sedan drive was like that but interspersed with really great conversation.
When we arrived at the hotel, I was surprised at how easy it was to get in with just the two of us. We thought about and talked of our kids often and felt their absence. The hotel had a pool and a free hot breakfast – the kids would have loved that.
Now, to gear up for why we were there. We stopped by the race headquarters to pick up our racing bibs, t-shirts and some Gu then found a little place to buy a couple of smoothies. After that it was back to the hotel to set out our clothes and hope for a good night’s rest.
Race day! We enjoyed a beautiful bus ride up the canyon. We met some new people and made jokes about everything being a sign of where we are moving to next. That guy is from Egypt? Sign. That jet is flying North? Sign. You have a stomach ache? Sign.
It was a little chilly at the race start where we waited for a couple of hours for all the runners to make it up. We waited in the coffee and hot chocolate line to find out the hot chocolate was gone. Oh well, they gave us some Gatorade. I wish I would have remembered that my bod doesn’t do Gatorade too well. I started to not feel well but…it’s okay.
After checking out the Colorado River and sitting in the sand together, we walked up the road to the official race start. We found the pacers and did some stretching. At the front of the crowd we saw someone with a megaphone. It looked like they were talking but we couldn’t hear anything and then the race gun fired. We didn’t move for a while then mozied up to the starting line following the giant crowd in front of us, then began a slow trot as we passed the starting line.
It took a little while for the group to thin. We were like a heard of cattle – some more odoriferous than others, even at the beginning! It was hotter than I expected and a lot of the race in full sun. I guess now is a good time to mention I forgot my water belt (and some useful nail clipping – sorry toes!) and was dependent on the aid stations for fuel and water to cool down. After about 6 uncomfortable and headachy miles I slowed down my pace and found a groove I could manage. Dave was awesome to try to stay with me but it was an awkward pace for him in between speed-walking and running.
We chatted a little, enjoyed the quiet, listened to tunes and commented on the power of one person cheering another on. It makes a difference. The mile-marker signs kept coming sometimes later than expected and sometimes sooner. It’s a great feeling to realize every effort is getting you closer to your goal. At one point we had 5 miles left. I like to play mental games to keep going. I told Dave it was like we just left our front door and we were going to run to the temple and back… and then around the lake. The mental game wasn’t working for me and I decided to just keep running – one stride at a time.
3 Gu packs later and at least two cups of water per stop – one to drink and one to dump on myself and we were nearing the finish. Though we anxiously anticipate the finish line, we both feel a bit of disappointment when we leave the canyon of a race and are back into civilization. That’s how this one was. The finish was 2 miles in the sun on the side of a busy road. Dave was feeling good so ran up ahead to see what he could do. I summoned a little Megan Trainor to bring me home. I did have to stop to take a picture for the kids of a dog in an awesome red convertible watching the runners pass by. Over my shoulder I saw the 2:30 pacer coming up behind me and I took off. I could finish under 2:30.
Though feeling drained, I wondered if I could do a final push. With the finish line in sight, and a DJ saying something audible but not understandable, I asked my legs to go a little faster. They said okay if it wasn’t for long. I eyed the digital timer at 2:29:49 and passed through the finish line 2 hours and 29 minutes and 50 seconds. Dave finished at 2:29 flat.
We did it. We just kept going and we did it. I couldn’t really believe it – quite the opposite from the Euphoric feeling of my last race. But one thing that was the same was the gratitude. I felt so grateful to have the chance to keep trying. My legs and my feet worked well. I wasn’t feeling my best, but I was well enough and so grateful for the chance to live this life and to have Dave by my side while experiencing this beautiful world.
Forgoing the beer garden we gathered our post-race snacks and found a shady spot on the grass where we could eat and stretch and catch our breath. Before too long it was time to ask those legs to move one more time for the walk back to the car where we settled in for the drive back home.
The drive back was much like the first, pleasant – a little dozing, a little chatting, a little singing and listening and a little quieting. We filled the tank and tried to wash the Honda before meeting my sister again but the car wash was broken – dirty water squeegees at the pump had to do. Our 26-hour pause was almost over. The mighty white bison pulled up bubbling with exuberant boys where one of the first questions I was asked was, “What’s for dinner?”
We drove home listening to the adventures and misadventures of our treasures and heated up some leftover oatmeal for dinner with a green smoothie on the side. After tending to soap scrubbed little toes, a can of spilled paint on the carpet and a clogged tub drain, we tucked our kids into bed. As I thought about the day (while the slightest touch of the bed sheets pained my post-race toes) I couldn’t help but be filled with gratitude for the chance to live this beautiful life.