The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of adventure with respect to my 2015 goal of doing one half marathon each month in celebration of turning 50 this year. So far here is how it has gone:
January I did the Arizona half in Tempe, AZ. It was fabulous, beautiful and challenging. There was a mountain to climb.
February I did a virtual race. That means I found a charity race online (I did the Puppy Love Run), paid my fee, downloaded the race number, did the half marathon on my own (I did 13.1 miles on the treadmill), then sent in proof that I did it and got my medal a few weeks later. It’s a cool one.
March I did that half at Three Creeks and came in last. That was my most popular and most-shared post EVER. I think that's pretty cool. If you haven't read it, check it out.
April was the Earth Day half, which is the one where we got a MUG instead of a medal. Um…no! If you walk, run or crawl 13.1 miles, you get a medal. So my friend and I ordered our own medals.
May was Cap City, the big spring race in downtown Columbus. It was a fun day and a giant, awesome medal.
Then along came June. I was registered to do a small race in a town near Cleveland called Columbia Station. My plan was to spend the day with my friend Deb, then run the race the next morning with her there, cheering me on. The night before, I went to Put-In-Bay for my friend Amy's 50th birthday bash. While we were there, a storm rolled in that created hurricane-like conditions. The wind and waves reminded me of Virginia Beach. It was scary. Because of the waves, all ferry service was cancelled on and off the island. I was stuck. With three days left in the month, I wouldn't make it to my June half marathon.
When I finally got home, I emailed the race director and offered a compromise. I explained my most awesome goal of twelve half marathons in my 50th year, and that I'd gotten stranded due to the storm. If I could prove that I completed a 13.1 mile run on my own, would he be willing to send me the medal? Only 24 people finished that race, I'm sure due to the awful weather they were getting up in that area of Lake Erie as well. He said no.
It's hard to explain what happened to my motivation. I suddenly didn't care about my goal anymore. I mean, the streak was broken. It was over.
You know how that goes. You have consistency with something, then skip a day or a week, and suddenly it seems to vanish into thin air. The desire is gone, the drive is gone. Motivation has left the building.
I almost quit. I mean, who'd really care. No one would be too terribly disappointed in me. It's a crazy goal anyway. All kinds of things like that went through my mind.
But Bryce was coming up. Thirteen days after the June 28th half marathon I missed due to a Lake Erie storm, I was registered to run a half marathon at Bryce Canyon in Utah. It's funny how it came about in the first place. I couldn't find a half around here in July, and I was already scheduled to spend 5 days at Red Mountain Resort in Utah. So I checked, just for the heck of it, to see if any halfs were going on around St. George, Utah. And there it was, two hours away in the heart of the canyons. The Bryce Canyon half.
When I got to Red Mountain, I was still wavering about taking time away from the resort to drive through God knows where, alone, to do this race. I could call it quits on the goal and be happy with the first five months. I was still trying to decide the day before the race, and finally I talked to one of the guides there and he encouraged me to go, saying it was a gorgeous (and safe) drive up there.
So I drove through the mountains on Friday the 10th to get to a little town called Cannonsville, where they were having the race packet pick up. Definitely outside my comfort zone to travel through the mountains on that scenic but challenging road. I arrived there with swollen, bloodshot eyes and a big welt on my cheek. Something had bitten me on the back of my leg and I was having a bit of an allergic reaction to it. I felt like crap and was wondering what the heck I was doing. I could be having dinner at the resort right now, or better yet a massage.
I parked and got out of my little rented Kia Soul. As I walked over towards the registration table, I saw a guy that looked just like a friend of mine from here in Columbus. I did a double-take and said, "Ralph??" It WAS him. Of all the places to run into a friend. All I could think was, "Thank you, Lord!!" He introduced me to his girlfriend and we decided to meet up in the morning at the race start.
Suddenly I had a little spring in my step. I knew someone here! Now if I could sleep and give my immune system time to calm down from the bug bite, all would be well. I checked into the Quality Inn and crawled into bed. Please let every hour feel like two…
The alarm rang at 4:45 a.m. and I got dressed while eating my pop tarts. The hotel was also a shuttle stop, so I wouldn't have to drive to the start. I hopped on the bus right at 5:15 and arrived at the start line about 20 minutes before the race. It was still dark, and it was much colder than I thought it would be. Mid-40's I'm guessing. I had a little drama after realizing that I had failed to put the timing chip on my shoe and it was back at the hotel. I hurried over and got a new one, along with a new race number. With cold, numb fingers I got all that taken care of. I met up with Ralph and Lori, and with a few minutes to go I headed to the porta-john.
Just inside it, I heard the announcer. 8…7…6…5…4…
WAIT!! I was going to miss the start? I never finished my business so quickly. Ran out of there and caught up with my friends just as we started moving. Soon we were running down a mountain from 8,600 feet of elevation, watching the sun rise. I have never stopped so many times during a race to take photos. It was incredible. I could write a whole other page on the details of the race itself. Downhill, sunrise, rain, rainbows, Bryce Canyon overlooks, the sky, the rocks, the trees, the people. Glorious.
I finished the race, caught the shuttle back to my room after taking some fun finish line photos with Ralph and Lori, and headed back to the resort. I kept doing that happy-cry all the way back. I was just so damn happy and full. It didn't matter one bit that I'd missed June. And my motivation wasn't gone. It was still in me, where it always is. I just had to cross that starting line to feel it all again.
Your journey isn't over. It never was. The best part of it is actually just around the corner. And the gifts that await you are going to blow your mind, fill you up and make you cry happy tears all the way home.