26.2, Top of Utah!

On Saturday I ran the Top of Utah marathon in beautiful Logan, Utah with my husband, his sister Laura and niece Ashlynn. It was definitely not what I expected for my first marathon, but I am still alive and walking (sort of)!

I often get asked about my motivation to run a marathon, and the honest answer is I didn’t really have a lot of motivation. It was never something I aspired to or had a desire to do. It may have been on my mental list of things to do before I die, but it wasn’t something I ever thought I would do or could do. Even after I registered for this marathon I had to really convince myself that I was going to do it, and if my husband hadn’t been the driving force in getting me out to run the mileage (and pushing our three boys in the double jogger for 16+ miles) I couldn’t have done it.

The reason I decided to run was inspiration from this conversations episode by Sister Elaine Dalton. As Sister Dalton was talking about the lessons she has learned from running marathons and the experience of running with her husband, I had the strongest feeling that I needed to do this with my husband before he leaves. If I could survive a marathon I figured I could survive the next year without him and anything else life decided to throw my way.

I trained in Kentucky during the hot humid summer and hoped that would prepare me for running at the high Utah elevation, but boy was I wrong! Not only did it feel like someone was sitting on my chest, but it was cold. The morning we did a 14 mile training run my arms and hands were so cold I thought I would get frostbite and my hands swelled up afterwards (I never even swelled up when pregnant!) This really discouraged me and I felt as if all my training had been wasted because I felt like I hadn’t run a day in my life.

The morning of the marathon came and thankfully I got a good night’s sleep (the boys stayed in Idaho with family), but it was drizzling. The weather forecast said 20% chance of rain so we weren’t too worried, but grabbed some trash bags from the front desk anyway. By the time we rode our bus an hour to the top (and managed to fight off carsickness) it had begun to really rain. We put on our lovely trash bags and stayed pretty dry.

That is until mile 2 or 3 when it cleared up and we ditched them. Then of course the real rain came. Not light drizzling rain- buckets and buckets of cold rain. Then hail! I had purchased my lovely hooded jacket at D.I. the night before just in case it was cold and it’s a good thing I did. That and my arm sleeves saved my life. My legs were really cold but my arms stayed pretty warm. The course took us from the top of the canyon down to the bottom of the canyon, so it was virtually downhill for 16 or 17 miles. I ran the first 13 miles in 2:30 which is my fastest 1/2 marathon time so far.
Once we came out of the canyon the storm came back with a vengance, more rain and more hail. The street was flooded and I could feel the water sloshing from the top of my shoe to the back of my shoe with every step. Lightning struck really close a few times too. It was really pretty miserable. I was cold, wet and tired and I gave up caring about what time I finished, I planned on hobbling to the end.

But unfortunately (or maybe fortunately- I still haven’t decided which) my husband pushed me to continue running 5 miles per hour like we had trained. I was pretty grouchy at this point and silently vowed never to run with him again, but he was a good sport and ran in slow motion so I could keep up. The last 6 miles were definitely the hardest. On one hand I was thinking wow, only 6 more to go! But on the other hand that is six whole miles, over an hour more! I finally put in my ipod and blocked out my negative thoughts with music those last few miles. The last mile was such a relief I only stopped to walk once and was so ecstatic to see the finish line I almost broke down and cried. And I was happy that I beat the 6 hour mark- only by 15 minutes, but still- I wasn’t dead last!

There are so many life lessons to be learned in training for and completing a marathon. I’m sure I’ll share more than anyone will care to read, but the one that really stuck with me was how discouraged I became toward the end. I was so close yet I had these negative thoughts telling me I was so far away. I couldn’t help but think how often in life we overcome challenges and trials and just when we’re near the end we hit another bump in the road and it becomes a breaking point tempting us to throw away everything we’ve worked so hard for. Yet if we can push past those negative feelings and keep trudging along slowly but surely we will make it to the end and it will be worth it, even if it takes longer and is harder than we planned for.

So…any of my Salt Lake friends who want to train for a half or full marathon- let me know! I could use a running buddy who is slow like me 😉  Oh, and yes, I did take pictures of the Logan temple, but give me a week or two to get them edited and posted…


5 thoughts on “26.2, Top of Utah!”

  1. Way to go Cari! You should be so proud of yourself! I know it would take a lot for me to be able to do something like that! That's awesome. I love the thought you put into it too, there's nothing like being able to trust in your own resolve. When you decide to do something, and you accomplish it. I need more of that in my life!

  2. You can come stay with me and get pictures of Jordan River, Bountiful, Salt Lake, Draper, Timpanogos, and Provo Temples. 🙂
    I'm a sloooooow runner, but can't handle the long distances like you do. Good job!

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