Sunday, October 26, 2014

Top of Utah Marathon

Well, I did what I thought was impossible for me: I ran a marathon.

My parents and sister Sophie came out from California to cheer my sister Bri and I on as we attempted this feat. My parents are both running extraordinaires and my mom even ran the Boston Marathon, which you have to qualify for and is basically the Everest of American marathons. Needless to say, they were pretty thrilled that their two oldest daughters were following in their running-shoe clad footsteps.

Sophie and I snuggled on the couch in our new apartment in Salt Lake City (more on the move later) the day my parents came up. Brett and I are living on the University of Utah campus right now as Brett gets a master's in Finance, an apartment complete with cinder block walls and linoleum floors. Pretty much as cozy as it gets. But, we actually love it.

We made the drive up to Logan, Utah where the marathon was and enjoyed a great pasta dinner and getting our marathon shirts. I love using the carb-o loading excuse to eat as many plates of pasta as my stomach will let me. 

^Dancing to the music with my silly mom and sister. We McCloskey women know how to have a good time.

I definitely didn't sleep well the night before from anxiousness and excitement. Bri and I woke up around 4:30 a.m. and got our stuff together and were on our way to run a race that killed the first man to attempt it. It's the story of Pheidippides of Ancient Greece—look it up. No pressure or anything.

My dear friend Laurel, Bri and I were so excited at the start line. We all bought DI clothes and gloves that we could toss to the side and not worry about and that was such a smart decision because the first few miles were freezing. Oh, and they had heated tents that we could warm up in before the gun went off. Best idea in the universe. 

^Some professional photos from the marathon that I conveniently screenshot. The canyon was so beautiful! The leaves were turning bright yellows and reds and it was gorgeous. On the trail, we entertained the other runners by singing songs like this part from Come, Come Ye Saints, "but should we die before our journey's through . . ." You know, because we're so funny.

Running was, in a lot of ways, a lifesaver for me. In April of this year, Brett and I went through the hardest challenge we've ever had to face together. Our whole life was left in shambles. We had no idea where to pick up the pieces or where our life was going to go.

I felt like I had no control over my life, but I was running with my friend Laurel and thinking about running a half marathon. Keeping that half marathon as a goal was the only thing that was pushing me forward for the months and months after. It was the only thing that helped me feel that I was still working toward what I wanted to accomplish, and made me feel like I still had some semblance of control.

Then I started training for my marathon with my sister and Laurel together, and a very tight bond formed. I was able to express my sorrows and my struggles in a safe place, the running trail, with friends that I deeply loved. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to push yourself to your physical limits every Saturday morning while talking about anything and everything. I will always love those Saturday mornings running at 5:00 a.m. so we could get our 20 miles in before the rest of the world was awake.

Running made me feel like I could achieve my goals no matter where I was living or no matter what the rest of my life looked like. To put a religious spin on it, I can see with hindsight that God knew I was going to go through this trial and that He put Laurel and our running dates in my path so I could deal with it healthfully.

The finish line! We didn't run as fast as we would have liked, but we weren't going for time. It's the first marathon, all you care about is finishing! I had a few complications on the trail that probably slowed us down. My stomach was having a hay day and I had to use the bathroom a lot (most likely TMI, but if you know me, you know I have no filter). I would hurry in the port-a-potties on the trail, and then sprint after Bri and Laurel since they continued running. I had to sprint after them at miles 15, 21, and 23, and 24, which was just the funnest thing that's ever happened to me (heavy sarcasm). 

But, I wouldn't trade our marathon experience for the world. It's been on my bucket list since I was a little girl and I'm so glad I got to do it with two of my dearest friends. We were emotional at the end of the race and may have cried in each other's arms.

Major props to Laurel, who ran the half marathon 6 months and the marathon 9 months after she birthed her baby boy. I mean . . . 

Bri and I have the most supportive family. Our parents made signs for us and our husbands rooted for us the whole way. Brett was incredibly supportive throughout the whole training process as we would drive down to Provo every Friday night for a month so I could run with Laurel and Bri on Saturday mornings. Some of our cousins and our aunt and uncle came up to cheer us on too. We felt so loved and special.

I don't think this will be my last marathon. It was such a good experience, and the thrill of pushing your body to the limit is addictive. I hope I get to do it again with Bri and Laurel. Let's make it an annual tradition? 

Running changed my life and was there for me when I felt like I had nothing else. This is absolutely surprising coming from a girl who threw up the first time she ran less than 3 miles with her husband (hint: that girl was me).