Discover more from Iron Strong
Iron Strong Part 18
31 Mile Race for 31 Years...
In 2012 I journaled daily through my divorce, leaving the Mormon Religion, being a Single Mom, becoming a Marathoner and eventually an Ironman Athlete. This story will be delivered in parts and not really edited down from the original writings in my journal (including some typos and grammar misalignment). I do this to uphold the integrity of the Woman I was when I wrote these a decade ago, long before I knew this would end up as a full book and despite the fact my writing has evolved in the decade since I wrote these pieces. They read in present day time from a decade ago. These are stories of hope, miracles and never giving up on your dreams. It is a heroine’s journey of shame, secrets and ultimate seclusion to the Finish Line of Ironman Arizona....and then beyond. An Outward Journey to an Inward Destination of Freedom and Liberation, Iron Strong.
My first 50k Ultra Marathon…
My Ultra Marathon I was running to celebrate and let go…
Here is my 50k Ultramarathon journey…my 31 for 31. I ran the Chicago Lakefront 50k. A day that I will never ever forget. A journey that started long before this day. A symbolic race for me of the ultimate strength, courage and sign of hope. Sometimes running is more than just running. I firmly believe that is what carried me through those last few miles. It was a special moment that I have frozen in time, shared with some of my favorite people on earth
.I really do have to start the day before the race…when my sissy showed up at my front door to surprise me and be my official 31 for 31 cheerleader. What this meant to me…this girl. My Sissy. My sister. My angel. We have been to hell and heaven and back together. She is the most fiercely loyal and kind and beautiful woman.
To know that she took time away from work, arranged all this with my mom and closest friends and wanted to be here for ME…to see me cross that finish line, to hold my food, to help me apply my lipstick, to drive my stinky, sweaty self home and just watch me lay around for 48 hours after and stuff my face. That is love. That is true friendship. When you want the best for someone else. I am in tears thinking of the great love I have for this woman. Needless to say, it was amazing.
The morning of I had a big decision. Which color lipstick!!!! I decided with the hot pink because it matched my outfit. Now before you judge….its a proven fact that one can run faster and longer the brighter the lipstick. It’s science. Can’t argue facts!
My motto going into the race…I didn’t care about speed. I didn’t care if I crawled. I just wanted to finish the race and this journey I started months ago! It was a BEAUTIFUL day in Chicago. A clear sky and in the 40s. We chased the sunrise as Sissy and I headed into the city!
The first stop was to get my little brother. He is a gem and one of my best friends. I wanted him to be there for the start or finish. He came down to help me get racing and give me some comic relief to settle my nerves. I love this boy more than anything!!! One of my rocks. I am his biggest fan and he is mine. I had my siblings with me and I was ready to RUN!!!!
I checked in and got my bib. I immediately teared up. 17 is kind of my number with a DEEP meaning behind it. So of course my number was 172!!! It was supposed to be this way. Check in was super easy and quick. This is a smaller race with maybe 200ish people. It is VERY well run and organized. It is a flat course so one I would highly recommend to a newbie or someone looking to PR.
I met up with my dear runner friend, Jenn, who was also racing to start the race together. We met on Instagram over a year ago and ran the Chicago Marathon together. She is a HUGE inspiration to me and an amazing runner. It was an honor to be able to run side by side with her!
MILES 1-5 We were in heaven. The sun shining on our faces, clear blue skies, listening to the waves crash onto the rocks and shore, seeing all the other runners on the lakefront path, and just basking in the amazing journey that we had just embarked on! It was pure bliss!
Miles 6-10 Still heaven. We stopped at all the aid stations and ate peanut M&Ms and drank up. We kept on track with our nutrition and hydration. We also kept our 11 min mile pace right on track, hardly wavering! We literally just chatted and chatted! When we got back to the start to begin our next loop, Sissy was there with a restocking of fuel and helped me get my lipstick applied! Haha!
Miles 11-15 This was an exciting few miles. Two of my dearest friends Sarah and Rebecca showed up to run a few miles with us! Their excitement seriously was contagious and it filled me up! I am so so so blessed to have amazing friends that love and support me. Rebecca was at mile 14 of the Chicago Marathon to cheer for me. She is becoming my favorite cheerleader! I also was able to meet up with some other friends from Instagram and Facebook before, during, and after the race. Runners are seriously friends before they even meet! The energy and camaraderie is just UNREAL in the running community!
Miles 16-20 The highlight of this portion was meeting up with my dearest and beloved friend, Bob. He came down to run and support me with a bag of goodies! He ran with Jenn and I for a bit and then headed to get a few more miles in and said he would see us soon! More on him later…
The second highlight of this portion was when Jenn said she was staying with me the whole time!!! I for sure thought at some point she would speed ahead but we started the race together and decided we would finish this race together. I was SO happy and thankful to have her…literally every step of the way.
Miles 21-25 We picked up my bestie LIZ!!!!!!! Her and her husband came down to cheer me on and Liz planned on running the end with me! SO FREAKING THANKFUL for this woman in my life. I don’t think she has missed a race of mine since I started running unless she was out of town. The BEST friend a girl could have and now the BEST running friend a girl could have. Even though my words were fewer at this point in the race, except just maybe a few profane words when we would get to the “hilly” portion…just keeping it real…Liz running those last 10 miles meant the absolute world to me!
Being real here…I started to feel it pretty much from mile 23 and beyond. I started to feel pain in my legs. And everywhere. It hurt. But as we got to that SPECIAL moment when my Garmin said 26.2 and I took the next step it was magical. It was the furtherest I had ever run. It was insanely emotional and had it not hurt to laugh or cry at that point I would have been in tears. So I held my head high as I ran to the next aid station…and fueled up for the last leg!
Miles 26-31 This was hard. No joking around. Pure hard. Jenn kept saying embrace the suck! Ohhh yah…suck was right! I was in pain. I hurt. But mentally I knew what needed to be done to get the job done so Jenn and I started running with the goal to finish
.A moment in my life I will never forget. Ever. At the last aid station, mile 28.5. As I turned the corner I saw Bob.
In that moment he was literally my angel sent from above. I had NO clue he would be there…I thought I would see him at the finish line. I fell into his arms and started crying. I couldn’t say anything except…I hurt so bad.
He said I know you do. But you girls look stronger than ever. And you are going to finish this race strong. Let’s go. So I took Jenn’s hand and we started off. Those first few painful steps. But then we settled back into our pace.
Bob coached us in and told us stories about his adventures at Boston and Kona. This man. He is in his 80’s and still plans to go to Kona for the Ironman World Championship this year. He is literally a legend in the running community and triathlon world. A symbol of pure strength and love. To me a friend. The most precious and dear friend a girl could have. He is my family out here. And in these last few miles of my first ultramarathon…Bob was a beacon of light, hope, and sign that my angels are truly watching out for me.
A cool moment I don’t want to forget is toward the end…there were about a hundred birds on the path. As Jenn and I ran to them they all floated to the sky and started chirping. It was as if they were saying “run girls, RUN”. Another little sign to me that my angels were near me this race.
The last mile…the most painful moments of my life. Worse then childbirth…yes I said it! At least then I had an epidural!!! If someone could make an epidural for runners it would be a million dollar idea! HAHA! I was hurting. There were two mantras that were going through my head at this point.
“You’ve got what it takes…But it will take everything you’ve got”
“Tyler…Braden…Tyler…Braden, my children’s names”
Over and over I said these…outloud even. I was running for my kids. I was running for me. For all that I have been through and overcome. For hope. For love. For letting it go.
I felt a moment where literally it was like my life flashed before my eyes. I saw my mom and dad and their loving embraces and smiling faces. I saw the first time I held each of my babies in my arms. I saw the darkest moments of my life and how I alone persevered. I saw love and light. I saw my future and hope. It was like a deep meditation…only in severe pain and wide awake. It was humbling. I have never been so stripped down to my pure, raw self. It was like nothing I could ever put into words. And then….
The finish line in sight…My Sissy was there…Jenn and I grabbed hands and threw them high into the air as we crossed under the sign. Seconds later collapsing into each others arms bawling. No words. Just raw emotion. A deep bond and love was born in that moment between two women. Two women who just went through the fire together and came out on the other side stronger and more confident women.
ULTRA-FREAKING-RUNNERS too I may add!
A moment never to be forgotten.
After the race Sissy had a bunch of balloons that we did a symbolic “letting go” ritual and I learned the depths of Post-Traumatic Growth. Using the energy of trauma for growth. I grew infinitely that day. I knew I would never be the same. And I also knew if I could do that, Ironman was possible. Anything was possible