This past week, I ran the Deseret News Classic marathon.
In preparation for the race, I put in miles and miles of training, even running in the heat, knowing full well that this race would be warmer than I was used to. In addition to training, I set goals, aiming for a specific time and place.
A few minutes before the race, I saw lightning off in the distance. Minutes later, there was a series of huge wind gusts blasting dirt in my face, causing me and other competitors to seek shelter.
Right before the start of the race, the wind gusts subsided. I felt a few raindrops on my face and I looked forward to the possibility of cooler weather.
It was a far-fetched dream.
When the race started, I immediately felt an ache on my right side. Having had side aches before, I knew they would eventually go away. Thinking positively, I decided to use my misfortune as a help instead of a hinderance.
With the first six miles being a screaming downhill, I decided the side ache was something that would help me to maintain a steady pace and not burn my legs. It seemed to be working, and I was running stride for stride with Allie Moore, the eventual winner of the race.
As I made my way to up Little Mountain, I was sitting at a comfortable second place. Knowing that the hill would soon end, I decided to bide my time and take it easy, looking forward to some downhill up ahead.
The downhill, however, proved to be more difficult than I thought. With a strong headwind, climbing temperatures and tired legs from the first nine miles of hard hills (both down and up), I found myself struggling.
At the halfway point, I hit a wall. Knowing I had only completed half the race, I needed to shift my thinking. Instead of thinking about how much more I had left, my focus needed to be on how far I had already come. And with the side ache returning, I decided to take a break to walk and breathe through it before continuing on.
The last half of the race was where I had to dig deep — deeper than I ever had before.
For the last 13 miles, I took each mile as it came. I was able to cruise through some miles, while others were downright brutal. I saw my goal time slip away, but I still had my goal for a top-three finish, and it was still very much possible.
I kept my eyes focused on what was in front of me.
As I rounded the corner, I heard the best sound in the whole world: my cheering family. It was their cheers that got me across that finish line to my goal of a top-three finish.
More than any race I have run, this has been the most rewarding. I struggled, had some dark places and even missed reaching my goal time, but the most important goal (finishing strong and enduring to the end) was what meant the most to me and what made this race a bigger triumph than many of my previous races.
I can’t wait to do it again.