There are rare moments with your dreams and deep joy meet. When that happens: stop everything. Wrap your mind and heart around the moment. Be in it.
The same moment I had as I crossed the California International Marathon was one of the moments, but also similar to one I had on a run 3 months back. I set out to run an hour easy after a few weeks of feeling not-too-great, but instead, decided to run the full lake loop. Deep in thought and prayer, completing my favorite 12 mile loop ending up being a refreshing start to a new season.
I was contemplating if I could get through another marathon build-up on my own, with quiet mornings like these. I was tired. Tired from really wonderful and good things like being in an endless wedding season, beautiful weekend trips, wine a little too often, but also mentally tired of rising early to go into work, solo efforts on big workouts, and not sleeping great from a full mind. My fiancé was kindly supportive of either decision I would make. After missing my first workout back due to exhaustion, I called my coach and we decided I should give the season some thought. I took my first race back off the calendar and decided I really needed to think and pray through setting out on a build-up as I was planning a wedding among lots of other life changes. I knew I had to make some changes if CIM was going to happen.
CIM is really special to me. It’s my hometown marathon and I had not raced it yet. Lining up to race CIM has always been more than racing another marathon. My home: El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Sacramento–this is where I’ve built and dug my roots in as a runner. I’ve had my best workouts here, my aha! moments here, my deep realizations that God has created me to be a runner here—around that lake loop. Sacramento Running Association, SRA, welcomed me home from Mammoth Lakes, after the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials 10 months ago. They’ve supported me, encouraged me: financially, physically, and mentally. Danielle Domenichelli was this years Elite Athlete Coordinator, but to me, she is a friend since high school, someone who has met me for early runs, workouts, even if it’s just to warm up. I watched her college career and journey to become a professional and now giving back to the sport in a different light. Scott Abbott is the mind behind SRA, but to me, he is a running mentor, friend, sounding board. I could list too many people for this post, but to put it simply, this marathon to me, was more than a marathon; it holds my roots and I needed to run it with a full heart.
On the lake loop run, God spoke to me so clearly. I’m not superhuman, capable of doing all things all well. But, I’m all heart. And, when I give something all my heart, in the best sense, I can surpass and reach my goals, my dreams, my passions. So, on that lake loop, I decided instead of calling my marathon build up, I would conquer it. I would give it my heart. That lake loop, as it has been all my life, a run that God has used to speak to on who He has created me to be.
My favorite author, Shauna Niequist, in her recent book Present Over Perfect, wrote a chapter called “On Disappointing People” and this concept that it’s okay to disappoint people.
“Some people are very uncomfortable with the idea of disappointing anyone. They think if you are kind, you’ll never disappoint anyone. They think that if you try hard enough, if you manage your time well enough, if you’re selfless enough, prayerful enough, godly enough, you’ll never disappoint anyone.”
On this run, I realized it was okay to disappoint people, but, if I didn’t race CIM, I would be disappointing myself and that fact, was life-changing. I realized, I could make the decision whether I put my whole heart into this season. I believe God calls us to different seasons. This season, He called me to plan a wedding and race CIM. That meant, mentally, focusing in, saying no to the over achiever in myself wanting to do 100+ things, and investing my whole heart. And, that’s what I did.
My marathon build up had no sickness, no major hiccups, but I also didn’t have any major break through workouts. Until…Big Sur Half Marathon. It wasn’t a PR race, but running 1:13 felt easy, especially after jogging the first 4-5 miles. Andrew Kastor, my coach, told me not to run much quicker than 5:30, and at one point, I glanced at a 5:17 split feeling like we were running 5:45 pace. Big Sur was a carefully planned, but also last minute decision. It fit in my build up and a few weeks out, we decided it would be a good test of fitness. I felt like myself and like my work was paying off.
Fast forward to the day before CIM, we talked about race pace, where Seth would be pacing through 16–going through the half at 1:15.30, a good pace and one that would set me up for a PR day. Though, I was nervously excited. I trust my coach. I trust Seth. But, as Seth and Andrew both told me: I had to trust myself. I had to trust I could run a PR and that I was ready. It was the same talk Seth and my mom gave me before Big Sur. I believed at Big Sur. Now, I had to believe at CIM.
I was really thankful to be preparing at home. I slept in my own bed the night before, ate breakfast at my kitchen table, and my mom kindly rose extra early and drove us to the elite tent. It almost didn’t feel real when I woke up and told myself: today is the day. Today is CIM. Today is my hometown marathon. I made it. Oh my goodness, I made it.
I got on the start line and I believed.
The course was rolling and took more of a toll on my quads towards the end. And, I will spare you details, but due to little swelling of my feet and cold temperatures, my foot slid in my really faithful flats and gave me a terrible blister (hence for those of you that saw Seth carrying me post-race). I took 6 bottles, missing one. (THANK YOU SKRATCH LABS!) And, because I’m me, my first marathon pee break. (oops)
But, the best part? Seth being a pacer. I had his company through 16. He was professional, but spoke life and encouragement, and sent me off with a prayer as I finished a little more of a painful 10 miles towards the end. When I crossed the line, I felt so much joy, that I had done what God called me to do. Would I have loved to be under 2:33? Yes. If it weren’t for the pee break? Yes. (I told Seth it’s the most expensive pee I’ve ever taken)
And, I felt so much love from family, friends, co-workers. I truly felt “home” in the marathon.
At mile 7, I saw my parents for the first time, and I almost couldn’t look at my mom. My best friend and soon-to-be matron of honor. She was yelling and cheering and holding her camera. She couldn’t contain her joy or excitement. For the first time in a marathon, I teared up seeing her. It was a joyful moment for me.
As my foot burned and my legs wore, my heart grew stronger and more full. And, when I crossed the line, I realized: these moments you don’t get back. My heart is full. I’m still embracing the moment and this season. And, while this was a long blog, I’m still processing the race itself and the details. One thing I can tell you: my dreams and deep joy met at that finish line.
To my love, you have my heart and soon WE GET MARRIED! Thanks for carrying me through this build up and literally carrying me post-race to the podium. I couldn’t have done this without you!