Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Keep Wunning!

My favorite event in Ogden is the Ogden Marathon.  It's a time when the whole community comes together and rallies to create a simply spectacular event and vibe that you won't find anywhere else.  It's something that would be impossible to replicate elsewhere and it's one of the many things I love about this town and its people.

The amount of volunteers that turn out to help put this on is staggering.  Upwards of 1,400 men, women and children volunteered this year...this is in addition to the GOAL Foundation staff and board that work so hard to put on this incredible event year after year.  Because of everyone's dedication, little old Ogden boasts one of the top marathons in the country, hosting over 5,000 racers this year alone competed in the marathon, half-marathon and 5K races.  And even though I have a hate-hate relationship with running, I am uber proud of my town for doing this... and doing it so well.

Benny and I have been volunteering or running in the Ogden Marathon in some capacity for the last 10 years.  These days, Benny serves on the Board of the GOAL Foundation so he's busy all day race day, working in the canyon, helping with medical issues and aid stations.  I usually work at the expo the Friday before the race because race day for me is all about the kiddos now.  But, pre-kids, I was able to participate so much more.  Back in 2004, we rode our bikes downtown at 3 a.m. to help load buses... and if you really want to get the vibe of the event and its participants, helping load buses is the way to do it. The trepidation and excitement of the runners at that time of day makes the air crackle with excitement.  They're tired, but they're so excited to finally be at Zero Days Left Till The Ogden Marathon.  All of the training they've put in has led up to this one moment. Getting on that bus is the last step in the lead up to race-day.  It's the last time to back out.  Because once you go up that mountain... the only way back down is by self-propulsion.  Putting one foot in front of the other.  It's you and the road... and a few thousand other runners who had the same idea as you. 

In 2005, we spent the day picking up the discarded clothes along the course while cheering on the runners and making sure the aid stations were stocked appropriately.  In 2006, we got to help with the finish line by giving out water and medals to the finishers... and I WAS HOOKED.  This was absolutely the coolest thing I'd ever been a part of. 

All of these experiences are why I decided to add running a marathon to my bucket list. Seeing the people getting on those buses or crossing that line - some who were fit, some who were not, but all who were completely excited and proud of themselves - inspired me.  So, in 2007, I ran the marathon.  It's a beautiful course and I was so excited to do it that one time.  Because I'm older now.  And wiser.  And I now learn from my mistakes.

Me running a marathon?  Mistake. A mistake that ended with me sitting in a bathtub full of ice and cursing my legs for being.  Me sitting at the finish line, cheering on the runners while eating ice cream?  THAT'S HOW WE DO.

After I had The Bird, I ran the half-marathon in 2010, which was so much better for me and my legs... and one day, I'll do it again because it was a wonderful experience.  There were no tears and no ice was needed.  But, I got pregnant with The Bean like the next day, so I'm just playing the odds right now.  Every year I haven't run the half marathon, I haven't gotten pregnant.  I'd be a fool to ignore that data.

This year, my sister was running the half, so I took the girls down to watch her finish.  It was a geeeeorgeous day in O-Town.  One that made you happy to be alive, even if you were sweating down the back of your shirt while cheering on perfect strangers and wondering where in the world your sister was... before realizing that you had missed her crossing the line 30 minutes before.  Because you're just really good at telling time.

This year was also the first year that we felt confident enough to let both girls run in the KidsK.  This is such an amazing event for young kids to be a part of, that really ties in so well with the fitness priority of Ogden.  The organizers of this particular part of the day were fantastic and it's apparent that they really love the children of this town and the idea of creating a building block of health and wellness for them at an early age.

Both girls and their friend TK did the requisite stretching and warming up before the start of the race.  I had made it clear that The Bird was supposed to stay with TK who I knew was going to want to stretch his legs and win the whole thing....  but I thought I had pounded it into both of their heads that YOU NEVER LEAVE A MAN BEHIND.  So, that was Phase I of The Plan.

Phase II of the plan included TK's mom waiting and catching the kids at the finish line, while Phase III of The Plan had me batting cleanup on the course as I was running with The Bean... in case someone got left behind or pulled a hammy.

The Plan was solid.

The Plan fell apart immediately.

TK was gone before I even crossed the start line with The Bean. I'm pretty sure he won the whole thing.  The Bird was left running with some random kid by herself, but refused to come back and run with me and The Bean.  She didn't look upset and was so excited to be a part of the race, that I just tried to keep an eye on her, while making sure The Bean didn't get run over by the strollers behind us. Luckily, Benny was able to put his race day responsibilities on hold for 15 minutes and showed up just when I lost sight of The Bird. After giving me our requisite: "No matter what happens, you STAY ALIVE!! I will find you!" look, he took off and was able to find her and cross the line with her, which she thought was just the greatest thing since princess dresses.   

The Bean, who has never been a follower in her short life, actually bought into the idea of running with all of the other kids.  I tried to carry her at one point, and she insisted on walking/running on her own... which came as a shock to me.  The entire race was a mixture of her running and then stopping to look around her and then walking... at which time I would remind her to "Keep running!"  Halfway through the race, I figured out that I could walk as fast as she was running, so I started walking next to her.  And then this little girl who has more attitude than should be legally allowed at 3-years-old looked up at me, squinted her eyes and yelled:  "KEEP WUNNING, MAMA!!"

This girl is going to be the death of me.

As we crossed the finish line, I scooped her up and we gave high-fives to all of the volunteers waiting for the kids to cross.  Many of whom were friends and were thrilled to see The Bean crossing that line... while also probably wondering why I was in khaki shorts and Keen's.  BECAUSE I TOTALLY PLAN AHEAD, THAT'S WHY.

This is how you raise kids in Ogden, Utah.  You do it with your community and its people that share your values and philosophy of life.  The ones who know your kids by name and who you know would protect them and corral them at the finish line until you got there.  The ones who want to create a beautiful world for all of our children to grow up in, and they do so by their words and deeds.

I had a friend ask me the other day if I would ever consider moving if it meant making more money and having more influence in my chosen career.  The answer is no.  Which goes against everything I learned reading Lean In.  I know.... I'm a disgrace to working women everywhere.  But, there's more to life than work.  I don't need a lot.  I just need... enough.  Enough time.... enough love... enough energy... enough joy... enough laughter... and enough money to help teach my girls how to take care of our world and our community.  Just... enough.  I can figure it out from there.  Because enough to me includes living in a place where the town rallies to show the world what we're capable of.  Where success is not measured by how much money you make, but how you have helped your community. Where the mayor voluntarily bikes to work every day for an entire year to set an example for the people and the children of his city. 

That's living.     

That's where I want to live and grow my family.

It's where my family will keep wunning.

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