That breakup. The 3-year on-again-off-again relationship with a man I loved, but who could never truly love me back—because you don’t treat people you love the way he treated me. I know that now. While he ended it in the beginning of October, we technically kept dating until January, and I kept holding on until March (which is insane, I know. But there was so much chaos, manipulation, codependency, and trauma mixed together that it was so, SO hard to break away). That timeline is important for you to know because it goes along with my running at the time.
The weekend after the breakup, I ran the Red Rock Relay with three friends from my church congregation—Sam, Dane, and Melissa—and my ex’s awesome sister and her friend. Six of us in a van driving through the mountains of Utah all day. We each ran 2 legs of the race. A majority of us had injuries. I was not properly fueled, as I had barely eaten or drank anything all week from grief. And I loved the whole day. (Okay, the dehydration and cramping and suckiness of my second run wasn’t great, but I still did it, and obviously don’t focus on that while looking back on the day as a whole, haha)
While I knew Sam and Dane casually from church, I don’t think we weren’t super close friends before the race started. But during this race, we found an appreciation for the TV show New Girl and from that time forward, we started watching new episodes together every Thursday night. After the run, the 3 of us also went to get Noodles & Co. together. We started hanging out regularly from that time forward.
Toward the end of November, there was some drama with my ex (who I was still seeing regularly at that point, if you recall). I was devastated. And this is where Sam came in. He worked with his running coach to switch around some training runs to go on a 6 mile run with me that night, way below his normal training pace (and knowing now how serious he is with his training, that is HUGE). We ran 6 miles down Provo Canyon in the dark (we forgot lights) and in the constantly pouring rain (couldn’t wear my glasses!), while Sam told me stories, and I found the strength that I needed to find that night. It meant so much to me. (I believe this was also the furthest I had run since my 10k back in June 2014).
At Christmastime I remember talking to Sam on the phone while I was visiting family in San Diego, and he offered to coach me to help me reach my running goals. I was unsure how dedicated I was to the things I wanted to accomplish, so I pushed pause on the idea. But by March or April, sometime during the peak of grief and trauma, I was all in. I needed something to work toward, and something that I could have some control over. Training gave that to me.
I trained to PR my 5k, and to run my first half marathon. Sam helped me do both of those things.
Race for Red 5k: 26:54 (average 8:39 min/mile pace). A HUGE PR, if you remember any of my other 5k finish times. I didn’t race the smartest—I definitely went out too fast and struggled on the way back in—but this was my first time incorporating speed work into my runs, and I could see the impact that had (and I learned that I really enjoy speed work)!
AF Canyon Half Marathon: 2:04 (average 9:29 min/mile). I ran with my friend Haley the whole time, who I had done all of my long runs with while training! Sam and our friend Mikala also ran, so it was fun seeing them at the finish line, along with Haley’s mom and brother Mic. To this day, completing this race is one of my biggest accomplishments. (It’s also one of my favorite races, and I’m signed up to do it again this year).
There you have it, where it all started. Sometimes I look at people who have been running since they were track stars in high school, or people who started running and LOVED IT and never stopped progressing, and I feel like my journey is less. But just because I progressed more slowly doesn’t make my joy from the sport any less, or make the accomplishments that I reach any less meaningful (I don’t totally believe that last one internally yet, but I’m working on it).
The point is: This is my journey, and I love it. Running has saved me multiple times, and continues to do so. I have run more races since the AF Canyon Half, and my training is still changing and evolving. You can read about those races in the race recaps, and I’ll continue to share as my journey progresses!