For almost as many years as this blog has been alive, I'm made a June trek to Utah to do the Wasatch Back Relay with my family, my dear friend Corey and an assortment of other friends that changes slightly every year.
The race has grown exponentially every year and what felt sort of small and unique in 2007 is now a giant event full of noise and garbage and jerks who drive too fast up a dirt road THAT PEOPLE ARE RUNNING ON thank you very much. But every year I come home with a camera full of hysterical moments, a catch phrase or two I spend the week trying not to overuse on my coworkers, a sense of accomplishment and excitement about the next year. It's a little bittersweet this time because the race is the weekend before I have to start processing athletes for London and I have a feeling that starting two and a half months of a Gamestime schedule already tired is not my very best idea. My family is getting marrieder and parentier and I usually leave Salt Lake wondering when our gravy train of easy togetherness is going to end. It was actually sort of awful to watch Christopher and Tasha load up their little ones and drive to St. George on Sunday night. I don't begrudge any of my siblings the adventure time they need, time I have clearly taken over the last ten years, but they are spreading out all over the place and the odds of getting them all in one dose are diminishing. I was glad to spend a few extra days there before heading to the event in Eugene to see people and places that are dear to me.
This year there was one moment that stood out. I felt exceptionally healthy on all my legs this year-the advantage of coming down from the extreme altitude of Colorado to the more moderate Utah. Even so, the last leg is always sketchy. We'd slept only a few hours on wrestling mats in a high school gym and I had eaten a power bar, a couple of shot blocks and a Red Bull for breakfast. I was standing over near the start chute, waiting for my cute sister-in-law Kristen to come up over the ridge at the end of her particularly long and uphill climb. Suddenly I heard my brother's voice through the mega-phone we had brought along (note to anyone running this race-MEGAPHONES ARE SO AWESOME) saying, "hey everyone, my wife Kristen is just about to come in. She got her thyroid taken out three weeks ago and she was really worried about being able to do this race. Can you all help me welcome her in?" She came up over the hill and everyone started cheering like crazy. She looked a little confused at all the people yelling her name and I was trying to fight back tears as I took the slap bracelet from her and headed off on my run. Right as I put my headphones on, "Seasons of Love" from Rent came on and I rounded a corner and had a dazzling view of my four mile descent into Heber. The whole sequence was so overwhelming I started to cry. From my little brother's sweet gesture (we sure have some good husbands in my family) to Kristen running with us because her thyroid cancer was 100% treatable, to the heart-stopping beauty of where I was running-I just felt this overwhelming gratitude for the many, many blessings that I enjoy. There are things I'm struggling with and things I wish were different, just like everyone else. But gratitude diminishes selfishness and encourages reaching out and I want more of that in my life.
I had tears in my eyes most of the way down the hill. The van stopped about two miles later and they all did the little dance we'd made up in unison and I was sort of glad they were across the street and couldn't tell how totally cheesy emotional the whole thing made me.
There were hot showers and comfy beds later that day and I was grateful for those as well, but that moment is still one that is making my heart feel warm even a week after.