After what has seemed a very long year of recovery from an injury that required surgery and months of rehabilitation, I was finally able to get back into the saddle of running about six months ago and run the St. George Marathon. On my medal, the words written are: 2015 St. George Marathon finisher! I’m guessing there are a select few runners sporting a medal with the word, “winner” written on it. Though it would be amazing to win the marathon, I’m so grateful to be a finisher and I’ll tell you why today in my blog.
I come from a running family. My dad was on the college track teams at Weber State College and UNR. He held a national record at the Jr. College level at Weber State in the two-mile. He tried to help coach my brothers by running along the side-lines at their meets and it was said by their high school coaches, “if you boys ran half as fast as your dad does, you would win your races every time”. If only I knew back then that I would become the reincarnated version of my dad, loving the race and the run even though I’m not as fast as he was because I’ve not dedicated myself to it as much and only train a little for speed.
My running began when I needed to clear my head while my husband was working 120 hours a week and I had three children under the age of 4. I lived in the cold country of Idaho and my runs were very early in the morning before many other living souls were alive. There were mornings when it was so dark, I couldn’t even see my feet, but luckily I lived a block away from the high school and I would run around the track. At first, I could only run 2 1/2’x around the track. Then it became 8, then 16 and before long, I was able to run 5 or so miles. To me, that was a great accomplishment and the most that I ran while living in Idaho. However, once I moved to the warm country of Southern Utah, I began running on the roads which seemed to go on forever and so did my runs. I loved how I could run, think and absorb the beauty of the fields around me. There were few people living out in the fields and we didn’t have any neighbors within a mile’s run; those were great times indeed.
I love running for so many reasons, but I especially love how connected to mother earth I am and to my father who was killed in an accident nearly one week and 21 years ago. Because I had such an emotionally hard time due to the loss of my father, the “loss” of my husband and learning to be a mother to three small children while living away from all of my family and most of my support system, I knew I needed an outlet and I literally felt my father’s spirit beckoning me to run.
This time it was my turn as he was coaching me from the side-lines, running along side me and setting the pace as I needed his encouragement to follow. His coaching me on the spiritual side-lines didn’t stop there because when I ran my first marathon, I was at mile 21 and made a rookie error by stopping to get rubbed down with icy hot… big mistake because when it was time to start running again, I could not get my legs to move. Just then, I saw a pacer and I literally heard my dad’s voice say, “get behind that pacer” which I did, but then he said, “no, get right behind that pacer and you stay right on his heels and don’t let anyone else get behind him”. So, I did even though it was a fight. Soon, I was getting back into the pace, my legs back and going and again I heard my dad’s voice say with his cute Lil southern Utahn accent, “you can do better than that”. Even thought the pacer’s balloons said 3:50, I thought, you know what, I can do better than that and away I went around him.
I have such a giant of a Dad, and anyone who knew him, knew his personality and spirit was just as big. He loved so many people from all walks of life and it was evident at his funeral as there were truckers, bikers, businessmen, ethnic people, religious and not so religious, etc. He loved to tease people, especially the ladies and others down at the grocery store near our home in Ogden called Wangsards. He would come up behind people and scare them with either tickling, pinching, or biting their ears. His hand shake would cripple your hand for days and then he would see saw your arm back and forth while doing it. He was just one-of-a-kind and I really always wanted to do something that made my dad proud of his first girl. I think my running has been just that thing as well as the way I try to stay close to the Holy Ghost. It is because of the gift of the Holy Ghost I received at my baptism that allows me to communicate with my father in Heaven and at times hear, especially as I heard in Idaho and when I ran my first marathon, my father’s voice.
Life is like a marathon, we have so many choices to make, we can choose to run the race of life, making mistakes along the way as we stop the pace just when it’s the worst time to stop and all odds are against us to get back into it. There exits 1/3 of the host of heaven who were our spiritual brothers and sisters but did not choose God’s plan of happiness in the pre-existence. These are spirits that can thwart our efforts to get behind the good pacers in life and in fact can posses the spirits of Adam and Eve’s children when they defile their own spirits with vile substances, evil pictures or negative influences. I know I have great spiritual pacers like my father and I know we have earthly pacers whom we can get right behind letting them break the wind, making it easier for us as we follow right on their heels such as great leaders, prophets, apostles and especially the power of the priesthood and worthy men who hold and administer it.
There are many things we think we can do by ourselves like winning the marathon, but the truth be told, few people can achieve this honor and I’m guessing these people would say that upon doing everything right physically by themselves, they were carried on angel’s wings and were not alone in their race. We are not alone in this world nor as runners in the race of life but there’s not a single one of us who can finish it without Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior of the world. On the back of my marathon shirt it reads: …let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12: 1-2 He is the only winner of the race and it is only by and through him we can come into the presence of our Father and Mother in Heaven and be reunited with our loving family members who have finished their mortal race before us.