20 March 2011 By Rachel’s

Spectrum 10k

Justin Tuft and I Post Race

When I started road running back when I was 16 years old, it was quite a humble experience. I had no idea what I was doing, my neighbors thought I was crazy, and my mom adamantly refused to let me run. She was certain it would ruin my dancing career and my body too. Fortunately for me, I listened to my heart and ran anyway. This initially led me to sneaking out of my house late at night after she’d gone to bed. I would joyfully run through the dark nights planting seeds that in this moment, half my life later have grown into thriving veins of life for me.

About 15 months into my running ways I entered my first 10k, the Spectrum 10k, in my home town of St. George, Utah. I was so nervous. I had never run that far before, didn’t know anyone there. At that time, there was no internet to refer to or people I knew who ran to ask for advice. So I simply showed up in my old cross training shoes as I still didn’t own a pair of running shoes. I ran. I loved it. I was hooked. Over the years I have competed in dozens of events each year. I have experienced my greatest highs and lowest of lows in connection with my sports.  I love to race. I always had dreams of winning. When I started winning, the dreams turned to bigger races, far away events, and my love grew. Today racing to me means everything. It is my connection to life. It has become like yoga for me. I want to train and compete in my races with a mind, body, spirit connection that is all about the race, yet nothing about the race.

About to catch another runner. He wasn’t very psyched 😉

Yes I have experienced some major setbacks. Times when I couldn’t get up in the day, take care of myself, let alone lace up a pair of shoes to run. Each time it was the determination to heal and race again that kept me motivated to do all possible to become well. Amazingly each time I have come back, I have been delighted to find my body faster and stronger. My mind and spirit more focused and driven. Each set back became the platform to fly that much higher.

Pulling away from the 2nd place girl

Yesterday I revisited once again my very first race in my lovely home town. The race has grown a lot. I love it that so many share my joy in running. I was especially excited when my dear friend Tiffany Swindlehurst ran up to me and gave me a huge hug! Neither of us knew the other would be there.  We live a mile from each other in the 801, yet hadn’t seen each other in way too long. Another highlight was seeing a childhood friend Dan Moore right before the start. He has been following my journey for a long time now via my blogs and media. It was the first time we were able to actually speak face to face right before our race. Yep, this was going to be a great day.

I danced to the start line ready to fly.  It was one of those races I came ready to once again claim a win. There were some super fast girls toeing the line next to me. Two of them almost took me last year. Somehow I beat them in a sprint finish. This year the gun went off. I ran with excitement and pure joy like a child. I had passed the last female by the first mile. I never looked back.

My friend Art came along with me to take pictures of me running. It was so great to have someone at the race cheering for me and giving me that extra courage to aim for a personal record for my 10k distance. He rode his bike all over the course taking pictures in an effort to get some action shots. All of those on this post are from him. Thank you so much Art for sacrificing your weekend on my behalf, it means the world to me.

I thought about how lucky I am to have all of the support I receive. It hasn’t always been this way. I once was the girl whom often showed up at races shy, in worn out shoes as I couldn’t afford more, and a nervousness that never allowed me to show through my races what was bursting within my heart. It has been a long time coming. To break out of my shell. To decide I am capable of achieving things many told me I could never do. I am glad I didn’t give in to my critics and chose instead to follow my heart. I am now the girl who cherishes Newton running for sponsoring me with the best running shoes money can buy. They have led me to many PR’s. CW-X compression clothing gives my muscles support and constant recovery. I don’t know how I ever raced without them before. I love my partnership with XTERRA. They have stood by me through a lot. Now that I am flying again, it is my turn to give back some of their love.  My Chiropractor/acupunturist, Greg Freebairn and my natural Doc are the guys who continuously put my body back together. Without them, I wouldn’t be alive, let alone thriving in my life. I thank also Zarephath Trading for helping me with some of my travel costs. As a single mom, it is tough to work, train, raise my little son, and race. All of these entities and the people of them I appreciate so very much. I truly live a life of miracles for being given the opportunity and assistance to make my dreams come true.

Back to the race. Once I passed the last female, I became focused on setting a new personal record. Last year the Spectrum 10k left me with a win and a PR of 37:02. I was so happy, but hungry to find out if my body could go faster. This year it is still early season and I have a ways to go before I am fully in shape, but I am further along than last year. Luckily I know to focus on form, breath, and staying relaxed to go faster. My effortless effort approach. It worked! I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 36:19. One thing I noticed as I drew near the finish. So many people knew my name and were cheering for me. Who were they? I am not sure, but I am so grateful to have support of people of whom I have yet to know their names.

The best part after crossing the finish line was the greatest fan of the day. His name is Justin. He was so light and happy cheering for each finisher. Giving us high fives and reminding us to be grateful for all we have. After I cooled down I was able to give him a pair of socks from my cycling team The Church of the Big Ring. He definitely knows what it truly means to live the big ring in life. I didn’t know anything about him then, but he gave me his website. He was struck by a vehicle doing what he loved and suffered tremendous injuries. He is a true warrior. I want him to know I believe in him. I know from also suffering a traumatic brain injury and major life set backs that it is possible to recover and excel in life again. It takes a lot of work and trust in life that it will come, but it is possible. Thank you for sharing so much at my race with me. Again, life proved this weekend how lucky I am to live my life.

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I will always remember waking up at the age of 12 to the pain I saw in so many while simultaneously realizing how lucky I was to feel fantastic.

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