An African Proverbs states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together…” Race week is finally here and I’m looking forward to going far, 26.2 miles to be exact. The truth is, my journey to this race has not been a solo adventure.
I have a “village” that surrounds and supports me on my way. Each goal, milestone and success achieved has been possible because of its love, knowledge, skilled hands, and encouragement.
Primary in my life has always been my family; my husband Chris of 21 years and all 5 of my children. They are my happy place and greatest joy.
When I started running 10 years ago, I wanted to be healthy so I could be a wife and raise my family. My family has seen my sick days in the hospital or at home where I can’t leave the bathroom or get out of bed. They’ve served me and cared for each other when I physically could not. Words can not adequately express my love and gratitude for them.
As an endurance athlete, running puts a lot of wear and tear on my body. In my “village” I also have skilled “medicine-men” who help keep me healthy and functioning at optimal performance.
For over 8 years, my chiropractor, Dr. Bruce Lowry has helped me recover from sprains, strains, fractures and ligament tears. Using kinesiology, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation he’s helped keep all my moving parts working together.
Heber Blackner is a skilled licensed massage therapist that assists with recovery and repair of all the muscles I over-work. Injuries happen and proper care for muscles and other soft tissue is crucial to prevent long-term damage to my body. I first met Heber several years ago after a half marathon. He was helping runners with post-race massage and stretching. He works on several of Utah’s top athletes, yet still makes time for amateur racers like me.
In 2013, I ended up with a stress fracture in my left fibula. Because I deal with osteopina (the precursor to osteoporosis) having strong muscles that support my weak bones is essential. Physical therapist Buck Mendenhall not only helped me recover from my stress fracture, but continues to provide me with athletic taping as needed.
Coach Paul Hafen has been guiding my running journey for the past 10 years. When I walked into Gold’s Gym in 2008, I had no idea how Coach Paul would help me change my life forever. I weighed 195 lbs and was so sick I couldn’t exercise for very long. I wanted to feel better and was willing to do anything Paul recommended, even if it was running. At the time, I HATED running.
Slowly, one step at a time, Coach Paul helped me take control of my health; by teaching me proper nutrition, how to safely and effectively lose weight, setting realistic goals, and preparing me for my first 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon and triathlon.
Coach Paul showed me how to properly lift weights and introduced me to interval training. He still tailors my workouts to meet my racing goals and helps me stay active even during injury. Due to extensive digestive issues, I can’t take in nutrition like most athletes during a race. Paul has helped me identify my best hydration options, and trouble shoot problems as they arise. He was there when I earned my first ever age group placement, and in turn, I have watched him get married and start his own family.
Currently, coach Paul is finishing his doctorate degree in exercise science at BYU. I’m happy and excited for the new adventures his graduation this spring will bring.
Above all, Coach Paul has seen my potential and believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. During my 2nd 5k, Paul opted to run the same race with me. He’s a quick runner and finishes easily. Instead of waiting for me to cross the finish line, he turned around and ran back up the race course until he found me, helping me finish the race without stopping. Paul didn’t push me to go faster, but his presence gave me strength to finish something that was hard. His knowledge and guidance these past 10 years has literally helped save my life and given me access to a quality of life I never knew existed when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2002.
Saturday, Coach Paul and I will once again run the same race. Just as before, he will finish ahead of me. When I cross the finish line he will be there with my family; because to me, my “village” has become my family. A special thank-you to everyone in my “village” for all your support; Saturday’s race is for you.