About 10 years ago a treadmill ended up residing in our basement. It had been living at Shar’s parent’s house for quite a few years, but was feeling badly for its non use. Over lunch, hot chicken soup and home made rolls; the decision was made to move it from one basement to ours. It sat in its new surroundings rarely being used because Shar ran outside and I wouldn’t touch it. Shar is a runner. If she is not running, she is thinking it. This morning she wanted to go run. THIS MORNING. The walk from the bedroom to the kitchen did her in so she sadly gave up the dream, at least for today. “Today would be a fabulous day to run around the lake”. Do you want to go?” I looked at her, not quite knowing how to respond. I could feel her deep frustration and sadness. Today she would not be able to run.
Once in a blue moon, whatever that means, Shar would hop on the treadmill and give it a spin. She could run for miles when she was out in Gods beauty, but inside, she would only go a mile or two or three, sometimes just to warm up, or sometimes in the early evening, an hour or so after dinner, when her running partners were not available. It was always in winter, for night came quick and early and Shar was always about safety, not wanting to run alone when it was dark. I had told my sweetheart, on more than one occasion, that we should get rid of that treadmill, that it was only taking up space, and that I would never use it. I tried again when it was time to give the treadmill a new house. I hated to run. Well, I disliked it very much. I couldn’t run. On these occasions I was not her sweetheart.
Shar’s first Marathon was in Las Vegas. I thought she was nuts when she signed up. A trip to sunny and warm Las Vegas would be nice so I did support her, even though I thought she was crazy. I would take my golf clubs and hope to play at the Desert Inn. It is nice to know people, but that didn’t happen on this trip. We traveled down with two other families (dear friends) who had runners and with the original owners of the treadmill and two of their Grandchildren, Jami and Jessica (our two oldest daughters.) Oh, they were cute when they were young. They remind me that they still are.
We were all going down to support Shar and her running friends and hoped to have some fun. The sleeping arrangements were poor. Sleeping with my father in law is similar to trying to catch a few minutes of shuteye inside a hanger where they are testing jet engines 24-7. The only thing to do at midnight to five in the morning in Vegas is to sit at one of the million blackjack tables and try not to loose $20.00. Free orange juice throughout the night was a plus and it sure beat trying to use my imagination to come up with the best sound barrier that I could use to shut down the noise that was going on in room 166. I was not successful and vowed I would never make the mistake again of rooming with my in laws no matter how much I love them. It was 5:00 AM when the gambling money ran out, so I took a walk outside to check the weather. There was a McDonalds that had just opened and it was close to the hotel. I went for some pancakes and sausage, my favorite meal at McDonalds. They had it 30 years ago and you can buy it at your local McDonalds today plus inflation…before 10:30. I have always thought McDonalds could do even better business by serving breakfast all day long. I would visit more.
The walk, across the street and down a half of block, was miserable…it was cold…it was blowing…it was snowing…in VEGAS…I ate quickly and then retreated back to the hotel to make sure Shar was up. Shar, Melissa Wood, her first running mate and best friend (2nd cousin too – they found this out while running one morning when they were talking about a family reunion they both needed to attend) and Rich Pugh needed to get to the buses that would take them to the starting line; 26.2 miles away from the finish line. I was hoping the weather would give the runners a break and the wind would stop, or start to blow in the opposite direction. I knew that for the first 20 miles or so the runners would be running north, which on this morning was like running in the Alaskan Wilderness in a 30 mile an hour head wind. The wind chill was below 0…in Vegas.
They boarded the cold bus and were gone. Many of the runners didn’t even get on board. It was too cold. More of the runners never got off the buses when they reached the starting line…it was freezing.
I returned back to the hotel and laid down for an hour or so. Pres was up and out getting breakfast for he and Carol, and I was beat but it was silent. I couldn’t allow myself to sleep because I was worried that if I did, I would miss the race. A few years later I had a very similar experience with a group of golfing buddies. Rooming with Steve McPherron was like rooming with Pres. Let’s just say I got very little sleep on that trip, but, I did play a lot of golf. The race was beginning and I had a little time before I needed to get the girls up so we could go cheer on their mother. We had to stop at McDonalds for breakfast, the second stop for me that morning. The same cashier welcomed us. No smile. It might have been because she had braces. We ate our pancakes and then we were off to the course. Again, no golf course could have been played in Vegas that morning. The drive was slow for the roads were wet and very slippery. I was happy I had a good set of Utah tires. Even the Vegas Strip was barren and even the gamblers had stayed into hibernate.
We stopped at mile marker 13, the half way mark and waited. We had to keep the car running so the car heater could keep us comfortable. The visibility was about 100 yards. About 40 minutes passed before the runners started to appear through the blowing snow. No one told us the race would start late. No one could. It was miserable and it was so colder than cold. The girls and I would jump out of the car with our home made signs each time we would see someone coming. We were sad each time it was not Shar (mom) but happy to get back in the car where it was warm. Almost an hour passed from when the first runner went by, to when Shar appeared. Her head was down focusing on only her next stride. She was clothed in her red sweats, heavy coat with her blue hat and black gloves. She hadn’t dared to take them off. As she got closer we yelled as loud as we could and I cheered like I never had before…I had never seen her run…I was so proud....she looked up with a quick smile…and then back to the grind…and as she disappeared back into the cold grey sky, I cried.
We stopped again at the 20 mile marker. The snow had let up some but the wind was still howling. She was one of the last runners to pass that point that day. I was hoping she wouldn’t be disappointed.
We waited at the finish line. Melisa and Rich had finished almost an hour earlier when Shar crossed the line with the biggest frozen smile you could ever imagine. She had finished. Her time 4:31:26. It was slower than she had wanted…but when I look back now…She was moving. Just over 10 minute miles in that weather…Amazing.
Shar ran 3 other marathons in St. George. The weather was always better and her times just went lower. She broke the 4 hour mark twice. 8:45 per mile. Wow! I was always there at the finish line in total awe of her, and a tear would always form in my eye from the emotion that would fill my soul watching her RUN and realizing what she had mastered. She had some of her happiest and joyful moments as she would cross that line and know she had accomplished her dream.
I run around the lake now. I started last year. I did it for the first time this year just last week. I still enjoy swimming in the lake more than running around it, but that will have to wait another few months…for now, I run, I really do it…and…I like it.
Last night, the same as the night before, I stepped on the treadmill that sits in our basement at 11552. I have stepped on it many times this past winter waiting for the sun to warm the earth and for spring to introduce itself to me once more. I run about 3 to 4 miles and then step off. I like it, even though it does not come close to running outside on the worn pavement. There are two things that are sad each time I step off that treadmill. The first is selfish. My per mile time is not even close to what Shar ran back when…I blame that on my age, even though I know better…and second; I realize that when Shar ran…I could not. Oh, how life likes to fool with us.
Last summer, Shar and I strolled around the lake, sometimes just together, sometimes with our Grandchildren in their Blue and read double stroller and sometimes with our children and friends.
I hope for the day when she can run again and that her wishes come true, so that one morning when she wakes and wants to go for a run, WE CAN.