Originally published November 1, 2017
This past weekend, I accomplished a major goal of mine. My dad and I completed my first full marathon! It is such a great feeling to set an epic goal and then to achieve it. I love to break through those barriers that some put up for people with disabilities.
The race was in a beautiful area in southern Utah called Goblin Valley State Park. It is full of cool red rock formations that stand in the middle of this big valley surrounded by red rock cliffs. We hiked through the valley the day before the race. It was really cool. It would be fun to spend more time in there. You could definitely get lost among the goblins. The next day was race day. We got up early, had some breakfast and headed to the park. I got pretty excited at the beginning and took off sprinting at the starting gun. My brother Ben saw the video and said I looked like The Flash. That was pretty funny. Anyway, my dad reeled me in and we found our pace. The first six and half miles of the race was on a paved road with some rolling hills. It wasn’t too bad and I felt pretty good. I like to break down the big goal of 26.2 miles into smaller ten-minute goals. It makes it easier for me. So, every ten minutes, we stopped running and walked for twenty seconds or so. I loved the feeling of ticking off those miles in my head. Pretty soon, the route turned more challenging. It became a dirt jeep road with lots of sand and rocks and some steep climbs. The views were amazing, though. You could see forever out across these incredible vistas that reminded me of what I imagine the Grand Canyon would look like. I loved that part of the race.
But, we reached the halfway point and had to turn around. I was still feeling alright through the trip back on the dirt road. When we hit the pavement again, my legs were starting to hurt. My dad kept encouraging me through it though. He said that this was the part that everyone dreads. They call it “the wall”. But he said if we can get through those next couple of miles, then we’d be home free. I loved those words because I knew I could do a couple more miles. The next few miles were definitely tough but we kept plowing ahead and made it through them and still kept up a pretty good pace. As we started up a long climb in the last few miles, my dad saw the guy who was in the lead of the race. I couldn’t believe it when my dad said that we were going to catch him and win the race. My dad was getting really excited for me and his enthusiasm helped me kick it in. We caught the guy with about two miles to go. I was really tired at that point though, but my dad wouldn’t let me quit. We kept plugging away until I could see the finish line. Then, the race organizers did something cruel and routed us back down the hill and through the valley of the goblins. We had to climb back up a steep set of stairs before we could finish. It was torture, to be sure! But, as soon as we made it back up to the parking lot, the finish line was right there. My dad pushed me ahead through the finishing chute and I crossed the line in first place! What a feeling that was! It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. My mom and grandparents were right there cheering for me. My mom was crying because she was so happy for me. My dad grabbed my arm and raised it in the air. Pretty cool! I then felt sick and vomited all over myself and my dad’s truck. My dad called it the badge of honor! Funny, but it didn’t feel very honorable. It just felt like the badge of vomit to me.
Overall, my first marathon was a great experience. It has motivated me to keep pushing myself to get better. Running does help my brain. I think more clearly after a hard run. Hopefully, I can keep getting faster. I know that this marathon wasn’t that fast, even though I won. I would love to qualify for the Boston marathon some day. Nothing would be cooler than to run in Boston with my brother Ben and my dad. I know that they both could qualify. I just need to up my game. I’m going to go for it!
Marathon man. The Flash for about ten seconds. Boston qualifier?