Sixteen days until the Wasatch Back. I'm back from my week off of running, and feeling great so far. I did 5 miles on Monday (with a timed 5K in the middle for my next installment of the FIRST training) and 7 miles this morning. So far, so good on the foot thing. I got some new insoles for my Brooks Axioms and they seem to be doing the trick. Apparently I need regular stability shoes instead of "light" stability shoes.
I sent this email into the Wasatch Back organizers last week when I was on my break. It's all about our WB team and the community of runners I've found through the internet, so I figured that my blog was as good a place as any to post it:
Last month, I crossed the finish line of the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, feeling both exhausted and elated. My time, 3:27, was a personal best by 28 minutes, qualifying me for the Boston Marathon. In a daze, I made my way through the finisher’s chute, eager for water, carbohydrates, and my cell phone. I made the obligatory first phone call to my husband, at home in Houston. He was excited for me, in his non-runner sort of way. Then I made the call I was waiting for, to one of my running partners, Julie, who I knew was eagerly waiting by the phone in Boise.
Calling Julie at the finish line was just an extension of what I do after all of my runs; I check in with my running buddies. But I don’t walk down the street to their houses to catch up over a glass of orange juice or even call them on the telephone (the marathon was a rare exception) so we can talk about fartleks and hills and upcoming race strategy. Instead, I flip on the computer, log on to my favorite message board, and find out who’s kicking butt and who is getting her butt kicked, so I can congratulate and cheer on as necessary.
By the time I sat down at the computer a couple of hours after finishing the marathon, Julie had gotten the word out. I logged on to find dozens of pats on the back from my running buddies.
We didn’t start out as running buddies. We were just a bunch of Mormon moms, who turned to a message board as a way to make friends, share information, and relieve the tedium of long days at home with our toddlers. When I joined the board back in 2003, I had just run my first half-marathon, but I was mainly a recreational jogger. I ran with friends for the social aspect, but I wasn’t out to improve times… and I certainly never thought I wanted to run a marathon. Then I hooked up with Sheree, who came back to Utah from Chicago euphoric about her first marathon experience. Melodee, living in Omaha at the time, kept us posted as she ran Air Force and Country Music and balanced her running with several pregnancies. I was in awe of these women. I wanted to be like them, not only as runners, but as moms and as women.
Over the years, we became more than just casual acquaintances over the internet—we became friends. The lifelong kind. Emily’s husband coined a name for us—the MOFia. It stands for something cheesy (“my online friends”), but I prefer to think of it as the kindler, gentler version of the mafia, because while we’re all good Mormon moms at heart, I’d be willing to take out someone’s kneecaps for any of the girls on my team.
Last summer, the girls from the message board all got together in Midway, Utah for our first ever Girls Weekend Out. Although we had been virtual running buddies for at least four years, I had never actually gone on a run with any of the MOFIA Mommas. So on Saturday morning, we got up bright and early and went for a run. It felt so natural, my pace falling in synch with Deanna and Catherine and Melodee and Rebecca, that I knew it wouldn’t be the last time we’d run together.
A few months later, Melodee came up with the idea of having us run as a team for the Wasatch Back. We had a pretty good core group of runners, but between pregnancies and injuries and other commitments, not enough to field a team. So we turned to the other members of our board, and pretty soon Kristin and Julie and Cara, who had never considered themselves runners, were getting fitted for shoes and relying on each other for support as they did the Couch to 5K program. Jenn H, now our team’s trainer, experienced the disappointment of being sidelined by an injury. Marinda and Sarah and Jenn O and Malinda all learned to dig in deep and run harder and faster than they ever had before. Deanna, who had a baby in February, was happy when her daughter arrived two weeks early, because that meant she’d have more time for training.
We were originally just a bunch of moms, who used our shared beliefs to find friendship on the internet. Now we’ve seen the strength that is within us, and we’ll be using that inner strength as we run from Logan to Park City. We might not be the best runners in the world, but I already know from five years of experience that we’re great cheerleaders. We won’t falter because there are 130 other members of the message board who are counting on us. Not to mention our husbands and children. The kids are the reason we, as women, found each other, and they’re really the reason why we get out and run each day. As our team vans say—“If you had 57 kids, you’d run too.”