Before and After

(I ran a 5K this past weekend (sponsored in part by Utah Valley Magazine).In Facebook world, running a 5K is as common as saying “glad it’s Friday or “happy birthday.” But for me, it was headline-worthy. It was the first time I’d run three miles since the birth of my Lola Fern. I hadn’t trained to compete,  but I didn’t want to miss the best race in the valley because of my worst-shape body. So I drove myself to the start line at American Fork High School about five minutes before the gunshot start, and I (mostly) ran the smartly designed course. In addition to being well run, this race is also exceptional because of the signage along the route and the emotional T-shirts that make cancer personal. (“We’re Ann’s army” … “We love you, Grandpa” …) A mix of tears and sweat dot the course.A year ago, I was in the best shape of my life and I ran the half marathon portion of this same race.Saturday, June 25, 2011, was calm, warm and picturesque. I finished the downhill half-marathon course in 1 hour and 51 minutes. Nobody was at the finish line to see me (my family thought I would be much slower), so I brought my hands together and quietly mumbled, “I did it.” Not only did I run every step of the 13.1 miles, but I also ran the race for my grandmother, Lola Dawn Reeve, who died from cancer when I was 10. I have always felt close to her even though I was still in elementary school the last time I hugged her. Approximately nine months after I set my personal best (one-hit-wonder) in the half marathon, Lola Fern joined our family in spectacular fashion. So last Saturday’s race was coming full circle for me. My “before” picture shows a thinner runner who ran every single step. My “after the baby” picture shows a woman who strategically placed the race bib over a “problem area” and had to walk a few times in order to not hate the shorter race. (I kept giving myself pep talks and thinking of anecdotal material — you never stop running with the finish line in site, etc.) But between these two photos was a glorious year of pregnancy, birth, nursing and juggling a busy life. Between “before” and “after” is the present. I like it here.