Turning 30 is a big deal. People who are 40 or 50 say I’m too young to know about getting older, but they’d be lying if they didn’t admit that turning 30 gave them pause. I don’t think 30 is old and I don’t feel “old.” I just feel like me, and I’ve always been young. I may have a gray hair or two or twenty, and I may be developing crow’s feet from all the laughing in the sunshine, but I’m not old.
Still, turning 30 is the changing of a decade. Just like turning 20 means one is no longer in their teens, reaching 30 means something different too. So, as my 30th birthday approached, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something that represented my 30 years, something that represented the beginning, the past and the present.
I decided I wanted to run 30 miles to represent my 30 years of existence, and that I wanted my friends and family to do it with me. I created a spreadsheet with the mile, the person I wanted to run that mile or miles, the time I estimated I’d be at that mile, and the location of that mile. I wanted Mom to kick off the 30 miles since she brought me into this world, and I wanted Jason to run the last of it with me since he will be with me for the rest of this adventure we call life.
The morning of January 2 (not the actual birth date, but as close as I could get), Jason got up early to get his run out of the way, and I listened for the beep of the coffee pot to signal that my coffee was ready and I could get up. I sipped and wandered around, chose what to wear on this most special running day, and waited for Mom to arrive. The two of us would begin the run with a 3 mile stretch starting at 8:00a.m.
When Mom got to my house, we put on our final items of warmth, took one last potty break, and Mom wrapped her arms around me and said a prayer for the day and for the safety of all those participating in her daughter’s birthday run.
Then we were off.
It was a COLD morning, but at first I was too excited to notice. Mom and I finished our run and I needed a quick trip to the bathroom before beginning the next stretch which would be a two-mile section with my sister. We ran a mile and then turned into the wind. It was brutal. Julie had a cold so it was worse for her. At the end of her stretch, Mom was there to take our picture and Shannon Allen was there to begin her four mile stretch.
Shannon and I moved quickly because when I stopped in the wind for our exchange point photo shoot, the cold set in with an aching rush. Shannon and I ran up the steep Eastview Dr. hill, visited my sister’s backyard for a pit stop (coffee is both a blessing and a curse), and continued quickly on our way.
At mile 9 I met my morning running crew. We call ourselves the crazy girls due to the early hours and crazy climes in which we’ve run. Madelyn Patton, Alice Lessman, Julia Mateskon, and her twin sister, Laura Jackson met me for our traditional hill workout up Stoneridge Rd. This is a mean hill that takes us all the way up to the water tower on top of Rainbow Mountain. Due to an injury, Madelyn ran us up to the hill, wishing me luck before turning back for her car. The other three ran with me up to the top and back down, facing the cruel wind once more to take me further down Hughes where I would meet Kristi Holland at mile 15.
A little before this point, I began to fall behind my estimated times I’d set to be at each exchange point. I gave all runners more time than I thought they would need, but I did not take into account bathroom breaks, the exchange point photo shoots, or snack times.
Mom was thankfully at each exchange point to let runners sit in her warm car and to take our picture before we headed out on the next section of miles.
Kristi and I faced the wind for almost a mile before turning around and having it blissfully at our backs. I think that was one of the most comfortable moments of the run. I was almost warm! The two of us ran quickly down Hughes Rd. until Katherine Bennett met me at mile 18. She ran one mile with me to the corner of Hughes Rd. and Old Madison Pike where Christi Doyle showed up to run her two miles with me.
At this point I was an entire section of miles behind my projected time. Courtney Hargett and Leah Igo, who were to meet me after Christi’s stretch of miles, were already there. We pulled them along too and so the four of us made our way through my old neighborhood, passed my cute little house on Larry Dr.
At mile 21, we dropped Christi off, and Courtney and Leah began what was their original section of miles. We headed for downtown Madison, which was an area I had not run before. There are plenty of sidewalks and quiet neighborhood streets in this area, but for some reason my routes never took me that way. Because of this I got a little lost, but thankfully I had my map with me and was able, with Leah’s help, to get to mile 24 where Mom and Beth and Josh Arndt were waiting to run with me.
At this point I began to slow down a bit. My nose was raw, my face was wind burnt, and my legs were getting tired. Still, I had wonderful company and so the miles flew by. Before very long, it was time to meet Holley Gautney at mile 26. She ran two miles with me, allowing me a brief walk break when I needed one, and chatting all the way to keep my mind off of my tired limbs.
Then there was my sweet husband, Jason. He and I started what would be my very last two miles. During the birthday run he had been at home watching kids and manning the phone to answer any calls that came through from Mom or other runners.
The two of us ran through our neighborhood, running down roads where we’d taken many walks while dating, and where we still pass each other during our own runs. At last, we rounded the final corner back on to our road and I heard the whoops and hollers of Mom, Jason’s brother Jonathan, and his friend Erin. I was SO glad to see them and SO glad to go inside, out of the cold and wind.
We finished just in time for me to get a quick shower before the birthday party at 2:00pm. Jason had made a homemade coconut cake for the occasion, Julie had made homemade chex mix, and I was ready to sample it all!
Friends and family returned to my house to celebrate. We laughed about the cold and the wind, and ate Jason’s delicious coconut cake. It was one of the best birthdays ever, as my dear friends and family came together to run with me and help me celebrate the turning of a decade. Physically, I probably could have done the distance alone, but with the cold and the wind, I doubt I would’ve stuck to it without the help of my friends. Just knowing I had friends waiting for me at each exchange point, kept me going and made the miles fly by and we talked, laughed, and ran.
At the end of the day, I felt loved. There is simply no other way to say it. I knew asking friends to get out in that weather, during some random hour of their Saturday was asking a lot. But they came anyway despite colds and injuries and schedules, and it meant the world to me. It was an amazing day and an amazing run. I did not run a single step alone.
THANK YOU, my dear friends and family!