Call it initiation, call it bonding, call it family fun, call it whatever you'd like...I'll tell you the truth- it's a trick. Remember that thing in elementary all of your friends told you would be awesome? You thought, what the heck, if everyone else is so hyped about it, it MUST be cool. So you did it, whatever "it" may be, and afterward you thought- jeez those guys totally tricked me. But, you know, I'm glad they did. This actually turned out kinda cool. Being a "Warner" is a pretty cool club to belong to. Warner's hike, they play, they eat (Ahead: Thanksgiving, Warner style. Everything from smoked turkey and orange rolls to oyster casserole), but the real defining Warnerish thing to do is run a marathon, and not just any marathon, The Marathon.
Orange hat's are a thing. Kinda like "Where's Waldo" in a sea of runners. See someone in the St. George Marathon with an orange hat, they're probably a Warner. See someone in an orange hat, orange shirt, orange shoes with a camera in one hand, 12 gels in his spy belt, and talking to a stranger about how their running form can make or break their knees...It's definitely Claude. Believe it or not, my father-in-law isn't just great at wearing orange! For those of you who know him, he's great at pretty much everything (and I mean that!). I had known Zach for about a year when we went to St. George, Utah for The Marathon. For those of us unlucky non-Washington County residents, the St. George Marathon (SGM) operates on a lottery system, meaning that unless you are a Runner's Series member, you have about a 61% chance of being selected to run. I had been denied entrance my first year of entry, but decided to tag along as moral support for Zach, and let's be honest, putting forth my best efforts to make a good impression on my to-be-family-in-law. Upon our arrival, and much to my suprise/horror, one of Zach's sisters had decided not to run the race that year, and the general consensus was that I should take her place, heaven forbid a race entry go unused.
I am NOT one of those people who works out daily, and eats a strict regimented diet. I'd much rather snuggle up in a blanket, enjoy some Grey's Anatomy, and a jelly-filled doughnut. Spring semester (Jan-April) I had taken a marathon training class in hopes that I'd make it into the lottery, but since I found out I hadn't been selected my training had become essentially non-existent. Hence, the idea of running the full 26.2 miles from start to finish sounded about as enticing as cleaning toilets all day with a toothbrush. And here comes the trick part. Zach, Claude and the rest of the Warner clan was determined that, as the newest potential addition to the family, I must at least come to the starting line. But, no pressure, I wouldn't need to run, just wake up at 3:30am and ridue up with everyone for fun! :) Riiiight. One new running out fit (thanks Claude) and plenty of bribes later I found myself here...yep. At the starting line, it was probably about 40-45 degrees, but in my mind, I'm sure it was closer to -11 or so.
As we sat around the campfire that morning, I remember thinking, "This isn't so bad, I could probably last a few miles." Keeping in mind that the extent of my running experience amounted to one season of track my senior year of high school, I had no inention of doing more than 3-4 miles tops. In response to my obligatory self-doubt, I'll never forget Aunt Niki saying, "Oh don't worry, no one ever trains for their first marathon!" Afterwhich ensued a lengthy discussion of various family members' untrained first marathons. Let's just say, the more I heard, the more i realized I was grossly unprepared for the task at hand. Nonetheless, when I heard the gun shot signaling the race had begun, I found myself tagging along with Zach and our cousin Alex. The silent energy and anticipation was infecitous. There is nothing comparable to the sounds of thousands of sneakers trotting along in the crisp morning air. Before long, we had passed several mile markers, and I was starting to feel the burn in my legs and lungs. Convinced I was to the end of my journey, at least for this year, I urged Zach and Alex to go ahead and I would catch up with them when they crossed the finish line. I found myself alone, in a crowd of people, but unable to stop one foot from going ahead of the other. I was about 10 seconds from calling it quits at about mile 12 finally saw a familiar face! Not many people can say their first one-on-one conversation with their father-in-law was halfway through their first marathon!
Let's be honest, I was so done with the running thing at this point, surpassing the longest distance I had ever ran at mile 6. Yet for some reason, call it pride, I couldn't stop running! Then, we saw the figure of my future husband less than 100 yards ahead. Inside I was jumping for joy and feeling more than a little ecstatic! I'll nenver forget the look on Zach and Alex's face when we jogged by them.
And at mile 16 we were still feeling great! Thank goodness no one has a pic of me at Winchester exit...NOT my best moment.
And just over four and a half hours later...
I am pretty sure I didn't move from this position for about 3 hours,
and I won't even go into trying to walk the next day.
In the end, this initiation trick or whatever you'd like to call it has become an endeared family tradition to me. Running is more than a sport to us, it truly is family time, and some of my best memories with Zach's family are from The Marathon.
So, to future Warner's, don't worry- no one ever trains for their first marathon!
We do it not because we love the early morning and midnight training runs, the blisters or lost toenails, we esspecially don't love Winchester hill, nor do we even sort of like the "You're almost there" cheers at mile 20. We do it because there is nothing like the feeling of crossing that finish line after 26.2 miles!