Thursday, September 17, 2015

Talia on the Trace: 13.1 Miles of Happy

She did it.

Last Saturday, Talia Lily ran all 13.1 miles of the Wabash Trace Half Marathon at a 10:40 pace, finishing with a smile in two hours and nineteen minutes. 

It's hard to know what to say to that.  After all, how does a mother effuse mounds of praise without sounding like an obnoxious braggart?  If you think it's pretty incredible that an eight year-old should run a half marathon, well, so do I.  But even more, it's inspiring.  Talia's distance and speed are certainly impressive, but what really knocked my socks off was her attitude.  Even when she was tired and her feet hurt, she focused on the positive, cheering on other runners as she went.

As the youngest runner to compete (the only other competitor in her age group was 17), Talia certainly had plenty of attention.  Despite all of the accolades, I love how genuinely humble she was about the whole thing.  When asked if she ran the whole way, she explained that no, she walked through the water stations.  When she was being interviewed at the awards ceremony about her motivation for running, she immediately gave all the credit to her sister by explaining how Brooklyn had started a running club at their school.  I can't tell you the number of times that I've cheered Talia on during a run, only to have her turn right around and say "Thanks, Mom!  You're doing great too."

So yes, I am immensely proud of my daughter, but not just for her performance (outstanding as it was.)  I'm particularly proud of the young lady she's become: dedicated and determined, caring and compassionate beyond her years.  Great race, Reddi-wip!

My favorite two pictures were posted by The Valley News on Facebook.  You can check out the links here and here.  Really, click on them.  It's worth it.  Both were taken during the last quarter mile of the race.  I love how in the first picture, youthful Talia is so obviously outrunning both the old man and her old mama. (Jason looks pretty fresh, but then again, he hopped in at mile 11.)  As for the second picture, well, it just makes me cry.  Such focus and beauty combined--this is the face of grit at its best.  

 But wait, I'm putting the cart before the horse.  Let's back up to the beginning of the race.  As you can see, we made sure Talia was all decked out with her freshly embellished race shirt.

Our sweetie had the best cheerleaders around--two parents, three siblings, and three grandparents.  Grandma Susie flew all the way out from Utah for the occasion.  Talk about love in action!

The half-marathon race began in Imogene, Iowa.  For a small town, Imogene sure has impressive silos!

Here's Talia, all ready to race.

Fast forward two hours and 12+ miles into Shenandoah, and this is what you'll find: Jason telling Bearlemicus stories to encourage Talia through the home stretch.

Daddy Daughter bonding time at a race.  It's hard to tell who's happiest.

Papa K shot some video footage of Talia sprinting through the chute.  What in the world?  Great job!  Great job!

Then just as suddenly as the race started, it was finished.  So many months of hard work and training all for this moment. 

Was it worth it?  You bet.  My personal goal was for us to make it through happy and healthy, and I think we succeeded on both accounts.

Our marathon talk would be incomplete without giving ample kudos to one last guy: our very own course certifier more commonly known as Dad.  Jason graciously volunteered copious amounts of time and energy to help get the Wabash Trace marathon officially certified as a Boston qualifier.  When he first embarked on the project, I'm pretty sure he didn't realize just how much work it would entail (specifically, the hundreds of miles spent biking the course.)  Challenging as it was, he saw the certification process through to the very end, even when he could have used that time for his own personal training.  The race committee was extremely grateful for all of Jason's help, recognizing him in various places, and even presenting him with an engraved spike at the awards assembly.

Next year, Jason, the focus is all on you.  Watch out, Boston, here he comes.  :)  In the meantime, take good care of him, New York.  We miss you, Peanut Butter!


Jason said...

Miss you guys too! Be back soon... So glad this is only a few day trip and not an extended six-month stay.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing, but in my view Talia did not appear to be exhausted at any point I saw her on her long run. She was well prepared and showed as much hearty grit as excellence and joy. Her success was no lucky fluke, but represents the final stage of a sensibly executed family plan. So, to the whole Wheeler clan -- Great job!

Susie said...

What an accomplishment! So proud of you all. It was great to be there and share in the culmination of all the hard work and preparation that went into this :)