This post is by Kimber Labrum, it details the miracles she experienced while running the Boston Marathon.
A lifelong dream of mine had always been to run the Boston Marathon. I have grown up running and for some reason, it had always been something I had wanted to do. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I love the sport of running, I have ran far too much in my life, and I enjoy it, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I love it. However, the Boston Marathon has always been a dream. This past April that dream became a reality! Here is my story…
I flew out with my parents and my aunt and uncle a few days before the race. My mom, uncle and I were going to be running it and my dad and aunt were coming along as our support team. We hit up the expo and toured around the city a little bit. The excitement was almost tangible in the air. Everywhere we went people were talking about the marathon. I was meeting people with the most fascinating stories as to why they were running this year and how they got there. At every grocery store, restaurants, and even every street corner, people were talking about the marathon and wishing us luck. I was loving it! The city, the people, their accents, the sights, the baseball games…etc, it was a dream come true! People talk about the “Boston Experience” and I was so jazzed to be there witnessing it all, and being a part of it.
Well, Sunday the 14th came and we ate our pre-race meal, laid out all of our things we would need for the morning and were heading to bed early so we would be set. We were talking about the race and I asked my dad to give me a Priesthood blessing before I went to bed. It was a big race and I wanted that peace that comes from blessings before I set out to accomplish the task of the marathon. He happily agreed and gave a blessing to both my mom and I. I remember thinking that some of the phrases he said during my blessing were a little odd. Not odd in a bad way, just unusual from other blessings that I have received before any sporting event or big race, or really any event in my life that I have had a blessing before. I remember thinking to myself that it was a little different, but then not thinking twice about it. After the blessing, I said my prayers and I was out for the night.
The next morning came and we were off. We met up with my uncle, and a couple of new friends, and rode the train into town to catch the shuttle to the athlete’s village. The running conditions couldn’t have been better. The sun was shining, it was a cool 50 degrees with a slight breeze, and the knowledge was there that thousands and thousands of fans would be waiting and cheering those of us crazy enough to run on during the whole race. We got dropped off and began the long wait. They shuttle all of the runners up to the “village” about 3 hours before the elite runners begin. That way, they know all of the runners are up at the top and the race crew can get themselves and all of the runners extra belongings back to the finish line before all of the roads are closed down for the day.
They started calling the different waves down and my uncle left first and then finally our wave was called. We dropped off the last of our things and started walking the ¾ mile walk to the corrals. People were everywhere. Even for the walk down to the starting corrals. We hadn’t even begun the race and there were hundreds of people already out of their houses wishing us luck and waving bright colored posters at all of the runners. I was already in runners paradise, to have this many fans before I even reached the starting line was truly amazing!
Before I go on and give details of the race, I need to give you a mental picture of what the Boston Marathon is like. To start off there are 26,000 runners. Naturally, they can’t all start at once. They divide you up into 3 different waves and also give you a starting corral to have you line up in so everyone doesn’t try to mob the front. Then, every step of your 26.2 miles is lined with thousands of people. A runner will only go, at the very most, around 10 feet without anyone cheering them on. It is probably the top race I have ever run in my life. There isn’t one like it anywhere else. It is truly amazing!
We finally made it to the starting corrals and 15 minutes later we were starting to jog as we crossed the starting line and we were off! We started zooming and were making great time. Our mile splits were right on track as to where we wanted to be. I kept checking with my mom at every mile marker asking her what our split was, she would respond each time and ask how I was feeling. I was feeling good, my knee was feeling good and I couldn’t believe that this was real life and was actually happening to me. I was running the Boston Marathon!
The miles kept ticking away and pretty soon we had reached the half marathon mark. I was still feeling good and we kept pressing on. By around mile 18, I was getting really tired. My stomach was not feeling well at all, I had taken a GU pack earlier on and it was not sitting well in my stomach. My stomach was hurting, my legs were tired and I was hitting a wall. There is a certain dread a runner feels when they reach that wall. It is an indescribable feeling that you can’t relate to, unless you have experienced it yourself. The best way I can describe what hitting the wall is like is this, you get a painful numbing sensation in your legs that make it so you physically can’t force your legs to move any particular speed. It’s almost like the control is gone and you have to deal with what they give back. No matter how mentally strong or determined you are, when you hit that wall, your body is telling you that it has had enough. Your legs feel like a thousand pounds each, they feel numb, yet extremely tired, sore and just painful. No matter how much you try to force them to keep going or keep convincing yourself to push it a little harder, physically and mentally you cannot. It is awful.
So here I am, totally reaching that wall, I am doing the painful shuffle and my mom, who is honestly the most amazing person ever and has more energy than most humans, is continuing high fiving the thousands of spectators, pulling out her phone taking pictures, cheering the other runners on, sending snapchats to my siblings…etc. I kept telling her to go on ahead without me and I would catch her at the finish line. But she was determined to stay by my side. By the end of that very long mile 18, the series of hills were coming and my mom decided that she wanted to run the hills hard. We planned to meet back up at the top of the last hill (Heartbreak hill) at mile 21 and then we would finish together. Well, as soon as she took off, I all but stopped. Mile 19 was my slowest mile because I think I walked probably half of it. My legs were hurting, my heart was hurting, and I just really wanted to be done. My original goal for my finishing time was no longer an option and I was having myself a little pity party.
Thankfully, all of the fans were still going strong, cheering all of us on, offering us anything we wanted, oranges, bananas, water, Gatorade…you name it. I kept taking oranges from the little kids that were offering them, and I honestly think that they saved me. I will forever be grateful to the wonderful people in Boston for being such loyal fans. Without them, I probably would have sat down on the curb and somehow gotten a ride back. By the time I reached mile 20 I was feeling tons better. The sugar and whatever else from the oranges gave me a boost and definitely helped settle my stomach. I didn’t feel sick anymore and I was able to run again. I had recovered enough that I was able to run up until the point I met my mom. I knew she would be wondering where in the world I was, and probably wondering if she had missed me among the masses of runners. Luckily, we met up without any problems and continued on.
Now that my spirits were up a little bit and my body had recovered slightly I was able to pick up my pace again. My mom told me that if I could just do a 10 minute pace then we would still come in under 4 hours. I decided that was no sweat and I could do that easy. We had been running 8 minute miles for the first 17 and a half miles, I knew I could do a 10 minute pace for the last 5. Well, we kept going and we were right on pace again. Keeping it right at about 9.45-10 minutes per mile, I was feeling better and more energized just thinking of the wonderful finish line that was awaiting us. I couldn’t wait. There is nothing better than a finish line after a ridiculously long race like that, and I was jazzed for it!
By the end of mile 23, beginning of mile 24, I was hitting what I call my second wall. This is the wall that I believe was a huge tender mercy. My legs had completely given out. One minute I was running just pleased as punch that the finish line was coming up, the next minute, my legs were shooting all sorts of pain in every direction almost making me collapse right on the road. We slowed down to a walk and I kept telling my mom that she could go on ahead and I would meet her at the finish line. She again, was very adamant that she wanted to stay by my side.
We made it through mile 24 by walking a block and running 2 blocks. Physically my legs could not move any more. I have never, in my whole life of running, experienced something quite like that. I have hit a few walls before, but nothing like this. Finally, we made it to mile 25 and I was so relieved. 1.2 miles left and I could hang up my marathon shoes forever. The fans were going crazy, cheering everyone on, playing music, singing even if there wasn’t music, making up chants….just having a blast. We kept going and pretty soon we were a half mile out! AH! What a great feeling! Knowing that in just two more corners I would be able to see the finish line, and then I would be able to experience that wonderful feeling of accomplishment as you cross that line knowing that you are done! However, once again I was stopping to walk a block, run two blocks, and I was praying that I could just make it to the end.
At about that point, my mom’s phone started to ring, it was my dad. We both thought it was really weird that he was calling her, he knew we were almost to the finishing stretch, where he was waiting, and we would be seeing him soon. She picked up anyway and he told her of the terrible tragedy. He told her that they were stopping the race and that we wouldn’t be able to finish. Not 30 seconds later we were being stopped by some police officers and some race officials telling us once more about the tragedy at the finish line. The race was over, and hundreds and thousands of people were left to wonder what had happened, if their families were ok, how and why this happened, and wanting to ask a million questions. As we were waiting on the course for about 45 minutes before they started re-routing us, I remember the words from the blessing my dad gave me the night before. It all made sense. I was extremely touched by the truth of the power of the priesthood. I had no idea going into that race the things that I was about to face or experience, yet my Heavenly Father knew. He knew the things that I needed to hear in that blessing that would help me understand things and would give me peace when I needed it then.
After about 3 hours and walking an additional 3+ miles we were finally able to get our bags and meet back up with my dad, aunt, and my uncle once more. It was definitely a tender reunion and a memory I will forever have.
I look back at that experience and I cannot tell you the amount of blessings and tender mercies I was able to witness. Had I have not hit that second wall, my mom and I would have been on that finishing stretch, right where the bombs went off. The first wall was something that happened because our bodies can only handle so much, but the second wall was truly a blessing and a tender mercy. I know our Heavenly Father was watching out for my mom and me that day.
My dad was a mere 50 yards away from the second bomb. My aunt had been standing extremely close to the area where the second bomb went off and she decided she would go down and stand with my dad closer to the end of the street so they could get out of the masses faster to go meet up with us once we finished. Something that seemed like a split second decision for her and for my dad, I know was really a blessing that kept them safe. They both walked away without a scratch or any injury. So incredibly blessed.
What a blessing that it was that my mom had her phone. She never runs with her phone, but for whatever reason, she decided to run with it that day so she could capture the experience. How grateful we are that she did, without her phone, it would have been nearly impossible to find my dad and my aunt and be able to meet up with them among the masses.
What a huge blessing my mom was determined to stay by my side. I can’t even imagine being stranded on that course all by myself. I can’t imagine the myriad of emotions I would have felt if I wouldn’t have known if all of my family was ok. Trying to find and meet up with my dad and aunt was hard enough with cell phones, being by myself would have made it nearly impossible to find them. So grateful I wasn’t alone.
There are so many other little tender mercies and miracles that happened that day, I could probably write about them for pages and pages, but my point is this. No matter how average or simple we feel we are, we are REMEMBERED. Our Heavenly Father definitely has a plan for each and every one of us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He will be there to guide us through whatever it is that we are asked to go through. The power of the priesthood is real. I am so incredibly thankful for a wonderful father who is worthy to hold the priesthood and to exercise the priesthood. I am thankful for all of the men, young and old, who exhibit that same quality. That is one quality that is priceless to a girl and one I will eternally be grateful for. We are surrounded by so many wonderful people. What a blessing in my life to see that even in the midst of tragedy, there is SO much good that is surrounding us. So much good that comes of it and so much good that we can learn from.
My “Marathon Monday” experience was very different than most, but it is one I will forever remember and hold dear to my heart. We are so blessed. We are REMEMBERED. People are so good. Life is great! Boston 2014…you can bet I will be there!!