I celebrated my birthday last week. I turned 24 on the 24th, which is apparently called a "golden birthday." It was a good day, and I appreciate the kindness of my friends and family. Thank you for your messages/phone calls/company!
Truthfully, turning 24 felt weird. I left early-twenties and officially entered mid-twenties. Now, I feel like an adult. Now, I feel like I can reminisce about the "old days." Now, I feel obligated to understand things like taxes or car insurance. I sent my friend this message:
The great thing about my birthday is that it always falls before Memorial Day weekend. Ephraim hosts the Scandinavian Festival on Friday and Saturday. Tons of food vendors line up on the street, and craft booths sell stuff that end up in a yard sale. There's also a parade, a car show, live music, pioneer tours, and athletic events. With the exception of the tours, I'm not sure what any of the events have to do with Ephraim's Scandinavian heritage. But it's still fun, and we think it's great.
On Saturday morning, I ran Ephraim's half marathon. Overall, I think it went well, even though I foolishly broke in a new pair of running shoes the day of the race. My old ones were garbage, and I have no idea how I ran in them. I like to describe my running pace as slow and steady. I thought, Cool. It will be like "The Tortoise and the Hare," and I'll be the tortoise who wins the race. Actually, slow and steady is just slow. It doesn't win the race. It crosses the finish line, but technically it loses. The hares in the race who flaunted their stuff didn't tire, they didn't take wrong turns, and they didn't take mid-race naps. They won. I hate to evoke the little league "everyone's a winner" mentality, but I FELT LIKE A WINNER. I was proud of myself, and it was exciting to cross a finish line where the other runners were already gorging on aebleskivers and cheesesteaks.
The race was hard. I ran 11.33 miles the week before, and that run felt fantastic. I almost died during the half marathon. It was hot. Even though we started at 6:15am, the sun felt smoldering (but I got an excellent tan). For much of the race, I ran along fields of crops with the sprinkler systems turned on. Some of the sprinklers rotated, and as I approached one, I prayed to Heavenly Father that one would splash me in the face. I missed the rotation of the sprinkler, and I seriously cried.
During the last stake conference, one of the stake counselors turned running into a delightful metaphor. He talked about how we're all striving to "run the race that's set before us" and how the finish line is like attaining celestial glory. I thought about his metaphor while I was running, and I kept on thinking, Right now, I think I'd rather lay down and die.
But you want to know the best part of the race? It was my dad. A week before the race, Dad and I drove the half marathon route, and he wrote down instructions on an index card because I'm always nervous about getting lost. On the day of the race, Dad occasionally drove around in the mini-van to make sure that I wasn't dead in the gutter. He stopped to give me more gatorade, more ibuprofen, and more encouragement. One time, he yelled out, You're not last! There's a handful of people behind you who are lost or who are quitters! And that's GREAT!" He made me smile, and I'm smiling just thinking about him on race day. I sincerely hope that seeing Jesus at the Second Coming is as glorious as seeing Dad's mini-van half a mile down the road.