Written by the Crazy Mother Runners: Marnie, Carsen, and Sherry.
The sunrise from the top of Lewis Peak glows soft pinks and purples. The crisp wind cools our foreheads as we enjoy the little reward after climbing the last 5 miles. We set down our hydration packs and take a picture together to remember this beautiful morning. The morning didn’t quite start as peaceful as this mountain top moment. But that’s how we like it.
An hour earlier, an incoming group text reads, “I’m going to be seven minutes late.” Relieved to get the message, since I’m also running late. Always late. But that’s okay since one or all of us are consistently 7-10 minutes late. Finishing up our classes at the gym, helping our kids and husbands, or just trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep. We’ve made it a habit to multitask. Filing every minute of our day. We might be busy, but finding time for running, with good friends, is a priority.
Marnie and I pull up at the trailhead together. She waves and flashes her big grin. “Hi! How’s it going? Do you and extra headlamp? If not, that’s okay. I can just use my phone flashlight.” I answer that I do. I seem to keep extra things in my car just for her. Headlamps, headphones, toilet paper. We all have our silly quirks, which I think are only noticed after years of running together.
Carsen pulls up and immediately jumps out of her truck. She might be a few minutes late but she consistently shows up ready to run. No fidgeting with clothes or packs like Marnie and me. She’s dressed for 30-degree weather even though it’s at least 50 degrees. “How many layers do you have on today?” I ask. She laughs and says, “Oh, at least three. Ha! Let’s go!”
Marnie: “Wait! I still need to turn on my watch and music!”
Sherry: “Good, I need to pee.”
Our thirty-something-mom bladders and bodies aren’t what they used to be, but we wouldn’t let anyone tell us that. If someone did, we’d make sure to beat them to the top of the trail.
We take our place on the headlamp lit, single track.
Marnie: “Hey, have you seen that late-night show that does Car Karaoke? He had Gwen Stefani on and it was so fun.”
Sherry: “Yuck, I can’t stand Gwen Stefani. She was good when she was with No Doubt. Now she’s had too much plastic surgery and can’t sing.”
Marnie: “No she hasn’t! She totally looks the same as she did 20 years ago. I love her! She’s so great on The Voice.”
Sherry: “Blah. She’s washed up. Especially, now that she’s dating Blake. She’s a sell out for dating a country singer.”
Marnie: “Whatever. She’s great and she was hilarious on Car Karaoke.”
We giggle and Carsen starts to sing a song. Marnie and I can’t quite figure out the song she’s singing but she is belting it out like she’s Patsy Cline.
Marnie: “Is that supposed to be No Doubt?”
Carsen: “Of course!”
We all laugh as we try to catch our breath on the steep, rocky trail.
Marnie’s phone begins talking out loud, Strava is notifying her that we’ve reach a half a mile. We hear the pace and overall time.
Carsen: “Marnie! Is that going to talk to us every half mile? You’ve got to turn that off.”
Marnie: “I love hearing my stats and I forgot my headphones. You’ll be fine.”
We get into a steady rhythm together, taking turns leading up the climb. Sweeping away the cobwebs that have been spun during that night across the trees. Miles seem to tick by as we enjoy each other’s laughter and stories from the day before. There’s nothing better than pushing the body to its max, trying to keep up with someone else.
As dawn starts to break, a rustle comes from the trees and we all halt and scream. Reflective, yellow eyes come charging through the bushes and we scream again.
Marnie: “Oh my gosh! What is that?”
This feels like deja vu. This scenario happens quite often. When we began running together, about 11 years ago, we were novice runners. We’d run through the urban streets of Ogden, not realizing three women didn’t belong there. We’d see cars stop at odd places along the street and we’d conjure up crazy scenarios in our heads that the cars must be following us. It seemed to scare Marnie the most, and we could feel her pace quicken. We all knew what she was thinking, “I just have to stay in front of everyone else so the bad guys can’t get me.” Still to this day, Marnie can be persuasive when she thinks we’re in danger, making us dive in the bushes for protection or screaming at the top of our lungs and running faster.
Carsen: “oh my gosh. It was just Dottie.” Dottie is Carsen’s dog that loves the trails as much as she does.
We all sigh in relief as our hearts beat unusual fast, all the way up in our throats. We make eye contact and start laughing again. We’ve seen signs of just about every kind of animal up in the Wasatch Mountains that we call home. Encounters with mama moose, large mountain lion tracks, even the small birds on the trail have scared us a time or two. I seem to be the calmest in situations like this. Trying to diffuse the situation like it’s no big deal. Maybe it’s more stupidity and my no-it-all personality taking over.
We continued up to the saddle to see Ben Lomond Peak to the north and Pineview Reservoir to the east as the sun begins to rise. Yellow wild flowers have bloomed and it looks like a scene from a movie.
Sherry: “The hills are alive…”
Marnie: “with the sound of music…”
Breaking out into song is normal, right? Well, it is for us! If you ran into us on the trails you’d see a group of giggly girls that look like we don’t have a care in the world and that life is simple. For the most part it is, but the stresses of life are forgotten about when we’re up here. You wouldn’t know we have part time jobs, 11 kids between us, and 10 loads of laundry waiting for us at home to be folded. This routine isn’t just about the exercise or the training. It’s more than that. It’s our heaven. It’s our therapy. Everything looks clearer from a mountain top.
Carsen quickens her stride as we come through the fast, straight trail. She has incredible determination and seems to get faster the more miles we run. She’s gotten into her groove training for her first 100 mile race this year. Gulp. 100 miles!? I don’t think we would have thought was possible for one of us a few years ago. Carsen can do it, though. She’s not the kind of person that takes on a challenge or goal and doesn’t give it her best.
We turn the corner to the final climb. We all take off likes it’s the final yards of a race.
We get to the top and take it all in. Of course, we take some pictures and insta vids. There’s always time for a good picture. Pink and purple sky. It never gets old.