Marathon Moment: Shelley Johnson
By Jennifer Young
When Shelley signed up for the Flying Pig Marathon, she didn’t think it would turn into an obstacle course. She ran through hoops before the starting line, and beyond.
As she began her training, her father got sick. The illness forced Shelley to take a leave of absence from her job and move out of state for a bit. She tried to keep up with her training, but the stress of being a caregiver took its toll. By the time she came home, she had just four weeks left until race day.
She thought about dropping out of the race or running the half marathon instead, but Shelley’s husband and her running friends reminded her she can do hard things.
“I wanted to run this marathon.” she said. “Because if I didn’t at least try, I would let myself down.”
On race day, Mother Nature threw a wrench into her running plan. It was raining as Shelley waited in the start corral. By the time she made it to mile one, it began to lightning. Moments later, runners were told to take shelter. Shelley waited for fifteen minutes with the rest of the 6:30 pace group. Her goal was to finish the marathon in under seven hours.
As they headed out again, Shelley took in all the sights and sounds of the Flying Pig. She won’t forget the “huff and puff” station where a group of people were handing out napkins. “It warmed my heart to see these people having fun and being out there through the horrible rain,” Shelley said. “It made me realize how much the community comes together to be there for the runners.”
At mile 15, Shelley hit a Coca-Cola station, with fig newtons and graham crackers. She stopped and danced with the volunteers. She even took some bacon, calling it her “beacon of hope.”
Shelley eventually caught up with the seven hour pacer and by mile 23 had passed them.
Despite all the obstacles thrown her way, Shelley crossed the finish line in under seven hours, beating her goal.
“I totally KILLED that marathon,” Shelley boasted. “Sure, my legs are so sore I can only take steps sideways. Sure, I’m chafing in awkward places, but damn do I feel accomplished!”