Upon returning from church last Sunday, I received a phone call from a friend, inviting my family to an exclusive tour of the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. A mutual friend of ours works there, and had invited friends and family over for the afternoon. I was the only one in my family who had been to that part of Thanksgiving Point, but had only been there while running the half marathon that is held each year — a race I would be running the following weekend.
As we made it to the gardens, we were opened up to a world of beauty that few even know exist. To our left was a waterfall that emptied into the most majestic of pools. The kids ran around on the lush, green grass, and then made their way to the brick road that would wind its way through the hundreds of thousands of tulips displayed throughout the area.
My husband turned to me and said. “You knew this was here, and didn’t tell me?” I looked back at him, with the same puzzled look. I had run the race that wound through these very same gardens before, but I had no idea that all of this existed. It was four years ago when I got back into the competitive running scene, and had picked the Thanksgiving Point Half as one of my goal races for the year. There were two main motivators for me to run this race: a high level of competition and prize money.
I had a goal of winning the race, and of running a personal best time. I was met with some stiff competition, and had underestimated the difficulty of the course. I spent the next 13.1 miles focused on the women ahead of me, and cursing the hills and sharp turns. I ended up with third place, with a time I was not happy about, vowing never to return to that course again.
But, as I walked around the gardens that Sunday afternoon, I watched my children run around giddy with excitement. At that moment, I could not believe that I had been here before and failed to see the beauty around me.
The next Saturday was the race, and as I toed the start line, my motivation was simple: to be aware of what was around me, not who was ahead or behind. When I entered the part of the race that wove through The Gardens, I was not focused on the steep hill climbs or sharp corners, but instead the beauty that abounded.
I ran by the Italian Gardens water feature, and remembered watching my son, Ace, as he led my baby by the hand up the steps. As I passed between rows of tulips, I couldn’t help but smile and take it all in. I crossed the finish line in second place, with more spring in my step than I’ve had in a while, and I left with a new found determination to take time to smell the roses — or in my case, tulips.
Arianne Brown is a mother of 6, and Southern Utah native. For more writings by her, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @arimom6.