I have been thinking about this post for a few weeks now. On many of my runs it has come in and out of my thoughts. I will think about it for a bit, get emotional, and have to let it go. Now it is time to write it. It will be a reminder for myself and my boys just what this upcoming race means to me.
When I first started running 6 years ago I would have never guessed that this is where I would have ended up. I had lost 40 pounds from 9 months of pregnancy and grief eating. I had been through therapy and knew I needed time for myself. Exercise seemed like a great way to do that. I could explain the time away from my kids to my own guilting brain… getting fit was benefitting them. I plugged away on the elliptical for months.
You can’t run. You never could. You were one of the last to finish the mile in school. You are not a runner. You’ll look like an idiot. You will be huffing and puffing, turning bright red. You will never feel like those people do when they run so easily.
These were my own private thoughts when I would walk by the treadmills. Finally, I decided…
Fuck it. I can do whatever I want.
And I spent a lot of time huffing and puffing and turning bright red. But something in me wanted to do this. I have thought over and over about what may have been pushing me to run? Why running? Matt was running a bit here and there, but had to stop because of his knees. Maybe that’s what put the thought in my head. Maybe.
Or maybe it was the warm thoughts of being at the track. I have very clear memories of taking my dolls to the track with my mom and watching my brother compete. I remember wandering around the bleachers; walking along the cinders, kicking them as I went; and cheering for my brother. To this day I still love the track. As soon as I hit the lanes I feel at home. I never ran track, not even close. But it calls to me. And there are many summer days on my runs when I imagine my brother running with me. What it would have been like, were he still around, to race together or just meet up for an easy run? There are some runs when I have pictured him so perfectly next to me that I would have to look and make sure it was a dream. I have broken down in tears amidst a hard workout because I realize it is and always will be just a figment of my imagination.
Or maybe it was the deep desire to have some time to sort out loss. The runs when I would think about what my mom would have said about how to handle parenting problems. The workouts that were fueled by the memories I was the only one left to carry. Times when I realized just how alone in this world I was because the remaining family I had was trying to erase my mom from history. All the long treks where I could sift through my decisions and making sure I was okay with each one I made.
Or maybe it was that I needed my early mornings to release the anger and hurt I had towards my dad. All the times when I felt abandoned, yes, even at 35 years old. Maybe I needed the quiet to settle those immature feelings and put myself in his place. I could ignore all of reality and put my own feelings aside, inserting his desires for how he wanted his last days. Have the time to realize all his mistakes stemmed from all his pain. Also, to learn from that mistake and not fall into that dark hole myself.
Or maybe it was the fast and hard runs I needed to stop the pain in my heart. Sometimes a sharp pain and sometimes a deep ache in my heart. It was always over my helplessness. The helplessness I held for a baby that I was uncertain would live to see a year. Or the time sweating buckets to wash away my fear of what life would mean for this baby, were he to survive all that was thrown his way. Or the glorious sun rises when I was reminded that every day is a gift with this baby, so stop worrying, stop fearing, stop wanting to control it and just enjoy it. The deep, deep exhales when I could let go of needing to control what cannot be controlled.
Or maybe it was that 4:30 alarms weren’t so early because I was already tossing and turning over thinking about all the things I missed. I forgot the note in their lunch boxes. There wasn’t time to play Uno after school. I could only read off spelling words while doing dishes. Would Cale miss that bed time story we had to forgo? All the guilty feelings. I couldn’t let one boy’s situation cost my other boys their mama time. I could use my runs to stack what I had to do. Set up a mental organizer in order to jam as much in a day as I could.
For me, it is all of these things. Getting the honor of running Boston is the culmination of it all. I don’t know if I would have trained hard enough, run fast enough, pushed further, if it were not for all of these things. So, Boston is the tie that pulls it all together for me. It will be a very emotional day. I will be running for all of these things.
For the strength I had to make the choices I made.
For the dedication to my boys.
For the honor of my family I have had to put to rest.
For the confidence to know what I had to do.
For the insight to learn to let go.
For the passion for life and goodness.
For the love of my little family.
On Monday I will carry with me my mom’s ring on my finger, my dad’s dog tag on my necklace, my brother’s guitar pick in my pocket, and a charm my boys’ helped me imprint their initial on in my hair. I wouldn’t have made it to race day without any of these things. Nor without the love and support of my best friend in life, Matt. My token for him could be my wedding band or engagement ring, but it’s not. My memento of him is silent and strong and always in my heart.