For you, Mom

If you run two half marathons in 3 weeks, does that mean you can say you ran a marathon? 😉 Yeah I didn’t think so, but it was worth a shot.

Today I ran the half marathon I had intended to all summer. I’ve been training since late May for this, and although I ran a half on August 30th (a PR of 2:32), I really wanted to run today in honor and in memory of Mom, on what should have been her 74th birthday.

I’ve had some bad runs lately and haven’t been feeling great–aching shin around the lump in my leg from my treadmill fall, twinge-y right hamstring, and tender left knee. And emotionally I’ve just been…off. I suppose we all have been though, right? I’ve been thinking all week about the amazing women in my life that are gone, but also the incredible women in my life that I still have. I’ve tried to be a really good friend this week, but also I’ve made an effort to be a good person. I wish it always came naturally, but it doesn’t. So this week I tried to reach out to people who I might not usually and just say “hi” or “what can I do for you” or “thank you.”

So with all those thoughts and feelings running through me, I got up this morning and tried to prepare my head and my body for what I would hope be a decent 13.1 miles. I wore lots of black, including my “You Got This” shirt, and an orange ponytail holder that made me think of Mom. (Orange was her favorite color–her kitchen counters were orange!) I told my husband I may call him in an hour, and if not, he knew where to meet me with extra water and Gatorade.

As I began my run, I first concentrated on how my body was feeling. I started out fairly slow and just kept moving forward. The first half of the run would be similar to the half I did three weeks ago, but by the time I reached mile 6, I was in completely new territory…and I loved it. I’ve driven on the Lapoint Road in Stetson many, many times (I take it nearly every day in the winter) but running it is extremely different. I was able to admire the scenery more than usual, that cool little pond I had never been up close to, that adorable sign with the birds that make me laugh out loud and think of both of my parents. Much of the run on this road was serene and absolutely enjoyable–except of course the corners where there was nowhere to run but on the road and there would always be two cars coming in both directions. Every. Single. Time. BUT, most folks were extremely courteous this Sunday morning and I had few problems.

Once I reached mile 9, my husband was there for fluid refills and to cheer me on. This is where I began my 2.5 mile stretch on the dirt road which I knew would be hell on my feet. Large sections of this road now have this weird roller pattern, so when you drive over it you’re bumping up and down and feeling like your car will shake apart. And running on it is no better. As your foot lands on the gravel, it doesn’t know where to go. My large canoes could feel a bump in the arch of my foot while my toes and heels felt like they were sinking. Other parts of the road had so much gravel that I slid on stones several times–but I didn’t fall!

I could hear my mother’s voice so clearly through the entire second half of the run. All my life I would tell her my worries about my ability to do something–whether it be passing a class or moving to Pennsylvania for graduate school or raising my son or even going for a long run–and her response to me was always the same, “You can do it. No problem!” She had such faith in me which I often envied. But today I thought, “Yes. I can do this. My body and my mind can do this.”

Thankfully, once I was off the dirt road, I only had 1.5 miles to go and it wasn’t horrible. And I suppose it wouldn’t be, because Mom was with me the entire way.

Mom and I with a giant beer at the Roadkill Cafe in Greenville, Maine back in 1995.

As I ran to the finish line (my driveway), my son ran with me the last bit while my husband shot a video. It was a good, strong finish (2:36) with a bit of sweat and a few tears.

Happy birthday, Mom. I so wish you were here to enjoy your coffee and blueberry cupcake.

But maybe you’re in a place where you are celebrated like you should be–with lots of fantastic food (especially ice cream) and an endless supply of good, hot coffee. ❤

I love you so much, Mom. I miss you and your badass self. Thank you for loving me and believing in me. I’m trying to do that for myself now. I think I’m doing ok.

Channeling My Mom

Seven years ago I ran my first half marathon. It was 12 days before my 40th birthday. I called it Holly’s Half and ran near my home. My husband and then 6-year-old son were my “water boys.” It was really hot for an early June day and my goal was just to finish, preferably under 3 hours. I beat my goal by 3 minutes. It was really difficult and I was completely done by the end and was useless the rest of the day. But I was damn proud of myself.

The last time I truly trained for a half was 5 years ago. I even got up to 12 miles on the treadmill. I didn’t want to run the whole 13.1 on the treadmill because I wanted to do it outside the following week. But a few days later I had pancreatitis and ended up in the hospital.

This spring I decided it was time to try again. Seven years have past, 25 pounds have been gained, 1 brother and 2 parents have died, 1 broken arm, 1 dog bite, husband nearly died, various scrapes and bruises have been formed, and 1 pandemic still coping with. Yet I also got a new job, watched my son grow (and grow and grow!) into a person I’m proud to know and love, read a few thousand books, and most importantly? I gave and received so much love that it’s impossible to measure.

I think I wanted to train for a half marathon again because I needed something to reach for and challenge me. And honestly? I also wanted to lose those 25 pounds but have only lost 12 so far. Oh well!

My goal is to run a half on my mother’s birthday–September 20th. She would have been 74. I wanted to do something for myself but thinking of her and channeling her amazing strength and bad-assery.

Today’s run was supposed to be around 10 miles with a few speed intervals in the middle. I have not run more than a mile since my fiasco on the treadmill last week (I fell off at mile 8 and majorly bruised and scraped my legs and arms and took chunks out of my right hand), so I figured I’d do my best but told my husband he may get a call in an hour to come pick me up. 🙂

I set out with my tunes and water bottle and just trotted for a while. My shin ached at the beginning, but it felt good to move my body. The weather was perfect–breezy, mostly cloudy, in the 60s–a touch of fall in the air. At mile 3, I saw a blue heron. My very first sighting! That completely buoyed my spirits even more. So I ran on and on and turned around at mile five on a road that I had not run on before but look forward to going back to. It was serene and lovely with very few houses.

I took a few walking breaks and as I got closer to my home, I thought about my doctor’s visit this week. He gave the ok to run and I told him I recently ran 10 miles. He said, “Oh! Then you got this! Just 3 more and you’re done.” Then I remembered the pancreatitis and a few times in my life when I didn’t say what I wanted to or did not do what I wanted, all because I planned to say or do them later. Yet that “later” never came. I thought of my mom and the pain she worked through and kept going day after day because that’s who she was.

When I turned onto my road my husband was in my car with a water bottle because he was worried. I gasped out, “Gatorade. I’m gonna keep going.” He raced back to our house and was at our mailbox with Gatorade as I passed. I thanked him, drank, walked for a minute and kept running.

This is me today, just after I finished my second half marathon.

My 11th and 12th miles were pretty slow, both over 13 minutes, but most of the others were pretty decent, and I finished in 2 hours and 33 minutes. The Map My Run app wants me to finish about 15 minutes sooner, and maybe I will if I try this again in 3 weeks. Or maybe I’ll say “no thanks” and be happy I could do it today. Either way, I am once again really damn proud of myself. And I am not nearly as tired as the last time I ran a half! I did laundry today, cleaned the shower, vacuumed, and baked bread. I feel pretty darn good.

That’s my poor bruised leg, my kitty Miso licking my forehead, and my step count. I’ve never seen my steps over 20,000 before!

I expect the upcoming work and school week to be a tough one in our household, but I’m hoping that today will keep me “running high” for a few more days and give me a positive perspective on life, at least for this week. 😉

Take care of yourselves, y’all. One day at a time.