I miss running. I haven’t done much of it lately due to stress (do I wake up at 4am to run so I can take my husband to his appointment then go to work?) or because my body and mind are incredibly sluggish from said stress and lack of sleep. Yet I become more tired the less I run and feel bad about myself so I eat a bit more and gain weight and feel bad and so on and so on and so on. Have you been on this ride before, too? Yeah. Not my favorite.
But this past week I was determined not to feel bad about myself. I was already missing my brother and I didn’t need to feel worse by treating myself like shit. So I did run on Tuesday then snuck a few walks in the next few days. My son and I went on a fantastic hike on Friday that began with his non-stop complaining and ended with his non-stop praise of the scenery. 🙂 We never saw another soul and loved the isolation. This was followed by amazing gelato at the Pugnuts Ice Cream Shop in Surry with my sister and brother-in-law.
The next day I went on a hike by myself and saw funky mushrooms and another little stream, all while listening to the birds and stopping every once in a while to just look up at the canopy of trees with the sky peeking through. It was cathartic and peaceful and I enjoyed nearly every minute of it, until I met someone at the end who had two dogs, one that barked and growled at me. But even that creature couldn’t ruin my tranquility.
When I woke up this morning to grey skies, I knew if I wanted to run I needed to do it soon. I drank coffee, folded clothes, watched a bit of CBS Sunday Morning (my absolute favorite news show for the positive stories that are portrayed), then decided I could do a little run. I ate a banana, put on my “hanging out at home” clothes instead of my usual running tank and wicking shorts, and went out with the attitude that I was going to have a good time.
Just two minutes in and “Little Bird” by Annie Lennox started to play in my ears. I smiled broadly and looked to the sky. “Thanks, Phil!” I shouted. My brother’s love of Annie Lennox was infectious and this song in particular was always one of our favorites. “I look up to the little bird that glides across the sky. He sings the clearest melody. It makes me want to cry….I wish I could be that bird and fly away from here. I wish I had the wings to fly away from here.”
I can’t fly but I pushed my shoulders back, picked up my head and ran a bit stronger and faster. Even when the rain did start coming down just past mile one, I kept chugging along, looking to the skies.
At mile three I had started to lag a bit, but yelled and waved hello at a few of my neighbors that never acknowledge my existence. (They did today!) A half mile later with the rain coming down in a nice, gentle pitter patter, “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande hummed through my earbuds and right down to my toes. That’s when I saw a lone bird flying through the sky, possibly trying to catch up to its buddies, or just out for a solo jaunt like me.
For once, little bird, I don’t want to fly away from here. Not sure how long I can hold onto that feeling, but I’ll take it today. ❤
Today should have been Dad’s 80th birthday. I say “should have”, although he would probably disagree. He was shocked to make it past 70 and he was 2 months shy of his 78th birthday when he died. I also should have run my first marathon today, in honor of Dad. But neither of those things happened.
Yesterday, just like with Mom on Mother’s Day, I visited Dad’s grave. Since it was a Saturday close to Memorial Day, there were a bunch of people in the cemetery, which I hated. Dad would have waved to most folks that were nearby and say “How are ya?” (although it would sound like “Whyya”), but I just kept my head down and set up our picnic.
Dad used to make whirligigs, some were funny, some obscene, and some were just cute. I didn’t plan well enough but for the moment I placed a few small pinwheels, just to have something moving in the breeze. I brought my dad Cheez-Its, which were one of his favorite snacks. There’s an inside joke between my husband and my dad and they used to exchange a box of these crackers nearly every Christmas. It all stemmed from the time my then fiancé drove my dad to Pennsylvania for my graduate school graduation, and my father ate a whole box of Cheez-Its…and proceeded to have horrible gas…and they were trapped inside this little Ford Escort with hours left to drive. It was something they both used to laugh about and bonded over as only men can.
Once I set out snacks and my water bottle, I just sat in front of Dad’s stone and plucked the grass around it and ran my hands over the smooth stone. I could hear people around me, including a man about 20 feet from me laughing into his phone. I tried to block him and the others out, when I started to cry. I was angry and overcome with that loss again–that emptiness I feel when I realize I can never have another conversation with my father. But also the absurdity of the situation. I was bringing my father treats he would never eat again. His body was far beneath the ground I was sitting on and I know this because my sister and I helped put his body in that fucking hole. And all around me people are planting bushes and flowers to sit around these stones with our loved ones names carved into them. But…why?
I wiped my eyes and started to talk to Dad. I told him I loved and missed him. Told him we were all surviving, how tall my son is, how work is going. The usual things we discussed when he was alive. But Dad also liked to have deeper conversations. For a man that never liked to read, he did like to deconstruct thoughts or ideas. And I know some of what he’d say about his grave and stone. He never wanted to be cremated because he said, “I’ll be close enough to hell as it is.” He was traditional in some ways, hence the funeral home visiting hours, the church funeral, the burial. All the stuff that I hate, but the stuff that he and his wife knew and understood. But as I sat there, I also got it, I understood. In a way, I do like being able to “visit” my father. I like being able to still give him things, even if that’s just a plant or a plaque or mints (my father always had mints of some kind and I leave at least one wintergreen lifesaver every time). I do talk to him occasionally when I’m home or somewhere else, so I don’t save that for the cemetery. Honestly I usually get upset when I go to Dad’s grave in particular because I can’t feel him. I’ve visited his grave on days that I just really wanted to talk with him, and I’ve always left even more bereft then when I arrived because he’s not there. I always think that I’ll feel something, like his spirit is somehow there, but it isn’t. It really isn’t. But…I also don’t even believe in spirits anyway! See how confused I am?
I just want to believe in something because it’s too devastating to think my parents and brother are just…gone.
No longer exist.
So…I continued to talk to Dad. Why the hell not? The cemetery cleared out, the breeze died down and the black flies started to swarm. “Dad, I’m going to go, ok? As you would say, the black flies are about to pick me up and slam me to the ground!” I kissed his grave stone and told him I’d be back next month.
When I drove home, I saw the sign for the Robyville Bridge–a historic covered bridge in Corinth. I had been there before but I felt the need to go there again. I just took a few photos, avoided the couple that was there as much as possible, walked then ran across the bridge. That need I felt to go to the bridge was like a need to feel alive, to experience something new. Even something as simple as looking at, admiring and running across a covered bridge fulfilled that need.
As I woke up this morning, the day I should have been running for hours and hours and had trained for for many months, I figured I might as well try to start training again. So far my leg is better (although I am now aware that could change at any time). My heart isn’t in it as much as before, but hopefully that will change. The run I took was just 4 miles this morning, but it was already 73 degrees and humid at 9am. It wasn’t a pleasant run for the first half. At the 2.75 mile mark, I had to walk (or shuffle) and drink more water. The sun was frying my brain and destroying my will to go on, until I heard the lovely tune of two geese squawking and flying in the sky just behind me. I have this thing for geese, and often wonder if it’s my family hanging out near my house. And today, after the geese flew over, the clouds rolled in and cooled things down just a tad and I immediately felt better. I laughed out loud and decided that my parents were giving me some support and urging me to keep going. So I did.
This afternoon, I took my son to an international food festival at the high school near where I work, and we ate SO MUCH. One or both of us tried a food from every single country they had (except for Japan because they weren’t ready). We couldn’t pronounce some of the foods, a few were things we had eaten before, and others seemed strange but were typically delicious. It was a fun experience and one that I know the rest of my family would have enjoyed. If food was involved, my father would have been happy. He might have been a meat and potatoes man, but he was willing to try just about anything. It was a great way for us to honor Dad today.
Then on the way home from the festival, I saw a turtle in the road. Over the years, my mother picked up many, many turtles and sometimes brought them home. I distinctly remember finding a turtle in our bathtub on at least two occasions. I always stop for turtles and try to shoo them to the other side of the road. Typically my son hates it, but today he helped me and we just walked behind the turtle, moving it along so cars wouldn’t kill it. Seeing the turtle felt like a little “hello” from Mom…if I believed in that sort of thing.
And now as I sit here, thinking about the days ahead, I am a bit relieved that there are a few weeks until Father’s Day and my brother’s birthday–they happen to fall on the same day this year. A double whammy. Maybe I’ll have a few more gains and pluses and good moments before then. Maybe I’ll have more bad days than good. No matter what though, I will keep remembering, keep running if physically possible, and keep my eyes to the sky. Because you just never know, right? You just never know.
Five months after my brother died and just weeks after I moved my mother in with my family, I decided to talk to a counselor–the first time in over 12 years. But just trying to work out the logistics to get to that appointment stressed me out so much that I remember screaming in my car on the way there. I kept saying “I am never going to fucking do this again!” I only went to the counselor twice because she was absolutely horrible when it came to grief. At one point I was crying in her office, telling her how much I missed Phil, and what does she say? “He’s still with you, Holly.”
Really?!? Can I sit and talk to him and he talks back? Is he going to tell me a joke and give me advice on raising my son? Will he still be at my son’s high school graduation that he tried so fucking hard to live for? No, you goddamned bitch, HE’S. NOT. HERE.
Of course, me being the person I was (not sure I’m still that person), I just nodded and whispered, “I know.” Inside, though, I immediately deflated. (The anger came later.) I knew she would not be able to help me. On a side note, she was extremely helpful in helping with some issues with my mom and her jackass boyfriend. So the counselor was not useless at least.
Since those counseling sessions, I’ve only pondered finding someone else to talk to. After Dad’s death and especially after Mom’s, I thought, “Ok. You might want to talk with someone, Holly. This is a lot of shit to deal with.” I was so exhausted by fucking everything that I passed out momentarily in my kitchen after my mother’s celebration of life, with my poor son freaking out and calling his father who was out of state at the time. But I still didn’t ask for help. I barely even took time off of work. Then my husband nearly died, and once he came home I encouraged HIM to go to counseling. (When you’re in a coma for a while, there are many gaps in memory and events and it’s difficult for your brain to fill that time in.) Instead, I became HIS counselor and tried to help him sort out what happened to him and what was happening in my world at that time. But I didn’t go and talk to anyone then either. I started drinking most nights–just one drink–but I felt like I *needed* it, along with my anti-depressant. Hell, I often swallowed my pill with a swig of wine! (And no, this is not advisable.) Then, of course, the pandemic hit and didn’t everyone need a therapist at that point? I looked into Betterhelp.org, but they wanted to match me with a male counselor who, in my mind looked like either a serial killer or a child molester.
But we all know how that last thing turned out, right? Yeah. So then I started to worry about what I was eating and without running would I start binging or restricting food? I mentioned in my last post that I reached out to a dietician, but after thinking about it, I knew I needed more help than that. So I did a little search on counselors in the area that specialized in eating disorders. Then lo and behold, one of my dear friends from my past was a counselor for this very thing. When I saw her name, I immediately called and left a message. I knew she couldn’t be my counselor, but I trust her and knew she’d have someone in mind.
Then St. Patrick’s Day came–the anniversary of Dad’s death. And then I read a book that reminded me of my brother and I sobbed while eating lunch at work. Then I found one of my mother’s tote bags and it still smelled like her. And then…and then…and then…
You, readers, have been my sounding board for years now and although it certainly helps me to hear advice and anecdotes and to feel the love you’ve shared and showed me, I know I need to do something else, too. So when I talked to my friend, I asked her to help me find someone that could help me with MANY problems/issues/dilemmas, or in other words, life. I’ve only corresponded with this new counselor once, just so she has an idea of what I want to work on, but I won’t get to actually talk or meet with her until May. But, you know, once I had a name and heard her voice and read her email, it gave me this little high. Kind of like when you’re about to go on a first date and you have butterflies and possibly high expectations (I am trying to squash those) but more than anything, you’re filled with hope. This person you’re about to meet could possibly change your life for the better. And in this case, maybe help ME change MY life for the better.
We’ll see. Until then, I will carry on. Because that’s what I do. Because that’s what we all do, right? I can’t say I “keep calm and carry on” because my bursts of anger refute that phrase, but maybe you do? Whether you’re calm and serene, or pissy like me, let’s just keep going, ok?
I had a really nice run 10 days ago, and I wish I had blogged about it. Everything just felt good–the movement of my body, the weather, my outlook on life–it was a good day.
A week ago I thought I might have shin splints. I wore a pair of older shoes for my recovery run, so when my right leg was aching the next day, I thought I had fucked up. So I rested a few days and tried a slow jog. Nope. Worse. So I rested a few more days and finally two days ago, my leg felt much better. I went grocery shopping, walked around a bit, stayed on my feet at home cooking and cleaning, then in the late afternoon my right leg ached horribly.
I knew what it was but I kept denying it. It can’t be. After 9 weeks of training for a marathon, after running much of last year, four times a week including two half marathons, this can’t be happening.
A god damned, shitty ass fucking stress fracture.
Although we’re waiting for the x-ray to confirm our suspicions, my doctor and I are quite certain that is what has happened. I suspected it, told him so, but also told him I was really hoping I just had shin splints. As soon as I took off my compression stockings, he said, “Oh dear.” He explained a lot, showed me various things on my leg, I bit back my sob until I just couldn’t.
We went over a plan, talked about other exercising I can do, what the x-ray might say and what we do if it’s not conclusive (get another one in a few weeks), and he sat with me as I cried and mourned my marathon dreams.
Does it mean I won’t run again? No. Does it mean my dream of running a marathon are off forever? I don’t know. Maybe. You know, tall women are not the best runners. Our bodies are not made to run this much. And 47-year-old tall women really aren’t made for it.
I’m incredibly sad.
Much of my identity in the past decade has been linked to being a runner. And I thought I was doing everything right. I followed my running plan religiously. I started lifting weights and doing ab work. I’ve tried to eat much better and had just contacted a nutritionist LAST WEEK and my appointment was supposed to be today. I had just ordered new running shoes for Pete’s sake!!! And, of course, they came today.
I have so many feelings swirling in my body and brain right now, that it’s hard to say everything I want to. I know part of my fear is that I’ll start binge eating or will obsessively count calories more than I do now because I don’t want that weight to creep up again. I haven’t lost much since my training began, but I’ve been so happy with the muscles in my legs and the small changes of the rest of my body. It’s made me feel strong and confident, and I don’t want that to end. Running is intrinsically tied to my mental health. Walking outside has also been very beneficial to my mental wellness, too, and I can’t even do that now.
I know this must sound like such a whiny bitch post and there are so many other horrendous problems out there that many of my friends are dealing with. And you know I love you and I’m here for you. That hasn’t changed. But right now, I need to bitch and moan and feel sorry for myself. So that’s what I’m doing.
Fortunately, I have incredible people in my life. The few I told today made me feel loved and cared for and heard. They also made me laugh and feel a smidge better. And if I didn’t mention this to you? Please don’t be offended. You have enough shit to deal with in your life and you didn’t need to hear about mine. (Of course, if you’re reading this then now you are hearing about it. You’re welcome.) 😉
So…what happens now?
Well, more than likely running and long walks are out for 3-6 months. Yup. Just when weather in Maine is finally fucking gorgeous, I won’t be able to enjoy it as much as I want to. So I’ll have to find other ways to do that. I have a manual elliptical (no electronics) that I plan to place on my porch. I might even start that garden I keep talking about but never create. I ordered a pricey (but not Pelaton pricey) stationary recumbent bike and hope to have it next week. I moved my nutritionist appointment to later this week. After I left a sobby message, the dietician suggested that maybe we can still work on my food issues as well as finding the right fuel for my future running. She’s not giving up on me yet, so I shouldn’t either, right?
Can I just bitch about one more thing? I know for some, 10,000 steps is a stupid goal to have for each day. And my kid likes to say I’m a slave to technology since I’m always trying to get my steps in according to what my fitness tracker says. And for 314 days straight, I had over 10,000 steps every.damn.day. And now I don’t. I had hoped to make it a full year, and I came fucking close. But I need to let that go, too, right?
Everywhere you run has its challenges. I’ve only run in a handful of suburbs and cities, but the advantage I see there are sidewalks and more clear paths. But the downside seems to be way too many people. I typically run at my home in rural, central Maine. I’ve been run off the road a time or two, and nearly run over too many times to count. Occasionally I know it’s the conditions, particularly the sun in the driver’s eyes. I know this because my husband almost hit me last fall and was horribly shaken up afterwards. I was wearing everything you’re supposed to wear (lots of reflective gear, bright clothes, etc.) but the sun was in his eyes and he just didn’t see me. But so far I haven’t been physically hurt by a driver. I’ve been splashed by puddles, mud, and slush, but that’s par for the course, right?
But for the past few months, I have enjoyed my running excursions outside immensely. This is why:
In the winter, I rarely run on any road but my own. There is little traffic and my goal is just to get a few miles in outside and do it as safely as possible. Last fall, this beautiful creature started to follow me for about a half mile on some of my runs. (Thank you to Joelle, one of my neighbors, for sharing the video with me.) This past week, Bam Bam, as some people have affectionately called her, has run with me every day. I took this video a few days ago. From what I’ve pieced together from some of the neighbors, this deer’s mother was killed and a family took her in as a fawn so she’d survive. (I say “she” because I’m hoping Bam Bam does not grow up to a large buck that could easily kill me when “in a rut”, or aka breeding season.)
So since the fall, Bam Bam has become like a neighborhood pet. I guess she likes carrots, but not from me. She trusts people more than she should, but she’s an absolute joy to be around. A bunch of the neighbors came out to see her today as she ran behind me, all the way past my house which was new for her. She tends to stay in this small 1/2 mile area, but today she ran over 2 miles with me! (Mostly behind me, once beside me, then near my house she took off in front of me and was so dang graceful and beautiful!)
I’m sure this amazing time won’t last, but I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook and you’re sick of seeing these types of photos and videos, you might want to block me. As long as Bam Bam is around, I will continue taking photos of this lovely creature. I hope it at least brings a smile to your face.
I tried to live today like I want my year to be. I wanted to run, read, do a little cleaning, watch a movie, spend time with my son and husband, and eat sushi–all activities I’d like to do for the rest of the year. I actually got to do all of those things, but nothing quite turned out the way I wanted or expected.
My 5k run wasn’t horrible as far as speed or conditions, but I felt absolutely uncomfortable in my body. If you watched me run, you probably thought I had major tics or was having a seizure. I kept moving my shoulders, trying to relax, tucking and untucking my shirt, adjusting my hat, and just flailing about. Nothing felt quite right. I could only focus for a few seconds here and there, but mostly it was just crappy. BUT, the sunshine was wonderful, little wind, and the 27 degrees felt much better than it sounds.
I didn’t read what I should have, but I read the last in a graphic novel series (Fence) that my son and I have been reading and it’s highly enjoyable. I feel no guilt whatsoever for not reading anything for work or my committee.
My son and I took down the outside Christmas lights and decorations. I wish I had a photo of my son taking down Darth Vader and hugging him close. It was damn adorable. My husband made us a lovely ham dinner for lunch and I got a smidge of vacuuming done, but no other cleaning took place. I ended up doing a bit of yoga instead and I think my time was well spent.
For a while everyone did their own thing, so I watched “Blackbird” starring Susan Sarandon. Have you seen it? It’s about a woman who wants to end her life because her ALS is starting to restrict what she can do. She invites her family over for the weekend so they can spend time together and say goodbye. Not really uplifting per se, but I feel very strongly about dying with dignity and wish every state in this country would allow people to die how they choose. Most people don’t even get the chance to die where they want much less dying how they want to.
I didn’t intend to watch this film today, but I borrowed it from the library a few weeks ago and it’s been sitting in front of our television since then. I couldn’t remember what it was about until I put it in and figured, “What the hell.” I’ll be honest, though, I haven’t finished it yet. I just watched a scene where the woman with ALS gives everyone a gift at the table, including her wedding ring which she gives to her husband. I was crying before we got to that part and completely lost it at that moment. I figured it was a good time to stop.
We picked up sushi from our favorite restaurant and brought it home for dinner. We decided we’d have a nice living room picnic and watch “Titans” on HBO Max. Of course, the one thing I really wanted was mistakenly left out of our order–miso soup! It always makes me feel better for anything that ails me. I whined for a few minutes then ate my absolutely fantastic raw fish and rice with my family. At one point my son and I argued and there was slamming of a door and sighing and generally feeling pissed off, and then the moment passed and we finished eating and we were ok. The three of us sat around after watching an episode and just chatted and laughed and enjoyed the moment.
My lovely son being the person he is, stopped and said, “You know this is great. Just hanging out, talking and laughing. This is really great.”
It is. It is really great. THAT is what I want this year and next year and every year I’m on this planet to be. I want it comprised of good conversation, lots of laughing and loving, good food, exercise, reading, time outside–preferably while feeling good inside this body but I’ll work on that. There will always be disappointments and disagreements and grief and stress and more crying than you would think is possible. But I also know there will also be at least a few surprises and encouraging words and acts of kindness and moments of happiness and laughing and many memories. There are so many good memories with those we’ve lost as well as with those that are still here. But there are more good memories to be made.
So let’s go make those good memories, ok? Even a great conversation over the phone or on Zoom can create a great memory. Let’s connect while we can and while we’re still here.
It was cloudy here this morning, much like this day last year. As my husband and I started to watch CBS Sunday Morning, I kept looking outside just after 9am. I kept looking for that sunbeam. I kept looking for her.
You see, I missed the moment Mom died. I left her bedside 5 minutes before she died. My sister was with her, as was the hospice nurse and doctor. The hospice care had just arrived as I was about to leave for my own doctor’s appointment. I remember telling Mom that I’d be right back. Before I even got across town to the doctor’s office, my sister called me.
I had a lot of anger towards Mom for that. For dying when I wasn’t there. And then the hospice doctor told me that just after Mom died, the sun broke through the clouds and shown through the window for just a minute, as if Mom was saying that she was ok. It gave me comfort for a bit, but then that pissed me off, too. I kept thinking, “Really, Mom?!? You sent a message to Bonnie and the doctor, but not to me?!?” Yup. I was that angry and irrational.
But as this year has passed, my anger has turned inward. I was so mad at myself for leaving that day. I really did believe I had the rest of the day to be with her and I felt like I needed to get this appointment out of the way. It was with the surgeon for my broken arm 3 months before, and it still hadn’t healed the way I thought it should, so I wanted to get some clarification. But it could have waited. Nothing was more important at that moment then my mother.
And yet I left.
Like most human beings, I am extremely selfish. And I don’t always make the best choices. On October 4th, 2019, I made a bad choice and I’ll never, ever forget it.
I know if Mom was here, she’d say that it was ok. I was her baby and my health should have come first. But it really didn’t. She was on her deathbed for fuck’s sake! I was absolutely foolish to think I would have the rest of the day with her, and even if I did, why was that enough time when I knew I would never get her back? That I would be motherless for the rest of my life?
So…this morning…no sunbeam. My sister said she saw lots of birds, which makes both of us think of our parents, and she was going to bake today in honor and memory of Mom. I planned to (and did) the same. But I still kept looking for some damn sign.
I have never thought of myself as spiritual. I’m agnostic, which means I don’t know what’s “true” as far as religion goes and have faith in just about nothing. But since 3/4 of my family has died, I am constantly looking for signs that they’re out there. I can’t help it. Part of me thinks it’s ridiculous, but the other part misses my brother and parents so much sometimes that I can’t function so I need to think that they are somehow ok.
This morning, after watching the cloudy skies for a while, I took a quick walk with my son then gathered my running gear to go for a 5-miler. The music I listened to was just background noise as I kept my eyes on the road or sky, thinking about Mom. I tried not to remember last year, but instead thought of myself as a teen, watching Mom cook in our kitchen while I told her about my day. I thought of her knee-slapping laugh when my brother said something extraordinarily naughty and funny. I thought of her face lighting up when my boy entered the room.
I glanced up at the sky at the 2-mile mark, and saw one crow flying alone. No other birds, no other crows, just one bird flying west. I ran along and watched it for as long as I could.
“Hi Mom,” I whispered.
Eventually, the crow flew away and I kept running.
Once I got back home, I’ve basically been baking non-stop. Almond lemon cookies, banana bread, and for the first time, rum cake. Mom made rum cake for every single Christmas and it was always one of my favorite things she baked. I didn’t use her recipe for my first try, and although my family says it’s great, it’s definitely not as good as Mom’s. It’s not as boozy as hers was! I’ll try it again near the holidays.
I had hoped between the running and the baking, I’d feel a bit better, but I don’t. I still can’t believe it’s been a year. Most days it feels like a decade, and other times I relive Mom’s last few days so much that it seems like yesterday.
I want to ask a favor of you. If you knew my mom, I’d love for you to toast her tonight with a cookie or a piece of cake or a drink of any kind. Remember something good about her–about her cooking in the school kitchen, about her laughing at a joke, about her loving her kids and grandkids. And if you never knew my mom, then think about your own–whether living or gone, and toast her. Give praise to her if you can. Let’s send some love out to the universe tonight. ❤
I listen to the “Fake Doctors, Real Friends” podcast, featuring Zach Braff and Donald Faison of the television show Scrubs. It’s a great distraction from life and it makes me laugh hysterically when I take walks or do housework. Zach often talks about his whiteboard and how if you want things to happen, you need to visualize them. So he writes things he wants to happen on a whiteboard and places it where he can see it.
I have a whiteboard in my office at work, and I write the annual goals I want to achieve regarding my library. I finally crossed off “Write and adopt a collection development policy” after having it on the list since I was hired. But this summer I added “Do not physically harm another person” after the staff and I had a particular trying day in the library.
I’ve never had a lot of personal goals, though, unless they related to my weight. I STILL want to lose 13 more pounds, but after literally running hundreds of miles this summer AND watching what I eat, that damn scale hasn’t budged. But my pants fit better so I’m throwing my hands up for now!
Occasionally I’ll have a new year’s resolution where I try a new recipe each week or do something that scares me every month, or I’ll have a particular running goal like running a half on my mom’s birthday. But now, after running for nearly 10 years (this December), I have a goal that I’m ready to say out loud. I might even get a whiteboard for home to write it on there, but this is even better than a whiteboard. Because y’all will know what I’m trying to do. The scary part for me is that you’ll also know if I fail.
I told very few people about running a half for Mom–just my husband and maybe a couple of friends. But even with my friends it was just in passing like “I might do this.” Hell, even with my husband, I gave myself lots of outs just in case.
But this is something on my bucket list. This is something I’ve really wanted to do for nearly 10 years, but never thought I had it in me. And yet….I want to have the strength to do this.
I want to run a marathon.
I know, it’s no big deal, right? People do this ALL the time. Yeah, well, it also takes a lot of training and a lot of effort and I honestly don’t even know if my body (or my mind) can do it. But…I really want to and I’m willing to put in the effort to at least try. Being the librarian I am, I’ve been reading books that I own, that my library owns, and ordering a ton of material through interlibrary loan to find a plan that will work for me. I’ve weeded out a few already, but some have just some really great advice or inspirational stories that I’ll probably photocopy to keep me going.
I won’t do an in-person race, even if there are any next year. If I did, it would be the Bay of Fundy International Marathon where you run from Maine to Canada. (Seriously, doesn’t that sound AMAZING?!?) I have a date in mind for next year when I’d like to try and run a marathon at home, but I’m not ready to say the date because as we all know, life can get in the way. Shit happens. I could break my other arm. You never know.
But for now, I’m just throwing my dream out there into the world and I’m hoping I can make it come true. I’ll surround myself with plans and research and opinions. I’ll talk to my doc (who is a runner) and I may even consult a dietician. I’ll buy more running shoes and at least one more pair of shorts. And, of course, I’ll keep running.
If you have run a marathon, I’d love to hear your story or any tips you want to share. I plan to ask at least Kirsten, Kola and Kartika a few questions (and I love that the three friends I know for sure have run a marathon have names that begin with K!).
And who knows? Maybe I’ll even get a tattoo afterwards.
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.
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.