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.

A request

Once again….I am not allowed to run.


I wish I could tell you more about what this MRI says, but I have no idea.  This was taken just this morning, so I’ll talk to my doc next week.  There are several things I found interesting, though, even if I don’t know what they mean.  I apparently have the number 7 inside of my body (upper left hand side).  That is officially my lucky number now. 🙂  And my spine looks awfully crooked. I’m hoping that is how I was lying down, but I don’t know.  And lastly, I love that I can see the hourglass figure of my body in this.  See my indented waist?  Isn’t that freakin’ adorable?!?

So here’s what happened.  My back has been tweaking for basically 6 months.  Two weeks ago, I woke up, thinking I would do a short run bsallylegefore work, but my left leg just wouldn’t work.  The bottom part of my leg was completely numb, my knee was wonky and it just felt like my leg had been replaced by someone else’s.  I felt like Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I saw my doctor that same morning and when she checked my reflexes, I didn’t have any at all in my left leg.  My leg felt weak, which concerned both of us.  She told me to lay off the running until I started physical therapy (next week) and we’d go from there.  So while waiting for the therapy to begin, I’ve been  using the elliptical machine and taking walks.  Yet whenever I take a walk, my leg tires very easily and I have to concentrate on lifting my left foot up off the ground…or it will drag.   This is what made me ask for an MRI.

I don’t know what any of this means, although I sincerely hope it’s temporary.  I didn’t think I was that upset about not being able to run.  If I need to trade the running for no more pain, then I’ll do it.  My body needs a break and I’m ok with that.  Yet…I haven’t eaten much over the past few weeks.  Nothing tastes good.  I’ve lost a few more pounds and I’ve been sleeping….a lot. Even when I have coffee in the evening.   I’ve tried to spend more time with my family and have continued to exercise but I just don’t feel like myself.

What am I missing?  Is it being outside so early in the morning?  Is it the feeling of accomplishment after those 3 or 4 miles, like I’ve done something extraordinary before my son even gets out of bed?  Or is it just how my body feels? The heavy breathing, the pounding of my feet against the pavement, my leg muscles aching with exertion?

Yes, yes, yes and yes.  I miss all of it.  But what I really miss?  My self-confidence.  It’s no secret that I’ve never had much self-esteem.  I’ve often felt worthless, and I’m sure I’ll battle that feeling my entire life.  But running has built up my confidence–the fact that I ran/walked/limped 13.1 miles while in pain the entire time has made me realize that I can do so much more than I ever thought possible. I’ve been standing up taller than ever before, with my shoulders back, looking proud. I am not weak or worthless. I am strong.

But right now?  Right now I am not strong.  I feel very fragile.  I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror yesterday and my shoulders were slumped.  My eyes look tired, even with all the sleep.  I’m trying not to worry about all the “what ifs”, but that’s nearly impossible.   I have been thinking about what other sport or exercise I could do if running is no longer an option.  Yoga? Bicycling? Martial arts?  I don’t know.  I don’t think I want to imagine the rest of my life without running.  Not right now.  But I do want to imagine my life without having pain in my back or my hip or my leg.

So….for now, no running.  No plans to race in the near future.  No marathon plans for 2014.  No plans to run….at all.

Instead, if you are running, I will cheer you on.  I’ll congratulate you on all of your races.  I won’t hate you.  I won’t be angry at you.  Feel free to tell me about your latest run—how good it felt or what obstacles you faced.  It’s ok.  I won’t be mad and I won’t cry.  Probably.

I will live through you.  Have the best damn run and think of me, then tell me all about it.  It will feel almost as good as the real thing.  And it’s the only way I won’t be running behind you. 😉

So will you take me with you for just one run?