Taking the slow road

Where have I been these months? Oh, the places I’ve been. Some of these places required getting in a car. Others, a schlep to the airport. Still more, nothing more than stepping out of my building. And running down the street.
Memorial Day weekend, I decided to run a marathon. I’d been shuffling along for two years, running 5ks and completing a couple of half-marathons. In that time, I’d look at the mirror and say no. Or wonder why I was thinking crazy thoughts. 
Then Memorial Day weekend happened. A five-miler on the shore, a good weekend with friends. Then a look at the mirror. 
It’s time.
There’s always that moment of buyer’s remorse, that fleeting feeling of, what have I gotten into. And deciding to run a marathon maybe one of the bigger ones. 
I circled the date and choose the site of the run, close to home, where I would have support and some familiarity with the streets. 
And so it began–five months of early morning runs, early bedtimes. Watching what I ate, getting the proper fuel in me. Saturday mornings of long runs, then long stretches on the couch in recovery. 
And the idea constantly chasing me—will I die doing this? I’ve heard of runners passing away from runs, and I gave up avoiding the thought. (Though I did avoid stories on those deaths.) That meant I had to pay attention–what was my body telling me? Slow down, you’re going a little fast. Ok, walk here for a bit. Alright, chocks away, let’s go. Breathe.
As the training progressed, and I was doing longer runs, I’d choke up a little when I finished. I made it through another run. I was grateful for making it, surviving. But something happened on my 20-mile run. That was the dress rehearsal–I had to make sure I had all the gear ready, just like on marathon morning. I drove to the park, got the GPS watch ready, strapped on my hydration pack. I started out on the odyssey–and started choking up. The tears came much early that I thought, maybe in some recognition of what I was about to do, mentally and physically. And some recognition of the journey that brought me to that park on that morning. 
I’m going to endeavor to write a bit about the race itself soon. But the least stressful day I had was marathon day–I knew that I’d done as much as I could to get to the start. Or had hoped so. The journey to get me to the start changed me in ways that are subtle, but unmissable. The journey continues to reverberate.

Seasons of change

They’re both gone.

My dad’s mom had a heart attack on Mother’s Day, and died that afternoon.

My mom’s mom had a stroke a few weeks later. She passed away just before Father’s Day.

One grandmother I didn’t know well; the other, raised me when I was little. On my refrigerator, there’s a picture of my mom’s mom and me on the edge of her bed, her with a smile, and me sucking my thumb. Why, I’ll never know. 

There are scenes from that week at home after my granny died. The wheelchair ramp that was over the stairs, now in pieces in the yard. The steady stream of family and friends visiting, with food in hand. The visitation at the funeral home, with my grandmother lying there in her casket, finally at rest from a life well-lived. The prayer circle in her yard the morning of her funeral.  The heat of that day. Seeing family I hadn’t see in ages. The crying. The moment in the church when they closed the casket, the last time we would see her face.

The deaths made me look at some things differently. My job, my life, my friends, my family. What’s important now? What’s not? It re-enforced the notion that nothing is permanent. Everything changes and evolves. We can’t fight that, as frightening as it is. If we fight change, we suffer. We have to roll with the tides of change…

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My mom’s mom was quiet, determined, independent and caring. Those are things that she gave me. And I hope that I can keep cultivating them.