I still felt gnarly on Sunday. Not AS gnarly as Saturday but I still didn’t feel 100% better. But I pushed through choir (a heavy polyester robe is bad on a cool day but when the church is hot and I don’t feel well I was fanning myself like a little old church lady) and the task force meeting. Interestingly or ironically enough we had pizza at our meeting. Jesi and I giggled that we could have waited a few more hours and our pizza craving would have been fulfilled and with far superior pizza.
But despite not feeling the grandest of grand, I struck out on my run. The temperatures were cool and there was some sun but some clouds so it wasn’t a horribly warm day or particularly cool. It was like Baby Bear’s bed, just right.
One thing that I am finding most exciting about my long runs, or really my runs in generally, is that I am going for longer distances without stopping. I still have the desire to stop and walk but I find that I either slow my running pace down a little bit and push through or manage to walk for much shorter periods when running is no feels longer possible. It is exciting that I can go miles without stopping where I use to focus on minutes running versus walking.
I struck out on a different route towards the Mt. Olivet cemetery. I incorporated last weekend’s long run with the route Becky and I took on Thursday. It was a great course that mixed some flat spots and some increasing elevation. By the time I got to the cemetery I had almost half my run done, I stopped and tinkled and decided that I would go visit my friend Sara’s memorial marker.
One thing I did not share on my September 11th blog, was that this year also marked the one year anniversary of the passing of our best friend Sara. After a three year fight she lost the battle with beast cancer. At 37 she was a force of positivity and love. She was a true hero and warrior, both as a cancer fighter and as a Sergeant in the sheriff’s department. Her loss has left a huge irreparable hole in the hearts of all that knew her, but especially the heart of her “best friend” Noah.
Noah is the son of Sara’s life long best friend, he always saw his Aunt Sara has an overly tall 3, 4 or 5 year old. He just assumed that Sara was his best friend and his age. The loss has been particularly hard on him because he doesn’t quite understand why Sara no longer comes over. He often asks when Sara will come back from heaven.Navigating grief is hard enough at any age, but it is especially hard for someone so young.
On the anniversary of Sara’s passing, Noah and his parents and younger brother made the trip to the cemetery. While Sara is not physically laid to rest at Mt. Olivet there is a memorial marker placed there. Noah picked out the most beautiful flowers he thought Aunt Sara would like; a fun and patriotic mix of red, white and blue flowers. He also picked out his most favorite photo of he and Sara together. Noah and his mom carefully put the photo in a couple of plastic bags to protect it from the elements and then carefully adhered it to the lower corner of the marker.
Tara (Noah’s mom) shared the story on Facebook. I replied that when I run I always visit Sara so I will always make sure that Noah’s photo is in place. Since this was the first day I had a true long run, it was the first time I had visited Sara in a few weeks. I was sadden to see that the flowers and picture were gone. And then angered when I found them in the trash. The photo crumbled in the bag and the tape removed. The flowers split apart.
I’m not quite sure what led me to the trash can, though in my heart I could hear Sara guiding me to save Noah’s carefully crafted offerings. Initially I thought it was the wind/Mother Nature. However knowing a bit of the back story of her familial dynamics and seeing the condition of the items I had a hard time blaming Mother Nature.
I put the flowers back as best I could and safely tucked the photo away in my running pouch. And for the 6 plus miles home I seethed. I was so angry that I actually texted Jesi, something I rarely do when running so that I can concentrate on training. I texted her a picture of the trash can and incredulously texted what I presumed had happened.
On my run home, I felt the anger bubble inside. I was angry that someone would be so callous towards a small child. I was angry that someone was attempting to control others outward expression of grief and love. I was angry that Sara had been taken far too soon.
Through the anger came the feeling of gratitude. I was grateful that I had decided to stop at Sara’s site. I was grateful that I had been lead to the trash can to retrieve Noah’s precious picture.
Grief comes at you strange ways and in strange moments. It rears it head at moments when you least expect it and in ways you never thought imaginable. And I was reminded that grief was part of the reason I began running. I was trying to figure out a way to work through my grief at losing the life I thought I had built with a woman who threw it all away. The life that I thought was waiting for me six years ago was merely an illusion at that moment in time. I am grateful for those moments of grief because it opened the way for something more beautiful and special. In that those moments spent thinking of grief and loss, I ended up running a negative split home.
I used the fire that burned to drive my legs home. The exhaustion and dread I felt early seemed to have evaporated. I felt lighter and more surefooted. My stride picked up and the miles home seem to melt away. I ended up running 12.25 miles in 2 hours and 30 minutes. I had hoped to finish a bit quicker, but taking into consideration how sick I felt Saturday and that I had a full stomach of food I don’t typically eat before a run I was pleased. Mostly I was pleased that I ran more than I walked and that my walk breaks really were just brief interludes designed to help me catch my breath, recenter myself and begin again in a more consistent stride.
After an email exchange with Noah’s mom, we decided that the best course of action was for me to carry Noah’s photo with me. Since I run by Sara’s memorial marker every week I promised to take Noah’s photo by for visit; while we are both trying desperately to convince ourselves that it was nature NOT something else we both feel that rehanging the photo is the best course of action. I have placed the precious photo securely in my hydration pack and will lovingly and protectively carry it with me.
This blog didn’t quite go the way I thought it would. But as with life I can plan my blog but I can’t always plan how it will turn out. My run on Sunday started out as a simple run but turned into a wacky, wild mess of emotions, thoughts and discovery. But that is running and I wouldn’t change a damn thing about it.