Monday, October 28, 2013

2 posts, 1 blog....

Post 1:  I got my 13 mile training run in on Sunday.  I was super excited!!  I was anticipating the Perfect Pacer running with me and the fact that we were gettng ready to run in our new shoes was just making me giddy with excitement.

The weather was awesome!  Not too cold, not hot, no wind!  But then Perfect Pacer said he just couldn't go.  His shoulder was still so intense in pain that he just couldn't bear the jolting.  So I headed out on my own, already knowing how hard 13 would be by myself.  But I also knew, that I wouldn't be able to make it at Route 66 Half and Full if I didn't do the 13.

2 hours later, I made it home.  13 hours done.  Although my two GPS Systems differ greatly in mileage.  One says  12.75 and the other said 12.22.  I'm just saying I got in my long run.  And today - the day after, I can't walk.  It started after my nap yesterday afternoon.  I felt some pain in my ankle on the run but not enough to make me stop.  I chalked it up to the usual aches but today, I can barely walk from the bed to the bath room.  What in the heck have I done?

I am a crazy over pronator runnng in Neutral shoes.  But I know how to do it and use superfeet inserts to help with the guidance I need.  However, I differ to the experts and so tomorrow, I'll head to the running store and see what options they feel I should explore.  Because unless this is fixed, I'm not going to get to wear one of these!!

Post 2:  In the first year of my youth pastor life, I was blessed with amazing students that continue to be a part of my life years later.  One of these students is C.  She has grown into an amazingly beautiful, loving mom to two.  She's recently discovered running and was willing to share with you, her journey of self-discovery: was July 1st, 2013.  I thought I was going to die.  Why did I download this C25K app?  Why did I talk my friend into joining me?  Now I had accountability, I had to show up on the days we agreed.  What on earth was I thinking?  I cannot do this!  I am hardly able to breath. Eight weeks.  E-I-G-H-T.  Maybe she will quit and I will have an excuse to stop this insanity.  There is just no way.

You just got a snapshot of my first day running.  This constant mental tirade of my thirty minute “run” (let’s be honest, it was a walk-run…mostly walk).  I was asking myself all of these questions over and over but really, I knew why I was running.  I was afraid.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I started running because I was afraid.  To know exactly what I mean, you need to hear my history.  It may be a typical, average story of a woman transitioning from her twenties to her thirties and questioning what her place is in this world.  But this is my story…

In December 2011, I had my second child.  Nobody tells you about the changes you experience going from one child to two.  I loved my precious baby boy, Jimmy, and his awesome big sister, Lily.  I loved my husband, Gary.  I told myself we were doing okay, that we are just trying to find the balance of two kids while I work toward my nursing degree (I went back to school 3 weeks postpartum) and Gary works a dead end job that he hates.  I knew it was a lie but I always thought what you speak, becomes your truth.  We will be alright. 
When Jimmy was just short of 7 weeks old, Gary drops a bombshell. 
“I don’t love you anymore,” he said.
“Wait, what?”
“I want a divorce.  I don’t love you.”
There are so many more convoluted details to this part of the story, but you know how this typical story goes.  You ask the whys and go over everything you have ever said.  You shift the blame from them back to yourself.  You cannot pinpoint where it went wrong because the truth is, there usually isn’t a life altering moment or conversation.  It was a little at a time.  Your arguments turn to ambivalence and then you realize, you can’t stand to look at them or hear their voice.  To make this part of the story simple, I’ll cut to the chase.  I was mean and bitter for whatever reasons I had created in my head.  He has a problem with spending that he perpetually hid from me that was flanked with an affair.   He was having an emotional affair that quickly turned into a physical relationship.  It was like a death sentence had been placed on my marriage and I was desperate.  I begged God for comfort, something to carry me through this pain.
The toughest decision I had to make was letting Gary go.  My mother was a rock for me.  She was a silent pillar in this disaster that was going on around me.   She held me while I sobbed.  She stood by as I vomited from the stress.  I was suddenly alone with two small children and having no idea how I was going to pay the bills that pile up regardless of anything going on.  I needed something to hold onto while I let Gary go.  Lily ached for her daddy to come home.  I look back and wonder how on earth I held in all those tears and cries of anger.  I prayed.  I prayed constantly.  When I felt weak, I would talk to God.  When I felt like I couldn’t hear his voice, I ran to my mom.  I will never forget the moment my mom said, “I am here for you but I really can’t stop your pain.  You will find your way past it.  You are loved and God has you in his arms.  I am sad as hell for you.”  She held me up.   I cannot convey the power of a mother’s love.  At one point she told me, “He’s just a lost little boy.  You will have to forgive him because he really does not know what he’s doing.”  What?  Forgive him?  I hated him and what he was doing.  I needed something to let this anger go.
 My dad was a fanatic about the gym.  He went daily and he asked me to go.  My mom shoved me out the door saying it will help ease my pain.  It was there, at the gym, where I dug in my heels.  I worked until I ached and could hardly move.  I remember not being able to walk down stairs because of the pain but, my mom was right.  This helps.  This was something I had control over.  I showed Gary a gentle kindness.  I actually felt sorry for him.  I stepped away from the chaos and took care of myself, which in turn helped me take care of my babies.
In the end of this part of the story (through many tears, questions, and doubts), Gary came home.  It has been a little over a year rebuilding our relationship.  And I thought this was the hardest thing I had been through.  I thought surely, fate wouldn’t be so cruel again.  We were on the upswing of this pendulum. 

There are a few things that knock the wind from your body when you hear them.  While hearing your husband is having an affair may be one of them, I assumed that the affair would be my story.  It was my metamorphosis and I had reached the end of my growth.  Now, I can enjoy the benefits.   I wish that I could tell you that this is the end of my story.  That everything is rosy and nothing is difficult anymore.  I can’t. 
In April 2012, my mom began to lose weight.  This seemed great at first, she’s getting healthy!  She lost 80+ pounds in a matter of months.  She had a cough, but really its nothing.  Just a cough.  The doctor said she has an upper respiratory infection.  8 months.  E-I-G-H-T.  Eight months she had a cough, she was losing weight.  She never said much to it, only she didn’t feel well.  She powered through Christmas with this cough and put on the face of strength and perseverance that she always wore. 
January 4th, 2013, my mom called me.  She asked if I would go with her to the doctor.  I didn’t understand at this point.  She did all the tests, she took me to lunch, and then we went home.  I knew the doctor would call and say, “It’s only pneumonia.”  I figured it would be a few days to hear anything back from the scans because that’s how doctor’s offices work.  They are in no hurry.  So, imagine my surprise when that afternoon I find my mom sitting in her car in my driveway.  She can hardly tell me anything as she chokes on tears.  I caught enough of her words to know.  Cancer.  Not operable.  Chemo.  I felt my face turn to stone.  I will not believe this.  They have it wrong.  You will beat this.  I was only lying to myself again.  I had looked up the survival rates.  I knew how this story would end.  Slowly, I began to realize that Christmas 2012 would probably be my last Christmas with my mom.  And I was damn angry.  I cried and screamed how this wasn’t fair.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t see my mom on the other side.  Not that my mom wasn’t a good person or that she didn’t have a relationship with God.  I just didn’t know.  I was losing faith and I felt fear.  I remember when I asked her, “Mom, when I die and go to the gates of heaven…will you be there?”
She just replied, “With my arms wide open.”
I had this all worked out in my head.  That even if I was going to lose my mom, I was going to spend all of these beautiful moments where she would share secrets that would help me cope and make it be okay.  But life isn’t always beautiful and sometimes when you think nothing much worse could happen, it does.  March 14th we were dealt a new hand more tragic than the first.  About five weeks into her cancer treatment, mom suffered a hemorrhagic stroke after several TIAs (mini strokes). 
When she was in the hospital, she fought hard to regain her strength but we knew, with her delicate condition, she wouldn’t come back from this. This vivacious woman who would stare Lucifer himself in the face and not show an ounce of fear was losing hope.  She never gave up but the look in her eyes was that of guilt.  Of all the things she could have felt, the emotion she gave off was guilt.  She was always saying (with her eyes, of course, because she could no longer speak) “I’m sorry”.  The look in her eyes shook me to the core. 
After three weeks of intensive therapy, mom came home.  I could go on for days about what we went through once she came home but, I won’t.  I will tell you the abbreviated version of what those final days were.  They were filled with tears that came so furiously and without notice that you thought you had lost your mind.  There were times you were filled with so much anger that you could tear down a building with your bare hands.  There were plenty of moments where you would be begging for her pain (and your own) to stop for even just a moment of relief.  Some days there was hope and laughter but most days were filled with shouting and mean words to cover up our vulnerability.  It doesn’t matter how strong you are, this journey will show you how truly weak you are.  I definitely found out how weak I can be. 
There were countless times I wanted to run away.  I wanted to leave everything and just go.  Drop the feelings off at the next corner and take off.  I was so afraid of what was going to happen and I could not face it.  I realized I couldn’t just run away because I couldn’t even run.  It seems so simple and ridiculous for this to be the reason why I began my journey as a runner but it’s the truth.  I really just wanted to run away. 
July 1st, 2013 I began “running” (I say “running” because really, it was just me trying not to die).  On July 4th, my mom was escorted to the gates of heaven.  I was the idiot rushing around trying to clean and “fix” things.  I felt so out of control, because I was.  July 5th I got up at 6:30am to continue with my run.  I remember closing my eyes that morning and imagined myself running away from the crumpled mess.  I prayed for the pain to stop and my breathing to steady.  I listened to my feet hitting the pavement and the world just fell away.  The run that I was expecting to be the hardest ended up being the most healing.  I knew that when I finished my run that I would be going to make my mom’s final arrangements.  But at that moment, in the hot summer morning, it didn’t matter.  My fear of what was waiting at the finish line grew smaller with every stride.  I felt free from fear.  In my weakest moment, I felt strong.
I “graduated” the C25K on September 28th.  I have never felt so accomplished about something.  This was not easy and most days, it was a struggle to get out of bed.  I didn’t give up because I knew if I did, I would miss out on the good stuff.  The day I graduated I wrote:

This morning, as I officially "finish" my C25k training I saw this sunrise. It's as if the heavens know exactly what this journey has been, how easy it would have been to give up. I can say that no matter how much my body would scream to quit, I didn't. I never thought that on July 1 when I began this journey, that my mom would pass away only 3 days later. Actually, the day she left us I suffered through my second day of training. How easy giving up would have been! There isn't a mile I wouldn't run to have my mom back, almost nothing I wouldn't give to hold her hand again. Then, the day I finish this program is the day my dad runs in the "Race for a Cure" 5k wearing my mom's face on his shirt. How appropriate it all seems, practically divine. Today's sunrise is for me, others probably feel this way too but I know it is for me. I know it is my mom pulling strings wherever she had to just to make sure she gave me hope, that she understands why I go through this pain to come out clean on the other side. Because...let's face it, that's a mother's love. Knowing exactly what we need and when we need it. She knows that running washes away the tears with huge amounts of sweat. She never gave up, she fought to the end. She has merely moved on, she can't hug me but she surrounds me.

I still run and I feel stronger every time I finish another mile.  Running makes me feel fearless in a world ruled by fear.  This gives me hope for the future and that is enough to bring me back.

How does running make you feel?  

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