Mile 25: “There is Beauty Here.”

Peak To Creek Marathon is fast approaching… just a few more days and we will be packing up and making the 8-hour drive. The training is done and the remaining miles are to be run easy and with the mindset of simply staying loose.

Physically, I feel good. As with any training leading up to a big race, I wish that I could do more or had been able to do more along the way, but I know that I have done enough and the time has come. The race calculators are predicting me with the potential to perform well within the range of a significant PR for myself. There is no more strength, speed, or endurance to be gained in time for this race. I must simply remain uninjured, trust the training, and rest up for the big day.

Mentally, I am strong. I know that I am capable of performing according to my expectations so long as I listen to my body, trust my ability to steady my own pace overall, and remain in control of my emotions throughout the race.

Emotionally, I am struggling. The one year anniversary of my parents fatal crash is now, also, just days away. I have my “moments” but they are generally lesser in frequency and intensity now; aside from having just experienced my first full blown panic attack last week when my daughter was involved in a motor vehicle crash. Thankfully, no one was injured, the damage is relatively minor, and anyone can understand why this kind of an incident would cause such a rise out of me at this particular time. After the day was done, I was flooded with very vivid memories of all that we went through this time last year and the weight of it was incredibly heavy. I thought that running to burn off the stress was the answer (as it has always been for me in the past) but as I took off running, it did not seem to help. I ran harder, still no relief. I added speed intervals and suddenly felt as if I could no longer breathe. My chest was heavy and I could not get enough air despite the depth of my breath. I had to stop. I sat on the floor. I called Shep and complained about the intervals and, as he began coaching me through reasons and alternatives, I sat there calming my mind and regaining control of my breath. Immediately after, my sister called to discuss the latest goings on with our parents estate, upcoming court hearing, and plans for closing on the sale of the house. All of this was perfect timing, enabling me the time I needed to get a grip on myself again. It was all just so ironic and unexpected to me because, at my last counseling session just a few weeks ago, I had confided in my counselor that the approaching month of October had me feeling like something bad was about to happen. “A sense of impending doom”, as best described by patients of my own, professionally. But then October began and I, surprisingly, felt more and more like myself. I looked back upon the year and was pleased to realize that I have done everything that I wanted to do. I have continued to work, to play, to travel, and to run. I have acknowledged every day/milestone/event that I felt needed recognized in the absence of my parents. I have allowed the emotions of everything to soak into my psyche and I have absorbed it all. I have processed some difficult revelations and am still accepting many things that I can never change but, still, I can smile. I can laugh at the good times and do my best not to dwell upon the bad. I am moving forward. And, while it is certainly getting easier, I was surprised by how heavy it hit me all over again, all at once. There have been a few, less severe, moments like this the past few days as well; incidents that catch my breath, moments that choke me up. I am overly sensitive to sights, sounds, and smells right now. A lifetime of memories and the sadness of last year’s tragedy wash over me at a moment’s notice sometimes. I have to the take the time to “just breathe”. But that’s okay.

My friend, Tony Garcia, had written the words in the following image in the “voice” of my mother/father last year. I was unable to read it all the way through for several months but now I cherish every word.

I am starting to feel like “ME” again; living life and taking notice of all the beautiful things along the way, and I know that is exactly what my mom and dad would want. Which brings me back to that conversation I had with my Aunt back in the spring when I told her about my upcoming race, my desire (at that particular time) to just give it all up, and what she said in response: “You and I both know your mother, and if this is what’s holding you back, you know she wouldn’t want that. She’d tell you to let it go and be happy. Go run that race. And go run Boston too.”

While I am not yet ready to address the possibility of continuing to chase Boston at this particular time, (especially considering that the recent changes in qualifying times have pushed me even further away than I already am), I will say that, despite being far from “BQ” ready, I am certainly PR ready and believing that it is possible to close the gap between me and that elusive unicorn by several minutes. The only thing left to do now is the actual DOING of it. And, despite the ups and downs along this emotional roller coaster, I am beginning to feel a generalized calm coming over me. I think of the race ahead and my heartbeat steadies. I am ready to go. It is time to get away; to take in the sights, the sounds, and the smells of the mountains (which my parents loved), and to run through the course as it sets out before me this coming Saturday. It’s time to enjoy every breath, every step, every scenic view along the way, and to stay strong for myself and for every single person/friend/family member that has helped me through the past year, picking me up physically and/or emotionally, so that I could make my way back to being “ME” again and prepare myself for this day.

I have no idea what the race will bring. So much of what happens on race day is out of our control, in regards to weather and course conditions, but I know that, no matter what happens, I am going to be okay. In the spirit of my favorite runner, Meb Keflezighi, I will “RUN TO WIN” but, “win” or “lose”, I will do the best with what I have to offer on that particular day and I do believe that it will be enough; to enjoy the run, to make myself proud, and to honor the memory of my mother.💙

So, while previous races have found me anxious in the days/weeks before the event, this time I am strangely calm. I am realizing that in this place, in this moment, in this period of “not knowing”…there is beauty here. Because, when you don’t know the outcome or have all the answers, it means that nothing is written in stone and that anything can happen. (Physically, I CAN, so long as, mentally, I BELIEVE.) The possibilities are endless and that is a beautiful thing.

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

*As always, thanks and credit to my friend, Tony Garcia, author of the words written in the first two images documented in this blog entry. You can purchase one (or both) of his incredible and inspiring books using the link(s) below:

Wanna Know a Truth?: A Simple Man’s Search for the Truths in His Life

Whispers from My Heart: Learning to Quiet the Noise

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