The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Road To Recovery

Daylight Savings Time shoved our morning start time of 6:30 back into the dark.  Lisa, Kelly and Stephanie were smart enough to remember headlamps.  Pat, Melissa, Arlane and I made sure to stay in close with them.

We started our way down the dark trail grateful for the headlamps illuminating the path ahead.  Spring rains had left ruts and muddy sections we carefully navigated around.  We fell into comfortable paces and within a few miles we had spread apart yet remained within eyesight of each other.

Leaving the park, the skies lightened up enough and we can easily see the road ahead leading us to the marina.  The boats sleep and very few people are walking the path.  Melissa and I are enjoying the views while talking of our marathon plans for the year.  In a few short weeks she will be heading back to run the Boston Marathon.

As we round a corner, we are happy to see Arlane running alongside of us.  Kelly and Lisa had reached their miles and headed back to the starting point.  Arlane caught up to us and the 3 of us easily fell in pace.  Arlane and Melissa were both at the Boston Marathon last year finding themselves in the midst of the terrorist attack that pierced the heart of every runner and angered a nation.

The miles clicked by as we each shared deep emotions from that day in April.  They talked of the things they saw, the smallest things their minds grabbed onto to keep them focused, the anxiety of getting through to loved ones to let them know they were ok, the intense stress of trying to find each other and the horror of the not knowing.

Although I was not there, I told them of the helplessness we felt trying to find out their whereabouts, if they were ok, injured...or worse.  The emotions bubbled to the surface as I recalled all we did from 3,000 miles away.  In a small way, sharing our stories this morning brought us down a road of recovery.  With Melissa going back this year, she will face the ghosts of marathon past and we will be sitting at our computers tracking her every step along the course.

The 9 mile turn around point came as a surprise as we had been lost in conversation.  The route we picked for this day was designed to be tough.  The first 9 miles were downhill, the 9 mile run back was now all uphill.  With Melissa running Boston, Arlane running Nashville and me doing Vancouver USA, hill training is essential.  

Mile 10 was straight uphill and somewhere in the mile I was struck hard with the realization this wasn't difficult.  For the last 2 1/2 years I struggled with my running.  I was always tired, found myself walking on runs I could do easily before.  

A trip to the doctor told me I was severely anemic.  Despite iron and a diet strong in iron, I was still struggling.  Last September I ran The Tunnel Lite Marathon and at this race I hit rock bottom.  The day before the race, we discovered my Mom's cancer was no longer treatable and thus putting me emotionally unavailable to run a marathon.  The day of the race I was having medical issues and my anemia griped me tight.  Two years of fighting the anemia and it effecting my running as it did, I felt destroyed.  The mental crush of the condition had finally broken me.  My mind was in a very dark place.

In October I had a procedure done that controlled my medical issues and brought my anemia under control.  And right there - somewhere near mile 11 - I realized how good I felt.  For the first time in 2 1/2 years I realized how hard running had been for me because of how good I was feeling right at that moment.   The feeling was incredibly freeing.

The next miles pass us by as we watch the town starting to come alive.  A St. Patty's race was happening in a few hours and we could see the road crew putting up cones to keep runners safe.  People were dressed in green.

The park had a steep hill and we grew quiet as we each focused on running the hill strong.  Our pace was not faltering despite the hills we were tackling; telling us we were running harder than before.  Melissa likes to push herself the last mile of a long run, but coming off a rigorous training week she was content to keep the current pace.

Little did she know.

We are running up the trail closing in on the last mile.  My watch chirps 17 miles and with a smile, I pick up the pace.  Melissa and Arlane are in conversation and then notice I have pulled ahead.  I giggle to myself knowing picking up the pace will spark the competition in them both.  .35 miles to go and I hear Melissa calling to me, "Really??"

"You've got .35 miles to go, we are almost done."  She picks up the pace, catches me and passes me despite the hill we were cresting.  She turns and yells, "You aren't falling behind, stay on my heels."

"Oh, I ain't goin' anywhere sister." and I stay in her shadow.

Arlane is right behind us shouting encouragement to stay strong.

My watch chirps telling us the mile is over and we have just clocked the fastest mile of the day.  Mile 18.  Uphill.  Yea, we just did that.

Sipping our coffee and looking at my friends sitting around the table, it's hard for me not to get emotional.  These days I cry a lot but today I felt so happy.  My running family who was there for my last few struggling years are there still holding me up and celebrating these small steps I have in getting better.  They understand how hard the marathon is, they understand how dark the mental game can be and they stand firmly at my side; they share every step on this road to recovery and I can't help but feel incredibly blessed.