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I haven’t been doing any running since my mom died.  I don’t know if there’s some deep existential reason for it, but I just haven’t.  Maybe the steady beat of my feet hitting the pavement would bring too much time for clear thinking and therefore, thinking about her and what I’m missing.  I don’t generally run with music because I enjoy actually being able to think and listen to the world around me.  I find the absence of music really calms my soul.

Anyway, since my mom, I’ve only done Zumba.  It’s been good for me, good for endorphin flow, strengthening my core, for feeding my inner dancer, and keeping my mind focused on watching the steps and what I’m doing.  Not much time for deep reflection.  Although, I did have a moment about a week after she passed, where as soon as I started moving, the tears started flowing.  It was weird, twisting my hips and salsa-stepping as tears rolled down my cheeks.  I had to step out for a minute or two to get myself under control.  I’m sure the people in the class would have understood, but, I don’t know them and wasn’t expecting them to not feel weird about the sobbing girl in the front row.  For the most part, I’ve gotten through without any emotional breakdowns and have found that it’s reminding me that I must keep moving, for mom’s sake.

I can clearly recall the way I felt and the thoughts I had when I first started running over two years ago.  My body was all, “WHAT?  What are you doing?  Have you lost your mind, woman?” and my thoughts were, “This feels weird.  I don’t know if I can do this.  I’m just not a runner.  I’ll keep at it for a couple of weeks, but I doubt this will get better.”  I kept at it.  And it got better.  And soon, I realized that yes, I actually AM a runner.  I was trying to fit myself into the mold of “runner” that I had in my head from my school years.  Runners were those skinny folk who were on track and cross-country.  People who wore tiny, creepy, tiny shorts.  People who didn’t feel nauseous when it was time for the “25 minute run” in P.E. class.  Those people were not me.  What I learned, was, that those are just a small percentage of the community of people who are runners.  Our bodies don’t fit into certain specifications.  We all run at varying paces.   Some of us really really really love it, some of us do it just because it’s good for us.  The spectrum of tortoises and hares and everything in between, that is the running community.

This year, I have challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone in a really big way.  I signed up for a half-marathon.  The longest race I’ve ever run is a 5K.  So, just add 10 miles to that.  Easy, peezy, lemon squeezy.  Or not.  I know this will be hard, but I also know that the path to reach a goal that is worth striving for is never easy.  Greatness cannot be achieved unless there is struggle.

On July 22nd, after months of training (& plenty of struggle, I am sure), I will be lined up at the start of Chicago’s Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon.  My husband will be at my side, running with me the whole way.  I will be running with The American Cancer Society’s team, DetermiNation.  Not only do team members get private port-o-potty privileges, but we’ll be running for a good cause.  I will be running for my mom.  The 22nd of July is just days before her birthday on the 28th.  A birthday she will not be with us to celebrate, but that’s why I’m running with the American Cancer Society.  To help others to be able to celebrate their birthdays.   Soon I’ll be hitting you up to sponsor me.  So keep an eye out.

On Saturday, I got back into a running routine.  It was snowy and icy, and it felt great.  I had to hop over a few treacherous spots, I felt the snow seep into the top of my shoes, but the steady beat of feet on pavement, and crunch of snow was what this girl needed.  Those thoughts of “I can’t do this” that swirled in my head when I first began, were replaced by thoughts like, “I remember this.  I can do this.  This is who I am now”.


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