The following entries (from beginning runner to half marathon finisher) represents a continuing journey of tremendous grief and sorrow, and of transformation - largely through the therapeutic power of running. The sorrow that has broken my heart open wide has in time allowed me to experience the beauty of being in the present moment. And of course, without the support of family and friends to guide me, I would not have made it this far.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Laurissa and me the morning after
I'm sitting in Kristy's bedroom with my daughter Laurissa talking about my experience in the race yesterday. I told her I didn't know what I should write about so she asked me to tell her what happened.
This is what I told her: We got to the parking area for the race about 4:30 in the morning. We wanted to make sure we got a good parking spot so we would be close to the bus shuttle to the starting line. This way we were also close to the finish line and could walk back to our vehicle when the race was over. Our friend Chris had volunteered to drive us - so we all loaded into his RV and were there in plenty of time.
There were so many people waiting at the starting line that all you could see was wall to wall faces. When the race started we basically were jogging in place until things thinned out enough for us to run a decent stride. I have never run a race before so this was very exciting for me. I knew no one else who was running in the race so I was standing all alone amidst thousands of strangers. I have been preparing 7 months so I can honestly say I wasn't nervous. I felt like I was prepared and that this was where I should be.
As I pinned my bib on (race identifying number) I thought back on the last time I did this for Kristy. She wanted to make sure it was on correctly so she had me redo it for her. She was about ready to ride her bike in the Cherry Pie Race which she went on to win. As I was waiting for the sign to begin running it took me back to the times I would wait by the sideline for Kristy to start her race. I was so proud of her every time!
The race was long but the course was beautiful. We ran right through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and then out along the beach on the Great Highway. The first 6 miles were in the park and I was feeling strong. The next 7 miles were up and down the beach. Because I had tapered my workouts (ran less and less as the race approached) I was feeling strong but my legs were not used to running the distance. I think this is why I was feeling more tired during the last 3 miles than I expected. But no matter what I knew I was not going to stop running for anything. Not even for water. I had decided to take my own bottle with me.
There were times when I was running and I wanted to cry thinking about Kristy. Love, happiness, sadness and loss were all overwhelming me. I had to let these feelings pass through me and not dwell on them or I would not be able to concentrate. So I made a conscious effort to be in the moment and enjoy the experience. It would certainly never come again.
As I finally approached the last mile my mind started drifting. I thought, I bet my friends have all secretly decided to be at the finish line and they'll be there when I cross. This is such a big accomplishment for me - I just know everyone will be there. I bet everyone has kept it from me. What a great surprise!
When I turned the last corner I noticed lots of people were walking. I couldn't understand why anyone would walk the last mile. When I approached the finish line and heard the music I couldn't help but speed up. I ran across as fast as I could and lifted my arms in the air! I did it!! Now where is everyone?
As I am relaying this to Laurissa tears came to my eyes when I remembered what I was thinking as I approached the end of the race. I had run this race in memory of my beautiful daughter but it hit me like a ton of bricks that I had really run it for myself.
Of course I was thinking of Kristy and she was no doubt with me. But really in the end we are all living our lives the best we can. Each race we do is a test of our own strength and fortitude. Everyone else is running right next to us - so close we can reach out and touch them. They have their own goals as well - but the same finish line too. When we stop to look around they are always there - the race never ends. Going across the finish line means different things to each of us. The pain and the joy of the race is what makes it a challenge and in the end it is impossible to tell the difference between the two.
Labels: memory of Kristy