“Nineteen point zero miles…. average pace… twelve minutes, forty-nine….. seconds”, the RunKeeper App’s electronic voice called out as I was running along the canal.
ONE MILE. I thought to myself, then said out loud… “ONE MILE!” I started to cry. This was going to happen. I was going to do this!
I started out Saturday morning trying not to think too much about it. I had hugged and kissed my 12 year old daughter goodbye as she left for a Spring Break vacation with friends. My husband drove everyone to the airport and our plan was that when he returned, he would drive me out to Woodinville’s Wilmot Gateway Park… again. This had been the starting point for our 18 mile run, but this time we would surpass Gas Works Park as the finish and run all the way to the Ballard Fred Meyer. 20 miles in all.
20 miles is the longest training run for this marathon journey, and my 18 mile run being riddled with mistakes, I wanted to end my training before we tapered on a good note.
See, I took on triathlons several years ago and needed to conquer the run. I felt like I was a cyclist and a swimmer… but could never fully grasp myself as a runner. Now 15 weeks into training for the BMO Vancouver Marathon, I’ve finally truly embraced what running is all about.
Went I started my run, I was thinking of my Mom. As I write this, I am on a plane to Phoenix to see her. My mother, turning 73 in May, has COPD. She has had it for many years and uses oxygen almost on a consistent basis. If she gets a common cold, her lungs are already compromised by the COPD and it becomes very difficult for her to clear out any fluids or infections. Things begin to snowball and it takes a visit to the hospital for medication and breathing treatments to get her back to health. But each time, it gets harder and takes longer for her to recover. (If you smoke and you’re reading this… quit now. You do not want this fate, no matter how much you love your cigarettes.)
My Mom was in the hospital, then went home for a few days and then got worse. My step-dad called the ambulance during the middle of the night on Friday. When I called my step-dad in the morning on Friday, he said that she had pneumonia in one lung and only 25% capacity in the other lung. She was using a pressurized mask to get the air into her lungs. This was making it difficult to eat, so they were considering the idea of putting her “out” for a few days so she could get better, be comfortable and they could provide her nutrition by tube.
So as I started my run on Saturday morning, I thought of my Mom. I thought of sitting by her side in the hospital and touching her soft arms and trying to reassure her that everything would be okay. I started my run treasuring the fact that (even at almost 44 years old and being slightly overweight) I can set off on a 20 mile run. I am thankful for my lungs, thankful for my body.
When I was about 19 I remember going to visit my Mom at her apartment complex. She was an avid walker. I’ll call her a speed walker, because she was religious about her walk every night after work. Honestly she was such a fast walker; I had a hard time keeping up! I tried to tell myself it was because she was shorter and closer to the ground… but some way, so how, that woman sped-walked her way around and around her apartment complex. It was amazing. There was more than one occasion when she would say, “Hey Krissy, keep up!”
As I ran on Saturday, everything went as planned. I had a good pace; I was eating Shot Bloks and sipping on water alternately. It was cooler and occasionally I’d get drizzled on, by no heavy rain. I ran the first hour and a half without music. Then, as I needed a boost, I turned on my music. My favorite pick me up songs even seemed to play when I really needed them.
My husband met me at the grocery store parking lot at mile 13 to refuel me with water and Gatorade. I had predicted I would get there in about 2 hours and 50 minutes and I was THRILLED when I was right on-time!
With only 7 miles to go I was off again. My muscles were aching and everything was stiff. But this day had gone amazing.
Pacing? Right. Nutrition? Right. Fluids? Right. Support from incredible husband? Right.
Then as I passed under the Fremont Bridge she said it. “Nineteen point zero miles…. average pace… twelve minutes, forty-nine….. seconds”, and the tears started to flow. I covered my mouth. I made myself stop crying because I didn’t’ want to mess up that last mile!
I thought about how so many things are possible in our lives and we tend to stifle ourselves into thinking “I can’t do that.”
I ran 20 miles on Saturday. Go ahead, call me a runner.