When I woke this morning and was sure the day would be different. I wake every day generally in an air of hope, however quickly it diminishes. I’ve just forced myself up the stairs. The stairwell is one of the few things in this house we haven’t reconstructed. The walls are old, plaster looking and kind of dingy. An odd glass wall sconce sits at the top of the stairs, if you aren’t balanced it’s possible to hit your face on it. I was watching the season finales of prime time dramas I followed a bit this season. Some extra form of fantasy and escape from the not so ordinary. I felt acceptably pleasant for two hours. I have been running in my head for days and can hardly settle in. Depression, doom and loneliness has been sinking into my limbs and laugh lines lately.

In 2009 I ran a marathon. I completed the 26.2 mile & thank God really flat course in Chicago. When I decided I wanted to run a marathon, I was training regularly with weights and a trainer. I had run miles here and there for years but had never committed to any sort of road racing. I have always been more of a sprint kinda girl. Big push, fast quick, burn AND GET TO THE END. I Love strength training and have enjoyed countless hours of boxing drills and all kinds of other odd body weighted exercises over the years. Dumb bells, jump-ropes and various other fitness apparatus can be found about my house and in my car’s trunk at any given time. I love the adrenaline that runs through my body when I push it to the edge. The way my quadriceps define my shape and how my hamstrings – when worked effectively give me the illusion of an ass.

{My ass is flat and I of course am a bit envious of those big round buns I see on tv}

Anyway you get the point, I tend to be maniacal when I work out to my capacity or at least what I call my finish point. My trainer was never quite convinced I was giving it my all, he knew I generally wasn’t taking care of some aspect of my health. I adore him and all the encouragement and support he has given me over the years.

The first race I signed up for was a 10K in Florida. Most things I do I try to turn into a travel opportunity and I did the same with road races. It was a food and wine Festival at Disney and my favorite aunt and I went down for the weekend. We toured and ate and ate some more; a couple of foodies free to roam the countries of Epcot. I was only beginning to travel without my kids and husband and was so thrilled to be out on my own. I ran the race and finished happily. We ate at the French restaurant on the corner in “France” and I remember feeling really proud that I finished something new & exciting on my own. I was hooked and I immediately started planning my next race.

{Mind you, I am using the word race freely here, sometimes I am fast and sometimes not so much. I just keep going}

During the years I was a runner and was actively strength training on a regular basis I also fed my body. I woke up and had protein and complex carbs in the morning with my coffee and cigarettes. I cooked fresh food at my house on a daily basis and rarely bought take out for myself or my family. We ate local meat and vegetables most days.  I took vitamins and drank water. Chocolate milk was a pleasure and felt so good mixed with crushed ice after a hard push. Today I had five bites of a chicken and pineapple sandwich and 6 Oreo cremes. It is almost 1 am. What is going to happen if I eat food?

{Holy shit – let’s stick to marathoning…}

Fast forward over a year and I am signed up for the Chicago marathon. I have completed various races from 5K’s to a half marathon and felt totally capable of finishing Chicago. I was to officially start training in late spring and I did. The weather was getting milder and I was excited to be running more outdoors. I love being in my body and mind running with headphones drowning out the endless banter in my head. It was such a relief after so many years in the house with babies and the looming depression that kicks around in there. Then Matthew died in early June. I briefly found solace in running on the beach and through the small river paths. I ran daily and pounded pavement and rocks and sweat tears that you never would know I shed. When I wasn’t running I was parenting and that’s about it. I was so sad that summer and by the end of July my runs were long nevertheless I was tiring from heartache. It often felt like the rest of the world was crazy unless my feet were pounding. Size 10 pounding. It wasn’t until September that I realized I had six weeks left and I needed to step it up a few notches. During my last long run on my dread-mill I blew out my knee at mile 17. I babied it until race day over a week later.

Chicago is a fabulous city and my only regret is that I haven’t made it back yet. The art and architecture had me mesmerized immediately. I felt like a Princess in a swanky room all by myself and was thrilled to have a gorgeous cheese and fruit plate in my room when I arrived. I went with a friend I made at my children’s school and she could not have been sweeter. It seemed the only caveat was my knee and possibly the expected very cold weather. Race day was freezing. The previous year was record high and our day was record low. When the race finally started I gobbled up others discarded cold gear because I was freezing my flat ass off. I reveled in the sense of camaraderie in the walk up to and the starting areas of this famous race. We kicked off and after about five or so miles we set into our own paces. I ran happily and frigidly through the streets listening to my music and looking at all the sights. My favorite was the “Free Hugs” guy. I only regret I didn’t hug him. today I think I would. My knee blew out somewhere around the 14th mile and after 2 miles I wobbled to the curb and cried like a bitch holding my knee. I got nervous when an official looking person started questioning me and decided to plug along. I limped, I jogged, I trotted and I wanted nothing more than to finish. My son asked me to get him a medal and I said I would. You cannot get a medal unless you finish. It was around this time that I started moving through a section of town that was under lots of rehabilitation. The name of the construction company was on signs every half mile. It was the same last name as Matthew’s. The first time I had the thought in my head “I don’t know if I can make it”  – I looked up and saw Matthew’s name and every time thereafter. He finished the race with me that day. Completion was just over six hours and I was horrified at the finish time and utterly relieved I finished at all.  It took months for my knee to recover and I haven’t gone over six miles since. I am still missing Matthew and only recently decided to visit the cemetery he rests at.

I wanted to tell you about my running years because I trained and worked and pushed and cried. Some days it hurt and some it felt like I was on top of the world just like Jack on the Titanic, or Will & Grace for that matter. The project of chronicling my experiences and my hopes and fears is beginning to feel like a marathon. I am at the wall where I am questioning my abilities and my tenacity. I am trying to figure out what is missing, what is needed and how can I maintain an “acceptable to me” pace of action. The tears are more often and my appetite is waning. Sometimes all I  do right is be honest. Some days it takes me until 5pm to say out loud, I am too tired. I am too sad. I am so excited. Simple feelings are waking up in my soul that I have absolutely no experience using in this new life.

My therapist is fairly convinced  that this is healing, this is right where I am supposed to be as a newly woken women with a voice; with intention, willingness  and ability to move forward.

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