Tag Archives: family

Celebrating Yoshie – Living Bravely and Boldly with Lung Cancer 

28 Jun

Hello lovelies…this post is about my life between the miles – it is about the celebration of my mother-in-law’s life that came to an early end because of her battle with cancer. 

We celebrated mom’s life this past weekend. We didn’t want this day to come, at least not until she led a long happy life. But we didn’t have a choice. We have been forced to go on without her. And while we all feel the suffering, the pain, and the grieving, we are fortunate mom is no longer experiencing the same. On June 25, 2016 family and friends gathered to remember the light that she was.

Mom was only 60. A fresh new 60. She would have told you she was 37 though. It’s amazing that in a flash backwards we were celebrating her 50th birthday in the same house. She was as magnanimous then as she was during her last days, and remarkably enough, the same age, 37. 

We celebrate mom’s life because that’s what she would have wanted. Nobody has a choice about time traveling on. We just have to. We have to go on without mom. I see the reservoir of pain that the loss has caused in the hearts of her husband and son. I know we are all feeling the suffering and pain of her loss. F*ck cancer. 

During the memorial I realized that the pieces of mom that we keep don’t have to be material. They are memories imprinted on our hearts. Family and friends cheerfully shared stories of her radiant smile and her infectious laughter during the celebration. We learned from others what we have always known, that mom was wonderfully generous and warm. She was always excited to see you and she made you feel like she was your biggest fan. Mom’s boss shared with us that she made sure she was the first to wish everyone “Happy Friday” at work. It was a game! We could picture her enthusiasm at the office and we all shared a heartfelt yet heavy chuckle.
 
In learning of this story I reflected on my Fridays. Every Friday in my inbox I had an email from mom. The subject line was simple, “Happy Friday!” And the content of the email was a “hello, happy Friday, happy weekend. Love you. Miss you. Ciao!” My heart smiled but wasn’t free of pain. I realized in that moment I won’t be receiving any more emails from mom. Our little exchanges stopped when God decided he needed her more than we did. And in those moments I selfishly acknowledged how I still needed her emails. Having mom peppered in my day with a Skype call, phone call or email made everything okay. She gave me peace and made me laugh despite the peripheral chaos. I need happy Friday. And now it’s gone. 

I was sprinkled in and out of mom’s life for 15 years. But in the time I spent with her and her family, I saw how mom had done the best she could raising her family and in being a friend. She, again, gave generously all that she had and more. There was no end to her generosity. Ever. Even during her final days. 

Mom fought cancer emphatically. She knew cancer was a ruthless bitch but she wasn’t afraid. Mom chose to be brave. She fought bravely for 26 months. Her oncologist’s best case was 24 months. Leave it to mom to fight longer! But she didn’t know. She refused to know the prognosis of lung cancer. In a sense, her incredulous disposition allowed her to be jubilantly blind to the unyielding outcome that awaited her. In my opinion, I think it was a blessing because it allowed her to live each day boldly!

Mom was brave her entire life (she took a chance on David – her husband). Brave and equally stubborn (I know where Andy gets it from, thanks mom). This combination of attributes helped her mental grit to stay strong and continue to fight. Not one day did mom reveal that she felt like a victim. She refused. She didn’t take the easy way out and let cancer get the best of her. She stayed happy. It was remarkable. How can one be so incredibly happy when faced with such an untenable and dire diagnosis? She was happier than what seemed appropriate. She really put things in perspective. We can learn so much from her.  

We miss her. I’m so fortunate to have found my way back in her life. Oriana knows her grandma. She used to kick to the sound of her voice and mom’s entire face would light up. Her smile would grow with such exuberance. Oriana will continue to know her grandma. Not in a physical sense. Not by her voice singing lullabies and seeing to it that her granddaughter, who is the splitting image of her son, falls asleep, but because we will continue to speak of mom and share her memory, like they share the same birthday. In a way they are one. 

It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around mom not being here. It’s hard for me to see my fiancé face this reality. The hurt is visible. But I believe Oriana has helped him through this pain. As a mother now, I understand love in another form. And with that, I’m bewildered that with mom being such a soft, benevolent soul, that someone of her own bloodline didn’t make an appearance at the memorial. In addition, she didn’t phone or send flowers. She wasn’t absent because she couldn’t handle the emotional affair, she was absent because over the course of several years, her heart has been completely dissolved of love and forgiveness. She is devoid of feelings. This woman is a mother, too. But clearly she is missing a sensitivity chip, a maternal link that unifies sisterhood and the celebration of women. In addition to her absence, she also neglected to send mom flowers or a card for (her last) Mother’s Day and her birthday. It wasn’t until mom’s husband reached out, again after countless efforts, to inform her that mom’s days were shortly numbered that she finally showed up. The family was happy she made an appearance. Mom was able to see her three grandchildren that were selfishly poached from her for years before passing. 

This person saw her brother but disregarded him as blood. One could speculate that she gives more respect to strangers than to her own family. In her typical tasteless mannerism, she also failed to congratulate Andy on the birth of his daughter and engagement to me (like some other tacky people). 

Anyway, I’ve given this woman too much attention but I bring it up because Andy, despite the history of her wretched behavior, included her in his speech as well as in an exquisite video montage that he created for the service. 

While we scoured through photographs, I couldn’t help but have sheets of tears fall down my face. Picture after picture painted an image of mom holding her first granddaughter. Laughing. Smiling. Dancing. Nurturing. Exactly how I remember mom. In those moments I was forced to accept that mom has three grandchildren that had spent minimal time with her but the time that was documented revealed a history of fun and joy. And here we are with Oriana who will never be charmed by grandma’s silly lullabies, soothed by her gentle touch, or bounced by the rhythm of her dancing. In a very short time going through pictures I had a laundry list of upsets because Oriana was robbed of mom by cancer, and her other grandchildren were robbed of mom by her very own daughter.m. Andy’s sister has no clue what she has done. I would do anything to have Oriana know and love mom in a physical state. I would do anything to have my daughter be embraced by the warmth that was mom – but she never will be. The thought is unbearable. 

What I’m writing isn’t absent of honest conversation. Every family has dysfunction. I’m not airing out dirty laundry – her behavior has been flagrantly evident and witnessed by family, friends and medical staff for years. But the tale of this dysfunction stopped at mom’s death. There were so many opportunities for this woman to make things better, amicable at best. Andy, being the class-act that he is, found that he exhausted his efforts over the years. Any effort made was returned with mute silence. Silence that begged to be undisturbed; screeching evidence that she had long abandoned the family. The disturbing thing is that mom knew she wouldn’t come to her funeral. The only time I saw mom cry was when she spoke of this. Cancer didn’t hurt mom’s spirits – her daughter did. 

The memorial was a success. Andy did not preclude his sister from the service. Family and friends asked where she was and he casually remarked that she couldn’t make it. Interesting. Family from Japan made it out to see mom in March when it was revealed that the cancer metastasized to the brain. That was a 13+ hour journey not including layovers. Family and friends also traveled from Arizona to Wisconsin to celebrate mom’s life. We even drove 13+ hours from DC to Wisconsin (with a newborn and a dog). But she couldn’t make a 3 hour drive. The trek must have been burdened with too much traffic, or perhaps guilt…

She is undeserving of this attention. I digress.

Mom, we will practice forgiveness as you have displayed by example. It was just that her actions were so glaringly dismissive and you deserve more. You deserved more. You deserved the world. 

Your absence hurts but we know you and Oriana share the same spirit. We see you in her smiles and hear you in her coos. Andy, Oriana and I are writing a new story. Oriana Yoshie is your bloodline and she has your charismatic spirit already! Your life is being carried on through our little girl, and that is our sweeping redemptive ending – or beginning. Your spirit goes on. 

The reality that you’re not here though sends an electrical current of hurt through our bodies. Moving forward without you is a monumental task. We celebrate you, every single day. I wish you could be here. We wish you were with us to watch the NBA finals. We wish we could have seen your happy dance when Cleveland won! We wish you could hold your granddaughter today and every tomorrow, but we are eternally grateful you both met each other. I know you’re looking down on us and you can see this, but I want to tell you, your son is an extraordinary father. A generous fiancé with a stubborn streak. Please help me learn to accept this! But honestly, with his stubborn attitude aside (an indication that you’re still very present) you would be so proud. We ask that you continue to guide us like you have through this unchartered experience. 

We will remember to see the beauty in the ugly. We will remember to fight through adversity. We will remember that there is always a reason to smile when things feel heavy and hopeless. We will carry on “Happy Friday!” notes. We will let go of resentment. We will practice forgiveness. We will do all of this in your honor. We will live courageously, bravely and boldly with you in our hearts and your cinematic laughter in our ears. In closing, and with Elton John’s words, we remember “How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

We love you. 

Wishing you all unconditional love, the courage to forgive and the strength to fight boldly any battle or heartbreak that you face.

God bless.

Thanks for stopping by.

XO

Valgal


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The Pressure

8 Apr

Hello friends!!!

I hope Monday greeted you with a warm hug and cup of piping hot coffee instead of my alternative…a 4:00a wake up call for a 4:30a boarding time, an empty stomach taunted by the fresh aroma of coffee, blueberry scones, toasted bagels, butter, and eggs all begging me to indulge in just one bite (I was fasting), and a cold MRI machine hours later…(blog to follow). The adventures of my Monday wrapped up with the disappointing loss for Wisconsin. Who wants Duke? Ever? Really? I gladly threw in the towel to meet my dreams. 

I woke up thinking Tuesday ought to be better, right? Until I looked at my phone displaying a number of text alerts. Some legit. Some ok. Some from my tribe of girls. Some casual hellos. Some of which had my mind spin in a tizzy. The pressure to remain calm overwhelmed me. I had to remember I can’t change anyone’s opinion of me. It is out of my control. 

Then I started thinking of other things out of my control. Things like death and taxes. But seriously, things like the health of my family members and friends and my being so far away. All the the things that break my heart. All the things I can’t control. I want to take everyone’s pain away. I don’t want anyone to suffer, ever. I feel I’m better equipped to handle pain, heartache, discomfort, grief, etc. I would gladly take it all from you because you don’t deserve it, whether we are strained friends, lovers, or what have you, I believe in forgiveness and acceptance and you still and always will matter to me. So let me handle your pressures and I’ll run it out (when this injury is healed).

Anyway, I became emotionally numb to my text messages this morning. Messages with twisted and contorted truths hijacking my happiness. It put me in an awkward state of frozen discomfort all day, emotionally and physically. I was drowning. Paralyzed. Then there’s my hip also paralyzed from the arthrogram yesterday. Ugh.

I was frozen in pain overthinking all my realities. 

I decided early on I needed tunes to warm my heart and my hip…

And there you have it, this song was the backdrop of my mood today.

 

Particularly:

 “…But it’s really out of my control. The way you feel is not my problem…”

“…Have you seen my f**ks to give? I have none, I cannot live with…”

“…The pressure. The pressure you know I feel. The pressure. The pressure to keep it real. Pay attention to the signs. Stay and listen, you will find. Everything, ain’t rocket science. Every gem is not a diamond.”

Sorry to be so forward about the lyrics, have you seen my f**ks to give; however, it was a very necessary line that helped me pull out from the undercurrent. Why do I care about people who are committed to misunderstanding me and who don’t care about me? I shouldn’t give a F!

The pressure to wear a smile when heartache and tears overtake me for what feels like an infinite number of reasons consumed me today. Tears were streaming down my face and I was drowning in the salty reality that things, all things, come to an end. 

My lips caught each tear and with each taste I gave it a breath of prayer. Prayers for so many things. Prayers for the strength to accept that your perspective of me is none of my business (small potatoes); prayers for my grandparents health; prayers that we find a cure for cancer (fuck cancer) (stand up to cancer!) (big potatoes); prayers that people learn how to forgive so they don’t grapple with grief when it’s too late; prayers for understanding, acceptance, compassion; prayers for the health and safety of my family-blood and those I choose as blood; and so much more. 

With each tear the integrity of my mascara was tested. I couldn’t let on that something was wrong-that and my vanity got the best of me, so I took refuge in the bathroom to ensure I had no raccoon eyes and tried to pull myself together.  

I looked in the mirror and with my mirror-face I gestured silently to myself, “Stay strong, woman! You got this.” I reminded myself everything is a fight and counted my blessings. I splashed cold water on my cheeks, twisted and secured my hair with the use of a pencil , painted my lips coral and put my big girl game face on. 

I couldn’t compromise my feelings today. I couldn’t negotiate and let them spill over. Ok, maybe I did for a minute but I handled it. The pressure pulled me under but I caught my breath soon after. Sure it was a doggy-paddle but I made it up for air. I am accepting the ebb and flow of life. 

Salty words camouflaged as sweet gave new meanings to my state of reality today. Recent other realities gave me other new meanings to life, love, friendships and the true meaning of wealth. It is in those realities I have found that life gets harder but only because we get stronger…

I’d like to give kudos to fate, too. Fate brings us together when we need each other the most. Fate has helped me to celebrate the change of seasons with those I love so deeply. Looking back, the best portions of my realities have been the small, nameless moments that will forever be memories imprinted on my soul. Memories spent smiling, crying and laughing, all of which are acts that leave me in tears, with those who have warmed my heart. If it weren’t for the pressures of life, I would be void of experience and therefore, without my salty elixir.

Therefore, I thank life for pressure-it doesn’t diminish my gratitude, it adds to it.

Thank you for stopping by and reading a blurb about my life between the miles!!!

I’m so grateful for you! 

How do you handle pressure?

XO

Valgal 

 

 

Crash and Burn

20 Dec

Hello friends!

Good morning to you all! It’s been a quick minute, or should I say month since we’ve connected. I’m not going to bore you with the minute details of my life between the miles and those so-called miles…I want to update you on the NOW.

The NOW is…

I woke up hurting. It could have been because I had one too many pear martinis last night at my local sushi restaurant–nah.

I reevaluated how I was feeling. The pain by no means was in my head. There’s significant pain in my right hip still, an extraordinary dull pain in my core, and a slight pain, okay really just a soreness in my hammies that are pleading me to roll them out. [Insert me singing “Roll Out” with my own twist and gawd awful voice]. This means I am making progress with Operation Abs and Booty–I’m strengthening my core in hopes to get faster. I’ve cut back on long distances significantly to help heal my hip, with a strategic focus to get faster by incorporating more speed intervals! I figured because there are no races I’m participating in in the next month, there’s no need to crash and burn with distance training every day. My goal has given me the freedom to balance strength training with running and all things in between my miles. But no, the new regime and my aching muscles this morning isn’t the hurt I woke up with.

Ah-ha, I said it earlier but in the wrong context. Crash and burn. Yup! That’s it. It sounds awfully reminiscent of young and hopeful romances, but this isn’t a Nicholas Sparks blog. No, no, no…if it were, I’d be rich “rolling in twenties, with the top back, so much money, you can’t stop that…” my shoes would be custom-made, I’d be custom-paid , and everything I own would be custom-fitted [do you like what I just did there? Thanks Luda!]. But back to the pain, no more rolling around. The pain is because I literally did crash and burn last night. After returning home from eating sashimi and a yellowtail roll, the perfect complement to the pear martini(s), I took the pups for a walk. But you see, I can’t just walk them. I want them to get their pent up energy out so I got them riled up and gearing to go. We crossed the street at high velocity when I NOT so gracefully hit the ground running–skidding across the cross walk. My gray pants have holes where my knees crashed down, I have cuts all along my legs, and my left palm looks like I clenched jumping cholla cacti, you know, because that’s fun. My right hand was spared, slightly. The ring finger resembles a burn but fortunately I’m left-handed so it’s tolerable. That’s my story. I crashed and I burned.

So there you have it. That’s the pain. Crash and burn. The nostalgia of all things that crash and burn is that, just like relationships past, there’s an image that dances around the mind, a distant memory of affection, never affliction, until you look in the mirror and see its scars (not all scars are visible). That’s what makes it real. The satisfaction is picking yourself up, accepting the humility, and moving forward. Who cares that I had an audience! I’m sure they chuckled and hey, if I can provide free entertainment at my expense (I need new jeans), I’m all for it. They probably judged me but I’m not scathed by the opinions of others anymore, only my fall. This too will become a memory–another scar that makes ME unique. That’s the reminder. That’s the crash and that’s the burn. Ohhhh the duplicity.

Thanks for stopping by!

Enjoy your weekend and happy running!

XO

Valgal

Pain Is Insignificant: A Commitment to Honor

11 Nov

Hello friends!

First and foremost, let me begin this blog with a shout out to our veterans! My heart is full of love and admiration for those who wear or have worn the uniform in their unwavering efforts to protect us and our country. I want to take the time and honor those who served and are serving. Their bravery, courage, and service to our country is truly an act of selflessness—I am honored and privileged to write these words. I am humbled everyday by your sacrifice and feel overwhelmed with pride and honor serving you. May God bless over you, your families, and all of your loved ones. XO

It was inspirational to watch Vice President Biden speak today paying tribute to our nation’s veterans. He was speaking with charged passion and the crowd was listening in affected silence. He was literally an arm’s length away from me today, no joke. Okay, maybe ten. Regardless, he was close. And I was moved.

Talking about being moved, let’s get to running…

I completed my first run post-marathon on Monday. It was brutal. I took two weeks off after the Marine Corps Marathon hosted on October 26, 2014. I expected to kiss the asphalt with my feet with a light, easy, and relaxed feeling considering the tender, loving, care I gave to my body.

I only ran three miles. Three fast miles. The speed felt great. I ran light. My breathing was easy. But I felt nothing near relaxed. The ball-and-socket joint of my right hip felt as if with each movement there was a crushing sensation. It felt like every time the bones met each other they were sanding each other down. Then add the feeling as if my hip caught onto something. It would pop then pop again. Really?

I ran a solid three miles and called it quits. I didn’t want to welcome an injury, especially not post-marathon. I couldn’t help but think, what gives? How does one get an injury post-ANYTHING? I’m without a logical explanation.

I wrapped up my workout with an ab session. I felt defeated. I came up to the apartment and met my shower with affectionate arms—I mean hips. I hoped my hip would respond to the hot water therapy but it didn’t do much… other than leave my body temporarily stained a few shades of red.

I tended to my emotional disruption of a possible injury by indulging in a glass of wine and my master’s homework. Best thing to do at that point was ignore the pain. After all, pain happens. This pain was not significant. I told myself to get over it.

The following day I was walking around and I still noticed discomfort. I continued to try to ignore it. Discomfort is an enemy of my sheer will and determination to push through obstacles. An obstacle disguised as right hip pain paled in comparison to just having ran a marathon with acute bronchitis, while losing a contact, with my calf muscles on fire. Therein lies the truth that I can push through difficult things. Right hip pain didn’t have anything on me!

Naturally, I wanted to shake the feeling of discomfort by running seven miles. Wouldn’t you? I wanted to push through the “pain”. I was longing to be absorbed in a good, long run because I was tired of being so compulsively worried about my right hip and the reality of an injury. I didn’t want anything more than to focus on the moment and the mile I was in. I longed to be connected and fully vigilant of my breathing, turnover, cadence, pace, heartbeat, and movement because it had been so long.

But it was too difficult. Each mile my right hip felt like it snagged onto something. I grimaced one time or fifteen. I wear my emotions on my face plain as day. Anyone could have seen, with my squinted eyes, tight lips, and a raised eyebrow my silent vulgar cries. “OooOoow what the [bad word] was that? Did my hip just seriously [bad word*ing] pop? What the H.E. double hockey stick is going on? WHAT is going on!!!!?”

I was fretting because the pain was unfamiliar and a major nuisance. I forgot to mention I have another race this Sunday that I stand a chance in placing, thus supporting my deposition that this is a real and very major nuisance.

What do I do?

With that said, I decided to take today off from running. It makes me anxious with trepidation because I should be training for the race and a PR.

But what kind of anxiousness is mine in comparison if we circle back to our selfless service men and women, and veterans? The thought reminds me that running is privilege and I ought not to fuss over the insignificance of my “pain.” Pain presents itself in endless forms. And today, I was deeply moved by the Veterans Day Ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery honoring our veterans and the sacrifices they have made. I pay tribute to their unwavering commitment, bravery, and service while recognizing the myriad of emotions, to include pain, that is entwined within their creed.   God bless.

Thanks for reading!!!

Honoring Those Who Serve(d), Veterans Day 2014.

Happy Running.

XO

Valgal

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Marine Corps Marathon Ooh Rah Recap: Hot Dammmm

6 Nov

Hi friends! Here I am with MARATHON NUMERO DOS under my belt!!! Hot dammmm.

I never knew that screaming hot dammmm could be both a good and bad thing! Let me explain.

Pre-race: good thing.

Mid-race: good thing.

Last 3.2 miles: bad thing x bad thing x bad thing. It was hot dammmm! Seriously! When is this isht going to be effing over? My Garmin was flashing 26.2 miles and I was NOT done. Where was the finish line? Was that the finish line? I couldn’t see. Hot dammmm[it]!!!

Let me define hot dammmm by breaking it down.

Hot [good]: I refined my training for this marathon. I got this! Feeling good! Feeling light. Feeling flight. Wind under my legs. I got this!

Hot [bad]: My calves were on fire. My calf muscles felt like they were falling off my bones with every strike on the pavement. Ouuuuuchhhiessssss. Then there was my anxiety. My anxiety was running hot. It had a fever. A bad one because I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see because I lost my left contact at mile 9, (my left eye requires the strongest prescription) lucky me.

So there I was with a fever of anxiousness and a crowd cheering “You’re almost there!” They were relentless with their excitement to include clapping, whistling, shouting, cowbelling…I might have had a fever but the only prescription was finding the finish line, not more cowbell!!!

Dammmm [good]:I got this! I trained. Hot diggity dog, I might BQ!!! Wooohooo I’m flying.

Dammmm [bad]: It felt like I was sprinting when the reality was I shifted into granny gear!!! Talk about a Sunday joy ride. It was Sunday and I belonged in a walker at that point to carry my weight.

The Real Recap

The morning of the marathon was unlike any other. I hopped on the metro and was greeted with a swarm of runners (civilians, Marines, and other service members), volunteers, bands, and spectators. We were all crammed on the blue line heading to the Pentagon. The metro ride was a concert of songs, Ooh Rahs, and praise. The acoustics were unlike the normal route into the city. The clamor was a stark contrast from the Monday-Friday commute when most are plugged in to their phones being disconnected from the very person who’s sharing their personal space. These people were all up in each other’s personal space and they were welcome there! It was really something.

Fast Forward.

It’s race time. Hot Dammmm [good]. There were no “real” corrals. If you think you’ll finish with a 3 hour time, 4 hour time, 5 hour time, etc., you were to go park your feet near the designated sign. Oh I hate that kind of pressure. I wanted a 3:35 time because that is a Boston Qualifier (BQ). But I hesitated because I was suffering from acute bronchitis and didn’t know whether or not I would run fast or if my breathing would be exhaustively labored. I took one look at the crowd, the 20,000+ people (talk about sharing personal space), and recalled how much effort it took to weave in and out of the crowds of runners in my last race. So I deliberately parked at the 3:35 sign until the gun went off.

Gun went off.

Welp, I was wrong. What’s new? I am wrong a lot. The 3:35 sign did me no favors. I was stuck behind crowds of runners. I was shuffling my feet.

Thank gosh I stand 5’2” tall because I darted through people and any open space given the right opportunity. It took a lot of effort but none from my legs or lungs. I had to watch the people in front of me to gauge the motion and timing of their stride and elbows. Who said you don’t use physics and math in real life? I had to strategically and deliberately plan my attack to squeeze through limbs, spit, and other runners like me trying to dart ahead, while not colliding with one another. I was gauging speed and velocity at 8am, with the intent to BQ, while maintaining steady breathing, with a focus on my stride, fuel intake, etc. Are you kidding me? This isht gets difficult. I managed not to collide with anyone other than a fellow shrimpette, who like me, was planning her breakaway and taking full advantage of her 62 inches or less. We barely touched but shared a chuckle. We exchanged an excited “Sorry!” and kept moving forward. If you know me, you know how I say this!!! [“Sa-weewww-thank you cab driver!]

Mile 3 people were stopping. I remember thinking “It’s mile 3. How are you going to line up at 3:35 and stop here!?!” I mean seriously, it’s kind of dangerous when you’ve got me and shrimpette number 2 darting around. I mean flying around. Especially dangerous because it was a decline. Declines are FREE SPEED and I was all about that high velocity. I wanted more!

The FREE SPEED lasted a while. I took full advantage of it. Hot dammmm [good]. I loved that I didn’t have to return any favors either. Each decline and incline over the course was a silent declaration of what was to come. I paid close attention to its subtle hints (how often do those get overlooked girls?) and adjusted my body to its forewarning.

I leaned into the road. I was one with the road.

I was one with the road until mile 9. I had a gnarly cough paired with its obligatory accessory-phlegm. It was radiant in shades of green. OooOoo green! My favorite color! And neon green to boot! Thanks acute bronchitis! I digress. Anyway, I had just ate a GU so everything in my mouth felt sticky. Plus my cough was deep and my phlegm was thick. That’s the time when my left contact developed a film so thick I could no longer see. I stopped to make an effort to clean it. I had no other choice. I had to. I had to because it was more uncomfortable not being able to see than hacking said lungs. I can’t see 2 feet in front of me without contacts but this was worse. So I took my contact out and planned to spit on it to clean it. (As if you haven’t before. Spare me!) But my spit was thick with Jetberry GU residue and phlegm. I couldn’t do it. Sanitary purposes. I had to draw a line.

I ended up putting my contact back in my eye. Unclean and all. And with one intentional blink to make it fall in place that sucker fell off my eye and was gone. Shit!

I glanced at my Garmin. No I didn’t. I squinted. I couldn’t see very well at all so I placed the Garmin right in front of my right eye. That’s when I realized I had lost approximately one to two minutes of precious BQ time. Hot dammmm[it] [bad].

I ran the rest of my race, 17.2 miles, with one contact. I was blind. I was uncomfortable. And I couldn’t see the spectacular air show above. I couldn’t read the funny marathon signs. It sucked. 😦

As sucky as I felt I found pleasure in how great my legs felt. I just crested the course. I relied on my other senses to elevate me. I breathed in the remarkable, and inspirational cries from the crowd. I maintained focus. I repeated the mantra, Pain Only Hurts. Flight. Glide. Fly. Easy. Light. Smooth. It worked. I was clocking 7:40 miles give or take a few seconds. I even clocked a 6 minute mile somewhere in the mix. HOT diggity DAMMMM [good]. I fell back to a mid-8 minute a few times. Even losing a contact! Insert Hot dammmm  [good] one more time! Yes!!! My potential to BQ was still real.

But the pain began to set in at mile 18. Hot dammmm [bad].

The pain got so bad in my chest that I had to stop and cough for thirty seconds at least. My BQ fell further from reality. Hot dammmm [bad].

My legs were still fresh and agile. But my chest hurt. I was hacking. I dug deep. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. When, OWWWWwwwweeeeee happened. The discomfort of being blind coupled with my heavy chest was one thing. But by mile 23, with 3.2 left to go, my calves felt as if they were on fire. That was the other thing; the ugly thing.

Each time my foot touched the pavement my calves ached with excruciating pain. I tried to ignore it. I tried to ignore the ugly pain by telling myself that if the whole race goes to shit in a hand basket at this very moment, and I fall back to 10 minute mile pace, I would still, at the least, PR. So that was a good thing. 🙂

But I would resent myself if I did. I knew I was a tough runner and could endure pain. I knew I could endure even more pain. So pain, I taunted with, summoning it to BRING IT ON. I double dog dared it!!!

That was the pain I had been begging for during my last marathon. Pain is the telltale sign that you’ve pushed your limits. (For me at least.) There it was staring at me at mile marker 23. I was tickled with excitement that it finally came to meet me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was that same feeling you get when you massage a bruise. (Right?)

I wanted nothing less than to be seduced by it. I wanted it to take all of me.

But I played hard to get. I wasn’t quite ready to give up. My effort was twinged but at I still had some.

For the last three miles pain and I danced around the course. It seduced me with water stops, orange slice stops, Gatorade, etc. I wanted to give in. The temptations were hydrating. The allure had me salivating.

However, I knew relief was only three short miles ahead. And in three miles I would be greeted with a medal and a beer!!! Mmm beer! Please! And it was only three short miles away. Three short miles away after having already covered 23.2 miles!!! Why do I do this to myself? I’m crazy!

I begged my body for merciful forgiveness as I repeated: Only Three More Miles. Only Three More Miles. You Got This. You Got This. Easy. Light. Smooth. Glide. Fly. Flight. Run For Those Who Can’t. Pain Is Temporary. Beer. Beer in Thirty Minutes or Less! Fly.

I convinced myself that not all pain is significant. I focused on the finish and not my legs.

I started to fly.

Or so I thought…

With less than a mile to go I started to focus on my will rather than my physical strength. I was running on empty and enveloped in pain. I wanted to walk so bad! I squinted at my Garmin to see how much more distance I had to cover before I would finish. I was p.o.’d. The Garmin told me I had already run the distance of a marathon. Ugh!

I recall thinking that I must be close. The trouble was I couldn’t see ahead. I saw two or three massive displays of orange balloons. One of them promised to be the finish but I could not decipher which one.

I had a fear of sprinting too early, granny sprints or not, so I maintained my pace.

When I could finally see the finish line I realized I should have started sprinting a quarter-mile before. Hot dammm [bad].

I dug deep, shifted gears, and I ran as hard as I could to the finish. Granny kicked ass! I think.

I crossed that finish line. Hot Dammmm [good].

I was in pain. I was exhausted. I couldn’t walk. Hot Dammmm [bad].

I was overwhelmed with emotion. I PR’d! Stopping to breathe, contact issues , and all! Hot Dammmm [good].

I finished in 3:39:35. An 8:22 pace per mile!!! Hot diggity Dammmm [good].

I missed Boston by 4 minutes and 35 seconds. Had I run 10 seconds faster per mile I would have BQ’d. But I accepted the circumstances. Had I been 100% healthy, I bet I could have celebrated a BQ. Regardless, I PR’d by 11 minutes. That’s something I’m proud of, sick and all!

This was the first race where I finally met pain. I finally met exhaustion. I finally met the wall. They all stink, literally: Pain. Exhaustion. Wall. = PEW. Hot Dammmm [bad]. But I can’t wait to meet them again and crush them. Hot Dammmm [good] J

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Happy Running!!! Happy BQ’ing. Happy Cowbelling, he he he. Happy whatever makes you happy! Just be true to you!

XO

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Life is Made Worth Living

27 Jul

A shoutout to my family and my besties! Without the amazing women in my life, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I love you all! Thank you for your continued support, encouragement, and belief in me.

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My heart is full as I look back to one year ago today. Thanks family and friends for the abundance of love that was bestowed upon me on my bridal shower. It was a celebration of women that I shared with family and friends I am blessed to call family.

I know that shortly after my bridal shower Paul and I experienced a life event that shook up our worlds. It threatened the establishment of P&V but looking back, it only delayed it.

With that I say—Life is made worth living, surrounded by people you adore, so thank you for picking Paul and me as part of yours.

XO

Valgal

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Let’s Get Real

14 Jun

Hello friends!

I don’t know what happened here. I failed. Miserably. I blogged last night and when I hovered my mouse over publish, my post was gone. Fortunately this isn’t too tragic. I wrote a post about the ebb and flow of life. I wrote it because I wanted to write a little more about my life between the miles.

I’m thinking by the powers that be, that I was meant to write my emotions out but this one, this post wasn’t to be shared. It was a little too intimate. Not regarding me but regarding close friends and loved ones. It was about how grossly inappropriate some people are. It was a look at how some people can veer so far off from moral standards and still sleep at night.

That was last night. Now it’s Saturday morning! The pup pups are walked. There is no threat of rain and the sun is out. The trees are rich with colors of green I have not grown accustomed to seeing yet and they are bathing in the sun’s light. It’s a spectacular landscape. There is so much beauty in the most elementary of elements. This scene helps me maintain an attitude of gratitude. Perhaps this is why I find so much pleasure in what I love—running.

Running affords me the opportunity to revel in the luxury of nature and allows me to speak my mind without prejudice. It’s an intimate affair—running and me. There’s a give and a take. A comfort in knowing the familiar path and the incitement of the discovery of something new.

Today I turn to running to help me shake off (run off) the feelings of futility, anger, vengeance, and gloom. I am a happy person. I am a thankful person. I am a grateful person. I just happen to have these feelings because something happened to those I know very well that don’t deserve their current circumstance. The kicker is, it’s probably a miracle. It’s probably the man upstairs pillaging through their plans because their plans would never come to fruition. The miracle is that there is something better after the chaos settles.

I know every single one of you have experienced something that was undeserving. I don’t want to take away from you your experience by casually writing about my less than favorable situations or that of my loved ones. Your experience is authentic to you. I treasure that. That’s what makes us all unique.

I write in this forum about running and my life between the miles to share things—intentionally ambiguous at times to respect the privacy of others, because it makes me feel genuinely real. You and I may share common interests with running, Garmins, Ragnar Relays, and other relatable things. That’s why you read my blog. We share a camaraderie. I may sometimes appear as if I have it all together. I don’t. We seem to always be inclined to lie to each other—white lies. The polite, “I’m well, how are you?” kind of nonsense. Would we listen if someone replied with something other? We would think they were strange and socially awkward. That’s why I’m here. To tell you that sometimes the smiles in my pictures elude to this element of happiness that isn’t always there. I just want to get real with you. I want to be authentic.

So thanks for stopping by! I’m about to have a session with the road. This affair is still running hot! Wooooowwweeeee!

~Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it. —Robert Fulghum

Happy Running!!!

XO

Valgal

Running: You Give Me Fever

6 Feb

I’ve been hitting it hard lately. Running. Running. Running. Did I mention aside from running all the things that take my time away from running? Things such as working, studying, not sleeping well, and a session of Crossfit (new addiction) to name a few.

Sometimes when fatigue hits me and boy when it does it hits hard, I question if I should rest. But resting is for woosies. Right?

Wrong.

But when I do give into rest days, I feel like a big baby and I’m guilt-ridden.

You see, when I am in desperate need of a rest day I battle my logic, my heart, and my training plan-the dreaded marathon training plan in which I do not follow, at all. But it’s there on my counter, glaring at me with tons of unspoken suggestions. When I finally make eye contact it tries to prescribe a 6-10 mile run. So what I do is a quick self-assessment to determine what my prescription ought to be amped up to because I have a fever and it’s running hot (You like that? You see what I did there? Pun intended!). I run 12,15, or 20 miles on my long runs because I can, not 10. A 10 mile run is sprinkled in somewhere during my Monday-Friday routine. Perhaps I’m delirious but that’s what fevers do. 10 miles just doesn’t cut it for a long run. After all, I have my base miles down and I really need to work off those gummy bears I devoured at lunch. But then again, I’m friggin tired.

It is during these moments when I realize I need to question my sanity. Delirium and fevers aside, why wouldn’t I rest when I feel like my breathing is labored from pure exhaustion, when my body aches, and when I’m showing tell-tale signs of a suppressed immune system that is trying to ward off the flu and other bugs I’m certain I caught from public transit? Why did I sign up for a full marathon, again? Holy shit! I am a nut. I signed up for a marathon! I need to be institutionalized. The reality of running 26.2 miles is finally setting in. I mean, can I really run 26.2 treacherous miles, consecutively? I’ve only managed 20.1 miles to date and didn’t know how on Earth another 6.1 miles could be feasible. But when I’m running, I develop this fever for running, this addiction, this euphoric feeling that anything is possible. You see, the fever eliminates any pain and gives me a false sense of security. I call this delirium. Because the moment I’m done with a run I become fully aware that I signed up for a marathon-thinking I could really do it. That’s what’s funny. When I’m running I think I can finish a marathon. But during rest days and moments when I’m not running, the notion of running 26.2 miles exhausts me and I question my abilities. I’m just not too sure anymore if I’m capable of this labor unless I’m in an altered state of mind- running.

This marathon commitment requires me to log miles, miles, and more miles while I simultaneously beg my mind to give in to a rest day so that I may curl up in my bed under all the covers and get some shut eye, promising to savor every second of it.

And as the reality of this marathon thing sets in, so do other things. Things like the exhaustion. The exhaustion of my day leaving my mind numb and my limbs tired, heavy and begging for mercy.

I took a day off from running recently. I wrestled with the idea for hours. To guarantee my half-ass (I lost my full-ass—long distance runner problems) didn’t hit the treadmill I poured myself a glass of Malbec. I sipped my tasty red wine, sat back with my feet propped on my coffee table, and relaxed (or tried to). I still had a hot fever for running but forced myself to enjoy the solitude. I acknowledged I could tame my fever the following day and resolved that my prescription would be doubled. (2 runs in one).

The following day arrived and guilt hit me hard. Not only guilt for not logging the necessary miles the day prior to prep for my marathon (only 5 weeks away), I felt GUILT because I felt as if I retained all the water, the wine, and light dinner from the night before. My waistline felt 5 inches thicker and I felt as if I was a whopping 5 pounds heavier. At that very moment my fever began to blister!!! Screw the double dose prescription, this would be cured only if I tripled the dose (thank gosh I’m not really talking about drugs here).

I realized I wasn’t be rational so I got over the triple dose methodology to cure my fever and settled on the double dose. I continued my morning and as I perused the March 2014 Runner’s World while sitting on the metro I couldn’t help but laugh. I recall laughing at my madness and the madness of other runners. It appears most of us runners run a little hot and we are all a little neurotic… or a lot a bit neurotic.

Here’s what got me laughing.
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March 2014 Runner’s Word, Screw Up–Like a Pro!
With a little stubbornness and stupidity, you can injure yourself the way elites do. Written by: Lauren Fleshman
Rest days are for babies:

I like to run, and I want to get better, so why wouldn’t I take a day off? The hard-core don’t take days off, do they? I bet Shalane worked out twice today. What will I do on my day off, anyway? Think about working out while my mitochondria evaporate? In one day my jeans feel tighter. There is no way this is from being hydrated for the first time in a week. It is fatness as a direct result in laziness. It’s only 9:30 p.m….still time to get in a quick four-miler.
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It appears we are all addicted to the run and we all experience guilt. This article and I experience guilt and feel it on our waistline… And as our fevers blister, the only lovely way to burn is to run…

Takeaways

A rest day doesn’t mean you’re a woose or a baby, it means you’re tired and you’re body is begging you to slow down.

You can’t gain 5 inches in a day.

You can’t gain 5 pounds in a day. If you did, I assure you it’s just hydration and you will be 5 pounds lighter in no time.

Your jeans aren’t tighter because you took a rest day. You’re delirious and those jeans are just as tight as they were after you ran your last long run.

It’s okay to rest.

It’s okay to rest. (Intentionally duplicated)

Stop being guilt-ridden and enjoy your rest days.

Do one thing that scares you every month. (For me, it’s running a marathon)

Love the run.

Make pain a friend and you’ll never be alone.

Stop feeling guilty for eating gummy bears (Okay, that’s me…it’s my blog I can write what I want) 🙂

Keep running your race.

Have faith.

Enjoy being neurotic.

Thanks for reading and stopping by!

XOXO

Valerie
Runnergirl

Christmas Travels: Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Okay, no Trains…Just the Grinch, Snow Miser & Mr. Taxi Cab Driver

27 Dec

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. Here’s a quick snapshot of my travels Christmas morning back to my new home….

My First Delta Flight: The pilot was cheerful. The flight attendants were beaming with holiday joy and sparkled in their red uniforms and bedazzled Santa hats. This flight embodied the Christmas spirit from takeoff to landing. It was a magical flight for the kiddos on board. The bitterness of leaving “home” Christmas morning turned sweet when over the loudspeaker the pilot referenced Santa, his sleigh and the promise of snow in Detroit for a “White Christmas”, with joyfulness in his voice. I couldn’t help but smile as I looked around the crowded plane at the grins and giggles the children were wearing and the look of relief from their parents. Half a book later sprinkled with some interrupted zzz’s we had landed in Detroit.

The Lay Over:  It was a “White Christmas” in Detroit. It looked miserable outside. Desolate. Cold. Did I say miserable?  I was warm inside traveling from Terminal A75 to A61. My stomach was begging me for a sandwich. Boar’s Head Deli, closed. Online café, closed. Starbucks only had pastries. My options were Taco Bell, Heineken Lounge, Charley’s Grilled Subs, and Jose Cuervo Tequileria. I didn’t like any of them. Oh wait, I did. Had I wanted a beer I would have sat at Heineken Lounge. A shot of tequila or a Paloma at Jose Cuervo Tequileria sounded appetizing but my stomach was panging me for food. I settled for trail mix and dried edamame. I sat down at Terminal A61 when the news of the flight being delayed alarmed most. I didn’t mind. You see, there was a woman in front of me oblivious to the world of people around her. She was on her cell phone yelling at the other person on the phone about not paying rent but yet she got her nails done, she bought Christmas presents, something about food stamps, and it goes on and on. This woman’s personal business was blasted and I knew her entire financial situation in a matter of minutes. I couldn’t stop listening. I was immensely entertained. Then the rest of terminal A61 caught an interest. We were all enthralled. At this point I didn’t think any of us cared if the flight was delayed. The conversation we were eavesdropping was getting good and nasty (not that way!). We all exchanged sly smirks, or a head nod, the raise of an eyebrow or shrug of the shoulders to acknowledge that yes, yes we were all listening and we couldn’t wait for the next slap-down.  I couldn’t comprehend though how the person on the other line was still…on the other line. After 2 minutes of that kind of beating I would have hung up on blamed it on the bad reception in the metro.  How could someone stand to hear that kind of shrieking brutality? It was like watching a scary movie. You instinctively know and silently scream, “don’t go down that alley!!!” I was crying silently for the woman on the other line. I was pleading her to “hang up and turn your phone off!” The more quiet we were as spectators the louder this woman’s volume became. I realized then that some people want to be heard. Me on the other hand, I remembered that I just wanted a sandwich and it was Christmas.

Finally, The Connecting Flight Home: There was no more Christmas spirit at this point. I didn’t get my sandwich. The edamame was too salty, same with the trail mix-to be expected. The flight attendants were polar opposite of each other. One flight attendant was as sweet as a candy cane while the other flight attendant was as stone as coal. Yup. Ms. Coal came up to me and bellowed “Put your seat up!” I advised her it was up. She then followed-up her request with a firm push of my seat. My seat didn’t go anywhere and she didn’t offer any apology. Her beady eyes glared at me. I’m pretty sure she stole Christmas. No sooner after I made my supposition that she stole Christmas and that she was probably the Grinch disguised as a frigid flight attendant, the children an aisle behind me kindly asked her, “Ma’am, Ma’am, when can we get Sprite?” She jetted right on past the cuties as if she may catch a dose of their sunshine! I had an epiphany at that moment. This woman was no Grinch!!! She’s frigid and cold as ice like Snow Miser (The Year Without a Santa Claus). It’s no wonder she despised the sunshine, happy and magical Christmas spirit these kids exuded!  I turned to the kids and told them she’s mad because Santa put coal in her stocking. They giggled. She glared at me, again. I made two new friends. I didn’t three.

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Baggage Claim: We landed. The kids said goodbye and ventured off with their pops. I waited for my 52lb luggage at baggage claim. Within seconds it appeared daunting me with its orange label reminding me I did not pack efficiently. I felt as if people suddenly possessed Superman’s X-ray vision as they exchanged glances between the bag and me. I felt as if they knew why I had that scarlet letter on my bag. They were probably wondering just how many shoes I had packed (I was only gone 8 days!). If they had X-ray vision they should have been able to count all the shoes. I will advise you that there were 2 pairs for running. I smirked as I realized they weren’t speculating over what I packed. They were speculating because there I was, toting a 52lb bag, half my size and greater than twice my width, with grace and in stilettos across the floor.  (Okay, add another pair of shoes).  Yes, stilettos at an airport. I fumble over my feet more in flats than in heels, unless I’m running! I laughed again when I realized I didn’t have to pay for the excess weight! Merry Christmas to me!

The Taxi Home: When you walk out of the airport you can’t hail your own taxi. The airport attendees do this for you. I stepped out in my Phoenician winter attire, freezing and cursing myself out for not dressing warmer. I asked the man for a cab. There it appeared. A champagne colored nineteen ninety something mini-van! I felt like I aged 40 years and I was suddenly in my late 60s. Nothing against champagne color but I think it’s for a different generation other than my own. (I don’t mean to offend)I stepped in. Yup, the Christmas spirit was gone-zo! I said good evening to this gentleman. He was a far cry from a gentleman. Gentleman being too kind a word. He gave me the stank eye and silent treatment the whole ride home. I presumed Santa gave him coal, too. Mr. Taxi Driver and Ms. Coal should get together. The silence was broken when he stopped the meter in front of my place and demanded “$20!” That’s it. He said nothing more than “$20.”I laughed as I said, “Really? It’s never more than $15, typically on average, $12. Why $20?” He exclaimed, “$5 airport convenience fee!”I rebuked sarcastically, “I didn’t choose to hail your cab but you’ve got quite the gig going on!” I don’t pout over the variance of a few dollars but if you’re going to charge me more I expect something in return! Make the ride worth it if I have to pony up! There was no stimulating conversation. No small talk. There was nothing.  Sitcoms make first date parodies off the lack thereof colloquial, uncomfortable shit that just transpired between me and Mr. Taxi Driver. I handed him my card when he screamed, “CASH only!” Okay, okay. Get this. I’m new to D.C. but I’m not stupid. New regulations require that taxis accept credit cards and other forms of non-cash payments as of August 31, 2013.  I responded matter-of-factly and pointing, “You have a credit machine right there!” He informed me it didn’t work. I accepted his bullshit rebuttal although the credit card machine LED screen was lit up and ready to accept payment. I told him, “Okay. I’ll go to the ATM.” He offered to drive me but I declined advising him mockingly that I didn’t want any more fees. I walked with my luggage to the Bank of America ATM. I grimaced because I knew I’d get another fee. OY! Then I remembered that USAA refunds these fees. That is when I was struck with a brazen idea. I punched in my code and took my cash. I walked back to the mini-van and hand Mr. Taxi Driver a $20. I exclaimed, “I charged you a $5 convenience fee to walk to the ATM, there’s no more tip for you.”

I’m no Grinch, I promise. Had this guy engaged in conversation and not lied to me on Christmas I would’ve been inclined to tip well, especially on Christmas, even with his made up $5 airport convenience fee. I think $2.50 is the going rate…

Anywho, thanks for reading! I hope you had a Holly, Jolly, Merry Christmas followed by a Blessed New Year!!!

 

Valgal aka Runner Girl

XO

Running to Speculate

1 Apr

It’s been one heck of a week, maybe even two. My fiancé and I have found ourselves involved in family obligations, housework, wedding planning commitments among other things. The family obligations never stop and we aren’t complaining. Family comes first. Isn’t it amazing how our priorities change and how much growing up we do in our twenties? I mean I have been twenty-something for a while but wow, twenty-something right now is hitting me hard. And not because it’s an age thing.

I’m noticing that the older I get and yes I hear you exclaiming “twenty something and older” and trying to make sense of that sentence…but anyway, the older I get, I’m noticing this shift between my parents and I, even my grandparents and I. I know that as children, despite our age as twenty-somethings or fifty-somethings, we are our parents’ children and we are our grandparents’ grandchildren. Age plays no precedence within the familial infrastructure, only the role…we will always be titled children, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, mothers, fathers, etc. The roles adapt as we take on more titles, but we are always our parents’ child. End of story.

And that brings me to my point. There’s this shift between my parents and me being twenty-something. Suddenly I’m stricken with worry and anxiety about my parents. Granted I know they worry about me but it’s different nowadays. They know I’m in the best health of my life and they know I have an incredible man who is my rock and hopefully me, his. My parents are confident in my professional endeavors and see that Paul and I are trying to be financially savvy to better our future and prepare (as much as one can prepare) for children in a few years. My parents don’t worry too much about me. They are confident in my path. They know I make the right choices.

It’s not like I worry about my parents because they make the wrong choices. I worry about them as if I were the parent these days because they live and breathe in their business. They don’t turn work off and I sometimes think that could be toxic. They do indulge in some exotic vacations to get away, to tune out and disconnect in an effort to connect to what’s important, and that’s being with one another…But in order for them to do so, they work from sun up to sun up with no rest. That was intentional, sun up to sun up…they work 24/7, no kidding. There is no rest for the wicked! In order for them to go on vacation they bury themselves in work just to make certain when they return, the workload is somewhat manageable. Then it’s back to the grindstone for them. They are always working. I’ve never seen my parents work harder than this in their lives and I’m worried. I don’t want them to work themselves to death. I want them to enjoy the small moments rather than be distracted by the rigorous demands of owning their own business. I want to be able to communicate with my parents without having them have to make time for me, but that is how it is. And I’m proud of them and all they’ve accomplished but I don’t want them to miss out on what is going on around them. I want them to take a step back.

I’m seeing my parents age. Granted they are aging gracefully, they are aging. My parents are getting older and that’s the bottom line. It scares me. I have to face these facts and I don’t like it. I get so emotional. I’m getting older but that shouldn’t mean they are getting older. I’m a logical person but I can’t fathom this truth. I try to cope with the aging process of my parents and family members and it’s difficult. That’s why I turn to running sometimes. I try to cope with it. After all, aren’t we all supposed to be forever young?

Last week my parents informed me that my dad had to have a biopsy. They didn’t want to tell me and held off from telling me for a little over a week. I was outraged! They claimed they didn’t want me to worry or get too emotional. I understood their logic but was still miffed they didn’t share this news with me. I thought I handled it well when I spoke to my dad on the phone about the matter at hand. I was staying strong and supportive. We hung up with each other and suddenly the information started to process. It was just me alone with my thoughts as I was driving home from work and my eyes welted up in tears and I couldn’t stop crying. What was going to happen? I was thinking, this is my father, nothing can happen to him, he’s friggin invincible! I prayed, I prayed and I prayed. I had to go head out for a run. Running is my solitude, my church and where I pray (church, too).

In the middle of my run I began to think, what happens if it is cancer? Then I followed it up with what stage would it be, what would happen to my parents business, what would happen to my mom, has dad told his sisters? I couldn’t stop all my questions. I just kept running and running harder. I was desperate for answers and figured the harder I pushed myself the answers would come. With each stride I worked it out a little bit more. I had to hash out my emotions until I was numb. I kept telling the pavement, I can’t lose my dad. I was beating the pavement with my feet pleading for mercy, when the pavement probably wanted mercy from me.

I recall a song playing through my earbuds that reminded me of my dad and just put me over the top. I’m not talking a sentimental song; I’m talking about a Van Halen song that had me in tears all because Van Halen reminds me of my dad. I mean I was a mess. I was a sweaty, emotional, salty mess. There I was running while holding back tears. It was the first run in a while where I wasn’t running to train for a marathon, I wasn’t running for my physical and heart health; I was just running to manage my emotions and work them out. I couldn’t tell my parents how my heart sank to my feet with the news. I couldn’t let on that I was having a hard time with the news so I just ran… and I continued to run until I felt a little better which was very fleeting.

Finally Friday arrived and we were given great news. Dad will be okay! He needs to get checked every 6 months but he is going to be a-okay. Thank you, God!

But life is kind of a comedy and threw another matter at me. So I keep running. I keep running to face the adversity because I have faith in the Lord above and I have faith in my family and that all things will turn out as they should. Despite the hurt and my heavy, heavy heart, I believe it will all work out. I just need to keep running for my emotional health.

And last night as I was driving home from Easter events, Highway Don’t Care began playing and I just couldn’t help but to notice how much the song resonated with me. It may be a love song but it’s a song that made me think of my mom. And I love my mom. So I started to cry.

“Bet your window’s rolled down and your hair’s pulled back. I bet you have no idea you’re going way too fast. And you’re trying not to think about what went wrong. Trying not to stop til you get where you goin’…The highway won’t dry your tears. The highway don’t need you here. The highway don’t care if you’re coming home…Yeah, I bet you’re bending God’s ear talking about me…”

The song, as beautiful as it was in that moment intensified my emotions making me ache for a run. When I got home, I contemplated changing into my running attire to run my emotions away to guarantee a good night’s sleep. But I had taken pleasure in a glass or two of wine earlier in the day and decided it was best to lay low. I relished in the memories of Easter’s past with my family, days when we were all a little younger; days when I didn’t worry half as much about my parents and it helped revitalize my mood.

But here I am today, recollecting on the past week or two, thinking about what went right, what went wrong, and how much love I have for everyone despite differences, because life is precious and each day is a gift.

I thank the Lord for the strength to get through the thick of things and his faith in me. I thank the Lord for giving me the gift of running.

…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…

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