The hardest race I ever ran….

….was with myself.

This entry is not about cooking or food. It’s about much more than preparing sustenance.

I’ve been running this race for over a year and it finally ended on Sunday.

The long, hard, marathon of thoughts running through my head; feelings that I’ve never felt before. Clarity was reached shortly after mile 9 on the 13.1 mile course that is the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Something that sounds so fun should be fun for everyone there. For me, it was about conquering grief or at least getting my hands firmly around the neck of grief.

I ran in honor of my mom who died in October 2011. When I signed up last July to run the half marathon with my husband on a team, we had to come up with a team name. For some reason, I thought that it would be neat to run in honor of my mom. We came up with Team Hi Mom. It’s simple but not too sappy….ain’t nobody got time for that.

Training for this half marathon was just like the one I had ran in February 2011. I procrastinated but this time I had a dear friend who kicked my butt into high gear. She has helped me in more ways than she’ll ever know and I’ll always cherish her for that.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that this race would not be like that last. I was running it to honor my mother. I couldn’t let her down, I couldn’t let what our relationship was be just what it was. I needed to do something that she would be proud of and something that I know if she were alive, we could bond over.

It sounds silly but when I was training for the Princess Half two years ago, her and I had started working on our relationship. It was getting better. We would talk and she would actually have an interest in how my training was going. We were headed in the right direction after years of zigzags, ups, downs, and loop-di-loos in a mother-daughter relationship.

When she died unexpectedly in October 2011, all of that progression came to a halt. What we had progressed to was a place that I was happy with but still felt guilt that we didn’t have more….and we wouldn’t.

But when I was running on Sunday, I felt her every step I took.  I could hear her voice pushing me along the roads. Practically, every song that came on my playlist contained the word “mom” or some variation of it. I never really listened to the words on my running playlist I just liked the beats. They were up-tempo, something you could really get into while crazily running over 13 miles. For some reason, this time, I noticed the words.

I was choking back tears from mile 3. My husband and I had split off around mile 2. In retrospect, maybe it’s what I needed to finally grieve in a way I’ve never grieved before.

Each mile marker that I passed, I had more and more pride built up. I. AM. DOING. THIS. I would notice the M-bomb being dropped in a song and I’d start getting teary eyed. I was able to hold it back pretty well. I’ve been holding it back pretty well for over a year now.

But shortly after mile 9, the most that my dear friend and I had ran together, I started to lose it. I couldn’t keep it back anymore. I was so happy that I was doing this for my mom yet so sad that she was gone. Before I knew it, I was hyperventilating, something that had never happened before. I knew I couldn’t keep running. I sprinted to the side of the road and fell to my knees and cried. Cried like I’ve never cried before. Right there, in the grass and dirt outside of Disney World, the happiest place on Earth. The sound of feet running past me faded into the background and all I heard was my own wailing.

Of course a small crowd soon gathered….so embarrassing. I started to hear their voices, “Is she ok?”. “Is she injured?”. “Someone, call for help”. That’s when I knew I had to pull it together and say, “No, I’m fine”. Clearly, I was not fine.

These four women embraced me in their arms and asked what was wrong. I pieced together a sentence through sobbing. “My Mom died a year ago and I’m doing this for her”. Of course, it was more like “….My..*sniffle*….mom…*sob*…died..*sniffle**sniffle*….a year…..ago……and…..I’m doing this for her”. Thank God for waterproof mascara.

They picked me up and said, “Let’s do this together. Let’s start walking”. So we did.

We walked until I could manage to see through the tears. I blew my nose with a stash of t.p. that was given to me in case the port-a-johns were out of their supply of toilet paper. Given to me by none other than said amazing woman who I trained with.

I apologized profusely for such embarrassing behavior and they were all shocked and asked me why I was apologizing. Why was I apologizing? I never gave myself the time to grieve the way I should have. I shouldn’t be sorry for grieving now, I should be sorry for not letting myself do it sooner.

Slowly, each woman said their good byes and started running again, I thanked them each graciously. Off they went except one.

Leah. I don’t know her last name, she doesn’t know mine but she was my angel.

She stayed with me for over 2 miles. We walked, we ran, we talked. She told me that my mom will always be with me and will always be there when I need her the most. Leah told me that the wind I felt behind me, pushing me along the course, was my mom and that she would be proud of me.

Around mile 12, Leah and I said our goodbyes and we each went our own way. I told her how much it meant to me that she stayed with me and how much her kind words touched my aching heart.

I finished in 2 hours and 50 minutes. Sixteen minutes faster than two yeas ago. I would have finished about 10 minutes faster than I did if I hadn’t had my mile 9 break down. But 10 minutes of crying is worth every second after it’s over because each step you take feels lighter. Even after you cross the finish line.Image


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Mallory Hill says:

    Love you chica. Glad you had such a productive run. It’s crazy how much of an emotional release can come from a race.

    1. Thank you, Mallory! I love you too! I read your post on the race and I’m so proud of everything you’ve overcome and your determination. Running the Princess again next year?

  2. Jeff Farmer says:

    I’m so proud of the lady you have become J! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Uncle Jeff! Love you!

  3. Tania says:

    Such an amazing and touching story!! Thank you for sharing. XOXO -T

    1. Thank you, Tania! I can’t wait to see you soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s