Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Kristi's first half marathon

When you died I was training with some friends for a half marathon.  I decided to quit training because I felt too sad and tired and defeated.  I couldn't sleep and my eating was sporadic. However, Tod talked me into continuing so I slowly picked myself up every Saturday morning and dragged myself out of bed and through a long run.  I felt weak and slow and heavy.  Each run I became slower and slower and I started to doubt if I could run the race at all.

The week of the race the forecast was SNOW AND RAIN up at Mt. Charleston.  They said wear gloves, beanies, waterproof jackets...it sounded awful.  I've done two marathons in pouring rain and it is miserable.  I was dreading it.

That morning I woke up at 3:30 am to get ready.  As I drove to Megan's house I started talking to you out loud.  Told you how crappy I had trained.  How bad the weather was supposed to be.  What little desire I had to run that day.  I asked if you would run with me.  Stay with me.  Help me.  Because I kept training for you.  Every step was for you.  Every day that I get out of bed I do it because I am going to keep living for you.  So this race was for you too.  To show you I can keep going and that we won't give up because you didn't either.

As our buses drove us up the mountain the clouds were dark and heavy.  I had a pit in my stomach as I envisioned an hour of standing in the rain followed by a couple hours running in it.  When we got off the bus, though, the clouds were parting.  People were shedding their layers and there was a huge sense of surprise and relief because this was perfect running weather.  We walked to the starting line and as I crossed it I started moving my feet faster and faster but could hardly feel the pavement below me.  My breath was easy and it felt like I was flying.  Megan signaled to her watch and told me we were running a 7:30 pace.  That is NOT my pace.  I'm closer to a 9 minute mile but we kept going because it felt effortless.

Around mile 7 I started to do the math and realized I could finish in under two hours.  This was unbelievable to me because my pace has always been slow and my times for half marathons usually closer to 2:25.  I figured I'd probably have to slow down soon so I didn't get my hopes up but I said out loud to you, "Kristi...let's finish under two.  Let's go faster."  I had the playlist you made for me playing in my ears and my feet were still not even touching the ground.  I was passing people without trying and wondering the whole time WHAT IN THE HELL WAS HAPPENING because this was not my pace.

The last two miles were our fastest.  I realized that I had help.  I could feel the lift from somewhere.  So we sprinted the last two (uphill) miles and finished in 1:55 (according to race website).  To my total and complete surprise.

This is how I know you were there: I've been running a long time and this was not even close to my pace.  I had energy and power and it wasn't coming from me.  We had never run a race together before but I have a feeling there will be more to come.

It must've been so hard when you were alive to never help anyone but yourself.  You were so sick and didn't have time or money or reserves to give much else.  All of your resources went towards feeding your addiction.  I look back and realize that you weren't selfish...you were a very very sick girl.  Your addiction took over years ago.  You wanted to help us, you wanted to give Christmas gifts, you wanted to spoil our kids but you couldn't.  I understand now.  It feels like now you actually have something to offer us.  Your story.  Your spirit.  Your tragic death as a reminder to treat life carefully and love fully.  And running with you felt like running with wings and I appreciate that you took the time to show me you're still with us.  I needed that.  I will never forget.

Sometimes at night when I'm trying to sleep I picture you laughing so hard that your eyes close and squint and you throw your head back and tears start to run

down my face.  I can still see you laying on the couch talking with my kids or snuggling during a movie or driving me somewhere in your car making me listen to a new song.  This pain is so sharp.  Please stay close.  I'm not ready to let you go.