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“Why do you run?”  He turned and asked me as “our shuttle” pulled away full but someone was definitely going to swing back around and pick up 30 more of us.  Really soon.

It took a long time to sort through the options and finally I replied, “because my dad is dead.”  He nodded and muttered something about heart disease.  I laid the truth at the feet of 83 years old and lung cancer, mentioned that I missed my dad and politely asked the 70 year old man in front me his question in return.

I had walked downstairs at 5:40 in the morning to follow the herd to the shuttle.  Men and women who were running between 3.1 mils and 26.2 during the day.  Dressed in clothing I would have to save up for and that they would ditch along the roadside when they got warmed up.  High pony tails and calves that could cut glass.  Drinking coffee like intestinal disaster didn’t even cross their mind.

I was wearing yesterday’s socks because I forgot my regular socks.  I was begging the DayQuill to kick in because my whole face tasted like sinus infection and I felt dumb.  Prepared, but dumb.  I often think about making sure my clothing matches the situation because I feel more comfortable that way – I want to stand out because of who I am or what I’m doing not because I’m wearing boot socks and tennis shoes.

The second school bus came and picked us up.  People chatted and I cried a little bit, I hadn’t found my “Atta Girl” yet and there was a long time between when we had to get off the heated bus and I could get started.

It was 42 degrees while I waited in the dark for 90 minutes to start my race.  I didn’t feel any less dumb.  Numb did start to happen though.  Lining up for the 7:30 start I noticed the sun started to rise.  i thought of Tracy and that she would have the advantage of a 9:00 start for her first half today.  I was happy we were doing this together separately.  I figured out my pacer was a woman who was actual personal friends with someone I admire online.  That was a bonus.

We started.  My guys were awesome, well prepared and cheering me at 5 different times (pro-tip as created by my husband – white board for signs!).  The weather got nice.  I could keep going.  It was as silent  for me as I wanted it to be although I heard others chatting around me and felt that I could have joined if I wanted to.  I stayed in front of my pacer.  I saw the guys at the finish line, I crossed the line and got my medal, my towel, and a bottle of water that might have only been for the full marathon folks (I’m not sure).  Then I burst into tears.

I had long since quit feeling dumb.

Somewhere along the road I realized the real answer to why I am running these days.  My dad is dead, and the least interesting part of his life was his career.  It was the things around the edges of his work life that made him the man I miss.  The adventures, and the doing, and the building and the LIFE that wasn’t his second shift job he despised but paid well.  I want to lean back in a chair and reminisce about a LIFE when I am in my 80s.

I got the email that said “Congratulations.”

I started to run, I was rusty (at best) and delusional (daily) and I laid down miles.

Between my highest ever non-pregnant weight (May) (which was only 15 lbs away from my highest pregnant weight) and a few days ago there is a difference of nearly 20 lbs.

I get up between 5a and 5:15 four days a week to run in the dark.  In the rain.  In the (f*cking) fog. I finally understand why so many people hate treadmills.  When I noticed how much I slouched when I got tired I added Tania’s Shred class on Tuesdays so my arms weren’t exclusively decorative.

Everything below my ribs hurts most of the time, but not in an injury sort of way.  My left foot worries me.  My right foot is the bane of my existence and my trusted companion.

I have come to terms with not being a beautiful runner and that has made me love the beautiful ones even more.  There are people in town who recognize me solely because Saturday mornings I lay miles down.  In the heat.  In the sun.  On game days.

Somewhere around 300 rehearsal miles.  I’ve tagged my 50 miles months (there are two now) and will tag my first half marathon and my third 50 mile month on Sunday.

My husband has the support plan for this weekend laid out around him.  On paper the things so similar to what I did for his first half, his second, his first full.  What our family looks like when we run.  I put miles down, we all celebrate what we can do together.  The next weekend will be his – but simpler in many ways.

My plan is a race series of two halves and a full over 53 weeks.  I have the chance to add some fun runs in that support the cause.  When the email said, “Congratulations.” I panicked but in the end this journey has been just what I needed.

I doubt I’ll miss a Tuesday with Tania.  I don’t like taper and expect that recovery will be even less fun.  I’m afraid.  I’m excited.  I don’t want to stop.  I want to run.  Runners run.

I’m trapped in the lure of false symbolism. I like the sound of “the last three miles” and I think it should *stand* for something. It doesn’t. Those miles aren’t the first or the last. They are just miles. 

I want to be wrapped in the hero’s musical crescendo, when the minor chords of the crisis-of-morals moment have smoothed into the inevitable assent into greatness that we all attain in moments. I’m just singing in the car, in the key of Heather which remains largely undefined. 

I want to look you in the eyes and say,”I see you.” When the very best I can hope for is “I see what you are willing to show me through my own filters.”  

Apparently, I am also trapped in the ennui of a 22 year old closet poet (20 years too late). 

Suffice it to say. Today is one day, tomorrow is another, and from there on out we can make it up as we go along.