“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.

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