This weekend Robert and I started to get back on our feet again. Many of you know that we suffered a very unexpected loss a week and a half ago- Robert’s father passed away suddenly. Needless to say we have been shocked, confused, and uncertain of how to carry on with anything. Nothing seemed to be making sense or feel normal, mostly because I still do not know what my new normal is. Thankfully though we have an amazing support system through our family and friends, our faith that we will see dad again, and the sport that is always there to help us through our times of need. When we headed to Tennessee two weeks ago we did not know what to pack, how long we would be there for, or what the trip was going to actually entail. When we finally got there the few articles of clothing and necessities that actually made it in the bag were almost comical. Our running supplies were left at home. When our world came crashing down around us we did not know what to do, how to handle the situation, or how to live our lives anymore. However there was one thing that I kept turning to, this desire to just go run. So I called my mother who heroically went to our house, packed up two boxes of supplies (as best she could), and shipped our running gear to us overnight. On Thursday morning two boxes arrived and in opening up my sneakers and shorts I felt a slight peace come over me. I knew how I could feel better- I knew a way I could try to make sense of this tragedy.
Robert and I borrowed his brother’s car and headed down to my all time favorite running spot- Stringer’s Ridge. A great trail system filled with rolling hills and lots of side trails that can be grouped together for a decent five mile loop. It was the most cleansing thing we could have done at the moment and with tears flowing from my face at points I finally got a little peace from the week. Running cleansed the pain and gave me a sense of stability in the world that was so uncertain at the moment.
After returning to Buffalo and its sub freezing morning temperatures we took another few days off from running even though both of our mothers were pleading with us to get back on the road. We were in a funk and instead of getting outside we just tried to deal. It almost felt like getting back to our normal routine would be wrong- like it would be making less of what had occurred the week before. We finally got out Thursday afternoon and our day turned around. Just running our normal 5 mile route really put a smile on both of our faces. It was not the best run we ever had, in all honesty five miles should never feel as tough as those did. It was however a run that we both seriously needed. Robert was itching to go out again on Friday and I could see his mood had definitely improved, I was beginning to understand why our moms had been so adamant about us lacing up our sneakers. This weekend we decided to complete an 8 and 18 mile run after looking at where we were in our training schedules realigning as best as we could. The miles felt so good, and Sunday we even got to worry about the pain of our legs instead of that in our hearts.
Running is not a fix all. It is not something that is going to change what happened or how I feel about it all. However, it is my healthy outlet for finding peace at this time of turmoil. I know that there will always be valleys in life, just as there are in runs, but getting through the difficult climbs to the top of the mountains always provides the happiest of feelings. I know that God has a bigger plan in all of this, and that I just have to keep living through this climb until His next peak is revealed to us. Although I will always miss my father-in-law, who was truly another dad to me, I know he is watching over me in everything I do now. When I get to a hill or a mile that just does not seem appealing I am motivated by the guardian angel sitting on my soldier who had endured and conquered much more difficult tasks than the pesky hill in front of me. He will always be with me and the challenge of runs makes me feel even more connected to him.
Running is my therapy, it has been a lifeline not only to myself, but to my husband through this time. We are so blessed to have it as part of our lives. When faced with the trials of life I strongly suggest to turn towards running or whatever your passion may be. Do not push it away in guilt. Find your new normal and include the things you are most passionate about.