13.1

“She believed she could, so she did.”

– R.S. Grey

I ran through a thunderstorm just to prove that I could.

I ran through months of gyms, tracks, and trails.

I ran through knee pain, exhaustion, and fear of failure.

I ran through broken hearts,

for broken hearts.

But today, I ran for me.

DXA2 – 2016

Uncomfortable start.

Claustrophobic.

Too confident in my pace.

As if I were only running a mile.

Instincts took over as I raced ahead of the crowd, away from the people.

When it finally thinned, I was alone and struggling.

My heart rate was too high.

My morale was too low.

Overcast, overgrown, only pavement to run on.

What the hell did I get myself into?

More hills than anticipated,

less space than expected.

We barely just made it to 3 miles.

But at least I had the trees:

 

“If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.”

—Hal Borland

My heart may be patient and my legs may be strong,

but my head was not in this race.

So I ran for the trees.

For the trees that my Dad chopped down at our cottage.

For the trees that Lexi used to climb as a kid.

For the trees that gave us shade when he told me goodbye that day in the park.

 

By mile 6, my legs had passed the baton to my mind and let it run instead.

It raced from the past to the future and back to the present.

Forgetting my body and remembering why I chose to run again in the first place.

Forgetting the runners beside me, ahead, and behind.

Forgetting who wasn’t waiting at the finish line.

 

Around mile 9, I remembered as my legs began to shake.

Burning toes, aching feet.

Air so thick I could taste every breeze.

It was then that the thunder cracked.

It was then that the downpour washed cheers of relief over all of us.

Shoes instantly soaked as the heat and humidity lifted.

I welcomed the cold water on my face with open arms and a smile.

Four miles to go and I could finally breathe.

Four miles to go and I finally believed –

I got this.

I motherfucking got this.

 

The last stretch was a blur.

Mostly puddles and deep breaths.

One mile to go and my rally girl cheered.

Driving me on to finish with a smile.

With time to spare and no one to hold.

It didn’t matter.

Because today, I ran for me and I made it.

 

Home and held.

Happy and dry.

But there was still water on my face.

Yes, I was proud beyond belief that I not only finished, but I surpassed my goal.

I was proud that I didn’t give up. No, I didn’t quit this time.

But mostly, I was proud to finally have something to be proud of that wasn’t just surviving a tragedy.

I had tears in my eyes because I know he would have loved this.

 

He was at every track meet, every cross country race.

He picked me up from every practice with a Gatorade and granola bar

and we drove home with my feet airing out the car window.

 

I stopped running a year before I lost my dad.

He never told me, but his disappointment was palpable.

I was his pride. I was his joy. Just ask my brothers.

I didn’t run again until after he died.

I’m always trying to make up for lost time.

 

It breaks my heart to know how proud he would have been.

So proud that I could still hear his voice as I crossed the finish line.

 

 

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