I have often said that running helps me maintain the status quo on the normal days, helps me celebrate the really good days, and helps me heal on the really bad days.
Runners are also pretty darn good at creating community. Whether it’s as part of a running club, a small group of friends, or just coming together as a whole to support others in need like we did for Staten Island after Super Storm Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombings. There is a desire to be there and support each other and that has been one of the things that has always amazed me about our running community.
This past weekend a dear friend of mine, and fellow runner, lost her mother. We were running together when the first phone call came in. I stayed with her the whole day to make sure that she did not have to go through this alone. I wanted to try to give her as much strength as I possibly could on one of the most difficult days of her life.
It is probably one of the hardest parts about being a friend of someone who has just lost someone so dear to them. You worry that your words of support aren’t enough or aren’t what they need to hear. You worry that your hugs don’t come often enough, or are strong enough, or long enough. As much as you want to take away their pain you also know they have to experience it and that hurts you almost as much as their loss.
So we do what we can. We give them those words of support, you hug them often, and strong, and don’t let go. You let them cry on you and you cry with them. You tell them you love them and pray that their healing process happens at the best pace that they need it to happen. You also try to honor the memory of the person they lost.
That is what I did for the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff, my sanitized race recap is here. What I left out and maybe I should have or should not have is that I dedicated that race to my friend and her mother. It was a beautiful day, I was running, and my friend’s mother’s favorite color was powder blue, my new starting corral color. It just seemed like I had to do that for them.
I thought about them both during most of the race and I believe because of that I never felt tired and that they helped me get that new PR. I was never more emotional about a PR and then to have the chance to tell my friend about it because I knew she would understand that it was coming from my heart.
Running a marathon is hard, if it weren’t everyone would be doing it. It is also the perfect metaphor for so many things in life and yes, in particular the health battle that my friend’s mother went through and what my friend went though in caring for her. Marathons are also emotional for many of us and that is why I always dedicate some miles to people I’ve lost and to the people who are near and dear to me. This year I will be adding two more names to my list — Doreen and Effie. I haven’t decided which miles they will get, I’ll most likely ask Doreen to choose, but whichever ones they are I want those two miles to be my strongest.