Originally posted at Blogger in March 2012

Today I “officially” started Running 50 miles for Andrew. I was going to log a mile from the other day, but I decided it was not “official”. For starters I didn’t know that day, that I would commit to running for Andrew until that evening AND it was by all accounts a pathetic, even for me, running attempt. I felt it would not honor Andrew’s memory, so I waited till today to log my first mile for Andrew.

You all may know that I started my Turtle Running Career in 2009. I never had high hopes of winning a race, or even improving substantially. But I did hope to someday, start a race and end a race without the constant yelling at myself to KEEP GOING! Well I made it through 2009, logging one 5K only due to surgery and 2010, logging several 5k races. Doing okay for an old lady over 50, who hadn’t ever run and who could not even run to her mailbox without being severely winded. But then came 2011, I’m just going to say it, it was a sucky year.

My Mom had gotten the news in 2010 that her cancer was not going away and she had 3-6 months left. Well she kicked that cancer’s butt as hard as she could and lasted a year. Some of it doing pretty good, but by early summer she was failing pretty bad. My running took a back burner. I didn’t want to give it up, but I had too much trouble focusing on it. I was mentally drained, many days asking myself, “what was the point?” Mom and I were both diagnosed with cancer, just weeks apart from each other. We had taken this entire “cancer journey” together and now I was losing her. I was losing my cheerleader.

Mom died August 2nd 2011 and I was about as out of shape as I had been when I first started running, BUT, Halie and I had signed up that January to do the Warrior Dash (a 5k obstacle Race) in September. It certainly wasn’t pretty. I was so bad that Halie would trot backwards just to stay with me and many times I was the cause of her stopping and waiting and walking and more importantly pushing. BUT I made it to the finish, with her help, her motivation, her love. When I completed that race I knew I wasn’t going to give up the running, or trotting or even crawling to the finish. I was still a Turtle runner, but I was and am a Warrior. I’m not going down against this stupid cancer without at least trying to do something that I know is good for me.

But sometimes all the motivation to make yourself do something just isn’t enough. I signed myself up for two runs including that dang Warrior Dash AND an all day hike through Starved Rock. Yet I have still kept putzing along, doing my once a week whine on the treadmill. So I was somewhat surprised with myself, I say somewhat as I know myself well enough to know just how impulsive I can be, to do what I think will help someone else, before I think about what it actually means I have to do to help.

Andrew, whom I did not have the joy of meeting, was the son of a Classmate of mine. Although I didn’t know Andrew and hadn’t “really seen” his mom, Jill for some time I was hit hard, as I know so many others were by his death. A young man trying as hard as he could to live his life fully. I’ve read stories written by Andrew’s family and friends and know from their accounts just how much he was loved and what an amazing man he was. In his short time he affected so many and I believe challenges us all to live not only fully, but fully in the moment. My Mom (and me too) had tried so hard, to the best of her ability, to live her life fully, albeit quite a bit tamer than Andrew.

My joy came to a bit of a stand still with my Mom’s death, but I find myself moving forward again. I wish more than anything that Andrew and my Mom had not died. I am and will be in anguish for these losses for a long time, if not forever, but we do neither of their memories any justice by sitting still in sorrow. We must move forward and hope our sorrow will become joy in cherishing the memories each has created for us and fight to keep their memories alive and so today I started with one mile to mark off my commitment of 50 because it was on Andrew’s “To Do List”. I wrote Andrew on my hand for today, the next time I will have his picture in front of me.

Jill, Andrew’s mom, has been sharing with us one item a day, (I believe he had 153 awesome items on his list) I know that Andrew had probably already done this 50 mile run himself and did it all in one race. I think possibly he did something like 64 miles in a race in Singapore. It will take me so much longer than Andrew to do this. I know many of Andrew’s “Running Buddies” could mark this off as being completed pretty quickly too. I’ll only be ticking off 1 mile at a time a couple of days a week, but I’ll get there, and every time I run another mile I’ll be thinking of Andrew, a man I didn’t meet, but has motivated me today to run better than I have in the last year, slow and “turtley” by everyone else’s standards of what actually constitutes running. Today I ran 1/4 miles with 1/4 mile walks in between until I ran a complete mile. Last week, well I’ll leave last week where it is. I’m on the move again. Thank you Jill for sharing Andrew with me, with all of us and letting us take a small part in helping get his “to do” list done in our own ways.

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About jlturtlerunner

12 plus Years Surviving Stage IV Oral Cancer. I have become a "Turtle" runner since that diagnosis, as a way of saying, "Take That Sucker!" After 12 years of being a Turtle Runner, I'm adding a new title, Turtle Rucker!

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