9/21 Reflections

9/21 is a bittersweet day for me. It’s my best friend’s birthday, the start of autumn (my favorite time of year), and the day my dad died.  [I had the urge to erase “died” and type “passed away” because that seems more acceptable and appropriate. “Died” seems so blunt, cold, & heartless.  But it’s real and it’s the truth so I kept it.] Even the day of his death holds some sweetness because he was finally rid of his pain.

I use running as a form of therapy. It just so happens it’s a great form of exercise 😉  So naturally, on Sunday Runday (regardless of it being 9/21), I got up to run.

Results? Meh. For the 3rd straight year, 9/21 has proven to be a weak running day.

The day my dad died, I got up around 4am (I’d been sleeping in his hospital room for 3 days so I can’t really say that wake up call was painful) to tackle my 18-miler for the week.  I was training for the St. Louis Rock & Roll Marathon on 10/21.  Even though 9/21/12 was a Friday, I didn’t think it would be smart to wait until Saturday (my typical long run day) given my dad’s progress. I made it to 10 miles before I decided to quit.  I was tired, run down, my legs felt like lead, I’d heard “Sloop John B” on the way to the gym that morning.  This was one of “our songs” (sometimes I feel like he talks to me through songs on the radio…weird, but whatever).  My body convinced my mind & heart to call it quits , shower, and get back to the hospital.  My dad died 4 hours later.

On 9/21/13 I ran the Air Force Marathon in memory of my dad, an Air Force vet.  Not only was this a tribute run, but I knew it’d be a good therapy session for the dreaded 1-year mark.  My dad and I sometimes “talk” to each other when I’m out on a run.  With just me & my thoughts it’s my reflection time, my “church”. So, I talk to my dad.  Sometimes he talks back : I’ll find strength out of no where during a tough run, the trees will be exceptionally beautiful, the breeze will bring me peace,  a song comes up on my playlist at just the right time, or I feel particularly “one” with my surroundings & my body.  I can feel my dad with me.  However, on 9/21/13, I couldn’t find him anywhere.  I was running injured and he just wasn’t coming to me. I stopped running at Mile 13 and walked the rest of the way due to an injury (plica in my right knee). Even walking was painful. At Mile 17 I started sobbing.  I’m sure anyone walking/running around me thought I was crazy. I looked at my watch and it was 11am.  My dad had died exactly 1 year ago.  It turns out, he WAS with me that day, just not the way I’d planned.  I crossed that finish line and got my “BFM” (as he would say) – I ran 13.1, walked 13.1. Year 2 of a bad 9/21 run day.

Today, 9/21/14, I got up at 6am, laced up my sneaks, and headed for the treadmill. Miles 1-4 were normal, although I felt a bit fatigued.  I didn’t eat any meat yesterday so I’m blaming being nutritionally deficit (segue-way to a future post on why veganism probably isn’t for me), my legs felt tired, and I was SOAKED.  I ran inside, with AC & fans. There was no need to be drenched.  I had planned to run 8-9 miles.  I had hoped for 9 but told myself 8 would be symbolic of “finishing” the 9/21/12 18-miler. But I made it to 7.5 and had to stop.  No, I couldn’t even run another 1/2 mile. Annoying.

Next year on 9/21, I’m taking a rest day and staying in bed.  All signs suggest this is the best choice.

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