I don’t even know where to start. I can’t even believe I am writing this. I don’t even know if I can write the words, but I am hoping to find some comfort in doing one of the things I love.
My mother, Darlene, passed away suddenly on Thursday afternoon. She is gone – ripped out of my life – of all of our lives – entirely too soon. What do you even say?
|Mom, Mollie & Me|
She was training for her first Quarter Marathon on May 07, my sister is running her first half the same day, and I am running the Pittsburgh full, my fist too, a week later. The three of us were going to Walt Disney World in Orlando to celebrate – her favorite place – a few days after Pittsburgh. Running brought the three of us closer than I thought possible. It changed our lives – dramatically. My mom ran her first 5K in August of last year after training with the No Boundaries program. Her whole life she wanted to be a runner – and she was. She was a firm believer and would tell everyone John Bingham’s words, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” The Quarter was her big race, she was ready.
She was so excited with the way her life was going this past year. She was healthy and made changes in her life that not many people can.
The sun was shining when she went to the park Thursday afternoon to run 4.5 miles. She was wearing her No Boundaries training shirt (her favorite) and her new shoes. She had her Garmin, her water bottles, and her iPod. She completed her run at a 13:30 pace. I know she would have been ecstatic. If she had the time, I knowshe would have sent me a text. She was hoping to run with me and the Lucky 13’s with MIT next session and train for a half, but thought she was too slow. She wasn’t.
Something happened, maybe with her heart, – on her cool-down walk, which she did without fail – and she didn’t make it. Someone started CPR after they saw her fall, but she was gone instantly. We never got to say goodbye. She would say she died doing the one thing she loved the most. We will bury her in her running shoes and socks that she was wearing. She would love it. Tell them in Heaven that you’re a runner, Mom, when they ask about the shoes. You earned it.
Pittsburgh will never be the same for me. She was so excited for me to run this race; it breaks my heart that she is gone. It breaks my heart that I won’t see her at the finish line. It breaks my heart that SHE is the one that doesn’t get to go. This all seems so unfair.
She just emailed me about it on Wednesday:
I wanted to send you a note to see what your plans are for your run Saturday, what it is your distance? I was planning on coming over to run another 6.55. Once I know your plans I can then time mine to try and meet you again like I did a few weeks ago. Let me know what your thoughts are.Also, let us know when packet pick-up is for Pittsburgh then we can make plans for leaving Columbus. Is Michael going? Wow, your race is not far off. We have all the faith in the world in you that you will complete this goal that you have had for so long. You will succeed!!!!Love you guys and the puppies!What kind of potatoes for Sunday, home-made mashed or cheesy ones? Love you angel! Talk to you soon!Love, Mom
I asked her to make the cheesy ones.
Mile 8: Grace & Sadie
My puppies! I love animals and if I must say, these are two of my favorites. They make me smile and laugh and their unconditional love is sometimes all I need to get through a long or rough day. If I could carry them in Pittsburgh (okay, maybe not carry!) I would!
Mile 9: This is one day!
Whatever happens in Pittsburgh – good or bad – it is one day of my life. It is one day and it is only one day. Pittsburgh is a day I will always cherish – especially now that my mother is gone. And I will make this day the BEST I can, but at the same time remember it is only one day and there will be other races. I have one day to make the most of and I have one day to create a lasting memory, regardless of how well or not-well I run.
Mile 10: GRANDMA PHYTHYON
My grandmother on my father’s side passed away at the beginning of last year. I feel like I didn’t know her very well as a child, but got to know her better as an adult. She was always proud of me and always said she loved me. She was at my wedding in 2007, which is something I will always treasure. She would say, “WHAT!? You’re RUNNING HOW FAR?!” and then she would ask why!
Mile 11: CHRISSY
Chrissy is THE Original Running Partner and my dear friend and coworker. There will be no other quite like her. We trained with MIT together for our first half marathon in August 2009. It was awesome – have you ever found the perfect running partner? If you have, you know what I mean. We went from knowing next to nothing about one another to finding out EVERYTHING about one another on our runs. I literally walked into work one day and said, “I’m going to run a marathon.” Chrissy said, “Okay, I’ll do it with you.” I was thinking, “Great, now I have to run it!” We showed up for the first group run of the season and the full marathoners were running something like 7 miles – the half runners were running 2. We quickly decided to run a half! At Mile 11 in the our first race, I told Chrissy I was done and was going to sit down on the curb and wait for someone to come get me. She said I better keep running because she didn’t know who would come pick us up – it for sure wouldn’t be her husband, Chad. I kept running. Chrissy gets me through Mile 11 a lot even though we aren’t training together anymore.
Mile 12: Blogland Friends
This means YOU! I am so grateful for the running AND blogging community I have found online. You guys are amazing and although I don’t know most of you in person, I consider you my friends. Sometimes a word of advice, encouragement or understanding will come through on my blog at just the write moment to remind me I am never alone. I wish I could take you all to Pittsburgh and I will, in my heart. Writing is something I have always enjoyed but I never decided to go “public” with it until last year. I am so glad I made that decision. Thank you, friends, for the little things you do everyday to keep me running strong!
Mile 13: MIT LUCKY 13’s
Ah. What can I say about you guys? You ALL – each and everyone of you – mean so much to me. I am so thankful that Duane asked me to help coach with him – it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Your support, encouragement, excitement, friendship, successes and hard times have carried me through many a Saturday morning run. Coaching you guys this session has been an unbelievable experience for me and words cannot express how grateful I am for each and every one of you. I am so excited for your Half coming up and I can’t wait to cheer you guys on at the Finish Line. I wish I could take you all to Pittsburgh too – wouldn’t we have fun? Although Mile 13 is “officially” dedicated to my runners, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the MIT training program and all of the people and coaches I have run with there. Thank you MIT for changing my life “one mile at a time.”
HALF: Brain in the Game
At the halfway point, I must remember to get my brain in the game. NO NEGATIVE THOUGHTS! This training season has really taught me a lot about the power of positive thinking and how much it can empower me to succeed! If at halfway I can keep my brain on a positive track to finishing strong, I know the last 13 miles will fly by. No matter how good I am feeling, if my mind says we’re done, we in fact are. I will not let this happen on race day!