Carry Me Home

Sunday’s Run Plan: 8-10 miles, race stimulation. Miles 1-4 at a 9:15 pace, miles 5-6 at a 9:00 pace, miles 7-8 at a 8:50 pace, miles 9-10 (if I felt good) at sub 8:50 pace.

This weekend was busy. With tons to juggle (picking up Cole half way from Nashville, bringing him home, and Easter), my real objective for running this week was no stress. If I ran five miles, great! Ten miles, great! If I missed it, it wouldn’t impact my next race so no big deal. My coach kept focusing on no stress.

I woke up Sunday morning after hitting snooze a few times at 5:00 am. It was Easter. I wanted to be home when the boys woke up for Easter basket fun. Even closer to my heart was the reminder that today is my aunt’s birthday. Today she would have celebrated her 47th year. I needed to be near the ocean. I needed to see the sunrise.

Sunday’s weather: 50 degrees with 22mph winds coming from the northeast

I didn’t check the weather before I left. I just knew I needed the ocean. I needed the sunrise.

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My plan was to run 3.5 miles north along the ocean. I’d then return and added a bridge crossing on to the end of my run and determine if I was running 8 or 10 miles.

The run north was brutal. I quickly left the boardwalk and ran behind the hotels on Atlantic avenue. It didn’t help much. I braced myself, fought the winds hitting me from the northeast, and ran as fast as I could.

The entire time I was running and fighting the wind, I was fighting my emotions too. I’m sick of being sad. I miss my aunt, but she would yell at me for being sad. She would tell me to lighten up. I fought for 3.5 miles.

9:43

9:41

9:35

The half way point was welcomed. Carry me home wind! It was what I was looking forward to the entire first part of the run. When I turned around, pain shot through my left ankle. It stopped me in my tracks. I think I used all the strength in my left side to fight the winds coming off the ocean.

I walked a few blocks to let it calm down. Panic started to creep in. What if I just set myself back to where I was in February? What if all my slow recovery was just tossed out the window? What if, what if, what if?

As I was having all these thoughts, the sky was coming to life. The earth was waking up. I can’t sit in the middle of these what ifs, this sadness, anymore. In the sixteen months since my aunt and Christian’s dad passed away, I’ve learned that life just keeps going. I’ve learned that it’s easier if I smile along the way.

The pain subsided in my ankle, and I ran again.

9:17

By the time I hit the boardwalk again, my ankle was pain free. My heart ache was gone. The wind was literally carrying me home. I quit thinking. I quit analyzing my feelings. I just existed in the moment. I absorbed the beauty of the sunrise. I embraced the push of the wind.

8:15

7:56

7:38

I got back to my car after seven miles. I decided that was enough for today. I wasn’t willing to risk my ankle by fighting the winds again.

Today’s run: 7 miles in 1:01:08, 8:44 pace

I got back to my car feeling new. My legs were tired. My breathing was labored. But I felt brand new. Something happened in the 3.5 mile journey back to my starting point. Something lifted when my brain finally got quiet. For quite possible the first time, I finished my run feeling complete. I was excited or sad or disappointed. I just felt at ease.

The past sixteen months of heart ache, the last few months of injury and recovery, all of it has taught me that I will make it. If I keep putting one foot in front of the other, if I quiet my brain, if I absorb the beauty of our planet, everything is going to be just fine.

Today’s run quietly healed my heart.

I miss my aunt. That will never change. I still cried a few tears in my husband’s arms when I got home. I celebrated her with a coffee followed by a mimosa. I still really miss her, but I’m starting to feel her in the happy spaces instead of the heartache. I’m starting to smile when I think of her.

My heart feels quiet. It feels at ease.

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