Brunch, roses, Hallmark cards, jewelry, all prime Mother's Day presents. My Mother's Day was spent in a way I much prefer; on the road running. Additionally it wasn't on just ANY road. It was along the coastline of DaNang, Vietnam. The forecast was broiling with temps topping out at 42 C or 102 F. Despite being advised to NOT run due to a dog bite the week prior, I ran. I ran with people scribed on my arm with Sharpie and in my heart with memories. Each mile I meditated on and offered gratitude for these people in my life. Mile 1: Tim, my husband, who despite thinking I am mental for continuing to push my body in distance running, shows up every race the epitome of organization and support. The perennial coach, this weekend found him sharing out gear with other athletes, cheers and hydration. Mile 2: Meleyna who every day amazes me at the strong young woman she is constantly becoming. I love this child more than my own breath, and stand in awe as she philosophically approaches life and people. Her humor and care rallies me to believe better for the future. Mile 3: Henry who is tough as nails on the exterior, but always tender with his mom. I love this child with every fiber, and marvel in his pragmatism and candor. His words at the finish line? "Mom I am so proud of you and happy for your finish, but I am so disappointed I have not passed this level of Geometry Dash." Hands on my knees and heaving breath I reassured him, "It's ok son, I didn't give up, and you won't either. You'll conquer it too because that's who we are; we don't give up." He nodded, gave me a knowing smile and helped me limp over to the ice bath.
Mile 4: My Mom and Dad, who despite being coined as "So STRICT" by my friends, pushed me to independence and to look beyond my own perspective and self. Miles 5 to 13.1 were a glorious glom of friends and folks who speak truth to my being.
Mile 5: Chris and Anika with whom I shared a bizarre breakfast moment pre-race. Chris the "C" of our TCK Trifecta team relay and bike leg who is my favorite Monday morning conversational partner. His wife, Anika, who ran the whole Ironman and dedicated her race efforts and garnered donations for Blue Dragon, a Hanoi organization, who rescues children from trafficking to reunite them with their parents. One of my SHE-roes! Mile 6: Ken the "K" in our TCK team and the inciter of this endeavor who braved jellyfish larvae like stinging nettles and the thrashing arms of countless other swimmers to gallantly stride the red carpet and pass our chip in record time. Gail, his wife, who along with inspiring me in the classroom daily also helped us navigate the sea of check in and relentlessly cheered us on throughout the race.
Mile 7: Captain & Amy my friends who are the good time crew. We frequently quip and complete one another's thoughts with song lyrics or movie quotes. It is probably a good thing we weren't acquainted in our younger years as the synergistic shenanigans may not have ended so well.
Mile 8: Hill & Huber my two distance buddies from the states with whom I have swapped more nutrition, training and stories around the DRE staff room lunch table than I can count. They understand my endless push to pin down times and splits, rejoice in strong runs and commiserate in times the clock gains the upper hand.
Mile 9 : Jen my dear friend who tracked me around Cincinnati to witness my first full marathon, capturing my feat in a blog post that still brings tears to my eyes when I read it 4 years later.
Mile 10: Charlotte & Annie the two fem phenoms with whom I was blessed to run their first races EVER with back in the old 419. There is nothing like the honor of crossing the line with someone for their first finish. Love these two to pieces.
Mile 11: Amanda & Tara my two supposed "non-running" friends--My college roommate that used to shake her head at me when I went running twice a day and who now has completed her own 1/2 marathon. My other former athlete turned friend who as a young basketball player, would groan at my coach's whistle to the wind-sprint conditioning line, and who now despite battling breathing issues, just nailed her first 1/2 marathon this spring.
Mile 12: Jill my, through better or worse life and road conditions, running partner who had carried me on her arm for the "hurtin' mile" (12) 2 weeks prior while recording a 1/2 marathon PR. My sole sister with whom I have shared more sweat, stories, and miles than anyone else on the planet.
Mile 13 God-Divine: For any runner of a distance race, this 1.1 mile stretch can almost be hallucinogenic. Two and a half miles prior my wound had split open, the heat index was rising and my mind was waltzing with so many other people without whose influence and interaction I would not be the person or runner I am. Crossing the line of the Detroit International half came back to me as I was frantically doing the mental math of net and race time to figure if I had hit my 2 hour target when one of the people I most adore on the planet, sent me a congratulatory text with my time. I considered all the narratives tied to all the characters running in front of, behind and beside me, and I felt overwhelmed with the fortune I had to be in this race.
Crossing the line collapsing into tears, I was greeted by a throng of my favorite people. Many of whom, sadly, I will need to bid farewell to after this school year. I find myself writing this raw with emotion.
"Embracing challenges," the tag line of the race, could very well be the tag line of my life moving overseas. Life is like riding a raging bull or hugging an inner-tube as it bounces over the boat's wake like concrete, or like pushing ones body to run long distance. Like bull riding, tubing, or running, I laugh and smile through the tears.