Race Recap: Ann Arbor Probility 5k

So this blog is called “Running Forward” and you may have noticed there hasn’t been much running in it.  That’s because I dropped the ball over the winter.  I did some running over the winter but nothing over 6 miles.  Every time I seemed to pick up momentum, I seemed to get this on-again, off-again chest cold. Plus I had gone back to work after Thanksgiving and it was hard learning to juggle work and single motherhood.  I hate making excuses and I am usually very hard on myself but I am trying to cut myself some slack.

I was registered to run a half marathon the weekend I was in Ann Arbor but as the race approached, I knew I was not in any shape to run a half-marathon. At first I thought I could tough it out it. I mean, I ran a half-marathon six weeks after Bryon died.  But I was in the most raw grief at the point.  Then the chest cold was cycling back around again.  My Maine best friend told me that there was no shame in switching to a shorter distance. I have never run a 10k but I decided I wanted to be in better shape to get a base 10k time so I decided I would run the 5k.

My Maine best friend came with me to the race expo.  I went to the Half-Marathon table and explained my dilemma.  I was directed to another table that was labeled “Registrations and Solutions.”  Changing my registration was painless.  The woman that at the table assured me that there were lots of people in my situation with illnesses and injuries.

After I changed my registration, I went to the other side of the room to claim my t-shirt.  For some reason, I wasn’t feeling checking out the tables for swag.  So my Maine best friend and I checked the course map so we could plan the logistics for the next day and then left.

The next morning, I got up around 6:15 am and tried to be quiet as I didn’t want to wake my daughter.  But she woke up.  I told her she could stay at the house with my Chicago best friend or come to the race and my daughter immediately says “RACE!”  So we fed her some breakfast and bundled her up.  I ate half of a plain bagel and drank a little coffee and water.

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The race was set to start at 7:30 am and it started right in front of the University of Michigan Stadium. We decided to walk because my Maine best friend, and her fiance, the Scientist lived close enough that it didn’t make sense to drive.  It was about a 20 minute walk.  All four races had the same start.  There was a lot of excitement but I don’t know what I would feel about it if I were a marathoner.  The start was slow because there was a large bottleneck of runners.  It ended up taking me two minutes to cross the start line.

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I was not mentally prepared to run.  I was not focused, I forgot my inhalor and I forgot my garmin.  I decided that since this was just a 5k that I would just enjoy the run since I was anticipating an awful time.  

The 5k was one lap, 10k was two.  There was a half marathon lap and marathoners did two.  The 5k was not well marked but I managed.  I had forgotten my garmin and had no concept of how fast I was running.  The race was quick.  We ran down the main street and we turned onto the campus.  We ran by the natural history museum where we were the day before.  Before I knew it, I saw the 12 mile and 25 mile markers for the half marathon and marathon so I knew it was the last mile.  I was actually feeling pretty good despite not having my inhaler.

Before I knew it, I was running through the finish chute.  I was convinced my time was going to be awful but the timer said 45:59 so I knew my chip time was going to be faster. I got my medal and snagged a 5k brownie for my daughter.  After the race, I went to a Starbucks for my Venti Iced Americano with cream, sugar and an extra shot and then my Maine best friend, The Scientist, my daughter and I walked back to the house.

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My official time was 43:34.  I was satisfied.  It wasn’t my worst time and it wasn’t my best time.  For being under trained, I was content and even a little excited. I had never run a 5k that was in conjunction with a marathon and a half marathon so that was exciting and I am glad I went through with racing.  It actually started to rain heavily after we got back to the house so in a way, I was relieved I didn’t run.  I don’t mind running in the rain but I wouldn’t have wanted my Maine best friend, the Scientist or my daughter to have to stand around in the rain waiting for me.  All’s well that ends well.

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Overall, I thought this was a great event.  And I will be redeeming myself in 2018.

Growing up without a Dad

The following post was not written by me.  My friend and high school classmate LeeAnne lost her father when she was 16 months old.  She recently shared some of her thoughts about growing up without her father on Facebook and graciously agreed to let me post them here.  I always appreciate her input because it gives me an idea of some of the things my daughter might experience.

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What It’s Like Growing Up Without a Dad? I’m not talking about the deadbeats in the world. They piss me off (sorry for the language). I’m talking about growing up without a Dad because he is forever gone. He’s forever gone because he is in Heaven (yes, I believe in Heaven. I have to because if I didn’t, none of it would make sense and I would live my life a very angry person). It sucks. Plain and simple SUCKS. I was 16 months and 23 days old when that tractor pinned my Dad. I was 16 months and 25 days old when he gained his angel wings and left me here on this Earth without him. If he was a deadbeat, it would be better. At least I may have some chance of finding him and seeing him and even being really mad at him for leaving me. But he wasn’t. He loved me. He wanted me. He planned on being there forever and ever for me. He didn’t choose to leave me. Deadbeats piss me off because while they have created a child and then just decided they don’t want to play the role of a parent, my Dad was robbed of something I’ve heard he was very proud to be. I can tell by the pictures I see of us that this is true. You can tell he loved me and wanted me to be happy and safe. When you lose someone at such a young age without memories of your own, you cherish photos. I mean cherish them. My Mom eventually had a boyfriend and they had my sister together which gave me a sibling and for that I’m grateful. However, my Mom’s boyfriend was far from the ideal stepfather figure. He didn’t like me. I didn’t like him. I haven’t spoken to him willingly since I moved out of the house on my 18th birthday. In ways, it sucked having a sibling because every day I got to see her and her dad together. Something I never had and always wanted. Father’s Day sucks. It’s just a 24 hour constant reminder of what you don’t have. As I got older, I’ve learned to try to embrace the day and consider it another day to spoil my Mom. She is my Dad in a way too. January 30th sucks because that was the day my Dad was born. September 8th sucks because that’s the day he left me. Father Daughter dances suck. I mean, as a Mom, I love watching my girls get that time with their dad but, the little girl in me is jealous as hell. Wedding Days suck because the moment your Dad walks you down the aisle and the infamous Father Daughter dance becomes your Mom walking you down the aisle and trying to keep you from melting down like a big baby because you just want your Dad. The dance becomes your Mom holding you and you guys talking about how much he is there but he’s not there at the same time (and trying to make sure our beads on our dresses didn’t get stuck together because that would be humilitaing). Your fatherly advice comes from your grandfathers but you are of course too young and “know everything and anything” to acutally listen and appreciate those words after they are gone. Taking your kids to “meet” their grandfather by taking them to stare at a stone with words and plant some pretty flowers, sucks. They ask questions and you have no answers. I wasn’t the only one he was taken from. He was taken from my kids as well. He would’ve been an amazing grandfather. I don’t have my own memories to hold on to and to comfort me on my bad days. I have other people’s memories and that sucks too. I love hearing about him and I love knowing about him but I’m so damn jealous of every single person who ever met him and knew him. I’m not the friend who you can turn to if your parent passes away because while I had the same thing happen, I don’t remember it. I can tell you how to live without a Dad though and that sucks that I can tell you that. I apologize for the long rant. My birthday is getting closer and it’s another reminder that the older I get, just means the longer I’ve missed out on him. Anytime I hear of a father passing away and has a young child left behind, my heart automatically opens up to that child. I know what they are going to go through for the rest of their lives. I just pray that they at least get a wonderful father figure that can help ease the pain and who can at least be there as someone to turn to. It may have been different for me if I had that. It’s ok though because for 16 months and 25 days, I had The. Best. Dad. On. Earth.

Maybe I should just be over it by now

It’s been over seven months since Bryon had passed and over a year since he was in the ICU.  I can tell that there are some people who can’t figure out why I am still grieving.  I can see the looks and feel the judgement.  Surely I should be over it by now.  I mean, in the normal world, seven months is a long time.  But I am beginning to think that time passes in a very different way in the world of grief.  In seven months there have been many milestones with my friends and family.  There have been new jobs, engagements and babies.  I have managed to function in a 40 hour work week and somehow I manage to remember to pay the bills each month. But for most of that time, I have been living in a fog.  The fog is starting to lift which presents its own set of challenges.  

The last time I felt alive was a Tuesday in late March in 2016.  Bryon had been in the ICU for 5 days and he had gotten an infection and things were going downhill quickly.  I called my father and he and my mother did the only thing they could think of that could possibly console me- they took my daughter out of daycare and brought her into the hospital to see me.  She was only 18 months old and had no clue what was going on.  She wasn’t talking yet, at least not in anything that could be considered part of the English language.  She sat on my lap and smiled at me as I hugged her.  Things at the hospital got even crazier so my parents brought my daughter home.  As my parents were leaving, I remember saying to my mother that if Bryon died then our daughter would be too little to remember him.  My daughter’s Godmother showed up.  We made some phone calls.  Bryon was rushed into emergency surgery and I was told that he might not make it through.  I can still remember exactly who was present with me in the private family room as we sat silently in fear while Bryon was in surgery.

My world was literally crashing down.  I didn’t know how this could be happening.  This didn’t seem real.  It was like someone took the floor out from underneath me and I was falling.  Bryon was such a strong and healthy person and now he was literally clinging to his life.  How could this have happened?  And why did this happen?  How am I going to live without him?

And at that moment, an emotional pause button was pressed.

From that moment on, for the next five months, I was in complete survival mode.  I was just trying to get through each day and do what I needed to do to get to the next day.  Some days I lived hour to hour.  I lived off of iced coffee, diet soda, those hershey ice cream cones from the hospital cafeteria and whatever food my friends brought for me.  I read fluffy literature, taught myself Sudoko and re-organized all my Pinterest boards.  I did what I had to do to advocate for Bryon and keep him alive.  My only other worry was my daughter but for most of that five months, my parents had pretty much given up their life in Maine and temporarily relocated to Albany to take care of my daughter.  For the weeks they went back to Maine, my friends in Albany stepped up and took care of my daughter while I was at the hospital taking care of Bryon.

The button remained paused when Bryon died and remained paused through the funeral.  The button remained paused during the weeks following his death.  It remained paused as I resumed my running and binge watched all seven seasons of the Gilmore Girls and five seasons of Parenthood.  It remained paused that night I drank too much wine and bawled during Jinger Duggar’s wedding.  It remained paused after all the countless times I watched Sleepless in Seattle and P.S. I Love You.  It remained paused as the United States elected a new president.  It remained paused as I went through the motions of “celebrating” the holidays and welcoming a new year. The button remained paused as I left my job at the hospital where Bryon was for four and a half months because going to the same place where Bryon had been sick was too painful and I started a new job working from home for another company.

I was in a survival mode and then the “widow fog”.  There is a theory that we are in the fog because the grief is just so bad and that is the only way the grief can be processed.  We need to be numb to survive. And now that emotional pause button has been hit again and my emotions are resuming.  It’s like I am back in the ICU again and my world is crashing down again.  I am left in the same spot.  This doesn’t seem real.  It is like someone took the floor out from underneath me and I am falling.  Bryon was such a strong and healthy person and now he is dead. How could this have happened?  And why did this happen?  How am I going to live without him?

Now that the widow fog is starting to lift, I am dealt with an avalanche of emotions that I have not been able to process over the past year and it’s like I am feeling all these emotions for the first time.  If you somehow wronged me during that time, I am feeling it now.  If you made a rude comment about my daughter, I am pissed about it now.  I also feel shame because there were people who cared and reached out and I was just too emotionally exhausted to answer all the texts and messages. I hope they understand that I was just too emotionally drained to even have a conversation.

I also am left to process exactly what happened.  Everything that happened to Bryon happened so fast and it was one thing after another, like dominoes.  I sat in his room in the ICU every day, praying and hoping for the best.  I struggled to stay strong, making sure Bryon did not see my fear or the tears.  It is now dawning on me exactly how sick he was and what an effect that has had on me. I saw Bryon go through things that no one should ever have to see their love one go through.  I think about those hours that I stared at the monitor that showed Bryon’s vital signs while he clung onto his life.  I am finally admitting to myself that I should never have had to ever see him suffer like that.

It has been over seven months since Bryon passed and over a year since he went into the ICU.  But while that time has passed in the real world, I am left dealing with a year’s worth of emotions in the present.  So maybe I should be over it.  But I am not.