I just did a li’l old 3.18 mile run this morning. I overslept and got up at 6:15. SO LATE. I only had time for a shorty. Wait, can I use “shorty” to mean “short run?” I guess I just did.
I thought my post-run picture would be of my new leggings. The brand is Moret Ultra, a company that is not paying me to write this. I’m used to plain old boring running tights, and the three pairs I bought over the weekend have cool little designs on them. Simple designs, though. Nothing crazy. I am a very plain dresser. I hate patterns and do not own any clothing with patterns. They make me dizzy. So for me, this is really LIVING IT UP.
I am trying to feel out the right balance of what to write about on here. It can’t be 100% about my mother but it can’t be 100% about running. It will be about both, at least for the time being, and I will do my best to not be long-winded about either.
I’ve only recently begun to realize how much of my drive to work out over the past year was influenced by my mother’s cancer, and deterioration from it. I was working out regularly before all of this, at least since early 2014 when I decided I had to take control of a body that had 25 pounds of unnecessary fat on it. (And truth be told, it turned out that changing my diet was the real key to that, but more on that another day!)
As I ran through the chilly, damp air this morning, feeling kind of tired and draggy and sad, a thought crossed my mind: “Why am I doing this?” Not that I was harboring any plans to quit. I was just sincerely trying to figure out the “why” of why I run. Why I want to be strong. Why I bother.
Months ago I became conscious of the fact that lifting weights had a practical effect: if my mother was getting weaker, then I was going to get stronger. We would balance each other out; a see-saw of health. My mother had always been independent and strong – never one to ask for help opening a pickle jar. For god’s sake, the lady put her own roof on her house when she was in her 50s or 60s. Up there like a crazy lady. Always trying to install or fix something before calling a professional. Never asking for help.
But as her body grew weaker, I knew that as the sole person living with her, I would have to take up that role. I would have to be the fixer, the helper, the pickle jar opener.
I also had a feeling that, at some point in the future, I might have to physically lift her – either up off the floor or up off her bed. Both of these scenarios did eventually happen. I don’t know if you’ve ever lifted your mother up off the floor. It’s difficult for a lot of reasons.
I always loved telling her about my runs, whether it was a quick three miles or a 10K race. I was so excited to run the Cow Harbor 10K in September because the last time I ran that race was in 1999 and we took pictures beforehand. I was excited to tell her that I beat my 1999 time by about 5 minutes. Sometimes I would feel a twinge of guilt: she no longer had the strength to walk around the block, and here I was blathering on about how fit I was. But I don’t think it bothered her. I think she was happy for me.
The only thing I hated telling her about that race was that I did not beat my brother-in-law, something I had spent months bragging I would do. (I finished a minute behind him.) Her response, through weakened breath: “You could have beaten him if you’d really wanted to.” Which, really, was the perfect response.
Now that she’s not here, I have no one to help. Nobody to carry things for. Nobody to lift. Nobody to come home to and brag about the hill I climbed, the pace I ran, the medal I won. I have returned to the way it was before, when I was only getting strong for myself. Which is fine. It’s just going to take a little getting used to.