"Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up." ~ Dean KarnazesSo, on Wednesday, April 10th, I withdrew from the 117th Boston Marathon. I also put my 16 1/2 year old Aussie-Samoyed mix, Willa, and my most loyal and steady running partner ever, to sleep after 6+ months of doggie hospice.
It's been a bad week. It's been a very, very bad week, and I don't see much light at the end of the tunnel right now. I know there's light there, but I just can't see it yet.
Right now I should be getting ready to travel to Boston. Right now I should be feeling excited and nervous. Right now should not be what it is - but that's what it is. This reality is not what I had in mind.
Many people have commented that Boston isn't the big deal. Boston will still be there. It's just running, after all, and there is more to life than running. All true statements.
But losing my best friend??? Now that IS the big deal. She was my steady running partner for 12 solid years, through all types of weather, day in and day out, 50 miles a week for 12 stinking years (and she still ran with me more sporadically until about a year ago)! That loss is the real loss.
But here's the thing: I know Willa lived a good, long life. The last year has been rough, for her, for us, and we tried to do everything we could for her. The degenerative, incurable disease that hit her seemed just so unfair - but she maintained an amazing, positive attitude through it all - she rolled with it. She enjoyed what she could still enjoy, and accepted her lot in life in a way that I don't think I ever could. I admire that determined, strong, stubborn, willful beast for her ability to stay positive when she could no longer walk. No longer run. No longer do much of what she enjoyed. And yet, she seemed to still find something worth living for. I saw it in her eyes.
But then, something turned. I don't know what it was. There was a new level of frustration she seemed to show. And at 2 a.m., in the darkness of a restless night, as she and I tossed and turned, and thrashed, and gnashed our teeth at the unfairness of the universe, I realized that the time had come. I really don't know why it hit me at that moment - but my heart began to beat out of my chest, and I sobbed for the next 3 hours, having made the decision.
But here's the thing about all of that - We knew that was coming. We knew that was the inevitable end we were going to reach at some time. That is where that path necessarily led. I miss her terribly, but death is part of life.
But Boston - here the path I THOUGHT I was on was not to be. We all know that there are no guarantees with training and racing - We do what we can, but somethings are out of our control. Weather, sickness, injury...these things happen, for better or worse. By all accounts, I was on the path to a PR at Boston. All my training indicated that if the race came on a good day, I would be ready.
And then I turned onto a different path.
And here's the hard part for me to accept - I made that turn. It didn't happen "to me". I made a choice - a bad choice - and in one moment of thoughtless action, 4 months of training seemed to disappear without a trace. I know, intellectually, that that is not the truth - but that's how it feels right now.
And so today, I am not getting ready to leave for Boston. I am not feeling excited and nervous - I am not feeling alive in that electric way I do before a big race - all of that is not to be. I get that we all run these risks when playing this game, but I don't have to like it when things fall apart.
For now, I am in the pit of despair - but this too will pass - and I will again run the risks of training again, because that's just what we do...