In the midst of my excitement I forgot to remember what we were remembering that day. We were not just running a race to run a race. And so before the race began, gold star families from the area were recognized. We talked all about how we should never forget. How we are each running a mile for every service member that has been lost. How those we have known, even just as an acquaintance, should always be remembered for their sacrifice. I stood in that crowd, not the small group of gold star families, but as part of the mass of people. Some required to be there by their superior officers, or were doing a group activity, or were support their spouse by jogging along side.
I sat there, mesmerized into the cloud of people with their running gear and race t-shirts, unsure how to acknowledge that I had more than just an acquaintance I was running for.
So we began the run, and all I kept thinking, however trivial, was how I wished I had brought my AWP t-shirt and was wearing that so that people knew, and I could spread the word if need-be. Oh, and of course REPRESENT and draw strength from my ladies. But alas, as I stated earlier, my excited little brain forgot to prepare for this race.
We began to run, masses of people, dogs, strollers, down a gravel path then up a road. Slightly unorganized and a little chaotic but nothing my trained mind for positive self talk couldn't get me out of. I can do this.
Up the hill, around a little bend. We're talking to friends, I'm losing my breath.
I begin to feel this small, deeply buried ball of swirling anger that burns in the way I expect the sun to burn, with hopping lava spots and a bright, hot core. It swells, my positive self talk is drowning, and I can't bring back my calm, rational, running-trained brain and the things I know to be true about me and my running. It always starts off rough, I get warmed up, and if I'm having fun I can knock out mile on top of mile without hesitation. But into the rough is all the farther I got before the anger got to me.
I slow down, deciding I'll do it on my own. Separate from the pack and get serious. Nick looks back and slows a little to stay with me. "You ok?" I nod yes. "Want water?" I nod no. I also know that if I stop, it is very very difficult for me to begin again.
I don't know exactly when, but I'm suddenly overwhelmed by the chanting. Now even just sitting here typing this, the chanting stirs up such madness in me that I can't believe I didn't freak on someone as the troops swallowed me into their formations and passed by on either side. So running, swallowed by these drones, I look forward, fuming. Nick looks back, and lets them know they need to shift right.
I have a little space, but the chanting fucks with my head on so many levels. I didn't expect this. I didn't expect any of this. But I will not quit. Deep breaths. We hit the turn around point, and I slow even more. I don't even know at this point how many troops have swallowed me and spit me out. The thought of it happening again is all that is in my head.
Keep going. Keep going.
The stress makes my brain think in ways I can't control as well as I'd like. I can't do it. My stomach hurts. My head is throbbing. I want to cry but I can't even figure out how. I tell Nick I have to walk. I walk. He walks beside me. I tell him it's ok, he can finish, go ahead. "I'm not leaving you."
So we walk. I wanted to get the cry out, then begin to run again. but I couldn't find it. I knew it was there and I couldn't get it out. We walked for longer than I liked. Longer than he liked too. Then we ran again, slowly, but I knew I could finish at that pace. "See the stadium? We're almost there."
We finished and I looked up at the race clock that said something like 35:00. Awesome time. I walk into the grass. "Stace. Stace!" I walk to the shade. I need to sit in the grass in the shade. That's all I need right now. "I need the shade!" I sit. Nick goes to look for water. I put my head down.
I didn't expect that. I should have been prepared.
We catch our breath, walk back to the truck, drink the water we had there. We are both disgruntled about different things, but we agree that at least we did it. It was for the Fallen. That's a cause close to our hearts.
P.S. also, check off Breakfast at Tiffany's :)