There are a great deal of things that can happen in nine weeks. For one, you can drop about 20 pounds. You can build a decent amount strength in your legs and watch your calf muscles grow to the point that your gladiator sandals don't zip up without protest. And, you can learn to say goodbye to a great friend and wonderful man.
This week's run, for the River City Runners and Walkers Club, was the actual half marathon course, all 13.1 miles of it. The run started at 7:00 am on Sunday morning when traffic was light, and weather conditions were close to what we can expect on August 15th.
The first few miles of the course were challenging but pleasant. A mix of uphill and downhill, long straight stretches and shaded areas. The first water stop was a welcome relief, as the temperature had already begun to climb.
Even though the second water stop was only about another three miles up the course, it felt like an eternity away. Miles four through six were long, hilly, sunbathed, and severe. Miles seven to nine were just as painful as you can imagine. You know you're more than half way through, but at the same time, can't believe that all that effort you just exerted needed to be re-exerted for the second half of the course. Just as I was ready to throw in the towel, a water stop appeared. I greedily snatched up four cups of water and told myself just to make it through to the next water stop (a.k.a. my car) without stopping. This mantra served me well and helped propel me into the last miles of the course.
Understandably, after I finished the course, a lot of my friends and family members were anxious to hear how I did. I finished the 13.5 miles (because I didn't know the course like I should have and got a little lost) in 2 hours and 36 minutes, averaging 11 minutes and 30 seconds a mile, and burning 1,587 calories. I was very flattered with the praise and adoration my family and friends bestowed upon me. 'You're so brave,' 'you've got nerve,' 'you're so strong,' 'you inspired me,' and 'run on' are some of the more fantastic compliments I've heard. It's great to hear, but this week I learned what strength, inspiration, nerve and bravery is.
On Thursday, my family lost a wonderful man and great friend. My amazing father-in-law, Harry Cochrane, passed away after a long battle with multiple myeloma. Besides being one of the most kind-hearted, generous and hilarious men in the world, Harry was the epitome of strength, bravery, and perseverance. Harry never gave up, and for the almost five years after his initial diagnoses, lived every day to its fullest. He was a loving husband, doting father (and step-father), proud grandfather, adoring great-grandfather, and fierce and loyal friend.
Thirteen miles once seemed insurmountable to me. Now, it doesn't, and it is not just because I was able to complete the actual course. If Harry and my lovely mother-in-law, Mary, can get through the incredible challenges they faced in the last five years, thirteen miles is nothing. When my knees ache, and my back hurts, when sweat stings my eyes, and the end seems farther away than it did at the beginning, I'll think of Harry, his endearing spirit and his immeasurable strength. With that, I'll be able to finish the race and anything else in my way. We love you, Harry. You will be greatly missed but forever in our hearts.