Today has brought a mixture of emotions and thoughts. I have said even the darkest days have a glimmer of joy. This I still believe to be true, however I understand when someone may disagree. For me today was not close to the darkest at all, it was actually a rather good day. The sky was dark, that is true. It was a damp, cool day. My training schedule had a 60 mile bike ride – not the best day for a ride. Tomorrow looks much better, so I did a little rearranging and I ran 12 miles today. It was a perfect day for a run. I went down to the towpath that runs through the Cuyahoga National Park, which is very flat. Considering my long runs should be “easy” the terrain helped. A lot. The last time I ran 12 miles on the towpath was the day before I sprained my ankle back in April. I looked at the statistics – I ran faster than I did today but my average heart rate was 148 – very close to my anaerobic threshold. Today I ran easy, and it was easy! As I have shared, in order to keep my average heart rate below 130 I have had to take walking breaks to slow my heart rate down. Today I had an average heart rate of 129 and I only walked once in the entire 12 miles. Big improvement! My pace was a full minute per mile slower than back in April, but I felt great after. My lungs did not hurt, it really was an easy run and it was a RUN not a run/walk. Granted my pace qualifies for jog, but it is training. A big improvement for me, my joy today.
Along the run however, I did have a few moments of fighting back tears. Tears for someone I never met. Late last night the race organizer for the triathlon I did last Sunday announced that the man who almost drown did not survive. Apparently he was declared brain dead within 24 hours and by late in the week he passed away. He was 34, married and had two young children. I am heartbroken and devastated for the family. I did not know him nor his family. From what I have learned he was participating in his first triathlon. I am not even going to attempt to come up with an answer to why this had to happen. The triathlon and multisport community is rallying around this family and planning a fundraiser to help them out. A wonderful gesture that hopefully will shine a ray of joy on this sadness.
I went to visit my father after my run. He will be 92 this month. A reminder of the spectrum of life and how each day we have is truly a blessing. A young man gone at 34 and a wise, mature man here to celebrate his 92nd year. When I got home from my visit I read an email from a college friend. She was sharing with many all of the qualities she loves about her 18 year old middle daughter, along with the eulogy her eldest daughter read at her sister’s funeral. Four years ago she was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma and after a long, hard fight she died two weeks ago. I never met her daughter, but from all I have read she was an amazing, talented your woman. Again, I do not understand why. From all I read today, she never asked why either. She enjoyed life, lived it to the fullest despite her illness, and left so much for those that remain to be inspired by.
I do not know which was more exhausting for me today. Running 12 miles or processing all of the sorrow in my mind. My training partner and I have discussed how we fight feeling guilty for dealing with the day to day struggles that seem so big to us until reality places all into perspective. It should not take a tragedy in someone’s life, our own or another’s, to remind us to tell our loved ones we love them. Hug a dear one. Appreciate the blessings of each day, each breath. If we are truly going to seize the day, we need to see the day for all of the blessings it brings. Starting with the gift of waking up.