Sunday, April 29, 2012

Don't Stop Believin' - The 5k

Yesterday I ran my very first 5k.

I used to be a "runner", at least as much as you could call someone who always finished in the middle to the end of the pack in high school distance races. My body, mind, and spirit are in very different places now than they were 15+ years ago though, so my goal this time around was simply to finish the race.

Mentally, I prepared myself not to be disappointed if my body forced me to walk part of the way, but even so set a goal of finishing in less than 40 minutes. Emotionally, I recognized that this 5k would be rough on me - both because of the charity we were running for (Hugs for Brady, helping kids with cancer) and because I would be doing it without my number one cheerleader (I miss him in a new way every day). Physically, I was not as prepared as I hoped I would be given the fact that a knee injury and a busy work schedule knocked me out of a month of preparation.

Still, I ran.
Making our way to the starting line - Suzanne, Bob & Me
(with Katie in the foreground)

Well, not just "I". My cousin Suzanne and her husband Bob ran with me. A kick ass playlist on my iPhone also ran with me. I'm not sure that I would have kept running had either one of those been missing.

Suzanne and I kept pace with each other and Bob went on to finish a couple of minutes ahead of us. I met my goal and finished in 36:08, but I was happiest about the fact that Suzanne and I kept running through the whole thing. Sometimes it was a very slow jog, but we didn't stop.

Somehow during the run, the shuffle on my iPhone always seemed to know exactly what I needed when I needed it. I started the race listening to 66 by The Afghan Whigs and ended it listening to Gentlemen, also by The Afghan Whigs. It just wouldn't be possible for me to explain in this blog post about me and Joe and The Afghan Whigs so I'll just say those two songs were the perfect bookends. In between, there was lots of musical inspiration, but what stands out the most is the moment Get Back Up by TobyMac came on. We were about 1/4 mile past the 2 mile mark and I was really feeling it. Part of me just wanted to collapse on the road. Another part of me felt the immensity of the past two plus years and an overwhelming need to finish THIS. I listened to this song many times throughout Joe's illness and after he passed, but this time it took on new meaning for me. I felt the "you gonna shine again" line in my core and gave it everything I had left.

Get Back Up by TobyMac (YouTube with lyrics)

You turned away when I looked you in the eye
And hesitated when I asked if you were alright
Seems like you’re fightin’ for your life
But why, oh, why
Wide awake in the middle of your nightmare
You saw it comin’ but it hit you out of nowhere
And there’s always scars when you fall that far
We lose our way, we get back up again
It’s never too late to get back up again
And one day you gonna’ shine again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever
We lose our way, we get back up again
So get up, get up, you gonna’ shine again
It’s never too late to get back up again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever
You roll out of the dawning of the day
Heart racin’ as you made your little get away
It feels like you been runnin’ all your life
But why, oh, why
So you pull away from the love that would’ve been there
And start believin’ that your situation’s unfair
But there’s always scars when you fall that far
This is love callin,’ love callin,’
Out to the broken this is love callin’
This is love callin,’ love callin,’
I am so broken
This is love callin,’ love callin’

After crossing the finish line
As we approached the last stretch, I saw my Mom standing there with Domani. His eyes lit up when he realized that it was Mama running towards him and I got the sweetest smile and wave I've ever gotten. In that moment I thought of all the times I felt like giving up over the past two and half years and all the people, places, and things that have inspired me to continue on. It made me grateful and gave me the last burst of energy I needed.

From that place, the finish line felt so good. The tears that came with it were cleansing. And the hugs from family and friends were very special.

After the race as we were eating some delicious pizza, I noticed the song playing in the restaurant - Don't Stop Believin' by Journey. Immediately, I felt the tears well up again. I have been encountering this song in various places over the past month and it always seems to come at the "right" moment. This time, like the other times, it wasn't just a song - it was a perfectly timed message. You see, not only was it the song that ended Sopranos, a series that Joe and I watched together religiously. Not only was it a song with an infectious, upbeat chorus line and a verse about a boy and a girl united by a singer and some wine. It was also the song that served as my ringtone for whenever Joe called, starting sometime shortly after his diagnosis. Like I said, it wasn't just a song, it was my Joe calling. And it was a perfectly timed message - a message of reassurance and hope - one that will go on and on and on and on.

1 comment:

  1. Well number 305, Joe would have been proud. After all didn’t you see it reflected in Domani’s eyes?
    A lovely post. You did it again, your post brought on the tears. I like the way you intertwine the common bond of music that you and Joe shared with a the lessons of life you are learning along the way.