Monday, August 15, 2011

When there's nothing else you can do ...

I couldn't run because of my sore knee.

I couldn't fast-walk because of my rolling foot/blister problem.

But to stay on track, I needed to cover 6 miles today. So what's a girl to do?

I sauntered. Strolled. Moseyed. Basically spent two full hours walking as slow as I could so I wouldn't hurt myself further.

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows and daisies on this jaunt (though I was walking so slow, I could have watched a daisy or two bloom if it were spring). For one thing, I hate walking. And I really hate walking slow. I'd find myself speeding up and having to put the brakes on. Then there was that blasted right foot. The bottom of it started hurting around Mile 4 (i.e. blistery), and I feared I'd have to resort to crawling to make it home. But, thankfully, it didn't get that bad.

Now, as you know, I can't mosey in the half marathon. There's a 16-minute-mile maximum, and, besides, I don't want to mosey in this race. But for now, until I can figure out what's wrong and gain the strength back, moseying will have to do.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Knee has been aching all night long.

I don't know what to do anymore.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Before the sun sets

Today was declared a day of mourning in Virginia for the servicemen who were killed in the Afghanistan helicopter attack. So I didn't want the sun to set without getting out on the pavement and continuing my training in Chris' honor.

I started out with a one-mile walk, praying the whole time that the new shoes + fancy blister-fighting bandage would allow me to complete three miles without hobbling in the end (a la Wednesday, a la Sunday, a la every blasted day for months). Without fighting and destroying this latest enemy that is trying to sideline me, the half marathon seems simply impossible.

(Side note: I wear the right non-cotton socks. I've consulted two physical therapists. I went to the best running shoe guy I know. I've never had a blister problem before.)

Toward the end of the first mile, I could feel the fancy blister-fighting bandage shifting, which meant my foot was still rolling and causing friction. But I continued, breaking out into a run/walk for the next two miles. It was a beautiful night, and - discomfort aside - I was glad to be out there in the remaining few hours of the day.

With three miles completed, there was some hobbling as I made my way toward my apartment building. I was frustrated. All I could think was, "Well, I guess it's time to call on Physical Therapist No. 3," and how much I dreaded more speculation, more "try this," more "maybe you should just cross-train."

The sun was setting as I approached home, and - shoving aside my negative thoughts - I suddenly realized what song had been playing on my iPod for the past few minutes: Billy Joel's "Everybody has a Dream." My eyes swelled with tears, thinking of my last blog post and Chris' dreams of being a SEAL, thinking of my declaration to fight for my own dreams, thinking of the day I put the song on my playlist. It was my anthem for Marine Corps Marathon training. I listened to it at the end of each training run, determined to one day reach my dream of running 26.2 miles. That dream ended up being deferred.

Blisters and tight calves and being overweight are the enemies trying to stop me from my dream. I must not let them. Bring on Physical Therapist No. 3.

For history on this new goal, see "Honoring him."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Honoring him

"So many of us talk about what we are going to be and what we are going to do; he did it."

"Chris backed up his words with actions."

"He would back up anything he said with a commitment you can't match, or describe with words. Chris Campbell, Navy Seal."

A high school classmate of mine was one of the 30 Americans killed yesterday in Afghanistan when their helicopter was downed by Taliban fire. I learned about his death as I made a quick scan of Facebook before heading out to dinner. The posting began "Just got word..." The words "KIA," "Afghanistan" and "Chris Campbell" jumped off the page. I read the post again. And again. It couldn't be true. But by Saturday night, Facebook was filled with more postings from friends mourning the loss of this amazing guy whose smile and spirit were the first things that came to mind when you heard his name.

I didn't know Chris was a Navy SEAL. In fact, I didn't know Chris well at all. But I knew him enough to see that smile in my head, feel a rush of memories from our years in school together, and ache not only for his family but for his high school buddies, many of whom are very dear to me.

My first instinct after hearing the news was to pull out the only personal photograph I have of him. In it, Chris poses with five other guys from our high school class. (The six of them were voted by their classmates to pose in surf shop swimwear for our school newspaper.) If I remember correctly, Chris didn't stay at the photo shoot very long: It was a gorgeous day, toward the end of the school year, and there were waves to catch. Surfing was his life.

As I scanned the photo and rubbed my thumb over his young face, I thought about how my inability to believe he was one of the 30 killed stems from the fact that he'll always be that 18-year-old surfer in my head. And why would an 18-year-old surfer be in that Chinook helicopter over Afghanistan?

Hours later, still thinking of Chris and reading more about the brave mission those SEALs were on, I felt a huge swell of pride for the man he became. He was not that 18-year-old surfer anymore. He was a Navy SEAL. He belonged to one of the most elite forces in our military. He became someone many of us only dream of being. He was a hero.

This morning, I went digging through my box of memorabilia, high school and otherwise. I was in search of our 10-year reunion program. In the midst of digging, I came across my "Life's To-Do List." It was emotional, thinking of this list, thinking of what I want to accomplish in my life, and how Chris ....

For the past several months, I've let a lot of stuff weigh me down. Work. Health. Money. I've dwelled and worried and, in doing so, wasted a lot of time. I don't want to live like that. I don't want to simply check off days, but not check off opportunities that are out there. There's so much left on that Life's To-Do List. (In what has brought a rare smile to my face, I just saw that No. 7 is "Try to learn to surf.")

Since hearing the news, I've found myself restless and wishing there was something I could do. I wasn't a part of Chris' life, so pretending to be is the worst thing I can do. But I still feel the need to focus on something that matters, to honor Chris in some way. For me, I think that will be running the Norfolk Freedom Half Marathon. It takes place Veterans Day weekend, and I want to run it in honor of Chris. The event raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project, and I would like to find a way to incorporate raising even more money during my training. It may be as simple as personally donating a dollar for every mile I train. I don't know. But I feel the need to honor him, and I don't know what else to do.

Training began this morning, and I thought of Chris with each painful step (I admit I'm not in the best condition to be doing this, but I'm determined to fight off the health issues that come my way). When I felt like stopping because of the heat, I pictured our men and women in Afghanistan battling much hotter conditions, in a much scarier place. When my iPod randomly chose the hauntingly beautiful "Hallelujah," I thought of Chris in that Chinook. And I thought about the words that began this blog post, words I borrowed from friends who posted their awe of Chris on Facebook last night: "So many of us talk about what we are going to be and what we are going to do; he did it."

Chris wanted to be a Navy SEAL. That's no small dream. I'd like to think the best way to honor him is to fight for my own dreams.

If you'd like to run with me in honor of Chris, please let me know. Here's the link for the race: