Saturday, September 10, 2011

My guide

I've been extra tired this week, and it's been a struggle to lace up my running shoes and get myself out the door. Before each run (6 miles Monday, 3 miles Wednesday and Friday), I considered flopping back down on my couch and postponing the training.

Then I'd think of Chris.

Not only would I think, "You've got to stick to the training if you want to run the half marathon, and you want to run the half marathon for Chris," I'd also think, "You think this is hard? It's nothing compared to what he faced every day in Afghanistan."

And so I'd hit the pavement.

Despite my fatigue (I actually considered curling up on the side of the road for a nap during Monday's 6 miles), it actually was a good training week. Nothing hurt. And I was a tad bit faster than the week before. And I'll take that. I'm still slow as mo (lasses, that is), but that's to be expected. I need to build back my endurance and drop weight to see improvement. I'm working on both. Chris is my guide.

Tomorrow, I start the climb in mileage. I've been sticking to 6 miles as the farthest run for awhile now while I build back up. Tomorrow I'll shoot for 7. I still worry about injuring myself, hoping I'm not doing too much too soon. I still worry the blisters will come back. But tomorrow I don't want to think about any of that.

The plan is to run minus the iPod. And to run between the hours of 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. For years, I've tried not to think too much about Sept. 11. I avoid the movies about it, the TV specials, most of the newspaper articles. I don't want to relive that horrible day. But something happened to me today that makes me want to acknowledge it, and, more important, acknowledge the people who are fighting, and dying, to make sure Sept. 11 doesn't happen again.

Today, I toured the USS Cole, the Norfolk-based ship that was attacked by terrorists Oct. 12, 2000, killing 17 sailors. I stood where the attack occurred. I walked the hallway lined with 17 stars. And I heard about the crew members who risked their lives to make sure the ship didn't sink.

Every time I encountered a sailor in his crisp white uniform, I saw Chris. And I realized how little I have thought about these men and women who do what they do every day to protect us. I tried to thank each one, but it wasn't - as they probably assumed - a thank-you-for-letting-us-tour-your-ship. It was a Thank You.

We owe them so much.

It shouldn't have taken Chris' death to dig my head out from under the sand, open my eyes and make myself appreciate - truly appreciate - what he and countless others have done for us. It's so easy and more comfortable to avoid reality and not think about what's going on "over there." But I think that when Chris asked us to memorialize him by donating to the Wounded Warrior Project, he not only helped his wounded comrades, he helped us open our eyes and acknowledge - truly acknowledge - the men and women who are putting their lives on the line to protect us. I know, at least for me, it's what I think about as I train and fundraise in Chris' name.

And it's what I'll think about tomorrow.


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