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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I'm Not Ready For This

2011, in Michigan
I think most of our readers know why I haven't blogged since mid-April, but for those who don't: my husband Kevin went home to be with the Lord after a sudden heart attack on April 23.  I am devastated to have lost him at only 47.  We had 11 years together, the last 5 of those married, but it doesn't feel like nearly long enough.  I feel angry & cheated out of the 40 or 50 years I thought we'd have together.  And I don't feel ready for this life I have to now live without him.

I know, however, that God is with me and will be with me in all the days to come.  He knows what I need to get through this and He will make sure I have it, so I am living on faith and taking each little step as I see it in front of me, even though I can't see any farther than that right now.

Running friends
I can already see how God made sure I would have the right people in my life to support me through this, and how He has prepared me in other ways as well.  Like running - if God hadn't brought running into my life 3 years ago, I'm not sure how I would be maintaining my sanity right now.  Running clears my head, and also keeps me disciplined about eating right and getting enough rest - two very important things when I'm under this much stress.  Running has also brought some wonderful friends into my life, adding to the many wonderful friends I already have.  And it's brought me closer to my sisters!

I will admit it felt strange, the first time I went for a run after Kevin's death.  It had been almost 2 weeks.  I was afraid that I would feel guilty doing something that I enjoy, but I knew I needed to at least try.  If it didn't work for me anymore, then at least I would know and I could try to find another outlet.  I went for a 2 mile run, and I felt sad yet peaceful.  I didn't feel guilty.  I talked to Kevin some and I prayed some, and when I got home I felt like I could almost see that I would eventually be okay.  That feeling disappears, of course, when waves of grief overwhelm me and memories and regrets start pressing in, but it's good to know that I can lace up and head outside and get it back again, too.

Since that first run, I have come to realize something important.  God gives us little gifts of joy in the midst of our sorrow.  We know as Christians that we will see our loved ones again, so even though we are sad and miss them right now, we know that will not last forever.  But even while we are still sad we can feel joy at the same time, if we allow God to give us those gifts: time with loved ones, appreciation of a beautiful day, and at least for me, the feeling I get when I run.

I have also found that while I need to stay active and involved, I also need to leave plenty of time to be alone and grieve.  So I am making sure to pick activities that bring me joy and that are meaningful, and not just do anything that comes along.  Here's a quick recap of my activities of the last couple of months:

Carmel Marathon, April 18
I'm a marathoner
Yes, I did it.  I ran my first full marathon.  I finished in 6 hours 12 minutes, and I am happy with that time.  The day was actually very hot for April in Indiana, nearing 80 by the time I finished.  Full sun beating down on the pavement & reflecting back up made it feel even hotter.  I was very thirsty those last few miles, and all the water at the water stops was warm.  But I did it, and it was a great feeling.  It's not just the running of those 26.2 miles that makes it feel so great; but it's the payoff for training for months to achieve a goal.  Will I ever do another one?  Maybe.  It was not actually as hard as I thought it would be.  Some of my long training runs were harder.  So, maybe I will try another one someday.

Indiana Women's Trail Quarter Marathon, May 23
My first race after Kevin passed away.  I had already signed up for it, so I decided to go ahead & do it, especially since I knew Kathy & Jill were doing it too.  I just ran easy & even walked some, just enjoying running the trails at Eagle Creek.  With no specific time goal, I was happy with a finish of 1:39:09.

Monumental Mile, June 4
A chip-timed 1 mile race in downtown Indy.  I heard from friends who did it last year that it was a lot of fun.  I wasn't signed up, but I woke up that morning with a bad case of FOMO, so I went down & signed up race day.  I think this is the only time I've ever done that.  I really had no idea how to race just a mile, and I started out too fast.  I had to slow down some, but I was pretty happy to finish in under 10 minutes, with 9:38:6, and I got to ring the PR gong.

Summer Night Trail Half Marathon, June 6-7
Regular blog readers will remember the disaster that was my Winter Night Trail Half Marathon.  Although I guess I can't call it a complete disaster, since I did manage to finish.  4:13:44 was my official time.  I went into the Summer Night Trail Half just hoping to beat my winter time and earn my Badass medal.  I enjoyed the race; several friends were also running the race, and a lot of other friends were there staffing the first water stop.  I finished in 3:42:54, beating my winter time by over 30 minutes.  And I didn't puke at the end.  I actually felt physically fine except for a few bruised toes.  Emotionally, this one was hard.  At the point during the night when I realized it was after midnight and it was my birthday, I cried for a little while running alone in the woods.  When I crossed the finish line & my friend Kim hugged me & said Happy Birthday, I broke down & cried again knowing I was going to go home & Kevin wouldn't be there to celebrate with me.

Jonathan Thulin Concert, June 7
One of my favorite singers, in a free concert at my church on my birthday.  I invited everyone I knew, and those of you who didn't come really missed out on a treat.  Check out one of my favorite songs to run to: Compass.    Also a song I'd never heard before this concert: Ruins.  It's about God finding us when our lives have completely fallen apart, and it really speaks to me now.  Sometimes when I hurt too much to even pray, I just listen to this song and let it be my prayer.

Run (317) Broad Ripple, June 18
My parents were in town & did this one too!  This was a fun Thursday evening race of 3.17 miles, and I finished in 36:58 with a pace of 11:40.  It was very hot & humid that night, so that's a pretty good time for me.  Then I hung out at the finish line cheering on other friends as they finished, and got to cheer for Momma & Daddy as they crossed the finish with a time of 53:13.

Monumental Yoga, June 21
Third year for this event for me: Summer Solstice Yoga on Monument Circle.  I always enjoy this and hope they continue to put it on.  Click here to read about last year's event; the 2013 one was before we started this blog.

Patriot Challenge, June 28
Third year for this event for me also. (Click to read previous years recaps: 2014 & 2013)  This year's obstacle course was the muddiest and also the most fun yet.  I didn't even bother to look up my time, since I had to wait in line at several obstacles the time ends up being irrelevant.  But, I am excited to report that the tire pull from last year was back, and I did not struggle with this at all.  I was able to pull that tire all the way to the top of the bleachers with no help.

Firecracker 6 K & 6 Miler, July 4
I didn't run this one, but I volunteered at both packet pickup the day before and gear check on race day.  This looks like a fun event and I hope to run it next year, but I enjoyed helping out and seeing lots of my friends who were running it.

Coming Up
I have several races planned for the rest of the year, including a trail 5K with my sisters August 1, and a trail half marathon with Laura November 28.  The 3 fall half marathons I have planned will qualify me for Half Fanatics.  And this Friday, I'm trying Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga.  I've updated the What's Next page with all the links & dates.

I plan to blog again regularly, at least twice a week.  Some of it will be the usual training musings and race recaps, but I'll also be talking about the unwanted adventure of widowhood that I find myself on.  I don't even like the word widow, really.  I still think of myself as Kevin's wife; I still feel married.  That will probably be true for a long time.  Writing helps me think and process what I'm going through, so I'll be posting here as I walk through this journey.  Hopefully Laura & Cindy will blog more often too, if only to balance out all my sad posts.  

I've also added a new page to our blog with a link to Kevin's obituary and also to the Indiana Landmarks Foundation, which is taking donations in Kevin's name to continue the work of historic preservation in Indiana.  Feel free to share this if you know anyone who might be interested.

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