Monday, November 11, 2013

The Fate of Bridges

3 years to the day after I was waiting for a biopsy, and three weeks away from an MRI, I was getting to return to the community that was kind enough to let me run a marathon behind a stroller. I get nervous about races but running is my therapy so it was good to head to the Pleasure Island Bridge Half marathon. Once again they were nice enough to let me do the race with the stroller, the toughest race I've done yet with her. I prefer 13.1 miles of hard core therapy because I'd rather the course test the system and my body than when machines and doctors do it. It started over a bridge from miles 2-4 that was by far the steepest thing I've ever done with a stroller (NBC was covering and it will air on Nightly news on the 16th and while we're on media pieces The 2013 runner's world piece came out and before I'd seen it in person, someone from Beaumont was actually the first to send me a picture. They captured the copy well (though my tumor is in my left temporal not frontal lobe) but stating that all I'm trying to do is hang out with my daughter. While we're on media things, there was also a video from local news that covered the race, but boy was I glad someone was filming it... it will show why bridge took so much out of me... it felt like I was in 5k heart beating mode and it took me till almost the halfway mark before I was anywhere near breathing normal, half marathon normal breathing mode anyway.

I got passed and owned going up that bridge by so many people, though since it was a 10k and a half marathon starting simultaneously... I had no clue who was in my race. But it was a gorgeous view of the bay though I was breathing so hard I only caught a few glimpses. Once we got past the bridge about halfway in, someone yelled that I was 7th or 8th, turned out I was in sixth but I kept trying to recover and literally push along. At the 10 mile mark I was in 4th with the leader very well ahead and 2nd and 3rd in view. This race had two turn around points and it was great to see so many runners from this community. High fived more than a few in the middle of the race.

This course was the toughest thing I'd ever done with a stroller. There are things you take for granted as a runner, that I probably wouldn't have noticed without Kiana. The bridge would have hurt either way but pushing 75 lbs up it... but there was some gravel on the course, there were some sharp turns, there were round turns through a gorgeous residential area, there were speed bumps (Kiana said whee during those) and right at the end there was a wooden pier which I would have loved to walk on but it was a bumpy ride. It was there that the guy in second gained a bit of time on me (we ran pretty close together from mile 11 onward) and I tried to sprint the end to catch up but I would finish two seconds behind and take 3rd in a time of 1:23.42.

I have no goal of winning any race because you never know who the competition is (to give you an idea the guy who came in first finished about a mile ahead of us) but I keep holding onto this goal in every race that I've done with a stroller that I still haven't achieved. All my times with a stroller are my second best times (that's now true in a 2miler, a 5k, a 5 miler, a 10 miler, a half marathon, and a marathon) and some good intentioned running friends point that out... I try to comfort myself by saying that every stroller time is faster than than any non stroller time before cancer. And this half marathon was faster than any I had done with or without a stroller in almost 2 years...

Still, the last time I went out to that running community, they asked me to speak shortly before the marathon. And the first thing I said which no one remembers was apologizing for the shortness of my shorts but what some did remember was to not be as dumb as me and wait till something goes wrong before they do something right. But it was clear they already were smarter than me that day, long before I won a marathon. Because they let me do one with her. And when I had a flat tire, there was someone who was kind enough to offer to babysit so I could still run and when they realized I wasn't interested in that
someone who tried to put in a tire tube, someone who gave me a spare tire. Strangers, now friends, who biked next to Kiana. And unlike last time which was a last second marathon sign up, we had more time. So we took in a museum of the area, some cajun food, some good dancing showing why that environment has bred good runners and good people. Both times I've gotten to share their company on the road or in a restaurant, it was my honor to do so.
More than a couple of people questioned my decision to sign up for that race because of the bridge (when we were driving across it, I questioned the decision and I definitely did so when I was running up it). Ildan once wrote that "the fate of the bridges is to be lonely; because bridges are to cross not to stay." And there's no way to avoid thinking of the reason that some of the connection has come from this is cancer. I hope cancer can be as lonely as long as possible. But I'm not in denial that it was the bridge that got me back to that place with those wonderful people. While I'd only ever been in the area once before, let's just say the Bon Jovi song this time was "Who says you can't go home?" felt very appropriate.  So last time all I did was race there and the fact that I won the marathon was a big deal to many. The simple truth is that I enjoyed this race and trip a lot more because Kiana and I got not only the privilege of sharing the road with them but sitting across tables chatting with them, dancing with them. And however lonely that bridge on the island is, or the bridge of cancer is, I believe those human connections made by that running community, by that disease and by my princess and I are here to stay. And I'll  run up and down any bridge to keep that happening. 

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