Sunday, April 6, 2008

16 Miles: Reconnecting and Rebuilding

For my run this week, I was in my hometown – which is outside of Youngstown, Ohio. Most of you know I grew up on a farm and my parents still live there. And my oldest sister, Michelle, lives nearby in my grandparents’ old home. With my job, I get to travel around the state, so I can try to pop in on weekends to spend time with my parents and my sister’s family. When I was home, my sister reminded me that I had not been home since Christmas, which I didn’t even realize, so it was nice to reconnect with my family and some of my friends.

On Saturday, my sister joined me on her bike for my 16 mile run. It was the first nice-weather long run I’ve had since I started training for the Cleveland Marathon. When I started out, it was about 35 degrees and then warmed up to the mid 50s. The first three miles of the run were by myself down a country road with rolling hills (my sister said I was on my own on the hills). The sun was rising and burning off the early morning fog that covered the hills. It took me just 30 minutes to get to the beginning of the bike path where I waited for my sister.

I’m not a quick runner – I am getting better, but there are no Olympic trials in my future – unless I am a spectator! I run at a comfortable pace that allows me to carry on a conversation. I cannot tell you the last time I had 2 hours to just talk to my sister – about anything and everything – completely uninterrupted except for the occasional hellos to the other people on the bike path. We talked about growing up, our parents and her two boys.

I was able to reconnect with my sister this weekend and was able to witness the rebuilding that has happened at my parents’ farm. About 9 months ago, my parents’ barn burned down. I happened to be visiting when it happened. I’ll never forget driving home from dinner with my mother and sister (driving over the hills that I ran on Saturday morning) to see an eerie light in the sky -- and knowing that there was nothing else there except for my parents’ farm. When my mom and I pulled into the driveway, I jumped out of the car and started looking and yelling for my dad because I could see that our back barn was up in flames. He -- of course -- was trying to get equipment out the barn that was completely engulfed in fire. I convinced him that we needed to focus on saving the other barn, since it was already smoldering. And unfortunately our road was closed, so it took the fire department over 30 minutes to get to my parents house and there was nothing left of the back barn to save. I will never forget that night – you just wish you could do something to give hope back to you parents’ but nothing you say can make up for all the years of work they’ve lost in just a few hours.

In just 9 months, my parents’ have been able to rebuild their barn, and with the help of their friends, they continued to farm last summer even with the loss of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and supplies. Neighbors loaned tractors, equipment and helped clean up the fire site. It showed what can be overcome with the help of your friends and community.

So now, you might be wondering how any of this connects to my marathon training…that is a good question. I’m not sure if any of it is connected other than the fact that running gives me time to process life events and to think about relationships.

Well, I guess that is the connection – I didn’t chose to run a marathon to win – but to do something healthy for myself and as a byproduct, I created a healthier lifestyle. This healthy lifestyle has had more benefits than what I imagined. Part of what helps me keep this life change is the support from my family and friends for my running. My running helps me stayed connected to the people I care about – because I make time to think about other things than work – which in 2006 became all consuming. It has also helped me rebuild my health. So there it is – 16 miles to reconnect and rebuild – in many different ways in my life!


A DC Tri-ing Athlete said...

That's outstanding. Really solid volume. Perhaps your inner body temple is actually a barn!

Anonymous said...

This inspired me to turn myself in to the local authorities.

Abby said...

awesome post. Being healthy rocks.

Anonymous said...

This has inspired me to pursue linking vigorous exercise and pyromania. You will find me neither hitting a target heart rate nor torching a local junior high for months to come.