I’ve just completed a one-week break from running while attending to other things. I did a lot of walking, drove a few hundred miles, spent time with some long-time friends, helped another friend celebrate a milestone birthday, and made progress on some of the changes that are brewing in my life. The timing of this necessary running break was good, as it is now “taper time” before the race this coming Sunday.
This morning (race morning minus 4) I was up at 5:45 and out the door at 6:30 just before sunrise. I ran a nice, easy, fun 3 miles before work. I plan to run 2 miles on Friday, even easier and slower if possible, and that will be it. I’m going to walk to the race start (just under a mile away) so I should be settled down and ready to go by 7:00 AM. Although I’ve tried to resist setting a time goal for this race… I sort of did. I won’t jinx myself by telling you what it is beforehand, but I promise not to lie. If I meet my goal, I’ll tell you all about it! If I don’t meet it, I’ll confess. Either way I intend to be slow and happy.
The only hills on this course come early, between miles 2 and 5, and they are the same nearby streets that I’ve run several times while ogling mid-century architectural icons. After mile 5 the course is almost completely flat and my biggest concern will be the temperature. While sunny and mid-60s might not seem hot, hydration becomes challenging in those later no-shade miles — drinking just enough water to stay comfortable and focused but not so much that I’m forced to make a “pit stop” while on the clock.
While I’d like to do nothing but psych myself up for running, my priority for the next couple of days has to be getting my condo ready to show. It won’t hit the Multiple Listing Service until Friday, which gives me a little more time to clean the place before the open house on Saturday. It becomes obvious that this is THE DESERT (or as The Firesign Theatre used to say, “the stinking desert”) when I try to clean things deeply and find sand and dust everywhere. The windows are very dirty and I have to scrape them with a blade to get them clean — the dust seems to be ground right into the glass. I do a window or two at a time and I’m worn out, both physically and emotionally.
When we bought this place three years ago, Kurt wanted so badly for me to love it that he promised to do all of the heavy cleaning. He did a passable job of it the first winter we were here, but didn’t have the energy to scrub the floors or wash the windows. He was already too sick for that much work, although we didn’t know it yet. Last year we were only here for eight weeks in the spring. He was far too sick, and I was far too busy taking care of him, for either of us to worry about scrubbing the floor or washing the windows. So this condo is quite dirty, and I have to get it as clean as I can over the next couple of days.
Of course everything I touch here reminds me of Kurt, and I am emotionally wrenched by the fact that I am here having to deal with this, preparing to say goodbye to this place that he wanted so badly to have.
Tomorrow, February 9, will be eight months since I lost him. Although my grief is no longer so constantly overwhelming, it is still very much with me and these “anniversaries” still have the power to bring me very low. As I look ahead — his birthday in April, a full year gone in June — I know that I still have some very rough times coming even though there are more bright spots in my life these days.
Taper time, indeed! I wonder what it would be like to run a half marathon without excessive stress and exertion during the last week before the race. Maybe someday I’ll have the luxury of a proper training and taper, or maybe life will always get in the way. Maybe this is the way things are for every middle-of-the-pack runner who runs for fitness, or joy, or the hope of becoming strong enough to face life’s challenges. We train the best we can, we adapt our schedule when catastrophe strikes, and we make the best of it on race day.
One step at a time.