We all know not every run can go swimmingly. Not every race is a PR, not every track workout is pegged exactly like you want it, and recovery is a monster in and of itself sometimes. I have been very excited about training, looking forward to the next run, because it leads to the long run – my favorite! Not to sugarcoat it, but today was tough. Not in the ‘I want to quit NOW’ sense, but in that my limbs felt awkward, and I just could not settle into a rhythm for the life of me! It was very, very humid so maybe that had something to do with it. I also ran a new route that had zero give on desolate roads, yet had traffic flow at 630 on a Saturday morning.
For all I know, on a good run day, I wouldn’t be picking apart my run so much. I know I hydrated enough, but I don’t think I ate enough this morning. While I am glad to have done it, I’m glad it is over. This morning I was getting increasingly frustrated, and I kept reminding myself that this IS NOT for me. The miles I cover, the sweat, the frustrations – it pales in comparison to the true purpose of training for Marine Corps.
I know I have mentioned wear blue:run to remember before. The group, pivotal in my grief in the death of my brother, honors the sacrifice of the fallen military members. Any fallen military; not necessarily just those lost in our current war. I am honored to run MCM as part of their Gold Star Athlete program, along with numerous other fabulous individuals.
For the record, you do NOT have to have lost a family member to run for wear blue. If you feel called to support the global community of runners in blue, I encourage you to search them out on Facebook. There are also national meet ups at not only military bases/areas but also in ‘civilian’ cities as well.
Before every run, I read biographies of those I am running for. It makes it real for me, and solidifies why I’m doing this. Some might think it’s morbid, and maybe it is, yet I can’t really explain it. Maybe you have to just be in the position that I’m in. Not very many people in our population serve in the military. Now take the military members, and count those that have deployed. I know people that have served a full 20 years, and never left their duty station. Take those deployed, and put them into a job immediately in harm’s way. Not everyone goes outside the wire. The numbers of those lost in the past 15 years is nothing compared to the numbers in other wars. Yet the pain is very real. In fact, I think because of modern times, maybe grief is easier on those experiencing it. When someone went MIA in WWII, or became a POW, who did the family turn too? Where there local groups to become a part of and bond with? There certainly were not internet groups, private Facebook chats you could have with a fellow Gold Star Family 2,000 miles away. I have cried in the silence of my living room, at 1 in the morning, with a GS Sister, whose life almost mirrored mine. She lost her brother, and her husband was deploying. My heart was breaking for her, though her husband came back, the terrifying feeling she had daily was very real.
I realize I am rambling, but I need to do it. I needed to see that nine humid miles with annoyances along the way is nothing, NOTHING, compared to a flag draped casket. Pain is nothing compared to barely keeping it together for the National Anthem EVERY. TIME. Pain is nothing, compared to a child growing up without a mother or father simply because they were following their dream of serving this country. Recently, I read a biography in which a female Soldier left behind a six year old daughter. The Soldier died in 2004. My daughter is six. Simply put, I cannot wrap my head around this loss. Pain is nothing compared to silently sobbing into a pillow when Taps plays at 2200 every night – I am so, so glad I don’t have to hear that every night. Those notes haunt me. Pain is burying your family member, knowing blood was spilled for something they so fiercly believed in. I went to Basic Training with individuals from Puerto Rico – these guys barely knew English, yet felt callled to join the military – in fact they were the hardest working guys in our brother flight. I have read a couple of biographies in which foreigners joined our military, just to give back, and because they felt they truly loved our country enough to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Some Americans don’t even feel this way. Can you imagine the pain THEIR families felt? They lose their son/daughter/husband/wife, and they themselves do not even reside in the States. What an isolating, desolate feeling. THAT is pain. Not running. Not waking up at 5 to run 20 miles before the heat of the day. Are you kidding me, Natalie? Soldiers rucksack longer distances without the comforts of A/C to come back too, without showers, without decent footwear or the convinience of gel packs and water available.
In retrospect, maybe this run happened for a reason. To bring me back down to Earth. To make me realize that, yeah, shitty runs happen. I was getting too comfortable in training, almost honeymoon-like. I lost my focus, and this was a wake up call.
I am happy to have had it. Losing focus will not happen again. Yes, I have been given an amazing oppurtunity. Yes, it was given to me in my ties to a fallen brother. Would I rather have Jon back, than run 26.2 miles? Yes, without a doubt. Would I rather go shooting with him, listen to his laugh, or even (Jesus help me) cross him before he’s had his coffe? Hell yeah. But I can’t. Miles covered will not bring my brother back. Miles covered won’t close the loop of grief and make everything ok again. Miles covered with bring back anybody… but those miles are the least I can do. I don’t have freaky scientific technology that makes them an interactive hologram. I don’t have a time machine. I don’t have a phone that contacts the afterlife. I do have a passion in helping familes of the fallen, and maybe walking, running, cycling, swimming or whatever – will help them too.
I’ll quit rambling. For those that had their long runs today, I hope you stayed safe and hydrated – it’s quite the warm summer this year. For those racing, I hope you PR’ed. For those that had a terrible run and didn’t throw in the towel – great job! For those that had a terrible run and threw in the towel – way to be smart, you’ll nail it next time.
Last Saturday I ran 5 miles. Those I ran for Army Staff Sgt. Michael Burbank, KIA 11OCT2004; Army PFC Anthony Monroe, KIA 11OCT2004; Army Sgt Pamela Osbourne, KIA 11OCT2004; Army PFC Aaron Rusin, KIA 11OCT2004 and Marine PFC Oscar Martinez, KIA 12OCT2004.
Wednesday, I ran four miles. In those miles, I ran for Marine LCPL Daniel Wyatt, KIA 12Oct2004; Marine CPL Ian Zook, KIA 12OCT2004, Army SPC Ronald Baker, KIA 13OCT2004 and Marine 2LT Paul Felsberg, KIA 13OCT2004.
Thursday brought three miles for Marine LCPL Victor Gonzalez, KIA 13OCT2004; Army SPC Jaime Moreno, KIA 13OCT2004; and Army Lt. Col. Mark Phelan, KIA 13OCT2004.
Today I ran nine miles. Those were for Army SPC Jeremy Regnier, KIA 13OCT2004; Army Maj. Mark Barbret, KIA 14OCT2004; Army SPC Bradley Beard, KIA 14OCT2004; Army SPC Kyle Fernandez, KIA 14OCT2004; Army Staff SGT Omer Hawkins III, KIA 14OCT2004; Army Staff SGT Brian Hobbs, KIA 14OCT2004; Army SPC Josiah Vandertulip, KIA 14OCT2004; and Army PVT David Waters, KIA 14OCT2004.