I’ve sat here, in front of this screen, no less than five times now, looking for the right words to capture 2017. And there aren’t any.
So we’re going to start here: After Wineglass Marathon in October 2017 – PR of 6 minutes, and the first time I had used the Lydiard method to train – an idea began to form. A tiny twinkling in my mind. A bit of belief that naybe. Just maybe. I could qualify for Boston.
I talked it over with a friend – an amazing runner in his own right – and he confirmed that belief. We came up with a plan – with work, over 2 – 3 years, I could make it. This became a secret goal. A distant dream – but one that would draw closer. Something I could work toward.
Fast forward to December 22. A Christmas Party with family and family-friends. A cousin, Tyler, also a runner. A conversation about races coming up this year. I’d run “with” him before – and by “with” I mean, he finished Marine Corps Marathon miles ahead of me…after starting behind me. Same with Sunburst – though he ran the half there. We talked running marathons together this year – Running Kentucky Derby Marathon in April (because bourbon). We talked Boston Qualifying – his goal since shortly after he started running marathons – because of course he’d target the most prestigious race.
The evening continued on as normal. Drinking, eating, talking to cousins, Aunts, Uncles, friends. All was merry. All was Bright. Dad and I left that party at around 9:30 p.m.
The next day, December 23, Tyler unexpectedly passed away. And nothing will ever be the same.
Tyler was a Marine Corps Scout Sniper, a leader in his platoon. He was a father of two beautiful boys. The night of the party he came in, effortlessly carrying one kid on each arm. They clung to him. He laughed, set them down, and sent them off to play with their cousins. Tyler had a signature laugh – something about him everyone remembers. He was a brother, son, nephew, cousin, comrade, and friend. He was the life of the party. Everyone was always drawn to him. He was special. He was loved. And he is so sorely missed.
Here’s where, for me, it comes back around to running. Because after Tyler’s death, my plan, my desire, my will to qualify for Boston became even more real. I have to do this. For him. For me. I’m terrified. I’m not fast, by any means. I never have been. But I’m willing to put in the work.
Because his feet can no longer carry him forward, I will push on. For him. Running is one small way to start to soothe the ache.
I’m not the only one. There’s a group – started by his wife and a friend – called “Run Like a Fox.” Sometimes, out of great tragedy, small, beautiful things are born. That group is one of them. People who have never run before, or who have never raced, inspired to move because of him. In honor of him. Because running was something he loved, we will carry on, in his place. It’s something that can physically be done. Because sometimes there are no words.
I have no idea where this journey will take me. But I know that it’s begun, and that I am determined.
And I know that I need to get back to writing here. In this space. Because this is what soothes my soul.
So I hope that you’ll follow me through this – whatever this turns out to be.