Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston on my Mind

Oh my goodness, it's April 19.  I cannot believe I haven't blogged in a month.  I think about it all of the time, but it seems like I have just been busy...and overwhelmed by life.

I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the tragic events of the week.  My heart hurts for the families and loved ones affected.  The unfairness and brutal nature of the attack often causes us to question humanity.  It causes us to question why bad things happen to good people.  It causes us to ask "why".  I certainly don't have the answers to these questions, but know that in times of crisis, we often see the best in people. We see compassion and sincerity and selflessness.  I can't imagine what the people in Boston are going through or how they will manage during the next few days, weeks and months.  When the shooting in Newtown happened in December, all I want to do was hug Evan and hold him tight.  I felt the same thing this week.  Hugs are a little tighter and a little longer.

My dad ran in the Boston Marathon a few years ago, in 2009.  I couldn't go to the race with him, but I was able to track his progress online.  I knew what his pace was, what his qualifying marathon time was and based on his start time, knew exactly when he should finish.

Except he didn't finish at that exact time.

And he didn't finish within a few minutes of that time.  And he didn't finish within ten or fifteen minutes of that time.  I started to panic.

I text my mom and asked if she had heard from my dad.

She hadn't.

I text my Uncle Rick; I knew he was interested in his progress too.  He didn't have any additional information.

I was at work but didn't care at all about what was happening around me.  I was obsessed with looking at the computer and trying to figure out where my dad was.

See, my dad started running marathons in his fifties.  It was like he decided he hadn't had enough physical challenge in his life and so marathoning seemed appropriate.  And he makes it look so EASY.  Just ties up his shoes and runs.  "Oh, hey, I'm going to go for a run...AND RUN 7:30 MILES...AND RUN 26 OF THEM...CAUSE I'M BAD ASS."

But, unbeknownst to many, my dad has atrial fibrillation.  In 2004, it really reach critical status and he went to the ER a few times and had to have his heart "shocked" back into rhythm.  In 2005, he had a procedure at University of Michigan, where they "trapped and zapped" the areas on his heart that caused the a-fib.  An ablation of the heart.  A major procedure that lasted for hours and required a lot of tedious work by a cardiologist.  Eight-years ago, when my dad had this surgery, it was a ground-breaking procedure that was not very common.  Like everything my dad does, he attacked his recovery with vengeance.  He wasn't going to just have a heart procedure and go back to a normal routine.  He was going to go run MARATHONS.

And run he did.



And made it look easy.

So when he wasn't done in 3 hours and 25 minutes, I was surprised.  And when he wasn't done in 3 hours and 40 minutes, I was nervous.  And when he wasn't done in 3 hours and 45 minutes, I was scared.

What if something happened to my dad and he was all alone in Boston?  Who would take care of him? How would we find out?  Why did my mom, sister, brother or I think it was a good idea to pack him up on a plane and go send him to a different state to run 26 MILES?


And then he finished.

He finished about 30 minutes later than I expected him too.  Not only does Boston have some major hills in the marathon but my dad had cramping in his legs.  It's not uncommon and certainly all of us have experienced leg cramps before.

But my dad hadn't.

And he doesn't really complain anyway.  So if he does have leg cramps or HEART PROBLEMS, I usually don't know about it until it's over and done.

He said the cramps were so bad it caused him to seriously slow down and almost have to stop.  Of course, he didn't.  My dad doesn't quit anything.  And of course, he wasn't going to quit the most prestigious marathon in the country.

I had tears in my eyes while I waited for him to finish and I'm sure I induced panic in those around me. But he finished.  And he was okay, more or less. And he got on a plane the next day after the marathon and flew back home to my mom.  He keeps running.  He keeps inspiring.  And he keeps moving FAST.

I don't know what the reason is that I am so blessed.  Blessed because my dad ran a marathon in Boston and is safe and sound right now.  And my Lacey ran a marathon in Chicago and she is safe too.  And Ben ran a marathon in Grand Rapids, and he is loving on my Lacey.  And Rick ran a marathon in Tampa...and bumps and bruises and all, he is in one piece and finished that great accomplishment.

Grand Rapids Marathon 2008 - this was the qualifying race for Boston 2009

Who looks this happy at Mile 26?

This has nothing to do with marathons and everything to do with the endurance of the human spirit and physical limits.

In three weeks, many of us will run in the River Bank Run for our beautiful friend, Jori.  Jori is in the middle of some TOUGH cancer treatments...and she is going to run.

And in January, I am running in my first half-marathon - in Disney World!  And I am running with amazing, beautiful men and women that all are cancer-survivors and co-survivors.  I can't wait to high-five Mickey with Cara, Lori and Ross and finish with a view of the Magic Kingdom.

So for friends in Boston...and fellow runners...and the spectators and family and friends that cheer them on....every time I put on my shoes...and go out for that jog....I will continue to think about how blessed I am.  And their spirit and courage will be present while I try to do the great things they were doing.

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