Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Last Runner And The Last Breath

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Ten
02/22/10 - 02/28/10 - Week Total: 42.7 miles
Total February: 130.3 miles
2010 Mileage: 245

I was officially the last runner of my last race. I am in the 65 percentile for a 5K in my age group, 60 for 10K, and for distances above 13.1 I am a still a hair above average, 56 percentile.

But when you race in a race that has no average runners, being a hair above average puts you in the last place. Fast runners from a very good running club plus some runners like me that left me in the dust when I started to collapse at mile 10. Two DNF. I knew I ran at a great pace, better than my training pace, but still felt frustrated, and to leave the frustration behind I searched for some kind of mental therapy.

Pre was there to help me.

On Thursday I sat on the couch to, again, go over Pre's life. Life I know by heart. His trials and tribulations, his passion, his determination, his perseverance, his successes, his failure at Munich which I believe made him a better person, his fights against the system, his last race, and sadly, his last breath. A last breath that occurred too early, too young. A breath that I embrace as his legacy. The legacy from a runner that has touched me the most.

And on Saturday I left with Pre's determination, perseverance, and passion to complete a 20-miler. At mile 4 I started to lose awareness of my surroundings, and the music was the only thing talking to me. Thoughts came and went, family and friends showed up in live images in my mind.

Who loves you pretty baby? A flash of my three babies comes up. Images at all ages. Who loves you pretty baby? They live now their own life. Grown up. Gone. Close at heart, but far away in the distance. A gorgeous morning, 50F/10C, partly sunny. I feel hot, it is hot. Then the clouds cover the sun, and I feel a nice cold breeze in my face. See our majestic flag waving in all its splendor on the top of a building when I hear a 747 flying close by. Yes, my ears are getting so educated that I am starting to differentiate an airplane just listening to the engines. Looked to my left and there it is: the Dreamlifter has taken off. Though ugly, it is a wonderful piece of machine that carries the 787 fuselage inside.

I continued with my pace when Stairway to Heaven hit the pod. German D. is there with his beautiful guitar playing it for me. He did record it for me, and deleted it. A complaint. Does the stairway take me ever to Heaven? I hope so. When my time comes I want to climb them in a state like this state, with a nice breeze in my face and a radiant sun warming me up. And it's whispered
that soon if we call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason, and a new day will dawn for those who stand long, and the forest will echo with laughter.

And Franco De Vita sings "nothing is the same". And yes, without Luis nothing is the same. Tell me that you will come back, that this is your place, that nothing will change. Here, between you and I, nothing is the same if you are not here. Why to lie? Tears, pouring tears running by my face. My life stopped here. Yes Luis, nothing is the same. Will never be.

And I think of you all my runner friends. I think of Ricky E. that broke 4 hours and is getting ready for Paris. I think of Pre, not built like a runner but the best American runner ever. I am built like a runner. We were born to run. S
omeday girl I don't know when were gonna get to that place, where we really want to go and well walk in the sun, but till then tramps like us baby, we were born to run.

And then Chucho is playing my dad's piano. It is 1975. Carrie is also there. We were a trio. A nice trio. We still are. He is playing a Chicago's song. Will you still love me? Just say you'll love me for the rest of my life... and then I see the three of us singing so out loud that we lose our voices. Our youth is frozen in those images. Plans to get back together in 2011. In Florida. The three of us. It is a date.

I see the sun semi-covered and the sun rays through the clouds. And that's God talking to me. And there is Craig V. telling me that the only way to avoid the pain of losing those we love would be to never have them with us at all... And I would love to have a run with him and talk about the things trapped in my throat.

I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold, I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line. I found Randy, my heart of gold. And Randy, through Seger, sings to me: I've seen you smiling in the summer sun, I've seen your long hair flying when you run, I've made my mind up that it's meant to be, someday lady you'll accompany me.

And the music goes on, and on, and on....
and in a minute of silence, between songs, I only hear my breath, and it is Pre's last breath. That's all I hear. I look to the ground and see my feet, right, left, right, left, and think of Enrique Alejandro, and though I am tired, I need to keep running. He can't run, he can't walk, so my feet go for him, and though I believe my feet cannot go any longer, they can. The fighter still remains. In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade and he carries the reminders of ev'ry glove that layed him down, or cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame, I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains.

The 20 miles, as a run, were bad, too long, but they were a journey and a new experience... They taught me something. Taught me that my anger and my shame of being The Last Runner were surpassed by the inspiration of The Last Breath.


MarathonChris said...

You are an amazing person! Thanks for sharing your inspiration so we can all be inspired.

Some days are good runs, others not so good - but we go out there to listen to the music, to nature, and to let our thoughts drift through our lives and our blessings.

A good quote:

"If you look at what you have in life, you'll always have more. If you look at what you don't have in life, you'll never have enough."

Oprah Winfrey

Backofpack said...

A beautiful post. Loved the way it flowed, love the thoughts.

I will say this though. There is no shame in being the last runner. That is a lesson I've learned more than once. Someone will always be last, why not me? There is no shame, because I am out there running, giving it all I've got, running and running. No shame, nope. Pride, pride that I am running, pride that I don't let fear of being the last runner stop me, pride that I can go the distance. Don't ever feel shame!

Petraruns said...

What an amazing post. I am sitting here on a wet Monday morning, about to start the week and I'm crying. Girl - that is wonderful.

I too find myself climbing the emotional extremes when I run long - especially when I run 20. You often go through my mind as do all my other running buddies.

Stay out there girl. To us you are a winner for EVERY race you are out there. Love you!

CewTwo said...

I wish that I could write as well as you do! Amazing the captured insight to feelings and successes!

Lizzie, please don't feel an obligation to run the Seattle RnR because I am. I would love to run with you, but I can do that with a simple run on one of the few days that I will be there. Thank you so much for the far support, too!

Marathon Maritza said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous post. I love the sheer inspiration of this run. I will think of it when I am out there feeling the struggle, surely.

Last runner or first runner, the point is always that we run. ♥

ShirleyPerly said...

Incredible post!

I don't have many free thoughts during my workouts any more unfortunately with so much focus being paid to my surroundings & safety, pace and form. But I used to and, in fact, that was the only reason I ran, actually, to have the time to be by myself and think. Reading your post reminded me of what I've been missing.

And if being last motivates you to work harder, that's good but I think there is no shame in doing the best you can and being last. I am routinely last at my swim practices in Kona as everyone there seems to be above average swimmers!!

Maria Carolina said...

when walking a mile is a challenge being the last runner in a race sounds so good to me... just participating is great.... You are amazing don't feel bad you finished another one, HURRAY for you my dear friend !!!!
Love you

Maria Carolina said...

Aqui estoy boquiabierta con tan impresionante verbo !!!!!
Yo sabia de tus muchas habilidades pero, y que la pluma se te da muy bien.... pero estos ya son palabras mayores eres una artista escribiendo, creo que me deleitare leyendo todos tus blogs....
Keep going....
Keep running

Irish Blue said...

Wow Lizzie, that was great. I'm speechless...felt as though I was there with you on that run.

What can I say other than you are a winner in life and in running. You're a beautiful person, friend, wife, mother...what more is there really?