Running, Music & Memories

I’ve been mourning the loss of a friend.

I made a decision, for personal reasons, not to run during my pregnancy. A couple hours after I found out I was pregnant, I put on my running clothes, one last time, and went on an easy three mile jog to say goodbye to my buddy. The next day I joined the local YMCA, prepared to spend the next nine months indoors, on an elliptical.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I was in the best shape of my life. That week I was on track to run 55 miles, a weekly mileage that topped even peak week in my marathon training. Heading out of the house at 4:45 am and going for an easy 8 mile run had become part of my daily ritual. Every single morning I came home from that run happy, truly happy.

Within a week I was reacquainted with my old friend morning sickness. I spent the next two months curled up on the couch trying to keep food down, often unsuccessfully. The thought of walking across the house was enough to make my stomach turn, needless to say running didn’t cross my mind.

Once the sickness subsided I started making trips to the Y. Leaving E in ChildWatch was difficult to say the least. The first time they had to call me to come get her. The second time I managed to get a full 30-minute elliptical session but when I picked her up she had obviously been upset. By our third trip she figured out what was up and the walk down the hallway to the childcare center became her own personal death march. I walked away hearing her scream. My mommy heart broke for her. I couldn’t do this.

Not running has been much harder emotionally than I thought it would. Not only did it keep me fit, it was my one and only real hobby. It gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment. It was one of the only things in my life that I could actually control. It was part of my identity; without it, I feel lost.

On my daily trips to and from our house I see other runners, some of which I recognize. I drive down and past my favorite running routes remembering exactly how they look and feel on a morning run. Some days I get angry that I can’t run and I find myself jealous of other runners. I miss my friend.

On Monday, I decided to make yet another attempt at leaving Evie in ChildWatch at the Y. For the first time, she actually enjoyed playing and didn’t cry, not even a little tear. When I went to pick her up and saw that she was playing happily I felt relieved. Though getting on the elliptical isn’t even remotely close to going for a run, at least it’s something.

I’ve done a few different things to keep me entertained as I put in my time on the cardio machines. Reading, watching TV, Netflix, etc. Yesterday, I saw a guy on the treadmill across the room running. He was really enjoying that run, he needed that run – I could tell. I secretly hated him.

This morning I did something different. Instead of grabbing a magazine or turning on the TV, I plugged in my earbuds and turned on my running playlist, the same playlist I listened to countless times on my long runs while marathon training and during the marathon itself.

I find it incredible how the mind can connect music with memories. Occasionally, I will hear a song from my childhood and I am transformed into my 9-year old self. For me memories associated with music are vivid, almost lifelike. As soon as the first song of my playlist started I immediately felt different. I closed my eyes and I could feel the freedom and relaxation of a good run. As the first song ended and the second began I remembered how I felt as I was finishing the last mile of the marathon. I remembered seeing my husband and my parents as I rounded the last corner. I remembered the pride I felt as I headed into the finish chute. Tears started welling up in my eyes when I realized I am still that person, I may be a round pregnant lady on an elliptical at a gym instead of a skinny runner on the trails but deep inside that’s still me.

Just four and a half more months and I will be out there pounding the pavement with everyone else. Until then you’ll find me at the Y, on the elliptical, jamming out to my running playlist, hoping I can squeeze in a half hour cardio session before E has a meltdown and looking forward to the day when I can run once again. That will be a great day. That will be an awesome day. I can’t wait!

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