I wondered what or who would push me to start writing here after a looooong hiatus. I suppose I can blame Wilco again. I get a song stuck in my head and it takes off from there.
My life has turn into so much of a day-to-day survival that I've failed to remember to enjoy it as it goes by. Priorities have changed and my own running has fallen to low man on the totem pole. I miss solitary runs with my dogs. I miss Red Shirt runs with Dave. I miss hard, long training runs where you feel that good soreness afterwards. I miss that dried mud stuck to the backs of my calves.
In the short time I've called myself a runner, I've always been mediocre, on my best days. To say I strive to be a middle-of-the-pack runner would probably be pushing it. While all you speedy gazelles might have cringed at the time it took me to finish a race, I was at least getting my money's worth- enjoying the scenery, thinking up a few new races, writing a blog post in my head. But even I have missed it. I've spent the past year or two watching a lot of other people run. Run our races. Run races in Anchorage. Run crazy around the Dome. Sometimes it was frustrating, not being one of them. Other times, it was exciting. I think about some of the people that are so fun for me to watch. Some people that are inspiring. Some people that shouldn't be able to do the things they do. Some people that I can't wait to see coming around the corner. And some people that I love.
So, who was it? Who were those people?
I'll start with this guy:
Sam Tilly, winner of this year's Hatcher Pass Marathon. He broke his own course record by almost 10 minutes, in the midst of a move to South Korea with a brand new baby in the house. We will miss watching you race, Sam, especially in that awesome, threadbare brown tank top :-) Please come back soon!
The amazing Teri Buck. I don't think I've seen anyone look stronger at the finish of her races than at the beginning. And she keeps getting faster and faster. It kind of brings a tear to my eye to watch her power across the finish line of 30+ mile races, looking at everyone with that gleam in her eye, saying "that all you got?" I won't even say how old she is. It's embarrassing to us young little grasshoppers. And every time I see her I always turn to Dave and say "I thought she was a biker?"
Then there's this trio:
Paul Lynn, Jared Kern and Steve Harrison. Three guys who came back to Kesugi this year with a clear agenda and a number in their head. Those of us at the finish see so little of everyone's race- just a flicker of a shirt and down they come in a flash. When I saw each of these guys run down and cross the finish with time to spare, it made the race for me.
And the newest Boston Marathon Qualifier with a time of 4:18:
So imagine this conversation:
"Hey, Jinny asked me if I wanted to run Humpy's with her for her first marathon."
"Oh, I think I'd like to do that, too. My first marathon after 60. You know I haven't run a marathon since chemo."
Several weeks and many painful road miles later:
"Oh we sent her on ahead, she was looking strong today."
A couple hours later and 30+ minutes on us:
"You know, your were only about 3 minutes off of Boston Marathon Qualifying for your age group."
"Really? You think I could do it? When's the Kenai Marathon?"
What can't she do? A week in the life of DeeDee Jonrowe will make your head spin. But somehow she has the time to go to Anchorage several times a week to spend time with her mom, bring me eggs, help me push the baby jogger, train for a marathon (or two), help load and haul hay over at Lazy Mountain, teach Sunday School, remember our anniversary and be one of the best friends and running buddies anyone could ask for.
The most dedicated cheerleader and cutest runner out there:
Miss Jinny Cooper Grow helped push me back out there into the running world, painful as it was. There isn't anyone more supportive, and thankful for my amateur advice. After my Vonnie left me for green pastures and Fairer lands, I was a bit lost in the Girlfriend Running Partner Department. Jinny and DeeDee have saved me. Jinny turned into an awesome fast runner. She ran more races this summer than Dave. Every weekend, we were looking up her results. And only the most awesome cheerleader gets a shirt made for the two crazy Dome runners, Dave and Tony.
Alaska gained two superstar runners when these hooligans came to town, but even more, I gained two wonderful, lovely friends. Shawn's intensity and drive are hidden for not many to see, while Tony's pure love of all things running is always on display. Now if we can get them to move to Willow....
And finally, for me, the one I've watched all year close up and far away:
I'd like to say I've been living vicariously through Dave this last couple of years, but seriously, who else would actually want to run to Fairbanks? Pas moi. But to so intimately watch him live (and suffer) through his accomplishments is a humbling experience. A crazy fast Susitna. Four days to McGrath. A return to Boston. A loss of Running Innocence in the Dome. A trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks then the Equinox marathon. We ran the last leg together and I started to complain about some pain in my leg. He just turned to me and smiled "I'm so glad we could run this together" he tells me. Hmmm. There something else inside of him, something so hard and tough. Has it been just two years? It feels like more, in a good way. I love you, babe. But I saw you reading that article about the guy, running in the bubble. Around the Bermuda Triangle. I don't think so.
Would I do anything differently? Well, of course not. I may have missed a couple years of getting out there, running more often and more places, but I'd give up a hundred years of it for this:
And a hundred more for this:
"I'm a wheel
and I will