This #52WeeksA4A blog challenge is bringing me on such a journey! When I came up with the weekly prompts, I had no direction in my head, just things I wanted to delve into. For me, the “best mile” was just a phrase- maybe the best trip, or relationship, or book… but, for me, it’s literal. The best mile really is the one that comes after the one before it.
Let me explain more.
About 5½ years ago I quit smoking. It had been 12 years and thousands of dollars, and I wanted children. I really wanted babies. So I stopped. Cold turkey. I did it by sleeping in running shoes and waking up to run when I would have normally been smoking (yes, I was a night waker). I remember my FIRST RUN, and the torture of my heavy lungs bearing down on me. But it got better. And I found my footing. And every mile I became less burdened by the lungs I’d been killing. I was stronger, leaner and lighter, both mentally and physically. My first 5k felt like a lifetime. I’d been smoke-free for less than 6 weeks:
I ran a few 5ks, but was lonely running. So I set a goal. I ran my first half marathon, the ING Philadelphia Rock’n’Roll, in 2011 with my mom and sister just 3 months after I’d quit smoking. It was brutal.
And then, I needed motivation. I looked to Team in Training, in which my mom had participated in years prior, and hopped on board, running two half marathons and a 5k with them. I loved the team… being cheered on, the friendship and coaching- all invaluable to me. I wanted to run with them again- to feel all those best miles pass under my feet.
This time, my best mile is for Belle. She was diagnosed with leukemia right before Christmas in 2012. She was 2½. February 5, 2015, she had her last chemo treatment… her family bought all the kids flowers that day. I cried, at home, overwhelmed with emotion. So I signed up to run. (<— my fundraising page)
I first met her mom, Melissa, right after Belle’s diagnosis. I fell in love with her spirit and drive… a mama warrior, with a sweet warrior of her own. Belle spent a few afternoons with me and Addie when she wasn’t well enough to go to school, and I’ve delivered dinner to the children’s hospital a few times for Melissa and Belle… but I could never take the pain away.
As her sweet curls grow back and her smile with them, I can’t help but think: my best mile has yet to come.
This May, as I toe the line at Boston’s Run to Remember, I’ll race 5 miles, each the best. I run to honor Belle. And I run the best mile each mile after the last.
So… the best mile turned out to be quite literal to me. I love running, the relationship I have with the road, my running partner, my health and sweat-therapy. Each and every mile ahead, and all the ones behind.