Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Running and Remembering

Saturday, December 9, 2006 is a day I don’t think I will ever forget. The morning was cold as I woke up in my little house on Larry Drive. My mom, and our friends Gary and Valerie were up as well, and the four of us were planning to run the Rocket City Marathon.

I was excited and nervous as I put on my running tights and an oversized pink pull over handed down to me from a retired running friend. This would be my 8th marathon and I was trying to beat my old time of 5 hours and 11 minutes with a 5:05. This was the first time I’d be running in my hometown and this was exciting because I would actually have fans along the way. My sister had promised to be somewhere along mile 18 with a donut for me and Mom, and my friends Brea Burton and Emily Dover were going to be in several locations along the route with treats and cheers as well.

Adding to my nervousness was the presence of Jason Reneau, a guy I’d recently met at church. We’d been to coffee once, talked in the church parking lot, and enjoyed a pre-marathon dinner together the night before. I was beginning to like this new guy and from what I’d heard, he was quite good at this whole running thing. He too would be running the Rocket City Marathon and I wanted to do my best.

The morning was cold as I shivered and waited to start the race. I ran well and enjoyed seeing Emily and Brea each time they showed up with orange slices and donut halves, cheers and shouts for me and Mom. They couldn’t remember Mom’s name and so when they shouted, “GO JANE! GO SARAH!” I had to tell Mom, whose name is Erin, they were cheering for her. They’ve called her Sarah ever since.

I finished the race in 4 hours and 55 minutes, breaking 5 hours for the very first time with a 15 minute personal record. Jason was at the finish line with Julie, Caroline, Brea, Emily, and Kristi. It was so much fun to have friends and family there and everyone shared in my excitement. Kristi, Jason and I stayed for the awards and drawings, although the only one to walk away with anything was Jason.

I remember going to bed that night with so much joy and excitement in my heart. It was the Christmas season, there was a special someone in my life, and I’d run a major personal record.

When the Rocket City Marathon came around again, I was married to Jason Reneau. The morning of December 8, 2007, Jason got ready to run the race once again, and I got ready to head to Montgomery to help a friend prepare for her wedding which would be held that evening. Jason would join me there later.

Just before the wedding began I got a call that Emily Dover had been killed in an airplane crash. As I sat through the wedding ceremony holding tightly to Jason’s hand, I couldn’t help but think how different this day had been the year before. That night I went to bed with a heavy heart. On a day that should have been filled with joy, my heart ached and the tears seemed limitless.

Another year has passed and the Rocket City Marathon has rolled around once again. Jason and I will be running, and as the race draws near I cannot help but think about all the memories, good and bad, that surround this day. One moment I smile as I remember the man in red sweatpants cheering for me as I finished my race. The next moment I have a lump in my throat as I remember my dear friend who brought me a donut and gave my mother a new name.

As is often the case, I am running this marathon with a certain time in mind. I have trained hard and believe I am ready. There is always the possibility of injury, fatigue, or just a bad day, but to spur me on in the weary moments are my memories.

I will remember the beginnings of a relationship that would grow into the wonderful marriage it is today. I will remember a dear friend and how she always believed in me and who supported whatever goal I set for myself. In my heart will reside thoughts of Jason, Emily, Brea, Julie, “Sarah” and so many others who have brought and continue to bring joy to my life.

I will think on these things as I run this race, and I will revel in the happiness and the sadness that accompanies me as I continue my journey as a marathon runner.

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