This post is so very overdue. My racing has been held in check as a result of numerous unexpected events. After completing the Runs with Scissors Marathon in April, I had planned to do the Strolling Jim Marathon in Tennessee in early May. However, life intervened with a vengeance. After much thought and discussion, my husband and I made a major decision to move to another town in Florida several hundred miles from our adopted hometown of Gainesville. This meant we had to put our existing home on the market and look for a new one. That brief sentence belies the enormous labor and consternation involved in such a move. We went through a number of false starts on both ends, with the result that I ended up with a DNS for Strolling Jim and no other races planned until the Merrill’s Mile 12 hour race on the July 4th weekend.
I did manage to complete the Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk held in Boston on the evening of June 27. This was a walk, not a race, and it had many organizational problems. As a marathoner used to multiple well-stocked aid stations, knowledgeable volunteers, accurate mileage signs, and a carefully plotted route, I was sorely disappointed in the walk itself. I am still very glad I participated but doubt that I will attempt another such event (they are held several times a year in various cities).
The not-so-good stuff:
- Some people were given maps of the route but others were not. I never received one. Of course it was impossible to read the maps in the darkness, even with a flashlight, so it probably would not have helped much, but I could have studied it before starting out
- The Westin Hotel Waterfront was the host hotel and it was lovely. However, it was at least a 2 mile jaunt to the registration at City Hall and the start and finish of the walk. Most people drove but I had no car and wouldn’t have driven in Boston even if I had one. As a result, I had to wend my way through city streets, adding additional miles to the 17 miles of the walk itself. Not so bad for a marathoner but after midnight I was a little uneasy about going out on my own (no one bothered me but still . . . )
- The volunteers were helpful but not very well-versed in the route or in giving directions. I was told to redo an entire section because of this uncertainty. That added an additional 3 miles to my total
- Halfway through the walk, we were given ‘supper’ – a box lunch of turkey or ham sandwiches (the veggie ones were all gone), plus an apple and cookie. Most people sat down on benches to eat. I kept moving since there were still a number of miles to complete and I wasn’t really hungry at 10 pm
- Sometimes there were directional arrows pointing out where to go, but there should have been LOTS more. Even though I was born and raised in Boston, I had no idea where I was in the city at night and many times I was uncertain as to where to go. Volunteers were scarce and, as noted above, they not sure about the route
- When I got close to the ‘finish’ line at City Hall, there was nobody around to tell me how to get inside. A long flight of stairs led me to a building with people and lights. Turns out it was the correct place but I had missed the actual turn that I later found had a balloon arch and cheering spectators. There should at least have been a sign with an arrow or a person directing walkers to the correct place
- Decorated luminaria with the names of people who had lost their lives to suicide were set up all over the building, inside and out. Since I was doing this walk in honor of my son Ben, who died by suicide last November, I wanted to find the luminaria that I had made for him. This was probably the most disheartening aspect of the walk to me because – try as I might – I could not locate it. After several fruitless attempts, I started to walk back to the hotel. The rain that had threatened all evening now started to fall in earnest; that was fine with me, since they blended with my tears. Then I came to my senses with a jolt and my usual stubbornness prevailed. Heck, I was not going to give up that easily. I walked back to City Hall and asked to talk to someone in charge. I relayed my problem to a young woman who assured me every luminaria was set up and she would find some volunteers to help me find Ben’s. I finally found it, picked it up and put it under my jacket to keep it dry, and then headed back to the hotel. It was now about 3 am and I was only too glad to shower and get into some dry clothes and finally get some sleep
There were several wonderful things:
- It is definitely a good cause. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the sponsor and this is its major fundraiser. In lieu of the walk, next time I would probably simply make a donation. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my friends Marylyn and Joyce for giving generously on my son’s behalf
- I met great people. We all shared a common understanding and a desire to stamp out the stigma of suicide and encourage prevention efforts
- I had several serendipitous happenings during this trip. The day after the walk, as I ate lunch in one of the hotel’s restaurants, I shared my experiences with some other walkers, 3 sisters who lived in different parts of the country but come together each year to do the walk. We chatted and then they finished and left. When I asked for the check, the waitress told me they had taken care of the bill for me. That was the first time anything of that sort had happened to me. Thank you, ladies, and I hope to pay it forward for someone else
- On the flight to Atlanta, my original flight was delayed so I was put on an earlier flight. The young lady sitting next to me turned out to be a teacher in Boston who was returning to her hometown of Atlanta to do a race with her family. Micaela and I chatted for most of the trip and have since exchanged emails. It made the flight back home much more interesting and rewarding
The following weekend it was time for Merrill’s Mile in Dahlonega, Georgia. I opted for the 12 hour option once again (I had done this race a few years ago). This time the weather was perfect, at least for me (it was warm with only a few raindrops), and the loop is now paved, but I could tell I was sorely out of shape. It was wonderful to be doing a race again but my lack of training put me at a real disadvantage. Although I probably could have done a few more laps of the .9 mile course, I managed to finish only 34 miles and then called it a day. Still, I had a lot of fun, saw several friends, and was pleased to be back in the swing of things.
However, once again, moving has become foremost in our lives. We have been spending the rest of July dealing with house closings, packing furniture, and taking care of all the myriad things involved with changing addresses. We are now surrounded by cartons and packing crates; it feels like we may never get everything put away. To make the situation even more interesting, we just returned from a 6 day trip to Texas for my husband’s family reunion. My next race is not for another month, so I plan to make a concerted effort to get settled and revive my training schedule. With luck, I’ll get back on track before long!