This week I received an e-mail from the 3-Day that suggested I blog about training. Sorry 3-Day, but that blog would be pretty boring. I’m training, yes. I’m up to 6.5+ miles, which is a full 1.5 miles ahead of schedule. And as I spend most of the 6.5 miles either working my tail off on the elliptical or actually running on the treadmill, I feel like I’m at a decent place as far as training is concerned. I have until October to work up to three consecutive days of 20 miles anyway.
The point of all that is this:
When I started thinking about my next post for this blog, I was also sort of thinking about training. Suddenly I was hit with a very vivid flashback of my childhood: Priscilla liked to run. When I was five or six years old, she promised me a pair of Velcro shoes if I would start running with her. All the other kids had Velcro shoes and I badly wanted a pair of my own, which made this a particularly enticing proposition. I don’t remember how long our running experiment lasted, but I do have a memory of running around a lake with Priscilla. I can picture Priscilla’s long blond braid bouncing on her back while I struggled to keep up with her. She wore blue running shorts. I’ve probably glamorized the experience in my memory because I know that I’ve never enjoyed running.
At some point, Priscilla was given advice to stop running. At that time, she must have switched to walking as her primary choice of exercise. I do have lots of memories of taking long walks with Priscilla, mostly around various Arlington neighborhoods. These I did enjoy, and I’m sure that many family members have similar fond memories of walks with Priscilla. One walk stands out in particular; it was after her diagnosis and the weather was cool and brisk, although not yet cold. We left from Nell’s house (it was Priscilla and Dad’s house by then, but I’ll always remember Lexington Street as Nell’s house), walked up to Sharp Park and came back through lots of old houses on Ohio Street. Several neighbors along the way greeted Priscilla with a wave and mid-morning pleasantries. I felt comforted by this somehow, confident that Priscilla had established herself in a community so firmly that should she eventually die, her spirit would continue.
Walking with Priscilla was also one of those activities that was easy to do even when our walks were at a rapid pace uphill. Walking was about exercise, sure, but it was also about conversation. Walks were always peppered with commentary about our surroundings, questions about life decisions, and if you were lucky enough, lots of laughter. On Mother’s Day 2007, Priscilla and I took a walk around the block (this time in Boulder, not Arlington). Dad and I had spent the better part of that May shuttling Priscilla from one medical appointment to another, and that was only when she wasn’t in the hospital. She hadn’t been able to take a walk in some time. I remember feeling so encouraged by her spirit on Mother’s Day, delighting in her laughter when some neighborhood dogs blocked our path. We only made it halfway around the block, but we returned home with great smiles. One month later, we lost Priscilla.
So 3-Day, when I think about training, when I think about the purpose behind the 60 miles I’ll walk in October, I think about Priscilla’s spirit. I think about my stepmother and I think about my best friend. I remember that as a child, I watched Priscilla do her crazy floor exercises with hand weights, leg lifts, and three towels. Now I do my own set of crazy exercises in preparation for three days of honoring Priscilla’s spirit, surrounded by friends and family who will walk with similar memories of their own loved ones.