Saturday, June 5, 2010

So why am I running?

And I mean, specifically, why am I running this 7.1 mile Big Time Elite Runner, 10,000 participant race, also known as the CIGNA Falmouth Road Race? (Race, I knew ye when you barely came up to my knee and had no branding. Aye, my dad used to run ye. And I am apparently an aged, reminiscing old salty dog for this aside. So that's exciting.)

Well, I'm running it for a few reasons:

1) Because I like (well, "like," which is sometimes very close to hate) to have things to train for so I can push myself further and/ or faster.

b) Because I really, really do want to raise money for melanoma research.

Honestly, let's not mince words: Melanoma is a complete jerk. I would be happily using stronger, sailor-like terminology but I don't want to offend those with delicate sensibilities. So instead: If you have a party, don't invite Melanoma. It ruins everything.

Sunscreen! Apply early and often! Mole checks! Stay in the shade when you can! Hose your kids off with sunscreen, even if you have to hold them down! Seriously, people. Sun damage isn't pretty and neither is, you know, death.

So on that note, I would like to invite you all to be my therapists and I'm going to tell you about my mother. Running gives me time to think without small people shouting at me ("Mush, Mama!" is a popular command when I bring them in the jogging stroller. Also popular is putting their feet on the wheel to slow me down if I don't immediately answer their questions, like, "What's that?" about something that is now a quarter mile behind us. But I digress. (This happens often, you will find.)) and running this race in her memory to raise funds to fight what killed her is making me think about her more and more. Not that I don't always think about her a lot (when I can hear myself think) especially as I edge toward the age where she got sick, with two kids I want to see grow up, just like she had.

Maybe I'm biased, but she's kind of an extreme fox, right?

Our family, pre-cancer disaster. (I'm the littlest.)

She was 44 when she died. I was 13. She taught fifth grade, before she got sick and couldn't work anymore. She'd been sick, or at least the specter of sick, for years, but she'd been REALLY sick for the past 10 months. I remember she attended parent/ teacher conferences at the high school using a walker, and that night was the last one she spent upstairs, since she woke up unable to use her legs, and she never used them again. We built a wheelchair ramp in the garage, and used a sort of butterfly chair attached to pulley systems device to get her in and out of bed. When she wasn't in the hospital, she lived in a hospital bed in our family room. My dad moved a twin bed down there for himself, too, and I used to lounge on it after school, so she and I could chat. (Though I'm sure it was mostly me talking. Some things don't change. I am... verbose.)

It was during one of those chats that she told me that the one thing she most regretted and was most afraid of was not seeing my sister and I grow up, and then she cried. I remember telling her that it was fine, that we'd be fine, there was nothing to worry about with us, but as I get older and I have my kids I realize, of course, that it isn't the point, exactly, and I experience the loss in a whole new way. The things I look forward to seeing with my kids, that I can't imagine missing, that I can't imagine them having to do alone, that she missed. Proms, graduations, college, weddings, births. (She did get to see some of my more unfortunate perms, which is an extremely pale substitute. (I like to make jokes at inappropriate times.))

We have cobbled together a great life from the ashes, and while her presence is obviously missed, we do have a lovely step family now that we wouldn't have had otherwise. My kids have a living maternal grandmother who isn't the technical one but who adores them and beautifully does the mom jobs for me: The wedding dress shopping, the crib choice deliberation, the last minute 'which shoes should I wear with this dress' phone calls, the laugh-groaning at my dad's puns and even sometimes one-upping him with a superb and terrible one. We were lucky to find her. (Go, Dad!) My stepbrothers amuse me, too, although they laugh when I implore them to apply to be on The Bachelor, instead of applying for The Bachelor like they obviously should for my own personal amusement and that of my friends. (So, if you're reading this, there are some action items, kids. The Boston casting call is tomorrow!)

This past Mother's Day marked the 19th anniversary of my mom's death. Having it on Mother's Day was perhaps not my favorite, and my solution of trying not to think about it and going to bed early made a dent (I only cried twice!) but wasn't ideal. (If this event lineup were on Facebook I would very studiously not become a fan of it.)

So instead I'm going to raise money in the hopes that through education and research, other people can avoid this fate: See their kids grow up, meet their (gorgeous, if I do say so) grandchildren, reap all the awesome out of life.

And here is my fund raising link:

On a training note, my run this morning was ridiculous. The first two miles were just incredible. Not having the jogging stroller made it feel like I'd been shot out of a slingshot, and I just zoomed along. The final two and a half were like trudging through angry sweat soup, pulling an invisible rickshaw. Oof.


  1. Pam, I had no idea your Mom passed away due to skin cancer. Your running for this cause would make her so proud. I've already had basal cell carcinoma and make a point of seeing my dermo guy regularly.

    See you at the starting line!!

  2. Great write up Pam! Awesome job that you are doing something so amazing in her honor!