One Step Beyond

I want it officially on the record that I am lazy.

I prefer my Saturday's to be filled with bad science fiction movies about giant sharks battling giant snakes, or sipping coffee on my back deck (me drinking the coffee, not the giant sharks, but I guess that would be cool too).

So it is with a growing amazement that I find myself...a runner.

A runner who ran a 6k race on the first of September in a personal best of 65:39 then within three weeks ran another 6k race in a personal best of 60 minutes even. A runner who just completed a 5k this morning in 27:50 (at about an 8.80 min mile pace), has another 5k next weekend, and two half marathons this fall.

A runner who just publicly declared that I will run in the 2014 New York City Marathon.

I think I've just gone one step beyond.

At the Run10Feed10 in NYC, September 2013
But I have good reason for logging so many miles. For getting up every day and making #everymilematter. For making sure that when I walk, run, or bike, it counts not just in keeping me healthy, but in potentially contributing to someone else's good health.

The reason?

Because I can.

It's not part of some bucket list, or because I want all my friends to like a post on facebook (although that is really cool), or even because I have some crazy notion that I will ever run a six minute mile (although it could happen, I suppose, but that's not a goal I'm aspiring to).

It really is because I can.

Because I was fortunate when I was five that my mother married Donald Ledden. He was a kind man, gentle in his demeanor, a generous provider, smart, funny, and he loved my mother deeply. He wasn't a physically demonstrative person, in fact I don't recall many hugs or even hearing him say "I love you." But I know it was tremendously difficult for him to do that-he was of a generation of men who showed love by providing food, shelter, clothing, and for an education. He also missed his own children from his first marriage terribly, and I think, at times, felt disloyal to them because he was with us. Circumstances were far from perfect. My mother is mentally ill and throughout my childhood struggled with depression. But Donald never wavered in being a reliable parent, even on the darkest of days.

I have to confess. As often happens when children grow and become adults and start to navigate their own lives independent from their parents, I didn't visit or call as often as I could. I always believed that there would be time for multi-generational vacations, or a quick phone call between errands. And I took for granted, like all children do, that my parents were invincible, even when the facts proved otherwise. Sure, I made plans. I talked a lot about a solo trip, a family trip, about sending a card. About stepping up.

But I didn't.

Even when over six years ago at a Thanksgiving dinner between passing the sweet potatoes and salad my step-father casually announced "I have Parkinson's" as if he was just commenting on the weather or a recent stock transaction.



But even then, we all believed that with the right medicines, activities, knowledge, he would live to a very old age, slower, certainly, but still rooting for his beloved Giants every time they played, still walking the golf course, still running errands for my mom. We believed we would all have time.

We were wrong.

About two years into his diagnosis during knee replacement surgery, there was a mix up with the charts and medications and he almost died. But he didn't, and after lots of physical therapy he was up to his old tricks of moving furniture he shouldn't be moving and driving places he shouldn't have been driving too. Everything seemed okay.

We were wrong.

And two years ago he passed away from a urinary tract infection that turned into kidney failure that led to pneumonia. And he died. And I'm still angry.

So I run.

I run with Charity Miles so that every mile matters for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research. I run so some other family doesn't have to watch someone they love lay in a hospital bed in a coma unable to even understand what is happening around them and where all the words being spoken are being said too late. I run because my one step beyond this month means that for every step $1.25 gets put into making sense of this illness.

Sometimes I cry when I run. I think how totally stupid that only after my step-dad has died do I do something to let him know how much I loved him and he doesn't even know because he died. That makes me run faster. That makes me run further. And sometimes when I run I think that he would think I was totally insane because he wouldn't want this kind of attention at all. And I laugh. And then I commit to some crazy notion that I can actually run the New York Marathon as a part of Team Fox.

That makes me take one step beyond.

Every. Single. Day.

And starting today through November 3, 2013, Medtronic is donating an extra dollar for every charity mile logged in partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation. So today when I ran a 5k, I contributed $3.14. All those miles can add up to dollars. $50,000 to be exact.


I still prefer bad science fiction and couch time. But what do you know? I'm a runner.

How about you?

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