The legs felt better today. I can walk without as much of a limp. However, I am having extreme foot problems with my right foot. Yet another sign that my running days must be put behind me. I have received some very encouraging emails and letters over the past week. It was these kind words that helped keep me going on Sunday. Oh, there were a couple of times when I thought I might not make it, but I had the voice of my darling wife and the companionship of a new friend to guide me through the race.
On Saturday night, Beth and I went to the dinner being held by the CF Foundation in honor of us runners and we just happened to run into Nancy Seid, a woman who lives in Los Angeles and has a son, 13, who also has CF. Strange how we just happened to meet each other in the parking lot. This is a woman that our coach, Robert, suggested I meet up with because we shared a similar pace. Turns out, it was a great suggestion.
This was Nancy's first race and she was looking to just complete it. This was my last race, and I was looking for the same thing. We met up Sunday morning and she was kind enough to drive Beth and me to the starting line. After milling around for an hour and enduring a horrid rendition of the national anthem (sorry to the woman who sang it, but seriously, when you change key in the middle of the song, you've ruined the song), the race began.
We said goodbye to Beth and started running at a 3/1 pace. This was perfect for me because I felt very good early in the run. There was some stiffness, but I didn't think it would be a difficult run. Nancy and I commenced talking about our lives and I was interested to hear what it was like for her, being a parent of an older CF patient. We spoke about CF for a couple of miles, then gravitated towards writing. Turns out she is a writer and has had similar experiences with Hollywood types that I have.
That particular part of our conversation lasted for four miles, I think. That was what got me through some of the rougher stages of the race. That day, although it was cold early, the temperature rose quickly and I shed my clothes one shirt at a time until I was just in the singlet and shorts. But it was a gorgeous day to run. Perfect running conditions. Most heartening were the numerous volunteers cheering everyone on, including a nice size group of CF Foundation volunteers. That was great to see.
As I referred to, Julie called several times during the run. I can't tell you how totally frickin' awesome it was to hear her voice and the excitement coming through that tiny cell phone ear speaker. I wish everyone had someone that loved them that deeply. I am so damn fortunate. Jules checked in on me every three miles, it seemed, making sure I was doing alright. And Nancy made sure I did okay out in the race.
There was one thing I took away from running with Nancy. It was her strength and her positive, life affirming attitude toward life. Personally, I have let the negative statistics of this dreaded disease grip me too many times in the past four years. Fear. Anguish. They take hold of me and squeeze the life out of me. What good am I to Jacob (or Sophie, too) if I can't provide a positive attitude for them.
Nancy doesn't believe in the damned statistics. She won't look at them. She repeated something Julie and I have said to each other many times: The current life expectancy is based on someone who was born 35 years ago... before they had the breakthrough medicines and treatments they have now. CF patients are living longer and will continue to live longer.
No, I'm not living in fantasy land. I will never forget that this is a life threatening illness. But we have to think positively. Maybe it's not we. I do. I have to start living and thinking positively again. I need to shove the dark clouds aside. My son is going to live a long life, damn it.
This race, it changed me. I had some kind of breakthrough. Or maybe I just broke free. I don't know how long this will last, but it feels right to be thinking optimistically again. It feels like me.
At the end of the race, Nancy called home and spoke to her 13 year old son. She came back with tears in her eyes. She's lived with this for 9 years longer than us and it still brings tears to her eyes. The love for your child can make you do anything. Nancy completed 13.1 miles for her son. And so did I.