When my husband turned to me in the final mile of my long run yesterday, asking when my next marathon was, I knew what was coming next. ‘If you don’t have a marathon scheduled for many months, then why are you running 18 miles today?’
Great question. Many people would not be interested in running 18 or 20 miles unless they were at that point in a marathon training plan, and some days, I completely appreciate, understand and agree with that sentiment. However, I’ve found this amazing enjoyment with the long runs of 18 and 20 miles, and when I was planning this run, I just wanted to get a good long run in.
I’m still working to help my mom. She got some recent news that the standard of care treatments weren’t working, and her tumours are growing. Which has meant that my brother and I are trying to figure out what options are out there for my mom to consider in her treatment. In all truth, she likely doesn’t have much time left no matter what we do; we are very eager to find the best options that will provide her with the best quality of life for as long as possible. So we’re doing what we can, and that has been a whole new level of stress, learning and growing as my mom continues on her journey.
In addition to my own situation, and one that really has tugged at my heart the last couple weeks is that I have a friend who is grieving the loss of his beautiful granddaughter, Abbie. I met Anthony when I ran the Little Rock Marathon in 2016; he came to cheer myself and another MegsMiler into the finish. Anthony has shared his love for Abbie with all of us, and there are many who miss her – even if we never had the privilege of meeting such a beautiful soul. Abbie left this world just shy of her seventh birthday, and she leaves behind a huge Abbie-shaped hole in so many hearts.
Abbie had a degenerative disease called Bainbridge Ropers Syndrome (BRS), which is the mutation of the ASXL3 gene on chromosome 18. The type of mutation that is found in people with ASXL3/BRS is a truncating mutation. Truncating means that the the mutation is sending out a “stop” signal where there shouldn’t be one. It’s as if a reader in the library encounters a message that tells them to stop, and they cannot read any further. The instructions in the book are incomplete and the gene can not properly carry out its function. No one knows exactly how or why the ASXL3 mutations occur, but it is thought that the mutation is random and spontaneous, and that it probably occurs within a few hours of conception. There is a spectrum for how affected a child who has this mutation is, so while some are severely affected, others show milder effects. (Source: asxl3.com)
And while I’m going through my own grief process with my mom and her cancer, I can’t imagine how difficult it is to lose someone so young and so innocent. Someone who never really had the chance to get started in life. I know that Abbie was a special girl for so many, and she will be missed. So my heart has been heavy for Anthony and his family as they adjust to this new version of life without hear nearby.
Which brings me back to my unnecessarily long 18-mile run last night. Sometimes, when you have a lot going on in your head, you need the chance to let things go. I’ve not been able to run as much as I would like through all the struggles of the last six months. In fact, I’ve logged seven consecutive months of fewer than 100 miles/month, and my lowest miles month since I started running (April 2018, 59.72 miles, 52.4 miles of which were from the two marathons I ran). So I’ve not had the same chance to get out and have this release.
These long runs are a challenge and a restful experience all at the same time. They provide a time to zone out and a time to think, a chance to be in my own skin and feel my own body doing what it can do. Long runs allow me the chance to have no agenda and be nowhere else in time and space other than right there on the pavement where I am at that moment. The miles are soul-filling and allow me to be free. They allow me to think and pray and reflect. They are a chance to just run.
So I’ll just keep scheduling these long runs because I simply enjoy them. And for this run, it was a chance to honour and remember Abbie, a little girl that I’ve never met, but who touched my heart. A chance to let her family know that I am sitting there, reaching out to hold their hand across the miles when they may need it. Rest in peace, Abbie. I hope you are laughing and dancing and enjoying the view from Heaven. #AbbieTheAngel