16 April 2013

Searching For Answers

My heart and my thoughts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and their families.  For those who were not wounding physically, I know that that psychological scars cut just as deep, and you are in my thoughts and my heart as well.  It is a senseless tragedy.

I had intended today's post to be a trip report, or rather a series of reports.  I had an excellent run on Sunday, and found that I was at a fitness level that I hadn't realized I was at.  I also have several older trip reports to catch up on.

Most of them will have to wait.  Probably indefinitely.  I'll relate portions of two reports in this post, and that'll be enough for now.

One of the things that pushed me on Sunday, and especially on an impromptu run a week before, was grief.  Last Saturday, April 6th, marked the 35th birthday of my friend Suzy Lyall, who disappeared 15 years ago, on March 2nd, 1998.  All these years later, I still invariably get hit with what feels like a ton of bricks on one or both of those dates, and this year was no exception.  I was in a funk all day, despite having taken measures to avoid it.  A few years ago, I lined up a chronological playlist of her favorite band, RUSH, in iTunes, and used it as a mechanism for channeling and focusing the grief and the rage.  I had started a traverse through that playlist on Friday, but it still wasn't enough.  I was barely functioning, though I couldn't see it.  My wife had told me to go take a drive, go for a run, anything to clear my head, but I was so far gone that I resisted, insisting that I was fine.

Eventually I went out.  I headed to Target to get a chocolate bar for dinner.  (Dinner of champions, I know.  There are very few chocolates left that I can eat without getting sick, and Target sells one of them.)  It was something to do and it got me out.  When I got back to my car, I broke down.  I don't know how long I sat there, texting my wife while tears were rolling down my face, but I eventually snapped out of it long enough to come to a clear decision: go run.

I drove over to Camp Saratoga, and ran.  The park was closing soon, I was in street clothes, my pants were falling down, and my hiking shoes hurt my feet, but I ran.  I picked up some of the older pathways, just faint herd paths now, and crossed some decaying bridges that had been pivotal in my younger days as a Boy Scout.  In effect, I ran into the past, the distant past, to a time when I still had a naive world view.

It helped.  A lot.

Fast forward a week, and Sunday rolls around.  I had a chance to go for a run, so I did.  I built upon the catharsis from last week, channeled that grief and rage, and anger, and confusion, and pain, and ran.  I thought about Paula Barton Viesturs' comment to her mountaineer husband, Ed, after the deaths of Rob Hall, Scott Fisher, and so many others, and "(ran) like I have never (run) before".  Before the snows hit, I hadn't been able to run for longer than a mile before my body screamed for a break.  When I was running on the snow, I could last for... 90 seconds... before I had to shut down and switch to walking.  On Sunday, I set a good pace, and ran for a good 42 minutes at a 12:00 pace for 3.5 miles before I took my first walking break. I know it's nothing to write home about, but it was a major step forward for me.

I was also running in and out of my history here as well, at Saratoga Spa State Park.  At one point I ran down an old road and suddenly was faced with the backside of a view that I had seen many times before in the 90s, when a few friends and I had come here to cook out, including Suzy.

So, the theme for today's post / trip report was supposed to be about these runs, about finding relief, and channeling grief into something productive.  There's a lot more to the story that I think needs to be told.

Instead I'm sitting here, dumbstruck, wondering why some idiot or idiots would choose to (apparently) detonate bombs or IEDs in the middle of people waiting for runners in the Boston Marathon.  I don't understand the increase in violence that has occurred over the past year or so.  Mass killings are becoming a regular occurrence in this country.  I don't understand what makes a man walk into a movie theater and start firing, or a school, for gods' sake, and start shooting elementary school children.  I don't understand how someone can willingly bomb crowds of innocent people, here in the USA, or abroad.  It doesn't make any sense.

I also don't understand how so many people disappear each year.  So, I'm still sitting here, searching for answers, for today and for yesterday.  Perhaps I always will be.  The only conclusion I can come to is that we have to live our lives to the fullest, because you never know what will happen tomorrow.

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