#42: Endurance of a totally different kind

What can you possibly learn about endurance at a funeral?  More than you might think actually……at least I felt like I did…..and even though this is one of my least favorite reasons to travel, which forced me to come up with alternate plans b/c my training on Friday as well as (my long-run) on the weekend was going to be boxed out, the trip to South Miami wasn’t all bad.
So after a week which started with a swim, a couple of good runs, a short but important stretch/roller session and even a short track workout, I was sent back in time, traveling with my brothers and sisters to Florida.  After moving “up north” to NJ when we were kids we used to make this trip so many times it became routine; but for a while now, many of us have had other travel companions (namely families). Because of the sudden nature of my Granddad’s health decline and passing, we decided it would be best to leave families at home for this one.  Besides being a little older (OK a lot older) it’s amazing how quickly you can be transported back down memory lane and although I missed Lindsay and the kids, and this was travel by plane rather than cramped in a family truck-ster, it was fun to be on the road again.
After getting there, we got to see some folks we never see often enough, got the basics on the events to come and then off to crash.  When the alarm rang out at 6A on Saturday, I rolled out of bed and met Eric for what turned out to be an easy-going (although HUMID) 6/7-miler through the neighborhoods of Miami’s Coral Gables section – really beautiful place.  Even though we both train for longer events, our schedules tend to be very different.  That combined with the fact that we both take training pretty seriously and therefore have pretty specific workouts planned for any given day (although I’ve admittedly slacked in this regard this summer) we very rarely get the chance to run together.  It never ceases to amaze me how fast an hour of running can go when you’re chatting about this or that.  We got back, rang the sweat out our shirts (literally), had a bite to eat, showered, grabbed Greg (who didn’t bring his running gear unfortunately) and we were off for an endurance event of a totally different kind. 
There’s some really great research out there that shows the things you have to work hard(est) for you ultimately treasure most…..perhaps this is one of the draws to endurance sports…..but it dawns on me that maybe this is also where deep, lasting human bonds are made.  Relationships are not easy always…..give and take, compromise and all that….but the act of teamWORK over time makes them deeply treasured and this was apparent this weekend.  

Watching my grandmother (who we call “Nana”) in tremendous pain at the loss of her truly beloved of 68 years demonstrated to me the real treasure that we can all have if we’re willing to work at something long enough and hard enough.  The pain and loss for her was awful and any one of us would take it away if we could have, but truthfully it was only so painful because of the genuine treasure that was built steadily over time.  It wasn’t a sprint…..it was a marathon….an endurance event that had highs and lows, good times and bad, sickness and health…..and they were so much better for it…..and I believe that I am better for witnessing both the union and the parting of it.
I found myself sad at the loss of my Granddad, truly he was a great person, but for me, (whether a deep belief or a defense mechanism I’m not sure), I really don’t believe that the person lying there is the person I once knew and cared for, just a body, and so I find myself more disappointed in all of the missed opportunities to be with and learn from a wonderful person than sadness that they have moved on.  Perhaps that’s because I don’t believe they are entirely gone…..  My sadness comes more of the empathy-sort, i.e. a sharing in the emotions of the others….the ultimate “mile in their shoes” that happens to all of us and something that most experts on the subject would argue is a critical component to our evolution.  We’ve all experienced this for sure (the seeming contagion of genuine laughter for example) and this set of emotions was also something shared.

Like any endurance event, I was fatigued afterward…..not only because of the incredible heat and humidity of August in Miami, but also because of the event itself.  We shared some drinks and some more meals and traded stories before we packed it in for the night.

We woke up a little before 5A to make our 630A flight (which unfortunately was delayed due to weather) and after some more laughs that come easy for punchy-travelers on the backdrop of years of shared experiences, we made our way back to life.

Although I fell a little behind on the training this week (22 instead of 30 miles running) and experienced a part of life that no one enjoys; Going through the hard-times always makes the good-times that much better.  

Thank you Granddad, we will miss you.

And so, we persevere,

Mike E.