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Some of you who know me well might be a bit confused about the title of this post because you know that I have been running a lot lately. But for the first time in over a year, I wanted to get up and run! Some runs are not about how fast you run each mile, but in the quality of the time you have while running. This morning was one of those runs where I ran well and had some good time to think and process life.

The past 16 months have been hard. Dealing with the loss of father’s death in March 2011 and the grief that has followed has been one of the hardest things I have had to go through. The only things that I can think of that would be harder would be the death of my husband or one of my kids. Even though I have been running over these past 16 months, I have not “felt” like running. I did it because I had signed up for races and knew I “needed” to run. There is a big difference between wanting to and needing to run.

This morning for the first time since my dad passed away, I am beginning to feel more like my “old” self although I will never BE the same as I was before my dad passed away.  I am beginning to laugh more and cry less.  I want to run rather than needing to put in the miles.  That is a huge shift in mindset.  From the time my dad passed away, running was my time to process, which for most of my runs meant my time to cry!  I was very thankful for dark sunglasses last summer because in the middle of a run or race almost anything could and did trigger thoughts of my dad and tears flowed freely. As a runner I struggled to find my stride, my confidence and really it took almost everything I had to get from the start line to the finish line in almost every race I did last year.  I think I had only 1 Personal Record (PR) last year.

This year I have been better and have a couple of PR’s. I have had to work on retraining my stride (I had a sprinter’s stride as a distance runner – not the best combination). The new stride is becoming more intuitive and I have recovered from my injury.

Grief surprised me in many ways, primarily in how long it took to process and work through it all.  There were times when I wondered if I would ever get to the other side. I was also surprised at how it affected my running.

Today while running, I felt good. Running seemed effortless and my brain started to think more creatively about life, work, kids and camps.  I finally found my stride and it felt great!  It felt good to be able to tackle the hills of the city I live in and make it to the top without much effort or at least feeling like I wasn’t expending much effort.

Today’s run made me realize that the hardest part of the process is over. From what others have told me there will always be a small part of me that will be grieving the loss of my dad and that there are certain years that will be hard. But for now, it is good to be able to laugh, to have visitors in my house and to enjoy life again. I still miss my dad a lot, but there has been a softening to the pain, to the hole that was left when he passed away. His last years were hard. the type of disease he had just sucked his life away slowly. It was hard to watch and yet I don’t have any regrets about those last years. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

This morning’s run gave me hope that I am moving on. So as I continue to run, I know that I will still cry at times, but I am hopeful that the shift in my thinking will be beneficial to my running in the long haul – but more importantly that I will be able to be much more creative in solving some of the trickier things in my life!

“I believe God made me for a purpose – but He also made me fast. When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” Eric Liddell, 1924 Olympic Gold medalist and Missionary to China. This is my all time favorite quote and this morning I felt God’s pleasure once again as I was running and it felt great.