Monday, May 28, 2018

Happiness is.. the Bolder Boulder

Today I participated in my 20th consecutive Bolder Boulder! This is the first year I didn't run, but it was the best time I ever had!

First a little history..  My brother, Chris, an Air Force pilot and runner, died in a car accident on Memorial Day, 1997.  This was the day I learned what heart-breaking grief is all about. Chris was 35 years old and about as full of life as any one person can be. He was fun, full of energy, and always ready to play. Whatever we were doing, he was 'all in.'

In 1999, we moved to the Bolder area and I heard that the Bolder Boulder 10K race was one of the biggest Memorial Day celebrations in the nation. Even though I wasn't a runner (we're talkin' worst athlete ever..) I thought it might be an event that would help me remember Chris.

When I saw what a party that race was, I knew Chris would have LOVED it. And when the Memorial Day tributes took place after the race in Folsom Field stadium, I was reminded of how much grief others have lived through... how much sacrifice was made so that we can have all the freedoms we take for granted.

It was at that time, and because of that first race, that  I became "a runner." I've run countless races since that day, some years more than others, but the one annual race I never miss is the Bolder Boulder. I made a promise to myself that every year I'd train to run it in under an hour. It's been a great motivator, come January, for me to get in shape. For 19 years, every Memorial Monday, I've run that race, thinking of Chris, and thinking how lucky I was to be alive and healthy.

Fast forward to January, 2018. After more and more back pain, a physical therapist recommends giving up running.  And the pity party in my head begins. "Poor, poor, me. No more Bolder Boulder. And this was going to be my 20th year!" (This is oddly reminiscent of my husband wanting a divorce when I'd been planning for our 20th Anniversary party!)

As I was telling my pathetic sob story to my grown-up kids, my sweet daughter-in-law, Stella, offers, "We can walk it with you."

"Really?" I ask (knowing that my sons are pretty competitive and would undoubtedly think walking was for wimps!) "Would you wear costumes?" (Another thing that my sons are unlikely to want to do...  and that's putting it mildly.)

"Sure," she answers! (Luckily, Stella has a lot of influence with my sons.)

So, today, on the 20th Memorial Monday since I began this tradition, instead of running like I usually do, I fully experienced this amazing race with my two sons and daughter-in-law. We danced to the bands, we jumped on the trampoline, we slid on the slip'n'slide, we took advantage of every high-five, water spray, and food offers from people on the sidelines.

My sons took the opportunity to drink way too much beer that was offered all along the route, and when the military songs played, they both proudly stood and sang their respective anthems for the branches they serve (one for the Army and one for the Air Force).

As I listened to the patriotic songs and Memorial Day tributes, 21 years after Chris's death, tears welled up in my eyes like they do every year.  My tears are partly still grief, but more than anything, they're tears of pride and gratitude.

I will always be sad that I lost my brother, but he's the one that showed me how to live..  to get in the race... whether I'm running or walking or dancing or being pushed in a wheelchair.

I learned an important lesson about the Bolder Boulder today:

The front runners may be fast, but those in the back are having a much better time!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A blog that tugged at every one of my heart strings! So glad you found a "New" way to enjoy the event. Good for you!