Part 3: Washing Away

On March 15, 2015, a group of Roanoke runners, got together for an annual race. It landed directly on a day holding great significance for me. I spent the sunny Sunday climbing to the Mill Mountain Star with my best friend and little sidekick, and visiting my brother’s grave site. I haven’t run since early in my pregnancy, and at 8 1/2 months along, even a leisurely hike is pushing my physical abilities.

The concurrence of the third anniversary with race day reminded of 2012, when I tried to run the course, and of 2014, when I wrote the following narrative essay…Read Part 1 and Part 2.

A little help from my friends

Conserving my interactions, I still enjoy the tempo of the morning. Listening to others reminds me of my goals for the year—probably the goal of every runner who can’t commit quite enough but craves the alone time and benefits from the exhaustion. Mine, simple. Run more than I did last year. Conquer races I haven’t conquered before.

For me, on this day, to conquer this course which holds the memories of many tears fallen and steps taken without relief.

“Hi Dru.” I take one of her wrap-you-up-in-a warm-blanket hugs. “Good to see you.”

Dru is a regular at these races. She makes her famous cookies, sharing them for the after-race spread along with the famous Mountain Junkies pumpkin bread and rows of fresh vegetables and hearty carbs. I don’t know exactly what’s in those cookies, perhaps oatmeal and chocolate, but the chewy goodness is a must have post-race indulgence. As usual, Dru carries her portable aluminum coffee cup with lid until she trades it for a strapped-on water bottle in each hand. She seems to know everyone, and takes home a medal in the Masters age group every time. I often say I’ll fake this running thing long enough to be good like Dru when I grow up.

“Where’s Kate?” Dru asks.

I glance over my shoulder, looking for our friend. “Don’t know. She’s always late.”

Another runner calls Dru’s name, and she’s off to share her cheer across the park.

I hope Kate makes it. She’s been known to miss a race start.

I remember last year’s trail marathon, the culmination of this race series, a race on every trail runner’s bucket list. Kate caught up with me as the pre-race crowd burgeoned at the Loch Haven Club of Carvin’s Cove. As soon as she set her bag down, her face dropped. “I forgot my shoes,” she said.

I was sweeping the 25K course, which meant it was my job to come in behind the last runner doing the fifteen mile race. As I hiked the first two miles, I kept checking over my shoulder hoping to see Kate bouncing up behind me. Finally, I caught sight of her, correct shoes on her feet, and a broad smile on her face as she scurried past us to take the downhill.

No race start is complete without Kate, especially today because she knows the real reason I need to run well. She gets it.

My friends at the 2012 race--(left to right) me, Beth Witter, Amanda Stacey, Laura Lewis and Kate LeBoeuf. When this picture was posted on Facebook, I commented

My friends at the 2012 race–(left to right) me, Beth Witter, Amanda Stacey, Laura Lewis and Kate LeBoeuf. When this picture was posted on Facebook, I commented ” I look about as awful as I felt…I guess that’s appropriate. glad I was out there with you ladies!” The ladies are rockstar runners and even better friends!!

Kate and I met in my old college town. She’s younger than me, and we didn’t know each other from Mary Washington. We worked together in the restaurant where I first met my husband when he and I were in our sophomore and junior years. I took a break to work a “real” job and have a kid, then returned to the old trusty stand by when I realized my husband was drowning us in gambling debts and someone needed to make an honest living. That’s when I met Kate. That’s also when I met the marital affair who provided the exit I desperately needed from my marriage.

When Kate moved to Roanoke to pursue a grown-up job, I still lived in Fredericksburg, holding on to the hope that I could make it on my own. Accepting offers of love and support, to move into my parents’ house until I sorted out my life, turned out to be the best decision I ever made. I left a lot behind in the town where I became an adult, but I regained control and a true sense of myself when I returned to my hometown. Kate and I caught up not long after I made the move, and we’ve become great friends sharing a love for trail running, overanalyzing and therapy.

There are few people who approach life with the same commitment to unashamed self-reflection as I do.

I’d like to see Kate before we get started.

I had originally planned to run the ten-miler today, as I did last time. If you could call what I did that day running. Today’s run is not a training run, or even a tempo run. Today is a day to overcome a course that two years ago defeated me.

I will post this memoir essay in multiple parts. Thank you to everyone who is represented in this story, as your friendship and kindred sharing of experience adds value to my every moment. Read Part 4 and Part 5.

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  1. […] be 40 on July 26, 2015 and I miss him everyday. The Washing Away Series (see also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 5) are pieces of a long essay I wrote about consecutive years running a race as a process […]

  2. […] as your friendship and kindred sharing of experience adds value to my every moment. Read Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part […]

  3. […] story, as your friendship and kindred sharing of experience adds value to my every moment. Read Part 3, Part 4 and Part […]

  4. […] friendship and kindred sharing of experience adds value to my every moment. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part […]



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