That doesn't work for me. I have to keep myself motivated throughout my run by focusing on what's immediately in front of me--small goals. Because my longest distance so far is just over three miles, I tell myself I'm only going to run one mile and when I reach that point, I'm allowed to walk the rest of my route. I've found that gets me through the "knees aching" part that hits just before the half mile mark, and carries me to when my second wind hits.
When the police told us to drive carefully to Morristown as we left the house for the hospital to find Neil, all I let myself think about was where we were going to find an open gas station for our empty car at midnight. Too hard to think about the unknown and the possibilities we would find when we reached the emergency room. Just think about which exit off of 287 will take us to the station at exit 33 on 78 which will surely be open. It was.
So at one mile, I usually feel like I can keep running. "Fine" I say to myself, "then go another half mile". One and a half miles on my route happens to hit in the middle of a hill. I know this. I know it's going to be hard, but I push for it. When I reach that spot I can see the top of the hill. That motivates me to at least get to the summit. Yes, there will be more hills to come, but this one I'm looking at right now is the only one that concerns me.
When we finally reached the Morristown Medical Center parking lot, we received a call from a nurse wondering where we were. "Right here!" I said, and hung up as we ran inside. But Neil wasn't there. There'd been no helicopter arrivals that night. Now the task in front of us was to locate the correct hospital. The Morristown receptionist verified that the prefix from which the call came was Robert Wood Johnson Hospital which was 30 miles in the opposite direction. As we jumped back in the car, I tried to call back again and again, but no one answered. I called a number the police had given us if we needed help. They finally helped us connect with someone who told us it was bad, but not much else. Little help when you're a long way from where you want to be. At this point Scott called his dear friend Stan to meet us at the hospital to help administer a Priesthood Blessing. It comforted us to know that we would not be alone.
From the top of the hill, the two-mile mark is not far. Very doable. After two, there's a bit of a respite as the road takes a slight decline and there are plenty of shade trees. But just before three miles, a steep hill rises up in the path. It's a stinker. Really hard, but how can I come this far and not keep going? I know I can do it. I'm almost there. I huff and puff my way up. Yes, I'm very slow, but that hill is mine. There follow a few more downs and ups, and then I'm home. Success! Now to rest up for tomorrow's run.
When we finally arrived, the doctor wanted to prep us first, before we were brought in to see Neil. Prognosis was bad, he said (why did they keep using that word?), but there was some hope. Our journey had taken so long that he was already in the ICU when we saw him--intubated, attached to countless wires and tubes, and deeply comatose. He was bruised and cut on his face, and the swelling had already started. I still find it hard to talk about what it felt like at the moment we saw him...So much love, so much sorrow. Hurt beyond belief. Ache and grief. We sobbed until there were no more tears. And then we cried some more. But we were finally there by his side. There was some relief in that. We were where we needed to be.
Many days and nights of pain and trials lay ahead of us still, but there were prayers and blessings. There were friends and family. There were support, caring, and hope. And there still are.Neil ran his 10k on the 4th of July in 56 minutes. Apparently his strategy worked for him. He tends to reach for the stars, that boy. He was positively glowing. What a long way he's come. What a long way he wants to go.
My out-of-shape middle-aged body ran the 5k in 35 minutes. Not bad, I say. Time to train for some more races.