Days like today aren’t the reason why I run. But it was almost a reward for all the other days I’ve spent running. The day after Thanksgiving and I had a day full of eating sins needing atonement. The sun had just started to color the eastern sky as I left the hotel for a morning run. Forty degrees with a very light wind was refreshing as I headed out. My legs had finally recovered from Sunday’s trail run, so running felt good.
The familiar route added to the positive feelings as I settled into a comfortable pace. My mind quickly went to thoughts of my sister as this was our first Thanksgiving without her. Joni would have turned 65 this Monday. Joni was a big part of our family’s Thanksgiving celebrations as she always made sure the traditions were covered while adding something new to experience. Mom would usually try to keep the amount of food contained to her small kitchen and Joni always made sure there was more than enough variety for everyone. She was great fun, ready for board games and friendly family banter in which nobody ever got a free pass.
Joni passed away earlier this year after a brief battle with colon cancer. Vandalia is where Joni worked, where she and her husband lived when they were first married. It holds many memories of her. Running through town brought back many of those memories. The school where she spent countless hours covering high school sports for the Vandalia Leader. The hospital where we visited her and her husband Michael through the injuries and illnesses that hit them both hard through the past few years. The streets she traveled and places she filled with her joy of living. Good memories of my big sister came and went as I ran.
A striking sunrise, downtown decorated for Christmas, some new sights scattered among the many familiar sights helped the miles pass quickly. Soon I was running through the park on my way back to the hotel. Fallen leaves colored the ground as other gently floated down as I passed. Through the park and on to Jefferson street brought me to the testing place of this run. Jefferson hill is gradual at first, then gets crazy steep. Putting one foot in front of the other I shuffled up without actually walking. It was here that I realized my quads were not completely recovered from the trail run. At the top of the hill, Jefferson School marks the climax of the run. The remaining mile and a half were a breeze after the climb.
By this point the sky had brightened and traffic picked up as people started their Black Friday traditions. There was one more big turn at an expansive slab of concrete that was once a Wal-Mart. It was here that I first engaged in the shopping madness of the day after Thanksgiving. The enticement then was free donuts and coffee for the brave shoppers making the early morning trek to the retailer. Neither donuts or shopping made my list of things to do today.
A trip around the hotel parking lot allowed me to log a pleasing 7.5 miles on my Garmin, which told me I’ll be recovered in 23 hours. My sister wasn’t a runner. But today I carried memories of her with me as I ran the streets she used to roam.