What Happens On My Run


You Can Forget All Your Worries Out On A Run

While filing away papers this weekend – I found a card i have kept stashed away for years. I cant seem to throw it away.. In 1994 – Ronald Reagan announced he had Alzheimer’s.  I read it in the newspaper, and decided I should send a letter. I sent a letter to Ronald Reagan. I told him I was sorry that this was happening to him, and my grandfather also was diagnosed with this. I also told him I would pray for him, and any time he was in Texas – he and his wife were welcome to come visit my family for dinner. Thinking back on this part makes me laugh, because that was unlikely. I was 26 years old.  A month or so later, my mom called and said I might want to stop by, as I received a card from the White House. I arrived at my parents house, and I received a envelope with the presidential seal on it and inside was a pre-printed thank you card from Ronald Reagan. I knew nothing about politics. I did know Alzheimer’s. My Grandfather had Alzheimer’s.  My Grandfather and I used to run together when I was a was a teenager. My Grandparents took me for a month long road trip in an RV and we ran a lot during this trip – in fact we ran in Canada.  When he was diagnosed, it seemed to happen so quick. Maybe this was because I was young. I remember eventually he did not know who I was and it scared me. I would avoid going over when he was there.  The last time I saw him – his eyes were empty. He was not there anymore. He was not with us. He was in his own world. You see Alzheimer’s is not painful, unless you are a family member.

Fast Forward 2012 – Today my mom is living with Alzheimer’s. This disease is hereditary – and she was the unlucky one between her and her brother. Years ago – she felt like she was slipping, and snuck out and bought a gameboy with educational games and tried to keep her mind fresh to avoid this. Today, she cannot count money or tell time. Not a day goes, and I want to call her and tell her something or bitch about something – but I have to decide whether this will make her anxious, and make her condition worse. When I was going through my divorce in my first marriage, I lived with my parents for a few months, and although it was tough living with my parents again, I could talk to her or cry and she was there.  She often would try to hug me, and I was so angry from the marriage failing, I would pull away. Today she is slipping away – slowly. Part of me wants to avoid, like I did with my grandfather. The other part of me just wants to hold her hand. I want to tell her its ok – I will fix your remote control again, and I will tell you what a DVD player is, and show you how it works, again. My mom is in perfect health (other than this)  She likes to take walks. She LOVES to play with my son.  Everyday – I miss talking to her more about anything. I miss her lectures on how I need to go to church, or how to raise my son, or deal with my ex-husband, or be nicer to Jason. I know at some point her mind will be gone. She wont be in pain. She will eventually need assistance with eating and normal daily activities and will no longer know who I am. This is on my mind daily. Its possible I might be the one out of four sisters that gets diagnosed someday, and I hope for a cure for this disease, and the pain it causes so many families like mine.

Once a week – I do try to do a longer run of 9-11 miles.  Most of the time I go out to the lake.  This is 25 minutes away. I could walk out my front door and run in the neighborhood. I could drive 10 minutes up the road to a park. My long runs are at the lake. I usually go with a friend. We talk for a few miles. After that – the Ipod goes on. I ran 11 miles Sunday, and tried to remember what I was thinking on my run. I was not thinking about ANYTHING. My mind goes blank. I am one with the lake. My problems are gone during these runs. Peace. Solitude. I run because I love to run, but I also run to set my mind free. For a few hours during the run – I am not hurting inside. My time. Free mind. I know eventually I have to stop and come back to reality but this time is mine for a few hours to forget on purpose.

What Happens To You On Your Run?

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  1. Jen says:

    Karen, What a touching post. I will keep your family in my thoughts – I understand the ‘need’ for those long run times.
    Jen recently posted..Giveaway: Win a Living Well with Montel HealthMaster Elite!My Profile

  2. Matt Oravec says:

    Not sure that I could handle this. VERY difficult to keep your cool and composure when you see someone you love and care for go through this.

    Stay strong man.
    Matt Oravec recently posted..My hill workoutsMy Profile

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Matt. I am thankful for Jason – who just listens and holds my hand. Its not easy. I actually wrote this last weekend hoping to get some relief from it all.

  3. Christina says:

    I found this just heartbreaking. I spent 2009 and 2010 watching my dad and my stepmom die. It was brutal to see them suffer (diabetic renal failure and cancer/heart disease respectively). But now we are dealing with early stages of what we think is likely Alzheimers in my mother-in-law and I find myself dreading the process I know will unfold. Like your mom, she is relatively healthy otherwise and we may be in for a long fight. Right now it is just silly, annoying stuff she can’t remember. She can be very childish and we have the same arguments over and over (because she doesn’t remember losing them before). I’m so sorry for your loss in your grandpa – how lovely to have great memories of your runs/trip together. I pray that you can value the time you still have with your mom and know that you have so many folks you can come and “gripe” to if you think it is too much for her though I know no one can take the place of her advice and love. I’m glad you find solace in your running. I’m working up to that.
    Christina recently posted..Hump Day Run/AbsMy Profile

  4. marlene says:

    I can’t begin to imagine what this is like and my heart goes out to all of you. It must be so painful. Hoping there are many good days left with your Mom. And continue finding solace in your run!
    marlene recently posted..WIAW + Weigh-In WednesdayMy Profile

  5. Running has been and continues to be true therapy as if needed. I definitely call biking my favorite, but the run holds special meaning that is duplicated nowhere else.
    Patrick Mahoney recently posted..Does This Pub Have WiFi?My Profile

  6. Robin aka gottarun462 says:

    Absolutely moving story….all the way to my soul and back. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Karen says:

      thank you for the comment. Sometimes it just needs to be written down to release the stress… or more running..

  7. Misszippy says:

    Beautiful post. I’m so sorry for you and your mom. And so glad you have running. Nothing can replace it’s therapeutic value. I run with friends quite a bit, but I also maintain a couple of solo runs each week for just that purpose.

  8. Karen says:

    Thank you – I am thankful for my runs and that Jason knows when its needed.. it helps to forget it all sometimes.

  9. Jeff Irvin says:

    Running is amazing like that!

    Sorry to hear about your mother as this has to be very difficult for all involved. IT sounds like you are handling it the best you can and really that is all any of us can hope to do.
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..And Just When You Thought Hollywood Was Out of Original Ideas …My Profile

  10. Molly says:

    I’m so sorry your family is going through this. My grandmother has dementia, and I often wonder how it will affect the rest of the family. Whenever I run, I get inside my head, and work through things. I always feel better after.
    Molly recently posted..There was cake. And a Kettle Bell Winner.My Profile

  11. Jamima says:

    Thanks for this very honest and touching post Karen. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be at times and I’m so glad running can help you. I have solved so many problems whether they be about work, relationships, etc. while running as I feel like I become more open-minded and clear about things on my runs. I do however have times where like you my mind is blank and I just take in my surroundings. So necessary and peaceful!
    Thinking about your family and best of luck to you all.
    Jamima recently posted..My Fit ValentineMy Profile

  12. Heather Nash says:

    I’m so sorry that your family is going through this. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s, as well, and I remember it being very scary for everyone. Some recent research I thought was interesting… Patients with Alzheimer’s watched movie clips; later, when asked about the clips they could not remember anything specific, but the emotion carried through, so if they watched a comedy, their affect was still very positive later. Even if a visit won’t be remembered, it does leave a lasting impression! Best to you and your family.
    Heather Nash recently posted..Tick Tally Reveals Lyme Disease RiskMy Profile

  13. B.o.B. says:

    Aw Jason what a lovely post. I’m so sorry your family is dealing with this horrible disease. I totally understand that peace b/c I lost my dad and sometimes during a solo run I can really truly just be quiet and still in my mind and think about him. I’m sure you know how much your mom loves you and I’m sure she knows the same.
    B.o.B. recently posted..Thankful ThursdayMy Profile

  14. Nancy says:

    You summed it up exactly, I got off easy living in San Diego, so I didn’t see grandpa’s progression until grandma & grandpa came to visit and meet baby Olivia. At times, he was “there”, and at other times his eyes were empty. Even looking at pictures…I can tell he’s not there. I couldn’t get over the change in our beloved grandpa, I miss him constantly. He was the most amazing, gentle man.
    I’m so sad about mom that sometimes I can’t stand it. The worst part is knowing there’s nothing I can do. As you mentioned, there’s so much I want to tell mom, to get her advise, or just plain bitch, but I know I can’t. It makes me angry, and then I feel guilty. Sometimes I wish she was further down the “path”, and then I could open up to her again, knowing that she doesn’t understand my words, and then I feel guilty. It’s devastating knowing that we will lose mom twice.
    I cherish every moment with mom, I count on our weekly long distance calls, and the times I can make it back to Texas. I love you Karen, I’ll see you soon

  15. katie says:

    wow, I’m so sorry to read this. my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    katie recently posted..random friday factsMy Profile

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