By Michael Fagone
Two weeks ago (December 8th) marked the two year anniversary of my mom’s passing. My mom and I were very close. She is MY inspiration. Her death had a profound effect on me and was one of the catalysts for me turning my life around.
I knew that day would be a challenge. I took a personal day from work. I also knew that I needed something productive to do for the day. Instead of staying in bed or using some less useful form of self-soothing, I booked some time with my trainer, Jason. I enjoy my appointments with him. It would give me something to look forward to. I also knew that I wanted the appointment to be something different than one of our normal appointments. We originally planned a track run, but I wanted something new. Jason obliged, and we shifted focus. I put the run on the back burner.
Despite the challenges of the days leading up to the 8th, I managed to get my workouts in and keep my food in check. That may not be surprising to some, but I struggle with both just like everyone else.
The morning of the 8th, I was pretty down. I took myself to the cemetery and visited with mom. I thanked her for all she did for me and asked her for strength to continue on this journey.
While at the cemetery, I received an e-mail from Jason. He wanted to know if I was up for some running later that day. Had our plans changed? I was really disappointed. The more I thought about running, the more stressed I became. I really couldn’t handle failure on this day.
When it was time to head to the gym, I was feeling pretty down. I wished I hadn’t booked this appointment. But I regrouped, put on my Madonna t-shirt and headed out the door. (Usually, if you see me wearing that shirt, I need a little extra motivation.)
I got to the gym, did some stretching and jumped on the treadmill to warm up. When I met up with Jason, it turned out that the new workout we had planned was on after all. Off we went. It was a great. Very challenging and hard. I made mistakes but did my best. It was exactly what I needed.
After my appointment, I planned to stretch and then head off to meet some friends for lunch. I kept thinking about how a part of me wished I had tried for that track mile after all. I was pretty tired but couldn’t get the thought out of my head. I looked up at the track. It was empty. So I grabbed my iPod and up the stairs I went.
I put on my Madonna mix and put one foot in front of the other. I walked a lap, then started to run. Pretty quickly, I could see how much this differed from running on the treadmill. On a treadmill, the tread controls your speed. But on the ground, you are in control of your speed. About half-way through (8 laps), I was feeling pretty tired. I was sure it wasn’t happening. But, I pressed on.
As I neared those last laps, I realized this WAS happening. I pushed hard and even picked up a little speed.
On December 8, 2011, I finally ran that track mile. I could never do it in high school and hadn’t attempted it since. I couldn’t believe it. I had done it. I had finally done it. I walked a couple of laps to cool down and headed back down the stairs.
My day had unexpectedly turned around and became a good one.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I took a date that will always be hard and added a new, happier memory to it. December 8th will always be the day my mom died. But it will now also be the day I ran that track mile. I will never forget either.
At my mother’s funeral, I delivered her eulogy and spoke of her determination and courage. I spoke of the things that she taught me simply by the way she lived her life. All of the perseverance, dedication and don’t quit qualities that people say I possess, I learned from her. I used her tools and lessons to save my own life. Thanks Mom!