Chasing a Glass of Lemonade

Good Morning Butterbean,

 As we approach another Christmas season, the magnitude and depth of the emptiness buried within my heart exposes its nasty self once again. It is Christmas week. Unlike last year, there will be no snow to dull the ache or to fill the emptiness, just unseasonable warmth mixed in with some of Mother Nature’s teardrops. Not having written you in quite a while, it seems the coming few days day will provide me some free time to share with you some of my thoughts and challenges this past year.  This is something I have been looking forward to for many months now, some private time with you.  You see Ryan, I have been so busy chasing a glass of lemonade, I have not allowed myself even a few minutes to be your vessel for your amazing ink and quill.  Ryan, one thousand twenty-nine days ago you went to heaven. Since that day, I have been searching within my heart, within the hearts of your many special friends, within the heart of your mom and our family and in the heart of Mother Nature for the elusive recipe for this glass of lemonade. I have spent many hours searching at the UNCW pool. I never did find the complete recipe there, but an ingredient or so hidden within the black lines of lanes six, seven and eight. I also spent many more hours befriending the jellyfish in flowing rivers and at Mercers Pier. What a special fifty-seven minutes it was to cover 2 miles with only you in my thoughts while spending time once again in nature’s place. “The ocean must have felt the emptiness in my heart for it quickly filled it with peace, serenity and freedom”. I met the challenge with a smile on my face and knew I was in a special place reserved for you and me. Once again, the jellyfish, dark shadows and ocean waves provided some very special ingredients. Ryan, I have also spent countless miles, in the like of 1600 the last couple of years, on the trails; looking for this recipe, in natures place. These times with my eyes focused ten feet in front of me looking for clues as my legs and eyes worked in unison to fine the most efficient path among the roots, rocks and fruits of nature.  Chasing deer and running for these countless hours provided me many scrapes, a few falls, tendons stretched to their abilities, a few glimpses of you and yes, a few more ingredients for my elusive glass of lemonade.  I have been flying with “Birds of Charity, logging in enough miles to ride fromWrightsvilleBeachtoCaliforniaand back. Every time I raced or completed a triathlon or were dropped from the peloton, I found a few more ingredients. I usually found the most clues and caught glimpses of you when I rode alone for countless hours.  The search for this recipe has been a special, it has been a dream for survival, my survival and you have been with me and supporting me through this journey. Thank You Butterbean! We have come a long way in finalizing this recipe. In fact, this past September 24, 2011, we poured the first sample glass.

It was bittersweet Ryan. This is the story of my dream, our dream as; you have so appropriately believed. “Life is Just like a Wave, You cannot control how It breaks, Just the way you ride It”.

 My Angel, I was at a cross roads here, which I resolved yesterday as I completed my ten mile trail run. Initially, I was planning on re-counting the last 2 years training leading up to and including the completion of our first Iron distance Triathlon this past September. However, I have decided I need a little more than just a sample taste for encouragement to continue writing.  So after talking with you I think I will like it better if we start all over and begin this journey with yesterdays ten miler in natures place. So, lets begin our new journey preparing for an completing the Beach 2 Beach Iron distance triathlon to take place next October 20, 2012. We will have lots of time to spend in natures place whether in the ocean, completing endless laps, on the trails or on the bike.  Let’s continue searching for our glass of Lemonade!     

Ryan,

Prior to February 28 2009 I had no need for lemonade. In fact, I had no lemons at all. If on occasion a lemon appeared, I would just toss it aside or ignore the bitterness. I had plenty of sweet drinks to select. Work was going well,Taylor appeared to be making peace with herself, your Mom and I just moved toVirginia and bought 5 acres of land and an old farmhouse. You were getting ready to graduate from college and were actively interviewing and preparing for the next stage in your life. I have never seen you happier. An amazing writer you had become, an excellent athlete, a loyal sister, also a big sister for   Bailee, a young girl at risk. You were a loving daughter and perhaps had found your soul mate in Matt. I could not have been happier for you. No, I did not have any lemons or need for lemonade.

At 5:25 am on a rainy Saturday morning that all changed. A few hours later two State Troopers knocked on our door and presented your Mother and me with the largest basket of lemons, we had ever seen. These are the type of lemons that remain unseen, never talked about, always cloaked within our own dreams and worries. Yes, these lemons on the surface are rotten, spoiled and just not good for lemonade. These are the lemons that alter behavior, prevent people from looking you in the eye, for they do not know what to say.

 These lemons are only understood and truly can only be appreciated, as they are reserved for those unfortunate enough to lose a child. Yet,  as I have found out, if you can just somehow make lemonade with this damaged fruit, a few gifts seep from the bitter syrup.

                                                                                 

 

Ryan’s Poem

           A new kind of freedom, from a loss so great,

                                       that only one’s child could give, with the help of fate.

 

                                 A new kind of freedom is here to stay for a life without fear

                                   of death or wealth only that of pain for a loss so dear.

 

                                       A new kind of freedom, of understanding, think not,

                                            Perhaps through prayer and answer will come.

 

                                                 A new kind of freedom, as life will go on,

                                              I will continue the path Ryan has sent me on.

 

                                         A new kind of freedom, bound for charity and hope,

                                         Which will provide me the ability to cry and to cope.

 

                                    A new kind of freedom is in front of my eyes, in memory

                                                   I see a child so pure, she gave me a gift,

                                                                       I have to endure.

 

                               

                                                                        Glenn A. Young

Monday December 26, 2011

So Butterbean, Lets keep looking for some ingredients! It is about 11:30 am. The air is cool feeling about 42 degrees with a planned high of about 48 degrees. This my Angel, is perfect running weather. I feel really good just cannot decide if it will be shorts or loose running pants to accompany my long sleeve tee-shirt. Sometimes I would prefer either a little cooler or warmer, so I do not have to make a decision.   Shorts it is. As I begin my ten mile scavenger hunt for ingredients, I feel good about our challenge next October. We are going into this hunt with a solid base. More for the reader than you Ryan, here is what we have done this past year. We have averaged about 15 hours per week training to include the following tests.

 

  1. The 50K  Seashore Nature trail race
  2. 2 half Ironman
  3. 1 full Iron Distance Triathlon
  4. 6 centuries on the bike
  5. The Pier to Pier 2 mile Ocean Swim
  6. The 1 mile Virginia Beach Ocean Swim
  7. 5 or more International distance Triathlons
  8. 1 half Marathon

Yes Ryan, we are well prepared to make some seriously good lemonade at the Beach to Battleship Ironman.  As I continue on, I tell myself to stay relaxed and run easy. It has only been a week since the 50k and my legs still need a little more rest. Focusing my eyes about ten feet in front of me, I also notice the abundance of brown leaves, the most recent victims of mother natures call for winter. I recall last year taking several falls as a result of the roots hiding beneath. I feel really good and find my self picking up the pace. Perhaps, it is the music or my brain releasing its internal drugs. Should there be one thing I dislike about trail running is the inability to really notice the beauty of the path. Having to focus on the technical aspects of running like roots, hills and debris, prevents the full understanding or appreciation of the beauty surrounding me.  Beaverdam is an all purpose trail located in Gloucester, Virginia. It extends 9 and half miles from Farys Mill Road to the Gloucester main entrance. It is extremely hilly and mostly single track. It is marked every half a mile, so and an out and back run is a solid 19 miles. You also have the option of countless loop trails intersecting the main trail. I am always amazed at how few runners I encounter as it is a runners dream.  As I continue on, my mind stays focused on how I am going to tackle the quest for the perfect glass of lemonade. I have two options. The first is to write about last years challenge and completion of my first Iron distance Triathlon or I could begin now and tell the story in real time as I prepare for the Beach to Battle ship. As I skip over a log, it just dawned on me to ask you. Immediately,  I start swinging my arms and running to the beat of how I would visualize you bouncing around on the pool deck. That was easy, so my daughter, we shall begin here and write about our journey the next 10 months. As I turn around at the 5 mile mark, my watch reads 48 minutes. I have to remind myself that running these trails cannot be compared to a road race. As an example I just ran the OBX half marathon in 1:48 or about 8:15 pace. Today I ran at 10:45 pace. Pace is not important. You know you are having a good run, when you forget you are running!  As I head back, the last 5 miles are uneventful. Clicking off the last few miles one at a time, I just relax and zone out to The Band Perry, (If I die Young) and Bruce Sprinsteen’s, Racing in the streets and Candies song.

Until Tomorrow,

Dad!

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