6 comments

Creative Nonfiction

My Mother Jan had survived chemo. During that year of treatment I had felt that I had no control of my life. I was living in Hollywood, California and my parents were north in Spokane, Washington. It was agony to have my mother so far away and facing such a horrible part of her life. I flew to be with her to take her to her first round of treatment and it was something I'll never forget. It was gut wrenching to feel so helpless and watch someone I loved so dearly facing such a terrible disease. I felt like I needed something in my life that I could control. So I made the craziest decision and started to run.


I wasn't in bad shape at the time, but I certainly was not a runner. I made it about half way around the block outside of my apartment building before I came to a breathless halt. I stood there for a moment and thought, I need to do this for myself. So I started running every day with a goal to run around my block. Soon, I could run around the block, in fact, I was able to make it around three blocks.


Well, about a month later I ran into a friend of mine named Anna and she happened to be a marathon runner. In fact she even did triathlons. The idea intrigued me. It was something I never would have considered before. She told me she could train me to do a half marathon in six months. That was it!


The Monterey Half Marathon was the goal. Anna had already registered before we had met. It was meant to be. I shared the news of my plan with my mother over the phone and to my surprise she ecstatically announced, "I'm in!"


I couldn't believe my ears. My mother, the cancer survivor is in. She shared the news of her decision with a couple of her close friends and they all agreed we would do this together. We were all living in separate cities, all training, same goal, we would do this crazy thing called a half marathon in a magical city called Carmel by the Sea.


I also had Joya and Debbie's daughters, Summer and Jennie join in the fun. These two were already in amazing shape and decided that they would run it. We had Anna, my mom, Debbie, and Joya. This was our girl group. This was a celebration of life. This was a dream come true to rally together around my mom and say, we can do anything.


So we did, the day had finally arrived. We had all traveled into town the day before the race to get settled and enjoy Carmel. We shopped. and picked up our race packets, and ended her evening early carb loading with a pasta dinner at Hogs Breath Inn. We giggled in delight and anticipation for the race in the morning.


We had a plan. Our start times were all different. My Mother would not run, she would speed walk with her friend Joya. Jennie and Summer started in an earlier group with Anna and Deb because they were great runners. I started in the middle. To my surprise, Anna showed up for me. She said I'm going to help set your pace and get you started.


The race began. We were at a lovely pace. The day was a nice cool day. When we reached the sea the ocean splashed along the rocks and then the smell hit. "Oh God what is that Anna?"


"Rotting Kelp."


I am telling you, it was the worst smell you could imagine. Stinky garbage blended with old fish. It smacked all the senses, especially when you are trying to breathe as normal as possible. I was at mile three trying my very best not to gag at the smell as I tried to keep my pace and I had the sharpest pain of my life in my hip area stopping me immediately. Anna and I walked over to the side and out of the path of other runners. I explained to her what was hurting and she gave me a numbing cream to wipe on the area. She waited with me and it started to take affect but I could feel a little bit of her frustration as she kept glancing up at the other runners passing us by. The pace of the runners was noticeably slowing and so I swallowed my pride and said. "Go on without me Anna. I'll meet you at the finish line."


Off she went. I had a decision to make, do I continue? I really felt terrible. I must have pulled a muscle. I was having a grown up pity party watching the runners that were now turning into walkers. I shook my head, I had to continue. I had come all this way and so I fought through the pain and knowing I could not run any more I started speed walking. Guess who caught up to me moments later? My Mother and her friend Joya. They had huge smiles and were giggling from the stinky smell of the rotting kelp. I looked at my mother with so much pride and thought, if she can do this, I have no excuse.


When we reached the half way mark we were in the last group. In fact there were race coordinators that were starting to remove cones. But we didn't care. We laughed about it. I could tell my mom was extremely tired but she wanted to finish this race.


We kept walking and walking. We talked about everything and would get cheers from other runners who had finished as we made out way slowly back toward the finish line. When the moment finally arrived and we saw the end we all looked at each other excitedly. Our friends were all there cheering us on and we decided to give it a jog through the finish line.


Tears flowed down our faces and I gave my mom one of the greatest hugs of my life. I was so proud of her. I knew she was proud of me. All of our friends rejoiced together with our victorious finish.


I trained to run that race but looking back, I trained to finish the race. It didn't matter how I got there. My mothers cancer unfortunately returned and she sadly died of cancer less than four years later.


I cherish this memory. I often think of that rotting kelp. I think about life and how often no matter how we prepare ourselves we encounter some form of rotting kelp that tries to distract us from completing what we set out to do. The most important decision we make though is to overcome these obstacles and finish the race we started. It won't be perfect, nothing is, but trust me, if I could do this, anyone can.

January 29, 2024 16:24

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6 comments

John Rutherford
08:05 Feb 08, 2024

A chicken soup story, the best genre, Truly inspiring.

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Kacie Foos
15:29 Feb 08, 2024

Thank you John. I appreciate your kind words. ❤️

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Ty Warmbrodt
02:56 Feb 08, 2024

Inspirational tale of strength and determination, Kacie. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Kacie Foos
15:30 Feb 08, 2024

Thank you Ty. I appreciate you and your feedback. ❤️

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Claire Trbovic
21:10 Jan 31, 2024

Your mum sounds like an absolute hero, such a wonderful memory and great message ♥️ When you get a sec there’s just a little extra word here to be deleted ‘run around the my block’ :)

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Kacie Foos
22:00 Jan 31, 2024

Thank you Claire! You rock. ❤️

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