I picked the "Run the Route for Youth Race" specifically for Grace because it was to be held on the beautiful Silver Sands beach in Milford, CT. Every picture that I have seen of Grace, she's always on the beach. Smiling and happy. Blending in with the scenery like she was born to run through waves. When I saw this race, she was the first person that came to mind.
The day was overcast and cool. But to a runner, that's a recipe for a great run. Zero humidity and no sun beating down over head. And from the moment I arrived at the race location, there was an undeniable calmness that washed over me, which isn't usually the case. I get jitters when I race. Mostly because I'm afraid of not doing my absolute best for those that I am trying to honor. The further I get into this project, the more responsibility I feel to do right by them. The more people stop me to say that they recognize me from my blog or facebook posts. So I start to feel like I have eyes on me, mostly to cheer me on. But the eyes hold me to stand true to my word that I will do my best to honor each and every person as best as I can. So I worry that I will trip on my shoe laces, or that I will pass out in the heat. Not finishing a race is not ever an option.
But, like I said. There was an undeniable calm that day. I have never in all my life, felt so incredibly at peace during a run. Running is stressful on your joints, your chest constricts, your throat gets dry, your stomach cramps. But there was none of that that day. I felt like I was running on pillows. I fell into a pace that was above average for me normally and I did it with comfort and ease. I usually run with a preset playlist on my iPod, but my battery was drained so I had to run with Pandora on my iPhone and wouldn't you know it, but every song that played was exactly what I needed.
The day was perfect. And I'm going to let myself believe that Grace gave me that. As if she slipped right into my head and said, "Hey. Let's just enjoy a beach day together, yeah?" And we did just that. A day at the beach with Grace. Perfect.
Here is Grace McDonnell. The 17th angel I have no run for: