3.1 for Roger’s 31

Monday was Roger’s 31st birthday (if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram I apologize for blowing up your news feed with sappy posts).  So in memory of what would have been the beginning of his 31st year, I decided to run 3.1 miles.  It seemed only fitting that I should run a 5k on his birthday since I’ll be running a marathon for him on my birthday.  Yep, October is filled with both birthdays and memory miles.

There was a happy birthday balloon attached but it flew away before I could get the picture. At least his team colors (University of Michigan Wolverines -Go Blue!) stayed.

This run wasn’t about time or speed, just merely reflection.  So I grabbed my tennis shoes and Ipod and headed out the door to run the route that Roger and I ran many times together.  I rarely run with music unless it’s at the gym or a race but I was feeling particularly masochistic so I cranked up “Roger’s Playlist” which is patriotic songs like American Soldier, If You’re Reading This, Arlington…You know, the songs that make you cry even when you haven’t lost someone to war.  Fantastic choice, Gina…..

About 1/3 way through the run I turned a corner and had a flashback to the last time we ran together.  It was right before he enlisted in the Marines and he was getting ready to go through all the testing.  I was having trouble keeping up with him and he kept harassing me for it.  I smile now, knowing that I could totally lap him a million times over if he were still alive. (Ah, sibling rivalry at its finest.)

About the same time ‘If You’re Reading This’ by Tim McGraw started playing.  There’s a particular verse in the song that always gets to me.  “If  you’re reading this half way around the world, I won’t be there to see the birth of our little girl. I hope she looks like you, I hope she fights like me. And stands up for the innocent and the weak.”  My niece was born 2 days before Roger’s birthday; she never got to meet her daddy.

Commence the water works.  I have never cried while running but I guess there’s a first for everything.  Between the combination of sweat, snot and tears I’m sure I looked like Ms. America (ha!) to the construction guys I ran by.  I’m surprised nobody called the cops.  “Um, yeah, there’s this crazy lady running around our construction site….You may want to come and check her out….make sure she’s not rabid or anything.”

Luckily the tears were short lived; but the memories just kept coming.  Which is nice because after so many years, I worry I’m going to forget him.  Memories of rollerblading, ice skating, and building snow forts when we were little, hanging on for dear life after he got his driver’s license (The Fast and the Furious didn’t have anything on him), going shopping with him to help match clothes (he was color blind), getting yelled at to ‘get that boy out of your room before dad gets home’ (whoops…), and I also remembered the not so great memories – we were after all brother and sister and fought like it.

After all was said and done, it was a very cathartic run and I’m glad I was able to do it.  I still had my scheduled training run to do Monday night but I really wanted to dedicate this time to Roger.

Happy 31st birthday, Roger! Love, your annoying little sister.


30 thoughts on “3.1 for Roger’s 31

  1. Happy belated Birthday, Roger! Gina, I know he’s so proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished both running- and non-running related. Running 3.1 miles was such a touching gesture, even though it was emotionally charged. PS – I’m trying not to cry now–so much emotion in this post.

    • No crying, girlie! I did enough of that on Monday for the both of us! 🙂 I’m so glad that I ran this distance, it was just perfect and really helped get me focused again. And now that I have my head on straight after last week’s funk I’m ready to tackle the world!

  2. no words to share with you…. just giving all my support and love for you today ❤ i am so moved by your story and i just want you to know im praying for you and giving all the support via technology that i can! spa love to you, dear!! have a happy wednesday!! xoxo virtual hug!!!!!

  3. I have cried while running and in a way it is a freeing feeling.

    What a special run and the perfect distance to honor his birthday. You are truly an inspiration and I am sure, your brother’s hero.

    • I promise I didn’t mean to make you cry! I know you have a lot of memories of him, too! It’s funny, I never thought I would miss Truman but I do terribly. PS – Could your girls get any cuter?

  4. The balloons you placed at Rogers’s grave made me smile through my tears. My brother also attended Michigan & is forever correcting me that his colors aren’t yellow & blue or gold & blue but MAIZE & blue. So technical 😉 Thank you for sharing your story with us. Happy Birthday, Roger!

    • Monica, you made me laugh with the maize and blue comment! And Roger would have to agree with your brother; funny how technical fans/alumni can be. I tried to find a more goldish yellow but no luck. 🙂

    • Stephanie, I’m so sorry to hear about your nephew. That brought tears to my eyes. I hope your run is just as wonderful and reflective (minus the scary, snotty/teary face)! {hugs} to you!

  5. Gina, tears are so good; they are cleansing. I’m glad you could, just minus the snot would have been good. On the other hand, you will definitely remember this memory run.
    Hugs to you!!

  6. Well Bean,
    YOu need to give your Dad a little warning before I start reading your blog. Thanks for making me tear up at the end of my day. By the way, we need to talk about the boy or boys in your room (Ha Ha)!!!! You are such a wonderful sister and an even better daughter. I couldn’t be more impressed with your ability, with your accomplishments. I have no doubt Roger is looking down and pointing to his brothers (who paid the ultimate on that day as he did), saying “do your see her, thats my little sister look at her go. I am so proud of her!!!” I can totally see Roger trying to out run you and I would just sit back and laugh when you had to come back to pick him up or when you lapped him for the millionth time. I love you Bean not for what you are accomplishing for Roger, but for everything you have accomplished in your life. We will never, ever forget! Yes we had some bumps in the road, but we were a family and we loved (still do) each other. Thank you for being such a great daughter, you made my job as your Dad pretty easy, except for the boy and what I found in my trunk one day… Love ya whole bunches, Take care of you. Dad

    • Well father dearest, you also need to give your daughter a heads-up before she reads your comments! Thanks for making me tear up at the beginning of my day (payback, right??). Thank you so much for all of the encouragement you’ve given me over the past few months (well, my entire life really). I can’t believe that it’s just a few short weeks away and I will be RFR!! I’m so happy that I’m able to do this as a way to remember him and remind everyone of the guy he was. Love you sooooo much Dad!! Oh, and let’s not talk about the boy or the stuff in my trunk. Ancient history! 🙂

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  8. Dearest Gina, I just got back from my first Gold Star Family event. I cried a bucket of cathartic, cleansing tears and was wishing you were here. Your tribute to Roger brought the tears flowing again. I fought like cats and dogs with my brother also (guess which one of the four) and wouldn’t exchange any of them. I have the greatest most understanding family and you are especially dear. Now about that boy and the item in the trunk….! xoxo, Mom

  9. I’m just seeing this post now, but it makes me both happy and sad! Of course, I’m sad for you and your family for losing Roger, but reading about how much you love him, miss him, and cherish your memories makes me smile. I hope that doesn’t come across the wrong way! I wish him a very happy (belated) birthday! You have a wonderful angel looking down on you 🙂

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  12. Very sweet and touching post. I lost my mother in April and we have dedicated 2 races in her memory. I cried when I crossed the finish line at both. Keep doing with your doing in your brother’s honor. It will help with the healing and make you so much stronger! *hugs* Steph 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Steph! I’m so sorry that you lost your mom this past year. BIG hugs to you!! I’m so happy that you’ve been able to run in her memory. I don’t know you get the same feeling as I do but it’s almost like they are with you step by step encouraging you towards the finish line. I hope that you get to run many more races for you sweet mom! ❤

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