We often see makeshift memorials along-side the road as we whiz by and, perhaps, after a momentary pang of sadness for the lives lost we continue on. There are so many such sites of loss, replete with wilted flowers, faded cards, and teddy bears rapidly breaking down in the harshness of the roadside.
I went for a ride this afternoon after spending the bulk of the morning reading Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point. It was one of those interesting days that mark the transition between summer here in the Pac-NW and fall. Though windy, the air still had that softness that is summer, the clouds side slipped through the sky like seagulls, and the sun caressed my cheeks. The city in was in its full-Tuesday cry but there was also a sense of breathlessness or waiting that always attends around approaching holidays. Labor Day is coming up and the school season begins after the holiday with the optimistic smells of freshly cleaned classrooms, paste, and new school supplies.
I decided that I would head North and East over the top of Lake Washington towards the Redhook Brewery. GVB is running the Super Jock 'N Jill Half Marathon this Sunday and I was thinking of meeting him after the race for a brew and lunch. I ran this a few years ago, had a blast, and set a PR (just under 2 hours). Had a nice sunny tail wind up until I reached Juanita Drive when the wind started shifting around (or was it me) into an on-coming quartering head wind.
Bothell is a strange place. I've run, ridden, and driven through it, around it, and even flown over it (but didn't really notice as it slid under the wings) and I still cannot figure it out. How does one describe a place that combines a cute little old-town with urban sprawl and cookie-cutter homes lining up along a river right along-side trailer parks. Then there are the brightly colored chickens that live around the Sammamish Trail. The first time I saw them, the first time I rode through here, I thought I was seeing things.
I was in a noticing mood today—noticing how the air felt, the leaves on the ground, and the looks on people's faces (bike riders seem to have a rather unique squint) for example—and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw them. A pair of bronze colored shoes sitting on a park bench. I had to stop.
They are Liz's Shoes.
Elizabeth Duncan, a runner, was killed by a 16 year old driver who, while apparently trying to beat a red light, lost control of her car and knocked down a light pole.
I didn't know Ms. Duncan (and why would I) but I certainly shared the anger at her senseless death. Every runner, and most bikers too, has a story or two of almost being hit by a motor vehicle. It is like playing the lottery and yet we still take the risk. Her credo, "Life's Short, Run Long", becomes all the more poignant in this light.
And on my way back I noticed yet another memorial along the bike trail just west of the Wayne Golf Course, two narrow strips of what looked like concrete nailed together in a cross with blue lettering on them. I didn't stop, couldn't stop, not for this one.
I had to press on. To finish. All around me were reminders of endings, mistakes (like this architectural misjudgment), and transitions. This ride became more than simply a ride.
Liz is right, "Life IS short, Run Long!"