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The Most Important Mile of My Life: Kandace Chapple

Kandace and her boys at the Farmland 5K in 2012. "It was super cold out and we ran through, as you might have guessed, farmland. My boys, Nelson and Kendall, came out to cheer me on. All the finishers got a “medal” - a plastic toy tractor to hang around their neck! My boys fought over it (again, you might have guessed)."
Kandace and her boys at their local Farmland 5K in 2012. "It was super cold out and we ran through, as you might have guessed, farmland. My boys, Nelson and Kendall, came out to cheer me on. All the finishers got a 'medal' - a plastic toy tractor to hang around their neck! My boys fought over it (again, you might have guessed)." Kandace, who lives in northern Michigan, began her running journey not long after losing her mother.

I started running the summer after I lost my mother. I traded in her couch and our favorite soap opera (Y&R) for hours on the trail, running or biking to beat back the grief.

Would my mother even recognize me now, changed by my grief? Thirty pounds lighter and my hair down to my shoulders for the first time since I was 6.

The mile that I remember most was a morning after I dropped off my children at school. I’d slipped on my running shorts and tank top and shoes as the boys collected their backpacks. And I drove to the school watching the rain come down the windshield.

It was a day that could make me small and silent, the loss of my mother gray and crushing like the sky. I drove to Lake Dubonnet trailhead and stepped out of my van into a run into the woods, before I changed my mind.

Each step of the way I felt the loss, exquisite and evenly matched in each raindrop. I liked the company for my grief. At the end of the lake, I stopped and stood in the rain, still. I realized then how many times I had stopped in this very spot and just waited and watched and rested. I always said I had no religion, no sacred ground. But this, this old dirt road on a little lost lake, was a likely candidate. No better spot had I come upon to clear my thoughts, to stand still, to feel part of something bigger.

I turned to head back as the rain gained in intention. Nearly back to the trailhead, the trees parted altogether and the rain fell freely. I stopped to look up then. The rain was smooth, the air warm to soften it. It now fell lightly enough that my cheeks, like the leaves, could hold the drops for a moment before the rain gathered and slid down over my mouth. It was the taste of sweat that surprised me. I hadn’t realized I’d run so hard or so long--my longest.

I had felt only my legs moving, my arms in rhythm, my breathing tight and purposeful. And for a moment it fell away, the loss and the leaving. I felt nothing more than sensation, one of a woman, her skin exposed, her body one of function, her muscles a few miles stronger, her lungs filled.

I will always remember that run. For a few miles I was outside of my grief and perhaps, too, close to my mother.

What was (or will be) the most important mile of your life? We want to know.

This is an ongoing feature on the website. Best way to submit is to email us your story with a picture: runmother {at} gmail {dot} com with “Most Important Mile” in the subject line. Please try to keep your mile stories under 300 words. Thank you!

9 responses to “The Most Important Mile of My Life: Kandace Chapple

  1. Your post sounds so much like my story❤️ How awesome/ healing to hear such similar stories from other women!!

  2. You’ve touched my heart so deeply. I started running post-baby-having almost one year after my dad was taken by ALS, 6/14/10. You see, my dad was my track and xcountry coach in high school. As a busy, working mom of a 3 year old and 1 year old twins, I had not had the time, nor ability to truly grieve his death…until I started running. Sometimes frustrating because I’m crippled, mid-run, by uncontrollable sobbing, the kind that takes your breath away, but so completely healing in ways I never imagined. To this day, I cannot cross a finish line without falling into that same, uncontrollable sob; both happy and sad, but so at peace. Love to you in this emotional journey.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I keep trying to find something meaningful to say, to capture how touched I am by your story… tears of recognition are flowing down my cheeks and I am remembering times my mom has “shown up” to me on my own running journey. Your words are beautiful – may you have many more runs that bring you the feeling of strength and connection.

  4. so, so beautiful, thank you for sharing. I lost my father almost three years ago which was the catalyst for me to start running. It’s been such a journey. Your line, “For a few miles I was outside of my grief and perhaps, too, close to my mother” spoke to me. It is one of the gifts of running. Blessings on you!

  5. May you feel your loved one’s touch when mild breezes blow….
    To caress your cheek and whisper soft, “I still walk with you, you know.” ♥

  6. What a beautiful story and proof that running is the best and most natural form of antidepressant out there. Through running you were able to clear your mind and breathe the ache out of your heart. I also lost my sweet momma (11 years ago now)and I often use my runs to connect/talk with her. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story!

  7. Kandy… Tears are streaming down my cheeks. What a sensation you met that day… What a God of sensation… Wow. You were not alone. Know that.

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