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It is a strange thing to be sitting on a balcony, surrounded by the steep green peaks of the Tirolean Alps, listening to the clang of belled cows, using faster internet than I have in my little writing room in Franconia, and writing (once again) about running.

It is almost the Eve of Battle, and my emotional roller coaster has not come to a complete stop since we loaded up the car this morning.

There are moments when I question what I’m doing–what on earth makes me think that a simple housewife, homeschool mom with four kids and a fluffy white dog can join the same race with all these ATHLETES? People from Kenya, for goodness sakes! Have you seen how they FLY? I don’t think their feet touch the GROUND!

At those moments, I want to pack up and head for home and console myself with vigorous mopping and closet-cleaning.

Then there are times when I listen to the kids. I hear the joy and excitement in their voices and I begin to realize that maybe running marathons isn’t just about me…maybe it impacts them too. If nothing else, it gives us a fun family time, away from the routine we get so blinded by.

Then my imagination fast-forwards: How will it be for Katie when she’s 38 to tell her Kaffee Schwestern that her mom is a marathon runner? Or will Noah still be my (only) running buddy? Will he be waiting for me across the finish line someday with his own muddy running shoes, wrapped in a solar blanket, a medal dangling from his neck, and downing a good German beer? Will he come back and run the last mile with me (or five) so we can finish together? Will I even be here to cross the finish line 30 years from now?

Then there are those glorious Present-Tense moments when I am a runner–and not just a frightened, nervous runner, but a veteran marathoner.

As I walked alone to the event arena this afternoon, I became so excited about the race, I could hardly keep myself from breaking into a trot.

I proudly entered the tent, and this year, I knew exactly what to do.

I bypassed the “half-marathon” table and marched to the chart posted at the far end of the room, which listed not Kenyans or Retirees or Sports Stars or Hausefraus–but marathon runners.

Number 591.

That’s me.

And the only reason they put my name up there is because I’m an athlete too.

I can’t wait to hear that starting gun!

There is the possibility that my feet won’t touch the ground this year.

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When 2011 began, I made a commitment to write a weekly blog, no matter how short, poorly worded or insignificant, for the sheer practice of writing. But in recent weeks I’ve failed.

Sure, I’ve been busy (like everyone else on the planet) but the real reason I haven’t blogged is because I felt that anything I wrote following my last post would seem trivial.

How could I write goofy little stories about my life when something so tragic had happened?

And besides, some of my thoughts and feelings are better inked on the worn leather journal on my nightstand.

For all the honesty I strive for on this blog, there are a handful of things that belong to me alone or can only be shared when there is someone to embrace while sobbing.

But I couldn’t abandon my sweet little blog entirely.

Over the past few weeks, it has occurred to me that while matters of death trump most things, matters of life are equally important. We have to continue in these roles the Author has sketched out for us. And I do hold to the belief that the things we do here on earth, every seemingly insignificant thing we do, matters in the long run.

So forgive this somewhat inelegant segue from matters of dying, to matters of living. While tears are still shed here in Germany for my aunt, it’s time to get back to the important little things that make up this incredible big thing called life.

As Aunt Kathy wrote to me in an email once:  Go, Keri! Go! Go! Go!

Matters of running

Believe it or not, I HAVE continued with my marathon training during the past couple of months. I’ve been very faithful to it, mostly out of necessity. Without it, I’m a big, unusable ball of stress. With it, life seems like something I can work with.

If I looked through my archives, I think I would only find a time or maybe two over the past six months where I had to work out on the treadmill or elliptical. I’ve been outside rain or shine for the majority of my runs—and I’m stronger for it.

I did take a week off while traveling across the pond because it seemed more important to linger over coffee with Grandma, or even to sit and watch Grandpa fall asleep at the kitchen table, than to run off on my own.  It was time well spent.

I came back from my trip re-energized, re-focused, and determined to do my best. When I arrived back, I did a run of 18 miles, which made me feel the American food and all that Starbucks didn’t do much harm.

Last week we had a spontaneous road trip to Italy, where I managed to stick with my training schedule.

It’s easy to get up early when the sun is shining, the streets are lined with flower bushes taller than you, and your path takes you around a sky-colored lake.

If Dorothy had landed in Italia instead of Munchkinland, she never would have sought Kansas again.

Once we left the lake and went to the city, I didn’t run, but during those three days, the kids and I logged over 30 miles of walking. It exhausted me for two whole days when we got back. And yet, I still did my last long run—20 miles.

The Italian food and cappuccino hadn’t done any harm either!

The 20-miler was the best run I’ve had thus far. Though I had some knee pain the last 3 miles (because of not properly warming up), I still beat my goal time.

I have some issues to work out with food. Because I can’t have gluten (which often comes in the form of modified food starch) and because artificial sweeteners give me stomach cramps, many of the brand name energy goodies are off limits.

For now, apple slices and chia jelled with juice seems to be good enough. Last year, the marathon had cokes available along the way, so that might suffice for a little caffeine kick.

I know I am physically ready for the marathon, but when I recall there are only 9 days left, my stomach lurches. I am re-reading the book Born to Run for inspiration, but still…

I seriously, seriously ask myself: What am I doing?

The only answer to float across my brain is:

Living life, I guess.