Robert came home for a couple of days!
He's been in Washington state for two months, training and otherwise preparing to re-deploy back to Iraq for his second tour of duty. We've really missed him, so it was awesome to have him here, even if only for a couple days.
Here he is flanked by his two Minnesota "moms"... Debbie Clift and me.
... here he is with one of his training partners, Anthony. He's from Kenya and he is way too fast for me to train with, but he is the coolest guy ever and one day we are going to climb Kilimanjaro together. He and Robert are good friends.
... Me with one of the best friends I have ever ever ever had, Holland. She and I are both training for the 50 mile trail ultra with Guy.
... Guy, me and Andrew, Holly's hubba.
... and Jennifer, Robert, Debbie, and my hubba, Bob.
I love this picture... me and Robert with Terri and Erin. Erin just went back to work this week, so now Terri has no one to train with. We'll see how she handles being alone because the three of us have spent and insane amount of time together!!! I still love you, Terri!
Then on Saturday, Guy, Becca, Maggie and I ran the 25K Trail Mix race in Bloomington. It was great practice for Moose Mountain because it was really hilly and had a little single track on the course. Guy kept reminding me that although it was better than doing just another pavement or road run, that the ultra will be "much, much more technical." Which was disappointing because I thought the Trail Mix was WAY hard and now I am feeling much less confident about the Moose Mountain ultra!
...here we are at the start, with our friend Dave Smith:
... and on top of the ski jump hill...
We finished in 2:40:00 - which is by no means speedy, but like I said, it was really hard!
Then Guy and I headed over to coffee with the rest of the running club to say our last goodbyes to Robert before he got taken to the airport to head back to the base.
... and that's when it just hit me (again) like a slug to the stomach and I just got so sad. I know he's brave and incredibly smart and very well trained and all that. But I just don't like where he's going. Some of the meanest people in the history of the world live there and they don't just "not like him", but they want to kill him. And all he (and his fellow soldiers) wants to do over there is hand the good Iraqi guys back their country. But all it takes is one sniper with nothing to lose -- and there are thousands of them with nothing to lose -- and without giving Robert even a second thought they could just take him away from me. He's like a brother to me and the "fun" uncle to my kids and we love him so much.
Then as I was driving Guy home, Robert was at my house gathering up his gear and saying bye to Ally and Bobby and they called just crying so hard... like they were in a panic... and there of course is nothing I can do... I can't make him stay, and I can't make them not be afraid. He's got a job to do and it just is what it is. But I think when they see him in his uniform the danger just seems so much more imminent.
Robert texted last night to say he arrived safely. I had to tell him that Ally had gone into his room an hour earlier and had taken the civilian shirt he had been wearing while he was here, and that she was sleeping with it. He said she was really upset when he left, and that she could have his shirt.
Tuesday he turns off his phone.
Wednesday he flies to Kuwait.
Two hundred ninety six days to go.