December 29, 2006

Slow Road

I woke at 0200 this morning with a pounding head and a 103 degree gift from my kids. I layed in bed for an hour and a half before leaving the night and offering myself to today. And as I passed the time in Melissa's dark, quiet New Orleans house, these words invaded my mind. Katrina? Maybe... Indiana? Maybe... You may not understand this, the product of a tired and fevered mind, and that's ok. It's here, so it's there... For me, for you...

So far away
I know you're awake,
remember the cloak of night
in passion red?

Take the slow road,
Better than No road, and
I'll be here for
You my friend,

Pull the iron handle
Off the map
And turn me Circles in
Your head.
Security of two;
Vanity like the mirror
Growing dust behind
Your bed.

Take the slow road,
Better than No road, and
I'll be here for
You my friend,

Hidden in your
Knowing eyes
Muted desire by
Your wisdom led.
Security of two;
Vanity like the mirror
Growing dust behind
Your bed.

Take the slow road,
Better than No road, and
I'll be here for
You my friend,

I'll Wait 'til we Begin.

Take the slow road
Better than No road,
Take the slow road,
Better than No road,
and I'll be here 'til we Begin.

December 26, 2006

New Orleans, Race Calendar, and Music!

Exciting things are happening at My Daily Spin.

The troupe and I are leaving tomorrow for New Orleans for a couple of days, and then we'll spend a week playing in the ocean at Daytona Beach. On the 1st we all will compete in the Get Your Geek On New Year's Triathlon. I will do the super sprint 400 y/10k/2.5m and the kids will do 50y/1m/0.5m.

On the 8th, my inaugural triathlon training season will begin. Last year, I did a couple of tri's but only had a few weeks training before each. There was no training season or, honestly, even a true triathlon season. For me, the game started late and I was never really prepared; but, I winged it anyway. This year, I will be prepared...

I'm still refining my race season calendar. There will be a race of epic proportions added for June, which I will detail in the coming weeks (but, for a teaser, it requires a trans-ocean trip and mountains... lots of mountains!) And it looks like the Mercedes Half Marathon will likely be cancelled to avoid me pushing my run mileage up too much too fast and re-aggravating my IT band.

The troupe will compete in the Mercedes Kids Marathon on February 11, and they are all training hard. They are doing a few half mile runs each week in order to get the required 25.2 miles done by the time of the race. Then they will do the final mile of the marathon on raceday. You have to be 5 to race, but my 3 and 2 year olds are training with the older ones anyway. There motivation is equally inspiring and amazing!

I got on a bike today for the first time in a month for about 10 miles with no knee pain, and then followed that with my first pool session with fins. Heh, too bad fins arent allowed by IM!

Click on the TriJack Audio tag on your left to listen to a kick-ass tune from The Presets, Girl and the Sea.

Enjoy, and thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

December 25, 2006

We Wish You a

Merry Christmas! Wishing you and your family all of the best and brightest...

December 22, 2006

The Journey

Periodic reflection is healthy. You have to know where you have been to know where you are, and where you are going.

The last 12 months have been amazing, maybe the most healthy and rewarding ever for me.

3 years ago, I was living in my 8 foot square office at the hospital. Now, I have a house and this year I finally made it my home.

I travelled with my kids this year to Disney World, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinatti, Atlanta several times, and Memphis twice.

We listened to the ghosts of Union soldiers in Gettysburg, and we were Chocolate Factory workers for a day at HersheyWorld.

We were spelunkers through miles of underground mazes at Mammoth Cave National Park, and we hiked around Bushy Lake in Alabama.

We walked the land where Abraham Lincoln was born, and where he spent his boyhood. We journeyed to the Ford Theatre where he was cowardly killed, and we stared in awe at his likeness where he is memorialized.

We sledded on a toboggan at more than 30 mph in 10 degrees, over and over and over again, until our feet and hands and nose were numb and blue.

We cheered at a half dozen Auburn University football games, and we went for the 5th straight year to the North American International Auto Show.

We camped in tents at Lake Martin and in our backyard, I taught the kids how to tube behind our boat, and we hiked up Cheaha Mountain.

We toured the home of William Taft, and we were led by our Congressman, Representative Spencer Bachus, on a tour of the United States Capital.

We saw the travelling Broadway productions of Annie twice, and Beauty and the Beast, and we saw the Atlanta Ballet perform The Nutcracker.

We ran on the mall in DC; and, we studied the Jefferson, Washington, and World War II memorials.

We spent 2 separate weeks at the beach in Sandestin, a week at Daytona Beach, Florida, a day at the Georgia
Aquarium, and we made countless trips to the Birmingham Zoo.

We met Sir Topham Hatt and rode on the "real" Thomas the Train, we sat on the first row at the Wiggles, and we went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Without the kids, I made additional trips to Orlando, Panama City Beach, Nashville, Indianapolis, Chicago, and New Jersey.

I camped and canoed Lake Toxaway in the North Carolina mountains, and I caught a fish (for the first time in years) at Lake Martin.

I made 4 road trips greater than 1000 miles, 3 greater than 1500, and 1 greater than 2500 miles (with just me and the kids).

I went to Sea World, a Cubs game in Chicago, a Barons game in Birmingham, the Indianapolis 500, and the Aaron's 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway.

I ran 2 5k's, a sprint triathlon, an olympic distance triathlon, and a marathon.

I spent more than 110 hours sitting in car-line, taught Emma to ride her bike without training wheels, changed countless diapers, and taught Anna to use the potty (finally!).

I built a solar system with Emma, took Anna and Tess to ballet class twice each week, and helped Aidan spot every tractor known to man.

I read more books, mine and the kids, than ever before in the last year.

I worked 1700 hours and took care of about 5000 patients in the Emergency Department at UAB, easing suffering, making life a little more tolerable through laughter and the occasional morphine shot, and even saving a few lives.

I re-discovered a passion for writing and found an outlet for that passion (thank you T - miss ya! ;) ).

I met thousands of people, enjoyed the company of hundreds, and even found a couple of kindred spirits along the way.

A lot has happened in the last year. I am a very fortunate person, and I constantly am reminded of that. I have worked hard to put myself in this position. I have sacrificed when necessary, and I have trudged through many sleepless days and nights.

Despite everything that I have, and everything I have done over the past year, both for myself and my kids, I am so optimistic that the following year and years to come will be even more fulfilling.

My kids are amazing. I like them, as a group and individually, and I know they like me. They, more than any other motivating factor, make me want to do and explore and learn and live. I want to, nay I have to, offer them the world.

So thank you, thank you so very much for sharing this time with me. I hope you continue to journey with me, with us, on our future adventures!

December 20, 2006

The Naked Shake

I need some help with this one - I think I have a locker room stalker....

I've been using the same gym for a couple of years now, and, for the most part, it serves my needs and supplies towels (what's with most gyms not doing this now, anyway??) without piping in too much JT (sorry Bolder).

There have been a few scary locker room moments, like the time I turned the corner to find a naked super-clydesdale - well, I say he was naked but in truth his pannus was so big it draped his maleness, so I guess he was kinda covered - standing dripping wet in the doorway of a stall staring at the john while he was brushing his teeth. Uhm, yea, still not sure what the hell he was doing, but the image haunts me to this day...

But lately this different guy keeps showing up in the locker room. Now the first time I encountered Hairy Dude, with ape-like fur head to toe that would ensure winter outdoor survival for a week even in IronJenny's neck of the woods, I was showering and he was showering and he apparently started talking to me.

I thought he was mumbling to himself and not to me, so I finished up and hurried away thinking this guy was kinda loony and I really didn't want to be standing around naked with him.

HD followed. As I was towelling off he saunters up and starts talking, and this time there is no doubt I'm the target. Ok, just a nice guy, kinda weird to start a random conversation with someone you don't know while you're naked in the shower, but hey - to each his own... And maybe I actually do know him and I don't remember - happens all the time, right? No big deal...

So I went on with my day, and all was well. Until a few days later, same scenario. In the shower... Naked... Alone... And then he walks in, and I immediately feel awkward. HD starts talking to me, and I reluctantly converse for a few seconds before hurrying away. I dress wet and get out of the locker room before he exits the shower. Getting a little alarmed now...

Then, Monday, I was gathering my stuff from my locker and about to dress when HD apparently exits the shower and walks straight to me, naked as a jay bird...

He asked me my name, thus confirming that my memory hadn't failed me and further confirming that this guy was nuts. We exchanged names, and he - gasp - extended his hand for the shake...

Ok, I had to stop this crap right there - I will not shake hands while naked, and I definitely will not shake hands while naked with another naked guy.


His hand dripping wet was extended, waiting for my reciprocal movement. I didn't know what to do; I felt like Ralphie with his broken glasses trying desperately to concoct a story to tell his mom so she wouldn't know that he really did shoot his eye out.

The moment seemed to last forever. I looked down at HD's hairy hand, and then looked to the side and then...

I did it... I had no choice. I feel ashamed, I feel violated. But I did it. I shook his hand. Naked... Two men... It just ain't right.

I think I might have to find a new gym...

December 19, 2006

Time to Clean

I hate to clean, but I need things to be clean. I must admit, I'd much rather someone else clean for me. I had Chris, who came a couple of times each week to clean my house and do laundry, but she had to leave a couple of months ago.

So I've been doing household duties myself for a little while now, and I suppose it isn't all too bad. Like most things, once you get past the initial 5 or 10 minutes that suck, you get in a groove and then everything is easier.

But that has gotten me thinking more about cleaning; and, I realize there are many aspects of my life that need to be cleaned.

So, as I start transitioning to 2007, I have decided to try and clean and eliminate some of the waste from my life.

The easiest and probably most obvious place to start is all of the material waste I have accumulated.

It pains me to admit this, but I have become greedy. Or maybe I always have been greedy, but the last few years I've had the means to flex that greed.

Now there was a time when I was frugal and spendthrift. In college my parents would give me $5 that would last me for weeks (thank God my friends supplied me with endless beer!). My diet staple was rice, for all 3 meals.

In fact, my roommates would laugh at me because my entire diet for months at a time would be rice with a variety of, uhm, well, rather nasty toppings. I had rice with Parmesan cheese added to it, rice with catsup, rice with mustard, even rice with (yes, this is true; and, yes, I laugh at it too) grape jelly.

In medical school I lived with no water, or heat or electricity, for months at a time. I simply had no money, so I learned to adjust and tolerate it.

When I lived in Ann Arbor during residency, I would recycle religiously. As sport, I would try to fit an entire week's worth of trash into 1 small kitchen trash bag. I biked to work when feasible, and my car at the time nearly topped 40 mpg.

But something happened to me when I started making more money, and I think it probably happens to alot of people.

Suddenly the sport of frugality adopted due to the constraint of necessity was replaced by the vice of wastefulness triggered by the possibilities of excess.

The frugal car was replaced by the gas thirsty sport sedan. And soon after, the sport sedan was joined by the Suburban, and then the Suburban was replaced by an even more thirsty LandCruiser.

And the sport sedan for months now has just sat in my driveway, staring at me, constantly reminding me that it is being wasted while I rack up thousands of miles in the SUV at 12 miles/gallon.

I looked in my garage recently. There are 4 wheelers that haven't been ridden in years... There are perfectly functional beds that were replaced just because something else caught my eye. Waste...

In my closets, there are years worth of clothes that are stashed away, the victims of the next season's fashions. Waste...

In my outside storage room, there are two perfectly functional lawnmowers, even though I have been paying someone to mow my lawn. Waste...

In my shoe closet, I have enough shoes to make nearly any woman jealous - I'm talking alot of shoes here. And there are maybe 3 or 4 pair that I've worn in the last 3 months. Waste...

Material waste...

And I shudder to think how much time and energy I have spent to accumulate this waste. And I know that there are better ways I should have spent this time and energy.

So one of my goals for 2007 is to stop accumulating, and to begin shedding the material burdens that have anchored my need for more.

No more. No more waste. No more accumulation.

It's time to focus on necessity... It's time to clean...

December 18, 2006


I sometimes think I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

Anna had her 3K class Christmas party today, so I joined the group to eat pizza and make smiley-face cookies.

I was the only dad there, which has stopped surprising me. I've been going to these class parties since my oldest started pre-school 4 years ago, and I can count on half a hand the number of times I haven't been the solitary dad.

But being the only dad there isn't exactly why I feel lucky. I mean, it's not like I'm cruising the school trying to pick up her friends' moms. Heh...

It's that I'm able to be there at all.

That I have a job that gives me the flexibility to set my own schedule and work at night... That I have the ability - I have no idea why or how! - to go through the day sleepless after and before working all night so I not only can take care of my kids but can participate actively in their events...

That I have the desire to sit on those tiny little pre-school chairs with a dozen 3 year olds jumping on me because I'm the only dad there; and, after all, dads are for jumping on...

Life is complex. Parenting is complex. It's easy, way too easy, to continually look to the future for a time when I'll have more money, or the kids will be out of diapers, or when the kids will be out of the house. Then, then everything will be perfect.

But if you always look ahead, look to the future, you don't see what is in front of you, what is now. And now, I've discovered, is pretty damn amazing, even when I'm getting jumped by a bunch of 3 year olds.

And that makes me the luckiest guy I know...

December 15, 2006

Get Your Geek On Triathlon Training

TriJack and troupe will be in Daytona Beach, Florida for the Get Your Geek On New Year's Triathlon. We haven't solidified the details, but we will have a late morning (maybe 11?) start based out of the Ocean Walk Resort. All 4 of the troupe will be competing, so ours will be a toddler-friendly distance...

Anyone in the Daytona area is welcome to join us to ring in the new year, tri style!

Ocean Walk has indoor pools for those that want to do the chlorine swim, or, as the name suggests, is beachside the Atlantic Ocean for those that prefer the salt swim.

The troupe is training hard for their first triathlon experience, as you can tell from the linked video. They have a 25 yard swim to complete tomorrow, then Sunday a brick... Ya gotta start 'em young, right? ;)

December 14, 2006

Listen to This

It isn't often that I'm introduced to a musical talent or song by which I am not only impressed but absolutely blown away. My friend KB told me about the Decemberists a few months ago, and I finally got around to downloading and listening to a few tracks last week.

Wow! I had to have more, then even more, and; before I knew it, I had their entire discography in my library.

Colin Meloy has a timeless voice, and each song weaves a multi-layered story that is as much instrumental ear candy as lyrical bliss.

If you haven't indulged, check it out. Click on the TriJack Audio tag to sample Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect from their 2002 disc entitled Castaways and Cutouts.
Crank it, and enjoy!

December 12, 2006

Changing Lives

I changed too many lives last night.

I don't like to change lives, because that usually means someone or their kid is about to die, or has cancer or a heart attack, or was murdered or raped.

I'm an ER doc. I take care of people when they are having the worst day of their life, and I never know how their day is going to affect me until the day after.

If I wake without detailed recollection of the night before, then it likely was an uneventful shift of colds and sprained ankles and gunshots to non-vital body parts.

But when I wake, like I did this morning, and immediately remember the people that abruptly entered and left my life last night, it usually means there was a lot of bad news. And it usually means that while they left me physically, they're still with me for the next few months and maybe years...

Like the 30 year old runner - yes, a runner, apparently 15 to 20 miles most weeks, and yes, 30 years old - with no health problem and no family history of early-age health problems who had what we call a widowmaker - a heart attack in the the worst possible anatomical location of the heart, the kind of heart attack that frequently kills people on the spot without even a chance of survival. He is alive, as of this morning, but he will never be the same.

Or the 56 year old guy with sudden onset of progressive leg weakness over the last couple of days. When I saw him, he couldn't even shift his legs in the bed. It royally sucked to tell him he had metastatic prostate cancer with spinal cord compression, essentially eliminating his chance of walking his daughter down the aisle at her January wedding. If he's alive for it...

Or the 42 year old guy who fell back off a ladder from a 2nd story roof, landed on his back and broke, nay shattered, his bony pelvis in such a way that he will have years of multiple staged surgeries before he has even a chance of a normal life.

Or the lady, and her 2 children and her in-laws, who sat sobbing but silent in disbelief when I told her that her husband was dead after he fell asleep driving and spun his car off the road into a tree.

Life sometimes sends us reminders that we are here on borrowed time. Nothing is really ours; we just use it and enjoy it for a few years and then it's gone. We're gone...

So we have to use what we have, what we are given, and make it count. There are no re-do's, there is no second chance. There is no time for regrets, and no place for re-living each yesterday.

There is only the here and now, and maybe there is a tomorrow.

And that, my friends, lets me appreciate everything I have, and everything around me, in a way I can't possibly describe... It keeps me satisfied, and it lets me know I'm complete even when I feel shattered.

And I couldn't ask for anything more...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

December 11, 2006


"I cannot believe you didn't drown..."

My swim coach didn't exactly say that, but she could have summarized her critique of my observed dolphin-like prowess, or not, with that simple statement.

Now, to her credit, and mine, she did recognize that I have incredible potential to compete with the likes of the Thorpedo.

"You move well through the water..."

And that was as positive as she could be...

She then told me, over the course of 45 or so minutes, the slight position changes that I could make that would make me go from a struggling 2 minute 100 yard swim x 1 to a slick, shark-like beast with sub 50 minute ironman swims. Oh, wait... That was what I dreamed last night she told me...

But let's get back to reality...

So on my first session with her today, my coach told me, in no specific order of importance, that I would do great if I could just do the following:

Get my head higher... Keep my elbows up... Don't bend my knees so much when I kick ("STOP RUNNING WITH YOUR KICK!!!") Rotate your body more... Rotate your body evenly, your hips and your upper body together as a unit... Keep your elbows up... Breathe... Breathe every 3rd stroke, always... Keep your ankles plantar-flexed... Keep your eyes focused in front of you...

Hmm. This is going to take some time! Well, at least she layed it all out for me... No sugar-coating this ego... Give it to me like you see it, and I'll take it and run... Or swim...

So, I think I have some work to do in the pool.

And with that huge list of things to work on, and about a dozen drills which she swears will help, I think I better just go jump in a lake... And swim!

Thanks for joining My Daily Spin.

December 10, 2006


I had just completed a solid hour of vigorous stretching when I stood up and my old friend ITBS made an unwanted visit.

For the month prior to and the few days after my marathon a week ago, my iliotibial band on my right knee had been hurting. Oh, I've done everything you're supposed to do - ice, elevation, ace-wrap, scheduled ibuprofen. I even considered injecting myself with celestone to decrease the inflammation, but decided that may be a little over the top.

But as I walked away from the gym today, it occurred to me that my body has rejected what I have been doing to it. Muscoloskeletal pain that isn't from a particular injury - like getting hit by a car, or tripping on the pavement - is usually from overuse or misuse, or a little of both.

Think about it, our bodies are essentially the same. We all have the same iliotibial band, the same patella tendon, the same bony pelvis, the same femoral condyle. Unless your anatomy is surgically altered or congenitally misaligned, you have the same anatomy as me as Norman Stadler as Lance Armstrong.

So why would some people have ITBS from preparing for a marathon and others don't? The answer lies in how you are preparing - your running form, your rate of mileage increase, your recovery times. To perform well over any length of time, you have to have proper form, proper pace/timing, and proper rest. If you don't do these things the proper way, you will develop an injury or pain. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Overuse or misuse leads to injury.

I have overused and misused my body, and it is rejecting me. And then it occurred to me that overuse or misuse also is the cause of rejection with relationships.

Think about the reasons you have rejected, or were rejected by, previous significant others or potential significant others. Now I'm not really talking about the platinum double D type you lusted over at work for a couple of months until you saw her picking her teeth with the corner of a manila envelope...

I'm talking about the girl who shared your passions; who always knew what and when and how to say the right words; who had a smile that could disarm nuclear tension, and a confidence that could not be broken; who made you laugh and who laughed at you... That's the girl... That's the girl I'm talking about.

Why is there rejection from the apparent perfect person for you? I realized today that it's a combination of overuse and misuse. So for a relationship to work properly, just like for an athlete to work properly for any duration, there must be proper form, proper pace, and proper rest.

I think the proper form portion is fairly easy to understand, but hard to do. You have to have the zone 1 base relationship training mastered, and you have to consistently build on your zone 1. You have to be respectful, and considerate, offer criticism constructively and reluctantly. You have to be able to open yourself, to let yourself be loved and respected, which I think sometimes is harder than its counterpart. You have to give your time, and make her feel like it is truly hers. Proper form... Perfect form...

Proper pace and proper timing are requisites for a relationship to work and not end in rejection. You can't jump straight to zone 3 or 4 early on, or you will never develop the zone 1 base necessary to sustain it.

And both persons have to be at a point in their life when they can and want to pursue a new relationship. I think this one hits me harder than the others. She has to be at the bottom of the mountain to start the climb. If she is still falling from the last unsuccessful climb, then it will be impossible to start a new one until she hits rock bottom and recovers. And recovers...

Finally, for a relationship to work it needs rest. It's inconceivable and harmful to expect two independent people to want to /need to /have to spend all of their time together. You can't grow as a couple unless you grow as individuals. And it's hard to grow as an individual if you don't occasionally exercise your individuality.

That's what it takes, at least in part, to make a relationship work, and it's the same thing that it takes to make a trained body work. You have to nurture each, paying attention to form, timing, and rest, or you will be rejected.

So I learned today that I've been rejected by my body; and, I think I may have gained a bit of insight into what it takes for a relationship to work...

Not bad for a day of stretching. Now it's time to go ice my damned knee!

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

December 8, 2006


Exciting things are happening at The Daily Spin. I've added two races to the schedule, the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on July 4 and Ironman Wisconsin on September 9.

I'm looking at possible races to add in March, maybe an olympic distance tri (open to race suggestions?) versus a cycling century. The other idea floating around in this way-too-active thought process is the Arizona Desert Cycling Camp mountain week on 3/31 - 4/8. Seven days of climbing the southeastern Arizona and New Mexico mountains with 74-103 miles per day. Wicked! Anybody participated in this camp?

I now have some of the best coaches in triathlon, Roch Frey and Paul Huddle at, guiding my preparation for Ironman. And I have my first session with my swim coach on Monday!

My 6 year old daughter Emma ran her first ever half mile run this afternoon in about 5 1/2 minutes to start her preparation for the Mercedes Kids Marathon in February. My 5 year old daughter Tess also is registered, but when she realized today that she would have to run and couldn't ride her bike for the race she lost interest (for now...)! She's too cute!

Until next time, thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin!

December 6, 2006

News from Heather Fuhr

Ok, I promised some exciting news...

So I was in the ED last night talking to one of my residents about a patient. Nothing too exciting or life threatening, so I am checking email while we are formulating the best management plan...



I see it...

Heather Fuhr... Yes, read it again, I had to... Heather Fuhr... As in superbadasswoneverytriathlonyoucouldeverimagine Heather Fuhr... As in Kona champion Heather Fuhr... As in 15 time Ironman winner Heather Fuhr...

An email to me... Read it again, I had to... An email to me from Heather Fuhr confirming that yes, I have a slot in... drum roll please....


Oh yea, it's on baby! It is so on...

Time to Rest

This will be hard, much harder than anticipated. I need to take a few weeks off and let my body rest.

The problem is that I don't really feel like I need to rest my body. I want to train. I want to run... I want to bike... I want to lift and swim and stretch... I want to feel the adrenaline pumping through me, screaming in its chemical tongue to run harder... Faster... Better...

I thought that when the 26.2 was done, I would be ready, mentally and physically, for a break. But the mental part just isn't here. Not now... Not yet...

But my body says rest, so mind must comply.

Well, not completely. While I PT my ITBS and recover my hip flexors, I'll still be doing a little swimming, God knows I don't need any swim time off. I need to; no, I must learn some decent swim technique if I am going to survive these long course tri's in the up-coming season.

Which brings me to some exciting news about a particular filled IM race that I am trying to find a way in which to compete. If I'm able to do what I am thinking, I'll have some super-cool stuff to report soon!

So check back often, and thanks for joining me on My Daily Spin.

December 4, 2006

Josh's Girl, (or Mistress Chemo)

My friend Josh has started losing his hair from the chemotherapy that hopefully will conquer his cancer. This is one of the many battles he's fighting. Check out a new My Daily Spin feature, an mp3 download of the following text, with extras. To listen, just click on the Trijack Audio tag.

She sneaks in and takes you when you least expect it. You know she's coming, and you know what she wants. You just don't know when, or how.

It almost always happens in the shower the first time. She gets the first pieces while you are distracted by steam and heat. You turn off the water, look down, and you know what's happened.

Then she leaves, but you know she'll be back. You wonder when, and you wonder where.

You don't tell any of your friends, because you want to see if they can tell that you are in some way different, if she has affected you as much as she has affected your perception of you.

And then she strikes again, in the shower. This time she leaves no doubt what it is she wants, and she takes it freely and aggressively.

Her visits become more frequent. She strikes when you are asleep, and you don't even realize it until you wake. Empowered, she then strikes anytime, any place.

She stays until her hunger is satisfied, until there is nothing left of you to take. Then she moves on.

And you are left hairless and conspicuous, and everyone who sees you points and whispers. They know, and you know, that you are sick, maybe dying.

But they don't know that when she took the good, she also took the bad. And you can see that the good is gone, but you have to wait months to discover if the bad is gone.

If she did take the bad, and it is gone, she'll be the best girl you've ever had. And if not, if she only took the good but left you with the cancer still eating at you; well, maybe there's another girl to give you a twirl in the shower.

Rich and I showing love for a brother...

December 2, 2006

My first marathon - the report

Goal #1 was to finish. Done. Goal #2 was to finish under 4 hours. Done.

My 4 kids, my sister, and I arrived in Memphis Friday night just in time to visit the Expo and get the race packet. There were icicles hanging from the city fountains in front of the civic center. Icicles. Icicles and I don't get along...

There were so many eating options along Beale Street and Peabody Place and an electric atmosphere; but, we settled on the kid friendly chain across the street from our hotel. After 90 minutes of awful service from a friendly but overwhelmed server (I swear my 6 year old daughter was taller than this lady...), we got to sleep at a kid friendly 2230. Except of course I didn't sleep. Not then anyway...

Race morning finally arrived. I was so excited that I was out the door at 0530 to see if there was some miraculous overnight global warming sensation. No such luck...

I started in the 3rd wave, and everything went smoothly. I latched onto the 3:45 pace group and cruised through the 1st 2 miles. But I felt pedestrian at that pace, probably from the amazing atmosphere and bands and the cool weather (which I was starting to realize was actually my friend!)

So I picked up the pace, and I ran 7:45 pace for miles 3 through 7 or 8. I realized then that I needed to pay more respect to those unknown miles, 20-26, and slow it down.

So I backed down to around 8:30-8:40 pace. I still felt great! And I had my big goofy smile on frequently enough to get more than a few comments from the volunteers/supporters about smiling through the pain.

Oh yea, the pain. Hmm, what pain? Its funny... Every run over the last 4-6 weeks my right knee had pained me for miles 2 or 3 until 7 or 8, then been ok after that. It had been getting a little worse, and the cold weather seemed to exacerbate it. In fact, when I was going to the Expo the night before, it hurt just walking. Ditto on race morning.

But now I had gone for 7 or 8 miles and my knee was great! A couple of hints of the pain, but basically nada... I was stoked...

Now I had needed to pee since I was at the starting line. Note to self: just go pee; don't worry about losing "your spot" at the front of your corrall. And I tried at mile 15, but both porta-johns were occupied. Mile 16 brought me relief, but brought on the aches.

When I made the pit stop, it was the first time I had stopped running since the start. And as soon as I sprinted out of the aid station to catch the group with whom I had been running, I knew I'd made a mistake by stopping.

Suddenly my hip flexors ached, and then my feet ached. And then I could feel the blister over my 1st MTP on my right foot. And when the physical aches begin, the mental aches follow close behind.

My pace dropped. At mile 20, I did what I was hoping not to do: I walked. I walked for about 3 or 4 minutes. And when I started running again, everything - EVERYthing - was stiffer and more sore. I made a vow to not walk for that long again.

For mile markers 21 and 22 I walked the aid station, then started running after each. And then marker 23 came, and I knew, I knew I was going to make it. I had more than 30 minutes to go 3.2 miles and still finish under 4 hours.

And then something funny happened at mile 24. Completely unexpected... I ran through the aid station, and I knew I was so close. And I broke down.

Oh, physically I was fine. But something happened emotionally. I kept running, but I was crying. And not even crying really, but maybe even bawling. Face contorted, eyes blurry, tears flowing... Crying.

My dad... I wanted my dad there with me. To run with me. To see me running, finishing, flourishing... It was strange; I was crying just like the day 10 years ago when we buried him.

I passed the 26 mile marker, and turned right into the AAA baseball stadium for the finish. Never have I been so happy to get in a baseball stadium!

After sprinting through the finish, I stumbled over to the chip-takers. The girl reached down to cut my tie, only to find that at some point along the 26.2 miles my tie already had broken and my chip was lost. Heh...

So, technically I guess, according to the St. Jude Marathon, I didn't complete my goal #1 - to finish. I guess I won't be an official finisher, because my chip is somewhere on the streets of Memphis.

But I have the soreness, and I'll soon I'll have the photo - the photo of me running, nay sprinting, under the FINISH sign in 3:55.45.

December 1, 2006

The door

In the end, when all is said and done, when I have no more races to run or patients to heal, when I have no more breaths to inspire and no more sights to behold, let it be spoken that I was never afraid to open the door.

We only have one go around this world.

Opportunities come, and then fade away. Desires burn, then flicker out. We are beautiful when young, then wrinkle and sag when old.

If you don't look on the other side of the door, you'll never know what could have been. I want to look. I need to look. I have to look.

That is why I'm running 26.2 miles tomorrow. I have to look.