Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful Secret

Two years ago, I got out of the hospital November 11th, had to take steroids for 10 days, anti infection stuff, 2 anti seizure medication, though I never did take the anti pain stuff. Those first few runs were tough… nowhere near the pace I could have kept before the biopsy… and certainly a joke compared to what I’m doing now. I am amused at the accolades I get from therunning achievements since it all started. Running is my primary therapy, or at least the one I attend most often and if someone walked into a party and said I did really well at therapy… well most people would feel awkward. But somehow, sports therapy is I suppose a more socially acceptable way of hoping and coping.
Still, the first race I had after the biopsy was the turkey trot where I kept a 6:16 pace (official results show a 5:39 pace which is just wrong because the leader took a wrong turn and everyone followed so we did closer to 4.5 miles than the 5 it was supposed to be) and I came in 83 over all out of 20K+ runners. It was the first run I’d felt decent at and somehow that was comforting. The next year of the turkey trot was the first time I ever did a race doing a stroller (still now I’ve done less than a handful) and it happened to have the stroller division in which I came in second by almost 2 minutes about a 6:30 pace. I’ve made enough running friends to where many of them announce the time they are going for but some concede secretly hope it’s better. I usually announce the one I’m actually going for, no less no more. But for this year’s turkey trot, when people asked how I wanted to do, I said I was hoping to place in the stroller division and keep about a 6:20 ish pace… The weather was looking rough, Kiana’s gained some weight (as kids should!) and the course this year had some hills but in my heart of hearts…. I wanted in order of importance a faster pace than I had kept 2 years ago, showing that cancer had made me aware I was stronger carrying Kiana than I had been trying to just be an athlete by myself. At a 5k where I had this summer come in near the front pushing a stroller, someone had said to me, man you gotta leave that stroller behind and see what you’re capable of without it. I smiled but remembered an old preacher friend who when his wife was ill sat by her side for years even when in the end she didn’t remember him from Alzheimer. Another preacher friend told him he had a responsibility to the people and to the Lord to get back to doing his work… the guy said no and he took care of her as best as he could until the end. This is a very different scenario but what I think is the strongest theme of this story is that I’ve tried to protect my family from this disease as best as I can. I had some growing up to do when it all started and thought it was just about making sure it didn’t drain their finances but it’s a far more complicated issue than that and through guidance from multiple organizations, Livestrong being chief among them, and multiple great people, I’ve learned to take care of the many, many different aspects, the emotional moments and connections, the memories the things that make us human being most important of all. 

I have a new GPS watch now than the one I was using 2 years ago. Back then, it was one that kept track of your current pace and I’d just check in on it every once in a while but it only  let me know how things were at that point in time and every mile letting me know how that mile goes. The watch I have now I have set to tell me an average pace, realizing that while every moment matters, it’s the trend of your races that clue you in more to reality than just a slice of life. At the halfway mark, that watch said I was keeping an average pace of 6:19.

The race ended with me passing a professional triathlete, pushing a far more expensive stroller with a less than 1 year old with less than a half mile to go. He tried to run right next to me for a bit and frankly I was nervous because I knew who he was. The crowd must have been amused to see two strollers racing hard against each other because they immediately reacted and started cheering. That was the most I’ve ever gotten cheered on at the end of a race where two strollers in a five mile race ended up less than a few seconds apart, something one staff said they had never seen happen. 

Kiana and I had run the kids K together right before it and it was a beautiful to watch her enthusiasm. Then she was kind enough to let me carry her for a few miles while listening to Disney songs on a loud speaker, alternating between singing along and heckling me to go faster, faster. Two years later, I kept a 6:11 pace, 71st overall and won the stroller division. Thus exceeding my open goal, beating my secret goal and achieving my hope. 
As this custody hearing approaches on January 15th, where someone who didn’t stay through the medical appointments is now suggesting that my medical condition should only allow me to have supervised visits, one of the people who wrote a letter on my behalf stated that running has become the analogy of my life. I joke with people that if you’re ever going to have brain surgery, don’t put it off to run a marathon because that’s a hard story to keep up. Put it off to you know eat cheesecake or something. But if  running is the track that fits my life, I’d rather slow down to push Kiana or to run next to her until the day where biology rules that I can’t keep up with her rather than ever be faster without her. I am one week away from the first month in 2 years without a brain cancer related appointment and I’m starting to believe it may just happen.  And for all that… for all that I am nothing but grateful and that’s no secret.

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