Sunday, April 21, 2013

Angels Among Us

I revolved this trip to Duke around their annual 5k, angels among us. Now if you've read this blog long, you know I love that waiting for an angel song but it was less than adequate to be waiting for some theoretical angel because there have been angels all along. Hebrews talks about being kind to strangers because sometimes that's how we entertain angels unaware... I've had many of those.

Thursday night before flying out here, I went to a memorial for Boston and there was Kiana an angel in front of me, several runners that I hugged tighter than usual including some of the George Clooney girls (for those who keep asking what that means, it means one thing and one thing alone, that having gotten left in the middle of all this mess, I'm incredibly scared of commitment). I semi panicked about bringing the girl who I had invited and talked to Matt from Hawktober about it (he and I just got named as honorary cochairs of a race in Austin, I'm still here trying to keep everyone away from my medical appointments, the way I did 2 years ago when I tried to keep my brothers and mother away. He said, look just you need to realize you can tell her that it's just a trip it doesn't mean nothing. Well, that wasn't true but somewhere I settled that it didn't mean everything either... If it tells you something other people were semi invited and uninvited...

But I was nervous about this 5k... luckily, the media thing is fading but E60 filmed me lacing up (if you think I'm usually bad about the tying my shoes thing because they come undone all the time...) and racing. But the main reason I was nervous about it was because this was a "sponsored" race. I had asked people to donate for brain cancer research and while I have no doubt that 99.8 of the donations people would have donated out of the goodness of their heart and would have donated even if I was just walking, me and unemployed guy whose biggest deficit from the last couple of years may be confidence wanted to "earn" their donation. So I had trained for a 5k  which is tougher than I realized being more of a long distance guy. Someone had asked me if I thought I could win and while my time are respectable, I always state the same thing, my goal is always trying to get a PR, to come in ahead of a previous version of me. 

So I ran, and even now 2.5 years into this process, I am still not sure whether I'm running to or from something but either way I ran hard. Usually my playlists are focus but to try to relax the first song was actually Bad Bad Leroy Brown just to smile for the first half mile or so. Jen, a friend I had made at a Livestrong event that now lives here had come to do the race and who was the "stalker" who gave me the current IPOD was there. So seeing her and her husband also made me smile.

I was in 8th at mile one as I counted seven guys around me on that first curve. I passed all but 2 in that second mile and then I was in 3rd. Nathaniel Friedman, newphew of my surgeon Allan Friedman, had created my training schedule and we'd work on speed so I could have a negative split and have some turnover left at the end of the race. And I turned it on and passed the guy in second and got my fasted 5k ever, a 17:40, 14 seconds better than ever on a tough course.

But that wasn't even my favorite part. Obviously I'm competitive both against me and against others but the winner, the winner was also a survivor. He had surgery in January and had also revolved his trip around this 5k. He is more of a short distance sprinter guys and his 5k pr is more like 16:30 (I don't think I could get down that ever) but he has achieved those times after a bigger tumor, higher grade surgery. It was a blessing to meet him because it makes me think that maybe, losing some of that dead weight in our head makes us go faster. But I also met another survivor's mom whose son is having to relearn to walk and yesterday was proud of him for completing the event. I listened to her and was grateful for the connection but also pointed to her to Matt who will always be one of my heroes. He reminds me not complain (or at least do it less often) about my deficits but try to overcome them. His have been mostly physical mine mostly "mental" but by the way, once again, my lumosity score are the highest ever this morning. And yeah one of the doctors says it may just be getting better at the games but that's what a lot of improving mental skills is.

As I walked around grateful my friends raised $3250, I saw one of the trials Duke is working on specific to my tumor where they believe some progress is possible. Or as they like to say, at Duke, there is hope. The event itself in it's 20th year raised the most money it's ever raised, over 2 million dollars. The guy speaking talked about how Duke has been number one in this stuff but today his favorite number was 2.

He said something to me that reminded me of a guy 2.5 years ago. He said he didn't consider himself a survivor (they encouraged us to wear stickers). It took me quite a while to think of myself as that and I tried to encourage him a Livestrong mantra which is you're a survivor from the moment you're diagnosed. We invited him to dinner with some of my friends and I'm glad to say he came. I stayed at my friend Mitch's  house who I met in Florida and saw him a few days before the seizure that started this all. People like , Mitch, Lydia, Sara and Suzanne who had both been there before and when this all started were there. It was interestingly enough mostly an ultimate crowd, where most of my exercise time was spent before becoming a single dad. And this morning I am going to play ultimate with them and this afternoon I am running at another Boston memorial with yesterday's champion though this time, it'll be side by side.

So I have the actual medical appointments tomorrow and I'll do my ritual of sitting in their mediation center and remembering that I hand these guys time and money to monitor and fight this because I have always had good people in my life. There at dinner, I realized I never needed to wait for an angel, I just needed to recognize some were there before this who have stayed all along, some have come because of this, and that like those I met this weekend, I choose to believe some more will come and I pray that once in a while I can be one of those angels to/for someone

Oddly enough one of those angels was shocked that I'd never heard the song angels among us. They wrote down the lyrics and it was actually the last song I listened to before starting the race ( :

Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give.
To guide us with the light of love.

I imagine odds are that if you read this blog, you're one of those angels. So my fastest 5k ever yesterday, the wings that have carried me all along, have been, at least part of the time, me borrowing yours... so thank you.


  1. Great Report Iram! Congrats on the PR! you are F'n fast! Hope the results came back good to! God Bless

  2. Iram, love that song and congratulations on such success and your 17:40 time! May God continue to surround you with Angels.....Hugs, EC