Saturday, August 31, 2013

Run The Gap

I am an optimistic guy... always trying to hold on to hope... to cling with conviction that we can... we can be better even if the situation can't be. But this entry I write with so many emotions....

I just finished the Pocatello Marathon, marathon number 8 and the first one since I won one with Kiana. I ran it with conviction on a whole different set of factors than I've ever done. I've never gotten a cold marathon... Apparently I bring the heat with me. It was the first marathon I'd done since the one I had done with Kiana. And I had the goal that has been stated here over and over, I wanted to break 3. It was the first marathon I had done at this elevation and had a decline (started at 6000 ft and ended at 4500)... it was the first marathon where I was speaking at the pasta dinner the night before so the nerves of the race vs the nerves of the speech were competing with each other...Coach always makes fun of us for "trotting out excuses early" before races. I knew this was a different game but I didn't make any. I knew I could do it somehow or another. I was intimidated by the heat, by no shade after mile 9, but I planned to gun it.

I went and had lunch with Kiana before catching the flight. I started the speech saying that since I always use potatoes to carb up that we should come up with a new nickname for lazy people that's not couch potatoes... it should be couch ______, something that runners don't eat (feel free to throw one in). And then I went to the speech telling the stories of my first marathon, some jokes about this cancer journey, telling about my mom's first and only half. It was the hardest I had worked on any speaking engagement and at the end of it... there were people both crying and laughing at me (I guess that means it was really bad eh?...). While I shared the victories of winning age groups and stroller divisions and a marathon behind the cutest girl has
ever seen, I also shared the struggles of waking up in an ambulance twice. And I finished saying "For some of us, it will be a pr because this is the first time covering the distance. Others will have to deal with expectations not being realized, the thrill of exceeding them or the frustration of disappointment. I have finished marathons screaming out of joy, out of exhaustion, out of frustration but shortly after them all, I smiled. And if there's anything you remember from a guy with memory problems, it's that the journey is what matters. The training is the work and the marathon is the reward. And no matter how it goes, keep going till the end and well after that. Enjoy your reward."

And then I went to run... and I felt great. I just went into the mentality of that this was a new adventure from
the same old ones... I'm not looking for a new life or a new love, just a better place to die. I finished the first half in 1:27 the fastest half ever in a full but it also might have something to do with that steep incline, the sun not being up and being completely in the shade. At mile 12 it was the most my quads had ever hurt but they felt fine if that makes any sense. At mile 14 there was a sign that said slower speed aheads and I joked to someone running near me that wouldn't apply to me... ahh hubris.

And then at mile 15 I vomited and I said to myself no problem, you got plenty of time. Just don't make the Austin mistake of not hydrating or eating. So I kept doing that and I kept throwing up. At mile 22 I am like that 3 isn't going to happen but I got plenty of room to qualify for Boston under 3:05... But the vomiting continued. It never took anything out of me but it's not like the snot you can blow out your nose and keep running. By mile 24 I had thrown up over a dozen times. Half and full marathon runners who passed me that had been at the speech tried to stop and immediately I'd start running with them and tell them this was their race and to not slow down for me. And at mile 24, the 3:15 pacer who I'd had dinner with the day before saw me and I'm like let's just run it in together and I quickly left him... till I threw up again and I would throw up again 3 times in the last 2 miles and finish in about 3:20... Knowing good and well that a DNF will never acceptable to me...And every time, every time I got back to running I generated speed but stopping for the side of the road takes time...(it's a staggered race so the half marathons begin at mile 13, the 10kers at mile 20 and the 5k er's at mile 23.1) Perhaps my favorite moment was a sweet grandmother looking lady who was doing her 5k said as I was on the grass, do you want me to help walk you in...

After the race, trying to overcome the frustration with myself and my system, I smiled at the strangers who
were now friends and high fived them, ran one girl in who was struggling... But as I thought about it since the medication doubled last march I've done 4 long distance races with Kiana and 4 without her. In all 4 of the ones with her, I have not thrown up and I have placed winning my division or winning it outright. And in the 4 that I've done without her I've literally thrown up more each time once, twice, four times, over a dozen times today. Perhaps that's just coincidence... perhaps it's the universe kindly reminding me why it's letting me stay alive. As the media stuff shows, I am a better father due to cancer and that's the gap cancer filled in.  But still, I crossed the finish line smiling and was amused the medal literally said smile makers. And I smiled. Maybe these invitation will stop and people will realize that the Gusher marathon makes me nothing more than a one hit wonder...

A couple of the pacemakers were kind and said you earned your keep, they invited you to speak and you inspired a lot of people (someday somebody's gotta get that I perspire not inspire). I spoke about the gaps I had in my life, the gaps I've picked up in my life, finances and memory since this all started. But I took this invitation because I wanted to make sure that people understood that life is better if you share your gaps with people that matter. I'm not afraid of new things, life has forced me on me and I've signed up for others. And I never get to quit running cause I'd have to have one hell of an excuse to retire. But while, I've got it. I will run to fill what gaps I can in people's lives... Kiana's above all. And as I said at my speech and reflected on by having a song that made the Pocatello playlist... I am thankful for many things. I am thankful that I'm still standing after losing more fluid in that marathon than every race I've ever thrown up in combined. I am thankful that I am raising a little girl who is amazing. I am thankful that I got to take my first trip to Idaho to speak to people about how they are awesome. And whatever gaps I have even in marathon time, well thankfulness isn't one of them. I guess that's my reward from and at the end of this marathon and I'll try to listen to the pasta dinner speaker and enjoy it.


  1. Well, well, well ...... what to say? As self effacing as you are, I think your are amazing (as is your daughter) and you inspire a whole lot more than you give yourself credit for. Good job -- love the first time 5Ker offering to walk you in. LOL.

  2. Still...
    you truly deserve the medal, facing such adversity, you triumph where others would have failed.....

  3. Enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing!