Sunday, March 22, 2015

Thinking Out Loud

On my typical runs I run with music but somehow yesterday during my long run, I had forgotten my iPod and had 16 miles to do in preparation for Boston.  I can't say I was upset because luckily I had good company the entire time with friends. I'm  used to singing out loud as a way to distract from the pain from the hills... so there was more time to think than usual.  However, if you'll let me meander here, this blog has always been train of thought, a thinking out loud of sorts, I was amused when talking on the playground with someone about our busted brackets, as we were bemoaning having picked the wrong  upsets, someone who doesn't follow March Madness or understand sports betting, asked why we were choosing any form of being upset anyway?

As has become my typical habit every March, I've picked Duke to win it all, hoping that after a few trips there for brain cancer medical appointments, that if the basketball team would just win it all I'd get a bit of a refund. I happened to have been there in March of 2011 and saw the ramp up to March Madness on campus and while I was a bit confused from brain surgery, steroids and a swollen skull, it was a cool enthusiasm. Like most enthusiasms I've ever experienced one that isn't more contagious by being right next to it. So every year I participate in this activity of trying to make money on college basketball players who aren't allowed to do so themselves but I am getting distracted but my bracket is doing rough so my best hope right now is a side bet in which someone whose not a fan of Duke owes me some Duke gear if my bracket outperforms there :). But this year I did have one of my 5 brackets in three different pools picking Kentucky as the winner... I named it cheating on Duke. (When Kiana and I were at a Sherwood Forest Faire over the weekend and I was wearing my Duke gear coincidentally she was rather amused at the people referring to me as a Duke.)

But somehow as spring 2015 is starting and I've got almost one year of driving under my belt, I'm kind of blown away and thankful by how well life is going. The person I was supposed to competing against for the ARC elections (they were running first) dropped out and so it was really more of an appointment than an election but I am now the Austin Runner's Club President-Elect, a title that when it starts late May/Early June will be a lot cooler when it loses the last couple of syllables. While waiting for that to start, I'm volunteering in Kiana's school coaching chess for a UIL competition so those kids can learn how cool it is to be nerdy like me and think of the long game (many many many moons ago one of the most exciting parts about a trip to India was all the elaborate chess boards I saw in the country where it originated). I am about halfway to my goal for Boston fundraising (I've loved the captions from the very kind to the ones in honor of other people and perhaps amusingly enough the one who instead of donating the $26.20 donated $28.20 since I'm known for getting lost and running extra, something I've done way too many times; if you haven't donated, today's the day to be my hero). 

The ESPN piece may actually get done and air (though it's dragged out long enough you start to realize they have better stories to air) but we're scheduled for the last shooting soon (anyone know why both guns and cameras are referred to as shooting since no one is blasting something out and one is taking something in... and while we're on sidebars, when ESPN said it was their final shooting they meant one with cameras not guns right?). Let me admit a quick secret about the media pieces I've been in... I am a guy who captions most things he shares in social media from pictures to links this blog etc but when I put up something from actual media I usually just share the link with very little if anything commented... Well the reason for that is because a good chunk of them I've never seen or read, my little brother heckled me about when I was on the Today Show that "you're supposed to tell your little brother when that's going to happen." I actually watched that piece this week more because Lester Holt has taken over NBC nightly News and I was a big fan of him and how humble and human he came across while in my house. But I was a yearbook photographer and I rarely take pictures selfies or otherwise cause somehow I am a lot more comfortable on the other side of the camera. Anyway, I'm sure if the ESPN piece ever airs it'll be like at 2 o clock in the morning (that could be a fun demographic) but I've learned my lesson if it happens I'll let people know in advance. 

But the Boston marathon, ESPN, ARC presidency, I am excited about but they are gigantically in

second place to the adventures I'm having with this little girl. It was spring break and we took in some fun times from exercise like her longest bike ride ever (12 miles), her first time swimming laps (500 meters and 300 meters) some runs and track workout and hill repeats. The combination of those things made me think it's time for her to tie me in how many triathlons I've done (1). She made totem poles out toilet paper rolls and glue and art and craft paper. She's had playdates and time with the neighbors newborn infants that makes me realize that maybe a sibling is one of the things in my childhood that is better than hers.  She cuts pancakes into the shape of a bone to hand our Puppy. She takes way too much pleasure in finding those little stickers that stick to my clothes on our walks and seeing how many she can put on me before I notice (someone took one off me at church this morning). She loved that we both wore green for St. Patricks day. I keep hoping that this is as wild as she's going to get during spring break EVER but even if she does grow up to make some of the choices and mistakes we make as teenagers adults, I hope she holds onto many of the simples ones, some which I think I learned from her. She was just talking about how fun exercise was during those things, during the playground, during the recent track and field day in which she was one of three winners for  the hula hoop contest. (The reason there were three was because first they saw who it hadn't fallen off and then they made them take a second hula hoop and in the end some kids still hadn't had either fall off for a while so they told them just to put them down. I saw one of my best/worst qualities in that kid that day when she waited till the other kids had put them down and went a few more seconds before she did).

There are people who have criticized my parenting in encouraging competition or too much exercise but my favorite moment speaking ever was during a Q&A when someone asked when I started running and a baby ran across the room and I said, "Right then, just like everyone else, I just never stopped." I do try to get Kiana to tone down once in a while like during the workouts I have her do the fun one, not the fast one (we always have two at our teams workouts) but still I think the very way any of us were successful at being born was getting to the next change at life with conviction in order for growth to occur and I hope neither her or I ever completely lose that. I mean who says at any point in their life "I wish I was more lazy?"

Still this is one of those times were cancer is annoyingly relevant. I see my neuro oncologist tomorrow... while the poking or prodding will be fairly minimal, the main (only?) reason for this appointment is that by legal decree Kiana's mother gets an annual summary of my health in relation to cancer from my doctor in order for me to able to keep primary custody of my daughter. It's literally in a legal document that it's suppose to come on April 1st and I've never quite decided whether it's ironic or appropriate that it falls on a day known for fools. Now unless there's some gigantic surprise, it will read along the legalese lines of: "Mr. Leon's tumor is stable, there have been no seizures, and his medication has not changed."

Though if I had editing/writing power and you'll indulge me in a fantasy, it would read more like,
"In the last year, Mr. Leon has Pr'ed and/or placed in every road distance between the mile and the marathon. While this has caught some people's eyes, he is far more proud of the fact that it has been months since he's done any event by himself with quite a streak of running races behind or besides his daughter and his parents all 4 of them about to embark on their 3rd month in a row with a 5k together.

While his damaged memory has not shown any drastic improvements, he continues to be focused on making plenty of good memories insuring at least some will hold. His cancerous brain tumor is stable and while it continues to worry him when/if it grows, what helps him sleep at night is that the good part of his life are still growing. He's taken on new challenges in triathlons, bike rides and Spartan races. In these he's reminded whether it be part of a team or next to someone, that you'd jump through fires for people you love. Still you definitely feel the love on a different level when you jump through the fires with them. No seizures have occurred in the last year but he's still trying to seize each and every moment from the tips of the toes to his hairtips. His medication still makes him dizzy and throw up once in a while but that somehow feels a lot more balanced than waking up ambulances.

In fact his only medical appointments and medical imagining so far this year until this one were similar to the ones he had before brain cancer, only due to sports injuries. It may well show that somethings wrong with his brain that with a torn calf he smiled while having to walk with a pink cane. But either way, his daughter is beaming, healthy has straight A's and perfect attendance so it appears that none of the things that are wrong with him are genetic."

Anyone think I can talk my doctor into sending that? Yeah me neither. Still there are tiny moments that don't stop you from smiling. Back in October, I told one of the Leaders that I met at my first out of state Livestrong outing (and we are still friends). I told him that he was one of my heroes and we jointly argued about whether or not heroes should wear capes. He got capes made for Kiana and I that she loves. And then to step up his notch, he had a tile made for Livestrong's tribute wall with her and I drawn in our capes thus ruining our secret identities forever. But one of the stops during Spring Break was to see that tile up on the headquarters wall, a way they remind themselves that the reason cancer matters is not some vague human interest idea but because the people affected by it are each individual humans. I sat and explained to Kiana why some were "in honor of," some "I am a survivor" and the toughest to explain "In memory of." They were also kind enough to give us a copy to take home and when Kiana sat and admired it at home, the thought going through my head was that some very good parts of the future are absolutely in the right hands.

Anyway, it's the last day of spring break and we're heading to a picnic party in a bit. But the song that came on the radio as I was ready for breakfast was where today gets it's title from, thinking out loud. I changed it a bit and posted my deriviation

When my legs don't work like they used to before, 
And I can't sweep anyone off their feet, 
When my hair's all but gone and my memories fade,
And the crowds don't remember my name, 
Well, I'll just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you'll understand
I bet I'll still love every single day,
Maybe that's the whole of my plan.

And I don't know if it's the right song for an actual race playlist but I downloaded thinking out loud about that once upon a time I put off brain surgery to qualify for the Boston marathon.  I'm heading out there once more in less than 4 weeks and while it will be different than the 1st time I was there, I actually imagine and dare do dream when I wake up in Boston on April 20th, I'll be waking up pretty happy to just get to experience it again. Because no matter how the race goes, that day will be great because it will feel like I could do it till I'm 70 and my eyes will be smiling from my cheeks because love of life is my marathon plan.

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