Sunday, June 28, 2015

First and For Most

I was recently asked to speak at an upcoming event about my first time. I responded with my first time doing what... they said that was up to me... they were warned that you know I'm a typical male so they should be more specific but still left it open... This may well be the last speaking invitation I ever get ;)...

But at the risk of anyone whose coming to it knowing in advance, it'll be about my first kisses which were wonderful and horrible. She clearly had more experience than I did and it lasted all of a second and then someone got our attention and two teenagers were too shy to acknowledge anything. I didn't know at the time but because of an unexpected move, I would never see her again.  It would be months before the second one and the second girl, who would be my first girlfriend (and if anyone's wondering how romantic I get, I still use the way she put together my initials when I was 14 to this very day). After trying to kiss her, she looked up and said, you don't do this very often do you? I tried to be witty and said, "teach me."

The speech itself is actually at Livestrong and I am going to be reflecting a little bit of the approach I've taken since the cancer diagnosis which perhaps for too long was taking opportunities as if they were the last time. Has there been wisdom in that? I think some of course but as I sit here and wake up to some of the things that have been turned off, I can only wonder if perhaps a slight tune up would have been to keep the tune of first time because your first time at anything may well be your last time but if you only go in with your lifetime, you want to do your best but you're obviously not paying attention to the ways a future time could get better. 

And so June is about to wrap up and I'm thinking about some really cool stuff. It's only the second time ever in my life I've done 5 races in one month and the first time I've ever I've won 3 of them (which is 2 more than I'd won in all the other months of this year combined)! Well let me back up a little because while coming in first is cool (I am competitive), exactly 2 of those races were on the calendar not too long ago. An inaugural Voices Against Brain Cancer race in New Jersey which started it all, my first race and function as ARC president. Those were great and then I
got to go AT&T stadium, my first time in the New Cowboys stadium (yes I am a Cowboys fan and proud of it!). Just walking into the building and realizing that my first time there was exciting but realizing that it wasn't a spectator, it was as an athlete. We got to run through locker rooms and all the way to the top of the stairs, we crossed the 50 yard line star as athletes getting obstacles done (though not being chased down by gigantic NFL players). I saw some new obstacles and got them done (though we were being put on the big screen and of course the one time I made it was when I failed an obstacle and had to do burpees). Then I went back and cheered on the family and friends that were doing the course (does that make me a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader? Wanting and Dallas Cowboys cheerleader has gone through my mind before but wanting to be one wasn't how those usually go through my head).

The kids course has gotten cooler obstacle. But speaking of that, that was my  my favorite part of the weekend. I've gotten lots of family to join different races and a few friends but the friend I've had continuously for the longest time, since I was 8 and she was 9 came and did her first Spartan and then our kids, our kids did the race together at 8 and 10. Talk about circle of life stuff! Someone gave me a kilt once upon a time and I combined it with compression socks joking to Kiana about how this was how much skin you should be showing when wearing a skirt, a joke that luckily she doesn't yet understand. Still it was father's day weekend and my mom was there and would come to start the summer off with us and I'm not sure it could have been better.

But the firsts of the month things continued, there is this word game that Kiana has got me playing and I let her know that unlike running which I do next to her that there will be some things I never let her beat me at until she actually does it (she'll be learning chess this summer). On this word game, I thought it'd be a while, it was less than a month since we started playing and she beat me 3 times in a row! I mean I let her win ;).

And they happen with the position that I took as ARC president, I may be biased but I like to think the one I'm a part of is the best ARC board ever but as we get new things done or bigger things done, I think and say to them and to myself, "we're just getting started." And the nobility with which they are working hard as volunteers show that they know how to put other people first. So we have made some first time partnerships and tried to renew ones. It's a long way to go and some factors are out of our control but we had a great first month and did I mention we're just getting started.

And then on my first race ever on a driveway that I'd biked on, I'd been meaning to do one but the two I had in mine gotten cancelled because of all the rain, I went to one unexpectedly because another event I was going to had gotten rained out. And in my 4th race of the month, I took first place, first time I've ever won 2 races in one month since college which was done by my friend Kate who won the women's division for her second w of the month.. And because it's on a course that is 1.6 miles and we do two loops, it was actually a 3.2 race which I've been working a little more on speed after the calf healed and the long distance stuff was out of season and it was faster than the two 3.1 races I've done this month! I wasn't in the lead till the second half but it was pretty cool to get the W...

At everyone of these races, I've gone out with friends and family, people I love cause that's my style, the best style. And my ARC vice president and friend Elaine, she was celebrating her birthday by doing a trail race, Captain Karl's Pedernales Falls. It was my first one so I signed up for the 10k, she was doing the 30k. We actually had 8 people from our running group out there and all of them finished and 5 of them places with Elaine taking the women's 30k division and 7th over all. I would win the 10k but I wasn't in the lead till the second half. If you're wondering who I was trailing and who came in second place over all by less than a minute, it was a 14 year old high school girl! She's already one of those girls that doesn't chase boys... She passes them. It's very different to race on trails but it was kind of cool to get my feet wet with a win (literally got my feet wet, we had to run through a lake that had overflowed to the lake because of all the rain).

If you'd told me June 1st that I would have been doing 5 races by the end of the month, I might have believed you. If you had told me I was going to win 3 of them, I would have laughed at you. Still there's this lady from church who I affectionally called church lady who introduced me to a song Afterlife, one that has never made a race playlist but will make one soon. I've been listening to it a bit more... with lines that I am perhaps only starting to put together:

Living like you're dying isn't living at all
Give me your cold hands put them on my heart
Raise a glass to everyone who thinks
They'll never make it through this life
To live a brand-new start

We're going to live tonight cause there's no tomorrow
cause we're the afterlife.

So I've woken up in ambulances, I still have cancer all of which were unexpected. And there are things I should and will do with precautions because of that. And while I will probably still take some things as my last time (will I ever get to do any of those races again, who knows?) I will also take them as my first time because on your first time you're excited, enthusiastic and trying to do your best but still trying to learn. For me, for the most part, I try to put the people I'm grateful for first. I don't want to be like cancer which lives primarily for itself. And it hasn't always been entirely consistent but life has been kind to me where my first marathon with a stroller turned into what it did, my month with the most wins was to share life with people I care about. So perhaps the way what I've called life part II, what that song has labeled after life has worked out because has been so kind is because the universe balances itself with putting others first most of the time. After all, if you don't believe me, ask about that girl who I first kissed, I still smile at the memory 20 years later.

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