Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Home Field Advantage

There are people who think that rare are the moments that come once in a life time... perhaps they're right but perhaps they aren't impressed often or much. If there is anything that's kept my damaged mind and heart any room to heal is the reality that those ridiculous moments that come one time in each forever are a balance of the right situation and also the right choice.

There will never come a day where I'd sign up for brain cancer despite some of the "good lessons" that have come from it. But there are days where I learn to be grateful for the moments, the connections that come from it. So when a 5k was announced in the town that I won the marathon pushing a stroller in that benefitted Livestrong, how could I possibly not go? Before and after brain surgery Livestrong helped me make good choices about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which to me there is no greater happiness than meaningful relationships. Beaumont after I had asked a few was the first and only town at the time that would let me do a marathon with a stroller. 

It's funny there are three places I'd been to four times since brain cancer, Duke for medical things, New York twice for races, twice for visits, and Beaumont 4 times, each time for a race. It occurred to me on the way there that it would be the first place I've visited 5 times since then appropriately enough once again for the race. It was a beautiful place each time and when it tied I couldn't help but think that the tie goes to the winner. But now there'd be no tie, Beaumont is the place I've been to the most, somehow a proper surprise and perfectly fitting because it's a place I've gone each time to stay ahead of cancer. 

I was at a wedding the night before till pretty late as my pre race warm up was dancing and my pre-race hydration and nutrition was appropriate for a wedding, questionable for a race. And then I got up at 4 am so my actual pre race warm up was sprinting to the bathroom and swinging my legs during the Star Spangled Banner... we were off and it was hot and humid just like it was the day I won the full there in March of 2013, and the half March of 2014, and when I didn't win but PR'ed in a 10k in November of 2014. This time I would win the 5k in just over 18. 

There are exactly 2 places that I've ever won more than one distance in: Austin and Beaumont. In sports, they talk about home field advantage. I don't know what that means in a gigantic stadium but I knew in my home town of Austin it means there's familiar faces on the course, people who you know are cheering for the event, the cause and you a combination that makes your heart happier and perhaps reflecting that your feet feel a little lighter. I'd sit at the finish line watching and cheering people come in till the last one and then run the kid's k with them. I got beat by 4 of them on that one!

I'd get to spend lunch with the directors of the marathon that let me in having a good burger, thanking them over fries and laughs, talking about that day where I thought about stopping to go to the restroom near the end. They said it was a good thing I didn't because they don't make stories about the guys that come in second. 

I was speaking at a dinner later that night about Livestrong and Beaumont, the combination of two which was now in the lead. I told them about how they helped me focus on people and how living and loving are only one letter apart, perhaps because that's how close they should be in existence. I reflected on how even running, generally an introvert's game, has been better for me
shared. There were some great items for auction from Cowboys tickets to decorative art to apple watches to ways to exercise better. I think it showed the nature of people's hearts at the events that many of the items were going above what people could buy them outside of there (maybe it reflected how good the wine  and beer tastings and food was). The event was called Hope Uncorked and untapped and there were many great parts of the evening but one was that they had a sign which read something I think of almost everyday when other 4 letter words are tempting to say, 'hope is my four letter word.' I also got to hear a doctor who was the second speaker and it was interesting to see how someone who had to help people be better share their experience of trying to get better. And the organizer, Cisco, someone who had been a cancer survivor and had been done with treatment it was years before he had started to give back but has kept giving back since then. To him who much is given much is expected but I think both of those guys have long exceeded expectations but perhaps in doing so are the ones who have given and raised expectations for others down the line. It is this way that we show attitude is everything and that even while in treatment we are beating cancer right now. I had to dress up and see people in dress clothes which is a change for my way too short shorts and no shirt uniform of most days. I wore all black to try to look thinner but wore a yellow tie to match my bracelet. The tie was the accessory but the Livestrong bracelet has always been a reminder. 

I ended up going out with some people to dance after and ran with others the next morning with flowers and crocodiles and birds. Then I showered and got ready to head home and I couldn't help but think that there were actually other places I'd visited more since brain surgery... where my mom lives and California where I went to college but I didn't really think of it as visiting, it was just returning home. Perhaps running and visiting in Beaumont for Livestrong was the same type of thing, where I wasn't so much a visitor as just reconnecting to a place where I felt a part of me would always be even I wasn't there. Cancer is a global problem but I think most of us fight at home to feel at home and it was my honor to be part of the Golden Triangle Strutters and Livestrong. Cancer and winning that race there reminded of just the old reality and what I hope will always be my attitude that life may take you to unexpected places but love brings you home. 

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