Sometimes a big race brings out a sense of reflection even before you've raced. I'm going from counting days to counting hours away from the Boston Marathon on Monday. I headed out to the airport (early) Tuesday for work travel enroute to Boston. I rationalized that getting from Colorado to the east coast a couple of days early would help getting acclimated to the Eastern Time Zone. I also planned a couple of nights of good rest alone in a king-sized bed WITHOUT late night client dinners.
As I was heading to the airport in an untimely April snow, I reflected on my late grandfather Lyle. "Pop" would always call me near the end of his life when the white stuff started flying as he listened to the weather reports on his AM/FM radio in his plaid polyester pants and and his "Old Spice" scented red sweater. He wanted to make sure I was being careful, and wanted to know when I got home safe. On one particular night, he even called my boss' wife to ask if they had a cot that I could sleep on versus driving home that night in the snowstorm.
Pop and Lela loved these visits and he was very proud of his grandkids. I remembered that I used to call when I'd close a "big deal" at work and he'd ask, "how much is the commission on that?" "God Damn!" would be followed by an proud laugh. Lyle cussed a lot (I kind of inherited that from him.)
I don't think often enough about my grandpa, but since I wasn't driving on this day to the airport, perhaps the "hardcore" snowstorm jogged my memory. I thought, he'd certainly be calling me on this day and also asking about my upcoming race. I was not a runner when Lyle died. In fact, it would be fifteen years later before I'd run my first full mile or race. I know he would be very proud of his grandson that was running "THE" Boston Marathon, and would likely be bragging up and down the hallways of the retirement village.
I always think of loved ones when the "gun goes off" in a race and particularly around the tougher later miles in a marathon...thinking I can't let my wife, or my kids down. I've (literally) muttered their words. At my last race (Colorado Marathon,) my Dad and Stepmom watched me for the first time in a race and I literally "willed" myself to the finish as I didn't want to embarrass them (after stomach issues threw my gameplan off.) Perhaps I wanted to make them proud of me. I've run for Phronsie, Nikki, Jesse, Keenan, brothers, sisters, parents, Aunt Marge and Aunt Jane. This week I have "Pop" on the brain. I'm sure he'd be proud, and tell me to go "cut that big fat hog right in the butt!"
Footnote: Lyle used term "cut that big fat hog right in butt" when he was telling my college buddy Fred about the house he'd sold. He probably made $5,000 off the sale but felt rich off the transaction. Lela followed his diatribe by "Lyle, watch your language! He only cusses around men!" A story told many times over. According to the Urban Dictionary, the term originated in the Ozarks. When a man would slaughter a hog and discover (surprisingly) a thick layer of fat (or lard) between the meat and skin, it was a bonus of sorts. It's now known to show something that works in your favor.