Friday, March 10, 2017

Carlsbad 5000: I'll Run For Liam

When I qualifed for my first Boston Marathon, I was outside the qualification calendar (as I qualified in December '09 at the California International Marathon/CIM in Sacramento.) I did not want to wait sixteen months to race the race of my dreams. I decided to enter the 2010 Boston Marathon with a charity bib with Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and raised money in honor of a high school friend's daughter who lost her battle with the deadly disease. That wound up dwarfing the marathon experience itself as raising money for such a valuable cause was more rewarding than the race.

Right after my (near deadly) triathlon accident in 2014, and perhaps being reflective, I decided to give back to the sport again. I decided to adopt a running buddy through I Run 4 Michael. IRun4 is a non-profit that matches up runners with individuals with typically severe physical limitations that prohibit participants from enjoying the elation of a run in the park or crossing a finish line in a race. I lucked out by getting matched with Liam. Liam was born with hydrocephalus which is "water on the brain." Liam has had over 124 surgeries on the brain which has him highly susceptible to infection. He's blind and confined to a wheelchair.

I was fortunate to fly to San Diego in October last year and surprise him and his mom at his 18th birthday party (story HERE.) It's hard to say who gets more out of this; Liam, his family, or me. I can honestly say, this has been one of the most rewarding things I've done; running or life in general. I've got to know Liam (he loves the water, popcorn, and movies. He's also known to flirt with the ladies.)

Liam's mom Joan invited me last year to the Carlsbad 5000 as part of "Team Liam." They are the longest (in existence) running team associated with the Carlsbad 5000. Due to other commitments, I was unable to attend. I'm happy to announce (bad knee and all,) that I will not only race this next month, but I'll be assisting Liam in his first run race in a "Team Hoyt" race stroller.

I'm nervous as I've never done this before.

I'm nervous that he'll be healthy enough to get strapped into the chair in April.

I'm nervous my knee will be able to handle it, but sheer willpower and perhaps a lot of KT Tape and my Zensah knee sleeve, I'll be pushing Liam on April 2nd in Carlsbad. I can't predict a fast race on a bum wheel, but I can predict this might be the best race yet.

Do your part and join IRun4 (they are behind in their athlete registrations and it takes only a few moments a week to post your runs on their Facebook Page) and contribute to Team Liam HERE.



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hello And Be Happy

I had lunch with my 21-yr-old daughter this week. She was in town for an internship day with a local internet company. We met at the mall and had lunch at Nordstrom's. We joked about how she knew where the elevator was in the store when she could barely walk--no doubt, she made many visits with her mother and knew her way around.

I was thrilled to see her, but my timing was off. I was having a bad day. She tried to console me which seemed the opposite of the way things should be. Dad's have an inherent desire to protect daughters and give them all the world has to offer. It did not help that the "elephant in the room" is my knee does not allow me to run much at all at this point. She's tried to offer words of comfort.

It reminded me of a car ride conversation with her years ago. She was either late grade school or perhaps Jr. High. The night time car ride got silent with just the two of us in the car. I sensed something was amiss and asked what was on her mind. The "floodgates opened" and between tears and gasping for air, she talked about a boy at school. She liked him, but he wasn't treating her well. I tried to use the "pulling the ponytails" logic for kids at that age explaining that if he was doing those things, it could very well be that he DID like her.

Trying a bit of reverse psychology, I shared my cruel Jr. High year stories with her. I was blessed with glasses, zits, red hair (I love it now, but questionable at that age,) a slight figure, and a bonus of arthritis. I told her I'd show her my photos to prove what an awkward lad I was when we got home which I did. The tactic temporarily worked and she then began to feel sorry for me.

"Maybe if you combed your hair differently?," she suggested. She was literally thinking if I could have gone back in time and perhaps changed my red mop in the way I wore it, I would have been somehow less awkward and maybe I wouldn't have been so invisible.

Flash forward back to the lunch at Nordstroms. I apologized and told her, I'd be okay and tomorrow would be better. The next day, I open an email entitled, "Be Happy."

Inside the email, she wrote;

"Hey dad, 

Here's a link to my website. https://anna-nicole.wixsite.com/portfolio

I thought it might cheer ya up. I'm still working on it, but I thought you'd like to see it. 

XOXO,

Nikster"

Her note worked beyond the words. I'm continually  "blown away" by the compassion she shows as a young woman I'm very proud of. Her strategy worked...for a time the knee seemed insignificant. If I could have only time-traveled and changed my hair in Jr. High.



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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine