Tuesday, July 31, 2007


My friend David, or Dave, (still not sure which he prefers...I think his wife calls him Dave?) and I were having an interesting conversation during our run yesterday. We were discussing what people write in their blogs, titles, and why write. He had recently stumbled upon a guy who seemed suicidal in his, and we wondered what do you do with that information. Really there is nothing to do...

Then we talked about we have seen some people almost tranform their personality in their blog...to almost use it as a forum to pat themselves on the back or talk about how great they are. We thought that those are pretty funny because the self-absorption begins with the title.

What I have decided is my favorite type of blog is one that just gives me a brief glimpse to my friends' lives and what they are thinking. It helps me know when someone is having a good or bad day and so often I follow-up the read with an email to them to check and make sure all is ok. I love to read the light-hearted moments in their lives; it keeps me close to them even when I don't hear from them regularly. It has actually brought me closer to people I may never have been, but in their blog I see a side of them I am very fond of and want to share.

On a side note to this I have to say that nothing quite beats the emails or time I share with all of my friends...especially those that don't keep blogs.

Now, unlike David/Dave, I am not going to start blog-hopping...I just am not that interested I must say. But, I will continue to read on and glimpse in...the funny, the happy, the busy, and even the self-absorbed. Isn't that why we write??

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My Family

This morning as I was talking to Gabe I thought back to my first summer in Austin. I had met Joe and Joyce before, but not many others. I had been running trails already for sometime, but as a Houstonian a different community. In Houston I had my immediate family and my best friends, who were also my running partners. In Austin I had neither.

It was that first summer that I found my Austin family...I just didn't totally remember that until today. It was Sundays at Bull Creek with Henry, Mike, Jim and sometimes Robert and Diana....and of course Joe with an appearance or two. It was Thursday evenings at Ladera with Paul, Joe, Joyce once, and even their kids. Joe was there to teach Paul and I how to run downhill like we meant it. Then it was oh so many runs with Shan on every trail, and up and down Jester. Little by little I met oh so many more of this group, and always felt a part of it. I was always included, and always enjoyed my time with them. But all of this became so much more than running to me, they became my extended family.

As time has gone on in Austin, and our life has settled, I find that I do so many more runs on my own and spend so much less time with people I used to make time for...until this past week.

You may not always be so close to your family, but when they hurt or need you...you are there. That is what I tried to do this week and the gift actually came back to me ten-fold. A week ago Friday in a terrible tragedy, one of our friends and fellow trailrunners died on the trail. We all went out and aided Search and Rescue last Sunday, and one of our friends and fellow trailrunners found him in the debris on the trail. Words cannot fully describe the loss or the details of being part of that, but my friends who found him gave the greatest gift of speedy closure to his daughter and the rest of his family.

I felt so helpless. I didn't know this man very well, except for brief encounters on Saturday mornings on the trail. But what I knew what that my friends, people who had welcomed me into their family, were in such pain. I just wanted to make it better.

One of our club members decided to set up a memorial run for this morning, and his family set up a memorial service last night. Both took place on the trail. I decided the best thing I could do would be to be there to help. I ended up being the recipient of this gift.

The memorial service was wonderful, and his daughter's words about her father will be in my heart forever. With such passion she spoke of the parallel of the force of nature and the wonderful man her father was. She has such incredible strength. After the service it was so great to be there to share hugs with everyone, and talk about what a great person he was.

And then this morning...I woke up very early to meet Robert and Diana. We were going to tie flowers to the trail intersections to lead people to the site where he had been found...his final resting place. We headed out in the dark with arm-loads of stuff. We tied flowers to trees and fences so that any and all could find there way. Robert took me all the way to the site before I headed back. I found that I could hardly stand there amongst the debris. It was a harder location to be at than I thought it would be. I, then, ran back quickly to help greet people, tell them where to go on the trail, and say a few words before we headed off. I had been so composed up until that point, but got a bit choked up as I spoke, and said:

Before we depart on the Memorial Run, I would like to say a few words. I am not here as one of his closest friends. I knew him only by the brief hug, hello, and quick update on Saturday mornings we would exchange as we passed each other either at our cars or on the trail. As we run today, let us remember a man who leaves a legacy to strive for: honor, grace, dedication, care, and kindness. And may the canopy of trees that line the trail of the Greenbelt emit his spirit forever.

I described the trail and off we went. It was just amazing...his family, co-workers, fellow runners, and even people who hardly knew him came to join. We ran, we walked, we stumbled, and we remembered.

I arrived at the fence to turn in to where he was resting and I stopped. I couldn't go back in there. I waited with Mike for people to come out and we helped them turn back. Mike and I ran and caught up...it had been over a year since we had run together.

When we got back I spent time with each and every person I knew and didn't know very well. It was so strange... so many people came up to me to thank me for helping. They told me how much this short walk meant to them, and words I will never forget are those spoken by his daughter. She said, "Thank you. What you did was so important for us all."

What I realized was that all of this was so important to me, as well. I was able to offer some help and healing to my family. I was able to be there when I was needed, and not just when it was good for me. For this I must thank our lost friend...his legacy I will keep close to my heart.

If only we can all strive to have the things said about us that were said about him...I know I will. I will strive to have the smile on my face read kindness. I will strive to include everyone, so that all can feel like they are my friends and that I am not just part of closed circle. And I will move forward with determination to reach my goals!!


Monday, July 2, 2007

It's Been A Week...

It was a week ago today that I got off a plane and headed straight to the doctor's office. It's been a week of breathing treatments, medication, fever, more medication, and just plain feeling sick. It's been a week of applauding tough decisions and recovering from them. It's been quite a week.

I was having the most wonderful day running through the Western States trail. Everything was on! I was happy, felt great, and making "no mistakes." (Paul's Motto for the race: Fast Feet and No Mistakes) Then a strange thing happened...I couldn't take a normal breath. It was on the climb up to Michigan Bluff that I noticed it. This is a climb I love. It is not steep, it just goes on for a while. I can climb it easily in 40-45 minutes. Last Saturday it took me almost an hour. It was not because of my legs or fatigue, it was because I had to stop to breathe. I was just having the hardest time getting air in...it was so weird. I came into Michigan Bluff and I sat down and refueled. I told Paul what was going on, but I think he just took it as a low moment. I was hoping that was what it was. I headed out and immediately down the trail I realized that this was more than a low moment, something was wrong. I was basically hyperventilating, but not really. If I tried to take a deep breath in, I would cough. I could barely talk. It was miserable...this is how I was from mile 55-62. Paul met me at Bath Road, and I told him to find out if there was oxygen available and if I could take it without being pulled. I got to Foresthill, and the doctor was waiting for me. At first he couldn't hear the wheezing in my lungs, and then once I started coughing he heard it loud and clear. I couldn't get a breath in and the longer I was there the worse things got. The doctor, Paul, and my pacers decided it was unsafe for me to continue. I didn't feel well enough to object to the decision.

Paul loaded me up and we went over to our friends' Lee and Sara house. I didn't even change clothes and just laid on top of a sleeping bag on their guest bed. I did not feel well at all. Paul said that I spent that entire first night grasping for a breath. He said it made him feel better about making the right decision. The next morning I woke up not feeling well, coughing but not able to cough anything up. I made myself eat and drink a bit, but didn't really want to. We packed up and got ready to take the red-eye home. It was during this flight that the worst started to hit. On the flight I started to have the worst sore throat, cough, and just all over hard time breathing. I knew I needed to get to the doctor. The minute we landed I called the doctor's office and got in.

Once at the doctor's office, I started getting breathing treatments to try to loosen up the dirt and swelling in my lungs. I was actually able to cough some dirt up after the 2nd treatment. From there she prescribed meds to help the swelling in my lungs go down and help me clear my lungs. I thought I would feel better soon...not so fast. Apparently, my lungs got infected from the dirt/dust in them. By Monday night I was running a 102 fever, and feeling all together miserable. Tuesday was a bit more of the same, but my fever dropped so that was better.

By Wednesday I was down to a very nasty cough and starting to see the light. Thursday I decided it was time to resume my "normal" activities...things had to be getting better or I was going to make them. Friday was even better, and I went back to the doctor to see that I was improving and get a round of antibiotics for the infection that was in my lungs...nice.

Saturday I went for a run, and found that my legs were still totally fine...did I even run 62 miles the week before...and getting moving helped loosen everything up in my lungs, yum!! I had my first social outing Saturday evening, and it was very fun NOT to talk too much about the race. Sunday I took Daisy for a long run, 7 miles, and then stained our deck. Clea came over to visit after being in Alaska for 10 days and brought me an awesome shirt...I love presents!!

Today is going on as though nothing happened...except for the fact that I am still coughing when I run. But more than nothing took place over the past week...

I was so busy being sick and working to get better that I didn't even barely think about how disappointed I might be for not seeing this finish line yet again. I spent the week just trying to get back to real life that I didn't even miss not being able to run or exercise. I had gone from being in the best shape of my life to barely being able to walk the dog around the block in just a few days, and my legs weren't even tired. Now that I am better I realize that this is how it was meant to be.

In getting sick, and feeling so very sick, the importance of the race took a step back to everything else. My precious moments of talking were saved to talk to my friends. My precious energy went into working and making sure I didn't fall behind at the house. Although my husband enjoyed the silence of me not being able to talk, I used what energy I had to help him catch-up and make sure we had healthy meals to eat.

I could not have taken this journey without Paul and my friends, and I could not have made it through this past week without the exact same people. I never felt an empty hole or a moment of how to handle this because everyone I love has been there before I can even think to need them. It has been overwhelming in the most wonderful way.

I don't know what the very near future will hold except for getting back to 100%, and working with the doctor to make sure this doesn't happen again...or at least I can handle it if it does. In the meantime, I feel so loved and blessed for all of those in my life that right now I don't even feel empty for not seeing the track on Sunday morning.

The track will still be there, and when it is meant to be I will get there...

Thank you for being my support!!