Photo: 7-mile run, 9:00 am, 70 degrees, Decorah, Iowa
Weekly activity log:
Swim: 6,300 yds (ytd 91,100 yds.)
Bike: 91 miles (ytd 2,404 mi.)
Run: 26 miles (ytd 470 mi.)
I recently received the following from a close friend:
I had time for a short visit with Dad this morning so I grabbed a couple of coffees and stopped down
to see him.
He was finishing dressing and was waiting for the PT to come and work with him when I got there a
bit before 9 am. He had on a favorite broadcloth Oxford shirt, this one had a Labrador embroidered
above the pocket and khakis that he had gotten on a hunting trip with my brother and nephew a
few years back.
I walked down to PT with him and he rode a Star-Trac arm/leg ergometer for 10 minutes while the
PT, Dad and I talked of dogs we had all had in our lives. He had a brief rest and then he worked
on balance skills, which included walking backwards down the hall.
There were no t-shirts worn proclaiming "my warm-up was your workout" and there were no
fancy supplements consumed post-workout to make expensive urine.
Instead of giving him a participation award I will head back later to the hospital with some
carry-out BBQ ribs, slaw and a fresh fruit plate and have dinner with him and my brother.
And look ahead with them to tomorrow.
Perspective is good. Being involved in sports where words like epic, extreme, courage, warrior and fail are tossed around in every other sentence, it’s good to step back regularly and see what’s really important.
I started down this endurance road about the time my son was born 8 weeks premature. Up until that point I’d been fit, I’d raced and I’d done well, but I’d trained mostly for the fun, the friends, the party. Standing in the neo-natal intensive care unit, holding life and death in my hands gave me much-needed perspective and I vowed I was going to appreciate life, live it and be around for my son (and now also for my daughter) for a very long time.
I’ve had many moments like that, when I’ve realized what’s really epic, extreme, courageous and tough. What is a failure and what isn’t. When I make a list, it doesn’t include a finisher’s medal:
• Seeing my 18-year-old son fight through a botched surgery. He could’ve given up… he didn’t.
• Choosing to euthanize a dog… because it was the right choice. And then years later, making that choice again.
• Witnessing a teenager hold a needle to his vein… and opt not to push it.
• Skipping a race because my daughter needed me. Not an epic decision… a really, really easy one.
• Watching my father handle prostate cancer with dignity. I hope to do the same when my time comes… and it will come.
• Finding out over the weekend that a young co-worker decided to end his life… and succeeded with his decision.