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Kayla

Posted: July 6, 2013 in Uncategorized
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At 3:25 p.m. on Friday, Dawn and I said goodbye to our dog Kayla who we had in our lives for the last 15 years.  A 17-year-old Schipperke that we rescued back in 1998 in Valdosta Georgia – she was a member of our family for a long, long time.  Fun times, sad times, joyous times and new adventures when we moved from South Carolina to Austin to Philadelphia and back to Austin over the years.

Whenever you have a pet that long there are of course a ton of memories that pile up.

Like the time that she decided to get outside and “escape” over half-time of the 2004 Superbowl, Patriots vs. Eagles causing us to assemble a search party and miss the first 5 minutes of the second half.  No big deal.  The Eagles make the Superbowl like clockwork every 25 years.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing them again in 2029.

Or the time that I came home from work, let her into the back yard and she chased a small varmint into a rock cropping on our property.  She kept nosing in after the little rodent until she got stuck in between the limestone rocks and could not get out.  I had to get my 8 lb. sledgehammer and smash away at the rocks using my own legs as a shield so I wouldn’t hit Kayla until I could pull her free.  Both of us shared some bumps and bruises that day.

She was a funny, funny dog who even though she like George Jefferson – was movin’ on up – after her rescue from Georgia – always had a little “street” left in her.  She didn’t have the easiest first two years of her life, and that gave her the scrappiness that made her unique.

When Landry arrived after Kayla had been an only dog for about 5 years after her sister “Precious” went up to heaven – we were a little bit concerned about how she would react.  But Kayla always had a way of surprising you, and she was remarkably kind to Landry and even cut her a little slack when she would want to chase or pet Kayla in her latter years when her eye-sight started to fail and her hearing was not as sharp as it used to be.

When she was younger, she would hop up in bed in the mornings and nuzzle around until I would open up the comforter and let her lay down next to me along my side, with her head on the pillow.  Then when daybreak arrived, she would get up and stick her wet nose under Dawn’s arm and wiggle in there to wake her up.

She loved her treats and she loved her walks.  Her baths?  Not so much.

I remember a lot of little things about Kayla, and I’m sure I will remember even more of them over the coming months and years.  But the thing that was strangest for me on Saturday morning, the first day in more than 15 years of waking up without a dog, was the fact that there was nobody to greet me as I got ready for my workout.  Nobody to take out or give a treat to or even pat on the head as I left the house.

I remember the morning of the Austin Marathon, with Dawn still sleeping, I was walking out to the garage to drive downtown to the race start – my first marathon after Dom passed away, Landry just 6 months old, and waiting for me in the hallway to the garage was Kayla.  She stood right in the middle, making it impossible to go past her without putting my bags down and patting her on the head.  I told her that when I see her again later in the morning, I would be a marathoner again and I would be the best one I had ever been.

She was the last interaction I had that morning with someone who loved me before I crossed the starting line and ultimately the finish line in one of the hardest races I’ve ever run.  I remember later that day petting her and telling her how we had done that day.  She was always there for us, which is the best part about having a dog.  Absolute, unconditional love.

As hard as it was for Dawn and I to take Kayla to the vet, knowing it was our last car ride together – it was of course the right thing to do – as she simply wasn’t enjoying a quality life any longer and it was now time.  We were both with her in the end, just like we were that day in Valdosta, GA when we brought her home with us – her paw banging on the cage of the doggie carrier non-stop, hour after hour as we drove home to South Carolina.

In a word, Kayla was relentless.  At times it was frustrating, but in the end, I think that is what I loved about her the most.

Relentless.  She would have made a hell of a marathoner.

God speed Kayla.  Dawn, Landry and I miss you very much.

Kayla - January 2010

Kayla – January 2010

Happy Birthday Landry!

Posted: August 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Dear Landry,

I know you’re not quite yet a reader of Daddy’s blog – although you do check out the pictures every once in awhile on the iPad.

I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday today and let you know that your Mommy and I could not possibly love you any more.

Two years ago, you were born on a Sunday. I remember the day of the week because of course my little girl would be born on a “long run” day. Don’t let your Mommy fool you, I did cut my run short that morning from 14 to 8 miles to be on the safe side ….

The other thing that I will remember is that you were born faaaaast! Mommy and I walked in the front door of the hospital just a couple of minutes past 8:00 a.m., and I was holding you in my arms at 9:51. Less than two hours later, about the time it takes Daddy to run 17 or 18 miles on race day. Hopefully down in Houston in January it will be 18.

Both of those omens bode very well for you when you take up running like Daddy – you already have a thing for running shoes.

Landry testing Dad’s new running shoes

Watching you grow up every day has been one of the coolest experiences of my life. I remember when I could hold you on one forearm, and your head to your toes did not reach from my hand to my elbow. Now you are such a big girl I can hardly believe it. You walk, talk, run, spell, swim, recite the alphabet, walk the dog and even count to ten in two languages. I think it took me until I was 14 or 15 before I could do that.

In the last year you saw the finish of the New York City and Boston Marathons – not too many two-year-olds can say they have done that. Heck, not too many 45-year-olds like your Daddy can either.

Dawn and Landry in the Grandstand at NYCM

Landry and Dad – Post Race in Boston

Back in February you got to meet your buddies Elmo, Rosita and the rest of the Sesame Street gang – we’ll be catching up with them again this winter when they come back to Austin.

Landry, Elmo and Rosita

Overall, the last year has been a pretty good one for you – I promise to do my very best to make sure the next year is even better.

I love you Landry – thank you for being the greatest daughter that any Mommy and Daddy have ever had.

-Daddy

Whenever something comes into your life it seems that you are so excited about the “newness” of it all that you do not spend very much time at all thinking about how you will feel when it ends.  Perhaps it is human nature that we do not want to think about such things as it reminds us of our own mortality.  Or maybe it is just our way of putting off the inevitable.

But on Monday with the ring of the doorbell and a plop of a box on our front porch the time had come for me to retire my running watch and move on to a new one.  I had performed CPR on my old watch numerous times over the past few months.  Waking it up from the dead.  Upgrading the hardware and software, doing a hard-reset to the system.  But I was just in denial.  It was time.

Last Sunday when the watch would not wake up for the run portion of the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon I knew that we were at the end of the road.  So I went online, searched for the best deal and then …

I ordered the exact same model Garmin.

My watch had been good to me.  We had covered some serious mileage together.  Ran and raced better, faster and farther than I ever have before.

We ran in Mexico, Canada, Hawaii and 27 of our 48 contiguous states.

We ran 7 marathons together, 8 half-marathons, 2 ultra races and too many short distance events to count.

We ran across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, raced across the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston, SC.  through a grove of Eucalyptus trees on Kauai and along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  We ran in the snow, rain, wind and Texas heat.  We even ran silently alone together on Christmas Morning this year to visit Dom at the cemetery.

Together we went out the door for 887 runs that covered 7,082.75 miles.  Essentially across the United States from coast to coast.  Twice.

We climbed 438,669 feet of hills together.  That is 83 miles straight up.

My watch was good to me and in turn it was raised in triumph as we crossed the finish line this fall at the New York City Marathon with our personal best in that event with Dawn and Landry looking on.

New York City Marathon 2011

I’m going to miss my old watch.  But as they say, nothing lasts forever.  I only hope that my new one brings me half of the enjoyment and triumph that my old one did.

To the last 7,000+ miles … thank you my friend.  It wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Ho, Ho, Holy SH#% …..

Posted: December 24, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and safe Holiday Season.

Landry of course is not so sure about this whole Santa Claus situation.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Landry vs. Santa

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

For everyone that has been along for the ride since the beginning of Run for Dom you know that just two weeks after Dom lost his battle with cancer, Dawn and I were blessed with little Landry.

Last year at Christmas Landry was only 4 months old.  She slept a lot, nursed a lot, pooped a lot and that was really the extent of her Holiday Season.

Well this year it is a whole different ballgame.  Her first “real”Christmas filled with Presents, wrapping paper, a Christmas Tree and even a chance to correspond with the big guy in the North Pole and send her first Santa letter.

Dear Santa ....

This is also her first opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what she wants for Christmas.

Her first opportunity came at the Lights of Love 5K and Kids 1K.

Ah, maybe not.

Hoping that was just pre-race jitters before her first 1K Race we tried again the next day at Landry’s School for Breakfast with Santa.

Nope.  Don’t think so.

How about just one more try peanut?  A big smile for Mommy and Daddy?

Ugh.

Hopefully Landry will feel a little bit better about the Easter Bunny this spring.  As for Christmas 2011.  I now have the pictures that I am going to show the boy that is fool enough to show up to the house to take Landry on her first date.

That and my gun collection.

Happy Holidays everyone!

All summer here in Austin we saw on the television news and weather forecasts of record temperatures being surpassed.

Hottest day on record in Austin since 1942, since 1928, since, well, ever.

Most 100 degree days in a calendar year since 2009, 1999, 1982, 1948 then, ever.

Lake Travis is 10 feet below normal, 20 feet, 30 feet, 40 feet.  When will it stop?

But like most things in life whether it is hot weather, gas prices or sickness and disease like cancer – we eventually get desensitized by it.   It just become part of our everyday life.  It is right then where karma becomes a real bitch, and when somebody out there thinks you aren’t paying enough attention to it – life has a way of dropping it right on your front porch.

Screaming out, “Are you worried about it now?”

Well here in Austin and the surrounding areas – we’re worried now.

All we can do in Bastrop is pray

Texas wildfires continue to rage in and around Austin.  Our record drought, dry fields and high winds this weekend created a perfect storm of events and after days several days of fighting the blazes in Bastrop, Steiner Ranch and along the Perdenales River area in Spicewood – the fires are still raging and a thick cloud of smoke hangs over Austin.

Fire Burning in Bastrop - Downtown Austin in the foreground

The fire in Bastrop is by far the largest and least under control.

As of this morning the fire had burned 34,000 acres and destroyed over 1,386 homes.  The Texas Forest Service reported that the fire right now is approximately 30% contained.

Photo courtesy of Holly B. Photography

The second largest fire in the area continues to burn in Steiner Ranch off of Highway 620.  A community where several of our good friends live, this fire has burned close to 162 acres, destroyed 24 houses and damaged 30 others as of last night.

Today it is 40% contained.

As I walked outside this morning to stretch against the garage for my 10-mile Marathon Pace workout I could smell the fires from our neighborhood on a dead calm windless morning.

That same feeling of helplessness came over me – very much like I felt when Dom was first diagnosed with cancer.

You know you want to do something, anything to make a difference, but the problem seems so huge, you just don’t know where to start.

Bastrop Fire

My heart goes out to all of the families who have been effected – and will continue to be effected for a long, long time.

The thought of Dawn and I losing everything we have built together over the past 12 years in a single night makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Please keep Austin in your thoughts and prayers, and send well-wishes to the families and the firefighters who are putting themselves in harm’s way to help others.  Talk about your true heroes.  I have nothing but respect for those men and women who have been out there around the clock doing anything they can to make a difference.

A 10-mile run at 7:09 pace this morning?  Doesn’t seem like such a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

It is going to be a long, long time until Austin is whole again.

Could we ever use some rain.

Everyone told me to enjoy every minute with Landry when she was first born because before I knew it, I was going to look up one day and she would be in High School.

I'm 1 Today!

I tried my best to listen to them.  I took a month off last December when Landry’s Mom went back to work so I could stay home with the baby and help with the transition.  We hung out every day.  Sang songs, played together – I even taught her how to blow raspberries – which she still does all the time, only now she likes to do it with a mouthful of food.

Dad learned from that one.

Landry!

But when I got back to the house from my 20-mile run Sunday morning it really hit me.

My daughter was going to turn 1 on Monday.

I’ve known Dawn now for over 16 years.  We have been married for 11 1/2.

Lots of great times, trips, memories, laughs and some tears – but without a doubt, the best 11+ years of my life.

Bt this last year, with all of the ups and downs, sadness as not one, not two, but three friends tragically lost their lives through accidents and illness, has been an amazing journey.

I’m not sure that I was paying close enough attention to things over my first 43 years.  At the time I’m sure that I thought I was.  But truly, I was not.  I wasn’t always taking time to notice the small things in life.  Just feeling fortunate to see a sunrise or how a cool breeze coming off an ocean makes you feel.  Those are life’s moments.

Landry and Dad at Swim Lessons

Not everything that is important happens when the spotlight is shining brightest. 

In fact, maybe it’s teaching your daughter how to blow raspberries or sitting on the floor struggling with the most horribly designed assembly instructions EVER to put together a car for your daughter’s first birthday.  Just seeing her huge smile as she is being pushed around the house in her new car makes it all worth it.

20-mile training runs are great and everything.  They are part of the price of admission for me to take on the NY Marathon in a couple of months.

But all things considered, I think I’d rather be home trying to figure out which washer in the picture is “D” and which one is “V” and why there is no mention of which set of screws to use to attach the roof of the car, or why the small caps that hold on the wheels don’t seem to line up properly, what exactly that blue tab is and why is it included?  Which hole does the stem for the steering wheel go, and why are there three of them?

Does the floorboard go in front first or front last?  Does the key assembly go in one piece at a time, or should you assemble it first …. why don’t they give any written instructions any more?   Alas.  It’s all good.  Just part of the price of admission.