Saturday, February 25, 2017

Everyone knows an ant can’t, move a rubber tree plant

Image result for ant manWhen I’m in the midst of training up for the Boston Marathon, Saturday is my long run day.  As is often the case,  my mind wanders to all sorts of strange topics.    This morning it was the  Academy Awards.  Don’t ask me why, I’m not particularly interested in award ceremonies and I suspect my taste in movies would have the “critics” rolling their eyes.    Normally I haven’t seen many if any of the movies nominated so I wouldn’t have much of an opinion and typically found watching to be  about as exciting as watching a 12 hour cricket match between Sri Lanka and Kenya.    I’m sure it is passionately important to some people but I’m not one of them.    I’m good with just getting the results at the end.

This year however I have actually seen a number of the movies (cancer recovery has it’s perks…Tuesday is movie  day for $5).    This year  I actually have an opinion on both the movies and the actors/actresses, and while I suspect my views don’t match the critics, it will be interesting to see where they are wrong.     Who knows, we might even agree.  Stranger things have happened.  Look at the presidential elections. 

What’s all this got to do with my long run?  Really not much except I was having a particularly difficult time getting through the run today and a song popped into my head that it turns out won an Academy Award in 1959 (and yes I do remember 1959…just don’t ask me about the 70’s).   It was sung by Frank Sinatra in the movie “A Hole in The Head”.  It’s called “High Hopes”. 

A part of the song includes the title of this blog:
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant
But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes
So any time your gettin' low
'stead of lettin' go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

This week will mark the 1 year anniversary of being diagnosed with Leukemia.   In some ways it’s hard to believe it has only been a year given how much has happened in that time.   Maybe it’s just I’m more keenly aware of each day.  Could be that time just seems to drag when you are living from test result to test result.     There were times in the last year when I wasn’t sure I would ever get to run again.   After treatment was complete and I began to run again it was pretty clear that the road back to running anything like a marathon was going to be long and slow.   But I needed a goal to keep me motivated in my recovery and getting back to Boston carried so much emotional significance, not only as a milestone for my recovery but to give back through Help in the Nick of Time.    Unfortunately the registration for Boston was closed while I was just finishing up treatment and there was no way for me to qualify anyway.     But I had High Hopes.

This week I got word I have an official number for Boston (thanks to a lot of begging and help from friends).    I have a long way to go to be able to make 26 miles and clearly my pace will be a lot slower than my previous times but God willing  in 6 weeks I will be at the starting line (and assuming I don’t come to my senses sooner).     Right now it is riding on the results from the latest bone marrow biopsy.  We hope to have those within the next week.

Will we make it to Boston and can we make it to the finish?  Not sure but I have High Hopes. 

Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Letting Go is not Giving Up

Image result for letting go is not giving upIt’s half time at Super Bowl 51 and New England Patriots are losing 21 to 3 to the best offensive team in the NFL.   No team in the Super Bowl has ever come back from more than a 10 point deficit and the way things are going this is not going to be the evening it happens.   The first half saw the Patriots get the ball 7 times, punt 4 of those, turnover the ball twice and only score once.   While the Atlanta fans (and most non-New England fans) are grooving to Lady Gaga and toasting a Patriot rout, in the New England locker room it is business as usual.   Coming out on the field for the start of the third quarter Coach Bill Belichick said to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels  “We’ll be okay. Our guys believe.”

It would be easy for the players to give up at this point.  Especially when Atlanta starts the third quarter with another touchdown pushing the score to 28 to 3.    But Brady talked after the game about not focusing on where they were or what had happened but instead focusing on what they needed to do, just one play at a time.    The result was nothing short of remarkable (I’d say that even if I wasn’t a New England fan).

In my late 20’s and early 30’s running was all about competing.   While I never came close to being in the top 100 runners in the Boston Marathon, I could hold my own in local races (I was a star running against weekend warriors and old ladies).   I have a bit of a competitive streak in me (Pam is rolling her eyes, declaring that is a wild understatement) and like most runners, races became less about finishing first and more about beating my previous best times (called Personal Records or PRs in running parlance).    And so, it was in the year I turned 30, I had decided this was the year I was going set a new PR for the Boston Marathon.     I trained hard and on the day of the race found myself 7 miles into the race slower than expected and just not feeling it.   I decided to not force it, let go of the idea I would set a PR, and just run how I felt.  At half way I was still slower than I needed to set a PR but I was feeling better.  By the time I hit Heartbreak Hill (around 19 miles) I was running a faster pace than when I started and I was able to keep the pace for the remainder of the race.  I not only ran the second half of the race faster than the first but I set a new PR by over 2 minutes.   My first lesson I can remember in letting go but not giving up.

That came in handy last year when I was diagnosed with cancer.   At the time I was actually more pissed about missing what would have been my 10th Boston Marathon in a row than I was concerned about the impending battle with Leukemia (I suspect the psychiatrists would have a field day unpacking my brain on that statement).     I was often asked if I was angry, frustrated or disillusioned about getting Leukemia and my initial response was “Why, should I be?”.    I never really had a “Why me” moment, I guess I just accepted lots of people get cancer, “Why NOT me?”.  
But acceptance and letting go was not in my vocabulary when we lost our son.   It was a long time before I could find peace and only after I moved pass the “Why did it have to happen” and on to “how can I give it some meaning” that I was able to heal.  The Marathon as the fund raiser for Help in the Nick of time was a big part of healing (there…it looks like I unpacked the whole Marathon more important than Leukemia issue for the psychiatrists). 

Given my own experience I can’t think of anything worse than having to deal with pediatric cancer.   Facing your child’s mortality and watching them suffer through prolonged and painful treatment is something no parent should have to do.    It’s why we have focused Help in the Nick of Time at assisting families who are facing this challenge.    While there is nothing I can do to address the disease itself, there is a lot we can do to help the families in dealing with the situation and maybe helping them to "let go"  but not give up.

So it is that I’m working towards being on the starting line of the Boston Marathon again this year.   Unlike previous years I’ve “let go” of the idea of any PRs and accepted I’ll be lucky just to make it to the finish.  But this is my way of not giving up, and where I can, helping others in the process.  

Stay tuned...more on the training with cancer to come.