Monday, December 10, 2012

Dallas Half Marathon

Race Report:

The Dallas Mayor's 5k

If this past weekend of December 8 and 9 could be summed up in one word, I would say "unorthodoxed". Starting from Saturday morning with the Dallas Mayor's 5k. Going into this weekend with all of the activities, I decided to challenge myself, so I ran the 5k on Saturday followed by the Half Marathon on Sunday. Off to a good start, ended with a bang!

The 5k was utilized as a warm up before Sunday. My whole idea of doing it was to just "jog" the 3.1 mile "fun run". Didn't happen. Before the start of the race, I met up with a fellow Dailymiler and good friend Bal aka "MoFo". Funny how a lot of my DM friends all have nicknames. We've earned them. Bal brought his two youngest kids Diego and Sophia, and also another friend of his Rudy to walk all walk the 5k. Bal has the fortunate privilege to work for Oncor, which is a co-corporate sponsor of the Race, along with Cigna who also sponsored the race as well. I even got the privilege to meet in a small world kind of way, the VP over a department of Oncor, Mark Carpenter. When I say small world, I've known Mark and his family for 15 years. As I was growing up in Irving, I went to his church and school with his kids. Like I said, small world. Very appreciative of what this race is encouraging for today's youth in regards to getting fit and being healthy. I honestly wish I had something like this when I was a youngster. I also had the pleasure of "briefly" meeting the former mayor of Dallas, Laura Miller who started up this organization that has been going on for the last couple of years as part of the Dallas Marathon, formerly the White Rock Marathon.

The Mayor's Race consisted of a 1 mile fun run or walk, and the 5k run/walk. I opted of course to run the 5k. In my experience before in running another 5k, and it being a kid friendly environment, 9 times out of 10, it can be a challenge at times. Don't take this as a complaint, but when I'm in my "zone" and being surrounded by kids that are walking or run/stop/run/walk motion, you almost trip over them at times. This year's race was the first year to utilize the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, which is a new addition to the Dallas area. It almost replicates the Big Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, but a lot smaller. The race itself kicked off at 9:00 am with the 1 mile fun taking off first. Once completed, the 5k runners and walkers took off. It was like playing the "waiting game" almost with getting the 1 milers to come back and then the 5ker's take off. Standing around for almost 30 minutes (what felt like) was playing hell on my hips and feet. I wanted to run already. Again, I'm not complaining, but there were some things about this race that could've been done better to make this race a lot smoother. Just saying. After the 1 mile runners and walkers came back, it was time for the 5k to start. As the race directors and Laura Miller herself  were making the anouncements over the loud speakers, I think one of them blew because it was hard to hear. LOL!! At that point, I was like screw this, just shoot the gun off and go run.

Gun goes off, and it was like opening the doors at the department stores on Black Friday. Kids, parents, teachers, runners, etc were swarming out like bees. It was a little crazy. It took the first mile to get passed the biggest part of the crowd that started out by walking or going out too fast then stopping. Pace yourself, kids... Pace yourself. I heard the whining about sides hurting, I saw other kids being pushed down, and one favorite, an adult walking up the hill to the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, then turning around and coming back. Again, these are just occaisional flaws that happen sometimes with 5k races. Not that I'm saying I'm better than those people, because I'm not. In fact, I was "them" 3 years ago, so in a way I have sympathy for them. Like any 5k fashion, you start, you warmup, you peak, then you gun it home. My best non-race 5k has been around 25 minutes, which was on a treadmill, so I didn't have the luxury of kids getting in front of me and slowing me down. Like I said, beautiful scenery from the MHH bridge, and slight little tour of Dallas. On the loop back to the finish line, I saw Bal, and he gave a smack on my ass as a motivator. Hey, football players do it, why can't us runners? hmmm?!?!?!After that, it was back up the hill on the MHH bridge again and back to the finishline. Followed by a nice little party afterwards with some grub and fellowship with Bal, his friends, family....good times.

This video was actually taken during the Half I ran, part of the same route.
View of the bridge from the parking lot of the race.
Me and Bal aka MoFo actin' a fool!! That's how we roll!
Bal and his two youngest kiddos, Diego and Sophie. They are awesome. His lil homies!!
The Bling!! Actually, it was Rudy's bling. I just did the traditional "bite" after finishing a race.

The Dallas Half Marathon
Part two of the race! I don't know really where to begin with this other than, I showed up, and I finished it. On a serious note, I went into this race with a huge chip on my shoulder. Ever since last month, the weekend before Thanksgiving, my wife and I lost our baby that we were expecting via miscarriage. It's been hard for me to talk about it, but it's just an everyday thing where we just take it one step at a time. As a sense of pride and humor, we had planned to make a race shirt for me to wear that said "future dad" on the front with a arrow pointing up at me. Aside from this unplanned event, 2012 has seen the worst of me in my running. From ITBS to PF, and lots of missed training runs and races that I really wanted to do. Through recoveries and massage therapy, I managed to get back on my feet and completed some other redemption races. The only complaint I have for those races was the weather, which in fact was a problem yesterday with the half and full marathon runners.
Saturday night, I met up with Bal again, and also another good DM buddy of mine Clay, aka "The Nite Train". Again, we all earned our nicknames. This was a chance for DM members to meet up and carb load as we usually do the night before races. It was just the three of us along with Bal's two youngest kids, and also his oldest daughter Eva. Lots of laughs, good pasta, and good times. I think me, Bal, and Clay have been officially dubbed, "Larry, Curly, and Moe"... not all in that order, per Bal. LOL. We all gave each other encouragement and bottom lined it by saying if we don't get the PR's we want, then let's just go out and run our race, and have fun.
Sal's Pizza and Pasta. Thanks Bal for introducing this restaurant to me. Loved this place. Great food and friendly atmosphere!
The three of us. (L to R) Me, Clay, and Bal
Race Day!
Got up at 530 and got ready, which included taking my 2 dogs out, feeding them, crating them, and then out the door by 6. I had originally thought of the driving out the American Airlines Center, park there and then catch the DART rail to the Dallas Convention Center where the race started. Didn't happen. Stacie and I decided to play it safe, and just drive out to the DCC and park there. Aside from sitting in the parking lot of traffic, this was the better idea to do. Paid the $12 for parking and not even a 10 minute walk to the starting line. PERFECT!!
I missed the meetup Clay had actually put together on DM, so I missed out on meeting anybody else I had planned to meet. I had also coordinated somewhat with my dear friends the Parker's, Bill and Lynn. Lynn was on tap to run the Full marathon as well, and we had worked out a way to see if we could meetup. AND, we actually did later when she crossed the finishline. Great run Lynn!! :) As I've mentioned before in previous blogs, I've known the Parker's for 10 years and counting. Lynn was actually my inspiration to get into running. She's my "honorary" coach so to speak.
Inside the DCC. Where's my DM peeps? LOL
All by my wonesome!! No DM buddies :( I has a sad. Ok, I'm being a dork!!
Staring Line!
In true fashion, we had the National Anthem sung, then the elites, wheelchair runners, and the first corral runners go, then the next corral, and so forth. As the corrals were moving up, I actually ran into one DM friend. Same friend I met at a race last year, Chris B. Last year, he PR'd in the DWR marathon, and now recently, he got in to run the WS (Western States) 100 miler. It's like the Boston Marathon of Trail Running. WTG, Chris. We said our hellos, best of lucks, and then off we went.
I was in corral B, so I didn't cross the starting line until about 8 minutes into the time of the race begining. Started out with an easy 10 minute mile warmup for the first couple of miles, and then my plan was to progress my pace after the 5k mark. As luck wouldn't have it, mother nature had a better plan.Temps were in the low 60, but the humidity was at 93%. Not a good mixture when running a race, no matter what the distance. The idea of my initial PR went out the window immediately. Plus, the unfortunately discomfort of running faster than I should have at the 5k the day before didn't help either. I started having some soreness in my quads after mile 4, but at the pace I was at (10:00ish), I felt ok if I could just maintain that. By mile 6, and after crossing over the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge which had a hill at the beginning, then a downward slope, plus a couple of other hills I went up and down on, my legs were on fire. the humidity didn't help much either. So at mile 6, just before the 10k mark, I stopped to stretch, and find the nearest waterstop which was no where in sight. The thing I didn't like the most about this particular race was that it had some turnaround points instead of loops, which I personally prefer. From about mile 5 to 7.5 was a long stretch of that seemed like it took forever before a waterstop or a turn at some point. Such a tease at one point when I saw a sign that said mile 8 when I was just crossing mile 6. UGH!! By then, I was at the point of dehydration, and mental exhaustion, or so it felt like it anyway. I'm not a fan of running in humid weather. So, the walk/jog combo came into effect. In a way, I feel as if KARMA was playing a role after I was complaining about the Mayor's race the day before. I deserved it.
Miles 8-10 were a bit of a blur, after I came back from the turnaround which was where the Full marathoners split and went on towards White Rock Lake and on the way to the finish line. I think it was around mile 10.5 or 11, I met up with another DM friend Keisha, aka move4ward...still amazes me of our DM nicknames. Again, much earned. She did an awesome job pacing the 2:30 group for the half runners or as she calls it the "half-assers". We chatted, and she encouraged me just as I needed it. Thanks Keisha. :)
Miles 11 - Finish were met with yet some ups and downs. Again, with exhaustion setting in, my memory was fuzzy by then. I do recall at around mile 11 as we were yet going up another dreaded hill, there was a cop directing traffic who let a couple of cars drive by which led some of us to stop for a brief moment. Really had to do that? As one runner stated "we worked hard to get here, they didn't" Amen to that! Then, coming to the home stretch, another young lady who was running doubled over and puked a couple of times. Her mother, I assume was helping her move and keeping her focused on finishing. I encouraged her that a good puke is all you need to keep going. AND, she did. Mile 12 and going to the finish met with a tease via another fricking turnaround that seemed like it took forever to finish. Usually at the point where I see the finish line, I get that burst of energy to give it the last bit of gas to cross and finish strong. Didn't happen. Just the fact that I finished at that point was enough for me.
After I crossed the line, my lovely wife was standing at the spot she said she would be at. She hollered got my attention and got a little video of me with a smile of a victory cuz I finished my race. I had to take that dreaded walk all the way around and up a flight of stairs and to the recovery area where I toasted with a cold MGD 64, a banana, and even some chocolate milk. At that point, I just wanted to hurry back to the other side of the DCC was where my wife was at. I quickly texted her and told her sit tight and I would be right there. Got my finishers tee, and went back around and thankfully down an escilator to where Stacie was and got that sweet hug and smooch I had been waiting for.

Here's me at the finishline.
Me and Stacie reunited. And I gots some bling
Timmaay was hongree. That sammich was good!! Nom Nom Nom

One tired Timmaay!! I has a sad from not getting a PR, but I'm happy I finished and didn't DNF.
Silly pose with the bling again
And our buddy Lynn and her bling. She finished in 3:56. Wtg Lynn! :)
I could real easily make a long list of excuses of why I ran lousy yesterday. Then I realized it wouldn't do me any good. I could blame the weather, but I've trained and ran in worse conditions for longer distances. I could blame poor nutrition, but I've ran faster and better on a much poorer diet than what I've had this week to prepare for this race. Again, won't do me any good. I just realized going into this race with that chip on my shoulder, and not feeling the excitement I had when I ran my first race, even last year when I did my first marathon. Yesterday was just a mere "off" day for me, and for some of my other friends that ran yesterday. I'm taking this with me as I prepare for the next race. 2 months from now when I toe the line at the Cowtown marathon, this will be a faded memory. Here's to a better recovery and a new lease on my prespective. Time to get the love back that I have lost.
Official Chip times
Mayor's race 5k 29:15
Dallas Half Marathon 2:43
I'm not finished yet!! Next race please

Sunday, December 2, 2012

30 Days!`

November 1-30. Thirty days where people have made an often fun and rewarding challenge of saying one thing everyday for the month of November of what they are thankful for, and post it via Facebook. Better known as the "30 Days of Thankfulness". I myself participated in this last year, and then decided not to do it this year. Unfortunately with this challenge, I heard complaints from family because I never mentioned certain family members of why I was thankful. Some people just complain because they complain. Oh well, deal with it!! So. I decided this year I wasn't going to justify myself and let others win, so I participated. To make everyone "happy", I showed my grattitude to certain individuals first just so they can get their spotlight and be done with. Didn't happen. Still heard the complaints. As I pondered about it, I realized I am thankful for those complaints as well. I say that because it made me appreciate the negativity in my life and how much I needed to get rid of it. So I did!!

This month, started out very exciting as I was thankful for changes of the season, friends, family, the basics at first. As the challenge continued, I was trying so hard not to repeat myself, and luckily I didn't. As many of my close friends know, my wife and found out back in mid October that we were expecting our first baby. Knowing that I was a proud father to be, I was beyond excited. The first couple of weeks after us finding out about our pregnancy, we were met with some complications early on, and weren't for sure what was happening. Started with us not knowing exactly how far along Stacie was, and blood levels not "jiving" with how far we thought she was, etc. etc.. So thankfully, one week in early November, we met with the OBGYN and we determined we were roughly 4 weeks. Ultrasound even indicated the baby was doing great and I was very thankful for that. Thankful that my future baby was healthy and mommy to be was doing good too. As the 30 day challenge was going on, I indicated how extremely thankful I was for that.

That little dot was mine and Stacie's precious angel growing. Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but I was grinning from ear to ear that day. As the weeks passed by, mommy to be was having difficulties. From spotting and bleeding almost everyday. Started out little then slowly got heavy by the following week after this U-Sound pic was taken. We made the decision to visit the ER to see what was going. Sparing the details, I'll make it short, we had an unfortunate miscarriage. That night was one the most difficult nights of my life to ever experience. To make a positive notion out of this, we decided to not let this get us down, and that there will be another chance for us to try for another baby when the time is right.

As unfortunate as this was, that particular day, I notated on FB that I was indeed thankful for my loving wife, Stacie. For 7 years roughly, including the time when we were just friends, to when dated, got engaged, and now married for the past 4 of those 7 years. She is my soulmate, and as emotionally painful as it was for us to go through what we went through, this brought us closer together. We spent a good time in grief, which slowly led to anger, and how now ended with a sense of peace and yet closure as well. We believe wholeheartedly, there will be another chance, and I'm sure by then, this memory of our first pregnancy being a loss, will be a distant memory.

As the month of November continued, I soon felt like there was no point to continue this challenge. I stated up above that we felt some peace, but there is still pain there. As other friends were thankful for the lives they had, I suddenly felt like I saw nothing else to be thankful for. Who wouldn't? We had our moments of tears and sorrow, just giving it time as all have said to do. So we are.

In other news, I'm a week away from running my 4th half marathon at the Dallas Marathon, formerly known as Dallas "White Rock" Marathon. I'm not going to mention my goal, as I've done in my passed blogs, and I wind up choking on my words. So, with that, I'm just going to show up Sunday, as I do for every race and just RUN. If I set a PR, it's set. If I finish in under 2 hours, then I do. Throughout the course of my training, this race is actually a training run in itself. In February, I plan to attempt my 2nd full marathon in Fort Worth at the Cowtown Marathon. This half I'm rolling out next Sunday will be a mere jump start for me to get a baseline going and get more distance runs in as part of my training. I'm confident this will all pay off in the end.

Now that December is upon us and the season is Tising to be Jolly, I am looking forward to a wonderful Christmas. More to come next weekend when Sunday the 9th becomes an EPIC day in itself.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

No Greater Love

I'm sure those of you that are believers and have read the bible know the verse that Jesus said when he mentioned that "no greater love than a man has than to lay down his life before his friends". I believe Jesus was quoting that as he performed the last supper before he was crucified. Not to say that this will happen to me or anyone else in the future, but that phrase greater love has rang true with me this past week.

Over the last couple of months, my immediate family (Me, Stacie, and our dogs) have gone through some changes. Labor day weekend, we made the decision to adopt a new pet for Corkie. We went through the Humane Society in Irving, where we looked at a couple of dogs that caught our attention, then we saw one that fit the bill, or at least we thought. When Stacie and I first arrived at the shelter, we came across a cute little pup, Pekinese(sp) breed named Odie. Him and Corkie got along great. We decided as a family, that not only would it be our decision, but Corkie's as well. Strange as it may sound, we ultimately wanted a new pet so she could have a play pal. It saddened us a lot of times when we would go visit family and other friends that had pets, and then come home to see Corkie so sad and lonely after a long day of playing with the others. So, as we took went to the shelter, Corkie went too. This facility has a fenced in yard that you can take your potential pet to and use as a grounds to get to know them, and see how they react. Well, at first, Odie and Corkie played hard and wore each other out. Just what we needed. Long story short, we took him home that night as part of the adoption process, then take him back later to get him neutered. Well, that first night and next day was a disaster. Corkie was not happy because Odie kept trying to dominate her by "humping" and even growling at her. There were a few times she showed teeth and was forceful a few times. Sorry pet lovers, but Corkie is my girl, and this daddy looks out for her well being. Stacie and I agreed to send him back and they understood.

On the other hand, that first day while we were looking and found Odie, we had also come across another pet that look to be an interesting candidate to take home as well. We had asked the staff at the shelter if there were any Shelties that we could look at. There were 2 available. One was an 11 year old on her last leg. OK!! Who does that to a dog? At that age, why do this to them? Then dog #2, was a sheltie mix. One look at this one, and I personally thougth, this could be it. A female, blue heeler, shetlie mix, almost same shape and size as Corkie, and just 3 years old. Maybe younger. Her name was Latte, as in Starbucks. At first, Corkie and Latte didn't take well to each, and hardly did anything together. Initially, Stacie had said that she didn't want that. I thought at first, "give them time". This made us decide on Odie first before bringing him back. When I brought him back, I told Stacie, we should consider bringing Latte home. I had that "connection" that I haven't had with a dog since my first dog Joey that I had from when I was 9 till he passed when I was 23. Something inside of me said to bring her home. Stacie had agreed, so with that in consideration, I asked the staff if Latte was still available. $50 later, she was ours. It has taken some time, but after the first week of getting to know her, and her getting to trust us, Latte has become a full fledged member of our household. Her and Corkie are literally like sisters. They play, they fuss, they look out for each other. In fact, one time, I had taken them to the dog park by my house, another dog attacked Corkie, and Latte did the sister thing and went after the dog that first attacked Corkie. Everyday is a joy to come home and see them be surprised to see me or Stacie. Nothing pleases me more to see that expression in a dog. Latte's previous owners were either abusive to her, and very badly mistreated her. To this day, she still gets defensive when some people come up and want to pet her. Again, why the cruelty people? Why?

As luck would have it, as we were registering Latte with our pet clinic and getting her on our pet insurance plan, the vetinarian diagnosed Latte with HEARTWORM. It's an unfortunate mishap, but nonetheless, Latte is our other baby girl, and we as parents are doing what we can to keep her healthy. No greater love...After the first chest xray, we discovered that she is not as bad off as we thought it was. Our goal is by January to have her treatment completed and her well on the way to recovery. No greater love that we have for her and her sister that we do what we can to save them. These are my babies....

........Which now brings me this! SPEAKING of babies, my wife Stacie, who I have been blessed to be married to for 4 years now, has announced that we in fact are expecting a baby of our own. This now dad to be could not be anymore excited. My friends and other family members have all expressed that there is nother greater on this earth than to be a parent. In 8 more months or so, I can agree with that. This process took me and Stacie and year of planning, and mostly a great time of praying over this. As we are reaching our mid thirties in the next couple of years, and with Stacie and I planning on finishing our education(s) and move on to bigger, better careers, we realized we would be knocking on 40's doorstep before we ever had children. It came down to humbled decision that is was "now or never" and never wasn't an option. As we occaisonally bought a package of bottles here, pacifiers there, and even once a package of diapers, I realized it wasn't about me and her anymore, and that it wasn't going to be. I was cool with that. So, this past Spring, we started trying. After 5 months, and almost giving up, mommy to be gave me the best surprise ever two weeks ago. The idea of me being a dad has been something I have always imagined being, but never gave it much thought. When someone like myself marries at age 28 to a spouse that was 29 at the time, it didn't really occur to us. Or at least in the beginning of our marriage. Back in the Spring when Stacie's family laid her sister, Brenda to rest, the family came together and one relative asked us if we were ever to consider having children. It was that ride home that got us spinning our wheels about it. No sooner that when we got home till here recently, those wheels kept spinning, and haven't stopped!

These last couple of months have been a blessing to me. From the time we adopted our most recent dog, Latte, to now knowing that I am going to become a father, life is good for me. The little things that show me how to express a great love, have been the greatest gift I could ever receive. More to follow in the months ahead as we prepare for the latest edition to come into my household.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Honored Hero Run 2012

Race Report:

What a day!! All the training, all the fun I had, wrapped up into 20 miles of FUN today. Fun you say? Well, I did just that. The weeks prior to this race today, I had a lot of emotions and what nots going into this run. It all started last year when I did this exact race, when I DNF'd at mile 17. Physically that day, I felt fine, a little anxious at one point, but I think it was just nerves going into what was then my longest distance to run at one time. Plus, as I was training for my first marathon last year, this race was a training run going into it.

Aside from that, I also had the luck of the draw to come across a page on Facebook .. Brief summary, this young boy, Lane Goodwin of Beech Cove, Kentucky was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma back in 2010. I don't know how to pronounce that, but as the page described it, this is a rare form of cancer that hits 1 out of a million kids. Lane was unfortunate to have it. Sad to say, young Lane passed away this passed week, but prior to his passing, there was an amazing amount of support for him and his family. Pictures of random people posting pics with their thumbs up as to say "we are in support of you". I myself showed mine as well by posing the thumbs up at my previous race I did prior to this one. Please click on this link and LIKE their page to show continuous support. The family can use it.

Also, as a member of Dailymile, I've been grateful to have online support from friends all around, and as much as I get that, I sometimes feel I don't give it back enough. If I did, I would be glued to my cell phone 24/7 and would end up divorced by my wife *laughs*.. To give back to my DM community, I was given a challenge from a DM friend "Miles For Mokie". Monika C aka Mokie, recently had a brain tumor removed and the DM community came together and from the days of October 8-28, each member is presented with the challenge to run miles in Mokie's honor. As of today including this race, I am at 75. Mokie, we're pulling for you!!

Please join this page and show your support if you haven't already

With all of this on my heart, and weighing on my mind, I went into this race with an open mind and positive attitude. I was completely floored when the RD called out that over 1400 participants had signed up for this race. On average, this one usually gets around 500-600. Humbling at it's best. Especially since this race, "Honored Hero" is a big supporter in the fight again childhood cancer. Fitting today for the honor and memory of Lane Goodwin, I thought. On a personal note, it saddens me when I see and hear of young children dying of cancer. My angry question and thoughts are, why do they have to suffer. Sometimes, I ask God why not ME...why can't I take the pain from these kids that deserve a chance in life. Someday, I'll ask him.

To start off, this was by far, a fun race. I got up this morning at around 445, took my dogs out to potty, feed them, and then got ready. As I was out walking them, that humidity was already being ugly. The "Indian Summer" was upon us today. I told my wife this morning to dress down today because it may get hot later today. High was 88F. As the plan was, the race started out at the Trinity park off 7th street. I'm not too familiar with the Fort Worth surroundings (Dallas native here), but I know enough of whatever street I am on, I can find my way around, and even get home easily. As luck would have it, the starting line is down the street from the Montgomery Plaza where there just happens to be a STARBUCKS....with a comfortable AC that my wife got to enjoy for a few hours. Her plan was to do some studying while she was there and I was racing. We got there to the plaza at around 6, just as the doors were opening. I wanted to get over to the starting early just so I could meet up with some peeps and say hey to anyone. Granted the race didn't start till around 730, that hour and a half flew by. I met up with fellow DMers, Clay P aka The Nite Train, and Andy aka Twentysix2. The three of us ran the 20 miler because we were crazy enough to. The 20 mile runners had the great privilege to start first, then an hour later the half marathon, then 5k runners took off. Given that the temps were not going to let up, I kept the idea of just pacing myself. I wanted to get in at least a 3:20 finish (10 minute pace), but that humidity was not going to let me. Plan B, just run till I can't run anymore and then walk/run the rest of the way.

Well, as we started off, I made the mistake, like I always do of going out too fast and then choking at some point before I reach mile 1. I wanted to run at comfortable enough pace, and keep up with Clay, but I just couldn't hold on. Clay, you are getting faster, and I applaud you for that my friend. Boston has your name on it someday. So, as I pulled back, I set into a comfortable 1030ish pace and just cruised. The weather was still nice enough and the wind was at my back, so I could coast this. Like the old saying, what comes up, must come down. I say that because, the course was an "out and back" verses a "loop". 4.5 miles out and back on the first leg (9 miles) then 3 miles through one portion of the ridge, then 4 more miles out and back (8 miles) on the other end of the leg then up a hill and then a sharp turn to the finishline. The course itself was mostly flat, with some hills here and there. As I made to the first out and back part, I still feeling ok. At that point, Andy and his TnT (team in training) group had passed me. Still running most of the first leg by myself, or no one to chat with, I did get to chat with a lady who was doing intervals throughout the run. To be honest, I am not a big fan of those, especially in a long distance run like this one, but as she was trading off with me on leading, I see a benefit of it. I personally like them when I do speed work, however, for 20 miles, I would croak. LOL!

From that first turnaround to mile 12 we traded of leads till I caved in. That humidity was not being friendly to my joints, and my PF was acting up. Sidebar: at mile 7, there was a water stop where I had "peeled" my shirt off because it was sticking to me and tossed it in the one of the bags a crew member was holding. Quite humorous to some. I took that to my advantage of being able to let my skin breathe and enjoy the breeze despite the humidity.  After the initial stop I had, I was thankful for the fact that I had indeed ran a double distance today given the conditions of the weather. So, from there, I decided to have fun with this race. First started at mile 13, I climbed up a hill and picked on a race photographer that the race director said this was supposed to be flat, and that I wanted my money back. Poor guy thought I was serious at first, then I told I was only kidding then took off. Made some more laughs along the was saw some other runners already coming back on the second turnaround. Lots of high fives, and thumbs up saying good job and taking the compliments in return.

I spent most of mile 12 going into 18 walking, moreso than run. My quads were cramped up at that point and my knee was making uncalled for sounds of discomfort, so I kept it at a brisk walking pace. Ignoring the fact that my legs were not only cramped, but my muscles were tightening. Stopping and stretching here and there helped a bit. Plus, a bottle of pickle juice I got a water stop. Again, lots of encouragement and hi 5's from the crew and other runners coming back. At mile 13 and a half, I saw Clay coming back and we fist bumped then kept going. Heading into the last turnaround, I passed up Andy as he was coming back, hi 5ed, then kept moving as well. At the last turnaround, the weather was really messing with me. I got the encouragement from the crew to keep going, which at that point, I shrugged off my discomfort by humbly saying that I was feeling good. Made some jokes to laugh my pain off. At that point, my PF was getting tough to bear, so I had to do something about it. I don't know if it was my shoes I was wearing (brooks ghost 4) or the orthotic that I was wearing gave me grief, but I was able to take care of it. Luckily, that water stop had a chair I could sit in. So, I took my shoes off, and removed my orthotics. Took some more water and gatorade and off I went. I tried to run some more, but the pickle juice I took from a previous stop hadn't kicked in yet. I didn't want to just walk the rest of the way, so I shuffled stepped here and there. At that point, I had met up with another friend of Andy's who was a member of his TNT and we chatted some and were able to keep each other occupied while the pain and discomfort was slowly going away. At mile 16, I took a deep breath and remember the painful moment from last year, when all mechanisms had failed me last year which led me to my DNF. I took a look at the mile 16 sign, gave it the finger and laughingly kept going. Mile 17 and up to that famous water stop where I called it last year, I was walking and semi limping some. If I can take anything from today, it's the fact that I am more tolerant to pain. Made it to that water stop and was so glad there was a porta potty. By then, I had drank 2 5 hour energy shots, water and gatorade from all of the stops after mile 5, um...yeah, I had to pee.

After handling business, I took a break to stop and stretch some more, and low and behold, a crew member remembered me from last year. She had asked me if I was the one guy that bonked on this run last year, and I said, yes. I reassurred her, that I am a lot stronger and feeling a lot better today than I was last year. Despite the fact that I was walking a lot at that point, I was not ready to stop. She high 5ed me and off I went. I came up one last hill, and down the tail end of the turnaround, and saw mile 18. By then, Andy's friend (name unknown) had already pulled ahead, so I was mostly by myself. Gave me some time to reflect and remember how thankful I am that I can run and walk, and that most people can't.

Maybe God was telling me that this is my gift he has given me. I don't know at this point. I just love to run and I'm sticking with that. At that mile 18 sign, I felt the urge to want to run some. Shuffle stepping my way to mile 19 and onto the last water stop. From there, I was met by yet some more encouragement from the crew working that stop and letting me know that there was one more mile to go. I felt excited at that time and that I wanted to run the rest of the way. However, that didn't happen...

As I looked ahead of me, there was a group of ladies wearing TuTu's so I caught up to them and walked the rest of the way with them. I jokingly asked if they didn't mind a fat shirtless guy walking with them, they gladly welcomed me. We all chatted about this run and where we were all from. Listening to them talk about their kids, families, I shared about my dogs, our home, just conversation. It was really cool listening to them as we were on a high at this point about the race, and that even though we were walking, we were all OK with that. As we pulled up toward the end of the race, there was a sign for the half marathon runners that said "mile 13", which meant we were at mile 19.9. Just one more hill and that sharp left turn and there was the finishline.

On our way up that hill, I excused myself and pulled ahead and told them that I wanted to run this one in. The sound of clapping and chearing and even the music from the loud speakers never sounded sweeter to me at that time. Once I pulled in, I looked to my left and saw my wife, Stacie, gave her a high 5 and then saw my brother from another mother, Clay, and gave him a high 5 and then cross the faithful finishline.

At that time, I didn't care about what my time was. I knew I was well over 4 hours, but still, I had FUN today. I was greated by the RD, and then my wife. Had some laughs, gave the RD a hard time about those hills cuz the race was supposed to have been flat. Again, it was fun.. I can't really say that about all of my races, but today topped a lot of the other races I've had in the past that I considered to be fun as well. Today was filled with sweat and some tears, but all in all, it was great in the end. I walked away realizing that I need some vast improvements in my running. I'm not too concerned about pace, as I never am, but need more training in distance. I could go on and say that the weather was a big factor in why I walked a good portion of the second leg of this run, but I won't. I'm just looking foward now to my next race, the Dallas (White Rock) half marathon in December. Knowing full well, it will definitely be a lot cooler.

Off to rest now, and get ready for the next go round. Me 1 - Honored Hero 1.. now we're even!!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why I Run!

Why I run?

I'll be honest, I've never really had someone come out and ask me that. Not sure what to think about it, except maybe a little discouraged, and somewhat heartbroken. Not for the whole attention thing, but the sense that what if there are more and more folks out there that don't give a damn about their health. Sure, some people I know swear to me up and down that they are eating better, exercising 30 minutes to an hour a day for 3 days a week. Let me turn the tables a bit, and ask..."ARE YOU REALLY??". Yeah, I thought so! Make no mistake, I am not one to judge, but I do get judged on occasion for what I do in the world of fitness. I can't really do anything, but let it go. Best conversation I had on my 31st birthday was with my father and step-mother. As a family, my wife and I met with my with dad, stepmom, and sister at the Outback for a steak dinner and chit chat. Now, granted I am a CPT, doesn't mean I'm "perfect", but I like to chow on some good eats from time to time. Growing up in Texas, I was raised on steaks, baked potatoes, burgers, hot dogs, you name it, this kid ate it. As I've taken my health more serious these past 3 years, I've given up a lot of those habits. Still have them, but not as much. So, back to the conversation: We order our meals, I enjoy what I was having, my wife didn't finish what she had, so of course, we take it to go, and I have it later. As we were getting our meals boxed up, my wife said, "yeah, Tim will eat it, then go run 6 miles or so later". My loving and endearing step monster, I mean mother said under her breath, "You run too much".

   Normally, I would've taken that to offense and said something off key that would've pissed her off, but I didn't. I just simply said that running is my break away and a big reason behind why I feel better most of the time. To me, I still find it odd how people, like my step mom (chain smoker and occasional drinker) like to drop subtle hints to health and fitness gurus like myself about how it's just wrong to eat healthy and workout. Honestly, I want to say "f&%k you" to those people and tell them that if they could only get off their backsides aka "ass" and get moving, their lives wouldn't be as miserable as mine once was.

  It gets better. Those that are miserable, make every excuse in the world NOT to want to do it. Oh well. I'm done hearing them, and listening to the critics. If you slam me, I'm just gonna smile and think to myself how much longer I am going to live than you. Those of you that smoke and eat grease and are beyond 65, I hate you!! Just saying in a laughing matter because yall have already cheated death by 10 years or so.....Enough of my rant!!

  Since I haven't been asked the faithful question, I'm asking myself "why I run".. Well I can tell you after this week, it's been made clear that I love it. Not just that, but the feeling of satisfaction after every distance I do. Over the years since my first race, I've become a distance junkie. My goal at some point once I'm comfortably able to do 20 miles without effort, is to go "beyond" 26.2 aka ULTRAS. I have friends I've met along the way (in person, and on Dailymile) that have done ultras (50ks to 100 milers) and I am amazed at their talents and efforts to go that far. Someday, that will be me. I would love to start out small with a 50k (31 miles) and work my way up to 50 and ultimately 100. For now, I'm happy with my 13.1's to 26.2's. As this week is winding down on a Sunday afternoon, I am beyond amazed for myself personally, that I am just 4 miles away from hitting 40 for the week. I can't remember the last time I had a number like that in my running career. I'm also humbled that I am coming off a 14 mile run I did yesterday, and even still more surprised that my body has recovered more quickly than before. Living in a loft apt (with stairs), the biggest surprise came yesterday when I got home after my run and was able to walk up the stairs to my bathroom and able to take a shower and then go about my day. Even so today, I feel a little spent, but overall if I were to do a "recovery" run, I could go easily for a 5-6 mile jaunt and feel satisfied with that. Given that I've ran half marathons before and coming home wounded and feeling beat up, that in itself is a great feeling.

  I run because, with it, comes great accomplishment. In my spare time, I train clients on a part time basis, and I love it. Along with accomplishment, I find a sense of confidence as well. In so, my one and only client, has decided to give C25K (couch to 5k) a chance. I couldn't be anymore excited about his opportunity. I say, it's never too late for a fresh start with this sport. I run because, I don't miss seeing the overweight guy in the mirror anymore. I don't miss having high blood pressure, diabetes, or be a the risk of a heart attack. I run because in partial of hearing the criticism from family, it something I can always do. Growing up, I had the unfortunate accident of breaking my arm in a skating rink. The following fall, I tried out for football, and my parents basically said no. Mom said it was because of money, dad said it had to do with confidence, my friends said they would've loved to have had me on the team. My parents didn't want to admit, but it had a lot to do with my skating injury that made their decision for me not to play. I begged and begged from all of Jr High and my freshman and sophomore year of high school. By then, I gave up. During all of that time, my mom gave me an alternative to do martial arts. Ok.. I as I thought about it while I was in it, I'm pretty sure my mom invested a pretty penny into me not only taking monthly lessons, but competing in tournaments. Along with competitions, belt testings, and training, I endured my fair share of injuries. Given that I separated my shoulder, blew out my knee, and cracked a few ribs, I'm pretty sure, I suffered the same injuries in martial arts as I would have if I had played football. Oh..and would've been cheaper. Just saying. Growing up with divorced parents and having "step" siblings, I had my share of competitions and personal battles of notice. My step brother played football and baseball for his school teams, and I of course had karate. I never felt the satisfaction like he did and yes I did feel a lot of jealousy towards him. Thankfully, my step brother was humbled enough to understand it wasn't competition he was after, and never really rubbed in from his point of view. But still, the anger and jealousy came from my end because I felt like it was unfair and I was cheated. When my father and his mother split, my father remarried to my current step mother that I dislike. At first, she was "wow'd" about me being in martial arts (at the time) and later became a critic. In my defense, I felt screwed because while all other siblings were allowed to play sports; my brother played football, sister played soccer, why couldn't I do anything. Believe me, I enjoyed competing in karate, but I wasn't complete with it as if I would've been if I played football or baseball.

  As the years of "what could've been" passed on, I let go of my anger towards my family as I thought about what kind of athlete I could've been if they had only given me a chance. To only have it resurfaced one night on an occasion where my life was celebrated by another age gone by, only made me realize how good I truly had it. What pissed me off about the most was that I wasn't recognized for it when I was younger. Oh well! Why I run?? I run because even though I will never get the privilege of being to wear the pads, the helmet, the uniform, and play on artificial turf, I have a sport I can still compete in. And I don't need a degree or have to spend four years at the college level hoping to get noticed by the pros to come join their team. I run because deep down, I know there are others out that really can't. I know those people have hearts as big as the ocean, but not the body to. I run because I'm proving to myself that I can. I run because even though I get criticised from time to time, I don't have to take anyone's crap and let that steal my joy. I run because someone else is running too, and they have the will to achieve their goal(s) with the same tenacity as I have. I run because I have certain amount of distances that dare me to kick their ass. I run because it's what I do...

...........what are you going to do??

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tim vs Timmaay

Tim vs Timmaay, the showdown begins. In one corner, weighing in at 267 pounds, low self-esteem, chain smoker, occasional drinker, and all out wimp with excuses. In the other corner, weighing in at 220 pounds, 1 time marathon, 3 time half marathon, and 1 time 15, 10, and 5k runner, a lot healthier, happier, and more confident in himself. One can easily guess who the winner would be if those two went head to head for an all out beat down.

Here lately, I've reminisced a little bit about what it would be like if I ever ran into my younger self. Would I be fit enough now to knock some sense into the younger me? I've often wondered if the current me could take on the aggressive teenage me back when I was (at the time) fit and what I thought was in the best shape I could've been in. As the saying goes, "to be wise, you first must be stupid"!! Yep, that would be me. Over the passed 3 years, I feel like I have rediscovered myself again. As I keep reminiscing, I look back at when I slowly starting regaining my health, I have found out what capabilities I didn't know I had. I think running a marathon was one of them. Last fall when I started training for my first marathon, I was averaging 25-30 miles a week, and occasionally cross trained on the spin bikes. A  few runs that I was training on, I managed to do an 18 mile run/walk, a 17 miler (which actually became a DNF on a 20 miler), and then a 17 mile knee throbber. To be honest, I felt going into running the marathon, that I was very much "under-trained". I thought to myself, if I can swing a good 15 miles without a hitch, I could swing that plus 11.2 miles as an easy cool down or jog the rest of the way. Good theory, bad idea!! Along came the injury that sidelined for a while. Until now:

These passed few weeks, I pushed for improvements. Back in February, my sports doctor advised me on sitting out my spring races, I wanted to. I said back then that it was the best decision I did, and I still stand by that. It started back in early April when I did 6 day run streak with a total of 32 miles. Not bad, but not as good as I wanted, still I took it as a sign of progress. That along has pushed me to this week when I aimed to a 10 mile strut in my neighborhood. Best feeling I've had in a while to complete a double digit distance since running my first marathon. 5 months in the making, well worth the wait. I admit, I can be very impatient at times, but as I've gotten older, I've gained some more wisdom here and there. Since that 10 miler, I did 2 easy recovery runs, and in my opinion felt effortless at the pace I was going. Funny I say that, when 2 years ago I was fighting to run at the speed I was going for this week. Improvement, yeah absolutely. I'm taking it as it comes. I guess you can say at this point, Timmaay is kicking Tim's butt right now. I think the biggest reason why Tim was so "under-trained" was a case of excuses. Timmaay has pretty much laid those excuses down this time around. I've decided to stick to just training this summer, and maybe catch a 5 or 10k (depending on cost) and kick this fall of with the following races, dates TBD

Labor Day 15k
Honored Hero 20 miler
Houston Half marathon (possibility)
Dallas White Rock Marathon

Along with these races, I plan to spend a lot more time at White Rock Lake and also at the Trinity Trails logging in some more training miles. I'm setting the bar higher to where my new average will be 40+ miles a week instead of 30. No more excuses. Here's to hoping Timmaay can be an even greater winner over Tim. We shall see...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Loving Memory

Brenda Kay Smith: Was born on June 23, 1961 and was called home to be with the Lord on May 7, 2012.

This next segment was written out by her mother, Hazel. This can also be found on

"On June 23, 1961 a little angel was sent to this earth. God knew she would never be able to run, walk, or play like most other children. God had other plans for her. One purpose was to bless everyone whose lives she touched with her love, sweet smile, contagious giggle, and trusting nature. With all her physical obstacles and ailments, she taught and surprised everyone many times with her strong will to live and be able to return back to her own quality of life"

"Brenda's joy for life was spent under great care of the wonderful staff at the Lubbock State Supported Living Facility (formerly the Lubbock State School) for 42 years. This great staff and God's will can definitely be credited for Brenda's ability to survive her many disabilities for 50 years."

.....all of this again was written by Hazel Love, Brenda's mother!!

It saddens me to find out about a love one being gone. What does one say or do in moments like this? You make all the necessary phone calls to relatives, friends, etc. Make arrangements for the funeral, take time off of work, and try to make things run as smooth as they can. This passed week, my wife's family did all of this. It wasn't easy, but it happened. The week before last around Cinco de Mayo weekend, my father in law James got the call from Hazel saying that Brenda was not going to make it through the night and that he needed to be here now. In his heart, he knew he had to be there for her. As I stated above (per Hazel), Brenda's "strong will" kicked in during the final moments of her life here on earth. I believe deep down it was so James (dad) could be there one last time to say goodbye to her. It was as if she was ready, but didn't want to leave without telling her parents that she was "ok" and that she will be in a better place. I have no doubt that this was the case.

I received a call Monday night that Brenda had passed away around 8pm. As I calmly sat down and told my Stacie about it, she was in tears, but yet relieved since she knew as well in her heart that her big sister was in a better place. So, once the shock was worn off, we made our phone calls to other relatives and they made their respective arrangements with their jobs and transportation. Stacie's brother, Stephen made a trip from Galveston up to Ft. Worth to pick up her other brother, Kelly and his wife, Julie, then make the other half of his long trip to Lubbock. Almost 12 hours of driving can put a tole on anybody. Stacie's mom and dad rented a vehicle and was already in Lubbock at the time with Stacie's oldest brother, Craig (She has 5 brothers all together), and then she and myself took our own vehicle and made our long 5 1/2 hour road trip out to west Texas from the Ft. Worth area ourselves. Whew it was a long haul. It felt longer than the last time we drove up to Lubbock, but nonetheless, it was a good trip. This trip not only tired us out physically, but gave us a new lease on life in a good way. I always have this really bad habit after taking a road trip somewhere that if I only had a job, or if I could find out a way to live here or there, I would. 2 trips out to Lubbock, Texas in less than 2 months has really got me thinking.. More to come on this!!

As we all gathered in Lubbock to meet up with family and friends, we we're blessed indeed by the Lubbock State Supported Living Center, and when I say blessed, I don't mean it lightly. This trip was a HUGE financial burden on all of us that came out for Brenda's funeral. We barely had in our own budget to get a hotel, much less gas money and food. The blessing you say, and my dad in-law can testify to this, the LSSLC provided us with a place to stay for duration of the time we were in town. Oh, and it was F-R-E-E!! The living center has a couple of cottage type houses that they provide to family members for anyone that is a full time resident of the school. That meant for us, since we we're family to Brenda, we could stay in one of the houses. It was a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with a laudry room, kitchen, den, family room, and fireplace. It was done up almost like a 70's style house the way the design looked. Fine by us, so we took it. Stacie and shared a room with a full size "four post" bed and small bathroom, her parents shared the "master" room with their own bathroom, her brother Kelly and his wife Julie had a room with a king size bed, and Stephen had his own room which was connected to Kelly and Julie's room with a bathroom. Again, PTL (Praise the Lord).

Now that we had the room situation taken care, we had enough funds to take care of food and gas as we needed to. One trip to the grocery store, and we were stocked up for the week. Unfortunately, we didn't get pics of this awesome place we stayed at, but let me just say for the whole experience that we we're there, we can't thank the state facility enough for providing this for us. Side note: As for me being a runner, the facility itself is 1.5 miles in diameter all around, so you can guess what I did while I was there. Yep! I ran around a few times to keep up with my fitness...and to keep my mind focused while I was there. My main objective was to be there for my wife and her family as she was there to be by her dad's side. Mission accomplished pretty much.

By Wednesday, as everyone made into town, we met up with the Chaplains who took care of Brenda while she was in the State Facility, but at the hospital as well when her health was threatened. We all got together with them and the rest of the family that lived in Lubbock to go over what and how the funeral was going to be done. From music to who was going to speak, open casket, closed casket. Smooth as butter as far as I thought. Couldn't have planned a better memorial if you'd asked me. Stacie's brothers Scott and Craig provided music and Chaplain Ken Cartwright from the State School and Chaplain Elizabeth Abraham from the UMC hospital in Lubbock both preached and gave a word at the pulpit. And was concluded with Stacie's dad, James giving his appreciation for all the work that the Lubbock State Supported Living Center provided to Brenda after all these years. I myself was involved in the memorial as I volunteered to be a pall-bearer along with other family members: Brenda's half brothers Johnny, Donny, Stephen, Kelly, and nephew Kyle. Again, a great job was done by all who participated.

I shared all of this because, as I said above about a new lease on life. Brenda's condition and the way she was has really inspired not only me, but Stacie as well. This is why she herself hopes to be a nurse someday. Working with the under-privileged is what she feels is her calling. I know deep down because of Brenda, this is a personal persuit she is taking. I know in confidence, she will succeed. As for me, I have a personal experience with this as well, and that it is a testimony in itself. More to come on that.

In showing of appreciation of the LSSLC, when we were shacked up in the cottage we stayed at, Stacie found a plaque on the wall in the hallway that really hit home with her. The words itself could make anyone cry, and also she read these words during the memorial. As Brenda's youngest sibling, she felt honored to do this.

"A School For Little Angels"

a poem by Donald Dehay - 1994

"A school for retarded children,
That's what some folks say it is;

But I think it's a school for little angels;
Well, in fact I know it is.

Some of the kids are crippled.
Some are very weak.
And if those little kids weren't angels;
Well, they just couldn't be that sweet.

The parents are very happy with the school;
its love and care
Where some children really need the school,
But their parents just don't care.

Yes, the school is just for angels;
Where normal kids can't go
They teach the angels
What normal kids already know

All the kids are happy;
To me it always seems.
They all go to play and learn,
Until they earn their wings.

Sometimes it just takes days;
Sometimes many years.
They they get their wings
And leave their parents with (many) tears

Some think it's a school for retarded kids;
But I think it's a little unfair.
I think it's a school for angels,
For we had one that went there.

If that doesn't make you sob, you are heartless. It definitely speaks volume of what this facility is all about. And, partly for me, a big reason WHY I fell in love with Lubbock the 2nd time I came out that way. I have a passion as I stated for handicapped kids and adults. Because of them, I am now a child of God, and pretty much sober these days. Long story short, at 21, I was following my own way of life, and not what God wanted me to do. I spent a good time in the bottle, and didn't care if I lived to see the next day. A big time life of sin, and I was content. Instead, he brought a young 22 year old man with down syndrome into my path and it changed me. I spent a week at a camp for special needs in July of 2002. It was the last night before we all packed up the next day and went home. I found my friend, Casey laying in his bed crying because he knew he had to go home the next day. To make matters worse, I showed up that Monday for camp with a massive hangover because I drank way too much the night before. Again, I didn't care. I just wanted to skip town for a bit and get back at it when I got back home. God's perfect timing is all I gotta say. So, anyways.. As I tried my best to comfort my new founded friend, Casey, he asked me if I was going to see him next summer. I promised him right then and there that I would. Then, out of the blue, this same kid who couldn't tie his shoes, but can't quote the Bible asked me a gut checking question. "Hey Tim" he says, "will I get to see you in heaven someday?" I don't know where that came from, but in an instant, I was taken back. This is one question you CAN NOT lie about. Especially to a kid with his condition. And, you really can't say NO either. That night, I gave my life to the Lord, and never looked back.

I am so blessed and honored to be married into a family that cared for a soul like Brenda. It really gives life a whole new perspective for me. Another was written by an anonymous writer that speaks volume as well for anyone with special needs, and for family members of someone who is handicapped. I don't like to use the word "retard", that makes my blood boil.

"Heaven's Special Child"

A meeting was held, quite far from earth.
"It's time again, for another birth"
Said the angels to the Lord above,
This special child will need much love

Her progess may seem very slow,
and she'll require extra care
From the folks she meets
way on down there

She may not run or laugh or play
her thoughts may seem quite far away
in many ways she won't adapt
and she'll be known as "handicapped"

So let's be careful where she's sent
we want her life to be content
Please, Lord find her parents who
will do a special job just for you

They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play
but this child sent from above
comes stronger faith and richer love

And soon they'll know the privilege given
 in caring for this gift form Heaven
Their precious charge so meek and mild
is Heaven's very, special child,

Sorry friends, if this blog itself has shed tears, but what would you do if you ever lost a loved one. Let me rephrase, if you had to lose a loved one with a condition like my sister in law had, what would you do? The answer is unknown. I can't tell you what to do. Otherwise, that would be too easy. All I can tell you is, you love them the best you can while they are on earth here with you. Life is too short!!

My wife, Stacie and Brenda a few years back. Way before we ever met.

My father in law, James and Brenda. One last visit with her before her health started to decline

If you look real closely at the center of the cloud you can see a heart. This was taken by Stacie as we were driving back home. Nothing says "confirmation" that Brenda has arrived to the gates of Heaven quite like this. Very humbling

I'm just an in law on the outside looking in, but I can see a lot of love in this family that was inspired through the life Brenda had. I hope this love never dies for the generations to come.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Our New Place!

Well, I told you all that I wasn't making promises about posting every week like I wanted to. But still, I have managed to make it less than a month, so give me some credit. Since my last post, Stacie and I did what people dread to do the most, MOVE!! We got the luxury of moving to a much bigger place, and by far a better community, I think. We've settled in nicely for the last two weeks now, so we are thrilled with it. It wasn't that way in the beginning however, as one would "typically" deal with the stress of moving. To say the least, we had our fair share. In all the times before when I have moved; from the very first time I told mom I was leaving and moving in with my first roommate, to my first solo apartment, my second, roomie, even coming back home because I fell on hard times, and to even the first place Stacie and I moved into together, I don't think I ever encountered as much stress in those times as we did in this move. Where do I begin?

Well, let me tell you the beginning. At first, after 3 years of being in our "starting out" apartment, we were strapped for room. After taking on the responsibility of our first "child", Corkie, and after a few holidays and birthdays celebrated.... Um yeah... We collected a lot of stuff. Doesn't everybody? Plus, we were getting fed up with the new management, and the bratty little kids that were living in the complex we lived in. Nothing against them, but we felt it was time to pick up and move out. So, we planned a weekend in February since that was around the time we had to give our 60 day notice, and time for us to find a newer place. We had debated on a either a 2 bedroom, or a much bigger 1 bedroom. Me being optimistic, I was opting for the 2 bedroom, but every place we looked at, I thought we were getting gouged on rent. No surprise there. In the apartment lifestyle, that is to be expected. We spent one Saturday in February, armed with a list of places we checked out online, we set out and hunted for our next place to live. The first one we looked at was in the "Ghetto" side of town. Funny how apartment guides and pictures don't really do justice to what places look like in reality. Now, I stated before that we were thinking about either a 2 bedroom or a large 1 bedroom, we had also considered a split level, or studio loft apartment. As we searched and searched, we found some lofts that were right up our alley as far as rent cost and location. Still nothing appealed to us. The 2nd and 3rd place we looked at that same day were hopeful, but a no go at the last minute. We agreed that for a 1 bedroom, $700 was too much. Some parts of the country, that is considered cheap, but not where we live. Finally, I looked across the street at the last place we looked and saw a place I had previously looked at a few years ago with my last roommate, and noticed the name change of the complex and a sign that said "under new management".. Ok, I optimistic, so I thought, what the hell.

So, we get in, talk to a lease consultant, got a nickel tour of a model unit, and even a tour of the new layout. One word... SOLD.. The location, cost of rent, and even the accommodations for Corkie was enough for us. This place gave a discount because my wife, Stacie is now a student, and that we both work in the medical field. The attractions included: A dog park, a tiki bar kind of setup at the pool with grills and bars to sit at, 24 hr fitness facility, and my favorite, up front parking by our unit. With these great attractions that lured us in, we did however have to make some sacrifices. To us, they were worth it though. We had a HUGE bedroom on the second floor, but very limited closet space. Only one bathroom, but it was upstairs, so if company came, guess what?? The last big doozy we had to give up was our washer and dryer. When I said we had limited closet space, well, a small corner was taken up by a stackable washer and dryer. From what we have been told, and even now if what we have experienced with this, a stackable unit is not that bad. They may be small in size, but you would be amazed at how much laundry can fit in the washer, then afterwards load it up in the dryer. And they are FAST at getting you clothes done. We're happy with that.

Now to the meat and potatoes. Here's where the real fun begins!! After all the negotiations and agreements we made with our place of residence that we were moving out of and with the place we were moving to, disaster struck. We were scheduled to move in on the weekend of the 21st of April. Just like in the business of the real estate, the right hand never knows what the left hand is saying. With that, we had a big time mix up with our unit, and with management. When we finalized our move in day, the lease consultant we spoke with had everything written down, and even and agreement drawn up in which we signed. Somehow, that was not communicated to the manager, nor was it entered into the system. Talk about furious, there was a lot of tension that day in the office. I was drove the unit we were going to move into, and nothing was done to it. The workers were in there ripping out carpet, taking out appliances, and painting. Manager said, it would be impossible for us to move in when we wanted to. With that on our stressor, I had to make a quick phone call to my power company to shut down that particular account to that location I had set up. On the flipside of the mix we had with the manager and the lease consultant, we were able to move into a different apartment, same floor plan, but much better location. YAY!! We were thrilled about that. All the maintenance people had to do with that place was clean the carpets, and repaint the walls. Ok, it would be ready for us in 24 hours. Not a problem, except one thing... the power would not be available until the following Monday. So, it was a weekend we move in, and no power. Thankfully, Stacie's parents let us crash with them during all of this.

Oh it gets better. We decided to take the stress out of us, and not even worry about relying on friends and family to help us by hiring movers. Yes, I mean it does it get better. As I stated above, we were scheduled for the 21st of April to move in to our new place, and we still were. Just not the new place we originally planned on. So, a quick phone call to the movers to let them know we are still moving to the same complex, just a different unit. Not a problem on their part. However, there was a big problem they had which effected us in a bigger way as well. We had scheduled a move for 10am on Saturday, April 21st. Got a call from the movers that it would be about 3pm instead because their customer before us had a lot of stuff to move and they were way out west of us in Weatherford, Texas, which is 2 hours away (not sure on miles). Ok, not a problem. So, Stacie and I took what little items we could move and took them over to the new place, had lunch, sat around and waited, yady yady yady... Well, got a phone call again around 5pm saying that they were going to be much later, probably around 630. By then, we were so frustrated that we both had turns at letting the moving people know how mad we were. Long story short, about the previous customer before us, well, apparently they had more stuff to move than what they led the movers on to thinking they had.

Finally, after cooling off, and by then laughing at this whole situation, Stacie told the movers to just come by on Sunday morning instead. By then it would've too late in the evening for them to come out, and since we had no power established yet, it would've been a safety hazzard for the movers. So, Sunday morning came, and everything FINALLY came together as planned for once during this whole move. Movers showed up at our old place, loaded the truck up with all we had, followed us over to the new place, and unloaded everything in 2 hours flat. It was like a flash before our eyes at how fast these dudes worked, and I quickly apologized for my aggression towards them. They understood, so they sympathized by knocking a little bit off the price for their troubles they caused us.

Here's an aerial floor plan of our new place. This pretty much describes how we have everything set up.

Here's the first thing you see when you open the door. I'm stoked because I have never lived in a place before that had stairs. Probably my favorite feature of this apt.

To the left of the stairs is the living room. It looked small at first, but once it was filled up with our stuff, it looked bigger for some reason.

The Kitchen. We love the look of our appliances from the stove, fridge, and microwave. We're going with the more moderate, contemporary look.

As you first walk upstairs into our bedroom. This was before we put anything in it. Trust me when I say this, but it's huge!!

Our cozy little corner section of the room with a place to sit or lay on. It's actually big enough for the dog to jump up there and sleep if she ever wanted to.

I won't spare anymore details about the rest of the room. All there is, is just the tiny closet and tiny bathroom. Nothing much to it.

I've never lived somewhere that accommodated pets like this. This little dog park has a small creek bed that is ran by a water fountain that the dogs can actually drink from. Plus there's a poop station, so you can pick up after them if they have to go. Corkie likes it so far.

So far, in the passed couple of weeks since we've lived here, we've been very pleased with our new choice of residence. Corkie likes not only the dog park, but she like the stairs as well. In fact, the first night, she got herself a good workout by going up and down them I don't know how many times. Last weekend, our dear friends Bill and Lynn Parker gave us our first house warming present. As most of you know that follow my blogs, know that I am  a runner. I run when I can. Sometimes, when I need to run, the weather has a disadvantage, so I resolve to using a treadmill if I can ever use on. Well, luck would have it, The Parker's blessed us with that very same thing. Granted, I'm more of an outdoor fan and like my hills and change of scenery, but sometimes a treadmill is the best solution. So far I've ran a few miles on it here and there, and appreciate having it. Thanks, Parker's

Our house warming gift. I plan to use it quite extensively in the future

For the most part, we're settling in quite well. Our plan is to stick it out here for 3 or 4 years. Basically, however long it takes for Stacie to finish school, and when we are ready to purchase our first mortgage. Oh the joys of moving. Till next time.