I guess showing how screwed up my brain is there are people who have tried to get me to change paths all along. They have, with rare exceptions, been good people with good intentions. Join a more elite running group, why would I do that instead of training with my friends? Focus on just one distance instead of doing all these different races, that sounds great except I like the races and I'm not just focused on one distance; I am about the journey more than the prize (I mean if college is only about the degree please send me 1/4 of whatever you pay in tuition and I'll print out a piece of paper to you). Come to my religion, try this herb or medication, try online dating (to each his own but somehow even with my George Clooney approach, I am not ready to have my love story began with, "How did you meet?" "I logged in and..."). I think those are all great ideas... for someone else but I really do generally like my life. I am am hour away from an interview which will be linked on here in due time but the reason I don't quite get why the media is interested in talking to me is because the things they ask me to talk about are things my six year old knows, put one foot in front of the other and hang out with people you love. That's as good as life gets. Well meaning people have said, hey get an agent or contact big races and let's be clear, I'm never going to do that. Doing basic first grade homework with Kiana is an amazing privilege. Making her breakfast, seeing the way she lights up about ice cream or going to the playground is more important to me than anything else I've experienced. I've done the other stuff. I've seen 4 of the 8 wonders of the world before all this started, I've met some famous people... but while life is an individualistic and lonely adventure, fighting to share specials moments with meaningful people is the meaning of it all to me.
I am not naive and I know that in doing the right things, some people have gotten screwed throughout human history. And some people in doing the wrong things have been richly rewarded by manipulating the system. Perhaps there is karma or heaven or hell to make it all right in the end; I don't know and I don't care. The universe isn't always clean nor fully predictable; I have a cancer that has no known dietary, genetic, lifestyle or environmental predictors (this is not true of all cancers, some cancers have some lifestyle predictors ie if you smoke you are more likely to get lung cancer, some have genetic predictors, if your mom had breast cancer, your odds are much higher etc). However, with all cancers, they also study survival factors. If you take this treatment, your chances are this much better. If you have this gene, your chances are that much better. If you chance this about your diet, if you are this age. It's why I went to Duke, the nationwide survival rate for brain cancer is 12% and at Duke it's 18% (that's 50% better). On this cancer, I have drawn the short end of the string several times. I'm relatively old for it; if I'd gotten it as a kid, my stats would have been better. The reality that it's in the left temporal lobe period, the fact that it's so central, the fact that it wasn't fully removed, the fact that it's not fully visible through any modern imagery, the fact that a side effect in the wrong place alone could kill you (a seizure when in the wrong place)... One things we know about health in general is that people who exercise and people who have good connections are healthier period so I'm very blessed on those account. But yesterday, yesterday I got good news. Who knows if this will pan out for me but a study was released in October of this year that people who run or walk long distances have a 40% lower rate of brain cancer death rate, 40% is not a small number (http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/publishahead/Reduced_Risk_of_Brain_Cancer_Mortality_from.98232.aspx). As my little brother might have incredibly eloquently put it, boy did you pick the right sport. I've said all along that I have made decisions like I play poker (I play Texas hold em, not five card stud or 7 card stud) where each card can change the odds, and the right flop or turn or river can significantly change the odds. It was nice to see this study where it felt like odds were flipping in my favor.
So the races or at least the running will continue. And the loving Kiana will continue even more. We return to the community that was still the only marathon we've done together for their half marathon Pleasure Island Half marathon where I think this will be Kiana's favorite medal yet (http://www.sportssocietyforamericanhealth.org/styled-3/). And then we get another privilege of doing a 5 mile run around NYC'S central park. It turns out the founder of the New York Road Runner's club died of brain cancer and they are kind enough to be giving me an award of courage (http://www.voicesinmotion.org/site/TR?fr_id=1151&pg=entry). The organization is called Join the Voices Against Brain Cancer and they raise money for brain cancer research at various places, including my personal favorite, Duke University. I am excited Kiana gets to see New York and that we get to be part of helping that organization (I need to raise $500 so if you want to be my hero)... but what I am also incredibly excited about is that the guy who beat me at the Duke 5k that ESPN was filming is also coming with his wife and kids and our kids get to meet each other. He is also a brain cancer patient and has joined my team. Unfortunately, he is not currently running so he'll walk it with his kids. The fact that a guy who older than me destroys me running is not in a place to where he can run well these days... is one thousands of reasons to shout against brain cancer, to be a voice against it, but each of those, to me, only matter because of what your voice should be for. Kiana and I use it for singing during races and screaming at the finish line but we also use it to do homework, to pick out that day's outfit, to say I love you. And in all my parenting lessons, I hope that she will learn to stand against many of the world's curses, but I hope that in each one, she's also standing for one of the world's many blessings.
And she's signed up for a Spartan kids race in December. Spartans are the only race she's never gotten to come to and the way it's set up I definitely can't do it with a stroller so we'll do the kids one and then cheer on other people doing it. And my first marathon ever was the Austin marathon and 2014 will be the first year I miss it because Kiana and I are going to do her first 5k together then and afterwards we get to hang out some medals. People have reprimanded me for some missed opportunities and invitations, that I'll regret it if I ever get older and wiser. Maybe they're right but I doubt it.
One of the guys from the ship who I admire more than most people is someone we call Big because he moved to running from the football world. He is a coach and was the person who gave me rides often when this all started. He was the one who gave me a ride to the first run I went to after the biopsy where I felt so off that I literally cried at the end of a 14 mile training run and he said just take it one run at a time. He was the first person who was the Shipmate of the Year in my running group and he would be the one who introduced it the next year when I got it. He tries to pretend he's a tough guy (which he is) but he also sets up the gatorade at every workout, stays till the last person leaves. He finally qualified for Boston (you can read much better writing at http://workrunhunt.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/st-george-marathon-1052013/) but my favorite remark there is that he qualified on the workouts more than the race. When I spoke at the Pocatello marathon, or in the video I said it less eloquently but I really do think the rhythm and rhyme of the song matters much more than the final beat... I hope to get both right but if I only get one.
As Kiana keeps growing up, I know I'll become less important and less necessary to her, quite frankly that's my goal. My parenting philosophy is that first you give your kids roots, and then you give them wings. But the fact that she braided her hair all by herself for the first time two days ago made me semi emotional that it was happening so fast. It also made me grateful that I've learned to pay attention to catching these moments more.
Obviously one of my coping mechanisms is songs and one of the latest favorite is Avicii's Wake Me Up (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y_KJAg8bHI). The lyrics are brilliant (and it's pretty fun to dance to)
Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can't tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start
They tell me I'm too young to understand
They say I'm caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don't open up my eyes
Well that's fine by me
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost
So if to catch more of Kiana's life, whether or not the turn gave me increased odds, I have to miss some other cool adult things is life passing me by... well that's fine by me.