Friday, October 31, 2008


You might want to get a tissue before watching this story about Doogie Weiks. Inspiration and love is all around us.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seattle Siesta

Dori's in Seattle with her high school buddy, Erika. She's having a ball. The kids and I have spoken to her twice since she left. Actually, we've just listened to her laugh. On both calls, she was laughing uncontrollably, tears flowing. I think she thinks Erika is funny.

While out for dinner tonight, the kids and I saw some families from our school. I mentioned Dori is in Seattle and one woman in the healthcare field got this look of dread, knowing Seattle is home to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. No, no, I said; it's quite the opposite ... she's there for fun.

Yesterday, I had my annual physical. All is well, it would appear. My resting pulse is 47 and BP is 124/72. Honestly, I've not felt quite right since the bronchitis started in September and flared a few weeks ago. Earlier this week, I battled something viral, staying home from work on Monday. What's odd is Sunday afternoon I breezed through the 5.8-mile loop in Percy Warner, and Monday morning I couldn't get out of bed. Today, I feel fine. Whatever. I did get my flu shot yesterday.

While at the doctor, two young African-American women drew my blood. As I rolled up my sleeve, I saw my purple Team in Training bracelet that I wear along with a yellow LiveStrong bracelet. The look down reminded me to go to work. I told the women about Dori, how she survived with the help of an unknown perfect match donor and then explained the odds for any African-American that gets diagnosed with blood cancer. They were unaware of the NMDP program, but took down the information and promised to get on the Registry. Thank you, ladies.

In the interest of promoting good cancer blog vibes, here are a few dogs finding a moment of zen. I shared these the other day with PJ, who along with other cancer survivors and patients plans to return as a dog with fewer cares, a grand idea. The first is my favorite.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blog Thoughts

I called PJ Sunday, something I've been meaning to do for some time. We had a good talk. She and I have several things in common (cancer bloggers, we're direct and detailed, love the outdoors, from a family of runners, etc.). PJ and Dori, however, are both survivors, and they connected instantly. Same experiences, same wavelength. I'm glad we called her ... We have a kindred spirit and friend in Rhode Island.

One thing I posed to PJ was when she thought one might cease maintaining a blog. She recently started another blog for "Things Not Related to Cancer," believe it or not a category on our $25,000 Pyramid. I've thought about doing the same, but I'm not there yet and may not go there.

While maintaining this blog can be challenging, I recognize what continues to drive my blogging. Education to save lives is just huge for me. One thing I didn't share, but planned to, from my San Francisco experience was how many Asian-American women were running for Team in Training. That was impressive. Those women are driven to help others. After the race, I met two nice Hispanic-Americans from southern California at an Alexander Valley winery. They didn't know how dire things can be for any member of their community that gets diagnosed with blood cancer. Hopefully, they are following through to register on the NMDP. Are you registered? Please tell me yes.

Of course, I still bristle when I hear about another blood cancer diagnosis. Shoot, any cancer diagnosis. That's still fuel for my blog fire. I recognize there are times I want to close this chapter of our lives, not to pretend it didn't happen but just because we're enjoying normalcy so much. Then I think of Ann in Houston (a daily occurrence) and the others soon to experience a similar battle. There's a new patient at Vanderbilt, a 16-year-old named Christian who looks like an amazing young man. I don't know him, of course, but I know what he and his family are going through. Dori and I used to live in Pleasant View when we first married. Hence, the constant blood cancer connections that remain or are made.

Besides being a chronicle for our journey, Run for Dori will remain a place to educate often and vent occasionally. The connections have helped people, and I can't lose sight of that. Even when I want to take a break, which I've been doing lately. And that's OK. Oh yes, Friday Night Flashbacks came to its merciful end last Friday. The blog, however, must go on.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More San Fran Photos

Fisherman's Wharf Tourists

Escape from Alcatraz


The Infamous Trolley

New Friends from Northern Virginia

Golden Gate

On the Deck of Old Crocker Inn

Time for Wine

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Wine Country

Yes, it's wonderful to be home with the kids. I'll post more photos later.

Race results were posted earlier this week, and here's where the dust settled. My personal worst time for a half marathon (2:17:02) netted:

- 10.27/mile pace, 40 seconds per mile slower than my previous worst half
- 34/72 among men 40-44
- 198/580 among all men
- 2,651 among 11,540 half marathon finishers

Dori and I drove part of the course Monday before heading to the Wine Country. She gasped as we drove the hills at Miles 6 and 8.5. Honestly, it made me feel better to drive the course and experience the inclines that way. It was also great because Dori and I were able to experience the beauty of the course.

Dori and I ate a late lunch at Thai Time in Cloverdale, about 90 minutes north of San Francisco. Dori was skeptical of Thai food, but had a conversion Monday. It was the best Thai I've ever eaten. We checked in to The Old Crocker Inn, then headed to the Dry Creek Valley to sample wines. Reds no longer agree with Dori post transplant, but she sipped a little white. We visited Quivira (hit and miss), organic producer Michel-Schlumberger (pricey but very good reds) and Stryker-Sonoma (nice visuals, weak wines) in Alexander Valley.

A highlight of the first day was a visit to Locals, which samples nine micro-wineries from the area, in tiny, picturesque Geyserville. I sampled four whites and three pinot noirs, and was simply blown away. The pricing and quality were outstanding. Afterwards, we ate at Santi, which served some tasty Northern Italian. My chicken over soft polenta with figs, garlic and onions was terrific.

The next morning, we enjoyed a marvelous waffle, fruit and bacon breakfast with unfiltered apple juice. Dori decided to get a massage, while I peeled off to sight-see and fish the Russian River. I caught a small trout, smallmouth bass and an unidentified species before heading back to find a very relaxed, ache-free Dori. We ventured out again and sampled some wines at Hawkes (excellent 2004 cabernet sauvignon and a nice chardonnay) and Field Stone (average), then grabbed a bite at upscale Jimtown Store. Dori had a white bean vinaigrette salad while I had a hearty chili with tender pork and beef. The food reminded me of the cuisine at Marche in East Nashville.

I proposed to Dori that we take out more food from Jimtown, grab my favorite white from Locals (Portalupi biancho fusion) and enjoy dinner on the Old Crocker deck with a view of the sunset over the Dry Creek Valley. "I love that idea," she said. We ate a ham and butternut squash gratin and crisp cole slaw. I added a hard salami that was stellar, and we finished with a chocolate chip cookie.

We could have enjoyed a few more days in the Wine Country, but we decided to act mature, rise early this morning and head east to bail out the grandparents. An oil tanker, unfortunately, collided with a car near the Oakland Airport, our destination, which made the trip much longer than we had planned. But we had allowed for something like this and made our flight on time. Meanwhile, some state workers probably are still cleaning up some of the 8,600 gallons of gas on I-880 and repaving where the freeway melted. This disaster forced us to re-route through some tough neighborhoods in Oakland, which didn't impress.

But we'll soon forget Oakland. The power of Wine Country memories will simply be too pleasantly overwhelming.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Race Details

Dori's napping after a great lunch at L'Osteria del forno in North Beach in Little Italy. Wonderful Northern Italian cuisine that I'll highlight later.

So today's run was a toughie. That happens. At miles 8 and 10, the only thing I cared about was finishing and getting off the course. Too bad, because the course was spectacularly scenic.

My Team in Training Teammates and I arrived at the start 90 minutes before the start. I felt surprisingly good, despite many trips to the port-a-potty. After the gun, Jessica, Lisa and I ran together the first four miles. Jessica was running her fifth full marathon, while Lisa was running her first half. Both are young and strong. We ran the first two miles easy, taking care to avoid the many walkers on the course. They dotted the streets from Union Square through the Financial District to The Embarcadero, home to many of the piers. I looked for Dori as we passed through the Fisherman's Wharf. She saw me, but I missed her.

We hit a few hills, steep but short, then ran through Fort Mason and the Marina District. I was enjoying the scenery. We entered the Presidio National Historic Park and made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge, so impressive in the distance. It was at this point I started to realize my body wasn't so happy. I began to labor. Lisa looked great and took off like a shot out of a cannon. Jessica and I stayed on our 9:30s.

When we reached "the hill" at six miles, Jess asked how I was. "I'm OK, I'll be fine," I said. We ran under the bridge, and Jess actually pushed me twice to help me up the incline. She finally went ahead, as I tried with all my might not to stop. I didn't stop, but I was running in molasses up the steep one-mile hill. Finally, I made it, but my running buddies were well ahead now. I was on my own. The descent went well, and I regrouped for the next hill, which wasn't supposed to be as tough. But it was, and long, too. After a Gatorade break, I walked a quarter mile. One lady gave me a look of disappointment. "Lady," I thought, "You have no idea how disappointing it is not to be running right now."

Perhaps the best view of the race was the run downhill through Lincoln Park to the Pacific Ocean. Even in pain, I could appreciate that view. On the flats in Sutro Heights Park, I began to feel woozy and chilled. My color wasn't right, nor was my breathing. I kept running, hoping for some boost or help. An tall Asian girl next to me tripped and fell, with both knees hitting the aggregate. The crowd yelled in unison. They felt her pain, which had to be immense.

I thought, "I'm not stopping again. The tough hills are gone." But nothing was in reserves. Damn. Help. And there she was. Dori arrived, fresh off the shuttle. She started jogging with me, coaching me up. I told her I was in trouble. She said, "I'll run with you." I said, "How about on the course? I need you."

Coat and purse in hand, she joined me. I felt better, but labored to Mile 11. I told her I needed a break. I didn't tell her vomiting was possible. Queesy and chilled, I walked another quarter mile before uttering a no-no word. That's when we started up again at a slow pace. Others around us were also laboring, a few like me. Maybe they had bronchitis, too.

The end of the race was welcome. Unfortunately, a race official spotted Dori and wouldn't let her cross the finish line after her impressive 2.5 miles. I received the Tiffany necklace and gave it to her over the fence. I gathered myself and started grabbing whatever they handed me. I ate and drank, happy to keep things down. I coughed and hacked hard for about an hour, before that spell finally subsided.

So I crossed in 2:21. Chip time is probably going to be four minutes faster. I've never run this slowly and now have a PW (personal worst) by eight minutes. My other half marathons were between 1:58 and 2:09. It is what it is, and I'm not going to beat myself up. The lasting memory will be of Dori helping me finish a terrible race with respect and showing her own grit by fighting back from the depths last year. What more can a husband ask for? I also disrespected no one. Mile Six was hell, but I scaled it. I could have quit the race, but didn't. I probably won't run that slowly for a long time.

Dori and I returned to the hotel, cleaned up and headed to lunch. We laughed while noshing on polenta with gruyere cheese. Dori ate a roasted potato and carrot dish with rosemary and roasted zucchini with basil. My lunch was perfect ... two slices of pizza - ham with artichoke hearts and a very good Italian sausage with mushrooms - with a few Anchor Steams.

Coach Stephne called and told me Lisa and Jessica had two very different days. Lisa ran a 1:56 half, which is outstanding. I knew she had it in her. She's tiny but strong. Jess struggled, throwing up at mile 13. Stephne found her walking and groggy around mile 18. Jess decided to cut over, taking off six miles. She removed her timing chip and finished 20 brutal miles. I haven't seen her yet, but I want to give her a hug. Jess and I trained a lot together, and I know she'll be disappointed.

You never know what will happen at a marathon. The 2008 Nike Women's Marathon is now in the books. Fifteen minutes slower than I would have liked, mission accomplished.

My Best Running Friend

Lots of good things happened today. Let's go ahead and get the bad stuff out of the way in this short race recap.

Bronchitis, antibiotics and running don't mix. Today's run was rough as hell. I ran with Lisa and Jessica, two Team in Training women I like and respect. All of us felt good at the start. The first three miles were OK at a 9:30/mile pace.

I could tell I was going to have a tough day when I had to work to hold that modest pace from miles three through six. At the six-mile marker, I felt like I normally feel at about Mile 11 of a half marathon. Not good. Then came the first major hill that started at the Golden Gate Bridge. I made it, but it took a huge toll.

Another big hill greeted runners at around mile 8. Things got worse. I had little strength to run these hills, which were hard as advertised. I had to walk for the first time at 8.5. I haven't walked in a race in a long time. That sucked.

When I arrived at 10.5, I wasn't in a good place. Thankfully, Dori had just gotten off the shuttle and saw me. She decided to run with me at my slow pace, which was a huge morale boost. At 11, I told Dori I needed another walk break, so we walked for a 1/4 mile as I decided I will finish this *&%$#@%^ race. Gotta tell you that I said a bad word that probably didn't impress the folks around me. But I had to vent.

Anger out, I looked at Dori, with her blue Light the Night "Survivor" shirt on, and said, "Let's go." Dori was carrying her jacket and we alternated carrying her heavy purse. I think I finished in 2:17, but I didn't give a lick or a whip about time. I was so glad to finish, especially with my girl, who was smiling, strong and confident! Today was a payback day, she said - Dori ran for me. She is amazing. Makes me a little ver klempt posting that.

We're going to a get a bite to eat, but I'll share a meatier version later.

Thanks to all of you for your support.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One Day Away

We're in San Francisco, safe and sound. It was a long day yesterday on the airplane and in shuttle buses.

Highlights of the day included the Southwest flight attendant recognizing our Team in Training crew of 18 (17 ladies and moi). The plane erupted when she said the entire Tennessee chapter raised $140,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We arrived in Oakland (nice airport, dump city), drove across the Bay Bridge (a few folks weren't happy when I reminded them about the bridge ramp that was destroyed during the 1989 earthquake) and finally made it to our hotel after 2 p.m. local time. Dori and I were very hungry, so we walked down to touristy Fisherman's Wharf and slammed some food that we didn't really taste.

Dori chilled in the hotel, while I caught a shuttle to the Nike Women's Marathon tent in Union Square to retrieve my bib number and time chip. The scene was Estrogen City - women receiving massages, manicures, you name it. Back at the hotel, I lied down for 15 minutes before we headed to the Top Fundraiser reception. Joan Benoit Samuelson spoke about what we've accomplished and why tomorrow's race is the most popular and recognizable race for women "in the world." She's tiny, but not diminutive in any other way.

We were told the top 90 fundraisers in attendance raised almost $1 million and we heard from a man who received 47 rounds of chemo, but was doing well. His beautiful and impressive family was clearly touched, as were we. LLS organizers and Samuelson then recognized the top three fundraisers, who raised $31K, $36K and $45K. The first and last spoke. The first introduced her sister, who has been battling a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in her brain. She said she started fundraising 10 years ago because "she was fat," but three years later her sister was diagnosed. She was very fired up, like football fired up. Strong lady. The top fundraiser, who was probably in her early 30s, took the microphone and started crying as she told us about her husband's diagnosis 12 months ago. Not many dry eyes in the house. You would be impressed and inspired by these tigers.

I slept well last night but haven't recovered from this bronchitis. I'm tired and stuffy. Dori wondered, "What percent are you?" To which I responded, "Don't ask." But how I perform running 13.1 tomorrow is little stuff. Sure, I'm bummed, but we are having a great time together. When Dori was sick, she thanked me many times for everything I was doing to keep things moving along. She hasn't stopped, and I don't want her to ... I said 14 years ago we pledged "for better or worse ... in sickness and in health." We've had a lot of better, a little worse.

The weather tomorrow looks decent - an upper level low and fog off the coast will keep the temps down along the coast. We'll probably start in the mid 50s and end in the low 60s. San Francisco, as advertised, is a beautiful city, so hopefully that will be part of what keeps my mind straight as I deal with this bug tomorrow. You all know what the other part is.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Night Flashbacks

I should rename this weekly goofiness Friday Morning Flashbacks, but here's another early version of FNF, Inspiration-style pre-marathon. Gotta go with the Rocky theme, "Gonna Fly Now," from Rocky 2, "Chariots of Fire" and Springsteen's "Born to Run."

Finally: "I see a whole army in San Francisco here in defiance of blood cancer."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dedication to Dedicated People

I've surfed a little to read stories of people who will be running Sunday. The most compelling so far comes from Raleigh, NC. Talk about some strong, graceful ladies. Here's more about the daughters and their mother, Paula Sukenik.

Obviously, I'm running Sunday to honor my precious wife and best friend, Dori. But I'm running for so many more people, most of whom I don't know personally. I just know what they have experienced or will experience. But here are some of the many people I'll be thinking about in addition to Dorothy Ruth Sawyer Brown.

I honor:

- The friends we have made through our journey in Nashville, including Dori's fellow survivors from 11 North - Chuck, Tammy, Kim, Candy, all of you. Also, the wonderful staff at 11 North and the 2nd Floor Clinic.

- PJ and Ann, two ladies whose spunk and spirit I admire from afar in distance but closely through the Web connection.

- Robin Groff, who died earlier this year. I've thought of Robin several times on my most difficult training runs. What a lovely lady who wrapped herself in God's love.

- Ronni on the East Coast, Lea on the West Coast and everybody like them in between. Ronni and Lea are two ladies who tell it like it is and keep great attitudes.

- My fellow Team in Training Teammates, who woke up early every Saturday and many other days and dedicated four months of their lives to help people in need.

- The 100 Donors who helped us do what we've done the last five months. The world is a better place because of your giving.

Dori just returned from Light the Night. I stayed home because of the bronchitis and because it's raining. They gave her a "Survivor" shirt, which she plans to wear Sunday as she cheers me and others on. Go away, bronchitis, and let me run like I know I can.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Untimely Bug

The Nike Women's Half Marathon is only four days away, but I've started another race - the quest to defeat some stubborn bronchitis. It's the same stuff that knocked me down a month ago.

Yesterday afternoon, a scratchy throat and fatigue showed up, smiling like a cheesy game show host. I went to bed early last night and did something I almost never do - slept 10 hours. Normal is six hours, maybe a tad more. This morning, I knew I needed relief but dreaded calling my doctor and getting a late afternoon return call. I needed anti-biotics now, so I went to the Minute Clinic.

Drugs away, I worked past lunch, then came home for a nap. The pharmacist says I should begin feeling better tomorrow. That would be very fine with me, so I can carb up, hydrate and rest normally. Not much tastes good right now.

Some family members have empathized that I've trained nearly five months for Sunday's race and may not be 100 percent. That would stink, but here's another perspective. We have too many friends who are facing far worse than not running a race. And there's no way in hell I won't run Sunday. Lastly, today is Dori's and my 14th anniversary, so it's hard to be too bummed, ya know?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Order Restored

Last night, I joined about 15 Team in Training teammates for a preview meeting of the upcoming weekend. I was the only guy in the room. When our leader, Leslie, handed out pretty bags with fluffy, colorful paper with our purple jerseys and other goodies, it felt like sorority rush. It was a good time.

Sunday's run in Sante Fe was good for several reasons (scenic, peaceful, great air), but it was very slow (10:20/mile pace). The altitude and food were factors, but I needed to bring it back with a good five-mile run this morning.

It's pretty humid this morning - 90% with a 64 degree dewpoint and 67 degrees. Great weather if it were early August, but we're in mid-October. Still, I felt pretty good out there, running a 9:20/mile pace to the midway mark. The first half of the run was mostly downhill; the return route was mostly uphill. I picked up the pace, negative splitting and finishing at a 9:13/mile pace, or 46:07 total. I'll run one more time, probably three miles at race pace on Thursday morning.

I recently read this interesting article about the credit crisis and consumers being tapped out. Consider this sentence in the article: The “entitlement generation” typically means the children of the Baby Boomers — a group that felt entitled to have what their parents had and more, but much earlier in their lives.

No one was guilty of borrowing too much or spending well beyond their means, right? Of course they were and there's plenty of blame for others to accept, if they're willing - executives and their complicit boards, Wall Street, greedy, arrogant politicians from all parts of the spectrum, lazy regulators and others. I prefer not to listen to the whining and finger-pointing ... maybe that's why I continue to avoid the yapping on cable TV and am enjoying college football talk so much!

One last thing, a fundraising update: Dori's Light the Night Team has already raised $3,000! Our TNT effort is nearing $16,000, once the dust settles and the LLS folks can identify all the matches. That's worth celebrating.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Shack

It was very nice, during a busy return day at work, to receive a CaringBridge notice from Lea Morrison. Lea, another one of those cyber-friends we haven't met or spoken to, received great news. She's leukemia free 10 months post transplant. I enjoyed reading the joy in her words. It never gets old to hear someone celebrate life with others.

I'm checking in regularly with Ann Gregory and her battle with ALL. On the way back from New Mexico, we switched planes in Houston. Dori and I both realized Ann, another world wide web friend in the blood cancer fraternity, was nearby in a Houston apartment recovering from her recent transplant at M.D. Anderson. Ann, we continue to draw from your courage and beacon.

One highlight from the weekender was the opportunity to read on the airplane. Dori spotted a book Friday in the airport bookstore that my mother recently read and recommended - The Shack, which has been on the New York Times best seller list, by William P. Young. If you haven't read it, bring a lot of energy and strap yourself in. It's intense, wonderful outside-the-box reading.

Before I review it (I won't give away the plot), I have to acknowledge why some may not like the book. It can be easily construed as preachy and over the top. As it explores our pre-conceived notions of religion, the Trinity and everything related, the author uses snappy, downloadable questions from the main character, Mack, to enable the unorthodox characters representing the Trinity to fill in the holes.

OK, enough for the fair and balanced portion of the review. The Shack challenged everything I learned about religion in six short hours. Not that I accepted everything I learned about religion over the years, but I found wonder and joy in the author's handling of why we question our faith and love in God. Through Mack, Young lets us experience the deep sorrow, anger and disappointment that has undermined or attempted to undermine many people's faith in God.

Young aims to convince us that God's outlook for each person will bring calm to stormy waters. "I'm especially fond of him" was Papa's (God's) oft-repeated line about many individuals. The exploration of our humanity, our emotions (or lack thereof) and our willingness to revere institutions (government, wealth, fame, whatever) over God's love were also revealing. I especially agree with the institutions conclusion - No political party has the answers, contrary to what they want us to believe.

I felt uncomfortable reading a few parts of the book, which isn't a bad thing at all. Since we're human, many of us tend to shoe-horn religion and Bible verses as we see fit - to rationalize, hide or even overpower. Religious attendance and appearances aren't prerequisites for everlasting life, nor is ignoring taking the time to get closer to God. Religion can be an intoxicant, the author asserts, to the detriment of our relationship with God. Some so-called believers even view non-Christians as unchosen or damned.

The author uses the plot to convince us otherwise ... that God's perfect love with his Son and Spirit reveal an openness and acceptance to which we should all aspire. God's perfect love is freeing and comforting. I feel this with my family at times and wished I felt it more often. Something to aspire to ...

I didn't agree with every conclusion by Mack or the characters who made up the Trinity; however, I learned a lot about my own views - some good and some where improvement is needed. I did have this reinforced: Tragedy and fear beckon the love and forgiveness of our Creator. That was a recurring theme as we navigated the stormy seas of leukemia.

Thanks, Mom, for the recommendation.

New Mexico Pictures

Sunday, October 12, 2008

'Do You Know the Way to Santa Fe?'

OK, so it's San Jose, but Santa Fe's where we've been this weekend ... Dori, the kids and I. We're in the Albuquerque airport, reminiscing about a weekend getaway Dori and the kids have all ranked a perfect 10.

We arrived Friday morning, checked into our hotel and then headed through the beautiful town of Santa Fe into the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The scenery was stunning, especially as we ascended Hyde Park Road into Santa Fe National Park and the adjoining state park. Lime green aspen trees at the lower elevations began to change to a brilliant yellow with occasional flashes of orange. Firs and evergreens competed with the aspens for space, with many firs choking out the aspens that emerged after a great fire 100 years ago. All we could do was oooh and ahhh. I'll post photos when we get back to Tennessee.

Dinner at the Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery was outstanding. My blue corn enchiladas with red and green chile, spanish rice and pinto beans were perfect, complimented by a tasty India Pale Ale brewed onsite. The heat from the chiles caused a sweat, which evoked laughter from my weekend mountain friends.

I blew off an early Saturday morning run to enjoy scrumptious pancakes in bed with my family. Taking the advice of my boss, we drove to Bandelier National Monument for a hike. WOW and WOW AGAIN. What an amazing place. The canyon, which is a national park, was the home to Indians between 1200-1600. We saw reconstructed kivas, which were essentially circular pits that were used for religious ceremonies and meetings. The kids climbed ladders into the cliffs. Dori even joined them at one site. Archaic drawings were evident on the 1,000-foot cliffs. Our children sponged up the views and asked great questions, some that we could answer and some that stumped us.

At the end of the trail loop, we reached an alcove with a series of steep ladders that scaled 140 feet. Signs warned visitors to avoid the climb if you're afraid of heights or not in good health. Dori made it up the first level before deciding this isn't the way she wanted to go after smacking cancer upside the head the past year.

My mind was racing at this point. The kids really wanted to climb to the top. I'm a play-it-safe kinda guy, especially with the kids, but I decided this was a moment for growing up (them) and letting go (me). Kathryn led our three-person team, with Will behind her and me underneath. Going up wasn't a problem. The views back down the canyon were stunning.

Kathryn was the only person in our group that made it to the top. Will decided three-quarters of the way up was enough. Going down tested our nerves. I went first with Will next. Will recognized he needed total focus, and so he did. He was nervous at first and so was I, but he did it. Kathryn was fast on the way up and fast on the way down. I had to ask her to slow down, but she looked strong the whole way. I'm glad I let go a little and let the kids experience something very special.

Back in Santa Fe, we found a sports bar and watched the Commodores lose to Mississippi State 17-14. Note to the coaching staff: Play Mackenzi Adams as your QB if you want to finish the year strong. It was hard to watch our offense sputter with our best QB on the sidelines. Dori and Kathryn shopped in downtown Santa Fe as Will and I watched the carnage in Starkville.

We ate a good dinner at Zia Diner, then called it an early night. I woke up early to get in my last decent run before San Francisco. The thin air was noticeable, and it was also unusually humid. So it was a slow one - six miles that finished up a good hill. Glad that one is over, but glad I ran through downtown Santa Fe, which is home to many of the area's 250 art galleries. What a sight it all was in the peacefulness of a cool Sunday morning. Very spiritual, so I feel like I did attend church today.

New Mexico is a great place to bring a family. The vastness of the Southwest soothes the soul and rejuvenates the spirit. I'm glad we did this spur-of-the-moment trip and am grateful to my family members back home who made it possible. Thanks, Annie and Stephen and Mom and Dan.

Looking forward to sharing some photos ...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Girl

Dori gave me a warm kiss this morning and said, "Thank you for all you have done for me." You see, today's is Dori's first bone marrow transplant birthday.

Dori said she had three wonderful reasons to get better.

We had one very wonderful reason to do our very best.

I'm so happy Dori is celebrating this day.

Friday Night Flashbacks

While much of the blogosphere is hammering away at politics or the economy, we’re keeping things light and fluffy here at Friday Night Flashbacks. So fluffy, we’re doing them early in the morning again.

Today's commercials, like much of America, are so in your face. I recall a different time, when subtlety and simplicity were the norm. That said, that doesn't mean stuff they were selling was any good for you.

Of course, some of it was supposed to be. Just ask Mikey.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

No Hans for Now

Dori received six immunization shots this morning, and you could say she's feeling it. Shots for polio, chicken pox, influenza, pneumonia, tetanus and hepatitis B. She needs to go back in two months for four more shots.

Dori's blood counts improved. Red blood cell hit 42, the highest that's been since last year and in the normal range. Yabba Dabba Doo. Platetets rose slightly to 119, higher than last time but still below normal. Dori's bruises remain in places. Her white blood cell count rose to 5.5, which is excellent.

So all in all ... a very good day. We did learn for certain that Dori's donor, the young man we call Hans, gave his bone marrow at an international donor center. The wait time at that specific center - before the donor and recipient can have contact - is two years, not the usual one. We're sorry we have to wait, but Dori now has another goal this year.

Unfortunately, we've heard two situations this week where leukemia patients have died. One was a 12-year-old boy who was at our neighborhood pool. The second is the mother of one of Dori's best high school friends. Her friend's mom passed after a four-year battle with an aggressive form of CLL.

I felt the normal emotions when I heard of their deaths - sadness and some anger. It's not like I needed more resolve to run, but unfortunately I keep getting it.

Shot Day

Later this morning, Dori will go to Vanderbilt Hospital for her one-year immunization shots. This welcome appointment was moved up a few weeks. Tomorrow is Dori's one-year "birthday," courtesy of the best friend we don't know - Hans, her bone marrow donor. Dori will be asking today about the opportunity to meet Hans, but he'll have to consent. If he does, I hope he likes big hugs and red carpets.

My new running shoes felt good, but the right shoe was clicking when I landed hard. I exchanged the shoes, Brooks Dyads, and ran five miles in the new pair this morning at a 9:02/mile pace. Despite the heavy humidity, I ran a good negative split (8:40/mile in). I won't run that fast again until the end of my half marathon (hopefully!).

This morning's run was my third of the week; the others were three- and five-milers, and I've got an easy six-miler planned for Saturday. Tapering in low dewpoints and cooler temps is the reward you think about when you're getting hammered by the July sun. Glad it's here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Home Stretch

You may recall last month several blood cancer survivor friends came over to our house for a cookout. Dori said survivors and family members like us owe thanks to the thousands of generous, dedicated people who came before us - Leukemia & Lymphoma Society donors, researchers, hospital staff and many others.

She then emphasized we owe it the people who will be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Take Charge Dori and her Team are raising money for the upcoming Light the Night walk Oct. 16 in Nashville. To date, they've raised more than $2,200.

Below is a letter I'm about to send to all our friends who have donated or are considering making a donation.

Hello, Friends!

Dori and I are heading to San Francisco in less than two weeks for the Nike Women's Half Marathon and a little R&R. Yes, we're very jazzed.

To date, thanks to you all, we've raised more than $13,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, with another $2,000 of corporate matches on the way. Words cannot describe how much we appreciate you, our team of cancer activists and philanthropists. You are amazing!

As you know, I'm running for Dori and the many people we've met whose lives have been changed by blood cancers. I've made great new friends through Team in Training and logged 400 training miles since early June. Some of those miles were difficult but nothing like what Dori and our friends experienced during their chemo and/or transplants. Nothing at all.

If you still plan to make a contribution, it's not too late: My LLS friends shared some reasons (below) why any donation is important.

Many thanks, and may God bring many blessings to you like He has done for us.


A donation of $25 provides patients and their loved ones with FREE
booklets that contain up-to-date information on their disease and help
them make informed decisions about their treatment options.

A donation of $50 makes possible a Family Support group with a trained
facilitator where comfort can be found and experiences can be shared
among patients and family members.

A donation of $100 helps supply laboratory researchers with supplies and
materials critical to carrying out their search for cures.

A donation of $1,000 makes possible one- on-one conversations with
health care specialists who provide patients with information about
their disease, treatment options, and helps prepare them with questions
for their health care team.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hawaii 5-0

Yesterday was such a wonderful day in so many ways.

I woke up, ran eight solid miles in 48 degree darkness (9:38/mile pace) and then headed to the Vanderbilt campus for 13 hours of fun. Yes, 13 hours - from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Six signs in tow, Will and I headed to ESPN's College Gameday at 8. It seemed like every fan had a sign in the surreal setting. Some of my favorites included "You people are blocking the library," "Hey Kirk - The SEC drew straws and it's Vanderbilt's turn to beat Ohio State in a bowl," and "Which is worse - Auburn's offense or the economy?" We like the Buckeyes, but that was funny.

Will and I set up our tailgate, relaxed for awhile and then threw the football before friends cycled through to eat or just say hello. Dori stopped by, predicting a 10-3 Auburn win. I gave her a Corso-like "not so fast, my friend" and predicted 16-13 Vanderbilt. Will said 21-10 Auburn. After our friend, John, who drove down from Cincinnati with two of his boys, arrived, we went to the Star Walk to cheer the players into the stadium.

The game started poorly for VU. Auburn did whatever they wanted in the first quarter, missing an important extra point on the way to a 13-0 lead. The 12,000 Auburn fans were acting like a blowout was imminent; maybe you're right, I thought, but I've seen a lot of resilience from this group. I've noticed some of Vandy's players call each other family, not teammates ... just like in the movie, "Miracle on Ice," the Hollywood version of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team's improbable run to a gold medal.

Vanderbilt dominated the rest of the game, winning 14-13. Our fans were euphoric througout, sensing not just accomplishment but the exorcism of many demons that had visited Vanderbilt Stadium over the years. No one had a better take than this reporter with a very well written account.

To put it mildly, we've been celebrating Vandy's 5-0 start since last night. My friend Al, John and his boys, and Will and I came home and watched most of a replay of the game. We watched the Gameday broadcast this morning, and voila, there was Will holding up the "Revenge of the Nerds!" sign Kathryn made. Wanna see an eight-year-old smile? That pretty much will do it every time.

As good as all this was, the best part was reaching a one-year milestone. Yesterday a year ago, Dori checked into VUMC for her bone marrow transplant. Dori and I just looked at each several times yesterday with warm, thankful smiles - like we've been given the tremendous gift we have. Oct. 10 is her one-year "birthday" accepting Hans' marrow.

At today's cross country, Will and Kathryn turned in PRs. Will ran a 7:08 mile, even though he stopped to help a kid retrieve a shoe, while Kathryn ran a 7:46. Dori was most proud Will helped someone he didn't know.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Night Flashbacks

Welcome back to Friday Night Flashbacks, Early Edition.

In the spirit of this weekend's game between Vanderbilt and Auburn, it's only appropriate to start with a scene from the Tiger locker room.

Tears for Fears is a favorite band of super sister Anne. I love 'em, too.

One of the most famous early MTV videos is "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash. Next time you shoot a music video, just remember all you need is an oil rig, fighter jet and armadillo.

Knowing you want your cheese served on a platter, along with choreography and costumes you'd only find on Solid Gold, here's Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride."

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Falling temperatures means better times. Tonight, with new shoes on my feet, I ran 3.5 miles in 28:30, an 8:08/mile pace. It was perfectly cool and dry, so even though my run was up tempo, I felt very good. When you're 43 and you can rev the engine, you rev your engine! You can't rev it so much in late July.

Tomorrow is an off day, then an eight-miler early Saturday. Then it's off to the Vanderbilt campus for fun with my son and friends. Winning the Auburn game isn't the end-all for us, but we sure would love to see a little Revenge of the Nerds! GO DORES!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hello, Fall!

Wow, was it nice this morning. Yesterday morning's run felt fine, but this morning was pristine - 52 with a 47 degree dewpoint and 77% humidity. That's San Fran weather! Are you in the mood? I am!

I ran a nice 5.5 miles yesterday at a 9:32/mile pace. This morning started out rough, however. On a seven-mile out-and-back to Belmont, I could not shake some sluggishness the first half of the run. I ran a 10:05/mile pace with my iPod on low. Something happened around mile five, though ... a very welcome runner's high. I cranked up the iPod and had a great two-mile finish. Two running songs that came on helped - Born to Run and Break My Stride, two staples on many runners' iPods. I enjoyed another fav, Sight for Sore Eyes. It's not well known, but check it out, runners.

I like the longer version, but that one rocks, too. Poor Ellen Degeneres if she ever hears that song.

The best part of today's run was seeing all the runners at 5:30. Dozens of 'em and people walking their dogs, too. On one porch on Belmont Blvd., a group of 10 guys prepared to run. Women in pairs were also on the roads. Smart girls.

They all know autumn is here. They know this is the time of year to get out of bed early even if you feel sluggish. You know another runner's high awaits.

Thanks to our friend, Elizabeth, who helped us nail down a cozy, charming B&B in Sonoma County. Dori and I will be staying at the Old Crocker Inn after the Nike Half Marathon in San Fran. We are jazzed ... Thanks, EA!