Thursday, January 7, 2010

Long Post but Memorable

What a great Holiday time I had – Disney trip, Christmas, my Birthday, New Years,…

Of all the memorable moments I could easily write about, none fall in the category compared to a letter my family received this year from our good friends Bill and Cheryl Quam from Charleston SC. Every year around Christmas time, Bill and Cheryl send a letter and share a moment in their life from that year. This year was most memorable and Bill does an excellent job of capturing this special moment which I will share with you.

An Unexpected Gift

“Excuse me, Sir!……..You in the yellow shirt with the blonde dog. Sir, I need your help!” I looked up and saw a 60-ish woman waving her arms frantically from the second story balcony of Medical University building. My first instinct was to ignore the crazy lady and keep walking to the parking garage. But something told me to stop and listen to the woman. It would turn into a meeting I will never forget.

My dog Kelly and I had just finished visiting with a large group of children at the first annual Romp and Read Festival. We were invited as members of our local Therapy Dog group. Kelly and I decided to take the scenic route back to the car. I didn’t exactly know where I was, but it was a beautiful November afternoon and I figured we would have no trouble finding our way back to the parking garage. I was smiling and thinking about Kelly’s playful encounters with several children at Romp and Read when we walked upon “the crazy lady.”

I turned toward the balcony and pointed to my chest as if to say, “Are you talking to me?” The woman nodded her head. “How can I help you?” I yelled to her. “My daughter is a patient in this building,” the woman replied. “She is very ill and has been bedridden for three weeks.”

“I’m sorry to hear that ma’am,” I persisted. “But I don’t know what can my dog and I can do for your daughter”

“My daughter loves dogs,” the woman pleaded. “If you just meet me in the front lobby, I know she will get out of bed to meet you and your dog…….Please!!” I placed my hand on my forehead and stared at the sidewalk. I was tired and wanted to go home. How were Kelly and I supposed to get this woman’s daughter out of her hospital bed? They were strangers for god’s sake. I finally looked up and yelled, “Okay. We’ll meet you in the lobby.”

Kelly and I walked through revolving doors into the lobby of the Ashley River Tower, a building where cancer patients are treated. Before Kelly and I reached the security desk, the woman from the balcony almost tackled me with a big hug. “Oh I knew you would come!,” she gushed. “I just called my daughter’s room and she is out of bed and getting ready to come down to the lobby.” I introduced myself and Kelly to this woman named “Paula.” Miss Paula held my hand as she told me the story of her daughter, Lisa’s fight with colon and ovarian cancer that was spreading rapidly through her body. Lisa was a middle school teacher. Paula explained that her daughter was diagnosed five weeks earlier. Lisa had been too ill to leave her room or her bed for the past three weeks. Miss Paula had been holding a vigil since the first week of Lisa’s diagnosis. As I listened intently and felt with all of my heart for this woman, I had one question. “What were you doing out on the balcony?”

I learned that Paula had been on the balcony for two hours before Kelly and I passed by. Paula leaned in closely and whispered, “I was praying for someone or something to help Lisa out of bed. When I saw you and your dog down the street, I knew my prayer had been answered.” I shook my head and mentioned the incredible coincidence that Kelly and I just happened to be walking down the street. “I don’t think you realize what just happened,” Paula stressed. “God brought you and Kelly here today.” Her response stopped me dead in my tracks. I sat in stunned silence. Why me? My eyes filled with tears.

“Oh no no no!” exclaimed Paula. She handed me a tissue. “We can’t have any tears. You must be strong for my daughter.” I dabbed my eyes and pulled myself together. Moments later, the elevator door opened. Sitting in a wheelchair was a frail wisp of a young woman, wrapped in blankets and wearing a surgical mask. Her husband wheeled her toward us. Because of her condition, Lisa could not pet Kelly, although I could tell she wanted to. For the next twenty minutes, I listened. Lisa was barely audible through her mask as she told me how she missed her three dogs, her house in Conway, her students and her former life. If Paula’s beaming face was any indication, Lisa would soon be back to good health.

As Kelly and I walked to the parking garage, I couldn’t help but think how twenty minutes could brighten the spirits of a worried mother or inspire a seriously ill woman to get up from her hospital bed. I pondered the coincidence of meeting the “crazy lady” yelling from the balcony. But Paula answered that question. I knew she was right.

Weeks later in mid-December, my wife and I were preparing for bed. Cheryl noted that she had yet to purchase my Christmas present. “I already got my gift,” I said. “What was it?” Cheryl inquired. “It wasn’t what I asked for, but it was just what I needed,” I laughed. I kissed Cheryl’s forehead and said good night.

With all this going on, I didn’t log the running mileage I would have liked to, but still maintained my base and long runs. My long run last week was very cold and I got a chance to experiment with clothing options. I know it sounds slow, which is the intent of long runs, and was able to consistently maintain a 10 min/mile pace and keep my heart rate down in the lower 130 bpm during the entire long run. The focus of the long run is to train the body to burn fat calories, and not the easy to get to short lived calories that are burned in faster tempo runs. This felt very comfortable while consuming about 300 cal/hr using Gels, Boost, and Perpetum. Physically, I felt strong and could easily maintain this pace for a long time. The real challenge was balancing water and salt intake. With it colder (20-30 deg and windy) and not sweating as much, I found myself drinking too much water (same rate as a warmer day) and had to stop and pee all the time. I also had to adjust my salt intake which made for a good reminder that conditions during the middle of the day compared to middle of the night during a race requires adjustment with water and salt intake. Last week looked like this:

Mon – 10M and jump rope

Tues – 5M on the stepper and weights

Wed – 8M tempo at 7:30 min/mile

Thru – 5M stepper and weights

Fri – 9M and jump rope

Sat – 7M easy

Sun – Long run 37M

I have this week and next week as hard training weeks before the taper. My body weight is on target, and no injuries other then an ache here and there which is expected.


Sophie Speidel said...

What a gift, indeed! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Amazing how the simplist things can mean so much and change someones day. Awesome post.

Kenley said...

Great Post. It shows how people need each other sometimes, even a stranger with a dog. A long post indeed, but very good none the less. Thanks for sharing that story.

Rick Gray said...

Just as you received an unexpeted gift, I also received one today by just reading your story. Thank you, Rick

Anonymous said...

Really wonderful. Not too long of a story at all.

Angela and Jen said...

Lovely story. Thanks for sharing. Now we know why dog is God spelled backwards. Jen

lindsay said...

loved this story! i'm glad you decided to take a few extra minutes to stop by for the visit. :)

glad you had a nice christmas and were able to get some training in! i always think it will be easier to run more when i'm off work, but somehow i tend to just want to relax instead...

Staci said...

Wonderful post, thanks for sharing!

Sounds like your Rocky training is going well!

Anonymous said...

That is just a great story. Thank you!

Bob - said...

I couldn’t help but think how twenty minutes could brighten the spirits of a worried mother or inspire a seriously ill woman to get up from her hospital bed.

Amen, great story!! Thanks

I have a lot of crazy old ladies here in FL, now I just need to get a dog :-)

DawnB said...

Tom, I came by to thank you for a truely inspirational comment and got this lovely heart felt story. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us.This just reinforce how thankful I am for all that God have given me. God bless you and the family you have made such a difference with for giving so freely of your affections and kindness

Anonymous said...

A tear jerker! I cried midway! It's always good to look "beyond" ourselves! Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

What a great story! Glad he listened to his heart and went in to cheer up a sick women...I think we all act as each other's angels...Thanks for your motivating comments on my blog, by the way! They help me a lot!

ShirleyPerly said...

Very cool story!

I've never done an ultra marathon before, only ultra distance tris, which don't require so nearly as much pounding on the body. Best of luck on your Rocky Racoon race coming up and thanks for stopping by my blog!