Coming in last…but finishing, first.

September 9th, 2009

100_0684.jpg The last leg picture by dleggiero

I usually am the guy at the finish line, congratulating the runner as they cross, and writing their bib number on the sheet. I’ll throw a “good job” to a few that look like they really dug deep to finish, but mostly I just log the numbers and hand them in.

 That was the plan for the Dobbs Ferry Labor Day 5K race.

I only recently started running, after really being tired of carrying all this excess weight I’ve had for far too long. I’m a big guy, certainly not the poster child for someone who should be running, but I started. Slow. Very slow. walking at first, then alternating small bits of running, then walking again. nothing major. about two weeks ago, I started running more than a mile without stopping, working it up to 2+ without a break.

Andy, the race director for the 5K, asked me last week if I would work the race. I said that I would.

Last Wednesday, I changed my mind.

I began to toss around the possibility of running the race. I was running 2+ miles with no problem, and I figured that I could feasibly complete the race, even if I had to stop at one point to walk, but still clock a respectable time. In previous races I had worked, there were always runners that had come in between 45 minutes to and hour, so I was confident that I could fit in there somewhere. Everyone I mentioned the idea to was very receptive, and encouraged me to go for it. I threw the idea out on Facebook, and Joe, a former work colleague of mine, said he would come down from Connecticut (an hour and a half drive), and run with me.

Christy and I dropped off our registration forms on Thursday. I was in.

On Friday I ran a “test” 5K in my neighborhood, to get a feel for the distance. I did it, no problem. Feeling good.

Christy and I drove the actual course in Dobbs, to see what it would be like. Christy had run this race before, and medal-ed, but she hadn’t done it in a few years. It had 3 major inclines at the start, and started uphill, but the strategy was to get up the hills, and walk if I needed, and run the rest. Realistic goals. Check. I do a 2 mile run on Saturday, and my Guru (wife) recommends rest on Sunday, then race day on Monday. Check.

My friend Joe drives down from CT, and we leave for Dobbs. We park on Main Street, which is the finish. The race starts a Mercy College, so we walk the aqueduct to the start. Joe and I start stretching, and take a quick run to loosen up. Joe says he feels a bit winded, and I did too, which was weird, but I don’t think much of it. I eat my GU (energy gel), and we line up.

“Is it too late to back out?” I ask Joe. He smiles. I have to pee. Is there time to run in and go? Nope. The race is about to start.

They blow the air horn.

100+ people start running up the Mercy College parking lot, crossing Broadway. I’m in last place, but running at the pace I’m accustomed to. The ambulance is behind me, slowly creeping along, making sure nobody drops. I pass 2 people, but they overtake me as I slow up for the first of 3 inclines. I get up the first 2, and three-quarters up the third, and I have to stop and walk. The inclines killed me. The 2 runners ahead of me get farther away.  I get some breath back, and start again. I was carrying my own water bottle, so I passed on the water station they had set up, around mile 1. The worst part is over.

The rest of the course is essentially downhill compered to the 3 inclines (okay hills) that came before, but I still need to stop and walk, not having let myself fully get my wind back before running again. Just around mile 2, there are people sitting outside their houses, watching the race, kind of like when a parade goes by. Parents and their children sitting on the steps, enjoying the show. I have headphones on, but I pause the music as I pass the houses, to acknowledge the words of encouragement tossed my way.

I’m last. They know because the ambulance is trailing behind me. After the last house, I have to stop and walk again. The gas tank is almost empty. I round the last corner that puts Broadway in sight, the last leg of the race-Broadway to Cedar-Cedar to Main Street and the finish. As I walk towards Broadway, I see a familiar green-shorted runner walking TOWARDS me. My wife. She came back after finishing to run along side me, and give me the strength to bring it home.

As soon as my foot hit Broadway, I started running, and I’m not stopping ’til I cross the line.

There’s a running term known as ” the kick”-it’s a burst of energy that runners have saved up for the end of a race, so they can sprint or pick up speed at the end when others have nothing left. I had joked about “throwing down the Hammer” and passing people at the finish, but there wasn’t anyone left but me. On Cedar street, a race worker told the ambulance driver to slow down “so I could have some glory” I looked back at him-he didn’t realize I didn’t have my music on.

We round the corner to the top of Main Street. The finish line is in sight. Christy starts to pull off to the side of the road. She says one thing to me:

“Are you going to throw the Hammer down?”

Damn right I am.

I take whatever I have left and pour it into making my legs move as fast as they can. People are cheering, but probably because they can finally find out if they won a medal. Everything is blurry, but I make out my brother Mark putting his hand out from the crowd. I slap it as I run through the finish line.

42:11-not bad for a big guy. Less than a minute slower than my “test” run of 41:30, and that didn’t have 3 hills.

I go to the water station at the finish-the worker there said to me “they were cheering for you louder than the guy that came in first”.

I didn’t write this to brag-I came in last. I don’t have a problem with that-I’m not overly competitive in that respect. I ran the race to see if I could.

Thanks to my wife and a cheering crowd, I did.

The week I had Cancer.

April 10th, 2009

Doctor: “You have a Sarcoma.”

Me: “Is that cancer?”

Doctor: “Yes.”

 Let’s go back a bit…

3 weeks ago. I have a nagging pain in the right side of my back. nothing out of the ordinary, we all get aches and pains. I chalked it up to something I must have strained or pulled. Five days later, it’s still nagging me. I make an appointment with my doctor, but he can’t see me until the following week. By the time the visit rolls around, the pain is gone, but I needed a physical anyway. We talk about my gaining some weight recently, and his concern that I might develop Diabetes. I mention the pain in my side, he asks a few questions, and says it may be Kidney Stones. He sends me for a blood test to check my sugar levels, and the usual stuff. That was a Wednesday.

That Saturday I go to the office to have the blood taken, no big deal. The following Tuesday, I wake up, eat breakfast, but feel kind of queasy. I head out to work, figuring I’ll just power through it and get home and take it easy. I was battling moderate to severe stomach pain the whole day, along with the back pain mentioned before. I got through work (barely), and made it home, not having ate the whole day (if you know me, then something must be wrong).

Fast forward to 7:30 p.m. that night-my wife suggests that we go to the Emergency Room if I’m in that much pain. We go Dobbs Ferry Hospital. I get a CAT scan, and the doctor on duty is puzzled. It seems that I have an infection in the muscles in or around my back. They can blast it out with Antibiotics, but I need to be admitted. Around midnight, I get a room, and go to sleep.

The next morning, a surgeon comes into my room and tells me that I’m going to get an MRI. A surgeon is called in on the case just in the event that there is some issue, they are in the loop at the beginning, not having to catch up on what is going on. Fair enough. I’m taken to St. Johns in Yonkers for an MRI. I come back and eat lunch.

A little bit later, an associate of the surgeon I saw in the a.m. comes in, closes the door to my room, and sits down. Go back to the top two lines of the post. He told me that I have a Sarcoma, which is a type of cancer that affects less than 2% of the population. I asked him how I got it.

He said “You won the Lottery.”

There’s a less than 1% chance it’s not cancerous. Great.

My wife is a wreck. I have no reaction.

He details that in order to get the Sarcoma, they wil probably have to reroute some internals, and maybe remove a Kidney. He says that they need to Biopsy it to get a look at it, and get more info about it. He leaves.

I have no reaction. I’m not angry, or scared. I’m not saying that out of some type of bravado, that’s just the way it was. Suddenly, the prospect of my mortality (or lack of it) was pushed to the forefront of mine and my families life. Everybody that I told (not too many people) were justifiably upset, but I still had no overriding feelings of fear or sadness, I was more worried about my wife, and how she would handle this. It’s not easy to call your friends or tell your family something like this. “Hey guess what happened to me today” is that how you tell someone? I called my boss, and a few friends and family members, and just put it out there, as blunt as possible. That was the only way I could do it, although it can’t be easy for someone to hear it that way.

So Friday rolls around, and they stick a needle in my back, get their sample, and tell me to come back the next Thursday (today). I get out of the Hospital, and try to  prepare myself for the worst news possible, since anything less would theoretically be better. I run through all types of scenarios in my head, my death, how long would I live, stuff like that. Just prepping myself for what I knew was coming.

Monday I go back to work, full steam ahead. Through my wife, we find out that there is a Sarcoma unit in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in the city. A friend of ours knows the Sarcoma doctor, and we get my records to him. He says it’s bad, but not a death sentence. Good news, I suppose. We start to make plans for him to take over, since it’s his specialty. He wants a new CAT scan, with some dye injected into me, to see things a bit clearer. We make the appointment.

Jump to today. We have the appointment with the Doctor from Dobbs Ferry Hospital, and he has the Biopsy results. This is it. I know what’s coming. I hear the Doctor a few feet up the hall asking for my charts, and they can’t find them.

Great.

We go into his office, and wait a bit. He finally comes in, sits down, and literally says two words:

“Not Cancer.”

“What?”

“It’s not Cancer.”

My wife has the biggest grin I’ve ever seen. The Doctor said that when he met her, he thought she was always sad. He was wrong.

I have no reaction. Nothing up until this point has surprised me. Again, not bravado, just acceptance. It is a benign tumor that still needs to be removed, but the death sentence is commuted.

All is right in the world again. Now to make a new round of phone calls. “Hey guess what? I, in fact, don’t have Cancer.” I feel worse for the people put through this roller coaster of emotions, but this is a good phone call to make.

My mother said that all the people praying for me is what turned things around. My wife says everything happens for a reason. I say that everything is totally random.

I guess I did win the Lottery, like the Doctor said.

Another Weather Story.

February 11th, 2009

Sun by bbjee.

bbjee

 The last time I complained about the weather was 2006, and it was about how hot it was. There was a post before that also lamenting my dissatisfaction with the scorching heat. It’s time I turned my sights on Old Man Winter.

It’s funny how subjective our memory is. I remember the first girl I kissed, and who stabbed me in the knee with a pencil in 3rd grade, but when the first gusts of artic chill arrive, I am very quick to forget how much bitching I do during the summer about the heat (as evidenced by older posts on this site). Is it because the seasons are so fleeting in relation to the span of our life? Is there a subconcious part of me that is only concerned with my comfort and well-being at that moment? Is it possible that this seemingly endless circle of seasonal complaining is a indication that I should seek a more temperate clime?

Would that make me happy?

Sorry. I didn’t mean to ask you that.

So, to sum up, I think (no, I know) that I dislike colder weather more that warm. Hotter temps bring discomfort, yes, but but for the most part do not interfere with life. Winter on the other hand, also has some baggage that it can’t shake. Snow and Ice. Individually or combined, these two elements just make the winter miserable (unless you like to ski, but I digress). They hinder getting to work, not only because of the layer of snow left behind, but then you have to deal with moving (or removing) it out of your way. Then the temps drop, and you have ice. The beauty of freshly fallen snow is quickly demolished by the salt trucks and the knowledge that I will be out there pushing it around just so I can get to work.

Wow. That was a load off.

The High Cost of Life

January 25th, 2009

Mobile phone by Milica Sekulic.Milica Sekulik

I was listening to a technology podcast recently, and the host was mentioning about how owning a computer ends up being more that just the cost of the P.C.. I found that idea pretty interesting, and it got me thinking of how much it costs me to “live” now as opposed to, let’s say 1983.

1983:

Rent or Mortgage, Food, Phone, Car and Insurance

That’s about it for monthly recurring bills.

2009:

Rent or Mortgage, Food, Phone, Car and Insurance, Cell Phone,

Cable, Internet, Satellite Radio, Gym membership, Xbox Live account

Wow. That’s alot. Now granted, all these things are not “necessities” per se, but they do seem important. Could I live without a Satellite radio? Yes, and I am giving it up. Cell phone? Not so easy. I almost shudder to think that there was a time that I could not be reached in the event of an emergency if I was not at home.

Was it better back then? Is it really that important that I be constantly connected with the outside world? What have I given up in exchange? It’s weird, but sometimes ignorance really is bliss, as they say. What if I gave up the internet bill? I can’t, I need it for my job, and besides, it might force me to pick up a book or actually go outside. :)

Technology has allowed me to connect with old friends, and have access to almost anything I could want to know or learn about, but in the end, it’s me sitting in front of a monitor at midnight, alone. Sometimes it feels like I’m seeing the whole world through a one-way mirror. You’re exposed to so much more, but it’s still a solitary experience.

Time for bed.

It’s all about the CA$H

August 13th, 2008

Mailbox-fu by katmere.katmere

It’s funny. Pretty much everything in our life leads back to one thing: money. We need it, plain and simple. Those little pieces of paper and metal circles have so much meaning in our existence that it can easily become something that you can spend most of your time worrying about.

So how does this fit in with your life decisions? Do you make choices based on it?

When I was early on in my work career, I felt the need to have a job that made “money”. I had no post high school education to speak of, and I had no aspirations of being a doctor, lawyer, or any of those high-income positions. So where to go? Construction? Nah-didn’t feel like cutting wood for a living. Police? Might get shot-forget it. Sanitation? There’s a thought. They get their job done, and then they get to hang out (or so I’ve been told). Forget it. The smell. Letter Carrier? That’s it!! My uncle was one, my brother was one, why not me?

Sounded good.

I  signed up for the civil service exam. I bought the study book with sample tests, and really took it seriously. I was ready.Test day came and went. Then I got the results.92%.

Wow. Pretty damn good.

Now I just have to wait for the offers to come rolling in. I got one. Yonkers, New York. Not the best place to be walking around without any protection. I need a job that makes “money”. I go to the interview. The postmaster likes me, and I say the things he wants to hear. I’m in. I make it through the “academy”, get the blue uniform, and show up at the post office. The pay was pretty good for a starting salary, and there’s a union, so it looks like I’m set. I show up on time, I work fast, and I don’t complain. The supervisors like me, and I get some decent areas to deliver to. Sounds good, right?

Wrong.

Yes, I did whatever they wanted, I worked fast and efficiently. The job was easy, and the pay was good. Over time, I started to notice the people around me. My “co-workers”. They were unhappy people. They “hated” their bosses, they openly cursed at them, some were drinking on the job, and some were hunched over. I started to consider that if I stayed, I would have a better than average chance at turning out to be like one of the examples above. But the money was good. I was off on Sundays. I was getting bills paid.I couldn’t stay. I could rationalize that the money that I would potentially be making would be worth it. The cost was too high.I told my boss I was giving my two week notice. his jaw dropped. I guess people don’t leave the post office. At that point, I decided (as far as my career was concerned) that any choices I would make would not include money as the first (or even second) consideration.

You can’t put a price on your peace of mind.

A New Home…

August 4th, 2008

First off, welcome. This is the “new” location of the former “Bipolar’s Rant” now called “My Little Corner”, now known as “The Ledge”. Wow. That’s a mouthfull.

Anyway, the posts from the old blog have been painstakingly moved here from across the internet, so you won’t have to do any more work than you have to. That’s my commitment to you!

Later-

Who are you?

July 23rd, 2008

Simple enough. But is it? Who are you? Who do you consider yourself to be? Who do other people think you are?

Is Spider-Man Peter Parker’s secret identity, or is Peter Parker Spider-Man’s?
See what I mean?
The true answer is a little tougher. You are many things to different people. But, you are also what you say you are. When people ask “What do you do?”, the answer I give is telling them who I am, but it’s too short. I’m more. I’m not my job. But I am.

Who are you?

Like an old jacket…

July 15th, 2008

It’s funny how as we get older, we look back on our lives and think about how much we think we’ve changed and how our outlook on life has become jaded (some may call it “mature”).I had the great opportunity to reconnect with 2 of the most influential people from my past, people who I had thought I would not have any further contact with. No falling out, no fistfight. The worst possible reason. Life.

Roads that keep on forking until you don’t realize how many turns you’ve made from home. Sometimes it’s just easier to just keep taking forks, rather than taking a moment to look back and see how far from shore you are. No risk.

It just happens.

I received a risk in my inbox about a month ago.

Like I said, an old dear friend reached out to me. He was coming back to the area for a visit, and wanted to know if I would be interested in meeting up with the other third of our magical trio. This was about a 10-year lapse in contact, but I immediately jumped at the prospect. Something in me stirred-something that had lay dormant for all that time. I was still me, but the part of me that my 2 colleagues knew had been shuttered away. Locked up in the corners of my mind.

I made the drive to the location of the meet. I was a bit nervous, or maybe excited. Use either one. 15 minutes into the visit, it was done; we were slipping into our old routines, trotting out the same jokes that we laughed at a mere 20 years earlier. I was 15 again, and it was O.K.. Time flew-both the time I was there, and the layers of time we peeled back like the layers of an onion. We collectively were in the past, and firmly rooted in the present, as evidenced by the children of my 2 best friends. Time had passed us by, but we were able to stop it, if for only a short period of time.

The day ended, and I knew it was time to go. What I didn’t count on was the rush of emotion that overcame me when I actually had to leave. What was reawakened now had to be put back, and it was too short of a time. I started to tear up, but hey, I’m no wimp-so I got myself together and got on the road. We promised we would keep in touch, no fistfight, no argument.

Let’s see life try and get in the way this time.

 

It’s a Fluke

May 1st, 2007

Here’s the thing…I spend a lot of time thinking about things. Most of us do, but my thoughts seem to end up extrapolating these grand theories about space and time, or about our collective place in the world.

Here’s one: The “human” race is a fluke. You heard it here first. We, who see ourselves at the top of the heap, are actually the anaomaly in the whole evolution thing and it’s actually us that don’t belong.

How?

It’s easy. We are the only species that have dramatically changed the planet as a whole. Every other species of insect, animal, fish, whatever, is only concerned with two things-eating and mating. That’s all there is. No paying taxes, worrying about who hit your kid, none of this bullshit that we spend our time dealing with.

I say that being the only species with self awareness may not be the best thing. Wouldn’t we be better off not knowing all the things we know? Where has it gotten us?

What would the majority of the planet (non-humans) think about us (that is of course, if they could think)?

SSDD

May 1st, 2007

Please pay no attention to the previous post. It was the ravings of a person who only has one foot in reality. There will be no further ramblings about “steppping out” and any attempts by me to post such will result in a severe slap with whatever hand is not currently typing.