07 December 2012

Life Expectancy - Or Something Like It

Today I attended a Veteran's Memorial Service at the Veterans Memorial Cemetary of Western Colorado.  The service was for a Vietnam Vet, Ron "Doc" Ross, who passed away last week.  Doc Ross was very active in my little community and well-respected so his turn-out was huge.  It started with the traditional Honor Guard and Bagpiper escorting his remains to the internment site and included all the typical Veteran services.  At least, I think it included what is deemed "typical".  I'm really not sure.  This is the first Military service I've been to so I really had no idea what to expect.  And I certainly couldn't see anything - there were tons of people and the internment shelter was designed to hold, at the most, 20 or so folk. 

Doc's Patriot Guard Riders were there, along with those whom he served with, those he worked with, those he called friends, those he touched in some way (whether small or large) and fellow Vets who may have only known of him, never really meeting him.  It was a lovely day and seeing the Flags whipping briskly in the wind, the Color Guard's prestine uniforms, the bagpiper's kilts and the old Army truck really added to the somber tone of the Memorial.  And of course, when Doc's remains passed by, I cried.  Not because I knew the man well but because I saw how his loss was affecting his closest friends and because, well, because I just cry (I didn't used to be such a wuss, honest).  It sent me down memory lane and I found myself thinking of the first time I met him, how he intimidated me and how it took me almost 2 years to get a smile out of him.  Once I got that smile, tho, the scary Doc Ross was replaced with a warm and gruff ole' Marine who gave me a hug every time he saw me.  Doc was an incredible advocate for all Veterans - young and old - and his presence will be missed.  I know his legacy will continue on through his friends and his organizations but the man has left a hole that I don't think anyone will even try to fill.

While I was standing (oh-so-uncomfortably in my "church" clothes) and observing, my mind began to wander to my own end.  I looked at the people there, some dressed like me in their fancy duds but most dressed in jeans, and began to have a conversation with myself about whether or not this was the type of tribute Doc would've enjoyed for himself or if he would shrug it off as a bunch of mularkey and wonder why no one was out playing on such a beautiful afternoon.  Which then led me to think about how I would want to be memorialized at the end (possibly "the end" coming after crossing the finish line of one of my races - I always say there are those races that are gonna kill me).  I know that Memorials and Funerals are for the living - those left behind to carry on - so I don't feel right in dictating how it should be done.  If I had my peace, I'd just as soon be cremated and then discharged out of a starting line's gun but  doubt my daughter would feel quite so glib about the whole process (not to mention it might just freak people out...).  You always hear at funerals or memorials, "this is how so and so would want it" but you don't really know, do you?  So, as a guide to my end (and an ad-hoc addendum to my will), I offer these suggestions:
  1. For pete's sake - do not dress up.  Don't get me wrong, please wear clothes, but don't be uncomfortable.  God knows I would just as soon be in a pair of jeans and my Birks so why should you be any different?
  2. If you must have a "service", do it to a theme.  Like everyone dressing up as their superhero or something like that.  And please, leave the prayers to the individual, don't bring them in to my party.
  3. THERE WILL BE NO GUM CHEWING ALLOWED!  Nothing worse than lips smacking together in the pursuit of digesting that undigestable piece of flavored rubber.
  4. Somebody better take on the task of completing a half marathon in each state for me.  Blow up a picture of me, tape it to a popsicle stick and complete my mission in my name.  I'll even let the brave soul keep the bling.  I just want my bloomin' map colored in.
  5. Bagpipes.  I want bagpipes.  And a cute dude in nothing but a kilt playing said bagpipes.  I don't even care if he can play the bagpipes.  You might.  So I'd get to work on that.
There.  Those are my suggestions.  Take them or leave them, I really won't know, will I?  Just keep it stuffy and gum free and you'll be golden.

All of this was composed while attending Doc's beautiful memorial.  I don't think Doc would mind.  In fact, I think he would've helped me with my list.

Semper Fi, Doc.  You'll be missed.

01 December 2012

Route 66 in Pictures

I am behind on my race updates.  Not for lack of intention, mind you.  More due to the fact that so many things have begun their relentless end-of-year tug on my attention: the last few weeks of my program with a class I just don't get, work, a new dog, cupcakes and the list goes on and on.  But Tulsa calls me and I must give a little bit of my last race for 2012.  Details have begun to fade of the incredible weekend and I've decided that I must start carrying a notebook with me - to jot down impressions, feelings and quotes that just can't be resurrected weeks afterwards.  An early New Year's Resolution - carry a notebook.  Compensation for my lack of writer-ly skills will come in the form of pictures and snippets.  The plus side to this is that you'll be spared my long diatribes and inability to keep my tenses consistent.

Saturday started with Amanda and I running the 5k.  Ok, Amanda ran, I, um, walked.  2000 runners for a 5k - I was impressed.  And hills.  Hills like the Hospital Hill course in Kansas City.  Generally, I like hills in the first 2 miles - it allows me to stretch out my calves and I actually keep a consistent pace on hills - and this 5k was no exception.  It was an excellent way to spend an hour on a chilly but sunny Saturday morning.
As per my norm, I'm at the back of the back.  But I wasn't last.
 
After the 5k, Cheri, Amanda and I hung around for the Mascot Dash.  Our fellow Half Fanatic/Marathon Maniac, T-Rex Runner, was running in it - in a homemade T-Rex costume.  Her effort was AH-Mazing.  And so much fun to watch.  She's got a fun blog, too, and you should check it out.
 
And it's T-Rex Runner to the finish!
 
 
Afterward, we had to get our picture - isn't that costume great??  A fellow runner made it for her and I couldn't help thinking that my kids probably wished I was that creative and talented around Halloween.
 
Amanda and Cheri look great.  I, however, look waaay too startled.
 
 
We said good-bye to Danielle (aka T-Rex Runner) and headed to breakfast.  We indulged at the Blue Moon (or Full Moon - this is where the notebook would come in handy) for breakfast and then headed back to the hotel.  Cheri had homework to do and Amanda and I volunteered for a 4 hour shift at the Expo, handing out T-shirts.  I enjoyed volunteering but I think my co-volunteers were concerned for my sanity.  I couldn't help it, tho, the music they had going on at the Expo just made this white girl jiggle.  I'd like to say that I belong on "Dancing with the Stars" but I think it would be hotly argued that any dancing show was NOT for me.
 
Amanda and I at the start of our shift.  Before the sugar took effect...
 
Sunday morning and it's race time.  A beautiful day.  A beautiful course.  And a shitload of
 
 
I want to give proper credit for this photo but I don't know who to credit it to.  I pulled it off the Route 66 Facebook page
 
And here's the start line by Dr Chris Barnes:
 
 
 
Do you see all those people????  Wholy cow!!!  I just have to say that the police who kept us safe on the course were amazing.  Cheri and I went past the course cut-off time and we still had about 3 miles to go.  One of Tulsa's finest (police officer) pulled up to us and told us that the roads would be opening and we needed to move to the sidewalk to finish.  We asked if it would be ok if we walked single file along the side and moved up when traffic came.  He was so very nice to us - knowing that the sidewalk added distance to our course - and asked us to be careful and aware.  He then kept an eye on us until we got to the last half mile where the course was still closed.  He did NOT have to do that and just goes to prove that Tulsa embraces this race and every single person involved in it - runner, volunteer, course marshall, police - want each person to only have to concentrate on running the course that they could.  I wish Cheri and I would've had the presence of mind to get our picture with that amazing officer but by that time we were just concentrating on getting to the finish.  So I am going to ask The Route 66 Marathon Race Directors pass on our most sincere thanks.
 
 
Cheri and I finally crossed the finish line about 4 hours after we started and we wobbled through the racer exit and into the Marathon/Half Fanatic Finisher Tent where we collected our special medal, some food and some much-needed sit down time.  This wasn't a challenging course physically.  This course challenged both Cheri and I from the inside.  I am thankful that Cheri was with me - I'm not quite sure I would've finished without her. 
 
 
Maureen (who finished her 50th State + DC with this race) and I - showing off our bling.