I am a very lucky man – I’ve got an amazing wife and am the father to three wonderful kids. Lylli was born on Halloween in 2008, Gracie was born November 2010 and although she only lived for 17 months, she will remain as much a part of this family as the rest of us, and Mickey Gray, our first son, was born in June of 2012. I’m not going to say that life has gone exactly as I would have wanted, but it is a good life and I am determined to make the best of it.

This blog is an attempt to document my quest to become a dad that my family can be proud of.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Hook

If you look closely in the middle of this picture, between the two closet doors, you’ll see “The Hook”.  I put this hook up in my bedroom a couple months ago so I see it in the morning when I wake and just before I go to sleep every night.  My wife cracks up laughing when she looks at it because I was nervous to not put it too low where someone could hit it –  OK, so I admit, the odds are pretty low that someone’s eye would ever get too close to it to have to worry about that.  That said, you’ll be happy to know, I put it high enough to assure that this could not happen anyway.  I’ve laid out strict rules for the hook – It’s never to be used for a bath towel or robe or anything else besides a medal that I get for finishing a marathon (although I may hang a ½ marathon medal on it if I do one, but only as a placeholder because at this point that in itself will take a lot of work for me to accomplish).  I haven’t told her yet, but I’m thinking about putting vinyl letters in the space between the closets that say “Do Life.” Wonder what she’ll think about that idea?  Regardless, I will hang a marathon finisher medal on this hook before I turn 40 in September of 2012!!!  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Thanks, I Needed That!!

I knew this was going to be difficult, but never imagine how tough it would be emotionally.  I had totally turned into that couch potato guy -- last night, I had put my long run aside all weekend and was looking for every excuse in the world to not do it.  I stood at the door almost with tears in my eyes because I just wanted to sit and relax the last bit before my Monday work week.  Well, I'm proud to say that I talked myself out the door and did my run -- my wife was working on this for my birthday in a few weeks, but could tell that I needed it, so this was waiting for me to see when I got home from my run - My cup Runneth over!

For good measure -- today was supposed to be a rest day, but with new found motivation, and the fact that I worked from home today, I went out for a short two mile run at lunch!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Accountability - Time to Finally Match my Actions to my Words

Last week, Ben Davis of the Do Life Movement featured me and this blog in one of his posts (HERE).  Because of that, many people have recently visited for the first time.  He also mentioned in an interview (HERE) that Gracie’s story and my desire to get healthy because of it was one of the most memorable stories that he heard on his 30 city “Do Life” tour this summer.  What a wonderful honor.   As I look back on this blog since its inception trying to see it through the eyes of someone that is visiting for the first time, I am forced to admit what I’ve really been struggling with lately - that I have been mostly just talk for many years.  The very first post from this blog I talk about how I’m going to get healthy.  That was in early December of 2008.  Countless posts since then talk about how I need to do something, but here I sit today basically in the same place.  That said, I follow two blogs religiously – one is Ben’s referenced above, bendoeslife,  and the other is a blog by Travis Colby called finally airborne .  Both of these guys started their blogs at the beginning of their journey to get healthy, both started them after I started mine.  Since that time, both of them have lost over 100 lbs, both have finished multiple marathons.  As a matter of fact, Ben has completed two ironman’s and Travis is training to complete one early next year.  Both of these guys were bigger than me and are now Ironmen.  Two nights ago, it took me almost an hour to run/walk 3.5 miles - every single run is a struggle, but it was for them at first as well – I’ve got a long way to go, but am done living like I'm OK with where I’m at, because I’m not – I can look back at posts on this site and clearly see that.  I started this blog to keep me honest and to make me accountable, an attempt to make my actions match my words, and have somehow avoided it while still being able to look people in the eyes.  This really is the turning point in my life – Our journey with Gracie has forced me to see things in a different perspective and from now on my actions will match my words.  I am done being all talk.  I am going to continue to “Do Life” and become that happy healthy husband/dad/person that my family/I deserve(s). 

Monday, August 22, 2011

A busy weekend full of reminders

Friday night, we met some relatives from Florida for a quick bite to eat before they headed to Target Field for the first time to see the Twins play the Yankees (ugly game, but a beautiful venue).  After dinner, I dropped the wife and kids off at the house and headed north with my brother-in-law to my mom’s house to help her move.  They are in the process of moving over an hour further away, so by the time we got done unloading the truck and back home, it was well after 11PM.  I must admit, I’m not always happy about the decisions that the people in my life make (and believe me, I know that I’m no saint and am certain they feel the same about me at times).  But I do know, and have vowed to work on remembering that, they are my family and family is always there for each another when they are needed.
Saturday morning, we slept in a bit (OK, I slept in a bit) and eventually headed up to my in-laws cabin which is fortunately so close to our house that we were still able to get there just after noon.  We spent the day out on the boat and enjoyed the slower pace that comes with living life on the lake.  At one point the girls went to the beach so Lylli could swim and I went on a boat tour of the lake with my father-in-law and Carrie’s aunt and uncle.  My in-laws have a cute little late 60’s run-about that often gets compliments from others – even those driving the bank busting, way out of my tax bracket dream boats often greet us with a nice comment about it.   It’s definitely a neat little boat, but not what you’d say screaming with power.  The low point of the day was when everybody else had to move to the front of the boat in an attempt to plane out – unfortunately, still no luck, the front end stayed lifted so high that I could barely see in front of us.  The tour consisted of the three of them sitting as far to the front of the boat as they could while the less than svelte, sun-burnt five-headed (much less hair than on what used to be my forehead), sweaty son-in-law sat alone in the back - two feet lower than the rest.  I couldn’t help but be a bit self conscious when passing and waving to the other boats.  Heck, I probably would have chuckled myself.  After the wonderful reminder that I was not comfortable enough to enjoy the lake in the same way as the shirtless folks we waved to on our tour, we headed back to the cabin and eventually home. 
On Sunday we headed to the state capitol to cheer on my step-sister and sister in-law and their team as they finished the Susan G Komen 3 day walk and to watch the closing ceremony.  Deb was one of the walkers that walked with them, I won’t begin to try to explain exactly how we know her, but for ease of explanation, I’ll just say she’s a friend of the extended family.  She is a two time breast cancer survivor and was chosen to raise the final closing ceremony flag.  The whole time I watched her, I thought about how supportive she was to us with Gracie while at the same time facing such a fight herself.  I have to admit, there were times when I left the hospital this past year and had to go to work where I was numb and confused about how life could just go on, business-as-usual, all around us while we were in such a fight for Gracie’s life.  I think the reminder that everybody faces major life changing events no matter if they are your best friend, a stranger, or your worst enemy – this is something that we all have in common – that guy that just cut you off and shot that dirty look on your drive in this morning, before you return the favor with the bird, remember that instead of letting him be the nameless, faceless target of your aggression, that we all do in fact have this in common and maybe he is crying inside because he just had to leave his sick daughter at the hospital to provide for his family, or has just lost a loved one or is currently struggling through some other life changing event.  Anyway, back to my story - throughout our time at the walk and ceremony, several things came to mind that made me extra emotional.  I saw the thousands of tired limping-bloody-blistered footed walkers hugging their families and friends as they finished the three day 60 mile walk.  The energy in the air was so happy and sad at the same time – but what an empowering environment.  It reminded me of how so many people have to fight so hard due to things that they have no control over – reassuring me that I need to continue to work to control my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing becoming out of shape to having a life threatening disease – quite the contrary – the event served as a reminder that I can control this and in order to properly respect those that lose their lives to things out of their control, I need to follow through.  At one point, my wife and I looked at each other, both of us with tears in our eyes.  I think she put it best, saying that it seems causes of any sort have taken on a whole new meaning to both of us.  Having gone through what we have with Gracie has changed us both very much.  During the ceremony, a large group of walkers released several pink balloons into the air – as they flew higher and higher into the sky, we both could not help but think about the family we met in the hospital that lost their beautiful daughter this past year.  I just know that Eden got very excited seeing all of those pink balloons coming her way.  I also found myself thinking about how that same location is the finish line for the Marathon that I signed up for and will not be running.  I wondered how in the world will I be able to go there with my head held high to cheer on my buddy Dave on October 2nd while thinking the whole time that I am supposed to be running with him.  All I can do is face it head on and know that I am working hard at this and getting better every day.  There are going to be highs and lows in this journey, but in the end, I will do it.   On a positive note, I spent the afternoon with my girls at this wonderful event – the day before Gracie’s nine month birthday (yes TODAY she is 9 months old!!!!) dancing with her as she smiled that beautiful smile – a smile that every time I see it,  confirms how lucky I am and that I am right where I’m supposed to be.
I went home and with a newfound determination did my planned 4 mile run – sure, between the walking and running, it took close to an hour and I will need to speed things up quite a bit to not get swept when I run the half marathon in October - but on a Sunday night where I was tired and would have previously sat on the couch and watched TV, I got myself out there and did it.             

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gracie's Trip to Boston

For those just joining this blog, my second daughter, Gracie, was born in November of 2010 with Down syndrome and some very severe and rare heart defects. After two major heart surgeries at the wonderful Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, the doctors there were unable to give us the answers we needed - the best they could do was to "buy her some time" - This was not an answer we were satisfied with and set out to find someone that could. We found Dr's Del Nido and Marx (surgeon and cardiologist respectively) at the world renowned Children's Hospital of Boston. This was our last hope to save Gracie's life, so in May we flew to Boston and with a very complicated surgery, they were able to give our girl a four chamber heart -- she is now a part of a very small group of kids with this condition that were given no hope at home, yet were able to go to Boston to be repaired. This is a little montage my wife put together of her trip. These little girls are my world and the reason I am working so hard to get healthy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

26.2 B4 40

So I had come to the realization that I wasn’t going to be ready for the full Twin Cities Marathon on October 2nd, broke the news to my wife and made that painful phone conversation with my buddy Dave (The undertaker, last man to let you down) that I wouldn’t be joining him in “our” first marathon.  It was a pretty tough little patch for me – I even sunk deep enough into a mini-depression that I skipped some runs, etc.  I am so upset with myself for not following through with things and have vowed to not do that anymore – So instead of looking at this as a failed attempt, I am just making a realistic adjustment to allow me to eventually achieve my goal.  Instead of the full marathon at the beginning of October, I am now going to run the Monster Dash half marathon at the end of October.  That said, I still had my goal of completing my first Marathon before my 40th birthday on September 14th, 2012.  Looks like it won’t be the Twin Cities, because that takes place in October – close, but still not before my 40th birthday.  So as I started searching for marathons, it occurred to me, I will not have Dave to pace me on this one and at my size/pace, there won’t be any pace groups that I can hang with.  Then, as if a sign from whatever power you believe in, I read the Bendoeslife blog as I do daily and learned of their plans for 2012 to run 52 marathons next year and act as unofficial pacers for those like me finishing towards the end of the pack.  I literally got tears in my eyes – What timing!   So as I continue my training,  I am eagerly awaiting to see their schedule for next year and if I have to fly across the country to run it with them, I will do that.