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Cancer and Bucket Lists

The smell of coffee made me want to go back to bed - my own bed - back home in the US. I sipped my coffee and made my final preparations before walking up to the starting line. Ruth gave me a hug and a kiss and I got on the elevator.

It was now 8:15 in Berlin, Germany. 6 hours ahead of the east coast of the US.

Making a mental checklist began immediately. Marathons are about strategy and mental toughness as much as they are about running.

"What the hell am I doing out here?," I thought. "I only ran one half marathon in 2016."

I have nothing to prove. Not to me, not to anyone. I couldn't think of one good reason to be on the Berlin Marathon course this past Sunday. A lot times runners say "trust your training"... this particular morning I couldn't. My training was a disaster. I didn't know anyone there. I had a hard time connecting with other runners before the race. Most of that was due to the language barrier. 

Still, I could have used a hug or something.

Strolling towards the Brandenburg Gate, I chatted with Emily, who is from the UK. It turned out to be a 3 mile trek to the starting line. Eventually, she had to go in one direction and I in another.

Dreading the fact that hours of running lay before me, I kept on.

As I moved towards the corrals, I thought about my six other marathon starts. The tiny, in comparison, Cape Cod Marathon where it was cool and sunny. My longtime friend Tom wished me well after the cannon boomed. Then there was my first Boston. I had so many hopes for that one. It was so exciting, it was so hot, and it ended in near disaster with a tibial fracture. In Chicago I stood with my Hope for Young Adults with Cancer teammates including my MFP buddy Dan E. I remember having to pee that cool and sunny morning, but there was no place to go. And there was the Zydeco Marathon with another MFP buddy, Bobby D. We took off in the warm twilight of the Cajun spring. I got a personal record that day. Another Boston in the cool rain in April 2015, then there was the desert heat of San Diego with a few Elvis impersonators, and NYC in November, 2015.

Amidst, the sound of soggy feet, nervous runners chattered in a half dozen languages - it was a different. 

I kept walking and finally sat on a plastic poncho in my corral, waiting for it all the begin. Just me and my doubts. So far I had stayed focused on the moment, not sure if I would regret this whole experience. Focusing on running the 26.2 miles (42.195 km), I was scared. I had missed a few long runs in training. My weekly and mileage was low. Worse, all my long runs ended urinary bleeding. Hell, I hadn't run 26.2 miles since November of 2015.


Off I went to the deafening thump of European-Techno. As I approached the roundabout and Victory Column, off in the distance, I could hear Chariots of Fire rise above the gray mist. Into the distant silence I went. Berlin is a very quiet city compared any of those in the US. Only an occasional siren or car horn ever breaks in. It was eerie.

Mile 1 was done.

I felt OK. The time change, the bathroom schedule, and the temperature were all working in my favor this morning.

I was still uncertain what the race would bring. I had acquired a friend-in-stride, Drew, from NY along about mile 3. We took it very easy and eventually split up about mile 10. Ruth was there on some street I can't pronounce, A quick hug and I was on my way. I was running along and some of the spectators cheered me by name (on the bib). "Bravo, David!" They shouted from the rain soaked, cobblestone sidewalk.

I kept counting the kilometer markers.

I closed my eyes and breathed a sigh of gratitude to my Savior. I had beat heart disease. I had beaten four types of cancer - so far. I could still run with my prostate tumor. That makes 8 full marathons with this damn disease. There is something in all this that make me very emotional.

I'm OK.

I checked my phone and had a Facebook message from Ruth. It was my only connection. I felt a little better.
Mile 22 was a blur and so was mile 23. I just put one foot in front of the other. I ran by Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church where the terrorist attack was in 2016.

As I came in Potsdamer Platz, Ruth was in front of me taking a few photos and waiting to hug me.

There it was. 40 kilometers! I stopped for a quick drink and took a selfie. There was a guy walking and he was in pain. I grabbed his arm. "Comrade, let's go get a medal."

He laughed but couldn't get going. 

I started running again. I didn't care if I locked up, but I was going to finish. I picked up my pace and raced on past the Lowenbrau building. I rounded the corner and there was Brandenburg Gate. I poured it on. I just wanted to be done. To drink. To relax.

They hung a medal on my neck.

I thanked God for allowing me to finish. Finish with cancer. Again. There are still 2 marathons on my bucket list, London and Tokyo. I am almost there.

Well, It's That Time

Life can be insane, painful, exciting and a lot of other things all at the same time. I haven't had nearly as much social-not-working time as I would like to. It's not because I don't want to, it's just that I haven't had time. So what's going on?

Everything is going on!

Next week I am off to the Berlin Marathon. I have trained as much as I could. Between health, work, and just life, I haven't put in the kind of miles I should have - or would have liked to. I ran in the heat and humidity all summer. 20 miles in 87F was just about enough to shoot myself.

I know that if I didn't complete that run, I couldn't run this race.

So, I pressed on. I am always learning to push harder. Heck, I remember when doing the dishes was an excruciatingly difficult task. Now, I can do the dishes while the coffee brews. Who knew what marathon training would teach me!

Life is pretty good...

I am hoping to have my biopsy results from the 6 little gems they removed almost 2 weeks ago. They were all 3mm to 6mm. :( 

So many of you tried to help me find work or prayed that I would so I would stop complaining on MFP. Well, I have a good one. That makes things easier.

I don't have any wisdom today but I have a little story.

This past weekend I went to visit my sweetheart's mother and father. Her mom has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Despite all that, we had a wonderful visit. We laughed, we ate chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We took a walk in the sunshine. We played cards. They exchanged memories. Amazing.

I got to practice my life philosophy; live life today.

Those memories are ours for eternity. We will try to make some more. But if we don't get a chance, these were really great ones. 

Look! Feet!

When you get to MFP you think, I'll lose some weight, get good looking and live happily ever after.

I suppose some do. 

It's been a couple of years since I thought about how freakin' hard it used to be to put on a pair of shoes. When I leaned over my fat belly crushed my diaphragm and I almost suffocated while trying to make a bunny ear in my shoelaces. To make matters worse, my lower back would occasionally go into spasms.

When I worked in corporate, I was a shoe addict (and ties and watches). I had loafers, oxfords, derbies, monk straps, and wing tips in various colors.

Then I got fat and bought a pair of slip-ons. To make matters worse, I got plantar fasciitis from cheap sneakers and high inclines on the treadmill - and excessive weight. The podiatrist custom made me inserts for my Merrill' and that was pretty much the last time I saw my feet for nearly 8 years.

Now that I am a jogger runner, all that's changed.

I am still addicted to shoes, I have 12 pairs of running shoes; most with matching Under Armour wicking shirts and Nike Combat underwear. If you are a walker, a jogger, or a runner, here are my recommendations.

Training or WalkingShoes - Like training pants, but they go on your feet. :) These are for walkers/runners and they have more cushion than the super light running shoes. I like mine because I can go 6 or 8 miles and my feet feel great. Recommended for newbies - especially if you are overweight. They are good for easy runs and not recommended for super long distances.

Running Shoes - These are a little more expensive than the training shoes (yes, they also go on your feet!). They are made of lighter weight materials and are usually well vented.They run a fine line with a minimum of cushioning, yet they are stable. Most need to be replaced within 300-500 miles depending on many factors, including your weight. If you are a heal striker, I would stick with the training shoes.

Recovery Shoes - I know, some running company decided that since it's too expensive for most runners to have aprés ski boots, they should have post-workout shoes. My daughter got me a pair of Skechers GoRecovery, and you know what, I look forward to wearing then for an hour or so after I run or workout.

Flip-Flops - Some people call them thongs, but isn't that what porn stars wear? I like them because I lived at the seashore for many years. I usually wear mine from May until October. I know they are not recommended by podiatrists anywhere, but who cares. I'd be barefoot if I could!

Slippers - Because I needed a trick for the dog to do. My other daughter got me a pair - probably at Walmart the cheap skate, but since I telecommute, I call them work shoes.

And no discussion would be complete without saying this: GET YOUR RUNNING SHOES FITTED AT A RUNNING STORE WHERE THEY DO A GAIT ANALYSIS! How you run, how your foot stikes the ground, the height of your arches, how you pronate and your weight; it all must be taken into consideration when purchasing shoes! The bunny slippers? Use your discression.

When was the last time you saw your feet?

Thanks for the votes and comments!

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