“I have learned that there is no failure in running, or in life, as long as you keep moving. It’s not about speed and gold medals. It’s about refusing to be stopped. You might find that one particular direction proves difficult, but there are many directions on a compass. Infinite, in fact. As long as you keep searching, you’ll find your way.” – Amby Burfoot, Executive Director of Runner’s World Magazine
This has been a long week, but not as bad as one would have thought it would be. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a week. Surgery, dentist appointments, music concerts, fundraisers, gymnastics classes, baseball clinics, shopping at Target, and of course your normal 55-60 hour work week done.
Because of my wife’s surgery I did a lot of the normal morning chauffeuring and morning herding of the kids. I am so lucky to be blessed with really cool kids who understand the gravity of some of the things their parents are trying to accomplish and were really well-behaved. My 73 year old mother told me that she thought I had the coolest 9 year old and 7 year old. Of course that is a proud grandmother speaking. This is the same lady who laughed at me early on as a parent saying I was too strict. On Tuesday, the day after my wife’s surgery, I put the kids to bed and made sure my wife was settled in and comfortable before heading out to a concert. I was feeling a bit guilty about going to a concert the night after my wife’s surgery but she told me to get out and that she was okay. It was not just any concert, but my first Country music concert. My daughter asked me where I was going and with whom. When I told her that I was going with my best friend, Dave, my children asked, “What makes a Best Friend?” These questions get harder don’t they?
I told my children that the criteria for a best friend changes with age, but in the end the best friend is always there when you need them and sometimes when you don’t even know you need them. My friend Dave has done everything friends do. We’ve gone to concerts together. We played on the highschool basketball, swimming, track, and cross country swimming teams together, we drove long roadtrips together, we were each other’s best man, we’ve seen historic sporting events together, and we helped each other out when our fathers died. But now we are heads of our households and spending time together is few and far between. Now a best friend is someone you can call after not talking to them for a month and inviting them out of the house on a school night. Dave really is the best friend a guy could have. Dave is always honest and dependable, and when I’ve made mistakles in life that I’ve regretted he essentially put his arm around my shoulder and told me it was alright and to put it behind me. I remember his telling me for his bachelor party that he didn’t want me to do anything too crazy in case his legal career took off and he ran for public office someday. I never questioned it. Dave is that trustworthy and honest. If he ever did run for public office, his background would be as squeaky clean as you could possibly imagine.
When I called Dave and asked him if he wanted to go see a country music concert, he thought I was kidding. The last concert we had seen together was for Foreigner in the 80s and we went on a double date (we rubbed our shoulders as we reminisced about our dates sitting on our shoulders for a couple hours so that they could see). I told him I couldn’t take my wife and since his wife had been egging him to get out of the house anyway, off we went. We went to see Keith Urban, who to the non-country music set is married to actress, Nicole Kidman. He hadn’t even heard of Keith Urban but I convinced him that you haven’t really lived in San Francisco until you’ve been to the famed Fillmore Theater (The Fillmore). The Fillmore was a haven for 6os rock. The Who, Cream, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, and Hendrix all played there and now it is an honor for anyone to play there. The intimate setting with chandeliers and posters commemorating all the bands who have played there make it an ambiance like no other. Dave was in awe.
We thought it was cool that here we were, two 40 somethings surrounded by hundreds of teenage girls and their mothers. We were definitely not in our element for this particular show, but we laughed at the irony of the situation as we were probably two of the older people there and needless to say we were probably the only two who didn’t know the words to every song. We did take mental notes on whether this was the kind of event we could see our children at in 10 years ( as I watched the 3 “Tweenage” girls scream in front of me and blow kisses I wondered where their parents were and envisoned my daughter begging me to go to a concert like this on a school night). Seriously though we were able to catch up with each other and check on each other’s condition, our wives, our kids, work , and our other friends. We laughed and said that we needed to start getting out more often. The concert actually wasn’t half bad and we were quite impressed by Keith Urban’s guitar play as you can see in the following videos:
The concert was part of a VIP secret concert series in intimate settings to help promote his upcoming album.Although it was a concert on a weeknight, Dave and I agreed that it was a pleasant distraction and we were both recharged and ready for the week. I even got home and went for a run to clear my thoughts. Although it was 11pm I ran longer than normal. The concert had filled my head with many thoughts and hanging with Dave brought many memories. I started to vividly remember the long talks we’d have about what we wanted out of our careers on the long drives back and forth between Northern and Southern California suring our college years. The life paths we’ve taken aren’t exactly the ones we dictated to each other but we had found different roads to get there and had pushed until we found our way. Along the way I passed my neighbor Dean Karnazes (Karno) in the darkness of the night. I didn’t acknowledge him as we passed each other as he was deep in thought as well.
Karno is one of my inspirations although he doesn’t know it directly. As one of the greatest endurance runners ever, he’ll be the one to tell you that running is his therapy and where he gets piece of mind. He says the greatest words he ever got were from his high school track teacher, “Run with heart.” His runs are not about speed but about mind over body. Tonight I did as he says he likes to do and ran past his destination just because I felt good. My mind just turned off and I ran and ran. I dedicated tonight’s 6 mile run to my wife. She continues to amaze me. More beautiful and radiant than ever, her surgery on Monday barely stopped her. She didn’t even have to take her pain fighting Vicodin pills and was already off running good deeds for others like the other mother in our class who is at home recovering from breast cancer. If you don”t believe that breast cancer can create a community, you’ve never seen this sisterhood.
Still, I’ve had to intercept her on a couple of occasions this week to have her stop exerting herself. She is learning to run with heart as well, but she can ease into it as far as I’m concerned. I have to remind her time and again that the road is still long. I think she is just now discovering what it means to give back and enjoy life but she needs to pace herself.