Turkey Trot Race Report

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What does it mean to be a member of a family?

Jill Henneman Olson's photo.

Perhaps we normally think of our position in a family as a rather static thing. Maybe for some people the label of mother, cousin, aunt, nephew, sister, is once applied and forever set. Probably more often, who we are within a family changes.

I was adopted by parents who longed and dreamed of a large family. Who waited years for a child. I was the fulfillment of their prayers.

Five years later, I became a brother. The name Greg means watchful and I watched over my younger sister as she grew.

A decade later, my parents had their own biological child, and I watched over both my pregnant mom and my newborn brother.

Growing up, our family was small. We could have had a family reunion in a full size van.

Then Jennifer and I married and my place in a family expanded. With the placing of the ring, I was uncle and brother and son-in-law.

On Thanksgiving, I saw a dynamic of family that few get to experience. At the finish line of the Louisville, Colorado Turkey Trot, I stood with my brother, Thom. A brother I did not know of a few years ago, but whose sound, movement, and being reflect so much of my own.

I would not say we are reflections or identical twins. While we share the image of the man born 100 years ago, different paths brought us to this finish line.

As Thom enthusiastically cheered on runners, children, and dogs, he reminded me of my better self. In my early 20s I would tell jokes over the commissary PA system. When Jennifer and I first met she said I was the happiest, most positive person she ever met. Today, that carefree person I once was seems like a memory.

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Thom and I have both gone through stuff in life, but he more fully embodies the joy I once lived. He cheers, smiles, jokes, laughs, sincerely. Somehow, a less fearful version of me. Or maybe, a person who has been through even more than I have, but who didn’t allow the stuff of life to sit as a weight on his wings. Thom flies higher, wings spread broader, soaring above the landscape of assumed human limitations. He inspires me to shake the dust off my own feathers and to fly more freely, once again.

Yeah, now that’s progress

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I woke up this morning and for the first time in over a year there is not a doctor’s appointment on my calendar.

I got on the scale and weighed the least since my cycling accident.

I ran a path I used to run several times a week, but haven’t run since my back surgery. Today was the strongest run I’ve had in a long time.

Yeah, now that’s progress.

Race Report: Chunky Monkey 5K

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One, Two, Three, Four!
This race report is brought to courtesy of The Ramones. Yesterday Tommy Ramone, the original drummer, the last living founding member of the band, died of cancer. In honor of this band that has provided so much of the backbeat of my life, their debut album fueled this run.

“Hey ho, let’s go” –Blitzkrieg Bop
Six months ago tomorrow marks six months since my back surgery. At that time, I had difficultly walking. Pictures of our family in California around the new year show a pained grimace on my face. The last six months have included an abundance of physical therapy, daily exercises, and gradual healing.

2014chunlymonkey While I am still healing, one of my favorite annual runs is the Chunky Monkey 5K. Not only is it one of the few flat courses in Albuquerque, there is a diverse offering of Ben & Jerry’s at the finish line.  Ice cream was a motivating factor for more than just me as hundreds lined up at the start. From where we stood near the back of the pack, I couldn’t hear a single word the race director spoke into the megaphone, but suddenly we were moving, I hit play on the mp3 player, and Joey Ramones’ voice pushed me forward.

“What can you do?” –Beat on the Brat
I really did not know what to expect from this race. The flexibility in my left ankle is still far from 100 percent and is always weaker after being on my feet Sunday mornings at church. I purposely did not wear a watch to the race because I wanted to take what my body would give me and not be driven by pace. Actually, I have not run with a watch this year. I’ve simply enjoyed moving again.

As the race progressed, it was obvious that I was in very good cardio shape, I never felt winded. However, my neuro/muscular system is still not fully recovered yet and I could feel a tightening in my tibialis anterior (imagine how much physical therapy you have to go to in order to know a term like that?)

Central UMC--the fastest church in the west.

Central UMC–the fastest church in the west.

“I don’t want to walk around with you” –I don’t want to walk around with you
It always amazes me the people who finish in front of or behind me in a race. I was at mile three and still passing fathers walking with their small children. I watch people who finish after me that look in phenomenal shape. Running is proof that appearances are deceiving.
As I made the last turn to the finish, I saw the clock in the distance and that it started with a number 3. All day long, I told people I didn’t care about my finish time, but would have loved to have broken half an hour. I finished somewhere around 30:20 and easily had another 20 seconds in my legs. If I started closer to the front of the pack, ran seven seconds per mile faster, or not walked through the water station, I could have easily made up that time. But considering that a year ago at this time I barely got off the couch, and six months ago at this time I was having surgery, the finish line of a 5K is a great place to be.

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Also, I did not realize that the debut Ramones album was only 29 minutes long. I thought 14 songs would easily carry me to the end. The closing words of the album are “Tomorrow the world”. While today was a great day to pin a number to my chest again and get back out there, “Tomorrow the world”.