Monday, March 18, 2013

A weekend of happiness and sadness...

My dad and stepmom came out to Colorado for the first time since my Grandma Ventura's death a couple years back. She died from a sudden stroke and it was determined she would not recover and she pretty much fought for 7 days without food and water. She was one of my favorite people of all times. Her death set off an awful year in my life before my LIFE change. She will forever be loved and missed. She was one of my heroes, a 32-year survivor of breast cancer, hard working, intelligent and a wonderful person that volunteered countless hours. Her and my Grandpa Ventura would watch my brother and I quite a bit. We were very close to them. They were like another set of parents to us. Heck, my grandma taught me math and I attribute my success to some of the pointers she gave me. She loved me more than every grandkid she had I would say. I knew it was a little selfish to say, but her and I had a unique bond and I saw a side of my Grandma no one else could ever imagine.

My dad and I had a tough relationship during that year. I won't rehash the bad, because it isn't worth it. I won't lie either, I was a little nervous but we had finally made peace the last half a year and I was glad he would be able to see Sophie again. I can tell you the timing of his visit was a pure blessing. Less than 8 hours before his departure, my Uncle George called to let me know my Grandpa was in the hospital and things did not look very good. What were the chances my dad would be coming out the weekend my Grandpa got put in the hospital? I am glad it happened that way because early Saturday morning, less than 36 hours after I had heard my Grandpa was put in the hospital he passed away. It was sudden. My grandpa had 5 tumors in his brain that was causing severe pain and pressure on his entire body. These tumors were just found late Thursday night/early Friday morning. I saw my Grandpa Ventura that Friday and it was heartbreaking. He was not the strong, sharp, coherent man that I had always seen him as. The olive skin from his Hispanic blood was replaced by a much more pale look. His breathing was very weak and his thoughts rampant from memories of when my dad and Uncles were kids. All this could probably be attributed to his lungs and body only getting about 60% of the oxygen it needed and the pressure on many parts of his brain. I broke down before we left with my dad's hand on my shoulder. I did not want to see my Grandpa suffer like this. I held his hand. I remember holding my Grandma's hand many times, but it had been since being an early kid that I held my Grandpa's.  His hand was warm and loving, like I always remember him being with my brother and I as we spent so many days with my grandparents growing up. I did not want him to be in pain much longer. That's why when I saw a couple texts from my brother/lifelong best friend Alex and brother-in-law/best friend for over a decade and a missed very early AM phone call from my dad I knew it had happened. I cried very briefly because I wouldn't see him in the flesh and spirit again, but knew he was no longer in pain and was happy.

My Grandpa Ventura had talked about how lonely he was the last six months and you could tell while he wouldn't voice it, he missed my Grandma and was ready to go whenever it may happen. I believe my Grandma fought so hard for so many times and years because she always felt like she needed to be there for my Grandpa. The truth is they needed each other as much as the other. They were married for 67 years!!! They had visited every state in the US together, been to England, Mexico, Panama, etc. and had lived a fuller life than either of them ever expected they would live. He also was one of the most patient men I have ever seen. My Grandma was a strong headed, hard ass that didn't put up with much and let her know how she felt and he dealt with it like no one else. I could take a few pages out of his playbook to deal with a strong woman that I chose to spend my life with as well instead of being strong headed and stubborn back with her. The other great thing is that he also joined my Uncle Mick/Chuck/Charles III in heaven finally. I believe it had been roughly 17 years since he had passed away after he went into coma and went brain dead during an epileptic attack. My Uncle Mick was one of the most happy, go lucky loving men that I can remember as a kid. Even as an early HSer I didn't realize how tough it is to see someone lose a child long before their time. That was the saddest I had seen my Grandparents ever. Now they can smile and share everlasting happiness together.

Normally a death would make a weekend a complete bummer, but to be honest, there are so many more positive memories of my Grandpa in a happier state and of the interactions I saw this weekend that I have so many good memories to draw back of this weekend. My Dad and Susie were able to see their grand daughter and see what an intelligent, fun, loving, enjoyable person she has become. The smiles on their faces and Sophie's face will forever be engrained in my head. Just like they are when Sophie visits with Grandma Angiolillo and especially her Grandma Kunkel. The difference is they are much less with them living in Alaska and the tough last two years, but it was a great visit and we plan on Skype-ing and seeing them via the ever improving technology world.

The best thing I can say is the past year I have learned not to hold grudges, be angry and focus on the negative things in life longer than need be. There is too much beauty. I have missed running the past month, but know I need to be careful with my knee. All I could think about was going for a run Saturday morning thinking how when I run, especially for longer distances, I feel more spiritual and at peace. I have had so many fond memories and thoughts of loved ones that have passed on. I am not sure why, but running really does bring some peace into your life. Maybe I'll just walk a long time to get that feeling.

Though seeing Sophie with my Dad was my greatest memory of the weekend, a close second was this one (and I will end with this). I was walking by the hospital room my Grandpa was in and only my Uncle and Dad were in the room together and I could hear them sharing memories and a few moments with my Grandpa. It was two brothers that have their differences and that lost their big brother over a decade and a half ago putting issues to rest to show their Dad how much they love and appreciate him. They followed that up by discussing talking weekly after not talking more than when my parents came out and they were there together. I hope that is the case, because after seeing what my wife and in-laws have gone through the past year and a half and after having issues with my parents off and on, your family is always there for you even when they maybe shouldn't or when a friend would give up on you, they keep pulling for you and showing their love and bond for you.

I love you Grandpa Ventura, enjoy your eternity in heaven.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Knee pain keeping me down...

My knee literally would not let me run.  I spent 48 hours in pain and it has subsided but there is still soreness I feel.  I need to stretch and strengthen my tendons more slowly.  I have decided to run 30 minutes a few times this week and see how I feel after.  If the pain is as bad as it was last week, I will need to go see a specialist I believe.  Hope it doesn't get there.  I miss running, but I will be back!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Knee Pain and Injiniji Sock Giveaway...

My knee pain has been brutal AFTER my last two runs.  It's taken 2-3 days to recover in order to run.  I am looking at some info online and may limit my runs to 30 minutes and then icing and stretching.  I may see a PT.  Maybe a Massage Therapist (SNL skit of Sean Connery The-Rapist for $1000 Alex is in my head now) .  Maybe I will be stubborn and just give it a couple more weeks before I go beyond what I have been doing, Rest, Run, Rest 2x, Run, Rest 2 days, Run, Rest, Run. 

Next, I must show some appreciation for Jeff Gallup (aka Mr. Barefootinclined) and his Injiniji Giveaway.  He is my first follower and still only one of 2 that I know follow me besides family talking about reading it and I have to say, I would love a pair of those socks.  I also read more of Born to Run and am believing maybe my knee would feel less pain if I gave my feet some credit.  Maybe that will be my next shoe, a minimalist one to see if it helps. 

Happy Running.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Inspiration through Running and Running = Happy...

Running is a great way for former athletes to remain competitive as an adult.  Coaching used to help curb that competitive nature by making the athletes I taught more competitive each year and I guess I kind of felt like I was putting my competitve stamp on the teams I formed.  Heck I am so competitive and OCD, I took a defunct wrestling program and built it into a league champ in 5 years.  Of course it was the competitive nature and hard work those young men showed that made it possible and when I started running, I believe that helped me realize I had been missing an aspect of what I needed to show them, a good example of being fit.  Running has been a great replacement for coaching because it has  re-invigorated my competitive desires and improved myself like I tried to do for others as a coach.   But, I have realized through this blog and through what the few who have read it and responded to it that like the material I have read, watched and gathered information on, it also impacts some of them to make a change in their lives.  When I hear that, it makes me think of why I loved coaching, helping use my knowledge and my positive attitude towards something to make someone better through that passion.  I have re-read my blog about Running Has Changed My Life and realized it is some of the same ramblings I did as a coach.  It's not always about being the most technically sound athlete, but being passionate about something that yields the greatest results.  Too often the most talented and skilled athletes don't reach the top of the mountain because they lack that passion and drive.  The wrestlers I coached weren't the most talented or skillled but had the passion and drive I had to be successful and get better and they will all be great men because of it.  That's how this LIFE change and my running feels like now, it is a motivator to get better and keep improving and if anyone else reads my blog and feels inspiration like I have in some of the words I've read from everyday normal people then GREAT.

To me running is the best transition as well because if you are not the fastest, you still seek to become faster and/or accomplish something you hadn't previously done.  You learn from your failures and try things to improve and not see those failures again.  That is LIFE.  You do something wrong or not as good as it can be, you get better and succeed the next time.  My Uncle likes to gauge how he did by the 2nd half of his marathon by seeing how many people he passes compared to how many pass him. That is competition in running.  If you are like I was, the competition is more within to just finish when you realize you can't even stay up straight because you are going to cramp again.  But that's the race, the time in between is training for that race but also training to get faster, to not have as many aches the next day, to be fit, to live smarter, to change your LIFE.  Running is an amazing thing.
Running = Happiness.  I  have felt this so much the last year and reading Born to Run shows me it even more.  The author mentions running as a euphoria equaling sex.  I could expound upon that but I will leave it at that.  I know most of my family were expecting me to go into my jokes and one liners but I will abstain.  I have got halfway through Born to Run and it's tough to put the book down. I have gone to bed late the last few nights because of it. It is amazing to read about the Tarahumara people and the sport of running and how many people have devoted their lives to understanding it better and becoming better at it.  Or people that use it to warp into these mythical figures that can run over anything and through anything for a hundred miles.  Most people can't even drive that far without wanting to go nuts.

Running makes you feel better.  I believe this is for many reasons.  First, you are making yourself better physically by burning calories your body needs ro release.  Second, you can think out your problems and figure out ways to get through them.  Third, you feel closer to your surroundings, you see more, you hear more, you become closer to nature (even if you are running in a concrete jungle) and closer to a higher power wheter that be Jesus, Allah or whatever you believe in or don't believe in you feel a high that is natural that your body and mind become one and last, you feel happiness because of these things all coming together.  These are the MEPS I have talked about before.  Running-Mentally, Emotionally, Physically and Spiritually improves you.  It is amazing that I used to drive by runners and think no thanks and instead drive by and wish I could be doing the same. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

The 1-Year Anniversary of the Day that Changed my LIFE..

Yes, March 4th will always be a big day to me.  It is the day I've talked about many times on here, the day my brother asked my Uncle to help him go from sedentary to active again.  It started with my brother asking for help to run a half marathon.  It quickly turned into my Uncle changing it into a marathon and me jumping in.

A year later, I can't believe it was only a year ago.  A year can make a world of difference!  From March 2011 to March 2012 was one of the worse years in my life from with the main ones being losing my father-in-law, Zane, only months after losing someone that was a third parent to me in my Grandma Ventura to just go along with so many down during that time.  It is crazy, but those were the worse twelve months of my life and those were followed up with what have been some of the best twelve months of my life.  My daughter Sophie's birth, my marriage and graduating college were the most important moments in my life, but the past year and me finishing 26.2 miles to top it off were added to that list and bumped graduating college off my Top 3.  It wasn't just about a marathon, it was about changing the person I had become in those dark 12 months.  I still battle through issues from being a father to marriage to so many other things in life, but running has helped change my perspective and made me realize I need to take a step back at times and enjoy these times no matter good or bad.

It's been an amazing year, let's hope the 2nd year is more amazing.  My goals range from improving as a father and husband first, then attain my P.E. (Professional Engineer Liscense) and then run a marthon or two or so where I keep improving on my running.  Got to get over this knee pain, but excited for 2013-14!

And I have found two internet sensations to help make me respect things and laugh more:

One is the hithhiking, hatchet wielding homeless man, Kai that saved some lives Kai's Interview.  He started his interview talking about his incident with some great words of advice:

"No matter what you've done, you deserve respect. Even if you make mistakes, you loveable and it doesn't matter your look, skills or age or size or  anything, you're worthwhile. No one can take that away from you." -Kai, the Homeless Hitchhiker

And then to the Harlem Shake Videos I had heard of but  hadn't watched.  My brother-in-law/best friend Barry showed me the Miami Heat version Miami Heat Harlem Shake (LeBron James is a beast of a man) and was cracking up at that.  Then I saw all these other ones and just found most of them to be captivating.  Planking, Owling, etc. are simply facebook fads, but things like Flash Mobs and silly, crazy dancing videos like the Harlem Shake ones are things I would love to witness in person and be a part of sometime in life.