Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pay Back

A few weeks ago, I used my dark corner of the internet to ask you above-average looking readers to help me help a tremendously awesome organization, Back on My Feet. (You can click the link back there at the beginning to learn just how awesome it is.)

Today, it's time for some pay back. Time for me to fulfill my part of the bargain. The post is a little long, but worth the read, even if you aren't one of the featured, if only to see a sample of the good people that have gathered here, people like you.

So, without further ado, flattering anecdotes about the generous donors.

Patrick - Pat lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, yet doesn't work for Amway. He works for Microsoft. That's how I came to know Patrick. And as it turns out, I was later to learn, he's also a runner. I understand that there are many a business relationship that are cemented on the golf course. But I don't think there's a better way to get to know someone than to go out on a run with them. My first run with Patrick was in Indianapolis on my favorite little trail behind the office. Unfortunately, the quaint little trail was covered with a quaint 8 inches of snow. Ever tried to follow a completely snowed over trail in the woods? Not easy. But it made for a good, slow, adventurous run.  And Patrick didn't complain once, despite the obvious risk to life and/or limb. Since then, Patrick and I have met up for runs when we are in the same place at the same time and both have gear. Oh, and he also plays violin. Like really plays. Like in symphonies and stuff. If you're ever on a run with Patrick, ask him about the violin, it's a good story. Thanks Pat for your donation and your friendship. 

Jane - I'm related to Jane... somehow. Not sure how, really. She's floating around somewhere on my step-dad's side. I'm not even sure when I last saw her and her husband Roger. Probably at a funeral. But what I do remember is that at family gatherings, I was always glad when they showed up. They were always fun to talk to, interesting, and funny. And thanks to the glory that is Facebook, Jane has found Doug Runs 365. She's become a frequent commenter and "like"-er, and she gave to Back on My Feet. Thank you Jane, for your donation, and your friendship over many years.

Holly - Holly is my step-sister. She's an audiologist. She's good people. She married a Canadian, Peter, who is also good people. I have many fun stories about Holly, like her dinner with legendary NHL coach Jacques Demers, but I'm going to limit myself to just one. For this one, we need to go back to 1990 when I was married, a newlywed in fact. For our first vacation as a couple we decided to go to the IndyCar race in Toronto. Just so happened that that was where Holly lived, pre-Peter. She graciously put us up for a week in her apartment. I had my first calzone at an Italian hole-in-the-wall that was in her neighborhood. She even drove us to Niagara Falls. But what I remember most about that trip was her collection. Holly had every episode of The Fugitive*... recorded from over-the-air broadcasts... on Betamax tapes. I thought that was so crazy, and cool. Thanks to you, and Peter, for your hospitality, and your generous donation to Back on My Feet.

Scott Van Dyke - Scott and I work together. The first story I always tell about Scott, which really has nothing to do with Scott, involves the system we used a couple years ago for performance reviews. It had this feature that, in principle, was a good idea, but in practice, was ridiculous. The idea was that along with checking for spelling and grammatical errors in your write up, it would also look for potentially offensive slang, and suggest a less offensive term. Everyone who provided feedback for Scott was treated to the suggestion that perhaps he should be referred to as Scott Van Lesbian. Still makes me laugh. Not very flattering, though. Scott is the most selfless dad I know. He spends every moment he isn't at work, sleeping, or on the toilet, shuttling one of his kids to a game or practice or tournament or awards banquet. And this isn't the run of the mill "Let's watch Susie pick daisies in the outfield" stuff. His kids are studs. And he or his wife are often the coach. So they're all-in, every evening, every weekend. Vacations are spent at big-deal tournaments. And Scott never misses a beat. We joke about him going "postal" one day, and of all the people in the office, he's my pick to snap, but I'm pretty sure he loves it. He's also in great shape, hs been known to run every once in a while, eats raw meat and pork rinds, and drinks Mountain Dew by the pitcher. Thanks Scott for your donation to Back on My Feet, and for friendship in the office, and on motorcycle rides.

Mary Ann - Mary Ann is also a co-worker, and she's a little nuts. First, she bought a condo in what is, for all intents and purposes, a retirement village. Then, without selling the condo, she moved to Asheville, NC. And she loves it. But we hate it because she's not around nearly enough. She's the most cheerful person in the office. Even when she's pissed, she's pissed with a joke and smile on her face. And she's funny as hell. What I like most about Mary Ann is her vagabondness. She seems to be always on her way to somewhere, or just back from somewhere else. I love that she has two homes, and an RV. And she's a dog person, so we know she's alright. Mary Ann, thanks for your donation to Back on My Feet, and your friendship. Next time you're in town, we shall drink beer, because, as you know, Mr. White needs a Guinness.

Marino - Marino is the GF's brother-in-law. He's Irish-Italian, lives just outside London. And he's a hell of a runner. And not like me, a few miles here and there, maybe a marathon kind of runner. This guy's gone loony. Last fall he let his brother talk him into running a 40 mile race. 40 miles, with essentially no special training. (One might argue that you can't really prepare for a 40 mile race, but still.) I think an excerpt from his race report will give you a good idea what he's like, and why we get on so well...
A tactic that worked enormously well was to adopt a run/walk strategy from mile 25 (5 minutes running, 1 minute walking). That provided a physical break for the muscles, while also allowing us to break the distance down into tiny, manageable chunks. In our strategy, the next 5 minute block always felt achievable, whereas thinking in terms of "another 20 miles" was pretty horrible. As I recall advocating to my brother, "If you have to eat a shit sandwich, cut it up into little canapes first." 
It did become impossible to eat and drink towards the end, as our bodies began rejecting food and water. The thought of eating even an energy gel made me nauseous. Mark (my brother) was getting brief blackouts in his vision, and I was on a manic, babbling high for the last 5 or 10 miles. Post race, I crashed HARD, and thought I would either throw up or pass out on the train back to the start (thankfully a nice Burger King double bacon cheeseburger fixed me up nicely). Back home our wives did think we both looked pretty grey, and that we had "seen the fear". 
All that aside, I had a great time, and I'd definitely do it again!
If, as you read that, you got that "Oh, man, how horrible. I wish I could have done that." and you weren't surprised at all when you read "I'd definitely do it again!", when you're one of us. You should run with us. He's since completed a few marathons, a 50 miler, and is getting ready for a 100 mile race. Let that sink in for a bit. Marino is a doting father and husband, and just a damned good guy. Thanks, mate, for your donation (yes, Back on My Feet takes Euros or pounds or whatever eBay is paying you in), and for your friendship. Run soon, man. And save us a good spot for the Olympics next summer.

Bob - Roudy Bob was an overweight, unhappy, smoker when I met him. Now, he's a poster boy for what running can do for your body and your outlook on life. Bob's one of the smartest dudes I know, and not just because he's marrying Trena. When we worked together, I liked watching him in meetings. He could read a room, and turn it to his way of thinking. He's relentless, but in a way that makes you want to keep talking. Personally, he's pretty easy-going, and funny as hell. And what I really like about him is that he isn't shy about being sincere and telling you what he thinks, even what he feels. He's become a hell of a runner. I remember well reading his FB post about his semi-impromptu 13 mile run around Paris. And much to my delight, he's even taken to defiling fountains. Nothing makes my evening like getting an MMS from doesn't matter where, with a picture of Bob up to his knees in a fountain. Bob, thanks for your generous donation to Back on My Feet, and for all of the great talks we've had, on the run and otherwise. Been too long, man. We need to get a run in.

Scott - Scott used to work together. He was the first guy I could stand at Aprimo. We sat in adjoining cubes. I enjoyed, and respected, his ability to summarize a situation with one dagger of a line. With one short sentence, he would have my forehead on my desk, laughing my ass off. He's a devoted dad. He's smart, without being a dick about it. He's a beer geek, in the best sense of the term. And he's a runner. Yet we've never run together. Yep, I've know this little bitch for like 12 years, and he's been running for at least the last three or four, hell, the punk even trained for a half-marathon last spring, but did he ever call me up for a run? Uh, no. Well times up, "Daffron". Even though you got pipped by a dollar for the highest donation, the sniper has requested a different form of compensation, so you're the big winner. You get have to run with me, and this run will include a shared fountain experience. And if you get your hair cut, we'll put a picture up from the run. Thanks for your insanely generous donation, for your beer advice, for all of the laughs, and for your friendship. He's a good one, girls, and rest assured, that's like a cousin or something in the picture. He's plenty single. And I'm pretty sure he's straight.

Robin - RoHo was the grand prize winner and she has requested a substitute prize that will be served up in this here corner of the internet as soon as I finish it. Which means I need to start it, I guess. But she still gets flattery... She's the wisest person I know, and she doesn't even know it. (That doesn't make her any less wise, just modest.) She's a fervent foodie, a wonderfully open and warm yoga teacher, a fantastic writer, and the best traveler I have ever seen. You all should bookmark and keep up with her Twisted Pigeon blog where she puts so much of life into perspective and reminds us what we should be working on, as well as what we should just let go of. And she does all of that in small, impeccably well written, bites. And you should also bookmark and follow the travel blog that she keeps with her husband Bill, Bagette Travel Tips, unless you are a hermit, in which case you wouldn't really appreciate the wisdom and wit and travel-porn that they provide. If you are lucky enough to have spent time with Robin, you know that her circuitous route through life has made her an insightful, hilarious, and fascinating person, and like me, you're lucky to know her. Thank you Robin for your insanely, and only slightly snipey, donation to Back on My Feet, for your writing, for reading my stuff, for your advice, for your hospitality, and your friendship.

Ok, I'm all paid up. My goal was $180, 1/10th of what it takes to help one person get their life together. These people gave a total of $411 to Back on My Feet. I have wonderful, generous friends/family/readers. If any more of you would like to make a donation to this amazing organization, it's not too late, just click here. It's too late to win the grand prize, but I will happily say something nice about you here at Doug Runs 365.

Good running,

*I hope I remember that right. Holly will tell me if I don't.

All photos lifted from Facebook or Twitter.