Saturday, July 7, 2012


I ran the race in 4:20 three days ago. Today, as the lingering soreness in my quads breathes its last hurrah, I remember that my legs will have the last laugh, with Ragnar DC (a 200 mile relay race)  only 2.5 months away. Being sore reminds me, as everything seems to remind me, of Timmy. We worked so incredibly hard moving furniture on the truck that having sore legs, sore arms, and a sore back were just about as normal as walking, talking, and breathing. On July 5, after a 2-plus hour drive home, my mom wanted to stop to walk along the Leaburg canal trail with her dog Missy. Because Timmy would mock soreness as an excuse for laziness, I walked (only about 1 mile) with them. Today, the third day after the race, I was outside shoveling old ashes from the firepit, preparing for the next bonfire in Timmy's honor.

One of the things I heard a lot the last few days was that "Timmy would be so proud of you." I don't doubt that Timmy would have given me an 'attaboy' for running the marathon. I also don't doubt that he would have told me over and over how proud he was of me successfully defending my dissertation. Truth is, though, that these things would not have meant a whole lot to him, in the scheme of things. In fact, I keep thinking about this past September, when i went to Germany for work. I flew into Frankfurt, but was staying about 2 hours away. I reserved a car because I couldn't run the 120 miles, and made it an automatic because I can't drive stick.

As it turns out, they don't have much in terms of automatic cars in Germany, and upon my arrival in Frankfurt, I was told that I could have a manual transmission, or I could, you know, hitchhike. So... I took my chances, with the manual...

I got down to the garage and sat in the car, noting that the parking attendant was seated basically 10 feet away from where my car was parked, watching me. Moment of truth, I had to get out of that space and out of that parking structure, without the parking attendant figuring out how incompetent I was and taking the car from me. I put the car into reverse, let my foot up off the clutch, and started rolling... forward. Brakes. Clutch, Lurch. Stall. Again, into reverse, roll forward, brakes, clutch, lurch stall. Damnit, the parking attendant, she's walking toward me...

"In Europe, you must press ze shiftah down or ze cah wont go een reversuh," she says to me in a thick accent. I hurriedly reply 'thank you,' put the car in reverse, release the clutch, back from the space, shift into 1st, and roll out of the parking structure without stalling - thanking God for his help the entire time. I roll up to my first stop sign, press down on the brakes, stop, and stall. From this point on, I am trying (without a map, directions, or working GPS) to find the autobahn to Kaiserslautern. This is tough, considering that at this point, I think the autobahn is a single special highway for high efficiency cars, not the word they use for any highway. It's also tough because I stall every time I start, stop, turn, or look in the rear view mirror at an odd angle.

Eventually, I found my way onto the autobahn toward K-Town. On the autobahn, the lack of a need for shifting eased my difficulties. To keep from offending the speeding Germans, I pulled up behind a semi truck and drove at its speed. I felt like this was a sign that Timmy was watching over me. I made it to K-Town and had dinner with my coworkers. My trip after dinner from K-Town to Otterberg was particularly bad. I was unable to find my way, I was on rural, hilly roads, I was still stalling. I got to my hotel and cried and cried. I called Bridget, and I cried some more. I told her how Timmy had watched over me during the day, and how I was so scared about the needed drive back to K-Town in the morning.

The next morning, I drove the same rural roads back. At one point, I came to a stop sign on a steep hill. Stopped, and started again without stalling. In fact, I made it all the way to K-Town without stalling. Since I would be staying there the rest of my trip, I parked the car and swore to never drive it again. I even got a coworker/friend to drive me back to Frankfurt in it, since I was so terrified of a repeat stall experience.

Anyways, my pig-headedness in accepting a manual car. My stupidity for deciding to learn to drive stick shift ON THE AUTOBAHN, and the fact that I did it, that I didn't back down....

There is no other accomplishment I have made or action I have taken that Timmy would have been more proud of. With caution to the wind and adventure in front of me, Timmy would have loved to hear this story, and to make jokes about it. He would have told EVERYONE he knew. He would have known that, without him, I would have never ever had it in me to do it, and he would have reveled in pride at having given me that power. When I realized I wasn't going to be able to tell him the story, I cried even harder than I had after my drive to Otterberg. When I've heard that he would be proud of me now, this story has been all I can think about.

Monday marks a year since he passed, and with $100/mile going to the McKenzie River Trust, you have all provided something for me to be proud of through your donations, a way for me to tell the planet a little bit about what Timmy has given me and added to my life. I am planning to make a few more blog posts and continue accepting any donations above and beyond our goal through the end of the month, and I will also be sending all the donors something over the next few weeks. However, I want to express my gratitude for everyone!

I also want to express my pride for my sister, Jenny. She also ran on the 4th. Unlike me, she doesn't love running and does not consider herself a runner. She ran a 5k at the foot traffic flat, and totally kicked butt, to support me and to support Timmy. I'm so proud of her and how awesome she did! (So are her kids!)

1 comment:

  1. You are very pig-headed...and I love you for it! Sometimes I wonder how you do the things you do - like rocking the marathon and driving a manual on the autobahn. You must be right. Timmy must be watching over you. And I hope he keeps on watching over you.