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Sunday, August 30, 2009

His Last Good Week



I am in Skaneateles this week visiting my Mom and preparing for the Skinnyman Triathlon next Saturday. The Skinnyman is a sprint tri: 800 yard swim, 14 mile bike and 5k run. The water temp is around 70, which will be a welcome change from Tuscaloosa.

This will be my first race with my new Guru Tri bike. I have one week to learn how to ride it. I’ve been out a few times and I’m getting a little more comfortable. The bike is fast, but the rider is still too cautious to take full advantage.

Last year I was also out here for this race. My three sisters, Kendra (who is lucky enough to live here all year round), Carol from Phoenix and Christine from Bozeman had come out with their husbands (Don, Tom and Al) so we could all be together to celebrate our Dad’s 91st birthday. The picture at the top of the blog was taken on the day before the race at his birthday celebration. We spared no expense and had Syracuse's famous Dinosaur Barbeque at a picnic table in the garage. Dad loved it.

Last summer my Dad contracted legionnaire’s disease and was hospitalized for several weeks. He finally came home in early July, but it was difficult. He had a host of drop-in nurses and physical therapists as he struggled to regain his health. At his birthday dinner he rallied, buoyed by all of the visitors. The next day he sat with Mom and my sisters at the edge of the driveway and cheered the runners as they ran past. My nephew Colin, my brother-in-law Tom and my son Stephen all took time out from their run to stop and visit with him. Okay I didn’t stop. But actually when I ran by, he had gone back in the garage for something.

It was his last good week. Over the next few weeks he faded. He couldn’t swallow solid food and he continued to get weaker. His body had worn out. He went into short-term nursing care in September and he died in early October.

My Dad would have loved the blog and my race reports. He liked using his computer and back when we had the business I would always send him the business plans that I wrote. Later when I helped clear out his desk I found the file folder where he kept all those plans. He’d made notes in the margins and I know he read them carefully.

Workout: This week I’m trying to get comfortable on the tri bike and trying to push up my cadence on the swim and on the run. I’m doing shorter, more intense workouts and spending more time stretching and working on strengthening my gluts with ten minutes of side-straddles (with the elastic band around my calves) every other day.

Weight – I’m afraid to weigh myself. My Mom loves to buy cookies and donuts. She doesn’t eat them herself, she just offers them to her houseguests (of which I am the only one) several times a day. It would be impolite to turn her down.

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