Monthly Archives: December 2008

returning to the watershed

This morning several of us braved the weather to run out at the Redmond Watershed Preserve.  This has been a favorite running spot for me over the years, a place I typically do my longer distance runs, training for marathons.  Starting when I was training for the NYC Marathon in 2002, I’ve done hundreds of miles out there, many of them solo, many with friends.

According to my training log, the last time I was out there was May 4th, one week after I’d run the Free State Trail Marathon in Kansas.  I started out the run with many of the same folks I ran with today (Ram, Bob, and Amy), and while extending the distance I ran into my friend Ben and finished the final loop with him.  I remember that day – it was a good workout, and lots of fun being out there with friends.

Today was also fun, although pretty unconventional for a watershed run.  Since the parking lot was closed, due to the snow, we met in a shopping center across the street, and took a side route into the preserve.  It was a bit scary running on Novelty Hill Road, which is busy, because the snow put us into a lane of traffic.  Then when we picked up the connector trail into the preserve, we faced about 6-8 inches of very slushy snow.  Every step was a high one.

The areas under trees were a bit more shallow and packed, but the run turned out to be very challenging.  We were running for about one hour and twenty minutes, but went only five miles!  I’ve walked faster than that.  Not today however.

Still – it was an adventure.  The company was great, the preserve beautiful, and it was an incredible workout.  I think it was roughly equivalent to running nearly twice as far!

I had an interesting conversation with my friend Mark while running.  He paid me a nice complement, saying that he was impressed at the positive spirit I’d shown in the hospital (he spent time with me there), and through recovery.  I pointed out that he’d had something to do with that – my friends and family were the ones who helped keep me focused forward.  It’s true that I’ve had to show determination, but that’s much easier to do when others are with you all the way.

After the run, we repaired to a local market where we got some breakfast.  We sat around talking about house renovation, the economic situation, and things like that.  It reminded me just how much a part of my heart and soul running with these people has become.  I’d noticed the same thing running with my friend Landy on Christmas Eve too.  It’s just great being out running with friends.

After we wrapped up lunch, I ran some errands.  While out, I thought about another potential milestone for today.  It had been six months since I’d last run over 30 miles in a week.  I’d averaged between 30 and 35, but had been pushing my routine up to 40 miles per week when the accident happened.  I’m not running nearly as fast, or as hard as I did before, but sticking it out for 30 would be a good start on the road back.

I wouldn’t have bothered if this week’s miles hadn’t been such a challenge, due largely to the snow, but also to the fact that I’m still recovering from surgery three weeks ago.  In the end, I couldn’t resist.

So around three o’clock, I parked my car at a trailhead I often run while at work.  I wouldn’t say that the run was one of my best.  I was definitely tired from earlier, and from running five straight and six out of the past seven days.  I did a simple lollipop route over the Ardmore Park and Tam O’Shanter trails, taking it really easily on the slick downhills.  As was the case in the watershed, I’ve gone lots faster while not trying to run in snow.  It took over thirty minutes to get in just 2.5 miles.  That puts me at thirty one for the week (Monday-Sunday).

After running in the snow this week, my legs are tired.  I can feel the fatigue in my quads, calves, and hip flexors.  That’s okay though – I’d expect to be tired, even without the snow.

Another milestone passed.  It’s great to be out running, especially with friends.

a happy holiday

Given all that’s happened this year, and also given the crazy weather here in the northwest, it was a low-key holiday this year.  The girls got some nice stuff, and together we made an album for Kris.  Kris gave me an album of the caring bridge entries that she and others made during the first part of my recovery.  I made Christmas morning pancakes, which got a big thumbs-up rating from Rachel.

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Lots to be thankful for this year.

every picture tells a story

It’s been nearly six months and four trips to surgery since the bike accident.  It’s probably time to take a look at myself through the months.  I’m leaving out the pictures of me taken in the ICU – there’s little point in sharing them here.  You’re welcome to view them in this album if you’re interested.

Let’s start with me before the accident.  Rachel and I took this picture at a Seattle Mariners’ game a year to the day before the crash (July 1, 2007).


Now let’s fast forward fourteen months.  Now it’s August, nearly two months after the crash, when I’ve been wearing a kayaking helmet most everywhere, because of the Decompressive Craniectomy which saved my life.  The slope where the portion of my skull has been removed is very apparent, as is the asymmetry between my two eyes.


Now let’s look at me ten days after my first Cranioplasty, right after the bandages and sutures had been removed at the beginning of September.


Now let’s see me at the beginning of December, with several months of hair growth following the surgery.  There’s a visible indent on my left temple, owing to the fact that some tissue was borrowed from there to replace some dura tissue that was removed during the Decompressive Craniectomy.


Here’s a picture Kayla took of me today, two weeks after a second Cranioplasty, during which my doctor inserted a small prothesis near my left temple. 


In addition to the better symmetry across my head, the balance of my browline is a bit better.  No more surgery is planned for my head.

When I look at these pictures now, I’m really struck by the impact the accident has had on me physically.  I feel so very fortunate to be alive, to have my cognitive abilities, and to look pretty close to the way I did before. 

a run in the snow

This morning wasn’t a watershed moment of intelligence for me, but it was definitely a bit of fun.  Prompted by my improving health (finally shook that cold!), and an invitation last night from some fellow Eastside Runner folks, I decided to go out for a run along the East Lake Sammamish Trail this morning.

It was a bit colder than expected though.  Apparently when we started out, it was only six degrees (documented below by Hazel who took this picture in her car) :


By the time we passed a sign which blinked the temperature, it was all the way up to ten!  Then on the way back, we hit twelve.  This was the first time the temperature had ever doubled during one of my runs.  Of course, this was easily the coldest run of my life too.

It was tough going.  We were running in about 6 inches of snow, and the footing was occasionally dicey.  The good news for me is that snow is nice and soft, so the overall impact was pretty low.

This was also the first "group run" I’ve done since my bike accident back in July.  So, despite the difficult footing, and the brutal cold, I had a great time.

tree is trimmed, snow has fallen

Looks like Seattle will have a white (or at least very muddy) Christmas.  Yesterday everyone freaked out about a cold front that was supposed to come in, and the schools were all closed.  Early this morning, apparently Kris and Kayla both heard some wicked thunder.  When I got up to check, the schools were all closed and there was a fresh three or four inches of snow on the ground.  By about nine this morning, the kids were making us all suffer from cabin fever.  So we headed out and did some sledding.

Kayla lasted a short while before heading back home.  Rachel and I met some new friends and hung out with them for a while.  Several hours, and some hot chocolate later, we were nestling in at home again.

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The other achievement of these past few days has been assembly and trimming of the tree.  After years of resisting (actually disliking) artificial trees, we have one this year for the first time.  Kris was moved to this because the idea of supporting the Christmas tree industry is not consistent with our goals to live low-impact, environmentally-sensitive lives.  So she went out and found a nicely sized tree on Freecycle

The tree was not universally loved in our home.  Kayla spent the first several days complaining about it.  One problem with it is that it’s white, so it doesn’t look real. 

On the other hand, this is the first year in my memory that I haven’t had to schlep a nice, big, and expensive tree home, then set it up, only to have it sitting on our stand at a funny angle.  Yes – every year our tree has been crooked.

So although the tree looks a bit cheesy as compared to the aromatic firs we’ve had in the past, it doesn’t threaten the lives of those who wish to retrieve gifts from under it.  And that makes it worthwhile.

Also – the price was right.

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As an aside, tomorrow marks two weeks since my cranioplasty surgery.  I’m pretty pleased with the results.  They’re not perfect, but have restored a mostly authentic shape to my head, and more symmetry to my browlines.  I think I’m done with surgery for a while now. 


I’m looking forward to working out on the elliptical trainer now – I have less than a week before I’ll need to climb Mount Si with friends to mark my birthday!


A bit over a year ago, my eldest daughter made me a friendship bracelet, which I faithfully donned. 

A month or so later, I found myself doing my first Olympic distance triathlon, near Hillsboro Oregon.  While breezing along on the bike route, I kept glanced at my wrist and watching the wind whip the bracelet around a bit.  Wearing it reminded me of what was important in my life, and made me feel good even as my legs grew tired.

Naturally that bracelet became frail and eventually came off.  So Kayla made me another one, which made the journey to Kansas for the Free State Trail Marathon this past April.  I ran nearly half of the race alone in the woods, and found myself glancing down at the bracelet to remember the warmth of love and family.

This bracelet was on my wrist in July when I had my bike accident.  It stayed on through the time when I wore no wedding ring, and no watch. 

In the hospital, Kayla and Rachel each wove me a new bracelet, which they tied onto me.  I also acquired a swimming bracelet from their trip to the Eliot Institute – apparently this was earned by Kayla who braved jumping from the high dive for the cannonball contest, which she did for me.

I found myself glancing at these sometimes when I was in the hospital, reminding myself of what helps me draw strength.


picture taken by Rachel David 12/11/2008

I realize this comes across as corny.  But believe me, when you’re getting into the late miles of a marathon, a couple of thousand miles from home, it’s amazing how important things like this seem.  And it’s definitely possible to have your determination tested by more than a marathon, as I’ve seen again and again these past five and a half months.

For me the bracelets represent the strength of many cords together, attention to detail, and love.  All of that in a small circle.

My wrists carry these four bracelets now.  They won’t last forever, but I will remember them forever.

getting started on the holiday season

Each year we start the holidays by trimming the tree.  This year, we’re running a bit behind, but my parents started things by trimming their tree.  The kids helped them do this, and also helped set the lights up outside.

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Then  Kris and I joined them for dinner.  It was just the second time I’d been over since they’d returned from their trip to Israel and Egypt.  I’d forgotten how nice it is to spontaneously decide to get together for dinner.

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We also celebrated Rachel’s birthday as well.  My parents were cruising the Nile on the big day, so they had some catching up to do.  We had cake and scarily re-lighting candles, and then Rachel got to open up a couple of presents.

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What you’re no doubt wondering right now is "what’s with all of the hats?".  And – actually, I don’t know.  A good time was had by all though.  I for one, got to enjoy shooting with my 50mm f1.4 lens all night!