Thursday, March 25, 2010

There'll come a day you have to say hello to goodbye...

Our dog Wookie passed away on Tuesday, March 23rd at 11 pm. We are heartbroken. We have been mourning his death for about two months now. We found out at the beginning of February that he had lymphoma and were told he had two to four months left. He didn't even make it two months.

Ever since his diagnosis, we've been on a mission to make Wookie's last days the best days of his life. We immediately increased the walks, the treats, the hamburger grease in his food, the petting and the long talks. I think he was overwhelmed with happiness. I am sure he loved that he was able to act like a total jackass around our food and we rewarded him! During most of his life, he tried to eat off our plates and we wouldn't allow it. These last two months, if he wanted some of our food, we gave it to him. He was happy.

The last several weeks, we knew he was fading. His body was getting weak. He lost quite a bit of weight. We had him on steriods to keep his tumors from increasing. He was having a tough time breathing. We went back to the vet for a check up last week and she said he was not in distress, the medicine was just increasing his panting (most likely). While his body was weakening, his spirit was not. He was happy and responsive. We told him that as long as he was happy and responsive, we could help him with the physical part.

For the last two weeks, Trevor has been carrying Wookie up the stairs to bed. We tried to make light of it so Wookie wouldn't feel bad - I would sing to him "I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky..." and Trevor would get him to the top of the stairs, put him down and he'd lumber into the bedroom for a treat "Thanks Dad".

At night he was restless. We would lay awake and listen to him move around, trying to get comfy. His back legs were really weak, so he'd walk a few steps, then flop down. His elbow had a sore and would bleed from all the banging on the ground. But he didn't seem to care. And neither did we.

The last week, he really had a tought time - we would see him out in the middle of the yard - he'd go out to go the bathroom, then his legs would give out, so he would fall down. He'd lay there for a few minutes to regain his strength. Then we'd go out and put our hands under his armpits and he'd stand back up. Again, not a big deal - we'd tell him that we totally understood...sometimes, you just need a break.

On Monday, I stopped at the pet store and got some bones. They were too big and Wookie was having a tough time. Maggie had chewed one about half way and Wookie was looking at it longingly...I took it from Maggie and gave it to him - he was SO happy. Maggie didn't really understand, but I gave her a new bone and she went to town on it.

Tuesday morning, I knew something was wrong. Wookie had gotten himself into the bathroom and was kind of wedged behind the toilet. He couldn't get out. I helped him back out and then it was time to go downstairs. His back legs gave out and he kind of slid down. He made it outside and layed down. I was at the store all day and in the back of my mind, figured Wookie was having a tough time. I knew that he probably only had a few days left.

Luckily, the weather has been beautiful - sunny and warm. I was hoping if he had fallen in the yard that he would be in the sun. I got home and sure enough, he was out in the yard. I went out to get him. His back legs weren't working at all - I got him inside and he layed down right past the door. He didn't want treats, barely wanted any water. I sat with him for about an hour before Trevor got home. We talked. It was a good talk. I told him that if he wanted to just go to sleep that night and not wake up, I would understand. He must have been listening.

Trevor got home and we went into the living room to watch TV. We brought him in with us - this time, his legs and his arms weren't working. He looked exhausted, but everytime he put his head down, he couldn't breath. So he was trying to hold his head up. I layed on the floor and put my arm under his head, to help prop it up. That way he could relax. He looked at me with his big cow eyes as if to say "Thanks Mom".

We decided to sleep downstairs with him and figured in the morning we would take him to the vet. His ears felt really hot and I expected that he had a fever. Again, we knew the end was near. We moved Wookie over in front of the fireplace, always his favorite place to lay. We went to sleep around 10:30, around 11, Trevor woke up because Wookie was making a noise - I heard Trevor and woke up too. We both went over and it was clear that this was it. We petted him and told him that we loved him. It took about a minute and he was gone. Peaceful, quiet and calm. That was Wookie's style in life, I am glad that was his style in death. And just like was over.

I feel incredibly blessed that we had this sweet creature in our lives for so many years. He was 14 and Trevor had him for 13 of those years. I was his mom for 10. We've gone over so many memories the last days and weeks. Our animals are such a part of our lives. We joke that they are the reason we are still together - the secret to our successful relationship - we communicate through them. For example, if I am annoyed because Trevor didn't empty the dishwasher, I will say "I know Wookie...I wish dad would empty the dishwasher too". Our pets have a lot to say...much of which, Trevor and I could never get away with.

I am grateful that I haven't had a job for the last few months, so I could come home and check on Wookie. Many days I would come home early and just sit down and pet him. Just being with him these last few weeks has been the most rewarding thing. Knowing that we could comfort him and keep him from being scared. We helped him keep his dignity and that was an important thing to Wookie.

More than anything, I will forever be thankful that we could help him transition from this world to the next. He wasn't alone and I know that made it easier for him to go.

I miss him so much I can't hardly stand it. I know that it will get a bit easier with time, but I know that I will always miss him.

Yesterday was the most beautiful day - we called it a Wookie kind of day - he loved to lay in the sun and feel the breeze in the fluffy hair around his ears. Yesterday was that kind of day. Last night for dinner we had pizza and ice cream in his honor. And we were sad that he wasn't there to feed the crust to.

I am sure right now he is in doggie heaven and he is saying "this is even better than my mom said it would be"....I told him that we'd see him again someday and that to him it would be in the blink of eye, but for us it would seem like already does.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Time to relax???

I thought that once the Half Marathon was over, I would have plenty of time to kick back and relax. I must have been trying to make myself feel better...I was, FOR SURE, lying to myself.

We just opened up registration for our next event - the Max Muscle Vancouver Spring Kick Off 5k/10k on April 18th and are getting ready to open registration for our Parade Run/Walk on May 15th - it will run the route of the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands, right before the parade. Very cool. I have lots to do for both and time is really getting away from me.

Add into this, my race directorship of the ARC in Motion 10k on June 12th and all of our training for marathons and triathlons, including a little thing called IRONMAN CANADA on August 29th.

Our first triathlon of the season will be the Pacific Crest Half Iron distance at the end of June. Nothing like easing ourselves into it. Go big or go home, right? I have just started to have my pre-race anxiety...right on schedule. I need to get online and research all I can about this event. I need to know all the particulars and read some race reports.

Our training is coming along just fine. Its tough to get in the bike riding outside due to the rain, but we've been taking lots of spin classes. Soon enough we'll be outside. We have a marathon on April 11th - Whidbey Island, so I would say our running is probably our strong suit right now. My swimming is pretty good, I will feel better when we can start doing some open water swims - the pool isn't the same AT ALL and its tough to train race specific in the pool.

Here is what this week has entailed...
Monday - 70 min Spin class
Tuesday am - 40 min run
Tuesday pm - 60 min strength training
Wed am - 40 min swim/70 min spin class
Wed pm - boot camp. ugh. weights/cardio/high heart rate
Thursday - rest. I needed it!
Friday - 70 min run/60 min swim
Sat will be 90 min spin
Sun will be 9 mile run

This is a bit of an easy week - next Sunday will be our 21 miler for our marathon training. Wow-wee!!!

It seems like everyday is over before I even realize it has started. I find myself getting into bed and feeling like I JUST got out of bed.

Through all this we have our crazy animals. Wookie is hanging in there - he's lost quite a bit of weight. He has good days and bad days. I never really know how he'll be when I get home. He seems really restless, like he can't get comfortable - he lays down for a while, then gets up and moves. Sometimes he has trouble going up the stairs. Trevor has helped him a few times. We give him lots of treats, lots of love. Some nights, I just sit on the floor and pet him for hours. He likes that.

We had a scare with Gus earlier this week. He has his tail removed about three years ago because of a cancerous tumor. The other night, I noticed a big open sore on his little nub of a tail. I was sure it was his cancer. We got him into the vet and found it was an abcess and infection. We are treating that and hoping he gets back to normal soon. The thought of two pets with cancer at the same time was more than I could stand.

We are just taking each day as it comes, knowing the inevitable will happen at some point. We try really hard not to think about it but at the same time, we want Wookie to know its okay. That it will all be okay.

Things are crazy around here, just like always. And we keep plugging away....I just have one question - when will we have time to relax??

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I should have asked for a couch for my birthday

Back to life...back to reality

Wow. The last few weeks have flown by. So many activites! We held our Max Muscle Vancouver Half Marathon on Sunday, February 28th. My birthday was the 26th, we ran an 18 mile marathon training run on the 21st, I drove three hours both ways to see the Bon Jovi concert in Seattle on the 19th. Can you say "exhausted".

I knew we'd have a ton of things to do the week before the half marathon, but I really under estimated how much that drive to Seattle and 2 am bedtime would take out of me. Add onto that a serious allergy situation due to all the blooming trees, an 18 mile run and I was dragging all week long.

I am prettty impressed that there was no major melt down. Trevor and I only had one situation, but that was because he over estimates my ability to listen. I swear, that man is a saint.

The final week was spent trying to figure out how many people were actually going to show up on Sunday morning. On Monday, I realized I wasn't going to have enough finishers medals, so I had to rush order some more. I also realized I would not have enough tshirts or bib numbers. Again, rush order. I wasn't really feeling stressed, there were just alot of things to do and it never seemed to end.

Trevor was building the start/finish line in our garage right up until Saturday. That turned out great. He did such a good job.

Packet pickup was Friday and Saturday at the stores. Friday was my birthday and I spent 10 am to 8 pm at the store getting packets to the participants. It made me a little sad that we weren't going to dinner or anything, but it was fun to meet all the people who were going to be a part of our first event.

At about 7:45, my friends Doug and Trish showed up - with a present and cake in hand. I just about broke down in tears. It was so nice of them to make me feel special. Otherwise I might have started feeling sorry for myself. They are the best friends ever and for some reason, they love me. They are clearly sick in the head.

I had confirmed and reconfirmed with everyone. We ran the route on Saturday morning to lay down the markers so Sunday morning I could go mark the route with cones and signs. At about 7 on Saturday night, it occurred to me that I had not confirmed with the sound system people. I panicked a bit - called and left them a message. I figured it would be how it would be and we'd deal with it in the morning.

We went to bed at 8:30 the night before the race and I felt pretty good about things, except the sound system. At 9:45, the sound guy called to tell me they got my message and yes, they would be there. Perfect.

Sunday morning we were up at 4 am. I was SO cranky. I was in the shower and I thought "holy shit, this is going to be a rough day". I was really worried how I would be able to be happy and cheerful to all the people I would encounter. Just like every other day, I guess. I took Maggie and headed out to mark the course. That took longer than expected - there was dew on the street posts where I was planning to hang signs...tape wouldn't stick...plan B? I got that figured out and got back to the store about 2 minutes before the first volunteers showed up.

Pete and Barb. They set the tone for the day. They got there, they took over and I didn't have to think about the things they were in charge of again....

That is how the rest of the day went. I had almost 50 volunteers. Every person who said they would help, showed up. Thinking about that now makes me want to cry. People surprise me. I usually think they suck, sometimes, people can rock. The people who helped us totally rocked.

We had a volunteer meeting and I told them that I was handing the event over to them and they would either make it or break it. No pressure, right? It was incredibly hard to take all my plans, all the things I had though about, fretted over, meticulously put into place and say "here you go - make it happen." But they did. Amazing.

We had only one minor traffic control glitch that I don't like to think about. Other than that - the day went as planned. Better than planned. I had not given much thought to the finish line, but I found myself annoucing people as they crossed. I spent the entire day annoucing finishers. I got just about everyone. I had met almost all of them at packet pickup. We had 155 participants and I met probably 100 of them on Friday and Saturday. At one point, I realized that my time in the stores on my birthday and Saturday was 100% worth it. I had a story to tell about many of the finishers. It felt very personal to me. Like I was watching 155 of my friends run this race.

Everyone was so happy. It was nuts. I expected SOMEONE to be really upset about something. Didn't happen. I got all positive feedback. People loved the event. We had cupcakes for the finishers, those were a HUGE hit. Tshirts were great - so many people wore them for the run. I loved that. Medals, another hit. One of our friends, Heather, ran the event. Her three kids and mom handed out finishers medals and it was the cutest thing ever. They were troopers.

It was a good day. One of my best days. I was really proud of all the work we had done, I was proud of all our participants, volunteers, vendors. It was rewarding to see it all come together. I loved it. I thought I'd be a big ball of stress and I wasn't. It was like a triathlon for me - train and prepare, mentally play it out. Then the day of, I am always crazy with nerves. The gun goes off and I am calm as can be. That's what happened here.

The last finishers came across at 4 hours - 12:30. We were cleaned up by about 2. Ate lunch, headed home and completely crashed.

I am still recovering. There is still work to be done, post race reports, emails, results, recaps. We're just about to switch gears to our next event - a 5k/10k on April 18th. Compared to what we just did, this will be a piece of cake. I can't wait.

Here are some pictures of the day....
Didn't Trevor build a great start/finish line?!

start of event:

winner - Jonathan Sipling - 1 hour and 16 minutes...that's fast

To see the posts I put on our maxmuscle blog - go here