Friday, June 29, 2012

Our Top Dog

A couple months ago, I saw an advertisement for the Oregon Humane Society's Portland's Next Top Dog Model Contest.  I had just gotten some amazing pictures of Asha from our friend Victoria and so I thought it would be fun to enter Asha into the contest.  The application was very short, just a couple questions about what Asha thinks a dog's life should be about, her personal style and why she should be the next top dog.

When we adopted Asha we decided that we would give her as many experiences as possible.  I always thought that the more she experienced, the more she would have to think about when she was alone.  And since she can't see or hear, she has lots of time alone with her thoughts!!  We also wanted to take every opportunity to show people that just because she is blind and deaf does not mean she cannot have a fabulous life.

Last week, out of hundreds of applications, Asha was chosen as one of the 12 finalist in the big dog category.  This meant that we got to attend the Grand Finale last night at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Portland.   I really didn't know what was involved in that.  When I entered Asha, I guess I didn't pay much attention to how the finals would go.    

Turns out, Asha was going to have to walk the runway (two times!) in front of the judges and a packed ball room full of people.  The first walk of the runway was just a normal walk, the second was to show personality and the dogs were instructed to do tricks or dress up.  Uh.....Asha knows sit and lay down. Those are her tricks.  I started to get kind of nervous.  Actually I was VERY nervous, all those people looking at us, judging us.  Oh no.....

On Tuesday, our trainer Jamie, came to the house and we talked about different tricks we could do.  We decided we would teach Asha to bow, its similiar to lay down, only she just puts her front paws on the floor. We worked on that Tuesday morning and Asha was having a hard time distinguishing between bow and lay down. We had two days to work on it, so we practiced it several times a day.  Asha learned quickly and by Thursday was getting the bow 9 out of 10 times.  I wasn't sure how she would do it in public, so we practiced it at Petsmart and she seemed to have it down.

Asha got a new pink harness and a nice grey collar and leash to match.  Wednesday I gave her a bath, then she got dirty and so she got another bath on Thursday.  We invited all our friends and family to come cheer her on.  We also invited all of Asha's medical team and her foster dad.  We had about 15-20 people planning to come watch Asha compete in the finals.

I really didn't know how Asha was going to do with all this.  We would be in a hotel, with hundreds of people, lots of dogs, lights, cameras and very different energy than she has ever experienced.  I was nervous because I wanted her to do well and I also wanted her to be comfortable and have fun.  

We drove downtown last night and found a parking spot right in front of the hotel. Luckily, we only had to walk a block because Asha was in smell overload and it took forever to get to the hotel!  Once there, we were given our finalist badges and told to head to the 2nd floor where the ballroom was.  There were also two hotel rooms set aside for the big dogs.

Asha took her first elevator ride and was completely unfazed by it. We got off the elevator and that's when the mayhem began. There were so many people, so many dogs!  We made our way down the hall to the room and said hello to a couple of the other big dog finalists. We met Alex, a pit bull/heeler mix, Grace, a 7 month old great dane and Diego, a shepherd mix.  The funny thing is that NONE of us really knew what the heck we were supposed to be doing and I could tell everyone was a bit nervous about the walk down the runway.

I took Asha back towards the ballroom so we could get the lay of the land and say hi to everyone.  There were many staff members and volunteers from the Humane Society and LexiDog (the Pet Boutique that put on the event) and many of them stopped us to say how much they loved our story.  Asha was happy to meet everyone, just like always. She loves people!

We were standing in the ballroom and a woman in veterinary scrubs with an Oregon Humane Society patch on them walked over and said to me "Is this Pinky?".  Pinky was Asha's name when we adopted her.  I said "Yes".  The woman immediately started to cry.  She told me that she worked in the vet at the Humane Society and had treated Asha when she first arrived.  She remembers Asha being about 10 pounds.  She was 8 weeks old then and had lots of ear issues.  The woman's name was Shannon, she didn't say much because she was crying the entire time we were there with her, but it was obvious that she had some connection with Asha and was overwhelmed to see her again.  It made me cry too and it was one of the best moments of my life.  I was so proud of the life Asha is living.  I can imagine that when a blind and deaf puppy showed up at the Humane Society, after all her brother's and sister's were drowned for being blind and deaf, they were wondering how she would ever survive.  But she has and I was so glad that those who are responsible for her being alive were able to see how her story has been written.

There were posters all over the wall with the pictures of each dog and their entry form.  Word seemed to spread about Asha and everyone wanted to meet her.  Asha didn't notice the increased attention, she was busy walking to the end of every hallway. The 2nd floor was a big square and she just kept walking. I finally realized that she was mapping the place. She would walk to the end of the hall and touch the wall with her nose, then turn around and head back to the other end of the hallway, often being stopped to meet someone new and to allow me to tell her story.

Then the people we know started showing up.  Trevor's parents were there, so were his brother Ty and his family, our friends Trish and Bill, Carla, Victoria and Carla's Sister.  Asha's foster dad was there, so was Dr Hope Valentine and her partner (our Chinese Medicine people) and Dr Pachel, Asha's behaviorist.  Asha went NUTS when she realized each of these people were there. At one point, she was saying hi to Trevor's dad and Carla and Victoria came over. I thought Asha's head was going to explode. She rolled onto her back and started to cry, then got up and jumped up to hug each one of them.  She loves her people.

We met some new friends at a meet up last week for a group called Deaf Dogs of Oregon.  We invited those friends and one couple brought their deaf dog Emily.

I felt really loved and supported, realizing that we are not alone and that Asha is adored by so many people. I also really felt nervous about what was yet to come.  Not only did we have to walk the runway, but now there were people we knew watching us!!!  I didn't want to let them down.

All the finalists were told to go line up in the hallway behind the ballroom.  24 dogs, 12 small and 12 big, all got into a line with their owners.  It was the craziest thing. There was no barking, no pooping (yet), not fighting.  There was just peace and quite.  It was about 1000 degrees back there and all of the pet moms and dad were nervous.

We couldn't see or hear what was going on in the ballroom, so each time someone came back from their turn in front of the judges we all wanted to know how it went, what happened?  what do we do?  We were all joking that next year we'll just make a donation and stay home. I was exhausted and overwhelmed from all the energy, but Asha was as calm as ever.  She took every opportunity to lean against a new friend, another dog mom or dad, then she would come lay by me. Sometimes she'd get up and just wander around.

Finally, it was our turn. We stood at the door waiting to be called, I could see all our friends and family out there.  Trevor did a great job of being a host to those who had come to support us. I saw him standing in the back with Davis, Asha's foster dad (I love that guy).  The MC, Andy Carson from Fox News, wasn't sure how to pronounce Asha's name. He said "is it A shu?" and the crowed yelled out "AAAAAAAAshaaaaa".  It was so cool!!!

The crowd cheered and we walked into the room. Asha went up the two steps to the runway without a problem. While we were walking, they read our entry that talked about Asha being blind, deaf and epileptic. The crowd ooohed and aahhed.  Asha walked across the stage, out towards the audience and sat on command.  Such a good girl.  After Andy was done reading our entry, one of the judges started to comment that Asha's mom needed a round of applause for taking on such a special needs animal. I liked that she did that, I wanted to cry when she said that I had done an amazing job with her, because I was watching my crazy girl walk the runway like a pro.

She went down the two steps off the stage and Dr Hope Valentine was waiting there to greet us. Asha smelled her and went crazy - Dr Valentine is one of Asha's favorite people and she was so happy to have here there.

Now we had a break.  For about half an hour.  I wanted a nap, Asha wanted to walk.  Now that the crowd knew some of Asha's story, we were overwhelmed with people who wanted to talk to us and pet her.  And Asha was happy to oblige.   I love when we get the chance to tell Asha's story.

There was one guy who we ran into a couple times that kept commenting that Asha was totally going to get the sympathy vote. He meant it as a compliment and every time he said it, I told him that she didn't want the sympathy vote.  Don't be sad for her, or feel bad for her.  That is one thing that I do not want, sympathy.

As we walked the halls, just about everyone we ran into commented that Asha was going to win, that Asha should win.  I am was SO overwhelmed.  Asha again got to see her favorite people. I was worried she was getting tired, but as soon as she would sense one of them around, her energy was overflowing!

During the intermission, the audience was encouraged to cast their vote for the Fan Favorite.  Asha and I continued our wanderings and then it was time to line up for the personality walk.  They changed the order of  our appearance and we were now last.   Asha and I stopped and got some water, then made our way to the end of the life. I sat on the floor, Asha layed down and we waited.

Some of the other dogs had costumes, some were practicing tricks.  Me and Asha, we were just waiting. I was really hoping she would do her trick.  It wasn't much, but it was all we had.  Trevor came back after a bit to tell me that there were dog treats all over the stage and the other dogs were getting distracted so be aware.

It was almost our time to go out on stage - there were two dogs before us.  We were standing in the hall when I turned around and saw Grace, the Great Dane, pooping.  Now, there were 24 dogs there for over two hours at this point and only one had pooped....that's a major success I think.  However, now it was just me and Asha in the hallway and it smelled SO bad.  Asha and I got into the doorway to the ballroom, I crouched down next to her and said "this is your chance to shine Asha. Its almost our time, I'll ask you to bow and you just do it the way we practiced".

They called her name and out we went, up onto the stage. Andy read some more things from our application.  I was sweating so badly that I couldn't really pay attention.  I got Asha in front of the judges and said "she is going to bow".  The crowd was silent, I touched her on the chest, then her nose - the sign for bow - and after two tries, she did it.  The crowd literally went wild!  It was so awesome!!!  The judges asked me how long Asha had lived with us and then who was there to cheer for us, I was able to recognize our friends, her foster dad and her doctors.

Then we made our way off stage, Dr Valentine was again waiting to greet us, Asha went nuts and it was time for another intermission.  I am not cut out to be a stage mom or a pageant queen. This was hard work and I was tired.

The judges deliberated pretty quickly while Asha and I hung out in the ballroom. Asha layed on the floor and would get up to greet her fans.  Soon it was time to go line up for the announcement of the winners. On the way back there, Asha decided it was a good time to pee.  So now the carpet on the 2nd floor had been pooped AND peed on. The night was complete.

All the finalists lined the hallway again. I was down at the very end with a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog named Seamus and our pal Diego.  We all sat on the floor and talked about lots of dog stuff. We could hear some commotion in the ballroom, but we were just chatting away.  I heard Asha's name called and so we got up to see what that was all about. Asha had won the Fan Favorite!  That means the audience voted her as the winner!  As I approached the stage, I could hear one of the judges saying that when Asha bowed, that was it for her.

It was bitter sweet for me. I wanted her to win the whole thing, but I was so honored that this room full of people, mostly strangers, chose our Asha as their favorite.  This little dog who survived, when all her brothers and sisters did not, who was taken in by a shelter staff who had no idea what to do with her, who was kept safe by an amazing foster dad, who was adopted and then returned only to be adopted again by us, who has struggled for the last year to get on steady ground emotionally and behaviorally.  This little dog who kept us awake so many  nights, who took every ounce of peace from our lives, who challenged my ability to have hope for the future and who made me question every thing I ever thought I understood about myself.  This little dog, sat up on that stage while 200 people cheered for her.  I have to believe that even though she couldn't see it or hear it, she could feel the love in that room for her.  I know I did and it touched me like nothing else ever has.

7 months ago, I sat on the floor in our front room while Asha ran and barked out of control.  I was at my wits end, pathetic and scared. I sobbed, I was broken, hopeless and alone.  I said out loud to Asha what I had been feeling for weeks "I regret ever adopting you".  There was no doubt that I loved her.  We would never give her up and I had no idea how we would survive with her.  It was shortly after that, we started to get help from our vast array of medical professionals - traditional and not.  I look back at that desperate situation and find it hard to believe we have come so far. The idea that we could be where we are now, was impossible to imagine back then.  She is a different dog, much more calm, relaxed and settled.  She's found her footing.  I look at Asha now and I know that she is my soul, living outside my body and we are so very lucky that she is ours.

We found Trevor and watched as the other amazing dogs were awarded their Top Dog honors.  Moby, a crazy poodle won the big dogs and Dexter, who was adopted at this event last year, won the small dogs.  The crowd cleared out and Asha made her way over to Dr Pachel, Dr Valentine and Josephine.  We laughed about how far we have come and my difficulty with gauging how much medicine Asha has left (I am constantly emailing the Dr's with subject lines that say "URGENT need medicine refill" - because I don't plan very well).   We thanked them for coming, hugged them and Dr Pachel said "I had to come support our team".  That really says it all.  Asha has a team. That team is with us every step of the way and we are so fortunate to live in a place where we have access to such a team.  And they sure do love our girl.

We thanked the judges, grabbed our prize packs and hit the road.

Asha slept the entire way home.  Once home, it was back to normal...Maggie and Buster did not care one bit that Asha was Fan Favorite.  In our house, they are all fan favorite...we are their biggest fans...every single one of them.

It was a great day for our team and I am so very proud of us all.

Click HERE for  link to the office results on the Oregon Humane Society's page.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Vancouver USA Marathon race recap

Its been over a year since I ran my last marathon and I was feeling withdrawls!  I am so glad we had the chance to run this one, in our hometown.  The worst part of marathons is the traveling and/or early morning wake up calls to get to the start line.  With a 7 am start time, we didn't have to get up that much earlier and I was so grateful for that!

The day before the marathon was unusually hot and that concerned me.  We haven't been training in the heat and I know that high temperatures and humidity can make for a long day. The days before I drank a couple Hammer Fizz tablets and hoped for the best.

We followed all of our pre marathon rituals. I had sushi from Whole Foods for lunch on Saturday and Outback Steakhouse for dinner that night.  I laid out all my running gear the night before, got the car packed with our water, our recovery drinks and our after marathon clothes.

I wasn't really nervous, this was marathon 9 for me and two years ago, when we did three marathons in 52 days, that killed my nerves over marathons.  I would say I was apprehensive.  Last year I had a huge personal best at the Eugene Marathon.  Remember THIS?  Now that I am a 4 hour marathoner, I didn't want to go back to being a 5 hour marathoner.  There is nothing wrong with taking 5 hours or more to run 26.2 miles, I just wanted to stick with my most recent time and I was pretty sure that my training did not support that.

I had been fighting some pain in my abdomen - a muscle that cramps up and makes it hard to breath, resulting in stomach cramps and around mile 17 on the few long training runs I did, I would fall apart.  More on that later....

Anyway.  We got down to the start/finish area and parked really close to the Start line.

We are good friends with Brian, the race director, and he always takes really good care of us.  We were really early and figured we would wander around and then come back and drop our stuff at the car.  We ran into our friend Angie - who was one of the lead bikers. Always good to see her.

I was excited about this race because I knew we would know everyone.  Alot of our customers are runners, our friends are runners...we hang out with runners most of the time and this marathon is our hometown run, so there were all kinds of familiar faces there.  We wandered around and said hi to everyone, got our picture taken with one of our training groups and then headed back to the car to drop off our stuff.

As with most events, before I knew it, it was 5 minutes to race time.  We hustled to the start line.  Trevor was going to start with the 3:40 pacer and I was going to start with the 4:20 pacer. We kissed goodbye and got to our places.

Talk by the Mayor, playing of the National Anthem (that gets me every time), final countdown and off we went.  My plan was to stick with the 4:20 pacer and/or stay under 10 minute miles.  After about two miles, I was pretty sure the 4:20 pacer was going too fast and I knew I couldn't maintain a 9:15 minute mile. Plus she was wearing a tutu and I was getting sick to my stomach from staring at it!  Not because of how it looked but because the hot pink color was too much for my eyes!!

We headed out towards Frenchman's Bar.  A 7 mile flat, open stretch out and then 7 miles back to town.  About mile 3, I saw a familiar face - our customer and friend, JR was there cheering us on with a cowbell. What a great surprise!!!  Around mile 5, the leader was coming back the other way, he looked so fast.

Around mile 6, I saw our friend Koby, I ran across the street and high fived her.  Right behind her, I saw Trevor so I stayed over there to high five him.  I love races with the out and back, it gives me chance to see Trevor even though we run different paces.

I got to the mile 7 aid station, filled my water and used the restroom.  I started back to town. The sun was out and it was getting hot.  I was starting to worry a bit about the heat and how that would affect my day.  I had already drank two full waters.  My plan was to use an electrolyte tab around mile 12.

Around mile 11 my water was empty and I hated that.  3 bottles of water down before mile 13.  Not good.  Once that thought enters your mind, its hard to get it out.  My friend Krista had said to think of her at mile 10 and so I did.

We got back into town around mile 13. The half marathon had started at 9 am and we merged with them at this point.  My timing was such that I merged into the slowest of walkers.  I spent about two miles weaving in and out of them.  They were all having so much fun, I considered just walking the rest of the damn thing with them.  But I didn't....yet.

Trudging along, I made it to mile 16.

I really wanted to run to mile 20, but around mile 13 my legs has started to cramp and that muscle in my stomach was starting to talk to me.   Mile 17 came and that was all I had.  You race the way you train and in my long training runs I fell apart at mile 17...and so that's what I did in the race.  I started to walk.  Over the next 3 miles, my legs cramped so badly that I actually wondered if I was going to finish.he

I kept moving, I would run a little, walk a little.  I tried to find landmarks - like I would run for three lightposts and then walk one.  I did that for a while, got up the hill at mile 19.5.  The railroad tracks were around mile 20.5.  I didn't want to get stopped by the train - last year, there was a 17 minute delay due to a train. I didn't care so much about the time, but I knew my legs would seize up if I stopped for that long. I kept thinking that I needed to run until I got to the railroad tracks.  I didn't want to get stopped by the train and wish I hadn't walked.  It was a great plan until I came to the top of a rise and realized how far I had to go to reach the tracks and so I walked.  As I headed down the hill towards the railroad crossing, I heard the whistle.  F*ck, I said.  Three times to be exact, as the gates came down and we all had to stop. I looked at my watch, filled my water and wandered around to see who I knew!

4 minutes later we were on our way again.  Mile 21 - 5 miles left.  Looking at my watch, I was at 3 hours and 55 minutes.  I had originally hoped to finish in 4:20, then figured 4:30 would be okay, then 4:45 would do, now I just wanted to break 5 hours. I knew I could go 5 miles in an hour, but I had to keep moving.  My walk/run intervals continued.  Everyone was walking some - the heat was really getting to just about everyone.

From my chest down was one big constant cramp.  I wasn't miserable and I wasn't asking myself why?  I kept telling myself "this is just what we do".  A mile at a time, I kept moving.  Around mile 24, I saw Brian, the race director, delivering some Jamba Juices to the volunteers, as I passed him, I said "You and your stupid marathon"...only I used a different word instead of stupid.  He said "ha ha!  Want a Jamba Juice"  Normally, no I don't want a Jamba Juice, but I could have tackeled him and drank every last one.  I knew there would be some at the finish if I could just keep moving.

I ran along the river and enjoyed the view - last year, this part of the course was flooded.  I approached the land bridge - EVERYONE was walking. I knew my friend Angie would probably be on at the top of this little hill and I did not want her to see my walking, so I ran.  There she was, cheering us on.  Once I passed her and was out of her site...I walked again.  I knew the mile 25 sign could not be far away.  Once there, I really would be almost done.

I saw and passed mile 25, came around the corner off the trail and there was Doug. He had his camera and again, I was not going to let him see me walk, much less capture it on film!!

I passed him and walked again! Up a little hill, we had our last water station coming up. I decided that once I got there, I would run to the finish. It should be about 3/4 of a mile and once I covered that distance, I would be done.

I got to the water station, turned left and started to run.  My body was so unhappy, but I knew it was almost over. I made the final turns and headed into the finishers chute - it was about 1/4 of a mile. I remember watching people here last year and being so jealous.  I soaked it up - the streets were lined with spectators.  This last little bit of every race really is the best.  No matter what has happened over the last 26 miles, no matter what deals I have made with myself, no matter the amount of questioning my sanity that has happened, in these few moments, I am at peace and I understand why.  You can't get this feeling any other way.

I made the last turn and was at the finish.  Bart Yasso said my name and said "she's from Vancouver, these are her streets!".  I saw Evan Pilchik, taking photos.  He lowered his camera, told me good job and high fived me.  That is one of my favorite parts of any race. I  also high fived Bart and crossed the finish line.  Done.

I wandered until I found my friends and then Trevor.  My body hurt.  I sat in an ice bath for a bit, layed on the grass and didn't want to get up.  Finally, I did.  I had my Jamba Juice and it tasted great.  Then we made our way towards the car and headed for home.  Number 9, done.  What's next???  Only time will tell.

What a great day.

Friday, June 15, 2012

One step forward, two steps back

Asha has been doing so great.  We started her on Chinese herbs about 6 weeks ago.  Between those and her food changes due to food therapy (read about that here), we have really noticed a difference in her behavior.  Two weeks ago, we ran out of Shen Calmer, one of Asha's herbs.  The vet was out of them and so we had to wait about a week for them to come in.  Over that week, Asha was the best she had ever been - she slept all night, multiple nights in a row. So when the email came that the herbs were in, I asked "does she really still need them?  She's doing so great without them now".  And so I didn't go pick up the herbs, I figured we would wait and see.

I know better.  I should know better. If someone comes into our store with joint pain and starts taking a supplement to help, when they start seeing a result, the last thing they should do is stop.  But we stopped.  Over the 2nd week without the herbs, Asha got worse and worse.  She started waking up once a night around 1 am, now she's up twice a night around 1 and then again at 3.  The other night, it occurred to me....we stopped giving her that herb.

Over the last week, we have also had some issues with Maggie. She had been doing so great for so long, then we changed her food, we changed some of our routine and just like in the past, that's just too much for her and she has been snapping.  We've started separating her from the others at certain times a day. I emailed our food therapist (who works with our accupuncture/Chinese Medicine vet) about the situation and she suggested I bring Maggie down to see the Dr.  I decided to take both Maggie and Asha for a visit to see what we could do to get back on track.

Yesterday, I took all three dogs to see Dr Hope Valentine at Balanced Pets NW in Portland. Trevor was working, so I had all three dogs with me. They are quite a handful and I always feel like the crazy dog lady when I have them all by myself!

We survived the drive downtown.  Actually, they are great in the car. I circled the block for about 15 minutes until I found a place to park and then I started the walk around the corner to the clinic. I am always so amazed at how people approach dogs they don't know. I am walking along (we'll call it walking, but I was really being pulled) Buster and Maggie are in front smelling everything and Asha is dragging behind smelling everything.  People walk buy and put their hands out to my dogs.  Now, they aren't going to get bitten by these three, but here's a tip for you - if you see someone walking three dogs and they look like they are trying to keep it together, don't confuse the situation.  Please.
This is not a good picture of me, but I love how Asha is looking over my shoulder.

We arrived safely at our destination and I let the dogs loose. Its a new space and as Dr Valentine was showing me around, the dogs were investigating too. Asha is so funny, they have these little trash cans that she loves. They are the automatic ones, where it has a sensor and opens. I found her several times, in different rooms, with her head in the garbage because it would open when it sensed her.

After everyone got settled and we had the tour, we went upstairs to the conference room, that was more like a living room with a couch and chair.  I sat on the couch, Maggie sat next to me while Buster and Asha investigated.  We went over all our concerns and of course decided to continue Asha on her herbs.  Dr Valentine said that she was actually glad we had stopped giving them to Asha because now we know that they were working.

We also decided that Maggie would start on some herbs.  Asha was going to get some accupuncture to help things along and Maggie would too if we thought she would allow it.  As we were talking, Maggie got up and went over to sit by Dr Valentine. That's so unlike Maggie and the Dr said that Maggie was giving her permission so she started putting in the needles.  Sweet Maggie, she seemed confused, but not really bothered by it.

Then Asha got some needles.  She always growls and barks and bites, all the while wagging her tail like its a game to her.  The effects of the needles hit her so hard. After she fights it, she eventually just collapses into a heap and sleeps.  Yesterday, she climbed up onto the couch and zonked out for about 30 minutes.

Maggie sat on the floor next to me. You can see the needles in her back.

 Buster was on high alert while the needles were being put in both of his sisters. While they were brewing, he took a nap. Buster is the anchor.

We finished up and headed for home.  The walk to the car was much different than the walk there.  Everyone was tired and pretty well behaved. We got in the car and all three slept the whole way home.  I really look forward to seeing continued progress in our babies from these treatments.  For anyone who doubts "alternative care", our pets are living proof that it works and we are so fortunate to have found such great practitioners who really do love our pets.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fight Prep and Recap

Saturday night, Trevor had the third fight of his career.  The first was in March of 2009.  Click HERE to read  the recap from that.  The second was in December of 2010.  Click HERE to read the recap from that.
As you can see, there is quite a gap between fights.  Trevor and I do so many different things and most of them we do together.  Fighting is something he does pretty much on his own, so the times he has committed to it have been few and far between.

This is my blog, not Trevor's, so the opinions and views expressed here are mine.  This is how I see it.

Every fight, every situation has been different. The goals for each fight have been different as well as where we are at in our lives and what these things mean to us.   Trevor's first fight was really just about doing it.  Stepping into the ring that first time was a huge accomplishment in and of itself.  The second fight was about not letting too much time pass before he fought again - we had just completed an Ironman triathlon and that had consumed us for the year leading up to the second fight.  This third fight was a mixture of not wanting too much time to pass, just doing it and doing it better than before.

For over a year, Trevor struggled with finding the right time and place to train.  For years, he had trained in Lake Oswego with our close friends and his Sifu, Chris.  Our current situation does not allow for that.  Between the businesses   (both stores, our triathlon training business, our marathon coaching, the list goes on and on), our pets (especially a certain someone who can't see or hear) and our attempt to have any sort of married life, our time for other things is extremely limited.  Our lives are booked from 9 am to 9 pm.  Adding something new is almost impossible.  And making a two hour round trip to Lake Oswego was just not in the cards anymore.

Trevor searched for months to find a place where he could train that would not only fit his schedule but provide the right kind of coaching.  Fighting isn't like running a marathon.  You can finish a marathon without really training.  You can't fight without really training.  Well, I guess you could but that would just be stupid.

There were a couple times that Trevor found a place that had gym time in the mornings. We could adjust our schedule and get him there but once he was there, it always ended in disappointment.  It was never what he was looking for.  I think he was just about to give up hope of finding the right fit.  Then, we had a customer come into the store who belongs to a local MMA gym.  He was telling Trevor about a coach at the gym who was wanting some products and suggested that maybe he could work a trade with Trevor.

Trevor was hopeful that it could work out, but he was also skeptical.  He went to train with Jack and figured he would see how it worked before he really committed to anything.  He came home after the first session and said that Jack was his guy.  And so it began.

I knew Trevor wanted to fight again and it wasn't long until a date was set.  He told me he was going to fight at 170.  At that time, he weighed around 195.  Its funny because I didn't really think anything of that.  Looking back now, its seems hard to believe that a 6 foot 4 man who has always weighed close to 200 and most of his life weighed considerably more than 200, would be able to make it to 170.  But I know my husband and I know that if he decides to do something then its done.

He put together his meal plan and emailed it to me.  I do all the shopping and cook all the food.  I just needed to know what to buy and how to package it for him. I knew he would do the eating!  This meant no more pizza on Saturday night, ice cream on Sunday, trail mix anytime during the week.  That was tough for me.  I wasn't wanting to cut weight and Trevor's restricted diet was probably more of a challenge for me than it was for him. If I wanted any treats, I had to get them on my own and eat them when Trevor wasn't around.  What fun is that?

Trevor had mapped out the plan for what he needed to weigh each Friday morning.  For 9 weeks, he was dead on.  He had calculated how many calories he needed each day and what his deficit needed to be, then worked in how many calories he needed to burn and didn't stop until he hit that number.

So, you can see, alot went into preparing for this fight.  He made weight without issue on Friday - 168.8 - he needed to weigh 171.  I will admit that the weight cut on Friday was more stressful for me than the idea of his fight.  He weighed 178 on Friday morning and spent the day sweating out the difference.  That part was not fun at all.  But he did it pretty easily and was really no worse for the wear.  After the weigh ins, we went to dinner and he rehydrated.  Saturday he ate normal and felt fine come fight time.

Ah, fight time.  It seems so close, yet so far away.  I worked all day, closed the store at 4:30 and headed over to the gym where the fights were being held. We had some friends coming to watch and many others waiting for updates via text or facebook.  I wasn't really nervous until I got there.  One of the hardest things for me is talking to anyone before the fight.  Its hard to put on the brave face and assure everyone else who is feeling nervous that its all going to be okay. They all say "aren't you nervous?".  OF COURSE I am nervous.

Trevor is the same way - doesn't want to be talked to while getting ready for the fight and he gets to stay in the back room for the fighters.  So I get to answer all the questions for him - everyone wants to know how he feels, how'd the weight cut go, what do we know about his opponent, is he nervous, who's his coach?  I appreciate everyone's interest, I really really do, but its tough to focus on the questions at hand when I really just want to focus on what's about to happen!

My favorite question to answer is "Is Trevor nervous".  I love that question because I always answer "No" and its the truth.  Trevor is the most even tempered,  calm person I have ever known. I love that about him - mostly because it is exactly the opposite of how I am.

We had front row seats, right behind Trevor's corner. I sat with our friends Josh and Laura, who are both nurses.  That made me feel better, there would be someone there to monitor my vital signs!  Josh reminds me very much of Trevor and I find his presence very calming.  Laura is the same way.  They are both so cool under pressure and being with them made me feel better.

I realized that the hardest thing about Trevor fighting is that I want to watch it and talk about it WITH HIM, but I can't because he is in the ring.   I saw Jack, he came over and hugged me and asked if I was excited.  I knew he was and I loved that.

The fights started.  Trevor was up 4th, so I had to sit through 3 fights.  That's hard. I just want them to be over so it can be our turn.  As soon as the first fight started, I realized I was too close to the ring and there was no way I could sit that close and watch Trevor fight.  So when his time came, I got up and stood to the side of the ring, behind his corner guys - I was close enough there.

Trevor walked into the cage, got to his corner and blew me a kiss.  This moment before the fight starts is so hard for me. I am sure my heart rate skyrockets, I sweat (which is really nothing unusual for me).  This all disappates a little once the fight starts but I can't totally relax until its over.

We knew that the guy Trevor was fighting was good on the ground so the plan was to keep it standing.  The fight started and it wasn't too long until they were on the ground.  Trevor fought hard to stand back up, ground control changed hands a couple times, but for most of the first round, Trevor's opponent was in control.  There were punches to the face and I kept hoping for the banging on the mat to signal 10 seconds in the round.  "Hold on Trevor, just hold on" I kept thinking. Finally I heard that 10 second notice and then the bell.  Round 1 was over.  Trevor made his way to the corner where Jack and his other corner guy took care of him.  I was behind him so I couldn't see his face and I didn't want to. I knew he was headed into the second round, the reset button had been pushed.
(I love this picture because it makes no sense to me. Trevor is on top, you can see his back, but his right leg with the tattoo makes it look like he is on the bottom...I can't figure it out)

 Round 2 started, Trevor got in some good punches and leg kicks, worked hard to defend the take down and eventually ended up back on the ground.  F*ck.  I am pretty sure I said that outloud a couple times.  Just like in the first round, Trevor fought him on the ground, tried to get out of his control, worked and worked.  He rolled over and eventually got caught in a choke.  He said he felt himself passing out, so he tapped.  And it was over.

Afterwards, the promoter interviewed Trevor before talking to his opponent.  Trevor thanked his friends from coming to watch him and named some of them by name. I knew then that he was okay.  I met him at the door to the fighters room and he put on a happy face for me. I kissed him and told him I was proud.  Actually I think I said "that's what happens when you go to the ground".  Then I went back to my seat.

The next fight was about to start and Jack was heading into the ring with another fighter. He told me Trevor was asking for me. I went back to the room and helped him get his gloves off.  I went and got Josh and Laura so they could check him out.  We cleaned him up, got him some water and just sat for a while. Its amazing how exhausting five minutes of work can be.

Trevor had certainly taken some punches to the face and I knew that was going to hurt for a couple days, but overall, he was in pretty good shape.  Since we had Laura and Josh with us, we had our own personal emergency room!  They drove one of our cars home and checked Trevor out.  They said he seemed fine and told us what dosage of tylenol and advil to take.  We ordered a pizza and settled in for a couple days of healing.

You know, someone has to win and someone has to lose.  You can't always come out on top and that is disappointing.  You can't lose if you don't step in the ring....or can you?  Its easy to sit outside the ring and talk about all the things that should have or could have happened.  Its completely another to get in and do it. Trevor is 38, almost 39.  The majority of the fighters on the card Saturday night were in their early 20s.  We aren't getting any younger, so the time to do these things really is now.  We can't wait anymore.

This week has been very low key - there's been lots of eating, sleeping and relaxing.  Training will start again next week.  I get asked all the time "will he fight again".  I believe he will and I believe he should.  And when he does, I'll be sitting ringside or standing behind his corner, feeling a strange combination of needing to vomit and being overwhelmed with pride.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Some things don't change

This is us in August of 2006 on our honeymoon.
This is us in May of 2012 in Maui for a friend's wedding.  Lots has changed (he's 60 pounds lighter), but not Trevor's fashion sense.  Notice how the shirts he is wearing are similar, just different colors.  Trevor is consistent, if nothing else!!   I love him so much.

"How can you stand it?"

When we tell people that Trevor fights, they almost always look at me and say "How can you stand to watch?'

Its a tough question.  I can't imagine that any wife, girlfriend or mother of any fighter really likes watching someone they love step into the ring or octagon.  A lot of guys will say "my wife would never let me do that".  That's not really how it works with us. This is what Trevor does and so I support it.

Trevor had his first fight in March of 2009.

 Then he fought again in December of 2010.

His third fight will be tonight.  These things aren't just a one day event, there are months of training and preparing that go into it.  Training gets more and more intense over time, eating schedules become more and more strict.  It affects both of us and all parts of our lives.  Its a sacrifice, but most things worthwhile require that.

So again, how can I stand to watch.  I have really been thinking about that question and have come to this conclusion... I can stand to watch because I trust the guys who are responsible for Trevor while he is in the ring.  His Sifu (chinese for teacher), Chris, trained Trevor and cornered him for the first two fights. The only thing that kept me from screaming "DON'T DO IT" as he walked into the ring was knowing that Chris was there with him and would make sure it was all okay.  Tonight, his Kru (Thai for teacher), Jack, will be with him.  I have known Chris for many years. I just met Jack a couple months ago.  About a month ago, Jack suggested that I start coming to train with Trevor one day a week.  Trevor does conditioning one day a week and I have been going to that with him.  It has really given me a chance to get to know Jack.  After getting to know him, I trust him and feel comfortable putting the most important person in my world in his hands.

Trevor loves doing this and I can see that.  I know how it makes him feel and so I can't see myself telling him not to do it.  I get incredibly nervous, just like I do for all the other things we do (marathons, triathlons, etc).  The main difference is that once the gun sounds at a triathlon, all my nervousness goes away.  That's not the case when it comes to Trevor fighting.  I can't get my breath until he is out of the cage and into my embrace. He has put so much time, effort and committment into this and I am so very proud of that.

When I met Trevor, he weighed 240 pounds.  Tonight, he is fighting in the 170 pound weight class. Last night he weighed in at 168.8 pounds.  Its insane.

I know he's excited for tonight and so I am too.  I'll feel better when its over, he probably will too!  The other night he emailed me a list of all the things he wants to eat after the fight and all day tomorrow.  Now THAT is something I can look forward to!!!