What is this blog about? Laugh, Think, and Cry...

My blog is for you and for me. I hope you find some inspiration here. I follow a "laugh, think, and cry" pattern based upon the following quote from Jimmy V (Jim Valvano, former N.C. St. basketball coach) during his final days of battling cancer in 1993. Btw, It it is quite OK for you to cry in the laugh section, think in the cry section, and laugh in the think section... :) Click here if you want to view the entire Jimmy V speech.

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week; you're going to have something special.”


A lot has happened since I began this blog last fall. When I selected Jimmy Valvano’s “Laugh, Think, and Cry” speech to use as model of inspiration for my theme I had no idea that cancer would strike my family like it has in the last year. My older sister Susan recently buried her husband Glenn E. Hall (49) after an incredibly grueling and difficult battle versus a very rare and aggressive cancer called alveolar rhabdomyosacrcoma. It began attacking his brain last fall in what initially appeared to be a sinus infection. There was no indication to think it was anything else. By the time it was detected it had left a trail of destruction of irreparable damage.

My younger sister DeAnn currently battles ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed on October 5th, 2010. Her fight continues.

On September 13th, 2011 my beautiful queen Stephanie picked me up from the gym after a long workout. Moments later I learned that my wife of 25 years, my best friend, the mother of our four amazing children, confirmed one of our worst fears. Stephanie has breast cancer. We held each other tight and the tears flowed. Our world has been rocked yet we are certain we can and will still be standing after it is all said and done.

Stephanie and I have decided to share her battle. We have been preaching and living the word “challenge” over the past few years. Our lifestyle has changed and we have been blessed to meet so many wonderful people through our running adventures. This is something that would be impossible to keep hidden so we choose to open up and invite others to come along for this “run” with us.

Stephanie and our family now face something much more daunting than a mountain marathon or an Ironman triathlon. We understand that many are confused as to why this has happened. We get it that some people don’t know what to say or how to react to the news. It’s ok. We have accepted it for what it is. Cancer is here, it is real, and it is us. Stephanie has it and so our family has it. We are a team. One for all and all for one. We are fighting to save our Mommy, our friend, and my wife. Early detection and current medical technology coupled with faith, love, and hope give us a fighting chance, a chance that not all cancer patients receive. We are grateful for this. Stephanie is young, strong, and tougher than nails. Our family and the doctors are doggedly determined that we are going to defeat this foe.

We plan to use this opportunity to become stronger, better people. As the storm clouds gather and the rain comes pouring down as it most assuredly will, we hope you can find the rays of sunlight with us and in some way become a stronger person yourself. The goal of my blog was to inspire and be inspired. Stephanie shares that same wish as she tells her story... stephsfight.blogspot.com

Tick tock...

Sunday, August 7, 2011


August 7, 2011
Goal:  Finish the Florida Ironman Triathlon, November 5, 2011, Panama City, FL
Current Weight: 191—this has been the toughest stretch of weight loss…
Ironman Goal Weight: A lean, strong, healthy 189
Current Injury Status: None
Current Training: Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. 25 years ago I married my best friend Stephanie. Tomorrow is also the day I begin “13 weeks to a 13 Hour Marathon” (Triathlete Magazine). What a great day!

LAUGH: Hey, That Was My Left Cheek, Pal!
Last week I was able spend some time in Southern Idaho visiting my sister’s family. I decided to go for a solitary fun run while there. The plan was for a 5-8 mile early morning run on the rural roads outside the thriving metropolis of Wendell, Idaho: Population: 2,430. If you count the dairy cows, the population quadruples. This is milk country, folks. (Insert your own “udder” joke here).

So, I head out the door and run west with my GPS watch as my guide. This was to be a “low-key, mind-clearing, thinking” run--no competition here--just gonna go scamper out in the sticks and hopefully not smell too many barnyard odors. I’m feeling good and new scenery is a welcome site.

Well, I didn’t consider the fact that I would be passing many farms guarded by territorial canines. No biggie, I love dogs and they love me. I also did not account for the fact that I was the stranger in town. I am unarmed in unfamiliar surroundings. The only heat I was packing was dissipating through my headband. I would be no match for a Fido hell-bent on protecting his turf. These are not tame “city pooches”. These guys have farm skills.

I saw no less than 20 dogs. Every farmer in Wendell must have a dog(s). At least 15 of them vehemently voiced their displeasure at my decision to run down “their” road. I tried to explain to them in my best doggie language that I was harmless and just out for a training run. Easy there Sparky, I’m a lover not a fighter. I slowed down, I dropped my hands to my sides, and I even walked to look less threatening. A pair of border collies seemed to understand, but the rest of the furry sentries stared me down with distrust and disgust. Was that German Shepherd foaming at the mouth?

I’m a dog lover, but my nerves began to tingle a bit because I was doing a “out and back” route. I would have to travel through the gauntlet again. The alternative would be a much longer run with no guarantee of a dogless road back. I am NOT faster than a four-legged security officer. As I began the loop back home, I formulated some contingency plans in case I was attacked. What would Jack Bauer do? I would climb the nearest tree, I would get on all fours and bark back at them, I would hurdle the barb-wired fence to my left, or I would jump into the canal on the right. Though Jack is one of my heroes, I had no intentions of hurting a dog. But, I did want to return home in one piece. Surely I won’t be so strange to them the second time around, will I? Don’t make me slap your snout, Snuggles. Here we go, I’m ready. 

One mile later and a couple of harmless barks echo from a front porch. No sweat--they’re just cheering me on. Thanks fellas! I keep running and another half mile down the road I pass the Collie Brothers. They get it. I’m just another runner doing his thing. Man’s best friend, why worry? I round a corner and scan the roadway ahead. I spot a run-down trailer and junk-littered front yard. What in the Sam Hill? Is that a pack of six troops blocking my path? I usually don’t hallucinate until mile 22. Ok, I haven’t seen these guys before—they must have been sleeping in on my first flyby. Be careful, this could be a trap. They are not barking, but they aren’t wagging their tails, either. The Gang o’ Six have the road completely blocked and they look like they’ve done this before. This ain’t their first rodeo. Ambushed. Dangit. When they finish with me will anyone ever find my remains?! I stop. 100 feet of asphalt separates me from this motley looking crew of collarless farm dogs. In unison they begin walking slowly toward me with tails pointed to the sky. Ok, relax—let’s try diplomacy. “Hey guys! How ya’ll doing?” I bend down, smile, and extend a hand of fellowship. I hope this works because I don’t see a tree or canal, and there’s no way I’m making it over that barb-wired fence before they chase me down and sink their teeth into my flesh! Their slow walk turns into a trot and lo and behold, tails start wagging and heads start bobbing! Yes. It’s love at first sight! The next thing I know I am surrounded by six romping, licking, sniffing, and playful pupsters. I start walking and wonder why I harbored any worries. These guys are part of my posse now. I’ve made some new friends!

Then it happened. The biggest of the lot (breed unknown) lowers his head and begins to growl. Are you kidding me? Please, no! Maybe Bubba is jealous that his boys are having fun with SOMEONE OTHER THAN HIM?! I stop walking and try to console him with some puppy talk. It’s not working. I can feel Bubba’s hot breath on my left thigh and I have an all too close view of his incisors and bicuspids. Hydrogen peroxide is not recommended for use on puncture wounds, consult a physician. Things continue to go south. Monkey see, doggy do. Two others stop wagging tails and create a chorus of growls. It’s as if they think I’m a spy trying to infiltrate their canine cell. “Dudes, I promise, we’re on the same team!” Now the other three stop wagging tails and time slows to an awkward crawl. When was my last tetanus shot? I await the proverbial movie of my life to flash before my eyes as I prepare myself to become a giant Milk-Bone biscuit (I’m in dairy country after all).  For a brief moment I have a random thought about an African documentary where a pack of hynenas attack a helpless… Owwwwwwwwww! Really?! That’s gonna leave a mark! Bubba just nipped my left buttock and the other sharks are starting to circle! OK, all bets are off—no Mr. Nice Guy!  Instantly the fight component of the fight or flight mechanism kicks into high gear. No way I’m going to perish in Wendell, Idaho in the jaws of the Gang o’ Six! “Go home now!” I bark angrily at the grumpy growlers. They stop and stare. Oh yes. They most likely are “24” fans and are mulling over the consequences of their unruly behavior. They’ve seen what Jack can do. I repeat the same command and point to their property with feigned authority. Incredibly, the pack starts to back away led by Big Bubba. Wow, these guys obey better than my students. I keep shooing them back until I feel safe enough to pass. Once they get inside their yard I start to jog and they start to bark. Not in the clear just yet—maintain eye contact. As the distance between us increases, my pace quickens and then I realize…if Two Tooth Tommy comes out of that trailer dragging a hangover and a shotgun my right cheek is gonna be full of lead!  Let’s skedaddle and get out of Dodge! I started pickin’ ‘em up and layin’ ‘em down faster and made a daring escape!

I’ve always known that the two biggest dangers to runners are cars and dogs. I was almost taken down by the latter on this day, but no, I survived, suffering only a minor nick to the left cheek. Sorry, but I’m not going to show you the wound…



  1. What? On your rear end? Almost as good a dog bite story as the mutt that came into my house last month. You should've told them about Dog Lake, put their state of mind in a happy place.

    Happy Anniversary! 25 years is a big deal. I think 25 is canvas and man made material. Like, running shoes!

  2. I gotta share my brush with doggie death this summer.

    I was taking early morning jogs while fulfilling my duties at Girl's Camp, just northeast of Ashton Idaho in July. On the way to the camp there are signs about being bear aware alerting campers to the fact that they are in bear country.

    So on my early morning outings I had a can of pepper spray in hand, and I was prepared for bear. But not the two Australian Blue Heelers (you know the kind with a light blue eye and a dark eye that gives them a deranged crazy I'm going to tear your jugular vein out and then ask if you are an innocent runner look) that came charging out from behind a horse trailer on the side of the mountain road!

    Of course if they had been bears I would have calmly sprayed their eyes with pepper spray and gone on with my run. But the only thing I could think of was a documentary on police dogs that I had seen that said the best defense against a dog attack is to turn your back to the animal and stand still because they take their cues from body language and facial expressions and this supposedly confuses them!

    So I tried it, I stopped dead in my tracks and turned my back to them and waited to feel them lunging onto my back and shoulders for the kill.

    The growling stopped, and I waited to feel them sniffing at my feet. But they never came that close. When I finally slowly turned, they were gone!

    I no more than took two steps and they were tearing around the corner of the trailer again! Sheesh, these guys were not going to let up! Instant replay, they came a little closer this time but sure enough when I looked over my shoulder again they were gone.

    I decided to run the other way and see if I could find some bears to play with.