Dean left me at the trailhead next to the golf course at a little before 7am this morning. I stalked the back 9, popped out onto a road briefly, then dove back to the woods for several miles around Lake Townsend and its many coves and fingers on the South side of the water.

About 6 or 7 miles down the trail, my favorite epidemiologist showed up just ahead of me. Dr. Shannon Grabich’s knowledge of the disease that several of us are carrying was surprising, even if she is an epidemiologist for a major pharmaceutical company. She has a personal connection. Her uncle is also suffering with myeloma, so this is real. Diseases are always personal even when you aren’t sick one. Only one of us can carry the flag, but we all fight the battle.

Shannon and I shuffled along discussing running first (she’s an ultra runner, so it’s an easy starting place), then moved onto less important stuff like our backgrounds and politics. Shannon took me to task on what I am NOT doing for Throwing Bones. It was an important reminder that I’m and the main ambassador for our mission right now, and I need to remember that whenever I see somebody.

The subject came up at the right time when we passed 3 or 4 hikers, and we just let them pass. Shannon turned to me an said, “Why aren’t you handing out cards to everyone that goes by?” It caught me off guard, and my first reaction was defensive.

“Well, I don’t have cards with me,” I said.

“Why not?”

“I … don’t know?”

That was the best I could come up with. I suppose I could have mentioned that I felt a little uncomfortable soliciting every person on trail that wants peace, contentment, exercise, or just wants their dog to poop.

But I didn’t. Why didn’t I?

The truth is, I could definitely gauge each passerby. If the time was appropriate, I could stop them, say hello, ask them about their time on the trail, mention why I’m there and hand them a card. If they don’t make eye contact, won’t stop because they are moving too fast, or are carrying a bloody machete, then I can reasonably determine that they are unlikely card-worthy.

The next time I saw Dean, I asked him for business cards and shoved some into my hydration vest.

Shannon and I parted soon after that. She had to pickup, drop off or some other parenting-type thing, and I saw Dean briefly at Lake Brandt Road, before I started followed the hiking and biking trails of Lake Brandt. These trails were fun and fast, but my guess is they were more intended for someone with knobby tires, and I spent a great deal of time avoiding lunch time speed demons, until I made it to the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway.

The Greenway was asphalt, clean and even had bike repair stations with freely available tools and air pumps. If you want to encourage your residents to get outside, make outside fun, accessible, inviting, and allow for flat tires.

I finished the day in the parking lot of the greenway with 20 miles. Tomorrow’s run is back on the road for a couple of days.

So, I needed shoes. Again. Soon after the first two weeks of the run, my feet expanded from my huge size 13 shoes, to a sasquatchian (I just made that word up) size 14. After many calls, Dean found one pair of size 14 Altra Escalantes at Fleet Feet GSO. I really had a great time meeting the owner, John, and Joe Randene, an employee at the shop and the author of Joe the Runner blog post. Joe loves running, has a great following about running, his personal story and his stand against bullying.

When I got the campsite, I found out that another myeloma brother, Mike and his wife, Sue were bringing us pizza. They showed up, with pizza and hugs. The hugs were pretty important, for many reasons, but mainly because it meant (in my mind) that Mike was getting better.

Mike Padjen had a autologous bone marrow transplant (BMT) in February, and he is still coming out of it. It takes time to recover from such a shocking and sadistic form of treatment (I had one in August 2015). On top of the steamrolling number that the BMT did to his immune system, Mike had some serious degeneration his back. Like me, Mike suffered lesions that cause compression fractures. Unlike me, Mike’s back degenerated so much by the time he was diagnosed, that he lost nearly 4 inches in height.

Despite being in pretty constant pain, not being able to pick up loose change, and having endure jerks singing “Short People” when he walks by, he seems to be adjusting well to looking up nostrils, and not being able to dunk a basketball.

Commit to the idea of a goal, first. You can always commit to the actual goal, second. Keep Moving Forward.

Kenny