A Better Place

No run today, I was thinking about Grumpy all day.

Twelve days after I crossed the finish line at the Chicago Marathon, Grumpy passed from this life peacefully, during his sleep. At two o’clock am this morning, Grumpy crossed the finish line of a life well-lived. Some might say that he was dealt a rough hand, others might say that this is the way it was meant to be. Whatever the case, the world has been made a better place by Grumpy. As stated, Grumpy ran to bring his family closer together. I wrote this blog to make sure that no matter how scattered our seed may be thrown, there are always connections that we will relate to in our lives. Grumpy is such a great subject for writing because he keeps us all connected. I am truly fortunate to be able to write about my dad.

You may think this is crazy or too scientific but here is something phenomenal. Interestingly, at exactly the time of his death, the house alarm a block away at one of his lifelong running buddies, Tom M, was tripped. The police were called, the premises were checked and cleared and the odd activity was left unexplained. Two hours later, Tom learned of his running buddy’s death. The coincidence of the exact time Grumpy passed from this earth and alarm going off a block away cannot be explained in too many ways. As a scientist, I prefer the quantum entanglement hypothesis. If you prefer the idea that Grumpy was partly responsible for tripping the alarm, he might have been freed from the shackles of his mortal body and wanted to run again. The New York Times wrote an article about quantum entanglement and a groundbreaking discovery just two days ago:


They call it “spooky action” and Einstein may have been wrong on his theory in standard physics called “locality”. Locality states that an object can only be influenced by its immediate surroundings. Alternately, quantum mechanics may actually rule the universe by entangling subatomic particles and influencing other particles a city block or a universe apart. Grumpy may have demonstrated this phenomenon for us early this morning. Of course, an alternate explanation may be that, anything that can happen probably will (sorry Cub fans). In other words, Murphy’s Law. Grumpy loved physics and is probably keeping us on our toes. I love you Dad, please rest in peace, or meet us all for an instantaneous subatomic physics run, whatever you choose. Thanks for the lesson in quantum mechanics.

Jim and Barb at the beach! Favorite song today: Chariots of Fire performed by Vangelis.



Running Buddies

Easy run today, I was thinking about the medal.

As we wind up the final week before the Chicago Marathon. I would like to recognize the running buddies once and for all. Tom, Dick and JPD have lived close to each other for almost fifty years. There have been many that have come and gone and they are all sorely missed. Shortly after moving to Mt. Prospect, these three found each other and began to run. They were running before recreational running was a “thing”. Together they watched their children grow up and become all these great people. They discussed their challenges and supported each other through good times and bad. Grumpy continued to show up for runs when the only thing he could do was walk. Grumpy would wake up every morning even when he couldn’t walk the distance any more. Tom and Dick would stop by the house and push him in his wheelchair on part of that route.

Dad, I am going to run the Chicago Marathon. You ran the very first and 20+ more Chicago Marathons, this will be my first Chicago effort. Every step that I take will be dedicated to you, Mom, the buddies, and all of your care-givers. It has been a ton of fun recounting all of your stories. All that you have done for me, I am going to bring you and the buddies home a medal on Sunday. It’s a very small way of saying thanks.

Hope to meet you all for a run someday. Favorite song today, Sweet Home Chicago performed by the Blues Brothers Band and Review.

The meeting place for a great run

The meeting place for a great run

Emphasize Wife

Progressive run today, I was thinking about timing.

Here is what I cherish about Grumpy over everything else. I think Grumpy knew that another thing he could teach me that I could use all of my life was comedic timing. Like the saxophone, I don’t think I ever mastered it like he did. One of his favorite comedians was Henny Youngman. You know, “Take my wife, please.” That Henny Youngman. Dad would chuckle every time he heard that. He tried to teach his children the subtle nuances of that line. Deference goes out to all the wives, it could be “Take my husband, please.” or “Take my significant other, please. It really did not matter what he said but how he actually said it.

“Take my wife, please.”

“Take my wife please.”

“Take my wife… please!”

There was a right way and a wrong way. Nobody ever could deliver this line like Henny Youngman. Emphasize wife, emphasize my wife, emphasize please, pause, smile, wait for the laugh. He couldn’t believe how funny this was. This was not the only line. “I went to the doctor. He said I needed an operation. I said to the doctor I needed a second opinion.  The doctor said, Ok, you’re ugly too.” Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel were other favorites. “No wonder nobody goes to that restaurant, it’s always too crowded”. Proper pauses, wait…laughter, next joke. People don’t realize that the penny trick was much more than it seemed. Most of us remember Grumpy pulling a penny out of their own ear. I remember the first time, it is probably my earliest memory. He was dexterous and the trick was not complete until he said to the child “Is there any more in there?” There was a time in my life that I truly believed that this is where pennies came from, your ears. Most of the kids were very small, the real joke was for the older kids and the adults. He would captivate the whole room. He was actually setting up the next joke. I met a guy in the park that had a banana in his ear. Yeah, a banana… Nothing was sacred. The only thing I remember from taking Ancient Latin in college was what Grumpy learned at St. Patrick’s High School Latin class: Semper ubi sub ubi. This was translated, “Always wear underwear.” Sage advice, indeed.

Grumpy and I would have long discussion about what was funny and why. Sometimes he thought that if he repeated a particular joke enough times I would understand the nuance eventually. The bottom line is that he makes me laugh. Even today, when he can barely form a full sentence, he will say the right thing, with the exact right comedic timing and make everyone around him laugh. Keep it up Dad, I am still listening.

Back in Mt. Peanut, this is the turnaround at Arlington Heights Road. And they say you can never go home, ha! Favorite song today, Could I have This Dance performed by Anne Murray.

In the middle of rush hour... on a Friday.

In the middle of rush hour… on a Friday.

Reaching a Goal

Rest Day today, I was thinking about family.

A funny thing happened last night, I reached the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research fundraising goal. Now, as I understand it, I am supposed to participate in some sort of footrace. As you know, I am always up for a challenge. Is this running contest going to involve other people? I have to let you know that I once ran from my front door all the way to my mailbox. So beware, fellow footracers, I am fully engaged!

I cannot thank all of the people who contributed to this effort with mere bloggy words. I look forward to seeing each and every one of you to thank you in person. If that is not possible, please know that your generosity goes beyond words. I will be thinking of each and every one of you as I put one foot in front of the other over 40K times this weekend. What is that you say, the footrace is 26.2 miles? I am ready, you helped me get ready. Thanks again!

Last run around the lake yesterday. Favorite song today, Gonna Fly Now ( Rocky Theme) performed by DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford.

The Lake, the last time.

The Lake, the last time.

St. Anthony

Track workout today, I was thinking about names.

We have a son. We named him Anthony. If you read these posts you know that Grumpy had a way of convincing everyone around him what he thought were good names for babies. One of my fondest memories growing up was trying to guess what gender the baby was going to be. My spouse and I agreed that not knowing whether you would be blessed with a boy or girl until they made their dramatic arrival was one of life’s great surprises. While Grumpy was a parishioner at St. Patrick’s on Sunday, he frequently went to St. Peter’s on Madison Street during the week. St Peter’s Church has a shrine to St. Anthony and I suspect that Grumpy lit a candle at this shrine many days. He was probably praying that his own children would not get “lost”.

My wife insisted we would have a girl. She was so convinced that I was given naming rights if it was a boy, she would get to name the baby if it was a girl. Upon his birth, the drama culminated with everyone asking me the gender of our child. I joyously responded “It’s an Anthony!” Thanks Grumpy, you have had a very positive influence on my family in every way. I just asked him and he loves his name, Anthony James.

I got to the turnaround point yesterday and the pole was gone. The future path will keep going for almost 100 miles. I think Grumpy is looking out for me! Favorite song today, Just The Way You Are performed by Barry White.

No more turnaround pole.

No more turnaround pole.

Big Thanks

Rest day today, I was thinking about Grumpy.

I hope you are enjoying these stories as much as I enjoy writing them. If you have contributed the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, many thanks. If you plan to contribute, what a great opportunity you have right now.

Here is the link:   http://www2.michaeljfox.org/goto/MichaelDolan

Thanks again for your support and great comments, hope to see you on Sunday.

Michael Dolan

October 3, 2015

Recovery run today, I was thinking about the altitude.

I am training for the Chicago Marathon in the Mile High metropolitan area. This is a blessing and a curse. Most trainers will tell you that you will get a boost when you travel from altitude to sea-level to run a race. So what is my race pace, I don’t know. I still have to go the distance. I am thinking that if you were able to disrupt the gravitational forces and ran 26.2 miles straight up from the earth’s surface, the finish line would be in the stratosphere. In fact, the world record for parachute jumps is 135,890 feet. This converts to 25.7 miles. This is still a half mile short of the marathon distance. Somebody should have told this daredevil to go up another half mile and then given him a medal if his parachute opened. So, I figure the only way that altitude might help me is if I set a record for jumping out of a hot-air balloon. I just would hope that the parachute would open and someone was there to give me a medal. Sounds expensive, I will take my chances at sea-level, actually lake-level ~600 feet above sea-level. Grumpy always kept me grounded. See you next week.

Right on cue, it is getting cloudy and cool. Favorite song today, My Kind of Town performed by Frank Sinatra.

Everybody headed to the Buffs game.

Everybody headed to the Buffs game.