2011 was the year of changes and challenges. Running was down this year as I started the year still recovering from an injury, and although I had lost a step or 2, it was still a good "off" year. I returned to the track and took advantage of the opportunity to race Masters invite races at Hayward Field in the Mile and 3000. Times were slow, but nothing can beat racing on that track, even if it's just for the fun of it.
Friends were lost and new friends were made just as with any other year it seems. My best man Uncle Mike passed away from cancer. He showed me what true love looked like. Throughout his whole life, he was like a teenager in love with his wife, his Honey Bunch, my Aunt Betty. Uncle Mike was my best friend Dan's uncle. It was a tough day knowing that he was gone, but I was at peace knowing that he was reuinited with Dan again.
We said farewell to our beloved Lilly. She was filled with challenges and plenty of gas... not to mention the shoestrings that were still to be found around the house months after she was gone. We got Lilly when she was 4 and had a rough start to her life. She was Barley's best friend and house mate. It's rare to have a Great Dane live to almost 11 years of age, it's even more rare when they had as many issues as she did. To this day we still miss that giant head. When she wanted my attention in the morning, she'd flip the covers back, never giving me a chance to ignore her. It was a tough decision to make, but it was the right one. We wanted her to have her dignity being the proud creature that she always was.
Beth accomplished something special when she succesfully defended her dissertation after what felt like an eternity (what a long strange trip that was... a 5 year journey that is now completed). It was bittersweet considering all that she went through, but it was a huge relief to have that done. Once you have your Ed.D. no one can take it away from you. It also allowed her to make the jump to the collegiate level. Whether she stays on that path or not, she can at least now say that she accomplished her goal. This is dedicated to Tom Ruhl. Without his guidance and mentoring, I'm not certain Beth could have done this. Truly a great man that will be missed. Tom passed away this last year, which was sad that he could not see her make it to the finish line.
With this new journey, big changes were in the making. Her new job was going to take us 3000 miles away, back to her home. It meant taking a chance, leaving our home of 7 years, and starting over. It also meant leaving what had become my dream job, working for Nike. When you grow up a runner in Eugene during the prime years of Athletics West, going to work for Nike is the golden challace. As one manager (and friend) stated, "Eric not only drinks the Nike kool-aid, he makes the Nike kool-aid!"
Fortunately for me, my hard work and dedication was not overlooked. I feel blessed and will always be grateful for the people that reached out to help me make the right connections with Converse (a Nike affiliate company). My time off turned into a mini-sabattical and after a few weeks off I not only made the transition, but turned it into a great new opportunity. Thank you Lori, Ron, Patty, Brandy, Lyndal, and all the great people at Converse!
2012 will being about many changes as we slowly settle into New England. We'll find our place where we can enjoy life and fulfillment with new friends and family.
To all our friends and family on the West Coast, we miss you all dearly and hope to see some of you out here (or perhaps out there if I get some trips to Beaverton) in the New Year!