Thursday, June 23, 2016

Running for Wendy

Wendy and I were fortunate to have many great friends. Two of those are our "Round the World Sailors" Alison & Randall Stocker. They are presently on a hiatus from their sailing adventures and touring The States in their Prius. Alison is in secret a great writer. Those of us who read her blog share their adventures. Recently Alison posted a tribute to Wendy and with her permission I am posting it to the blog.

The Photo shows Our late, dear friend Wendy and Alison passing the Washington State Capitol in Olympia as she finishes a half-marathon run wearing Wendy's “suck it up, cupcake!” tee-shirt.

This blog entry is in memory of our dear friend Wendy who died from breast cancer on June 8th, 2016. Wendy and Michael have appeared many times in this blog so even if you did not know them directly, you have seen their pictures here. I brazenly stole this photograph of Wendy from the excellent obituary on her own blog because it so perfectly captures her beauty. Many lovely things have been written on her blog, both in the text and in the comments. If you did know her and would like to join the celebration of her life in Windermere (near Orlando) on July 9th (which I plan to attend), the blog would be the place to find the relevant details.

I will not write much about Wendy here because there is so much good information and heartfelt emotion captured on her blog's recent pages. However, Randall and I consider ourselves truly fortunate to have been able to see or stay with Wendy and Michael on several occasions since our return to Florida in January. We had both known Wendy through professional meetings since the late 1980s and in addition to being a wonderfully warm and loyal friend, she had treated us both to amazing experiences at Disney World (the highlights perhaps being diving in the Epcot Center's Living Seas for me and a guided-tour of the Animal Kingdom for Randall and two grieving friends).

She was initially treated for breast cancer around the time we set sail in 2008 and it looked as though she had made a full recovery until tumors were found in her bones in December 2012. Heroic medical efforts and the most incredibly positive attitudes from Wendy and Michael carried her through another three and a half years of productive and joyful life but, sadly, the disease was ultimately relentless. She will be greatly missed by us all but most especially by her devoted, beloved husband Michael and her close and supportive family.

Now, you may wonder why I have combined our modest blog-memorial to Wendy with a picture of me running. Well, since I realized in January that our stay on land was going to be extended, I have resumed running as a form of exercise. Pounding along every street in the neighborhoods around where we stayed in Gainesville and San Jose, I was gradually increasing the lengths of my runs until it occurred to me that I needed a more significant goal.

So this Sunday morning (Happy Father's Day), with Randall kindly driving the "support-Prius", I ran my first half-marathon distance, along the measured course of the official Olympia Marathon and Half-Marathon (held in May). It was a beautiful day so conditions were perfect and I completed the 13.1 miles or 21.1 km (length of the shortest possible route on the course so I probably actually covered a bit more) in 2 hours 10 minutes 50 seconds. Compared to the 2016 results in Olympia, I would have placed 18 out of 50 in the 50 - 54 year-old class for women. Not bad for a first time and with no competitors.

How is this relevant to Wendy, you may ask. Well, during the period of recovery from her initial cancer treatments, Wendy became a keen triathlete, completing more than 20 events. So while I obviously have much work to do on my swimming and cycling to begin to match her athletic accomplishments, I did decide to dedicate this novice half-marathon effort to Wendy and Michael. There may not have been any competitors, official timers, or audience with which to share my memorial gesture, but I was wearing a shirt that Wendy and Michael gave me when I visited them in early 2013. It was one of a limited-set of tee-shirts made by her family, proudly displaying the catch-phrase that Wendy used when she had to steel herself to cope with another dose of radiation or chemotherapy. Pounding along a nearly deserted, neighborhood-road at 9 am on a sunny Sunday morning bears no comparison to what Wendy tolerated, but during miles 12 and 13 it felt really good to imagine hearing her say loud and clear,"Suck It Up,Cupcake!".

Alison and Randall's sailboat, Tregoning, is currently in Whangarei Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, New Zealand but they are in Olympia, WA. Visit her excellent blog at

Love you, Michael

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