A short run with Bob

Bob is in the white shirt

“After nearly four years of battling multiple myeloma, Bob has been admitted into home hospice care to live out his final journey in life.”

That was the first thing I read on my Facebook feed this morning as I was getting ready to head out on a run.

I met Bob on May 5, 2017. He was one of the 4 people that showed up for an event I called the Escarpment 5.5. Escarpment Blvd. spans a few beautiful neighborhoods in southwest Austin and measures in at exactly 5.5 miles. I thought it would be a cool idea to host a 5.5-mile run on 5/5 at 5:55 p.m. I thought it would be such a cool idea that I put the idea out there to my neighborhood run club Facebook group of 300+ people.

Forty people signed up for the Escarpment 5.5. Five showed up, myself included. Bob was one of them. After the 5 of us exchanged introductions and took somewhat-awkward photos, like the one above, we all set out on the 5.5-mile southbound run to the terminus of Escarpment.

As I type this, I’m rubbing my temple while trying to remember when exactly Bob told me that he had multiple myeloma. I don’t remember if it was when we were running together during the first mile, or when it was when we all met back up at the end as we’d all separated somewhere during the trip due to varying paces.

There are two things that immediately stuck out to me about Bob:

  1. He’s a genuinely good and nice person. I’m pretty far over on the introverted scale, so I don’t like to talk about myself, especially to a person that I’ve just met. But Bob asked me questions and he genuinely listened as he learned about me. We talked about family, work, interests, hobbies. Running was a hobby of Bob’s, and he wanted to get back to running more often. And I’m pretty sure that’s when and why he told me that he had cancer.
  2. Bob has cancer. And he showed up to run 5+ miles during the hottest part of day in May in Austin. To hell with the 35 other people who said they’d come out. I was running with a bona fide badass.

I think it took about an hour for the whole crew to regroup at the southernmost point of Escarpment. Elise and Mara were waiting for us at the end of the run with brisket, tortillas, watermelon, water, Gatorade and beer. My family and the runners hung out for another hour or so and talked. Eventually everyone had to peel off to go wherever they were off to next in their lives.

Bob stayed back. He needed a way to get back to his car at the corner of Wm Cannon and Escarpment 5.5 miles away. Elise and I were more than happy to give him a lift.

Now, if you know my wife, you probably know that she can talk the bark off of a tree. So I literally took a backseat to Bob’s and Elise’s conversation as we drove Bob back to his car. And I’ll be the first to admit my ignorance about multiple myeloma, so I didn’t inquire much about it when he and I were running together. Elise asked as many questions of Bob as she could in the 10 minute car ride.

I listened as he talked about the countless doctor visits, weeks at MD Anderson, low blood counts, fatigue, being sick more often than not, weight loss, the loss of his independence. But through that all, I heard the faith, courage, strength and hope in every word that came out his mouth.

Bob expressed, in many instances, that he wanted to run more. He’d ran and was a fan of the Statesman’s Capital 10k. I’d taken a bit of interest in trail running that year, so we agreed that we should get together for some runs. On the roads or on the trails. Wherever our feet would take us.

We never went for those runs. Part of me is sad because we didn’t go on those runs. But part of me also finds a bit of comfort and knows that maybe those weren’t supposed to happen. Given the occasional updates that Bob has posted on Facebook, he’s been busy fighting like hell and living his life to its fullest with his wife, daughters, family and friends.

We’ll hit the trails together one day.