I am happy when .. Kelty

The other night I was laying on the coach and listening to Kelty cry. If you know her, then you wouldn’t be surprised by this story. As wonderful of a dog as she is, she likes to cry for attention a lot. She doesn’t ever bark (maybe 5 times in 10 years, potentially less), she doesn’t pee in the house (definitely less than 5 times in 10 years) but she does like to cry. So at first I ignored it. I ended up going to bed and since Nikki is away dog sitting other dogs, I let her sleep in the bed with me. It is kind of a habit, because if I don’t she cries until I do.

Even as she was in the bed she continued to cry. She ended up standing right over my head and crying to ensure I couldn’t sleep. I started to worry after about an hour of petting her and trying to figure out what was wrong. She was breathing funny and then I started to really get worried. At 13 to 14 years of age, I am starting to fear the worst in these moments.

I decided to go sleep on the couch, bringing her along to see if that would help. As I walked up the stairs, she followed and then I heard her tumble. I looked back and she was at the bottom. She started back up and a few steps up, she fell down again. I picked her up and carried her to the couch. We laid there as she cried. I continued to pet her and hoped it was helping at least a bit. By 2:45am, I was getting pretty tired, she was not. At some point I finally fell asleep. The next morning, I saw her fall over trying to walk. She couldn’t stand long enough to go to the bathroom and then I got really sad.

If you go back to the origin of Kelty into my life, you would have to know that it was not with a great deal of excitement. I was living in Colorado, Nikki was living in Kentucky still, but with plans to move as soon as she finished school. Then for some reason, Nikki decided to get a dog from the Humane Society. I was not only against it, I was pretty pissed off. The thought of having to find a place to rent that would allow dogs, the need to find someone to take care of her when we wanted to do anything, the general hassle… I was 100% against it.

Like many things in life, the anxiety I have about the future never came true. Kelty moved in with me, as Nikki lived with a co-worker of mine, while I had an apartment of my own. My landlord did not really say she could live there, but it worked out.

We quickly became great friends, as she loved running more than I did. We would regularly go to the Divide Park, which had a 3 mile trail loop with hundreds of acres of open field. I would run the loop and she would run – everywhere. On weekends, we would go hiking on a new trail and she would always lead the way.

After we moved back to Kentucky, we continued to run, although mostly on sidewalks and stuck to me with a lease – I imagine she’s run 100’s of miles with me. The truth is that she ran really well and you never had to worry about her pulling you in different directions. We even won the Mutt Strut together one year and were titled the fastest human / dog team in town. She really was my motivation for that race, as she pulled me for the majority of the run.

The same is not true if you take her on a walk. She is terrible to walk with, but we still do it everyday. Most days we get coffee from the Daily Grind, so she can get a treat from her friends there and two treats from her friend at the dry cleaners we pass. Her running days are over, but the morning walk is still something we both look forward to with anticipation as soon as we wake up.

I know she is getting older and that is just part of the deal. But yesterday and today have been pretty sad to see a once superior athlete struggle to walk without falling over backwards. She wants to go run so bad, but the body just isn’t working for her. I do wonder if the little show she put on last week, sprinting back and forth through the yard and around the trees for 15 to 20 minutes was just too much. Like an old and worn out athlete, trying to make one last display of greatness. Maybe she has some lessons to share with Brett Farve?

Anyway… I always learn something from her. Today on my little run, that I wasn’t all that excited to go do, I did think of her around mile 4. I thought about how much she would love to be running with me. It made me very grateful for the gift I have today. The gift of running.

I am writing this as she lays on the coach next to my feet. Crying of course!

It’s only fitting that the next post I have for my “I’m happy when..” series includes her. And it simply needs to say, I’m happy when – Kelty. I’m just happy when we do anything together, I’m so thankful for the Lexington Humane Society 10 years ago and that Nikki didn’t listen to me and my fears.

Kelty at the top of the Crags hike. Teller County, Colorado.
Kelty at the top of the Crags hike. Teller County, Colorado.
Kelty and I in the summer of 2006, after a longer day of training.
Kelty and I in the summer of 2006, after a longer day of training.
National Trails Day, 2005 on the Divide Trail. Kelty and my daily running ground.
National Trails Day, 2005 on the Divide Trail. Kelty and my daily running ground.

Lessons from Sav

When you first learned about Sav, his story about immigrating to the United States, starting a business in Lexington and the number of people that have positive things to say about him, you would think that the biggest lessons about success would be found in his unique back story.

Yesterday, I feel like I learned a lot about success from a guy that I have met only a few times. I also think that this lesson is applicable to business and life in general.

Let me start with my first experience at Sav’s Grill. I had a client that had consistently talked about the restaurant and the quality of the food. There had been an article in the Chevy Chaser, I believe, so I was somewhat familiar with Sav’s story – I just had not made it there to eat yet. So when Nikki and I walked in to have dinner, I had two first impressions. The decor was authentic and interesting. I remember looking at the different wall art and wondering if it was local to the place he had grown up in Africa. I also remember thinking, this is a fairly simple set up and execution of a business.

I ended up ordering the dish with goat meat and peanut sauce. You may ask, how do I remember what I had to eat? The answer is that I have had the same dish several times, but throughout the thirty to forty minutes Nikki and I were eating, the choice of goat meat was the topic of discussion multiple times. The goat meat was not a topic due to its novelty in local food choices, it was because Sav both explained and apologized several times that the meat had bones in it. He explained that the current cost of the meat required purchasing the meat with bones. As I had just met him, I was not sure if his apologies were to raise awareness or he truly felt like he wanted to offer something different?

I explained to him that having the bones was perfectly acceptable. In fact, it made the dish feel more authentic and provided an experience I enjoyed. As we finished our meal, he came by our booth and took our trays. He thanked us for our visit, which was probably the third time he had done so in the time we were there.

As Nikki and I walked out, I remember thinking that the food was good and that Sav is either the most personable and happy individual I had met, or he is just good at faking it.

My next experience at Sav’s Grill was the same, along with the following visit. Each time I have walked into the restaurant to eat, Sav was so welcoming. He made you feel like you were invited into his home to eat dinner with his family. It did not require you to go into the store to find out about Sav’s personality. There have been times that I have been walking by the store on Limestone, as he was sitting on a chair in front, and as I pass he greets me with the same vibrant welcome. I often wonder if he really remembers me and knows who I am, or is he like that with every single person. It doesn’t matter, in the moment he makes me happy.

The last experience I had eating at Sav’s Grill was just like the one’s I have just described. Although, Nikki and I decided to walk across the street to Sav’s Chill and get some ice cream. As we stood there getting our scoops, Sav walked into the store, almost as if he had followed us across the street to thank us for coming into that store also. As much as I know about Sav, that may be exactly what he had done?

I honestly have no idea how successful the two stores on Limestone are. I know he works hard and has kept them running over the years, so they might be doing well in terms of a business. No matter how well they are doing, they are not as successful as they should be.

But, that is not the lesson that I see when I look at what Sav offers me. Yesterday, when I learned of the accident and the burns he suffered over 50% of his body – it made me sad. I do not know the details of the accident, nor would I want to speculate, but from the postings on Facebook from Chuck Creacy of Smiley Pete I have learned a little.

The lesson I learned from Sav, is that nice guys can succeed. In life and in business. The out pouring of support by the community yesterday was impressive. I believe it shows what a great community we have in Lexington, but it more likely is a reflection of the type of person Sav is. I imagine that every single person who donated, shared the story or commented about the accident felt the same way I did everytime I went to his resturant to eat. It appeared to me last night that Sav is one of the most successful business men that I have ever met. It may not make the cover of Forbes, saying as much, but his success is much more sustaining and impacting.

Every restaurant owner is asked at some point what their “secret sauce” is. If I could answer that for Sav, I would say his is that he treats people well. It seems so simple to do, but I think yesterday’s response shows that while it may be easy to do, so few do it as well.

Get well soon!

Here is a link to his donations page: Give Forward – Momadou ‘Sav’ Savane

Zap Fitness Running Camp – Day 2, Blog1

Zapp Headquarters
Zapp Headquarters

When you make the decision to run at a camp that is home to a group of young runners still aspiring to greatest, one might think that it would be very intimidating. The idea of being around runners that have delayed the life of corporate successes, personal relationships and general advancement in what the normative behavior of American society offers can seem intimidating.

Why is it intimidating?

The most clear reason that I have come up with is that they are different than me. It is always uncomfortable being around others that are not like you. By saying this, I do not mean they are weird or crazy. They are just not the typical individual. Specifically because they have a vision for what they want to achieve and have committed their lives to do everything they can to pursue that vision.
This fact alone is what I think makes them not only different than me, but different than most. The common way to go about life is to compromise a decision here or there early in our adult lives. We may decide to chose a major in college because it was expected of us, not what we were passionate about. We may take an internship over the summer we do not want, because spending the summer traveling the country and experiencing new cities and places sounds better. We may take the most well paid position when we get out of school, instead of taking less money in a position that allows us to learn and experience things that excite us.

It is interesting that when taken in isolation, every decision can feel like it was the best decision for the moment. I know that when I look back at all the decisions I have made, I never made one without an enormous amount of diligent research and thought. In the moment, the decision was a good decision. The trouble comes when I start looking at those decisions in sequence and as a journey, there were probably wrong choices to create the legacy that I hope to leave on this world.

I personally do not regret any decision as I look back and evaluate where I have been. The choices have provided me some great experiences, great friendships and I have generally trended in the direction I want my long term vision to be. I have respect for the guidance that brought me to this point, being regretful, I believe would be dishonoring that voice.

But that is where the runners at Zap have something that inspires me. They have a vision that is so strong that all decisions are made through that filter. Just last night at dinner, I was talking to a runner that has an education that could open doors to almost any job he would want. In the least, he could find someone to listen. He talked about ideas he had to use that education when he was done running, but then laid out a very clear understanding that those days are many years away. The clarity of the vision is not intimidating, it is inspiring!

What the first two days have been like for me.

The mountains are purifying. This has always been true for me. When I allow them to provide that benefit. I think Nikki would tell you that when we lived in Teller County, Colorado I was more than anxious to find something “different”. It was probably one of the decisions made in isolation and not understanding the larger picture. I lived in a small apartment in Divide that looked out at an unobstructed view of Pikes Peak. For one’s spirit, there is not a more majestic scenery to see each morning. But the clean mountain air, the cool temperatures and the constant hammering of your scenses with things that are not artificial is a wonderful place to be.

That is what the first two days have been about for me. I came to Zap with Thomas and Ali Morgan and Dave Jankowski who all lived and ran for the Zap team for some period of time. In just the two days here, I have heard them all say something to the effect of how easily one can forget the value of being in a place that almost forces you to disconnect and relax.

I came to this weekend with the desire to run on some new trails, spend some time with other runners, learn from runners that have experiences that I have never had and just relax. I am only about 50% through my stay and I have accomplished all of those things.

The benefits that I did not expect have been the following:

* Two of the deepest sleeps I have had in months. Last night this sleep was accompanied by some of the most vivid dreams I have had in a long time. The restoration has been amazing.

* The food has been beyond amazing. Thomas had said that we would have really good food while we were here, which I was a little skeptical about. “How good can camp food really be?” The answer is that it can be way better than your expectations.

* I have started to check my phone much less and loosened the digital tether to some degree. Nikki may say that I’m never tethered to my phone, but that is because I am usually tethered to a computer with headset and microphone or another digital device. Thus far at Zap, I have not ended that (obviously as evidenced by this post), but I have been willing to get out for a hike and just go spend time standing by the creek too.

You can find out more about the Zap Team and their camp on their site: Zap Fitness