Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saying Goodbye

I'm going to warn you from the get-go, this isn't the most uplifting read. But, it won't be long and I promise it'll be worth your while. A week ago today, the world lost a young man that the endurance community would have been proud to call one of their own. The kind that had a thirst for constant adventure and a zest for life that was admirable. That was Tyler.

Growing up, Tyler primarily lived with his mother, but frequented his dad's house on the weekends. His father was my next door neighbor. By default, we were instant friends. I remember summer days spent on our bikes cruisin' around the neighborhood and stopping at the local White Hen for a refreshing Slurpie. Summer nights were spent running around the baseball fields behind our houses chasing fireflies and playing Ghost in the Graveyard. 

The older we got, the less we saw of each other. Our high schools were big cross town rivals and our time together was often spent yelling cliche high school chants at each other from opposite ends of the gymnasium. After college, we very rarely saw each other. But our communication strictly involved all things endurance. Tyler made running a marathon look like a warm-up. The Ultra-Marathon was his forte. Whether it was on the road or on the trails, he excelled in distance. And he didn't stop with his running shoes. An avid cyclist and snow skier as well, he did it all. He even dipped his toes into the triathlon world more than once.

"BRB I'm gonna go run a quick 100"

I remember a few local races, watching Tyler approach the starting line, knowing that was likely the only time I'd see him throughout the entire race. Did I mention, the kid could kick it into high gear when he really wanted to. I remember how he always had a smile on his face. And he always wanted to know about my latest racing en-devours. And when you talked about any sort of challenging undertaking, his eyes lit up. And when he spoke to you, you could tell he was truly taking an interest in you. And he always called my parents Mr. and Mrs. Hode. No matter how many times my mother scolded him. "Tyler, please call me Vickie!" And I remember as he ran, his wild, out control, overgrown, curly hair flapped in the wind. And I remember how much he loved life and all that it gave him. A wife, a daughter, and one on the way. If ever there was a life taken to soon, it was Tyler's. 

In a few short days, Facebook will remind me of this heartbreaking memory

I couldn't tell you the last time I spoke to Tyler, which reminds me that I need to be more diligent with how I keep in contact with old acquaintances. Our last conversation was likely race related. And I can only pray that his final days were as joyful as when we shared the road together. 

If you have the means and can consider a donation to Tyler's wife and growing family, you can do so here. I'm about to lace up for my standard Saturday long run on the most perfect day in February, thanks to you know who.  And in a few short hours I'll be saying my final goodbyes. 

Cheers to one of the communities best.

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