Thursday, December 31, 2009


2009 was a busy and life-changing year for me and my family. Weddings, babies, anniversaries, war and Ironman kept us pretty busy. Hope everyone had a great 2009 and hope you have an even better 2010. Here's my top 10 list for the year from my blog. These are edited versions. The dates of the original posts are listed if you want to read the entire piece.

1) 30 years married to my soul mate:Blog Date March 14, 2009
This is the big event of my life this year. Karen and my 30th wedding anniversary.
Trying to come up with a title for this post has proven to be difficult. The title has ranged from "Just Kids," to "Remember When," after the song that is playing (if you have your volume turned up). In the end I went with what it is, "Notes on a Marriage."

I've been planning on writing something along these lines for months in honor of our 30th wedding anniversary, and it has taken me that long to try to figure out how to write it. But how do you comprise 30 years of marriage into a short blog entry? How personal do you get? Do you just focus on the funny things? The romantic moments? Or maybe just list all the embarrassing times, such as when the cop knocked on our car door window, pointed to the ground and asked, "Is that your underwear?" Well, maybe I'll leave out the embarrassing moments.

So I started jotting down notes and this is what flowed out. Of course it doesn't tell the whole story, but like the title says, it's notes on our lives together.

On April 8, Karen and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Thirty years. Wow! How we have changed. How we have grown up. We were just kids when we met. Just kids when we ran off to Reno to get married. We were just kids when we had to come back home (unmarried, because we weren’t old enough to get married) to face her dad.

We were just kids when we finally did get married. Just kids when we had baby Number 1 ... and baby Number 2. We were just kids when we lost baby Number 3. And still just kids when we had baby Number 4.

We were just kids when we took baby Number 1 to Shriners Hospital where she would spend much of her first few years. We did a lot of growing up in those years. But we were still just kids all the while Karen stood next to the hospital bed and nursed baby Number 1 while she was in traction for weeks. We were just kids learning to be parents while baby Number 1 had more than 40 surgeries, including a leg amputated, her spine fused and had to spend a week in ICU, intubated, scared and confused. We were just scared kids then. All of this drew us closer together, but matured us beyond our years.

We were just kids when we adopted our two youngest babies to complete our family. We were just kids with kids until we weren’t. Somewhere along the way we grew up -- emotionally and physically. I’m not sure when, but looking back we went from carefree youths to worry-some parents overnight. We were teens when we were married. Teens when we had babies. All the odds said we wouldn’t last and, a few times, we almost didn’t. We were told before (and after) we were married that most teen marriages don’t last more than five years, so we made it our goal to last at least five years. It was rough at times, but five years came and went. Babies raising babies. Karen learned to cook and do the shopping, and I learned to go to work everyday.

The early years were hard. But without them we wouldn't be who we are today. Year 7 was a hard year, as was year 9. The odd years always were harder for some reason. The years flew by. We lived and loved. We fought with each other, and for each other. We grew close and we grew apart. But mostly we grew up. Then year 19 happened ...

2) Aaron and Grace marry: Blog date August 21, 2009
Our son, Aaron, is getting married today (Friday) in the philippines. Aaron's soon-to-be wife, Grace, is from the Philippines and out of courtesy for her family they chose to get married there. They are planning a second wedding here for Aaron's family and friends, however.

My thoughts will be with Aaron and Grace as I'm out on my bike today. Six hours on a bike provides lots of thinking time. In honor of Aaron and Grace's wedding today, and out of necessity, I'm going to have something borrowed and something blue on my bike.

For my 100-mile bike ride I will literally be on borrowed tires. Last night while getting my bike ready for my ride I noticed my front tire had a big slice in it and that it probably wouldn't last for that long of a ride. And with the bike stores already closed my only option was to "borrow" the tires off Karen's bike. Her blue tires off her blue bike.

So for six hours or so I'll be thinking of our son and his new wife and wedding traditions, romance and newly weds, and borrowed blue tires on my white and black bike and all the while wondering if Karen will notice when she goes to ride her bike to work that there are no blue tires on her blue bike ...

I haven't blogged about this until now. Our daughter, Rachael, and her husband, Josh, are expecting their first baby - due in May. Which makes Karen and I expectant grandparents. So congratulations to Rachael and Josh. Josh is in the Army and will be deployed to the Philippines in a few weeks and will miss the birth of their daughter. Did I mention Karen is going to be one sexy grandma?

4) Our baby goes to war: Blog date Dec. 4, 2009 and Nov. 11, 2009
Daniel became a US Marine right out of high school a couple of years ago. After boot camp in San Diego he was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina with the 2nd Marines, 2nd Battalion, Easy Company. They were deployed to the Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan in October. It's hard watching the baby of the family go off to war.

We finally received a letter from Daniel, or should I say Lance Cpl. Wrighthouse. Mail to and from Afghanistan is shipped on a slow boat to China I think. We've mailed Daniel many letters and a package and he has yet to receive any. Daniel says he has mailed us several letters and we finally received this one. (You can read his letter if you go to this blog entry).

The Marine Corps also has an e-mail program that is supposed to be faster than using the US Postal service but We'll have to wait and see. I know, there's a war going on and mail is an after thought for the military, but it is frustrating as a parent to not be able to communicate with your child, I mean Marine, in a timely manner.

Each month the Marines send out a newsletter to the families of those who are serving. This is our first newsletter since Daniel has been deployed. It's a little unnerving especially when the commander admits it's dangerous and scary but it is what it is. If you want to write Daniel while he is deployed his address is:

lcpl wrighthouse, James D.
2/2 E Co unit 73070
FPO AE 09510-3070

It's OK if you don't know him personally. Just write to say hi and tell him what's happening in the world. Remember, he and the rest of Easy Company are cut off from the news of the rest of the world. The postage is the same as if it were being mailed within the US. Thanks and here's the newsletter if you care to read it ...

5) A perfect day: Blog date Oct. 15, 2009
This was a fun post to write. i got to relive my Ironman experience and share it with everyone else. The most memorable part of doing Ironman is definitely running down Alii Drive at the end of the race and entering the finishing chute so that's where I started my story - at the end.
Up until two years ago I spent the past 30 years as a couch potato. The extent of my activities involved eating and watching TV. I lived a very pedestrian life. But two years ago I decided to compete in a triathlon. I was 30 pounds over weight, couldn't swim and couldn't run a mile without walking most of it. Through hard work, self-discipline and a lot of encouragement from family and friends I somehow managed to qualify for the biggest triathlon event in the world: The Ford Ironman World Championship. I still can't believe I was a part of it this year.

Here's how race day went for me.
Turning the corner onto Alii Drive a flood of emotions poured over me. Running in the darkness through hundreds of spectators lining the street cheering me on, I couldn't stop smiling. Even after enduring 140 miles in under 13 hours I felt no more pain and no more exhaustion. Friends and strangers were calling out my name, patting me on the back and congratulating me. Oliver Kiel, owner of Cycle Station, ran out of the crowd and placed a lei on my neck.

A little girl about 3 or 4 years old was standing with her father on the side of the road clapping. When I ran by them the girl yelled out "You're an Ironman!" Her words were still hanging in the air when I turned the corner and saw the spot lights at the finish line. With just a couple of hundred yards to go I finally allowed myself to believe I was really going to be an Ironman. ...

6) Marked for life: Blog date Oct. 20, 2009
How often does an event so affect your life that you have to do something fanatical to mark the occasion?
Just like getting married and having children, Ironman was a life-changing event for me. The full effects are still hidden from me but I feel differently and I think differently than I did before Ironman.

There's a saying around Ironman: "Anything is possible!" And it is. I have attained a goal that two years ago was an impossibility for me. Since I've completed Ironman I feel as if I can do whatever I set my mind to.

You probably know my story: Two years ago I couldn't swim, couldn't run a mile without walking but I fantasized about participating in the Ironman World Championship. An event where everyone who participates in it has to qualify for. You can't just pay your money and enter. You have to earn your way there and two years ago that was impossible for me. ...

... The new Iron Me includes my new Ironman tattoo. I'm still trying to decide which hurt more; doing Ironman or getting the tattoo. Yeah, I know, branding my body with a corporate symbol is selling out to the man, but I figure this brand means more to me than just a corporate symbol.

To me this tat represents the day I conquered fear and came face-to-face with who I really am. The day I fought a few inner demons for 12 hours and 42 minutes and won. It represents the day I swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles then ran a marathon. The day I became an Ironman. It was a good day. Can you hear it? Life is calling.

7) Karen does Lavaman Triathlon: Blog date March 30, 2009
This is from Karen's blog dated March 30, 2009 and you can see photos and read the entire post here You'll need to scroll down to find it.
Whew! It's finally over. I had a blast and am so glad I did it.
I wasn't really too nervous until we went to the pre-race meeting the night before. Just hearing all the rules and having so many competitors packed into the ballroom where we met, got my nerves racing. My heart started beating fast, I felt sick to my stomach, and I really, really didn't want to do the race.
Sunday morning came early, after not sleeping too well, and we got out to Waikaloa about 5:30am. When we got there, the wind was blowing so hard and I was pretty disappointed. I was hoping for no wind. But by 6:30 the wind was completely gone. What a relief!
The swim had five different wave starts, three minutes apart, mine being the last. I was kind of bummed that I was starting last, but thankful that I wasn't first where 900 people would be climbing over me.
My swim went good, for me. I felt strong, passed a lot of people from earlier waves, and felt great coming out of the water.
The bike was also going great. I felt really strong, I passed a lot of riders, the hills didn't phase me. Usually I dread them. At the turn around, my bike average was higher than it ever has been for that ride and I still felt strong.
But then the wind came. I don't know why it couldn't have held off until everyone was done with the bike part of the triathlon, but it came hard. A brutal headwind that got worse each mile closer to the end. It totally zapped all the energy I had been feeling ...

8) The youth of old age: Blog date April 29, 2009
THis is from Karen's blog as well. Click here to read it and see some funny photos. You'll need to scroll down to April 29.
Happy birthday Randy!
Wow!!! 50 years old today!
I can't believe you're 50; 49 maybe, but not 50!

Here's something, Randy, to let you know what 50 is going to be like.

*You first forget names,
then you forget faces,
then you forget to pull your zipper up,
then you forget to pull your zipper down.
*Your back goes out more than you do.
*Your cardiologist gives you this special diet:
If it tastes good, spit it out.
*Your narrow waist and a broad mind begin to change places.
*You can finally afford the rings you want, but you'd rather no one noticed your hands.
*You wear black socks with sandals.
*Your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio.
*All you want for your birthday is to not be reminded of your age.
*Your idea of weight lifting is standing up.
*Your address book has mostly names that start with Dr.
*You sit in a rocking chair and can't get it going.
*Getting "lucky" means you found your car in the parking lot.
*You can remember when motorcycles were dangerous and sex was safe!
*You've seen it all, done it all, but can't remember most of it.
*You no longer have to worry about avoiding temptation because it now avoids you.
*According to your best recollection, you don't remember.
*You buy a compass for the dash of your pickup
*You smile all the time because you can't hear a thing anyone is saying.
*You are not grouchy, you just don't like traffic, waiting, crowds, loud music, kids, and some other things you can't seem to remember right now.
*You're still able to recall where you left your keys, but not what they unlock.

9) Family
Living out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it can be difficult, and expensive, for family to come and visit or to visit family on the mainland. Ths year was a treat. First, our son Jonathan and his girl friend, Janelle, came to visit and watch me compete at Ironman. It has been two years since I last saw him so it was a great treat and made Ironman mean so much more to me by having him here. In June, our Danish daughter, Camilla and her fiance, Alan came to visit from Denmark. They were here to cheer me on for the Ironman 70.3 race - the race I qualified for Ironman at. Camilla was our exchange student in Oregon about 4 years ago and we just sort of adopted her unofficially.

10) On the small screen: Blog date Dec. 24, 2009
Here's my spot on NBC's Ironman show that aired Dec. 19. This kind of puts a ribbon on a day that was very special for me. It was nice of NBC to use my segment since I'm just a typical triathlete, nothing special, no disabilities or previous fame. Just one of the masses.

When I first saw Ironman a few years ago I was so impressed by the age groupers finishing late at night. Their determination, their drive, and the joy of accomplishing something so amazinig, it inspired me so much so that it got me off the couch, made me learn to swim just so I could participate in a triathlon. Who knew I would eventually become one of those insane Ironmen. I just hope I can inspire someone to get off the couch the way I was inspired. You don't have to be special, athletic or be at your ideal weight. You just need to have an overpowering desire to push yourself beyond what you think you can do and have an unwavering believe that anything is possible. And it is. Look at me. I did it and two years ago it was totally impossible for me to even think I could become an Ironman, or so I thought.

Well, that's my list of the top 10 events of 2009 in my life. Fortunately, nothing tragic or heartbreaking appears on the list. All in all it was a great year filled with adventure and self-discovery.

Happy New Year everyone.


BreeWee said...

MOST Happy New Year Randy, Karen and family.... LOTS of love and hugs to you all for an even more exciting 2010!

debbie said...



What do you do when you don't have time to go out on location to do urban sketching? My time is very limited and I often don't have ...