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I ran a Half Marathon Daddy Happy Fathers Day

Today is Father’s Day and I’m struggling with missing my Dad terribly. I miss my Dad everyday but I think there are some days when it is worse than others. Father’s Day, the anniversary of the day he passed away, and his Birthday.

IMG_5302Yesterday, I ran a 5K in honor of my Father at the Dadfest 5K in Frisco Texas. I finished in just under 37 minutes and then doubled back to where my friends were ( they were walking it instead of running or jogging it ) and finished again with them at just a little under an hour. ( 00:59:24.748 )My total distance yesterday was 4.75mi with a 13.07 min/mi pace.

This morning when I woke up and saw all the “Happy Father’s Day” messages on Facebook I realized it was going to be a really hard day for me. I sat on the end of the bed sobbing my eyes out and feeling the pain of missing my Dad in my life as I composed a poem for him.

My Dad was so special to me. I looked up to him so much. He was really one of the most amazing men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. They don’t build men like my Father anymore and I can honestly say that I feel blessed to have known him, and even more so, to have been raised by him. My Father helped mold me into the woman I am today and I am eternally grateful for the thing that he taught me.

I wish that I could tell you how much I miss you so.

Or explain how hard I struggle with how I had to watch you go.

My life has changed so much since the day had to leave.

And it hurts sometime that you’re not here to see what I’ve achieved.

You taught me to be kind and you told me I was smart.

And said that anything worth doing, was worth doing with all my heart.

You taught me to love others even if they couldn’t love me.

You taught me to be strong and face my fears with dignity.

You taught me to give back and to be someone that cares.

You taught me to be loving and be someone that shares.

You taught me life’s a river and destiny a dance.

And told me to approach each moment as a chance.

And though it hurts that you’re not here to share the journey I’ve begun.

I know that I can find your guidance when I exercise and run.

I miss your hugs, I miss your smile but most I miss you voice.

And I know you wouldn’t have left me if life offered another choice.

I know that you would smile and tell me it’s okay.

And to go and do something else because it’s just another day.

But I had to say I love you, even though you can’t be near.

And let you know I feel your presence even though you can’t be here.

And since I know you’re listening, there’s just one more thing to say…

Thank you for being my Dad, and Happy Father’s Day.

IMG_5310After I wrote the poem I knew that the only way I was going to make it through the day was to spend some time running and feeling connected to my Father.

I set out to do my usual 5K, but today I was running out emotions and as I finished the first 3.1 miles a little voice inside me started to ask, I wonder if I could run a Half-Marathon today. I dismissed it at first, thinking shut up Pandora, that’s crazy, you haven’t trained for a half marathon. Then I thought, I did a 5K for Dad yesterday, maybe I could do a 10K today. I did a 10K, and then, I kept going. I pushed for a 15K next, thinking “Hey maybe I can run 9.3, I’ve never gone that far before.” I did a 15K, I got that 9.3 and then I kept going, and I got that 13.1 – Actually I got 13.2 as I ended up at my special little ending place in the middle of my friends community where I decided to make a video and share this very special non scale victory moment with you.

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Click the photo clip below to watch the video.

IMG_5313I struggled on Mile 11 to Mile 12 and I ended up walking that whole mile as I refueled with a Starbucks iced coffee and a banana. And the closer I got to the end of that half-marathon the more emotional it became for me. I reached out to a few dear friends at that point to try to distract myself from how hard those last two miles were and when Joy called me back I was hauling my eyes out in an emotional whirlwind of being proud of what I was about to accomplish and yet so sad at how much I was missing my Father. I was at 12.26 miles when Joy called me, and she stayed on the phone with me, listening to me and supporting me and cheering me on and reminding me how proud my Father would be of me until she had to go to meet with a client. When Joy hung up I was at just about 12.8 miles – I pushed hard at that point and I made it. Then I sat down, cried it out, and took a moment to catch my breath and gathered my thoughts for a moment before I made the above mentioned video.

After the video, I walked home, ( another .74 miles ) – I was sore and stiff and that three-quarters of a mile took me nearly twelve minutes.

Then I sat there down for a moment and looked at what I had accomplished.

13.20 Miles – 2:52:45 Average Pace 13:05

00.74 Miles – 0:11:39 Average Pace 15:46

Total – 13.94 Miles 3:04:24 

IMG_5315My Father is a huge part of my weight loss journey. Him coming to me and letting me know that he was concerned for my health was a hug part of my decision to have weight loss surgery. “Honey I love you fat or skinny, black or white, but I’m not going to be around too much longer and I need to know you are going to have a happy and healthy life.” Those words will stick with me forever and forever motivate me to maintain my 260 lb, weight loss.

This was an amazing day for me. It really was. I will be proud of this day for a very long time to come. But for right now, it’s time for me to get some sleep because morning will come early and I have something else I have to do to make my Dad proud tomorrow… classes at the Cooper Institute. Coaching Healthy Behaviors here I come.


Sometimes There Just Are No Words

People ask me often what I believe in. This is a hard question for me, but what I do believe in, without a doubt, is unconditional love.

Unconditional love is a rarity in our world, it is not something that everyone is capable of giving and in truth I am not sure it is something that I ever would have understood had I not had the opportunity to experience it with my Father. My Dad loved me unconditionally, there was never a doubt in my mind, no matter where I went, what I did or what mistakes I made, my Dad was always there to ask me if I wanted him to beat up someone or if I needed anything. We assume that this sort of love exists between parents and children, sometimes we like to believe that it exists between spouses or partners, but really, the truth is, this sort of love is rare and usually, we all have a breaking point and a place where, if we feel strongly enough about an issue, we would walk away despite how much we love someone.

But this blog isn’t about unconditional love, I just feel that it is important that you understand my definition of such and understand what I mean when I say that I have been blessed to be loved unconditionally not just by my Father, but by a man who didn’t have to be my Father, my GodFather, Tom Geiger.

f18e71eeb8d711e2ac3122000a1fb77a_7The first time I remember this man saving my life I was 18 years old, living in a one bedroom apartment with a man who decided that I needed to lose weight in order for him to love me. He had convinced me that smoking meth and snorting speed lines was a perfect appetite suppressant and would help achieve this goal. I was so determined to lose weight that not only was I doing meth, but I was seeing a weight loss doctor and getting diet pills from him too. I was with the most attractive man I had ever been with in my life, I wanted him to want me instead of starting at the TV and watching porn when we were intimate with one another, and I was desperate to lose weight. I also, was completely destroying my life and didn’t know it. When he finally started physically abusing me, because at 18 the mental abuse wasn’t something I understood or took seriously, Tom helped me move out and find a new place to live.

A year later when I was living with my next abusive boyfriend, had been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and my life truly started to fall apart at the seams, Tom saved me. I was a mess, the abuse I had gone through as a child had damaged me so much, I wanted nothing to do with my family because of the abuse I had went though. I was in and out of mental hospitals and mental institutions, I was a self mutilatior that cut herself just to know she could feel anything, and the man I was living with liked to throw things at my head when he didn’t get his way, my favorite was the vacuum cleaner. I had left home at 16 and except to call and talk to my Father, had never looked back and I had nobody healthy in my life at that point; other than Tom.

It never mattered what I needed, groceries, someone to fix my car, or a place to live when my latest boyfriend left me high and dry and I didn’t want to go home and live with my Family. It didn’t matter what it was, Tom provided it for me in an effort to help improve my life. Now everyone always asks, where there strings attached? Yeah there were. But whatever those strings were, they were put in place to make sure that the quality of my life improved. Tom’s conditions were always things like, you have to go to therapy twice a week and get help so that you can heal and have a happy life. This man loved me and supported me so much that when my life feel apart and I came to live with him in Central CA and the therapist I needed to see was in LA. He drove me to LA and back every two weeks, and made sure that I got the therapy I needed.

As I grew up, because let’s face it, as at 18 I was a kid. Things never changed, He treated me like his own daughter and I always knew without a shadow of a doubt how much he loved me. He stood beside my Dad at my wedding and they gave me away together, and my own Dad, knowing how much Tom loved me and had done for me, didn’t mind at all.

When I first left CA to start my life in OR I had a car, $5000 to get me started, and no clue if I was going to fall on my face or not. I was more afraid than I had ever been in my life. I had spent years and years in therapy trying to make sure I was a whole person, and that I had the coping skills to move forward. I had just met Jason, the man I was convinced I was going to marry whether he wanted me or not and I had lost nearly 200 lb., doing Atkins and was at the lowest weight I had been my entire adult life. I remember pulling out of Tom’s driveway that morning, leaving home to start a whole new scary life where I wasn’t sure what the future held. But I knew I had Tom and that no matter what happened, I always had a home to come back to if I needed it; Tom was my safety net.

But things were good. At least they were on the outside. My job took off, I was making great money, I was blowing through it like rice paper, but I was making it. I was paying all the bills, living the high life, and anytime I could I paid it back to Tom, I did, because I was eternally grateful for the love, guidance and stability he had provided. I credit those things and him getting me the mental health care that I needed as the primary reason that I was able to heal, move on and move forward with my life.

When things took a turn for the worst. When Jason lost his job, when we couldn’t pay the rent, when we were drowning in two car payments. As always Tom came to my rescue and made sure that the basics were covered and that I had a chance to dig my way out. He drove from CA to OR to “buy” my jeep from me to get me out from under the car payment. When that wasn’t enough he paid the rent, helped me move out of the house we were struggling to afford and back into an apartment where we could spend a few years rebuilding. And when that didn’t work, he loaned me the money to pay off the credit card bills we had racked up living on credit trying to survive to give us a fresh start.

It was about a year later that I went to Tom and asked him to help me pay for a Gastric Bypass and for the first time in my life he said no to me. At first, it hurt me, I was asking for something I KNEW was going to save my life and Tom said no. He’d never said no to me before and the spoiled little girl in me really didn’t know what to make of it. All these other things he had done for me, and here we were, at this moment that I needed help to save my life, because at 420 lb. I was literally scared to death that I was going to die, and Tom said no. Not only did he say no, but no matter how desperate I was, no matter how much I cried, and no matter how many times my insurance denied Bariatric Surgery, Tom held his ground and did not waver in his decision.

In truth, it hurt our relationship a little, I was angry and hurt that the one person I always thought I could count on other than my own Father had turned me away. But, the entire time this was going on, Tom made it very clear that while he would not lend me the financial support to do this, he would give me all the emotional support I needed. People have asked me why I think Tom refused to help me then and in truth I think it was two-fold even if neither of us realized it. I think there was a part of Tom that didn’t support the surgery and didn’t want me to have it because he was worried about the risks involved, and I think there was a part of Tom that was practicing parental tough love and knew that if I was going to do this, I had to do it on my own. It had to be something I did for myself and not something that was handed to me or that someone else gave me, because I needed the self-confidence and I needed to learn that I could do this and that I could win this fight against obesity without anyone else helping me. After all, he had watched me lose 200 lb. on Atkins and gain it all back again.

Though we had drifted apart a little and I had a hard time accepting Tom’s decision he was always the one that I turned to when things got bad. When my weight loss journey started and life started through obstacles in my way he was the one I called and cried too. When my marriage started falling apart, he listened to me cry. When my Father was sick and I needed to be on a plane to get home and was still too big to fit in one seat, he bought me a first class ticket to LA to make sure I was where I needed to be without being uncomfortable, scared or embarrassed. When my Dad passed away and my Mother didn’t have a dime to her name and there was no money to pay for cremation, Tom has it covered. When my Father was gone, and it felt like my world and shrunk and I had just lost the only person that had ever loved me unconditionally was gone, I looked at Tom an I realized that wasn’t true. I still had a Father, I still had someone who loved me just as unconditionally as my Dad did.


Since my Dad passed away, Tom has been the only Father figure in my life. He has been the one I ran to when I needed a good cry, needed to let out some steam or just needed to vent about life or rant about some injustice in the world. He’s provided me more guidance in life than anyone else ever has, including my own Dad. Every big decision I have ever had to make in life, Tom has lent me council on. Even times that he couldn’t tell me what to do, or didn’t want to, because when it comes to relationship stuff, you don’t really want to tell someone what to do or give them advice, he would listen, let me cry, let me get it out, and a lot of times, let me talk until I found the answers myself.

The relationship a lot of women have with their mothers, I have with my Godfather. I can call him up, complain about my Family and with 20 years of history behind us, he understands every single emotional I feel. He probably knows me better than anyone else in the world, Jason, Heather, Debby and my own Family included. He has been my emotional pillar, and in times where there simply was no light and no end of the tunnel in sight, he has held my hand and guided me towards the exit of darkness.

My Godfather’s downfall is that he is a pack rat, which leads him to a house of chaos and clutter. It breaks my little OCD, neat freak brain, but we all have our shortcomings. Last January I made a promise to Tom that I would come to California in the beginning of April and help him get his house in order. While I had every intention of doing just that, life tends to make other plans for us and my needing to rush off to help my best friend get through the traumatic experience of loosing her Mother to advanced cancer in a matter of weeks and then rush back to Heather’s home town in Ohio to help her Mother get through the passing of Heather’s step-father changed things and we ended up arriving in California weeks later than we should have. Tom wasn’t angry though, as always he understood that life had plans for me and that these were things I had no control over.

We’ve spent the better part of month here in CA – in the middle of that we’ve attended the annual car Rally that Tom holds each year. We’ve traveled down to LA to pick up my Father’s ashes, gone to the Extreme Weight Loss Finale and met my hero Chris Powell. We’ve spent a day here and there visiting with old and new friends, and we drove to Vegas to attend the 2013 Mother of All Meet & Greet that the WLSFA put on where I consulted with different plastic surgeons about the remainder of the skin removal surgery that I need to have done in order for me to feel ok with my body and move forward with my life.

In my last blog, I shared with my readers the pain felt as I fell apart over my body image issues, the reconstructive plastic surgery I want, my inability to pay for it, and the overall confusion that I have trying to figure out what surgeon to use and which expert opinion to follow. Several of my readers told me that their hearts broke with mine as they watched that emotional break down unfold on my blog.

Last Monday as I left California to head back Oregon for a few days before I rushed off to Dallas for this month that I have promised to spend devoted to myself and my studies so that I can take the test to get my certification to become a personal trainer Tom rescued me once again. I am not sure I will ever be able to accurately explain how mentally damaging the excess skin that I see on my body when I look in the mirror is to me. But as I leave, I leave once again feeling like Tom has saved my life. This horrible feeling inside me when I look in the mirror, this thing that could very well have held me back from pursing my dream to be a personal trainer because of how self-conscious it makes me, has been taken care of for me. I leave CA with a check to cover the costs of this finally skin removal surgery and to insure that this skin doesn’t hold me back from the dreams I have right now.

I have no idea how Tom saw the potential in the broken and damaged young girl that I was nineteen years ago when he first met me or what made him decide to take me under his wing and treat me like his own daughter. But he was truly the first person in my life that ever saw the strength and potential inside me and helped me find it within myself. But this gesture, it goes beyond anything anyone has ever done for me, There are no words. There is not enough gratitude. There are some times in life that the words “I love you,” and “thank you,” pale in comparison to what actually needs to be said. While this may seem cheesy to everyone else, this song has history for Tom and I, and it is probably the closest thing I can get to expressing what I need to express.

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For all those times you stood by me

For all the truth that you made me see

For all the joy you brought to my life

For all the wrong that you made right

For every dream you made come true

For all the love I found in you

I’ll be forever thankful baby

You’re the one who held me up

Never let me fall

You’re the one who saw me through through it all


You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

You gave me faith ‘coz you believed

I’m everything I am

Because you loved me


You gave me wings and made me fly

You touched my hand I could touch the sky

I lost my faith, you gave it back to me

You said no star was out of reach

You stood by me and I stood tall

I had your love I had it all

I’m grateful for each day you gave me

Maybe I don’t know that much

But I know this much is true

I was blessed because I was loved by you


You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

You gave me faith ‘coz you believed

I’m everything I am

Because you loved me


You were always there for me

The tender wind that carried me

A light in the dark shining your love into my life

You’ve been my inspiration

Through the lies you were the truth

My world is a better place because of you


You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

You gave me faith ‘coz you believed

I’m everything I am

Because you loved me


I’m everything I am

Because you loved me


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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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