Saturday, June 22, 2013

In a State 19

This post began shortly after I finished my last marathon, 3 weeks ago.  Yet for some reason, my ability to actually complete and upload it remained incomplete.  Even as I prepare today to run my next, a 50k (31 mile) race here in Canada, I am still not sure of its readiness.

On June 2, I ran my first marathon in memory of someone else; I hope I do not need to make it a regular motivation.  (See my pre-race blog post about my fallen co-worker Andrew Reisse.)  Running provides a cathartic release for me, and since plans for the trip were set before the tragedy, and my usefulness in not running would have been minimal, I chose to still travel to Minneapolis for the race.  

I learned of the tragedy from our co-worker, Michael, who was also Andrew's roommate at the University of Maryland 15 years ago, who phoned with the shocking, horrible, head splitting news.  That call remains haunting.  Yes, I have lost family members (all my grandparents, a great grandmother and a series of great uncles and aunts, my "second set" of parents from growing up), but those were all at the end of long lives or illnesses.  The suddenness combine with the young age of Andrew and the potential he had to add to the world are like a riven in reality.  Just a few days ago, I was cycling for a few hours, and I could clearly hear his voice in my head.  I am even more heartbroken for his lovely parents and brother.  I could barely call Andrew a friend; we shared working at the same company, and we had found time to talk about mutual passions.  However, we had not progressed past that stage yet.  For his family, as well as my co-workers who have known him since the 90's, I can barely get my head around this tragedy.

So I run.  And I talk.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Running for Andrew

Last month, I posted my feelings about the Boston Marathon bombings as I prepared to run London.  Over the past 6 weeks, I have been writing and editing a follow up post to recount that race as well as the Colorado Marathon I ran in early May.  In fact, my plan was to post it today (Saturday) as I am on my way to run the Minneapolis Marathon - goal for state 19 and marathon 42. (Douglas Adams - I am sure you would have something funny to say about that.)

That London/Colorado summary will wait until next week, because yesterday my new work family, Oculus VR, which I joined in January, learned that one of our employees, Andrew Reisse, was tragically killed on Thursday.  You can learn the details here:

ABC News: Oculus VR Loses Founder

This story has now been picked up widely by gaming and technology news showing how our very fortunate PR for Oculus and the Rift has caused people to be heightened by any news about us, even shocking, mindless brutality that can touch anyone's life at any time.  The comments online have been wonderfully supportive of us and more importantly Andrew's family.  Our co-founders knew Andrew for 15 years (one was his college roommate at the University of Maryland).  He helped start a previous company and worked with them at a second.  Thank you to all of you who have emailed/facebooked/iMessaged me with your warm and supportive notes.

While only knowing Andrew for 5 months, I liked him immensely and enjoyed our random chats when he wandered into my office to wonder about this or that regarding the business or life.  Our general counsel said it well, "If I could convince Andrew of something, I knew the rest of the team would agree."  Andrew quietly held court with many of us.

Andrew and I shared an interest in being outside.  He loved to hike long, long distances.  He would take his camera and capture stunning images.  So, not only did his hands type out complicated graphics and code routines, but his eye would frame nature and bring it back for all to see.  You can enjoy his work at his website and learn more about his history in this post on our company blog

While I also enjoy hiking, I prefer running trails and roads rather than walking them, and after conferring with a few people at the company and with friends and family, I did not cancel this marathon trip.  Instead, as this is my way to deal with anything at all in my life, I will gain the strength I need to help our team heal.  I feel somewhat selfish that this is how I process, but that is perhaps natural.  A friend reminded me about how I carry my donation sponsors names with me when I run for charity, and wisely suggested that I do the same with Andrew's.  And so I will.

Tomorrow, I will do the thing I love, running marathons, for Andrew Reisse, 1979-2013, who will no longer hike and take pictures and code and do things he loved to do.

Andrew's first experience using the Rift virtual reality prototype, summer 2012.