Sunday, August 29, 2010


Being exposed to media can make you feel vulnerable, but it has helped the cause. In the past few days, Running For Ryan has gained $1,000, moving up to $15,600 of $26,200 goal. Mark, from was kind enough to invite me over to their HQ for a brief interview, and though I was nervous as hell, I am glad it brought in some great donations. My thanks to Erin O'Mara, from Michigan who has a goal of $1,000 for Team Ryan Shay Memorial, and is well on her way to making it! She is running the NYC Marathon too.

BUT---You don't have to run the NYC Marathon to join the team. Anyone can join. If you have another race in mind you want to raise the money for, go for it! Otherwise you can join the team, and help raise money without even running a race. Maybe you have a husband/wife, father/mother, brother/sister, etc. benefiting from the Wounded Warrior Project, or you just want to give back to our troops. Sign, up, set a goal, any amount is appreciated, and spread the word to your family, friends, and even local businesses.

We have 2 months to get there, and any help is welcomed! Thanks again for the support!

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Pete" Predrag Dakovic -Goodbye My Friend 8/14/10

(pics of Pete about 1999-2001) "Pete" Predrag Dakovic Feb. 3, 1979- Aug. 14, 2010
(from top: Pete and my mom; Northwood University graduation 2001 w/ Pete, me,sister Amie; Notre Dame game with brother Ryan, me, Pete, brother Case, sister Amie; Notre Dame Football game Me and Pete, Pete and a best friend "Juke")
AUGUST 28, 2010
Today another 10.15 loop around the lake. Next week I will start increasing my long runs, because the 2 month count down is on the way! Well something kind of interesting happened on the run...a soft ball was an inch from my head when I ran by a game in progress. My back was turned from the field and so all I saw was the ball falling to the ground as it went right over my head and dropped in front of my feet. Yeah, for being one inch to quick for the ball. And well...I was pulling away from Town Lake and noticed I needed gas (gauge is broken, so I estimate by my mileage). I said out loud, "I need gas." So, at the stop light by the Pflugerville pedestrian bridge and Caesar Chavez my car stalled. Oh yah, and it wasn't pretty... people were honking and some chic couldn't give me enough of her horn. So, I am getting out of the passenger side because it's busy street and I am calling everyone. No one answers on a nice sunny Saturday afternoon. Then after about 5 minutes my knights in shining armor appear. A truck of men hopped out of their truck, pushed my car up a curb on the grass by the trail, and went and got gas for me! Chivalry is alive! While I was waiting 3 other men asked if I needed help, but not one woman...hmmm, where's the sisterly love? In a way, it was a good social experiment. Men help a "damsel" in distress, but my fellow "sister" honked her horn at me until I felt like hiding under the tree. Oh well, issue was resolved painlessly, and I am so grateful those guys went out of their way to help! It made my day.
AUGUST 25, 2010
I just read a letter from Pete's sister, Ana, to me and let me tell you, it was the most touching email I have ever received. In the middle of the madness with the loss of her brother, she reached out to me to let me know they were all looking at the photo album I gave Pete before he left America. That means a lot to me.
Coincidently, I was just breezing through the Austin Statesman the other day and remember my horoscope reading something like, "take a lot of pictures now, and document this part of your life". Only just a week or so ago, I mentioned to someone to never let go of photos, because you never know when you might want to have a look at them again one day. I know I had more pictures of Ryan, but can't find most of them anymore, and in general, I am horrible with arranging things in boxes. Nowadays, all is digital, so it makes it easier, but there is still that warm feeling I like when paging through a book of photos or opening up a box to a moment in time that might just let a laugh or two slip out from memory of the special occasion.
This evening's run was another energy charged run. I got about 6 miles in, and then shared a chocolate sundae with oreo cookies with Max! Yah, it was as good as it sounds. Little Max has been a trooper. Kindergarten is kicking his butt! He's one pooped out little guy, but told me today, school was awesome because there were so many things to do! Didn't inherit that school enthusiasm from me, that's for sure;) I was too busy day dreaming...
AUGUST 24, 2010
Today's run was amazing! Thanks, Mother Nature, for chilling out a bit. It went from feeling like 110 outside to less than 100 by the time I hit the trail. Admittedly, there's a new found energy running through me lately as well. Celebrating Pete's life with friends, family, and even strangers has been uplifting for my soul. I have received some very touching emails, and so I wish to keep the pics up for a while longer. I feel like I am running now for Ryan, the troops, and Pete. All of them unconnected, yet connected in some way that makes sense to me. Ryan's dedication to the sport and my love for him as his sister, our troops dedication to our country, and Pete's huge heart that touched the lives of everyone he met. A sluggish summer of training, may start turning into some pretty decent runs, as the temperatures look to ease up a bit beginning in September. There's hope yet that I will get that 20 mile practice run in before the big day!
AUGUST 22. 2010
Wow, today's 10.15 mile run was HOT! This weekend, Max was with his dad,and because of the emotional week, I slept in today, until 9 a.m. So, the morning run, turned into a lunch time run, and by the time I hit the trail, it was blazing. Thank you 7 Eleven guy for letting me put ice in my water bottle!!!:) My water was almost gone, and really warm by the time I got to Riverside. The ice was instant relief! I want to share some pictures from the past because I heard that many of Pete's family and friends saw the blog and appreciated the story about him. I have a lot of photos, but can only post so many. Pete also had a special woman in his life, before he passed, so I have to be sensitive about the pictures I post. I put the one of my mom and Pete up because my parents understand the loss of a son. I called them the same night I found out from Pete's friend, "Juke", that Pete had passed away, because they were lucky to meet Pete when we drove up for my little brothers' cross-country meet. As you can see, it was hard not to like Pete. My parents wish to give their condolences to Pete's family...from one mom and dad, to another.
All week, I could only think about my Northwood University days, and when I ran for my training, I was sorting out memories in my head, like placing photos in a photo album.
At one time, Pete was like a family member, so it will take some time to get use to the fact he is only here in spirit now.
One thing is for sure, it keeps me in line with appreciating what I have right now. Because you know we can all start to take things for granted from time to time. Max will be in Kindergarten on Monday! I cannot believe how the years have gone by so fast. It seems like now that school is starting, Autumn will soon be right around the corner. This means, the New York City Marathon is approaching too! If you are reading this, please tell everyone about the charity run for our wounded soldiers. I appreciate all the donations. Donate online at Thanks!!!
AUGUST 18, 2010
I am told I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I won't pretend that Pete's passing has not been on my mind since the moment I knew he was gone. I ran today with a heavy heart because it's hard to believe that just a couple of months before the NYC Marathon, I think about another person who shared an important part in my life. He was also the same age as Ryan, so both of their young faces will be etched in my memory forever. When Ryan passed, I didn't blog, I didn't really discuss it for two years. But now that I am writing about my journey to the NYC Marathon, writing about Pete comes naturally. Maybe the timing is just climatic as he was young, and we also shared a trip to NYC for Christmas of 2000. It was a road trip from Michigan to New York, and then a friend's house in Baltimore for New Year's. The first and only time we both went up the Empire State Building, and seeing the Twin Towers before the fateful 9/11 date. Maybe I am taking it harder than I normally would because I have been single for a few years, added with the fact that Pete being gone forces my memory to let all the great times flood my brain. I spoke with a girlfriend today about the strangeness of it all. I guess I am a little raw with emotion, because only a couple of months ago he asked how I could manage the fundraising, working, running, and being a mom? I told him, "I have no clue". Sometimes we just decide to do crazy things, and we don't look back. I told him, I was proud of his work with The United Nations, and wished him well with his current relationship and his family. That was the last time I had contact with him.

So, I am trying not to think about how a great young man was lost and I will do like I did with Ryan and think about the good times when I am out on the dirt or the pavement and once again appreciate that LIFE IS go for it, and keep on truckin!
AUGUST 16, 2010
It's very ironic that on Saturday as a current dating relationship was ending, so was the life of a dear man I was blessed to know while studying at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. "Pete" Predrag Dakovic died in a car accident on August 14, 2010.
I bumped into Pete while taking a math class. I actually took an earlier class that day because my schedule was messed up, and he happened to be in that particular class. It was a mutual check each other out kind of moment, and the rest is pretty much history. Well, I mean it took a week or so to finally get introduced at a party, and the first thing he said was, "You are that newspaper lady." Yep, that was me. I was on the school paper and often wrote about world issues at the time to include, Serbia and Kosovo. Pete was from a city called Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, Serbia.
Our first date was interesting, he talked about "man" and "woman" as though he lived in the caveman days. But eventually I gave him a chance and it just took off to become a healthy, fun, magical and exciting relationship during our junior and senior years at Northwood. Pete had a heart of gold, and always surprised me with amazing acts of thoughtfulness, not surpassed by most. At 6'7", Pete was tall, and strong, the center of the basketball team, but he was kind and compassionate and proud of his homeland. An athlete and "A" student, he always made time for us. Later in life, I would often judge men on the "Pete" scale. Though I have had other good relationships since Pete, he did set the bar for what I would eventually want in a long term relationship. We were young. I was 24, he was 21. Eventually, he had to go home, and I went to Australia, and so we parted ways. But the time I had with him was a blessing, and as I deal with a current ended relationship, I will think of Pete for a moment and smile knowing that what he shared with me was something to be treasured forever. It also reminds me that it's not too much to hope for another relationship down the road that will bring me new memories, similar to the way Pete and I enjoyed life back in college.
Pete met my brother Ryan, along with other siblings, as we drove down to Notre Dame to catch our first big college football game. He bonded well with my brothers, especially Case, as they both enjoyed picking on me and instantly acting like they were brothers in real life. I never met Pete's parents, or his 2 sisters. But he spoke highly of them, and we often sent greetings to them in the mail while he lived in the States.
My thoughts to his family and friends, as I cannot imagine the hurt they feel now. But Pete was such an amazing person, and like Ryan, there will be great stories to enjoy about him in the future. Pete was kind enough to reach out to me when Ryan died and continued to encourage me to run the NYC Marathon after the Austin Marathon was completed. Rest in Peace, Dear Pete.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Wow! So yesterday, I had a really great run. If you can believe that in 100 degree weather, with heat index of 105 plus. I was slowly jogging along and wondering how the run would turn out, being the sun was blazing and already tired from a busy Monday at work. But yah, all of a sudden midway through the run, my head was clear and I didn't focus on the sun or heat, rather just the rhythm of my feet hitting the trail. Even that really hot area crossing the I35 bridge and running along Riverside Dr. didn't bother me as much as usual, and I may have even had a smile on my face as I felt like, wow, this will be the first run in a while where I don't need to stop and rest a minute and let my body cool down. I was getting near the finish, about a quarter of a mile away, and I could hear the breathing of a runner behind me. This triggered me to finish off with a strong semi sprint and in the end, a great sense of accomplishment. It's funny because I was quite elated with the run, but almost instantly wanted to cry. I just felt this sense of peace, and it was like Ryan was there to let me know the training sucks in this heat, but it will be okay in the end. But I didn't bust out in tears, instead just smiled to myself and happy that my mental focus got me through a grueling run. My running times are a lot slower than the winter training I did for the Austin Marathon. But, I am okay with that now, just knowing I need to truck along enough to make it pass the finish line for the NYC Marathon. Max comes home tomorrow from summer vacation with his dad, so I plan on hanging out in Austin for the evening, grab some grub, maybe listen to some music somewhere. Max starts kindergarten in 2 weeks! I cannot believe how fast time flys. Less than 3 months from NYC...momentum is building!

I just want to throw it out there that if you are already registered to run the ING NYC Marathon on November 7, 2010 and want to help raise money for a great cause, please email me at

Anyone is welcome to join the team, and you can choose your own goal amount. It's quite easy to join, just let me know!


Monday, August 2, 2010


Oh, Today it was definitely, Journey's, "Don't Stop Believin". It was actually quite fitting, because today was an odd running day. It was 100 plus degrees on the trail today, and mentally I was like, "Hmmm, don't know how this run is going to go, maybe I will just trudge along". But man, when I think about Ryan, I get in a daze(a can-do attitude!), and just pound away, not even realizing I just made it up a hill without pausing for a second in the brutal heat.
It's also fitting that it was the last song to play on my IPod today, because it helped me finish the last quarter mile hard. Journey is probably my favorite band of all time, and this weekend I got to watch some very old Journey videos/live performances with another huge Journey fan for the first time. And... well... if you ever want to see the cheesiet video ever made, check out "Separate Ways". On the otherhand, "Faithfully" was such a great video and still one of my favorite love songs of all time.
Anyway...just a little random chat about my favorite group.
To top off the great run, I was rehydrating at the water station after the run and some random runner hollered at me, "Man you smoked me the entire way...I was trying to keep up but couldn't" Surprised, I didn't even notice. I was actually kind of shocked, because, yes it was a male, and most guys never have trouble passing me on the trail. But I do know what he means. I too focus on someone ahead of me, and often make it a goal to either stay right at his/her pace, or pass them just to keep a steady pace going. Though, haven't done that much this summer. I always seem to be the one getting passed as I bite my teeth and sweat my way to the finish.

Now, I am in full adrenaline mode, especially after hearing the interview on
I got to talk about Ryan and the Wounded Warrior Project in a way that just made me feel good about this challenge. Bart and Chuck were super sweet, and really Bart Yasso has been a great supporter for the cause ever since we met at the Austin Marathon.

So with this extra dose of adrenaline running in my veins right now, I just want to keep asking anyone reading this to PLEASE spread the word. We need to get $10,000 or so in 3 months. Please help me get this money for our brave and dear veterans.

If you need a little extra motivation, go to Melissa is actually the amputee veteran pictured in the photo above on Running For Ryan. I was following the Wounded Warrior Project on Facebook before I ever knew I would start to raise money for the cause, when this picture popped up on a Facebook posting, and that was when I decided to run for Ryan and our soldiers. Melissa Stockwell is an awesome veteran and a great athlete who always seems to smile and keep very positive outlook in life. Along with Ryan, she is definitely a huge motivation to keep 0n running. I have never met her, but you don't need to know someone personally to feel inspired. You just have to know her spirit. Check out her website, the Wounded Warrior Project sponsors her. She's amazing!