487. Leave Nothing Left in the Tank


I started taking selfies to send to J to make her laugh. Check! Goal met. I took this one after a “run” + Train double-header. Coach R was in fine form.

Me (looking at some guy doing some lateral stepping on his hands over a riser while in a plank position): Hey, R – we’re never doing that, k?

Coach R: I designed that exercise.

Me: Why am I not surprised? Still, I’m just telling you out front that we’re never doing that.

Both Trainers have gotten increasingly exacting lately. I think Coach R has had his thinking cap on bc he’s been observing my “running” form and sees more material to work with, whereas Trainer D has been highly motivated to write and execute a new training plan for me ever since I got on his body fat scale. (That was a one-time only event, BTW. I flatly refused yesterday.)

When I do “sprints” on the bike Trainer D pulls out all the stops in terms of motivational Trainer Talk. The problem is that I keep on laughing whenever he starts and it’s disruptive to my breathing pattern and interrupts the circuit. I’m still dripping sweat by the end, though, so something good must be happening. One of the phrases that doesn’t make me laugh, though, is Leave nothing left in the tank.

He’s telling me to go all out – don’t hold anything back, and expend every ounce of effort in me. Coach R subscribes to the same philosophy – win or lose, he wants to see you giving 100%. (My side note: but of course, winning is nice.)

Coach R backed down from his pinky-swinging, no-hand holding agenda over the past couple of weeks as he saw me going downhill. I haven’t been feeling great – there was the coughing plus some yucky head pain (I got a new MRI and it came back all clean!), accompanied by some worse than usual nausea. Around this time I got it in my head to bump my caloric goals up by 100. SMASHING idea, I thought. And then I immediately got stressed out and had trouble eating anything. I got the NastyGram again.

One day I had to take some significant pauses during Line and Ladder Time and then Coach R had to go get my Ginger Water (ginger helps with nausea) while I was lying on the Leg Press. As I took generous swigs I told him about the day before when I was over 500 calories short: It wasn’t my fault, R – I fell asleep BY ACCIDENT!!

Trainer D has been particularly attentive to and observant of signs of distress (even if I’m not aware of them myself), he is just so…. I don’t even know how to describe it.  As we  had our pre workout update chat one day I couldn’t contain myself – WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS?!?!?  I wondered out loud.

I watched the clock very closely two Fridays ago and was APPALLED that every time I checked only 20 min had passed.  The fourth time I was glad bc it was all over, but no, he seriously says to me, Come over to a table.  We’re just gonna do some core work real quick. So I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase, Leave nothing left in the tank wherever I am – training, running, at home, etc.

The real reason I’ve been sad and stressed is that Uncle Bus passed away on May 18. SNIFF. I have been avoiding writing this post. Usually writing makes me feel better, but lately I just wanted to hide.

I adjusted my expectations regarding many things when I got sick – but something I never said out loud was that I secretly hoped that my Older Friends would “wait” for me to get better and things could ] be like they were. I was always shuttling people places (supermarket, pharmacy, doctor, church) and did a lot of hospital visitation in my old life. I did it because these Older Friends took such good care of me as my adopted grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Visiting 101 - part I

Visiting 101 – part I

But now I understand that it’s never going to be like that again. They can’t wait for me like I had hoped.

I saw Uncle Bus about 3 weeks before he went home to be with the Lord. He was living with a granddaughter and could barely lift the pen to sign the documents Daddy had brought him to attend to. This did not stop him from giving me the cheekiest wink ever when we left.

A week or so later, Daddy needed to go back but I asked to be excused. “I don’t think I have it in me,” I told Mommy quietly. She understood. I thought I had already said my goodbye.

But then when Uncle Bus stopped eating Daddy was called in to see if he could coax him into swallowing some nourishment. I gauged the urgency of the situation and told Daddy I wanted to come, too, if he thought that would be okay. He did – I think Uncle Bus would be very encouraged to see you. As I got ready I prayed with tears in my eyes because I knew it was going to be rough. But I told myself, You’re stronger now. You remember how to do this. Uncle Bus has been your friend for as long as you can remember. This is the least you can do for him. Leave nothing left in the tank.

When we arrived Uncle Bus was sleeping and we saw the names of other friends on the sign-in sheet who had been spending time with him. I could tell from the physical change, even while Uncle Bus’s eyes were closed and he was breathing gently, that there would be no convincing him to eat and that he would be home with the Lord soon.

Before he went way downhill, Uncle Bus had asked Daddy to preach at his funeral. He also said that Mommy and I would be very welcome to attend. It was a private family-only graveside service and this was a very great honor so of course I was determined to be there. There were some major all-terrain mobility challenges but I made it. I tweaked my ankle a bit but Gen fixed it. Daddy was under the weather and was eating my cough drops (he NEVER takes cough drops) prior to the service but I texted my siblings an SOS message in the car, they prayed, and Daddy did great. He brought a good Word and didn’t cough once.

On the way home I took care of his jacket and Bible in the back seat. I realized that the last time I held his Bible was in Oregon. I had “borrowed” one from the stack of different translations he keeps by his bedside and kept it beside my special chair in my apartment. I used it daily and “forgot” to give it back. I think Mommy found it in my storage garage last year and brought it home.


Since that day I’ve been working through everything and have found that even when I think I’m giving 110% and leaving nothing left in the tank, because I know the Lord there’s always more. It’s like the widow of Zarapheth’s oil that didn’t run out when she was making bread for Elijah.

308.  No Sign of Weakness

308. No Sign of Weakness

It’s a good thing, because if I’ve learned anything over the past four years it’s that big things happen and you’re sad, but the machinery of life still keeps on rolling and you have to keep moving or be crushed. For me, this means that I need to eat (it’s a lot better this week!), keep on Training and getting treatment (I’ve been super stressed but my body (not head) pain level has been very low – I attribute this to overall strengthening), and right now we’re planning for Uncle Bus’s memorial service.

I’m working on his slideshow and as I look at the old pictures I can’t help but cry a little. Or a lot. But I’m going to do this thing right – I won’t leave anything left in the tank.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!



3 thoughts on “487. Leave Nothing Left in the Tank

  1. Thanks for sharing about Uncle Bus. He left nothing in the tank as he was such a wonderful friend to so many including us. What wonderful memories. Don’t we all wish that the older generation which meant so much to us would not pass away. But what a legacy to follow.

  2. Ning I share in your sorrow that tears have fallen like a showers, over how much I miss him. I to try so hard to eat and the pain grows greater and greater, and I look to the hills for where comes my help, and know in his goodness this is all good. Thanks for all your daily readings so helpful to me. Hus Mrs. R.

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