There are many places on this planet that I can't get enough of.  Many great vacations spent on the Outer Banks of North Carolina make me eager to get back to Duck every summer for at least a week.  Consol Energy Center, where my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins now play and across the street where the old Civic Arena stood are special places.  PNC Park and Heinz Field, the Field House at Pitt and Rec Hall on the campus at Penn State also have that exciting comfortable feel.  There are other place we avoid.  Places where we are reminded of awful memories and dark times.  The diffculty of the next few chapters makes me think of these places.
     For me, one of those places used to be West Penn Hospital, where Ellen and I spent 3 days after Maggie's birth. To say it was hectic would be the understatement of the year.  The pressure and tension was constant.  In the three days we were there, we were down, then hopeful, then down again.
After Maggie passed I never wanted to be near that place again.
At the time I was delivering office supplies all over the city, and was around West Penn almost daily.
I routed myself around that hospital so that I never passed in front of it.
    It wasn't until I signed up for the Pittsburgh Marathon that I realized I would have to deal with this once and for all.  The marathon passed right through Bloomfield and right by the hospital.  It was the 20 mile mark.  A place where even the best runners will tell you is a testy part of the race.  Bloomfield was also one of the most popular spots on the marathon route for spectators.  It's largely Italian population came out on the street, cooked food, drank beer, and cheered on the passing runners.  It was a Red, White, and Kelly street party.
   That first year I found myself struggling, knowing what was coming up.  As I made my way up Liberty Ave. I started to cry, I couldn't breathe, and wouldn't you know it, the sweeps bus(the bus that took people who"stepped off" the course to the finish line) was with me stride for stride.  I hated that bus!  Lots of people recognized me struggling without knowing why and shouted encouragement.  Just before reaching "the place" I pulled it together by telling the sweeps bus to F' off, picking up the pace and rolling past the hospital.  I sprinted through the happiest part of the marathon and down the hill towards the Point and the finish line off in the distance.  With the hardest part of the marathon behind me, I had no trouble with the flats in Lawrenceville or the streets of downtown Pittsburgh.
I ran passed that hospital in a few subsequent marathons, but none were as hard as that first time.
Demon exercised, in a few senses of the word.
    In the chapters ahead there are new "places".  One such place is Applebee's at the Pittsburgh Mills.
On one awful evening, a few days after Christmas in 2012, I spent 15 minutes screaming my complaints to God.  "How could You?  Your plan sucks.  Do You hate us?"  There were no answers, just another place I can't stand...