Monday, November 28

By the time I get to Memphis

Well, it's time to think about the really important stuff. What music should I listen to on the way to Memphis? And on the way back?

Right now I'm thinking about Robert Johnson , Isaac Hayes , Guy Davis, and Muddy Waters.

I own all those cds I linked to there.

I've been thinking about buying that Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo collaboration also. You know, Graceland.

Do you have any suggestions on music to listen to while traveling to and from Memphis?

I can just about smell the delta air

The 10-day forecast for Memphis, courtesy of has a high of 68 and a low of 43 for Saturday, Dec. 3, the day of the race.

I call that perfect running weather.

Saturday, November 26

The Long Run Home

Today I ran all the way back to the townhome I used to live in. It's the first time I've had a long run in a long time where I didn't stop at any stop lights or intersections.

I guess that's what getting up at 5:15 in the morning on a Saturday can do for you.

Lately I've been going to sleep quite early with the winter darkness and all. It's good for helping me wake up early.

Anyhow, today's run was over 12 miles which was good. I've got more confidence for the half-marathon. I won't be as fast as I dream of being someday.

But as they say, baby steps. Or more specifically - the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. One race.

The countdown continues

This time next week, hopefully I will have finished the St. Jude Half-Marathon in under 2 hours and 30 minutes. I know. Not very fast, but for where I'm at I feel it's a respectable goal.

And my friend Rebecca is currently eight days away from the Las Vegas Marathon. And you know how I feel about the number 8.

The Tofurky Trot

I know a lot of people think turn up their noses at the idea of Tofurky but I'm intrigued.

I've never cooked turkey and I've never cooked Tofurky. But it sounds good to me.

Unfortunately, the Tofurky folks are missing out on a great marketing opportunity. I did an exhaustive google search for the words "tofurky trot." Nothing.

Come on.

However, let me at this moment say that in this occassion of Thanksgiving or other holiday meals, turkey, ham or meat substitute is not necessary.

Give me my mom's sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole with the french onions on top, mashed potatos, collard greens, some squash, maybe carrots, bread. I'm good to go.

Thursday, November 24

The Turkey Trot — a 5K Run/Walk

Well, I ran the Turkey Trot, a 5K Run/Walk. What a diversity of people. I walked/jogged up to the starting point/staging area with my two canned goods, but I'm happy that I ran the whole race.

However, as I looked around before things were getting started, I saw all the real runners stretching, jogging and doing all these other loosening up exercises. I won't say it was intimidating, but I knew quite well that I was about as loose as I was going to be.

It reminded me of when I first started lifting weights. It was always a little embarassing to walk over to the bench press area and hoist up the 25-pound plates while everybody else was bouncing the bar off their chest, lifting 135 pounds (2 45 pounds plates) or 225 pounds (4 45 pound plates) or the huge musclebound folks that everybody in the gym turns to watch throwing up 315 (6 45-pound plates) or maxing out at 405 (8 45 pound plates).

Yeah, I felt slow. But the great thing about a 5K run/walk with thousands of people is that you're passing somebody almost the whole race. Especially if you start near the middle or the back of the pack. They really need more than one start time so all the dogs (I'm referring to four-legger animals here) can start behind all the runners.

I had a vision at the beginning too. (You may call it a spirit vision if you want. ) I was a little surprised at what some of the folks there were wearing. I can't expecting to see some old guy walk in wearing just shorts with his race number paper clipped to his chest and little streaks of blood coming down. He'd smile and say to anyone that asked, "The pain helps me run faster."

Wednesday, November 23

When we were on Kings Avenue

The St. Jude Marathon doesn't allow headphones. Here's the blurb from their FAQ.

Why is there a "No Headphones" policy at the race?
The 'No Headphones' policy is for your safety and the safety of those around you. Not only is it a requirement of our insurance company for liability reasons, but according to the Road Runners Club of America's tips for running safety: "Don't wear headsets. Use your ears to be aware of your surroundings. Using headphones, you lose the use of an important sense: your hearing. Always stay alert and aware of what's going on around you. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.

Well, this is the way I always run anyhow. But it's not like I run completely without music. Songs are always popping into my head. A Mercedes Benz drives by and next thing you know, I'm humming, "Oh Lord, won't you buy me, a Mercedes Benz. My friends all drive porsches."

Except I really want my next car to be a Mini Cooper.

But I digress. Today I was running down Kings . I'm never sure if it's Kings Lane or Kings Avenue, but it triggered a great song/chant in my mental jukebox. "Ali bumaye! Ali bumaye! Ali bumaye! Ali bumaye! Ali bumaye! Ali bumaye! Ali bumaye! Ali bumaye!"


I was talking to my friend A about the Turkey Trot the other day. He had lots of reasons why he's not doing it.

The whole concept of paying money for something he can do for free. He doesn't need another t-shirt. For him running is mainly a solitary thing.

With that solitary thing comment, a lightbulb went off in my head. My life is way too solitary. I must race more.
I think next year I'll sign up for more 5Ks and 10Ks. Especially if, as with tomorrow's Turkey Trot, I can jog to the starting line.

Especially after last weekend. International reggae artist Prezident Brown was in town for a late night show at one of the local bars. I didn't know anybody who was going, but I love reggae. I don't however, love crowded smoky bars. I saw most of his show, but I had to leave before the end because it was just a bit much to me.

I may not meet many people while running, but at least I'll breathe easy. And if I do meet people at races, chances are they won't be smokers.

To think that a few years ago I made a New Year's Resolution to start smoking. (Sounds crazy I know. It didn't last more than a week or town.) Anyhow, this year's resolution to run a half-marathon feels much better.

And hopefully next year we'll conquer the whole enchilada.

Tuesday, November 22

No link here

Some folks think the blogosphere is crowded. They think the internet is crowded.

Just type in a plausible phrase, put .com after it, and voila, a new corner of the matrix, another turn down the wormhole.

Well, it's just not true.

Here are some web addresses that I can't link to just yet.

Sorry, those pages just can't be found.

Now, I'm not hating on Western Kansas. It's very cool in its own way.

I've been to Dodge City and I enjoyed it.

Of course, one place I'd like to go that I haven't been yet is the Cathedral of the Plains in Victoria.

More to come in an upcoming post on why I was looking for a Western Kansas Marathon.

Sometimes the memory of a poem

Sometimes the memory of a poem sticks in your head. You think, that poem would be appropriate for my blog, but you can't figure out why. You don't have the poem memorized, but the memory of it hanuts you, for lack of a better word.

I remembered the poem was about eggs, but thought it was also about infinity.

It appears I was right. Here it is:

Ab Ovo by Joseph Brodsky

Ultimately, there should be a language
in which the word "egg" is reduced to O
entirely. The Italian comes the closest,
naturally, with its uova. That's why Alighieri thought
it the healthiest food, sharing the predilection
with sopranos and tenors whose pear-like torsos
in the final analysis embody "opera."
The same pertains to the truly Romantic, that is,
German poets, with practically every line
starting the way they'd begin a breakfast,
or to the equally cocky mathematicians
brooding over their regularly laid infinity,
whose immaculate zeros won't ever hatch.


I don't like Elvis.

Am I missing something?

I don't know. When I was younger, I didn't much care for country music, bluegrass or classical music? Now, I like lots of it. I went to the Symphony on Saturday night. I've been to the Country Music Hall of Fame more than once. I own lots of bluegrass cds.

But I still don't like Elvis.

Maybe it's because of the stories I heard my parents and other black people say when I was younger about how they went or know people who went to Elvis concerts and they were refused admission. Maybe these stories are apocryphal. Maybe it wasn't Elvis, but just the times.

I don't know.

Maybe it's Chuck D and Flavor Flav. You remember the song:
Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant (bleep) to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
(bleep) (bleep) him and John Wayne

But back to Elvis. I guess there's no accounting for taste. I grew up the way I did and that colors the way I see things. But I mean no disrespect to Elvis fans the world over. I'd like to understand. Why do people feel this man is so great?

A friend of mine recently told me she only likes three Elvis songs, but she reveres him as a "white trash hero." It's still OK in this day and age to make fun of poor people and Elvis was a poor white person who made it big. Nobody makes fun of Elvis anymore. At least not the young Elvis.

Monday, November 21

Thirteen Days to Thirteen miles

So, I just noticed that we're now 13 days away from Dec. 3, when I'll run 13.1 miles in Memphis.

The next day my friend Rebecca will try to make 26.2 her lucky number in Las Vegas.

Somehow make 13.1 your lucky number doesn't have the same ring to it.

But my adrenaline is pumping and I'm starting to get really excited.

Saturday, November 19

Run for Kids Sake - It's about time

Well, one race down in my three races in three weeks plan. The 10-K. And, I won. But more about that later.

This is the first time I've ever run a 10-K all the way from beginning to end. I did one a few years ago, but I didn't run the whole way and I hadn't been training then the way I have been lately. I did OK back then, all things considered.

Today's run though has to be considered in light of the fact that I planned to run with my little brother, who is 10. After all, this was a fund-raiser for my favorite charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Here was my plan. The race included a 10K and a 5K but the 10K was simply the 5K route twice. So I figured we'd start out together, he'd fall back and then I'd go on to do the whole race and we'd pretty much finish together. (Initially, and this will be important as our story develops, he said he wanted to do the same race I did and so he was going to do the 10K. When you're not thinking about, that doesn't sound but so crazy.)

Anyway, it all went as planned in the beginning. We started out together and when he started to walk I said I'd see him later.

So I was running and trying to pass some of the people who were in front of me but thinking at the same time that really I was only competing with myself. I think people of my current skill level don't run many lower-tier 10K races in November. It started to get lonely out there as distance was created between all the other faster runners and myself. (Remember I said that I won. Keep reading.) I heard people near me talking, they recognized each other from previous races. And they hadn't been training very well. Great.

A little over half a mile from the turn around spot, I came upon my little brother. He was walking and I knew that far along I wouldn't complete the 10K before he finished the 5K. But it was good to see him standing up and moving forward. He said he'd injured himself. He'd pulled a muscle, he said. I walked with him for a bit and asked if he wanted me to walk back with him or if I could finish the race. He told me to finish the race.

So I put my head down and tried to keep running. I tried to pick up the pace. I couldn't see too many people but I was moving.

Anyhow, I crossed the finish line in about 66 minutes.

So how did I win, you ask? Well, there were two classes of runners for this race. Competitive and non-competitive. The race organizers at Big Brothers Big Sisters asked my case manager how old I was. She said 29. And I came in first in the 20-29 age category for non-competitive runners. Heck, I'm only like 45 days away from 29. And it all happened too fast for me to protest.

My little brother came in first for non-competitve 10 year olds in the 10K. Now he only ran the 5K as I've mentioned. But he told me he wanted to do the 10K. And he can accurately be described as audacious and bold. Audacity not only is its own reward, but it brings other rewards along with it as you go through life.

Plus, I doubt any 10-year olds ran the 10K faster than my little brother ran the 5K. But I'm calling the office on Monday and if anybody did, I'll personally give them a prize.

After all, Big Brothers Big Sisters isn't really about racing times. It's about spending time with someone and being a mentor.

A new link

Regular blog readers may notice a new link. I'm not sure how much I should say about this new link at the moment, except it's a blog that I enjoy reading from time to time.

Also, on a similar theme, here's a link to a cartoon with a related message.

Boy, I've got to see that new tv show.

Thursday, November 17

Inspiration from the stars

This morning I got up. It was cold. It was cold yesterday and I ran 8.5 miles. But it was also cold today and I felt cold. Brrr. I also hit snooze a couple of times and though I hadn't overdone it, my body reminded me that last night I had some carbs.

I felt like probably I'd go running. Right. I've got three races in three weeks. But I was dragging.

Anyhow, as is my habit, I went downstairs and got the newspaper. I opened it up. I'm a little ashamed to say I read my horoscope everyday. But today's horoscope literally got me moving. I read it, I said, "yeah." And I got my running clothes on.

Here's what it said:

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22). Exercise and well-being are inexorably linked. Your habit of moving your body even when you don't feel like it will make you, to a greater degree, impervious to stress and illness.

So, my first race is Saturday. A 10 K that raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters. I'm excited.

Wednesday, November 16

Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis

I don't run with headphones on. Heck, I don't even own an Ipod.

But I'm almost always running to music. Somehow a song pops into my head and the lyrics keep going around.

Sometimes it's just one word or two. But today, one of my favorite songs to sing in karaoke appropriately found it's way in and I know that song so well I can almost sing it without looking at the screen.

Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis
Pumped a lot of 'tane down in New Orleans
But I never saw the good side of the city
Until I hitched a ride on a riverboat queen
Big Wheels keep on turning
The Proud Mary keep on moving....

something like that...

It was the Ike and Tina version going through my head. Creedence Clearwater Revival is cool, but sometimes you need something a little nice and rough - you know, the way they do Proud Mary.

Do do do do, da do do

Coldest Run Yet

So I'm planning to run a half-marathon in Memphis on Dec. 3. Today had to be good practice.

I'm not sure exactly what the temperature was when I rolled out of bed and got dressed to go running this morning. But today's low was 27 and today's high was forecast as 36. Now, if you think like I do, you may be asking, "You call that a high?"

But really it wasn't that bad. I try to think ahead and last night I went to the local running store and spent a lot of money buying stuff to keep warm while running. For the most part, I was toasty. And I was out for about an hour and forty minutes or so running about 8 and a half miles.

The only problem was that even though I had on gloves, my fingers still felt frozen.

But I had a good time and I almost felt like I was in shape and I was catching my stride.

Tuesday, November 15

Losing weight

This summer, right when I just started this running habit, I went on vacation with my parents. We went to the Black Hills and it was a good trip. But we ate out every night.

I got back, weighed myself and found that I was practically 240 pounds. This is the most I've ever weighed. Back when I was younger, I dreamed of this sort of thing. I went on a couple of dates once with a girl as sweet as Royal Crown cola. But I wasn't the only guy she dated and ultimately she decided she liked a guy who was like twice my size. Maybe the size thing wasn't the only reason, but I was young and insecure. And also I'm a guy so I'm trained to think that size matters.

Anyway, I'm older and not quite as insecure as I once was. I'm also trying to get in shape and when I got back from vacation, I kept on with my running and tried to go longer and just generally improve fitness and endurance.

Well, the last time I weighed myself, the scales came in around 220. This is good. Although I also recently learned that in the epic first fight between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston, this was the tale of the tape: Sonny Liston, 215 pounds, 6'1"; Cassius Clay, 206 pounds, 6'3". Now I'm 6'3" and 220 and I don't think I should weight more than a heavyweight champion if I'm going to be in shape and be a runner.

But also I don't want to lose too much weight and have people think I look sickly or something. Some of my pants don't fit anymore.

But losing weight I guess is a byproduct of running long distances. Hopefully it should all go smoothly. I know in the grand scheme of things, it's harder to lose weight or keep it off then to avoid the middle age spread. And how much of this is just vanity?

I don't know. As long as all I have to complain about though is losing weight, I have to admit that God is blessing me. I am thankful for that.

Poetic feet

I love the way my friend Rebecca refers to my semi-anonymous blog here. The link on her blog is "poetic feet."

But I feel like I've been letting down my poetry-loving blog readers.

Today, though, I was reading a poem that I thought would fit in well on my blog. And it's short enough that I can type it in here.

It's a poem written by Carlos Drummond de Andrade and translated by Mark Strand called, "In the Middle of the Road."

In the middle of the road there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
there was a stone
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

I'll never forget this event
in the lifetime of my tired eyes.
I'll never forget that in the middle of the road
there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

That's in end of that poem. Make of it what you will. I liked it. Of course, in my mind, there's usually a nickle or a penny or a quarter in the middle of the road right in front of me. And I think I could stop and pick it up. But why stop when I could just keep going and keep running and how much is a nickle or a penny or a quarter worth anyway.

Monday, November 14


OK. I'm trying to rest my legs a bit and not push myself too hard.

But, at the same time, it's time for some racing.

Here's my plan:

This saturday, the Run for Kids Sake Big Brothers Big Sisters 10K.

The following Thursday, a nice Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. A 5K that I will jog to and jog home from.

The following Saturday is the St. Jude (patron sain of cases to be despaired of) Half-Marathon in Memphis.

Hopefully all will go well. I've been struggling with unrelated stresses lately and I really need to relax. Tomorrow, I think, will be a day to rest, but after that it's time to get my game face on.

Friday, November 11

Bobby Hebb, boxing and life

I sat next to legendary musician Bobby Hebb in a Nashville soul food restaurant recently.

Here's what I remember most from what he said. When he moved from Nashville to New York City, he gained some understanding of what a boxer experiences in the ring.

He explained this way: Imagine you're in the ring and someone is throwing punches at you. You see a big left hook coming but instead of dancing or dodging, you step into the punch. By stepping into the punch, that blow that might have knocked you off of your feet becomes a hug.

And so it wasn't when he talked about boxing, it wasn't so much physical violence as it was a different way of thinking.

Feeling a bit run down

Well, I'm feeling a bit run down today. I think it's time to take a day or two off completely from running. I've got odd aches and pains high up on my leg.

I remember what a friend of mine said at the gym this summer: "Everytime you work out you have a little bit to gain and a lot to lose."

Friday, November 4

Size 14

Well, I bought new running shoes this week. Size 14.

It reminds me of that old poem:

I'm a poet
and you know it
cause my feet show it.
They're long fellows.

Tuesday, November 1

BL, the finger and heavenly glory

Sometimes I feel a spiritual kinship with boxers. Fighters. It's a small part of my running.

I'm not running to lose weight so much as to hopefully compete someday in a marathon. Or compete with myself. Or just go.

I don't really want to fight. But I guess I do dream of maximum efficiency of my body. Being able to go the distance.

But at the same time, not getting too caught up in the hope of standing at the end of the fight or the end of the race or the end of the run. Or at least, not so caught up in that end that I miss the joy of the journey.

As Bruce Lee said in Enter the Dragon:

It's like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger. Or you will miss all the heavenly glory.