Saturday, December 31

Happy New Year! And a toast to the joy of living!

I like parties. I like throwing parties and I like going to parties.

Today is New Year's Eve and I'm just not in a partying mood.

2005 was a fun year and I went to some OK parties. But I also found that almost always, the idea of going out and partying is more fun than the party itself. Smoky rooms and drunk people just aren't for me.

I like to drink. I do. I like margaritas and beer and wine and champagne. I like some mixed drinks or I suppose I could try them. I've got about a half dozen shot glasses in my cubbard. I'm a vodka drinker.

Hmm. Maybe I've just been around the wrong drunk people. Sometimes I feel like I really don't fit in where I am. Sigh. I remember the last conversation I had with a drunk woman. You're reading this on your computer screen so you can't see me shaking my head.

What's the point of this rambling post? All things in moderation? Well, I suppose. But no. Let me be clear. I don't want to drink crappy beer or cheap wine or, even worse, cheap tequila in moderation. It's the cheap stuff that gives you the really bad hangovers.

No. God made wine so that we would drink it and enjoy. Always remember Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine.

But I digress.

The day when I ran the St. Jude Half-Marathon was one of the best days of my life. I just wish I had trained harder.

I guess the point of this post could be summed in almost bumper sticker like fashion. MY worst day running was better than my best day partying.

As long as I don't get injured, that's pretty much true. Oh, I can think of some good parties. Especially in graduate school. And then there was the party in Atlanta where I met Helga. And going out to a karaoke bar and singing is a lot of fun, I admit.

I don't know. At this stage in my life, running is a lot more fun than partying. I wish I'd been invited to more parties when I was in high school or as an undergraduate. But, hey that's life.

So I may not ring in the new year in the most festive way when the clock strikes 12 this morning. But I'm planning on going for a 10-mile run on New Year's Day. That will be a good way to get things rolling.

Thursday, December 22

Notre Dame Stadium

Greetings from South Bend. I've learned that I've been taking my high-speed wireless internet connection in my apartment for granted. Ah dial-up.

But, no matter. Here's an important Christmas break update for you.

First, an aside: tonight I went to a new open mike poetry event here in South Bend. As often happens when I read poetry, the crowd loved me. One lady asked me if she could buy my cd or my book. Unfortunately I have neither. (I should talk to Jody Bilyeu.) Not that I've thought that much of being the person from out of town who comes in and says, "I've got product. And normally it sells for $10. But for you, tonight, one night only, the special low, low price of $9.99"

Anyhow, here's the point of this post. On the way back home I drove by Notre Dame Stadium. I know most people when they think of Notre Dame Stadium think football.

But I was thinking of my New Year's Resolution.
I was thinking of the Sunburst marathon.
I was thinking of the race that ends on the 50-yard line.

And I was visualizing myself finishing strong.


Monday, December 19

Christmas break

Well friends, my blog may be dormant for a while.

I'm about to take a quick Christmas break, visit my family and maybe even scope out the Sunburst Marathon course.

If you don't hear much from me this week, it's because I'm taking a break from computers and hopefully enjoying time with my family.

Sunday, December 18

Running with Allen

I had a good run today with Allen, a total of 9 miles.

Lately I've started running with Allen on Sundays and I must say it's great. It's a wonderful counterpoint to running alone.

Also, Allen lives two miles away, exactly. That's an easy warmup so that when Allen and I start running I'm already fairly loose.

I haven't done the 2 miles home yet but that's surely coming soon. This is a great new tradition.

And I feel even better prepared for the Little Rock Half-Marathon in March and the Sunburst Marathon in June.

Saturday, December 17

Marathon costumes

I just had a strange thought. Those of you that know me know that is par for the course.

I was looking at my friend Rebecca's blog and seeing her finisher pictures. Standing next to her were showgirls, dressed in all their Las Vegas finery.

Now at my half-marathon in Memphis, people ran dressed as Santa Claus as they did at the Jingle Bell Run last week.

And so I've been thinking about running in costumes. Wonder if anybody dressed up as a showgirl, complete with headgear, and set out for 26.2 in the Las Vegas Marathon .

Thursday, December 15

The Little Rock Marathon

So I've been feeling a bit wintry lately. I haven't been getting out and running like I did before the race. It's frustrating. I can really feel the difference in my whole perspective on the day when I don't go running.

I must create better goals.

And here's the thing.

My next big goal to train for is running the Little Rock Half-Marathon in under 2 hours. I can do that right. I believe I can. And I know I can finish a half-marathon now so some of that uncertainty is gone. I just have to get excited again. I have to get focused.

Well, the Little Rock Half Marathon is less than 11 weeks away. I also just looked at my 2006 church calendar and realized that the Little Rock Half-Marathon is on the first Sunday of Lent.

I'm ready to go. I'm getting up in the morning and going running for about 3 miles.

Gotta do it.

Monday, December 12

Marathon photos or next time I will ham it up for the cameras

So, my friend Rebecca mentioned recently that there are no photos on this blog.
And specifically no marathon photos.

There are several reasons for this. One, I don't know the coding for that yet.

But two, when Rebecca mentioned that, I hadn't yet gotten an e-mail saying that my photos were ready. Well, once I got that photo, I decided that I wasn't about to post these photos even if I could. I didn't find the photos particularly flattering.

I mean, my shorts are all bunched up and I look a bit like I'm in pain. The more I look at the photos, I kind of grow on myself. I'm not doing too too bad. I really felt kind of good and I know when those photos were taken, I was moving pretty fast, all things considered.

But if you go to Rebecca's blog and find the photos of her running the Las Vegas marathon, she looks about like a model or somebody from a Nike ad. (I can't get permalinks to work for her blog but the photos aren't down but so far. And everything on Rebecca's blog is pretty cool.)

So, this is what I learned from Rebecca: "if you're not mugging for the camera, the default when you're running is not "normal"-looking, it's gonna be pain. Whether you were actually in pain or not. And I don't like photos of myself where I look like I'm in pain. You can tell enough by my form that I was struggling pretty hard, no need to add to it."

And "normal-looking" for me is pretty close to pain anyhow. So when I run that marathon in South Bend in June, whenever I see a guy with a camera, it's going to be SHOWTIME!

By the way, if you've noticed a theme in the names of some of these posts, well, yes, I did like those Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons as a kid. Maybe I liked the titles as much as the cartoons.

Saturday, December 10

The Jingle Bell Run or goals, goals, goals

So, dedicated readers of this blog, all three of you, know that I had a goal of running three races in three weeks.

Well, as Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!"

I ran the Jingle Bell Run 5K today.

One of my goals for next year was to run a 5K in under 30 minutes. I did that today. Just barely. The finish line was around a corner so it took a while before I saw it. But when I first saw the clock, I think the numbers were at something like 29:45. I was running as hard as I could at the time, but I went even a little bit harder as I realized my goal was so close.

I'm sure the official results will be on the web sometime soon, but I'm pretty sure I went through the finish line around 29:55.

So my new goal is to finish a 5K in under 30 minutes without so much huffing and puffing.

Thursday, December 8

The comedians

I saw some beautiful things during the half-marathon. It was good.

I heard some interesting stuff too. I suppose Memphis isn't quite as crowded as Chicago.

But the thing I'll remember the most is the man at the beginning who said, "Crying! Crying! There's no crying in running." That was a stunningly good Tom Hanks impersonation. It soon became clear to me that comedians were running nearby.

They were amazing. They told funny jokes. They ran pretty fast. They stopped and took pictures of themselves with lots of different backdrops. And they kept going.

After I finished the half-marathon, I went back to say with my friend Marlon. Marlon lives along the Marathon route and I went out to cheer people on. I saw the comedians go by and they were looking good.

I've heard that walking for short periods is one way to conserve your energy and finish a marathon. I guess stopping to take photos and goof around periodically is another smart tactic.

Tuesday, December 6

A poem about grace - and God

If you've gotten to this blog via my friend Rebecca's blog, you were expecting a site called "Poetic Feet." I like that name even better than "Running to Infinity." If you didn't arriva via Rebecca's blog, well, now you know that little piece of trivia.

Anyhow, it's been a while since I've shared a poem with my readers. Here's one by one of my favorite writers, Stephen Dunn. It's from the book "Between Angels." I read a lot of poetry, but "Between Angels" is one of the rare books of poetry that I've read cover to cover.

This poem is called Competition.

Because he played games seriously
and therefore knew grace
comes hard, rises through the cheap

in us, the petty, the entire history
of our defeats,
he looked for grace in his opponents,

found a few friends that way
and so many others
he could never drink with, talk to.

He learned early never to let up,
never to give
a weaker opponent a gift

because so many times he'd been
that person
and knew the humiliation in it,

being pandered to, a bone for the sad
And because he remembered those times,

after a loss when he'd failed
at grace -
stole from the victor

the pleasures of pure victory
by speaking
about a small injury or the cold

he wasn't quite over - he loved
those opponents
who'd shake hands and give credit,

save their true and bitter stories
for their lovers, later,
when all such lamentations are comic,

the sincere "if onlys" of grown men
in short pants.
Oh there were people who thought

all of it so childish; what to say
to them, how to agree
ever, about dignity and fairness.

OK. Well, I think that's a great poem. But it raises a question. For Christians, our faith is about grace. Amazing Grace even.

God isn't mentioned in the poem, but clearly God is there. So what does this poem about grace say about the nature of God? Or is the poet off base? Does he miss what grace is really all about? Is he talking about a completely different type of grace than what Christians talk about?

A steady pace

So, I've completed my plan of doing three races in three weeks.

Now, I'm thinking about my times. I suppose I have other things I could be thinking about but this is what's on my mind.

My mile pace in the half-marathon was actually five seconds per mile faster than it was in a 5K. Maybe this doesn't mean anything.

Anyway, here's how it all breaks down.

A 10K on Nov. 19: 1:05.27 - That's 6.2 miles at a 10:32 pace.
A 5K on Nov. 24: 33:18. That's 3.1 miles at a 10:45 pace.
A half marathon on Dec. 3: 2:19.41. That' 13.1 miles at a 10:40 pace.
The 10K split on the half-marathon: 1:05.57. That's 6.2 miles at a 10:39 pace.

This obviously isn't something to obsess over. But I find it a wee bit fascinating.

The bottom line is that whenever I race again, I'll try to run faster.

Viva Las Vegas

I don't know just how many marathons and half-marathons were run last weekend. But I do know that I ran one (a half) in Memphis and my friend Rebecca ran one (a whole) in Las Vegas.

Besides the requisite distance, the other similarity in these two races? That's right. Elvis. We were both running with the King.

They were playing some Elvis song over the loudspeakers before the start of the race in Memphis and there were Elvis impersonators along the course.

I read that Muhammad Ali was also at the starting line. And couples could pause briefly in the middle of the marathon to get married or renew their vows.

But I digress. The point of this post is simply to say, "Congratulations" to Rebecca for completing her second marathon on Sunday in Las Vegas.

Way to go.

Monday, December 5

Water stations along the marathon route - a prayer of St. Francis

So, I'll probably be posting reflections on the half-marathon all week.

This is a short and simple one. There's a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi that I once saw taped to a water cooler in a bookstore bathroom:

Praised be my Lord for our sister water,
who is very servicable to us,
and humble,
and precious,
and clean.

Sunday, December 4

Thoughts on the St. Jude Marathon

Wow. There was anamazing feeling of euphoria when I finished the half-marathon yesterday. I still feel that 13.1 miles isn't really that far.

But it was amazing to be surrounding by so many people who did the same thing, set the same goal and achieved it.

Additionally, I thought back to the most basic reason of why I run. Because I can. I loved sports and competing as a child and I was able to play.
I mean I think about those kids at the St. Jude Children's Hospital and it just boggles the mind. I could ask why and wrack my brain thinking about it or I can just be grateful about the body and the opportunities I have.
And I can run. But if I don't run, I won't be able to. The quintessential use it or lose it moment. So I've chosen to use it as much as I can. Life is short and life is strange.

Also, at the finish line, I felt on the verge of tears. Part of that was that I felt I sold myself short by not training hard enough to be able to run the whole marathon.
But also there were all the people with things on the back of their shirt about how they were running for a lost child or brother or wife. And some of the t-shirts talked about kids whose cancer is in remission.
There was a man who had the word "will" spelled out on the front of his shirt with duct tape and the words "I am a cancer survivor" on the back. Maybe Will is his name. Maybe will is his resolve.

I'm glad I ran the half-marathon. I'm glad I've got a medal. But I've now got goals. To take care of myself and run faster. To do the Sunburst Marathon on June 3 . Maybe to do the St. Jude Marathon next year.

And also to be grateful everyday for the grace I've been given and for this amazing life. Sometimes we take so much for granted that we don't realize just how extraordinary everyday is.

Saturday, December 3

The St. Jude Half-Marathon - Finished

Well, I finished the race. My time, unofficially, was about 2 hours and 20 minutes.
I'm waiting for the website to put the official results up.

It went pretty well. I wasn't that sore or tired after the race. I felt pretty good. I also felt like I could have run harder and faster, but oh well.

I am a bit tired right now. But Memphis has been fun.

More to come. Most likely after I drive back home.

90 minutes to race time

OK everybody, we're 90 minutes to race time.

In about an hour, I should be standing on Beale Street getting ready to go.

My brain - or maybe it's just one side of my brain - is frantically searching for things to worry about and be nervous about. But there's something else.

Excitement. Wonder. Joy. Accomplishment.

If I were at home, I'd just be out the door and running now. But then nobody would be waiting alongside the road to cheer. Or impersonate Elvis or the Beatles. Or to bellydance.

So I'm ready to just sit here for a while and let the excitement build.

And maybe I'll also have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.

Thursday, December 1

Spirit Stations

Well, here I am back in Tennessee again. Although this is my first time in Memphis.

I picked up my number and my chip today and I'm pretty excited about the race.

They've not only got water tables, but they've also got cheering stations all along the course with entertainment. Belly dancers, Elvis impersonators and female Beatles impersonators and lots of other stuff.

That never happens when I just leave my apartment and go running. I mean I can't remember the last time I saw a belly dancer while I was out running.

Oh, but I had some ribs tonight. My hosts took me to Corky's and I couldn't resist. It was OK. But I think Crosstown is just as good.

Anyways, I figure I'm under 36 hours from racetime. I'm excited and nervous.

Hopefully all will go well.