Sunday, April 30

More reasons

The list of 26.2 reasons continues to grow:

Reason No. 23: With my spoils from winning the poetry slam, I've already bought two books from the Well Fed Head bookstore. They struck a great idea with their decision to sponsor the slam.

The first book I bought was The Principles of Running: Practical Lessons from My First 10,000 Miles by Amby Burfoot. It's a book I'd previously checked out from the library. He writes about how everyone has knows that Al Gore and Oprah Winfrey have won marathons.
Then he writes, "As a result, the marathon is like a Mount Everest for average people."
Well, I'm struggling with that a-word. The people I know who have run marathons don't strike me as average. Not Mary, Alan, Van, Rebecca, Allen, Dorren, Neil, I could go on...
No they don't strike me as average people. They wouldn't if I didn't know that they'd run marathons, but that's just part of the package.
Of course, when you start calling yourself and your friends over-average, you wander into that dangerous Lake Wobegone territory - where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

Reason No. 24 The other book I bought so far with the gift certificate I won from the Well Fed Head is Winning Every Day by Lou Holtz.
It's another one that I'd checked out from the library and decided I needed my own personal copy for continual reference. Frequent readers of the blog have seen me refer to it before. Here and most recently, here.
I love that "patience, my ass, I'm going to kill somebody" quote.

I came across another choice quote while reading it today:

Dreamers don't fantasize. They make things happen. They not only have immense confidence in themselves, they have it in others. They never undervalue the talents of those they lead.

I wish I could hand that quote to every leader whose vision and leadership style impacts my daily life.

20 miles revisited

Yesterday's 20 mile run was great. I say that now that it's over. At various times during the run, I felt like I had gone too hard, was about to stop, wasn't quite sure what I'd gotten myself into. But I completed my journey.

But it was also really beautiful almost throughout. It was the first long run that I'd done completely on a Greenway trail, specifically the Galloway Creek trail. Great views, almost no stopping for cars and also lots of animals.

I started the run with my friend Mark who is generally a bit faster than me, but he slowed down to run at my pace - and a distance much farther than he usually goes. We basically ran straight out on the trail which ended after crossing a pedestrian bridge above the James River. A great view. Then we turned around and headed back.

After 10 miles, Mark stopped because he plans to run a race next Saturday in Las Vegas. I couldn't convince him to keep going and so I turned around and did the whole thing again. I tried to maintain an 11-minute mile pace and for the most part I did, although the last few miles I stopped glancing down at the watch and tried to just keep going. And I did. And I finished.

It was a great run. I saw lots of birds, raccoons, perhaps a skunk and plenty of other animals I don't remember right now.

I'm almost a month away from the race and it almost seems unbelievable. I've come so far and done things I would not have thought possible just a couple of years ago.

Reasons, cont.

My list of 26.2 reasons why I'm training to run a marathon continues on closer to its conclusion.

Reason No. 22: I'm a hypochondriac. I can always think of something that may be wrong with me. Going to the doctor never really seems to help. I went to the doctor less than a week ago. He said that I'm basically a young, healthy person. I'd like to believe that. I try hard.
And God is looking out for me. I've got to have faith that everything in my life will work out for the best. After all, there's Romans 8:28: we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.
But I also grew up in church and I can't count the number of times I heard it said that tomorrow is not promised. June 3 is not promised. Nor is June 4 or any date in 2007.
I may never have another opportunity to train for and run a marathon. This is a magical moment. I've got to do my best to seize it.

More from Martin Buber

I was flipping through my old copy of Martin Buber's I and Thou today and found an old piece of paper from one of those page-a-day calendars. Inspirational quotes or something like that. This page is so many years old I can't remember exactly what the theme was. But the quote is appropriate. Always appropriate: "Boldness, more boldness, and always boldness! - George Jacques Danton (Just seemed appropriate to bold that.)

I don't know who Danton is, but a good quote, and it's accompanied by a nice picture of a waterfall.

Anyhow, I've started trying to read I and Thou again, from front to back. The first paragraph is striking: "Man's world is manifold, and his attitudes are manifold. What is manifold is often frightening because it is not neat and simple. Men prefer to forget how many possibilities are open to them."

Saturday, April 29

I love country music

Well, I do.

But that's not exactly the point of this post.

Around this time last year, I was in Nashville for a professional conference. I woke up in the morning and the Country Music Marathon was on tv. It was really inspirational.

In fact, it was one of the things that helped me remember my new year's resolution to run a marathon and it helped get me to the shoe store so that I could buy some good shoes. They ran that race today this year. And I feel grateful that I was in Nashville last year at the right time to be motivated to get in better shape.

Reasons, cont.

Here's a joke that I got in an e-mail several years ago. I've tweaked it just a little bit. As with all jokes, there's no accounting for taste.

Still, I think I'll insert it into my list of 26.2 reasons to run a marathon.

Reason # 21:

A marathon runner is flying home after attending a business meeting in Paris. A Frenchman and an Italian are seated next to him. After a while, the three get talking about their home lives.
"Last night," brags the Frenchman, "I made love to my wife four times and this morning she made me delicious crepes and told me how much she adored me."
"That’s nothing," responds the Italian, "last night I made love to my wife six times and this morning she made me a wonderful omelet and told me she could never love any other man."
The marathoner remains silent, so the Frenchman asks him, "And how many times did you make love to your wife last night, monsieur?"
"Once," the marathon runner replies.
"Only once?" snorts the Italian, arrogantly, "and what did she say to you this morning?"
"Don't stop."

More poetry to come

The Reacher titled his post about my slam victory Slam Superhero.

That's a reference to one of my poems, High Yellow Superhero. I'll post that soon so come back now, ya here.

20 miles

Today's goal: run 20 miles.
Mission accomplished.
Yeah, baby!

Congratulations are in order

So I won a slam poetry contest. Big deal. Yes, I was good. But let me tell you about something really awesome.

My friend Rebecca, who happens to be raising money to fight women's cancers is now officially ABD. ALL BUT DISSERTATION.

Now that is a major accomplishment.

And you can click here to donate and sponsor her in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women. Rebecca is participating in memory and in honor of her best friend Margret Lavine, who who died on September 13th, 2002 just as Rebecca started graduate school. Rebecca continues to amaze.

Dreams be dreams

Congratulations are also in order for my friend Sarah. Her longtime dream of going to Iraq as a journalist is coming true. On June 3, she will be arriving in Jordan. Wow. Congrats and good luck.

Meanwhile, I've got my own June 3 dream. And today I've got to run 20 miles.

Friday, April 28

An original Ocho poem

I feel like I should post a poem for everybody to read since I won that poetry slam last night. But I'm really tired right now.

Here's my solution. I'll post one of my shorter poems. I hope you like it.

Fortune Cookie

If I
were a baker,
I would make her
a fortune cookie.
I would

20 miles

OK. My schedule says I need to run 20 miles. I really want to run 20 miles.
But I also just feel really tired right now. I was up a bit later than I wanted to be last night celebrating the win of the poetry slam and I'm exhausted.

Maybe I'll just go to sleep earlier than usual and hopefully we'll be all set to go running early in the morning.

Winning every day

Once again, it's been a while since I've shared some words from Lou Holtz. Last night I opened his book Winning Every Day and read a particularly good passage:

Dreamers positively seethe with youthful excitement no matter what their age. I've seen eighty-year-olds with teenage eyes sparkling with hope and expectation. They attack each day, foraging every hour for adventure, challenge and opportunity. Then sadly there are the twenty-year-olds I've seen with eyes as lifeless as tombstones. My guess is that some naysayers have brutalized these young people by denying them their right to dream. We can help them heal by encouraging them to live large lives filled with challenges so that they rise each morning thinking, "Everyday someone accomplishes the impossible. Today, that someone will be me!"

Now, if you're a regular blog reader but you don't know much about Lou Holtz, let me tell you. He's a very excitable old skinny man who talks with a pronounced lisp. You kind of have to remember that to get the full effect of the quote. You can feel the hairs on your arms start to rise with excitement and adrenalin as he speaks because he's got that much passion. Tony Rice, quarterback on Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team once said, "There's no question who's in charge. Here's this little old man who has control over me.... His voice really carries and it can scare you."

Anyhow, as I type this, I feel I've found another reason for my list of 26.2 reasons I want to run the marathon.

Reason No. 21: It's what I'm dreaming about right now. Maybe I hope to find some sort of pot of gold at the end of the race. But it's just largely been my controlling passion for the last few months and I hope I can channel that into a good race and a continuing healthy and competitive lifestyle. (Of course, the real competition is with myself, not other runners right now. But if I compete with myself really hard, other people ought to notice.)

Thursday, April 27

About that poetry slam

Let me tell you about the slam.

So, as with any competition, you know, it would have been bad for me to say I expected to win. Although I did. And that's a horrible feeling because you really can't control it.

But I wanted to do my best and I got frustrated when I flubbed a few lines. But I tried not to show it. Be smooth. Be cool.

And then I was really amazed at how good the other poets were. And I was struggling to convince the judges to give me the best scores possible.

And the math. There was so much math in figuring out the scores after the high score and the low score were eliminated.

But yeah, I am the Slam Champion. I'll read/post something for you sometime.

And I've got to write some new stuff so I can defend my title with style.

Slam countdown

Here we are, less than two hours from the slam.

For those of you who won't be able to make it, you can follow this link for a sample of my work.

We'll update you after the show on how it all goes.

More reasons

I continue the list of 26.2 reasons why I want to run this marathon in South Bend on June 2.

Reason # 19. I've been thinking about an Old Testament professor I had in college lately. Joseph Blenkinsopp. He was a charming old man at the top of his field.

One day he was talking about how it's relatively easy to go join an archaeological dig in Israel or the near east somewhere. I can almost remember his exact quote: "That's life. Fantasize and then you do it."

Fantasize and then you do it.

One other day he was talking about something else, but I remember an interesting phrase he said. "I'm slow, but I get there."

I don't know why, but I identified with that as well. I know I'm slow in so many ways, but I'd like to think I'll get to where I'm going.

Reason # 20. I know this desire to run a marathon bubbled up from many different sources. But it's helped me not feel the nagging urge that I ought to be ought clubbing or partying on a Friday or Saturday night. And for me, that's just fine.

Going out drinking, especially by myself, has never been as fun in reality as it is in theory.

Or put another way: My worst day running was better than my best night out drinking at a bar.

Wednesday, April 26

Prayer request

OK. So I'm feeling pretty good and had a good six-plus mile run early this morning.

But this weekend is the real deal. 20 miles on Saturday. As soon as I figure out my route, everything should be pretty well set. There's nothing left to do, but do it.

Still, I can't help but be nervous. If you get a chance, say a little prayer that all goes well.

Yet, I've gotta admit. I'm ready I'm amped. Y'all know the rest.

It's slam time

Because of the low readership this blog has, I'll share this with you.

I'm going to compete in a poetry slam tomorrow. I just spent 10 minutes looking all over my apartment looking for a notebook of poems. This means, I know, that i need to type all my poems up and keep them better.

But I found the poems, and I'm ready and I'm amped. (Most of my heroes still don't appear on no stamp.)

I'll let you know how this competition thing goes.

Monday, April 24

To please a dream

This week's tool of the week is metafiction. I'm, of course, referring to a fascinating post over at the Middle Class Toolshed. Fascinating stuff.

Now, I'm not sure if what I'm about to share with you qualifies as metafiction or not. But as I read it, I was reminded of the fascinating story that starts off Mr. Tool's metafiction essay.

It's from Martin Buber's The Way of Man.

This story is about Rabbi Eizik, son of Rabbi Yekel of Cracow. For many years, Rabbi Eizik was quite poor, but he never lost his faith.
The one night, Rabbi Eizik dreams that someone bids him look for gold under the bridge leading to the king's palace in Prague. Then he has the same dream again. And again.
After this third time, Rabbi Eizik sets out for Prague. But he cannot dig because the bridge is guarded night and day. Still, he goes out to the bridge each morning and he walks around the castle all day.
Finally, the captain of the guards comes up to him and asks kindly why he keeps coming out to the palace. Rabbi Eizik explains to him about his dream.
The captain laughs. "And so to please the dream, you poor fellow wore out your shoes to come here! As for having faith in dreams, if I had it, I should have had to get going when a dream once told me to go to Cracow and dig under the stove in the room of a Jew - Eizik, son of Yekel! I can just imagine what it would be like, how I should have to try every house over there, where one half of the Jews are named Eizik and the other Yekel!" And then the captain laughed again.
So then Rabbi Eizik bows, turns and returns home. He digs under his stove, finds treasure and builds a nice synagogue.

Now, if you go out and get the book, you can read Martin Buber's commentary.

Here's mime: To please a dream, the man wore out his shoes and found treasure.

Sunday, April 23

Another reason

I admit, sometimes I feel this list of 26.2 reasons seems contrived and cheesy. But it also helps to keep me focused. That why am I doing this extreme endurance race? question can nag at me at times.

So I keep going.

Reason #18: I've been told that to run a marathon, you've got to be physically, mentally and spiritually ready. I picked up a marvelous little book this week to help with the spiritual side.

The Way of Man by Martin Buber.

Here's an interesting excerpt: "The origin of all conflict between me and my fellow-men is that I do not say what I mean, and I do not say what I say."

Of course, if I want to say what I mean, I've got to first know what I mean. I've got to know what I want. And that is very hard.

However, as for the second half of that quote, I've said that I'm going to run this marathon. And I will.

12 miles

I ran 12 miles today. All things considered, it was a pretty slow run. But considering my allergies and my goals, I'm glad I went the whole way. I'm going to see the doctor tomorrow about these allergies and I'm planning to run 20 miles next Saturday.

I don't know if I could have gone 20 today, but I had a pretty tough workout yesterday.

Speaking of which, I thought about that nice trophy my little brother got while running today. It reminded me of the piano lessons I took when I was younger. I was about my little brother's age, maybe a little younger, when I was riding the bus back from school one day and I heard a girl mention how she got a trophy for playing the piano. I already had some trophies for basketball and baseball and I thought this would be a good way to add to my collection.

Boy, was I wrong.

Imagine if I had asked my parents if I could go run a 5K. I probably could have gotten a lot more trophies that way.

Anyhow, today was a good day to run. The only way it could have been better would have been a nice steady downpour. I ran 12 miles and I was happy with the effort I spent.

Reasons, continued.

It's been almost two weeks since I posted in this string of reasons why I want to run a marathon. I haven't stopped thinking about it though.

Reason #17: Get busy living or get busy dying.

Saturday, April 22

Personal Best

Today I went to a local 5K and finished, oh I don't know, about next to last. But I was running with my little brother from Big Brothers Big Sisters.

We had a plan. Run two minutes, walk 15 seconds. That plan went OK at first, but then it just became a bit more of a run/walk affair. I was nervous because we were right in front of the police car that was pulling up the rear of the race and I didn't want them to say at some point that they were done and we had to move over to the sidewalk.

I joked yesterday with a lady at work that I wanted to finish before they stopped timing. But I was only half-joking.

Anyway, I knew that the last time I got my little brother to do a 5K, he finished in over 50 minutes. (Actually 52:20 to be exact.) So my goal was under 50 minutes. And as I recall, we finished under 45 minutes. I'll update with the exact time when it's posted online.

Just a few seconds after we crossed the finish line they started the awards ceremony. And my little brother came in second in his age group. Sometimes, it's all about showing up and perservering to the finish line.

The point of this post, however, is my 5K PR. After I dropped him off, I went to the Y and hopped on a treadmill. I was determined to do 3.1 miles faster than I ever had before. My previous PR was 28:36. During the last mile, I hit a 7.5 minute pace for about three minutes and did the whole thing in around 27 minutes.

I know treadmills are theoretically an easier workout than running outside, but I'm still proud of what I accomplished today.

Of course, I'm also incredibly proud of my little brother too.

Thursday, April 20

Another tough day at work

So yesterday was another tough day at work. A lot of people have this idea that running helps deal with stress. But that's not really the case when you're so confused, frustrated and exhaused you don't have time to grocery shop and to eat. I wish I could say things aren't that bad, and really they aren't when put in perspective. But I just feel beat.

I went to my Quotable Lou book for some insight. Here are a couple of thoughts from Coach Holtz:

"We are always faced with different challenges, and circumstances necessitate bringing out the greatness God puts in all of us."

"When a difficult task comes your way, accept the challenge joyfully. Once it is finished, plead for more."

Accept the challenge joyfully. When it is finished, plead for more. That sounds like an ideal situation. I just have to wonder if the challenges I'm facing at work are fair challenges?

Wednesday, April 19

Enough sleep??

Last night I went to bed after looking at the clock and thinking that if I slept till around 7, I'd have about 9 hours of sleep. But usually I get 7 hours and that's what I got today. Now, it's just a little after 5 and I can't get back to sleep. What's more, I'm not sure if I want to try to go back to sleep or if I want to go running.

I'm not sure if I should even try for 10 hours of sleep. It might be possible next week though.

Tuesday, April 18

Jesus and the Boston Marathon

I'd like to call your attention to one of my favorite blog posts of the month so far.

Maybe you read it when I first put it up, but it's so funny I want to post it again in case you missed it. I suppose it was just an April Fool's day joke in a college newspaper, but it was funny.

It's about Jesus running the Boston marathon.

Here was the quote from the story I shared last time.

Several extremely fast Kenyans protested the Lamb of God's entry into the marathon, citing that he is in fact a "god" and the race is limited to human beings. Paul, the Anointed One's press representative, cited the doctrine of incarnation to show that the Light of the World is still entirely human as proof that He can still run the marathon.
His Holiness does not want his prestige and divine nature to overshadow the other runners.
"On April 17, I'm just another guy trying to run 26.2 miles without throwing up," said The Savior. "The miracles can wait a day."

Of course, as expected, the Kenyans won again. No word in the mainstream media on how Jesus did.

Amiri Baraka, professor

For your reading pleasure, I link to a fascinating post about Amiri Baraka's style as a college professor.

I'll admit, I don't get it all. (I mean, I'm not even sure who Horowitz is.) But it's really interesting.

My gift to you

This is for all the creative people out there, the poets, songwriters, copy editors, etcetera....

I've been driving around looking at the signs at gas stations.

I feel compelled to remind the world that the phrase "gas prices" rhymes with the phrase "ass prices."

Do with that what you will.

Monday, April 17

Mysticism for Beginners

Last week, as I was thinking about how I felt leading up to what should have been my 20 mile run, I thought of a poem I was pretty sure I'd shared with my readers before.

But when I searched through the blog I couldn't find it. So let me share it with you right now. One of my favorites.

Mysticism for Beginners
by Adam Zagajewski

The day was mile, the light was generous.
The German on the cafe terrace
held a small book on his lap.
I caught sight of the title:
Mysticism for Beginners.
Suddenly I understood that the swallows
patrolling the streets of Montepulciano
with their shrill whistles
and the hushed talk of timid travelers
from Eastern, so-called Central Europe,
and the white herons standing - yesterday? the day before? -
like nuns in fields of rice,
and the dusk, slow and systematic,
erasing the outlines of medieval houses,
and olive trees on little hills,
abandoned to the wind and heat,
and the head of the Unknown Princess
that I saw and admired in the Louvre,
and stained-glass windows like butterfly wings
sprinkled with pollen,
and the little nightingale practicing
its speech beside the highway,
and any journey, any kind of trip,
are only mysticism for beginners,
the elementary course, prelude
to a test that's been

Hmm. And now that I type it in, after my scheduled 20-mile run has been put off for a couple of weeks, it seems even more appropriate. Except for that dastardly line about sprinkling butterfly wings with pollen. Nothing should be sprinkled with pollen. Oh I long for the days when I didn't have allergies. Or at least when I wasn't affected by them.

An easy week

There's a training principle I've found often when reading about running.

Follow a hard day with an easy day. Well my legs have been talking to me a lot lately and the legs think it's time for an easy week.

One of the hardest things to do sometimes can be to rest and not run or work out at all. Especially when there's so much momentum going towards running.

But I'm going to listen to my legs and see how things go as I try to give them a little time off as we head into the final stretch of marathon preparation.

We're basically seven weeks away from June 3 right now. I know that you're as excited as I am.

Sunday, April 16

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

I participated in a great vigil Mass tonight.

The main message from the bishop is that Easter is a time of hope. That's pretty basic, but right now it was good to hear as I need all the hope I can muster that my training will pick up and I'll finish this marathon in one piece.

Right now these allergies are kicking my butt and I'm feeling a little run down.

But it's Easter. A time of hope and hopefully good things for you and yours.

As the Orthodox say, Christ is risen. Indeed he is risen.

Saturday, April 15

Some days or two weeks to 20 miles?

Some days are great days for running. Other days, well, are like today. Boy, the pollen was thick.

I have to look at this as a good news, bad news sort of thing and try to focus on the positive.

The positive is that this week I ran a total of 29 miles. The bad news is that on the day I wanted to run 20 miles, I ran 8.

But it was incredibly hot, I was struggling either with allergies or a cold and it was very windy too. Also, my legs just feel tired right now.

But again, I ran a total of 29 miles this week. I'm not injured. And I'll have opportunities to rest in the week ahead. Rest, get stronger and run some more.

When will I next attempt 20 miles? I don't know. I've got a doctor's appointment on the 24th and that will help me focus also.

I'm also determined to start running a bit more after work when it's still hot so I can adjust to the heat better. Maybe those will be short runs to provide a two-a-day workout schedule.

We'll see.

I've got to stay focused and set on my goal. These allergies will pass. And I can't help but think that running today will ultimately make me much stronger because it was such a tough day.

Yes, I know I've got an afro

Here's a little insight for those blog readers who also see me in the offline world.

No, I don't remember just when I got my hair cut last. But I do know when I plan to next get my haircut. Around June 1 or June 2.

There's lots of thinking about that.

One, if I train with lots of hair, that will make it easier to run with almost no hair on my head.

Two, it would be an acknowledgment that finishing the marathon will be a major accomplishment and cutting my hair will be an outward symbol of an inward change, the achievement of a major goal.

Maybe it's silly, but those are my thoughts.

This pollen, so thick

I'm starting to believe more and more that it's allergies and not a cold. I don't know for sure, but it's my hunch. I was walking back from church today and I could have sworn I saw lots of little pollen particles blowing around in the air.

Today being the day of the Easter Vigil, I don't know that I'm going to be able to find time to do 20. That besides the fact that I'm struggling with these allergies.

Friday, April 14

Allergies or a cold?

Yesterday I posted about problems with allergies. Today I'm not so sure. I woke up coughing and I've never heard of allergies causing coughing quite like this.

I had planned to do an easy two-mile run at the Y this morning and I probably still will. But this coughing is tough to figure out. And, of course, a cold can easily come on faster if you're under stress and regular readers of the blog know that I've been dealing with stress and long hours at work. (I'm not sure when the last weekend was that I didn't go into the office. Possibly the weekend of the Little Rock Marathon.)

Sigh. This doesn't feel like a good time to get sick because I don't have the option of taking sick days.

Thursday, April 13

Two days to 20 miles

Well, I'm two days from running 20 miles.

As with every long run since the half-marathon, I'm nervous and excited. 20 miles. I need to do it and then I'll feel that much closer to going all the way.

Excited and nervous. And congested. But that's life. Everything can't always be perfect. But this should be a good weekend for a run. It has to be.

Fighting Allergies

I'm tempted to write that running has been tough lately. But that's not really true. When I've had the time to go running, all's been well. But it's been tough to find the time. Part of that is work. And part of the problem with work is I'm slowing down thanks in part to allergies. I'm pretty congested and that gives me a bit of a brain fog.

But hopefully things will clear up. I ran 10 miles Wednesday morning and the running went fairly well. I couldn't squeeze in any running today so hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to do a short run just to get the blood pumping in the morning.

And then there's Saturday. The big day.

Tuesday, April 11

Change is constant, change is good

When I was in South Bend over Christmas, I noticed a lot of construction around roads that went over the river. Thus I wasn't too surprised to see that the course is being changed.

I sent an e-mail to the course director asking what the changes will be like and when the new map will be posted to the website. After all, the 2005 course map is taped to the wall next to my desk at work.

Here's part of his response to my e-mail: "The Sunburst course is being changed due to construction and some improvements. It will be slightly less hilly then the old course. It will be less out and back. There will be more distance in a park."

Well, that all sounds good to me. One of my favorite parts of the St. Jude Half-Marathon was the little stretch through Overton Park. My absolute favorite part of any marathon so far was when I was on the road next to the Mississippi River in Memphis and I could see the stream of people in front of me and the huge pyramid down at the bottom of the hill. That was great.

Hopefully there will be some beautiful moments in South Bend as well.

Monday, April 10

Inspiration from Lou

It's been a while since I've shared any quotes from Lou Holtz. Here's a good one:

"Good things happen to those who refuse to be average and have a positive attitude."

Sitting quietly

I've got a book called ChiRunning that I've been meaning to read for sometime. It's just been sitting around the house and I'll pick it up and flip through...

While flipping through the other day, I came across an interesting passage: "Studies have shown that watching tv is not as relaxing as sitting quietly."

Makes sense, eh?

I hope to read the whole book someday. But I always see interesting stuff when I'm just flipping through.

Like these quotes:

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle.

"The beginning holds the seed of all that is to follow." - I Ching

Cognitive dissonance

A friend of mine reently went skiing with a big group of people.

One day he was sitting at breakfast with his friends and family unsatisfied with the experience. Aren't we missing something, he asked. Wasn't there something artificial and fake about this whole experience, he wanted to know.

It was way too white, he said, and he wasn't just talking about the beautiful snow. Where were the minorities? Where were the poor people?

To an extent, I've had the same thought while running. But running concerns me far more than skiing. This is why: obesity and obesity-related illnesses happen to minorities far too often. Running is relatively easy and simple, but it does take money. You need money for good shoes and you need to buy shoes relatively often. At least twice a year if not more so. But running is one of the most effective ways to shed pounds.

It seems so easy. Just get out the door and run. But that might not be the case if you live in a dangerous neighborhood, or you can't afford the shoes, or you've just never considered it.

I've run in several races now and there's almost never any minorities or visibly poor people. Maybe runners who are poor don't look poor at a race. I don't know. And I definitely know that not all minorities are poor.

And granted, I live in a city that's mover 90 percent white. But the places where I ran the two half-marathons - Little Rock and Memphis - are much more diverse places. Not counting Kenyans, I doubt I saw more than a dozen minorities at either race.

Just food for thought.

Reasons cont.

Reason # 15. "That's crazy."

I was talking to someone on the phone today. Nine days ago I ran 18 miles. This weekend my schedule calls for running 20 miles.

Crazy? I don't know if I agree with that. But I do think it fits my personality. Dogged persistent pursuit of a goal. Maybe even a goal that other people might not even want or desire.

Maybe it is a little crazy. But it's also inspiring to me also.

Reason # 16. Sometimes I think about the things I think about. And I think it's pretty immature. How do I grow up?

I was thinking, would running a marathon more focus and maturity? Would running a marathon help me get my life in order?

But wait. My problems aren't that bad. I'm not that much of a mess. And running a marathon isn't the same as enlisting in the military.

Life is good. So maybe Reason # 16 is a bust. I don't know. It put a smile on my face typing all this. Maybe after I run the marathon I could get one of those shirts that says "26.2 miles and still smiling."

Yeah. :)

I suppose this whole list of 26.2 reasons is a bit contrived. But hey, I've only got 10.2 to go.

Striving with things impossible

Well, it's Monday. Not that I had a weekend in the technical sense of the word where I didn't go into the office on either Saturday or Sunday. Sigh.

What's more. This is another day to rest my legs. Today and then again Friday so that I'll be set to go full-strength on Saturday when I run 20 miles.

Sometimes I return to the same things. Dogged persistence. There's one quote I want to focus on again today as I start my week.

Now, bid me run and I will strive with things impossible.
-William Shakespeare

Sunday, April 9

20 miles

For those of you keeping track, I need to be focused right now. 20 miles. I ran 30 K or 18 miles 8 days ago. 20 miles. Five days from today, I have a new goal. 20 miles. This is the longest run, basically, that I'll have before the marathon. 20 miles. I've got a lot to do at work this week so that I'll be basically relaxed and ready to go on Saturday. 20 miles.

I've been going in to work on almost every weekend for the last month. 20 miles. I'd really like for the 20 mile run to happen at a point when I can just forget about the office. 20 miles. All I want to do is focus on the next distance I have to go. 20 miles.

This whole training thing, this whole goal, it's got me scared and excited. But I think if I can do 20 miles with a minimum of discomfort, I'll feel about as ready as I can. Ready and relaxed.

Dave Chapelle's block party

I like where I live. I struggle with loneliness, sure. But there are days like today. I walked two blocks to my local independent movie theatre and watched Dave Chapelle's Block Party.

I'm a little bit of a regular I suppose so the owners said hello and were very welcoming.

And the movie was hie-larious. And rocking. I can't remember the last time I bopped my head up and down and danced in my seat.

Of course, they keep showing the trailer for the Neil Young movie Heart of Gold and I get homesick for Nashville. I didn't even know that Nashville was my home. I only lived there for a little over two years. Sigh.

A recurring theme

I feel moved to remind you of one of my favorite quotes from those old Eighth Day Books bookmarks:

"Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

That includes the need to be kind to yourself. Sometimes you're the one fighting the great battle and you don't even realize.

You've also, most likely, got far more strength than you realize.

A time for rest

Today was one of those runs where my body talked to me a bit.

As I wrote yesterday, I had a good, fast Saturday run with my friend Mark. At least fast for me. Mark estimated that we were running about 10 minute miles and I don't usually go that fast when I'm outside when I'm not racing. We went a little over 6 miles not counting the 3 or so miles I ran from my place to Mark's house and back.

Today, my buddy Allen said he wanted to do a fast 5 miles — at about a 9 minute pace. Well, I do 9-minute miles on the treadmill so this didn't seem too unreasonable to me. Somewhere along the way though, my left calf muscle decided it was going as fast as it needed to. The whole run I felt a little tight.

So, with about 3/4 of a mile left in the run Allen took off and left me in his tracks. I didn't feel too demoralized because I knew I'd gone some serious miles and I had a pretty hard workout the day before.

And I didn't just do five miles. I thought that if we were going to go that fast, I probably ought to warm up with the two-mile run over to Allen's house. After our run together I was a bit tired but I ran back home anyway. It was one of those days where finishing felt good, especially finishing after running the whole way.

But I know what I'm doing tomorrow: Resting.

I dream of vacation

I work in a two-man shop. But for the last month or so, we've been down one person. We're two weeks away from being fully-staffed again, but right now, I've got one main desire.

Rest, relaxation and vacation. I've got three weeks of vacation and four days of personal time. I've been thinking a lot lately about how I'll use it.

I'm not rich so I probably won't be taking any international trips.

I'm thinking of asking for two days to go to Wichita in May for the River Run.

Then I'll take seven days of vacation possibly at the start of June for the marathon in South Bend.

But what else? The beach? The Great Lakes? Branson? Eureka Springs?

Hopefully there's something fun right around the corner.

Reasons cont.

Reason # 14. When I think about 2005 or almost any year for that matter, I have a little trouble picking out what I did that was significant or important. Sure there's the year I graduated from high school and college. The year I studied in Jerusalem. But those are all fairly long ago. And sometimes it seems as if I just sleep-walked through my 20s.

Anyhow, if I complete this race, then 2006 will be the year I ran my first marathon. It's not climbing Kilimanjaro, but it will be a major accomplishment for me.

Saturday, April 8

releasing endorphins

I had a relatively easy day today.

I joined my friend Mark for a 6-mile run and that was a great workout. Mark generally runs a lot faster than me but he ran a little slower today and I ran a little faster.

Later on while running errands, I really felt like I was in a great mood. Today's run worked as far as releasing endorphins and making me feel good.

Friday, April 7

Living in the first world

Ever have a day - or a week or a month even - when everything feels like you're running uphill with the wind swirling in your face. You wind up asking yourself questions like: what am I doing? why am I here? how bad can it get?

And the thing is, really, things aren't that bad. You know, the whole concept of keeping things in perspective.

For me personally, I try to balance the idea that things aren't that bad. Everything's actually pretty good. And things will likely get better.

It can feel like there are all sorts of mistakes I've made and things I don't know. To paraphrase Jimmy Cliff, I can't see clearly now.

I try to pray. Those things I don't understand how they're working, someday I'll smile about it: It had to happen that way so this wonderful result could come about.

Thursday, April 6

Heard on the ipod

Today's workout was so long and so hard I heard a lot of good music on the ipod. One song though was a bit moving because it reminded me of a friend who is grieving. I know that's not what the song is about, but it struck me that way today.

Here are the relevant lyrics:

...Losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow...

I’ve reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland...

Drenched in sweat

Today I woke up too late to go running for the second day in a row.

But as I was leaving work, it was still light out. The bean soup I had for a late lunch as pumping energy through my veins and I felt like working out.

I got home and changed quickly. It was getting dark fast and severe weather was in the forecast so I hopped over to the Y and go on a treadmill.

I saw a girl I knew in the stairwell and her shirt was so wet it was see-through. (Yes, she was wearing a sports bra. Get your mind out of the gutter.) I asked if she'd been in the pool or if that was all sweat. All sweat, she said.

I suppose that was a bit inspirational. I'd only planned to do about 3 miles or so when I got on the treadmill. I hopped on and did 5 miles at just under a 9 minute pace with the machine set to a 1.5 percent incline. Near the end I was a little worried about keeping my pace up and staying on the treadmill, but I was able to do it.

Today's run brought the satisfaction of a workout where I couldn't have given but so much more. It was a great feeling. Although I was a little hungry when I started and ravenously hungry when it was over.

And my shirt was drenched in sweat.

Wednesday, April 5

Today's workout

Today's workout was tough. I woke up and thought maybe I wouldn't go the gym at all. That movie last night kept me up past my normal bedtime.

But eventually I got out of the house, into the gym and on top of the treadmill. I only did two miles, but they were two hard miles. I know the conveyor belt moves you forward a little bit, but when you're doing inclines like I did today, I'm not sure how much of a difference that little bit of momentum makes.

the struggle continues

A few more thoughts:

What's your struggle? What are you fighting for? What are you running for?

We've all got to have a sense of purpose.

For some people it's bigger than for others. But we've all got to find what we're supposed to be doing. It may be just finding joy in every day. It may be helping to fight women's cancers.

Remember what Philo of Alexandria said: Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Tuesday, April 4

Why do we fight?

Well? What's your answer to that question?

I just saw the movie Why we Fight.

It was a powerful film. It almost makes me want to write an essay called, "Why I am a pacifist." Apologies to C.S. Lewis.

Of course, I don't know that I am a pacifist. What I normally think is that such things are far outside what I want my sphere of influence to be.

But what too many people don't realize is that peace is not an expression of weakness but one of strength. But there's no money in peace.

So why do we fight?


I had a great, tough workout at the Y today.

Lately, with the weather being nice, I've gone running outside, but today I felt pressed for time and just hopped over to the gym. I'm not exactly sure why but I wore a short-sleeved t-shirt under a long-sleeved t-shirt.

I guess I've been meaning to do that for a while. After all, the marathon is in June.

Anyhow, I was beat at the end of the run - 3.1 miles on the treadmill. My bottom t-shirt was drenched with sweat and the top was a bit wet too.

I tell you, sweat has to be one of my favorite bodily fluids. When you're drenched with sweat, there's almost always this feeling that you're working hard and doing something right. Anyhow, it was a great run.

And my hunch from yesterday was right. That short run this morning gave me tons of energy for the whole day.

Monday, April 3

Reasons cont.

My initial post exploring reasons to run the marathon was a bit longer than I intended.

I'm thinking right now I'll just do one reason. Maybe that's how I'll think up the rest of these reasons. One or two at a time. Manageable bites.

Reason # 12: Training to run a marathon gives me hope. Hope that my best days, my greatest accomplishments, my most amazing feats are in the future and not in the past.

Losing weight

This weekend I learned something new.

I've lost so much weight that I've got a pair of jeans that, without a belt, will slip straight down and off my body.

Perhaps I should by new pants, but as I keep running more and trying to get in shape for the marathon, I suppose I'll just lose more and more weight.

My plan, I guess, is to just wait until after the race and then go shopping after it's all over.

Two days off

Well, I've taken two days off from running. I'm not so sure how good of an idea two days off is. I feel like I should have gotten out and run at least 2 or 3 miles today.

I mean, I got a fair amount of sleep last night, but all day I've just been tired. Anyhow, tomorrow I'm getting up and running an easy four miles in the morning.

Hopefully that will give me more energy for the day. Of course, maybe I should have just had a better breakfast today.

Sunday, April 2

Recapping the weekend

So, this weekend was good. I ran 30 kilometers or 18 miles. It was a tough run and it was a good run. It was possibly one of the toughest runs ever, but in two weeks we're going for 20 miles.

As I prepare for the marathon, I'm not really going to try to go any longer than 20 miles, really. I will however try to do 20 more than once so I'll be real comfortable with that distance.

I didn't feel too sore today although my legs/joints feel tired.

Today was mostly a day of rest and tomorrow will be a day of rest also. Then we'll see about hitting the road again on Tuesday for another good run.

Every run is a good run and everyday I can go running is a good day.


So, I've been thinking I need to compile a list of reasons why I am training to run the marathon. (I've also been thinking I need to make as many sly allusions to Earth, Wind & Fire songs as possible. ) And I suppose I just like lists also.

Anyhow, this will be a bit of a work in progress. We'll see how many posts it takes me to get to 26.2.

1) I made a new year's resolution to run the Sunburst Marathon on June 3. I'd like to follow through.

2) I've seen middle aged men who look like they're pregnant. And I'm talking about people almost as tall as me. I don't want to be that out of shape when I get even older than I am now.

3) The whole lift weights, eat lots of food, have big bulging muscles thing just wasn't working out. No matter how much weight I gained, it was mostly lean muscle that people didn't really notice. One of the drawbacks of having a long frame.

4) Running a marathon is somewhat of a mythical adventure. It dates back to ancient Greece.

5) Running a marathon is somewhat of a mystical adventure. Maybe I'll have visions. I prayed quite a bit near the end of that 18 mile run recently.

6) Running in the mornings is more fun than hanging out in smoking bars at night.

7) So far, I've gone farther than I might have thought possible a couple of years ago. I'm surprising myself.

8) I may not have huge muscles, but I do have rippling abs. OK, I apologize for being shallow.

9) I like setting goals and working to achieve them.

10) It's nice to see how far my own two feet can carry me.

10.2) I want to see just how far I can go.

11) I want to increase my endurance.

OK. I'll work on some more reasons there will be another installment to this list soon. Heck, I didn't expect to roll out 11 just like that.

I hope your running is going well.

Jesus in Boston

Sometimes when I'm looking for a little inspiration, I go over to google news and type in something like "marathon training."

Today I chanced upon something interesting. Don't know if it's an April Fool's story or something satirical, but it was pretty good.

A newspaper from some college in Boston reports that Jesus Christ will run the Boston Marathon this year. It's a fun read. He's a great exerpt:

Several extremely fast Kenyans protested the Lamb of God's entry into the marathon, citing that he is in fact a "god" and the race is limited to human beings. Paul, the Anointed One's press representative, cited the doctrine of incarnation to show that the Light of the World is still entirely human as proof that He can still run the marathon.

His Holiness does not want his prestige and divine nature to overshadow the other runners.

"On April 17, I'm just another guy trying to run 26.2 miles without throwing up," said The Savior. "The miracles can wait a day."

Saturday, April 1

This mountain

Recently, I shared Marc Smith's great poem Pull the Next One Up."

But it's quite a long poem and maybe you didn't read all the way to the end.

So I'll share the most important stanze, the one that helped propel me a few miles two weeks ago when I ran (what now seems like) an easy 15 miles.

When you ask how high is this mountain
With a compulsion to know
Where you stand in relationship to other peaks,
Look down to wherefrom you came up
And see the rope that's tied to your waist
Tied to the next man's waist,
Tied to the next woman's waist,
Tied to the first man's waist,
To first woman's waist
... and pull the rope!

30K - finished

Apparently I had enough sleep ( see below ) to run 18 miles.

It was probably one of my toughest runs ever, but I know these long runs aren't going to get any easier.

From the start I tried to remind myself to go slow and mentally break the run into small pieces. That got me through.

Plus, Allen's help for the last 10 miles was priceless.

Seven hours

So, I think I got seven hours of sleep last night.

When I woke up this morning, it was nearly 90 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. But in a couple of minutes I was just practically wide awake - or as wide awake as I ever get before 8 a.m. and I couldn't believe it. I guess the run today starts about 7:40 and hopefully all will go well.

18 miles.

Like so many things, it's exciting and frightening at the same time.

How high is this mountain?