Wednesday, May 31

What percentage?

What percentage of the population attempts and finishes a marathon?

Thanks to a wonderful care package I received today, I can answer that question.

In 2004, an estimated 423,000 people finished marathons in the U.S. Our population is around 280 million so that comes to about 0.15 percent. Wow. 1 percent is way too high.

Tomorrow I drive to South Bend. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing from there.

Wednesday. Race week.

Tomorrow, I'm leaving for South Bend. My blogging may be a bit less frequent then.

So let me share with you today, the link to use in order to find results after the race.

Hopefully all will go well and you'll see my name and my time there.

Four miles

I did my last training run today. I don't know if training run is the proper word. All my training is basically done. I can't really get in but so much better shape than I'm in right now.

And I suppose I'm in good shape. Yet, I felt out-of-shape even after I ran my second half-marathon. That was the Little Rock Half-Marathon in March.

Now I've run 20 miles twice. Yet I still feel out-of-shape. Hopefully I've got enough to get to the finish line.

Maybe it's just negative thinking I'm struggling with. I've got an audio book, the Power of Positive Thinking, to listen to on the way up. Hopefully that will help.

Say a prayer for me.

Tuesday, May 30

Coach Lou again

I've quoted Lou Holtz a lot over the past few months.

It's race week. Let's share a couple more quotes from Holtz:

"It seems the higher the challenge, the more we concentrate on failure rahther than success. I believe we shouldn't concern ourselves with the difficulty of a challenge. Just take a good mental approach to the task and make your best effort on a continuous basis."

"By all aeronautical principles, the bumblebee isn't supposed to be able to fly. He's too heavy. His body's the wrong shape. His wings are too short.... Fortunately, he can't read. So he just goes about his business, flying all over the place."

Tuesday. Race week.

A two day work week. A day of travel. A day of rest and nerves. A day of racing.

I bought a scale recently and I step on it like a new toy. It's not that I wanted to lose weight, it's just that I accepted that it would happen.

And since July of last year, I've lost over 40 pounds. I'm not particularly happy about losing 40 pounds, but finishing the marathon will make losing the weight worth it.

I hate being skinny. Girls never like skinny guys. I remember one girl I liked and went out on a couple of dates with chose instead to date a guy who was twice my size and played bass guitar in a rock band.

I need to forget that girl. Strangely enough, she's the only person to call me her soulmate. Strange use of the word. She said we were so alike because we both analyzed everything to death.

Anyway, I digress. I'm excited about the race.

Monday, May 29

Embrace the madness!

So I'm about to turn off the computer and stop surfing the internet. Really I am.

But something was on my mind. So I put two words (taper madness) into the google bar.

And voila. There's actually a website called

Here's the first sentence I read:
Embrace the Madness!

If you're an experienced marathoner, you know what we're talkin' about. You trained hard for months on end. You put in the miles, did the pace runs, the speed work, the cross-training and the long, slow runs. Your body and mind have been stressed in various and sundry ways. Finally, you're ready. In the wait before the race you fret, you obsess, you hallucinate and hyperventilate. That's right, you've got "Taper Madness!"

All of you'll come to know this condition well. It's the Madness...we all have it. For some of us it's become a perpetual state of mind. But make no mistake, all of us succumb eventually. Embrace the Madness! It's OK, you're among friends. We understand.

Well, OK. Something productive to do on the internet. There's even a link to create a pace band.

I'm not sure if I'll print it out or not, but it's fascinating. Heck, the whole thing is fascinating.

Running movies

A couple of months ago, I sought suggestions for Inspirational sports movies.

But I received no suggestions.

Now, in the last week or so, I've seen Saint Ralph, a great Canadian movie about a teenager trying to win the Boston Marathon.

Then I rented The Ringer from Blockbuster and it was about as good as I expected it to be. It had the Special Olympics Athletes' Motto in it: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

But now, thanks to the Moxie, I've got a new favorite running movie. And the thing is, I didn't even know that running would factor into it so much.

It's an amazing Chinese movie called, The Promise (Wu ji) . That's a link to a Mandarin sight that doesn't show up but so well on my computer. (I guess my browser isn't Mandarin-compatible.) Anyhow, see this film . It's my absolute favorite Chinese movie that features running as a major part of the movie. At the top of the list. And if I were to make a list of my top 10 favorite films, it would most likely be in there. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.

Monday. Race Week.

Well, this is the week I've worked towards. I'm trying to work on visualizing how I'll feel after I finish the race. I'm also trying to convince myself that I'm really ready to finish the race.
But, I ran 20-miles twice in the last month. I am ready. It will be a great day.

Sunday, May 28

Sunday. Race week.

Well, the race is this Saturday. I am excited, nervous, etc.

If you are so inclined, please say a prayer that all goes well.

With all the running I do, I wondered about asking for prayer. I mean, if I've trained enough, then I don't need prayer. And if I haven't trained enough, all the prayer in the world won't help, eh?

But that didn't seem right. And I've noticed that sometimes on a long run, when I just start saying a simple prayer over and over, that I do feel a little help.

A friend of mine wrote: Prayer prepares us to cooperate with what God has already prepared us to achieve. God bless your run.

I hope your running is going well.

Saturday, May 27

10-day forecast

The 10-day forecast for South Bend has changed!

For June 3, the high is forecast as 68 and the low at 54.

This is great news.

8 miles

I ran 8 miles today. Started a little after 10 in the morning. It was incredibly hot. Around mile 5 I had to stop at a little restaurant beside the trail. Got some water. Wet my hat.

All in all though, it was a good run. My friend Allen, who was timing us, said that it was just under 10 minute miles. I'm probably not going to want to go that fast next week.

But the temperature is forecast to be much cooler there than it is here. Now, it's time to really rest.

One week

This time next Saturday, I'll be running the marathon. Just about sends shivers down my spine thinking about it.

The plan for today is to go out and do 8 miles with Allen. Then I won't do another run longer than four miles or so before the race.

Friday, May 26

Superman on dreams

A word on dreams from Christopher Reeves:
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

8 days

8 days. Sigh. 8 days. I'm ready, but I'm also giving trying to taper and not run as much.

Work is stressing me out. It's time for my review. I'd like to be excited about doing my review but I'm a little cynical about being here. The experience of the past couple of months has been pretty discouraging at times.

Essentially a performance review should be a highlight reel of the past year and it should say I'm excited about contributing to this company and making it better in the coming months.

I'm not excited about anything but running a marathon, a goal I never thought I would achieve. And now I'm so close.

For both the professional review and the marathon, I struggle with goals. Enough about work though.

What goals for the marathon?

To finish, of course. But what about time. Early on I read some things and decided that simply finishing was goal enough. I think that was smart, especially with the way my job has gone.

But I'm struggling with the idea of doing a 5 hour marathon. That almost feels below-average. Should I shoot for 4:30? My last half-marathon was 2:10.

But the marathon is a mystery. It is far different than a half-marathon. What have I gotten myself into? I don't know how that question comes across? I feel physically ready, but not necessarily mentally ready yet. But how ready can you be when there's so much you can't know until you do it?

8 days.

Thursday, May 25

Camp Marafiki

Have you heard of Camp Marafiki?

Do you have plans for July 30 -August 5?
Do you know the way to Santa Fe?

I was actually just googling to see if the Kenyan runners had afros like I used to or short cuts like I do now. The hair is cut close. That's one similarity between me and the Kenyans. Probably the only one. :)

9 days

9 days until the race.

The extended forecast on has a high of 76 and a low of 55 for June 3.

I was up later than usual last night. Watched The Big Lebowski with some friends. And so I had a white Russian. Long time since I had one of those drinks, but it was very appropriate for the movie. Personally, I've always preferred black Russians. I've been hoping to meet a black Russian for a long time. (Dated a black German once, but that's a different story.) Of course, what are the chances of meeting a tall, attractive, single black Russian woman in the city where I live now. I mean the odds probably aren't but so high in Moscow. But here it's got to be rock bottom. Maybe the odds a bit higher in Chicago. I'd bet even higher in South Bend. (I only had one drink last night, yet I wonder if I'm still drunk this morning.)

I digress. I'm going to go run 2 miles on the treadmill because I need to wake up this morning. I'm definitely not drinking coffee the day after I drank vodka.

And I declare today that I'm not drinking any alcohol again until I've finished the race. I need to make sure that my body is primed to compete at peak condition. Of course I'm only competing with myself. But I want to win.

Wednesday, May 24

10 days

10 days until race day.

But there's something incongruous about the way I'm counting and the way they do the 10-day forecast over at One more day until I can see the forecast on the 10-day forecast.

And here's the thing. This Friday there's a high of 66 forecast. Next Friday there's a high of 78. And the day after that is the big day. What will it be? I could stare at that forecast for hours if I didn't have lots of other things to do.

Speaking of things I could stare at for hours, there have been changes with the race for this year. Here's the updated course map. After some changes, the race will again finish on the fifty.

Tuesday, May 23

Twice in one day

I did it today for the first time. Twice in one day.

Running that is. I've thought about it a lot but today was the first time I made it happen. Partially it's because of the heat. I've wanted to run in the hottest part of the day, but I also wanted to run when I got up first thing this morning.

So, I ran around 2 miles at 6 a.m. Then after my haircut, I ran about 4 miles. It was around 60 when I ran this morning, but over 80 for the four miles in the afternoon. That run felt good. I like the haircut and I have more confidence about the marathon on June 3. Everyday and every good relaxing run brings more confidence.

It didn't used to be like that

Well, I got my haircut today. It feels good on the one hand. But maybe I've now got more stress.

When he was done, the barber looked at my head and said, "It didn't used to be like that." He was referring to several bald spots.

It could be two things, he said. Alopecia or stress. I don't know much about alopecia and really don't want to know after clicking on that link.

I do know I've been real stressed lately. He said oftentimes when the stress goes away, the hair comes back.

Anyone who has regularly been reading this blog knows I've been incredibly stressed at work lately. This just makes the need to eliminate that stress all the more important.

We'll see how it goes.

11 days

Eleven days until the marathon.

Today I'm getting my hair cut. All of it is coming completely off. I can't help but wonder how much all this hair weighs. Bought a new scale recently and I've been stepping on and off it like it's a new toy. I don't obsess over my weight, but it's fun to look at it.

I'm also praying for good weather. Not too hot, not too cold. I don't think I need to worry about the not too cold part.

According to, it's currently 43 degrees in South Bend, while it's 66 degrees here. The 10-day forecast predicts a high of 75 for June 1 with scattered showers. That's not too bad. Just a little cooler though would be near perfect. And I don't mind the scattered showers as long as they don't make it too humid.

Long scattered showers would be nice though.

Monday, May 22

Keep on running toward fear

I mentioned in a post earlier today that I'm excited and scared. It will probably be a recurring theme in the next 11 days.

But my thoughts on fear at this point can best be summed up by a pervious post, the title of a book by Haki Madhubuti, one of my favorite poets: Run Toward Fear. I may be afraid. I may wonder if I can go the whole way in the early June heat. But I'm running the race.

Anwyway, here's a poem from that book, Run Toward Fear:

Heart Work

Art has its own answers and name,
has beauty, insight and great questions too.
the poem is the unheard inquiry,
a foreign language in English and off rhyme
torturously taught by P.E. teachers
to a population bred on commercials and war games,
where the loud aesthetic is the nation's weapon
limited only by zeros on its dollar bills.
You go substratum to decipher
the secrets of poets, musicians and hand painters.
Poetry has blanketed your heart and
your heart is like that of "Lincoln West," "Strong Men" and "Mollie Means"
running alone on A Street in Bronzeville and Southern black roads.

For the teachers of poetry.

12 days

Twelve days to race day. Twelve days to 26.2 miles.

I'm excited and nervous and scared. I've run 20 miles twice, but am I ready for the heat. How hot will it be? Will I hit the wall? Or will I evade it?

The trick is not going faster than your body can handle. At the end of the Memphis Half-marathon, I was a little disappointed that I hadn't run faster because I felt so refreshed and energized. But maybe if I can run close to that 10 minute, 40 second pace again, I'll do well for myself. In March's Little Rock Half-Marathon, I ran it in a 10 minute, 2 second pace.

Please pray for me and pray for good weather also.

Saturday, May 20

Saint Ralph

Wow. I just watched the movie Saint Ralph. I wish I could have watched it with someone so I could discuss it afterwards. But I loved it. A wonderful, charming movie.

I may even buy it some day. Or put it on a Christmas list. Or something.
I may watch it again sometime before I have to take it back to the video store.

It's the story of a boy who believes he needs a miracle so his mom will wake up from the coma she's in. And the miracle he works and trains for is winning the Boston Marathon. I won't give away the ending of the movie.

But one of the last lines in the movie is: "If we're not chasing after miracles, what's the point?"

It put me in a good frame of mind for the next two weeks. It's time for positive thinking.

The race time

Well, today's 5K was fun. It was also hot. And for various reasons, I didn't run it all that fast.

But this whole business of not running as fast as little kids and people twice my age, well, what does it matter. As I said after the Wichita River Run, I was only racing one person. Myself.

But it also reminds me of a blues song that I enjoy. Click here for the lyrics. Here's the first verse.

Some folk built like this, some folk built like that
But the way I'm built, you shouldn't call me fat
Because I'm built for comfort, I ain't built for speed
But I got everything all the good girls need

I'll also have to go back and check out that website where I found the lyrics. Gotta love a site that has the phrase And they shall beat their swords into guitars.

Two weeks

14 days to race day.

I got an e-mail today that included the following phrase: "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." ~Psalm 27:14

It reminds me of the nice inspirational biblical phases some marathon runners have on the back of their shirts. If I keep running maybe I'll get a shirt like that.

I like this verse: "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

Badonkadonk thoughts again

Two weeks until race day. I'm excited.

I ran a race this morning, the Bass Pro 5K. It was hot and it confirmed my decision to cut off all my hair soon. Boy, the 'fro really keeps the heat in.

I was also reminded this morning of one of my most infamous posts - Marathon Badonkadonk. Not that I fell in behind anybody on this race. But some women wear clothes because they want to be looked at. Like the girl in the sports bra and really tight running pants with the word pink across her badonkadonk. There was another girl who had the words "paddle hard" across her badonkadonk. She barely looked like she was out of high school. And it wasn't some sorority pledge thing. On the front of her shorts it read "Dawt Mill - North Fork River." But that wasn't in as big letters as the word "paddle hard" across her badonkadonk.

I try not to notice these things. Really. I saw the girl with paddle hard on her shorts while I was eating at the post-race festivities. She was standing real close and so the words on the back of her shorts were literally right in my face. The other girl was tall, tanned and extremely hard to miss.

Friday, May 19

15 days

It's 16 days until the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon. I did some searching with google and I couldn't find any marathons listed in nearby Wall, South Dakota. But think of it. Break through the wall in Wall.

Anyhow, I think I'll pass on Deadwood. I've got big plans for the day before: June 3. The Sunburst Marathon.

That's 15 days away. 15 days.

Thursday, May 18

26.2 reasons

I had an idea to make a list of 26.2 reasons why I wanted to run the marathon.

It was contrived and cheesy. I'm going to provide links to the whole list here. Then this weekend, I'll revisit my reasons for doing this.

The start of the list: Reasons 1-11
It's about hope: Reason 12
Reason 14
The craziness continues with reasons 15-16
Referencing the Shawshank Redemption in reasons 17
Martin Buber, Jewish sage, provides focus with reason 18
Notre Dame memories surface with reasons 19-20
Lou Holtz's Winning Every Day factors into reason 21
Hmm. Reason 21 is a joke.
Inspiration from the Bible pops up with reason 22
Reasons 23 and 24 are the fruits of my winning a poetry slam
Reasons 25-26.2 The list wraps up with the most important number - 1 percent. 1 percent of the population runs a marathon and I want to be part of that number.

There you go. 26.2 reasons for me to run this marathon. The bottom line, though?

I want to do it.


16 days to the Sunburst marathon.

Unreal and at the same time, very very real.

Philokalia and the early church fathers

If I were the type of person who studied poetry and was reasonably positioned to talk about the best poets writing in English today, then that's how I'd talk about Scott Cairns, one of our greatest living poets.

Often it helps me to have met a poet and then I have a greater understanding of where he or she is coming from. And, after all, there's so much poetry being written out there. If I find myself talking to a poet, I can gauge from other conversation whether or not he's good.

I met Cairns, a poet and a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, a few years back at a literary festival in Wichita. And a couple of days ago, I bought his book, Philokalia: New and Selected Poems . The title references another much older book of spiritual writings, The Philokalia . And the word means "love of the beautiful, holy, exalted." Cairns' book is actually the only thing I bought on my recent trip, shall I call it a pilgrimage, to Eighth Day Books in Wichita.

Cairn's books are some of those rare poetry books that I can read from cover to cover and find lots of poems that I love.

He also quotes extensively from the early church fathers. (He also quotes from James Brown, but that's another story.) Two in the book, both from St. Isaac the Syrian, speak clearly to my marathon training and my discontent at the office:

"Dive down into your self, and there you will find the steps by which you might ascend."

"I am of the opinion that He is going to manifest some wonderful outcome, a matter of immense and ineffable compassion."

As my training for the Sunburst Marathon shifts into the taper, I feel that Philokalia was exactly the book I was looking for to help me continue to get mentally and spiritually ready.

Tuesday, May 16

Rock solid marathon training advice

I've got something for you that you won't find in books. You won't find it in Runner's World or in any other magazine. That's probably because most people assume that you're not as stupid as I am.

Anyhow, this is marathon training advice you can take to the bank.

See, today's run was tough. Real tough. It took me a while to figure out why. Then it hit me.

The dentist's office. Take it from me, don't go to the dentist the morning of the day you plan to run 20 miles. Especially if there's a chance that you'll bleed. I think the blood was an issue.

That's because of the calculus. Yes, calculus. It's no fun in school and it's especially no fun in your mouth. The pretty dental hygienist was scraping the calculus off my teeth and I bled. Not but so much, but I think that contributed to the way I felt today.

It was a tough run. But I did it. 20 miles in about 3 hours and 45 minutes. I feel good about that. I know. It's a slow time. Near the beginning of the run, I saw a turtle by the creek. Perhaps it was my spirit guide . I didn't stop to chat though. I just kept running.

Random thoughts on leaving the dentist office ----- it's a good day

No cavities. No cavities! And boy, do I really need to floss more. I found myself wondering if "the wall" is as painful as having your teeth scraped by a beautiful woman. It's nice though to have a beautiful dential hygienist, even with my eyes closed because of the glare of the light shining into my mouth. Did I mention No Cavities?

Now, I can relax. And start getting mentally ready for my 20 mile run.

Driving home, I listened to one of my new favorite songs on my cd player. (Be interesting to see how that link to an mp3 works.) Go here for a whole list. That song is from the cd "Day of a 100 songs," from the first annual Spokane Songwriters' Festival.

It's coming on May and I'm feeling no pain. It's a good day.

I love that line.

And whatever phanton pain nagged me this morning is now gone.

Now, all I've got left on my agenda for today is to run 20 miles, get a massage and volunteer with some kids.

I should plop down 8 hours of vacation in the middle of the week more often.

It's a good day, it's a good day, it's a good day.

Woke up this morning

Doesn't that sound like the start to a blues song.

Woke up this morning, trouble on my mind.

Actually though, it's more like:

Woke up this morning, slight pain in my knee.
Woke up this morning, a new pain in my knee.
Oh Lord, what is happening to me.

So, I've got plans for a 20 mile run today. But I've already done that. The race is less than three weeks away. 18 days.

So, I'm going to play it by ear. We'll see how it all goes.

Monday, May 15

River Run Time

Well my time for the Wichita River Run is up. I ran the race in 56:37.

I'm sure I can run a faster 10K. But it was a fun enjoyable race. I know that someday I should be able to run a 10K even faster. With the races I know about, I'll probably run a 10K in October. We'll see if I can do it in under 50 minutes. That would really rock.

But now, however, my focus is on running one last long run, hopefully 20 miles, tomorrow. Then I'll have a massage. And then, the taper begins.

Sunday, May 14

River Run Reflections

Well, the River Run was a fun race. The results aren't up yet, but time doesn't matter but so much. I know I finished in under an hour. Way back at the end of last year, that was one of my goals for this year. That was back when 10 minute miles seemed almost unattainable. Now, I'm running 8-minute miles on the treadmill and wondering how long I can sustain it and how much faster I can go.

The River Run was interesting because I didn't want to go so fast that I'd be sore the next day. But I also wanted to run well and enjoy myself. It's hard to do that when people who look like they're struggling are nonetheless passing you by. And everybody's passing you as well. But maybe I just started too far up.

I kept reminding myself that I was only racing one person. Me. I kept repeating that in my head. Until I got to the last mile. Then I kept repeating to myself, 20 more to go. Ha. A completely different race to be run a different way but it was fun to think about.

Then when the race was over, that was my mantra. 21 days to 20 more miles. I also thought about how six years earlier I was still finishing the River Run.

Seen at the River Festival

I saw a man wearing an interesting t-shirt in Wichita.

The shirt read: "I killed a six-pack of beer, just to watch it die."

I think Johnny Cash would approve.

Friday, May 12

True dreams of Wichita

Well, here we go. Three races in four weeks.
Tomorrow - the 30th annual Bank of America River Run
A week from tomorrow - the Bass Pro Conservation 5K
And three weeks from tomorrow - the Sunburst Marathon!!! (Hard to believe it's so close.)

But back to the races. I'm trying not to think about these as races. No. They're really running parties. At the speed I'll be going, I might be able to carry on a conversation with someone for a little bit. Just have a good time. Enjoy the day. Get an accurate time for a fun run out in the sun or the beautiful rain.

I’ve seen the
Rains of the real world
Come forward on the plain
I’ve seen the kansas of your sweet little myth...

True dreams of Wichita, baby.
Hopefully it will be a good trip with zero time spent staring at a computer screen.

Thursday, May 11

Life is a series of self-fulfilling prophecies

I went to the shoe store this week with concerns about my shoes. I took all three pairs of shoes that I'd bought since I started running and had the sales lady look at the heels.
My most recent pair of shoes, with about 200 miles on them have heels that are pretty tore up. My second pair of shoes have heels that look worse. Yet the first pair of shoes I bought, counter-intuitively I think, have heels and soles that are still good for a couple hundred miles.
Well, between now and June 4, I don't plan to run more than 100 miles really.
I ran 4 miles this morning. I guess I'm breaking in new insoles now and I'm not sure how I feel. The race is 23 days away.
Wow. 23 days away. I feel nervous, scared and excited.
I feel like I'll finish strong.
Life is after all a series of self-fulfilling prophecies and sometimes it seems like my natural tendency and my experience is to expect the worst. But that's not going to happen now.
And anyhow, my experience with half-marathons is that I finish strong. I find a little extra near the end that I might not have thought I had in me.
I've run 20 miles once so far in training. I may do it again on Tuesday.
It's so close.

Monday, May 8

Good for the soul?

I remember one professor I had in college. It was a writing course. And the professor was a writer. A damn good one at that.

But he said that for the longest time, he had trouble thinking of himself as a writer. He'd call himself a journalist. Or a reporter. Or something. But not a writer.

I think about that sometimes. Not really in the sense of whether or not I'm a writer. I don't have any trouble calling myself a writer. Heck, I'm the slam champion. Whether or not I'm writing anything of value to me is another question.

But there's another way I look at it too. I run a fair amount. Or some folks might say I jog. But, the deal is, am I a runner? For the longest time I didn't do any races because I knew I wasn't a runner like other people were.

At this point, I haven't even really been running on average three or more times a week for a year. But I'm close. I'm almost there. I almost feel worthy of calling myself a runner.

I raise all of this because of a conversation I had in Spokane.

I met someone there who I'd heard amazing things about. A masterful painter, sculptor, songwriter, musician, etc. An artist of the highest order. A man named Jeff Wiens.

Interestingly, when I asked him what he did, he said he was a computer programmer. But what about all these amazing things I've heard about your other work, I asked.

Well, he said, he hadn't really been validated for his artistic pursuits. He wasn't getting paid for that. But, all that was good for his soul.

Which leads me again to the question, what am I doing that's good for my soul? Then there's the other question: is my job bad for my soul? Am I in a good place spiritually? Am I running for the right reasons? Or the wrong reasons?

Sunday, May 7

A couple of planets?

I was walking home from a minor league baseball game tonight. Fell in behind a man who had a sweatshirt on that said he was running a marathon in all 50 states and a couple of planets.

A couple of planets?

Yep. A couple of planets.

Right now, I'll just be satisfied to finish one marathon. On June 3. In two cities. (South Bend and Mishawaka.)

Then I'll see if I feel like making goals of doing more marathons.

Right now there's one race. One goal. One 26.2 mile adventure.

Artsfest Part Two

I was standing by the Mayapple stage when I was reminded of a phrase I saw posted about a bar door in Little Rock:
If dreams were fire and lightning was desire, this old house would have burned down a long time ago.

I'm not sure exactly what put that phrase in my head. I was standing near Jeff Wiens and the guys from Mincks and Miller, er uh, the band formerly known as Brother Wiley when it happened.

I called up the photo of it on my phone and stared at it while walking. I started walking down the street repeating the phrase over and over so that I could memorize it.
If dreams were fire and lightning was desire, this old house would have burned down a long time ago.
If dreams were fire and lightning was desire, this old house would have burned down a long time ago.
If dreams were fire and lightning was desire, this old house would have burned down a long time ago.

I can't figure out if the words are lyrics to an old song or something. But it just seemed appropriate that it be in my head since the day before I was at a songwriter festival where I heard some amazingly talented musicians. That's a link to one of my new favorite artists. The sole solo cd I bought at the festival. Sarah Hughes. I wonder if she's ever played in Winfield.

It was raining, a big tent was up and I would have been just fine if the tent wasn't even there. I love the rain.

Artsfest part one

There's an artsfest in town this weekend. It closes up shop today in about 10 minutes actually. I got in a couple of hours. Plenty of time to hear some good music and see a little art.

But the first order of the day was running. (Well, it's Sunday and I went to church at 7 a.m. but what I really wanted to do was go running. It was a day when I didn't particularly feel like running, but not running was not an option.)

Anyways, I did a 12-mile run with my friend Allen. A pretty good run. But here's the crazy thing. I thought it was a bit cold out. My computer tells me that it's currently 63 degrees out. It was probably cooler when we left to go running.

So what I did was put on a t-shirt and a long-sleeved t-shirt no top of that. I figured to get ready for a June race, I really needed to sweat. Boy, did I sweat. I probably didn't drink enough gatorade either. When I got back home, I looked in the mirror and saw white residue (salt) caked on my face. But a good run.

Anyway, I went to artsfest and looked around. I was standing by the Mayapple stage when I was reminded of a phrase I saw posted about a bar door in Little Rock:
If dreams were fire and lightning was desire, this old house would have burned down a long time ago.

Saturday, May 6

Mileage update

I mixed things up today with 30 minutes on the rowing machine at the Y. It was pretty empty over there. I wonder if being the day after Cinco de Mayo had anything to do with it.

Also today, I took down my calendar and added up all the miles I've logged so far this year.

January 89 miles
February 98 miles
March 95 miles
April 101 miles
May (so far) 7 miles
Total so far: 390
It's been a tough spring, what with all the stress at work. Hopefully though, we've been able to do enough to prepare for the race next month. And, at this point, that's really all that matters.


I started running as an adult back in 2000 when I lived in Wichita. I remember talking to a friend at work about running and asking him where to look for races. I thought racing would help motivate me.

He seemed a bit offended. I don't remember his exact words. But they were something like: Races? You don't need races. Runners are disciplined. Just get out there and run everyday.

Anyhow, that was a short-lived fascination with running. Hopefully this time things will last longer.

I saw a great quote in an e-mail from Runner's World that came yesterday: "Use racing to keep you motivated. It's hard to keep on an exercise program if you don't have a significant goal in sight."
-Traci Nicholas, Runner's World marketing designer

Wichita's biggest race is next week and I'm looking forward to doing it again. The Wichita River Run!

Completing the list

So I set out to make a list of 26.2 reasons I want to run the marathon on June 3 in South Bend. My goal is to finish and I don't have any specific time goals in mind.

Anyhow, I can wrap up this list right now.

Reason No. 25: My favorite running book that I've read in the past year is UltraMarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. And my absolute favorite part of the book is when he talks about his workout.

"Beyond running 80-120 miles per week, along with mountain biking, surfing and wind-surfing regularly, my routine consists of 200 push-ups, 50 pull-ups and 400 sit-ups - twice a day. Sure I'm ripped, but not for the sake of vanity...."

I feel the same way, even though I'm not ripped by any stretch of the imagination. Not yet at least. But just going to the gym to "get huge" seems a bit pointless to me. Of course, maybe that's partially because the way my body is built, people rarely notice if I gain a few pounds.

Reason No. 26: Perhaps, I feel a wee bit of pleasure in going further than other people think is necessary. But heck, most people don't want to run even 100 yards, even people who can.
It's also been interesting to talk to all the people who can't run because of surgeries. That reminds me that I'm truly lucky to have the chance to chase this dream.

Reason No. 26.2 Only one percent of the population ever runs a marathon. I want to be in that number. One percent. One percent. I can feel a mantra coming. One percent. One percent.

Roger Bannister

I woke up today to hear the radio announcer say that this is the anniversary of Roger Bannister's amazing run when he broke the four-minute mile.

You know that made me want to go running today.

Friday, May 5

Lou Holtz on a Friday morning

It's Friday morning. After today, only four more Fridays until the race. 29 days.

It's close, but I've still got to work on preparing and getting ready and getting stronger mentally and physically.

Here are some words from Lou Holtz to think about today:

"Can you imagine walking up to Sir Edmund Hillary after he scaled Mount Everest and asking, "Hey, how did you get here?" What if he said, "I don't know. I went for a walk and here I am?" You have to have goals and dreams, or life isn't very exciting and has no purpose."

"If you get people to believe in themselves, they'll set bigger goals."

Thursday, May 4

Quote of the day

Picked up a book today from one of my bookshelves. Deep Play by Diane Ackerman. Thinking about maybe starting to read it. Saw a quote in the beginning. It kind of speaks to a feeling I've had for a while now.

" is made God's plaything, and that is the best part of him. Therefore every man and woman should live life accordingly, and play the noblest games.... What, then, is the right way of living? Life must be lived as play..."
-Plato, Laws

I hope you have fun today.

Tuesday, May 2

The High Yellow Superhero poem

It was really cool that my friend the Reacher labeled a post about my slam victory Slam Superhero. That references one of my poems, a perennial favorite among poetry fans everywhere. Since so many readers of the reach came over to check out my blog, I thought I'd share the full text of that poem - at least the current text - with you all.

Get up! Get on up.
Get up! Get on up.
Get up! Get on up.
Say it loud. I'm black and I'm ---

I love James Brown
I don't know if I'm as
black and proud
as I ought to be.
I want to be cool.
I want to be strong, to last long.
Speak smoothly, walk tall, never trip and fall.
I want to be what you want me to be
if you want me to be me,
raw and uncut.
See check this out.
I want to be a high yellow superhero.

All the little kids will run up and say,
"Hi, high yellow superhero."
If somebody asks, "Do you want to get high man?"
I'll say, "I'm already high. I'm the high yellow superhero."

If I get a blank stare, I'll elaborate,
High yellow,
not high on drugs, on weed, on some dirty deed
but high on poetry.
On the differences in rhythms
in the words and the messages.
It's like the differences in the wind and the air
in the rain and the water
the suds and the soap.

Yellow because I'm scared.
Scared to love the wrong color.
Scared to make the wrong move.
Scared to tell you how I feel.
Yellow, like a tooth or a funky toenail.

And I've got superpowers too.
I hold my breath without turning blue.
I write poetic lines to fight crime.
I disappear into the clear daylight.
I pass for Latino, Arab and White.

Yet I want to do more.
I was us all to take the ball and run with it.
I want to take you on a journey with my tongue.
I want to speak Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin, Italian,
Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Spanglish,
Amharic, Swahili, Cherokee, Ibo and Ebonics.
I want to be your secret agent man, your undercover brother,
your high yellow lover.
I want to be all you want and need.
Your Fort Knox, your mixed breed,
your candy, your butterscotch, your saltwater toffee,
your cookie dough, your cornbread mix.
I want to be your everready handy dandy
friendly neighborhood
high yellow superhero.
It's one of those have notebook will travel things.
Wind him up and he sings.
Assimilate this.
I want to unravel the lies and mysteries
about this world we live in.
I mean what is the sin
you should be most worried about?
Loving too much or not enough?
Too much pride or too little faith?
Clinging to what's real or not seeking the unseen?

I want to find out.
I want to jump and shout.
I want to speak rhymes to power.
I want to be your hero,
your high yellow superhero.

--- updatae ---
Today, April 3, is the day James Brown was born.
Happy birthday to the hardest working man in show business, soul brother number one, the star of the show, my hero, superbad, Mr. James Brown.

The bomb poem

In the second round of the slam, I went to a poem that over the years has proven to be a crowd pleaser. One of the last girls I dated said it was her favorite of my poems. Of course she was a little loopy and far more liberal than me. But I digress.

The Bomb

This poem is the bomb.
This poem is a mysterious poem.
I don't even know much about this poem.
But I have learned that what I have learned
about this poem could get me killed
because this poem is top secret.
It was created in underground labs
by physicists, philosophers and mystics
who wanted to repair the world.
Tikkun Olam.
This poem is the bomb, the good bomb.
But it was stolen and co-opted
by our blood-thirsty, money-hungry leaders.
Who knows what's going to happen next.

This poem is the bomb.
It's going to bring you food,
freedom and plenty of fools
who want to fall in love with you.
Fireworks are fake
like the hos on Ricky Lake.
This is the Jerry Springer real.
The bomb, the bomb
This is the JJ Dy-no-mite blast.
Black love, making it last
because it broke the mold.

Baby, you better hold on,
this poem is the bomb.
This poem is the poem's poem
not a shadow of poem
seen off a mirror,
reflecting flames from a cave.
This poem crushed the cave.
It is the bomb,
slinging triple entendres at you.
This poem will free your oil.
It will give you gas.
It will light your fire.
It will keep you up all night, all right?
My grandma and your grandma
were sitting by the fire
My grandma told your grandma

This poem is a self-fulfilling prophecy,
a poem-fulfilling prophecy.
See prophets be trying to flow like this:

This poem is spiritual and religious.
Lick it, and you will say this poem is delicious.
It is not an acquired taste.
This poem is what you wanted
before you knew you wanted it.
This poem is the bomb.
It doesn't have to ask what you need before giving it to you.
This poem is the bomb.
It will rock your world,
again and again and again.
This poem is your friend,
with a big fat sloppy grin.
This poem will erase your memories,
it will blow your mind
this time.
This poem is the bomb, the bomb,
the bomb, bomb

Revisiting the slam

Since I had so many people coming to my blog on the news of my Slam victory, I thought I'd share with you the three poems I did in the competition. For the most part, my poems don't really have titles so I'll just type them in.

It's mainly a spoken word deal, but hopefully you'll get a bit of the feeling of what it was like to hear them.

Kiss me and hallucinate.
I will be your spirit vision,
dream casting,
Rippling your consciousness.
I'll be your drug, your peyote, your green coyote.
Now commune with nature, worship the moon.
Let my children hear music
And dance, yes, dance!
Something put me in a trance.
Was it mushrooms, funky collard greens or
rank whipped cream?
I don't know.

Zenf on my tongue, hummus on my nose
And I'm thinking of your.
Zenf on my tongue, spine tingling sensations
I am standing barefoot in mud
beneath a waterfall
I see a rainbow, a pot of oro.
Behold, a stained glass window
of the resurrection.
This is going down
on the 8th day of the week,
the time outside of time, the rhyme inside the rhyme.

On the 8th day of the week, I show you the weak
are protecting the strong,
They are singing ancient songs
of freedom, surrender and mysticism
And you are praying naked, eyes open.
You see the strong broken, bleary-eyed
Ignorant and half-comatose.
Fractured toes, walking on their knees.
Not weak enough yet to stop
To stop, drop and roll.
Have you been through the fire?
Have you been through the fire?
Have you been through the fire?

The constitutional right to free speech does not allow one to yell FIRE! in a crowded poetry slam.
So spit fire!
And tell me what would you do if someone started a fire inside of you,
inside the cathedral behind your ribs.

From cribs to bibs, breast milk to baby food.
I don't mean to be rude.
I don't want to get sued.
I just want to be
with you
Praying naked, eyes open
hoping to be in a poetical, mystical, hypnotical state.
So why don't you just
kiss me and hallucinate.

Marathon wisdom

Regular blog raders already know this, but I'm ok with repeating myself from time to time. And I'm pretty darn proud. I ran 20 miles on Saturday. Yeah!

The big question now is, "What next?"

My friend Alan, finisher of four marathons, provided great perspective in an e-mail. I share an excerpt:

More long runs and better conditioning obviously makes a marathon go faster, but for a first marathon it's important to keep perspective. Your main goal is finishing. Now that you've done a 20-mile training run, you can be confident you'll finish under race conditions, when you have more adrenaline and more support. If you were going for a personal record, now you'd be trying to make those long-run times faster. But you're not - because whatever time you finish in is your personal record.

So from here on out, your priority is health, grasshopper. Maintain what you've got, don't overtrain, and stay healthy.

I wish I could have thought of a snappy comeback to the grasshopper line, but hey, part of this whole marathon thing is humility. I know I'm not going to be the fastest guy out there. But my goal is to run the marathon and I know now that I ought to be able to finish it.

I've got to continue training and continue praying, but the 20-mile run is a major accomplishment and a major step along the way.

Adrenalin pumping

So now when I look at the calendar, I can see race day.

Oh, the race is in June, but it's the last square on my May calendar. June 3. I can see it. I can look up during a slow moment at work and I can see that box and I can count down the days.

Tomorrow there will only be 31 days left until race day.

I can feel the adrenalin slowly start pumping through my body. I'm definitely excited.