Thursday, September 28

The Spirit of Winfield

So, for those of you following the history of these Well Fed Head Poetry Slams, here's the way it's gone: I won the first slam. I came in last in the second slam. I won the third slam.

drumroll please

A fellow poet, Brady Bilyeu, mentioned how no champion poet had made it to the finals of the subsequent slam.

A friend told me how no matter what I did, I'd do better than the St. Louis Cardinals who are losing a tremendous lead in the penant race.

Well, I came in second.

But better than the small amount of money I won, a lady came up to me and talked about Winfield. She said I captured the spirit of Winfield. That was worth as much as actually winning the slam. It felt great to hear that.

Maybe I'll get back to Winfield someday.

Poetry slam tonight

Well, the next poetry slam is tonight. I've written two new poems. You don't have to write new poems. It's just adds to the excitement for me.

One of the new poems is about mountains.

The other is about bluegrass music.

It's been fascinating to hear the responses to these poems and here which one people like better and especially why. I'll be revising up until I step on stage.

I haven't been able to get as excited about this slam as I was for the last slam. But I am the defending champ and I'm looking forward to having some fun tonight.

Tuesday, September 26

Sangre de Cristos

Dedicated blog readers I'm sure have been expecting a poem about my trip to the Sangre de Cristo mountains for some time now. Here it is.
I'm not sure if this poem is ready to perform but I thought I'd share the draft with you. Let me know what you think.

I was
Beat down, run down, tore down
I had to get out of town.
And now I'm lost,
turned around in these mountains,
these sangre de cristo mountains.
I fell down and I'm bleeding
in the blood of christ mountains.
And I need some of that blood.
I need a transfusion of strength and confidence.
I didn't think you had any writing talent at all, she said.
Worst love letter I ever read, she said.
Beat down, run down, tore down.
I'm running up these mountains.
I've got to get to the top.
I'm running up the fire road.
I'm tearing up the trail.
She said I was wasting my time.
I needed to get over it.
I'm getting over these mountains,
I could get angry but I can't argue
if I'm 800 miles away
and out of breath in these sangre de cristo mountains
blood of christ mountains.
God, I need some of that blood pumping through my veins.
The sangre de cristos, the song of christ,
the mountains of faith, the journey of despair.
Is this my dark night of the soul?
How do I move on?
I move on by moving.
I keep running,
one foot in front of the other
through the darkness.
Until, I see the morning sun.
I see my train a coming.
I feel connected to this ground.
Take off your shoes for your stand on
the blood-stained,
pour out your drink,
pour out your soul.
Beat down, run down, tore down.
Running on empty, running on fumes.
Fill me up, feed me, nourish me.
Here in the sangre de cristos
i'm thinking about the sangria de cristo
the wine of Christ
the blood of Christ.
Let this cup pass.
Let this cup overflow.
I'll drink until I'm delirious.
I'll run until I can't stop.
I was
Beat down, run down, tore down.
But I'm getting built back up
as I go up these mountains
so steep they'll break your faith, they'll make your faith.
Song of the sangres, sangria, sang real
sangre, sangria, sang real.
Holy grail, holy blood, wholly exhausted and spent and fulfilled.
I am not beat down, run down or tore down any more.
I'm a small part of everything.
Almost insignificant in the sangres.
I am at peace
but I can't stop.
I can't stop now.
I've got to keep going.
I've got to see just how far I can go.
I may get worn down again
But that's OK.
I can always come back
to the sangre de cristos.
drink the sangria de cristo.
be one with the song of the sangres
the song of the struggle
the song of overcoming
the song of the sangres.

My ode to Winfield

The next Well Fed Head poetry slam is on Thursday. So soon. You could call this poetry on deadline. I was disappointed I hadn't written anything new. I hadn't been inspired like I was for the last slam. That was the one where I quoted Muhammad Ali.
If you even dream of beating me, you need to wake up and apologize.

I'm not as angry with this poem, but hopefully it will be a nice musical trip for the listeners. Interesting thing about slam poems, the judges don't give any points for degree of difficulty.

But so I wanted to do something. Here's a draft and I don't have as much time for revising as I'd like. But hey, we'll see how it goes.

Ode to Winfield

She asked me,
Would you like to come to bluegrass?
Wow! What an invitation.
Who can say no to bluegrass?
Sorry, I can't.
I'm going to Winfield.
I'm going to bluegrass.
Cowley County, Kansas.
Call it a flatland, if that's what you want.
I say flatness
is always an illusion.
Would you like to come to bluegrass?
Come to
banjos and dobros,
bones and guitars,
fiddles and dancing,
the dust and the wind.
Let the mandolin be your friend.
I hear Marley's Ghost coming over Misty River,
Hot strings and Small Potatoes.
It's a Flat Pickin Paradise
and here is the official unoffical stage five.
The Wilders, the Wilders, the Wilders
are having church at
10 am on Stage 3 Sunday morning.
Come to Jesus
come to bluegrass,
come to jazz
come to bebop
come to blues
salsa, gospel, hip-hop, folk, rock,
Come to Jesus
come to the music of your soul.
this is an american idiom
and we are mestizos, mulattos, americanos.
echos of those brought here
and blown here and found here.
the people of the resonator.
Where does our music come from?
The banjo is an African instrument
brought to this country by slaves.
Follow the drinking gourd.
Follow, follow, follow these melodies
back where they come from.
I heard these songs come from the
mountains and hollers of Kentucky and Tennessee.
I heard these songs come from hills and glens
of Ireland and Scotland.
I heard these songs coming up from some place
deep down in my soul.
These songs come from somewhere over the fiddlebow.
Don't tell me what the purists say.
That Australian guy Tommy Emmanuel is drumming on the back of his guitar.
There's not an inch of his instrument he does not play.
And then he picks
Dixie on the lower strings,
Yankee Doodle on the high strings.
He's playing our music.
He's come to America. He's come to Winfield.
He's come to bluegrass. If that's what you want to call it.
I say call it bluegrass, call it jazz, blues, rock, country.
This is my country. This is our music.
Use it to remember where you come from.
It's hot and the wind blows
dust in the air,
music in my ears.
And everywhere I go songs follow.
Winfield, Wichita, St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville, Jerusalem, Little Rock, Chicago, Miami, Kansas City,
here I come.
Winfield, here I come.
I'm coming to bluegrass.
I'm coming home.

Thought for the day

Here's my thought for the day from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

"Treat a man as he appears to be and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be and you make him what he should be."

Mud Run

Gosh, if only Little Rock were closer... This race looks like an amazing amount of fun.

The Mud Run, Little Rock's Dirtiest 5K.

Although after looking through the website, I find it's really 5Kish. They have obstacles and such.

Will there be a monster?

I just read a column from the BBC about the end of oneman's training efforts to run the Loch Ness Marathon. The Loch Ness Marathon. I wonder if instead of hitting the wall, runners meet the monster.

His taper is somewhat injury induced but a doctor told him that his knee won't explode so that's go to be always good news. Here's a passage from the article that I can identify with.

As additional sources of inspiration I've watched "Chariots of Fire" (yes, I know, but the theme music gets me every time) and I've been re-reading Paula Radcliffe's autobiography, "My Story So Far".

So do I feel confident? Yes, in part. But my nerves are on fire and I have a stomach full of butterflies.

My mind's working at a million miles an hour with all the things I'm trying to remember to do this week.

But when it comes right down to it, my focus is firmly on two lines, the one at the start and the one 26.2 miles later.

I aim to achieve my objective of reaching the second one in less than four hours but if I don't I'll still count myself as a winner.

Finishing in under four hours. That's my realistic goal for my next marathon. I ran 16 miles on Sunday, and I feel like that puts me in a good place for preparing for this January race.

Monday, September 25

Danger, danger

I'm in the midst of several really good books right now. One of them is John Maxwell's book Be a People Person.

I found a quote that sums up pretty well everything when it comes to that lingering question of will I get injured if I go running today? Will a car run me down? Will a hunter (or some other crazy person shoot me?
OK, perhaps you're thinking that I've got an overactive imagination, but that's why I win poetry slams.

Anyhow, the quote is from Helen Keller:"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

Saturday, September 23

Beauty is truth, truth beauty

I requested a pretty cool book from the library the other day, Runners' World Complete Guide to Trail Running.

In one of the first stories in the book, the author quotes a woman who competed in the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run. She said at one point early in the race, her mind was empty except for a voice quoting a John Keats poem:
Beauty is truth, truth beauty - that is all
ye know on Earth and all ye need to know.

I am convinced I'll be doing lots more trail running and I'll pick up some proper trail running shoes soon.

I headed out to the Sac River trail today with my little brother from Big Brothers Big Sisters. We ran a bit and walked a lot. We would have run more except he claimed he was tired. I don't know how many times I've told him not to let his brain trick his body into thinking he's more tired than he is.

We saw cactuses (or cacti) a couple of times and that surprised him because he didn't think we were in the desert. We also saw some droppings which he thought came from mountain lions. Yet we made it out alive without seeing any big cats. And we had some truly beautiful scenery.

Friday, September 22

Leadership for the Raiders

There's a great article today in the LA Times about one of my former favorite football teams and the need for leadership.

Basically the article quotes Mr. Raider Tim Brown about the team's current situation. At the moment, the Raiders are, unfortunately, unquestionably the worst team in football.

Here are some great Time Brown quotes from the article:

"I was on some bad teams there, but we were never devoid of leadership," Brown said. "Be it me, be it Marcus Allen back in the day, be it Howie Long, be it whomever. We were never devoid of leadership. And I think right now the locker room is barren."

"So when you have a team where everyone's just out playing — and guys are playing hard, it looks like guys are out there flying around, so that doesn't seem to be a problem — but I think there's a little division between Art and the team. And you have to have leadership in the locker room in order to close that division..."

"Our time with Art back when he was a coach was absolutely great," Brown said. "He would give these hard speeches. He'd start an 8 o'clock meeting on Saturday morning at 7:50, or whenever he came downstairs. Nobody thought it was fair, but guess what, we all started getting there at 7:45. We started doing the things the way he wanted them done. And what happened? We started winning games and making the playoffs and doing a lot of great things."

"Some kind of way, the organization has to raise up a leader in that locker room," he said. "Because if Art is up there giving these great speeches, but everybody's going to the locker room saying, 'Man, what was that?' then it doesn't matter. It's all for naught."

It's like these John Maxwell books say - everything depends on leadersip.

Thursday, September 21

Never enough Lou

Since February, I've mentioned Lou Holtz almost 20 times on this blog. Mostly inspirational qoutes and stories.

Here are a few more quotes:

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

"Life is pretty simple. Do what's right, do your best and treat others like you want to be treated. If you follow these rules, you'll be in pretty good shape."

" Woody Hayes was a beautiful person in this respect: He believed in his coaches and players stronger than they believed in themselves."


Today I was reminded of my main rule of interpersonal communications. Emotions are contagious. I was at a press conference with an annoying reporter who kept asking the same question over and over. It was a brief press conference and this guy dominated a lot of it trying to get a gotcha soundbite. I was not impressed. However a colleague of mine after the press conference was clearly furious. At first I was nervous. Was it something I said?
Once she got talking, I learned she was mad about the same thing that merely annoyed me. As she talked, I got a bit more mad myself. I think this is just the way things go. I think it's simple biologically. When we rode back in her car, she was breathing fast, her temperature rose and clearly I felt that change.
This is something leaders and coaches can use to their advantage though if they pay attention to it. It can be anger, joy or excitement. It doesn't matter. Emotions are contagious.

Tuesday, September 19

Running scared

Lately I've been doing a lot of running on the treadmill and on unpaved trails. There are two reasons for this. One, I've been trying harder than before to avoid cars and traffic. Two, I've continued to be a wee bit concerned about my foot.

However, today as I came out of the Y after 4 good miles, I realized that i've got to redouble my efforts to get back outside. Training indoors won't help me get ready for running and racing in cooler weather.

And I think my foot is just about back to where it ought to be.

So it's time to work on starting to wake up early, get out the door in plenty of time before work and go running.

By the way, lately I've been posting almost everyday. I may pull back on that a bit some so I can do more reflective and longer posts. We'll see.

Sometimes the books on leadership that I'm reading have just awesome quotes and things I'd like to share. But it's less than 16 weeks from my next marathon and as much as anything else, I really want to focus on getting ready for that.

I hope you enjoy what I'm posting. I write so much at work sometimes I wonder if this is a good focus for my energy when I'm not at the office. I definitely don't want to spend more time than I have to looking at a computer scren.

What lies within us

I was in a middle school social worker's office the other day when I saw this great quote:

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within un." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, September 18

Quote of the day - Celtic pride

I've just finished reading Bill Russell's Russell Rules: 11 Lessons on Leadership From the Twentieth Century's Greatest Leader.

One statement was almost a throw-away comment without a lot of elaboration, but it really said a lot to me. It highlights the fact that we need to work to create situations that allow us to do our best and enjoy where we are. Here it is: "After I die, I cannot go to heaven. Because after leaving the Celtic locker room, anywhere else is a step down."

Celtic pride is what the book is all about - creativity, listening, decision making, integrity, craftsmanship, invisibility, etc... It's been a really good book and I'm glad I read it. Especially the part on the power of invisibility. That's how you make someone think he can't beat you even when you're not around, how you influence what happens when you're not on the room or on the course.

Grats and congrats

I left something out of my previous post about my new 5K PR .

And that's mention of the awesome performance put in by my training partner Cherie. She finished second among women with a time of 21:37 and 20th overall. Initially I didn't mention this because I figured she's disappointed she didn't finish first among women and first overall. I didn't want to pat her on the back for a performance that she might have felt was less than her best.

But her attitude is pretty inspirational and running with her has helped me in my quest to elevate the intensity of my training. I think it definitely helps to run with faster people because it dispels the notion that I can't keep up.

So congrats to Cherie for running a strong race and thanks for running with me and pushing me to go faster.

Saturday, September 16

New 5K PR!!

I've got a new 5K PR, shattering my old best 5K pr time.

The previous best was 28:36, achieved on Feb. 4, 2006.

Today, I ran a much better race. My new pr, achieved in the In Like a Lion 5K is 25:45.

Tbat's almost three minutes faster! My goal was 8 minute miles or a 25 minute 5K. I know I can do that. The pace was 8:19 miles and I know I can go faster. Now, I've just got to find my next 5K to aim for, fit it into my marathon training schedule and continue getting faster.

But I definitely had a great race today. Special thanks to my friend Mark Schiefelbein who helped pace me in the race this morning.

Coach of the century loses

I've blogged before about how I think Charlie Weis is overrated. And now Michigan whoops up on Notre Dame 47-21. The second most points ever given up in Notre Dame stadium. I thought Charlie Weis was going to prevent embarassing losses like that.

Oh well. I guess you get what you fire for.

Kind of reminds me why I like Bud Adams and the Tennessee Titans franchise. There's something to be said for fidelity and stability.


Thursday, September 14


It's amazing how good my Spanish is when there's a translation right in front of me.
But a few days, weeks or months removed, everything gets tricky.

I was at the Musuem of International Folk Art in Santa Fe back in August during the Camp Marafiki. I came across an exhibit on dichos, pithy little sayings that people in Latin America paint onto the back of their cars. I wrote down some of my favorites but not the translations. They were about love and faith and God, etc....

Anyway, here are some dichos that I enjoyed, although I can't quite remember what they mean.

Si me muebes me sacas todo lo que tengo.

Rojo de amor, pero no de ... verguenza.
(This one I do remember. "I'm red from love, but not shame." Or something like that.)

Caminante no hay camino se hace camino al andar.
(Perhaps that's one dicho. Perhaps it's two and I can't make out my notes.)
If it's two, than it should be:
Caminante no hay camino.
Se hace camino al andar.

Si dioes quiere volvere que murmuren las viboras.

Thus, it's clear I need to find a way to take a remedial Spanish class.

Tuesday, September 12

On Muhammad Ali

I like the 10K Truth website. It's a fun place to surf around sometimes.

And they've got a great collection of quotes on running, sports and Muhammad Ali.

"He was like God - God with a custard pie up his sleeve."
Joseph D. O'Brian describing Muhammad Ali.

I wonder if there are any runners that could be described that way. I know there ought to be.


My foot is still a bit swollen. I'm not sure what to think. Should I just take several days off from running? After about 25 miles total on Saturday and Sunday I've gone two days without running. I also bought an ice pack today at the drug store. It's in the freezer now. Tomorrow looks like a busy day, but I'll probably squeeze in a couple of miles of good running.

Monday, September 11

18 weeks

Let's get ready to rock'n'roll!

It's my birthday. Wouldn't it be something if on our birthdays, for that one day of the year, we got to be two inches taller? Or our eyes changed color? Or we just completely glowed and people knew that something was quite special about the day?

Of course, everyday is special. Typing that last paragraph reminded me of my conversation with Warren Farha about ordinary time. "How dare we call any of it ordinary time?"

How am I celebrating my birthday? By officially taking one more step toward my next big running goal. I have registered for the Rock'N'Roll Arizona Marathon on January 15, 2006. The race is 18 weeks away. Funny how I got a little bit nervous just clicking on the registration button. Nervous and excited. Very excited.

It is after all my birthday. Time to rock'n'roll!

Sunday, September 10

A new year

As I type this, my birthday is less than an hour away. So far, I've only got one birthday card. However, if it's the only card I get, it will be enough. It's that cool.

Here are some quotes from the card. A quote from Don Quixote: "One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach teh unreachable stars, and the world was better for it."

And a quote from Confucious: "The superior man is distressed by the limitations of his abilitiy; he is not distressed by the fact that men do not recognize the ability he has."

And one from Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

An armadillo

Today I had another great off-road run with my training partner Cherie. I don't know just how far we ran but we ran hard on the trails in the Busiek State Forest. It was definitely by far the toughest workout since Santa Fe. It really reminded me of Camp Marafiki at times on the trail with the really rough terrain and the steep, steep hills.

And at one point in the second hour of the run, an armadillo ran across our path. Lots of fun to see the armadillo.

Saturday, September 9

Titan up!

My two favorite pro football teams are the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans. I really liked seeing an article a few weeks ago where Titans owner Bud Adams talked about how Jeff Fisher is a great coach and even though the team is young this year, there's no discussion of letting Fisher go despite what will likely be a losing season.

The current issue of Runners' World has an interview with Fisher about his running. I loved this Fisher quote, which described how I felt today:
There are days when you don't feel like running. Those are the days you have to do it. Discipline is doing what you don't want to do so you can do what you really want to do. Got that?

Stuck For What?

Today I wanted to run but my body wasn't sure about it. I got a fair amount of sleep, but I think my body might have been good with just lounging a bit more. My body lost.

It was pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. I tried to remind myself of this quote from the Camp Marafiki training packet from John Ngugi: "If I feel good then I fun faster no matter what the session. Don't waste good training time - if you feel good then run hard!"

Thing is, I didn't really feel good. I felt OK. But I tried to push it pretty hard anyhow. I ran about 13 miles today and I plan to go about the same distance tomorrow with my training partner Cherie and she'll definitely help me pick up the pace.

I had a pretty decent song stuck in my head today, fragments of it at least. It's called For What by the Tiffany Christopher Band.

Spread some joy. With your life, spread some joy.

Here's a link to a snippet of the song. You can buy the album it's on, the Fourth Annual Spokane Songwriters Festival by clicking on this link.

Friday, September 8

Stick in my head

Why is it that when I get a song stuck in my head, it's typically a song that's annoying or that I'd rather forget? But when a song comes along that I enjoy and it actually uplifting, I have to try and work to keep remembering the words?
That's how it was today with a wonderful song by Al Green:

Everything is going to be all right...
He's coming back for the true and good,
like he said he would.

At least I think that's an Al Green song. I can't find the lyrics online and maybe my mind is just playing tricks on me. Amazing that this was a four day week but I feel so exhausted. It must be all the stress and all my co-workers who are giving up on journalism. That definitely gets depressing.

Thursday, September 7

Drum Major Instinct, part two

I've been thinking about drum majors all day. It's a follow up to my previous post.

From a spectator's point of view, it can be a bit hard to tell what a drum major does exactly. Especially the spectator I was in the previous post, someone younger than 5. The drum major is out in front, wears the big hat, leads people around and captures attention.

But if you're a leader, what makes people want to follow you? What makes you a leader in the first place? And just because someone has a position that requires leadership does not mean they are a leader.

Basically, a leader has to be dedicated to taking people where they want to go. A leader has to help lift people up and make them better. Help them achieve their goals.

It's the old saying servant leadership. Or, as Martin Luther King Jr. said in his sermon called the Drum Major Instinct:

"Everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don't have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve."

Wednesday, September 6

The Drum Major Instinct

I've been thinking a lot about my growing interest in leadership. It's always been important to me.

I remember when I was a little kid, younger than five, my family went to football games at Norfolk State University. The black college marching band shows at halftime are always the highlights and way back then I wanted to be the drum major. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the movie Drumline .

At various times in the workplace, I'm reminded of why great leaders make everything run smoother. Unfortunately, often when you have a good leader, you take it for granted.

However, as I look back over the year, I realize it wasn't work, but my other passion that started me thinking more about leadership. It all comes back to Lou Holtz and the Sunburst Marathon that finished on the 50 yard line of Notre Dame stadium.

As part of getting mentally ready for the race, I found his book Winning Every Day. I knew it would be inspirational. Little did I realize, it was part of the genre of management/leadership books by sports coaches.

But I'm definitely glad I found it. The whole focus on reading inspirational and leadership books this year has helped me deal with what at times has been a tough year at the office.

It's just one of the many benefits of running. Getting in better shape both physically and mentally.


Tuesday, September 5

Joy in leading

I try to be frugal. I'm not a big fan of spending money. Today, however, I splurged.

I bought three books today on two of my favorite topics - leadership and sports.

  • Russell Rules: 11 Lessons on Leadership From the Twentieth Century's Greatest Winner by Bill Russell
  • The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players by Pat Riley
  • Winning the NFL Way: Leadership Lessons from Football's Top Head Coaches by Bob LaMonte with Robert L. Shook
I'm really excited to get these books and I'm looking forward to reading them. I'm sure I'll share some of the insights I pick up while studying these books here on the blog.
Let's start with something from the intro to Bill Russell's book. Here's something he wrote about joy:
To me, the most important part of winning is joy. You can with without joy, but winning that's joyless is like eating in a four-star restaurant when you're not hungry. Joy is a current of energy in your body like chlorophyll or sunlight, that fills you up and makes you naturally want to do your best.

Now I know Russell is talking about winning and specifically winning basketball games. But part of the reason he wrote the book is because the principles he writes about can be applied to other things. It becomes increasingly clear to me that our careers can involve joy and when they do, we enjoy our jobs that much more and take more pride in what we're doing. When work becomes a place you don't enjoy being, then clearly productivity suffers.
Reading more and more about leadership, this becomes incredibly clear. But I don't think it's rocket science. It's basic human psychology.

Monday, September 4


Yesterday's run out at the Sac River Trails was wonderful. It reminded me of Santa Fe being out on unpaved trails again. Just beautiful. I love the way that your body has to adjust to the terrain and you use all these muscles that you wouldn't otherwise use.

And at one point during yesterday's run, there was a little cactus. Absolutely beautiful.

Friday, September 1


As always, work has me thinking about the value of good leadership. And so I continue reading about how to make myself better. While reading Maxwell's The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership today, I came across a passage about how good leaders raise the morale in their organization.

Maxwell shared an old poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox that his mother used to recite to him. I don't know that it's a great poem, but it's definitely a great message.

There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Just two kinds of people, no more I say.
Not the good and the bad, for 'tis well understood
That the good are half-bad and the bad and half-good.
No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift and the people who lean.