Sunday, December 31

My Losing Season by Pat Conroy

It's Friday night and I had a long week at work.
It's Friday night and I didn't go running today.
It's Friday night and I just finished reading Pat Conroy's book "My Losing Season."

I've never been so emotionally spent after reading a book. What the hell? There were times when I felt like just putting the damn thing down. I've never recoiled when reading a book before, sensing that I'd be beaten. Or remembering getting hit.

Or remembering something from college that still hurts. You get over things, right? You just forget, eh? You just learn and it doesn't matter. I remember that almost every weekend four six years (two in high school, four in college) I went to the newspaper to work in the sports department. And what is a normal college experience.

College. So for three weeks or so now, I've dived into Pat Conroy's college experience. Playing basketball at a military school. Crazy Pat Conroy. I remember how I dreamed of playing basketball in college. The first two years of high school, I lived 10 miles outside the Talladega city limits down a dirt road that was a tenth of a mile long. Three acres of land and a basketball goal in the backyard. Players took 200 shots a day. I took at least that many. And some times I'd slide along the baseline, doing defensive drills as well as I could by myself.

Shooting baskets and reading books. That was pretty much my life. My friends were basketball players and that's about all I really had in common with anybody. Never got invited to parties. I was so skinny and nerdy girls were never interested in me.

But one thing I knew. I was an athlete, a player. Suited up for the varsity team my sophomore year. Of course, my junior year we moved to Indiana. And that was pretty much the beginning of the end.

And now, and now - what am I now? I was coming to my apartment in the elevator the other day and this guy asked me if I was the one who went running all the time. Yep, I'm the runner.

I'm not quite sure what to make of Pat Conroy. I can identify with him of course. I've still got a lump in my throat after finishing his book. It makes me think about how I want to be. How I want to see myself. How I want to handle defeat. Because ultimately that's what life is all about. Defeat after humiliating defeat. You were never my friend. You were the butt of my jokes.

And then you get up and keep on going as best you can.

When they prove something wrong you believed in so long, you go crazy. Thanks Kris Kristofferson.

If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.... Thanks Rudyard.

Funny thing, I was talking with someone today about baseball. I explained how I don't really follow baseball or basketball or any sport I played when I was young. The only sport I really follow, besides running, is football. I dream about being a football player. Maybe that's a byproduct of having gone to Notre Dame. Maybe that's a byproduct of my dad being an all-state football player his junior year of high school.

I know what position I'd play if I could go back, meet myself when I was younger and point myself towards a football team. Corner back. The quickest and the baddest player on the team. Always guarding the opposition's fastest player. The quintessential skill position.

And I always hear one thing when tv announcers talk about corner backs. The great ones have to have a short memory. If you got burned on the last play, you can't dwell on that. You've got to get up, face your man and be ready to go again. And think that you're going to make the play.

That's my goal for 2007. To have a short memory and an abundance of confidence. My industry is going down the toilet, especially leadership in the industry. But my life is just getting better all the time.

2007 is going to be a magical year. Good things are going to happen. And I can't forget that I'm currently sitting at the bottom of a spiral staircase in a luxury three bedroom loft apartment. Maybe living in a small studio in New York City would be better, but life has to be lived one day at a time. That's all there is to it.

It's going to be a good year. No, it's going to be a great year.


Two weeks!

Two weeks from today I run the Rock'n'Roll Arizona marathon! At least I plan to. Hopefully I'll make it to the starting line and the finish line.

Saturday, December 30

Dec. 30th Mud Run

We had a little rain around here today. Early in the morning I went for a hike at the Nature Center with my little brother Danny.

But that hike started making me think. Mud. I'd been yearning to get back out to the trails and this was the little added push I needed.

It was a great fun run today out at the hilly Sac River Trails. I planned to just be out there for about 30 minutes but because of the way the trails are set up, I got lost and then I got lost again. All in all, it was probably about 50 minutes of running and who knows how far. (Well, probably about five miles or so I guess cause I'm not running five minute miles through the mud yet... but maybe one day.)

I saw deer and wild turkey and squirrels and lots and lots and lots of mud. It was great.

Friday, December 29

Quote of the day

"I've always felt running is a form of meditation. Running enables us to stop our lives, to go out and find a safe place for ourselves." - Nin Kuscsik, marathoner, from my 2006 Runners' World training log

Training Log

Well, I looked through my training log today. It's not so bad as I thought.

It's nice to go back and look over an accounting of the year and of the past few months. It's nice to remember that on this day I ran a 10K, the next day I ran 18 miles. I can look at the calendar and realize the next couple of days took some time for recovery and maybe I didn't appreciate it so much at the time.

I can think about how sometime in August I had a strange injury develop on my left foot that I don't quite understand yet. But still I've been able to run and run miles and miles. Well over 400 miles since then. Close to 500.

And in two weeks and one day, I dance with the beast again. The marathon. 26.2 miles.

I'm not as well-trained as I'd like to be but I'm well-trained to do what I've been dreaming of. Now, it's basically just time for mental preparation and a little bit more running to get me there. I'm definitely excited.

Getting my game face on

Two weeks from today, I plan to get in my car and drive to Tulsa. From Tulsa I'll fly to Phoenix for the marathon.

This weekend, I'm doing a half-marathon Sunday afternoon with a 7-mile run beforehand. It's a way, I think, to have one last long run before the race with lots of other people around. Hopefully it should be a good time.

And then it's time to taper before the race. I'm starting to get more and more excited.

Thursday, December 28

A 3-hour layover

My friend Rebecca thinks her blog is only interesting to her friends and family. People who know her. Usually this is true.

But recently Rebecca got stuck in Denver. Specifically stuck in the Denver airport. As Denver prepares to get another few feet of snow dumped on it, I thought you would enjoy reading something Rebecca wrote about her experience/ordeal. I'd link to her blog, but her blog doesn't do the permalink thing well.

So here's the whole fascinating post.

Thursday, December 21, 2006
MIA in DIA; or, so much for Austin
Corrections: In the previous post, I said that "tomorrow," meaning Wednesday, Kyler and I would be in Austin. In fact, it is now Thursday, and we are in Denver.

When we got on the plane on Wednesday morning, the flight crew mentioned that it was "snowing" in Denver, and since United had cancelled three flights to Denver, we would be taking on extra passengers for an absolutely full flight. We were flying Frontier airlines, where you get the little t.v. in the back of the seat in front of you, where one of your free choices for viewing is a channel showing a map and a plane icon to show approximately where you are, and in which direction you are pointed. When we came near Denver, we circled the airport for awhile in a holding pattern, flying through whiteness--a complete fog out the window.

I was startled to feel something like landing, when out the window it still looked like the same bank of clouds we'd been flying around inside. When I looked closer, I realized we had in fact landed, it's just that absolutely everything on the ground was white. Including the air, it was snowing that hard. It wasn't until sometime this morning that we could see terminal B from terminal A. It didn't take too long to discover that our next flight was cancelled. It took somewhat longer to find the end of the line for rebooking. Kyler called his parents, and before we had even moved up a third of the line, his father had driven to the Austin airport and rebooked us with confirmed seats on a flight this Saturday. We were not yet on the standby list, though, so we stayed put in the line. For a grand total of over five hours.

We weren't concerned during most of this time--we had the phone number of one of Kyler's relatives, plenty of food in my backpack, and stuff to do (work, and a DVD to play in the laptop). It was only when we reached the front of the line that we discovered 1) roads in Denver had been closed for two hours and 2) our checked luggage was not, as one of the Frontier airlines employees had been telling us for hours, under lock and key, safely supervised by the airline, but in fact had been sent out through the carousel and was sitting out in baggage claim with thousands of other bags. The agent told us that "it's chaos down there" and that we had better go retrieve our luggage.

We asked, but then, could we return to the gates with those bags? Well, no. Of course not. So then we were looking down the barrel of spending the night in baggage claim. As it turned out, as the airport closed, they found spare rooms to "check" everyone's checked luggage--we'll have to go get it and actually check it when we're flying out, but in the meanwhile, it's not just sitting out anymore. The rules were relaxed a little, and we were allowed to return to the terminal after taking care of our luggage. Whew.

So, last night was spent sleeping on an airline blanket on the floor between two rows of seats by gate 27. Home sweet home for the time being. This morning, the airport didn't open... and we were told that it wouldn't until tomorrow at noon. Kyler's cousin's street had not been plowed, so he couldn't come to get us... and while we could have made it out to a hotel today, that seemed pretty expensive--plus, while the city and the airport were ensuring that people were provided rides TO these hotels, they told us all that we would be on our own for returning to the airport. While they were telling us that the roads were still dangerous, buses weren't running, and cabs were far and few between.

The kicker is, of course, that in order to be on standby lists for any given day, you have to check in that day. To have a high priority in the standby list, you need to be one of the first ones checked in. Being in a hotel when the airline opens customer service isn't the way to do that. While we have confirmed tickets for Saturday evening... we'd really like to try to get out of here sooner than that...

So, here I am, on an itchy polyesther blanket on the floor again. It's not so bad. We're warm, we're fed, we even have some stuff to do. We watched our movie this afternoon, I got some work done last night and this morning, and Kyler even made a snow angel. I practiced some stretches and yoga. We saw some people relocating the mattresses from the "Admiral's Club" to our terminal... those people didn't really look like they had the authority to be doing that, but hey. Why not. The Red Cross was passing out cots, diapers, snack bags, you name it, too. I'm sure a lot of people really appreciated that. The cots were being rationed out by the time we found the source of them, only for the disabled and elderly.

Say a little prayer for our travels, and hope to see many of you soon.

I'm a marathoner

I just watched that slideshow. Really powerful stuff.

It’s strange. My second marathon is less than three weeks away. I feel so different today than I did a little over six months ago.

I can’t completely put my finger on it. I’ve been battling nagging injuries. I’ve been struggling socially and in some ways struggling at work. Sometimes I feel like I just don’t fit in. Like I’ve lost something I can’t get back. Time, basically. Where does it all go and why am I here?

Ah, so I look at 2007 and I feel lost. I feel a bit out of shape. I think about my time goals for the race and I don’t know if I can make it. I don’t know how I should feel about not being faster, not having better form. Not being stronger mentally.

Well, enough of this self-doubt. I am a marathoner. I’ve finished one and I should be able to finish another. I’ve run 20 miles about four times in the last four months. I’m a warrior.

I need to go work on my swagger now.

Eat less meat

There's a disappointing editorial in the New York Times that I read this morning. It linked meat eating with global warming. It talks about the report “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Ok. So far, so good. Then it fizzles at the end. No easy solutions, it says.

no easy trade-offs when it comes to global warming — such as cutting back on cattle to make room for cars. The human passion for meat is certainly not about to end anytime soon. As “Livestock’s Long Shadow” makes clear, our health and the health of the planet depend on pushing livestock production in more sustainable directions.

In a word, that's bullshit. Maybe it's just because I don't have this same passion for meat they talk about. I used to eat double whoppers with cheese, extra onions, extra tomatoes all the time. But I was trying to gain weight. I wasn't sure that there was any other way but eating lots of meat. I never really enjoyed the meat though. And when I've had supposedly good, well-cooked meat I've been disappointed and not blown away. I mean, I can appreciate bar-b-q and the occasional steak or ribs, but part of that is social and part of it is culturally conditioned. I'd just as much enjoy grilled corn and veggie burgers if I wasn't held up to ridicule. It's not worth it and I've had enough ridicule.

Anyway, the answer is simple. There are reasonable trade-offs. Think about the consequences of your actions. The consequences of what you eat. Global warming doesn't just relate to the Kyoto treaty. It also relates to the meat you eat.

One thing is for certain, my demand for meat is going down in the new year. Way down.

19 days

The countdown continues. 19 days until the big race in Arizona. And I drank too much last night while hanging out with some friends. Funny how drinking too much is only three beers. I don't have a hangover but I feel a bit foggy.

On the bright side, my routine lately involves running after work instead of first thing in the morning.

19 days. 17 days until I leave for Phoenix. Something like that. Too much math makes my head hurt.

Wednesday, December 27

Marathon slideshow

Nate e-mailed me this link to a marathon slideshow.

I'm posting it here so I won't lose it. Also because if you like my blog at all, you'll like the show.

Tuesday, December 26

Great article

I was checking my e-mail when I came across a fascinating newspaper article.

Don't believe me? Here's how it started:

Marathon training is never easy. It requires dedication, flexibility, and sacrifice. The final stretch of training before you begin to taper down can be particularly hard, especially this time of year.

Crawling out of bed at 5:30 a.m., in the dark, and facing a 40-degree cold rain and 20 miles is enough to send most people searching for motivation. Those moments force the question: why am I doing this?

Rest assured, you are not the first runner to face doubt. Everyone has their willpower tested.

Hmm. And I just noticed the headline: "Reward is its own motivator. Once the run is over, it's all good."

True, true.

Countdown continues - taper

Well, Christmastime is over. I've flown home safely. But I'm looking
forward to my next flight. My next destination. Phoenix, Arizona.

20 days until the Rock'n'Roll Arizona marathon.

days. Theoretically, I could be starting my taper now. That's a scary
thought. That means basically my training is done. It's now all about
resting, relaxing and getting to the starting line healthy.

But I've learned that getting to the starting line healthy is sometimes far more than half the battle.

But I'd like to think that this is the time when I buckle down mentally and
remind myself why I'm doing this. Remind myself why I'm doing this?
Perhaps this is the time when I buckle down mentally and figure out why I'm
doing this.

Because I'm a marathon man! And I think I'm ready to shave an hour off my first marathon time!

OK. Time to stop before I exceed my yearly limit on exclamation points.

I think it's fun to be able to run almost forever.

Monday, December 25

Christmas run

Perhaps it's a new tradition.

I squeezed in a nice little run today. About five miles. Around the subdivision. Out to a rural road, up to Michigan and back.

I may have taken another rest day except my mom was watching one of her Chrsitmas gifts - Akeelah and the Bee.

Now on it's surface, that movie doesn't have anything to do with running. But it is all about motivation. And so I couldn't just sit there watching the movie and not go running afterwards.

One of the best parts of the movie, the turning point, was when the Laurence Fishburne character had Akeelah read this quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

And so from that, perhaps a new tradition has started. A good hard Christmas run. The weather is beautiful here in Indiana. I should have worn gloves though. Maybe next year.

James Brown - RIP

It was a sad bit of news to wake up today and learn that James Brown is gone.

It's Christmas so I won't be posting long, but I thought I'd put up a link to my poem inspired by James, the High Yellow Superhero poem .

Remember James. Have a great time and a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24

Merry Christmas

As I write this, it's Christmas somewhere.

So, Merry Christmas!

I may have had a Christmas list at some point, but right now there's nothing in particular I want. No gift I want to open tomorrow. I've been thinking about my ideal Christmas. What it would be like.

It definitely wouldn't involve lots of gifts bought in stores. Games, food, chocolate. Maybe running. Definitely running. It would be nice to have a tradition of a Christmas fun run with family. Except that nobody in my family runs right now.

I'm also thinking a bit about how much running is healthy. My foot still hurts, but if I wanted, I could run on it. I'm thinking about it. We'll see how it feels in the morning and maybe I'll go running and maybe I'll just rest and sleep. My day today has mostly consisted of sleeping and eating.

Back to the ideal Christmas. Maybe one or two gifts would be exchanged. No more than that. Nothing elaborate. Good friends, good times. Isn't that all we need. Doesn't there come a point where exchanging gifts is a bit empty when you don't have the things you really want?

I don't know why I can't get in the Christmas spirit at all. There's nothing I want to eat at all in the refrigerator here, but I keep eating anyway. I feel tired and I haven't run in two or three days now. Last time I ran was the solstice and I posted about that. That was Wednesday. And now I sit here tired and in a Christmas funk.

Midnight Mass starts at 11, just after a Christmas concert. Hopefully that will be nice. Then I come home and wrap my gifts.

Merry Christmas! Really though. The best gift you can give is how you treat other people. You never know how long someone will remember the littlest thing, whether it was a nice gesture or a hurtful statement.

Merry Christams! It's a season of hope. It's time to expect the best from the year ahead.

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 23

A women's best friend

The story of the mountain climbers in Oregon lost on Mt. Hood was pretty sad. Here's an effort for balance. Just surfing the internet, I found this story of Danelle Ballengee, a runner who fell in the mountains while training and would have been in tough shape if not for her dog. As it is, she probably won't be walking for months.

Sounds like the rescuers would have found her anyway without the dog's help, but the animal sure did speed things up a bit. Another argument for the intelligence of animals.


Greetings from Indiana. It's unseasonably warm and should be good weather for running. However, being crammed into an airplane made my foot stuff. And that made my foot hurt. So I'm resting. Basically sleeping. Not that there's but so much else to do here anyhow. Running would be grand, but sometimes rest is what the doctor ordered.

Another reason not to snjoy airtravel. I could have driven here in the time it took to fly here. I suppose that's probably because of the time I got there because of the security check and the layovers. However, driving would have also been cheaper.

For 2007 though I want to travel more and fly more. I want to see more new things. I want to run in more places. I want to take better vacations. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, December 21

Seven on the solstice

So, today's the first day of winter, the coldest day of the year. Well, I'm at work now but a little while ago I told my boss I had to get out of here and go for a run. And a run I did.

About 7 miles around 4 p.m. in shorts and a t-shirt. Beautiful weather. Beautiful weather for April, much less December. Of course, if it was April I doubt there would have been as many people outside decked out in their full winter regalia. But people will overdress. I meanwhile had a good time running while the sun went down on the shortest day of the year. I went seven miles.

Hopefully the coming days, the coming year will be full of joy and good times.

Of course, now I'm back at work and I've got some other stuff to take care of.

Quote of the day

"What I am doing — nobody cares. It's just personal satisfaction." - Kenny Moore, American, 4th place finisher in 1972 Olympic marathon.

From The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life by Amby Burfoot.

Winter Solstice

So I was just listening to the radio and they mentioned how this is the winter solstice. I'd posted about that recently but I'd forgotten. The main point of my posting was that the solstice means the days are getting longer again and longer days means more daylight to run in. But who really needs light when they go running. All you need is discipline. Discipline and a healthy body.

I want to get on the good foot so bad. I've got no idea what's wrong with my foot. I ran for quite a long time without any injuries. After the marathon, I think I may turn my focus to other types of workouts, really low-impact workouts. Right now though, I can run fast and far and I'm going to believe that everything is going to be alright.

I keep believing though that some part of this foot injury has to do with emotions. So another goal for the new year is to look on the bright side of things, smile more with or without reason and just relax and have a good time.

Wednesday, December 20

Quote of the Day

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement." - Steve Prefontaine

My training hasn't been exactly what I'd most like. But every time I've run 20 miles, I've felt like I've accomplished something. The 18 miles even feel like an accomplishment. Jan. 14, 2007, the Rock'n'Roll Marathon is getting closer and closer.

Next year, I'm going to try to run shorter, run harder, run faster. But also take it easy on myself. Get more massages. Be really good to myself. I keep thinking I want to do a run in Paradise.

But also, I want to decide on more amazing goals for myself and then go out and do it.

My foot feels OK

Yesterday night I went running. Three miles on the treadmill. I wanted to run more but the Y was about to close.

Anyhow, today my foot feels fine and groovy. Although sometimes the absence of pain is joined by the remembrance or recent pain.

But the marathon is now 26 days away. And, according to my calendar, today marks the new mooon.

Tuesday, December 19

I don't want to quit

So I clicked over to some Pfizer website, which reminded me of a Pfizer ad I'd seen in the paper recently.

Of course, while reading I replaced a couple of words as I am want to do.

Why is it so hard for me to quit? Let's face it. For most people running is more than a habit. It's an endorphin addiction. Even if you want to quit, the body craves that feeling.


I was walking to a co-worker about the days getting longer a while back. I wasn't quite sure why she was talking about salsa. But no, she was talking about the solstice.

But salsa had a certain ring to it.

Dance the salsa on the solstice.

No, she said. She was thinking more about the salsa with peppers and tomatos.


Dance the salsa on the solstice while eating salsa.

See where this is going?

Dance the salsa on the solstice while eating salsa and singing to Sue who is selling seashells by the seashore as the sand slips between your toes under the misty moonlight while melting moon pies over the fire as the ocean laps against the beach.

Countdown continues

We're 27 days away from Rock'n'Roll Arizona. I am trying to get excited. But my foot still hurts. If hurt is the right word. Sigh. Maybe it's just emotional. Maybe it's mental weakness not physical weakness.

I would have gone running this morning but I overslept. Perhaps I'll take a long lunch. My hours are always crazy anyway. The house always wins. I mean the corporation always wins. And I do work hard. I also work better after running and more effectively after running.

Oh sigh, the corporation always wins. I'm so glad I've started running because it really does help me deal with stress. Even though I've lost 40 pounds, weight I tried so hard to gain, I've found something more in this passion to keep going.

And here's another countdown - two days until the first day of winter. It's not winter I'm so excited about though. It's two days until the days start getting longer and there will be more light for the running.

Monday, December 18

Dentist appointment

I woke up this morning and my feet continued to hurt. Is it all just in my mind? I don't know. As my doctor said when I went to see him, I'm obviously not limping. But I don't know what's wrong. I think I can make it through to the marathon though and so I'm going to try. There's no chance right now to get much more out of my training. Time is running out and it's time to taper now. Or soon.

Anyhow, I've got a dentist appointment this morning. I remember my last dentist appointment. I had the day off to run 20 miles. Then the dentist's office calls. I had an appointment from 6 months previous. That was the most intense, painful 20-mile run that I completed. Marathons are supposed to be painful, right? That post-dentist appointment 20-mile run was far more painful than the marathon itself though.

--- update ----

No cavities!

Sunday, December 17

28 days

The marathon is four weeks from today. Training hasn't gone exactly as I planned but life happens I guess.
2006 has been one crazy year. What will next year bring? I'm not even sure I really want to think about it. Hopefully it will be good though. One step at a time and I'll make it to my goals.
And the first goal, as a little envelope in the mail from Arizona reminded me, is a 3 hour 56 minute marathon in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe!
Jan. 14, 2007

Fear of flying

Just got back from a trip to DC. Overall, it went well. The days were packed but I got in a 60 minute run (at least 6 miles right) down the sidewalk on the street in front of my hotel one day. I've decided I'm not going to do too any more running on sidewalks before the marathon. I've got to make it through in one piece and that's a bit more extreme pounding than what I normally feel.

And I believe my irrational fear of flying is giving way to a rational discomfort on airplanes not designed for someone my size. I think that's progress.

Wednesday, December 13

33 days

Almost a month left until Rock'n'Roll Arizona.

I wish I could say that the excitement builds. In a way it does. But there's also the feeling of being a bit rundown. What have I got myself into? What am I doing with my life? Where am I going? I guess those questions aren't just about the marathon, you know. But this is such a big all-consuming goal that I can't do anything else until I do this.

In reality, it's not that far away, either. After running this marathon on Jan. 14, I've got to focus on new goals.

My goals will be run shorter, faster races.
Learn to climb.
Do yoga. Improve flexibility.
Simplify my life. I read something in a magazine article yesterday about getting rid of five things every week. I think that could be a great goal because I also continue to acquire stuff. I have so many clothes that I don't wear, videos and dvds I don't watch, cds i don't listen to.

But right now, first things first. Focus. Rock'n'Roll Arizona.

Sunday, December 10

Quote of the day

I stopped into the office today and found lots of interesting stuff in my e-mail - one interesting message - and a box full of information on leadership. (Thanks)

Here's a great quote from famous climber Walter Bonatti - "Climbing is not a battle with the elements, nor against the laws of gravity, it's a battle against onself."

20 miles at the Ice Capades

Well, it was definitely warm enough to run 20 miles outside today. And I did.

However, when I got to the trail, I noticed something I hadn't necessarily planned on. Ice. Lots of it.

Well, it wasn't like the whole trail was packed with ice and unmelted snow. Just long stretches of the trail. I thought to myself, OK self, this will just work your core muscles much harder than otherwise. (I was at the Galloway Creek trail, which is paved not unpaved like I prefer.)

It was another tough 20 mile run, but generally if you go 20 miles, it's supposed to be tough. All things considered, it was also quite enjoyable.

The next two weekends I'm going to be out of town. First for a wedding. Then for Christmas in South Bend. The weekend (Dec. 31) after that will be my last 20 mile run. My plan at this point is to do 7 miles in the morning and a local half-marathon in the afternoon.

And then we taper.

The countdown continues - five weeks left until Jan. 14 - Rock'n'Roll Arizona!

Saturday, December 9

Sunshine Run photos

I'm not sure how well this link will work, but pictures are up from the Sunshine Run in October.

If you need my bib number to see the pictures, it was 1168. I think they're decent pictures if I do say so myself. Not sure if I'll order any. I know what I look like after all and it wasn't but so momentous of a race. I got a pr (53:58) but I so rarely run 10Ks that a pr is likely easy to come by with steady improvement. And I am making steady improvement.

In other news, it's about 50 degrees outside. The weather looks good for tomorrow so I'm going to go out and do about 18 miles outside. I'm excited about it.

Jingle Bell Run

Today I ran the Jingle Bell Run. I had on a bit of a costume, Santa shorts and a chili pepper hat that I bought in New Mexico plus a long-sleeved t-shirt with a chili pepper on it. Unfortunately I also had two shirts on underneath because I misread the weather forecast.

I think all the clothes slowed me down a bit. I ran the race in 25:51, six seconds slower than my 5K pr from September (25:45). A friend of mine told me that he thinks the course is a bit long. Regardless of that, I didn't feel like I ran a particularly good race and that's disappointing.

However, it good to put the whole thing in context. Last year the Jingle Bell Run was my second 5K ever. I had set a New Year's Resolution to run a 5K in under 30 minutes in 2006 and I got it done at the 2005 Jingle Bell Run . Specifically, my time then was 29:52.

So, that's an improvement of four minutes and one second at the Jingle Bell Run. That's pretty good context.

It's the time of year to start thinking about resolutions and goals for the new year. Is it too ambitious to set a 5K goal of 21:50 at the Jingle Bell Run? Or knocking four minutes or more off my 5K pr in the next year and shooting for 21:45 or lower.

I could say that first things first and that means getting the 5K PR under 25.

But that's not really the case. First things first means finishing the marathon that I'm training for. And that's Rock'n'Roll Arizona.

Friday, December 8

Countdown continues

38 days until Rock'n'Roll Arizona!

The excitement builds. I ran 3 miles this morning and with the wind chill, I think it was about 3 degrees. That could be a winter training plan. Run the temperature. Or not. I felt icicles forming in my goatee.

I may do a long run on a treadmill on Sunday. We'll see how it feels outside.

Tomorrow should be warmer though. And that's exciting because I'm going to do a little 5K and wear a bit of a costume just for the heck of it.

Wednesday, December 6

Six miles

This morning I ran a little over six miles. It was a good run, my longest run yet on packed snow and ice with patches of clear ground. And probably the last one for some time as all the snow seems to be melting.

I was warm and toasty for most of the run until about 40 minutes in my gloves stopped working and my fingers became bone cold. Other than that, it was great. Funny when I came back in, there was frost all over my clothes.

I may need to call the running store and ask what I should expect from these gloves I have. Still, I'm glad I got outside for a good run. If I go running tomorrow though, it will probably be inside on a treadmill.

"Believing in your career"

Lately, there's a poem that's been going through my head as I struggle with where I am in my career. Here it is:

Commercial Break: Road-Runner, Uneasy by Tim Seibles

If I didn't know better I'd say
the sun never moved ever,

that somebody just pasted it there
and said the hell with it,

but that's impossible.
After awhile you have to give up

those conspiracy theories.
I get the big picture. I mean,

how big can the picture be?
I actually think it's kind of funny —

that damn coyote always scheming,
always licking his skinny chops

and me, pure speed, the object of all
his hunger, the everything he needs —

talk about impossible, talk about
the grass is always greener...

I am the other side of the fence.

You've got to wonder, at least a little,
if this could be a set-up:

with all the running I do —
the desert, the canyons, the hillsides, the desert —

all this open road has got to
lead somewhere else. I mean,

that's what freedom's all about, right?
Ending up where you want to be.

I used to think it was funny — Roadrunner
the coyote's after you Roadrunner...

Now I'm mainly tired. Not that
you'd ever know. I mean

I can still make the horizon
in two shakes of a snake's tongue,

but it never gets easier out here, alone
with Mr. Big Teeth and his ACME supplies:

leg muscle vitamins, tiger traps,
instant tornado seeds.

C'mon! I'm no tiger.
And who's making all this stuff?

I can't help being a little uneasy.
I do one of my tricks,

a rock-scorching, razor turn at 600 miles an hour,
and he falls off the cliff, the coyote —

he really falls: I see the small explosion,
his body slamming into dry dirt

so far down in the canyon
the river looks like a crayon doodle.

That has to hurt, right?
Five seconds later, he's just up the highway

hoisting a huge anvil
above a little, yellow dish of bird feed —

like I don't see what's goin' on. C'mon!

You know how sometimes, even though you're
very serious about the things you do,

it seems like, secretly, there's a
big joke being played,

and you're part of what
someone else is laughing at — only

you can't prove it, so you
keep sweating and believing in

your career, as if that
makes the difference, as if somehow

playing along isn't really

playing along as long as you're
not sure what sort of fool

you're being turned into, especially
if you're giving it one-hundred percent.

So, when I see dynamite
tucked under the ACME road-runner cupcakes,

as long as I don't wonder why my safety
isn't coming first in this situation,

as long as I don't think me
and the coyote are actually

working for the same people,

as long as I eat and

get away I'm not really stupid,

right? I'm just fast.

40 days

Forty days until the race I've been training for for almost half a year. Rock'n'Roll Arizona.

Why am I looking forward to this race? Because of the excitement and all the people. In my first marathon, there were 568 people total. This one should have thousands!

Tuesday, December 5

Let's start a countdown

41 days until the Rock'n'Roll Arizona Marathon.

Don't countdowns always add a bit to the excitment?

Monday, December 4

What are you chasing?

I wish I had something to say. All I have to say is it's cold. It's cold and I want to run but I also want to just roll up in bed and stay there for a while. Holiday stress is starting to mount. And I keep flashing back to a question someone asked me in a job interview once.

"Why are you here?"

I knew why I was there. I wanted to move to a more exciting city than where I was living. But now I keep asking myself why I'm here now. I know why I came here. It seemed like a good place to come and learn my chosen trade. But now I wonder about that. Did I make the right choice? Would I make the same decision today?

Perhaps I've just got the winter blahs. And I've got a goal to work towards. A month and a half until Rock'n'Roll Arizona.

And there's a link I've been meaning to share with you - Motivational quotes from the Oxford University Athletic Club. Here's a sample:

"I believe the first step is knowing yourself. I think that most people have an innate sense of what they want and how to get there. No matter what it is you owe it to yourself to figure out what you are chasing and how you might catch it." - Michael Johnson, legendary American sprinter. The one who wore the gold shoes.

Hopefully things will start looking up for me.

Saturday, December 2

Quote of the day

Give me silence, water, hope.

Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes.

-Pablo Neruda

A medal - keeping it cool

So originally the plan for today was to be in Memphis and run the half-marathon. Ah, wanna make God laugh? Tell her about your plans.

I decided not to go to Memphis because I didn't want to drive slowly over icy, snow-covered roads and play roulette with road conditions on my way back. I tried not to second-guess that decision.

Anyhow, I decided to run a short local race today. The Jack Frost 5k. There was also a 10K but with so much ice on the ground and the temperature not expected to get out of the teens, I figured 5 ks were enough. The forecast was wrong though and it was very comfortable weather for running. Of course, I second-guessed the decision quite a bit.

But there was so much ice I'm glad I did the shorter race. And then the awards ceremony reconfirmed my decision to run the 5K. I'm not sure how many people were in the 30-39 age bracket, but I placed third with a time a couple of minutes slower than my PR.

But what may not have been a fast time was definitely a good time. Except for the fact that there was a little kid (under 14) who was close enough to watch during the last two miles of the race, and possibly close enough to catch. Possibly. But that would have also entailed the possibility of falling on my but in the ice. (And I didn't fall once!)

My Jack Frost t-shirt that I'm now wearing says, "Keep it cool." And that's what I did. Relaxed. Relished in the fact that no one was close enough to pass me. And had fun in my first race over snow and ice-covered ground. Perhaps it won't be my last.

I know this is nerdy but...

This is a test. I've never done this on my blog before so here goes nothing.

You Christmas Stocking Will Be Filled with Money

You've either been really really good this year...
Or Santa is trying to pay you off!