Monday, December 31


It's not that you're bleeding, but you through it now, so you run -- Seal, Amazing

Sunday's Run for the Ranch Half Marathon in Springfield was a lackluster performance for me (rslight). It was my first race to use my Garmin Forerunner, and I got mesmerized watching the mileage rack up. I hit 5 miles in 40 minutes, 10K in 50 minutes and mile 7 in about an hour.
I really wanted to beat my PR of 1:52:57, but I developed a seriously upset stomach on the third of four laps. I suspect I made a diet error. Normally I have Pop Tarts and water before a morning race, and experience no problems. However, on Sunday I had a large breakfast (eggs, sausage, orange juice) and expected it to be nice and digested before the 2:30 p.m. race.

Things got progressively worse. My stomach churned like it had that creature from Alien in it. I slowed a bit. Pam Sailors flew past me like she routinely does (if she's not already way ahead.)
I finished the third lap as MS completed his final one. He encouraged me to "dig deep," although I feared that would just make me throw up.

The final lap presented a new problem. I had to find a restroom. There was a significant stretch of neighborhood that didn't feature restroom opportunities.
I grew increasingly desperate. One restroom by a tennis court was locked. I finally discovered a portable restroom by that water station out in the boondocks. I lost two minutes waiting for a woman to get out. The stop of momentum affected my pace, and I was a bit wobbly on the final mile. bl approached me when I was at my most frazzled and thoughtfully helped pace me on the last half-mile to a 1:58 finish. Then it was cookie time.

Would you believe me if I said it was a lot of fun? I always look forward to taking a shot at a PR, even when I fall way short.
Now that I've accomplished my goal of completing four half marathons in two months with times all under 2 hours, I can fully concentrate on my second marathon: Little Rock Marathon on March 2.

Gratuitous side note: I wonder if any other Garmin users found the course a little long. My Forerunner said 13.2 miles. Where did the 0.1 come from? Did I turn corners poorly? I know the portable restroom wasn't 0.1 away. My math skills aren't that poor.

Resolutions redux

I've been thinking about revising my New Year's Resolutions ever since my previous post. Too many of my resoolutions were too amorphous.

So, with an eye to what's really important:

I want to read 50 books.
I want to run 1500 miles. That's an increase of almost 200 miles over this year when I ran 1310. Last year I ran 1178. So it's not too much of a stretch to continue improving in that way.
I want to write 12 new poems, short stories or major essays. That should be an easy goal to achieve, but we'll see.
I want to run a 20 minute 5K. I want to run a sub-4 hour marathon in December or November.
I also want to get a job.

Sunday, December 30

Run for the Ranch - second comment

IF you could only have one - a PR or a trophy, which would you choose?

For me, I think it's easy. I like PRs. They're nice. But I think I'd prefer to get a trophy.

No matter how fast you run, you never really deserve a trophy. It's all about who shows up or doesn't show up. And so much of life is just showing up.

I don't really think of race shirts as trophies, but a piece of hardware is always great. It's nice to end the year with a trophy.

Especially a trophy that's got a nice little golden boot on top.

But that's just me. What about you? Which would you prefer? PR or trophy?

Run for the Ranch - first comment

Well, I didn't win the Run for the Ranch 5K. I didn't even win my age group, although I was close.
I had a collision at the corner of Bennett and Holland as I was going into my finishing kick. Some guy was coming at me and I thought he go right or left so I kept going straight ahead. I didn't realize that he knocked my number off until I went under the finish line. So I jogged back to get my number and then turned around for a second finishing kick.
Here's the thing though. Before the race I saw somebody I'd trained with in the Body Mechanix track workouts. He said he was going to take it easy. He hadn't been running in over a month. What's take it easy mean for you, I asked? Under 20?
He kind of shrugged his shoulders and said yeah. I said how bout 19:30? That's a round number he said. I like that.
He ran 19:32 and won the race.
I'm not running tomorrow.
My plan is to run about 12 or 15 miles on Jan. 1. I'll check my long from last year and at least match that.
Right now, I think I might just have a beer.
Perhaps there will be more comments on this race.
Congrats to all the other Poetic Feeters who were out there.
If I'm able, no matter where I live, unless I'm out of the country, I think I'll run it again next year. However, I may apply for a passport. Who knows what the future holds.

Friday, December 28

New Year's Resolutions

So, Poetic Feeters --- do you all have any New Year's Resolutions.

I'd like to read more books.
Write more and seriously consider writing as a career.
I also want to consider a career in finance. Is that diametrically opposed to a career in writing? Maybe. Maybe it's about timing. Maybe it's about priorities.
I'll likely need a job at some point in 2008. But I hope to stay focused on doing something challenging and meaningful to me. Meaningful not menial. We'll see.
I want to work up to running 50 miles a week for March or February.
I want to run a marathon late in the year, November or December, and I want to finish well under 4 hours.
I want to run a 20 minute 5K.

Enough for now. List subject to change.


The days will now likely grow colder although at the same time they slowly, almost imperceptibly grow longer. Night is ending in Alaska.
We think it's a good time to share this poem that came in the mail while I was away with family.

Sometimes -
Sheenagh Pugh

Sometiems things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a main aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

quote of the day

"Often the difference between a successful man and a failure
is not one's better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one
has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk and to act."
--Dr. Maxwell Maltz

Wednesday, December 26

Holiday season trivia

Now that Christmas is over, let's talk about something really important. Like saving the planet and celebrity trivia.

What film and television star said the following:
Since I was a kid I felt this need to play a role in helping Mother Earth. At the age of 12, I wrote a 50-page report (that wasn’t supposed to be more than 5 pages) on threatened wildlife and realized clearly that my Mother was being continually and forcibly raped by giant corporations intent on profit.

His first name is the same as the first name of the character he played that made him famous.
He's from the same state as Rslight, but that character was from the same state that I'm typing in right now. (If I remember correctly.)
He's been in bowling and basketball movies.

To Michigan and back

I just ran to Michigan and back. Now, as the crow flies, it's only four tenths of a mile to Michigan from my parents' house but you can't get there as the crow flies. So, it turned into a 5.25 mile run. Thank you!
Anyhow, this was my first run outside the subdivision and my last for a while. Man, I do enjoy the lightly trafficked roads of this area and the 25 mph speed limit.
The one thing I don't enjoy is the feeling that it's a mostly white neighborhood and I've never really felt like I belonged. I don't know why I have this small amount of feeling like a police officer or security guard might at any moment roll up next to me.
But they haven't so far. And I'm just about done. But if we were in a city, I might feel more comfortable running before sunup or after dark. As it is though, there are definitely good things about running in the suburbs. I'm thankful for the low speed limit and the lack of traffic out here.
Today's run was also my first run with any real focus on speed. I did some sprinting from mailbox to mailbox at times and that was good.
All in all, today's workout was a good one and unlike the squirrel I saw, I'm not roadkill.

Tuesday, December 25

New toys

Well, I'm happy with Christmas. I didn't get too much and I got what I wanted most.

What I wanted most was a foam roller. It's a tool for self-massage. Myo-fascial release as they say.

I also got The Stick, which is used for the same thing.

I'm excited about this and hope it helps me as I attempt to take my running to the next level.

Monday, December 24

New Toy

I've got the power -- Snap

My father, a Dallas architect, doesn't run, but he does like gadgets. That may explain why I'm (rslight) getting a Garmin Forerunner this holiday. It should arrive late this week in time for me to try it out at Springfield's Run for the Ranch.
Will this improve my race performance next year? I have no clue. I just like having some notion of my minutes per mile pace. Knowledge is power, as the elementary school posters say. If I had known I was slipping under 9 minutes late in the Dallas half marathon, I might have sped up.

I'm feeling guilty this holiday because the Garmin makes the presents I got seem shabby. I got dad a $20 certificate to Cheesecake Factory, stepmom a $10 certificate to Chilis, my teenage stepsister a $10 card to Virgin Records and my teenage stepbrother a $10 card to Gameworks. How cheap does that make me?

(Gratuitous side note: I'm boycotting Christmas this year. Don't misunderstand. There should be a day where families get together and a season that promotes giving. But as a Christian, I hate what Christmas has become.
Unfortunately there are people in society who insist on saying Merry Christmas repeatedly as if that makes them good Christians. That's not what Christianity is about. The Bible doesn't order anyone to celebrate Christmas. Jesus Christ didn't address a crowd and say: "Listen, Dec. 25 is my birthday and it's extremely important that you recognize that and berate anyone who doesn't.")

Enough of my potentially offensive soapbox.
Happy holiday everyone! God bless you!

Why I didn't run yesterday, part two

A mere 90 miles to the west and in similar conditions, Brett Favre didn't have the option of choosing whether or not to workout outside yesterday.
Here were his thoughts:

Brett Favre lamented the windchill conditions, saying: "I've been playing 17 years, and that was the worst conditions I've ever played in. No excuse … I mean, it was. But [the Bears] handled it better than we did.

"It was cold, I'm not going to lie to you. I haven't thawed out yet. I've played in colder actual temperature. But in the 16 years I've spent in Green Bay, I've learned that wind means everything. It can be zero degrees, and if it's not windy at all, it's a lot easier to manage than 40-m.p.h. winds.

"It was extremely cold. It cut right through you. It made throwing difficult."

Bears defensive end Alex Brown described the wind this way. It "felt like it was jabbing you in the side."

So that's why I didn't run yesterday. Why I'm awake right now is another question.

Sunday, December 23

Windy and cold

It's 18 deprees outside with a wind chill factor of 3. Meaning it feels like it's 3 degrees outside. Winds are blowing steadily at 18 miles per hour with gusts as high as 40 miles per hour.
Despite my previous plans, I've decided not to run today.
There's a light snow falling outside, although with the wind it looks almost like more. Hopefully a lot of snow will fall and tomorrow's run will be a bit different. Perhaps I'll even feel like running tomorrow.

Saturday, December 22


This song has gripped me a bit as I struggle with the Advent season, the Christmas season and faith in general.

I can't believe what they believe, but I believe in you.
I like that line.

Thoughts on mileage

It's in the mid-40s and dreary here just a couple of miles from Michigan's southern border. I don't feel like running today. It's so blah out.
I guess I'll rest today and then try for a long or medium-long run on Sunday. It may even snow then. Today's forecast only calls for showers but I'd kind of like some snow.
I've been hoping to go running in a Winter Wonderland of sorts. But all the snow is melting away.
If I run 9 miles tomorrow I will have run 40 miles this week on 4 days. If I ran today, that would change the total numbers slightly and get me over 5 days. But my body is saying that today should be a day of rest.
Still, I can't remember if I blogged about this before or not but I ran 1210 miles last year and as of the start of this week, I'd run 1255 miles. I don't have a specific mileage goal for next year but I would like to get up to averaging around 50miles a week at some point for a significant part of the year. We'll see how that goes. I think it should probably be 50 miles a week on at least 5 days of running. Or should that be six? What would be a good resource on the best way to increase mileage and why increasing mileage is important? Other than MS. Maybe MS just has all the answers.

Running is life

I saw a couple of interesting marathon-related news stories in the papers this morning.
First, the New York Times headlines a story Study shows Marathons aren't likely to kill you.
So if you're at a cocktail party or family dinner this holiday season, it's something to talk about if you want or need to.
Here are some excerpts:
Worried about dropping dead if you run a marathon? Researchers in Canada say you can put your mind at ease. The risk of dying on a marathon course is twice as high if you drive it than if you run it, they find....
Dr. Redelmeier, who has run a marathon, said he began his study out of annoyance with the enormous attention given to each death in a marathon — often even greater, he added, than the attention paid to the winner. When someone died in the Toronto Marathon, he said, there were immediate calls to close it down.

“It has a chilling effect,” he said, “and becomes one more excuse not to exercise.”

So he and his colleagues decided to examine data from 26 American marathons over 30 years. They included results from 3,292,268 runners on 750 race days and 14 million hours of running. For comparison, they also examined national data on traffic fatalities, estimating how many would be expected to occur in the area on marathon day and comparing that with the number that did occur.

Fewer than 1 in 100,000 people died while running a marathon, Dr. Redelmeier and his colleagues reported. The chance that a middle-aged man — the typical marathon fatality — would die while running a marathon was about the same as the chance a middle-aged man would suddenly die anyway.

Maybe being a middle-aged man is the real problem.

The research also found that half of all marathon deaths the authors studied came in the last mile. Almost nobody dies in the first 13 miles.

The other story, from the San Diego Union Tribune, was For Dave Dial, running is what life's all about.

The story was OK, but a little bit long. Still, it starts off nicely.

A 2-hour, 24-minute marathoner at 19, Dave Dial does not race much anymore. Pride, he admits, gets in the way.
“Probably, I'm in denial,” said Dial, 47, who lives in Carmel Valley. “Why would I want to race a 10K, trying to run six-minute miles when before I was way under five minutes? I need to rearrange my goals.”

Dial, who once trained beside Bill Rodgers, writes poetry, freelance magazine articles and song lyrics. But at heart, he's a runner. His above comments aside, he's not the bitter has-been athlete, angry that his pace is not what it once was.

He runs now for the pure joy of feeling his 5-foot-11, 132-pound body in motion, his shoes crunching a dirt trail.

“It's a spiritual thing,” he said, sitting inside a coffee shop near his home. “It's like breathing to me. It's who I am. I think psychologically, certain people, that's just who we are.”

Dial has kept workout logs since he was 14. On Aug. 9 of this year, he says his total reached 140,000 miles, enough to circumnavigate the Earth at the equator 5½ times.

Friday, December 21

Heaven and hell

Heaven must smell like there's a bakery nearby.
maybe that's what hell is. hell is the panaderia on the edge of heaven that permeates the promised land with the wonderful smells of bread baking.
and in hell what you have to do is bake the bread for the people in heaven. that's why hell is so hot.
and yeah, it's really tough being in hell, right.
but oh to be in heaven and smell hot bread baking all the time, well that would be so wonderful.
heavenly even.
but what's so bad about being in bakery. perhaps satan being the boss. perhaps that's it.
perhaps you have to bake bread while you're naked and you get real sweaty and some people don't like being hot and naked and sweaty.
personally, I don't mind being hot, sweaty and naked. this hell I've created really isn't that bad of a place. I don't see why it should be all that bad.

Thursday, December 20


Well, I just went for my first run up here in the frozen north. There was lots of snow on the lawns around me but not much on the roads.
There were however significant hills. Hence the name of the subdivision - knollwood. It was a good first run after spending about 10hours in the car yesterday. However, after checking my watch upon returning home, I realized it was a shorter loop than I had hoped for. Just a little over four miles. I stopped though because I hadn't really eaten much all day.
Tomorrow, I'll plan to do around 10 miles.
I'm still hoping however, to have a chance to run on some soft, lush snow before I return to Missouri.

Tuesday, December 18

What the future holds

I ran 20 miles yesterday. Today I'm a little sore. But I have to pack and get ready to go. I've got a long trip tomorrow to go back to Indiana. Hopefully though the roads will be clear. And then we'll see how much I'll run up north. It will definitely be cold there. Much colder than here.

I've already met my goal of exceeding my 2006 mileage in 2007. I'm going to try to do that in 2008 also. The biggest goal for 2008 though is to get a job.

But speaking of jobs, here's a quote from an interview with one of my favorite poets, Stephen Dunn:

No, I never wrote advertisements for a living. I wrote in-house brochures that went to the sales force of a corporation. Even with that kind of writing, my soul was in danger, which was why many years ago I quit, and tried to see if I was good enough to take a chance at becoming the kind of writer I wished to be. What I hate about most commercials is what I hate about society-speak and political cant. The debasement of language.

I don't want a job that puts my soul in danger.

And lately, I've been wondering about if I could become the kind of writer I wish to be? I mean previously I just wanted to be a newspaper columnist. But perhaps that was setting my sights too low.

We'll see what the future holds. For now, I'm thinking bean soup and beans and rice and polenta. But I'm also thinking there's a little bit more.

Monday, December 17

20 miles

Jim Evans and I ran 20 miles today uphill with the wind in our faces.

Last week on Tuesday, we ran 17 miles, but that felt a lot better. It was colder and raining, but at least the wind was at our backs.

Actually, last week's run was supposed to be a run/walk affair and it became run/surge. Today's run was more of a run/walk deal for me.

But hey, that's how it goes sometimes. I didn't sleep as much as I should have last night, but I'm not complaining.

Saturday, December 15

D. Hanks and no snow (Show)

I was disappointed to open the blinds this morning and see no snow on the ground.

I had hoped that I would be the only idiot to show up to an out-of-town 5K on a miserable day. It actually turned out to be great weather for a race and usual group that snatches my trophies were there to leave me frustrated.

This was the first time I have run the D. Hanks 5K. The course is barely over three miles and except for some fairly serious hills the final half-mile is a pretty fast course. I got a PR for the year, came within nine seconds of third place, and managed to keep Pam out of the Pizza by a couple of seconds. I recommend this race.

By the way, the pizza challenge is for two. If you earn the pizza your can bring a friend and I’ll pay for both.

Friday, December 14

Run for the Ranch

I just registered for my next race today. The Run for the Ranch 5K.

I'm going to take a different approach to this race. I'm going to try to win. On the last day of December, that's a possibility.

At least win my age group. You never know who's going to show up, but there's at least reason for me to try to give it my all instead of running scared.

I will not run scared. I will run fast. I will run to win.

(Now everybody else on this blog, run the 10K, the half or the marathon. This isn't a challenge. I'm just stating what my mental approach for this race must be. I want to win, but I'll take as little competition as I can get.)


Earlier this week, I was in the locker room at the Y.

This old guy near me starts talking. He'd bought some new shoes but they weren't any good. The shoes were supposed to make him run fast but the shoes he had 20 years ago or so were much better. Those shoes were faster. These new shoes he got weren't worth the money he paid.

How do you respond to something like that? Perhaps I grunted.

A little bit later, he said he certainly disproved the theory that working out makes you feel better.

It was a strange day.

So far this week, I've run 24 miles. Not much, but it's an improvement over what I've done lately. I want to run 12 miles tomorrow. I have a route I haven't done in a while that I enjoy. Basically three miles south to the Greenway and follow that along to Nathaniel Greene Park, circle the lake and come back home.

They said it might snow tonight and I'm hoping for a snowy run. I might even break out my trail shoes. But I'll believe it's going to snow when I see the ground covered in whiteness.

Wednesday, December 12

Here am I

So I went to talk to elementary school kids today again about poetry. They got excited when previously they thought poetry was boring.

As I was driving away, I thought it would be good to have more poems from Anis Mojgani, but sometimes I feel like he cusses too much. But from his poem, "Here am I," I saw down and transcribed the ending which builds with a great crescendo. I replaced one bad word that isn't suitable for elementary school kids and now I think it's ready to quote and share:

Because Every breath I give brings me a second closer to the day that my mother may die.
Because Every breath I take takes me a second further from the moment she caught my father’s eye.
Because Every word I carry is another stone to put into place in the foundation that I’m budilling

because the days can erase something that I never saw.
What all of us wanted and what none of us got.
What we all hadn’t have and what we all forgot.
That we all wanted to be something.
That we all became something.
And it may not be the shit we always thought we’d be when we were kids
but something is still something.
And like some cats say, something is better than nothing.

Feet are stronger than an engine and dreams are stronger than thighs.

And Questions are the only answers we need to have to know that
we are alive as I am when I have the mind of a child.
Asking Why is 2 plus 3 always equal to 5?
Where do people go to when they die?

What made the beauty of the moon, the beauty of the sea?
Did that beauty make you?
Did that beauty make me?
Will it make me something?
Will I be something?
Am I something?
And the answer comes

Already am, always was and I still have time to be.

What the Chairman Told Tom

Poetry? It's a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.

It's not work. You dont sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.

Art, that's opera; or repertory--
The Desert Song.
Nancy was in the chorus.

But to ask for twelve pounds a week--
married, aren't you?--
you've got a nerve.

How could I look a bus conductor
in the face
if I paid you twelve pounds?

Who says it's poetry, anyhow?
My ten year old
can do it and rhyme.

I get three thousand and expenses,
a car, vouchers,
but I'm an accountant.

They do what I tell them,
my company.
What do you do?

Nasty little words, nasty long words,
it's unhealthy.
I want to wash when I meet a poet.

They're Reds, addicts,
all delinquents.
What you write is rot.

Mr Hines says so, and he's a schoolteacher,
he ought to know.
Go and find work.

--Basil Bunting

What's funny is, I'm not sure if that's ironic or not.


Tuesday, December 11

Wet and Wild

Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening me -- Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody

Good golly Miss Molly -- as sung by the Pit Pops at Sunday's Dallas White Rock Marathon post party

The weather folks tried to scare me (rslight) and other "rock runners" a couple days before the big Dallas race. WFAA meteorologist Meghan Danahey grinned sweetly while pointing to a cartoon storm cloud featuring a lightning symbol. Shiver.
It was actually hot when I ran the Kwanzaafest 5K early Saturday at Fair Park in Dallas. It seemed like the smart, fun thing to do before attending the expo. I'm guessing it was around 70 degrees. I, a couple other white people and hundreds of African-Americans ran one big loop around the Cotton Bowl. I love that stadium. If you ever hear anyone wonder how far it is to run around the Cotton Bowl, now you have your answer: about three miles (including some parking lot).

Runners milling about prior to Sunday's marathon at the American Airlines Center seemed shocked at the temperature change. It was in the 40s and very cool. A heavy mist lingered. Jets that were supposed to fly overhead were grounded. However, the center's gigantic television screen revealed that a nasty thunderstorm moving northeast would go through Irving instead of Dallas, just barely missing us.
The Dallas race director seemed giddy at 8 a.m. as he proclaimed to waiting full marathoners: "I hope you're ready to rock, because it isn't going to rain!"
The 26.2 milers let out a huge roar of approval, many of them jumping and dancing as if they had won money. Horse riders carrying the Lone Star flag barely made it off the course as the elite runners charged ahead.

The halfers and I lined up at 9 a.m., and then it happened. Little drips increased in frequency. I wore the latest Springfield Turkey Trot shirt, apparently with some futile hope that another Springfield runner would recognize me, and watched it transform from a light blue to a darker blue.
"Aw, we're going to get the rain," a woman whimpered beside me.
Fortunately the precipitation remained light. The course has a tough hill at mile 3, and then rewards you by veering into the magical land of Highland Park, which is one of the wealthiest communities in the United States.
Two female runners beside me took their minds off the mileage by gleefully identifying expensive cars by the attractive mansions. One Highland Park resident out in her Jimmy Choos videotaped us near the gates of her estate. Preppy SMU students in Viking hats shouted our names (which were large on every bib).
Mile 5 gives you a gentler hill before the landscape flattens and you start to see normal homes. At mile 9 you see downtown Dallas loom on the horizon, and the final three miles are downhill straight into the city's heart. I really gunned it at the end, and was disappointed that I didn't get a PR.
Organizers make you walk down numerous steep stairs to reach the after-race party, which is mean, but it's worth the effort to attend. You get a lot of food (a bowl of pasta from a fancy Dallas restaurant, Doritos, Grandmas cookies, etc.).
I read in the Dallas Morning News that marathon winner James Koskei of Kenya wasn't thrilled with his 2:15 finish. He had trained to go 2:10, but he said the cold and the winds hampered him. Hey, if it gave a Kenyan problems, it likely hurt me too.
The race result features bl discovered were fascinating. I feared miles 9 and 10 were my worst, and I was right.

Monday, December 10


Why do some runners who push themselves really hard throw up?

White Rock

The Dallas White Rock Marathon has some really cool features on its results page this year. From it, we learn that RSlight finished in 1 hour and 55 minutes. 3966 finishers behind. About 23% of finishers ahead.

You can also get that info for all male runners and all runners in his division. You can see where he was on the course when the winners finished and other things. You get his split times and they even calculate his average speed - 6.8 miles per hour or 11.0 kilometers per hour.

But we anticipate a much more detailed story of the race from RSlight any moment now.

Congratulations, Rslight, on another completed half-marathon. Three down, run to ranch to go.

Quote of the day

Despite the fact that it rambles a bit, I really agree with the points made in this quote.

"Ethanol is not the freakin' answer. Electric/gas hybrids are not the answer. Not driving your goddammned car is the answer. Of course, it's also all about balance and compromise and realizing that there are varying degrees of changing your lifestyle.
"I have no desire to be Gandhi and only eat rice and weave my own clothing, but there are a lot of things about our current collective culture and way of life that are seriously f-ed upand maybe we should just step back for a second and reconsider: Is the impact of this worth the damage, or even reasonable considering the other ways there are for achieving this certain end?
"People become accustomed to a certain way of life and never stop to question it until there are no more glaciers left or the grizzlies are gone, etcetera. It comes down to placing a value on the natural world and harboring an ethic towards it the way that up until now we've harbored towards our right to make as much goddamned money as we dam well please because this is America and capitalism is a god-given right. Well, I say it's morally wrong to glorify ourselves so much while stomping all over all sorts of stuff that would like to just plain have a fighting chance at existence as well."

-Anton (Tony) Krupicka (pronounced krew-PITCH-kuh) found in Running Times' article Tarzan of the Plains

Saturday, December 8

Jingle Bell Run thoughts

Springfield's Jingle Bell Run is now the first race I've run 3 years in a row. Unfortunately, this year the course changed. I thought I ran the course in preparation, but I was wrong. Sadly I was wrong.

Let's look at the Jingle Bell Run and me through the years.

2005: My second 5K ever. I had a goal for 2006 of running a 5K in under 30 minutes. I met that goal in the Jingle Bell Run finishing in 29:52. I finished 175th out of 272 runners.

2006: I took on the Jingle Bell Run again hoping for another enjoyable race. Jim Evans passed me shortly after the one-mile mark. Such is life. I didn't have any designs on keeping up with Jim Evans that day. He was out of my league. I finished in 25:51 making me 120th out of 347 runners.

2007. Could I match the four minute and one second improvement of a year ago. It had been one of my favorite race courses because of a steep downhill. Minutes before the start of the race, Pam Sailors informs me that the course had changed. Instead of the downhill at the start, there was an uphill. It's in my nature to take hills a little faster than I should but I tried to run slower than last week when I ran a 6:36 first mile that did not feel fast at all.
Just after the start of the race, my pacer MS shows up. Kind of like a guardian angel. He tells me he's pacing me for 7 minute miles and I had started out way too fast. I slow down.
Long story short, I finish in 23:41 for a third place finish in my age group (wow) and am 61st overall out of 258 runners. And there were more than three runners in my 30-34 age group.

I am disappointed with my race, but am trying to keep it in perspective. Today's race was 21 seconds slower than my pr and I really feel like I didn't run a good, smart race. But I also look at it this way. I lost, but I learned something from the loss. I lost in the competition with myself and the desire to run the best race I possibly can. But I won because I learned some things. Also, I won because I have a small taste of what I can do if I can put everything together.

Friday, December 7

Quote of the day

"No I don't understand my husbands Theory of Relativity. But I know my husband, and I know he can be trusted."
--Elsa Einstein

I just think this is a beautiful sentiment.

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Everything I own

I was writing a letter today mentioning how a part of me wants to sell everything I own and travel the world. But I typed everything I won.
I noticed this and fixed it because it was a letter to a poet and I didn't want a glaring typo.
But it got me thinking. Is there really a big difference in owning something and winning it? If I won it, then I own it. Some of the things I own, I did win.
And if it's all a game of chance, what does it matter anyway.
Why should I be so attached to stuff anyway? Why be attached to anything?

As usual, just random thoughts.

Wednesday, December 5

Scheherazade of Poetic Feet

Celebrations are in order:
This is Poetic Feet's 1,001st post!

*throws confetti and blows horn*

what better way to celebrate than with more comics?

Runnin' in a Winter Wonderland

I woke up this morning to this:

Two, maybe three, inches of snow! The nice, fluffy kind that is good for snowball fights, but is less good for running in. I've not gone for a run in snow in as long as I can remember (it was snowing in Buffalo when I ran there a few weeks ago, but there was none on the ground at the time). So I have to say I was a bit intimidated. Would it be too cold and wet and miserable? Worse, would I slip and fall and break something?

But then I saw a single set of footprints in the snow outside, and I realized that I could do it. With a headband, gloves, long-sleeve dri-fit shirt, and sweatpants, it actually wasn't too cold after all. And the snow even provided me plenty of traction; the only tricky parts were crossing the streets where the snow had been plowed and only a thin layer of ice remained. I did have to breathe a little more heavily to get enough oxygen, but I still managed an 8-minute pace over a 5 mile course. After I realized that the snow was no big deal, I felt like I could have gone all day. But there's that whole "work" thing that I'm supposed to do too.

So in conclusion: let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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What can I do?

I was thinking this morning about a quote from a recent post.

For Ryan Hall, the 25-year-old who just won the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, training is "a way of worshipping. I feel really close to Him when I run," Mr. Hall says. "I can't sing very well, but I can run."

What can I do? I can run. I can write. I can do lots of things. I think I write really well and I can get better. I run in a mediocre fashion, but perhaps I can get better at that too. But what will I do as a job? That's kind of the big question.

Or what do I love to do? I used to love my job. I didn't love it anymore and so I've set out to find something else to do.

I'm taking a few days off. I'm regrouping. But I'm focused too.

Well, I don't want to gaze at navel fuzz too long here.

I saw the US Olympic Team trials on tv. It definitely makes me a Ryan Hall fan, as weird as that word is. It's weird as well to think that as a writer, I have fans.

But when you're doing what you're supposed to do, maybe sometimes that happens.

You can inspire people. Right?

Monday, December 3

Race trivia

So, I was flipping through Runner's World and saw their marathon guide. For some reason, one race caught my imagination, simply by its name and location.
I looked at the race website and then looked at
The first comment posted about the race intrigued me.

I loved this race. It was much better than my first marathon and I PR'd by over 30 minutes. It's true that there was snow at the start, wind the whole time, and hail at mile 23 but the course was scenic and starkly beautiful and staffed by incredible people. Everyone was very friendly, the rest stops were well-stocked, and spectators/race personnel went out of their way to help the runners when needed.

Out-of-staters should be aware that this is not a low altitude race (6,000 feet near the start and ending just under 5,000 feet) and that the weather can vary greatly...

So here's my trivia challenge. Can you name that race?

Almost felt like cheating

Here's an excerpt from a fascinating e-mail I got today from a friend of mine. Lots of drama in the first few sentences.

Many of you were probably more aware than you wanted to be... that I was scheduled to run White Rock Sunday, Dec 9. I will not be. Last Thursday, I decided that since it was getting cold, dark, and I had pretty much given up on training, I needed to do something quick or my plans to complete a marathon in 2007 would not be fulfulled. So I made hasty arrangements to fly to Tucson Saturday, run their marathon Sunday, get back on a plane and come home.

My goal was to finish with enough time to get back to the hotel and take a shower before I had to go to the airport...... approximately 4 1/2 hours. I am happy to report that I got on the plane clean, but not entirely dry, as there was no time to do my hair. I finished in 4:23... 10:03 minute miles which I am pretty pleased about. I was surprised by the following things: how much my back hurt, how much my toes hurt, how many people were walking in the last 4-5 miles (I was one of them so I had plenty of time to observe), and how I ran/walked fast for 26.2 miles but could barely limp the .1 mile to the shuttle bus from the finish line.

I was talking to this friend after getting the e-mail and she mentioned how the downhill course in Tucson made it almost feel like cheating in the beginning. However, not for those last four or five miles.

I think she'd been someone who planned on only doing one marathon but after talking to her today, I think she's been bitten with the desire to do more. It was strange how great it felt to talk to someone who had just achieved that goal.

The marathon is an amazing beast. It's fun when friends conquer it.


I have to resist the temptation to lead off with a song lyric like rslight. But I couldn't help but consider it a good omen when, as we snaked our way through the 5AM predawn Tucson darkness, my sister's car stereo started playing Cake's The Distance: He's going the distance, he's going for speed[...]Because he's racing and pacing and plotting the course, he's fighting and biting and riding on his horse. Was it a coincidence, or did the DJ at KFMA know most of his listeners at that hour were probably people headed toward the Tucson Marathon?

In truth, though, I wasn't certain that I would be going the distance at all. Last weekend, I rolled my ankle 12 miles into a 16-mile long run, and from where I was I had no choice but to keep going on it. It didn't hurt much that day, but things ached pretty good when I went for a run the next day. And it again started to give me grief when I went for a test run in the middle of the week.

So as I stood on a two-lane highway in the middle of the desert at sunrise, waiting for the starting gun, I didn't know what to expect. Was 6 days' rest enough? Would I finish well? Would I finish at all? I resolved to give it a mile, and then either pull back or go for it. When, after a mile, things still felt okay, I started pushing harder. Tucson is a famously downhill course, and there were several miles of long, steady, gradual downhill. I was stunned to look at my watch and realize that my mile splits were within a few seconds of the mile split for my 5K PR. And yet, with the downhill, it didn't feel that bad.

To make a long story short, my per-mile times settled down to a more rational level once things leveled off around mile 8, and I hung on with some rubbery legs through a few uphills(!) toward the end to finish in 1:23:26, a few seconds behind a guy who I'd been battling back and forth with over the final mile...and, as it turned out, exactly 14 seconds behind the first-place finisher in my age group. But since I never expected to place in a race of this size anyway (1300+ finishers), it's hard to be bummed by that. Especially since my ankle decided to play nice after all (though I did have to hit the med tent for an icepack later, after it stiffened up).

My sister, the Tucsonan, was running the full marathon, and after finishing I was to be picked up so I could go cheer for her. She was battling her own injury demons, though, and after finishing the first half in a PR time, she dropped out around mile 17 with a bad case of shin splints. But she's already looking forward to a half-marathon in Phoenix that she's running after Christmas.

I see that rslight is also planning on the Run for the Ranch half marathon. Surely there's some sort of motivational challenge that can be concocted here...hmmm. I'll have to think.

Sunday, December 2

Half Marathon Man

Got to ask yourself the question: Where are you now? -- James Blunt, Wisemen

I (rslight) was listless and despondent for a while after the Chicago Marathon debacle. I needed a fun, significant goal to replace running my first marathon.
I'm really inspired by Dean Karnazes' book "Ultramarathon Man," but I'm not quite ready to run 50 marathons in 50 days.
I chose instead a feat more suitable for my fitness level: four half marathons in two months (in addition to my obligatory weekly 5Ks). My schedule:
1. Cohick Half Marathon in Springfield, MO (Nov. 4) (Result: 1:53:45 PR)
2. Mountain Home Half Marathon in Mountain Home, Ark. (Nov. 17) (Result: 1:52:57 PR)
3. Dallas White Rock Half Marathon in my beloved hometown of Dallas, Texas (Dec. 9)
4. Run for the Ranch Half Marathon in Springfield, MO (Dec. 30)
It would be awesome to do all these under two hours, but that could be tough. White Rock Lake is a bit hilly, and the Ranch could be scary cold.
I've got a much more impressive challenge in the planning stages for next year. I'm keeping it secret for now. I know you'll enjoy the suspense.

Congratulations to MS and Jim Evans for dazzling the folks out west with stunning performances today.


Congrats to my good friends who ran marathons and half-marathons this weekend.

Cherie Kail ran her first marathon in Memphis in 3:48.01

My friend Matt Reed from Little Rock also ran the St. Jude Marathon in 4:55:10.

Jim Evans ran a half-marathon in Las Vegas in 1:43:03 according to this website. (I doubt that link will work.) But it looked like Jim finished first among racers from Missouri.

A few hours to the south MS ran the Tucson half-marathon today in 1:23:26. That was good enough for second in his age group.

Not getting discouraged

I read a fairly interesting article today headlined Running with the Satellites about training with a GPS.

Here's an excerpt:

Dateline - Eldoret, Kenya

In this cradle of world-beating marathon runners, I set out for a run hooked up to a couple of Global Positioning System devices that record distance, speed and time. One of them, with iPod-style earphones, even tells me my pace every quarter mile.

I started, as my gadgets informed me, at 6:41 a.m., and in half a mile I had left the pavement and settled onto dirt roads, African red and glistening from equatorial rains. I decided to run 10 miles and shoot for a 7½-minute mile pace.

I was never into exercise gadgets. I didn't even run with an iPod, because I love the sound of birds, the wind and my own breathing. And I love the elation, which every runner knows, when one's muscles have warmed up and strength and speed become their own joy, an exuberant physicality at one with the whole natural world.

For Ryan Hall, the 25-year-old who just won the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, training is "a way of worshipping. I feel really close to Him when I run," Mr. Hall says. "I can't sing very well, but I can run."...

Mr. Hall -- whose Olympic trial pace was less than five minutes a mile -- says he uses a Garmin GPS device when he travels because he doesn't know the lay of the land and wants to know how far and fast he's running. "But I don't use it on a daily basis at all," he says. "You can get all discouraged."

He explains, "A lot of runners get into how fast they run on their easy days -- no one just wants to plod along. But you get into this always-need-to-push mentality. But especially on marathon training, you need to let your body absorb the training." He concludes, "If your body needs to recover with 7:30 miles, that's what it needs to do. ... My big thing is moderation." Well, moderation for an Olympian. My 7:30 goal is Mr. Hall's example of an ultraslow recovery pace.

I never held 7:30 during my time in Kenya. But I wasn't far off, usually running around 7:45. Then, when I returned to the steep hills of L.A., my pace fell to nine- and even 10-minute miles. For weeks, I felt other sensations every runner knows: legs like wet wood, lungs like thick lava, spirits like dirty snow. The GPS made it worse. Sure, I ran 10 miles -- but so slowly! Mr. Hall's warning rang in my mind: "You can get all discouraged."

Then work sent me to Spain, and I had a breakthrough: a five-mile run in Madrid's Retiro park, where I held a 7:05 pace, and the next day a 21-mile run in Madrid's Casa de Campo park, where I held 8:05. I wasn't minding my GPS. I was just listening to my body, running what felt comfortable. As Mr. Hall says, "When you're feeling really good, you know it."

Back home, I just ran a 20-miler through the Angeles National Forest. For much of it I felt ragged and spent. My pace? A droopy 9:49. But my Spain breakthrough has infused me with a new Zen: A string of slow runs doesn't mean faster runs will never come again.

So the GPS didn't discourage me. Yeah, I ran slow, but I ran 20 miles! Indeed, the numbers bestow a satisfying sense of accomplishment -- which is why I plan to keep using the device.

Maybe on a future run I'll shave a few seconds off my pace. And maybe all my running will defer by a few weeks or months the inevitable disintegration of my body. Maybe. But I've learned I run mainly for moments apart from the ordinary ticking of minutes and seconds, dates and deadlines. In the Angeles Forest, I crest a hill, my legs burning with achievement and relief, when a deep canyon sweeps into view and a large antlered buck bounds along the trail and into that field of experience where everything is miraculous and vivid and exquisitely alive.

Twice as warm

Yesterday I ran a race in freezing temperatures. At least it seemed that way. Right befeore the race, I heard someone say it was below freezing. I just checked the race results and it said it was 49 degrees with 20 miles per hour winds. Maybe the wind made it seem colder.

Anyhow, I was shocked to see today's temperature in the corner of my compuer screen. 66 degrees.

I had to stop dillying dallying around and get part of today's workout in. I ran/jogged 4.5 miles. The distance wasn't the big thing and maybe later I'll tack on a few more miles. But the important thing was running the course of the race I'm thinking about doin next weekend, The Jingle Bell Run.

It adds a little bit of confidence to know that I know what's coming. Anticipate the hills and relax on the smooth parts.

I'm looking forward to this race.

Saturday, December 1

Striving to Bee the Best

a poem from a collection called Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times, for BL. It never hurts to have a little extra in your emergency kit, when you're doing things that others might not understand.

A Bee

Become at last a bee
I took myself naked to town,
with plastic sacks of yellow turmeric
taped to my wizened thighs.

I'd been buying it for weeks,
along with foods I no longer had a need for,
in small amounts from every corner grocer,
so as not to arouse their suspicion.

It was hard, running and buzzing,
doing the bee-dance. I ached
at the roots of my wings, and hardly yet discerned
that I flew towards reparation,
that in my beehood my healing had been commenced.

Words they use in this hive. To me it seems still
that clumps of tall blue flowers,
which smiled as they encroached,
had been born of my apian will,
in which to my shame I struggled for a moment,
and stained the air with clouds of my dearly bought gold.

--Peter Didsbury


So close, so far

Today's race was the Jack Frosts 5K raising money for Catholic Campus Ministries. As the name implies, it was cold. But nowhere near as cold and icy as last year.
I ran in my singlet and had a pretty fun time.

However, I knew it might not be my best race because I've gone from running five days a week to running around three days a week. Kind of sad, but there are a lot of things that could be described as sad. In the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad. It just is what it is.

Anyhow, to the race. Perhaps I started off too fast. However, this was one of those races where the miles were clearly marked. At the 1 mile mark, I looked down and saw that I had run a 6:36 first mile. Unfortunately, I had slowed down quite a bit by that point.

I finished the race in 23:49 for an overall pace of 7:41 minutes per mile. Sigh.

I'm not really that disappointed. I had fun.

Last year I got a medal in this race, although there were only three people in my age group so it was kind of a medal by default. But I look at it and now that I got up on a cold day when the roads were covered in ice and I ran the best I knew how.

When do you ever deserve a trophy or a medal after all? There's always someone faster somewhere. But if they don't pay the registration fee and come out and prove it, then it's all conjecture.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. - TR

I'm striving. I'm working at it. I'm trying to get better.

Like I said in a previous post, I quit my job. My last day is Tuesday. Two more days at the office. But I've got to believe that things are going to get better. I've got to believe that my best days are ahead of me.

I just look at today's race. That 6:36 mile didn't seem that tough at the start. I just couldn't hold it together. But I think I can if I keep trying and working to get better. It's one of my goals to strive for. That and finding a new and better job.