Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I always tapper the last week before a marathon even if it is a training run. A marathon I use for a training run the taper will be the last four days prior to the event. During those four days, I may at most run 9 miles total. For my major race effort, that tapper will actually be the last 10 to 14 days.
I only started tapering for races back in 1994, but I noticed a big difference in my races. I discovered that I could postpone the wall for an additional 2 or 3 miles. In 1994, I ran the Mardi Gras Marathon in January and then the Marine Corp in October. My times at both events were identical 3:45. But in New Orleans, I actually ran the first 17 miles almost 5 minutes faster then the Marine Corp. My training was almost identical for both race but the only difference was I ran a few seconds slower per mile in the Marine Corp and I had tapered for the 10 days coming into the run. At the Marine Corp, the only wall, I found was the one I sat on when I changed out my shoes at the end. So now I'm a fan of tapering before the race. If it’s not doing something physical for you, I know it is doing something mental for you.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I wanted to tell him take a look...I already missed the left knee up...but that was in a skiing accident. The truth is that running doesn't hurt your knees anymore then walking...and you do that everyday.
I haven't seen the reports, but I have heard that there are some medical studies out there that are saying that runners actually have fewer knee problems then non-runners. And from my own view point...I was skiing when I blew my ACL out...not running. In fact I honestly believe had I been running more during the time prior to the skiing accident...my legs might not have gone out like they did...but that is only speculation on my part.
Most injuries I have come from other sports and activities other then my running. So until they can actually show that running is going to hurt me...I'm running...it's the other stuff that has hurt me in the past.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
When I started running, I found myself daydreaming that I was running against the world's greatest runners...okay...America's greatest runners. I would race in my mind Steve Prefontaine, Marti Liquori, Frank Shorter, Jeff Galloway, Bill Rodgers and a host of others. As I ran down the long road near my home, and turned the corner on to my street, that last quarter of a mile was me running full speed with them nipping at my heels. True... in 1977, I did get the chance to run against Bill Rodgers at the Waynesburg Marathon, and got blown away. And true again I did run with Jeff Galloway for a part of the Big Sur Marathon this past April. But as a kid, I always won, in my sprint towards the finish line at my mailbox.
Later in my life as I studied counseling, I discovered this was called disassociation. Disassociation is the process the mind uses to tolerate something that is painful. There is good disassociation and there is bad...but here we are talking about the good kind. I didn't know it at the time but I was training my mind. Even today as I run, I play games to keep myself motivated. I also believe that 90% of running a marathon is mental...but like training the body...you have to train the mind.
Jeff Galloway in his book, Marathon, you can do it! has three chapters on the subject. The first is chapter 11 on visualization of the marathon, the second, chapter 12 is on word games to play in your mind...and my favorite is chapter 13 on dirty tricks to play on your mind. They really work.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Even with my experience of running for over 30 year, I want to ignore the little soreness and press on to improve. But the truth is rest is part of training. Taking one or two days off a week will not stop your improving, but it is almost a sure bet that you will injury yourself if you don't take some time off now and then.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Another runner and his dog.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Back about two years ago I was training for a triathlon. I knew that as a runner, my running was going to be my bread-n-butter part of the race, so I focused on the swimming and the biking. My running mileage for the three months going into the race totaled about 50 miles. My swimming and biking had been the major part of my focus and I had incredible numbers.
On the day of the race, I was really pumped thinking I could actually do the event (a sprint) in under an hour. As it turned out my swim came in at 12 minutes, the bike in under 30 minutes, but...the run? Don't ask? The reality was, I couldn't run. Because I hadn't trained to run, my body adapted itself to the swimming and biking. Our bodies adapt to what we require them to do...running in the tri was not there because I didn't put it there to start with.
What this experience taught me: focus on what you want to do. Not parts but the whole. If you want to run the mile race, focus on the mile race. If you want to run a marathon, focus on the marathon. If you want to do a triathlon, you have to work all three areas of the event...don't count on a natural strength in a particular area to pull you through.
Friday, October 24, 2008
As I ran by more senior individuals, I wonder how this day would effect them. I tried to look at each individual and think about what it was that they needed to be successful today. Yea...sounds crazy, but that's prayer. It's lifting each individual up before God and asks God to bless them. Too often we get side tracked with our own business that we forget our connection to each other. Or we are so self consumed that we see others as only a problem to be tolerated.
As I ran along the strand, I past vote for Obama signs and McCain signs. I couldn't figure out any rhyme or reason for the placement of the sign. Most of the homes along the strand are very expensive. But I wondered which of these two would be our next president and I though about what each would bring good and bad to our future. It's going to be interesting...but that's prayer. Lifting up our choice to God and asking for wisdom to choice the right one.
For me running is prayer. It is a time to think about what it is that God wants...today's run was a prayer. And it was very enjoyable.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Back in High School and College, we raced every week, sometimes twice a week. I remember running at Middle Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon, then on Friday running at Lee College in Dayton, and on Saturday do a third race at Carson-Newman. Our legs were tired. Our bodies hurt and our school work suffered.
Then in 1986-88, I discovered the truth of this rule. You run races as fast tempo training runs, to get use to running on a track in front of a crowd, to teach your body to respond to competition. But if you don't win...that's fine...it’s not the goal of these meets. It is preparation for the main event...the race...the goal. When I used this with my young distant runners, they performed so much better. Actually some of them were the first to cross the finish line because they were so relaxed and didn't have any pressure on them to win. But when it came to the final race, the conference championship...they blew their competitors off the course, or track.
This year I'm planning on running my fastest time possible in a marathon, I have one goal race that is the Rock-n-Roll Marathon down in San Diego. The reason I selected this race as my goal run is that I've done the course last year, and it offers the best chances of being a very fast race for me. But in preparation for this charge at my fastest time, I'm running for training several marathons. Next month, I'm going to the Pasadena Marathon. February, I'll run two marathons in Huntington Beach and Los Angeles. April, I'm doing Big Sur with a friend. In May, I’m doing the Palos Verde Marathon, because it goes by my house. Finally, on 31 May is the Race. Each of these other marathons that I'm running will have a specific purpose to help me prepare for my goal race.
Regardless of what distance you are running. Remember to focus on one major race in any season. If the distance is short enough, and your training focused, you might even be able to run three or four more races after the goal race, but after those...rest and begin a new season to improve your running.
No...not really...but yes. These daily schedules are great guides...but they are guides...and useful as guides...but you need to learn to listen to your own body. Example: Its 90 degrees and humidity is over 90% and you didn't get a good night's rest because the air conditioner wasn't working and all week you felt stressed to do your runs as schedule...and you have to go out according to the schedule and run a 20 miler. Yea...right...it is a guide...do not let it lock you into something that could hurt you.
A few years ago, I started to take the week runs and list them on a piece of paper. During the week as my schedule permitted, I would run the workout that seemed to make sense for me on that day given everything else going on. The result was I felt so much better. Most schedules are designed with one long run, a few days off and a few normal run days. Not very complicated, unless you are going after a time and then you have additional things like 4x1 miles @ 4:30 pace...yea right. All that means is that you need to make sure you put rest days around those track workouts and long runs. But the principle is the same...you take control of the schedule and work it according to your needs. You will be happier in the long run.
Newton also had schedules but he argued for flexibility. We need to see these wonderful schedules not as straight jackets, but rather road maps to get us from point one to the finish line. So, keep using those schedules but do so with a little grace and understanding that perfection in following the schedule doesn't equal success in the race.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
My junior year in high school, I finally made the track team. (I had been trying to make the team every year since 8th grade but always cut before the season started.) In yesterday's blog I shared that in October of my junior year, I started training every day. With the help of Coach D, I started to run 5 to 7 times a week. I ran 5 to 10 miles. I ran fast and slow. I ran several road races. Then in February, I tried out for the track team and earned a spot on the distance team.
The school's track coach was the football coach, and gym teacher...typical of most southern towns. But what that really meant was the coach only knew one thing. Push and work as hard as you can. And our workouts reflected this mentality. The first day of practice we ran a 1/2 mile warm up, and then ran 4x440 yards at full speed, finally we finished the workout with 4x880 yards at full speed. The next day the work out was the same and the day after that and the day after that. You get the picture. One day of pain after the next.
Lucky for me, Coach D pulled me aside and told me Newton's 3rd rule. During my second week on the track team, I "pulled a muscle" and need to jog the practice. The next day, I ran the workout. Then that "pulled muscle" bit the next day and so I jogged for 5 miles. The next day I ran the workout. So right in front of my "track" coach, I was really doing my own workouts.
In order to race a distance such as a mile, or 5K race, or a marathon, you first need to be able to run that distance. Speed work is the sharpening edge that you bring to finish off the whole race. This past year, my goal was to be able to run a marathon. I can do that with no question in my mind. But now the question becomes how fast can I do it. So this year, my training is focused on getting my body to tolerate the pain of running a marathon faster. It will be a slow process, but it can only be done once you have the ability to run the distance.
My advice to anyone running a new distance; never aim at running a world record. Save the speed for the next race after you know you can run the distance. You will do so much better.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Arthur Newton is in my opinion the Father of Distance Running. He ran all over the world from 1922 to 1935. He won 5 Comrades Marathons, held the world best marks for 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60 and 100 miles and the 24 hour running record. He logged something like 102,735 miles...I'm only at 28,347 miles. He ran in the legendary Transcontinental Race from Los Angeles to New York in 1928.
But his influence on running is maybe the greatest of any one individual in history. Tim Noakes in his book "Lore of Running" identifies 9 Rules of Training that Newton devised from all his years of running. In the next few weeks, I'll cover them all, but today the first two in honor of my anniversary of being a "serious" runner.
Rule #1: Train year round. On October 17, 1974, I started running every day and the result was my running dramaticly improved. I know that today is the anniversary of my running...because I kept a log and kept a running total of my mileage for each day, week and month. But the key to training year round was I could improve and keep improving over a longer period of time. I remember the football/track coach tell me when I first started this year round training, that I was going to ruin myself because the body wasn't made to do that. Well, my senior year when I won 3 races, I sure did hear him taking credit for my improvement with the other coaches.
Rule #2: Start gradually and train gently. AMEN...When others tell me they hate running, I can understand. In elementary school, then junior high and if we kept running into high school, we always ran full out at top speed. If we didn't run at full speed, all the time we thought we couldn't run. And it hurts to run like that. Running easy at that time was not acceptable. When I started back in October 1974, my first run was 3 miles. I ran hard. The next day, I ran 3 miles. I ran hard. After about 2 weeks I was hurting and ready to quite...but a neighbor (Coach D) who lived down the road saw me out running. Coach D came over to invite me to in a AAU race and offer to train me...he was a real running coach. He got me to slow my runs down, change the distance, and even take a day off to rest my body. His philosophy that I still use today: "Go out easy, have fun and keep the desire to run."
I don't want this to be too long, so I'll share more of these rules of Newton in later postings. But today...go out easy, have fun and keep the desire to run.
Monday, October 13, 2008
So remember...drink water...also mix some Gatorade in with it.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I have a situation with another person that has been driving me crazy this past week. The majority of our problems stems from our lack of communication. The other person has in mind one thing, and I have another...and there is the problem.
Being a counselor, I know the role communication has in creating and resolving problems...but there is another little devil in the soup. And that is anger. Anger builds walls...simply because we don't want the other person to hurt us again...and so we turn away and stop the flow of communication. It is sad, but true. Our anger never helps to solve our problems...just compounds it. So I have to deal with my anger.
First, I have to figure out what it is that is making me angry. Almost 99% of the time, it has to do with my feelings and not really with the other person...yea 1% of the time it is the other person because they really are being..... You understand? Yea, I thought so...but most of the time it’s me. I need to check my own feelings.
Second, when I have taken a moment to check myself...I typically see possible areas where I'm missed communicating my needs and desires to the other person. And once I see them...I can sometimes move forward to talk with the person again...and this time, find a solution that is beneficial to them and me.
Final point on this is that sometimes it just doesn't work. And the anger is compounded. If that's the case I move back to step one and realize the individual belongs in the 1% group and let it go at that. I'm not going to change them and we're just not going to communicate...so I'll let God deal with them and press ahead on some other front. And if I really can’t deal with it anymore…I go run…
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Running is a balance. There are days that you really push hard and work yourself to the limits and then there are these kind of days were the workout seems like cheating. That balance is what we need in our lives both running but also professionally, socially and spiritually.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
On Thursday we flew out to Dayton, Ohio for the race. This was to be my twentieth marathon. So there was no doubt in my mind that I could complete the distance the question was how fast could I do it?
Back in October 1977, I ran my first marathon in Waynesboro, Virginia. I was a sophomore in college at the time. I ran the first half of the race perfect, but after the 18 mile mark, I fell apart and struggled to finish the race in 3 hours and 30 minutes. It would be seven years before, I would attempt my second. In 1984, I ran the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon that celebrated the 100 anniversary of the local newspaper. Although it was a November race the heat was a major handicap as I finished in 3:52.
In 1986, I began a program that took three years with the goal of breaking the 3 hour mark for a marathon. Over the next two and a half years, I ran two marathons each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. The result was a 3:07 at the Marine Corp Marathon in 1988. But before I had the chance to do the last one in the spring of 89, I joined the Air Force and was unable to finish the plan.
Since then my running has been erratic and never focused. That was until this past year. In February 2007, a friend of mine who lost his leg, but ran the 2006 Marine Corp Marathon, inspired me to get back into the sport with a purpose. The goal I formed was to run 5 marathons in 12 months. So I started training while deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
So here are the five marathons:
1. Marine Corp Marathon, 29 Oct 2007, goal to finish, ran 5:24
2. Los Angeles Marathon, 2 Mar 2008, goal was to run with a group of friends...done...it was about friendship...not time
3. Big Sur Marathon, 27 Apr 2008, goal to run 5:00, ran 4:59:23.
4. Palos Verde Marathon, 17 May 2008, goal to run 4:40, ran 4:39:49.
5. Rock-n-Roll Marathon in San Diego, 1 Jun 2008, goal to run 4:20, ran 4:20:58.
So the goal was accomplished. My focus this summer was to help my daughter (#3) run her first half marathon. She did that on 31 Aug.
On Labor Day, I sat down to focus my running for this next year. My new goal was to see how fast I could run a marathon. Part of this goal was because I had been selected as alternate for the base team to run the Air Force Marathon. The challenge that it presented me with was: "How fast could I go? "
I had the Air Force Marathon penciled in on the calendar, but never expected to run. Then last Monday happen and threw all my plans off. I hadn't focused on preparing for the race. So now the question was: Do I run it fast or do I just run it?
So what happen? I started off the race on Saturday with an easy pace of about 10:00 per mile. But then in the second mile I found myself wanting to push the pace. I fought the feeling, knowing that I hadn’t run over 14 miles in the past two months. But then at about 10 miles, I realized that I was still feeling strong…so I gave into the desire to push. And push I did. At about 20 miles the heat and sunlight started to drain me and the lack of training started to take their toll on me. Still I hung in there and ran a 4:10:40. I have to go back to 1994 to find a marathon that fast in my logs. So I know I still have some ability to run fast. Saturday race provide that to me.
This race on Saturday has helped me focus my running even more. I know I am capable of running a fast marathon. Maybe the 3 hour mark is reachable…but the goal for this year is run 3:45. So stay tune…
Monday, September 15, 2008
Good news...the Command Chaplain was coming for a visit "next week." The Bad news...the number 8 runner for the base team was out of the marathon and I was now selected to run the race on Saturday in Dayton. Or was that the other way around...sometimes the good news sounds like the bad news and the bad news sounds like the good news.
Honestly both pieces of information were both good and bad. Good that the Command Chaplain wants to visit us...bad because we have to rush and get things ready for the visit...not really a lot to do but just having to get it done in 8 days. The run was bad news for the runner not being able to compete. I know she trained hard and was ready to run a super fast time...me on the other hand...I'm about 45 minutes slower even on my best day. Good news because I really wanted to run the Air Force Marathon again. I've run the race in 2002 and 2003 when I lived there. I love the course and the people.
This is what life is about. Things happen and if you are prepared for them, you can step up and take full advantage of them. Most people, I know would really panic if they knew the big boss was coming to visit. But I've got a great staff and nothing seems to phase them...and with me being gone for 4 days out of the 8 to prepare for the visit they will do a better job then with me standing over their shoulders trying to get them to do things my way. Again most people would not be able to say...okay...I'll do a 26.2 mile race this weekend and give it my all...okay...a few of us insane runners could do it. But I'm really not worried about the run. I've done 19 marathons, and since last October, I've done 5 and 3 of those were done in a 32 day window of time.
So these two pieces of information that would petrify others are only challenges for me...not because I'm anything special...but because I'm prepared. So my encouragement to you is stop worrying about the things you have no control over...but prepare yourself now for the challenges that are coming in the future.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
It was a long day and what made it painfully long were the three blow outs I had. No one else in the group lost a tire, but I ran over a nail, and then blew out the replacement tube about 40 miles into the ride. Finally at about the 75 mile mark, I again blew the second replacement...luckily a fellow rider had another tube. The biggest problem was with the Tire. It was split, so we had to rig it with a patch and plastic to make it work for the finally 29 miles. But it turned a 6 hour and 40 minute ride into a 8 hour ordeal.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
See the way I look at it is, it’s about taking things to the limits and stretching beyond what we think we can do. I know I'm in shape to run 26.2 miles because next week, I might be running the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio. But there is an old rule that riding a bike takes 1/4 the effort of running so that 26.2 miles would mean the equivalent of 104.8 miles...so in theory I should be able to do this. But the truth is there is a difference between theory and reality. Theory doesn't hurt you, reality does. So I'm putting it to a test, and I'll let you know what happens.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tim Noakes in the “Lore of Running” says these shorter "5K to 16K races are excellent forms of speed training." He goes on to write: "These races should be run as hard efforts controlled by the sensation of effort rather than by the stopwatch."
In my next marathon, I want to improve my time. Actually, I want to run between 4:00 and 4:20. I need to increase my speed…so today’s short run was the first step in making that goal possible.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I could say that I was proud of her but that couldn't come close to describe the admiration that I have for her. She was solid the whole race and her pace never slowed. When I was her age, I never had that kind of discipline...and at mile 10 she picked up the pace. All I could do was hang on for dear life. It was such a joy to see her enjoy what she was doing. What kind of words could I use to express my amazement of what she was able to do?
As we ran, I also reflected on my older two daughters as well. When daughter (#1) was a Senior in High School, we ran a half-marathon together, but daughter (#2) was too smart and skipped out of her senior year, heading off to college a year to soon for me. But how I wish they could have been with us today. They both were amazing runners in their own ways.
But there was another special moment as we ran through the park. It was as we passed the Matterhorn. It was more a feeling that thought. In 1960, I was there with my Grandfather. My memory is cloudy at best but I remember holding his hand as I looked at that mountain. And today as I looked at that same mountain for the first time since he held my hand...I felt sure he was still holding my hand.
Today was a good day. My promise kept running a half-marathon with my daughter. A memory kept in remembering my wonderful daughters who were not there with us. And I felt the touch of something eternal...holding a hand of someone who loved me.
So today, I made a new memory with my daughter. It will be there in her life for a long time to come. And maybe some 45 years from today as she runs a half-marathon with her son, she'll remember the time I ran stride by stride with her.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
At the start, there is neither doubt nor fear. The outcome is predetermined. Even when we have spent our last ounce of energy, there will be an arm for support, a shoulder to steady our shaking legs, and someone to carry us away from the finish line.
In Faith then, begins each runner knowing that this is the year. This year he is at his peak and is older, wiser and more experienced. This year at the moment of truth, when once more the pain and discomfort become intolerable and the desire to quit almost irresistible, the runner will fight back with more courage, greater energy, and supreme endurance. This year he will run the course on his own terms, and he will become the hero he was always meant to be.
I know all these things; I know that this is finally to be my year. The first part of the race passes effortlessly; the pace a pleasure. The friendship, the scenery, the weather--all have been perfect. But then, as always I notice the effort for the first time. Quite suddenly I no longer have breath to spare for conversation. My horizon comes down to the few feet of road ahead, and I shorten my stride, looking for maximal efficiency. Now the run begins in earnest.
Soon enough, I pass a group of people standing on the side of the road. They cheer as I pass by. I feel the warmth of our humanity. The distance has by now removed just about all the extra energy from my legs, yet I stretch out my stride knowing full will the waste of energy spent.
Now alone and unaided, I pass into the void beyond. It is here, in the sudden solitude of the quiet lane that for me the marathon begins. No longer do I progress on my own terms; the hopes and confidence stored in training now vanish before the reality. The course that I have held at bay is now running me. I am approaching the line, isolated, uncertain, and caring only for survival.
My legs detect the first signs of an ailing will; begin their own mutiny, their tactics carefully prepared. They inform me that this is enough. Geographically, they argue, the race is two thirds over. Why, they ask, must they continue to run, knowing that from here each step will become ever more painful, ever harder? After all there is always next year. Through the blanket of developing fatigue, I begin to appreciate the logic behind these questions; I begin to feel the attraction of that haven of rest at the side of the road, the bliss of not having to take even one more step.
Around me, I know that each runner is engaged in this same battle. In common suffering, we are alone to find our individual solutions. A glance up the road shows a string of runners, each running alone, each separated by a constant distance from the runner in front and behind. A common thread holds us together, but only reluctantly do we defile the sanctity of space that separates us; the space that is our universe, 20 feet of tarmac and just enough room for our thoughts.
My will power now comes from the volunteers working the aid station. Ever smiling, ever happy, they are pure encouragement, my sole precious link with a world that cares. In his hands he holds a cup of water or a sponge. His presence confirms that it is all worthwhile, that to him and his world, I am the most important runner.
In each race, I have learned, the desire to quit comes but once. It is a coward who once beaten does not return. The continual jarring of the descents and rises has taken its toll on my quadriceps, and every step now sends an ever more painful shock down each thigh. The muscles are in rebellion, depleted of energy; their connective tissues are now coming apart. I want to lie down and die.
You may think that even now I could still walk, that a few minutes of rest would restore the desire to live and would defeat the coward within. But you would be wrong, for the discomfort I feel exceeds my ability to recall or describe it. For me that desire to live does not come from within, not from any universal insights. For coinciding with these darkest moments, I learn from a lone spectator, preached on the embankment that the finish line is in sight. Just a mile or so left to run.
And so it ends. I am reduced to running each step by itself. My eyes see only the road at my feet. I now must obey the runner's rule ("Don't look up"), because I have no choice. I no longer have the energy even to lift my eyes to the horizon. The minutes speed by, but the road seems to stand still. I am straining to deliver full power but sound as controlled as a steam engine at full throttle. I wobble and groan monstrously and begin to hope that something will burst. I run oblivious to the noise and confusion around me as I near the finish line. Then I see the line; on the left a haggard group of runners, and on the right people yelling and cheering.
Later, when a measure of physiological normality has returned and I am secure in the knowledge that the last step has been taken, I know again why it is all necessary, what common bond unites all. Skill, you see is not our requirement, nor has our race anything to do with winning or losing. These are the spoils of other, lesser games that are unable to transport us to places we have been.
Indeed the only requirement, the common bond that links all runners, is the need to look for the mountains in life. We need to take the paths least traveled, to go against the common stream, to search for the unattainable, and finally to accept that we have no option.
So because I have not choice but to follow my fate, sometime between mile one and mile twenty six you will find me in mind, if not in body, somewhere on the road between here and there, secure in the knowledge that this is my year, that this year I shall finally defeat the coward within and so commence the hero's life.
(Thanks Dr Noakes for such a wonderful description, hopefully I haven't missed it up too much.)
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
It is a question that I really never truly understood for several reasons.
When I was young I was small, slow and awkward. I tried to play basketball, but was too short. I tried to play baseball but was uncoordinated. I tried to play football and just got squashed. Academically, my teachers thought I was slow and put me in the slow working group. Success for me was not getting an F on my report card.
But then in the 5th grade, I had this teacher who decided to teach the class chess during our lunchtime. For some reason, I excelled at it. The next thing I knew I was moved from the easy math group into the advance math group. And things began to change.
I never understood the question because I could never succeed...but then in the trying...something happened and there were small successes.
In 7th grade, we went from running across the playground at full speed to running laps around the field. Again it wasn't an overnight thing but I wasn't the last person finished, I actually was near the front. Then by high school I was winning races on the track.
Again, I never understood the question about my incapacity to fail, because it seemed to me that the constant effort to try...and keep on trying eventually brought a measure of success.
Finally, now later in life, the lesson has been learned. The question is not "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" rather it is "Well you keep getting up and trying again when you do fail?"
This small, untalented, slow kid has over time been successful, because I trusted something greater than me and I've got up off the ground after each failure. I believe God has a plan for our lives. My faith is going after that vision that God has given me and trying time after time to find the way to accomplish it. I know I'm going to fail and I'm not going to succeed. But I do know that I'm going to get back up and try again...and again...and again...because that's the question we all have to answer.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
This is me in July 1976 at the Alabama AAU Championship Meet at Troy State University. I had just finished competing in the 6 mile open division.
I've not adding anything new here this week because I've been busy with life. That to me is the hardest part of living life. I make plans...then life happens and throws my plans out the window. But I'm still standing and I'm still running.
My stress this past week was my staff being out of the office. On any day, I had two or maybe three members working. In fact on Thursday there were only two of us in the office the whole day. And the work load was the same as any other day. My sanity was maintained because my daughter (#3) forced me out to run at sundown. The quiet and solitude was there, but my daughter, not normally a talkative runner, had all kinds of hard life questions she wanted to ask. In our conversation, one point that M. Scott Peck repeatedly makes in his books kept rising to the surface. "Life is difficult." And I would add that it is this overcoming of life's problems where we truly live.
I've also started to read Paulo Coelho's new book Brida. In the introduction he talks about each person taking one of two attitudes to life. The first is the builder who in his words: "...builders take years over their tasks, but one day, they finish what they're doing. Then they find they're hemmed in by their own walls. Life loses it meaning when the building stops." The second attitude is that of the gardener: "They endure storms and all the many vicissitudes of the seasons, and they rarely rest. But unlike a building, a garden never stops growing. And while it requires the gardener's constant attention, it also allows life for the gardener to be a great adventure."
When I read these words last night it put this week...and my life in a new perspective. I'm 50 years old and I'm thinking about going back to school to earn a second doctoral degree...I'm still trying to improve my running, though I'm long past my prime...I've helped two of my daughters grow up and get out of the house, but I've still got two more children at home to help them plot courses through life... I always thought I was building my life and at some point I would be able to look on my life and setback and enjoy the fruit of my work. After reading Coelho's words...I really think I'm a gardener and I'm enjoying my fruit as I work. So some weeks will be tougher than others, some seasons will be more productive then others...but the great adventure is still out there and comes everyday. I guess I want to see myself as the gardener for lots of reason but the most important one is that I know God gives the rain and the growth.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sometimes you just have to slow down and look at the wonder of it all.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I purchased a scanner to aid me in the process. My vision of the task was simply taking an item, scan it into the computer and throw it away. Nothing very complicated. Yea, I could knock this off in a day or two.
Wrong...what I discovered was the emotional ties that made me keep the crayon drawing of my daughter (#2) from kindergarten in the first place was as strong as my desire to keep it now. Yea, it got scanned then placed back in the file to continue the yellowing process…maybe some day later, I’ll get around to throwing it away, but today…couldn’t do it.
In the midst of all this emotional stuff of looking at the pictures and papers, the phone rang. It was that little girl who drew that kindergarten picture upset because her wedding plans are not going the way she wanted them to go and …she was missing her Dad. The paper may yellow with age, but the memories just so much more precious.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Education is one the most important parts of life. We should be continually striving to learn new things. But what does it mean to be educated?
M. Scott Peck writes that thinking is a very hard thing to do because it is about seeing the truth in both sides of an argument and living with the fact that both are right. It is about seeing that only part of the truth is available and the other part will never be known. Its about feeling all right to have only a partial truth. Finally its about making up your own mind and sometimes going against the majority of others.
To me, being educated is not a matter of being intelligent, rather it is away of thinking deeply about things. It is about asking questions concerning issues and facts. It is holding doubt and acceptance in both hands and feeling comfortable with them. It is not a conclusion but rather a process that never ends.
I hope I never lose the curiosity to learn...and continue my own education.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
To be honest most of our lives are humdrum the same...so any little excitement and we get to say we were there. So that really bad snow storm becomes the "Blizzard of 75" and the bad summer thunderstorm becomes the storm of the century. But most of us, if any of us, really are not the true survivors. Those in the eye of the storm have a different point of view and it is not one of excitement but more often of fear. So...I survived the earthquake...and it was fun.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Being a father of four talented children is scarry at times. You want them to be successful, and at the same time you don't want to be pushy and at the same time you want them to be productive and at the same time...you hold your breath and watch them walk away into their future.
Our eldest daughter (#1) went off to college and grad school, only to return this summer to visit us for really the first time in three years. Having her at home was wonderful, and I was surprised at how hard she worked at everything. Her work ethic changed dramaticly over the past years. She spent hours and days working on her lines for the play she will be performing back east this year. She was up every morning at 4 am to work in a local coffee shop because she didn't want to have us, her parents, pay for everything. Then this past Sunday we took her to the Airport to send her off to "work."
I miss her...not being around the house, just like I miss our second daughter who is working hard in her grad school back east. (Actually in just a few weeks, I'll be headed back east again for our second daughter's graduation from grad school.) But what is really nice is to know they believe in themselves and they will be successful because they love what they are doing.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Early this morning, my daughter (#3) and I went for a long run. As we approached Trump National Golf Course, we decided to take the trail along the coast for a change. As we ran along the cliff over looking the water it was beautiful. Then we came to a folk in the road. We both knew the easier path was along the top of the cliff but we took the path leading down to the beach. It was great for the first five minutes...then the sand became soft and we started to sink with every step...greatly increasing our effort. Finally after about 10 minutes we started up the cliff face back to the overhead path.
It was tough going. The switch backs and rutted path seemed to sap every ounce of energy. I grunted out a word of what I thought was encouragement only to have my daughter snap at me in her frustration. The next miles were filled with the silence of our feet on the pavement. When we finished at home, my daughter smiled and gave me a hug saying..."That was a tough run."
The simplicity of those words expressed it all. In life we all make wrong turns that end up making life a little tougher for us and those around us. But if we can push through to the end...take the heat...let silence be there...then in the end...it is as they say "All Good."
In my work, I see people everyday that expect life to be easy, as if it should be easy, and then when it is not they are mad at God and others. Often they are quick to blame the difficulties to the actions of others. My proposal to them and to all of us is that of Benjamin Franklin: "That which doesn't kill, instructs." It is our responsibility to push through and make ourselves a little bit stronger, smarter and improve our character.
Friday, July 25, 2008
First View: Staying inside for the next hour and not leaving work. Finishing the project and then I'm done with it. But that means...sitting in rush hour traffic and not getting home until late. I'll feel very important, and might save hundreds of dollars, but the truth is I might, at the end of my struggle, be no further along with the project then where I am right now. And because I'll be home so late...I'll not get a run in and feel all negative about myself.
Second View: I'll take off now, beat the rush hour traffic. Enjoy being with my kids and wife. Get out with my daughter and run about 4 or 5 miles and enjoy the beautiful day. But I know that come Monday morning the project will still be here...and I'll have wished I got the stupid thing done last Friday before I left.
Temptation + Opportunity = Evil.
That's the problem in a nutshell. When we have to choose between two reasonably equal choices how do we choose?
Polkinghorne writes that scientists "...live with partial knowledge and a degree of intellectual uncertainty."(Quantum Physics and Theology, page 70) We, all live with that reality that all of our knowledge is limited and that there will always be a degree of uncertainty when making decisions and there is the rub. We have to act and make decisions constantly in the dynamics of the moment…and live with the consequences.
So now to make the decision, we must use our values. What is the most important thing I can do right now. Well if you didn’t read it in the first paragraph you missed it. I’m headed home. My daughter will only be with me for another year before heading off to college. Today, I have been successful with the work that I had to get done and the truth is the only reason for me staying is to make myself look like I’m committed to the job. But my brain is numbed and I’m not going to improve on what is there. In fact because I’m not thinking clearly, I may make a mistake. So as it says in Ecclesiastics…there is a time for everything under heaven…and I’m making time for my daughter and family. This work will be here on Monday.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I disagreed and here is why. 1. Walking helps runners extend the distance and time, we spend running. 2. It is in my opinion a form of interval training. Interval training is the idea of stressing the heart and allowing it to recover, then stressing it again. This helps to make the heart more efficient. 3. Finally because there are periods of rest and we know that rest is coming, we mentally will push a little harder during our run periods.
The old adage "No pain; no gain" is false. The goal for the majority of us is to exercise the body...few of us will ever run to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games.
This past year, I turned 50 and one of my goals for the year was to run 5 marathons. Please note the "run" part of that. The goal was to run...not race. What surprised me was by using this method and controlling my pace, I was able to run 3 of these in a span of 36 days. On the 27th of April, I ran the Big Sur Marathon in 4:59...my goal was 5 hours. Then about 20 some days later on the 17 May, I ran the Palos Verde Marathon in 4:39...my goal was 4:40. Finally on 1 June, down in San Diego, I ran the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in 4:20...my goal...4:20.
The reason was the control that I exercised by using the run walk cycle...my pace really didn't change. At Big Sur, I ran 1 minute walked 1 minute cycle for the first half of the race and then I ran 4 minutes walked 1 minute for the last half of the race. In Palos Verde, I used the 4 minute/1 minute cycle through the entire race. The 20 minute difference was not because of speed but because I cut back a little on the rest. Then in San Diego, the 20 minute was again not my pace but the rest. In this last race I used a 9 minute/1 minute ratio. For more information on this method check out Jeff Galloway’s Running: A year round plan. (Pages 18-22).
Now a quick note on racing: Racing is ...pushing to beat someone or something else. It is racing when you are working to better your previous time or you are trying to beat another runner. Walking breaks maybe what keeps you from winning that battle...but then again...it maybe what helps you win. In a short one mile or two mile race, could you imagine what a one minute walking break would do to an Olympic runner? They would be lapped by everyone else in the field, because of the level of competition. But if I'm taking a quick walking break every other mile in a Marathon race the difference maybe at the end only a matter of inches because my competitor may have hit the wall hard at 20 miles and struggled to finish...and I having that little extra, pass him in the last mile.
It has to do with personality, goals and determination. For the majority of us, our little walking breaks only serve to make us better runners. So keep on running and take a minute every now and then to smell the roses.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
But then I go back to that EPR effect idea (Entanglement Theory). It is an earlier posting in this blog. The idea that we are connected on the subatomic level and anything that effects one effect the other regardless of their location has to have a effect. My prayers, my sending out good and healing thoughts towards her isn't a New Age, make you feel good thing. The reality is that God makes these connections so that we express and experience the best of life...both its pain and more importantly its joy.
My pain, my confusion of not being with my mother, was not so unlike her own as she was in the ICU. My prayers and thoughts supported her and with that I have no doubt. I can easily say that I was with her in my spirit...and it would be the truth.
Henri Nouwen once wrote about the creative ministry of absence. I have not doubt that absence and separation, although uncomfortable...still works.
Monday, July 14, 2008
When I think of the desert, I see images of dead long horn cattle, sand and tumble weeds. But the truth is very different. The desert is full of life. Animals and plants adapted to their dry environment.
When I look at my life, I've seen periods of times were I feel like I'm living in a desert. Its uncomfortable and hard. But in retrospect those periods may not have been the most productive times of my life, but I found them to be times when I became stronger - spiritually, mentally and physically.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Later in a conversation with my wife, I came back to the old paradigm and question, is the glass half full or half empty? Much too often we limit ourselves to a pessimistic attitude that because things are beyond our control...we are better off not wasting our time. After all the glass is half empty and if we just stay as we are then at less we have something. But as a Christian, with a strong belief that God works outside of our vision that half empty attitude is not comforting. I feel that we need to step out and move...and if I'm spilling the water in the process...so be it.
As a Christian, I plan my future by taking action in the things I can control; in the decisions I make. Those things that are not in my control...I have to leave for God to work out...outside of my vision. I believe if I have prepared myself to the best of my ability when the situation arises for me to act...I will be able to step forward and take advantage of it. If I have failed to prepare...the chance will slip by.
Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church said it the best: "Work like it depends on you, pray like it depends on God."
So the pessimist may advance; "What if that door never opens?" And if it doesn't open, at less the glass is full.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I like everyone I know hates to get up and run, but once you have run a mile or two, the body seems to wake up and I feel you have more energy to confront the day. The day will too quickly be upon us with its problems and challenges...so in the early dawn as the sun starts its ascent...the concerns of the day seem light years away.
I spent this morning with my daughter and the college recruiter walking around the campus. We visited many of the new buildings on campus and several of the old ones. As we were concluding the tour, the college recruiter asked if I heard the story about the old dining hall being haunted and if I knew anything about the old printing press workshop that was in the basement. I remembered.
I remember setting type with Dr Winship in the basement as we printed pamphlets for several different college programs and special papers. "Sign of St George" was the name of the workshop. Dr Winship passed away several years ago, so was the basement workshop still haunted by his presence? Apparently it is...now his print shop still stands with presses covered and a layer of dust coating everything in the shop. And for this one student of his that remembered…what that workshop was like…his memory and his work was alive.
When we deal with the past, voyaging back in our memories or in visiting old haunts, the connections still binds us to things even if they have been forgotten. The entanglement theory was one of Einstein’s last major contributions to quantum physics. And yet it provides a reason for this connectiveness that makes no logical sense. Time/Space continuum is a mystery…but when one particle is effected by something it will effect its partner particle immediately regardless of where that particle is in Time/Space.
When we meet and connect with others…they leave trace residue with us…and we are connected on a subatomic level. If we allow ourselves to recognize this bond then there is a dramatic implication. Love is this dramatic implication…when we are bonded to each other. Our ability to have empathy for others helps us heal, encourage, support and strengthen them and ourselves. We benefit and help ourselves when we reach out to others.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
On the drive, we passed many places where I had run races while in college. My biggest regret from my college days was the lack of a coach. Yes, the college had a coach if you could call him that. He was really only one of the professors at the school who basicly volunteered to help us have a cross-country team. He knew nothing about developing runners...so my running suffered.
After college, I worked hard for 10 years to develop my running and did a halfway decent job...but I was self-coached. I managed a 3:07 marathon, but I was in shape to have run sub 3, but I didn't have a plan...so even in that great run...I know now I could have been even faster. The other problem with being self-coached is that you drive yourself into the injury zone by over training and not getting enough rest...so in my 30's, my body began to breakdown. So my advice: find yourself a coach. Someone who knows what they are doing. That way you can enjoy your running and improve.
(Side note: I have four children and out of respect for their privacy...and the fact that I've preached about them from the pulpit once to often will respect that privacy)
Saturday, July 5, 2008
The reason for the name "Spirituality and Running" is those are the two major elements of my life that help me cope, grow, and develop those three other driving forces in my life. So here comes nothing...or here comes something?