Thursday, October 22, 2009

Up and Running Again

Well, I am almost done moving into my new home. Still have a few more boxes to get unpacked and then finish setting up the house...but I'm taking a break for the moving this weekend to run the Marine Corp Marathon. This will be my seventh time running in the event...and it is one of my favorites. If you have never run a marathon before...this is the one you want. The support throughout the course is the best and the crowds along the road are wonderful. You can't go wrong making this your first marathon. Well back to the boxes. More later.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Easy Day

Today is going to be an easy day as I finish preparing for the Marine Corp Marathon. I love easy days. Here in the Washington-Baltimore area the leaves are now changing colors and that adds to the beauty of the runs. I'm not a fan of treadmill you may have guessed from my previous postings. There is something about getting out there in the cold and rain that makes you feel alive. So I'm headed out for a nice easy run of a few miles and I'm going to enjoy the fresh fall air and if I get a few rain drops on my much the better.

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Location

I arrived at Fort George G. Meade yesterday evening, and today started the task of trying to settle my family into a new home and community. With this move coming at the end of my 6 month deployment to Kuwait my stress level has been through the roof. During the hours of driving cross country, I heard several individuals on talk radio describe the ideal life as one that is stress free. I also saw a sign outside a church proclaiming that wonderful idea that "I'm too blessed to be stressed." In our culture, we see stress as something to be avoided at all cost. And I have a hard time getting my head around that concept.

Stress is without doubt a killer if we have too much in our life. Only a couple of years ago, only a week before moving to Florida, I ended up in the hospital with ulcers. In retrospect stress had a lot to do with my condition. I was busy working on my Doctorate degree and in the middle of a massive project, and moving to another side of the country. But also in retrospect I have to admit that I was not taking care of myself. I was up to two and three in the morning and getting about 3 to 5 hours of sleep a night. My running...was...what...totally missing...and I ate poorly and on an irregularly pattern. But the key was that I was not managing and controlling my stress. Stress will do that to us, and we need to learn to manage that stress.

I once heard someone say that stress is that which helps us grow. Without stress we can’t grow. If you want to do something…or accomplish something, you will have to deal with your stress. Stress is the byproduct of living life.

Running is a stressor. You put on your running shoes and head outside, and you stress your body. Your heart rate rises, you spend calories. You cause wear and tear on your body…that is stress. But and I can’t figure this out…it also is a stress reducer. Running allows you to focus stress of things you can’t control into something to you can control. After a good mile or two run, you feel more in control and your stress level is reduced.

These individuals proclaiming a perfect life with no stress are kidding themselves and everyone listening to them. What we need to do is work on managing the stress. I’m not going to miss lead you…but if you are being blessed by God…you are going to be stressed…or you’re going to be dead and in heaven, and in that case stress isn't a player. So I’ve been managing my moving stress, with running and it has worked perfectly. So if you feel stressed out…then get out and run…it will actually help you cope better with the stress you can’t control.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I remember as a child my mom always saying, "Red sky at night sailors delight, red sky at morning sailors take warning." As I ran along the clifts over looking the Pacific at sunset...and of course it was a red sky. I can only guess it was the relief of having the packers out of the house and getting to the last part of the move...tomorrow we load the truck...but I had a real sense of relief. Or was it because the sunset was just beautiful. Anyway my mental stress was gone. As I ran along the cliff, I remembered my mom's old saying...and yea..."Red sky at night..." Good things are coming. We just need to keep putting one step in front of the next.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Moving Day

I feel I'm repeating myself, but I have found it difficult to keep this blog updated. I'm currently preparing to move from the West Coast to the East Coast in the next few weeks. In fact the packers are here right now packing boxes around me, as I grab a quick lunch.

Yesterday, I got out for a great run at sunset. The temperature was cool and the breeze off the Pacific was almost cold... I have found that in the midst of all the stress in my life, a run like that along a wooded path, or along the coast restores my spirit. In the next few days...I'll be tied up with the packers and then moving the whole of my life holdings onto a truck for the 2000+ mile move to Maryland. My own trek across country includes a stop in Yellowstone National Park and Mt Rushmore. So hopefully I can add a few interesting pictures to the blog next week. Well, take care and I'll write more after the packers are done.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A New Normal

This past week has been one of adjusting back to life in the States and with my family. My running, when I've been out has been great, but with all the little things going on around my life it’s been difficult to get them in. Part of that is because my youngest daughter (Daughter #3) is off in college. I missed her graduation from High School and the great trip to take her to college. So I'm trying to discover a new normal around the house with just my wife and son. It is vastly different then I imagined.

I think I'm getting to the point in my life that normal means things change...and I have to get to the point that it’s okay for things to change. I'm a planner by nature. I plan everything in my life, even my home-coming from Kuwait...but as others have pointed is what happens while you are making plans. So change is a goal is to learn to ride out the changes and learn to adapt as quickly as I can to this new norm...while it last. And if all else fails...I can go get a run in.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to the Fires

I have to be honest...running with camels isn't fun at all. They are always stopping to scratch themselves on the street signs. Here is one of my running buddies...scratching himself on the post...I just ran off and left him.

Well, I'm home now. Back to southern California and our wild fires. We have a fire right here in Palos Verdes today, so I had to alter my course, but still got a nice 7 mile run in this afternoon. Also the weather here is so much nicer then what I had to deal with in Kuwait. So I'm not going to complain about anything.

This past 6 months I was working with the US Army at Camp Buehring in Kuwait as the senior ranking chaplain. Being an Air Force Chaplain embedded with the Army had some very interesting twist to getting the job done, but in the end it was and always has been the same job...taking care of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. I had the chance to meet and work with incredible people and we as a nation should be very proud of our service men and women. Also this was the first time I worked with our National Guard. I had the pleasure of working with units from Oklahoma, Alabama, Minnesota, and Wyoming National Guard. Their professionalism and heart to serve was second to none. My prayers are with them daily as they go about their duties and responsibilities.

My goal for this year was to run 12 marathons in 12 months…so that one when down the drain really fast. Before I deployed to Kuwait, I twisted my left knee during the Surf City Marathon which caused me to drop out at the 18 mile point…then the following Friday I re-injured the same knee running my Air Force Fitness test. I then flew to Kuwait the following week. So I arrived in Kuwait with a bum knee and feeling very out of shape despite having just finished 7 marathons in the past year. I set two goals for myself. The first was to lose 30 pounds in my 6 month deployment and the second was to prepare myself for a marathon on my return from Kuwait.

One of the advantages of being deployed is that the food is the same day after day. Selecting low fat diet really wasn’t hard…staying away from the Ice Cream was…. So over the 180 day, I went from about 194 to 163. Talk about the difference the weight makes…I feel so much better losing that weight.

My second goal was to run a Marathon…well I’m signed up to run the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington in October. This year I’ll be running the race with my oldest daughter who lives in the DC area. It will be her first marathon and I’m looking forward to enjoying the adventure of running around DC with her. Another side note to this is the fact that I’m moving to DC as well at the end of September. I have an assignment working there starting in October. I will miss California and Los Angeles, but this move gets us closer to family back east…so it is a good move for us at this time in life.

Who knows since I’m back east there, I may even try to do the JFK 50 miler in November.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I'm back. I returned home today after 6 months working with the Army in Northern Kuwait. Give me a couple of days to get back on schedule around here and I'll be back to blogging soon. Just to keep you up to speed on my running...I did run about 600 miles while I was gone, that included about twenty-one 5K fun runs and one Half Marathon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sorry...I'm out of contact

Sorry, but this will not be kept up to date for a few months. My work requires me to travel out of country and for all kinds of reasons, this Blog will not be updated. For my friends...thanks for your prayers.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Running...In Memoriam

Tomorrow, I will toe the line with a few thousand fellow runners at the Surf City Marathon. Many of us will be there for different reasons but with one goal of finishing 26.2 miles. As we struggle along the Pacific Coast Highway at Huntington Beach, we will each make the journey in our own ways. Yes, each one of us will be placing one foot in front of the others, but some will be in wheelchairs, and some will run on artificial leg or legs. But the distance is the same. The test is not only physical…but more so a test of our mental and spiritual abilities.

For most first time marathon runners and many non-runners, they see the marathon as only a physical task. But those of us who have accomplished the task before know that in the final measure of the race, is it’s the spiritual side of the equation that tips the scale from not finishing to finishing the distance.

In October 1977, I ran my first marathon. At mile 23, I was beaten. I was on the verge of quitting. Snow flurries swirled around me. As I broke the crest of the hill walking, there before me were a handful of people clapping and yelling encouragement…still I wanted to stop…but one elderly man setting in a wheelchair on the side of the road caught my attention. He was clapping and yelling for us to finish. On his lap was a list from the local newspaper with the name and number of each runner. He looked at the paper then at me. I was walking at the time. And I heard him call my name. “Don…you can finish this.”

With tears in my eyes, my body tired beyond belief, I found myself running. In those final three miles, every time I wanted to quite and walk…I remembered that man in the wheelchair…and I kept going…for him. That connection for just a quick moment on that cold October morning got me to the finish line.

This marathon tomorrow will be my first since my father died. My dad saw a few of my High School races, but he never saw me run a marathon. But I think, as I run tomorrow…he will be there by my side. As I make each stride, as my body fatigues from the distance and effort, and as I fight back the desire to quit, I will remember him. And that will give me the toughness to carry me to the finish line. So this race tomorrow is for my father…my mentor and friend.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Keep a health perspective on life

With everything going on in my life, it seems the last thing I want to do this weekend is run another marathon. My training has been awful for the past two months. So why bother? Because it is there and I love the challenge.

To be truthful, this run is not about time. My goals are simply to enjoy the day, the fellowship of other runners and complete the distance. A final reason is that this will be the last marathon I run for a while. My work requires me to put on hold my goal to run a sub 4 hour marathon until next year. In fact my updating this blog site over the next several months will be difficult.

What I would like you to take away from this rambling today is that life needs to be lived. Do the things that you can...but don't get upset if your plans have to be placed on hold. As it says in Ecclesiastes, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace."’s an old passage that you might have heard before like in the 1960's when it was a hit song. But...the truth remains. There are seasons in our lives, just like there are seasons in the year. So this Sunday, I'll be there in Huntington Beach to run the Surf City Marathon...and the weeks following...I'll be off to the other side of the world to take care of our wonderful sailors, soldiers and airmen serving in the Middle East.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gulf Island National Park

I'm still visiting with my mother and family in Mississippi following my father's funeral last week. I have found the time healing and at time I've headed off for some runs over old courses I ran in high school. One of my favorite runs was through the Gulf Island National Park that is near my home. Back when I ran through the park it was a state run facility and the roads were shell covered black top surfaces. Still there was something fun and relaxing in seeing the Gulf at dusk. The cool temperatures also helped remind me that I really like living in Southern California now. Still it was good to be home.

I know many of you have offered up prayers for my family and me...thank-you. Your words and thoughts have meant a lot to me. I'll be headed home this weekend to prepare for the Surf City Marathon on the first. So keep running.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Out of thoughts

Sorry, this hasn't been updated. My hero...father passed away this week and to be honest it is just hard to even think. But I would like to share just a quick story about how much this man meant to me.

Back in November 1975 while I was a senior in high school, I ran with a club because we had no cross-country teams in Mississippi at the time. All long distance running was sponsored by clubs and local many of the races I ran I had to get myself to. Lucky for me, Coach D who lived down the street always made sure I got to the races.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, my mother was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Our family life was turned upside down with all our attention focused on her. But on Wednesday, she was able to come home from the hospital. My father who was also a minister did an awesome job of taking care of us that week and was still able to preach at the community Thanksgiving service on Wednesday night. So everyone including my father was exhausted.

At 5 in the morning on Thanksgiving Day, Coach D came by the house to pick me up to take me to a 5 mile race in New Orleans. With all the stuff going on, I had forgotten about the race...and his knocking on the door was the first reminder that I even had the race. My father came to wake me, but it was too late for me to get my stuff together and leave with Coach D. I was still hurrying around the room getting my things together when my dad came back and told me that Coach D had left. There was a long silent pause...then my dad told me to finish and he would drive me to the race.

We made it to the race and I ran one of my best times. For years, I had always thought it was because I was so grateful that my mother survived her illness and it was that which inspired me. But the other night it really hit me. It wasn't my mother's inspiration that got me to do so well in that race. It was my father's quiet presence. That week was hard on him. He was afraid of losing his wife, taking care of five children, and continuing his work as a pastor in a community celebrating Thanksgiving. He was tired, but when it came to taking me to New Orleans, he didn't hesitate.

I gave the trophy I won to my mother that Thanksgiving morning so many years ago. But tonight as I prepare to say one last good-bye to my father...I realize it was he who has inspired my life…winning my heart and respect.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year Day Run

Several years ago I heard that what you do on the first day of the year is the thing you do all year long. Since then I always get out first thing in the morning on New Year Day, after the Rose Bowl Parade and head out for a run. So...get out there and run...and enjoy the day. Have a Happy New Year and may this be your best year of running ever.