Saturday, December 19, 2009

Now's the Time to Plan for a 1-Year Marathon

I'm carbo-loading for my second 1-year marathon. It begins Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31, 2010.

If you've never read the entire Holy Bible, but have always wanted to, now's the time to start planning. You're runners; you're disciplined people. So, there's no doubt you can do it, if you want to. If you don't, no big deal. But, if you do... I did it in 2008, took off in 2009, and am going to do another one in 2010.

I've always been a New Testament junkie. I've read the New Testament over and over, enough times now that I feel I have a good sense of who Jesus is and how he would prefer we behave towards each other. I can't quote Bible verses, but I have this sense.

I had never read the Old Testament very much. And, I was getting indigestion from others taking a few lines out of their context and shoving them down my throat. I wanted the whole story so I could make up my own mind. But, how do I approach such a big reading assignment?

The One-Year Bible. The entire Holy Bible broken up into daily readings, starting Jan. 1. Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms, and New Testament every day. A mere 15-20 minute reading commitment each day. And, on New Year's Eve 2010, you finish the whole thing. I like to start my day with it (say, 3:30 a.m. for me) and then I have my 4 a.m. run and the rest of the day to give that day's reading some thought. One could start his day in worse ways.

If you've ever wanted to read the entire Holy Bible, now's the time to go get you a One-Year Bible and lay it out so you are ready on Jan. 1. Good luck. You just ran a half-marathon or marathon. This will be a walk in the park compared to that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Work is On the Roads

I ran up on a young man this morning at mile 2. He was maybe 20. Maybe not that old. Walking, but didn't seem to really be walking anywhere. Short sleeves. It was 4:20 and 42 degrees. He looked scared.

I started doing a lot of praying. Praying for warmth. Praying he would get to wherever he was going. Praying a police car would come by and give him a warm ride somewhere. Praying for guidance on what I should do. I turned back towards home at mile 3, and when I got back to mile 4, he was gone.

Jesus and I had a pretty good little conversation the last 2 miles. What if he were my son out there? (Well, isn't he? Really? -- sometimes Jesus answers me with a question.) What would I have wanted someone else to do if it were my son? What should I have done? What should I do?

We came to the conclusion that I definitely needed to start carrying a cellphone. And, I've got plenty of room in my windbreaker pockets for an extra pair of gloves and maybe a Clif bar. And, a sweatshirt tied around my hips isn't going to make me any slower than I already am (and, who cares how it looks -- it's 4 o'clock in the morning, for crying out loud.)

I'm beginning to think there is work for me on the early morning roads of Garland.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some Guys Buy Flowers

Dale Carnegie wrote that he goes fishing in Maine every summer. He wrote that he is fond of strawberries and cream, but that fish prefer worms -- so he fishes with worms.

Some guys buy flowers.

Kelly loves Handi-Wipes. She uses them for a week, throws them in the wash, gets a new one out, and uses the old one for cleaning. She hasn't been able to find them at the store for weeks. Last weekend, she was excited to discover a couple of old/new ones at the bottom of the tablecloth drawer at her mother's house.

I found a 72-pack of Handi-Wipes on eBay on Monday and ordered them for her. They came yesterday. No dozen roses could have brought the delight those six dozen Handi-Wipes did.

Some guys buy flowers. Sometimes I buy flowers. Kelly prefers gladiolas and gerber daisies.

But, guys, before you pick up a bouquet of flowers on your way home, you might consider what else might bring her more delight than a dozen roses.

You might try fishing with worms.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stress Test Today

During my routine physical this week, I let it slip that my plan pays outpatient diagnostics at 100%. And that's why, I think, I have a stress test today at 2. (I'm wearing my DRC RUN shirt to it! I didn't think he could handle my Team Sprinkles shirt.)

I told my doctor that I had a 7 p.m. run tonight, and that 1-this better be a treadmill because I don't do bikes anymore and 2-if this was going to interfere with my run tonight, the deal was off. He was OK with that.

He also said, "You look wimpier this year." I replied, "Your hair looks thinner." (We have this kind of relationship.) He said, "No, I'm serious." I replied, "I am too." He said, "You need to eat more protein. At our age, we can't afford to have any muscle-mass loss." I replied, "We're not in the same category. And, if you want to go out back for a throw-down, I'll show you."

But, that's why I have a heck of a Dagwood turkey sandwich in my lunchbox today. And, a big ol' Sprinkles water bottle full of chocolate milk filled and ready to bring for my after-run dinner tonight.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Run I'm Looking Forward To

There's a run I'm particularly looking forward to, and I get butterflies in my stomach when I think about it. It's a little over 25 years from now. It's on a late December morning, maybe even Christmas morning, well before sunrise. It's cold out, but above freezing. It's calm, and quiet -- not a creature is stirring. There is some frost on the rooftops, an occasional smell of a fireplace going, and several houses that have left the Christmas lights on all night. And, I'm thinking as I run that there's no better time to be alive, to be a runner.

All of my running decisions are made with this run in mind.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yellow is the New Green?

OK, we're all family here.

If you're following the new conservationism, the new water-saving movement (like I do), you're bound to have heard "yellow is the new green."

"In the land of fun and sun, we don't flush for #1."

"If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

OK, so these environmentalists could improve on their poetry skills.

But, how do you feel about that? Not flushing for #1 (unless company is on the way, of course.) Have you ever pondered that?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today's Police Car Count: 4

There is only one 1/4-mile stretch of my regular route where I've either got to run on the street or jump the curb and run in a field (which is full of dips and drops and weeds). Since this stretch is so short, I run with traffic and keep my eye out for headlights behind me coming down Shiloh. There's not much traffic at 4:15, so it's not usually an issue.

I can't use headlights as a warning sign anymore.

This morning I got through the stretch and got back up in the alley -- and here came 4 Garland police cars creeping up Shiloh with their headlights off. 3 with lights on top, 1 unmarked. 2 going the right way on my side of the road. 2 going the wrong way on the other side. Hmmm... this couldn't be good.

They turned into the apartment complex just ahead and were out of sight -- for just a minute when they all came barreling out with their lights on this time. I just kept plodding along.

They made a U-turn at Arapaho, and all 4 converged on a man walking down the sidewalk carrying a black trash bag. I swung out and around them (out of stray bullet range, I was thinking) and just kept plodding along. They still had the road blocked off when I came by there 5 miles later.

I think the Garland police know me by now out there, but I've played in my head what to tell them if they stop me. I live next door to former City Councilperson Mark Monroe; I am current City Councilperson Rick Williams's appointee to the Garland Library Advisory Board; Office Shannon Wilson can vouch for me -- we served on the City Charter Review Committee a few years ago; and I'm wearing my RoadID bracelet listing my name, phone number, and Kelly's name to call for help.

And, if things get really messy, I've got my Catholic 3-way cross around my neck that says on the back "I'm Catholic. Call a priest."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

26 Years Ago Today

26 years ago today, I was constantly checking my dress shoes to make sure one of my brothers hadn't written "SAVE ME" or "HELP ME" on the bottom of them. Father Fernandez told me to be vigilant, that such wasn't good when I was kneeling at the altar exposing the bottoms of my shoes to friends and family at the church.

I wasn't a Catholic at the time, and I remember Father Fernandez particuarly addressing me saying he didn't expect me to listen to church hymns in the car, so don't expect him to allow Neil Diamond music in his church. I didn't have any Neil Diamond LPs, so this was OK with me. Kelly's friend Kathy Wilson was a classically-trained singer, and she ended up playing the piano and singing Ave Maria so beautifully that even the statue of Mary was weeping.

26 years ago today, my brother insisted we needed a limo to take us from the church to the reception. Kelly and I were the last to leave for the reception, waiting outside almost 30 minutes in the August 6th heat for the limo to arrive. At the reception, my brother took me off to the side and whispered that I needed to write a check and give it to him to pay the limo driver, and to make sure I included a generous tip.

26 years ago today, whoever got to the reception first insisted they start pouring champagne (even though, on our shoestring budget, we had decided only to have enough for one toast.) When we arrived, the champagne was flowing, and my sister-in-law was already slurring her words and dirty-dancing with one of my co-workers. I never saw my groom's cake -- it was all gone by the time we got there. I hear it was a delicious German chocolate.

Fred was at the reception. Kelly and I met at the grocery store -- she was a checker, and I was a courtesy clerk. When I got promoted to checker, and thus had a future, she agreed to go out with me. Fred was one of our regular customers. A sweet and salty old man. Lived right across the street and walked over. Came in the mornings to drink coffee in the snack bar with his buddies. If one of us were on break, he'd pull up a chair. We visited Fred when he was sick. Checked on him from time to time at his apartment if we hadn't seen him for awhile. Fred is gone now, but we remember him when we look at our wedding pictures.

26 years ago, I was green. I wasn't so gentlemanly, and modest, as I am now. Kelly has trained me well, coached me along, turned me into an infinitely better man than I would have been otherwise. And, I'm still a work in progress. I know that. I don't try to kid myself.

(Note to my running girl-friends: We men don't come pre-packaged and ready-to-show. We're pretty much hairy, spoiled little boys whose Mama has tended to our every need for the past 20 or more years. We're yours now. It's your job to coach us, teach us, mold us, turn us into the men who are going to be good fathers for your babies, God-fearing and dedicated husbands, reliable providers for your family, and community-serving citizens. It's pretty much up to you now. If you need some advice or tips, feel free to contact Kelly, or meet up with her at the August 15th Team Sprinkles get-together. She'd be glad to help you.)

So, what does this have to do with running? As marathon runners, some of us are also green (I know I am.) We're on week 5 of a 23-week program. But, think of how far we've already come in just 5 weeks since our initial run on 7/11. In just 5 weeks, our fitness level has improved exponentially. In just 5 weeks, I have met some new people whose company I enjoy immensely, and who I genuinely miss between Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Considering the progress we've made in just 5 weeks, imagine who we are going to be at 23 weeks.

My old boss, who convinced me to run my first marathon in 1997, was also a mountain climber. When the going was particularly treacherous, his group would tie themselves together with a long rope so that if one person fell, the others would catch him so he didn't fall off the mountain, and then he could get back up and get going again. That's going to be us at this year's White Rock Marathon.

26 years ago today. Happy Anniversary, dear!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And, So He Went Home By Another Way

I checked the radar, and it looked like I might have a short window this morning to do my run, so I finished the Brad Paisley article I was reading in my Cowboys and Indians magazine, and headed out a little after 4.

There were 3 Garland Police cars down at the end of the street at what we refer to as "the nightmare house." Having the police down there is not such a big deal anymore, but a regular occurrence. Lots of fighting and drinking and just general carousing goes on down there at all hours of the day and night. Our street is often strewn with beer bottles and the remains of fast food. I often take a trash bag when I go to deliver my neighbors' papers to their front porch. I could hear lots of shouting from down there this morning. I'm just glad we don't live closer. And, luckily, I run the other direction out of the neighborhood. (Though, with all that going on down there, I felt a little uncomfortable at taking off running away from 3 police cars.)

The air was thick and wet and still. Some guy turned in front of me and floored it, leaving a cloud of that burning smell a car makes when it gets too much gas and can't burn it all. He drove this way about a quarter of a mile, and thus the cloud ran that far. I was sure I was going to pass out from asphyxiation at some point. But, he turned off, and the air cleared just in time.

Someone else drove up close and yelled out at me. I jumped about 3 feet in the air. That was good for a warm-up -- got my heart pumping real good.

I didn't see any animals this morning -- I figured they had decided to sit this one out.

There was some lightning around, but nothing too close. Enough, though, to wake Kelly, who met me near the end of my run with the car (to rescue me.) I was almost to the end of our street, so I just finished up while she drove back home and put out the trash.

I normally finish my run and then cool down by walking down to the nightmare house and back. But, this morning, I went home by another way.

I've been eating better since our training program started. The pleats are starting to show up again in my work pants. So, that's a good thing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Life With Ed (Nelson)

I ran Kelly and Katie off the back porch this morning fertilizing the plants.

I use my 2.5-gallon sprayer with an organic mixture (I buy at Roach Feed and Seed in downtown Garland) that contains, among other things, fish and seaweed and molasses.

The every other week smell reminds me of all those fishing trips we made when I was a kid growing up in Corpus Christi.

Kelly and Katie don't share those memories, so for them it's just stink.

Life with Nelson.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Wimped Out, To Save the Planet

I made it about 1/3 of the way to running with Team Goldilocks this morning, checked my watch, made a U-turn, and went back home and did my morning run there.

I'm into the whole green thing these days. It's a pretty long drive from my house to the the start location. I knew if I ran with the Team once, I'd be hooked. I wish I lived closer.

I just couldn't do it. I've written articles for the paper on going green. I've set a goal of going a whole month between fill-ups (I've gone as far as 23 days so far -- OK, so I drove Kelly's car for a few days.) My drive to and from work is only about 10 minutes, on side streets. I try to limit myself to 1 lunch trip per week.

I'm buying Stonyfield Farms yogurt, and shopping Patagonia (when I have a gift card) these days -- both very green companies. I'm trying to buy local, in-season, organic when I can. I bring my own shopping bags to the store. I'm making my own Gatorade -- trying to avoid all those bottles in the recycling bin. Running my sprinkler system manually.

It just didn't seem right to be doing those things, and then to get in the truck and drive 25 minutes or so each way to run, when I can sleep a little later, head out the front door and do my run, be back in time for coffee and the morning funnies, and leave a much smaller carbon footprint.

I know that the porridge at the Team Goldilocks runs is just right -- because I've looked at the team members, and they're my favorite runners on the planet. But, Papa Bear's porridge is going to have to do for me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

For Everything a Season

As I was driving to this morning's run, I saw a billboard for Chubby's Restaurant at Jupiter and Northwest Highway. And, I thought some of us are driving down to go run 7 miles, and some of us are driving down for some fried eggs, country potatoes, bacon, and biscuits with sausage gravy.

Don't get me wrong. 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 run, and a time to eat biscuits and gravy. (Hey, that's not in the Bible!)

I'm glad I am in my running season.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Life First -- 100-Degree Run

I work for a health and wellness company. One of our subsidiaries is a life insurance company, which means most of us have excellent life insurance coverage. And, that's why I wasn't overly worried about last night's run.

When I left the house a little after 6, my wireless thermometer on the back porch in the shade read 105.2. Maybe it was much cooler by 7 -- maybe just 100.

As we stood in the sun waiting to start, Chris said "take your time, don't overdo, stop if you feel lightheaded." OK, I thought, I'm a little lightheaded right now.

As we got going, our fearless pace leader was yelling out, "you should be able to have a conversation." I was having a conversation, alright, the entire 4 miles, "Lord, forgive me for putting you to the test like this. Hail Mary. Glory be. Our Father..." A virtual rosary of running.

After the turnaround, headed back, I thought I heard Mary audibly responding to me -- from way out in the distance, maybe from the lake. She was yelling out, "Push yourself, but be comfortable. Find your happy place." "Mary, is that you?" I thought, "Are you coming to take me home? Mary, happy place?"

In all fairness, I had a better 4 miles in the heat than I had 6 miles last Saturday. It was actually OK. I chalk that up to clean living and finally starting to eat right.

My run this morning was boooring. Now that I know what running with a group is like, I'm not such the good company I once thought I was.

Regarding my life insurance. I'm worth exponentially more if my demise is accident-related. So, 10:30-11 team, if I crash and burn and it looks like I'm not going to make it -- do my family a favor and make it look like an accident.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Garland Smells in the Morning

The big news on our side of Garland is that QuikTrip opens in 3 days. We must be Dorito-heads in northwest Garland, because there were 2 Doritos trucks unloading out front this morning.

Garland smells in the morning. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

Almost every morning (that I run) I experience the dreaded loud, smelly trash truck. It roars by leaving a thick cloud of stink, dripping liquid stink on the roadway. It pulls up to dumpsters, tosses them high in the air, shakes and bangs them a couple of times, and then slams them back down. And, in my area of Garland, usually close to someone who is sleeping. I guess the location that bothers me most is the Alzheimer's/memory care center. These poor people have a hard enough time sleeping, I'm sure, without the sound of crashing metal outside their windows at 4:30 in the morning.

This morning a group of cars drove by, and I smelled my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Salvatore's perfume. I was one of Mrs. Salvatore's favorites, and she invited me to be on a small team to work after school to plant a school garden. I'll never forget the first day we worked, she took all of us into the teacher's lounge and bought us each a bottle of Coke. That was probably the highlight of my elementary school time, except for the time I got to help Dalene Owens carry our class Christmas tree to school.

Many mornings I smell the same guy drive by, and his cologne almost overwhelms me. I feel for those who have to work close to him. (Note to guys: I work in HR. We get calls constantly complaining about your cologne. Please either barely put it on, or avoid cologne altogether at work. And, at races and group runs -- please don't. If you need a good aftershave, pick up a bottle of SeaBreeze at the store -- it works as a wonderful and refreshing aftershave.)

Sometimes I smell Starbucks brewing; when the north wind is blowing, cinnamon rolls at Tom Thumb. Sometimes I know that Uncle Ollie and Aunt Novella are with me because I smell Skin Bracer strong (when no cars are around) and sausage patties frying up (when I'm in an open field).

I don't smell myself much, anymore, now that I've started washing my running clothes after each run.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ahhh... Rest Days

Mondays are rest days on my new training group's marathon training schedule. I don't normally rest on Mondays.

This marathon training stuff is great!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cross-Training: Yow!

Today was our first scheduled cross-training day. 30 minutes of some other exercise besides running. Work different muscles. Improve your fitness and stamina.

I always like how my legs feel after biking, so I pulled down the old mountain bike off the hooks in the garage, aired up the tires, and headed out.

I only went about a block before I had to turn around and come home -- bicycle seat torture. The bike seat was a smidgen more comfortable with a bath towel wedged into the back of my shorts (I have no bum, really). Every bump in the road a small penance for all my sins of the week.

I feel pretty great after my first cross-training experience, and look forward my next session.

I may have convinced the love of my life to go with me next Sunday. Marathoning may actually be good for the marriage, you see.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I Never Knew Running Could Be So Enjoyable

I never knew running could be so enjoyable.

This morning was my first Dallas Running Club (DRC) Saturday morning training run towards completing the 2009 Dallas White Rock Marathon. There were about 400 or so people out there, in all shapes and sizes, colors and nationalities. What a colorful, beautiful, and diverse group. There were many different pace groups.

My friend Roxanne and I talked before our run about it being like the first day of school. Especially for me. Roxanne was about all I knew there. So, I kind of stood around while others visited. Thinking they were all looking at me. Wondering which ones I'd eventually be friends with. Roxanne is doing a triathlon in a couple of weeks, and this is her first marathon. She is amazingly dedicated. What an inspiration she is for me.

Today was 6 miles. It was HARD! I've been running 6 miles in the early morning hours, but in the daylight, on a somewhat bumpy and hilly path, was something totally different. I've got to get in better shape and trust the schedule they gave me -- and take these Saturday morning runs very seriously.

Today was something I've never done in my life. It was such a pleasure to run 6 miles with a group of cheerleaders, and not in the least bit be trying to go faster than anyone. We were all in this 6 miles together, today.

Running bliss.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Flagship Hotel - Galveston Island, Texas

Start Time: 6 a.m.
Temperature: 84 degrees (at least 100% humidity)
Location: Galveston Island, Texas Seawall Boulevard
Wildlife Report: Lots of seagulls, some pelicans
Police Report: None
Distance: 7 miles
Time: 1:16:30

Hurricane Ike knocked out all the lighting from the Galvestonian to Seawall Boulevard, so I didn't feel comfortable running on the roads through the dunes in the pitch dark. Usually I leave at about 5:30. Once the sun comes up the back (of my out and back run) gets brutal.

On the way to the Flagship Hotel, which is my turn around point, I thought I saw Kara Goucher running down Seawall towards me. It wasn't Kara, but she was a delight anyway, and she smiled and waved. Let me be honest -- that smile and wave makes all the miles I log worthwhile. It's why I get up and keep going out the door in the early mornings.

The Flagship Hotel is as it was post-Ike. No driveway to get from the road to the hotel. Parts of it missing. I don't see it coming back. Kind of sad. When my kids were little and starting to read, it was the "Flags-hip" hotel. It will always be the Flags-hip to us.

The wind was in my face on the way out, but at my back on the way back -- when made it almost neglible. About halfway back, my face felt blood red, and I was a little lightheaded. I had finished half of my 6 Fuel Belt bottles, so I stopped and ran/walked the rest of the way. Actually my time was only 3 minutes slower than last year.

During one walk break, I noticed a little tiny 2X2-inch book on the ground. I picked it up. It was a "Personal Bible: Verses of Comfort, Assurance, Salvation". If that wasn't the Lord providing me just what I needed at the just the right time, I don't know what is. I read it during my walk breaks.

I was pooped last night after a late-night putt-putt game, so I slept in and plan a cross-training day today -- the dreaded surrey.

I'm hoping to have pictures soon. Run on, friends.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Galveston's Oaks Are No More

Drove to Galveston Island, Texas today for some fun and sun on the beach.

I try to start my mornings here with a run from the Galvestonian to the Flagship Hotel and back -- almost 7 miles. The Flagship Hotel appears will never be built following Hurricane Ike -- too much gone.

As you drive down Broadway in Galveston, what's most stunning are the rows and rows of dead oak trees. The saltwater that flooded the island last year with Hurricane Ike has killed virtually all the oaks -- some majestic and very old.

The trees are something that can't be rebuilt.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chased By a Thunderstorm, and a Grackle

Start Time: 5:10 a.m.
Temperature: 79.5 degrees
Location: Garland, Texas
Wildlife Report: 3 cottontails
Police Report: 0 cars
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 1:01:35

Sunday morning runs always have the potential of being wonderful -- I leave so that as I make my turnaround, the sun is rising. Often, stunningly beautiful. At the end of my Sunday morning runs, there is also the potential for excitement -- since early spring, grackles have been dive-bombing me as I run by where I assume they are nesting. When you're in a mental "zone", and something loud swoops down and brushes your head, it can be harrowing. I embarrassingly let out a loud yelp, and then look around to see if anyone saw or heard me.

This morning I was chased by a thunderstorm. About 2 miles out, it started to sprinkle a bit. By 3 miles it was a pretty good rain. Normally, this would be wonderful, but as hot and steamy as it was this morning (a visual steambath rising from the pavement), this had the potential of developing into a serious thunderstorm. So, I made the turn and high-tailed it home. Safe and sound. Thank you, Lord.

I have been caught in serious thunderstorms twice, and don't like it a bit. So, I avoid that possibility as much as possible.

All-in-all, it was a good run. The wet roads kept me from "braking" which I have a tendency to do. I was totally soaked when I got home, but in a good way.

I ate a little bit this morning before my run, which I haven't been doing for awhile. I'm trying to turn myself into a real runner, perhaps to train and eat like a real athlete.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

If You Can Call This a Rest Day

Vacuumed out and washed Katie's car, and Kelly's car, and my truck.

Mowed and edged my neighbor's yard, and then my yard.

104.5 degrees.

Rest day.

Friday, July 3, 2009

To Live and Run Another Day

Start Time: 4:15 a.m.
Temperature: 83.3 degrees
Location: Garland, Texas
Wildlife Report: 1 cottontail
Police Report: 0 cars
Distance: 12 miles
Time: 2:30:35

I walked the last 2 miles this morning. At mile 10, all 6 bottles in my Fuel Belt were empty, my ears were completely full (I thought I was under water), and my shoes and socks were making squooshing sounds.

This morning it was too warm, and I was too heavy, to do my normal 12-miler. So, I decided to stop and walk the last 2 -- to live and run another day.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

All Over Garland on a Thursday

Start Time: 4:10 a.m.
Temperature: 79.9 degrees
Location: Garland, Texas
Wildlife Report: 4 cottontails, 1 skunk (deceased), 1 armadillo
Police Report: 0 cars
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 1:05:37

The sound of my alarm clock sends me into orbit, so I often wake up right before it's about to go off and shut it off. Most of the time this works for me, other times I fall back to sleep and get behind on my morning.

The skunk (whose tail I almost stepped on this past Monday) was laying on the side of the road this morning. Kind of sad. She didn't spray me on Monday, and didn't spray whatever car hit her this morning.

My legs felt like logs this morning, after a day of rest. I think it was the Blue Bell ice cream I ate after dinner last night. I've got to get off the sweets, if I want my runs to be better, and if I want to lose this bale-of-cotton look I'm sporting right now. "Giving those pleats a run for their money, I see," Kelly says.

Uneventful run (which is always a good thing) except for the lone, young, male walker clutching a plastic grocery bag. I swung out wide into the street -- you just never know. He had a blank, almost-panicked look on his face. I sent up a little prayer, a Hail Mary, and an Our Father for him.

Got home in time to make a batch of cookies to take to Jim the barber. Men can still get a pretty good haircut in downtown Garland for just $8. I keep Jim supplied with cookies, he keeps my hair neat, and shares jars of his homemade jalapeno pepper jelly from time to time.

Stopped at Roach Feed and Seed to pick up a bag of milo for the doves -- we have whitewings, which is very unusual for this far north in Texas. I also picked up a bottle of organic liquid fertilizer concentrate to feed the outside plants with. It's made from fish and seaweed. She said it works wonders, but smells something awful. The love of my life is going to love that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rest Days are Good

Ahhh... I slept in and took this morning off. Rest days are good.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Burger and Fries

Have you ever seen anything so cute? My little niece Emma made these. The "bun" is a yellow cake cupcake, cut in two. The "burger" is a brownie. The condiments are colored icing. The "fries" are sugar cookies, cut into strips. Delicious!

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Brother's Gone Organic

My older brother (not that much older) has gone organic.

I think this sudden change from Czech Stop cheese and apricot kolaches, washed down with gallons of full-fat whole milk, to organic was initiated by our trip to my mother's.

We had to check in at the security gate, my brother and his wife checking their truck through first. When we got to the security window, the officer said my dad in the truck in front of us had already checked us in. I've been calling him "Poppi" ever since.

The reality of his imminent demise has caused him to go organic. My years of running and trying to eat healthy have been good to me, I guess.

We talked yesterday on the phone, and he said he has switched to some kind of salt crystal for deodorant. I said, "Uh-huh. You know, Poppi, how those salt crystals work, don't you?"

"No, how? I just know it works."

"That salt gets in your system and dulls your ability to smell your own body odor."

Norman Bates may have proclaimed, "Well, a boy's best friend is his mother," but, there's nothing like the relationship between a boy and his Poppi.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm Having Weighty Thoughts

I'm considering doing some weight training. Again. I think God has been thumping me on the back of the head about this lately. It seems that everything I pick up to read is talking about how I need to be doing some weight training. To be a better runner. Better person. Better All-Pro Dad. Better husband. Better Catholic. OK, maybe not a better Catholic.

My friend Mary Rigney at CrossFit Rockwall says I have a whole new life of fitness just waiting for me. And, if you know Mary, you know that Mary knows.

I'd like to be stronger than my wife. She does weight training, and Pilates, and yoga at the gym. And, before she goes, she does power walking at home. I tried to walk with her once, but sprained my knee trying to keep up and had to return to my running to recover. I'd like to not have to cower down behind her when a bully approaches.

And, I'd like to not have to wrestle with a bag of mulch like it was a dead body. And, I have lower back pain that I know would go away with the right back training program.

I tried weight training once. Years ago, when I was a newlywed. We received a free 3-month membership. I went once. You have to understand that I'm of the if-one-is-good-two-is-better faction (Blue Bell pints, Johnsonville brats, reps, sets). When my trainer wasn't looking, I'd do another rep, another set. I felt pumped on the way home. Then, my wife had to shampoo my head and towel me off because my chest was so tight, I couldn't get my hands above my shoulders. For two days. But, it's been almost 26 years since then. I've grown, matured, gotten much smarter - ahem.

I bought my son and I a home gym set of weights for Christmas when he was a junior in high school. We were going to lift weights three days a week. It's been two years since he graduated from college, and I'm still reminded every day that I have a home weight gym because I have to just bump it (to get my truck to fit) when I pull into the garage.

It's not a vanity thing. I don't think. I'm just trying to figure out some magic combination of exercise that will enable me to eat Blue Bell ice cream nightly, and Hershey's milk chocolate daily, and still wear size 36 pants.

We go to Galveston every year for a week. I keep my shirt on. To keep from getting sunburned. Yeah, right. A couple of years ago there was this beautiful specimen of male human being college student in the surf with us, floating by. The girls (wives included) were all nervous and faint, even from way up under the umbrellas on the shore. I struck up a conversation with him out in the surf. Evan.

"You're the reason I keep my shirt on, you know." "Hey, all I have to do is go to class, study, work out, and come to the beach." We chatted for awhile, and then he floated on along. I have to admit, I kind of had a crush on him myself.

Later, I told the girls, "Evan is a nice guy. I invited him to come to dinner with us." "Oh my God, Daddy! Tell me you are kidding. Please, no." "Oh, I'm just kidding. Sheesh." We were all up at the pool finishing up after a day in the surf, and I had my shirt off. Here came Evan. "Hey, you have your shirt off -- good for you!" he said. "I thought you had class this afternoon." "Got cancelled."

One of these days soon I'm going to bump that home weight gym, and then back right back out of the garage and get out and do a couple of sets. But, only if I'm sure my wife is home. In case I need help showering.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Running = Happiness?

People undertake a new fitness or weight-loss program because they think the end result will ultimately make them “happier.” Let me help you out. Please don’t do that.

I'm a happy runner, a very happy person really. But, running isn't responsible for my happiness. My fitness level, my strength and stamina, my not being a medical burden on my family, my energy level, my good spiritedness, my positive outlook on life -- yes. My happiness? Well...

Happiness is so subjective. My happiness is based on who I am right now. What makes me happy right now may not make me happy tomorrow, or next week, or 20 minutes from now. I won't be the same person then as I am now; I’ll have had an infinite number of life experiences between now and then that will have changed my perception of happiness. (Imagine, trying to plan a "happy" retirement. Lord knows what’s going to bring me happiness 20 years from now!)

I was about this happy as a non-runner 15 years ago. When I was someone who had never run a 5K, a 10K, the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot, the DRC Half Marathon, the White Rock Marathon. I was perfectly happy (whatever that is) with getting 8 hours of sleep; waking up and having a cup of good, strong, hot, black coffee; showering; eating a bowl of cereal; and heading to work around 7:30.

Now, to achieve the same level of morning happiness, I must also run.

Get 2 less hours of sleep. Slip quietly out the front door in all weather conditions (I avoid running if the temperature is below freezing, or if it's stormy -- OK, so I'm a wimp.) Spend money on 4 extra pairs of shoes each year. Shorts. Socks. Magazines. Fuel. (This is not to say that I don't get all giddy and goofy when I know I'm headed down to Luke's Locker for a new pair, or two, of running shoes. It makes me euphoric!) Endure the aches and pains associated with running (good aches and pains, mind you.)

When I first started running, a 1-mile run made me "happy." Then, it was 3. Then 5. Then 6. Now, it's 8. Until August, and then it's anywhere from 6 to 20 miles, depending on the week and day. When I first started running, 12-minute miles were great. Then, it had to be 11-minute. Then, 10-minute miles. (OK, I'm pokey, too.)

So, for me, happiness and running aren't the same game. They have virtually nothing to do with each other.

Someone tried to turn me on to Nutella yesterday, again. I am the lucky person who has not yet tasted Nutella. She assured me Nutella was out of this world, and that I must try it.

Nutella is not going to increase my "happiness." If anything, it will decrease it.

Right now, I'm someone who has never tasted Nutella. I'm perfectly happy (whatever that is) sitting on the couch after dinner, watching TV, with a handful (or half a box) of graham cracker sticks. One taste of Nutella, and to achieve the same level of happiness, I'm probably going to have to sit on the couch after dinner, watching TV, with a handful (or half a box) of graham cracker sticks -- and a fresh tub of Nutella to dip them in.

This will lead to a higher level of guilt and anxiety, and make my next morning run almost mandatory (just try to calculate how many miles you're going to have to run to burn that off, mister.) No, sir. No Nutella for Nelson.

I'm a runner. I'll never again in my life be someone who hasn't gone for one of those long, exhausting, exhilirating, rewarding, 20-mile training runs. And, I'm so glad for that.

But, don't take up running, or any fitness or weight loss program, because it's going to make you "happy" (whatever that is.) Happiness is going to have to come from somewhere else.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm Good at Math

My brother and his wife drove up from Corpus Christi on Saturday. Any trip up or down I-35 in Texas mandates a stop at The Czech Stop in West for world-famous fresh-baked kolaches. They picked up 2 dozen.

On Monday morning, I ran 8 miles. And, then I ate 8 cream cheese and apricot kolaches.

Though terrible at self-control, I'm very good at math.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Dangers of Health Food

On Friday during my lunchbreak, I almost got run over and killed by a little ol' granny in a big ol' Buick -- as I was walking into the health food store.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Old Friends I've Lost in 2009 (NOT a sad story)

At the beginning of a new year, we tend to take stock of the previous year and consider what changes we need to make. I did some serious taking stock late in 2008 and early in 2009 and came to a sobering conclusion.

I knew if I was going to live a long, healthy and prosperous life, I had some friends who could no longer be a part of it. From then on. For the rest of my life. “For the rest of my life” is what was so staggering for me.

For almost four years, I had kept them out of my life. And, really, I’d never been better, and felt better. Based on my test results, my doctor said I was his most-healthy patient. (OK, so he’s got a lot of elderly patients.) Life was so good with these old friends out of my life.

Then, early in 2008, I decided that I was strong enough to let them back in. I was sure that if I just limited our time together, I could still have a good life – maybe even an enhanced life. Very shortly, I knew I’d made a mistake. By mid-year, it was too late – they were woven through my entire life. I didn’t get my annual physical in 2008 because I was afraid of the results.

So, now it’s a new year, and it’s time for a clean break from these old friends. Let me tell you just a bit about them.

Ben and Jerry and I spent a lot of time together in 2008. At first it was just on Friday nights. Then, on an occasional weeknight. Then, whenever they were in the house, we partied.

Famous Amos and Little Debbie went to work with me – old faithfuls. They got me through many afternoon lulls. You might get a mealy, pithy orange, but you can always count on Little Debbie to be good.

Milton Hershey and I celebrated a productive workday, a good grade report, the end of an exhausting day. Hershey and I also got through some tough times together.

Duncan (Hines) and I spent many evenings together, making cookies. Duncan taught me how to “love” with food. I know now that what Duncan and I were doing wasn’t “love” – baking cookies for family and friends who shouldn’t be eating them in the first place.

The turning point for me in 2008 will shock you. I trained for a marathon – and gained 25 pounds. I ran a total of 1450 miles (I log them) – and gained 25 pounds.

Making the decision to eliminate (for the rest of your life) such friends who have been such an integral part of your life is terribly difficult. I think we actually go through Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief – I know I have.

Denial and isolation – denying there has been a loss, withdrawing from social settings. I’ve been there – terrified of, perhaps, a family birthday party where I know my old friends will be, tempting me.

Anger – furious with the one who inflicted the hurt, or at oneself. What kind of a company would make such destructive products? What kind of a weakling am I to be drawn in so?

Bargaining – with God, “If I do this, will you take away my loss?” I promise to run more miles if I can just keep these old friends.

Depression – feeling numb, with anger and sadness underneath. What’s life going to be like without these old friends? Is it even worth it? My family will still love me if I’m fat. (But, I know I won’t love myself.)

Acceptance – finally accepting the reality of the loss. I’m not here, yet, but I hope to be someday.

Maybe you have some friends who are holding you back from the healthy and prosperous life you deserve, friends who need to no longer be a part of your life? There’s no better time than now, at the beginning of a new year, to make a change.

It won’t be easy. But, nothing worthwhile ever is. There’s going to be some grieving. But, you’ve got a network of family and friends, and Nelson pulling for you. You can do it.

Happy new year, friend.