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.