Monday, November 29, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Technodrome

I have to document these stories while I can still remember them.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Technodrome was the must-have toy for boys in the late 80s/early 90s. John insisted it was all he wanted for Christmas. It wasn't cheap.

Putting together the Technodrome was more torturous than working a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. I'm sure there were more parts than that. I spent hours putting it together on Christmas Eve after the kids had gone to bed.

But, I finally got it together. I had taken my time, was very careful, and it looked exactly like the picture on the box. Sweet success. The only task left was to apply the decals.

So, I got out the decals to add the final finishing touch. At the top of the page of decals was a note:

"Make sure to apply decals to the individual parts before putting the Technodrome together."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Giving Camping Some Thought

We used to go camping when the kids were little. We outgrew the desire to do that over the years, I guess. But, I'm starting to think that might be fun again. I'm sure camping would be a solo adventure for me now, though. Maybe I'll try it out in the back yard first.

We used to camp at Lake Bonham with the Byrd and Falls families. I remember on one trip the Byrds and Praters got there first. The wives took the kids over to the playground, and Mark Byrd and I struggled to get our tents up. Sweltering heat, dusty wind, uneven ground, bent tent stakes, profanity-laced outbursts. Mark finally came over to give me a hand. We eventually got both tents up, our hair going in all directions, our faces covered with dust, our shirts salt-stained, but our egos feeling accomplished.

The Falls finally arrived, and David, decked out in plaid shorts, polo shirt, and topsiders, hopped out of their mini-van and sent Teri and the kids out to play. David turned a little handle and popped up their camper, canopy and all. Mark and I looked at each other and hung our heads in shame. When David started stringing those party lights through the trees, we got misty-eyed and had to look away. What kind of men are we, we thought? What kind of fathers?

We headed over to join the others at the playground. Mark and I draped ourselves over a bench, totally pooped, while David scampered over to play with the kids. We should be ashamed of ourselves! What kind of men are we? What kind of fathers?

We men finally snuck back to camp for some snacks. Mark and I got out our Ho-Hos and Ding-Dongs and Nutty Buddys and Bugles and Cheetos and Big Red; David got out a big bag of grapes and plums and some sparkling water. And, man did David ever eat some grapes and plums! By the time the girls and kids got back about an hour later, David was starting to turn green and was laid back in one of his adirondack chairs with a wet towel over his face.

What kind of a man is that, we thought? What kind of a father is that?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jesus, Is That You?

I used to see (who I referred to as) Cap'n Jack on my early morning runs -- an older, heavy-set fellow wearing a fishing cap and kind of lumbering along. I didn't see him all the time -- just on mornings when I was a little down, or maybe working out a frustration or something in my head (I do that a lot on my solo home runs.) Some mornings we'd be on the same side of the street, some not. But, a smile and big ol' wave from Cap'n Jack always lifted my spirits. (Remember, this was usually at 4:30 in the morning!)

It's been over a year since I've seen Cap'n Jack, but now I have a new friend. A little old lady out walking, wearing her AM/FM headphones with the antenna all the way up (yes it's still 4:30 in the morning.) Even though we often pass just inches from each other, she smiles and waves with her whole body. I don't see her all the time -- just on mornings when I am a little down... A big smile and whole-body wave from my little old lady friend always lifts my spirits.

Jesus, that's you, isn't it?!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

(My) Vision for the 4:30 Training Group

This is an open letter to the DRC Fall Training Program - 4:30 Full Marathon Training Group.

Dear friends,

Ashley and I are so thrilled that you have chosen to make the journey to the starting line of the marathon with us. What an honor you have bestowed on us, and what a responsibility we now have!

If you haven't already, I think you will soon get a sense that Ashley and I (and all the pace leaders) take this very seriously and have dedicated this season of our lives to helping you get to the starting line trained and healthy. Yes, we're for real. Really.

But it's more than just getting to the starting line -- it's discovering who we will become between now and then. We won't be the same people then as we are now; trust me. We will be something supremely different, and better.

I'm reading Tony Dungy's new book "The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building Teams That Win Consistently." Can I be so bold as to attempt a Vision, Mission and Values for our group? Having a vision, mission and set of values will enable us to make group decisions that are focused on where we want to go and be.

Vision A picture of where we want to be, what we want to look like, what we hope things will be like in the future.

I have a picture in my head of us huddling together at the starting line of the White Rock Marathon, near the person holding up the 4:30 sign. We're each wrapped in one of those cheap fleece blankets (imagine that, now!) - that we're going to throw off to the side when the race starts, to be picked up and given to someone else who is trying to stay warm but can't afford a cheap fleece blanket. We're all there, every one of us. Not a single one of us was lost to injury or burnout this fall. The race starts, we say our goodbyes, and we're all off to run our race.

My next picture is of us gathering together again for a group picture in the chute past the finish line of the marathon. We've each run our own race and are together again. Some of us ran together, some of us didn't. We've all just had the time of our lives, can't even really remember what our finish time was, and are on top of the world. What smiles! And, we're wondering when we can go do this again.

Mission Why do we exist? Why are we doing what we're doing? Why bother with all of this, anyway?

We exist, the DRC Fall Training Program - 4:30 Full Marathon Training Group, to help each other accomplish that vision. We are in this together. At least two days a week, we will run not as individuals, but collectively as a group. There is a higher power in group running - we can accomplish things together we would never be able to do on our own (for example, run 4+ miles in 100+ degree temperatures!)

We are doing this to find that person inside of us we kind of knew existed, but may have never met. Again, trust me, the person standing at the starting line of the marathon won't be the same person you know right now.

Why bother with this, anyway? Because this new person is going to be infinitely more-capable of giving back to others. I think we do this because there are others, who we might not even know right now, who are counting on us to become these new people, counting on us to be prepared to help them take this same journey we just took, maybe even as early as next spring. We are preparing ourselves now to be able to share this experience with others in the future.

Values "Rules of the road," how we will treat each other, what is important to us

We can come up with these as we go along...
What is important (to me) is that every time we get together to run, we have fun. Running is meant to be fun. Group running can be a blast. It's really a social event - a chance to get together with our friends, enjoy each others' company, and accomplish something that is good for our bodies and for our souls. Let's enjoy each route we take together.

We will encourage each other. We will do our best to stick close together when we run. (We didn't join a group to then run by ourselves, did we?) If someone needs to take an extra water stop on a hot day, we'll stop. If we need to take a little longer stop so somebody can sneak in to the restroom, we'll wait. Our group is special in that we have two pace leaders - between Ashley and I, we can make sure that nobody gets left behind. Ideally, though, we will start and finish our group runs together.

We will be known for our respect and encouragement of the other DRC runners, other runners, cyclists, walkers, skaters, etc.

Basically, we will create an environment that we all can't wait to get to each Wednesday and Saturday. That's the 4:30 Full Marathon Training Group.

So, there you go. We have a long journey ahead of us, one we've just started, and I promise you, one we will never forget. It's going to be a real trip!

Thanks again for trusting Ashley and I with your presence in our group. Hope you had a good run today, friends.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Used to Think 50 Was Old

When I was ten, twenty seemed old. We had a family friend who was twenty, drank black coffee, and played the guitar. I thought he was old, but I sure wanted to learn how to play that guitar.

When I was twenty, thirty seemed old. I was standing in the checkout line with a mother and her young daughter who bumped me, and the mother said, "Say you're sorry to the nice man." Ouch.

When I was thirty, forty seemed old. My son would already be fifteen, and my daughter twelve when I turned forty.

When I was forty, fifty seemed old. Now that I'm fast approaching fifty, sixty seems old.

I'm going to keep running so that when I turn sixty, seventy will seem old.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


(Thanks, Phil, for reminding me of this story.) I never could figure out what being "saved" meant. Saved from what?

When I was 7 or 8, my best buddy Kevin Owens and I were throwing the football in the front yard when some guy walked up and asked if we wanted to be "saved." Sounded interesting to us, so we said OK. He said a prayer over us, gave us a mini Bible, and declared us "saved."

We thought that was cool and went inside for some Kool-Aid.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Secret to Parking at Winfrey Point

Shhhh.... There's a secret to parking at Dallas Running Club races that start at Winfrey Point. Interested?

It was frigid at the last February race -- below freezing before and near freezing afterward. With limited parking at Winfrey Point, many parked at the clubhouse and walked over. When it's not frigid out, it's not really very far -- a nice walk before and after the race, and maybe even a short warm-up run.

After the February race, I gave Mike and Sam a ride back to their cars. Sam drew the short straw and flopped over into the bed of my little truck -- like a piece of red, raw meat. It was so cold, and he looked so miserable back there. If he hadn't been so sweaty and gross, I would have thrown him the Mexican blanket I have over the seat in my truck.

But, this doesn't have to be. There is a secret to parking at Winfrey Point. Wanna know what it is?


Those parking spaces right up by the door are reserved for volunteers. Well, not really reserved, but the volunteers get there first and have their pick of the prime spots.

Did you know you can volunteer and run the race? There are lots of jobs race runners can do before or after the race.

There's no telling what kind of new things Jason could plan at the DRC races if he could count on an abundance of extra volunteers.

If you've already registered to run the April 5-miler, you can go back and register to also volunteer. And, when you register for the May race, go ahead and register twice -- once to run, once to volunteer. You'll feel great about yourself, you'll get a prime parking spot, and your DRC will have a better race and be a better running club because you volunteered.

What's in your race volunteer wallet?