Saturday, October 20, 2007

'And I ran ...'

Pretty good photos of the kids running, eh? Thanks to their great coach, Kathy Dortch, for these photos. Both Will and Kathryn improved throughout the season and learned a lot about themselves. Kathryn has good running form, while Will is very consistent with pace. Neither gave in on the hot days, and both bonded with teammates.

Thanks to our friend, Marian Kohl, who took the kids to Cheekwood yesterday with her girls, I had a few hours' free time late yesterday. If you guessed I went running, you win. I ran 5.5 miles on moderate terrain in perfect weather. Low humidity and dewpoint ... it was barely warm in the sun and cool in the shade. My pace was slow, but I wanted to breathe easy and enjoy it all.

I did so, except right at the end of mile one. To avoid inhaling some gas fumes and grass clippings churned into the air by a lawn guy, I held my breath for a few seconds. When I felt I'd cleared the swath of tainted air, I opened my mouth wide to take a deep breath. Immediately, a large insect, probably a big fly, slammed into the back of my throat. "CODE RED," I thought. I gagged, spit and attempted to eject the intruder. I'm not sure I did, but I used half my water in the process. The incident didn't ruin my run, but I'm sure I was the sight for a minute or two.

One thought on my run was how the half marathon training prepared me for managing this chaos I'm experiencing personally. Right now, I essentially have two jobs, and am a father, pseudo-mother and caregiver to Dori with all the associated duties. We may not think it, but we are equipped to do all of this, even though some days are difficult (Friends and family help, even though they often say they're not doing much). But when duty calls, you step up, as my friend Al likes to say. Buy-in to the mission is essential to handling the stress and anxiety.

Anyhoo, half-marathon training this summer was a God-send. I never took off one day, except at the end when I was injured and could not run. Some days, I woke up at 4:15 and said to myself, "This is crazy. I can't believe I'm about to go running this early." Before some afternoon runs in extreme summer heat, I mumbled internally, "Jez, Jim, are you serious? It's 98 degrees outside." But to succeed, there are no off days from the schedule. That's what Dori is counting on from me, and I am damn determined not to let her, or my children, down. I experience personal failings sometimes (impatience among several), but am able to regroup pretty quickly, in part because of the training.

I only ran eight miles this week, but every mile helps me cope better. So thanks, Marian, for the reprieve and the energy boost.

I'm hoping to catch a little college football today. Vanderbilt plays 7th ranked South Carolina, a team that usually pushes us around. Maybe we can push back for a change. Go Dores.

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