Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dores Impress

I haven't run since Sunday, but I expected to be challenged this week to fit in some runs. It's gonna be 23 degrees tomorrow morning, but I'm going to have to grin and bear it, bundle up and run. The rest of the week looks warmer, but I need some miles. I feel lethargic after not running three days in a row ... the onion rings and tasty bison burger at Ted's Montana Grill last night probably didn't help.

The reason we were at Ted's ... our friends Runcie and Donna gave me three tickets to the Vanderbilt-UT game. So I took the kids to dinner and the game, and we had a wonderful night. Does it get better, if you're eight or nine years old, than strawberry milk shakes and then watching the Dores beat your rival, ranked No. 1 in the country, on national TV? Nope.

Some observations from the game and the atmosphere:

- I was impressed UT's team stayed on the floor for the national anthem before going back to the locker room. Their players were also gracious after the loss, which was classy. Too bad their football team and coach are the exact opposite (arrests, whiners, excuses, etc.).
- The UT fans were fine, too. The crowd was intense, but never unruly. Just a great atmosphere.
- The officiating, for both sides, was the worst I've seen in a long time ... 53 fouls - 27 on UT and 26 on VU. Let the boys play and just call the hard stuff.
- Our mascot, Mr. Commodore, looks like a dirty old man.
- We arrived about 90 minutes before game time, and the students were already there making serious noise.
- VU is 24-4 after last night's win. Our coach, now revered, was on the hot seat 13 months ago. Patience, persistence, perspective ... all powerful words. It's never as gloomy as it seems, and never as rosy.

So thank you, Runcie and Donna! That was a memorable night for me and my children. Dori watched the game today, and yes, she's a happy camper.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Patient Siggy

This morning, Dori and I watched "A Word on Words," a show on local public television about the insight of local authors. Host John Seigenthaler interviewed Sigourney Cheek, who has penned Patient Siggy: Hope and Healing in Cyberspace. Dori has begun reading this book, and I'll be starting the first page shortly after she finishes the last one.

We were riveted by the intensely personal account from Mrs. Cheek, who battled lymphoma and Richter's Transformation into remission (she said today on the show she's had a recurrence). I was personally struck when Cheek said she feels closest to God when she's writing (for me, it's when I'm writing and running, even more than when I'm praying). She also discussed the power of community in her battle. The trigger to this power, she said, is allowing yourself to be vulnerable in order to share insight on taboo subjects like death and prayer. In a sense, that's what CaringBridge and this blog have been for us. We have been linked, like Mrs. Cheek and her wonderful community, via cyberspace to old friends who have become better friends and new friends who have become good ones.

We totally "got" where Patient Siggy was coming from. Cheek mentions Dr. Greer in her book, so you could say Dori is more than locked in on her new compatriot's vivid experience. The podcast of Mrs. Cheek's interview should soon be available here under 02/24/08.

Last night, Kathryn and I went to a Texas-themed father-daughter dance at her wonderful school. We had a blast, dancing to the Cha-Cha Slide and other songs and pounding a root beer float. We then came home to watch the end of the Memphis-UT game. Pepper and Kathryn feel asleep peacefully on a blanket under my feet ... I didn't want to wake them, but I needed to get the girl to bed. One thing that I enjoyed last night at the dance was positive feedback from a father about my blog; he said it's "inspirational." After I thanked him, I said we're just so thankful that "Dori is still here with all of us," to which his eyes widened. Dori, through whom God is working, is the real inspiration.

Church almost always is meaningful to me, if not often inspirational. Today, I found meaning in one passage about patience through hardship, connecting to an experience a family member is going through. In another, I was struck by how important forgiveness is. Earlier this week, someone I know latched on to anger and bitterness rather than the positive power of healing that forgiveness can bring. That was at the top of my prayer list this week.

I feel good after yesterday's run, so much so that an attempt at the PWP 5.8-mile loop is in the cards. Last week is over; this week is here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blood Counts on the Rise

Yes, Will and Dori essentially have the same hair right now ... short. Dori's hair has changed from black to almost her former brown, with some reddish gold streaks. Doesn't Dori look good?

She's had a great week after vanquishing last week's stomach virus. Her red blood cell and platelet counts rose, so they removed her PICC line. Let me say that again ... they removed her PICC line! Even her white blood cell count rose, which is good news after battling the stomach bug. Dr. Jagasia mentioned Dori might be two to three months away from doing some things she likes, like walking at Radnor Lake. She might even be work-ready on a part-time basis by the summer, if she chooses to go back.

Will's basketball team, shown above, won their first game, 29-24 in a thriller in their final game of the year. This year was Will's first to play, but apparently his team didn't win a game last year; so this was the boys' first victory in two years. The kids maxed out, in effort and performance. Will ran a fast break, leading his buddy MacGregor, who made a great shot, for the play of the game. Will also had two buckets, along with several steals and rebounds. When the horn sounded, it was like the end of the movie, "Hoosiers." The kids could not contain themselves or stop celebrating.

After Sunday's nine miler and Monday's six miler, I ran 3.5 miles early Wednesday and again on the treadmill on the road on Thursday. So with one day left, my mileage stood at 22 miles. I decided I would get in another long run early this morning. The smiling weather lady on TV said it was 31 degrees with a 3 MPH north wind. As I turned out of the driveway, I thought, "Sugar pie, that's a 10 MPH north wind." My hands hurt the first mile ... like little needles were pricking. My fingernails also hurt, a phenomenon I'd never felt.

Knowing I would warm up, I ran down to the Gulch, about five miles from the house, where I fueled. I turned to the Music Row roundabout, ran down Music Row and fueled again at the Athlete's House, where I later bought another pair of wonderful Brooks Dyads. The humidity was high this morning, and I was also congested, so I took about 90 seconds to fuel (Vanilla Bean GU and Gatorade) and refill with water. The last 3.5 miles went well, even up that steep hill at 9.5 miles. I had another mile or two in me today because I took my time. Final time and distance: 10.42 miles at 1:45:16, a 10:06 pace with those two stops. My actual running pace on the moderately hilly course was probably 9:45 per mile.

Yes, my friends (McCain speak), I ran 32.5 miles this week. The body feels fine. I think I ran a little slower than I would have liked today because I was a bad puttytat on Wednesday when I ate some fast food. Sometimes, you slip, but a boy needs his Pizza Hut every few months or so. I am weak for cheese, ice cream and beer, though I've cut down significantly on the latter two in recent years.

If I recall correctly, 32.5 miles is my third best weekly tally. I'll run one more high mileage week, then begin the taper to March 15. This will be a good week to break in the new shoes (my purchase, not the 80s band ... That would be Nu Shooz, the one-hit wonder that belted out "I Can't Wait"). That one was for you, Annie B.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

First, more good news. Dori was told today her bloodwork shows 100% donor DNA. Also, she feels almost back to normal after the stomach issues. Unfortunately, Kathryn doesn't. She's right in the middle of the same bout Will and Dori went through.

President's Day is a holiday for most folks, but not everyone. Today was like any other day, as I went to work in the morning and ran my "mom errands" at midday. After yesterday's semi-debacle nine-miler, I thought about getting in what we runners call a "recovery run," just to shake out the kinks from a longer run. Weird thing, though ... I felt fine last night and today, I felt incredible. Note to self ... Mexican food is good recovery food. I decided to take Mighty Pepper to Percy Warner Park for the 5.8-mile loop ... and boy am I glad I did.

From the start, Pepper wanted to sprint, so I compromised and obliged a brisk pace. The first mile at PWP (autumn photo above) is uphill, but I felt good, probably running an 8:45 pace. At mile one, Pepper and I passed a decent runner who had started about 90 seconds before us. Mile one to mile two is slightly downhill, so we picked up the pace, probably an 8:15. The runner behind us decided he was going to hang with us, so I thought cool, I've got two reasons to keep moving quickly ... a frisky dog and a dude who thinks he can keep up with us.

At mile two, our runner started dropping. I never saw him again after 2.5 miles. When I reached the base of the infamous Three Mile Hill, I looked up and thought to myself, "That looks easy today." When I reached the top, I felt like my fuel gauge was still full and I could run as if I were driving a car ... just hit the gas pedal and go. Before mile four, I realized Pepper was starting to hurt, and I was sorta dragging him along. That started costing time, probably about 30-45 seconds a mile from the 3.5-mile mark. I hoped he could last, because we were on a 50-minute pace.

I was thinking I was going to drop the hammer and run a 7:00 minute mile or better at the end, but the dog's welfare and my daughter's perception of me are more important. At mile five, Pepper hit his "puppy wall." I owed the dog a break, so we walked for a few hundred yards so he could recover. After he did, we jogged in.

Lots of positives to take away ... I now know I'm capable of sub-50-minute PWP run, an 8:37 pace or better. I also feel differently than yesterday ... that I'm close to half marathon shape. Yesterday's run was a toss-out run. Today's conditions were perfect ... 40 degrees and little humidity. Yesterday's conditions - 70 degrees and higher humidity - contributed to the difficulty of the run. 70 degrees in winter feels like 87 in summer. Finally, it's nice to have 15 miles already chalked up this week, with five days to go.

I reconnected today with my cousin, Billy, who I haven't seen in 14 years ... since Dori and I married. I've also reconnected with cousins Laura and Michael. Get this ... all of us are runners. Bill and I are half-marathoners, while Mike and Laura are studly marathoners. Dori is a 5K runner, and the kids are good cross country runners in their league. Billy and I are glad we've shunned some bad habits and vices that destroy the body. I can't imagine not being a runner.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nine Tough Miles

First, the good news. Dori is feeling better. Though she's having a few lingering "issues," her fever is gone and she's eating again. I cannot tell you how calming it is to have her back to normal or close to normal. If the doctors had ordered her to go back in the hospital, I might have "dropped the gloves," as we say in hockey.

I found a photo of a red-tailed hawk, much like our neighborhood resident. I call him "Boss Hawk," because he really rules this part of South Nashville. He's the one we see cruising through our property, or perched on a fence down the road, just taking in the sights or looking for hapless rodents. The kids and I agree Boss Hawk is the most handsome bird we've ever seen. I did find our bird guidebook in Will's room, but I can't ID the sparrow or warbler yet.

Today's long run, which I started as soon as the rain stopped, is proof I'm not ready for a half marathon. After a decent first few miles, I felt the energy drop around mile four. After a GU, things picked up, but not for long. That's when I turned back into the 25 MPH wind that went from friend to foe. Miles five through 8.5 also were mostly uphill, so things got dicey. My 9:10 pace the first four miles dropped significantly. My mind said, "You don't have to finish today." I pushed on, knowing that yes, I had to finish this run to stay on schedule for the next half marathon. You don't do 13.1 by quitting a nine-miler.

Another GU at mile seven helped matters, but only slightly. When I reached mile eight, where there's a steep hill, I recalled the words (from ABBA's I Have a Dream) I heard earlier on my iPod:

" ...Pushing through the darkness ... still another mile ... I believe in angels."

I love that song. This helped me get up that hill, but I was totally spent at that point. I stopped at the top, breathed deeply, finished the last few ounces of Gatorade, and plodded on wobbly into the whipping wind. "Don't stop again, buddy," I thought. "Finish!"

The inner cussing worked. The last .75 miles weren't unbearable, just not enjoyable. Kinda like the whole run ... 9 miles in 1:29:09.

The kids, a friend of Kathryn's and I went to the Vanderbilt-Florida game yesterday. Dori and I made it out of clinic in time for me to do this, and sister Anne came over to be with Dori. After not showing much emotion in the first half, I felt myself get very involved in the game as the intensity on the court increased. I was sitting around a few Gator fans who were annoying quite a few of the home folks, including me. Do you think I had some pent-up energy from the last few days? At one point, I told myself, "This is just a basketball game." But I didn't want to lose to those Gators!

Florida made a nice comeback, but one of their guards stopped their momentum late in the game by getting a technical foul for elbowing our center A.J. Ogilvy. Then, they were called for an over-and-back at midcourt, and we hit our free throws. The Dores won, 61-58, to go 22-4. I looked over at the end of the game at my daughter and her friend, and they were doing the Gator chomp (flapping arms like Gator jaws)! Yikes. They were into it, too.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Heading Home

We're still at the clinic, but heading home soon. There was some discussion this morning from Dr. Greer and the nurse practitioner about checking Dori back in to 11 North. The hair on my head, what little is left, practically stood up when I heard that.

Dori is finishing up some magnesium, after accepting a big bag of fluids this morning. No diarrhea today so far, and she ate part of my apple cinnamon scone, which she kept down. That was very good news. Dori is exhausted from the phenigren (sp), which she's taking for nausea.

Since her adrenal glands aren't kicking in like ours would, she's going to take a small dose of steroids for four days. Fine ... as long as she takes it at home. I really like the nurses and staff on 11 North, but I never, ever want to see them again on the job. At the mini-mart, grocery or department store ... that's great.

We need to keep Dori moving forward to a normal life, or something closely resembling it. The experts said and textbooks noted that this ordeal would be a long haul with ups and downs. Reading and understanding that are different than experiencing it. The last two days have been hard on her, and hard on me, too. I know we've been at this for eight months now, but I am losing my concept of time. That's never been an issue for me, except on long deployments at sea. I've lost my patience more lately and have some other feelings simmering. I've had a lot thrown at me since June and handled it well for the most part, just like Dori. But occasionally, I don't. Mostly, I am forward-thinking (optimistic, think of the future, cherish every day, etc.), but these past few days I've been off track, reflecting on what I used to have. That's selfish, and I know it.

Times like these call for asking God to restore inner peace. Temporal weakness and fleeting anxiety make us human. Something else I know - I need to focus more on the example set by the Ultimate Role Model.

Bump in the Road

Yesterday was a tough day for Dori. She woke up and became physically ill. The kids had the day off from school, so I stayed home and took care of everyone and worked from home.

I checked on Dori, who I think had what Will had a few days ago, every hour. Around mid-morning, she started the diarrhea cycle Will had and later spiked a low grade fever. She tried to eat some applesauce yesterday afternoon, but that didn't go well. Her fever peaked at 100.0 around 8 last night, so I called the doctor on call a second time. His initial concern was GVHD until I told him about Will's recent sickness. He said if she couldn't keep her cyclosporine down, she needed to check in the hospital. Thankfully, she did keep it and other important meds down.

We're at the clinic this morning. Dori is getting fluids and they're looking at her levels after what she's been through. She looks better today than yesterday. She's lost about four pounds (she's at 121), so eating later today and fluids will be good.

Yesterday was unnerving. The kids were edgy because they didn't see Mom the whole day because she was either in bed or the bathroom. I tried my best to get Dori to drink yesterday, which was a struggle. I tried my sweet voice, and later my tougher voice, saying you really don't want to go back to 11 North, do you? ... Please drink, sweetheart. She tried her best, but we weren't exchanging the pleasantries we exchanged last Sunday at our Valentine's dinner. You couples know what I'm talking about ... Dori wasn't in the mood to listen to anything or anyone. That's "the joy" of GI issues.

The kids are at their basketball games, thanks to my Mom and StepDad, Dan. We'll regroup later today. Until then, I am putting images in my head of all of us in Beersheba later this spring and Edisto Island, South Carolina this summer. We could all use some mountain time and beach time.

I've looked but haven't found an image yet of the sparrow couple outside our front window. I have seen a lot of pictures of pretty birds, though. There's always a plus.

Friday, February 15, 2008

21.5 Miles for the Week

So how early was this morning's six-mile run?

- The newspaper wasn't in the driveway when I started.
- I never saw a car until Mile Three.
- No dog barked at me.
- I finished well before sunrise.
- I'm blogging at 6:10 a.m.

I started out before 5, thinking it was a four-shirt morning with a headband and open gloves. Running into the wind the first mile, I congratulated myself on the choices. By Mile Two, I had reversed my decision, removing headband and untucking my shirts. It almost felt balmy.

I never felt good on the run. In fact, at Miles One and Four, I felt sorta crummy. I stopped at Mile Four to drink Gatorade and just to convince myself I needed to finish this bleepin' run. I did, thinking about Dori's efforts to get out of the hospital, as well as her walks on the treadmill and strength exercises she doesn't want to do some days.

Mission accomplished, by the way ... I ran more than 21 miles this week.

The other day, Dori spotted two small birds, a male and female, in a tall holly bush outside our front window. The male had a beautiful red belly, while the female stood guard over her newly built nest. Sounds like Dori and me ... I have (OK, used to have) a red belly and Dori is a nester. I think they are sparrows, but I can't locate our Birds of North America book. Looks like I get a C in Ornithology today. If I find a photo of the birds, I will post later. Later ... have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sick Boy

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to find our son lying on the couch, white as a ghost. Last night, while we watched Vanderbilt's win over Kentucky, Will complained about an upset stomach. This morning, Will proceeded to tell me he got sick last night. No problem, I said, then walked by his room to find a recreation of The Exorcist set. It took me 45 minutes to clean and sanitize his room and the main bathroom, start the wash, and reassure him all was OK. He made several poor choices along the way to the rough morning, including pounding a lot of Nestle's Valentines. His Indian name is now Too Much Chocolate.

All that was the least of my concerns. I wanted low-immune Dori nowhere near him, but no one in our family could keep him today. So we kept him in his room, and I canceled my meetings, staying home to check on him every hour or so. He napped some of the day. He's feeling better, drinking Pedialyte and finally eating dinner.

I could not believe school was canceled today. We only had a dusting, but then again, when I ran an errand this morning, people were flying way over the speed limit on wet streets while it was 26 degrees. Black ice is dangerous, but folks here don't know or care. It's very unnerving to have people riding your bumper when you know black ice is out there.

I did manage to catch some of the congressional baseball hearings. I think Clemens is lying, and McNamee did some bad things. Whoever is lying, one of those two needs a priest and a confessional booth. What do you think? Muchado about nothing? Congress involved in something it shouldn't be, rather than focusing on more serious issues? What bugs me most is all this time Dori and I have spent trying to convince our kids to eat their peas and carrots, but now, they might just consider injecting HGH. JK.

While Will rested in the early afternoon, I took Pepper out for a quick lunchtime run. We went four easy miles. Yes, it was cold running into the NW wind, but running into a NW wind is far better than not running into a NW wind. Weekly mileage is now 15.5. I need a six-miler on Friday morning to make the weekly goal before a big weekend run.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Need to Run

I took Dori to the clinic today. All is well. Her red blood cell count remains low (26). Norm is 34-44, I think. She's been very close to getting a transfusion, which explains her overall feeling of lethargy. They've kept her PICC line in because of that, which is a small burden.

It's hard for Dori to get up in the morning, or last much pass 7 p.m. The good news is her white blood cell count looks good. Platelets are OK ... not great, not bad. It will be nice when her blood counts are all normal. Dori will certainly say, "Here, Here" to that.

It looks like we'll be dining soon with our friends, the Hendrys. Chuck is also recovering from his transplant. He's back at work, and I'm looking forward to seeing them, celebrating life and comparing notes like we leukemia-affected people do.

Rain, rain, go away ... I'm feeling some stress right now because I have tons on my plate and the rain has me trapped inside. We cancelled our Y membership this year because it's nearly $100/month and we don't take full advantage, plus we're going to join the neighborhood swim club soon. On days like today, I miss the Y. Tomorrow morning looks like it's going to be very cold, but I still may bundle up and add some miles. I need the stress-buster.

Tonight, Vanderbilt (20-4) plays Blue Mist Kentucky in basketball on ESPN. That should be fun to watch. I'm very excited again about VU baseball. We have season tickets, and we'll go to a ton of games. I love that program for many reasons - it's a winning program, sure, but I greatly respect Coach Corbin, who visited Dori this summer in the hospital and still keeps in touch. He's a class act, and so are his coaches and players. We will send Will to his summer camp.

I've gotta run (dinner, consulting, etc.), but I hope to report my training stays on track this week and mileage hits the 20s. I'm thinking this weekend's run will be my first double-digit miler since Virginia.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dizzying Week

Stomach virus. Check.
Whirlwind week at work. Check.
Eighteen miles of running this weekend. Check.

Time is flying by this year. Parts of Monday and Tuesday, however, seemed like a crawl because my belly wasn't happy. My stomach growled three days straight, starting right after the Super Bowl. I spent some of those days, as I told a few friends, "napping and doing something that rhymes with napping."

I was able to work some from home, which enabled me to sink my teeth into a few long-term projects. On Wednesday, I was back on my feet. I was fine until about 1 p.m., when I hit a wall. On the way home, I bought some pedialyte, which helped with rehydration. By Friday morning, I was back on the road, running like nothing had happened.

Friday's run was one of the best runs I can recall. It was effortless, almost religious. It was 33 degrees, calm and quiet at 5 a.m. I ran past the Governor's Mansion, a route I never take. I thoroughly enjoyed running down Curtiswood Lane, except for all the protestors. Just kidding! I did notice the Blasting Zone signs. I ran the six miles in 54 minutes.

Friday night, I actually went to dinner with sister Anne and her husband Stephen. We went to Mafiaoza's on 12th, and I had a stellar angel hair pasta in pesto cream alfredo with grilled chicken. Anne's pizza, which I had the next day for lunch, was perfect. They ordered with loose sausage, spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms.

On Saturday morning, after doing some consulting work and before the kids' basketball games, I worked in a 3.5-mile speed session. My pace on moderate terrain was fairly brisk, about 8:30/mile. The kids played great in their games. Will scored eight points and Kathryn played a good game, giving great effort. She almost scored (good shot that didn't fall), grabbed rebounds and made a few steals.

The kids and I went to church last night, which I enjoyed very much. It put me in the mood for Lent. Some folks I know approach life like there is a finish line on earth, while others believe this earth is here merely for them. I try to avoid both camps ... I believe we have to prove ourselves every day as Christians, which includes seeking redemption and preparing for everlasting life. Along the way, it is important to enjoy and celebrate our temporal existence. Lent is the perfect time to strive to be a better Christian. I certainly see plenty of room for improving my life and seeking atonement for my transgressions.

This morning, I told Dori and the kids I love them, then headed to Shelby Bottoms in East Nashville. The photos are of Shelby Bottoms, which is a paradise for runners. A flat asphalt path meanders along the Cumberland River and through scenic wetlands. It's a paradise for birds and bird-watchers. I started my run about 9:15 and saw 100 runners who were heading the other way in a race or group run. I was the only runner heading up-river. My plan was to run to the end of the Bottoms, but the back of the park was blocked off where work was being done on the new bridge over the Cumberland connecting our city's greenways.

I took it easy today, mostly because I drank a few ales last night watching the Predators play late-night hockey in San Jose. Bedtime was 11:30. I felt fine today, running a pace above 9:15/mile most of the run. I ran for 1:16:30, probably about eight miles. It was chilly today, with a whipping wind that made it quite cold at times. It seemed like the wind shifted a good deal, and that most of my run was into it. You runners know about this phenomenon!

Total mileage last week, stomach virus and all, was 19 miles. I'm at 11.5 miles this week. I am not going to run the half marathon next week in Lebanon. I'm just not ready. I need some 25-mile and 30-mile weeks with more speed work. The Tom King Half on March 15 still looks like a good goal.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rumbling Stomach

This won't be a long one. My stomach began bothering me around bedtime last night. I woke up at 1:30, and my insides were not happy. "Uh-oh," I thought. I had the chills most of the night and could never get warm. I never heard the alarm, which I apparently turned off. The morning was rough.

I trudged to work, but had little energy. Walking up the stairs was telling. I was whupped after one flight. I left at 10.

Around 7 tonight, I started feeling better. I haven't eaten much, but don't feel as achy or lethargic. I'm either on the back end of food poisoning or battling some sort of stomach virus. I'm hoping it's the former, and I'll be back in the game tomorrow.

I did run yesterday - four miles with Pepper before the Super Bowl. That's back when I felt 100%; this morning, I was at 50%. Right now, I'm back above 80%, good enough to blog and check e-mail, but heading for bed again.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

No Fun on This Run

Not every run can be good. This morning's run - just under nine miles down Granny White Pike, through Radnor Lake, down Franklin Road and back Tyne Blvd. - was all work. I never felt in rhythm. My iPod went out at two miles. My muscles felt tight most of the way.

I started out the driveway around 6:15, after slamming a banana and PowerBar. I was pretty jazzed about the new iPod mix, with tunes like "Let's Live for Today" by The Grass Roots and "Fever" by Peggy Lee. Then the iPod conked. I actually stopped at 3.5 miles for 15 seconds to take a deep breath, drink Gatorade, and adjust my attitude. I promised myself a Starbucks treat if I gutted out the run and never stopped again. That was one helluva latte, I'll tell you.

I felt some discomfort, even at a modest 9:30 pace, but never pain. I know some early drivers who looked at my face probably would disagree. Sometimes, I wonder what they're thinking when they see a middle-aged dude running up a hill in 27-degree weather before breakfast. I get to see some of their faces, too, and here are a few examples of what I read is on their minds:

"Why do people run in this weather?"
"Get off my road, buddy." (usually speeders in big SUVs)
"I should have gone for a run ... it's not that bad out."
"I love bacon and hashbrowns more than running."
"That's pretty cool ... running this early. I'll bet he has a great day."

The folks who think the last thought smile at you as they pass.

Oh, yes ... The highlight of the run was watching seven deer prance through a yard on Tyne. Glad I stayed with it, even if the run wasn't smooth.

The rest of the day has been spent at the kids' ballgames, Costco and other errands in Cool Springs, and running Kathryn to a birthday party. Tonight, my Dad is treating Will, Will's godfather Al and me to a Predators game. I'm jazzed.

When the Preds came to town 10 years ago, I had season tickets and went to almost every game. Tonight's game is my first this season, and Al's, too. As we get older and our children grow, personal time fades and you refocus priorities. Spending four grand on hockey tickets ain't happening. Spending that money on new gutters, a new window and some exterior painting is.

It's all part of what makes nights like tonight special. I'll bet you can guess the other part.