Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fear of Failure

This evening, I ran five miles. To quote Forrest: "That's all I have to say about that."

I do have a lot to say about learning from failure, and not learning. I've touched on it a few times since starting this corner of the Web more than a year ago. Tonight, I give it full attention.

I know about failure because I have experience with it. When I was younger, I didn't understand how to deal with failure or disappointment. I rarely set my own expectations, but I did try hard to live up to others' expectations for me.

Case in point was my high school athletic career. As a junior golfer, I finished second a lot to a kid named Don Sargent. Don wasn't more gifted than I, just more disciplined and focused. I had good moments, but I finished behind him and an East Tennessee kid named Randy Wylie more than I should have. My confidence slowly sank, and my golf game regressed through college.

As a salesman in the 90s, I didn't always bring my "A" game every day. Sales is rough; you have to love it. I liked some of it, but again, lack of discipline and passion resulted in a slow meltdown.

Trust me, there are other examples in my life of mediocrity or falling short. What I finally learned over time is that it's OK to fail. In fact, failure can be good if you know what to do with it. I didn't for a time, but I do now.

Randy Pausch, in his Last Lecture (see last week's embedded video), talks about his own shortcomings and unfulfilled dreams. He addresses the meaning of walls in our lives. Eight years ago, I started dealing with those walls more directly. Over time, I started looking forward to walls. Lord knows, there have been plenty of them the last few years.

I am saddened by people I know and love who are unable to accept, acknowledge or face failure. They feel helpless. It gnaws at them. Rather than shrug off the setback and get back on the horse, they wonder what people must think about them. "I've failed. People must think I'm weak." Unable to cope, they believe they must sweep their shortcomings under the rug, lest someone know about it and spread the word. It's an untasty, unhealthy Pain and Anguish Stew.

I know about this because I've tasted it. When I figured out I could dream my own dreams and even hit life's reset button, I started on the road to a happier, richer life. I know I'm not a great salesman, but I do know how to communicate. I changed careers. I know I'm athletic, but that I'm not the greatest athlete; with work, though, I could improve. Voila, I started performing better in sports.

I am grateful to the Lord for this understanding, and I pray that the people I love come to a similar place.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Close to the Heart

I told Dori about something I received in one of my Leukemia & Lymphoma Society updates.

Southern Ohio's Princeton High School is this year's top School & Youth Programs fundraising school. Students there raised more than $47,000 for LLS's research programs and patient services. ... Nationally, 10 million students, grades K through 12, raised more than $19 million for LLS's mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Over 23,000 schools were registered this year.

Dori was a little verklempt when she heard this. Princeton High School is her alma mater.

In case you were wondering ... For more information about next school year, please visit or call (888) HELP-LLS.

Also today, I read the following opinion editorial in the local paper. This looks like a wonderful endeavor to help folks who are in need.

Foundation helps patients fight the 'greater fight' against leukemia
By WHIT POLLEY • July 29, 2008

Large bees. For many years, when I thought of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, I thought of The Foundation's unique symbol of philanthropy. This is no longer the case as I have grown to know this organization so intimately and come to appreciate their valuable role in this community. However, most times, I honestly wish I only associated The Community Foundation with large bees, and not with the loss of a dear friend.

On Sunday, June 24, 2007, I lost my lifelong friend, Chad Welch, when his more than two-year battle with Acute Mylogenous Leukemia came to an end. Tragic. It is the only way to describe Chad's untimely passing. At the age of 28, he had his whole life in front of him. But a doctor's visit on a Monday morning in 2005 would drastically alter Chad's day-to-day life for the next 26 months.

Despite this dramatic shift in his life, Chad did not lose his passion for living and his desire to be a force of positive change. Throughout his illness, Chad not only fought his own disease, but he also became an advocate for the greater fight against leukemia by raising money from his hospital bed for numerous leukemia-related charities. Just a couple of months before his passing, Chad was honored as "Hero of the Year" for his fundraising efforts during the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Man of the Year campaign.

More importantly, Chad challenged his family and friends to join the fight against leukemia. Shortly after his death, inspired by Chad's courage and selfless nature, we desperately wanted to continue Chad's fight, but felt powerless to make even a small difference and were overwhelmed on how to do so. The disease that is leukemia seemed too large and our ability to affect change too small. Enter The Community Foundation.

This remarkable organization allowed us to start something special and became the springboard that enabled us to come together in Chad's name, realizing our vision and connecting the generosity of others with Chad's deep-seated desire to better the lives of those affected by leukemia, particularly those without financial means. With the establishment of The Chad Welch Memorial Fund, a highly effective vehicle has been created to empower those who want to make an impact.

Instead of having to raise a lump sum of money for a one-time donation, we have been able to form a team, hold numerous fundraisers and create a pool of resources.

The Fund is a platform that allows us to chip away at the problem bit by bit.

To date, hundreds of individuals and many companies have generously donated their time and money to Chad's Fund. Whether they can contribute $10 or $1,000, The Community Foundation provides a way for people to make a difference and for each and every dollar contributed to work year after year after year.

There was a place for us at The Foundation. It has been a vital instrument in helping Chad's friends and family continue his personal struggle. It memorializes the memory of a dear friend and makes a difference in the lives of those fighting their own battle with leukemia. If you ever need it, there's a place for you there too.

Good job, Whit and friends. Chad's battle is not over, thanks to you.

Downright Gross

That's what these running conditions are. You can sugarcoat it, but this is the time of year in Tennessee that running should only be undertaken by people who are in good shape. Starting now could be fatal for some.

This morning's 4.6-mile run felt like a nine miler. I finished more than half an hour ago, took a cold shower, dried off and I'm still dripping wet. Conditions: 74 degrees, 91% humidity, 71 degree dewpoint and no wind. Bleh. I can't imagine what these football players are going through right now. Even if you're in great shape, it has to be taxing.

Finat time: 45:28. Pace: 9:52/mile. Weekly mileage thus far: 8.1 miles. Total training mileage since early June: 177 (That'll get me from Nashville to Knoxville).

Monday, July 28, 2008

More Tennis

Yesterday, Dori insisted on more tennis. The sun was still up around 4:30 and I urged Dori to wait for the sun to drop more, but I couldn't keep the girl off the court.

We played in heat (low 90s), but a slight breeze helped. Dori didn't last 90 minutes this time. She was fatigued after 45. It was much warmer yesterday than the day we played a few weeks ago. That said, there's no way she could have played tennis like this even earlier this summer. Her strength isn't all the way back, but I bet her red blood cell count finally crosses into the normal range this Thursday at her next monthly check-up.

I blew off my Monday morning run. Feeling sore and slightly exhausted, I stayed in bed until 6:30 (very late for me). I was in bed 10 hours last night after a two hour nap Sunday afternoon. My body simply needs more time to recover when running in this heat.

After work, I donned my running gear and headed out the door into the heat. It was 87 degrees with a 73 degree dewpoint. Thick stuff, but not as thick as this. Can you imagine how those marathoners in China are going to feel in a few weeks?

I was determined to run a quick 3.5 miler, even in tough conditions. The course I picked had some hills, but nothing like Saturday's run. My pace at 2.75 miles was 8:49/mile. I was gasping for air with a dry, scratchy throat. For 20 seconds, I walked and swigged warm water that was cold 20 minutes before, then started up again, getting back into a decent rhythm after ascending the last hill. I finished 3.5 miles in 31:23, an 8:58 pace. Not bad in the slop.

Congratulations to Cousin Laura, who ran a 1:56:25 in the Nike NYC Half Marathon yesterday, placing 3634 among about 17,000 runners and 1108 among the ladies. Very impressive!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shortened Run

Dori and the kids just got back from a two-miler. All three ran very well, despite the conditions. All three are getting noticeably stronger.

My run was more interesting. The Team In Training marthoners (and I, the tag-along half marathoner) headed in to Percy Warner Park and its impressive hills. I ran with the front group, dropping slightly on the hills and catching them on the downhills. The conditions were very difficult - dewpoint 72 degrees, humidity 90% and a 76 degree temperature that felt like low 80s.

Margie, Mark and I made the 5.8-mile checkpoint at exactly a 10:00/mile pace. That sounds slow, but in the slop it wasn't. I was wet from head to toe, with squishy feet. As we headed out to the flatter part of the course for the next six miles, I recalled last year's calf injury in identical conditions. As minor leg stress ensued, I thought, "I'm well ahead on my training for October and don't want a repeat of last August." So I peeled off and ran some back roads, finishing eight miles in 1:19:17, or a 9:54/mile pace.

Dori asked how I felt about the run, and I said, "Fine, I wasn't going to get injured." I don't mind suffering on runs, but despite good efforts to stay hydrated and fueled, my body sometimes has a rebellion after 10 miles on days like today. I will run 12 miles fine when the conditions aren't extreme. This week's total distance was 21 miles, which is a good base with more than two-and-a-half months of training left.

I'm tempted to grumble about today's mortgage bailout, but I better stay on blog message. So I came home to the house this morning with Dori at the computer. She was emotional as she talked about the passing of Dr. Randy Pausch.

What an approach. His purpose has been fulfilled.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Night Flashbacks

Dori and I had a great time last night watching Sheryl Crow in concert. She's quite the performer and there was plenty of tissue paper in the bathroom. Thank you, Beth, for the tickets!

Good luck to cousin Laura in her half marathon in NYC this Sunday. She could be distracted easily ... Lance Armstrong and Katie Holmes are supposedly running.

It's time for Friday Night Flashbacks. Here's a Dori favorite, When In Rome's The Promise. I like it, too, even though there are Milli Vanilli-like qualities.

Here's a fun one from The Talking Heads. Gotta love David Byrne trapped inside his own body. "And you may find yourself behind a large automobile." How prophetic ... Anyhoo, midlife crisis experts, enjoy.

Now it's time to count the number of Nazis who get messed up. What do you think Spielberg dreamt about when he was boy? Filming retribution.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Roseanne's Rainbow

Each week, the Tennessee Team In Training participants receive an update from the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society chapter. It's tells us how much money individuals in our Nashville and Knoxville groups, as well as race teams, have raised for LLS. Sometimes, we receive personal stories. I've copied and pasted this week's entry below.

For those of you who have been following this blog, you know I don't believe in coincidences.

Remembering Roseanne
Knoxville Nike Participant, Julie Claxton, shares her personal honoree's story

On December 3, 2007, Roseanne Edinger, a devoted wife and loving mother of three (ages ten, seven, and four) was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. That Monday afternoon began Roseanne's brave, uphill battle with a disease that we, as TNT teammates, are trying so desperately to cure. Over the next seven months, Roseanne would fight hard, never complaining about her situation or questioning "Why me?" In fact, Roseanne felt that, if anything, her faith in God and her relationships with others were made stronger as a result of the physical suffering her body endured.

Despite Roseanne's courageous fight, on the morning of July 12, 2008, her body succumbed to cancer. That evening, a fundraiser had already been planned in Roseanne's honor. The event went on as planned as Roseanne's husband assured us all that "Roseanne would have wanted it that way." As the evening came to an end, those in attendance couldn't help but gaze up at the nighttime sky. A full, arching rainbow seemed to wrap its colors around the earth. Maybe a coincidence, but maybe, as Roseanne's husband had already suggested, Roseanne was smiling down on the evening. Life is like a rainbow; you need both the sun and the rain to make it appear. Roseanne Edinger's living was for so many people like the sun, and her passing is our rain. I don't think I'll admire a rainbow's beauty again without thinking of my friend, Roseanne, and knowing how important my work with TNT is. I want to help others beat these diseases. In doing so, I will continue to honor my friend Roseanne, and her life will always remind me of a rainbow.

God bless Roseanne and her family, and God bless Julie for her determination and courage. We are inspired in Nashville, Julie, and we'll see you in San Francisco.

This morning's 4.5 miler was nice. Temperature was in the high 60s and humidity wasn't bad. I shook out the sprint-induced kinks after a mile, and felt fine, dropping my pace each mile. Final time: 42:13, a 9:23/mile pace.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Faster Running

Tonight after work, I drove to Radnor Lake and ran some quick miles.

Mile one was an 8:30, with the first quarter mile straight up hill. My HR shot to 156 at the crest, then settled in to the 140s. I stopped very briefly, stretched again and then ran 1.5 miles at a 9:20/mile pace.

After another brief rest, I ran the last mile at a 7:45 pace. I felt like I was going 95%. It was hot (88 degrees), but shady and not humid. I was pleased to get in good speed work without jeopardizing tomorrow's run and the next long run on Saturday. Average pace: 8:38/mile for 3.5 miles.

The schedule for Saturday is to run 12 miles, 5.8 of which are the very hilly loop in Percy Warner Park. I foresee a Saturday afternoon nap.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ohio Friends

Sunday night, we enjoyed the company of Dori's step cousin Sharon and her family. Dori grew up in Cincinnati, and Sharon's family is from Hamilton. They're in Tennessee this week because their son Max's team is playing in baseball tournament.

We ate pizza and ice cream sundaes, then threw the ball and played "horse" in basketball. The girls played the guys in basketball, and we received some nice insight about Oxford, where Vanderbilt is playing next month against Miami of Ohio. Sharon told me she reads the blog ... Hello, Sharon!

While Will and I read in bed that night, I asked him if he had a good time with 14-year-old Max. He said playing with Max "was like having a big brother." Yep, he had a good time, and so did we.

Deer Park

I know three things after this morning's five miles.

1. I have not fully recovered from Saturday's training.
2. We have enough deer in our neighborhood to open a zoo.
3. I wish I had our dog's energy on mornings like this.

Onward and upward ...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Old Friends

Saturday morning's Team in Training run started at 6:25 a.m. I'm still running with the marathon group, of which there were nine runners yesterday. I paired off with Margie, one of the twenty-somethings I told you about a few weeks ago.

The weather was better than the previous Saturday. The temperature was about 69 degrees, or four degrees cooler, and dewpoint was about 67 degrees. I had mentally prepared myself to run the grueling but beautiful Percy Warner Park loop. Instead, we headed away from the park through Belle Meade and Forest Hills. The course was fairly flat, with several rolling hills. Some of the marathoners (Jessica and Mark) went 12 miles; Margie and I decided to run 10.2.

The first eight miles went smoothly. We needed every drop of water and I gel'd (Vanilla Bean) at mile seven. At that point, I was drenched down to my shoes and socks (more on that later). At the last water stop, Margie, who is doing a great job fundraising, said she had never run "double digits." She was recovering from an injury, so she missed last week's run. You'd have never known it. She ran strong the whole way.

At 8.0, as we left the shade and the sun started its smackdown, I told Margie she should go. Up to that point, we had run mostly 9:30s and 9:45s. She pulled ahead, but I kept up a manageable pace as we ascended the most serious hill of the run. The pain up the hill was easy to fight back. All I had to do was think of Ann fighting at M.D. Anderson in Houston.

At this point, Margie and I were passing some of the half marathoners who were walking or walking and running. After conquering the most difficult hill of the run, we were treated to a slightly downhill ending. My pace quickened again. My feet were so wet that one person I passed remarked later how squishy I sounded. I didn't catch up to Margie, but was very pleased with the run. I'm injury free, knock on wood, and feeling stronger. Total mileage this week: 25 miles.

There was no rest for the weary after the run. Five of Dori's sorority sisters, their husbands and children were coming over. I fired up the smoker (menu of "beer butt chicken" and Memphis-style sausage), while Dori prepared some healthy salads (couscous/chick peas and black bean/corn) and other goodies. Dori made her famous whiskey slushes (not the kind you get at the 7-11), and we had plenty of other adult beverages. We hooked up the iPod and had chalk and water games for the kids.

We had a great time. The best part was watching Dori and the girls reminisce. Since the kids were active, the conversation was usually shorter than we would have liked. One parent who had some "kid challenges" said she shouldn't be complaining at all after what Dori's been through. Her good friend, Liz, sweetly headed up the cleaning crew to take some of the load off our girl. After four-plus hours of steady fun, the families walked down our adolescent art-filled driveway.

Dori later said she's so thankful to be alive to be able to have these times. We're a family of tired pups today, but not one of us is moping about it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Night Flashbacks

Welcome back, retro groupies. Our daughter said we should post this one, Broken Wings by Mr. Mister. She's certainly heard her Dad sing it enough. There, I said it.

I'm looking for a good Astro video from The Jetsons, but am settling on a little Jet Screamer in the interim.

And this has nothing to do with Friday Night Flashbacks, but it made my sister very happy, as well as my wife and daughter.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

'You Want to Upsize That?'

God bless us. We just can't stop hitting fast food lines, and we decline to be more active.

The CDC issued its obesity report today, and we southerners especially love our food and can't seem to get enough exercise. Mississippi, Alabama and good ole Tennessee "led" the rankings. Seems like our test scores and graduation rates below the Mason-Dixon line are lower, too. Meanwhile, Colorado is the least obese state. Folks over there love outdoor activities and balanced diets, and stay away from fried foods ... I think there's a formula here somewhere.

Will and I played nine holes on a junior par 3 course tonight. During the round, he said, "Dad, this is fun." We may have a little Ben Crenshaw on our hands; the boy made several putts between five and 20 feet. We head back to the links in a few days.

Funny, I didn't see any heavy kids or parents on the course tonight.


Lots of good things to talk about and think about ...

My run this morning went great. I ran 5.0 miles on the Belle Meade course on which I tanked seven days ago. I ran alone at my own pace. Conditions were nicer, too (dewpoint in the low 60s, temp around 66). I shook out the ya-yas the first mile, running a 9:30. Miles two and three were in the 9:00/mile range. Miles four and five were 8:30s or a shade lower. Time: 45:02. Even better, I felt strong at the end of the run; I had horsepower remaining.

Fundraising this week has been outstanding. Many more friends and family have stepped up to help. Many thanks to Rob, Dawn and Albert, Rachel, Jim and Peggy, Renee and the NY Relatives ... all of you ... Thank you, thank you, thank you. We're at $8,250 collected and $11,250 pledged. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society folks are grateful, and so are we.

Full steam ahead ... Have a great day!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Canadian Air Mass

I love when this happens - High pressure and colder air from Canada pushes through Tennessee. It's like someone flushes our toilet of stifling air. It doesn't happen much 'round these parts between July and August. When it does, like Sunday, there's only one thing to do ... RUN!

I planned to run seven miles this morning. A few others had the same idea. I saw a young woman running with her dog soon after I started. Her energetic "hi" told me she was as happy as I about the weather - 61 degrees and a 59 degree dewpoint. Even before 5:45 a.m., when I finished, I had seen five or six walkers and a few bikers. One young woman told me she had planned to run this morning, but hit the alarm clock at 5 a.m. I actually felt sorry for her!

My "out" 3.5 miles was slower (9:48/mile). I had some soreness from Saturday's run, but nothing major. The "in" 3.5 miles was faster (9:20/mile), even with a good hill from Mile 6 to 6.5. My HR was low, probably never passing the high 150s on the hills.

Time: 1:07:00. Pace: 9:34/mile. Calories burned: 1158. It was a great way to start this week's training. Tomorrow's weather looks similar; guess who's going to bed early.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fräulein Forehand

Lots to blog about ... Forgive the frequency.

The weather cleared after morning Mass and a Costco run, so went to our Swim & Tennis Club after lunch to play tennis. It was cloudy and humid, but not hot. I thought we might play for half an hour, and call it quits after Dori and/or the kids tired. As we entered the tennis courts, a clock showed it was 1:35 p.m.

At 3:15 p.m., the kids were done, sucking on water and watching their Mom and Dad have some serious rallies. Dori wasn't content to just hit; I heard a few grunts. Nothing Sharapova-like, but some real good "uhhhs." When she sat in the car, sweaty and smiling, she said, "There's something about hitting a tennis ball." On the way home, she talked about getting back on the court soon.

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. But I think someone has found an outlet. Here's the update e-mail I sent to friends tonight. Any and all support is appreciated.

Hello, friends! I hope this finds you enjoying a great summer. I'm writing to share a training and fundraising update.

First, I wanted to share good news ... Dori continues to get stronger. This afternoon, nine months after her bone marrow transplant, Dori played tennis for an hour and a half with the kids and me. We think her young European donor, whom we haven't met but call "Hans," was a finalist in the Dutch Open because Dori played some very good tennis. Dori is alive today because of her donor, research and drug break-throughs, and lessons learned by medical staff. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society plays a big role in this, as most of you know. It's why I'm training for another half marathon and fundraising.

So how's training going? I've logged 120 miles so far - many enjoyable, some challenging and a few very difficult. When all is said and done, I will have run nearly 500 miles before the October half marathon (Nike Women's), barring any injury.

Fundraising, thanks to many of you, is going well. Through your generosity, we've raised $5,500 to date, with pledges and other efforts nearing $3,500. It is a great start. In fact, our team is the leading Team in Training (TNT) fundraising group in Tennessee for fall events. Nationally, we're No. 18 out of 5,000 fundraisers for the October race. Saying "thank you" isn't enough, but it's all we can say. My TNT teammates, with whom I run each Saturday morning, are incredible. Most have a story of a relative who has battled leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. Unfortunately, there are too many of us out here, but we are trying to do something about these cruel cancers.

If you haven't already joined this effort, please consider making a secure online donation here:

And don't forget to register, if you're between 18 and 60, as a potential bone marrow donor: If you're an interested Middle Tennessee resident, please e-mail Dori ( ... she's organizing a local drive to make it easier for you.

We wish you many blessings and appreciate your continued prayers.

Online Connectivity

Last night, I grilled some cheeseburgers, while Dori made her healthy homemade fries. I had not fired up the home Weber in some time. I loved that Dori ate the whole burger; I actually had to ask her to slow down! We used low fat all natural ground chuck, mixed with some magic spices. Dori's had some issues with guacamole, we think, because of high fat content. She had no issues last night.

Watching Dori and other leukemia survivors and patients - in person and through blogs and CaringBridge posts - has been eye-opening. Virtual online connection can be like having extended family. It's all about shared experiences. Recently, Dori expressed guilt for the first time about surviving. She had read where someone had relapsed and died. I've read many tales of surviving soldiers who watched their comrades die and say, "Why me? How come I'm alive?" The parallel is there.

There are two issues here: the guilt thing and the virtual connection thing. My take on the guilt, as I shared with Dori, is that her feeling seems very normal. We know many factors have a bearing on Dori's long-range prognosis, but her outcome and the outcomes of others are never certain. It's part of the cruelty of cancer. We only know the choices any transplantee makes are important. But why does she get to plod on, while others don't? It's a fair question.

I don't believe we get to answer everything here. It's part of the test. Others, especially scientific-minded folk or some engineers, sometimes are prone to believing otherwise. I see their viewpoint, but just can't imagine having to process our situation that way. I'd be a mess. I have to rely on my faith to keep me on track. I think Dori is the same way, though she has a strong proclivity for math.

The virtual online thing is also interesting. After reading PJ's blog entry, I thought about this a lot this morning. Dori sometimes ruminates, "Should I keep reading about others, or just stay away and focus on my own task at hand?" There are connectivity benefits, like learning how others deal with certain situations and reading success stories; there are negatives, like watching blood cancers claim another life or seeing people's lives come unraveled.

At the end of the day, I like Dori's perspective, which is like PJ's. Both women believe reading some unsettling stories is part of the burden of staying connected. Both women, moreover, believe they have an opportunity to help others. Life is about giving, not taking. Case in point: Dori is working on a bone marrow donor registry drive at Vanderbilt, with several other projects on the drafting board. Dori said when the negatives start outweighing the positives, she'll stop surfing the Web.

We had that situation last summer when math-minded Dori went searching online for survivor rates for AML patients. That was a hole she needed to get out of, and I'm glad she did. It didn't hurt that she read Lance Armstrong's book. You may recall Lance was told, "Ninety-five percent of folks in your situation are dead within six months."

Lance said, "I'm in the 5% category ... Have a nice day, see you in France."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nine Mile Run

This morning's Team in Training run was north of Nashville in hilly Sumner County. I joined the full marathon group, all three of us. Some TNT-ers were injured, some out of town, some perhaps smart to avoid the heat. Given my low mileage production for the week, I needed to run.

We started from Beech High School. The area is a combination of beautiful countryside and new developments. Along the way, I saw a "Rooster for Sale" sign, a chicken taking her chicks for a walk, two pigs that scared the fire out of us, lots of country dogs (some unfriendly), a sign to "Dicky's Hickory Pit BBQ and Sports Bar," and plenty of cows and farmland. The mixture of poverty and affluence was striking.

I started the run with Jessica, a 30-year-old whose grandfather is battling cancer. Coach Tilghman, who has a triathlon tomorrow, rode her bike alongside us for some of the run. Another TNT-er, Rhonda, started behind us, but stayed close to our 9:25/mile pace. The first 4.5 miles were mostly uphill, but thankfully in the shade. I thought we started too late (6:45, an hour after sunrise). I was hopeful we'd have shade the whole way. Dewpoint was 71 degrees and humidity 87%. I was drenched after three miles.

Jessica has run four full marathons, one of them eight months after having a baby. I liked running with her; she's positive and we talked most of the first 5.5 miles. When Tilghman caught up with us, we were at the second water station. At 7.0 miles, we hit the sun. Bad. I needed to stop, and walked a third of a mile. All three ladies went ahead while I got my HR back in check.

My average pace went immediately from 9:25/mile to 9:45/mile. I hit the shade again, felt better and resumed the run. At 8.0, I hit a three-quarter mile stretch of gradual incline, all in the sun. I made it to the shade, but was toast after that. I walked for a minute, finished the 9.0 mile run in 1:28:58, or a 9:53/mile pace. Calories burned - 1471; total ascent - 1382 feet; total weekly mileage: 19.8; total training mileage: 120.

The temperature rose from 73 to 80 over the course of the run. When I drove back through Nashville at 9 a.m., it was already 84. Running in this stuff is very hard, but I'm glad I did it and did it smartly. I need the miles right now, not the fast times.

Here are more photos from the July 4 celebration.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Night Flashbacks

Welcome back, Flashback Fans. Tonight, a four pack.

So many muppets, so little time. Here's one of my favorites. Dori didn't remember Roosevelt Franklin, but my family loved him. I'm not sure this could fly these days, but here's some throwback PBS.

Dig ... Deee-Lite is funky ... Treat yourself to the whole album when you have a few.

Any guy hanging around other guys is prone to belting out this classic. It never gets old.

And here's a Dori favorite. I love it, too, and so do the kids.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Miss February

This morning's run was painful. Is there are a stronger word than "suffer?" It wasn't hot, just thick. The air was disgusting. How's that for positive?

I drove to the Percy Warner Park entrance to meet my friend Kevin, who invited me to join his running group. About 15 skinny folks (and me) started running shortly after 5:30. The plan was to run five miles. I felt good the first mile, even at a brisk pace of 8:40/mile. These folks were fast. I told Kevin it should be interesting to see how the run goes.

Somewhere during Mile Two, as we ran through the grounds of the Belle Meade Plantation, the skinny people started pulling ahead. Kind Kevin dropped his pace slightly as I dropped mine. Around 2.5 miles, drenched and wheezing, I told Kevin to go ahead. I could not cool off or get enough air. I sweat more than most people anyway ... Most in my family can't tolerate this kind of soup. Around 3.5 miles, I tanked. The last third of the run was mostly miserable, and would have been worse if I hadn't stopped briefly. I noticed five or six others along the boulevard who were doing the same. Calgon, take us away.

Humidity was nearly 100% and the dewpoint was 70 degrees. Check out the chart below and this good explanation:

Dew Point °F
>75°F Extremely uncomfortable, oppressive
70-74°F Very humid, quite uncomfortable
65-69°F Somewhat uncomfortable for most people at upper edge
60-64°F OK for most, but all perceive the humidity at upper edge
55-59°F Comfortable
50-54°F Very comfortable
<49°F A bit dry for some

The final numbers on the run: 4.9 miles at 46:32, a 9:25/mile pace. The only solution is to rest and get back out there tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rest Period Is Over

My energy level has been low this week. I ran 5.9 miles Monday morning before dawn. At Mile Two, I felt like stopping, but plowed through. Final pace: 9:43/mile pace after running the first two miles in more than 20 minutes. My tank neared "E" at the end.

Monday and Tuesday were rest days, and not by choice. I believe I fought off the dreaded summer cold. My voice was high-pitched and weaker, especially yesterday, just in time for two speeches to a total of 120 people. Glad I had a mike at one.

The kids did some sit-ups with me tonight. Besides the Monday run, that's all I've done (300 sit-ups and some arm work with the weights) since Saturday. Tomorrow morning, the plan is to get back at it for a mid-distance run with a friend.

Today, Jim, a college friend, and I talked about dealing with cancer and living once remission has been achieved. Jim and his wife, Beth, are both cancer survivors. Our perspectives have changed, which is no surprise; we laughed at what used to bother us and shared a lot of laughs.

My favorite was a prayer someone said with Jim after Beth cleared most of her hurdles and then Jim was diagnosed. The friend began, "Dear Lord ... Now, c'mon!" Very funny.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Better 4th

Yay and whew. This weekend was wonderful and tiring.

Friday afternoon, we went to my Mom's and Dan's for their second annual July 4 Bash. Last year, we went through the motions without Dori as she fought leukemia at VUMC. This year, she was right there with us, competing in the egg toss with Kathryn and cheering on Kathryn and Will in other games.

Like everything my mother does, the party was no holds barred ... great food, games and fireworks for the kids, and a beverage or two for the older set. I believe 50+ adults and children were in attendance. And what a great group of kids. It's nice to see so many together having fun and well behaved for the duration.

Here are some photos of the festivities, including friend and marathoner Ann DeNunzio with Dori, Will as the younger Uncle Sam, "GranDan" as a more traditional-looking Uncle Sam explaining a game to the kids, Kathryn and friend Suzanne winning the three-legged race, and Kathryn with her Mom. Kathryn said this July 4 was the most special she's experienced.

Kathryn and I spent a lot of time together the following two days. Yesterday, we teamed on yardwork for the better part of three hours. The time with her was wonderful, but whoever said yardwork is "therapeutic" is nuts. I'll buy time-consuming. During the mild evening, we sat in the back driveway with Pepper, listened to mellow Dire Straits tunes and watched a dragonfly catch flies over our heads. Our house sits under a cathedral of tall trees, which made the whole night feel like church, except with a beer in hand.

This morning, Kathryn joined me for my first real fishing trip in two years. As we drove east to the Caney Fork River, Kathryn spotted a cooler in the back. Our young conservationist said, "We're not killing the fish, Dad." I said Nana and Aunt Anne really like trout, and it was OK if we took a few. She wasn't buying it, I gave in, and all remained well in the Wild Kingdom.

Reports from friends who had made the one-hour trip to the Caney said the trout fishing was excellent. Those reports were spot on. I found some magic at Happy Hollow with a green and orange imitation crawdad, landing a beautiful 16-inch healthy rainbow, then a 12-inch rainbow. A brown trout broke loose. K-Girl joined me occasionally in the river, but mostly made paintbrushes with bamboo and monkey grass. What an imagination ... the brushes are impeccable and look functional.

Around noon, we headed downstream to the Gordonsville Bridge. To get to the best spot, you have to descend a steep, slippery 30-foot bank that requires using a rope. My "little girl," who was afraid of kindergarten, people and most things only a few years ago, said, "Dad, that looks easy." She went down with ease.

A 20-inch rainbow broke my line after a great fight. I caught a 15-inch rainbow that broke free as I reached to unhook him. The long day - four hours in the water - was fantastic. Kathryn never said she was bored. She adores the outdoors like most of my family. She napped serenely on the way home, a sight I won't soon forget.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Friday Night Flashbacks

Here are this week's Friday Night Flashbacks, a little early today.

It didn't make me want to drink their beer, but here's a classic from Bud Light - Spuds McKenzie. I am also a fan of the "Dude" commercials with the introspective piano background.

Most folks I know appreciate the genius and peculiarity of Queen. Both are in this video.

Lastly, here's a link to Marge Simpson's vision of Catholic and Protestant heavens. I shared this with a few folks earlier this year, and everyone howled.

Firecracker 5K

Last night, with a tasty beer in hand and rain in the forecast, I seriously considered not running today's Firecracker 5K. When I woke up this morning, the radar looked mostly clear, so I headed to Brentwood. The temp was 73, and humidity and dewpoint were in the high 60s. The cloud cover was nice.

Before the start, I saw Melissa, a former co-worker who was wearing a purple TNT shirt, and my nice neighbor, Rhonda. I thought of courageous Ann Gregory and her husband, Chris, at M.D. Anderson in Houston, facing difficult, all-too-familiar challenges. I dedicated the run to them, two people I don't know but understand every bit of what they're facing.

As the race began, I saw Rhonda pass me with a nice pace. My goals were to get to the Mile One marker in 8:20 and Mile Two at 16:10 and then see if I could bring it home hard. Last year, when I was cross-training hard, I ran a 24:09. I wanted to be in the ballpark this year. An 8:00/mile pace seemed reasonable, given recent performances.

As many young people passed me, I listened to a new high-tempo iMix - Boy (Book of Love), I'm Not Going Out Like That (Run DMC), Red Skies (The Fixx), Synchonicity II (The Police), Hey Ya! (Outkast) and Fly Away (Lenny Kravitz). I felt decent, hitting Mile One at 7:55. Too fast. Mile Two went fine. 16:08. OK, not bad. That's where I wanted to be.

Right after Mile Two, you get a double shot of small hills. They hurt and I felt my heart rate climb, but I kept the pace. Few folks were passing me now. At 2.7 miles, this tiny little girl (let's call her Sue Pain) appeared on my shoulder. A few folks around me stopped running. More slowed. Sue asked me if I wanted to relax and slow. I thought again of Ann and Chris in their Houston hospital room. Sue and her pitchfork disappeared.

Some dude who was kicking it in passed me. I decided to run with him, and we finished in stride. Finish time: 25:08, an 8:04/mile pace. My Garmin said I ran 3.11 miles. Average speed was 7.4 mph.

Most people in the finish pen sucking water and eating bananas looked a lot younger than me. I saw Rhonda, who thinks she ran right at 24 minutes or a shade below. Great run. I felt good about my run, too. I ran a smart race and kept the accelerator on the floor. Right now, I'm probably capable of a 23-minute 5K in optimum conditions (dry and cool).

I saw Dr. Jagasia, Dori's clinic physician, finish, and went to find him. I also saw Dr. Morgan, who is part of the team that treated Dori on 11 North. Dr. Jagasia told me about an effort their VUMC team is pursuing to add technicians to complement their clinical skills. He talked about instances in which the team has needed more instantaneous support to diagnose. More to follow, but Dori and I likely will be involved in some way to support.

I also saw Chuck Hargrove, my former softball teammate and all-around good guy. Chuck paced a friend, then headed out for a six-mile cooldown run. The boy likes to run. Chuck met Dr. Jagasia and thanked him for treating Dori. He told Dr. J that he'd been praying for him and his team to take care of her.

Dori did her "own Firecracker run" this morning - a 2.5-mile run/walk in our hilly neighborhood. She looked good afterwards. Dori's walking about 8-10 miles a week now. I like the direction. Last year, when I ran the Firecracker, Dori was a few weeks into a 53-day, chemo-filled hospital stay.

Lastly, here's information about an important upcoming Bone Marrow Drive in Springfield. Melody Alexander is a friend of a co-worker, Valerie. Melody does not have a donor. If you live in Middle Tennessee, especially north of Nashville, please swing by.




Happy 4th, everyone.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Midday Vent

I almost never post during work, but I have to today.

Yesterday morning, I heard Elizabeth, my sister's friend, learned her breast cancer has returned. The news was deeply saddening. We love Elizabeth and her family. That emotion boiled for awhile, and later in the day, I was perturbed to the point I dropped some very-rare-for-me sailor slang in a conversation with a friend. That friend noted there's something environmental or something we're consuming that's the cause of the cancer epidemic. I agreed, wanting to swing at whatever it is.

Today, I'm flat-out hot under the collar. A leukemia survivor we're following, Ann, has relapsed. She's about to go through the same hell she endured once and the same hell Dori just went through. Ann's blog, which is intensely personal, is about as real as it gets. Her husband, Chris, who contributes on the blog, knows what's ahead. His recent posts and video capture it all.

Seeing all of this ... the steady drumbeat of cancer against many bodies ... sometimes gets my blood going. Now is one of those times. I see people behaving recklessly (terrible diets, addictions, unsafe driving and other questionnable pursuits), and it causes me anguish. People I know and love are trying to do anything they can to live. Others seem to be doing the exact opposite.

Unlike some, I am convinced God has His plan for each one of us. I don't view it as a predetermined roadmap, but as a series of choices.

That's my midday philosophy and vent ... back to work. Please surround Ann, Elizabeth and all cancer patients in prayer this holiday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Just a quick update from RunningLand ... I woke up early today to run a moderate distance. It was a glorious morning - 64 degrees and low humidity and dewpoint.

Bones creakin' and muscles screamin', I headed down our street. Mile One was above a 10:00/mile pace. Aerobics were fine, but everything below my waist was sore. Nothing stood out; it was ALL sore. I stretched after Monday's good run and before this morning's, but I needed oil like the Tin Man. Mile Two went a little better, but pace was about the same.

I decided to pick it up, now that oxygen seemed to be circulating. The mind said "go" and the body said, "ok," but not like Monday. I did notice when I hit some hills - Monday and this morning - that climbs are getting easier. I'm able to hold my pace better. Today's totals: 5.5 miles in 53:38, a 9:45/mile pace. Mileage for the week: 16.5.

I haven't entered the Firecracker 5K in Brentwood yet, but probably will. I'll need a goal and new iPod set.