Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Need for Speed

With colder air in place and winds whipping, I ran a strong 5.5 miler at noon today on Belle Meade Boulevard. Time was 48 minutes, an 8:43/mile pace. For some folks, that's a slow jog. For me, that's a good pace for a moderate distance.

Today's performance was good for several reasons. Sunday is my first running day of the week, and I like starting well. I'm also glad to crank out a quick run after Friday's long run. This shows my recovery time is good, meaning my nutrition, sleep and health are in good order.

In church this morning, Dori saw the older gentleman who had a transplant last year. He didn't have his mask on, but is battling complications. Dori is really drawn to him.

I have two asides about church. I needed to hear what was said today. Catholic Mass can be wonderful in its simplicity, providing clarity or directing humans like me to better awareness of my shortcomings and how to fix them. That's the good part. The other part is some frustration. Warning: Buckle up! Turbulence ahead.

I'm tired of women being barred from the priesthood. Some of our so-called traditions don't make sense to me, and never will. But the church, like me, isn't perfect. It's run by humans subject to the same misjudgments I make. I stir uncomfortably when I consider the church passing over qualified African candidates for pope and sweeping molestation under the rug for decades. The church's blind eye in World War II to Nazi prosecution of French Jews is another high level of disgrace in history.

I invest and take away much from my time of reflection, celebration and prayer, and that's where I will continue to expend most of my spiritual energies. Life isn't perfect, the church isn't perfect, and I'm not going to make it perfect. The beautiful meaning of the liturgy and eucharist is wonderfully powerful, and I accept that. Nuff said.

I'll get back back on blog track ... Dori and some friends took part Friday in a drive to get more folks registered on the National Marrow Donor Program. She said some of our best friends were there, and I say, "Thank you!"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Runners Understand This Commercial

Go Squish, Like Grape

I concluded this week's training last night with a 10.5-mile run. Add in a three miler the night before, and I've put 26 productive miles in the bag. Thursday's run was a short one with Pepper, who charged like a bull. He pulled me the first half, bonked, and then I pulled him home.

Dori and the kids had a function at their school last night, and I knew this weekend's weather looked dicey ... so I decided another Friday long run was in order. Last night, the humidity was very high and dewpoint was in the mid-50s, but the temperature was nice - 62 degrees. Good conditions, but not perfect like last Friday.

Near the midpoint, my left achilles began to stir up an argument. It became so uncomfortable, I stopped for a few minutes to stretch, which helped. Soreness in check, I tested my Mr. Miyagi medicine on some hills. All was well. Around nine miles, the soreness returned but not like before. I finished in 1:43:00, a few minutes slower than I would have liked. Must have been the achilles and traffic.

Earlier in the day, some folks struck up a conversation about Body Glide, a great workplace topic. Someone said using Body Glide seems weird. I chimed in, saying it's worse if you don't use it. Unfortunately, I didn't use enough on my chest last night. I didn't bloody up, but felt the familiar sting and produced a mildly yellow shirt.

Flashback time. Thanks to Ernie and Cookie Monster, we have some old era perspective on the recent Madoff scandal.

And now, some tunage. Goose bumps from Pink Floyd and hippie lettuce not included.

A related Dori favorite.

Lastly, a tribute to Mr. Miyagi, who taught us about grape squishing and waxing cars.

Now show me "wax car."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fly, Robin, Fly

I don't know what's in the water, but more people than usual have been asking how Dori is doing. It's always a joy to tell them she is doing great. Life is good, as the car sticker tells us.

Running is good, too. On Sunday, I ran a fluid seven miler at a reasonable pace. I was pleased to run strong after Friday's long run, a sign my conditioning is improving. The weather continues to be smashing, which isn't hurting matters.

Tonight, I ran a brisk 5.5 miles on a rolling course, finishing under 9:00/mile. The middle part of the run was under an 8:30/mile pace. I listened to some Alan Parsons Project, which is excellent running music. Y'all have heard me talk about the "accelerator" before; tonight, I had to be careful not to floor it. That's how good it felt.

I'm jazzed about an even longer run this weekend. Training often is more fun than racing, especially when you show up on race day feeling like a slug or if you're fighting a bug. Speaking of bugs, the air tonight was filled with critters. Invariably, one or two find their way down my airpipe each spring. It's not a part of my protein plan, trust me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Expanding Army

Thanks to Dori and several other activists, 360 healthy young Vanderbilt students are now registered with the National Marrow Donor Program. Most volunteers came from VU's Greek community, which Dori and others targeted. At least two blood cancer patients down the road will benefit from this effort, according to NMDP statistics.

A co-worker told me Friday about a male friend who will be donating for the second time to a patient who has relapsed. While Dori, the kids and I were shopping yesterday for furniture, we met this generous young man and his girlfriend. Dori had heard of him through other channels and recognized him in the store. In a world so large, it is amazing how small it really is.

Our friend and cancer survivor Chuck Hendry has exceeded his fundraising goal. Way to go, Chuck! He races next month in the Country Music Half Marathon.

I'm off for a training run. Have a great week, everybody.

Friday, March 20, 2009

It Doesn't Get Any Better

Tonight was the night for a long run. I don't often train on Friday night, but the weather was incredible and Dori and the kids were mallin' it somewhere. 53 degrees, 27% humidity and 19% dewpoint ... I couldn't resist!

Traffic on the backroads was very light, except for a few speeders. Sheesh ... Doing 50 and 55 in a 30 MPH zone. A few blew threw stop signs at 30. But those were little distractions. I settled on a 9:00/mile pace around Mile 2, when I found a seriously super groove and settled into the Land of Little Thought.

I fueled at Mile 6, popping a Tri-Berry GU that I chased with Gatorade. My pace was smooth and constant until Mile 8. The last 2.5 was a gradual climb, and I felt it a little on the last mile. A half near my PR was possible tonight. The conditions and my body were on the same page.

I'm at 19 miles for the week, and I'm thinking of a short run with Pepper tomorrow. I'll ruminate on it tonight over a glass of viognier and some flashbacks.

Dori knows the words to this one ... which I heard today when I was getting a haircut. Bad video, good tune by Bob Welch with Valerie Bertinelli before she went Van Halen on everybody.

Here's more 70s. Forgive if we posted before.

Wanna see a rooster prance? Here's Mick and the Stones gettin' it on with "She's So Cold," followed by Jeff Spicoli paying homage to the band and then sparring with Mr. Hand.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Return of the Jedi

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ... Dori used to hang out at Vanderbilt fraternities. On Monday, Dori, armed with a story, compassion and resolve, visited five VU frat houses to encourage young men to become bone marrow donors.

Vanderbilt has had successful drives in the past, and Dori is part of a team to drive young, healthy people to sign up. Maybe through their effort, one of these students will save a life, much like Hans saved hers.

My training continues. Two five-milers - one cool jog at 4:30 Tuesday morning and another this afternoon in 73 degree weather. Mile One today was less than fluid, but by Mile Three I picked up the pace. One more short one and then a long one this weekend.

I spent my 44th birthday yesterday at the Vanderbilt ballpark with friend John and son Will, watching the Dores beat South Alabama 7-4. Tonight, Kathryn, Will and I watched VU beat Belmont handily. Dori made me chicken enchiladas and espresso chocolate chip cookies for my birthday. Both were superb.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Reflection

A good friend of mine, who has two beautiful young children, lost a spouse to cancer a few years ago. I see this friend, who is doing a wonderful job raising the young ones, a fair amount. I admire what this person has done and continues to do - picking up the pieces, pushing forward and being strong, and instilling good values in the next generation.

Sometimes, I see myself in my friend's shoes. What if I didn't have Dori? What would I do? How would I fare? Would I be that strong? Other times when I see my friend, I feel a tinge of guilt. Why is Dori still here, and why did my friend have to lose a spouse?

The only answers I have are rooted in my faith. God knows better than I. He won't give anything I or anyone else can't handle. Life is short. Life is a test. Life achievements are great, but pale in comparison to what comes next.

Sorting out this survivorship conundrum rationally isn't easy. Some might say it's foolhardy. Welcome to my little world of cancer survivorship and death.

Most, if not all, of Dori's leukemia fears have subsided. She's worrying about other things now. Her hair, she said today, looks almost like it isn't "cancer hair anymore." I'm with her. I don't think about dying as much as I did. We've moved on in many ways, but we stay connected to Dori's cancer fight in others. We read blood cancer blogs and the LLS e-mail updates; we fund-raise during the year; and we reflect on our good fortune in conversation.

I thought about some of this in church this morning and some on yesterday's jog. Had I not been sick recently, I would have run the Tom King Half Marathon yesterday morning in a downpour. Instead, Dori and I reflected on where we were last year - some good and some unsettling.

So I ran six brisk miles yesterday afternoon in a soothing mist and light fog. Hills are looking flatter again, and my speed is returning. I logged 21 miles last week, on top of about 14 the week prior. Seattle is back in my sights.

Friday, March 13, 2009

FNF Time

Pepper and I had a great solitary three-miler early this morning. Later today, PJ e-mailed me and others that fellow runner and cyber-soul buddy Ronni is blogging again. Ronni G has some serious fight and reserve. Please keep her in your prayers.

All of this makes me and many others happy on a Friday, which means tunes of old are in order. Kathryn calls it that "hippy dippy" music. So be it.

Enjoy, beginning with one of my very favorites from The The, before Matt Johnson sold out to M&Ms. Wish I had a dollar for every time I sang this song.

I'm not into much jazz, but I can appreciate great percussion, piano and Snoopy. I suspect some of you may dig and groove, too.

Here's a no-embed, hidden 80s treasure from The Woodentops. Bear with the first 15 seconds and then enjoy silky smooth.

Lots of great Alan Parsons Project to pick, but here's one and another.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Beating the Rain

This morning, I woke at 4:15, ready to run. I looked at the radar, and it looked like a good rain dump was about to occur. Thirty minutes later, when the TV man said, "Most of this isn't hitting the ground yet," I ran to my room to get dressed faster than you can say "Frank Shorter."

Dori was awake already, too. I told her I was going out for about a four-miler. Today's run was the first time I scaled hills without much trouble. The lactic acid build-up is pretty much gone. I felt like my strength has returned and I could push the accelerator. It felt like how your car performs, after an oil change, new spark plugs and some Gumout.

As I pushed up one hill, I thought, "You know, the Tom King Half is Saturday ... You could conceivably run 13.1 ... ." Almost immediately, every voice I listen to popped up on the other shoulder, scolded me for listening to Pitch Fork Man, and encouraged me to finish the nice run I was enjoying. Poof, and that was that.

I will train on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Return to Radnor

The great thing about Daylight Savings is after-work runs in daylight! After a long day today at the coal mine, I headed to Radnor Lake for the first time in several moons for a five-miler. It was a good call.

Bees scurried from flower to flower. Turtles chilled on logs. Birds swam with enthusiasm in the lake. Couples talked and walked. Moms positioned babies toward the lake and educated them about the wildlife. I simply ran and absorbed. I especially loved watching one baby girl point at the lake as her mother described the scene. It reminded me of Dori talking to Kathryn just a few years ago near the same spot.

The first mile wasn't easy. Lactic acid in my muscles is evident after my two-week stint as Duff Boy (couch and TV remote control not included, cape sold separately). I'm not used to soreness during or after runs. My energy level still isn't where it normally is. My throat is scratchy and dry, and my eyes are watery, like many folks around these parts as various blooms continue.

But I loved that I was running. The steep three-quarter mile Radnor Hill was challenging, but it felt great to scale it. It was 76 today, but not humid (45 percent) with a nice breeze. I finished the last mile at about a nine minute pace. After a good stretch, I arrived home to Dori's tasty pesto pasta with a fresh salad with walnuts, parm and red wine vinaigrette.

Fuel for the body. Good for the soul.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Seattle Info

Race organizers in Seattle have issued course information (finally). The course looks benign, compared to what I was expecting. There appear to be three significant climbs.

Spring Forward

Daylight Savings caught me this morning. As a result, I'm not at church. I am reflecting, however. There is so much for which to be thankful and in awe.

Speaking of awesome, I'm glad sister Anne shared the link for NASA's daily satellite photos. Here are a few favorites of God's majestic work.

Mount St. Helens
Antarctic warming trends
The Bahamas
Cumulonimbus cloud over Africa
Forest fires in California and LA fires
Dry Tortugas (not something on Taco Bell's menu)
Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike
Earthrise 1966

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring is Here

Thursday morning, I ran four easy miles at dawn. I can't be alone in appreciating that daylight is starting around 5:30, while dusk commences around 6. Darkness at 4:30 p.m. just doesn't do it for me.

This morning, Dori and I slept in until 7. After a banana, fig newtons, OJ and coffee, I embarked on a seven-miler to cap a 14-mile week. It was warm and juicy - 65 degrees and 85% humidity with a good southwest breeze. We haven't experienced these running conditions since October. Daffodils are blooming. The air is scented with spring. Birds are everywhere, chirping like they don't own stocks or real estate.

My run went well. My wind was decent today, but scaling hills was a challenge, especially at Mile 6. I pushed through, however, thinking of Ronni and others, maintaining about a sub-9:30/mile pace. One odd moment in the run occurred at Mile 3. Near a hilltop, I passed a young lady who looked like she had just started her run. Apparently, big dudes passing her is upsetting. She floored it and blew past me, as I maintained my pace. Meow.

I listened to some good tunes on today's run. Here's a sampling.

Like drums? Enjoy this. The last 45 seconds are amazing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Yesterday was the first day I felt recovered. Color returned to my face, several folks noted. Realizing my fortunate return to good health as I walked to my car last night, I began contemplating my first run in 14 days.

I didn't get back on the horse this morning. Instead, I slept in, deciding to see how things went today. Feeling strong, I left work a little early to take advantage of a gorgeous day. Pepper joined me for a three miler.

My legs felt terrific (no soreness or achilles issues). My feet felt light. My wind was ok, too, as I started a slow run. My breathing, though, was raw. My lungs and tract took a serious pounding the last two weeks. This was the only area where I don't feel fully recovered from the flu.

So I have a gameplan. Run tomorrow morning, rest Friday and then get after it Saturday - maybe six miles if I feel good. Yabba Dabba Doo, says Fred.