Friday, May 29, 2009

Show Her the Money

Dori is in the room rejoicing over "triple coupons" at Kroger. "I'm going to get some of these items for free!" says me love.

While she's all over that, I'm all over this. Friday Night Flashbacks, starting with Ace.

Related fun: Sanford Townsend Band with Smoke from a Distant Fire

Bill Cosby put down his jello pudding long enough to introduce Steely Dan. Pop culture lollapalooza.

Here's more unbridled talent from the 70s.

Fast forward a few years into the early 80s, and we conclude another successful evening of FNFs from the cancer-hating, cancer-fighting crew down in here in Tennessee. Y'all come back now, ya hear!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Gotta Move

I've blogged before about those runs where I feel young again. Tonight was one of those nights.

After work, I picked up K-Girl from a pool party, changed into my running clothes and headed out the door. Will asked, "How far?" I said, "Five, and I'm thinking they'll be quick."

I was right. I felt fluid from the start, as a cold front pushed through town. I could feel the air getting lighter, and my feet seemed to rejoice in response. I even told myself, "Slow down, big fella. Don't ruin it. Just run at a brisk pace." I listened to whomever was talking, running at about a 90% push. Feelin' it, but not stressing, but loving it all the way.

I ran five miles on a rolling course in a shade over 43 minutes, an 8:38/mile pace. Not super fast, but not bad in 77 degrees and 65% humidity and a fairly high dewpoint. I felt that I would have held the pace through a 10K. I thoroughly enjoyed the run.

Tonight, Dori and I watched 30 Rock, one of the few shows we try not to miss. We have debated who our favorite character is for six months. Tonight, we agreed they're all excellent.

We also caught pieces of the National Spelling Bee contest. A seventh grade girl at our kids' school won the state and advanced several rounds before bowing out. I loved watching the kids enjoy the contest. Heck, I loved watching it. Made me feel stupid, but I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Run Report

After last week's screeching halt, I managed to crank out the hilly 5.8 Warner Park loop on Memorial Day. Funny how delicious old world wine and Memphis-style ribs off the backyard smoker can fuel a decent run. Later in the day, I spent a few hours with the kids at the pool, then surfed the tube like only grown men can.

Candidly, my running is in a funk. I'm trained, but not motivated like I should be because I don't have a race to run. It's also getting hot and muggy. Though I cope better with the heat and humidity than three years ago, I still don't relish running in it.

I'm gonna hammer out a few more runs this week and try to nail a good one early Saturday. There's a 10-mile race an hour from home on June 20, then not much else except a July 4 5K. I may just maintain a modest fitness level this summer and re-ignite the serious training in the early fall.

I can't decide if I'm Dopey for not entering the Seattle marathon sooner, or Grumpy because I need an attitude adjustment.

Here's a sampling of what Dori, the kids, and my mother and sister ate Sunday night, paired with delicious French wine:

Memphis-style ribs with Jim's special dry rub (eight spices)
Cheesy garlic Lowcountry grits
Dori's fresh black bean and white corn cilantro salad
Mom's squash casserole
Ripe red and yellow tomatoes with black pepper

Friday, May 22, 2009

FNFs - Afternoon Delights

Here are some flashbacks, presented a little early today. Some teasers:

Duran Duran: Come Undone
U2: Mysterious Ways (a Jim favorite)
U2: New Years Day (a Dori favorite)
Billy Idol: Don't Need a Gun (not a Dori favorite)

And pleasers:

Simple Minds. Simply underrated.

Not what you want to say in a Hispanic neighborhood.

Exile had one of the few songs that hit the trifecta, crossing disco, country and pop successfully.

Now that the kinks are out ... One more for the road.

Name Change

The National Marrow Donor Program has changed its name to the Be The Match Registry. Check it out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sharing the Mission

Dori continues to feel better, but her cough remains. I'm battling something, too, now ... raw breathing, headaches and less energy ... but nothing like whatever I had in February. Still, it's the crums.

Tuesday night, I ran six miles to and from a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society meeting to sign up Team in Training members. It was a wonderful night for running, warm but dry. On the way to the meeting, I stopped to catch up with our friend Chuck Hargrove, who was running down Belmont Boulevard, one of the city's best streets for a run.

At the start of the LLS meeting, a young lady I immediately recognized walked into the room. Elaine! One of Dori's great nurses at Vanderbilt on 11 North. Elaine had a special affinity to Chuck Hendry, Dori's good friend on 11 North, AML survivor and recent half marathoner. Elaine, who stays in touch with Chuck, is planning to fund-raise and run the Marine Corps race this fall. Good luck, good friend. Speaking of Chuck Hendry, it was nice to get a call from him this week. He's hung up his running shoes for the moment and is focusing on other things.

I attended the meeting to share a "Mission Moment" to connect the runners to their task. I told my family's story, including the long summer at VUMC, Dori's difficult transplant, my reason for fund-raising and the great ending at last year's Nike, when Dori ran the last three miles with me.

I would have run today, except for the cold. It would have been nice to get to 28 or 29 miles today, then run 11-plus on Saturday morning for a 40-mile week. But the body says no, and we'll see where this goes. Hopefully, I'll ride the bench for a quarter, not a half.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Threat Management

We're always on our toes around here, thanks (or no thanks) to blood cancer. The last 10 days haven't been any different. Dori has had lower energy and a persistent cough for more than a week. Given Dori's recent history, we tend to start wondering, "Is it back?" Add in that some of our friends have relapsed or wondered if they're relapsing, and well, you get the picture.

At my urging, Dori finally called Vanderbilt late last week and went in to get swabbed. She tested without a hint of a virus, which sounds good but isn't. We like to know Dori has a virus, not a return of leukemia. Dori's nurse practitioner prescribed an anti-viral anyway, just in case they were missing something and to give her a boost against her cough. Her energy slowly returned, a good sign, but the cough remains.

Today, Vanderbilt called to tell her she's been fighting a flu strain (para influenza Number 3). That's great news. What isn't good is how I've handled the whole thing. I've lost my patience a few times with the kids, especially Kathryn. Honestly, some days I reach my limit with the threat of relapse and managing people's emotions, including my own. Add in kids doing what you've asked them not to do a half dozen times, and the steam valve's gonna go off. Frankly, I probably did a better job managing it all two years ago when the threat was real.

Some of you may be thinking Jim needs a vacation. That would be true. Work has been intense for a few months now, and it looks like I have another three weeks or so of buckling down. What I really need, though, is to recognize better when the teapot is heating fast and to remove it from the burner before another whistle.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Territory

After sleeping in, I headed for the entrance of Percy Warner Park to begin a training run that would take me past 15 miles, my previous distance PR. Running solo, I attached my iPod, put it on "My Top Rated" and grabbed a bottle of water. On my car front seat, I positioned extra water, Body Glide, fig newtons and energy gels I would need for upcoming pit stops.

Running conditions were good - high 50s, windy and overcast skies. The first three miles weren't fluid, cause for concern in my attempt to break new ground. I stayed on a 10:00/mile pace, finally loosening up as I neared my car on the first 5.5-mile out-and-back.

I kept the Garmin running at my first pit stop, simulating race conditions. My average pace dropped to 10:18/mile as I headed back down Belle Meade Boulevard before turning right on its cousin, Tyne. After a brush with an angry golden retriever I reached the turnaround at Hillsboro Pike, the 7.5-mile mark. Back down Tyne, I cruised a slight downhill for more than a mile, then turned up Chancery Lane and Herbert Place before working up Chickering Lane and Page Road, arriving back at my car at the park entrance at a 10:16/mile average pace with 11.5 miles under the belt.

I was tired and sore, knowing more of it was on the way. Refueled and now on a 10:26/mile average pace, I headed for another out-and-back on BMB, hoping to get back to the car at a similar pace. Miles 12 and 13 hurt, but went OK, as steady noon church traffic passed. I slammed my third energy gel, just as the serious hurting began.

My left achilles ached, as did many other parts. By the time I reached the turnaround at the 14.25-mile mark, my back was sore. My knees hurt, too, for the first time during my training. So did my butt. I realized every muscle and bone from my lower back to my feet were telling me, "Are we done, dude?" A song about not getting enough air appeared on my iPod. I skipped to the next one. We'll listen to Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown later. I'm gonna do this, dammit.

I walked uphill one-tenth of a mile to get my energy back and to see if the pain would subside a little. It did, enough to get going again as my average pace stood at 10:37/mile. I can't let that drop anymore, I thought. We're getting into slow territory, even if I'm not having my best day.

Two hills caused trouble, enough to bring me to a crawl at their apexes. But I kept going. I returned to the car, completing 17 miles, in just over three hours with an average pace of 10:36/mile. Everything hurt like hell, as I walked back down the boulevard and noshed fig newtons and drank Gatorade.

After a stretch, more like a bend-and-groan, I climbed into the car, almost semi-deflated. I thought to myself, I used to be proud of running four milers at a slow pace when I was overweight, and I can't even give myself credit for running 17 miles. I'm still kinda beating myself up, five hours after the run.

Another thought: The farther I run, the more respect I have for marathoners. Trust me, I started with a ton of admiration before going on this trek to run 26.2, but it's now plural and exponential. You 26.2 lurkers know who you are. Tip of the hat, y'all.

Somewhere, somehow, I need to summon up the strength and guts to add another nine miles to my new distance PR.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Psycho Flashbacks

Not much going on ... I ran 21 miles this week but am not going to run tomorrow, when it's supposed to be steamy. Sunday is supposed to be dry and chilly, so I'll take a stab at 18 miles then. I am still a man without a marathon, though a friend is trying to sneak me into the Seattle race. Fingers crossed.

This week, Friday Night Flashbacks spends some mind time, starting with uptight Francis in Stripes.

More brain-quenching and draining tunes? Here you go.

Eurythmics: Here Comes the Rain Again
David Bowie: Space Oddity

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Body Knows

Until tonight, running recently has been sloppy and frustrating.

After piecing together 15 miles between near-constant thunderstorms last week, I decided to head out for a big 18 miler early Sunday after some good churchin' and a fun Mother's Day celebration Saturday night.

I felt weird from the start of the run. Dori and I think we've had a cold for a few days, and Sunday's blahs were confirmation. Two miles in, I decided 18 miles wasn't a good idea; instead, I trudged through six miles, rounded up the family for nine holes of golf and channel-surfed the rest of the day.

This morning, after 10 hours' sleep, I blew off a planned run. My back hurt and muscles still ached ... No way, Jose, I thought. I arrived home tonight at 7, said hello to the family and headed out for a five miler. I felt revved up from the get-go. What a difference 12 hours makes, I thought. In benign conditions, I went sub 9:00 the first mile and was itching to go fast.

So I accelerated ... 8:30 in mile two and faster each mile. I floored it the last mile, going sub 8:00 with ease. If I had raced, I'm pretty sure I would have PR'd five miles.

Within a span of a day, I've gone from deflation to believing I'm ready for a big race. Still, what the hell was yesterday all about? The body knows, and I'm glad I listened. Hopefully, my body and mind will be in the right place when I undertake 26.2.

Speaking of knowing your body, Lance Armstrong broke his collarbone in March, but is in fifth place in the Tour of Italy. Anyone surprised?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Time For Tunes

Earlier tonight, the kids held a piano recital for Dori, me and their Nana. Their performance was superb. Bravo!

Staying with the theme, here are some tunes from years past, part of this blog's traditional Friday Night Flashbacks.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fast Mike

Earlier today, I was strolling downtown when three homeless people sitting on a bench asked me to stop. Normally, that means a request for money. Usually, I say, "No thank you," though on a few occasions I've said yes. Most of my so-called "homeless money" goes to my church, which is part of the Room in the Inn program, which I encourage homeless people to attend. Check out the video at the link.

Anyhoo, I stopped and listened. This is usually uncomfortable, but I think it's important not to stay in my comfort zone 24/7. They started asking me who I thought was the greatest comedian. I said Richard Pryor was very good, but they said, "No, old school, like the 1970s and before." Hmmm, I pondered and then thought, "Wonder when they're going to ask me for money?"

I then shared a few old school comedians who were naturally funny, not just folks who memorized lines. Lily Tomlin. "Yes!" one of the two African American men said. A semi-toothless women smiled at the enthusiasm generated, and another said, "What about Tim Conway? Carol Burnett?" Yes, I concurred ... good ones.

"Foster Brooks," I quipped, not realizing the probable irony of the selection until seconds later but prompting another emphatic "yes." I said the best of all was Gene Wilder, who had me in stitches in every comedy movie he appeared - Willy Wonka, Blazing Saddles, Stir Crazy, Young Frankenstein and others. The choice earned a knuckle from my new friends.

They never asked for money. One said, "God be with you," to which I said, "You, too." We're all brothers and sisters, no matter our situation. I'm glad I exited my comfort zone today.

Shifting gears, my 40-year-old cousin, Michael, is a serious runner in Long Island. His personal best is a 3:30, an incredible time but leaving him short of one of his goals - qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Mike raced last Sunday in the Long Island Marathon, and tore it up. His 3:20 PR placed him 45th in the field and earned him a trip to Beantown in 2010. He e-mailed me and said the last mile he thought of his sister Lynn, who recently died from ovarian cancer. He also said he repeated Lance Armstrong's quote when the going got rough: "Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever." Mike, we're proud of you.

Back in Normal Run World, I've run three times since my 13-miler Saturday. Monday's early morning four-mile run was actually sorta fast, a good sign. Last night's five-miler was an easy one, and today has been a rest day. I'm eying the 11.2 in Percy Warner Park this weekend with an add-on 5.5. That would be a distance PR and part of the process in determining a race schedule.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Good Run

It's been muggy and wet in Tennessee for what seems like forever. I found a break in the rain before lunch and headed out for a long run. Humidity was 90% and the dewpoint was at 58 degrees with the temperature at 61. A misty rain felt very good, and the cloud cover was welcome.

The run went well, with only two stops to get water. I reached the seven-mile mark at a 9:55/mile pace, which felt comfortable. At 9.5 miles, I pitted for water and a 30-second stretch. With the stop, my average pace dropped to 10:00/mile. Only at Mile 12 did I start feeling the run, but I was determined to go sub-10:00. I did, finishing 13.1 miles in 2:10:43, a 9:58/mile pace. That includes some short waits and weaves at intersections. Total ascent and descent was 1,500 feet each.

Mileage for the week topped 32. I had some problems on other runs this week, but not today. I was fighting some stomach discomfort earlier in the week, and it's nice to be beyond it.

One of the best parts about this spring has been watching my son play baseball and being an assistant coach on his team. He enjoys the game very much and is really starting to play well.

Last week in front of Dori and his Nana, he hit a home run, a line drive that scooted to the wall, and a double. He's shrugged off two hit-by-pitches, thrown out runners at the plate and assisted on some double plays. Cool stuff. He enjoys the ballpark, whether he's playing with his team or taking in a Vanderbilt game with his Dad.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sleepless About Seattle

Last night, I planned to register online for the Seattle Marathon and buy a plane ticket. To my surprise, the race was sold out two months in advance. Insert four letter word. I had waited to sign up for several reasons - mainly work reasons and injury possibilities. But work is progressing well and I'm injury free, knock on wood.

So I'm searching for a marathon. I'm thinking about San Diego and Minneapolis in late May and Steamboat in early June, among several possibilities. But after eyeballing the calendar, I'm leaning toward a half marathon soon and the Cape Cod Marathon in October. It's relatively flat and cool, and we can stay with relatives we like a lot. Stuff to ponder.

It's Friday, and I did something tonight I rarely do - went out for a few bears with a buddy at the local pub. The night life is not for me, though some time ago it seemed otherwise. Insert Alicia Bridges song here. I did see Lindsay, a lymphoma survivor who now visits this blog from time to time. I love the word "survivor." Good to see you out and about, LC.

So Flashback fans, here's an a la carte with a few embeds at the end. Enjoy.

Billy Squier, a poor man's Mick Jagger: My Kinda Lover
Crowded House: Don't Dream It's Over
Duran Duran: Save a Prayer (A Dori favorite)
Duran Duran: A View to a Kill (One of my favorites)
Billy Idol: Eyes Without a Face
Blondie: Rapture
Blondie: Heart of Glass
U2: Beautiful Day (Dori's lovin' it)
David Bowie: China Girl (Now I'm lovin' it)

Now for some songs those vigilant Embedding Police missed.