Monday, June 29, 2009

Rabbit Run

Tonight, I ran like I ran this spring. The weather was delightful, a break from the misery of the last two weeks.

I left home slowly, not knowing what to expect and not feeling like my tank was full. After two miles, things felt average at best. Early highlights as I ran 10-minute miles included seeing a baby bunny attempt to scamper across a yard and hearing my Mom pass in her car hollering, "I love you!" I love you, too, Mom. Now watch the road. (wink, nod)

Around mile three, things felt a little better, despite a young jock who flew past me. I reached the water stop at Athlete's House, stretched, remarked to a young lady runner how nice it was outside and headed back home. I started running faster because I started feeling better; also, the young lady runner re-started her run seconds after me and seemed to be set on matching my pace. OK, that's not gonna happen, I thought.

So I played a little game. Let's see how 8:30s feel. Now 8:15s. I quickened the pace, noticing another rabbit in a yard. Maybe the rabbits were tonight's fans. The young lady hung for awhile, losing yards as I pressed on the gas. Before mile five somewhere, she turned down a street.

OK, big fella. Two miles to go ... now what? More 8:15s, I said to myself. You're not in pain, so giddyup.

The seven-miler included maybe three minutes stoppage for the stretch break and traffic waits. Total time was 1:06:40, a 9:30/mile pace, but it was really more like an average 9:00/mile with the outer half slow and inner half quick. I felt like 10 miles was doable tonight, a good feeling after only 11 miles total last week. The weather is supposed to be good all week.

Dori was in a very good mood this weekend, especially Saturday evening sipping wine and relaxing on our deck. We have a beautiful yard, with majestic trees that provide much shade. Dori talked about a lunch she had earlier in the day with a 100-day blood cancer survivor, a 45-year-old pilates instructor and triathlete from Mississippi. Dori learned about her through our friend and AML survivor Chuck Hendry. She later met the lady's husband and came home quite alert to her recent struggle.

Her new friend told her about an unsuccessful blood cancer fight a 37-year-old man had at Vanderbilt. He had terrible graft-versus-host-disease that caused his arms to blister and pop, which must have been painful beyond comprehension. When I went inside to get something, I felt angry and emotional. I'm not gonna go there. Dori's in a good mood, and it's time to produce a happy face or at least avoid the alternative. I think it worked because 30 minutes later Dori was dancing to some early 80s Dire Straits videos ... a sure-fire way to flashback to simpler times.

Dori seems to be enjoying teaching instruction very much. I'm happy she's happy. It's been good for her to sink her teeth into something other than a cancer fight. I've been adjusting, frankly, for several reasons. One of them: It's odd not having Dori with the kids as much as before. That's meant a different schedule after a very hectic spring at work. I think I'm still decompressing and looking forward to a vacation later this summer that will surely hit the spot.

Maybe some more spring-like runs will help, too.

One last thing, an article of interest in today's local paper: Minority bone-marrow donors in short supply

Friday, June 26, 2009

Not Going There

No, we won't be paying tribute tonight to Michael Jackson. We appreciate talent, but not creepiness, which seems to be running rampant across our culture. So we stick to the basics - Friday Night Flashbacks with gusto across the spectrum.

If you liked that, you'll also like this by Level 42 (wait for the second lead), classic Pet Shop Boys, and this, too.

And now for a rewind into the 70s and 60s.

Upsize, you say? Here you go.

The Doors: Love Me Two Times
Player: Baby Come Back

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

River Float

I took a day off Monday to rest up. Will joined me to float the Harpeth River, which has many Class I rapids that are great for kids ages nine and 44. We paddled 17 miles of calm river, taking in rural sounds and forgetting city noises.

Three hours into a five-and-a-half hour trip, I asked Will if he was enjoying the day. "Dad, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now," he said. What a nice answer.

While Will checked out baby frogs on the shore, I fished. I caught three healthy, feisty fish - a smallmouth bass, spotted bass and bluegill. All were returned to the river, after intense questioning earlier in the day by our favorite conservationist, Kathryn.

The paddling in 95 degrees was a great workout. No running on Monday. Last night, the humidity and dewpoint dropped into the mid 50s and 60s respectively. Around 7, I went out for a five miler in 86 degrees. With the sun down and northerly breeze, I ran pretty well. It felt like a little order was restored after Saturday's debacle.

On a separate note, my sense of what's "bad" has really been altered. At least twice in recent months, including yesterday, Dori called me on my cell starting with, "Something bad has happened." Feeling a quick pit in my stomach, I listened, only to hearing my girl has lost her car keys or something similar.

"Sweetie, that's not bad. That's unfortunate. Relapse is bad." I know she agrees. Perspective is a powerful thing, as is word selection, especially for jumpy cancer survivors and their spouses.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

AML Study

I hadn't seen the word cytogenetics in awhile. Here's some news you can use about AML. Dori could have told them this.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Par for the Course

When am I gonna learn? This morning, I headed out at 9:30 for a five miler. After 3.5 miles, I was cooked. The temperature was near 90 and humidity very high. Running 15 miles this week was harder than logging 35 in early spring.

Friday morning's hilly two-miler with Kathryn and Pepper nonetheless was worth it. She declared she wants to run the Firecracker 5K, so it looks like we'll be training some more.

Back to today ... After some Gatorade, a shower and rest, Will and I went to play nine holes on a short par 3 course. Teaching Will to play golf has been tremendously fun. He's a natural and is listening well. I like teaching him because it requires me to be patient, never my best trait. All in all, it's going quite well. I asked him if he wants lessons from someone else; he said maybe but that he's ok with my instruction.

After I showed Will a stance adjustment, he parred the last two holes. On hole nine, he flushed a five iron 15 feet under the hole. Not bad for a nine-year-old! Also fun was a near hole-in-one I almost carded on hole five. The ball hit less than a foot behind the hole and nearly disappeared. On a par 27, I shot 26 with no mishits - eight pars and one birdie.

I think we will play again soon, even if the heat index stays at 100.

Friday, June 19, 2009

You Can't Stop Love

Bet y'all didn't know a little bluegrass makes me very happy. Here's some of that, sprinkled in with some other goodies not quite Hee Haw.

Since that didn't work out the first time for Sara, how 'bout some notes from some of the masters - Mark, Chet, Waylon and Jerry (and of course, Fred).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Penned Up

My running has been minimal for two reasons. Work days the last two weeks have averaged 12 hours, stretching last night to a 16-hour day. It's hard to run when you have almost no time.

It's also unusually uncomfortable for June. Humidity has been out of sight and dewpoints are cousins, almost early August-like conditions.

I ran three miles with Pepper early Sunday and Monday mornings and then four miles Wednesday morning. I was drenched at the end of each trek. Still, they were good runs and I never tire of seeing our dog happy.

My running motivation is to keep a reasonable level of fitness through the summer, then get back at it. That's what my body is telling me, and I'm going to listen.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Good One

Last night, we were watching ESPN when a college football analyst posed the question, "What's the best team to ever come out of Iowa?"

My retort: "Nebraska, after they beat Iowa State."

I had to share.

Here's some great prose and insight on running, from friend Laura who you can find in Blogger Friends.

"I think the real issue is that I’ve never found anything I loved as much as running, though. I was never a distance girl, but the runner’s high is a real thing and it will drive you out the door when it’s too cold, too wet and too hot to even think about sitting on the porch, never mind pounding the pavement. Can you tell I crave it to this day?"

Marrowthon Underway

An effort to help expand the marrow donor base is underway. Here's an e-mail I received from the Be the Match folks.

Be The Match Marrowthon, June 8 - 22

You can help save a life. All it takes is for you to invite one person to join the marrow registry. If everyone who shares your commitment reached out to just one other person, we could exceed our recruitment goal.

Here's what you can do to support the Be The Match Marrowthon:

Tell your friends: It’s free to join the marrow registry during the Marrowthon, June 8 - 22.

Spread the word: Join our Facebook cause or tweet about it on Twitter.
Create a marrowthon: Run, walk, garden, anything - to raise funds for Be The Match Foundation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Survivor

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 to win the Stanley Cup in Game 7. One of the Penguins' owners and game's greatest players, Mario Lemieux, is a lymphoma survivor.

Tonight's a night for respecting greatness. Friday Night Flashbacks will return another day soon. Here's a tribute to one tough hombre.

Monday, June 8, 2009


I found some excellent running company ... my daughter Kathryn.

Yesterday, we headed out for a two-miler in the heat of the day. Kathryn went out too fast, while my body argued about the seven-miler and 18 holes of golf I played the day before. After a mile, she was struggling. She fussed up a storm the last mile, as I slowed to encourage her. It was a tough run.

Back home, I thought she might continue to vent, even clamor about quitting. Instead, after she cooled off she started a chart that said:

My Running.
Summer goal - 50 miles.
Two drawn lines indicated her accomplishment.

Damn, that made me proud.

Last night, she asked if I could wake her at 5:30 for a morning run. "Sure," I said, hoping I'd feined amazement. She said she preferred running "when it's not so hot." That's my girl.

This morning, with our friend Pepper leading the charge, we went for a three-miler. Our pace was very modest, more than 11:00/mile. Yesterday, Kathryn went out too fast.

At 1.3, I could tell she was tiring a little, so I asked if she wanted to turn around. "Yes," she said. Pepper, fresh from a bath and brush yesterday, stayed on pace. Yes, it's true ... Dogs do smile.

So do Dads with their daughters. Kathryn finished a strong 2.6. She charged the last hill, blowing by me at a 7:30/mile pace I knew she wouldn't hold for a quarter mile. Pepper and I took off, catching her. We finished together and stretched.

Saturday night, Dori, the kids and I headed back to Arrington Vineyards. Dori asked her friends Liz, Catherine and their families to join us. While the eight kids ages 11 to 2 played on the hill, the grown-ups laughed, drank good wine and ate great food.

At one point, Dori roamed the grounds with Will. On a hill overlooking a picturesque valley - much like Northern Sonoma - Dori meandered through a maze of picnic tables, chairs and blankets. She came upon an old friend, Betsy the Bartender, one of the ladies who performed several biopsies on Dori.

Betsy told Will he has a great Mom, something he knows but doesn't mind hearing. Betsy said nice words about the rest of our family, getting misty-eyed as she saw the fruits of her labor, a leukemia survivor enjoying a wonderful evening after the biggest scare of her life.

Dori and I really like Scott, Liz's husband. A cancer survivor, Scott enjoyed the night immensely. He kept telling Liz, "This place has to go in the rotation." After the sun set, an incredible full moon rose over the crest of the hill. I've seen some great moonrises over the ocean, but this one was memorable.

Dori later told me that Scott said, "You know why this is awesome, right?"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Rut

I headed out this morning for a seven miler in perfect conditions, especially for early June - mid-50s and very dry. My earlier runs this week were six, four and three miles. None were stellar, as I am in "the rut."

As I listened to The Dream Academy, I clicked off 9:30s before needing a pit stop at the Circle K. When I returned to the road, I saw some familiar faces ... Melissa and Rhonda, two Team in Training stalwarts and fine ladies.

They asked about Dori and her teaching job. We talked about speed work, upcoming races and a local vineyard. Pow! Before I knew it, we'd run 2.5 miles at an 8:45/mile pace, which seemed much easier than my solo effort. Maybe that's what I need to get out of this funk ... company!

I love the fact that my 11-year-old appreciates the oldies, given her joy this week of an episode of "classic Spongebob." Better late than never, here are some Friday Night Flashbacks, starting with powerful words and soaring saxophone.

I also love this one from Gerry Rafferty. The words fit my girl. More good stuff from Coldplay and Kansas, a favorite of Dori the high school violinist. Sprinkle in a little Olivia Newton-John, who's a little too sexy for her love ... but this will make sister Anne happy.

Finally, some fun at the House Party. Admit it, you like it. But watch out for words that got Imus in trouble.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Connected and Reconnecting

Let me share good news on two fronts.

Some may recall my sister Anne spearheaded a December art show to raise money for future blood cancer patients confined to 11 North at Vanderbilt. The fund-raiser was a success.

Recently, we received a letter stating three notebooks were purchased to connect patients to their families and friends through the Internet. Isolation is one of many battles patients wage daily as they battle leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. I'm proud of my sister, her art friends and their clients. Ya done good.

Round here, Dori has entered a teaching fellows program. She passed several tests this spring and begins training tomorrow. Her hope is to get a position teaching special education in an area middle school.

Dori kept the clamps on the news until she cleared several hurdles. She has been, quite frankly, anxious about the whole thing. My view is more carpe diem, but I didn't endure what she did and approach new challenges differently. I have to keep reminding myself of this.

The big picture is simple. She has worked hard to earn this opportunity and fulfill her vision to make a difference for others, something she thought of often as she visualized leaving VUMC two years ago. Please keep her in your prayers.

My Saturday and Tuesday morning runs were different experiences. Dumb Jim started his Saturday long run at 10 a.m, while Smart Jim started this morning at 5:15 a.m. Dumb Jim drank some wine Friday night, while Smart Jim went to bed early, fully hydrated. Dumb Jim ran 8.5 miles in bright sunshine in the low 80s with no wind. Smart Jim ran this morning as the sun rose in 67 degree weather. Dumb Jim ran in worn shoes that were starting to cause leg discomfort. Smart Jim ran six miles in new shoes that absorbed the shock, protecting his aging achilles and calf muscles.

Saturday's run was about suffering unnecessarily. Stupidity, really. I don't know why I allowed this to happen, but my legs hurt for several days. Maybe I'll learn I'm not invincible, but I seem to take the hard route sometimes.

This morning, I sweated heavily in the humid conditions, but felt fine after the first half mile. I enjoyed the run. Duh.