Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jim and Kathryn's Excellent Adventure

With apologies to Bill and Ted, Kathryn and I had a most excellent two-night trip to the Big South Fork National Park. Back home, Dori and Will enjoyed equivalent quality time, sans scenery and fresh air.

Kathryn and I stayed at Charit Creek Lodge, a converted hunting lodge that services hikers and horse riders. It's remote, to say the least, smack dab in the middle of 123,000 acres of the most pristine forest on the Cumberland Plateau.

Staying at Charit Creek is semi-roughin' it, a notch easier than camping. We had nice beds, meals and a wood stove to keep our cabin warm. With our long johns, we were comfortable the entire time, with temperatures between 25 and 40.

We relaxed on our porch, listening to the sweet serenading sound from the convergence of Charit and Station Camp creeks. Yesterday, Kathryn and Pepper led me on a 10-mile hike from the lodge to the proud Big South Fork River. We didn't see a soul, save a woodpecker or two. The conversation on the hike and before bedtime was memorable.

I hope these photos do the excursion justice. We'll be back, Dori and Will in tow.

Charit Creek Lodge

Puffin' and Bluffin'

Dad, Daughter and Dog

Best Friends

Screw Rest Period!

Let's Wait For Kathryn

The North Arch at Twin Arches

Advanced Geology

Best Friends 2

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Snow Plow

Here's how you celebrate Christmas. This dog looks like Pepper's twin.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jingle, Jingle

PR Pepper cranked out six miles this morning, taking me through Percy Warner Park's hills with the understandable exuberance a four-year-old pound survivor can muster. One happy dog.

Blog Friends, Friday Night Flashbacks is coming to you two days early, commercial free and hopefully getting your toes tappin' in rhthym with the bells on Santa's sled. Merry, Merry!

R.E.M.'s The End of the World As We Know It
The Woodentops' Give It Time (give it 20 seconds)
Queen's Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Dori and I saw Chrissie and The Pretenders live a few years ago. It was this good.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Son and His Mother

It turns out I did run a fair amount last week ... five times, 24 miles total. All of it was good running.

Yesterday, our Team in Training crew took off into the cold and light rain. We ran 4.5, with Lymphoma Survivor Jim and I going 6.5. The conversation was good, so it felt like we ran half the distance. You don't feel the cold and rain when you're on a mission.

We typically have a mission moment before the run. Yesterday, Team Captain Sara talked about a four-year-old girl she knows who is battling leukemia. I mentioned Chuck Hendry and his ongoing battle with AML, asking for prayers. Several in our group know Chuck from his run in the most recent Country Music Half.

After the run, I headed to the gym to watch Kathryn's team play basketball and co-coach Will's team, which continues to make great progress. Last week, Will's team lost by two points because of shoddy rebounding and swiss cheese defense. After some good practices, the boys showed up against a team with a good scorer. They shut him down, leading 14-1 at the half and winning 28-17.

Will played his best game in three years, playing as hard as I can recall. After the game, Dori looked like she'd won the lottery. That was great to see, of course, fighting through so much to witness her son's improvement and hard effort.

Will and I talk a fair amount about teamwork and the importance of handling both success and failure. It was good to see him stay humble after the game. How you play and how you react to events are more important than how many points you score.

His composure and his Mom's smile were the highlights of my day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Who Hash

That's what's on the FNF menu. Starting with Boris and Cindy Lou.

Here's a clip from my favorite movie of George Bailey, Lover of "Garlic Eaters," versus Mr. Potter, Lover of Nothing.

Two of my favorite Christmas songs are from Mannheim Steamroller ... For any young-uns, you're about to see a turntable.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Prayers For Chuck

Please keep Chuck Hendry, his wife Abbie and his precious family in your prayers. He's having a rough go in Round 2 versus AML. Not many of us could endure such hell, but I know a few RFD followers/survivors who have. I take great comfort in that for Chuck.

Things are quiet around here. I've been on the road some, Dori is doing the Christmas thing, and I need to buy a tree. I've never bought one this late. I love the smell of a Christmas tree. Tomorrow night looks good.

I'm looking forward to some vacation time, including hiking, camping and fishing. It's time to get in touch with Inner Jim again. Running Jim can come back January 1.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

He's A Runner

Last week, I was a slouch. I ran three times for a total of 10 miles, with Pepper joining me on each run. He seems to be on a better training path than me these days.

Today, Pepper led the way at Radnor Lake, shooting for a PR. He's never gone beyond four miles, which he's done twice, most recently Friday morning. Today, he ran 4.5 and looked like he had another mile in him. I think I'll submit him for "I'm a Runner," one of my favorite features in Runner's World magazine.

As usual, he ran the first mile with gusto. I tried to slow him down, but he's so determined. One lady asked, as I was being dragged down the street, "Who's in charge here?" Not me, at least at that moment.

Once Pepper settles in to a rhythm, we have good runs. Today, we took a few hills at a reasonable clip, then coasted on flats and downhills. He sniffed every dog and walker in the park, much to my chagrin. He thinks everyone wants to see him and often doesn't take "no" for an answer.

That said, I'm glad I have such a good running friend. Otis, our deceased lab, was a thoroughbread racehorse, a great athlete and strong runner. Pepper is different, still strong but not quite as athletic. But he can run better than most.

Dori asked me today my favorite thing about Pepper. "His heart," I said without hesitation. I admire his heart and his passion for running.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Water of Love

I finally found a version of one of my favorites by Dire Straits, but first some good stuff from the Stones, Toots and his buddies, and Genesis.

Genesis: Follow You, Follow Me

Perfection on the guitar, especially Song No. 2, Water of Love.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Healthy Skepticism

Things are never as bad or as good as they seem.

H1N1 in April

H1N1 in December

We should be skeptical of everything the U.S. media and government serve up. Can I get a "Y2K is here!"?

Winter Is Here

What do you do when it's 22 degrees outside with a "feels like" of 14 degrees?

You run, if you're coaching Team In Training and want to look your folks in the eye on Saturday when you ask, "Did y'all do your runs this week?"

It was cold at the beginning, but Pepper loved it, heavy fur coat and all. After 15 minutes, I felt fine. The last 2.5 felt great. It was also the most beautiful morning. No clouds, beaming stars and moon, and a peacefulness you only get at 5:30 in the morning.

Our friend, Chuck, is in complete remission. He's over another major hurdle, and we're happy for him, Abbie and his wonderful family.

Off to work ... feeling refreshed and grateful. This running thing didn't seem like a good idea under cozy covers 90 minutes ago. But experience trumps complacency again.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Last Tuesday, Will's basketball team played the Lakers, I mean, a very good basketball team. Our boys were humbled in the scrimmage. At Friday night's practice, we had their attention ... They had blown off pretty much everything we had taught them and suffered the consequences Tuesday. They really got after it at Friday's practice.

The next morning, our boys followed the plan and played a near-perfect first game. They won, 35-8, and it could have been worse had we not backed off. Their opponent wasn't very good, but we executed. Good stuff.

I caught the first half of Kathryn's game. She scored two buckets, including a put back off a missed free throw at the first-half buzzer. Her team won by two points. Kathryn has gone from an after-thought on her first team to a role player the next two years to apparently a team leader. She's fast and aggressive on defense, getting more skilled each day. Mom and Dad are proud of her desire to improve.

Our Team In Training group met early Saturday morning for a three-miler. Jim, Sara and I ran three beforehand, then three with the group. It was cold, about 29 degrees, but quite comfortable after you got going. One guy in our group told me he lost his grandmother in October to AML. She was diagnosed on a Wednesday and died that Saturday.

Please keep our friend in Chuck in your prayers. He has a biopsy scheduled today, and everyone is obviously eager for good news.

Friday, December 4, 2009

One-Hit Wonders

Earlier this week, VH1 ran their Top 100 One-Hit Wonders, causing Dori to boogie shamelessly in front of her startled children. Here are a few that caused the commotion.

Your Love, Outfield

The following sparked discussion about the limited pros and many cons of the mullet.

Harden My Heart, Quarterflash

And here's some fun from Boyd, Gray, Crabtree and Parks, aka The White Animals. Looks like their stuff is finally hitting You Tube. Oh me, oh my. Old people unite.

A Bug

I didn't feel great this week. It could have been the H1N1 (here little piggy). I slept most of Monday and Tuesday, and felt 80% on Wednesday. Yesterday was much better, so I decided to run this morning, the first time since Sunday.

Yowser. It wasn't pretty. I had to head back home, if you know what I mean, after a mile. Regrouped, I took Pepper out for another two, and that wasn't easy.

But, hey, I finished. And my dog is happy.