Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow Run

I couldn't take it anymore. I had to run this morning.

It was 17 degrees, but felt warmer. The back roads are slick, but main roads are starting to clear.

Today's run was marvelous. In bright sunshine, I crunched hard snow and skipped over patches of ice. It felt great, despite the slow pace. Oddly, four miles felt like six, mostly because running in slushier parts felt like running in sand. I ran cautiously, working out yesterday's crash-induced soreness. No ka-thuds like yesterday.

I did see a car in the ditch and a towman trying to extricate it. Other than that, I saw and heard little.

Playing and running in the snow does two things: It empties the mind and makes me feel like a kid.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Return to 1980

I took the kids and Pepper to my favorite sledding spot this morning on Chickering Road. Will the Daredevil sprinted straight to the top of the steep hill while Kathryn decided to observe and critique. Later, she found a friend and hit the easier slope. She was as happy as we were flying down the steeper slope.

Will went airborne big time, pumping his fist after one particularly successful run. I did one slow run, then decided to go for broke over a ramp at full speed. I crashed and felt pain in my right ribs. Two minutes later, the pain was gone, but I've been sore all day. Sore in a good way.

I saw some people I hadn't seen in 30 years ... which was awesome. It's like time had stood still.

I had a blast with the kids. The photo says it all.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Time

It's snowing at a decent clip, rare for these parts. I've been working from home all day, which is kinda cool. Little phone, lots of catch-up and prep.

With work behind for a few hours, let the sledding begin! First, here's what happens when garlic hummus, edamame and French wine begin to collide. Retro fusion.

This isn't very retro, but it might as well be.

This is definitely old school. Made me feel 25 when I heard it in the car yesterday. Also made our kids wonder who their Dad is.

I want a harmonica like that. - Verucha Salt

Here's some bootleg Doobie.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Learning Lessons

Yesterday, Will's basketball team played another thrilling, heartbeat-skipping basketball game. They tied, 35-35.

Our guys were up 19-11, then down 26-21. Back and forth it went. Down one with 90 seconds, Will nailed a 15 footer, then found an open man underneath for a three-point lead. The other team's star, who was three inches taller than our tallest player, made a no-doubt three with seven seconds. No kidding, it was more exciting than the 1992 East Regional final between Duke and Kentucky. I told the opposing team's star, who probably had 30 of their 35 points, that it was a pleasure to watch him play his heart out.

The parents and players knew they had witnessed something special. But, no offense, probably not as much as Dori, our family (my Mom and sister were in attendance) and a few close friends. After the game, Dori hugged her son, who played spectacularly. They both cried lovingly, which of course tore us up a smidge. Near the end of the game, I looked at Dori from the coaches' bench a few times, and she was crying then, too. How could you not?

I share this not because of the game itself. I share because I've learned so much from it and a few other events this week.

Last year, Will struggled to make progress in basketball. The potential was there, but he mostly took a few steps forward and few steps back. Sometimes, I handled it well. Sometimes, not as much. I walked a fine line as a parent and coach to help him elevate his game.

This year has been completely different. He's grasping most everything. He's combining smarts with persistence, a trait he didn't show as much last year. The development is ongoing, but my takeaway is to stay focused on combining encouragement, instruction and firmness when necessary. When does one do the latter? Two occasions for me are when I hear an excuse or when I see lackluster effort.

I'm seeing similar things in other places. Dori didn't get a job she was shooting for last year. At the time, I told her assuredly, and I completely believed it, that the disappointing result was a blessing. Many months later, she's in a great spot. Last semester, Kathryn struggled with a subject. We encouraged more effort, and she volunteered to do some after-school study. Her grades improved, and she made honor roll last week.

My life, and I would wager yours, are filled with these moments. Struggles and disappointments, and yes even disasters, are opportunities. I see that in the calamity in Haiti. Many have died; millions more are in a terrible place. But the outpouring of support and desire to rebuild are stronger than the inclination to retreat. Just ask Hurricane Katrina survivors ... They will be watching their New Orleans Saints play in the NFC Championship game today. Just ask the people of Charleston, SC, who emerged stronger from Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Anything come to mind in your life?

Another great part of my weekend occurred through Team in Training yesterday. First, as teammate Catherine and I were finishing an eight-miler, she said, "It's interesting how the last mile is always harder." I said yes, but that's the best training mile. Rather than slow down, I dropped the pace significantly, encouraging her to stick with me. Impressively, she stayed on my shoulder the whole way.

At a coffee afterwards with her teammates, she said, "Coach, did you hear my heavier breathing as we were finishing?" I said, "No, I heard your determination!"

An hour later at a recruitment meeting, teammates Jim, Sara and I shared TNT insight, encouraging the eight attendees to join us in the fight against blood cancer.

I think all of them are signed up or in the process of committing. They must have appreciated our determination.

Friday, January 22, 2010


This week passed quickly. Active minds and bodies are a good thing. My running was so-so, as I seemed to be fighting a minor bug. Percy Warner Park kicked my behind on MLK Day. We run eight tomorrow.

Dori has a new car and a new job, working as a credit analyst at a small bank. She seems to be liking both a lot. We're all enjoying the transition and adjusting well. Kathryn finished fourth in her school in the spelling bee contest, a very good showing. Will's birthday is tomorrow, and we're ready to celebrate. My work is good.

Blessings counted, here are some 70s blasts from the past, but first a photo of Dori, with her lovely sister Kathy, from her best friend's wedding last weekend.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Eight-Hour 'Run'

For some, Saturdays are a day to stop or brake. Not around here.

This morning, the TNT-ers showed bright and early for a six-miler. I joined Coach Carey, Catherine and Krystal for some 9:15/minute miles. We learned Krystal's father-in-law is battling leukemia. The miles flew by as we talked. This morning's 35 degrees felt like 75 after the last few weekend runs.

After the run, I headed to the gym to coach Will's team and to watch Kathryn's team. Will and his buddies lost in a thriller, but not before a furious rally. Down 18-10 with four minutes remaining, Will scored seven points, including his first three pointer. As the gym went bonkers, Will rebounded a teammate's missed free throw and put up two quick put backs that almost went in before the buzzer. They didn't. We lost, 18-17. I was so proud of our guys. They are fighters. Kathryn's team showed some improvement, but lost 16-13. They also rallied at the end. Great morning!

Dori is out of town at a wedding, but we bought a "new" car for her ... a 2004 Honda Odyssey EX. We don't buy new cars because we can't stand the premium loss. After polishing off some healthy, tasty burritos, we finally settled in about an hour ago.


If you ever need to know how to pack eight hours full of activity, give me a shout.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Re-Read

Sometimes, when you go back and read what you've written, you realize it could be interpreted differently by others. Whoopsie. Just re-read a recent post and realized it may sound sorta unclean. Not the intention, blog friend, but the fix has been made.

Shifting gears and turning pages, it's time for tunage that should be interpreted for what it is. First, some Friday Night Haiku, in honor of the sweepers who position themselves in their cars on our long Team In Training runs.

Sweeper, sweeper, see
Me looking for no sweeping
Stay warm and watch me.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Simple Math

It's pretty simple. When more people get on the bone marrow donor registry, more lives are saved.

Spread the word. PJ, Ann, Ronni ... everyone. Please and thank you. And you know that my "thank you" is as real as it gets on this subject.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Eleven Days Running

Some of you might be impressed that about 30 Team In Training Teammates ran yesterday morning in 15 degrees. Yes, it was cold, but not so bad once we were moving.

In my mind, what's more impressive is that my wife, a blood cancer survivor, has run 11 straight days on the treadmill, a great gift from a friend. She's been finishing her runs with weights. She looks and feels great. People ask me often how she's doing. I am fortunate I get to share the answer I do.

Yesterday's TNT eight-miler was along the scenic Grassland course in northern Williamson County. It's about a mile-plus of subdivision, then two miles of wonderful farms and pasture before you skirt the Harpeth River along the historic Old Natchez Road. We ran amid flurries into a cold but light northwest wind. We avoided ice patches and took it easy on pace. We managed one steep hill before Mile 5, then cruised home downwind. Our regulated bodies cooled down quickly, so we didn't hang around outside. Instead, several headed to the local coffeehouse for a well deserved treat.

Two teammates set distance records. It was my longest run since the Cape Cod Marathon in late October. And still, with all due respect, Dori's feat is much more impressive.

Here's another important reason to be on the bone marrow donor list. Be sure you are and spread the word, please.

Here are some photos from yesterday's run, compliments of Coach Carey.

Mark, Master of the Mission Moment

The Temperature Is What?

Harpeth River Rave Run

The Team At Work

Friday, January 8, 2010

Eat More Bacon?

Gustafson (Burgess Meredith) was a hoot in Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men. He gets the FNF party started with important tips how to live past 90, if that's your goal.

Now for the tunes.

Mr. Mister's Kyrie in HD

There is joy with the beagle and the bird.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mass Hysteria

The kids' school has been closed today, and there's not a flake in the air or on the ground. The TV people are going loopy about the dusting some places are seeing. It's cheap comedy.

I, for one, am hoping we get snow later today so the kids can play in it. Some of my best memories are sledding down the hill along Chickering Road, going airborne on my sled. I do love how snow acts as a natural muffler, absorbing sounds and creating near-tranquility.

Running Tuesday morning was most interesting. It was 12 degrees with a wind chill of 3. I wore two hats and two pairs of gloves, but I was still cold for most of my four-miler. I also never loosened up, in part because of the weather and also because of six "suicides" I did at Will's basketball practice. Great speed work, older body.

Last night's three-miler was better. It was quite comfortable at 29. Saturday's eight-miler? It's supposed to be 9 with a negative wind chill.

Dori volunteered at the Vanderbilt Clinic earlier this week for a bone marrow drive. I set out Team In Training brochures at a local restaurant and will be dropping at other spots. The activism is a part of our lives, as you know. We owe it to folks. It's a payoff to those dedicated soldiers before us and an investment in those who will be up against what PJ calls "the beast."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Not Feeling The Cold

An arctic front blasted through Tennessee yesterday, setting the table for at least a week of bone-chilling running. Our Team In Training Crew assembled at 6:45 this morning, joking about what we were about to do, which was to run in 15 degrees with a two degree wind chill.

Martha, a 60-year-old one-year lymphoma survivor, delivered our Mission Moment. When she started, her teammates were moving to stay warm and probably dreading any story over a minute. Five minutes later, they were perfectly still, in awe of what she's endured.

Martha lost her husband and father to cancer, as well as other loved ones, in recent years. She missed her father's funeral because she was in the hospital fighting blood cancer. Her sons were pallbearers the same day she had her head shaved. Other parts of her story are similar.

Martha is petite, but strong people often come in smaller packages. Today, she joined the intermediate group and cranked out six miles, hanging with us quite well. You don't feel the cold much when you're surrounded by such strength. Ted, a two-time marthoner who is getting back in shape after a long layoff, also ran hard, pushing himself the last mile. So did Catherine, who is making great strides each week with her fitness.

We have a small group, but they're determined and great to be around. A few teammates who stayed in bed this morning will never know what they missed. Afterwards, several teammates went to Starbucks and pounded warm drinks, revelling in the accomplishment and forecasting the coming weeks and months.

New Year Is Here

I cannot believe we've blasted through another year and decade. A year ago, Dori was continuing her recovery, getting stronger each day. We were still celebrating Vanderbilt's shocking bowl win against Boston College. A decade ago, I was in the midst of a turbulent job change, which eventually led to a much needed career move. Today, things are refreshingly calm, knock on wood.

We've had a great holiday rooted in reflection, gratefulness and optimism for our futures. Dori has emerged from a month-long bout against shingles that caused much pain and discomfort to her left arm. Hans' marrow went to work again, along with some prescriptions, and she's doing fine.

I love the humor and optimism from Eddie Murphy, aka Billy Ray Valentine in Trading Places. Eddie gets us going on Friday Night Flashbacks, which are a half day late. Merry New Year!

Here's more retro from Split Enz, Jigsaw, which broke the budget with their Sky High video, Yvonne Elliman and Gordon Lightfoot.