Saturday, December 31

Resolution Run

This year the first falls on a Sunday. As a result, I was hoping that Nashville's annual Resolution 5K might be scheduled for a time designed to accomodate church-goers. Nothing doing. As a result, since I knew I wouldn't be running in it for the first time in three years, I decided to have my own little resolution run today.

My private New Year's Eve jaunt was a five-miler and was blessed by great sunshine, pleasant temperatures, and a fresh breeze from the south. Indeed, it was so perfect that I concluded it with an actual resolution: sub-four. That's right. I'm going to take a shot at trying to do a marathon sometime during 2006 with a time somewhere, anywhere below four hours.

Just three days ago I was wavering on whether I would ever even attempt another marathon. And now, here I am proposing to not only do one more, but to do it faster than I've ever gone before! Yikes!

Wednesday, December 28

It's Always Something

It seems that the weather changes these days faster than fads and fashions on a college campus. First it is sunny, bright, and almost warm. Then suddenly, it is cool, dreary, and blustery. It is hard to plan a run for optimim conditions when you can't predict the conditions. I waited a little too late today to get in my run. The wind was howling from the north bringing in a fresh cold front. I battled it for three miles before finally giving in and turning back toward home. My head cold and my IT Band were starting to cooperate--even my schedule was allowing some rare flexibility. But the weather did me in. It's always something.

Tuesday, December 27

Unintended Long Run

I decided first thing this morning to take it easy. The weather was dreary, cold, blustery, and wet. My head cold was worsening. And my IT Band was still bothering me. So, I went in to the Y for a quick three mile run and a short circuit around the weight room.

But then, the weather cleared. The temperatures soared into the sixties. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. And just then, I got several stressful, difficult phone calls in a row. There was nothing for it: I had to go run.

I thought I might just destress and pray in the sunshine for a mile or two. The next thing I knew, five miles had slipped by. I was still going strong. When the sun finally sunk below the clouds and a chill returned to the air, I decided that it was the better part of reason to stop--but I really didn't want to. I'd run eight and was still feeling good.

My head cold and the difficult situations are still there--but now with my unintended long run under my belt, I'm in a much better humor to deal with them.

Monday, December 26

Y Cross-Training

Like most Americans, I really over-did-it over the Christmas weekend. Pies, cakes, candies--to say nothing of the traditional Christmas tamales! I ate too much and got too little exercise. I paid for it today at the Y with a good, intense cross-training session. I ran three miles, biked for thirty minutes, and made two circuits around the weight room.

Saturday, December 24

Going Long

I probably waited too late to get my long run in for the week--by this morning, the weather was blustery and threatening rain. Still, I had a hard time dragging myself out. But, once I finally got out there, the miles just melted away and I remembered all over again why I run: yes, it is healthy; but even more than that, it is the best stress-reliever I have ever discovered. I listened to the wonderful choral Christmas music of Greg Wilbur and set my heart on the joys of Christmastide. Eight miles had flown by before I knew it. Merry Christmas, indeed.

Friday, December 23

On a Wing and a Prayer

When I run, I try not to just let my mind wander. Sometimes that is easier said than done. My first priority is to pray. But, I will also allow myself to think through the various subjects I am teaching or writing about. This morning as I put in a quick three miles, I thought of and prayed for my students, past and present. The miles slipped by quickly and my heart was warmed--despite the wind and the brisk temperatures.

Thursday, December 22

Ghost Town YMCA

I arrived at the Y for my workout a little later than usual this morning. I was fearful that the normal crowd would mean long waits for the machines. Not a bit of it. The place was practically deserted. It was like a ghost town. I guess everyone was getting ready for a day of shopping at the mall (shudder)!

Not me. I have all my shopping done--and as per usual I never came within spitting distance of one of those architectural and civic abominations (of which most Americans seem to be so inexplicably fond). I loathe malls for a host of sociological and aesthetic reasons--but, that's probably a subject more suited for my other blog.

At any rate, this morning I was able to focus on a good, thorough workout unencumbered by the typical teeming throngs. I ran three miles. Then I biked for twenty minutes. I made a single circuit around the weight room. And then I finished off with another three mile run. After that, I was ready for my day--giving thanks for an empty gym and all the folks who were even then queing up at the big box store tills instead of at the treadmills.

Wednesday, December 21

Cold Weather Running

It was really, really cold early this morning when I stepped out to run--according to the Weather Widget on my Mac, just about 15 degrees! There was no snow on the ground. But, the hoary frost on all the trees and fields made for a magnificent sight as the brilliant, piercing sunrise scattered a glistening splendor across the whole landscape--for a high contrast, black and white panorama. It was wonderful.

These days, technical fabrics and specialty running gear make it possible to run in much more adverse conditions that what I faced this morning. I used every layering trick in the book. Even so, it was still really, really cold. No amount of nifty Polartech or Goretex can ameliorate that! So, despite the stunning beauty all around me, I was only able to withstand three very chilly miles. Then it was back inside for a cup of steaming Peets Java.

Tuesday, December 20

Cross Training

This morning I was able to get in some solid base miles and cross training--three miles on the treadmill followed by a quick trip around the weight machines followed by another three miles. I am convinced that I am going to have to get a much better foundation and do some serious core and speed training if I am going to reach my goal of qualifying for Boston. I'll probably have to lose another ten or fifteen pounds too!

My plan is to use the holidays to establish that distance foundational base that is so essential to building a strong core. And then, I'll use cross training to up my overall strength. And finally, I'll start adding speed work once the holidays have come to an end and I start aiming toward the Austin Freescale Marathon in February.

Saturday, December 17

Saturday Morning

I had great plans. First a really good, really long run, then a lingering cup of coffee in the library, and finally lunch at the new BBQ place in town. The problem was the cold. And the inevitable early morning procrastination.

So in the end, I got out on the road a little too late for a really long run. I was able to get in just five miles before I had to call it quits to get ready to meet everyone at the BBQ place.

Priorities are priorities, after all. The long run might get shortened or even displaced, but not the BBQ.

Saturday Mornings

I had great plans. First a really good, really long run, then a lingering cup of coffee in the library, and finally lunch at the new BBQ place in town. The problem was the cold. And the inevitable early morning procrastination.

So in the end, I got out on the road a little too late for a really long run. I was able to get in just five miles before I had to call it quits to get ready to meet everyone at the BBQ place.

Priorities are priorities, after all. The long run might get shortened or even displaced, but not the BBQ.

Friday, December 16

Cross-Training

Today, I went to the YMCA to lift weights, do the machine circuit, and ride a stationary bike. It was the first time I'd done any cross-training in quite some time. I didn't want to run because I am going for a long training run tomorrow morning. But, judging from how sore I am already feeling, I probably need to spend a lot more time in the gym if I am going to get into the shape I need to be in for the Country Music Marathon in April.

Wednesday, December 14

Running in the Dark

Early this morning, before dawn, I logged a really good run. I love running in those ethereal hours before anyone else is awake. Since Wednesdays are generally my big meeting days, I really need to get in a run to de-stress well ahead of time. This morning's 5-miler was just what the doctor ordered. The dogs pretty much just thought I was crazy. But, with Kemper Crabb's Medieval Christmas CD loaded onto my iPod and my Brooks running mittens and REI technical jacket shielding me from the cold, I was altogether in the zone.

Saturday, December 10

Jingle Bell

At the start of the Jingle Bell 5K this morning, the temperature had not yet risen above 20 degrees. Despite such frigid conditions, the sun was shining and more than 150 daring runners turned out for what was a delightful dash through the park. Not yet fully recovered from my marathon this past weekend, I decided to really take it easy. I had a great time and was once again reminded of the joys of running. Besides, it is not every day that I get to run alongside Maresa Hensley dressed as Santa--full beard and all!

Wednesday, December 7

What's Next

Most runners experience a bit of a let down following a really big race. We often find it difficult to get motivated to do just about anything for a couple of weeks--or even for a few months. I have decided to take a few precautions to avoid this kind of post-marathon funk. So, I've set some pretty tough goals for myself--including doing a triathalon this summer and qualifying for the Boston Marathon sometime within the next two years.

My next big races will be the Team Nashville 10 Miler in early February and the Austin Freescale Half Marathon at the end of that month. In March, I will run the Tom King Half Marathon. And then in April, I will tackle the really big one: the Country Music Marathon. After that, it will be time to begin training for a triathalon--I think I will try to do the one in Chattanooga.

But, I am not going to wait for these headliner races to get myself back into the swing of things. Instead, I am going to pick right up where I left off. So, this weekend, I will run in the Jingle Bell 5K in Nashville's Centennial Park. And after that I'll run as many 5K and 10K races as I can squeeze into my schedule through the winter and spring.

Qualifying for Boston and doing a triathalon are no mean feats. I am going to have to stay really focused and work really hard. But, even with my haphazard and ill-structured training up to this point, I've come reasonably close to the Boston cut off. So, if I can discipline my training, strengthen my core, get in more long runs, add the swim and bike cross-training, and develop some basic speed techniques over the course of the next few months, I might actually have a chance.

At the very least, I should be able to beat the blues.

Post-Race, Post-Haste

I've begun to recover pretty well from the marathon this past Saturday. Obviously, I didn't run for the first few days. But, by this afternoon, I was itching to get out there on the roads again. Even though it was bitterly cold outside, my schedule was more than a little crazy already, and my legs were still pretty sore, I was ready to kick some asphalt. So, I laced up my trusty Brooks GTS 6 trainers, bundled up as best I could, and ran a nice, easy 5K. It felt great.

Time Correction

The official times have been posted at the St. Jude Marathon site. My official chip time was more than 14 minutes faster than what I originally thought (see: I really am a klutz with my fancy-smancy runner's watch). Somehow, instead of running the race in 4 hours and 18 minutes, I actually ran it in 4 hours and 4 minutes--coming in 617th place overall. So, it appears that my goal of attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon in the next year or two is not as far out of reach as I had thought! That's good news indeed!

Saturday, December 3

Mission Accomplished

Well, I did it. With lots of help from my intercessors, supporters, Der Chasers, and my dear wife, I was able to complete the St. Jude Marathon. It was really, really hard. I knew that I wasn't in good enough shape to tackle 26.2 miles this time. But, just remembering who I was running for--the St. Jude kids, Mrs. B, Joe, Josh, Zach, Kaitlin, Deb, Tricia, Wes, and Lisa--drove me on when I just didn't think I could take another step.

When I checked in at the expo, I had a little trouble with race numbers and timing chips. I ended up having to change my number once and my chips twice. I am not sure they never quite got the bugs worked out. As a result, they warned me that I might need to keep track of my own split times. Alas, I am such a klutz with my pace watch that I completely missed several of them along the way. But, I got into a pretty good zone--sticking to what I think was close to 10:00-10:30 splits through the first half and 8:30-9:00 through most of the second half until about mile 22 or 23. That's when I totally fell apart. From there on I was just doing a zombie-lunge to the end.

I finished at 4:04.25.

The weather was perfect. It was cool, breezy, and overcast most of the day. In addition, the race was incredibly well-run. There were water stops, PowerAde tables, pace clocks, and porta-potties every single mile. And there were great crowds and cheer stations all along the way.

I don't know that I've ever hurt so much! Everywhere! Even my skin hurts! But, I am so gratified to have finished it. I have so much to be thankful for. I am so grateful to all who contributed to St. Jude and to all who prayed me to the finish.

The next challenge: to see if I can walk to Rendezvous! I've got some BBQ to eat.

Friday, December 2

Marathon Countdown: 1

Tomorrow is it. I've gone over the race route, plotted my pacing plan, and begun hydrating. Today I will visit the expo and the hospital briefly and spend the rest of my time resting and reading.

Running a marathon is certainly a physical challenge. But as Brianna Bleymaier, one of my former students, reminded me with an e-mail full of great quotes recently, it is much, much more than just a physical challenge. Indeed, according to George Sheehan, "It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."

Likewise, according to Jessica Propst, "Games require skill. Running requires endurance, character, pride, physical strength, and mental toughness. Running is a test, not a game. A test of faith, belief, will, and trust in oneself; so hardcore that it needs a category all to itself to define the pain... Running is more than a sport; it's a lifestyle."

For as long as I can remember I have been either in or around sports. My father was and is a life-long sportsman--to this day, he plays tennis or golf or both nearly every week. The sports page was and is the most coveted and the most carefully read section of the newspaper. We got involved--both when I was a kid and when my kids were kids--in Little League, swimming, soccer, football, and basketball. My son, Joel, actually started the sports program at Franklin Classical School when he was a student there. Three generations of Grants have competed in team sports at the college and university level. Clearly, it is in our blood. We can't seem to help but want to go to the games, climb the rock walls, compete beyond all reason and exhaustion, and memorize every stat in the books.

But, there is something about running a marathon that is more profoundly life altering than any sporting event or activity that I have ever particiapated in before. It is such a monumental challenge; it is such a test of will; it is such an intellectual puzzle; it is such a solo effort yet rooted in such a throng of community support; I find it almost in a category all unto itself. I've never done a triathalon (although, that's next), but I'm guessing that there is something similar at work there too. But, this business of running for hours and hours and hours on end really is a remarkable experience of deep soulfulness.

I am ready to do it again.

William Shakespeare wrote, "Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." Amen and amen.

Thursday, December 1

Marathon Countdown: 2

I am in Memphis. I've picked up my race number. I did a quick round at the expo. I'm ready to go.

Tomorrow, I'll have a chance to visit St. Jude Children's Hospital--the charity I've been raising money to help fulfill its vital work. I'll be able to deliver several final contributions--including more than $200 collected by my students in Franklin. What a blessing.

Now, it is time for some serious hydration and carb loading.

Wednesday, November 30

Marathon Countdown: 3

Today was another day of meetings. I was able to do some core exercises but that was about it. I stayed off of my feet as much as possible, hoping that my IT band would start to heal up. So far, no go. I'm still taking anti-inflammatories. Hopefully, it will be better before I have to hit the road on Saturday.

The weather report for the weekend in Memphis does not look too promising at this juncture. The Weather Channel keeps revising its predictions--warmer and warmer, wetter and wetter. I was really hoping that we might have cool dry conditions. Oh well. After the first couple of miles, I don't suppose any of it will matter any more.

After my lecture in the morning, I will drive to Memphis, pick up my race number and chip, and begin the pre-race ritual of obsessing over the little details, hydrating madly, and eating lots and lots of carbs. I can hardly wait!

And as for my fundraising efforts: thanks to Len and Ben (as well as all the dear encouragers who donated in previous days), I am now over 100% of my goal. Thank you. Thank you all.

Tuesday, November 29

Marathon Countdown: 4

Ready or not, here I come. I took a good rest day today--not from activity, but from running. Tuesdays are busy for me--filled with meetings, lectures, meetings, administrative tasks, and of course, meetings.

My IT band is still inflamed. But, I am dosing it with anti-inflammatories and will rest it most of tomorrow--which promises, among other things, lots of meetings!

After a late evening meeting tonight (what else?) I've been poring over the marathon race course map and all the materials in my travel packet. I think everything is in order. Now, it is just a matter of getting out there and doing it.

Even my fundraising efforts are drawing close to the end--I crossed the 98% threshold thanks to David, Bob, Nancy, and Jessica!

Monday, November 28

Marathon Countdown: 5

It is a stormy, blustery day here in Middle Tennessee, so I decided I'd best do my maintenance run early this morning indoors at the YMCA. I did a slow, easy 5K. Then I lazily worked my way around the weight circuit once. I finished up with another slow, easy 5K.

My IT band is still pretty inflamed--which could begin to be worrying if it doesn't get better soon. But, I will do almost nothing physical tomorrow, a single 5K pacing run on Wednesday, and nothing more than a good long walk on Thursday. On Friday, I'll go into full-tilt rest and hydration mode in preparation for the marathon the next morning. Hopefully that will be sufficient to heal up whatever it is that is ailing me.

My plan right now is to attempt to come in at just under 5:00.00 in the Memphis--if at all possible. I know I am not in nearly the shape I was in last spring for the Country Music Marathon. My schedule simply has not allowed it. Nevertheless, I am going to make the most of this opportunity.

St. Jude Fundraising

I have now crossed over the 95% mark in my fundraising effort. On Saturday, I will run in the St. Jude Marathon with the support of lots and lots of dear friends cheering me on--if not in person, certainly in spirit.

You too can join this noble throng. Just go to my st. jude sponsor site and help me raise funds necessary for the vital life-saving work of St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Sunday, November 27

Marathon Countdown: 6

It is a great day to rest--it is the Lord's Day, it is cool and rainy, and it is less than a week to go before the marathon. As if all that weren't good enough, the Titans actually won! A providential sign from the heavenlies, maybe?

Saturday, November 26

Marathon Countdown: 7

Karen's home, so we had our family Saturday ritual to uphold--Judge Bean's BBQ for lunch. So, that meant I had to get my first taper run in early. Alas, I got a late start. I was procrastinating in the hopes that the temperatures would warm up. They did finally, and I got out on the road at about 9 AM. I used a nifty pacing function on my Garmin 201 for my first 10K or so. It worked great and my legs were in much better shape than yesterday--everything but the IT band inflamation cleared up overnight. I had to cut the run a few miles short to get ready for lunch, but all in all, I was pleased. I'm still not convinced I am in shape to go 26.2. But at this stage, that's just tough.

Tonight, I will go out for a couple miles of walking, just to keep my muscles from tightening up. Tomorrow is the Lord's Day. So, after church we'll enjoy a great Sabbath rest as a family--and my body will relish the recovery time. By Monday, I'll be in full taper. I'm really getting close!

Thanks to the generosity of Wes, Bill and Robin, Scott, David, and Robbie, I have crossed over the 90% threshold for my fundraising goal. I'm getting so close on that front too! It is not too late to sponsor me. Just go to my st. jude sponsor site and help me raise funds necessary for the vital life-saving work of St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Friday, November 25

Marathon Countdown: 8

This afternoon I did a little 5K assessment run. Since I was going so slow I was able to fiddle with different timing options on my watch. My plan is to try to run the marathon next weekend using the Galloway method--run for 9:30 and then walk for 30 seconds through each water stop. That means that I will have to pace myself at just under ten minutes a mile. If I am able to maintain that fairly consistently throughout, I will do about a 2:10 half marathon and a 4:30 marathon. My ultimate goal of course, is simply to finish the 26.2 mile distance. And anything under 5:00.00 will be just fine by me. We'll see.

The problem is that my assessment run turned up several potential problems: my right ankle is showing the strain of over-training, my left knee is achy as per usual, and most ominously, my right IT band is badly inflamed. I am hoping that the taper this week will enable me to recover fully.

Regardless, I am going for it. I have gone over the 85% mark for my fundraising goal. I want to make every mile and every cent really count. So, please do pray for me. Or sponsor me at my st. jude sponsor site! Or better yet, pray for me and sponsor me!

Thursday, November 24

Habitrot 5K

Some might want to accuse me of running on Thanksgiving morning only as a cover for otherwise gluttonous behavior for the rest of the day. It is not true. I promise. It just sort of looks like that. OK. Well, it really, really looks like that. But, I promise, that's not the only reason. I've got proof.

First, there is the cause. I run on Thanksgiving morning because the Habitrot 5K is a benefit for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a great community development organization.

Second, there is the fellowship. I got a chance to visit with all kinds of folks at the race. And that is one of the things I love most about running: the incredibly encouraging running community that overlaps with the wonderfully gracious covenant community. I paced with my good friend John every step of the way--until he broke free of my lamentably slow pace in the final two-tenths of a mile. His daughter-in-law, Kelly, a former student of mine, finished just behind us. His son Eric (Kelly's husband), yet another of my former students, finished way, way, way ahead of us (and like the Marine that he is, he had the gall to complain about going so slow). Grant and Maresa were there with their beautiful daughter Taylor. Todd, Mark, Lesley, Tom, Mike, Susan, and a host of others were there too. So, it was almost like a Sunday School picnic--only with a lot more huffing, puffing, and sweating. I looked everywhere for my running conscience, barometer, and provocateur, Dave, but I think he may have run the bigger Boulevard Bolt across town (his race attracted about 7,000 intrepid souls while ours had around 1,000).

Finally, there is the sheer joy of running (or jogging, or trotting, or limping, or whatever it was that I was doing) on a beautiful sun-shiny day--even if it was a bit cool and blustery at times.

So see, I didn't just run so that I could have two helpings of fried turkey, three helpings of dressing and gravy, two of homemade cranberry sauce, and obscene piles of all the other fixings--to say nothing of the two slices of pie (one of pecan and one of pumpkin). No, really.

Wednesday, November 23

Easy Day

Today, I'm going to take it a little easier. My plan is to do a little 3-miler later this morning, just to continue acclimatizing to cold-weather running and to keep practicing a really slow running rhythm (I am going to attempt to negative split the marathon next week by going much slower at the beginning than I think I need to). Then this afternoon, I'll go pick up my Habitrot 5K packet for the race tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 22

Long Run

I got in my final long run--finally! It was another blustery day, though not nearly as cold as I thought it might be when I set out at 6 AM. I ran my "hill route" for about 5 miles and then retreated to the Y to finish out with another 15 miles on a treadmill (I listened to the Narnia tale A Horse and His Boy on my iPod).

The hills just about did me in and almost immediately I started having IT band problems. But, I pressed on and got it done. I am really, really sore, but very satisfied. I am not nearly in the shape I was in for the Country Music Marathon this past April. But, all I really care about is getting to the finish line in a semi-upright position. Pray for me! Or sponsor me at my st. jude sponsor site! Or better yet, pray for me and sponsor me!

Over 80%

Yahoo! I have just passed the 80% threshold for my St. Jude Children's Hospital fundraising goal! I am so grateful to all of you who have already donated: Ken and Bonnie, Phil and Sally, Dave and Sue, Dave and Lisa, John and Linda, Doug and Lynn, Fred and Sharon, Ray and Sue, Keith and Leslie, Jeff and Karla, David and Diane, Jim, Susan, Ed, Jack, Leesa, and all my students. Thank you. This means so much to me.

Anyone else who may want to support my marathon run can visit the st. jude sponsor site where you can donate right online.

Monday, November 21

Best of Intentions

I tried. First, it was the wind and the rain. Then, it was the wind, the rain, and the cold. Then, it was all the appointments I had to keep through the middle of the day. Then, it was the dark. I tried to get in a long run all day today. But, all these rude intrustions kept me from it. Tomorrow, more cold, wind, rain (and maybe even snow) are forecast. So, my long run may actually have to be run on a treadmill at the Y. I'll have to be sure to load a book onto my iPod tonight!

I did get in a halting 5K run in--but if I am going to be ready for the marathon in ten days, that is hardly sufficient.

Marathon Countdown

Just 11 more days until the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis. I'm starting to get excited. I've got all my gear--with all the necessary contingency gloves, shells, hats, and layers just in case race day turns out to be really cold. And I've poured over the race route. I just need one more really good long run to convince me that I'm ready.

You still have time to sponsor the run. Visit my st. jude sponsor site and pledge right online.

Sunday, November 20

Great Day

It was just 28 degrees yesterday morning when the fourth annual Gingerbread Run began in Nashville's Centennial Park. But, the sun was shining brightly, the event was well-organized, and I was ready for a PR. I probably saved way, way, way too much--knowing that in the afternoon I was going to attempt to do a mid-range long run. I had tons left at the finish. But I got the PR. I had to do some serious calculating since it turned out this was a three-mile race rather than a 5K--but, I smashed my previous PR, so there was no room for doubt.

So far, so good.

After a luxurious hour reading the New York Times at Starbucks, I stopped by Team Nashville's West End store to pick up some PowerStep inserts and Mizuno gloves before heading over to my regular Saturday lunch haunt, Judge Bean's. Then it was back to Franklin to do a bit of grocery shopping.

Things were looking awesome.

Finally, I got home and caught a little football (how 'bout those Vandy 'Dores beating UT) before I hit the road for another ten miles of slow steady pacing.

I was starting to feel pretty wonderful

And then, to top it all off, my parents stopped in for the evening--on their way from their home in St. Louis to Florida for a Thanksgiving holiday family gathering. After some quick catching up we had a delightful dinner at my son's restaurant. The food was fabulous, the company was better, and we got home at a decent hour.

What a great day.

Friday, November 18

Gingerbread 5K

It is cold. Tomorrow morning at 7:30 it is going to be even colder. Nevertheless, I am running in Nashville's Gingerbread 5K, a fundraiser for the American Stroke Association and the Vanderbilt Hospital Rehabilitation Center. On Thanksgiving morning, I'll also run in the Habitrot 5K, a benefit for our local Habitat for Humanity. In both cases, I am really just trying to do a little speed work to supplement my final few long runs in preparation for the St. Jude Marathon two weekends from now. Good causes and good training runs.

If you've not yet had the chance, you can still lend support to my running efforts. Visit my st. jude sponsor site and pledge right online. I'm getting close to my goal of $2,500 for cancer research and patient care at the remarkable St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Tuesday, November 15

Diagnosis

Just this week two dear friends and a distance-learning student have been diagnosed with cancer. Another dear friend has biopsy results pending. I confess, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. Cancer is a dread disease. At the same time, these turns of events, these hard providences reinforce my determination to make my St. Jude Marathon run in two weeks really count for something.

Since it was founded in the sixties, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis has increased the survival rate of the most common forms of childhood cancer from less than twenty percent to more than eighty percent! The discoveries and breakthroughs made at St. Jude are immediately and freely shared with the international medical community. Thus, the few dollars I can raise for their vital work can literally have an impact all around the world.

Won't you help me stand with my dear friends and with the good folks at St. Jude in finding more and better treatments, more and better therapies, more and better certainties for men, women, and children everywhere? Please support my run on December 3, 2005. Visit my st. jude sponsor site and pledge right online. Thank you so much.

Monday, November 14

Lots of Fun

It was cool and misty as I tried to get in another semi-long run first this morning. Maybe it's the little boy in me, but I just love running in the rain. I was able to get almost 10 miles under my belt--so, I am starting to believe that with a little more work, I will be able to finish the St. Jude in Memphis two weeks from now. My pace is still awful and my IT band is giving me trouble. But, I think I can do it.

Between here and there though I have a few warm-up 5K fun runs: this weekend I'm going to attempt to do either the Gingerbread 5K or the Hoover Run for Hope 5K. Then on Thanksgiving Day, I'll do the Habitrot 5K as well. Fun, fun, fun.

Saturday, November 12

Cold!

OK. It is officially cold now. At least in the mornings. Yesterday, I went for a long run--or at least what I had hoped might be a long run. It wasn't really all that long and one might be tempted to call it something other than an actual run--a staggering lope, maybe. I went eight miles and tried to tackle some of the hills just to the west and north of where I normally run. At any rate, when I started it was just below freezing. This morning, I am going to try to match that eight, but I am going to stick to my flat course. I'll bundle up again despite the fact that it has warmed up considerably--it is still just 39 degrees out there and that's cold to a Southern boy!

Tuesday, November 8

St. Jude Marathon

I have just three more weeks to get ready. Spur me on by supporting my effort to raise funds for the vital cancer research and treatment programs at St. Jude Children's Hospital. Won't you? Donate online today and come back to visit my st. jude sponsor site often. And then, please do tell others about what I'm trying to do!

Monday, November 7

Got Rhythm

This morning I finally felt as if I had gotten back into a good running rhythm. Taking my little four-mile jaunt nice and easy--and very, very, very slowly--I just decided to really enjoy the brisk fall morning, the brilliant foliage, and the quiet rustlings of wind in the un-raked maple leaves scattered across the pastures. It was marvelous. It invigorated me for the rest of the day.

I have meetings most of the day tomorrow, so the next time I will be able to run looks to be early Wednesday morning. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, November 6

Fall Running

Fall is my favorite season. Spring is always delightful--the flowers, the budding trees, the fresh smells. But really, I just love everything about autumn. The brilliant, primary colors of the foliage, the crystaline, filtered light, and the crisp, cool temperatures of fall are all just so spectacular here in Tennessee. So tonight after church, I got out late and ran until after dark. I got in seven miles--and every step along the way was a delight.

New York Finishers

Although at this writing there are still thousands of runners still out on the course, the winners are already back in their hotel rooms icing down and enjoying their spoils. And enjoy them, they should. It was after all a great race with a great finish--the closest in history. The winner, the world record holder, edged the defending champion by less than a third of a second.

Kenya's Paul Tergat held off Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa and American Meb Keflezighi in a final burst of speed to win the ING New York City Marathon. The final mile was an all-guts-out sprint. Yep. A sprint. That really tells you everything, doesn't it? A sprint? After running twenty-six five-minute miles! Oy veh! That's insane. After this last spring's Country Music Marathon, I was happy just to limp pitifully in the final mile. The thought of sprinting hurts even as I type these words, safe and comfortable as I am in my library.

Women's winner Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia had a slightly easier time, pulling away from struggling Kenyan Susan Chepkemei as they re-entered Central Park and winning by 14 seconds to earn a marathon-record prize of $130,000. The top American woman was Marie Davenport--finishing 16th in 2:33:59. Jen Rhines was 18th in 2:37:07.

The New York Marathon is an extraordinary spectacle--as might be expected given the fact that New York is an extraordinary city. To run this race is one of my life goals. Indeed, the thought of running through all five boroughs while pushing myself to the very limit of human endurance along with thousands of others, well, it is just one of those "gotta do this at least once" kind of things.

The New York City Marathon

While most of us are just getting out of bed or trundling off to church this morning, more than a million people will flood onto the streets of New York City for the thirty-sixth running of the ING New York Marathon. About 37,000 of them will actually be participants in this remarkable human drama of sport, will, determination, tragedy, and triumph. It will be the world's largest field on the world's largest stage for one of the world's toughest accomplishments: running 26.2 miles from the Fort Wadsworth staging area on Staten Island, across the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn, up through Queens, across the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan, along the East Side into the Bronx, back down the West Side to Central Park, and finally to the finish in front of Tavern on the Green.

Yesterday's New York Times had a great op-ed piece by Alan Zwibel, the former Saturday Night Live writer. His brand new novel, The Other Shulman is about a man who runs the New York Marathon in an effort to save his family, his business, and his life. His observations are worth noting:

"Today, I am sorry to say, I will not be running in the New York City Marathon because I've been out promoting my novel about a man who is running in the New York City Marathon and I didn't have time to train. I didn't run in last year's marathon either because I was busy writing my novel about a man who is running in the New York City Marathon and I didn't have time to train. I did, however, run in the 2003 New York City Marathon. I trained hard for that one. I joined a running group, did stretching exercises, watched my diet and finished in 33,517th place. A half-hour slower than the time of my previous marathon, for which I didn't train as hard.

I harbor not even the slightest embarrassment that while I was running, a person could have gotten a full night's sleep. Or have consecutively boiled 130 three-minute eggs. Or that while I was still hauling my 53-year-old carcass through Brooklyn, the winner had not only crossed the finish line at Tavern on the Green but was probably already on a plane back to Kenya.

None of those things bother me because my goal was modest. All I wanted was to finish. To allow the cheers of the crowds carry me through the five boroughs and allow me to revisit some neighborhoods I hadn't seen since childhood. In effect, a tour. I knew my limitations and had no illusions that by dint of a good night's sleep I would miraculously get a burst of energy and become the new winged symbol for FTD.

So at the start of the race, I lined up toward the back of the pack for pretty much the same reason that cowboys, if given the choice, would prefer to be behind the horses during a stampede. And after the gun sounded, it was thrilling being a part of a 35,000-strong throng moving en masse across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on a beautiful November morning.

I also appreciated the wit displayed by my fellow marathoners who had shunned the traditional running shorts and T-shirt and were dressed, oh, let's call it unconventionally, for the 26.2-mile journey. Among them was a bride, a man wrapped in an American flag bouncing red, white and blue basketballs, a one-legged waiter carrying a bar tray with a mug of beer attached to it, Abraham Lincoln, a surgeon and what I believe was a deli clerk. It supplied added color to an already colorful event, and I didn't even mind when they all passed me--figuring that they were either better runners than me or might eventually drop out of the race when they felt their joke was over.

The polar bear did bother me, however. A lot. Whether it was a thin person wearing 200 pounds of white fur or a very fat person wearing a tight furry sweater, I'm not sure, but I first noticed him when he scampered past me in Williamsburg where he was given high fives by Hasidic families who ignored me when I eventually came upon them. Was it possible that, as they were snubbing me, he turned back in my direction and waved at me before turning around and disappearing into the masses ahead? No, I figured. He was probably waving to an amused child who had called out to him or to another tundra-dwelling mammal that was also running that day. So I proceeded along and figured I had seen the last of him because there was no sighting in all of Queens.

Manhattan was another story. For when I came across the Queensboro Bridge, panting and carb-depleted, I turned up First Avenue and spotted him again. Leaning against one of the refreshment tables that are stationed at every mile marker and eating a bagel. The thought that there were still 10 miles to go until the race ended in Central Park was, indeed, a daunting one under normal circumstances. But after a polar bear makes eye contact with you a second time, gestures as if offering you a bite of his sesame bagel, folds his paws in front onto his chest and does an Arctic jig before turning around and heading uptown, you can't help but feel stupid. And unathletic. So I grabbed a bagel of my own and took off. For the sake of accuracy, when I say "took off," I mean that I trudged along in the same direction determined to catch up--which I almost did when he waved to me after he drank some Gatorade in the Bronx, after he had stopped to play the harmonica with a street band in Harlem and after he crossed the finish line about 50 yards ahead of me in Central Park.

To this day it is hard for me to believe that someone dressed as a polar bear actually beat me in the New York City Marathon. Yes, I know I said that just completing the race was victory enough and it was. Still, once this book tour is over, I plan to start training for next year's marathon with another goal in mind--to finish ahead of anyone dressed similarly so my children will stop laughing at me."


My sentiments exactly!

Saturday, November 5

DNF

This morning the inaugural Team Nashville Half Marathon was run in unseasonably warm temperatures and under overcast skies. I knew though that I really was unprepared for the race regardless of what the weather might prove to be. I even confided to my good friend Dave Minnigan (who is running through the fall and into the spring to raise support for his family's upcoming summer mission trip to Ecuador) that I was probably just going to run the first half of the race and use it as a training run.

I did go so far as to pick up my bib number. Somehow, I got #2 (very cool). I also picked up the goodie bag which had a great long sleeve tech-tee, a very serviceable water bottle, and assorted other fiddly-bits in a nifty mesh tote bag. But I just left my timing chip in the tray. Why even get a chip if I was sure that I would only go half the distance?

The first three miles wound through a delightful park with a few gently rolling hills along a sandy footpath. I went out very, very conservatively--just under 10 minute miles. I was feeling far better than I'd expected given my dismal training regimen leading up to the race. Even after we left the park and took to surrounding roads, I was surprised that I was still keeping a fairly decent, albeit slow, pace in the middle of the pack. At the five-mile marker, I was beginning to flag but I still thought that I probably had enough in me to shoot for my goal: the halfway point.

But then, I got to the six-mile marker and I was really only hurting a little here and there. And amazingly, I had still only slowed a bit--just over 10 minute pace. So, I decided that I might just press on a little further. It was just after that fateful decision that it all hit me like a load of bricks. My legs just died out on me. I started to have shooting pains from my left knee down to my ankle and from my right hip up into my lower back. It was not a pretty sight.

I started to look for a good place to stop--but then I realized that had no idea where I was in relation to the welcome center where my truck was parked. I wound up limping along to the ten-mile marker at which point I pretty much just fell apart.

Dave on the other hand, did great. He finished with a sizzling 2:03.53 keeping his pace below 9:30 for the entire 13.1 miles. And this was just a training run! He didn't even decide to do it until earlier this week! Awesome! Way to go, Dave!

In the face of his success, my only consolation in my own rather wimpy performance is that I was not the only one who did not finish--and, I wasn't even slowest or last! Besides, there is always tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that.

Friday, November 4

Flagging Faster

As we age, it is astonishing how quickly we can lose conditioning. I just did a very easy 10K and found myself laboring early on. My training has been inconsistent (at best) over the past several months due to the intensity of my schedule. As a result, what should have been a happy, little jaunt, was transformed into a serious workout. According to the sage observer, "the bigger they are the harder they fall," but in my case I think it might be more accurate to say, "the older they are the quicker they flag." Ouch!

Monday, October 31

Getting Back to It

I've got a half marathon coming up this next weekend--and I've been very slack in my training the last couple of weeks. I'll probably crash and burn, big time. But, that's OK, I guess. I'd really just intended this Team Nashville Half as a training race anyway. And my real target is still five weeks away: the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis.

Even so, a run of 13.1 miles is nothing to sneeze at. So, I thought that I would ease back into my regular routine with a good short pacing 5K run today. Tomorrow I'll do some hill work. That should get me back into the swing of things.

Part of the reason I've been so slack in training is that my schedule has really been over-the-top madcap of late. As a result, it has been next to impossible to get in any significant running time. And then, even when I have gotten snatches of time--like this morning--my mind is still racing from all the things left undone on my to-do list; the gongs that herald the tyranny of the urgent keep clanging in my ears; and that's not a good thing especially since I'm prone to be distracted by one strange and consuming passion or another even when things are not so hectic.

For instance, this morning before I hit the pavement, I was preparing a lecture on Medieval Troubadours, Trouveres, and Jongleurs and I came across an internet listing of appelations from the region of the Hapsburg Lowlands--all of them commonly used names for Dutch peasant girls prior to the year 1100:

Clodauuiua
Clotrada
Crapahildis
Cunegundis


Now really. Once you see the name Crapahildis it sort of sticks with you, doesn't it? And the thought of a father or mother deciding that the perfect name for their newborn daughter might really be Clodauuiua isn't easily shaken. As you can well imagine, notions like these are hardly conducive to serious running--and therein lies my training dilemma.

New England Running

It has been more than a week since I've returned from my quick trip to New England. I'm still relishing my experience there: spending time with dear friends, fellowshiping with one of my favorite churches anywhere, eating fabulous lobster rolls and clam chowder, visiting an amazing handcrafted pewter factory, and of course, running. I got a chance to run in a 10K race through the beautiful town of Portsmouth, NH. Founded seven years before Boston, the town sits right on the coast and is stunning this time of year. Three of the young men from the church I was visiting in Somersworth ran with me--and we all had a blast.

While I was there I also got a chance to make a quick visit to a really great running store, Runner's Alley. I was surprised that such a small store in such a small town could have such a huge selection of just about everything that a runner could ever want--from a wide range of shoes and clothes to a well-stocked bookshelf and loads of high-tech toys and low-tech gew-gaws everywhere I looked (runners just love the lure of all that kitschy stuff). I was like the proverbial kid in a candy shop. Thankfully, I was broke so the damage was minimal.

Now that I think about it, I probably should not have been surprised by the rich running culture I encountered in New England. The legacy of the Boston Marathon has had a tremendous impact on the whole region. And it shows. I can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, October 25

The Easy Way Out

Though it is not nearly as cool out as it was yesterday, the gusting winds and the short window in my schedule helped me to settle for a quick 3-mile run on the treadmill and a few circuits around the weight room at the Y. My, oh my, treadmill running is significantly easier on the knees, back, and ankles. I need to remember to take the easy way out more often this winter.

Monday, October 24

Brrrr

We've gotten our first little cold blast. So, I dutifully bundled up and headed out the door for my Monday morning long run. Brrrr. I was frigid for the first three miles. After a particularly nasty bluster nearly knocked me off course, I decided that I really like being a runner a lot more than I actually like running. I love having just run. I love running gear, running stuff, and running events. But, the running itself is sometimes just a bit more uncomfortable than I'd like.

Still, I persisted. I have a really big meeting tonight that could give shape to my calling for the next season, so I want to be altogether there and stress free. Only one way I know to get there: keep on going, mile after mile. So, I did. And having done it, I'm glad. I love having run!

Tomorrow though, I think I'll just go to the Y.

Saturday, October 22

Getting Over It

I've had a pretty nasty cold ever since I returned from New England, so I've been unable to run all week. Besides, my work schedule has kept me busy 16-18 hours a day every day so I might not have been able to squeeze in a run anyway. But today, between study sessions for my sermon and Sunday School lesson, I snuck in a nice, slow, easy three-miler. I still sniffly and congested, but it felt so good to hit the pavement again.

Much more difficult than getting over my cold has been getting over the incompetence, negligence, and utter bureaucratic intransigence of the Middle Tennessee Electric Corporation. Every year, they send out "internationally certified arborists" to butcher trees in the neighborhood. They hack, deface, slash, despoil, mutilate, and vandalize every beautiful tree they can lay their chainsaws on--especially if it is anywhere within sight of a power line.

While I was in New England a "work crew" showed up at our home (for the third time in a month) and told my father-in-law that they needed to "trim" a tree in our front yard (one that they had already hacked at twice in as many weeks despite the fact that it is set well behind the power lines). Then they proceeded to cut the tree completely down--a beautiful fifty-year old, forty-foot tall cedar. They just chopped it down. To the ground.

Then they said, "oops." It seems they were at the wrong address and had cut down the wrong tree! Their supervisor (who apprently doesn't supervise much) called to say they would be happy to compensate me by replacing that magnificent old tree--along with the sweet gum sapling that they unceremoniously cut down at the same time--with a single cheap, scrawny three-foot tall Crepe Myrtle bush. Oh boy! That's sure to be a nice attraction for our once-abundant hawks, herons, and other indigenous big-fowl. And its sure to satisfy my ire as well. Yeah, right.

Of course, there really is little or nothing I can do about this terrible travesty because the Middle Tennessee Electric Corporation is a part of the vast government boondoggle FDR created when he foisted the TVA on generations of American taxpayers like me. Not only do I have to endure such persistent abuses but I actually have to pay for the privilege as well. It is just another one of those "petty tyrannies" our government bureaucracy has gotten so good at after years and years of practice.

Anyway, every time I drive up my driveway now--and more to the point, every time I go out for a run--I have to look at the gaping hole in my yard where once a beautiful evergreen stood.

And that is a lot harder to get over than my pesky autumn cold.

Thursday, October 20

How Running Saved My Life

This just in: a new study in the Scandanavian Journal of Science and Medicine found that regular runners "reported 70% less stress and dissatisfaction with life than did their sedentary peers."

Meanwhile, an Australian study published in The Pacifica Review found that 72% of men who sat for 6 hours or more each work day were over-weight, even if they dieted and exercised. Only runners, swimmers, and cyclists broke the pattern.

And a new study in the British Medical Journal found that un-fit, over-weight, middle-aged men have a 74% greater risk of developing dementia later in life than their slimmer, fitter peers do.

I have often commented that my schedule and sundry duties would probably have killed me by now if I had not taken up running. I used to chuckle when I said that, thinking that I was just kidding. But, even before I saw these studies, I really knew better.

Monday, October 17

All Fifty

Having run in New England this past weekend, I think I may now be afflicted with a new bug. It really was a pretty remarkable experience. New England runners are a breed apart. Almost all of the more than 300 people in the race were very serious runners--Boston Marathon-type runners. It got me to thinking of all the places I have run during the past two years. Besides my home state of Tennessee, where I have run in Franklin, Nashville, Chattanooga, Bell Buckle, Memphis, and at Peacock Hill, I have run in:

- Virginia, a couple of times I was speaking in Bristol and Norfolk.
- Washington, in Seattle as well as in the shadow of the Cascades.
- California, in both San Diego and Santa Cruz beside the Pacific.
- Georgia, whilst speaking in Atlanta and again in Rome.
- Idaho, once during a history conference.
- Alabama, for the Mercedes Marathon.
- Missouri, in a really wonderful park near St. Louis.
- Iowa, during a pro-life conference.
- Illinois, in Chicago during the last election.
- North Carolina, outside my hotel one blustery February morning.
- Kentucky, one morning while traveling by car.
- Texas, in the running Mecca of Austin and in San Antonio.
- Florida, along the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale and Destin.
- Mississippi, in Jackson not far from Reformed Seminary.
- New York, as Sara has reminded me, before a wedding.
- New Hampshire, in beautiful Portsmouth.

In addition, I have run in a number of overseas locations as wildly varied as London and Lima, Amsterdam and Jakarta, Vienna and St. Andrews.

Not bad. Especially considering the fact that I have cut back virtually all my heavy travel during the past two or three years (I now accept about one out of every ten or fifteen requests that I get).

So, this got me to thinking: what if I were to try to run in all fifty states in the Union? That would be a worthy, fun goal--and it would surely keep me busy.

Thursday, October 13

Museum Bluff

My Chattanooga run yesterday morning was all I had hoped for--a good 6 mile jaunt through the park and museum district with 10 intense intervals up the First Street steps along the Museum Bluffs between the Aquarium and the Hunter Museum. I capped it all with a great breakfast at Greyfriars. Now, I am off to the airport for my trip to rainy New England.

Tuesday, October 11

Running on the Road

I will be on the road the next several days which always presents a bit of a challenge to getting in my requisite runs. But with a little creativity travel can also open up great opportunities for new run routes and experiences--I've loved my runs in Seattle, London, Austin, Amsterdam, Charlotte, Jakarta, and Santa Cruz.

Today and tomorrow, I will be in beautiful Chattanooga where I have a favorite run across the Tennessee River pedestrian bridge near the Hunter Art Museum, through the Coolidge Park, through the artsy Frazier Street district, and then back into downtown past the Aquarium and Bell South Ball Park. It is a great place to run and every time I am there I jump at the chance to lace 'em up and get out the door.

On Thursday morning, I fly on to Boston. I probably won't get a chance to run during my visit to Harvard, but I will be heading up to New Hampshire that evening and I discovered a really interesting 10K road race in Portsmouth for Saturday morning. My friends who are hosting me there have assured me that the Bridges-4-Friendship Run will be an authentic taste of New England. The course runs a picturesque seaside loop with harbor views through Portsmouth's historic south end, across four different bridges, and past the grand Wentworth Hotel. Sounds wonderful.

On Sunday, I'll return to Chattanooga to overnight, so I may be able to get in another run across the bridge and through the park before I have to load up the truck for the three hour drive home on Monday morning.

Monday, October 10

Semi-Long Run

"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired." George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

A light mist, temperatures in the low fifties, and a restful weekend all made for an brisk semi-long Monday morning run. And with that Patton quote constantly reminding me that I must press forward, I was actually able to negative split the 9-miles I tackled.

Chicago Marathon

Yesterday 40,000 runners representing all 50 states and 125 countries competed in the 28th Annual LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon as an estimated one million spectators lined the streets to cheer them along. The vast majority of the runners completed the 26.2 mile route. But it sure wasn't easy!

Deena Kastor suffered terribly on her way to a rare victory by an American. First, her feet started to act up around mile 18. Then, it was her hamstrings, glutes and lower back at about mile 20. She started limping as she reached the 21st mile. By mile 24, her goal changed from setting a record to just hanging on. As she headed into the final mile she said, "I thought this was going to be the ugliest mile of my life. By the time Kastor crossed the finish line, she confessed, she was a total wreck. "There's nothing I can think of that parallels what that feels like," she said about the pain she felt the last few miles. "These marathons can be unkind. And when they're unkind, they're extraordinarily harsh. And this was a harsh one."

Of course, elite runners like Kastor were only on the course for a couple of hours. She finished in 2 hours, 21 minutes, 25 seconds, just 5 seconds ahead of Tomescu-Dita of Romania and five minutes ahead of third place finisher Masako Chiba of Japan. On the men's side Kenyans occupied the top ten spots, with Felix Limo leading the way at 2:07:02, with all the others finishing under 2:10.

But the average time spent out on the course was nowhere close to that fast. Thousands of middle-packers were only about half way through the race when the elite runners crossed the finish line. Most would still be running two and a half or three hours after Kastor and Limo had already returned to their hotels for a long soak in the tub. Indeed, some of the tail-enders would be on the course another four hours or more. Extraordinary. What an amazing accomplishment of will, endurance, courage, and tenacity! Congratulations to all finishers--but especially to all those middle-packers and tail-enders. Every one was a winner yesterday.

I was originally signed up to run in this race, but because of my schedule I was unable to make the trip. But, I am planning on it next year. I want to be out there with all my fellow middle-packers and tail-enders--long after the elites have zipped up and gone home. And I will be, Lord willing.

Saturday, October 8

Running Oktoberfest

The race is billed as "one of the most exciting 5K routes in the country"--starting beneath the Tennessee State Capitol in the Bicentennial Mall, crossing into beautiful and historic Germantown, through the Nashville Farmers Market, and then finishing in the middle of the Germantown Oktoberfest street festival. And as if all that were not enough, every finisher of the 26th annual Oktoberfest 5K is promised a free mug of Paulaner Bier (not that a mug of Munich's best is exactly what I usually have a hankering for at 8:00 in the morning--and especially not after running just over 3 miles).

The weather has just turned fall-like here in Tennessee. So with temperatures in the fifties and a brisk autumn wind cutting across our path, several hundred runners set out this morning. It was not as flat a course as the organizers had promised--and that combined with the wind meant that times were just a tad slower than usual. Nevertheless, the beauty and uniqueness of the course more than made up for the extra effort needed to trudge up the hills. There were even good crowds loudly cheering all along the route (very unusual for an early morning 5K).

I've had really slow and difficult races ever since the Country Music Marathon last April. So, my strategy was to start near the back of the pack, pace myself slower than usual for the first mile, and then try to bring it home strong. What with the cool temperature and the festive atmosphere, I actually had a hard time holding myself back. But, I'm glad I did. I maintained a good even pace throughout the race, and finished at my goal time--with plenty of energy left to spare. And sure enough, there were the good folks from Paulaner at the finish line, handing out mugs of a wonderful Oktoberfest amber (of which, alas, I was actually able to get down only one swallow--it was, after all, still awfully early in the morning).

I hopped in the truck and was able to make it home in time for the first cup of coffee out of the pot and a long, leisurely talk with Karen in the library.

What a great way to start a Saturday!

I am going to be traveling this next week so I won't be able to do the Cricket Zoo 5K this year. I will be speaking at the King's Meadow Film Conference on the last weekend in October so I won't be able to do the Jackolantern Jog 5-Miler either. So, it looks as if my next race is going to be the Team Nashville Half Marathon, on November 5.

Friday, October 7

Iliad, Book XXII

Fear fell upon Hector as he beheld Achilles. Thus, Hector dared not stay longer where he was but fled in dismay from before the gates, while Achilles darted after him at his utmost speed. As a mountain falcon, swiftest of all birds, swoops down upon some cowering dove--the dove flies before him but the falcon with a shrill scream follows close after, resolved to have her--even so did Achilles make straight for Hector with all his might, while Hector fled under the Trojan wall as fast as his limbs could take him.

On they flew along the wagon-road that ran hard by under the wall, past the lookout station, and past the weather-beaten wild fig-tree, till they came to two fair springs which feed the river Scamander. One of these two springs is warm, and steam rises from it as smoke from a burning fire, but the other even in summer is as cold as hail or snow, or the ice that forms on water. Here, hard by the springs, are the goodly washing-troughs of stone, where in the time of peace before the coming of the Achaeans the wives and fair daughters of the Trojans used to wash their clothes. Past these did they fly, the one in front and the other giving haste behind him: good was the man that fled, but better far was he that followed after, and swiftly indeed did they run, for the prize was no mere beast for sacrifice or bullock's hide, as it might be for a common foot-race, but they ran for their Lives. As horses in a chariot race speed round the turning-posts when they are running for some great prize--a tripod or woman--at the games in honor of some dead hero, so did these two run full speed three times round the city of Priam....

Achilles was still in full pursuit of Hector, as a hound chasing a fawn which he has started from its covert on the mountains, and hunts through glade and thicket. The fawn may try to elude him by crouching under cover of a bush, but he will scent her out and follow her up until he gets her--even so there was no escape for Hector from the fleet son of Peleus. Whenever he made a set to get near the Dardanian gates and under the walls, that his people might help him by showering down weapons from above, Achilles would gain on him and head him back towards the plain, keeping himself always on the city side. As a man in a dream who fails to lay hands upon another whom he is pursuing--the one cannot escape nor the other overtake--even so neither could Achilles come up with Hector, nor Hector break away from Achilles; nevertheless he might even yet have escaped death had not the time come when Apollo, who thus far had sustained his strength and nerved his running, was now no longer to stay by him.

Run Prep

I'm getting ready for the Oktoberfest 5K tomorrow, so I did not do my regular long run today. Instead, I just did a few sprints and recovery intervals--just over 3 miles worth. The chilly breeze and the overcast sky made it feel as if fall may have finally arrived.

Wednesday, October 5

Too Little, Too Late

I got out on the road too late this morning to get in a full run--so, I had to content myself with a quick two miles. Even with cutting things short, I was late to my regular 7 AM prayer meeting. Too little, too late. Story of my life.

Tuesday, October 4

One of Those Days

It was just one of those days. First, I had to cancel my regular hill workout because of a series of meetings and minor crises that needed my attention. Then, I had to go to a host of back-to-back-to-back stressful meetings--and anyone who knows me can tell you that I just love meetings, especially stressful ones. Lunch consisted of a smoothie chugged down during one of the aforementioned meetings. So, even though I got home a little late, I was determined to get at least a little run in.

Not surprisingly, my legs felt like lead and I had no wind endurance at all. Huffing and puffing, slow and achy, and as you might guess, more than a little miserable, I was almost quit several times. But then, quite inexplicably, at about mile three I started to get into a good rhythm. It was getting dark, but I just kept going. Finally, after seven miles I just had to call it quits. Even the dogs were begging to go in by then. But I was actually feeling better at the end of mile seven than I did at the end of mile one.

When I first started running two years ago I was thrilled just to make it a mile. Now, it takes me three miles just to warm up! Or maybe it takes me three miles to work all the stress toxins out of my system. Whatever the case, after a day like today, I'm just glad to still be out there.

Monday, October 3

Oktoberfest 5K

One of my favorite fun runs is coming up this Saturday morning. It's the annual Oktoberfest 5K here in Nashville's old Germantown neighborhood in the shadow of the old state capitol. Besides all the beer and brat and oomp-pah-pah at the finish line, my favorite part of the race is the quick dash right through the middle of the downtown Farmer's Market.

Night Flight

After the six-hour drive back from St. Louis I did not feel much like a run. Besides, it would be dark soon. And I ran plenty this weekend. And, and, and, and. Still, I knew I really needed the stress release--to say nothing of the occupied moments at the dimming of the day. So, I forced myself out the door and onto the street.

I made the hours of my drive zip along by listening to Prince Caspian as read by the incomparable Lynn Redgrave. I made the miles of my run zip along by listening to Aimee Mann, Wilco, Springsteen, and Over the Rhine.

In the former case, I got home. In the latter, I got in five miles. In both cases, I was able to do it with a smile--all contrarian circumstances aside.

Saturday, October 1

Lewis and Clark

Well, the plan was to go on a refreshing little three-mile hike along the bluffs overlooking the Merrimac River. Alas, the trails were not very well marked--OK, that's an understatement! The trails weren't marked at all! So, after three and a half hours, some seriously steep climbs, and a lot of trudging along the river bottoms, we felt a bit like Lewis and Clark finally making our way back to civilization. Twelve miles make for a pretty nice--if altogether unexpected--workout!

Friday, September 30

St. Louie

I love St. Louis. What a great town. The weather is perfect today. So, while Karen studied this morning, I went out to Queeny Park again for a glorious eight-mile run. Then off to the seminary for an intense session of book buying. Then up to the Hill for way, way too much authentic Italian food. And then to Ted Drewes for that irresistable frozen custard he calls "concrete." People ask me why I run. Days like today provide the perfect answer: so that I can eat like this and then settle into a long, wonderful evening of indolent reading on the back porch!

Thursday, September 29

Running in St. Louis

Karen and I ran a fabulous five-mile loop here in St. Louis this morning at Queeny Park. Crisp fall weather, turning leaves, gentle rolling hills, well-groomed gravel roads: it was just about perfect. I am going to enjoy running here for the next couple of days--and I am really going to need to run with all this great Italian and German food around!

Tuesday, September 27

Hill Day

I didn't want to do it. I had to drag myself out there. And then drag myself up and down my "Hill of Difficulty" over and over and over again. I had to wonder why on earth I was going through all that pain! But then, I came to the end of my three miles of intervals and somehow, I felt so much better. All the pent up stress from the past several days was gone. And lo and behold, I was smiling! Running is magic!

Monday, September 26

No Achy-Breaky

Having spurned a treadmill run yesterday for a slog in the rain, I found myself today at the Y for some long overdue weight training. I hadn't planned on running--I did my cardio on a bike instead. But, it had been since last winter that I'd actually run on a treadmill and I thought I'd give it a quick spin. Three miles later I was still zinging along. I'd fogotten how gentle those soft footpaths can be on old knees and ankles (and IT bands and quads and hammys and all the rest of me). Great workout. No achy-breaky. I am now resolved to make treadmill running a regular part of my workout plan as I prepare for a string of fall and winter marathons.

Sunday, September 25

Come Rain or Shine

The remnants of Hurricane Rita threatened to cancel my long run today (just as a long, long elders' meeting had put all thoughts of running on hold yesterday). After church and after a terribly close Titan's loss, I decided that I could either go to the Y and run on a treadmill or slosh and slog my way through the rain. Being an adventurous sort, I opted for the rain. And it was great. I thought I might cut things a bit short, but after five miles I still had some oomph. After seven though, I was so soggy that I just had to pack it in. But now I can actually say, "come rain or shine."

Friday, September 23

Cair Paravel


As I was nearing the end of my long run tonight I was simultaneously coming to the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Loaded onto my iPod were the sound files from the BBC production of that C.S. Lewis classic. I listened as I ran all this week. But then tonight, just as the sky in front of me began to glow with a magnificent magenta sunset, I came to the part of the story where the Stone Table was shattered, Lucy and Susan looked out over Cair Paravel, the red in the heavens turned gold along the line where the sea and the sky met, and Aslan roared to life again. The girls began to run with the great lion--but they were not sure "whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten." I noticed my pace picking up. My spirits soared. It was one of those seredipitous moments that only rarely come. It was most glorious--and most welcome.

When Life Goes Flat

A couple of my dear friends recently had a remarkable experience that I just feel compelled to share. Kurt Beasley is a gifted attorney and Bible teacher here in Middle Tennessee--and as you'll soon see, a pretty good writer too. David Mahand is a craftsman extraordinaire (I marvel at his handiwork every time I take a book down from the shelves in my library). A couple of weeks ago they shipped their bikes to New York City, borrowed an apartment for a few days, and proceeded to have the adventure of a lifetime. Or was it? I'll let Kurt tell it:

We all know the story in the book of Ruth where Ruth pledges allegiance to her mother-in-law, her country and her God. How with resolute determination Ruth said no to Naomi's urgings to find a new life on her own. Finally Naomi gave in and suggested that Ruth choose a particular field to glean in order to provide them sustenance. Ruth obediently followed the directions of her mother-in-law and found herself working day and night gleaning in the field. You know the rest of the story; the Bible says that "as it turned out," the field where Ruth was hard at work was owned by an honorable and wealthy man named Boaz. Boaz took a liking to Ruth, they were married, and they all lived happily ever after. Don't you just love Bible stories; how good always conquers evil and God's followers always get what they need? Well look closer, do you think Ruth was singing the praises of the Lord (who she had just met) during the heat of the Judean day? I doubt it. Why did Ruth have an "as it turned out experience?"

For some time I have been an avid bicycle rider and just love Manhattan. I have dreamed of riding down the streets of Manhattan, seeing the lights of the city and experiencing the NY experience. I along with my friend David finally decided to combine our two passions and set out to ride Manhattan.

At midnight (to avoid the traffic) Friday night September 9th, we left our borrowed apartment, above the Lamb's Church at Times Square, and set out to conquer the island. We traveled east toward the East River and began navigating the still busy streets. About three blocks from the apartment, 20 minutes into our ride of a lifetime, my back tire went flat. No problem; when I ride I always rely on David to carry a spare tube just for me. Around 12:45 AM we were back in the saddle and off to finish our experience. We continued east and it was not long until I was in front of the United Nations Building. Wow, what an experience, on my bike in front of the most influential place of power on Earth. As I was taking in the experience, yes, what I heard was the sound of my newly repaired back tire losing air once again. Flat tire number two and this time my friend David could not save me.

At about 1:30 Saturday morning we began our walk back to our apartment. Yes walk, we had no money and the nice taxi drivers did not seem to eager to allow us to tie down our bikes to the top of their cabs. For you avid and experienced bike riders, you know that we could not walk in our bike shoes, which have those fancy special clips. Thus, we journeyed back to the apartment, pushing my flat bike, barefooted and in our tight little shorts.

As we walked, I decided to talk with God. I asked him "Why did I travel all of the way to NY to find myself pushing my bike barefooted across Manhattan?" Since I had no choice, I began to praise Him for the experience. I thanked Him for saving me from some unknown disaster that surely would have befallen me if it were not for the flats. I silently thanked Him for His goodness (with my fingers crossed). Around 3:30 AM we finally arrived back to our apartment, tired and embarrassed. Another casualty of the city.

Not to be defeated, when the sun rose on Saturday morning David and I decided to find a bike shop in hopes of repairing my two flats. After searching the city we finally found a shop down in the Village, made our way by subway and by mid-day found some friendly faces who sympathized with our plight. As the young man repaired my tire I explained that we were on a journey and asked him for any suggestions as to where a fellow would ride if he wanted to see the city and avoid the potholes. With bewilderment he turned and said to me, "You have ridden the West Side Greenway (the bike path that runs along the west side of Manhattan) haven't you?" What path, where is the West Side?

It goes without saying that when 4 AM Sunday morning came, we could hardly wait to test out this young man's truth and veracity. We pulled out of the Lamb's Church and this time turned left (west) not east and made our way several blocks wondering what we would find and holding my breath that my back tire would hold up. We turned up 47th, crossed Broadway and almost fell off of our bikes when yes; we found it; stretching for miles running parallel to the Hudson River the most magnificent bike path we had ever seen. We turned north and pointed toward the George Washington Bridge, which was spectacularly adorned in its lights and splendor. The temperature was perfect; the path was perfect; the city was beautiful. As we screamed at speeds of 25 MPH (this is kind of fast on a bike) I screamed to God "Thank you. Thank you for the two flats. Thank you for your personal blessings. Thank you for the 'as it turned out' moments of life, where with our temporal eyes we often see only disappointment and sorrow but when we use the eternal eyes of the Holy Spirit we can see hope and blessings to come."

Well, we continued our journey and eventually left the bike path at around 110th street, biked through Harlem, into Spanish Harlem, and then made our way toward Central Park. All the time, I just kept thanking God, believing that we were nearing the end of a great ride, and riding with confidence that God really does care about the "little things." I remember saying at about 112th street, "God how could this trip have been any better? Going from disappointment to elation?"

And then it got better as we rounded a side street we turned into Central Park. It was still dark and we were alone. That's when it was as if God said to me "open your eyes." To an avid bike rider, it is impossible for me to describe what we saw at that moment. We made the turn and before our eyes were 10,000 bikers suited up and ready to go, lined up as far as you could see. We were smack dab in the front of the line of the NYC Century Ride. Yep, 10,000 fanatical bike riders setting out on a 100 mile ride from Manhattan and throughout the Burroughs. Tad, a friendly Wall Street stock broker, told us that guys talk all year about this ride, bets are placed, and challenges are issued. As we explained to the most experienced bike riders who were at the front of the line, where we had so innocently cut in, that we just happened down a side street and fell into heaven, the laughs that rang out almost caused irreparable injury.

Well yes, you got it, we joined (we did not even have to pay the $65 registration fee) the pack and within two hours we were zooming down Fifth Avenue and crossing the East River on the Brooklyn Bridge in the midst of one of the most gorgeous days that God has ever created.

It has been a few weeks since the monumental ride. The experience has almost worn off but the lesson hasn't. I thank my Lord for the two flats which led me to an experience that I could have never planned for or could have ever orchestrated.

Our lives are full of flats aren't they? I, like Ruth chose to praise Him even during the flats, because I serve an "as it turned out God." The next time the air goes out of your tires, praise Him, because you just never know, He may just be leading you to a path that He has chosen especially for you.

Tuesday, September 20

A Night Cap

I thought I was doing really badly during my hill intervals today--until I looked down at my GPS watch and realized that I'd already done four miles. Narnia makes the miles fly by--and the pain almost tolerable. And amazingly, by the end of the day I found I still had a little left so, I capped the evening with a nice, easy after-dinner one-miler--just to warm-down.

Monday, September 19

Running in Narnia

Before I ran this morning, I loaded the BBC audio productions of the Narnia novels onto my new Nano iPod. Even though it has been a couple of years since I last read the books, I have read them so many times that I actually wondered if I would really enjoy them on the run. No need to worry. Lewis had me from the first chapter. I was not disappointed in the least. Of course, I started with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (the first book by Jack's reckoning) rather than The Magician's Nephew (the first book in the newer editions thanks to some pusillanimous publishing fiat). I didn't have time today for the full-length long run I had planned. But the 8 miles I did get in were made all the more fruitful by Jack's virtuosity. I am looking forward to running in Narnia for the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, September 18

Post-Victory Glow

It was a glorious Lord's Day. And then the Titans won an improbable victory over the despicable Ravens. To celebrate, Karen and I had way, way too much barbeque. We tried walking it off afterward. And while the sunset was glorious, two miles is not likely to put much of a dent in the damage our gorging has done! Tomorrow I'll be paying for it on my long run.

Saturday, September 17

Running Buddy

Running with someone else can make all the difference. The pace is faster. The time and the miles fly by. And the encouragement bolsters the resolve. Karen and I ran together for the first five miles of the run this morning--then she left me to finish up while she got ready for our regular Saturday "date." It was wonderful.

Friday, September 16

Rest Day

According to everything I have read, rest is as important a part of marathon training as the weekly "long run" and the intense interval workouts. I don't rest very often or very well. I have become dependent upon the stress-busting qualities of my daily runs--so much so that I can hardly stand to not get in at least three miles every single day of the week except, of course, on the Lord's Day. Nevertheless, I am planning a pretty rugged 12 mile hill course for tomorrow morning's run, so today I am "forcing myself" to lay low, catch up on some reading and research, and garner some much-needed rest.

Thursday, September 15

Hot and Heavy

Still sore from yesterday's seven-miler, I launched into my interval hill work today knowing that I might be a little less energetic than usual. Sure enough, the hot weather and my heavy legs conspired together to make it a very long and very intense three mile workout. Hot and heavy is not exactly what I was hoping for--but then again, you reap what you sow.

Wednesday, September 14

Junk Miles

I went out with the intention of just trying to get in a few junk miles. I was really short on time so I figured that if I could log three, I'd be doing great. I'm doing my hard hill interval work every Tuesday and Thursday anyway, so my Wednesday run is just intended to keep me in a good, solid daily rhythm.


But, my legs felt fresh. A really nice, cool breeze was blowing. My nano was amped up with Beethoven, Barry Phillips, and U2. So, I took off flying. I was able to put in a couple of miles at a seven-minute pace without a problem. I felt like the Engergizer Bunny. I just kept going and going. After a couple more miles I decided I'd better try Gallowaying every half mile for a hundred yards--I was starting to think about that hill work tomorrow morning. Even so, I was able to keep the pace nice and brisk. When I finally ran out of time and steam I'd gotten seven quick miles under my belt. And that's sure not junk! At least, not for me!

Fantasy Run

OK. I've had a flurry of e-mails from folks volunteering to either run with me or just go with me if I ever actually attempt the Edinburgh Marathon. So, I thought I'd throw out another fantasy: the London Marathon.


Running through history in the shadow of Big Ben along the Thames.


Typical of London: cold, rainy, and marvelously bracing.


Seriously, can you imagine a better aid station?

I am training right now for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in early December and the Freescale Austin Marathon in February. I am thinking of possibly slipping in the Chevron Houston Half Marathon in January and the Little Rock Half Marathon in March--all this in preparation for the Country Music Marathon here in Nashville in April. Now, if all those go well and I am still standing at the end of it all, I might actually begin to set my sights further afield--to London, Edinburgh, and perhaps Prague or Vienna.

Lots to work for!

Tuesday, September 13

Quick Kicks

Once again, I attempted hill intervals. Once again, my efforts came quick on the heels of a short night (I was in meetings until midnight and then was up at five in order to get ready for my lecture). Needless to say, I was not at my best or my most energetic. But, I got in the three miles and six repeats. Afterwards, I was so wobbly that I barely made it around the weight circuit at the Y. This is the sort of thing that is supposed to give a runner what Runner's World calls "quick kicks." But these kicks were anything but quick.

Monday, September 12

Slogging

I made the great mistake of spending the early part of the morning calendar planning and reading rather than getting right out for my workout. When I finally hit the road, I could only slog through 5 sloppy miles--I had intended to do 7-10 depending on how I felt. With a long week of meetings and appointments, it is not likely that I will be able to make up the shortfall. Oh well, slogging is far better than slouching. I'll take what I can get.

Dream Run

There are a host of runs I'd like to be able to do in the next few years including the Chicago Marathon, the New York Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, and of course, the Boston Marathon--if I am ever able to qualify. But, this weekend I found a run that immediately went to the very top of my fantasy list: the Edinburgh Marathon.

The 2005 Edinburgh Marathon at the foot of the Castle Mound along Princess Street.

At the start near Arthur's Seat behind Holyrood Palace.

Along Princess Street in front of the Sir Walter Scott Memorial.

Saturday, September 10

Plan B

I had a perfect plan for a perfect day. But I ran afoul of the plan almost from the start.

I was going to head out for a long run right after breakfast and my quiet time--but, I was so enthralled by my study in Acts that I was chasing down cross-references almost until 10. Then, I was going to finish some of the background reading I've been doing for the book I'm writing on America's founding era--but, I wound up at a Starbucks talking with a friend for more than an hour and a half. I was going to have a smoothie for lunch and then buckle down for an afternoon of writing--but, I called my son and we decided to have some Chinese and then spend the afternoon together. I was going to have a salad for dinner and then head on over to Belmont for an evening 5K run--but, I decided to catch a little football on the tube instead. Just as it was about to get dark, I thought I'd go out for a nice slow walk--but, I got the bug to run; I changed into my running gear and took off for a nice 5 mile run. With my new nanoPod loaded with some David Wilcox tunes, a gorgeous sunset shimmering on the horizon, and a cool breeze blowing through the trees, I hit a quick stride at about 9 minutes a mile. I finished in the pitch dark, exhilarated.

Plan A was shot all to pieces. But, at every step along the way Plan B was better anyway!

Friday, September 9

Just a Little

There is nothing quite like an early run on a cool morning to get a day started off right. I had a very full schedule from first thing in the morning to just after lunch--one meeting after another; several of them sure to be more than a little intense. So, even though I knew I was going to be time crunched, I hit the pavement for about 20 minutes. Boy, am I ever glad I did. Running is a great stress buster. It buoys my spirit. It settles my nerves. And it helps me put so much of the worrying circumstances of life into proper perspective. So, even though I only got in a few stretches, some walking, and about two miles at a gentle pace, those twenty minutes were the best investment I could have made this morning (excluding my quiet time in the Word and a brimming cup of Peet's).

Thursday, September 8

No Need for Speed

I have never been too terribly concerned about speed. I've always been happy just to be able to run. When I first started running (just about 26 months ago--not that I'm counting), I was barely able to make it from one mailbox to the next. The thought of making it from one mile to the next hardly even crossed my mind. So, when I began to run 5K races and then half marathons and finally marathons, I was thrilled just to have made it from start to finish in an upright position.

But a few weeks ago, I realized that I'd really gotten myself into a rut. I was wanting to improve--and in order to do that, I was going to have to start doing some speed drills. Well, today I did. I started. Ouch!

I got in my regular 5K training run, but instead of a nice slow jog, I ran intervals up a particularly nasty hill just around the corner from my Tuesday and Thursday route. Wow! I only did five half mile climbs and downhill recoveries--but, boy oh boy were they ever tough. Afterward, I went to the Y to attempt a few circuits around the gym--my efforts were admittedly feeble. But, hey, it's a start! I'm quite certain that I'll never be fast--but, even a little improvement will be gratifying.

Wednesday, September 7

Morning Run

Fall in Tennessee is wonderful. It is gorgeous and the weather is great. Although fall is still several weeks away, we're starting to get a few delightful hints that it is indeed, just around the corner. So, this morning as I got out early to run before a very full day of meetings and committees and more meetings, I was happy to be met with cool temperatures, drifting fog, rising mist, and a fabulous sunrise. It didn't really help my run a great deal--I was only able to get in five very slow miles. Nevertheless, I was out there! And that is half the battle. It may even be more than half!

Tuesday, September 6

Post-Race Lethargy

The day after a race I always have a difficult time getting back into training mode. My legs feel heavy. My energy seems sapped. And my mind is too easily distracted. Despite this, I forced myself toward the YMCA immediately following my lecture this morning for my regular Tuesday run route. It is a rather hilly 3.5 loop course through the property of the First Baptist Church. I didn't expect much out of this run--and my expectations were met! Nevertheless, I trudged through the junk miles, returned to the Y for a few quick circuits around the gym, and then headed toward Smoothie King for my regular fruit lunch before hunkering down for a very full afternoon of meetings, meetings, and more meetings.

Tonight, I'll get in a good two mile post-dinner walk with the dogs and then pour over the new Runner's World before I get some much needed rest.