Tuesday, December 30

Committed with 16 Weeks to Train

OK. I just committed myself. I've signed up for the 2009 Country Music Marathon. I now have sixteen weeks to train--which may sound like a long, long time but, from past experience, those weeks invariably fly by and the need for significant milage always seems to sneak up on me.

Monday, December 29

Run Early

“When you have a packed schedule, run as early in the morning as you can. Later you won’t find time. Besides, it’s a nice way to wake up.” --Joan Benoit Samuelson

Monday, December 22

The GIGO Principle

“You only get out of running what you put into it--no pain no gain.”
--George Sheehan

Wednesday, December 17

Going Long

“Not all runners can go faster, but everyone can run longer. It’s pacing, patience, and persistence, more than talent, that allows you to cover longer distances.” --Joe Henderson

Tuesday, December 16

Planning for 2009

“Smart goals are specific, measurable, realistic, written out, and should have a deadline or a timeframe.” --David Yukelson

Thursday, December 11

More St. Jude Pix



Recovery Week

It is cold, snowy, and blustery in Middle Tennessee this week. Perfect weather for a recovery week. I’ll start the training regimen for my next marathon sometime next week. But quite frankly, I already miss my runs–bad!

Sunday, December 7

Memphis Official Results

The official results of the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis have been released. I ran it in 3:50.52 for an average pace of 8:49 per mile. The Boston qualifying time for my age group is 3:45.59. So, that means that I missed the cut off by just 5 minutes! I had no idea I was that close.

Scenes from the St. Jude Marathon





Monday, November 24

Ready or Not

I've got one more long run to go before I start my taper for the marathon in two weeks. I'm not in nearly the shape I need to be to run 26.2. But, running for the St. Jude Children's Hospital always makes me want to strive for more than what I think I am capable of doing. So, I'm going long--ready or not.

Wednesday, November 19

Keeping Running in Perspective

In just two weeks I will be running the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis. Obviously, that has meant that I have tried to ramp up my training appropriately--and "appropriately" for a marathon means a whole lot of running and a whole lot of time. And that necessarily presents a whole raft of problems.

A running friend wrote me recently to express his own concerns about time management, stewardship of calling, and the very real threat of self-absorption during the months of training leading up to any big race. He said, "My family has been amazingly supportive, but I'm bothered by the fact that when I'm marathon training I spend alot of time thinking about me! My runs, my injuries, my times, blah, blah, blah."

How do we--indeed, how can we--balance our lives so that even good things, like running, do not come to dominate us and our families?

This is actually something I've thought about a great deal. Though I certainly have not been able to gain any degree of mastery yet, I have done several things to help me balance my priorities:

1. I quit worrying about times a couple of years ago. I run for fun. Certainly, I have more fun the better I do--but, I am at the age and stage where it's all a matter of diminishing returns anyway. So, I figure I have much better things to talk about and think about than my times.

2. I have a prayer strategy for every race and even most training runs. I stick to the strategy doggedly.

3. I try my best to memorize Scripture as I run.

4. I stopped using an iPod for most of my runs--and I no longer use a Nike+, a Garmin Forerunner, or even a pedometer as I once did.

5. I always dedicate every marathon and half marathon to someone in need--I particularly love running to raise funds for one or another of the causes I care about most.

6. I always allow the important stuff in life to interrupt my training schedule--or even my racing schedule. I try to never let running take over my life. And I always try to hold my running loosely.

Running is healthy. It is a great stress reliever. I love meeting the non-Christians among my fellow runners because they are often the only people I ever meet who don't know what I do vocationally. And I enjoy the whole culture of running. So, needless to say, I want to be able to continue to run as long as I am physically able. But, I also want to make sure that running stays in its place and does not ever intrude upon my family, my church, or my calling.

Friday, October 31

Half Marathon Tomorrow

My training for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon has been a bit hit-and-miss. But now with just five weeks to go, it is put up or shut up time. So, I will run in the Team Nashville Half in the morning to measure just where I am. It should be fun--the weather is great, the course is familiar, and the atmosphere is very relaxed. So, no pressure. Just a good morning run and a fine test of where my fitness now stands.

Wednesday, October 29

By the Numbers

“It’s like a Cecil B. DeMille movie, because it’s on such a huge, epic scale,” says Alberto Salazar, who won the New York City Marathon three years in a row during the 1980s. The 40,000 registered runners were selected from more than 100,000 applicants for the 38th running of the 26.2 mile event through each of the city's boroughs this Sunday. They will huddle together at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island several hours ahead of the start. There, they will spend a good deal of their time standing in line at the 1,515 portable toilets. Finally, at 9:40 twin 75-millimeter howitzers will announce the official wave start of this, the world’s largest and most extravagant ceremony of endurance. More than half of the runners will have come from overseas. By the end of the weekend, the city will have raked in an estimated $200 million. And the runners will have, as marathon writer Liz Robbins says, “outrun their demons and their diagnoses” on a “day full of epiphanies.”

The Big Get Bigger

Tuesday, October 21

Frodo's Song

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.

Pursuing it with weary feet
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then? I cannot say.

Sunday, September 28

New Marathon World Record

Haile Gebselassie set his 26th career world record in the Berlin Marathon this weekend. The Ethiopian legend thus became the first man to run under 2:04 over the 26.2 mile distance. And the 35-year old did it while recovering from a calf injury.

Saturday, September 27

Mind and Matter

“Run hard, be strong, think big!” Percy Cerutty

“The body does not want you to do this. You must handle the pain with strategy... It is not age; It is not diet; It is the will to succeed.” Jacqueline Gareau

“The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.” Juma Ikangaa

St. Jude Marathon

In just ten weeks, I will be attempting my seventh full marathon--once again, in beautiful Memphis Tennessee. And again, I will be attempting to raise support for the remarkable work of St. Jude Children's Hospital. If you would like to help me meet my goal of raising $1000 for cancer research and patient treatment, please visit my St. Jude Sponsor Site

Wednesday, September 24

Autumn: A Poem

Falling leaves
Hide the path
So quietly. —John Bailey

Friday, September 19

Obesity: A Poem

We weigh too much.
Way too much.
—Bob McKenty

Monday, September 1

Beaten Again!

I do understand that the guy in the giant hot dog suit is in his twenties. I'm in my fifties. He's a nationally ranked triathlete. I'm, umm, not. Still. He's in a massive foam and felt HOT DOG SUIT. I'm not being realistic, but I still HATE being beaten by the hot dog!

Other than that though, the Franklin Classic was great this morning--more than 1000 runners right in downtown (just a block from Parish) having lots of fun and raising support for the vital work of Mercy Children's Clinic.

Sunday, August 31

Beating the Hot Dog

I'll be running in the Franklin Classic tomorrow at 7 AM. I'm not really in race shape, so my plan is just to have a little fun. But, it really is not fun to be beaten by the Sonic Hot Dog! So, I'm going to do my best to get in just ahead of him!

Saturday, August 30

Monday, August 4

Ryan Hall

As a part of its run-up to the Beijing Olympics, NBC has produced several video profiles of prominent athletes. Ryan Hall is America's great hope for the marathon--and also one of our most dynamic Gospel witnesses.

Friday, July 4

Firecracker 5K

I am pretty sure that "race" is not the right word to describe what it was that I did early this Independence Day morning. Indeed, even "running" might be a stretch. Despite that fact, the Firecracker 5K was a lot of fun--as always. The cooler-than-normal temperatures, the overcast skies, and the throngs of friends and neighbors, made the annual fun run in Brentwood's Maryland Farms a delightful way to spend the morning.

I have not been able to run much during the past couple of months due to my busy schedule, constant travel, and native indolence, so this was a great "appetite stimulator" for me. My friend John Scherrer and I both resolved to train more over the course of the rest of the summer. As he said after we crossed the finish line, caught our breath, and quenched our thirst, "I need to get in shape so I can die healthy." Amen!

Thursday, June 5

Jump Start in London

According to my nifty little pedometer, I logged 62 miles of walking (touring, really) and 8 miles of running (early morning slow runs) during the eight days of my London trip. That should provide a good base for my summer running season. This next week in Dallas, I will begin training in earnest.

Thursday, May 22

On Not Running

OK. It is officially driving me crazy. The weather is perfect, but the schedule is not. That's always the way things go is this time of year.

I always take a brief hiatus from running after the spring marathon. It enables me to squeeze in most, if not all, of my end-of-academic-year responsibilities. It enables me to fully recover. It enables me to remember why I love--no, crave--running so much.

This year, I will miss the RC-Moon Pie race in Bell Buckle for the first time in four years. But, after that I should be back into the swing of things, ready for the Firecracker 5K on July 4. Then, it will be a push for whatever fall marathon I choose--and then on to the St. Jude Marathon in December.

So, as soon as I get back from my quick overseas trip this next week, I'll start training again. I'm raring to go!

Monday, April 28

Marathon Madness

Joel Miller, a friend in the publishing industry here in Nashville, has written a great (and funny) article for the American Spectator on his participation in the Country Music Marathon.

Saturday, April 26

Mission Accomplished

Wow. Somehow I soldiered through and finished the Country Music Half Marathon. I started very cautiously through the first two miles or so with 11 minute miles. Since I was feeling so good at that point, I cranked it up to about 8 and a half minute miles for the next seven or eight miles. That was probably a big mistake. I pretty much fell apart after the 9-mile marker. From there to finish, it was just a trudge home. It wasn't pretty, but I did it. My final time was 1:59.21. I'm sore. I'm tired. But, I'm more than satisfied; I'm thrilled.

And the King's Meadow Endurance Team experience was spectacular. With more than a dozen runners, we had a great time at a great event raising support for a great cause. Thank you to everyone who stood with us in prayer, cheering along the course, and with financial support. What a gift of God's grace!

Friday, April 25

CMM: Tomorrow Morning

I'm going for it. Surely the old lungs, gimpy ankles, and wobbly legs can hold out for 13.1 miles. Should be fun. After all, I'll be running through beautiful Nashville with about 30,000 of my closest friends through the traditional marathon thundershowers!

Wednesday, April 23

CMM: 3

Things are not looking good. My Bronchitis has taken a bit of a turn for the worse. But, I've still not given up all hope of running. I've got a couple of days to decide!

Monday, April 21

CMM: 5

With just five days to go, the head cold and lung congestion I experienced over the weekend is starting to clear up. Perhaps one more night of NyQuill will do the trick. I sure hope so. I've come way too far just to let a late-training cold knock me out of this year's marathon.

Saturday, April 19

Boston

The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual city marathon in the world, appearing for the first time in 1897. That year, only 18 runners entered the race. The number of participants has increased steadily since then. On Monday, the traditional Patriots’ Day running of the race, about 25,000 people will run, cheered on by about 500,000 spectators.

In terms of on-site media coverage, the Boston Marathon ranks behind only the Super Bowl as the largest single day sporting event in the world. More than 1,100 media members, representing more than 250 outlets, receive credentials annually.

Thus, the Boston Marathon ranks as one of the most prestigious running events in the world. This honourable position is attained thanks to the long and venerable history of the race, the hilly and challenging course, and the fact that runners have to qualify to register as an official participant.

The qualifying standard is high enough to make just qualifying for Boston--AKA to BQ--quite an achievement in itself. The time limit for my age group is a quick 3 hours and 35 minutes. That's an average of about 8 minutes per mile for all 26.2 miles! Whew!

I'll be following the race live on the WBZ TV website.

Yogi's Wisdom

When I simply don't have any physical reserves left in a marathon, I just remind myself of Yogi Berra's sport's wisdom, "It's eighty percent half mental."

Wednesday, April 16

11 Days: CMM

My training has been anything but ideal. But, I'm going for it anyway. In just eleven days I'll be running in the Country Music Half Marathon with 30,000 other runners. I've got two very simple goals:

1. Finish. I don't care how slow, how painful, or how pitiful. I just want to finish.

2. I want to raise some significant funding for our New College Franklin project.

So, as I hit the pavement in this last push to train, would you be willing to sponsor me? If so, just click through to our King's Meadow Endurance Team donation page. Keep me running! Keep me training! Keep me smiling!

Out the Door

"After running regularly for about 25 years, I have only one tip: Force yourself to step out the door. Once you're outside, you're golden." Jeannie McGrew

Saturday, April 5

Last Ditch Effort

It's been slow going--recovering from a couple of shoulder surgeries, months of physical therapy, and a layoff from serious running for most of the last ten months. Most recently I've battled some upper respiratory troubles. But, I am now battling through it in a last ditch effort to train for the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon the last Saturday of this month.

My goal is two-fold: first, I want to finish without regard to time whatsoever; second, I want to raise some significant funding for our New College Franklin project.

Would you be willing to sponsor me? If so, just click through to our King's Meadow Endurance Team donation page. Keep me running! Keep me training! Keep me smiling!

Tuesday, April 1

Competition

"The whole idea is not to beat other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit." George Sheehan

Saturday, March 29

Will Power

"The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." Juma Ikangaa

Wednesday, March 26

Dos and Don'ts

"Above all, train hard, eat right, and avoid television and people with bad attitudes." Scott Tinley

Tuesday, March 25

If It's Worth Doing, It's Worth Doing. Period.

"Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well, and nothing can be well done without attention." Earl of Chesterfield

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." G.K. Chesterton

Monday, March 24

Slow and Steady

"I love when they check my pulse at the doctor's office. Every time they say, 'Oh man, good pulse. You must be a runner.'" Miles O'Brien

Saturday, March 22

All Things Possible

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

Friday, March 21

Forgetting What Lies Behind

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." Frank Shorter

Thursday, March 20

Going the Distance

"I've learned over the years that the most running satisfaction comes from completing the distance and enjoying the fellowship of other runners--not from faster times." Jeff Galloway

Congratulations Nolan!

Wednesday, March 19

King's Meadow Endurance Team

It's been slow going--recovering from a couple of shoulder surgeries, months of physical therapy, and a layoff from serious running for most of the last ten months. But, I am now training for the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon at the end of April.

My goal is two-fold: first, I want to finish without regard to time whatsoever; second, I want to raise some significant funding for our New College Franklin project.

Would you be willing to sponsor me? If so, just click through to our King's Meadow Endurance Team donation page. Keep me running! Keep me training! Keep me smiling!

The Big Question

"Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'" Peter Maher

Tuesday, March 18

All the Difference in the World

"If you want to win something, run a hundred meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon." Emil Zatopek

Saturday, March 15

Six Weeks of Training to Go

The greatest pleasure in life, is doing the things people say we cannot do." Walter Bagehot

"Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." William Faulkner

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, February 25

Ultra-Something

A rare article was posted at the ESPN webzine about ultra-running. Alas, it follows the now-all-too-predictable-pattern of asking if ultra-athletes like Scott Jurek or Dean Karnazes are "ultra-tough" or just "ultra-crazy?" I guess there is solace in the fact that's what desk-jockey sports writers used to say about X-Games competitors too. Now, snowboard high-jenks and motocross shenanigans practically pay the cable networks bills.

Friday, February 8

Milestone or Millstone

What used to be my short runs have now become my long runs. A shoulder surgery, three months of rehab, and then just this week, a second trip to the hospital for another shoulder and neck procedure, I've not exactly been tearing up the roads. I feel like I've been dragging a millstone around my neck since the problems really started to surface last August.

But, I have yet to throw in the towel altogether. In fact today, I went over 1000 Miles recorded on my NikePlus. I've not always faithfully used the nifty device--sometimes I forgot it, sometimes it didn't work right, I never used it for races (including three marathons and a host of halves and 5Ks), and for about four months I went without when my transmitter went on the fritz.

Still, hitting this milestone is a real motivator. I wanna see if I double it this year. Of course, I'll have to get a lot better to do that. But then, that's the plan. More milestones, less millstones.

Tuesday, January 1

2008 Training Plan

My plans for 2008 are much more modest than they were for 2007. Last year, I came within two minutes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon when I ran a 3:37 at Nashville's Country Music Marathon. I started having various injuries and ailments shortly afterward that eventually short-circuited my whole running calendar. Then came surgery, slow recovery, and at long last, a bit of sanity.

This year I'm racheting back the number of races, the distances, and the speed in my running--just as I am cutting out virtually all of my travel, outside speaking engagements, and ancillary local commitments. Instead, I am going to focus on fun, on fundraising, and on mentoring a handful of new runners on our King's Meadow Endurance Team. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

I'm still going to do the Team Nashville 10 Miler, the Tom King Half, and then finish up the spring at the Country Music Half Marathon. The CMM is just such a great event and a wonderful way to connect our community. After that, I'll evaluate what to do about the RC-Moon Pie 10, the Uttermost, and the St. Jude Marathon. For now, I am just going to slowly ramp up to the CMM.

Once again, I'll be using a modified Jeff Galloway approach to training adapted to my busy schedule. There is a great online tool at the Runner's World website that charts daily workouts from now right up to the time of marathon that I'll be using to guide myself and my running buddies as we make our way toward a healthier and happier 2008.