Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Runs

In the next few days Brett and I (Bryan) will be united once again in Memphis for the Holidays. My hope is that we'll find enough time between all the family events to get some good runs knocked out. I'm sure he's been slacking off on his pace and distance so it will be a good chance for me to stick it to him!!!

I love running during the holidays. The streets and trails are always a little more bare. It is also nice to burn off some of the extra holiday calories. So this holiday season, re-unite with some old training buddies and log some miles.

Merry Chirstmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Down Into the Crevasse

The last few months I have been in sort of a running slump. I don't know what exactly caused this slump, but there has definitely been a lack of interest there. It could be because my main running partner, best man and big brother abandoned me in Memphis? Just but seriously. Whatever the reason I've found it hard to climb out of this hole.

Finally I began to enjoy running again after I stopped trying so hard. I took a few weeks off to reboot and then started back slow. I also made it a priority to run by myself more. I think I had just gotten spoiled from always having someone to train with or enjoyed the camaraderie of my training partners so much, that I fell out of love with the actual running. Slowly I've begun to fall for it again. I had to go back to the basics...down into the crevasse. (There was an episode of 30 Rock where Alec Baldwin tells a story of falling into a crevasse in a mountain and the only way he could escape was by going deeper into the crevasse.)

So that's what I did. Sunk deeper and went back to square one: Love. You gotta have the love to do what we do. -The End-

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Remember who you are...

My Christmas present this year from the wife was dinner and tickets to the musical Lion King. It's been a long time since I had seen the Disney movie but the lines and songs (those that were not changed) were all coming back to my mind. But I always forget about the one scene in the Lion King that gets me - no tears are involved but it's pretty close.

There's the scene where Rafiki (sp?) leads Simba out into the wilderness with the promise that he will show him his father. When he tells him to look deep into the water Simba's reflection turns into the face of his father. Then he hears his father's voice say, "You have forgotten me." When Simba protests that he has not, Mufasa answers back, "You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me."

This scene always gets me for two reasons. Number one, it makes me think of the commitments I have made through my Christian faith and how I see God as my father. So in turn it makes me think of the times I have failed to be who I am born to be, or have been less than that... and when that happens I have "forgotten the face of my father" (line borrowed from The Dark Tower series by Stephen King). But it also then of course makes me think of my biological father and my hopes that I have remembered his face in my life.

When I started having trouble in college with my running, pretty much right off the bat with a major injury, one of my biggest struggles was feeling like I was somehow letting down my father. And as my college career closed I had not completed any of my primary goals in relationship to running. It was actually my younger brother Bryan who helped to give me perspective on my college running and thanks to him I was able to realize that during this time, at least in that way, I had not forgotten the face of my father.

Thanks Bryan, and like Simba maybe we should stop to check and make sure we remember who we really are, and who we are not!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Post Turkey Run

With all the turkey and food that we all eat with the Thanksgiving holiday, it seems that the post meal run is even more essential than ever! This morning offered a victory to the post turkey runs and with an hour of running I felt pretty good about it. I was in a foreign town, had to deal with county dogs that felt it necessary to let me know that they did not know me, a light rain, and damn near perfect weather! It was beautiful out there and it was the sort of run that makes you wonder how you ever miss a run - I mean ever! So thank goodness for the dark meet on the bird, thank goodness for the mashed tators, thank goodness for the super tasty desserts, and thank goodness for the run that we are driven to do no matter what because the fear of what the wonderful food might do to us if we do not do it! Thank goodness for the long slow run that probably doesn't even come close to burning the calories you ate, but makes you feel like you came close even though you were no wear near it. :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Today Show and Running

The early morning run with the guys in Memphis, at least for a short time while Sarah was working early, found me at my brother's house afterwards for coffee, a shower, and the Today Show. So now with the morning BCM run Matt, Meredith, Al, and Natalie are back in front of me! Yay!

Today this story was on - click here - and it's about the new TSA searches and "patdowns" that they are doing before you can get on a plane. Apparently people are upset and feel... "dirty" afterwards. Well, I had a brief experience with this myself on my last trip back to Memphis - wasn't as complete as some of the things I've seen on TV this morning, but it was more invasive than normal. All I could think was, "man, and I didn't even have to buy this guy a coffee first."

As I sit here after my run and see our nation getting ready to travel like crazy for Turkey Day, I cannot help but find this all a little silly. I mean, do you really think the guy in line really wants to feel you up? Well, we are runners so maybe when they see us coming they do get excited! But seriously, those folks are just doing their job as delegated to them by their superiors and believe me, if we could fly safely without being "felt up" I'm quite sure we would! I'm quite sure if they could just wave and say "get on the plane" with no x-rays and no touching that they would do it!

So calm down America... and if you have too much of a problem with a free "touching" then drive instead of flying!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Working... sort of... but it's still working....

So the idea has been to create a group run to make sure that I run! I know, lame to say the least, but for some reason I have not been able to rouse myself early in the morning to go run by myself. But when the run is at your place you have to go just in case some random person shows up - and suddenly I'm able to get up! Ha - I tricked myself into pulling myself out of the bed. The picture to the right is a seven week marker for my Beard challenge and as you can see I'm mimicking Old Dominion University's mascot. Today this picture is a celebration of my inner running child! Yay!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Beard - Does it Change the Running?

So for those of you who don't know, I'm currently locked in a fearsome beard growing competition with the Methodist guy who has a building right next door to my Baptist building. We are growing them in a charity based challenge and whoever raises the least amount of money will have some grievous change to their beard that has been grown (we are doing this till April 1!).

In seminary it was brought to my attention that having a beard seems to change my personality. Hmmm, I thought what you are thinking right now probably - "that's a bunch of poppycock if I've ever heard it." But every now and again I would hear someone say something that was outlandish. People would laugh and look at me with that look of, "Gosh man, I can't believe you said that." Pretty soon I realized that the beard had the power to say things through me in spite of my knowledge. It was as though I could hear the words but had not the control to form them.... and then I realized that one of the people laughing was actually my beard as well!

So it's been some time and with that time I have learned somewhat to control the Beard's personality, but now we are talking about giving the Beard some real power - length beyond anything I've done before! And I'm asking now if it will change my running at all? I've run with a beard through the summer and not noticed much. The only time I've ever noticed is when I shave my beard in the winter - a cold freezing face is what you get. My hope is that the growing beard will inspire the running through supernatural goading - one more voice in the ring to spur me onward. We will see - either way I'll look more funny running down the road with a giant beard.


Monday, November 1, 2010

The New Idea

So as described in previous blogs I have had some trouble finding the rhythm I need to establish my running here in Norfolk. I have had some success and some failure but my desire to go by the local running store in order to find my new running buddies gives me great displeasure for some reason (it is wrong to not just go but I cannot make myself - not yet).

And so it is that my mind has found a way to combine my job, somewhat, with my need for more active and habitual running. I will begin a group fun from my campus ministry building that will eventually meet every single morning at 7 am. This will start off for the students and will eventually incorporate anyone who desires to join from within the community. Our building will get more exposure, students will see us and be aware of our presence, the community will see that we care about them, but most importantly I will be running more! Beeeeyaaaahhhhh!

The plan has been set and a quick start to this plan will be starting on Wed morning. If everything works well I will have reached optimal physical performance level. Oh did I mention that I'm now lifting with my students too - effective today! Let's see what else we can cook up in our efforts to rejuvenate these college kids spiritually and physically!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Unintentionally Badd

This has been a strange week for my running. On multiple occasions I unintentionally ran either further or harder than I had expected.

On Tuesday I had decided to run before work at the Germantown store. At first everything went according to plan. I ran down Germantown Parkway, into Shelby Farms and completed the Tour D' Wolf trail loop. Upon my return I encountered Eric Butze about to start his run from the Wolf River Trail head close to our store. Of course I agreed to run with him for a while. Six miles later I realized that I had completed my long run for the week. It was about 14 miles total. It was a nice run. The weather was good and Eric has one of those global positioning systems so the pace is always honest.

Thursday I was a little sore from my previous runs this week and wasn't feeling too good. I decided in the morning to take it easy at Breakaway's midtown group run that night. Once again Butze would change my plans. As the time approached for the group to begin, none of the usual horses showed up to pace Eric on his tempo run and was looking quite sullen. In the end I committed to running with Butze again as long as we started off easy. We ended up negative splitting the loop with our first hard mile at 6: 15 and our last around 5:40. All in all a pretty good effort.

I would say that my next run will definitely be easy, but who knows these days. Fit Happens!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Running and Rowing

What a night - who could have expected that we would have so much fun with a run and a row? Sarah has picked up rowing on the rivers around the Norfolkarea and is now officially in a rowing club. She's still learning and tonight was her first time "skulling" in this particular kind of boat by herself. Intense! But "she's a natural" as Debbie, her coach in the "launch" says to me as wedrift down the river so she can coach Sarah and two other new rowers. Pretty awesome.

So Sarah and I had this idea that I would run with her while she biked to go row tonight - we were going to do it a few days ago but the idea fell through. I would get there and read or something, maybe take a few
pics, and she would row, then we'd go home the same way we got there. Well I had no idea I would end up getting the amazing privilege of riding in the "launch" or the
boat that the coach rides in while the rowers do their thing.

So I ran and Sarah biked three point four miles to her rowing spot and then I got to go with them! Sweet. He
e's a pic from inside the boat so you can see how close we were most of the time, although we had to leave and go coach the other rowers too - sad. I got to thinking on the run home how cool it would be if there as some way that a coach could get runners early enough and drive in front of them (maybe with a golf cart of something - someone else driving so they could watch), and they could shout directions the way Coach
Debbie was tonight! Man, that would be something. "Relax! Swing your arms up higher and extend your stride a little bit. Bend your knees more." But instead we are so engrossed by our form when we finally get to a coach who can correct us that it might be damn near impossible to change.

Ok, one more picture, and then a run home!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Old Dominion Run

As I previously admitted the runs have not been happening as often as I would have liked for the past two weeks, maybe three... This morning I woke up and then went back to sleep knowing that I could easily work a run into my schedule later in the day. Well this time I made true to my own promise and got my run in - thankfully. A nice little 5 mile run through the neighborhoods behind the university - most of which are quite nice. I'm trying something new in my post - the map of my run. Not only will this help to show what I have done, if anyone is that morbidly interested in running that they look at it, but it will help me catalogue my runs so I can go back to ones I like. Or if it's a great one, you can do it if you ever get in that area!

Click on this to see the run! (Oh, and you will notice that this run starts at the Baptist Student Union - which is now called the Baptist Collegiate Ministry - but how cool is it that we are on the map!)

I hope to keep this tool for my runs that I post on here and suggest that Bryan should do it too! If you would like to post your own favorite runs go for it. Especially if you would like to map it out for us so we can all see. I think my next post will include one or two of my favorite Memphis runs!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Memphis Wedding Run

The Chad is finally married, and he's so thoughtful that because of his wedding Bryan and I got another run in together. Very nice.

Have not run much in between Chad events hence the lack of blogs about it, but we had a nice little jaunt through the Memphis streets. It was nice to run some familiar streets - the new Norfolk streets seem so foreign when I jump out to hit the pavement. Nice to be back on the Memphis roadways.

Now my biggest enemy is the rain! Norfolk - lots of rain especially these past two days. Man! Today there was even a tornado warning mixed in with the extra water. I will have to find some good solutions for when it's raining so hard... But I have plenty to do so that is nice.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Bachelor Run

So as Bryan said, we did go to Birmingham to celebrate our friend, the ole Chad Johnson! As planned we got up to go run for a nice little Saturday morning jaunt, albeit about twenty minutes later than we planned, but that's not bad at all!

So we roused from our slumber, threw on our shoes, and left the hotel into the streets of Birmingham like it was the days of old. We decided to leave our beloved Chad sleeping since we know he has not been running a whole lot lately - I thought we should wake him to make sure but the crew did not feel the same way.

Two of the guys decided that four miles was good enough and peeled off as the other three of us continued on through the long forgotten hills from our Samford days... hills that had not forgotten us! Needless to say the run was fun, enjoyable, difficult, a reminder of earlier times, and a great way to spend time with buddies (McBride and Bryan). As it turns out it is also a good way to make sure that all your muscles and ligaments, such as the hip flexor, get worn down way too early in the run - basically by mile 7 those muscles stopped firing and my quads, etc absorbed the rest.

The end of the run was a little rough but a wonderful addition to our Birmingham adventure with The Chad!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Batchelor Party Runs???

This weekend Brett and I will meet again in The Magic City, Brimingham AL. The purpose of our rendezvous is not running, but to celebrate the enslavement (marriage) of our good friend Chad Johnson. That's right...Batchelor Party!!!

As the best man in the wedding it is my responsibility to plan the festivities for this weekend. I chose that destination because several members of the wedding party ran and attended school at Samford University in Birmingham. The itinerary also includes several morning runs for those that can shrug off any lingering affects of the late nights. So the question is...who can shrug it off?

I used to have no problem hitting the town and then popping out of bed the next morning and hitting the roads. These days though it seems hit and miss. Hopefully having people to run with and our old stomping ground right outside will win the day. We'll have to let you know how it turns out and possibly post some pictures. We probably won't post pictures of any streaking that might occur though. Sorry.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hookey Run

So today I played a little hookey from work and went for a run in the late morning. It was fabulous. I was in a terrible mood this morning (ask my wife she'll back me up) and I needed to get out and sweat a little. I had to be at our Wolf River store in Germantown to open up, but then I was not scheduled on the sale floor until 1pm. I figured it wouldn't be good for business if I cussed out a customer or threw shoes at someone so I decided to run over to Shelby Farms. It is about a mile to the park from our store and then I did the entire Tour De Wolf Trail which is about 6 miles. In total about a 8 mile run. It was a little hot, but bearable. Much better than the 110 degree days we have had this summer. I didn't feel like I caused brain damage or anything!!!

It had been a while since I ran the Tour and it was nice to visit an old friend. I didn't feel that great during the run, but I was taking it easy anyway. It really turned my day around. I am much calmer now and hopefully won't have any more tantrums (those that really know me have probably seen one.)

I included this picture from Shelby Farms if you also need a little "serenity now!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Running and Wine and Polo!

Well like Bryan my running is "ups and downs, strikes and gutters" - but I had one hell of a strike tonight. It's nothing to be excited about when I am in better shape, but I celebrate everything these days when it comes to running.

After taking the weekend off for some wine and polo (I'll explain in a minute) Sarah and I took off tonight for a run (her on the bike). I finally felt pretty decent for the whole run and only my first mile was over 7 minutes (which is strange these days). I went 8.63 at an average of 6.47 (compliments of Garmin-wonderful days of technology) and my one splurge was a 6.21. I tried to ease off a bit after the 6.21 to make sure I would make it back and I guess my body felt 6.40s were easy after that. How crazy! I am quite sure that will feel more tired tomorrow, but today my body gave me a nice little surprise.

The wine and polo - here's the pic I'm going to show you and the rest is on facebook if you want to investigate further. Sarah found a wonderful event that is a wine festival that also has a polo
tournament going on too! So we drove about four hours up the way and tasted some fine Virginia wines and watched polo for the first time! And no I did not go pouncing off into the woods for a wonderful run while I was up yonder. Instead I gave my wife a nice little trip with no running and we had a grand time just pretending to have some sort of sense as to whether or not we liked the wine or not. There was one that Sarah found near the end that tastes exactly like chocolate! And I found one that is a honey mead wine, which the lady said is the oldest alcohol in the world and is the same stuff Beowulf and the guys would have been drinking as they plundered all around. Probably hogwash, but it got me to buy a bottle!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Strikes and Gutters

It's been a strange last few weeks for my running. I've only been able to muster about 4 runs a week. So far it seems that doing that really has improved the quality of the days I do get out there. Or at least I am enjoying the runs more. I'm not keep a real strict eye on the pace, although we had a scorcer last Thursday for our tempo run. So who knows, maybe this run when I feel like it attitude will be better for me in the long run?

And that's all I have to say...about that.


Sunday, September 5, 2010


Short run tonight just over 6 miles, but the quicksand has been defeated for now. Sarah took me down to where her rowing training is going on by the river (she's learning to row and then is going to join a rowing club so she can get out on all the water around us - if she likes it I might join her in the future). Breaking the no-run fast is always harder and easier than it should be - today was too close to lunch time. Anyway, a small victory in the challenge against the schedule.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Quicksand of Work

So the runs have not been as abundant this week with my new job having really started - the college kids finally started classes. Man - I should have run there and then or at that point or this one... but it got away from me and I was exhausted when free. Sarah and I have been watching The Life of Mammals, a documentary that this British dude has done on all mammals - fascinating and we are learning a lot! One of the animals I had never heard of is so cool - the pangolin!

Pangolin - save you the time of having to google them - just click the word!

See what I mean - fascinating. I find myself wishing that my ancestors had been running for thousands of years and that my body had become an efficient machine designed to run the fastest of all other mammals. Unfortunately my species has been trying to ensure that we never have to run for any reasons at all until this very point in time when we have to force ourselves to run for no functionary reason at all! (meaning that if we didn't run our days would be as anyone else's days - we wouldn't be eaten, or beat up, or anything) Sure we'd get fatter and unhealthier... but come on!

The pangolin is an armored beast that his ancestors have worked with much stubbornness to ensure. Is it possible to ensure the same in our young generations?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blast from the Past

Here's a picture from college that Alan Parish posted on facebook a while back. It's from a race at Auburn and I'm 99% sure that that's Aaron Bishop next to me there. Samford running - gave me a relationship with Christ, an education, and friends I still have today. Most of my troubles running as an individual are due to the great times I had running with the guys I knew at Samford. Just seems wrong to run by myself - where's Aaron, Alan, Andy, Jeffrey, Dwight, Eric, Micah, Andrew, Chad, Bryan, Mark, Clay, and the myriad of other guys that I ran with on the streets of Birmingham and beyond? Is it too much to ask for them all to move to Norfolk and to run with me here? We can run unattached in college races and have a blast. Together we would run half and full marathons and take the running world by storm... well, the offer is on the table. I guess for starters I just wish I was talking to more of the guys on a regular basis.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Don't you wish you had that kind of energy?"

Oh the comments we hear when we run. Runners could probably get together and create a pretty hilarious book with the silly and obnoxious things that people say as we run their sidewalks, streets, and everything in between.

Last night as I'm running (Sarah had joined me on the bike = happiness!) I decided to take a loop around Old Dominion's campus. I had not been feeling so great but something about the combination of the distance into the run combined with the feel of being around a college made me feel a little better. So my run turned into a slow tempo and my pace dropped from my 'just running to run' pace to 'maybe I'll go a little faster' pace. Felt good - challenging and yet easy, a good pace. But as I ran past a group of college folks getting done with some sort of late day orientation I hear one of them say to her friend, "Don't you wish you had that kind of energy."

Of course the good natured part of me that wanted to stop and educate the sort of energy I was expending does not come easily (but is free if you're willing to work up to it), but the runner in me was on a good pace, so I kept going (and the normal person inside of me knows that socially such a conversation probably wouldn't go well). But what a statement. I found myself thinking the same thing - "I wish I had the kind of energy she thinks I have!" Ha, what a misconception the world has been living in all this time.

I've heard comments like these since I started running. People who watch the running or even other runners will come up and say things like, "You make it look easy," or, "Man, if only I could run like that," or any other slew of comments that insinuate one common theme: They think it's easy for me to run. I was always thankful that my competition could not read minds because if they could they would have most assuredly have beaten me almost every race! Through all of the pain that running has brought me through races, the overwhelmingly most positive thought I can remember whilst actually in the midst of racing hard is, "Well, you're over halfway through the race now. Quitting would be a shame." That's it! That's the best my mind could come up with the spur me on to the finish line.

And maybe most of the time it was enough... I'm sure there were other times when someone passing me or a comment from a coach or father would motivate me... but from within that's pretty much the best I had in me to offer myself in the face of pain. In short, I thought it a comical comment! And my answer is "yes!" I do wish I had that kind of energy!

Anyone have any of their favorite comments from runs past?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Seasons They Are a Changing

Recently I feel like the seasons are changing. Not the weather, but my seasons of running and of life.

Ever since I've been an adult (whatever that means) I have always been described by my friends and family as stoic. Now while some people might take offense to a label like that, I found comfort. Nothing ever really seemed to discourage me or make me feel stressed. I could handle a healthy college course load while competing for a division one running program. It was never easy, but I just did what I had to do. That applied most of all to my training. Weather, mood, sleep, nutrition or schedule never prevented me from running. Now all of a sudden any excuse is a good one.

I always tell customers in the store that the main thing I love about running is that it serves whatever purpose you want it to in your life. Some run to lose weight, others train to deal with stress and many view it as a sport and compete against themselves or the clock. I also often admit to customers that when I first started running I didn't like it. I liked being good at it, but not really the act. Then in college I really fell in love with running. After graduation I continued the runner's lifestyle and never had a problem sustaining it until recently. Certain days I'll still pop out of bed and lace up the shoes without any reservations. Mornings like today however it seems impossible for me to even imagine getting out of bed. What is this sudden disinterest with running? I think the reality is that the role of running in our lives is constantly morphing into something new and different.

Now as I can feel my season of running changing the question is what will take it's place. Will I become a weekend warrior and give up the hopes of clocking a good time? Perhaps I will benefit from the train less, run faster philosophy? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I'll find out soon enough I suppose.


Monday, August 23, 2010

A Running Partner that Works?

Sheesh, by myself again tonight. It's a funny run when you have to convince yourself to get out the door, "eh, just go for a nice three mile run" and then it turns into a wonderful 50 minute long run. Sweet.

Tonights thoughts wandered into the realm of racial reconciliation for some reason. Maybe it's because as I ran, mostly naked of course, through a few areas where my black brothers and sisters gave me some strange glances. One little kid said in a some what unconfident and muffled voice (so I'm pretty sure he said) "ya white skittle" was all I could really make out. I'm sure there was more I missed but that's not really the point, nor is my confusion on what his comment might have meant if I did hear it. What I had was a thought that took me back to Memphis and my wholehearted desire to see that town living and (in the very least) worshiping God together in spite of race.

So suddenly I began to wonder about the make up of Norfolk, VA. What are the racial relations like around this part of Virginia? I was back to Memphis and wondering how humanity has bought into hook line and sinker the idea that the color of our skin should act as some sort of separation to who we are as a person. Surely this thought process was also sparked by a book I just read: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter! A strange and interesting way to learn about one of the most important historical figures of our nation's history. But for me it worked.

And as the author takes you through the factual history of Lincoln's life, of course mixing in some wonderful tales, you have Abe walking through his life from childhood all the way to the theater where Booth ends his life. I'm not sure if this is historical but the story has Abe choosing to spend some of his time while he's young sitting by the side of the road to watch travelers as they go on their way. On once such occasion he sees some slaves being taken by and is unable to look the little girl in the back in the eyes due to his own shame at the situation. Throughout his life this moment came back to him in dreams - more nightmares - and in these dreams she would lock eyes with him.

The book and the run in combination has brought to the surface the evidence of our current lives once again. Abe and many others have spent and given their lives to the cause of a world where it's possible for racial reconciliation, but we seem to remain paralyzed by the detrimental and terrible events of humanity's history. So many lives have been harmed and destroyed that now as brothers and sisters we stand like lovers who have been hurt or betrayed with our hands out hoping that our counterpart will trust us. But how is such a trust possible?

Ok, my runs are getting complicated and mostly they are only bringing up questions, not too many answers yet. I suppose that for tonights thoughts the best answer I can offer is much the same as how to become a better runner. The more I run or spend time trying to become a better runner through sleep, diet, and smart training the better I get (barring some injury). So maybe with uniting our brothers and sisters together no matter what color they happen to be born the same sort of pursuits must be taken - maybe even my diet will have to change!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cogans After the Run

So I'm sitting with my buddy and his brother after the run last night, eating some pasta and enjoying the very extensive selection of brew that this pizza place boasts. And you know, if you open your eyes, a lot of stuff happens at a place like that just in the brief time that you're there. What a strange world we live in isn't it?

First off, the joy of sharing my meal with other human beings was good. Sarah's been working a lot and a good portion of my meals and time has been spent alone. As I learned from one of my professors along the way, fellowship over a meal is well spent. But the rest of the evening was spent doing the whole people watching thing.

It's hard not to wonder about the stories around you - about the guy that is so excited about getting to the bar that he's got a brown bag with him on the way in... and then has to go hide it somewhere cause he's not allowed to keep it inside - about the super fit 35-40 year old looking woman who comes in and sits down at the bar and then puts up with being semi harassed for her time there next to a... well, I couldn't really decide how to classify this clown - and then you had the waitresses... I am just one of those folks that likes to think the story behind these particular folk is interesting so I sort of make things up. And of course some of them like the job, some of them hate it, but they all put up with the flirting, the over-the-line comments that make them wish they could file suit, the long table that doesn't tip at all, and I'm sure a lot in between and some far out of bounds I've not even thought of at all.

I like to think that they've got some guy out there that's going to love them to death mostly - of course that's not a necessary thing for their life to be complete but it's a hard item to drop. Maybe they're saving their money to travel to Europe or something like that... The point though is that it also makes me think about the Church a lot. You see the Church is one of those things that has become so misunderstood that most folks just write it off completely - and with good reason. Humans have done almost everything in their selfish endeavors to ensure that the rest of humanity wants nothing to do with the Church at all. But the problem is that God is real and organized religion hold necessary pieces to the puzzle of finding a life that holds discipline, fellowship, worship, community, shared struggles, prayer, and more.

So most of my solo runs for now end up along these lines and these thoughts... and I'm focused on trying to find ways to connect the dots - the dots between college students and God - the dots between real honest hurting people and the God they need so much - the dots of the resurrection and humanity in a way that we won't turn around and trash it all over everyone's lives.

People always ask me why I run. "What, are you running away from something," people will ask with a laugh pretending in their minds that some crazed man is after me with a pistola or something. I guess I'm running towards something and always have been. For now I can feel that part of my journey as a runner will take me into the depths and bowls of the human psyche in the hopes that there I will hear God's voice speaking back to me.... mostly because I'm too damn stubborn to depend on God in my normal life. But when I'm running... when I'm hurting and breathing in the humid air... when I'm wondering why I went so far away from home... it's easy to seek God's face.

So pray for me. Pray for the runs to get longer and harder and farther and more desperate....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Long run, not so long, but long...

So today I ran for almost nine miles but my biker buddy was already at work due to sleeping in through the morning time. But tonights run was amazing. I had the sun setting, the water all around.... it was awesome.

Running by myself isn't so bad. It's just getting out the door. But it was great tonight. I pictured myself as I often been driving down the road stuck in my car and seeing a runner pass me by thinking, "I wish I was that runner instead of myself..." well, today I was that runner.

Anyway, I got my almost nine mile run in and just had fun with it. And I did have fun. Thanks, run.

Brett and Bryan

Friday, August 20, 2010

Don't Take Your Water For Granted!!!

"Moisture is the essence of wetness...wetness is the essence of beauty." -- Derek Zoolander as Merman.

Obviously as runners hydration is more important to us than the average joe. Those of us that live in Memphis often take for granted the quality of the water we guzzle each day. I know that normally people get used the taste of the water where they live, but we really do have it good here.

In college I remember I hated traveling to different cities for meets and drinking their water because, to quote another runner "you never know what you're going to get." I would always have to buy gallons of bottled water and lug it around. In some cases I felt that strange water was the cause of undesirable bowel movements at undesirable times. There we go with pooh stories again. Anyway, recently I was on vacation at Amelia Island, Florida and it was much of the same. I got home and immediately went to the tap and filled up a huge glass of Memphis H2O and sucked it down. Then another. Then I took a refreshing shower in the stuff. It felt like the first real shower I had taken in a week. Brett took a trip to Pakistan many years back and told me about the extremely poor quality of water there and how most of the people live with bad indigestion their entire lives on top of other diseases they might acquire.

These are all pretty obvious observations I'm making, but I guess my point is be grateful for the lovely water we have in Shelby county. Drink as much as you want, especially in the current heat, and just be glad you didn't recently move to Norfolk, VA where the water tastes like sulfur and is known to poison new residents that haven't built up resistance to the Old Dominion's diseases. I have nothing to back that up...just trying to make Brett a little home sick.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Biking/Running Partner

My thoughts go back to a tough looking man with a stop watch standing on the inside of the track. We were doing a workout but he was there to coach his son, and he was not happy. As a habit he and his son would talk about the killer workouts he was going to do each day and get pumped up about them. Well this particular day this very good runner, one of the best I've run with, was having a good deal of trouble hitting the splits (he was also attempting to do by himself). So his dad shouted the most true (while also the most degrading) comment I may have heard when it comes to running (and especially running hard).

"It's easy in the van. Ohhhhh, it's easy," he shouts because his son is on the other side of the track. "You're just gonna give up! Ohhhh, it's easy in the van! It's easy in the van!"

Running is always easier when we talk about it - always! There may have been one or two times in my life where some sort of runners' high made it easier than talking about it, but the other 6,000 runs or so that I've done did not go that way. That doesn't mean that some of them were not enjoyable, but a lot of them have had what I like to refer to as "van days."

While I'm getting back into the habit of running it's easy for me to get on here and say, "I'm running everyday now - no excuses." But then I get home for work and even though there are many parts of me that are yearning to run, there is one subtle (sometimes loud) voice that decides maybe there are other things that need to be done. Sarah, my wife, has started getting involved though and it has helped enormously.

The other day we went for a run. She rode the bike while I ran. As the distance and speed increases I am sure this will be more beneficial for her physically, but for now it's not too bad for either of us. And what a difference it makes for me. We can talk! I can share the run! And today she got me out the door! Nothing impressive but here's the run I almost missed according to my other friend, Garmin:

6.5 miles @ 7:11 pace (1-8.06, 2-7.17, 3-7.03, 4-7.02, 5-6.31, 6-7.04 and then the change)

So for now my wife is temporarily replacing my lil' brother, but this might be a permanent thing! It's fun, except for when she tries to kill herself. Grrrr.

Brett and Bryan

Monday, August 16, 2010

Todays Run

Went for a run today. I actually ran to the local running store today to try and join a group run. As it turns out todays run was a little more introductory, so I continued on my way by myself. I may choose to run by myself for a short while longer - man, the heat just took it out of me. Judging by the way I felt I can only assume that the other local runners can do without me a few more runs.

This weekend Sarah and I traveled to Smithfield to see some historical sites - pretty cool. The city was one of the fist settlements of the "New World." We learned a lot of interesting things about the area, about VA, and about Norfolk even (it's only about 40 minutes away).

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is due to the fact that while we were there I just kept thinking about how it's a living and breathing part of history - just like we will be one day. What will we be remembered for? Most likely nothing. So what will the folks who know us now say about us?

I came home with a renewed sense of urgency in my life. Still working on what that means but one thing it means for sure is that while I can I'm going to kick start the running and be more serious about it - at least as often as it happens. Gonna be an everyday no matter what guy. It's not hard to get a run in - just run. If it's 10pm and the run isn't in yet - go run. That's my plan for now. I'm only one day in, so we will see how it goes!

Brett and Bryan

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Norfolk and Running"

Yesterday I pulled myself out into the afternoon sun and went for a run. The goal was to make it over to Old Dominion University, where I'm working now, and then back to the apartment. Not too far but my first run in Norfolk a day before had ended really badly with a full on body revolt (you do not want to know!).

It was a good run and I got to thinking a lot about why I run and why it's such a big part of my life. I mean of course you have the physical reasons for health and how you look, but there's just something about running that happens on long runs that doesn't happen anywhere else. Something, almost like you start to become aware that you're looking for something and you're suddenly closer to it then you have been in a long time. But of course that sudden awareness can quickly become replaced with blinding pain, sweat in the eyes, bathroom breaks, and more.

My new goal though is to learn to love running entirely on my own. There are groups here that I can run with and new folks with which I can become running buddies for sure... but I need to learn to love the solitude discipline of running all on my own. I've never liked it and have suffered greatly for it in my post-collegiate running. Not only do I find it harder to motivate myself to get out the door, but I truly find it near impossible to make myself race. My heart finds little point in defeating other weekend warriors when there is no team that is depending on me. It was hard in school too when the team was wanting and left little reason for pushing past one's own mental barriers.

So for now I'm running alone. For now I'm seeing if I cannot learn to love the quietness that comes from running solo and with no safety nets. There are many shortcomings from running alone - more dangerous, less motivation, no help if you need it, no conversation, no one to push you... let's see what the positive attributes might be. I have some guesses but I'm going to wait and find out.

Brett and Bryan

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A New Direction For This Blog

Recently my wife Sarah started a residency program after graduating from medical school - but this program is in Norfolk, VA. So I left my job, my buddies, my family, and more. This blog is dedicated tracking and ensuring that the friendship with my brother Bryan (my running partner) will remain intact, if not grow stronger.

Bryan and I are only separated by two and one-half years, but if we translate that into school years (me being super young for my grade) it turns into a three year gap. When I was a senior in high school he was a freshman. Not only did Bryan and I grow apart as we got older due to this close proximity in age, but we were never particularly close in the first place. There was always just too much tension - too many beatings - too many backstabbing moments of a hall hockey stick to the back of the head - just too much for us to really connect as friends.

So when Bryan chose to follow me to Samford University on a running scholarship, it was no secret that he was doing so for one solid reason. He wanted to surpass everything I had done and eradicate any records I had, etc. Basically Bryan wanted to be a better runner than me and the only way he knew he could do it for sure was to come run with me. That's good stuff.

Well, thanks to my IT band surgery from my freshman year I was granted a medical redshirt season and we were both given one more year to run together - so two instead of only one! During this time something amazing happened! Actually a few amazing things happened but the one I am so impressed with is that we grew beyond the brother bond into true friends. Bryan still viciously destroyed any personal records or accolades I was able to accrue while at Samford, but he also left as they guy that would be the best man in my wedding too.

Now for the first time in a long time we are separated by a significant distance. It's too far to run (at least if you're not crazy) and it's even too far to drive on any sort of normal basis. So we are creating this blog for a few reasons. 1. To help ourselves remain close friends. 2. As an accountability to our running. Since we cannot actually meet each other at six in the morning any more, this site will be our way to vent our frustrations on one another. 3. It's a way to catalogue our journey together and to include you! We hope that in some strange way this will be something that others will want to participate in - through your encouraging comments, thoughts, prayers.

So here we go! It's a different kind of run this time, but what the hell do we run so much for if we cannot take some lessons from it and apply it to our lives? (oh and you'll have to keep on guessing for who's writing which post, which I'm guessing will be the person who signs their name first if they sign at all)

Brett and Bryan

Monday, March 1, 2010

Running Etiquette

I found this list of helpful group etiquette techniques while looking for some local runs in a community where I'm about to go for two weeks. Helpful, fun, and definitely made by runners! Check them out. What do you think? Should we modify, change, add...? What are some that you wish were on the list that you wish some runner had known before? I wish that some of them here were known by some guys I have run with before!

Group Run Etiquette

Running is normally an individual solitary activity. There are times, however, when running with others is possible and fun. For those not used to group running, here are some tips.

  • If you are fast, plan to run slower, and if you are slow, plan to run faster. You can run on your own at your own pace anytime but the idea is to sacrifice something to run with the group. Plan on trying to make sure everyone is running with someone else.
  • The greater good of the group should take precedence over your own individual selfish desires.
  • Know the plan before the group starts: how long, how far, where. If you cut things short and/or leave early, let others know so they do not stress out wondering where you are.
  • Bring a watch and know how to read it. Especially if the group drives to a site and decides that the cars drive back at a certain time, make sure you are there at that time.
  • If you bring a dog, plan on driving your dog to and from the run, or make arrangements with others. Ask first to see if dogs are acceptable. Not everyone wants to sit with a smelly dog in a car.
  • Keep your dogs under control at all times. It is upsetting to others to constantly have to dodge and trip over loose dogs, and to watch loose dogs chase wildlife. Bring a leash and know how to use it. Not everyone wants to go home smelling like a dog.
  • If you already smell like a dog yourself, consider finding your own ride to and from the run and running behind others.
  • Please apply the same rules for friends as used for dogs. Make sure they can come, make sure they are under control, and if they smell like a dog run in the back with them.
  • If you are passing, do so when there is space and give others a wide berth. Please do the same if you are passing gas also.
  • Don't be loud and obnoxious on a group run.
  • Don't wear loud and obnoxious clothing to a group run.
  • Remember that what is said on a group run, stays on that run. Oxygen debt and/or abundance makes the brain work in strange ways.
  • Running with a group is a privilege, not a right.
  • There is always someone faster or slower than you, but they may not have showed up on that day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Wake Up Text

Why is waking up so difficult? The number one fight I face with my running is the one I face on a daily basis with conversations I have with my pillow.

Let me say this: I know that it is stupid to try and decide if it's a good day to run while lying in bed. I know that I will feel better physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually if I go for a run. I know that my future races and runs will be immensely better if I pull myself out of bed. Every time I run the decision to do so has to be made the night before. I know all of this and more, yet when the time comes to get up the same battle ensues.

This morning I woke up and hit snooze. Snuggle the wife, snooze a little, nothing wrong with that... but then a major stroke against my chances of running came in the form of a call. One of my two running partners, who will remain nameless for now, called and said he would not be showing up for the run in exchange for more sleep. Now I was in trouble big time. After thinking it over for a moment or two I texted the other runner in our three person group - it read: "Bryan called and is sleeping in like a weakling. But that sounds good to me too. Sorry mate. I'll not miss tomorrow no matter anything." It was early so excuse the grammar.

I roused myself and went to alleviate the stress on my bladder, during which time my friend Bryce texted me back, "Leaving me to run by myself..." So now the guilt of abandoning my fellow man was hanging over me, and yet I still laid back down in bed with every intention of sleeping more. I figured I owed him some inspiration that might still get him out there alone so I texted, "Test of character."

Maybe this is a good time to explain that Bryce is a lawyer, so he knows how to work my heartstrings with his well placed words. I heard the text come back and I knew I should ignore it. But I turned on my elbow and read these words, "Still time to fix yours." Transfixed I stared at my phone for about two minutes or more maybe, taking internal inventory of my reasons for staying or going. The trick had been done and my mind was now awake enough that it was able to think clearly as opposed to the muddy thoughts one has when the alarm first goes off. The lies of a sore body, extra sleep, bad weather, and any other excuses my weak flesh could come up with were no longer a match for an alert and ready mind. So I texted back that I was coming and went for my run.

Now sitting here after a morning that started right in spite of the near "sleep in," it feels great to know that the system worked. The buddy system that is! One buddy fell off the pain train and the "weight was almost more than I could bear," but the other buddy persistently refused to allow for such tomfoolery. The personal decision is there but the safety net of the buddy caught me again - thanks to all my buddies!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sleep Deprivation

So maybe the key to the whole things is lack of sleep.

The KEY - we are all looking for the secret to our running successfully, the key to it all. Is it diet, sleep, training, shoes, gear, weather, certain courses, morning vs. night, lucky socks, a beard 0r mustache, not showering or showering the morning of a race, watching the right pump up movie the night before, not getting pumped up at all, music, no music, the right music - the list goes on and on and on. If you're a runner you know what I'm talking about.

And then sometimes to our ultimate surprise when all factors are against us we turn out some time or performance that should not have been - we feel better than expected and just run well. No way around it. Sometimes everything is done perfectly and we run as anything but perfect. So what is the key?

This weekend I ran a race after 2 hours of sleep, if you can call it that. My job lends itself to being crazy with high school kids every now and again, and though I tend to try to stay away from all-nighters for my own health and for the health of my marriage, you just "have to" as they say every so often.

But the 10k, which I am not in shape to run based on training or mindset, went surprisingly well. It was no PR and certainly nothing crazy, but my body should not be running 5:45 pace for 6 miles right now and be feeling easy - especially after 2 hours of sleep... or should it? Because it did!

I think those great runners out there are laughing at me. Maybe they have realized, and I've heard a lot of stories about Pre and others that would back this up, that when it comes to race time you just run. You leave the rest behind and all that matters is pushing yourself with everything you've got for the allotted distance. You run.

Maybe there is no secret. Even the secret of training hard to race hard betrays me and some other folks I have known. Maybe the elusive unicorn in the depths of the forest wants to be found and we just have to run to find it, no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in or around. I am not sure but in spite of bad diet, the worst diet, the night before and no sleep here I have a good run... Thoughts?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Home Field Advantage

As a freshman in high school I started running cross-country. For the first time I was introduced to the many varying courses that wind through parks, parking lots, golf courses, soccer fields, and wherever else high school coaches could convince people to allow them to run races.

Our home course was everything that a cross-country runner could hope for in a race - no pavement, all winding trails outside of one or two open fields for start and finish, hardly any repetition, and small cuts as the trail winded along a river for a short while to make a more straight run... that is, if you knew them. One of my teammates had led me to believe that these little cuts were entirely fine to take, in fact, they were the home course advantage. Everyone's got them and we know and use ours. I should have known better.

It was not until our first real race with some guys where I realized that cross-country/running is not the kind of sport where people do that kind of thing - and if they do that sort of thing, that I do not want to be a part of it.

While running along the course I began taking these short little cuts, probably saving only a matter of seconds, but the guy running with me was getting annoyed. He finally said, "Hey do you mind not taking those little cuts? I don't know them." Wow!? In that one moment I realized what really mattered in running. It's not about finishing first or beating some other guy to the finish line. It's all about lining up and running the SAME course faster than the next guy. This realization helped me to see that taking short cuts, no matter how short or how long, were not for me.

I've never taken a cut in a race since then, even in moments of great temptation, because that's not who I want to be. Take it for what it is but I suppose winning a race never meant anything unless I knew I beat the guy legit on the whole course, nothing but the course, so help me God.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My to Have No Aim!

Lately I've been feeling like I serve my running as opposed to the other way around. I've just been a little burned out on constantly having a big goal and imposing deadlines on myself. I promised myself that when I got out of college I would stop doing that to myself. Back then I was so sick of always having a conference meet to peak for and a clock ticking on my training. I've let myself fall back into that mentality and for me it is time to stop.

The few years after college I found a nice rhythm where I was still serious about my running, but there was no pressure involved. I would run an average of 10 miles a day and still have some good intensity, but I would just race whenever I felt like I was in adequate shape. I'm trying to get myself back to that state of mind. I think I'm doing better. I've even allowed myself to miss a few days without getting depressed about it.

I know I sound soft, but I've always loved running because like life, you go through different phases and your priorities shift. I'm simply at a time in my life where I don't always want my running to dictate my bed time or schedule. I mean if I'm out on the town and feel candy in my heels, I'm going dancing all night long.

I'm still having fun with my running and I think I'm getting in pretty good shape. So I guess whenever I decide to toe the line we'll see if my laid back theory hurts the times or if relaxing a little bit will be better for the results.