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