Tuesday, December 2, 2014


There are a lot of words that end in "tion" that rhyme.  Most of them are introspective.  When I thought about writing this post a couple weeks ago, I was (and maybe still am) battling an infection just above my heal and a couple of other places on my leg from scrape and burns ( C&E's) to remove basal cells.  So, infection was the first "tion" word I thought about.  While I could not run for almost a week (although I walked), I started to reflect (reflection) on running.  In a previous post I wrote about how to stay involved in running while not being able to run.  One way is to reflect upon accomplishments and what those have meant, ways to improve, the challenges faced and the experiences.  Then, I looked to the future (projection) for what lies ahead in 2015 and beyond.  Hopefully, in 2015 I will complete (completion) finishing a marathon in all 50 states and DC.  How about introspection, taking a look inside on what running has done for me as a person and how I can become a better person?  If we think we can't become better people, we are sadly mistaken.  As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."  I will take this one step further and say, "the examined life unmodified is a shame."  Instead of pointing at those around us, maybe we should look a little deeper into ourselves and then influence others, obviously easier said than done.  These are all "tion" words that can easily be contemplated while running.  In December, I will explore these a bit more in relation (hah, another "tion" word) to running.  A Google search turns up 2,587 words that end in "tion".  Words ending in "tion" range from 6-letter words to 23-letter words inclusively and one 29-letter word.  Are they all legitimate words?  I don't know because some people just stick "tion" onto a word to take a verb and make it a noun whether it is legitimate or not.  The "tion" words are derived this way anyway.  No matter the case, there are a lot of them but the ones that came to mind last week were the ones while I as "in the moment" - infection, reflection, projection and completion.

Days 321-336: 58 miles; 2014: 1,566 miles

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mission Accomplished


On January 7, 2014 I committed to adopting the Durham Rescue Mission as my "running charity."  My goal was to run 1500 miles in 2014.  My initial thought was to donate $1 for every mile ran but after touring the Mission with Tony Gooch, I was called to donate the cost of a meal for every mile run.  Mission Accomplished as well as Mission, Accomplished!  Yesterday I finished a 10 mile run on the American Tobacco Trail which gave me 1,508 miles for the year.  I am humbled that God has given me the capacity to run and the means to donate.  Today, the Durham Rescue Mission celebrates its 40th birthday hence Mission, Accomplished.  The placement of a comma represents two achievements, me achieving success reaching my goal of 1500 meals for the Mission and the Mission achieving its success for the many souls who have entered its doors.  However, the mission does not end here, it continues.  It must continue both as a mission for me to give back through running and contribute to this great ministry and for the Mission to give hope to those who seek it's help.  The story is quite amazing and worth reading with the history being captured in a book.  2.05 is not a lot of money but to a person who has not eaten it means a hot meal prepared by people who care for his/her well-being.  Its not only the offering of a meal, but a place to stay and a program of commitment to help mend shattered lives in the glory of God.  Today, 40 years later, the Durham homeless shelter and urban rescue mission has room to house and provide food, vocational training, counseling and much more.   Having two divisions, the women's Good Samaritan Inn and the men's Center of Hope provides for 400 men, women and children in the Triangle area - Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill.

If you have followed me on this journey this year, please consider donating to the mission today, on its 40th birthday.  Durham Rescue Mission is a 4-star charity on Charity Navigator.  Through your gift of 2.05 or more, you can help countless others in need.  Click here to donate now.

Days 313-320: 40 miles, 2014: 1,508 miles
(anything in orange above is clickable)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fall Foliage - City of Oaks Half Marathon

Seasons sometimes appear to change on a dime.  One day it's Summer and the next it is Fall.  certainly this is true astronomically as it occurred on September 22 this year.  In North Carolina, Fall arrives much later and is welcomed from the hot, humid summers.  When that perfect day arrives, you definitely want to be running a race somewhere.  If you read this blog regularly, which I am sure most don't, you will know that I had 10 days of slices and dices where I needed to take caution when running and actually fast-walked most of the days since The Baltimore marathon.  I had the urge to run the Raleigh City of Oaks half-marathon on Nov 2. It was actually much more than an urge but more of a will to run. I registered on Friday night for the Sunday race, visited the small expo, got my shirt (that looks the same every year) and set my mind on a good 13.1 miles. This would be my first half-marathon in more than 2 years, since 2012 when I ran 3 all under 2 hours. The half-marathon distance is a fine distance. I can see the ever-increasing appeal of it. Its a challenge and allows you to go full tilt for the entire distance. It doesn't beat you up as much either.

On Saturday, since I had not run that much the 10 days prior, I decided to go for a 6 mile run on the American Tobacco Trail.  Although laced with pines there were also many trees swirling in fall foliage, oranges, reds, yellows, and browns.  The sun was glancing through the falling leaves onto the trail with runners doing their final preparations.  Many of these runners would be running in the City of Oaks race.  For me, it was a shakeout run as Bart Yasso calls it.  With all the rest the previous week or so I needed to get the blood pumping again through my newly restored mitochondria.  I was tight at first but loosened up by mile 4 and finished feeling ready for the race.

Race morning is always an early morning for me.  Well, any morning is generally an early morning for me typically up by 5 AM.  Raleigh has an early start at 7 AM which is perfect with setting the clocks back.  Unlike a marathon that would take me a morning to complete, I knew that I would be done by 9 and home by 10 and still have the whole day.  Both the half-marathon and marathon at City of Oaks are easy logistically.  There is ample parking near the start/finish.  The start and finish are at the same place and your personal spectator can see you at the 8 mile mark near the ample parking.  The weather this year was perfect - 45 degrees, crisp, dry and sunny.  It is my perfect weather for running.  I wore my long sleeve Baltimore Marathon shirt with sleeves underneath, shorts, and calf sleeves.  It was a bit windy but that helped with the cooling.  The weather was like this the previous two years - last year running the marathon and the previous year running the half with my nephew Shawn.

Standing at the start with a time goal of under 2 hours, I line up around the 2 hour pace group.  I also bought a new Garmin 220 and would monitor my run with it.  When the horn blew (I love hearing air horns start races), the 2-hour group surged about 20 yards ahead.  With a crowded start (marathoners, half-marathoners, relay runners) I just let the crowd thin and worked my way through while settling into a pace.  Within a half mile I found myself passing the pace group.  I thought that I would just run the pace of comfort on the verge of uncomfortable.  At mile 1 this turned out to be 8:30.  My first thought was, "this is too fast."  Some of this mile was downhill though and I knew that City of Oaks has its share of hills, both up and down so I needed to take advantage of the downhill's to turn even splits.  What I am really enjoying is being part of this scene, the running scene, the running community, the people who have come out to put themselves on the verge of uncomfortable.  At mile 3 I got this rush over me thanking God for allowing me to be apart of it all.  Mile 3 is a section where you see other runners going in the opposite direction.  I saw the leaders and I saw the last runners.  I thought, "running is all-inclusive, what other sport allows for this diversity in ability." It was a warm and fuzzy moment.  Through 5 miles and into the hills, my pace is at 8:27.  I'm managing the hills well and took my first Gu and running through water stops.  There is a long climb at mile 7.5 to mile 9 and my pace slowed to a 9:16 at the top which was expected.  I then settled back into an 8:40 pace and hit mile 10 at 1:26:58.  At this point, I am thinking how happy I am that I don't have to go the marathon distance and to continue to hold this pace through the end.  Near mile 11 and Meredith College, the marathoners split off onto the greenway.  I ran this portion last year and the fall foliage is spectacular.  It is a nice Fall, out and back jaunt through a Callide scope of colors.  The run to the finish down Hillsborough street is a nice finishing stretch, a tiny bit rolling but net downhill.  I turned the last .1 mile in 7:58 for a finishing time of 1:54:47.  that was a seriously good run for me with an age-graded time of 1:40.

During the run I thought of what was waiting at the end, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Papa John's pizza and Lone Rider beer.  I downed two doughnuts and two sausage slices.  I know when I have a great run when I have a great appetite in the end.

On Tuesday I ran 6 miles on the Tobacco Trail and again I couldn't help notice the freshness, crispness of the temperature and the beautiful Fall colors.  Thank God for glorious seasons.  I have always said that you need to pay attention to the details.  Each colorful leaf falling is a detail.  Get out and enjoy the details of the Fall season.

Days 306-312: 35 miles, 2014: 1,463 miles

Friday, October 31, 2014

Gotta Run...

So, from the previous post, I have been sliced and diced for the last 8 days and eagerly trying to get in walks and runs.  Mostly, it has been fast walks with two short runs of 4 miles and 3 miles over the last 8 days.  I have been playing it bey ear (or by stitch) as to whether or not to run the Raleigh City of Oaks Half-Marathon this Sunday.  I could easily say no but I find that "easily" is not possible.  I need to run the event, I gotta run the event for no other reason than to have that running feeling with all the others out there pounding the roads.  It is supposed to be a very chilly but beautiful day in Raleigh, 30 degrees at the start rising up to 50 - perfection.  And the Mohs Doctor said I could run on Saturday.  That is all I needed to hear since the race is on Sunday and Sunday Nov. 2 would have been my father's 95th birthday.  I will run with him in my thoughts.  He died way too early and I really never got to know him as an adult.  It is also NYC Marathon day and what better way to celebrate than to run and  record the marathon on ESPN2 for later viewing.  So, I gotta run and put in a good 13.1 mile effort.  It has been a while since I have run a half-marathon (well, and stopped after only running a half.)  My best half-marathon time this year while running a full marathon is 1:58. That was on a flat course in Alaska.  I am not sure I can get there on Sunday but I will certainly go for a sub-2 hour marathon.  Likely, I will be around 2:05 or so.  But, it is still the run that matters.

Days 303-305: 5 miles, 2014: 1,428 miles

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sliced and Diced

Every runner knows, or should know, the dangers of skin cancer.  We spend hours outside barely clad with enough clothes to keep us from being arrested.  We often ignore our exposure to the sun's rays.  I have been guilty of this too no matter how many times I have been chastised and warned. I generally run in early mornings before the sun appears, wear a hat and generally run in shady areas.  But exposure to the harmful sun's rays just doesn't come from running and is compounded by all the other times spent outside.  I'm fair-skinned which doesn't help as well.  Luckily, the cancerous cells that I have acquired are relatively benign, benign in the sense that they are the most frequently occurring and least dangerous as they almost never grow or spread (metastasize).  There are approximately 2.8 million cases of Basal Cell Carcinoma diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

So, since this is a running blog, what does this have to do with running besides taking the obvious precautions, having a good dermatologist and regular evaluations.  I have a lot of areas that need treated and over the last week and for the next few weeks, I will need incisions, Mohs surgery and scrape and burns.  But worse than all of that, I need to limit my running.  So what is a runner to do when he has to limit his running, when over the last 15 years, he hasn't missed more than 5 consecutive days pounding the roads or trails.  I thought back to remember a time when I went longer than 5 days without running.  There may be one but likely less than three that I can't remember.  Of course, I pushed the dermatologist as to when activity (i.e. running) could start after these procedures.  I currently have stitches in my right shoulder and right triceps.  Initially the assistant said 2 weeks until my stiches come out.  I then told her that I run nearly every day and asked when I could resume running.  She came down to five days.  So here I am somewhat negotiating as to when I can run.  She did say that I could walk.  A runner will find a way to stay active, otherwise, insanity sets in and nobody wants to be around an insane runner who can't run.  An insane runner who can run is bad enough but, of course, running acts as our daily meds to be sane again.  Runners constantly battle injuries, aches and pains and we will either stop running altogether (not likely) or find some way to do something active that simulates running.

Fast-paced walking is very good for you, no matter if you are a runner or a person who gets their exercise by walking.  I am not speaking of leisurely walks which are also good for you but more for your mind and soul, sort of a "stop and smell the roses" kind of walk.  Fast-paced walking gets the heart pumping, blood flowing and uses many muscles (even different ones from running).  So, I decided to do daily faced-paced walks while my activity was limited.  Although I can't get my heart rate up as high, it certainly simulates the feeling of running.  For the days I walked, Cynthia and I would take Casey for a fast-paced loop around the lake, about 1.5 miles.  It worked well for all of us, relieving Casey of his morning energy and giving Cynthia and I some muscle burning exercise.  Afterward, I continued the loops and followed some of my running routes doing 3, 7 and 6 miles on consecutive days until I could run again on Tuesday.  I do believe walking is sometimes harder than running.  I am pretty sure I would rather run 26.2 miles than walk it.

There are two points to be made here.  first, be aware of the dangers of skin cancers, be evaluated regularly by a good Dermatologist (Central Dermatology in Chapel Hill has been great and Dr. Wang specifically) and adhere to the treatment plan.  Secondly, find an alternative to running when you can't and do it.  Find something to do that benefits your running (like stretching, walking) or keeps you focused on running like planning marathon trips (or other running adventures/races), writing on a blog, analyzing your stats, reading running books, watching running DVDs, all of which will keep you motivated and better when you do return to the daily run. I committed miles to people so I needed to move forward a mile at a time whether walking or running.  Slices and dices aside, stay in the moment.

Days 297-302: 23 miles, 2014: 1,423 miles

Thursday, October 23, 2014

...and God shuffled His feet.... Baltimore Marathon

Once in awhile, in the marathon, you have to rely on more strength than what you can muster, particularly in the late miles.  Whatever, whomever, wherever you can draw that strength from is where you focus.  I tend to find strength in a few areas: other runners, spectators, but most importantly God and Cynthia Anne.  I drew upon all of these in completing my 14th consecutive Baltimore Marathon since running the inaugural in 2001.  Its been a wonderful event over the years staged by Corrigan Sports Enterprises (CSE) and until recently headlined by Underarmour.  There is no doubt that Underarmour should be the title sponsor of this running festival (or at least the marathon) as they are headquartered right on the course and are one of the best sports brands in the world.  They still provide the high quality shirts for all the events.  I hope that they continue to do so for many years.  CSE has always listened to the runners, even after 14 years, making adjustments to enhance everything about the festival to make it the premier running festival that it is.  I am confident that they will continue to do so and again attract a premier title sponsor.  I also believe that The Baltimore Running festival should be inducted into the Legends Museum on its 15th birthday next year.

Due to the potential of the beloved Baltimore Orioles playoff run to the World Series, CSE kept us informed every step of the way with contingency plans.  I can't imagine all of the meetings, negotiations and approvals (up through the Governor's office) behind the scenes to pull off a weekend where the Baltimore Running Festival, Baltimore Oriole's playoff games, and the Baltimore Ravens football game would all occur within a 48 hour period.  Unfortunately and fortunately the Orioles lost to the Royals in four games.  The only modification to the festival was an earlier start time for all events and 7 AM for the marathon and marathon relay.  I welcomed the earlier start time which gave me more time to enjoy Baltimore after the marathon.  I hope that they continue with it.

Please click below to continue reading including lots of pictures.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Dog Fartleked

Although that is also an issue with Casey boy, I mean fartleked in terms of running.  Fartlek means speed play in Swedish and is a training technique that blends continuous running with intervals.  Casey, though, appears to have the fartlek down pat.  Whenever we run, he breaks up the run with speed play.  First, he is excited by the mere premise of going for a run and appears to like the orange stripe on my Saucony shorts, nipping at it for the first few strides.  Then it is "eat the leash" time.  It is only a 24 inch leash so there is not much there to nibble on, but he thinks he has to control his human by taking it in his mouth like he is running me!  "Leave it" works well with him and with only 50 yards into the run he gets into his running pace, stops nipping and leaves the leash alone.  He then realizes that he is going to have to run a couple of miles and throttles back a bit to tell me that we are going to fartlek if he is going to make it a few miles.  I'm sure he believes that a slower pace will allow him a few sniffs that every dog deserves.  "OK, have a few sniffs but then you will have to run!"  I quicken my shuffle to a stride and he propels himself into a sprint.  It is actually a sprint that I am on the edge of not being able to do.  When was the last time you sprinted a marathon!?  But, I keep up the best I can but it is only short-lived because dogs can't sprint (or even run) long distances.  So we sprint about 30 yards or so and slow to a crawl, a few more sniffs, then a normal pace and then he sees a person that he needs to stop for and look at.  OK, stop, smell the roses, people watch and then we are going to sprint again.  This continues for two miles - speed play - fartlek.  What I find though, is that it helps me too.  I was feeling a little twinge in my calf and after we slowed and had a few sniffs, I was good to go and didn't feel it again.  There is so much to learn from a dog, not only in running but in life.  We need to fartlek more in life too.  There are times to sprint and times to sniff, times to take notice of people and times to avoid other angry dogs.  They are all just jealous anyway because they can't fartlek with their human or even say it without laugh-barking - adolescents!  Have you farleked today?

Days 287-294: 36 miles, 2014: 1,395 miles