Thursday, April 17, 2014


So, today I put in 7 more treadmill miles running a progression workout that is starting to feel like second nature.  Since I have done the same workout each of the last three weeks (the only way I could make it even more similar to make a scientific comparison from one week to the next would be to try to use the same treadmill), I can notice what is different.  Last night I had a huge dinner with colleagues I'm visiting at Arizona State.  I got more sleep because what was 8 PM for them was 11 PM for me and then I slept till the time I normally awaken.  Different mixture of types of liquids I drank yesterday, including a very nice pint of local IPA nut brown ale.  The workout felt good.  And I had my breathing in the cooldown mile back to no harder than it had been in my warmup after about 3/4 of a mile at 8:00/mile pace.  (And, yes, I know that I count myself blessed for considering that pace a cool down pace.)  

In any case, the 7 miles this morning put me at 500 miles on my first pair of Brooks Launch shoes.  They have treated me well.  501 miles in 88 days.

And it puts me at 619 miles for the year.  That puts me on E Atwater street in Bloomington Indiana.  Having been born near Ohio State, attended Penn State and Michigan, teaching at Hopkins (relevant for Big 10 lacrosse) and living relatively near the University of Maryland (a coming attraction for Big 10 sports), it is cool to be there.  I had been to another part of IU before professionally, but that took me to their health sciences campus in Indianapolis.  This trip was never intended to be a tour of the Big 10, but it is fun to reflect.

And this continues to be a week to reflect.  Even with all I wrote on Tuesday, I have continued to think about the Boston marathon last year and this year and the image I have of myself.  A lot of that image is built around me as "runner".  Of course, I also have me as husband, me as father, me as son and brother and all the other familial "me as".  Then there is me as faculty, me as Vice Dean, me as Sunday school teacher.  Me as baker.  Me as community member.

So many different images.

These images are perceptions.  What really stands out in my mind from the Boston marathon ending last year is the images that my two buddies and I (along with many others) experienced.  The images of emergency vehicles rushing like mad past the T (subway) stop that we were forced off at and toward the finish line.  Images that we saw on the television in the lobby of the hotel.  Images that we saw on the television as we showered and prepared to head back to Baltimore.  Images of physical hurt.  The images that brought such emotionally charged hurt--and uncertainty--and bitterness--and fear--and loyalty.

Loyalty, you ask?

Loyalty to a cause.  Loyalty to the human spirit.  Loyalty to the identity of runners--never stop.  Of Americans--always striving.  Of what we build our entire sense of being around.

And then I think of the images others have of me.  Perfect at anything?  Hardly.  Not a perfect husband.  Not a perfect Dad.  Just doing my best.

This week started when a friend posted a picture of the music leader at our church who passed away earlier this year and conveyed her image of him--while he was alive and what she hoped he was seeing and doing now.  I wondered how I might be thought of.

This week has brought that out in ways I never expected.  I am thankful for the situations that helped make that clear.  And I am thankful for friends and family who express themselves.

My wife and I who do not always see eye to eye but have been brought closer together by all that we have had to do to facilitate our oldest son's decision on college which now must be made within two weeks.

My oldest son who does occasionally tell us how much he appreciates what we do but who more often than not simply shows it by his actions.  

My younger two who do express their appreciation for any number of things.

My one training partner who shared with me her disappointment that she seems to have yet another injury.  Runners are there for each other.

Another training partner who expressed her concern for me because of one surprising change in behavior regarding Tuesday workouts.  Runners notice little things.

Another training partner who called me mentor.  I have had individuals whom I have formally mentored.  This was an organic evolution of two runners that has become one of mentoring.  

A coach called me the picture of dedication.  

Two friends and community leaders who called me inspiring.  Each in his own way.

And it is the last that may have surprised me most.  I have known Russell since I ran the Heather Hurd 5K in November of 2011.  At this point other than the fact that it was a 5K in memory of someone who was lost much to0 early as a result of someone else's distracted driving, I don't for the life of me recall how I found out about that particular race.  It has now become an annual event for me and I hope to run again this year.  Over time, I've gotten to know Russell and his wife.  I've seen how much they have made an end to distracted driving their passion.  They inspire me.  Yet, he called me inspiring as well.   He has turned his grief into a positive--although the grief never goes away.  Now, he has seen my search for meaning in numbers.  This year my virtual pilgrimage.  And as he continues to work on his own fitness, he has also decided to turn it into a virtual walk/jog/run across the country and think of ending distracted driving in all the places he passes by.

I don't expect to start a movement of virtual pilgrimages.  I do think that it wonderful to know that others find what I am doing interesting and a useful way to explore their own need for meaning.

My meaning comes from accomplishment--and putting it in the context of things that are quantifiable and numeric and what I consider the meaning of life.

I only hope that over time I can continue to be what others think of me already and better.  And that my accomplishments are just as high for family as for work and running.  

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