Monday, July 28, 2014

Short Thought

Since I wrote on Saturday morning, I have run 5 on Saturday, 12 on Sunday (all 8:15 or slower for the first 6 and all faster than 8:10 for the second six), and then six today averaging 8:13.  I really do enjoy the precision. And I think I can say that despite the precision I am having fun again.  I will write more about running and fun later on.

The miles put me up to a total of 1225.2 miles.  I'm on Reece Rd in Eureka, KS on my way in my own virtual spiritual pilgrimage.  The nearest Catholic Church is Sacred Heart.  Right now the only image I can think of with respect to a heart is one of caring.  That goes back to what I wrote about Saturday morning--the love and honesty that a family showed toward a member who was taken from his mortal life much too early.

That also brings me to another blog.  In sharing my thoughts with the father of the family who had asked for anyone who had a victory in a relationship with another (victory in terms of bringing someone to peace) to share with him, I shared the blog entry.  His wife posted a link to my blog in her blog.  I am posting her blog here:

The strength of belief in family (and family for eternity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) is strong.  Reading her blog will give some insight into how some draw strength in a time of bereavement.  Not everyone will find this a time to draw strength. Not everyone will find this the way to draw strength.  But I respect those who find the strength, have the ability and willingness to share it with others, and use it as an example of how their lives of faith and faith filled development allow them to carry on in the hardest of times.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Connections and Mortality

So, the last time I blogged was on Wednesday evening.  I have only run once since then.  I did a seven mile tempo run with three great friends and fellow runners on Thursday morning downtown. That put me up to 1202.2 miles total.  That is a nice accomplishment and if I continue to run the same average number of miles per day I will actually achieve over 2100 by year's end.  We will see.  And if I do go over 2000 we will also see what aditional spiritual places I can find on my virtual pilgrimage to the southwest.

But running is not what I want to talk about today.  Yesterday was a rest day.  Yesterday was the second time Sherry convinced me to go to something I had not otherwise planned to recently.  A few weeks back I went to the concert in which my oldest son performed as part of a brass ensemble and we supported The Uganda-Baltimore Alliance (TUBA).  I wrote about that on July 16 in "Family, Runner, Connector, Encourager."  Yesterday we attended a memorial service for a young man who passed away just prior to turning age 21 who was a member of the Church of Jesus Chirst of Latter Day saints.  I had a work commitment.  I ended up skipping the work commitment and going to the Memorial Service for a young man whom I barely remembered as part of the Maryland State Boychoir.  My middle son was singing as part of the memorial service.  I could have titled today's entry the same as I did on July 16.  Each of those four things came out yesterday as an observation as part of the service.

First--family.  Choosing to go with Sherry was the right thing to do.  I should have gone without question.  I should not have even needed to think about it.  It was to go with Sherry and to go with Joshua, too.  He chose to sing.  It was not required.  Being part of the Maryland State Boychoir experience is like having a very large extended family.  This was the second unexpected early experience with mortality for the boychoir in the past year.  A parent not long ago.  Now, an alumnus.

Second, runner.  Why is runner relevant.  The young man whose short life was being celebrated was not a runner.  But running (and writing about it) is my therapy.  My outlet.  How I choose to take time to think through issues so I can deal with them.  The older sister and father of the young man both gave talks.  The sister gave the official eulogy.  The father had an opportunity to provide extra remarks.  The sister was strong.  She talked about so many good things.  But she was also very honest about the issues that the young man faced including bipolar and substance abuse.  She referred to what he had done as self-medicating.  She was brutally and entirely honest about how hard it was to deal with him.  She was clear about what led up to his death.  The father commented on this as well.  He made four statements that he considered absolute.  This was instructive to me to see.  He even preceded some of what he said by talking to those in attendance who are not members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.  He basically said, "Outside this service we can be friends and accept the uncertainy of whose faith is correct.  But until I am done, please accept my beliefs as truth."  He probably even made it stronger than that.  But he was also brutally honest.  He said don't do drugs.  He also added alcohol.  We may differ on the alcohol, but he pointed out how they cloud judgment of the choices that we are here to make and how it can drive a wedge between and separate us from those whom we are here on earth in our mortal lives to love.  He also implored us not to cause contention.  He was brutally honest about how his certainty of the moral correctness of what he had told his son had also driven a wedge and pushed him away.  He said that only recently in his life had he reached a point at which he believed it was possible to have moral certainty but to show compassion for the person in his life who was absolutely wrong on a moral issue.  Again, all of this is relevant to me as I think about how I deal with the issues in my life and in the lives of those around me.

Third, connector.  Knowing as much as I know about the Church of Latter Day Saints in advance of last night (which is not really all that much but a lot more than I did a decade ago) helped me to put things in context much better than I could have otherwise.  The fact that they referred to parts of the service as talks.  The difference between a ward and a stake.  The importance of no drugs and no alcohol.  The terms bishop and president.  The importance of family and family for eternity.  The concept of being a spirit who chooses to come to earth to experience a mortal life.  Also, my musical interests.  As part of the service, the individuals on harp and cello played Bring Him Home (from Les Miserables).  I don't think there was a dry eye there.  It was an incredibly combination of instruments for an incredible song of longing.  And the belief that the young man is home.  I had a connector experience earlier in the day as I met with a colleague whom I had not seen in person in several years and we realized how interestingly our personal lives paralleled each other (not exactly but similar) and how much our professional lives overlapped.  One way for me to enjoy life is to find those connections and to make the most of them. 

Finally, encourager.  The older sister when she was done talked about how so many people have asked what else they could have done.  She turned that around and reminded everyone in attendance to focus on what they can do for people who are still alive.  Be the friend who is needed.  Help others out.  The father in the third of the four things he implored everyone to do said, "Do not despair."  He added in one of the most powerful expressions of the night, that if anyone ever felt so much despair that he or she felt that they were at the end of the line and that they wanted to end to call him.  Then he would find the person.  Then he would give the person the relentless hug that he could no longer give his son.  Everything is turned to a positive for the future for those who are still here. To try again to correct mistakes made in the past.  To correct mistakes made because of a combination of temptation and weakness as part of the free will that we have as humans.  So, why is all of this relevant. 

Am I the perfect encourager of family and friends?  No, sometimes I make the wrong choices and cause contention (thinking back to the second point the father made).  But I see myself as someone for whom encouraging is an important part of my calling.  (The calling is another aspect of life in the Church or Latter Day saints as the bishop of the ward talked about his calling to that ministry.)  In any case, yesterday for the third time recently a friend or colleague shared something very personal.  Asking for my opinion.  Asking for my judgment.  Asking for my wisdom.  I jokingly asked her, "Why do I get all these?"  She said it was a function of my emotional intelligence.  My approachability.  She didn't add this aspect, but I think the fact that I can offer an opinion without offering a judgment of the person.  She called me mentor.  This was the second person who had voluntarily called me mentor in an informal mentoring situation in the past several months.  Each time that happens it makes a big impression on me and it means a lot to me.  

Could I be a better encourager?  You bet.  With my sons.  With my wife.  Certainly with friends and students and colleagues in some cases.  But I like to think that I am already on a path of being "the friend who is there" or the one who helps those who have issues.  Perhaps not the despair that the father mentioned last night.  I had not had to deal with anything quite that strong.  But certainly have had to help people straighten themselves out and their situations out.

The father asked that if we have successes to share them.  Offering advice to each of my three friends recently is a success in giving them hope.  In helping them to move forward.  Small compared with what his son faced, for sure.  But each is a step in the right direction.

And so, as I move forward from last night, I will think about how to make less contention and more support (two things I think I already do a lot) even bigger parts of my personal mission.  First, with family by blood.  Then, with others around me.  

After the service, we went to eat cupcakes.  The young man's 21st birthday would have been this weekend.  The family has a tradition of singing a "Second first."  Same tune.  Same timing.  But added "'Tis love brings us here."  Love brings us to this earth--the love of our parents in most cases.  Love brings us together each week.  Love brings us to celebrate birthdays.  And love for the young man, for the family, and for those who supported all of them brought people together for the memorial service last night.  

If I can lead a life led by love to cause less contention and to support those in some type of despair, I will have led a successful life.  

Love is where my blogging began.  Love is what it returns to often.  Love is the root of all good in my life.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


So, I last blogged early on Saturday morning.  Since then, I ran 6 miles on Saturday, 17 on Sunday, another 5 on Monday, a 7 mile progression on Tuesday, and an easy 4 today.  I find myself at 1195.2 miles on my question for 2000 miles and my virtual pilgrimage to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  That puts me somewhere a bit west of Yates Center, KS, on US 54.  In Yates Center, KS, the church is St. Joseph.  Perhaps we was the first saint about whom we could say, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."  He accepted the plan that God had after Mary found out she was with child and he persevered.  What is most interesting about that is that on Sunday when my friend Joselyn and I were finished our run, we met up with the coach for a team we had met before but not introduced ourselves.  Several weeks back, this gentleman commented on how we had almost run from mile 2 back to the 0.5 mile mark of the Paper Mill parking lot faster than he had driven.  This time, we found out that he leads Team Persevere ( which is a group that focuses on running and Hebrews 12:1.  And I am so glad to find others who are on a spiritual journey with running.  While I imagine that given the time at which I run, I may always be running back as members of the group are headed out, that I will see this group many times, and I have begun to engage with a couple of members.  It is, as I said, fascinating to find others who try to link running and spirituality in meaningful ways.

Speaking or spirituality, I attended my second Mission and Planning meeting at St. Pius X (where I began my virtual pilgrimage) last night.  Among other things, at each meeting, we review the Gospel reading from Sunday's mass and comment.  This Sunday was Matthew 13:24-43.  The short version was read last night.  I commented on a verse from the long version.  The verse (borrowed from is

He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeastthat a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”

I commented on how the yeast leavens the entire dough--even though the yeast is only a small fraction of the amount of flour in a dough. It is pretty amazing to think that it is capable of making the dough rise where it is touching and where it is not. Thus, yeast affects the flour directly and indirectly. What we do as followers of Jesus can have both direct and indirect effects.

That leads to my title for today, "leg-tired".  My works affects some areas of my life directly and some areas of my life indirectly.  Yesterday, I was talking about a small modification I wanted to make to my Philadelphia Marathon training plan.  When the person with whom I was speaking asked why I wanted to make a change, I explained it in terms of how my work was affecting other parts of my life indirectly.  My boss has me focusing on quicker decisions, quicker implementation, and getting to win this year.  All of that is well and good.  And most of that would carry over to my running as well.  However, it can be exhausting--particularly when combined with the number of other family and community responsibilities I have or have taken on.  So, I told the person with whom I was speaking that I was not "leg-tired" (in other words I think my legs could have handled it if I asked them) but just wanted one morning on which I could feel that I was not rushing.  I also said that if I got the advice to stick it out, I would.  That is the when life give you lemons make lemonade appearing for me.  But I was able to make a small modification and it worked out well.

So, it is interesting to think of perseverance, connectivity, direct and indirect consequences of actions, and how that plays out in so many things beyond my spiritual and baking life.   

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Crazy Week

I last wrote three days ago.  I ran on the 16th and 17th but not on the 18th.  The 16th was another easy 5 and the 18th was a wonderful 8 miles on a cooler and less humid day.  I have now accumulated 1156.2 miles total putting me near the corner of Hawaii Rd & 2600th Street in La Harpe KS.  When I switch to a sattelie view it looks like there are mostly famrs on either side of where I am running on my virtual pilgrimage.  For a while it looks like I will primarily be on long stretches of fairly open road.  Marathon running can feel that way sometimes--not knowing where the road will turn or end.  Life can feel ttat way sometimes.  But most of the time my life is very dynamic and not just a long and straight road.  

For example, this week has brought some amazing things.  First, Sherry and I purchased a new car for the first time in 10 years.  A very basic manual transmission car.  Pretty cool.

Second, a friend posted that it was the four year anniversary of her husband's passing.  I count the passing of Gerry Paradiso as an important event in my life for a number of reasons.  First, it brought me to marathon group training rather than the individual training I had been doing.  Second, it brought me to think about the importance of specific Bible stories and a much deeper symbolism.  The story of the five smooth stones that was shared at Gerry's memorial service has stuck with me ever since.  Finally, I recall Gerry being described as someone who found ways to do what he loved and to take chances. My blogging is that.  My running is that.  Even my tattoo is that.  My change in jobs is that.  Marriage is that for all of us--being with someone we love and taking the chance that they will love and stay in love with you.  Most of my life is that.  And it was amazing to hear how happy someone else had been trying to do that in so many ways.

What I have come to realize is that I have lived my life and shared my interests in a very public way since then.  My blog.  My social media.  And people notice.  

In the past week two people have confided in me about things that took me off guard.  One person mentioned feeling the need to be careful about what is stated about faith on social media.  It seems unfortunate to me that we have reached a point like that.  But I was someone with whom this other person trusted and felt comfortable speaking about faith.  Everyone knows that I have taught in the religious education program at St Pius X, that I have enjoyed it, and that I am now looking forward to serving on the Mission and Planning committee for the parish.  Everyone knows that starting with 1313 for my first marathon (1 Cord 13:13) and continuing to this day, I will at times seek to find ways to write about my bib numbers and race times in a religious reading context.  There are few secrets.  And maybe some people do think I am crazy.  But this opens doors into deeper insights I an have of others.

Second, someone came to me to ask about my tattoo.  Who did it, where, and how did I come up with the design.  While the kids were doing spin art at the end of week Bible School activity last night, I typed up what turned out to be a VERY long description of my thought process, what I descirbed to Emily Sloman when I first had a consultation with her, what she did to bring together the set of ideas I described, and how amazed I was at the whole process.  The person (who shall remain nameless until this person chooses to share with others the idea for a tattoo or gets one) indicated a feeling of being speechless reading the long description and that I was the only person that this person felt comfortable asking.  Again, almost everyone whom I know is aware of my tattoo and the fact that it has some significance (a large tattoo on the calf that includes a guy shot with arrows chained to a gas streetlamp and being rescued by a woman with a pink dress must mean something, right?).  And my willingness to have an idea, get the tattoo, be so open about it, and share makes an impression on people.  Maybe ther eare peple whom it turns off.  But there are also people for whom it opens the door.  

Tying this all together, I don't think I had mentioned that I recently read an article about having an "inner C-suite".  Chier executive officer--vision.  Chief financial officer--analytic.  Chief operating officer--get it done.  Chief people officer--work with, support, encourage, build up, and manage people.  Of all the parts of my job, I enjoy the last the best and I have proven to be pretty good at it.  It shows in my life as well.  Being willing to share has opened many more doors than it has closed.  And those doors have led to some incredible insights.  in the context of this week, Gerry Paradiso's life was an example that got me to be more willing to express myself and to share.  Seeking ways to express it brought me to working with Emily to get the tattoo.  

In memory of Gerry's passing and remembrance, I paste below a section of my first personal blog (as opposed to professional blog) entry from 8/1/10 when I was writing about Physical and Spiritual Running

During the service, someone shared an incredible story. While the story-teller’s faith and Gerry’s faith were different they shared a bond through faith. And when she took her family to Israel for her son’s bar mitzvah, she asked Gerry what he would like her to bring back. Gerry asked for five smooth round stones. Remember that David had five stones when he went to face Goliath although he needed only one. The five stones were at the memorial service today. 
I don’t necessarily plan to carry five physical stones 26.2 miles [although I did eventually] while I run in October, but I could have five “figurative” stones in my pocket representing love, strength, perseverance, ambition, and focus. Each could help me achieve my goal in the way that any of the stones could have helped David. But, as David needed only one, I really need only one; the others are just backup. The one I need—love. Love for my friends, colleagues, and family members who have been touched by cancer. Love for my children as I show an example of setting and achieving a goal. Love for my wife who has endured the extra time I’ve spent training this year. Love of and thankfulness to God who has given me so many gifts. Love will guide my way, and everything else will just fall into place. I should not even need the other “stones”—even if having them does provide reassurance.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Family, Runner, Connector, Encourager

Since I blogged last I have run another 14 miles and am at 1143.2 total.  That puts me on first street just west of Uniontown KS and headed for Limestone Rd.  The two runs were a six mile very sweaty run and an 8 mile progression.  Both were runs that I expected to be more challenging to keep pace than they were.  I am feeling much better than I had thought I would at this stage.  But it is still early in training for this fall's marathon, and I have to be careful to take nothing for granted.

With that said, what interesting things have happened since Sunday?

Well, for one, a running friend posted on social media yesterday that a friends of hers had once challenged her to write an obituary assuming that she achieves her goals.  She commented that she had achieves many of those goals already.  That is a great feeling.  It is a feeling that not many people in their 30's and 40's necessarily have.  I've commented on things like this before.  I am blesses to have achieved so much at age 44.  Does that mean I am done?  No, of course not.  However, I wrote something yesterday that essentially said, "Anything else is icing on the cake.  But I want to cover a really big cake with a thick layer of icing."  

That brings me to a few things that reflect what I'd want to be remembered for.  I'd want to be remembered for being good as part of a family--father and husband.  (I could also talk about son and brother, etc. but that would make this a very long entry.) Part of being a father and husband is dealing with family issues like cars.  My wife and I had an interesting time shopping for a newer car the other night and continue to explore what options we might have.  We need to make a decision soon.  The shopping was not necessarily "fun" but it was pleasant and I love spending the time with Sherry.  

Second, I'd like to be remembered for my running.  Not a world class athlete, of course.  But for how important it was and the role it played in my life.  Something of interest there in the past few days.  I retired another pair of running shoes at 503.7 miles.

Third, I'd like to be remembered as a connector (no surprise given the title of the entire blog).  Last night (Tuesday) provided a great example of how I could be a connector.  My son is a sufficiently good horn and piano player that he was accepted to study either horn or jazz piano at several very good conservatories.  Last night, I was not planning to attend, but Sherry persuaded me to attend, a benefit concert sponsored an organization called The Baltimore-Uganda Alliance (TUBA) in which a Baltimore-based piano instructor and other volunteers support the development of a brass band outside Kampala, Uganda.  Cool idea.  In any case, my son played as part of a brass ensemble that had been brought together by one of his high school classmates--the classmate making his conducting debut.  It was a very fun concert.  At several points throughout the women who leads the organization made a variety of comments about the organization, its purpose, and her trips to Uganda--particularly with some students.  She also commented on working with the Bloomberg School of Public Health and its Dean as well as the change in direction of the brass band in Uganda and how it was becoming more businesslike and looking to be sustainable.  Of course, I had to take the opportunity to speak with her.  And now we are exploring whether there would be any interest in having some of our students, perhaps particularly our MPH-MBA students work with her organization to help it to develop a business plan.  I'd say, "Only in Baltimore."  But I am sure it is not.  But there are plenty of opportunities like this for me to help others by extending the reach of an organization I am a part of.  And that is what I enjoy so much about my professional career.  

Finally, I'd like to be remembered as an encourager.  That could go along with being a family person.  It certainly shows up in my running.  And part of being a connector is encouraging those on all sides of the possible connection.  In any case, I had an exchange with a fellow runner the other day who sometimes does track workouts with the group I'm often with on Tuesdays.  This week we are planning a Thursday tempo run instead.  He commented that "he could be one of the cool kids now."  I commented back, "You have always been one of the cool kids.  Just being a runner in Back on My Feet does that for you."  His email response was great.  He said, "Melissa [with whom I ran 10 of the 16 miles on Sunday] always says such nice stuff about you.  I see what she's getting at."  I hadn't realized that I'd made that much of an impression on Melissa.  I had clearly made an impression on Travis.  But it doesn't seem like much of anything to me other than choosing to say nice things when there is a choice and always looking for the positive.  Encouraging.  This applies for running, my kids' pursuits, students' pursuits, Sherry's pursuits.  Just about anything in life.  And it makes others feel good which is about the best feeling I can have.

So, if I am remembered as family, runner, connector, encourager I will be quite pleased. What a nice revelation on my virtual pilgrimage.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Marathon training--this is serious

Even just finishing week one of twenty weeks of marathon training I realize one thing--this is serious.  Of course, I know that.  Intellectually that is patently obvious.  I have to do a lot of preparation for my body to be able to run 26 miles without getting injured.  I have to put in a lot of time.  Run a lot of miles.  Go through at least one more pair of running shoes.  That is clear.

But today, it became clear at a much more visceral level and for two reasons. I have not run 16 miles since Saturday, April 26.  And that was one of only two 16 mile runs I have been on this year.  My body has done quite well hanging our running 10-13 many weekends.  Sometimes even a 15.  Last weekend for my long run a 14.  But this is getting me back to serious distances.  And, the plan that I am following suggested slow at first followed by faster to average at 8:30.  I averaged just about 8:30 but ran fast at first followed by slow.  That is not how to train for a marathon.  The ideal training is to take the beginning easier and then finish strong.  Even in workouts so that I know I can do it when it comes time for the race setting.  So, the first part of the visceral realization was just the sheer effort it takes to run 16 miles.

The second part of this was that I realized quite clearly that I am still not very good at "feeling" a pace--particularly when I am running with someone.  Despite sharing my goal and expectations, I tried not to look at my watch for the first 10 miles and I ended up going way too fast.  Less than ideal.  I live and learn.  I will have to spend more time looking at splits in the early miles of a workout to really get this down.

On my virtual pilgrimage from Baltimore to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, I have just passed into Kansas.  In fact, I am now a bit west of Fort Scott.  The Catholic church in Fort Scott is called Mary Queen of Angels.  The number of churches in honor or Mary in this section of the country along with route I am following is notable.  The image of Queen of Angels makes me think of the truly amazing nature of her relationship with God and Jesus.

Just today, I had my first really long run with someone who is also running Philly and will probably be right there with me when all is said and done.  I told her the extended story about my tattoo.  The tattoo represents a vulnerable male and all the women who have played an important role in his life.  One thing I never thought about before this entry is the role of Mary in my own life.  Mary the spiritual mother.  Mary the Mother of God.  Mary the Queen.  Someone who shared our humanity but who unlike Jesus did not have divinity.  A perfect example, such that I could add Mary to the list of women who are represented in some way by the woman named Irene with St. Sebastian in my tattoo.

And as I think about all of this yesterday's Gospel reading comes to mind.  It was Jesus story about the seed being sown in different places.  And how the only seed that became a strong plant was the seed that fell in  the right place.  And we have the opportunity to help ourselves to be in the right place.  My running helps to put me physically in the right place.  My pondering every day on this virtual pilgrimage helps me to put myself in the right place emotionally and spiritually.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Running Haiku

1100 Miles Achieved on a Day of Interviews
Three moderate miles
Awakening the body
Before much sitting

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I Am Not a Fence Jumper--But There Are Some Barriers to Brek Through

Today, I ran a progression workout.  In the spring when I trained for the 5K and I did progression workouts I did them on the treadmill.  I got the times "exactly right".  But we all know that running on a treadmill is different from running on the street.  And running on the street it is much harder to run a progression and get the times right.  In the end, for this early in the training season it was fine to run approximations.  And it was nice to have company.  Those six miles keep me moving in US 54.  Total is 1097 miles.

I titled this I am not a fence jumper as this was another morning with no officer to open the gates for us at the Dunbar track.  My fellow runners experienced this last week.  And I have experienced it before.  And I have written about not jumping the fence before.  Last time I described it as a dilemma.  Today there was no dilemma.  I simply will not.

I have written before about what this says about me.  What I find interesting is that it is not as thought I follow and respect all barriers.  Sometimes I like to break through barriers.  I moved between schools within the University and try to enhance collaboration.  I have continued to try to build bridges elsewhere around the university.  I have tried to build bridges within the Business School between faculty and staff.  I have tried to help build bridges across organizations.  And even running itself is pushing through barriers every time I go out.  My own limits.  Running with others.

The key is to know which barriers to respect and which can be pushed through.  Which are worth pushing through.  Which should be pushed through.

Knowing how to balance that--as with knowing how to balance so many other things in like is critical to success and sanity.   

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Step Toward My Next (and possibly last) Marathon

Today, I did the first six miles as part of the official training for the Philadelphia marathon this fall.  20 weeks from yesterday.  Six miles at an easy 8:20ish pace.  Was supposed to run within 10 seconds of 8:30.  The first two miles were overlay fast.  First one wanted to make sure not to go too slowly.  Second one was mostly downhill and I got way ahead of myself but pulled back.  Then, the last four were run all within 2 seconds of 8:25 (plus or minus).  So, I once again have reached a point at which I find that I can settle in.  That is good.  Hopefully I'll be able to settle into a 7:20 pace by the time of the Philadelphia marathon.  Today--easy run.  Good start.  Nothing certain given that I am 20 weeks out.  But for day one it is just fine.

That puts me up to 1090 total miles for the year.  That puts me near Nevada, Missouri.  In that city there is a church called St. Mary's.  Once again, it simply fascinates me that so many churches are named to honor the Mother of Jesus.  

Today's observation.  The first day of training is the beginning of an evolution.  An evolution from someone who, no matter how much I love running and no mater how many marathons I have done before (five), I go from being a runner to a marathoner.  Planning to earn that title one more time.  Perhaps for the last time although none of my running friends believe that.

The evolution is not a revolution.  Marathon readiness does not occur all at once.  

What does Mary tell me about evolution?  Mary's trasnformation from a young woman engaged but not married to the Mother of Jesus was a revolution.  She accepted God's presence.  She accepted God's word.  While surprised, she just went with what the angel Gabriel said and followed God's will.

I shared a prayer with a friend that is my expansion of the Serenity Prayer.  The standard Serenity Prayer is "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  As someone who recited the Lord's prayer each weekend, I thought it would be interesting to adapt to a more specifically Christian context.  Not for everyone.  Not everyone is Chrisian.  But it works for me:
grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
the faith to follow Thy will in all things,
and the wisdom to sort it all out.
I have blogged about the Serenity Prayer before.  This is a new version for me.  I'll see whehter I still like it in a few months.  But the key is that it forces me not only to ask God for gifts, but also to remind myself to follow His will.  Combining these two things is a powerful guide for me to live my life and evolve over time to being all that I can be and all that God has intended for me to be.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Little Less Activity but a Nice Final Full Day

Yesterday, I started the day with 6.2 on the treadmill.  I had hoped to run outside, but it was still very wet and I needed to control the time of the workout.  I got started a little late and we planned to walk to town for the parade.  So, I "only" did 6.2  That still makes 37.2 for an "easy" week.  No complaints there.  And a total of 1084.2.  That puts me just on the other side of El Dorado Springs.  And I continue to run along.  

The walk to the parade was very pleasant.  Temps were much lower and little humidity.   The parade itself was fun--including the precision lawn chair drill team that did the "water sprinkler" routine right in front of me and Sherry where we were sitting on the curb of the street next to a beautiful Irish wolf hound.  Then we did a little more mostly window shopping, ate lunch down town at the Dockside Grille (both had excellent and frehsly prepared fish and chips), went to Bailey's Bubbles for ice cream and walked back.

Had a low key afternoon with reading and napping.  Dinner was simple--spaghetti with sauce and tomatoes.  We tried a New Hampshire Reisling we had picked up.  So-so at best.  It is hard to grow excellen grapes in NH.

Then a bit more reading.  Sherry got some pictures of the sunset and fireworks going off a night late.

The day was simple.

Our time being present together was incerdibly valuable.

We head home today.

Back to work tomorrow.

Other things take over--county fair, need to replace the Volvo, back to school in the not too distant fugure.

But this has been an excellent week and we will be stronger together moving ahead. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Above and Beyond

Yesterday, I ran 10 miles on a treadmill. Not my favorite way to do 10 miles.  Not anyone's favorite way to do 10 miles.  I ran it in 1:21:50. Not exceedingly fast.  Nor exceedinly slow.  7.2 MPH for the first half.  7.5 MPH for the second half.  I needed three more miles than I'd planned at the start of the week to burn off extra calories consumed on Thursday evening in the form of a peanut butter s'more pizza that I had for dessert.  The mileage puts me up to 1078.  I am still on US 54.  Near El Dorado Springs, MO.  In that town there is a Catholic church, St. Elizabeth.

St. Elizabeth's above and beyond was that she gave birth at an age when no one expected her to. She gave birth to the very important John the Baptist.  She (through John's jumping for joy still in the womb when Mary arrived pregnant with Jesus) was one of the first to recognize that Mary was going to be the mother of a very special child.  And her words in Luke Chapter 1 gave us the basis for part of the Hail Mary prayer.  What a wonderful story at that point in her life.  What faith and insight.

Faith and insight--what I explore and try to express through this blog.  

My above and beyond yesterday started with three extra miles.  The remainder of the morning was slow as Sherry and I tried to figure out what to do on a soggy Fourth of July while waiting for our dinner cruise.  We ended up mostly hanging in the morning.  I ate mostly her leftovers from the night before for lunch.  But we went to this cute little family restaurant called Morrisey's for lunch. I got a lovely bowl of French onion soup.  Sherry got a lobster macaroni and cheese that included bacon.  Awesome.  I suppose my "above and beyond" there was finishing hers.  We underestimated how much food she woudl get.

Then, we went to the grocery store to get a few extra things.  Sherry's above and beyond--coming with me to the grocery store which she does not usually do.

After that in the afternoon we played ping pong at the Windrifter.  That was fun.  We split four games.  Above and beyond for both of us as we rarely play ping pong.  

Then we went on the dinner cruise.  Three hours around the lake.  Very nice.  Dinner was good.  Dessert was good.  One drink each.  Fun people watching.  Good music.  Even the Marshall Tucker band song that I criticized for neither having a flute nor a decent synthezied flute was good.  The band was energetic.  The crowd was energetic.  And as anyone who has ever performed for a crowd knows, the more the crowd reacts, the better the band plays.  It is a really cool feedback loop.  We even danced some.  Need to dance more.  It wa very fun.

Then a longish but safe drive home back around the lake.

Great day.

The feedback between teh band and crowd is kind of like the feedback in any pair.  The more one person engages, the more the other person feels wanted, needed, and loved.  (Thanks to Meatloaf for the list of three.)  The more the other person feels wanted, needed, and loved, the more he or she engages.  The feedback loop continues.  And the relationship grows stronger.  Our marriage this week.  Our marrige forever.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Intervals on the Track--Multiple Paces in Life

Yesterday, I ran intervals on the treadmill.  I had expected originally to do all easy miles this week, but another seven miles on the treadmill at a constant pace was just not appealing.  Today, I may have to run the treadmill again as the rain is supposed to be nearly constant.  Yesterday's run was 2 miles warmup (8 min/mile), 3x1 mile (7 min/mile) with 1/4 mile rest between each (8 min/mile) and then 1.5 miles cool down (8 min/mile).  Loved it.  For my virtual pilgrimage this puts me still on US 54. This time in Osceola. MO.  Still headed west.

The intervals represent a change of speeds on the track or in this on the treadmill.  Life yesterday was a bit of a change-up from the several days before.  Although still illustrating the importance of little things and the importance of presence in the week that Sherry and I are spending together.

Afte rmy run, I made what has become the standard for breakfast this week--the yogurt parfait.  Although to try to make the yogurt last, I ate my granola and berry mixture with soy milk poured over it.  And to add some calories given my run (not that I needed them after dinner and desert the night before), I also ate some cherries and a banana.  We went to the same beach again (Brewster's).  It was cooler, less sunny, and less crowded.  I brought a Tom Clancy book to read.  We had the same lunch with one interesting differnece--Mr. Mallard was stalking us today.  The day before, with more children there were more choices for food. Yesterday, he came right over to (and even onto) the blanket we used and stood watching us eat.  Even tried to nip at Sherry's sandwich.  Odd.  We left just before it started to rain, although the rain was brief.

Back at the Windrifter, we had a not so busy afternoon.  Specifically, Sherry was a bit tired so she napped for a while.  That was fine as I tried to answer fewer emails and really treat it as a vacation day.  Ended up making it through more than 250 pages of the novel I started.  Will try to knock off as much as possible before I go back to work on Monday.

Then we went out to dinner.  This time to Jo Green's Upper Deck.  Fun.  It was a simpler meal.  Stuffed clams to start.  Just soda to drink.  Sherry got the a selection of fish.  I got whole belly fried clams which were really good.  The fritters they served were also excellent.  We were debating desert and I ordered a peanut butter s'more pizza.  It was about the size of a small tortilla with a combination of peanut butter, chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker crumbs spread on top.  Very yummy.  Divided into six sections.  I surprised our waitress by eating five of them (reason for a few extra miles planned for this morning.)

Then we came back and just chilled.  Sherry reading stuff mostly online.  Me making my way through the novel.  Watching a silly movie on cable.

A change up in terms of a less full day with more active and less active parts.  But still a good day, indeed.  

May There Be Words

May There Be Words
Word are powerful things.

There are times when I have used them to hurt.
The volume.
The tone.
The meaning.
And when they hurt someone else they ultimately hurt me too.
Emotionally and spiritually—and perhaps ultimately physically
As hurt is never something I look back on
And feel good about.

But most of the time I use them for positivity.
Talking about my passions.
Seeking meaning.
Cheering on.
Cheering up.
Healing myself.
Praying for healing for others.

For some of us words come as easy as does
Or dancing
Or visual art
Or other forms of expression do for others.

But for me it is words.
Always words.
Written words are easier than spoken words.
But both come.

Having the words come is a blessing.
Continuing to have the words come easily
Is an answer to my prayers for
Clarity and expression.

Praying that words will come for others does not guarantee they will.

But I know there are friends who need words
In their lives
Right now.
I pray they find them.
And that they fall on receptive ears.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Day at the Beach

Yesterday I hopped on the treadmill at the Windrifter where Sherry and I are staying.  I haven't used a treadmill for pure mileage (as opposed to gauging my time in a progression run) in quite some time, but I did yesterday.  And I did not push the speed.  I ran 7 miles in one hour.  Just accumulating more miles.  I am now at 1061 as I plan to hit 1082 by the time we return to Baltimore.  1061 puts me about 8 miles west of where County Route 240 meets US 54 in Collins, Missouri.  Another town with no Catholic churches but a Baptist church.  The world needs all the prayers it can get.   

The treadmill is something that some people find boring because there is often little variation as it is used and there is certainly no change in scenery.  So, maybe some people will find this entry a little boring as it repeats a theme I have been focusing on all week.  The simple things that a couple can do together to make their relationship go around and to keep it going in a very positive way.

Yesterday after I ran, I came back to the room and fixed breakfast.  Once again a yogurt parfait of vanilla yogurt, granola, and three types of berries.  All good and I had the same thing as Sherry this time.  My stomach did not react negatively which suggests to me more strongly than ever that what got to me in Ocean City (in the digestive week from hell the week before Father's Day and my slowest 5K race in a long time) was something in the water in OC or someting on a fresh fruit or vegetable that I was served.  

In any case, after that we were both online for a bit as we tried to decide what to do for the day.  In the end we decided to go to the beach.  Specifically Brewster Beach.  It was an interesting beach on Lake Winnepsaukee as there are two small docks with starting blocks for swinning on one end.  They use pool ropes to section off the area to run swimming lessong and they have a local pool team.  It is a pretty interesting way to run the local water sports.

The beach itself is small and seemed to attract everyone from us (first time on a beach all summer and fair-skinned enough to show it) and some others like us to those who were well tanned.  Moms with kids.  Young couples. And a pair of mallard who ruled the beach.  They were so comfortable around people that the male walked right up to and over our blanket twice--not paying any attention to us.  And he stole a Dunkin Donut hole right out of a little boy's hand.  The beach had two guards who were very good--directing away a boat that had pulled up too close to the area they were guarding and keeping kids and parents on the straight and narrow.

We spent about four hours there and left just in time.  While it did not start thunderstorming while we were on the 5-7 minute drive back to the Windrifter, it did rain really hard once we got back.  

While there?  We mostly just hung out.  No tension.  Just together.  Enjoying the sun but trying to avoid burning.  Did not bring a book to read but did check email on the iPhone occasionally.  Got in the water that was cool but refreshing.  I didn't swim but Sherry did.  Ate the lunch that I had made of peanut butter and honey on wheat. Sherry had also packed us each a banana.  I threw out the trash for us both.  On our way back from the beach we took a little detour just to see what is at the end of Clark Rd--a small park called Clark's Point.  It was a lot of fun.

Back at the Windrifter we showered and hung for a while mostly answering emails and doing other stuff online.  We then went to dinner at Wolfe's Tavern at the Wolfeboro Inn. It was a very nice place for dinner.  We had an Adelsheim Pinot Gris to go with an appetizer of mussels with veggies and then Sherry had a shrimp pot pie with lobster sauce and I had grilled chicken.  Dessert was a flan for me and a cobbler for Sherry.  Both were excellent.  Dinner was nice as aside from getting a text from our son, we carried on a conversation the entire time.  No electronics (after I got done looking up wine options).  Just us.

And that is how we have been spending vacation.  Just us.  Together and focused.  Day after day.  Maybe a theme that is as boring as a treadmill run to some.  But refreshing and renewing and affirming and strengthening for me and Sherry.  All good.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More Simple Gifts

Today, I had my first run in New Hampshire--ever.  Some places I go I have run at conferences.  But I have never been to a conference in New Hampshire.  In fact, as mentioned yesterday, I haven't been in New Hampshire since I was 9.  So I probably "ran" somewhere at that time.  But it was just that as a kid I was running as part of play.  Rather than running for the sake of training.  Although, I have commented before that running is one of my grown up forms of play.  Today's run can be seen at with all the hills in all their glory.  Mostly down for the first mile and a half.  Then back up.  The mostly down for the next two miles.  Then back.  All good.  I even spent a half mile in and a half mile out on the local cross country trails.  

Where does that put me on my virtual pilgrimage--at mile 1054.  That is 14 above 40 per week for the first 26 weeks of the year.  Definitely at or beyond where I planned to be.  I think I am in a great position to make my goal by year's end.  In the meantime, I am on the outskirts of Weaubleau Missour on US 54.  No very nearby Catholic churches.  There is a Baptist church in Weaubleau.  I would have to think about what type of direct exposure I have had to Baptist churches. If this run were really across America rather than only virtually across America, I would probably stop for the sake of learning about the Baptist church a bit.

So, the run was slow.  8:55/mile.  It was a great way to see the area.

And that brings me to another day of simple pleasures after my run.  Sherry and I started from Wolfeboro, went to the Castle in the Clouds (a fascinating mountain top estate in Moltonborough, NH), and then went to the the outlet mall in Tiltin, NH.  That allowed us to circumnavigate Lake Winnipessaukee.  So much like my run of going out and back, we went out and back together.  We spent the long day together from chatting even before I ran (I didn't mean to awaken her at 6), the my fixing her breakfast when I came back (a yogurt, granola, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry parfait), to the drive to the castle, to seeing "The Pebble" and the Falls of Song at the first stop, to seeing a cool scenic overview, to walking around the house at the top and reading all the interesting notes about the historial details together, to having lunch at the cafe.  It was a big lunch.  Each of us had a soup as part of our appetizer.  I had clam chowder.  Sherry had a lobster stew in a tomato base.  Both were good.  And both were serious bowls.  We also got Bavarian pretzel bread sticks with an awesome cheddar sauce.  That was a lot.  Then I got an English pub burger while Sherry got a lobster roll.  We needed the lobster role explained to us.  Our very pleasant waitress, Rachel, was surprised we needed lobster rolls explained to us.  We topped it off with a chilled bottle of crisp white wine.  Not usually wine for lunch, but it worked on the warm day on the patio.  We took long enough and ate enough that the wine didn't affect us.  We got a book at Lucknow (the original name of the estate) at the gift shop. Then we drove to Tiltin.  We started with cold drinks from Starbucks.  Then we went into nearly every store that sold something other than just kid stuff.  In the end we bought only four items.  But it was a great way to walk off the food and fullness from the huge lunch.  I carried everything we bought to allow Sherry to have her hands free to look and try a few things on.  Then we drove back together.  Sat together catching up on emails.  Then, I served water, cherries, and chocolate.  We didn't need much food.

But once again it was just about being together.  Enjoying presence.  

And tomorrow will be another great day starting off once again with a run.