Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Story

The day after Christmas a number of years ago, I was driving down a country road in Texas. And it was a bitter cold, cold morning. And walking ahead of me on the gravel road was a little bare-footed boy with non-descript ragged overalls and a makeshift sleeved sweater tied around his little ears. I stopped and picked him up. Looked like he was about 12 years old and his little feet were blue with the cold. He was carrying an orange.
And he got in and had the brightest blue eyes one ever saw. And he turned a bright smile on my face and says, "I'm-a going down the road about two miles to my cousins. I want to show him my orange old Santa Claus brought me." But I wasn't going to mention Christmas to him because I figured he came from a family — the kind that don't have Christmas. But he brought it up himself. He said, "Did old Santa Claus come to see you, Mister?" And I said, "Yes. We had a real nice Christmas at our house and I hope you had the same."
He paused for a moment, looked at me. And then with all the sincerity in the world said, "Mister, we had the wonderfulest Christmas in the United States down to our place. Lordy, it was the first one we ever had had there. See, we never do have them out there much. Don't notice when Christmastime comes. We heared about it, but never did have one 'cause — well, you know, it's just papa says that old Santa Claus — papa hoorahs a lot and said old Santa Claus was scared to bring his reindeer down into our section of the county because folks down there so hard up that they liable to catch one of his reindeer and butcher him for meat. But just several days before Christmas, a lady come out from town and she told all the families through there, our family, too, that they was — old Santa Claus was come in town to leave some things for us and if papa'd go in town, he could get some Christmastime for all of us. And papa hooked up the mule and wagon. He went in town. But he told us children, said, "Now don't ya'll get all worked up and excited because there might not be nothing to this yarn that lady told."
And—but, shucks, she hadn't got out of sight up the lane there till we was done a-watching for him to come back. We couldn't get our minds on nothing else, you know. And mama, she'd come to the door once in a while and say, "Now ya'll quit that looking up the lane because papa told you there might not be nothing." And — but long about the middle of the afternoon, well, we heared the team a-jangling harness a-coming and we ran out in the front yard, and Ernie, my little brother, called out and said, "Yonder come papa." And here come them mules just in a big trot, you know, and papa standing upright in the bed of that wagon holding two big old chickens, all the feathers picked off. And he was just yelling, "Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas." And the team stopped right in front of the gate. And all us children just went a-swarming out there like a flock of chichis, you know, and just a-crawling over that wagon and a-looking in.
And, Mister, I wish you could have seen what was in that wagon. It's bags of stripety candy and apples and oranges and sacks of flour and some real coffee, you know, and just all tinselly and pretty and we couldn't say nothing. Just kind of held our breath and looked at it, you know. And papa standing there just waving them two chickens, a-yelling, "Merry Christmas to you. Merry Christmas to you," and a-laughing that big old grin on his face. And mama, she come a-hurrying out with the baby in her arms, you know. And when she looked in that wagon, she just stopped, and then papa, he dropped them two chickens and reached and caught the baby out of her arms, you know, and held him up and said, "Merry Christmas to you, Santa Claus." And baby, little old Alvie Lee, he just laughed like he knowed it was Christmas, too, you know. And mama, she started telling us the name of all of them nuts. They wasn't just peanuts. They was — she had names for all of them. She — mama knows a heap of things like that. She'd seen that stuff before, you know? And we was, all of us, just a-chattering and a-going on at the same time, us young'uns, a-looking in there.
And all of a sudden, we heared papa call out, "Merry Christmas to you, Sam Jackson." And we stopped and looked. And here comes Sam Jackson a-leading that old cripple-legged mule of his up the lane. And papa said, "Sam Jackson, did you get in town to get some Christmas this year?" Sam Jackson, you know, he sharecrops over there across the creek from our place. And he shook his head and said, "Well, no, sir, Mister. Well, I didn't go in town. I heared about that, but I didn't know it was for colored folks, too. I thought it was just for you white families." All of a sudden, none of us children were saying nothing. Papa, he looked down at mama and mama looked up at him and they didn't say nothing, like they don't a heap of times, but they know what the other one's a-thinking. They're like that, you know. And all of a sudden, papa, he broke out in a big grin again. He said, "Dad-blame-it, Sam Jackson, it's a sure a good thing you come by here. Lord have mercy, I liked to forgot. Old Santa Claus would have me in court if he heared about this. The last thing he asked me if I lived out here near you. Said he hadn't seen you around and said he wanted me to bring part of this out here to you and your family, your woman and your children."
Well, sir, Sam Jackson, he broke out in a big grin. Papa says, "I'll tell you what to do. You get your wife and children and you come down here tomorrow morning. It's going to be Christmastime all day long. Come early and stay late." Sam Jackson said, "You reckon?" And mama called out to him and said, "Yes, and you tell your wife to be sure and bring some pots and pans because we're going to have a heap of cookin' to do and I ain't sure I've got enough to take care of all of it." Well, sir, old Sam Jackson, he started off a-leading that mule up the lane in a full trot, you know, and he was a-heading home to get the word to his folks and his children, you know.
And next morning, it just — you remember how it was yesterday morning, just rosy red and looked like Christmastime. It was cold, but you didn't notice the cold, you know, when the sun just come up, just all rosy red. And us young'uns were all out of bed before daylight seemed like, just running in the kitchen and smelling and looking. And it was all there sure enough. And here come Sam Jackson and his team and his wife and his five young'uns in there. And they's all lookin' over the edge. And we run out and yelled, "Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas." And papa said, "Christmas gift to you, Sam Jackson. Ya'll come on in." And they come in and mama and Sister Jackson, they got in the kitchen and they started a-cooking things up. And us young'uns started playing Christmastime. And it's a lot of fun, you know. We'd just play Christmas Gift with one another and run around and around the house and just roll in the dirt, you know, and then we started playing Go Up To The Kitchen Door And Smell. And we'd run up and smell inside that kitchen door where mama and Sister Jackson was a-cooking at, and then we'd just die laughing and roll in the dirt, you know, and go chasing around and playing Christmas Gift.
And we played Christmastime till we just wore ourselves out. And papa and Sam Jackson—they put a table up and put some sheets over it, some boards up over some sawhorses. And everybody had a place, even the baby. And mama and Sister Jackson said, "Well, now it's ready to come on in. We're going to have Christmas dinner." And I sit right next to Willy Jackson, you know, and he just rolled his eyes at me and I'd roll mine at him. And we'd just die laughing, you know, and there was an apple and an orange and some stripety candy at everybody's place. And that was just dessert, see. That wasn't the real Christmas dinner. Mama and them had done cooked that up. And they just had it spread up and down the table.
And so papa and Sam Jackson, they'd been sitting on the front porch and they come in. Papa, he sit at one end of the table, Sam Jackson sit at the other. And it was just a beautiful table like you never had seen. And I didn't know nothing could ever look like that and smell that good, you know. And Sam Jackson, you know, he's real black and he had on that white clean shirt of his and then them overalls. Everything had been washed and was real clean. Papa, he said, "Brother Jackson, I believe you're a deacon in the church. I ain't much of a church man myself, but I believe you're a deacon. Maybe you'd be willing to give grace." Well, Sam Jackson, he stood up there and his hands is real big and he kind of held onto the side of the table, you know. But he didn't bow his head like a heap of folks do when they're saying the blessing. He just looked up and smiled. And he said, "Lord, I hope you having as nice a Christmas up there with your angels as we're having down here because it sure is Christmastime down here. And I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to you, Lord.

Like I say, Mister, I believe that was the wonderfulest Christmas in the United States of America."'

John Henry Faulk

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tucson Half Marathon

This past Sunday, December 11, 2011, I ran the Tucson Half Marathon.  After my disappointing performance in the New York Marathon, I wanted a race to run soon.  I thought about Dallas White Rock, but decided against it, then I remembered that the Tucson Marathon and half Marathon were a week after Dallas.  I ran my first Boston Qualifying marathon at Tucson, and thought that while I didn't want to run a marathon in December, the half marathon would be a good choice.  So with about a month to go, I checked the air fares and they were decent so I registered, made my plane and hotel reservations.  I only knew of a couple of other people going, and they were running the full.  I also decided that I would keep my participation low key.  A week before the race I was running with one of the other people going, so I told him, but no one else in my running club.  I had a couple of goals for this race.  While in my last post about New York, I said I probably didn't need to run there again, I still want the option to should I change my mind.  So main goal, re-qualify for NY 2012.  To do that I needed to run sub 1:40:00.  My dream goal was to run sub 1:35.  Tucson is a downhill course that flattens out around mile 10 of the half, and is a bit hilly until the end.
My arrival in Tucson was uneventful, I got a car and checked in to the host hotel.  The next morning I saw my friends and joined them for coffee.  They said they were driving the course later, and invited me to join them.  I did, and after we went to the start of the full, we stopped at the Biosphere which is near the half start.  We got out and ran 3 easy miles.  It was good I saw the starting line for the half because I was able to plan my strategy a bit better.  The first mile has a small uphill before we turn to the main road which is mostly downhill.  I made my plan to run the first mile slow and then pick it up as we headed downhill.
At the expo I saw Marshall Ulrich, an elite ultra runner, selling his book Running on Empty.  I went over and bought the book which he autographed.  I talked to him a bit, and mentioned that I knew Harry Deupree.  Marshall smiled and said he knew Harry very well.  He went on to tell me a Harry Deupree story.  When he finished he said he was very happy to know that Harry was doing well.
Race morning, I got up, ready and walked out the door to catch a bus to the start.  One good reason to stay at the host hotel.  Another was it was going to be tight making my 11:30 flight since the 1/2 started at 7 and I was going to have to get back to the hotel, check out, gas up my rental car, and make it back to the airport.
It was cold at the start, they had heaters but the people were gathered around them and it was difficult to stay warm.  I had decided to go minimal with my gear, I wore a long sleeve shirt, and shorts.  I did keep long pants and a jacket on till I needed to hand over my tote bag.  I was in line to start when a sudden and powerful urge to make another stop at the potty hit me.  I decided to listen to that urge since I knew they were having a wave start.  The way the start worked was you got in where you could, and then they let a group go and then waited a minute before the next group.  After my stop I felt much better.  I started almost 10 minutes after then gun, we're off and while I was able to run, there were a lot of slow runners, and walkers ahead of me.  After we made the turn to the main street, Oracle, I still had a lot of people to pass, but was able to at times go off into the street.  They had us mainly running on the shoulder, and the rules said to stay inside the cones.  There was traffic on the road.  In the second mile I was running sub 7:30 by mile 2 and from mile 3 to 6 I ran sub 7:15.  I ran sub 7:30 to mile 11 then started struggling and ran 7:50, 7:42 and 7:30 to the finish.  Time 1:36:42, a new P R, and NYC qualifying time.  I didn't hang around to eat or mingle, but went to find my bus back to the hotel.  This was a bit confusing as we had taken a luxury bus to the start, but all I saw at the finish were school buses.  I asked around and no one seemed to know what was what.  Finally I asked the school bus driver and he said this was the bus to the hotel.  I got on, and only a few others were there.  I thought he's not going any where until we fill up, and that might take a while.  Just then someone told him to take people going to the parking lots also.  Then the bus filled right up, so even with the slight detour, I got to the hotel before 10.  I had already packed, got my stuff, used TV check out and headed to the airport.  Made my flight with about 10 minutes to spare, and got home safe and sound.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NYC Marathon & 6 Hour Run

This past Sunday, November 6, 2011, I ran the NYC Marathon.  I entered through their guaranteed entry by having run a qualifying time and didn't have to go through the lottery.  I arrived in New York the Wednesday before the marathon to attend some business meetings.
I went for a 7 mile run in Central Park that Thursday.  While I was running I was passed by someone going at a rapid pace.  I thought it was Ryan Hall but wasn't sure because he went by so fast.  A little later he was coming toward me and verified it was Ryan.
Race day, I took a cab to the Staten Island Ferry.  The  village was well stocked and the weather being nice was a plus.  Time to start, I had decided I would just try to enjoy the race and finish under 4 hours.  We start, and I'm holding right at a 9 minute pace.  At about mile 3 this guy is passing me and then cuts in front of me, causing me to stumble.  I didn't fall but hurt my knee catching myself.  The guy says "I'm sorry, but I need to run with my friend."  I pulled over to the side and tried to run, but was limping badly.  I thought about quitting, but decided to keep running and see if things improved.  As I ran my knee did feel a little better, but I was still favoring my other leg.  I got back on pace and tried to keep it up, but as I hit mile 20, I started feeling the old wall approaching.  I walked some, but as I hit mile 23 I was able to mostly run at pace.  I finished in 4:10 and then had a long walk to the hotel.
While I think this is a great marathon, the negative experience of being tripped probably set me up to be in a bad mood about it.  Right now it's 3 days latter, and my knee is much better but still hurt.  I don't think I tore anything, just really sore and inflamed.  My current mindset is that I don't want to run this one again, but time will tell.
Two weeks before I ran in a race called "24 the hard way."  This is the third year for the race, and I've run it all 3 years.  First year, 24 hours, last year 12 hours, and this year 6.  I had hoped to hit at least 35 miles.  I started out on pace, but the day warmed up and I began to slow down.  Since this was not a goal race, and I knew I was running the NYC Marathon in two weeks, I decided not to try and push things.  I finished with a total of 31 miles, and in second place.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Catching Up

It's been awhile I know.  Why?  I just haven't felt like posting.  But, to bring you up to date, here's what's been going on running wise.  I ran the Sioux Falls South Dakota Marathon on 9/11/11.  I was trying to Boston Qualify the day before registration opened.  It was a nice race, a bit hotter than normal for SD.  My only complaint about the organization is that the host hotel is 6 miles from packet pickup and no shuttle was provided.  Surely they could add a $5 shuttle option for those of us that stayed in the hotel.  Instead your choice is a $25 cab ride.  I did find someone to share the cab with, but they need to fix that.
I ran the race, was holding pace for most of the run, but as is usual, had to slow down around mile 22.  It was there that I made a major error.  I decided that if I had a good potty break, I'd be able to run fast again.  I could have finished without the break, but I thought that was my best chance to make goal.  Well I took around 2 minutes to break, and missed my time by just over 2 minutes.  Oh well, not that big a deal, still my fastest marathon this year. 3:47.
On October 1st I ran a nice flat 5k.  I felt pretty good the whole race, and ran my fastest 5k in over a year. 20:59.
Yesterday, Sunday, October 9th my running club took a bus trip to Wichita for the Prairie Fire Full and Half Marathon.  I was running the half since I have two longer races coming up in the next month.  I'm running 6 hours at 24 the Hard Way, and the New York Marathon in November.  I started the half marathon with the single goal of running sub 1:45.  I felt that I could achieve this without stressing myself.  It was cool and a very light rain was falling.  Almost perfect running weather.  I started and was holding right at 8 minute miles.  My plan was to hold 8's and then pick it up at the 6.65 mark.  At mile 5 I was really feeling good so I started picking the pace up.  At mile 10 I was still feeling good, so I started running close to 7:30 miles.  I ran the last mile at 7:17 and was still feeling good.  I finished in 1:41:51 and feel no soreness a day later.  I need to run more half's.  Hope to talk to you again in less than 2 months.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Anger - Outrage, Drugs and a Right

In the last few weeks I've experienced and exhibited these two emotions.  They are somewhat the same, but not exactly.  Anger can exist without outrage and vice-versa.  But what I've seen and done in the examples that come to mind have been both.  First, the examples.
I was running a 10k at the Lake, where probably more races in Oklahoma City occur than any other location.  Whenever we race there, the bicyclists get all in an uproar because some runners think we own the trail at that point.  I do think there needs to be some instruction to runners before the race but it doesn't happen.  A biker cursed at a runner who was running in the wrong lane.  I cursed back at the cyclist because, while she (the runner) was wrong, there was plenty of room to go around.  Saturday during a club training run, basically the same thing.  A runner crossed from one side of the street to the other and didn't look behind before she did it.  This was a dangerous move, but fortunately the only ones coming were bicyclists, but this was a city street and a car could have been coming.  Again, the biker cursed the runner and I said a few choice words back to her.  And again, the runner was wrong, but the biker had plenty of room to manuver.  Last example was yesterday, this time two bikers.  One on the trail, the other on the road.  The trail crossed the road, and the trail biker didn't look at the road as she was crossing.  The road biker almost hit her and proceeded to yell at her to "watch where you're going."  Again, the trail biker was in the wrong, but I saw the conflict before there was real danger and so did the road biker.  He just felt that he was entitled to some outrage and anger.  I told him to "chill out."  Three reasons, first no harm done, and the lady was obviously frightened by both the near collision and his yelling at her.  Second, he was clearly an experienced biker, and she clearly wasn't.  Third, it was a lady being harassed by a man.  If he felt there was a lesson to be learned, he should have gently said something to her.  Honestly, I think the near collision was lesson enough.
And my point is this.  We feel a right to be angry and/or outraged at behaviour we know is wrong or out of line.  We get a little rush when we react to it with the same heavy emotion that is exhibited by someone else.  A little bit of "feels good" to tell someone off.  I've honestly been embarrassed by my reaction in two of the three examples I responded to.  I got angry because they were angry and I'm trying to reign that in a bit.  In the third example, near collision, I was calm as I told the guy to chill.  I saw hurt in the lady's expression, and felt a bit sorry for her. 
I know it's hard not to exchange anger for anger, but things will be so much better if someone can take the first step in ramping it down a bit.  Might work on a much larger scale also.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Lately I've been watching Gunsmoke each evening.  I know many wouldn't think of watching this.  First it's in Black and White.  Second, it's a western.  Well, you're right, it's B & W, but it's more than just a western.  In fact it's more of life drama's than about the old west.  For instance, tonight's episode, "Call me Dodie" is about a 17 year old lady who is the oldest child in an orphanage.  She is a mother figure to the rest of the children.  They look up to her because she makes the best of the cruel situation they're in.  But she escapes to Dodge City and people do their best to take advantage of her. She has the innocence of a child, but she can take care of herself.  Again, she has the ability to make the best of whatever situation she finds herself. There were no gun fights, Matt didn't have to shoot anyone or beat anyone up.  Miss Kitty wasn't kidnaped or have to break up a potential fight in the "Long Branch."  Don't get me wrong, this sometimes happens.  But the longevity of the series can be attributed to how deep the episodes were.  Other night time series have lasted longer, but Gunsmoke has more episodes.  It was filmed during a time when they didn't repeat as much. 
Many of the story lines probably give a false sense of "old west justice and sense of fair play."  But that's ok with me, I'm not really looking for a dead on realistic portrayal of the way it was.  One example is when Matt knew a man had set up another man to be killed.  He did this because he had fallen in love and promised the woman he wouldn't kill again.  So he set the man up so that Matt would have to kill him.  In the end his love interest also died.  While Matt knew the man had caused both their deaths, he let the man go because he knew his conscience would bother him for the rest of his life.
Gunsmoke, it's more than just a western.  Thank you James Arness.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Comrades Marathon

On Monday, May 23 I boarded a Delta Jet to begin my journey to Durban, South Africa.  My journey took me from Oklahoma City to Atlanta where I boarded a 777 for the 15 hour non-stop flight to Johannesburg.  From Johannesburg I boarded a South African Airways plane for the 1:15 flight to Durban. 
The long flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg included three full meals, none of which were good, and all the individual entertainment I wanted.  I went back and forth from watching movies or TV series to napping.  They served plenty of water, and every few hours I walked around the plane. The short flight to Durban also included a meal which surprised me.  You would be lucky to get peanuts on a flight that short in the U S.
I arrived in Durban at 11:00 P.M, there is a 7 hour time difference, which meant I had been travelling for 27 hours including layovers in Atlanta and Johannesburg.  I took a cab to my hotel and had no problems checking in.
The hotel was decent, I would compare it to a Holiday Inn, but was on a bad side street.  However, you only had to go about 1/4 block and you were on one of the main downtown streets, with access to anything you could want or need.
Since I arrived on Tuesday night, and the Expo didn't open until Thursday I spent Wednesday sight seeing.  Durban is not a big tourist town, but it is on the Indian ocean.  So there is a lot of activity along the beach, which was about a 5 minute run from the hotel.
Thursday I went to the expo, for those who know, it was about twice the size of the OKC Memorial Marathon Expo.  There wasn't a lot of activity the first day, and since I was an International Runner I had separate areas to pick up my bib and check my timing chip.  Everything went smoothly, and I bought a couple of logo items.  It turned out it was good I checked in the first day, I went to the expo Friday afternoon, and the lines were out the door.  It turns out someone had damaged the Internet connection, and they were having to do everything by hand.
Friday the International runners got a tour of the course by luxury bus.  We made several stops along the way including a stop at the Ethembeni school.   This school is right on the course, and the children lined the sides during the race with hands outstretched for a "high five."
From their website:
"Established in 1984, Ethembeni School serves 300 physically disabled and visually impaired children from all over Kwazulu-Natal, Kingdom of the Zulu (South Africa), educating them to reach their highest potential and to become independent and responsible citizens of the community.

The name Ethembeni means “Place of Hope” and the motto Phila Ufunde – Live and Learn. At Ethembeni 300 beautiful children live, learn, and give us joy and hope."  The group in the picture below sang and danced for us.  Many donations were left during this visit.  It was inspiring to see them on Sunday during the race.

Actually seeing the course was a bit intimidating to me.  All along I'd heard about the hills, but to see them, and to see they were one right after the other for most of the race was just disheartening.  Oh well, I'm here now.
While this race is called a marathon, it's actually an ultramarathon.  The official distance was 86.96km or 54 miles. The race is run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg (Up Year) and reverses direction each year.  This was an "up" year.
Race morning:  The reason I chose the hotel I stayed in was it was less than two blocks from the start.  Sunday morning, I got up, dressed and went down to a breakfast the hotel was providing.  The race started at 5:30 and it was cool but not cold.  I didn't wear anything extra and was a bit chilly at the start.  I was in my coral with about 20 minutes to go.  Chariots of Fire, the Cock Crows and then the gun.  We're off.  Over 16,000 started this race, but they say that it takes no more than 7 minutes for everyone to cross the start, I was across in less than 3 but we were moving slowly for a few blocks.  The time to start is important since, even though this is a chip timed race, you have 12 hours to finish from the gun.  After a bit I settled into a nice pace.  I have the usual 3 goals for this race, dream goal, under 10 hours, realistic goal, under 11 hours, fall back goal, finish before the 12 hour cutoff.  We reach the first of the five major hills, Cowes hill.  I run non-stop up this hill.  It takes a lot out of me but I'm still feeling good.  Next up. Field's hill, I also run all the way up this one.  More fatigue and now I know I won't be running all the way up another hill.  Along the way there are plenty of water/aide stops.  They have the water and Energade (similar to Gatorade) in "sachets."  These are plastic bags that you have to bite the end off and then squirt into your mouth or on your body.  These must make for a trash mess, but they do keep them cold until they give them out.  I ran/walked up the Botha's hill and finally walked the last two, Inchanga and Polly Shortts.  I knew I would finish but both my time goals were out the window.  I didn't have any energy to run very long so I was running maybe a minute and walking one or two.  As I got into Pietermaritzburg I did begin to run continuously again.  And when I entered the Cricket Stadium that was the finish I began to run and pass a lot of people.  I finished in 11:11.  Not as well as I wished, but just happy to finish and get my medal.
If I run this again, and I might next year for the "back to back" medal, I would insert a walk/run strategy for all the hills.  I think running the first two took more out of me than I would have lost with some walking from the beginning. 
I truly enjoyed the entire experience, and have left out a lot of details because this is very long already.  I recommend doing this race if you can.

Friday, May 6, 2011

2011 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

Sunday, May 1st, 2011 I ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  This marathon is called "A Run to Remember."  And the race director makes it clear that this is not a race about running, but about remembering the 168 people who died in the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah building.
It was raining Sunday morning and because of the threat of lightening, the start was delayed for 30 minutes until 7 a.m.  It was cold and rainy at the start.  I was dressed ok for the cold, but I knew if it kept raining I'd be soaked and cold.  We start and I was back a bit so I had to fight my way through a lot of slower runners, and of course the required "walking 3 or 4 abreast" crowd.  I was running this marathon 13 days after running Boston.  I was doing it more as a training run for Comrades, but still felt that I could beat my Boston time. 
It did rain almost the whole time, and I was pretty much ok most of the time.  I hit the half at about 1:51 and was feeling fairly good.  I've only run the OKCMM once before, and it was not pretty.  In that run I hit the wall at mile 17 and finished just under 4:30.  As I approached Lake Hefner I started worrying that this would happen again.  But the first time was a hot day and this was good running weather.  As we ran the trails at the lake I could feel the wall coming, but I was still running well.  The picture above was taken on the lake trails around mile 16.  The lady in the picture is running her first marathon, and I happened to catch her just as a friend was taking her picture.  She had taken the early start, and with the delay got an extra 30 minutes.  She did finish by the way.
I passed mile 17 still feeling good, but also knowing I was going to slow down now.  For a brief time the sun came out, and many in the crowd were saying no more rain from here to the finish.  I thought they knew what they were talking about, I was wrong.  The sun went away and it started raining more and getting colder.  As I headed down Classen Blvd., my feet were numb from the cold and rain.  I didn't really feel bad, but my feet felt funny with each step.  I did walk, twice I think, but then I started to get my second wind.  While I wasn't running as fast as before, I was running.  I ran in from there and finished in 3:53.11.  Four minutes better than Boston, but still a 9 plus positive split.  Oh well, just a training run, right?
When I finished I started uncontrollable shivering.  Our running club had a tent, and I spent a few minutes there but decided I needed to get to my car, get home and get warm.
Since OKC my training has been going well and I'm gaining more confidence that I'll be able to finish Comrades.  Flight booked, hotel booked, guess I'm going.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

115th Boston Marathon

This was my third time to run the Boston Marathon.  One of my running goals for the year was to PR at Boston.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been injured, and had stopped training to hopefully recover enough to run Boston and the Comrades Ultra Marathon in May.  I didn't stop running, I just stopped running fast.  My rehab seemed to be going well, and I even started hoping that I'd be able to run Boston fast. 
A large group of my running club members were going, and we had a lot of things planned together.  Most of us arrived either the Saturday before the Marathon (Monday, April 18) or before.  We went out to dinner Saturday, Monday after the Marathon, and Tuesday.  I enjoyed all of our outings together.

Many of us took the bus together to Hopkinton, the start of the marathon.  It was very chilly there, but the day was supposed to be very good for running.  Cool, and a light tailwind.  We started, and I was running with one of my running club friends.  Our pace is usually very similar, but lately she has been running faster than I have.  While we talked about our goals for Boston, we really didn't get specific.  She was running well, but faster than I thought I could hold, so after a couple of miles, I backed off the pace a bit.  I was holding around an 8:30 pace, and passed through the half in 1:51.51.  But I knew I wasn't going to be able to hold that, so I started slowing down even more.  By the Newton hills I knew I was going to walk some.  So every aid station I would grab both water and Gatorade and walk until I finished them.  While I wanted to run well, I at least needed to finish under 4 hours to get a decent seeding at Comrades.  By mile 21 I knew if I could just hold 10 minute miles I could get my sub four.  I finished in 3:57.05.  Not a bad time for me, but a positive split of 15 minutes.  Very poor pacing.  I'm not disappointed with the time, just my pacing. 
I will be running the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon this coming Sunday, May 1st, just 13 days after Boston.  This is more of a training run getting me ready for the 57 miles at Comrades, but with good weather and light winds I plan to try and beat the Boston time.
I haven't qualified for Boston 2012 and don't know if I will be able too.  But if I do, I'll probably continue to run there.

Monday, April 4, 2011


There are several reasons I haven't posted in awhile.  Been busy, very busy.  But the main reason is I'm injured.  Not can't run injured, but can't run the way I want to injured.  I have runner's knee.  I've actually had it for some time, but up until now, it didn't interfere with my running.  Yeah, that's sounds odd.  Runner's Knee that doesn't affect my running.  Well it didn't.  I could run as fast and hard as I wanted, and it wouldn't bother me until after the run.  But now, I can't run hard.  I've stopped all of my speed work that I was doing in preparation for Boston, and Comrades.  The fear part came in when I started speculating that this would be the end of running for me.  One pharmacist told me it was probably Arthritis and that the only thing I could do is mask the pain.  That's what I get for guessing and using the Internet instead of just going to someone who specializes in this type of injury.  I am doing something about it now, and I think I've made progress.  I'm seeing a Doctor about it, and he identified some problems right off the bat.  Anyway, I'm now fairly confident that I can do my runs, but also fairly sure that PR's are not going to happen.
I have run two races in the past month.  A 25K which I ran in just over two hours, and a half marathon that I ran in just under 1:50.  Neither of which is close to my best, but I was just happy to finish them.
Two weeks from today is the Boston Marathon.  And thirteen days after that I'm running the Oklahoma City Marathon.  My plan right now is to run OKC easy as a training run for the Comardes (Ultra) Marathon which is one month after OKC.  AARP was offering free entries for people over the age of 50 so I took them up on it. 
Well, for now I'm going to close and try to keep updated a little more often.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mi Viaje a Peru - My Trip to Peru

I am currently in Cusco Peru with my brother, on the left in the picture above.  We left the U S A on Saturday, January 29, and arrived in Lima Peru the 30th.  We transferred to a domestic airline and arrived in Cusco that afternoon.  I plan to update this one posting as events transpire.  I have been sightseeing so much and getting in so late every evening, I haven't had time to update the blog.  My excursions will slow down, and I will try to catch up in the next few days.
Our first tour was to the Sacred Valley.   We took a bus from Cusco and stopped numerous places.  One was an animal rescue area when they were nursing pumas and condors.  Below is a picture of my brother next to one of the condors.
Next it was on to other parts of the Sacred Valley.  We travelled to Urubamba and Ollantaytambo.  Ollantaytambo is located at the foot of some Incan ruins.  At this point we were around 8,000 feet and had to climb up quite a few steps.  Each climb took a lot out of you, but we rested at various "terraces" that were cut into the land.  These were made for several reasons.  To resist erosion and to take advantage of the various "micro climates."  While the weather was never extreme, one minute we would be warm and within minutes it would be very cool.  Other times it would rain for 20 to 30 minute.  All of this was very interesting, but completely wore me out.  Because of the altitude, I don't plan to run in Cusco, but am definately getting in some major hill work.  Next up, Machu Picchu.

We had to be up at 4:00 a.m for the trip to Machu Picchu.  We were picked up by the tour van, taken to the PERURAIL Station to catch a bus to another city to take the train.  You could take the train straight from Cusco, but due to mudslides you had to go to another station.  We arrived by train to Aguas Calientes and had to take another bus up the mountain.  These were full size tour buses going up the mountain on a single lane dirt road, and it was raining.  When we met a bus coming down the mountain, one of us had to pull over.
When we go to Machu Picchu, we had to do some climbing.  Once we were into the actual Inca rooms and other structures, it was magical to me.  Our guide explained that this was not really a city, but a holy place, a place to come and teach and meditate.  And that when the Spanish came to conquer the Inca, that they hid this place.  It was not discovered until 1911 and had remained unseen for 500 years.  I won't go into all that I learned, but it had very special effect on me, such that I left our guide to be alone there for awhile.  I realize it was a combination of what Machu Picchu is and what I wanted it to be, but that was enough for me.
On to Lima.
We got to the airport for our trip to Lima in plenty of time.  I was really ready to leave, I loved Cusco and all the history around it, but I had been suffering from a minor dose of altitude sickness.  For me it was just a mild headache most of the time.  But my brother got very sick for about 24 hours.  He's not a runner, but he works out and is in very good shape.  We got to our gate, and as we boarded, they stopped us.  I thought what is this?  But they upgraded us to first class.  We were on TACA airlines, but they knew we were advanced members of American and United, so that's the only reason we could figure for the upgrade.  The plane was full also, so maybe they did it to make more room in coach.  I've already questioned this good luck more than I should have.  Needless to say  we enjoyed our trip to Lima.
We arrived in Lima and took a cab to our hotel, ALLPA.  More about Lima tomorrow.
This is a view from just above a shopping mall.  The hill in the background is really a peninsula and the ocean is behind it also.
Lima is a city of about 9 million people so it is somewhat typical of large cities.  Dirty, fast, and problems with traffic.  We are staying in Miraflores (see the flowers) which is a district of Lima.  It is very modern and progressive.  It is considered a prime spot to live and as I've seen while running, it has plenty of parks and tourist spots, restaurants, shopping centers, and other entertainment.  I have seen more people exercising here than any where else I've been during this trip.  Yesterday we ventured to the Lima downtown area.  It took about 15 minutes to get there, and cost 15 Soles (a little over 5.00).  Like most Latin American countries, and I'm sure in other parts of the world, you negotiate the price before you get in the cab.
Downtown was very historic.  Lots of churches, goverment buildings, and of course restaurants and shopping areas.  And by shopping, I mean both regular shops and natives hawking their (mostly) hand made wares.  I'm a bit sick of being hustled every where I go, but I have to give it to them, most are hustling and not begging.  We've eaten both at Peruvian restaurants, and restaurants that cater to tourists.  I had my share of experimenting in Cusco.  So now I've mostly gone with foods that I'm familar with, but even at that, it's always a bit different.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Past and Future Goals

A Very Happy New Year to you all.  I was in church when the New Year came, so I guess that's a good start.
I am fascinated with time.  I love time machine stories and movies, and I love to speculate about time.  The fact that time and light speed are directly related is considered the greatest equation to this day. But most of time is arbitrary.  One second, minute, hour, day, week, month, and finally, for this post, year.  Happy New Year.  But only one second separates one year from the next.  And if we lived in the country, without any media and paying no attention to our watch, we would not know the difference.
Ok, what does that have to do with past and future goals?  Nothing.  It's just that if we didn't have all these artificial milestones, we'd never know time existed.

My goals for 2010 were:
1. Qualify for Boston at Boston (3:45:59 or faster)
2. Run 100 miles again.
3. Run a sub 20 minute 5k.
4. P R in the Marathon.

Goals 1 and 4 were accomplished at the same time at the Boston Marathon.
Goal 2 was accomplished by finishing the Mother Road 100.
Goal 3 was not accomplished, nor did I train to do so.  With my training for the Marathon and then the 100 miler, I never spent time trying to improve my 5k times.

I will carry the sub 20 goal over again, but I will call it a secondary goal.  One thing that wasn't a stated goal, but that I had in my mind for the future was also accomplished in 2010, and that was to win a race outright and not just my age group.  I did that at the 12 hour run at 24 the Hard Way.

My race calendar is already pretty full for 2011.  I'm entered in the Boston Marathon again.  I've agreed to crew and pace a runner at the Leadville 100 miler, and the picture above represents my major goal race of 2011, the Comrades Marathon (Distance: 89km – 56 miles) in South Africa.  Comrades is the oldest, largest, and most famous Ultra Marathon in the world.  The races reverses direction each year, and 2011 is an "up year."  Meaning I will be running from right to left on the profile map.

My goals for 2011 are as follows:

1. Finish the Boston Marathon in under 3:40
2. Finish the Comrades Marathon in under 11 hours (Race has a 12 hour cut-off)
3. Help my friend to finish the Leadville 100
Soft Goal of running a sub 20 5k.