Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 120 - 4 months

Not quite a third of the way through the year (365/3 > 120) and once again I find myself reflecting back on why the hell I'm running every day and what good it's doing.

It brings to mind great runs and great days.

I also think of how miserable I was, and how much better I felt almost immediately, and how the difference is starting to fade. Not because I'm returning to miserable. Because "much better" has become normal.

In the first few weeks the excitement and empowerment I felt from taking charge of my own life and my own well being and my own happiness was palpable. It was like stepping out of the dark and the cold into the warm, and warmly lit, home of a friend.

If you stay in that warm home long enough, you start to forget how cold and unpleasant it was out there. You might start to take your comfort and happiness for granted. Or you might crave the rush you got from the huge change when you first felt the warmth on your cold skin.

The same can happen with running, or whatever you do to bring your mind and your attention back to what's important to you and to your happiness.

For 120 days I've pulled on my shoes, strapped on a watch, donned some manner of gear, and headed out of whatever door was between me and the world. And I've noticed recently that some of those runs have been mindless. I've been distracted, thinking about the past or the future, rather than staying present.

It's being present that breaks the hold that the outside world has on you and your attention. It frees the mind, and replenishes the soul, reminding you of who you are.

As new habits become, well, just habits, they still hold the same promise and value that they did when they were new. Sometimes we just need a little reminder, a nudge to say "Snap out of it. Pay attention."

In the beginning every run was special. Every run seemed to reveal something. Every run pulled back a layer of crud that I'd let build up.

Most of those layers are gone. The revelations are fewer and the magical nuggets of insight are farther between. And I think that's perfectly natural.

Still, I want to make the most of every run. I want each time out the door to be of value and to be special. But how do I do that?

And then...

Like a little karmic candy-gram, my friend Robin's blog post popped up in my reader. She talks about Intention, consciously pausing and dedicating your effort to a purpose. Doing so centers you, brings you face-to-face with what you are doing, and asks you why you are doing it. And that, boys and girls, is putting yourself smack-dab in the present.

I can't expect the universe to rain down insight and meaning on me every time I run around in her and sweat.
Like all relationships, the first part is easy. Easy, empty and mostly meaningless. But the first part whets your appetite, draws you in, makes you want more.

The meaningful, real, exciting, deep, enriching, wonderful part is a little harder, and takes a little work, but is way worth it. Still, you need the courage to step across that line between easy and hard, between safe and meaningful, between fun and real. Not everyone has that courage.

Four months into my new relationship with myself, I think the easy part is over.

Oh, sure, I could easily keep running every day, taking pictures of the dog and phallic symbols, or re-telling the jokes from the day's group run. But come December, I'd be pretty much where I am now.

The good stuff is going to be harder to find. The layers harder to peel back. If I want to keep moving forward, it's time for me to take some responsibility for the process.

For me, the next step, the first step in the "hard part" phase, is Intention. I started today.

As I pulled on my shoes, I set my intention; to try to make the run better for my cohorts.

The moment came and went without my noticing it, until later when I was reviewing the run to see how I'd done. It was just after the run had ended. We'd completed our usual cool down walking lap of the parking lot. Just as we approached the door, a big gust came up and all three of us Oooohed and Aaaaahed about how good it felt. Then we headed to the door. I could feel the disappointment, not only in myself, but the other two, too. So I turned and said, "It's too perfect out here. I'm walking another lap." As if I'd just given permission, the other two agreed heartily and followed.

Ok, it's not curing cancer or finding enlightenment, but it's a start.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.3 miles on the roads.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 119 - Back Home Again...

I've never smoked marijuana. Never, ever. But I imagine the experience to be very similar to my morning.

I got up at WTF o'clock to catch my plane. That alone doesn't weedify my head. But tag-team that with a fitful night of sleep, that kind of sleep where you don't really sleep because every 20 minutes you wake up sure that you've over-slept and missed your flight, and I'm pretty close to a stoner.

Slouching through the airport, I'm not sure if the haze in the airport is real, or part of the reality filter that my brain has slipped on to protect itself, or just  some eye gunk.

The first miracle? I didn't sleep through the boarding of my flight.

I was really glad I didn't. Not only did I get to go home, but I also was granted a rare and special gift... the second miracle...

The nearly extinct Epmtius Airline-Seatius

The empty seat afforded me the illusion that I could catch up on my sleep during the flight. But the seat was a temptress. A big fat tease.

Oh sure, I dozed off here and there for a few minutes, only to startle back to consciousness either by the captain's charming voice blared over the 1960 Chevy Impala speakers they put in planes, or a violent seat-quake when the passenger behind me needed desperately to get to her travel bag, or my own brief dreams of cart-wheeling down the runway in a big-ass fireball that would be captured on video tape and shown for decades on Nova and The Discovery Channel every time they had anything to say even remotely related to airline safety.

And once I was awake, my throat was dry and sore. That kind of dry and sore that made me wonder if maybe the crackling captain's voice that woke me up was actually me snoring. And maybe the jostling from the lady behind me trying to reach her copy of Us or People was actually her shaking the seat to get me to stop.

Meh. Either way, I wasn't sleeping.

Off the plane, now in an even more dense fog, I made it to my car, and then made it safely to the girlfriend/dog-sitter's house.

After a good solid attempt at conversation and dog-head patting, Old Doug would have forced himself into the office, despite the mega hours he'd put in on the road.

New Doug is a little more realistic. New Doug looks at the bigger picture and what is best for him and those he cares about.

The emails and the questions and the decisions will be there tomorrow, and my brain will be ready for them. Today, I succumbed to my fate... a nap.

I awoke to the sound of my "Pick up the kids" alarm, and, thanks to the day's third miracle, was rested, clear-headed, and ready to rock.

The boys fetched, we decided to brave the gale winds and obscene prices and play a round of miniature golf.

(Not to be bragging, but I won. And this didn't hurt...

That's right... Hole in One.)

Thanks to the decision to rest rather than push through, the hustle and thrashing had finally given way. I was back from my drug-free but nonetheless disorienting funk and enjoying clear vision, steady hands, and my too-brief time with my boys.

The day ended sweetly with me and my boys, playing kick-ball, swinging on swings, talking, sharing, and laughing hysterically at the word "anus".

Good running,

Numbers: 1.3 miles at 9:00p.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 118 - Orlando, still

Last night was the obligatory "Technical Conference Big Party with Free Food and Drink and Featuring Live Music So We Can Pretend We Aren't All Hopeless Social Misfits but Also with Guitar Hero and Wii Games Because We Are Hopeless Social Misfits".

This party was better than most. The music was fun and the stage show was excellent. The featured performer was Jess Stone, who I'd never heard of, but really liked. She reminds me of a remake of Edie Brickell. And she was barefoot.
Jess Stone

The other highlight was the food. It was unusual. It was excellent. It was everywhere. The best?

So, so delicious.

The lowlight was the beating I took from Seth in Wii Bowling. "I've never played this before." Either he's a big fat liar, or I suck at Wii bowling.

The day took it's toll and I bailed before the headliner, Will I Am from Black Eyed Peas. I know, "Wuss!" But I was beat and it wasn't anywhere near time for him to play. Besides, I had an early morning run scheduled.

The alarm went off at 6:00a. I was rested, but tighty-tight tight form yesterday's run and marathon of standing torture that is trade show booth duty.

Some patient stretching and the gift of a band-aid from the front desk hostess, and I was good to go.

Seth and I hit the resort's golf course at sunrise, after being granted permission from the grounds crew, of course. The course is gorgeous. If everyone had a place like this to run, everyone would be runners.

We run and chatted at a pretty good clip and got off the course with 2 minutes to spare before the first tee time.

After the run, I couldn't resist the pool deck. Only problem was that it was 60F and the sun wasn't hitting the deck yet, still crouching behind the hotel.

Undaunted, I grabbed my book and a couple pool towels and decided to wait it out. I had plenty of time, as it turned out. And I spent some of that time watching the 300+ windows in front of me.

Here's what I noticed in the 90 minutes or so of observational research:

  • Guys like to look out their hotel window with their shirts off, talking on the phone, and scratching various body parts. They like to do this a lot.
  • A distant second most popular activity for guys while looking out of their hotel window is buttoning their shirt.
  • Girls don't look out of their hotel windows. Ever. Ok, I did see one, who was putting on her make-up, no doubt taking advantage of the natural light, but she was looking in her make-up mirror, not out the window.

This research was unscientific, but I'm pretty confident it's correct.

Good running,

Numbers: 5.8 miles on concrete cart path.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 117 - Orlando

I was up early for a short run this morning. With a day of standing on my feet staring me in the face, with a snotty look, I figured keeping it short would be best.

The run started fittingly, just outside the lovely Hilton Bonnet Creek.

"Hey, look, this hotel just happens to have a fountain..."

We all know what's coming, right?...

I'm lookin' kinda squinty. Probably from the bright Florida sunshine. Or maybe from the chilly top-of-the-thigh-deep water.

Either way, I got a fountain in and was ready for a nice, easy, short run. So I headed along the route suggested by the resort.

Did that sound snooty there? "Resort". It did, didn't it. Meh...

The route took me by the Waldorf Astoria.

"Wow, that was a long run, there Doug. All the way to NYC? Ha. ha."

Heh, heh... no, silly blog reader. There is a Waldorf, in Orlando, right next door. Just like the one in NYC, except the salad is served on a bed of bermuda grass.

Oh, and there's a fountain out front...

Sweet! A two-fer. That was an unexpected bonus. And refreshing!

On, on... back to the resort sanctioned route. First the obligatory golf course view...

"There's gators in that there pond... gators with a taste for plaid..."

After the golf course came... wait... the Hilton? Seriously?

One miles does not a running course make. That might work for the resort crowd, but I need some more.

I was going to have to go rouge!

No, wait, not "rouge", that would be... weird. I was going "rogue".

I jumped on the sidewalk that lead toward Epcot. I knew it lead toward Epcot because yesterday my angry-driving cab driver turned that way, instead of the right way. When he realized his mistake, he pulled an angry u-turn into oncoming traffic. In between flashes of my life, I noticed an "Epcot - this way" sign.

Disney is a wonderful, happy place, and all that, but it's not much for pedestrians. Between parks and hotels and resorts, sidewalks are hard to find. When you do find one, and it will likely be in an unexpected but aesthetically pleasing place, it'll end just as randomly, but also in a classy, Feng Shui-y manner. To wit...

The sidewalk ends a good 200 yards from the next street. Nothing around expect this tasteful gazebo. There's even a bench for you to sit on as you contemplate the poor decision to try to walk anywhere in Disney World.

But they do take immaculate care of these unused sidewalks...

Note the way they've shaved down the edge of the sidewalk section so that it doesn't stick up and trip someone. Speaking as one who routinely stubs a toe or trips outright, I want to say a sincere "Thank you" to the frozen corpse of Walt Disney, the location of which I swear never to divulge.

Feeling safe on the mostly trip-free sidewalk that was sure to end at any moment, I thought I'd head to Epcot. It's just about an inch away on the map.

The road to the parks is twisty and turny, and it always seems that the entrance will be just around the next bend. It's not.It never is. I can see the Imagineers huddled in room laying out the curves..."No, more curves... los more curves... let the anticipation build... By the time a family finally gets to the entrance, the kids will be screaming and crying and wetting themselves with joy. (Evil laugh) That reminds me, we need to make sure we save space for an over-priced children's shorts and skirts store just inside the main gate."

After a few hundred curves, I gave up trying to reach Epcot. I'd put in more miles than I'd planned, already. "Time to head back. Maybe I'll take in that path I saw around the lake... Hey look, the Swan Hotel"

Note the intricate landscaping, and how much of it was between me and the fountain. I actually ran a slow loop around the circle to check for easier access, and security. None of either. I paused and actually thought for a second about passing on this one. I know! Pffffft...

I bolted from this one and got back on the path.Who knew I'd have 3 fountains today.

Turned a couple corners and... "Hello there, beautiful..."

The Dolphin. That, boys and girls, is a fountain. And easy access!

"Hey Doug, who took the picture?"

Joe from Connecticut

Met Joe walking up the sidewalk approaching this gorgeous fountain after his own run. He gladly snapped my pic, and didn't hesitate for a second when I asked if I could take his. Couldn't talk him into getting into the fountain, though.

I headed back, picking up the pace a bit, feeling spunky after an unexpected 4-fer.

Then, I looked up... "Oh boy, Spanglish South-American Political Leader Sky-Writing Charades! I love this game!!"

Me: "U plus Go... U plus Go... Oh man, I know this... U... Go... U-Go... Hugo Chavez!!!"

Ding. Ding. Ding.

Me: "It's over? Who won? Did I win? Am I the winner? Me?"

Me: "Cool! Thanks. I'm gonna head on back to my hotel now. Thanks!"

Good running,

Numbers: 6.9 miles on sidewalks and grass.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 116 - Always Fresh (reposted in non-mobile mode)

Mobile posting today, thanks to a bit of business travel.*

[Ed. - For those who checked in earlier, the mobile posting didn't turn out so good. Checked in to the beautiful Hilton Bonnet Creek and re-bloggin' it old school.]

Flying out of B terminal for the first time. Feels like I've stepped into a parallel universe. Everything is just a touch off. And it's freaky quiet.

And B gets totally screwed on eats. King David dogs, Shapiro's, and Puck's Express.

I walked over to A for some real travel food.


On the way, while salivating, Pavlov style, I noticed that security at A was jammed, while I had B security to myself. Take note frequent air travelers.

Off to beautiful Orlando, whose motto is "A great place to visit, if you're 7".

Speaking of which, I'm thinking of adopting a new motto...

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 rushed miles on roads, hurried to fly off to the oppressing humidity that is Central Florida.

*For those considering buglarizing my house while I'm gone, I have my phone and computer with me. So unless you have a connection for fencing 10yr old 200lb low-def TVs, I wouldn't bother.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 115 - Mini Photo Safari

For those just tuning in, I'm a single dad.

Sundays when my kids go back to their mom's, the house goes from loud, crazy, messy fun, to quiet. Too quiet. Drink yourself into a coma quiet.

To combat the crappy feeling that comes along with this instantaneous onslaught of quietude, I've been saving my Sunday runs for after 6p. Gives me a reason to live something to do.

This evening, I cruised a couple of my home-based loops, hooking them together, like a couple ditching post-prom.

I was thisclose to leaving my phone on the counter, but figured I'd better bring it along just in case...

Barely out of the neighborhood, I could hear a faint, tiny voice from the tree above my head...

"Echo base, do you copy?"

"Echo base, this is Echo leader... we have choppers down... repeat choppers down... dozens of them... they're just falling from the sky..."

Why must so many die? Why?

So that trees like this can live in freedom...

The iPhone camera doesn't do this justice. The leaves on this young tree are a brilliant day-glow green. I have nothing to compare the color to other than the awesome paint scheme of the day-glow Indy Cars from John Menard's Glidden sponsored team.

Excuse me for pandering to the Indy Car fan base... both of us. But seriously, that's a bitchin' color for a car.

Moving along...

I hate when the Call Before You Dig dudes paint on the side walk.

Isn't the grass good enough? Why do they have to deface the... hey... wait a minute... take a look at that. There, on the left!

Now that's just uncalled for! Does this guy think he's funny? That's so immature.

What? Oh, seriously? You think he might have just been paying his respects to the property's leasing company?

That's a reach. If you're going to go that far, maybe it's part of a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Delta Wing group's Indy Car concept car.

I am not making this up.

Sorry. Last Indy Car reference. Promise.

It's always good to stretch before coming on to a dejected teenage baseball player, especially if you're made of brass.*

Almost home, I was picking up the pace and dove into the trail. The rain made it feel alive as drops fell softly from leaf to leaf before hitting the... WHOA!

"Enough wispy nature boy haiku talk, I need to pay attention to what I'm doing...this stuff is more slippery than KY on a frog's belly."

I made it through. Lots of slips. Several close calls. No falls. What a relief.

And what a rush.

I went right back in for another lap, this time, at speed!

Mud was flying. Puddles were splashed. Roots were eyed seriously as I contemplated the damage they'd do if I were to slip and strike one with my temple.

I reached the far end in one piece... that was not a given.

Note the several inch slide as I came to a "stop" at the turn-around.

The return run was equally thrilling and slippery and fraught with danger. And a little more fun.

Finally emerging from my extra credit trail work, I found a large deep puddle to slosh my shoes around it, rinsing away the caked mud and other hangers on.

It was a great run, and a good way to transition the evening. Though the kids would have enjoyed that run. Or at least seeing the old man come back with mud splattered up his back.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.0 miles on asphalt, concrete, mud, primordial goo.

* For those joining late, that's a call back to this post (78) and this one (79). Not funny to anyone but me, but I'm the one with the password to the blog.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 114 - Hair of the Dog

Sometimes, the best way to work out the aches and pains from a good week of running is to get out and run.


Worked today though.

Went out in the early/dreary morning, achy in the same old places, and a couple new ones. I thought the rain softened trail would be the easiest on the bod. Navigated the cranky geese and the service project volunteers with the unleashed dog without my dog going ape shoot.

Why is everyone doing their service projects today? Everyone! We were triple booked with service projects. Spread the love, people.

We were just short of the trail and, well, something pretty much totally unexpected cut in front of me.


Some dude on a gator, pulling a trailer, decided to take the trail. With no apparent reason to do so. Short cut? Scenic route? Lost? No clue.

I have never seen another living soul on this trail when I was running on it. Now this?

The dog was as dumbfounded as I was. She whined and barked, chiding him, mostly for going so damn slow.

The gator barely fit on the trail, and a couple times had to spin wheels and throw mud to get between trees on my quiet little trail.

Incongruous as you can get.

At the far trail head he went along his way, probably to drink PBR and smoke cigars at his 3 year old niece's birthday party. Or fart in a bakery.

We turned around. The return trip on the trail was lovely.

Barely on topic... a great way to shake off a dreary spring morning and/or an assault against nature is to bake some cinnamon rolls.


Good running,

Numbers: 1.7 miles, on trail and asphalt.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 113 - Running the Other Way

If you run a lot, you will inevitably find yourself running the same courses over and over and over. And over.

In some ways, this is good. It's comforting to know your way, where you are, how far and what terrain you have left.

But some days, when you might not feel all that excited to run anyway, the thought of running that same old, boring course or this other even older, boringer course, make you want to run even less.

You know when you try to think of a place to eat and all that you can come up with are the same tired places where you always eat, and none of them sound good? It's like that.

Let's assume you don't have time to venture off to run in a new or favorite place. You're stuck where you are... where you always are.

Well, try this... run the course backwards.

No, I'm not talking about actually running backwards, as in facing the opposite direction that you are running. Who would do that? (You'd be surprised.) I'm talking about running the usual course, but in reverse.

Like sleeping on the other side of the bed, or wearing your watch on the other hand, or driving a rental, a little change can make the everyday fresh and new.

You'll see the same houses and yards and streets, but from a totally different perspective, and in a different order.

Sometimes, it can be a little disorienting. Last weekend I ran one of my "old and boring" courses backwards for the first time. I got to an intersection, one that I've run through countless times the other way, and I didn't recognize it. I didn't know where I was. I didn't know which way to go.

It blew my mind. Not just a little. A lot. It certainly wasn't the same, old, boring, mindless run.

Give it a try next time you're in a pinch yet feel the need to do something different.

And don't restrict it just to running. Take a different route to work. Brush your teeth with your other hand. Mouse with the other hand. Go to the same old restaurant and order something you've never tried before, maybe even something you think you might not like, or something that you're afraid to try.

Shake things up a bit and see if it doesn't mess with your perspective a little.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.3mile recovery run in the AM.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 112 - Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

I celebrated Earth Day at a stop light on the way to work. Waiting to turn right, were 3 Toyota Hybrids, including mine, all in a row, not idling, not emitting any poisonous gases, offsetting the SUVs of at least 3 of you out there.

I also joined my long time running buddy and good friend Marty for an awesome early morning run at a secret location.

Why's it a secret? Because if we told you, you might run there, and see how awesome it is, and bring others, and then we wouldn't have it all to ourselves. Actually, we probably wouldn't have it at all.

Sunrise from our undisclosed location.

The location is a golf course. A beautiful golf course. An expensive golf course. An exclusive golf course. By "exclusive" they mean that they exclude people. People like me. And I'm guessing most of you. And the people they don't exclude feel pretty damn good about themselves for being there. But if they see runners on "their" course, well then, they wouldn't feel that it was all that "exclusive" after all and they may go find a different, more exclusive place to drive electric buggies drunk.

One of many exclusive bridges.

As we were rolling along the cart path, we came upon some of the grounds keeping crew. I got that "principal just walked into the classroom", "just drove past a Carmel Police car doing 45 in a 30", "No I wasn't looking at that girl", "I'm about to get busted" feeling.

But nothing happened.

They kept grounds keeping. We kept running.

Somehow, Marty gets a pass. He has a "Don't ask. Don't tell. Don't even make eye contact and we'll pretend you aren't here." relationship with these guys.

One of many (about 18) exclusive greens.

I'm sure that part of that unspoken agreement is that he never runs when there are golfers around and he doesn't bring many people along. So I felt honored to be asked.

As great as it is, I won't run there unless I'm with Marty. It's his place and I don't want to mess that up.

I also don't want to be chased off by an illegal wielding a rake.

Good running,

Skin care note: When adding miles and/or intensity, it's not uncommon for some chafing to occur at points of skin friction.
Hygiene note: When using shampoo as body soap, it's best NOT to use the kind that has minty oils added to make your scalp tingle, because that tingle feels like a branding iron if it touches chafed butt cheeks.

Numbers: 7.25 miles on asphalt and concrete.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 111 - Middle School Track Meet

Having pushed the run to the evening, and feeling like I've been pushing my luck a bit the last 4 days, it was time for a rest-mile run.

And since the dog spent the day frolicking, and regular licking, at doggie day care, she was plenty entertained for the day. So, I went solo.

Man, the first 5 minutes I was sluggish... as in running about as fast as a slug.

But at the 5 minute mark, "Pling", I felt great. My stride opened up and my legs got all springy again.

And at minute 6...

Best way to kill a nice run buzz? A phone call from your lawyer.

Kept it shortish (10 minutes or so, probably only cost me $750... sweet) and started right back where I left off... as in I started running again from the spot I'd stopped to hemorrhage money. My running groove was gone.

Luckily, just up the trail I heard a gunshot.

No kidding. A gunshot.

No, it wasn't at me this time. It wasn't even a real gun. It was a starter's pistol!

I'd stumbled onto a Middle School track meet. Very cool! I was just in time for the mile.

"This is gonna be cool. I'll just sidle up to the fence and watch these youngsters. That must be the leader. Here comes the pack... WTF?!??!!!"

This is an abomination.

I don't remember much about my middles school track days, but I'm pretty sure they didn't run the boys and girls together in the mile.

Anyone care to guess how many budding Steve Scott's aren't running the mile because they're afraid they might get beat by a girl?

I'm all for equality in sports. But imagine yourself as a 7th grade boy, getting beat in a race by several girls, in front of other 7th grade boys. And 7th grade girls. Would you want to run the mile again?

Let the girls run faster in their own heat. Let the meet run a few minutes longer. It's a small price for a 13 year old boy's dignity.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.5 miles on a little bit of everything. Felt great, for about 1 minute.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 110 - Surfing the Trail

I need to run more faster. More fast. Faster more often. That's it. Faster more often.

Today was meant to be an easy day after 3 pretty challenging days in a row. But the guys dangled a trip to the Big Boy Trail (Town Run). I couldn't turn it down.

Most days on this trail, I take the lead going out. Being the most senior of the group, I consider that my prerogative. Besides, if I don't, the younglings bolt out of the gate as if their hind quarters were alight.

I try to set a good example when I lead out. Specifically of the value of a nice easy warm up. It's good to ease into a run, especially a rough and tumble trail run.  And most especially when the legs you are deploying on this rough and tumble trail run are old and the only pair you have. Same goes for the lungs and heart feeding those legs.

Today, though, they out flanked me and took off. Mindful of my long term goals and ever present fear of cardiac system failure, I stuck to my plan. Well and good, except that within a couple of minutes, they were out of sight and earshot.

Once warm, I realized that I felt good. Really good.

I decided to give chase.

The trail changes personality when you change speed. At a slower speed, traction is an issue, as the dust between your shoe and solid ground acts like graphite mixed with motor oil. Footing becomes tentative. Downhills are tiptoed.

But when you open it up, the trail comes alive. It turns from a dusty path to a flowing river. The mind drops everything and devotes itself fully to decoding the visual and force input, racing to compute the best foot placement. Ups and downs are tests of core and leg strength. It feels less like running the trail than surfing the river. You feel fast, agile, strong, alive, and totally at peace.

I got there today. It was glorious. It reminded me that running fast is how I run best and that I need to do it more often.

Same goes for the rest of life. Plodding along at a safe pace makes perfect sense. It's also dull. And only a tiny slice of the total experience. And frankly, not the way to live out the short time we have.

Throw a little caution to the wind, uncork your inner surfer, and let 'er rip.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.3 miles on dusty, hard, awesome trails.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 109 - I'm Hungry

I'm stumped.

And a little pissed.

I've run every day so far this year. Every day.

My breakfast for the vast majority of those days has consisted of a diet soda or water and an organic fiber delivery vehicle in the shape and disguise of a kid-sized snack bar. About 120-130 calories and, honestly, it holds me over until lunch.

Lunch? I've cleaned up my act there, too. It's either a protein bar or a Clif bar with water. Another 200-230 calories. And that's after my run most days.

My afternoon snack, if I have one, is a handful of trail-mix. Not the good trail mix with peanuts and M&Ms and little bits of crack. No, I've been eating the dried fruit and almonds and coconut shavings and little square bits that look like they came out of someone's ear.

For dinner I splurge on actual food, but "good choice" things like grilled chicken and sushi.

People, I'm eating vegetables.

And yet, my weight is unchanged.

Unchanged from a few months ago when I was eating burgers for lunch, candy bars in the afternoon, reubens for dinner, and french fries ALL THE TIME!

Some have told me that the culprit is beer. I find that extremely difficult to believe. First, I don't drink that much of it. There are 170 calories in a pint of Guinness. A 2.5 mile run burns off two of them all by itself.

Second, when I do drink it, I'm peeing it out almost immediately. Seriously, it goes straight down my throat to my bladder. If I hold it in long enough, long enough to build up a little pressure for expulsion, I can put a head on the toilet water. In the pee-to-beer spectrum, my pee is closer to beer than Miller Light is. I am peeing barely consumed beer.

True, my vitamin B intake is the only area of consumption that I haven't cut back. There are just so many great beers our there. And by 8p, I can't stand the thought of drinking another glass of water.

So here's my deal with myself... for every beer a glass of water.

If nothing else, my mileage will spike with all of the trips to the restroom.

Good running,

Numbers: Peppy 4.4 miles on the roads. Felt great, especially after 7+ yesterday.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 108 - Orvis' Birthday

Sometimes, if you're in the right place at the right time, and you're open to the opportunities that the universe offers up, great things happen.

The story starts on Friday night. We were wrapping up the celebration of the girlfriend's birthday with Flying Toasters. The place was puh-acked. We wriggled through the bodies to get up to the stage. We managed to find the girl's friends, a minor miracle, and there was dancing.

The band was wailin' and having a ball. The dance floor was crammed. It was way too much fun.

Shortly before the band's quittin' time, I saw somebody I know. My neighbor. She's with a big group of girls, dancing and laughing, and she recognized me.

Old school Doug would have waved politely and gone back to embarrassing myself dancing.

New school Doug grabbed her hand, made my way to her, and chatted away.

Turns out she's friends with the band. And before I knew it, we were invited to a party she was throwing the next day for Orvis, the lead guitar player.

When 6p Saturday rolled around, I was apprehensive. I don't really know my neighbor very well. Did she really mean to invite us? Would she even remember inviting us? Would we walk in to "Oh, you came. How... nice?"

Old Doug - sneak out quietly to a movie.

New Doug - "What's the worst that could happen? If it blows, we'll go to a movie."

We walked next door, and we weren't shooed out the door. There was no "bum's rush". Instead, we were ordered to eat and have fun.

We did both.

We also got to meet tons of people, all apparently huge Flying Toasters fans. Some to the point of fawning. A couple were like puppies following around the birthday boy as if he were made of Gaines Burgers.

We even got a chance to get to know Orvis. He's a very nice, kind guy. Makes his living playing music. Doesn't make a lot, and is totally cool with that.

What I really liked about Orvis was how honestly thankful and appreciative he was to have all of these people celebrating his 50th birthday.

He was about to get even more.

The party moved to Mickey's to see the soul/funk cover band Toy Factory. They were tight, jammin', and super fun.

And apparently they are big with the Carmel lesbian community. There were girls making out with girls all over the place. In Carmel. I know!

It wasn't long before the Toy Factory guys recognized Orvis and the other dudes there from the Toasters. They kept calling to him, sang Happy Birthday to him, and before long the whole gig turned into an Orvis' birthday party reprise. Toy Factory even invited Orvis to sing a couple songs with his gang. A pretty gracious thing to do, turn over your show to a bunch of other dudes. A maybe not the best idea, because...

They tore the house - wait for it ------- down.

And what was extra cool was that it wasn't just the Toasters singing. Now, it was my new bud Orvis singing. It was the cool guy who was worried about staying out too late because he had to get up at 6:30a to play in his church band.

Being open to the idea of walking into a room of strangers led to some new friends, knowing my neighbor a lot better, and a great night of music and fun.

And a kick-ass version of Word Up.

The morales of the story are: If you see someone you know, go say hi. If you are invited to a party, go. Talk to as many people as you can at the party, you never know how'll you meet. And if the party moves to a live music venue, follow the party.

Word up.

Good Running,

Numbers: 7.5 miles. That is not a typo. Took to one of my favorite home courses that I haven't had the strength/fitness/attachments to try for months. Felt great. Dog was slowing me down the last mile.
One of my favorite memories from this course happened at this point. On an early morning run a squirrel stepped down from a tree onto this neighborhood's (weak-ass) rendition of the The Great Wall of China. The squirrel ran along the wall, exactly at my pace, watching me, staring at me, only looking away for the split second it took to clear the pseudo-posts. After 50 yards or so, apparently having learned what he needed, or simply growing bored, he leapt into another tree. Too cool.