Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 304 - Here, you drive.

Writing when you're hungover from last night's party is very... um very... wait... uhhh... what was I talking about?

Somehow I managed to meet Marty for a run at 8:00am.

The debate inside my head was furious. To the left of the aisle came the cry to not let our running buddy down. The right said "Screw him. If we get out of bed feeling like this, we will die."

Finally, both sides agreed that if we don't run, the terrorists, and the Cuervo shots, win. That's a cause worth risking death for.

Either the run, or maybe the party, put a serious dent in my brain cell count. So, while they are replenished, I'm turning the porch light on, welcoming you to my virtual front door, and giving you, not candy, because the neighborhood kids have already cleaned me out, but an even better treat.

This week, you highly intelligent and better than average looking readers will write the blog. You can submit questions, or topics you'd like me to write about, or even write your own guest post if you want, by entering a comment below, putting it in a Facebook comment/message, or emailing to

Don't be shy... I'll post everything I get that's not totally offensive, isn't even slightly commercial, and doesn't violate anyone's privacy, except maybe mine. If you wish to remain anonymous, I'll play along.

This will either be awesome or a huge mistake... up to you.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.9 miles on asphalt with dog, who's still been hyper all day. Damn squirrels.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 303 - Not every 5K is created equal

There was a time, not that long ago, unless you are a fruit fly, in which case it's something like ten thousand generations ago, when I knew about every race within 50 miles of my house.

This morning I drove by two 5K races not more than 3 miles apart. One was right downtown Carmel, the other at a nearby Catholic church. Had no idea they were going on.

Probably just as well... I had no business racing today after the abysmal run yesterday.

It did remind me of a bit of good advice for new runners, though... if you have a choice between a community 5K and a Catholic 5K, remember that the community 5K is 3.1 miles, and the Catholic 5K is actually 3.4 miles ... they tack on an extra 10% for tithing.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles, a rest-mile day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 302 - Rainbows and Tequila

Wow. Today? Not my day.

I made a classic mistake. And one that I make over, and over, again.

I let the other guys pull me out too fast. I didn't run my usual slow and steady warm-up, and I paid the price.

If I'd run my run, warmed up easy, I'd have kicked their collective asses.

Instead... It was a bad run.

Don't get me wrong. A bad run is better than no run. But damn, this was a rough one.

Some days you make a mistake that bites you. Some days, you just don't have any pop. Some days, you're just not yourself. Some days, you start slow, and just stay there.

But... there's got to be a but in there... somewhere... but... um... wait... ok, let's try this... there's value in perseverance. Even if you screw up, you finish what you start. And... you eat your broccoli.

I guess the point is that not every day is rainbows and tequila. Still, we press on, looking forward to the days that are.

Good running,

Numbers: 5 miles.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 301 - Ah, to be stupid again.

A buddy and I were discussing the realities of life today, when he said the most remarkable thing.

"We know too much."

The idea was that it's hard to be impulsive when you've been through the wringer. Too many mistakes from the past give you pause.

I've wondered a thousand times what it would be like to know what I know now, but take that knowledge back to age 25.

I've never contemplated what it would be like to be clueless as a 25 year old, now.

Is knowledge and experience really that great? Am I really going to make decisions that are so much better so as to outweigh the bliss that is ignorance? Or do I drag my life to a screeching halt with analysis-paralysis. Do I forego the high-risk, high-reward choice because I've grown gun shy?

Would I make more decisions that I regret if I were clueless/impetuous, or if I were reasoned/conservative?

My gut tells me that, on the whole, it's better to be wise. Not as much fun, but better, in the long run.

Arguments pro and con welcome in the comments section.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.5 miles on trail, the same trail that reached up and pulled me to the ground last week. I think I'm mostly over that train-wreck. Ran well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 300 - (untitled)

Today was run 300.

There wasn't much else special about it. Like so many of the 299 days before, my schedule was crammed, I was tired, I didn't feel so great. And I certainly didn't feel like running.

But... I did. I ran after everything else was taken care of... at 8:30p, in the dark, with the dog.

Just like every one of the 299 days before, my day was better with the run than it would have been without it.

On Day 9 of this streak, while standing in the shower, I drew a "9" on the glass wall with my finger. I had never run 9 days in a row before. I just stared at the number, letting it sink in. Letting myself feel good about it.

Then, I drew a line under it. And under the line, I wrote "365".

That put things into perspective.

9/365 = 0.025

What I was trying to do was almost unimaginably larger than the best I'd ever done.

That kinda freaked me out.

But, by adding one run, one day at a time, day after day, today I hit 300.


300 is hard to imagine. Try to picture 300 of something... seriously, try... I'll wait...

Hard isn't it...

Here, see if this helps...


Doesn't seem like that many, really. Like, if they were M&Ms. But pretend you have to lace up and head out for each one of those, without skipping even one day, and you'll see it differently.

I know 300 is more days than I ever thought I could run in a row. Yet I know that I'll make it to 365.

After December 31st, I'm not sure what I'll do. To be honest, the streak has taken a toll on my body. Going from hardly running at all to running every day is pretty irresponsible. Doing it at my age is certifiable. Adding that mess to minimalist running is just stupid.

For the damage it's done to my connective tissue, it's done 10 times as much good for the rest of me. Carving out a few minutes everyday for myself to process, examine, measure, work through things, put things into perspective, forgive, or just escape the world and be present in every breath and foot fall, has been the best thing I've ever done for myself.

And the beauty of the streak is that I continue to do that best thing, every day.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.1 miles on the streets in the dark.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 299 - Fast, Slow, Whatever

We all start slow. We know we're slow.

Then, one day, out of the blue, we are going... faster!

It's a little miracle concoction of dedication and physiology and adaptation. You keep running. Your running muscles get stronger. Your blood volume increases. Your body even builds new capillaries to feed those new muscles with all of that new blood.

Your heart gets stronger, and moves more blood with every squeeze. You are turning into a machine, one that converts oxygen and carbs into a blur that looks like you, but faster. (And maybe thinner.)

It's a great feeling. You see yourself differently. You are different. You're not a plodder, or even a jogger. You're a runner.

And then, usually while you're patting yourself on the back, another runner blows your figurative doors off. They pass you like you were tied to a Brinks truck. They go by you so fast, you need to look down to make sure you aren't going backwards by mistake. Your speed is closer to the speed of that stump over there than it is to that guy's.

"Pop" goes your balloon. Gone is that feeling of invincibility. Gone is the athlete in the mirror. You're not fast after all. Just faster than you used to be. Which is still pretty slow.

Well, kiddo. I say, "Buck up!"

Fast is relative:

  • Some days I'm faster than other days.
  • On average I ran faster last year, but not nearly as often.
  • I bet I am faster next year than I've been in five years.
  • My fastest day this year is a lot slower than my fastest day 10 years ago.
  • My average day this year will probably be faster than my best day 20 years ahead.
  • I bet if you put us against each other today, I'm faster than most of the guys who beat me in college.
  • I beat people younger than me in every race I enter.
  • I get beat by people older than me in every race I enter.
  • Today, one of the guys in our group wanted a "slow" day, and he beat me by several minutes.
  • Three years ago, I routinely thumped that same guy.

The point is that, as runners, we aren't really racing anyone but ourselves. We might spend a summer racing, trying to beat people who beat us last summer. But in the end, we are competing only against the voice in our head telling us we should probably slow down.

Unless you're on the couch, you are fast. And those other runners, those who's fast is a little faster than yours, support you. They started slow, too. They were where you are, once. They also know that one day, your fast will be their fast, too.

You are fast. Fast for you.

So don't judge your pace against anyone else's. Your pace is yours. Theirs is theirs. If someone passes you, give them a "Go get 'em." When you pass someone, encourage them with a "Rock on." or "Looking good."

And be as kind to yourself as you run, improve, learn, speed up, slow down, and especially on those off days when things just aren't clicking.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.4 miles on streets, kinda fast, for me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 298 - Being your best

If you have 3 minutes, read this article:

How to Push Past the Pain, as the Champions Do
If you don't have 3 minutes, I'll summarize:
Great champions are not only physically gifted, but they also have the mental toughness to push themselves through terrible pain, way past were most people would give up, in order to win. 
So they're not only better/faster/stronger than you, but you're a pussy, too. Oh... sorry... wuss... you're a wuss.

I think we are all champions inside. I really do. And it's that tenacity, that grit, that acknowledgement that to be our best, we have to suffer, endure, work hard, maybe harder than the next person, where our inner-champion resides. The champion's road is not downhill.

Never accepting "good enough", always striving to do your best, is a most noble pursuit, and the best use of our short time in this life.

Realizing that we can't always be our best is important, too. Somedays we need to cut ourselves some slack.

But complacency, willingness to do "ok", is the path to a life wasted, or at least, regretted.

Be a champion today.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles, rest-mile day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 297 - The Buckingham Disappointment

Took the boys to Chicago this weekend. We love the city, and never fail to find adventure and coolness.

But the city held a special treasure for me.

Buckingham Fountain*

As far as I know, this is the bitchin'est fountain in North America**.

Up at dawn. Navigated the underground labyrinth that is Lower Wacker. Quickly trotted to the fountain. She was still sleeping. No matter, it was only a matter of time.

Not sure when security might show up, I did some recon. The fence around the fountain wasn't as formidable as I'd feared. A mere nuisance, though it might slow me down if I have to flee.

Two nice women, out for a run themselves, came by. I figured it would be a great chance to get a safety picture, just in case The Fuzz showed up when the fountain awoke. They were mildly amused, and more interested in my shoes, but they obliged.

I hopped the fence, scurried, excited, to the edge to step in...

and stopped.

Rule #1 of Fountain Defilation: If you can't see the bottom, don't go in.***

Here I was, at the edge of my greatest fountain-related conquest, literally, with my principles staring me in my face. Not literally, that would be weird.

I sat on the edge, dropped a leg over, hoping to hit bottom. No luck.

I had to walk away. I couldn't ignore the safety rule I mandated, for myself, for my own safety.

Yeah, I know... I was a little disgusted with myself, too.

But... I'll return to Buckingham, in the winter, when she's empty, so I can chart the bottom and gauge her depth, and again in the spring, when her water is clear.

For now, this wildly out-of-Buck's-league fountain, will have to do...

Good running,

*Pretty bitchin' photo, if I do say so myself. Took it just after sunrise with my iPhone 4. Seriously.

 **World title goes to Trevi Fountain... hands down.

*** It's a matter of safety. If you can't see the bottom, not only do you not know how deep it is, but more importantly you also don't know where your feet are planting. It could be a light, a power box, broken glass. 

Numbers: 2.5 miles on the streets of Chicago.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 296 - Nazi Zombies

I'd put off the trip to Walmart as long as possible.

I really don't care for Walmart. I don't like going there. But The Duke has had a gift card scorching his pocket since his birthday.

We inevitably found ourselves by the video games. The Middle One and I browsed mindlessly, waiting for his brother to pick something... anything, when he tells me "The new Call of Duty has Nazi Zombies."

Those are two words I wouldn't have put together on my own... Nazi Zombies.

Nazis, bad. Zombies, also bad. Nazi Zombies, really bad.

So many questions rattled around in my head during my subsequent run...

Which do you suppose is worse Nazi Zombies (Zombies that have gone fascist) or Zombie Nazis (Fascists who are now zombies)?

And just how do you suppose that Call of Duty production meeting went?

"Bob, I like you Nazi idea. A good war game can always use some Nazis.", says the game producer.
"And Stan, I wasn't sure at first, but I'm warming up to your Zombie concept.", he says, leaning back in his chair.
"But this time, we need something... I don't know... over the top... something... Edgy!"
"You two put your heads together and see what you can come up with. I need it by the end of the day."

And how are they going to top Nazi Zombies? Alien Nazi Zombies?

[Thoughts welcome in the Comments section below.]

Good running,

Numbers: 3.1 brisk miles on streets.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 295 - That's Good Squishee

In general, I'm against suburban sprawl.

Seeing perfectly good grass and woods turned into yet another strip mall, which itself is filled with another nail salon, another dry cleaner, another pizza dive that won't last a year, depresses me.

I'd much prefer to live without a car, within walking distance of a grocery, a theater, a library, and a pub.

Here's my paradox. Suburban sprawl has dropped over-priced candy, even more over-priced sodas, and hotdogs on rollers, in my neighborhood.

The unstoppable force I oppose has conspired to tempt me with convenience, within walking distance.

And I'd have resisted it's bright lights and empty calories... if not for the Squishee machines.

When the Quik-E-Mart first appeared, the first question from the backseat...
"Do you think they'll have Squishees?"

Of course... They do.

And it's so close, that it hardly melts at all on the run home.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.2 miles on streets

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 294 - Pizzology

Mostly recovered from the nasty, and rather rude, meet-up with the ground yesterday, I worked through lunch and ran short and careful, extra careful, after work.

Having survived the trail without even one face-plant, I deserved a treat.

And the treat was Pizzology.

The mostly mundane world that is Carmel Indiana is blessed to have a great eating place... some call them "restaurants"... right in the gut of the city.

The ingredients are fresh. Everything but the desserts are from scratch (and they're working on those). And the service is the perfect balance of knowledge, taste, care-taking, and leave-alone-ing.

This evening, I enjoyed half of the chopped salad which, despite the poisonous olives, was a delight. Every bite, a delight.

That just primed the food pump. My tummy-filler was the Old Kentucky Rome pizza, Kentucky Cured Prosciutto, Roasted Figs, Taleggio. Figs! On Pizza!! Brilliant!! And delicious.

And to tie it all together, they serve Italian wines. Exclusively Italian. Inclusively awesome. I managed to steal some sips of the GF's Piemonte Fontanafredda Barbara D'Alba. Yum!

They also have local beers on draft. Tonight, I enjoyed Triple Ripple from my good fiends at Brugge. In fact, I enjoyed it twice. Perfect.

This is a great time to be alive.

Find and eat good food. Find wines and/or beers you love, and enoy them. And experience the world outside with a good run, or walk. These things, and family and friends, and maybe a dog, will make for a good life.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.5 miles, rest miles, testing out damage from yesterday. All systems checked out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 293 - Big Fall

After yesterday's great, and speedy, run, I decided to retreat to the woods to give the legs an easy day.

It would be a slow jaunt. I could enjoy the seasonal changes and maybe find something interesting to write about.

The first thing I noticed when I hit the trail was the blanket of leaves.

Blessing and curse, they're beautiful and evil, as they hide danger below.

Being a good trail runner, I reminded myself to stay present, be vigilant, don't drag my toes, and everything would work out just fine.

Moving on, I found more leaves. These were falling, falling by the bushel. There were thousands falling and I couldn't catch a one. It was impossible pick any single leaf out from the swarm. Later, I managed to "catch" one, only because at some point it had landed on my head, and stuck.

With the leaves off the trees, the trail offers a new view of the White River.

I started thinking about how many times a week I cross this river without even noticing. What was to our pioneering forefathers a formidable obstacle when traveling east or west, is now mostly unnoticed thanks to bridges with walls higher than the windows of the average SUV. And what was once a provider of food and transportation, is now an open sewer whose inhabitants I wouldn't care to touch, let alone eat.

Soon, I momentarily lost the trail in the scatter...

Can you see where the trail is?
It's there... somewhere.

This served as another reminder to keep focused and mindful of the footing. I pressed on, attentive to my footing.

All of that concentration paid off. I reached the last bend, practically home. "Phew! That was like running a gauntlet. I'm sure glad I didn't f... Yoink!"

The absolute second I let me guard down, I hit the dirt... hard.

And here's the culprit...

Can't see it? Yeah, I couldn't either!

Let's try removing a few pieces of Nature's camouflage.

There's the little bastard.

I hit it square. No time to even attempt a recovery. Before I knew it, I was on the ground. Surprised. Pissed. Sore.

I'm still sore.

I suppose I had it coming. I was feeling so good yesterday, and 2.4 miles worth of today. A reminder to cherish the good days, I guess.

I'm not bitter... much.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.6 miles, 12 feet of which I was airborne.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 292 - More will Come

Today's run was a bit of a surprise.

It started like so many others. Four of us in Mike's car heading to "The Asphalt Treadmill", also known as the Monon Trail*.

And as usual, I was the slowest out of the gate, easing into the run, letting the muscles and connective tissue gain some heat and loosen up.

But it wasn't long before I was pulling the young guys.

I felt strong and fluid and... don't tell anyone... I felt fast.

I'm not kidding myself... I wasn't the fastest. Mark Va-Gee-Gee had us all covered. But when he waited for us at the turn-around, I hung with him on the return.

I wasn't blasting any records or turning the heads of big league scouts, but I was moving... well. For the first time in weeks, I felt like I was running the way I should be running. I wasn't bound up. I wasn't sore. I wasn't nursing this or favoring that. I was motoring, the way I used to.

And with a mile to go... I eased up. I let Mark and Wulf go. I let Mike catch me, and even leave me with a few hundred yards to go.

Sure, I could have hung with those guys. A year ago I would have. I think I'm a little smarter now. At least more sensible.

I whoa'd up because it's been a looong time coming, that good feeling, that easy, powerful stride. I can enjoy being well, but I also need to respect my body, and not over do it. I'd had my fun, and I want to have a lot more fun ahead.

There's a time to let yourself go, to see what you've got. And when you see what you've got, enjoy it, but don't reach for more.

There's no need to reach for more.

More will come to you, with diligence and patience.

Good running,

* I kid the Monon. It's a great resource and we are lucky to have it. Would be better with a little rolling terrain, a few more turns, and a wood chip surface, but still... lucky to have it.

Numbers: 5 miles on asphalt.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 291 - The Arbors

I try to avoid running in apartment complexes. They're at best uninteresting. Usually depressing.

Today, though, having chosen to work through lunch, I was looking at a short evening run in the chill and drippy-droppy rain. To counterbalance the gray and cold, I wanted to explore a new route. Not easy when you've been living, and running, in a neighborhood for 7 years. Maybe 8... I'm not sure.

Google maps showed a winding street, Arbor Drive, with several dead-end offshoots and loops, each named Arbor Drive. This was idiocy worth exploring.

I am not kidding. Click image for a closer look.

To get to the Arbors, I went through a very nice, and new, apartment complex. One with more than one street name.

At the boundary, I saw this friendly thing welcome to The Arbors...

"How rude.", I thought. "How could the nice apartment with varied street names put up such an unneighborly gate?"

Upon closer examination it became clear that it wasn't the nice apartments and put the gate up. It was The Arbors.

No Parking, Anytime in front of our chained gate.

I went up Arbor Drive to Arbor Drive, and then turned onto Arbor Drive, and noticed that there were a lot of these... everywhere...

And I mean everywhere. For each pod of apartments, there were two in the parking area, and one at each drive, in and out.

A close second in the obnoxious and ridiculously over-posted sign contest was this one...

This begs the question... where does one park if, say, one is visiting some poor soul living in The Arbors?
Right next to the dumpsters.

I'm sure The Arbors are very nice, and run by very nice people, and managed by very nice people, and represented by very nice lawyers.

But if you're invited to The Arbors, you might consider taking a cab.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.1 easy miles. Legs feel... Dare I say it?... I dare... springy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 290 - Man's Best Friend?

Man's best friend? I'm not so sure.

I don't think anyone's best friend would wake them up at 5:45a because there was a squirrel in the yard.

She's a good running buddy, but a pretty inconsiderate roommate.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles, a rest-mile day after 3 or 4 good days in a row.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 289 - Today I Ran a Marathon...

... Relay.

You didn't really think I'd run a marathon, did you? With my mileage? I'd be crippled.

And still on the course.

And dead.

No, I ran part of a marathon. In a relay, you split the 26.2 miles among 4 runners. I ran the final 7.2 mile leg. My buddy Matt had decided on Monday to enter his family into the relay. 12 seconds after the credit card transaction cleared, his son bailed. So I got to take his place.

So the team was Mary, Matt's wife, Michelle, his daughter, Matt, and me. Until Matt bailed on Friday... something about his neck... I think he threw it out, in a freak accident, pulling his skirt on. So Lou, another member of our virtual running club, took his leg.

Michelle, Mary, me... Lou bolted.

It's a pretty fun deal. And, obviously, you can do it without any real training.

But running the last leg is... what's the word... awkward.

I joined the race at mile 19, with fresh legs and a good night's sleep.

And I was running with folks who'd started before I was awake, and had already run 19 miles.

Nine. Teen. Miles.

The 7 miles I was cruising threw were the worst 7 miles for those folks. I know... I've been there... many times... and when I was there, in that painful, dark place, I hated the relay runners. Hated them.

I don't like being hated. But I had to pass people. I passed a lot of people. There was a lot of hate.

But there was some not-so-hatey stuff, too.

Two teachers running in
memory of a student lost to MS.

After a couple miles, I decided I'd try to encourage some of the full-marathoners. It's a touchy situation.

At 20 miles, you hurt. Huh-effin-yurt. You don't want to be told you look good. You know you don't. You don't want to hear how much farther you have to go. You know exactly how far you have to go. You want to be left alone... in your body... the body that is using pain and cramps to punish you for not stopping.

So what does one say? I tried several lines, depending on how the runner was looking...

Running steady - "Rock on! You're killing this thing!"
Running not-so-steady - "Thatta way young man/woman, keep it goin'.", regardless of their age.
Walking - this is VERY touchy - "You're alright... just keeping moving forward."

No one spit on me.

I felt for these runners. I was also envious. They may have been slow, and sore, but they were just a couple miles from an amazing accomplishment. Months of training - long runs, early runs, late runs, easy runs, tough runs, really tough runs - was going to be rewarded with cheers, a medal, and a banana.

Finishing my piddly 7 miles along side them, I felt like I was crashing their party.

I haven't run a marathon in a few years. The training is demanding. It takes its toll on your body, your schedule, and your relationships. But every marathon is an adventure. You never know what's going to happen. You know that your courage and will will be tested. And no matter what your finish time is, finishing is always a deeply satisfying moment.

I may just have to toe that line one more time, and earn those cheers, medal, and banana.

Good running,

Numbers: 7.2 miles on roads.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 288 - Knowing when to Quit

I got to run with my running buddy Patrick today. He lives in Michigan. Haven't seen him in ages and it was great to catch up.

We talked about work and running and family and music and how Blockbuster refused to adapt to a changing world and is going under because of it.

What we didn't talk about, until after the run, was his streak.

Patrick started a running streak shortly after I started mine. We'd traded a couple emails about it, I knew he'd had to restart it at one point, but I hadn't heard anything since. And I was reluctant to bring it up.

It might be hard to understand, but I can tell you that if I ended my streak before December 31, I'd be a little sensitive about it. I'd see it as a failure. I would have set out to accomplish this thing, didn't accomplish it, ergo I'm a loser.

Having that perspective, and a still-active streak, I didn't want to mention his streak... I felt like I knew what it's status was.

But, after the run, during the cool-down walk-n-gab, he said that he'd not been running for a few days. I felt compelled to ask, and got the answer I was expecting, mostly.

His streak had ended quite some time ago. Patrick said that trying to run every day was making him feel bad. Not just physically, but emotionally. He travels a lot, and has a young son, and it was becoming too much of a burden.

At this point, understanding all of that, I'd still have considered it a failure if it had been me. But Patrick's a little wiser than that.

He said he'd learned something about himself.- that trying to run every day wasn't good for him. Also, learning that he had the good sense to notice that, appreciate that, and to stop, was good for him.

There is wisdom to be had in every part of our lives. There are events and choices flying at us every day. Each is an opportunity to learn, and an opportunity to judge ourselves. We decide which opportunity to take.

For me, I decide every day whether or not to run, and whether or not to write. And so far, each run and each post have made me better than I was the day before. I hope I recognize when/if that's ever not the case.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.2 miles on streets.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 287 - Middle School Band Concert

Ever been to a Middle School Band Concert?

Doesn't count if you were playing in the concert. If you were playing, then to you, it sounded great.

It doesn't. I'm just sayin'.

It's probably worst if you were in a band through high school, because chances are you know what it was supposed to sound like. And that wasn't it.

But as parents, we go, and we pick up a program, and we listen to the band director who doesn't seem to understand that we don't want to listen to him talking, and we don't think he's funny. We are there to endure, applaud, and take a couple pictures.

If you have a kid considering band, contemplating instruments, let me make a recommendation... percussion.

By way of full disclosure, I was a percussionist when I was in school. But section loyalty has nothing to do with this. It's purely about making it through the concert. Honest.

My daughter played clarinet. She was one of approximately 73 clarinet players in the band. When she was playing, so were 72 other kids. Not a lot to keep your attention there.

My son started on baritone. When he played, so did two other kids, and I couldn't pick their part out from the rest of the parts that weren't the melody. Baritones never play the melody. They are the right fielders of the band... they've gotta be there for the whole thing, but in the end, they really didn't need to be there.

This year, by some treble-cleffed miracle, he switched... to percussion. And it is awesome!

First, he stands up when he plays, so I can actually see him.

Second, he plays a different instrument every song. He moves from one to another, turning the inter-song delay from an opportunity to check one more time for any new text messages, to percussion roulette, wondering which instrument he'll land on.

Third, and most importantly, when he plays, you can hear it. Tonight, on the first song, he hit the xylophone, hundreds of times. Then he played the snare drum, including a fine drum roll. And finally he thumped the big bass drum. And I could see and hear every note.

So push the kids to drums. If nothing else, it makes the concerts pass faster.

Oh, and encourage them to run cross country or track*. They build character and self-esteem, and start them off on a life time of running, which is a great thing. Even better than playing xylophone.

Good running,

*Running blog quota met.

Numbers: 4.6 miles on trails.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 286 - Miner Miracle

When I should have been sleeping last night, I was glued to the TV.

I suppose everyone was.

I hate to admit it, but i'd forgotten about those guys down there. What was it... 67 days?

The flawless rescue is an amazing feat. But the fact that 33 guys survived for 67 days, half a mile below what most of us consider the bottom of things, surrounded by rock, and dark, and hot, and dank... Un-effen-believable.

And as if that wasn't enough, when they come out, they look... great! They're smiling, high-fiving. The second guy even brought up a bag of rocks from the mine to hand out as mementos for the rescuers.

The human spirit... remarkable.

But you know, it can go either way. Who would have been surprised if those guys had turned on each other, or worse, lost hope and just withered away down there.

But they didn't. Know what they did do?

They ran.

"Ha!", he said, with just a touch of righteous indignation in his voice, and a twinkle of pride in his eyes.

They ran to stay in shape. They ran to stay sane. They ran to remind themselves that they were still alive.

Just like the rest of us.

I hope they keep running.

If you still haven't bored down and rescued the runner, buried, forgotten, deep down inside of you, take a cue from these good men... and go for a run, but do it outside, and enjoy the view.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles, a rest-mile day. Running on trails covered with fresh coat of leaves is pretty difficult. Doing it in the dark, even harder. Glad I took the dog with me. She led the way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 285 - Guest Blogger

Hey internet nerds. It's me, Mandee. The dog.

Duhhhhg couldn't summon up the nards to post tonight, so he left it to me.

Not surprising, really, considering how he started the day. Genius got up before his alarm, fed me, dorked around, and then went back to bed to "watch the news". Aaaaaaand an hour and a half later he wakes up and starts chasing his tail, blabbering something about having a meeting in 15 minutes.

Like it matters a tail shake to me. Meeting or no meeting, I was bound for the crate.

That damn crate.

It's bad enough for a regular work day, but today, he had the whiskers to leave me in there for 12 hours. He said something about having to meet with "the Brazilians". I don't even want to know what that means, but the next time he crates me for 12 hours, I'm going to play "poo sprinkler" again.

At least he took me for a run. The runs and the food are the only things keeping me from chomping through his jugular while he sleeps.

Today's run was a night run. W.T.F?!? How am I supposed to hunt squirrels in the dark? During the day, when I can see them, I have a fighting chance. Pointless collar and tags tip them off as soon as I move, so I have to play it cool, recon style, for a couple minutes to pick my shot. In the dark, jingling and jangling like a damn sleigh down the street, the squirrels just taunt me.

Dog I hate squirrels.

While I'm minding his ego, I mean blog, the slacker's reading. On his phone. He's reading a book... on his phone. Jeebus, how did I end up here? Sometimes I wish I was back at the Humane Society, or even back on the streets. Sure, the worms were, uhm, inconvenient, but the food was better.

He's been reading "The Art of Racing in the Rain" for a couple weeks. I yoinked his phone and read it last night. Spoiler alert - it's written by the guy's dog who bemoans the lack of opposing thumbs and not being human. Tripe. And totally unrealistic. So obviously written by the Homo Erectus. Like a dog would write a book complaining about being a dog. Everyone knows humans lost their thumbs, developed tales and integrity, and evolved into dogs.

Look at him. Sitting there. Foot in a bucket of ice. What an idiot.

But I gotta admit, the thumbs would be handy. It's not easy hitting the space bar with my tongue.

Good running,
Doug (by proxy)

Numbers: 3.1 miles in the dark with the idiot human.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 284 - Peer Pressure

A couple days ago we talked about the great value of running buddies. Hooking up with someone to run is great for motivation and entertainment.

However, it can also get you sucked into something you shouldn't be doing. That was the case for me today.

We were a gang of four, trotting out of the office park. It's a great gang, always good for a laugh. Several most days.

Only problem was that today, I was hella-busy, and the run time snuck up on me. Not wanting to keep the boys waiting (peer pressure example #1), I barely stretched.

As soon as we took off, I knew I was in trouble. My achilles were as hard as the legs on a piano. Not wanting to slow the boys down (peer pressure example #2) I soldiered on. With every step, they got tighter and tighter.

Finally, after a mile, I knew that if I'd kept at it, I'd end up hobbling around for a couple days... again. So, I told them I was dropping off.

It's tough to let go of a group. Feels like giving up.

But, above all else, you have to listen to your body. My body was screaming at me, "Dude! Whoa up! You wanna bust something?!"

So I dropped my pace, and let my achilles, legs, and everything else, warm up at their own pace.

Know what?... by mile two, I was warm. And I was feeling pretty good.

By mile 2.5, I was feeling really good. I'd caught the other guys. And I just kept going. They hung with me for a bit, then the two young guns dropped off. It was just me and Bill, the two old guys, dropping the pace like a short-fused firecracker. I was in the zone, and I felt like I could've gone all day.

The final 300 yards, I gassed it, and finished about 40 yards ahead of Bill.

A little peer pressure, the kind that gets you to do what you know you should be doing, is a good thing.

Peer pressure that compels you to do something you know you shouldn't, not so good.

And we all know the difference, yet too often we ignore the good kind, and give in to the bad kind.

Listen to your conscience. And listen to your body. They both know best. And with a little patience, you'll end up kickin' some ass.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.4 miles on streets.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 283 - Dave & Busters

Taking two boys to Dave & Busters is like a trip to Disney World crammed into 2 hours.

Each kid gets a card with so many credits magnetically deposited.

As long as they don't leave the premises, they have free reign.

They run* away from you like you were a broccoli and spam sandwich... on whole wheat, frantic, exhilarated, bewildered at the shear number of games. So many games. So many ways to spend their credits. And no one telling them no. No one telling them what to play.

Most of the games spit out tickets. Higher the score, the more tickets. About half way through their credits, they find a game that they are pretty good at. And the ticket binge starts.

It's becomes all about the tickets, because when the inevitable end comes, when their credits are gone, the cup full of tickets translate to booty... booty from the prize room.

They have 19 quintillion tickets to "spend". Their eyes rattle. They. Are. Rich!

Seems like a lot, until you see that a Charm's Blow Pop is 14 quintillion tickets. And no one likes Charm's Blow Pops... the bastardization of the brilliant and delicious Tootsie Pop.

The prize room looks like it's full of great stuff. It's bright, and colorful, and the shelves are stacked high. That's from a distance. When you get up close to the stuff, you realize that it's all pretty much crap.

Ever gotten a gift card to a store that you don't ever go to? I have. It's a kinda sick feeling. You have this pretend money to spend, and nothing you want in the place. But the money's worthless everywhere except that store. So you plod around, your standards lowering by the minute, until, mercifully, you've gone brain numb and you pick the first thing priced remotely near the value of your "gift", just to get it over with.

Now imagine that it's not you, it's your kid. And they're really amped from killing zombies for 2 hours. And they're zipping around the "prize" room, ecstatic at their good fortune and video game skill, ready to plunder the prize room for everything they've got... and then... slowly realizing that their fortune has to be spent on... crap. So they do the plod, you watch their standards drop, and eventually, they exchange their fortune for 3 toys not worthy of a Cracker Jack box, and a Charm's Blow Pop.

But to their credit, they realize that the "prizes" aren't the reward. Killing zombies for two hours, that's the reward, and they can't wait to come back for more.

Good running,

*Running blog quota met.

Numbers: 1.4 tentative miles after yesterday's old-man slog. Much better today.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 282 - Marathon Eve

You've trained for months. All of those long runs. All of those early mornings. All of those miles.

You've tapered for a couple weeks, going from running way too much, to hardly running at all. You're body's very confused. And it takes it out on you, driving you crazy.

You've packed and traveled and checked into your hotel, never without a bottle of water in your hand.

You've picked up your packet and cruised the expo. The Expo is tough. You've spent some many weeks training, alone, wondering if it's really worth it, if you're going to make it, if you might just be stupid or crazy or both. And suddenly you find yourself surrounded by thousands of people just as crazy/stupid as you are. These are your people, and they make you feel welcome, and sane.

And the Expo is jammed with gear and Gu and goodies. There are shoes you've never seen before, and jackets with the race logo, and socks, so many types of socks, and chair massages, and running celebrities. It's like our version of F.A.O. Schwartz.

But you don't dare spend too much time at the Expo, 'cause all that time is spent on your feet.

You know that carbo-loading the night before a marathon is not only 24 hours too late, but also can lead to carbo-booting during the race. So you pass on the over-priced over-cooked spaghetti and spend time and precious steps looking for something light and easily digested.

Back at the room, it's OCD time. Race day gear is unpacked and inventoried. You pin your race number on, just so. Then you lay it all out on the hotel desk. Then you notice that your number is just a bit crooked, and that just won't do. And since you've disturbed the order, you need to re-take the inventory, just to be safe. And then you wonder if maybe you should go with that other pair of socks, the slightly thicker, or slightly thinner pair.  And you double check that your chip is securely fastened. Very. Securely. Fastened. Inventory, just one more time.

Then the toughest part... bed time.

You need rest. You need sleep. You need to stop staring at the ceiling. All you can think about is how you really need to get to sleep... now. All that training will be wasted if you don't sleep.

Alarm check! Yes... it's set. AM, not PM. Check. Ok... it's cool.

The minutes tick. And tock. And you tell yourself that everything is taken care of. But you go over your strategy, over, and over. You get up to pee, over, and over. And you check the clock, over, and over. Rinse and repeat...

And finally, you awaken to the strange hotel alarm, and a sleepy smile slides across your face.

It's marathon day.

No, I'm not running a marathon this year. But seeing my friends preparing has me feeling nostalgic, and jealous, and eager to sign up for one.

To those running, or who have loved ones running Chicago tomorrow, or other marathons this season... Congratulations on making it to the starting line. The hard part is over, now enjoy your reward. Good luck, and...

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 rough miles, penance for skipping a day of the ice bath.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 281 - Hooking up

One of the most challenging aspects of running is facing the blahs.

We all have days when we want to do nothing. Or at least not do what we're supposed to do.

But, if you're training for big race, or, heaven forbid, running every day, somehow, you still gotta lace 'em up.

The best way to fight those blahs, is to have someone to run with. And really, a big part of the running lifestyle is the social aspect... running with others.

A running buddy, first and foremost, helps to pass the time - swapping stories, or just talking about shopping lists, is a nice break from listening to one's own thoughts.

A running buddy will get your butt to the run - no one wants to be the one who stands up their running buddy.

A running buddy will drag you through a bad run - sharing the misery is, ironically, uplifting.

A running buddy will urge you on when you feel like quitting, and walk with you when you can't go another step.

Today, my running buddy, unknowingly, upgraded my run.

If I'd been on my own, I'd have taken a slow, short run on the trails. Easy, peasey. Too easy. After two super-light days, I needed something better. But the blahs were weighing me down.

Luckily, my buddy pretty much insisted we run "The Neighborhoods", a 4+ mile loop on streets.

And run it we did. We chatted the first mile, and then we took off. First he pulled the pace up, then me, then him again. It felt great.

Because I had a running buddy, a forgetful "rubber stamp" run was replaced by a damn good workout.

Hook up with some running buddies. Find a couple that are a little faster than you, a couple that are a little slower, and a couple that have good stories to tell.

"But Doug, where am I going to find these running buddies?"

Good question!

Join a local running club. They are full of runners of all paces. To find running clubs, call your local running store. If you don't have a local running store, use the internet and find one.

Another great place to find running buddies is at races. Toward the end of a race, or at the finish, look around at who's near you. These are your pace peers. Find a friendly face and say "Hey, nice race! I'm [your-name-here]." Odds are they're looking for a good running buddy, too.

And even if you aren't a runner, whatever your thing is, build a support group of buddies. You'll have more fun, and improve faster.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.4 miles on streets

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 280 - Would you go back to 25?

On a run a couple days ago, one of my work/running buddies, who is maybe 25, and looks 14, a mere child, had the gaul to ask me how old I was.

"Wait. Wait... let me guess... thirteeeeeee five, no six. Thirty-six."

To which, of course, I replied, "Yes, exactly. You nailed it... I'm thirty-six."

I am actually a couple leap years north of 36. I like to call it "thirty-fifteeen".

I'm sure he wasn't trying to flatter me. He just can't see my age from where he is.

It got me thinking on my short run today... Would I really want to be 25 again?

First impulse answer, "Hell yeah!".

I'd like to have my 25 year old body back. That's a given. Well, actually, no it isn't. I was in better shape when I was 34 than when I was 25. More surprisingly, despite being out of warranty, I'm in better shape now than I was at 25. So that's a "no" for the bod.

I sure as hell wouldn't want to relive my 26-35 decade. That is what I like to call "The Cryogenic Decade." Time stood still. It felt like 90 years... like a prison term.

Maybe, I could redo that decade. I made some insanely poor choices in those years that still haunt me today. If I could undo those doozies, I'd be in a much different place.

But, who says it would be a better place. Let's face it, I'd probably make completely different mistakes that I'd regret. And I wouldn't have my amazing kids. Or my idiot dog. Most importantly, I wouldn't be the person I am now.

Let's consider the odds for a second... if I rebooted to 25, what are the chances I'd still be running? I can about guarantee I wouldn't be writing. Who would help my daughter with her math homework? Oh, that's right, my brilliant daughter, and brilliant son, and other brilliant son, wouldn't exist. I probably wouldn't have won a fudgin' Ducati, either.

For good or bad, I'm pretty happy with where I am. And those mistakes, and the ones I've made since then, have brought me to this spot. It may be a messy, meandering, fudged-up path, but it was my path. It led me to the person I am right now, and pointed me toward the person I am going to be.

I guess, I'd have to say, I wouldn't go back to 25. You?

Good running,

Numbers: another 1.4 rest day/warm-up for stretching.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 279 - TK - 7-11 = Suck

This morning I paid a visit to my stretching therapist, AKA The Mistress of Torture.

After she pulls and twists me like a taffy machine, she tells me I probably shouldn't run for the rest of the day.

Good advice. Which, of course, I ignored. I hadn't run yet, so I kinda had to.

So the run was short, and slow, and thanks to a schedule as dense as room temperature Osmium, it was also in the dark.

Being mentally numb after my Osmiumy* day, I was relying on the run to inspire me with something to write about.

It didn't.

So instead, I'm going to step up on this bully pulpit and preach to 7-Eleven.


Dear 7-Eleven,

I heard a couple day ago that you decided to discontinue your primary sponsorship for the talented IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan.

And then I find out that you have decided to become an associate sponsor for one Danica Patrick.

I know economic times are tough. Slurpee sales are probably sliding. Big Gulps and those hotdogs on rollers probably aren't flying out the doors, either.

But that doesn't mean you should turn stupid.

You were covering the car, and the chest, and last weekend even his adorable young son, and had become synonymous with likely most popular, fan friendly, and media friendly driver in an up-and-coming series. My 17 year old daughter, for example, is a die-hard TK fan. At her insistence, we go to 7-Eleven and buy Slurpees, and gas, and snacks, and Big-Ass mugs with TK on them. She wears her 7-Eleven replica team shirt to races. She notes when the time is 7:11.

Note that she's not a fan of 7-Eleven. She's a fan of Tony and she supported 7-Eleven because you were associated with him. Now, she wouldn't use your restroom.

Were any of you at Indy this year? Tony overcame 2 crashes to qualify, barely. There were TV shots of him in the garage, doing what he could to help his team make repairs. You could feel the fans, in the seats and on TV and Twitter, pulling for him. When he made the field, the cheers were extra loud, because we'd all been holding our breath. And there was 7-Eleven, with all of that feel-good TV time.

At the same qualifications, your new girl, Danica, was roundly booed. Booed. Booed because she chose to blame her lackluster qualifying effort on her team. TK received wild, enthusiastic cheers, not to mention unbridled support and good will. Danica was booed. I have been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on many, many, many days, and before that, I'd never heard a driver booed.

During the race, no one who was there, or watching on TV, could keep their eyes off of Tony, and the 7-Eleven car, as he charged from the back to the front, eventually running second. When he took second place, you could hear the roar of the crowd over the cars. And he did it squarely in the middle of the TV shot.

After the race, when he got out of his car, he got a bigger ovation than Dario Franchitti. You know, the guy who won the race. That's because race fans love Tony Kanaan. These are the loyal fans. The ones who support the people who support their drivers. Not the ones who tune in to see if that girl from the Maxim spread has passed anyone.

Well the good news is that if she blames her team and crew again, your logo won't be nearly as conspicuous, with all the classy Go Daddy branding. Can you name any other associate sponsors on her car? Me either. That's ok, I'm sure you'll sell a lot more frozen burritos and swimsuit issues with a stand-up of Danica by the check-out.

Oh, and I'm going to try really hard not to perpetuate that nasty rumor that 7-Eleven store manages routinely pee in the Slurpee machines. I'm like 53% sure that's not true.

Good running,

*Osmiumy is fun to say... try it... Oz-Me-Yum-Me. See? Fun.

Numbers: 1.4 extremely tentative miles.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 278 - Polish

It was only a few days ago when I was trumpeting my insight and contemplating its ramifications.

And yet, Saturday night, after a night of reveling with Polkaboy, I was shuffling around like a geriatric.

I'd seen the light, taken action, and... still felt like crap.

What the hell was I not doing? I'd stretched and massaged and soaked and iced and still I was walking around like a mummy.

Still, Sunday morning, I dutifully hit my yoga mat. The first series was, in a word, miserable. I had no strength. I wasn't the least bit fluid. And every stretch was uncomfortable.

So I stopped.

I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath. I tried very hard to not throw a big baby tantrum.

When the frustration passed, I started again. But this time it was different.

I chose to see myself not as an achy, whiny old man, but as a strong, flexible, graceful (in the most manly spirit of the word) athlete.

Know what? It worked.

My next set was smooth and strong. When stretching caused a tight spot to flair, I didn't think of it as a condition to work around. It was a tightness that just needed to be worked out.

Since then, I've stopped thinking of myself as creaky and stiff. That's 2009 Doug.

2009 Doug was a beaten up, dented, rattly old Ford. 2010 Doug is a quick, hot, brand new Ducati. Anything that comes along, performing at my very best, isn't a permanent defect. It's just a little smudge to polish.

Envision the very best version of you that you can imagine.

Make the decision to simply be that ideal you. Polish the smudges, and get on with it. You'll be amazed how your perspective changes.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.2 miles on roads.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day 277 - Tearing up the Trail

I hit the trail today.

I hit it hard.

It was cool, and clear, and crisp.

And I was flying.

My steps were light and quick. My pace was brisk on the straights, and I was nimble in the twisty bits. I bounded over the logs and zipped through the gullies.

I don't know if was the relatively short and easy runs over the weekend, the extra stretching, or the cool weather, but I was like a jack rabbit out there.

Hey... maybe it was the hasenpfeffer....

Good running,

Numbers: 2.5 miles on trails.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 276 - Where's My Hasenpfeffer!

We went to see Polkaboy in Franklin* by way of Bloomington. Upland Brewery was having a wee bit of an Oktoberfest, which is German for "Excuse to drink beer and eat Bratwurst".

The blurb on the website promised beer, food, and bands. I expected a tent with a line, at the front of which you could obtain beer and food, and listen to bands. As happens with expectations, mine were not exactly mated up with reality.

There was a tent. Under the tent was the band. The beer and food was just regular service off the menu. There was dining outside, that came with a complimentary wait of 15-20 minutes.

Did I mention that I'd not eaten lunch, leaving a canyon in my belly for a pile of brats?

We opted to dine inside.

We got menus, and there it was... about 3/4 of the way down...

Wait. First, background/a confession.

I used to have a class C obsession with Bugs Bunny. Not the actual bunny, that would be sick. The cartoons.

For several months, many, many years ago, I recorded 4 hours of cartoons on TBS. Every day. And I edited that 4 hours down to just the Bugs Bunny episodes. Every evening. I was not well.

Ok... where was I... oh yeah... on the menu was something that I'd assumed, up to that moment, that only existed in the delightfully demented world of Looney Tunes.


Braised Rabbit.

I had to have it.

Ok, for those who haven't had an OCD thing with Bugs, there is a Bugs Bunny cartoon, rather famous one in fact, where in the king demands that his cook, portrayed by Yosemite Sam, fixes Hasenpfeffer. [Thanks to the magic of the interweb and YouTube, you can watch it from the comfort of your virtual world.]

"Cook! Where's my lunch?!? Where's my dinner?!? Where's! My! HASENPFEFFER!!!"

So you can see I had no choice.

I forewent my brat and ordered the Hasenpfeffer.

And it was delicious! --- is what I would say if it was really, really good. But it wasn't.

It was... ok. Kinda dry. Lots of tiny bones. It was like eating a grouper crossed with a chicken and a squirrel.

But, now I can say, I've had hasenpfeffer... and it tasted nothing like carrots.

Oh, and there was this...

Good running,

*DR365 Trivia - I was born in Franklin.

Numbers: 3.1 miles on roads.