Saturday, September 17, 2016

At the farm

I stood deep in the woods and heard the turkey calling.
I was home and I was happy
I stood and I listened to the longing of nature and yet it's stillness of spirit.
And I urged my heart to be still and learn.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Crossroads

I write this blog mainly as a diary to my boys. I hope one day after I'm one they will stumble upon it and find out who their dad really was back when they were growing up. So let me tell you both that right now your dad is coming out of some dark times. Mostly through my own actions, I've ruined some pretty good things that were in my life. Through this the universe has conspired to land me in a place where I have many choices.
I can chose to continue on the road I've been on. Stuburnly ignore the bad things that are occuring and charge forward towards the next destructive event. I'm not going to do this. Change is needed.
I want, with all my heart, to go back. Back to certain moments along my past and redo some things that hurt others and ulitmately hurt me. I know I can't do this. Some of those bridges are on fire and I could never get across them right now no matter how hard I try.
The only option is to go forward. But forward as a different person. Forward as someone who learns from this event and becomes better because of it. The sun will come up today and I will face the morning. How the day proceeds after that is in my hands. I'll take each day, each hour, each breathe as they come. The next moment may hurt or it may be good, I just don't know, but I have some control over how I react and even some control over how long that bad feeling lasts.
I have a friend who stubbornly refuses to be negative. It used to drive me crazy! I always thought they were ignoring reality and missing out on one side of life that, although bad, was important to feel. I'm learning now that there is no absolute reality, only the one you create. Pessimism comes from within me. Yes, negative things and people are in the world, but I don't have to dwell on them. There is no need to feel them any longer than it takes to get out of the moment. Optimism isn't ignoring reality, it's seeing the good. It's an active event.
I'm scared, hurt, sad, and almost sick from the events of late. But through all that maybe I can finally find me. The me that I've never known. I'm making changes, I'm setting goals, I'm looking for the good. I may fall apart in the next second but I will recover and get back on this course.
Boys, you have the power within you to make your world great. I've set a pessimistic example for you until now. Please know that I was wrong. I'm going to try now to change that. Not for anyone else other than me and, by example, you.




Thanks for listing

Friday, August 26, 2016

Running Alaska and the bond of friendship

You can thank Carol who I met for only a few moments on the airplane ride to Alaska for this post. Thanks for the chat Carol!

You're getting the unedited version here so I'll apologize for any errors. I'll clean this up over the next few days but I like to get the first draft out there because it has the raw emotion of the moment that can get lost as the event moves into the past and the feelings subside.

I don't remember how I met Bill. I wish I did. I like to think it was one of those encounters that just happens, you know, the kind that seem to mean nothing at all at the time but attain significance after the fact. However we met, Bill became a constant fixture in my life that steadily moved out of just my running world and into the other realms of my life so much so that I could drop the "running" from friend when I talked about him. He was just my friend.
With that said, running always was at the core of our friendship. We were never far from it during a conversation or a night out. Running was the topic around which everything else revolved. I suppose that's not uncommon among runners. We enjoyed other things in life and had other interests, in most of those things though we kept our distance from each other. It was a mutual respect for each other's privacy that allowed us to keep our friendship but also limit it to those comfortable places close to running.

Bill has always been faster than me. He was the one I'd watch every weekend run and dream that one day I might be able to keep up. When he invited me to run with him for the first time I almost laughed at the idea. There was no way I could keep up with him! But Bill didn't, and doesn't, think like that. He didn't see me as a slow runner, he saw me as a runner. No prejudice about pace, I was just a runner so why wouldn't we run together? That blind kindness and relaxed attitude toward running is what made me want to be around Bill more.

So when Bill told me he was making plans to run his 50th state I was excited! He was going to Alaska and would finish out his 50 state marathon goal in grand style with a marathon in Anchorage. Not only that, but he'd already got a group of our other friends to commit to going too! This sounded like one of those trips I just couldn't miss. The problem was, I was going to have to miss it. My schedule didn't work out with the date of the marathon in Alaska and there was no way I could get away for that weekend. I was completely bummed. For weeks I listened to all those who were going talk about their plans and what they were going to do in Alaska before and after the marathon and it completely wiped me out that I couldn't be there with them. Be there with Bill when he completely this goal he had spent so much time and energy pursuing.

A few weeks before the marathon I got a call that changed everything. I would be able to go! Situations had changed and my schedule was now free! The thing that changed was fairly significant in my life and should have taken center stage as the cause of my excitement but the funny thing is that the minute I got off the phone, I started looking at flights to Anchorage! Rest of my world be damned, I was going to see Bill finish this marathon and I wanted to finish with him.

There was one little wrinkle in my excitement however. Since I hadn't planned on running a marathon until September, I hadn't run a 20 miler since the spring and I wasn't ready for the 26.2 distance. To further complicate this, I had never finished a marathon with Bill. He's always been faster than me and, although we've started many together, I've never been able to hang with him to the finish.

I'd been in this predicament before but not with a race so important and a goal so personal. After finishing arranging my travel plans I immediately set out to change my training plans. I knew I didn't have time to get in great shape and my schedule wasn't going to allow me to get in the long runs that I knew I needed. My only hope was to get what miles I could on my old legs and hope that Bill would have a tough day and struggle through the last miles, and maybe, just maybe I could keep pace with him. It was a long shot but it was my only shot. The universe had seen fit to get me to Alaska, now I was relying on it to get me to the finish with Bill.

I gave up my weekly speed work sessions and put in all the miles I could before the marathon weekend. When the Landrunner fall marathon training began, just weeks before the trip to Alaska, I noticed Bill was having a problem with his hamstring. He said it'd been hurting him for some time and he was having trouble running at all. Now don't judge me. We've all been there. You know you have, that time when you've taken some small delight in the misery of a friend. Whether they've called you the night before a training run and said they were injured and couldn't make it and you smiled a little because you knew the pressure was off. Or you were at mile 5 of a 10 mile run and your friend says they're really struggling and maybe you should cut it back to just 8 miles today. You've all taken that guilty pleasure of someone else's misery! Well I will freely admit that I saw my chance when I saw Bill limping. This was the universe giving me my cake and letting me eat it too. I have no idea why theses things happen or even less idea why they would happen to me, but stars were aligning and I was going to stand up and take the opportunity they were serving me.

The thing about booking flights at the last minute is that you have to forfeit something. You either have to forfeit an obscene amount of money to fly on reasonably scheduled flights, or you have to forfeit your health, dignity, and sleep and take flights normally reserved for business travelers who don't have a home anyway so don't mind flying across country in the middle of the night. In getting to Alaska, I ended up leaving both money and time on the unholy alter of the airlines. My trip to Anchorage got me in around 1 AM on Saturday morning and only after many hours of uncomfortable airplane sitting. Needless to say I wasn't in the best condition to begin this weekend of running. I somehow made it through the expo and even got into the 1 mile race on Saturday where Chuck, Bill, and I made total fools of ourselves while representing our great state of Oklahoma. Let's just say, the people of Alaska knew there were Oklahomans in the house.

Sunday morning we got up and made it to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. It was cold and spitting rain but I had decided (I.e. peer pressured) to wear Chuck's spare Landrunner tank top. I do love the cold so much and even more when it's delivered with rain (where's the sarcasm key?). It was nice that we were all wearing matching shirts though and I tried to see the larger significance of the bond these skimpy bits of cloth would bring to the event through my eyes that were now tearing up from the cold. Yes, this would mean something later. The race started and Bill, Mary, and I ran together at a comfortable pace through the early miles. I was surprised to see that most of the marathon would be on a trail that borders the water. Alaska, it turns out, has tons of paved trails.
Sidebar:Every road we would drive on later in the trip had a paved trail next to it even the roads far from the city. I guess when they build a road they build a trail. What a great concept!

Bill, Mary, and I made it through the early miles together and I was hanging with them easily but all the while knowing that I couldn't hold this pace. Bill's hamstring didn't seem to be bothering him much and my untrained legs were beginning to bother me. I was still focused on my goal of just finishing with Bill but the prospects weren't looking good and I struggled to get that out of my mind and just keep running. Around mile 13 I knew I was doomed. The physical whining of my legs was out-shouting the cheerleader in my head and I knew I would have to back off the pace if I was going to finish without walking a significant portion of this marathon. I told myself that I would run to mile 16 and then I could back off. That's the little game I play with myself, set a reasonable milestone like running another 2 miles and promise my body I'll give it a break there. Somewhere around mile 15 I noticed Bill's shoe was untied and I let him know. He pulled off the trail to tie it and Mary and I continued on. I slowed a bit to let Bill catch up. This slower pace felt great! I knew then that I wouldn't get the previous pace back. It was gone. It also helped my mental state a bit to let Mary go and be running alone for awhile. I didn't feel the need to keep a pace and I could just keep moving forward without being pushed or pulled. I kept running this pace for awhile waiting for Bill to catch up, expecting him to come running up to me at that faster pace and force me to decide right there whether I could push through and finish with him or drop my goal right there on the trail and fail. But Bill wasn't appearing. I kept running and stressing about failing when I got a sudden burst of mental energy and an idea. If I could pick it up just a little, not the previous pace, but faster than I was running now, I could keep this distance between Bill and I large enough that he wouldn't catch me until maybe mile 20. At that point, maybe I could gut it out to the finish with him. 6 miles seemed much more manageable than the 10 I had in front of me now. So I picked it up a little and focused on making it just 4 more miles. Somehow keeping my mind on a 4 mile goal was keeping me up enough to allow me to push a little. This was awesome! I could do this! Somewhere around mile 18 we made a turnaround allowing me to see how much distance I had between Bill and me. I was a bit saddened to see that it wasn't a lot! Bill was still running strong and only a few hundred yards behind me. I wondered for a minute if he was upset that I hadn't waited on him after he tied his shoes but quickly put that out of my mind and promised myself my lack of running courtesy was for the great good and I'd explain it to him later. I continued to push the pace to mile 20, my goal, and was surprised to see that I was feeling pretty darn good. Maybe I could go on to mile 22 before Bill caught me? So I forged ahead, head down, legs turning over as best they could. Now that the goal was closer to a possibility, I began to get emotional. I do that. 20 miles of running can easily make me a blubbering baby and the significance of actually finishing a marathon with Bill, his 50th state no less, was boiling over into my tear ducts. My running friend for so many years and I could finally be there for him. I pulled myself together, somewhat, and plowed ahead to mile 22 and then to mile 24. Now I was worried that Bill hadn't caught me. I usually lose my ability to do math when I'm really tired but even in my reduced mental capacity I knew that Bill should have caught me easily by now if he was running like I saw him at the turn around. Something was wrong.

I stopped running without thinking. My only goal was to finish with Bill and he was obviously having problems. I walked for a bit looking back to see if he was coming. He wasn't in sight. I walked until I made it to mile 25 and still didn't see Bill coming up behind me. I walked through a crowd of onlookers as they cheered me to keep going, I only had a little bit to go, and I really didn't hear them. I stopped. I wanted to find Bill. So I started back down the trail. The crowd looked a little puzzled as I ran back by them but they didn't understand. My friend was out there and this was a significant time for him. I wanted to find him and make sure this moment lived up to what the universe had foreseen. I don't know how to say I didn't do this for anyone other than Bill, as I know it sounds self glorifying, but I promise you it was deeper than that. I wanted that goal more than any PR or even a BQ.
I didn't have to go far to find Bill. He said his hamstring had let go when he stopped to tie his shoe. He had run for a while after that but eventually the pain was too much and he had to walk. He was in good spirits and seemed to be enjoying the race even though he was way off his normal pace. Finding joy in the simple pleasure of being out on a beautiful course with other runners is so typically Bill and I shouldn't have been surprised. We walked up the last hill jamming out to the rhythms of the drummer playing along side the road. At the top Bill thanked the police who were stopping traffic for us and told them they had a beautiful city, again, so typical Bill. He wanted to run across the finish line so he said we'd walk until the last turn since his hamstring didn't have more than a block or two left in it.
Nearing the final turn we saw the other Landrunners cheering for Bill on the corner. This was a great moment and I, of course, had to hold back the emotions which I did because this wasn't my moment. I was only a participant in it. Bill started running so I went with him. Coming around that final turn and seeing the finish line I asked him if he'd like to finish alone so he could have a finish line picture with just himself in it. Bill brushed off this idea so we continued on towards the finish. When the announcer called his name and announced this was his 50th state the crowd started to cheer and Bill raised his arms in a much deserved triumphant gesture to the crowd that said, "I did this, but I did this with all of you!". Crossing the line with Bill, I felt somewhat unworthy but fully included and accepted in his success.

Personal goals are great but they only give you satisfaction limited to yourself. Helping or being with someone else when they meet their goals is a much deeper satisfaction because it spans outside of just your world, it brings your world in close contact with someone else's and that kind of connection ripples throughout the universe!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Final speech

Here is the speech I gave at the final training run before the Oklahoma City Memorial marathon.

We all come to this marathon training for different reasons. We all get something different from it too. But the thing that makes this marathon special is that you might be running for yourself but here, in Oklahoma City you are also running to remember... To heal.... And most importantly for me, to celebrate. We remember those 168 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, friends, people who lost their lives 21 years ago. We help those left behind to heal. But we also celebrate the lives that we still have. If we take away nothing else from the horrible tragedy, we should take away the fact that life is precious, and short. Those 168 lost lives paint the picture that screams "Celebrate your life" with bold bright colors! Celebrate what you have!
When you took your first steps with us 15 weeks ago, you did just that. You recaptured your life from the prison of everyday life and set yourself on a bold course. Very few people in the world attempt to run a marathon or a 1/2 marathon. You put into a select group who decided that something difficult was worth attempting. That mountain may be high but I'm going to climb it. In doing that, you are celebrating your life and honoring those 168 souls who, I'm sure, every year at this time are smiling down on us because they see us out there, living, sometimes suffering, but really experiencing all that life has to offer. I have to figure that if somehow they could come back, get a second chance at the life that was taken from them, they'd be right here with us. Doing those things that are hard, doing those things that awaken your soul or keep your soul awake by challenging it to new heights.
We run to remember and we run to heal. But remember to celebrate a little too. Have a great run next week, I hope it hurts like hell, I hope you laugh, cry, smile, curse, hurt, get a second wind, feel those great endorphins, and suffer horribly the week after. All those things are called being alive and I hope you don't cheat yourself out of any of them.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Up and down

I've wrestled this demon for so long I'm exhausted. I thought I was fighting to stay up but I realize now that up is an illusion. A temporary glimpse above the water into a place I cannot stay. It's somewhat comforting to finally realize this because now I know the fight is futile and I can rest that internal struggle that I thought was keeping me up but was actually a cycle of jumping and falling.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

74

Completed my second run tonight after a long layoff to let my hamstring heal. The first run, yesterday, was short and really nothing more than a trial run to make sure nothing hurt or fell off. Today's run, however, was a full-blown 6 miles. It was fantabulous! Adi ran with me for the first mile so I got to show off my super mega hot girlfriend to all the neighbors. Oh yeah that's right, she's running with me! Check me out.
I ran down to the Oklahoma City National Memorial which is one of my favorite routes. I live just north of the city so running down to the Memorial takes me through some beautiful rolling hills and multi-million dollar homes, then dumps me out into midtown where it seems everything is being built, and then you end up on the edge of downtown. It's a good mix of residential and urban sprawl. The Memorial itself is just beautiful and seems to beg people to run around it. Maybe that's just me.
I got a nose full of spring too! I smelled cut grass, gas powered weed eater exhaust, road tar from road construction, baking bread from the bread factory, and beer from the midtown bar patios. It was awesome.
It was 74 degrees tonight. I love spring!

Thanks for listening

Friday, March 6, 2015

New leaf

I always hate when I have to say, "it's been awhile since I've written" so I won't. Let's just move on from that and live in the present. I want to write again. I miss it.

I also want to run again. Not just run again but really RUN again. It's funny, when I was running with a time goal and was concerned about my finish times, I always thought that I should run for the sake of running and learn to find joy in the pure experience of being on my feet and moving. I accomplished that goal and for the past few years have thoroughly enjoyed running without a watch or a goal and sharing the joy of running with others. Now, however, I've come back to wanting a goal. A real time goal. Running with a purpose. I miss the fatigue of following a training plan. I miss the nagging feeling of dread in knowing I have a speedwork session after work. That uncomfortable but yet amazing feeling of pushing my legs as fast as they can go, throwing form and efficiency out the window and finding the limit of my speed. Walking that razors edge of injury. Weird, huh?

Maybe I'm on a cycle. It seems every 4-5 years my desires change. Part of me thinks that is another sign of my impending insanity. Another part of me thinks that I just get bored with things after awhile. The third half of me thinks all this is true and I'm pretty lucky to have the ability to follow those desires wherever they lead and whenever they hit.

I'll be updating this page with new pictures and plans. More for me than for you but feel free to check up on me if you like. I miss you.

Thanks for listening

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Some demons

Some demons refuse to die. I've found that most demons that plague life will die away with only mere confrontation and acknowledgement if their existence. Some are a lot more ingrained into the soul and can't be done away with easily.

My hardcore demon is depression. I've confronted this guy in many ways but he always finds his way back to my life. 

Fact is, I'm struggling harder with him now than before. It's as if he's getting stronger and digging deeper into my souls like a parasite that gets stronger the longer he makes his home in the host. 
I wish I could put into words what depression is. It's more than a feeling, and it's more than physical discomfort. It's a synergy of both working together to infect your entire being. I suppose this is why neither just taking pills nor just talking things out helps. You're only defending one front while the enemy is surrounding you. 
Depression is also self-sustaining. It feeds on itself so that you get deeper into it just for being in it at all. Knowing you struggle with this problem makes you feel more depressed and broken which makes you fall deeper into its grasp. It is truly a son of a bitch demon! 
Here's a thought, realize you'll take a pill for the rest of your life because you're too weak to fight this thing yourself. Then realize this pill will only make you more dependent on the pills and weaker in the long run. Then realize that the pills will become less effective overtime and you'll probably have to up the dosage or take a second pill everyday. 
Mmmm, that'll cheer you right the fuck up huh?
Oh and then realize that most people (sometimes yourself included) just think you're emotionally weak and are taking the easy way out with medication. 
One part of me thinks that I'll beat this demon one day and I'll eventually be "normal". My rationale, engineering side thinks this is just another lie I'm telling myself. The cold hard fact is that this demon will kill me one day. I know it in that tiny part of me that stares into the cold hard face of reality. I suppose I should be happy that, through hard work and shear determination, I can hide the effects until those that need me no longer do anymore. 
Of course that path isn't set. No future is predetermined. Reality only applies in the current and any prediction made based upon that current state is merely a forecast with a chance of occurrence. An extrapolation on a variable graph. 
It's just as possible that this demon could die when those that need me no longer do. Could it be the thing that keeps me holding on is actually the cause of the thing putting me on the edge? Am I reacting to a reflection in a mirror of mirrors?
Until I figure these things out I'll keep writing and searching. Confronting is still my defense of choice. Get it out there, air it out and see if it can survive the light of day. 

Thanks for listening 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why

One of the long-lasting questions I've dealt with is why I write a blog. What motivates a person to write down their thoughts and share them with the world? Funny thing for me is that I don't really know and I haven't been able to isolate that piece of me that wants to do it.
The fact that I haven't written for awhile makes me take a look at this issue from the other side. Why haven't I been motivated to write? The answer to that may help me figure out many things.
When I look back at previous posts and think about the time at which they were written, I have to say that something was missing in me. Or maybe it was there and I just hadn't found it. I was definitely seeking something and I didn't know what it was. So does that mean I found it somewhere along the way? I'm not sure. Many things happened between then and now, some good, some bad, but I can't say that there was an "ah-ha" moment anytime. So I am thinking that instead of finding what was missing I merely grew up some and discovered little pieces of me that filled in some gaps. The writing was a tool that helped me do it.
Of course this would mean that my not writing now signifies that I don't need to grow anymore and that is far from true. I honest think I've just become lazy in my happiness. That burns me up because the me I want to be says that that is a fate worse than death. To be alive but not growing or discovering something new about yourself is horrible! Why be alive if that's the case?
The good thing is that another part of me says, "relax, you're still growing in other ways". I'm learning so many new things about other people in my life. I'm learning how to interact with those people in better ways. I'm discovering the beauty of this country we live in. I'm discovering the simple joys of creating things with my hands. So I'm growing outwardly instead of inwardly like I was when I started this blog. I think that's OK. Yeah, it's OK.
Another reason for writing this blog, one that I didn't realize at the time, is to give my kids a picture of who there father really was. I hope that one day they will stumble upon these ramblings and read them all from the beginning. I don't know what they will see in them. I know what I meant to convey but I can't be sure they'll see that and that's OK. They'll see me through their eyes and their experiences with me. These words may compliment those experiences or they may open up a view of their father they never knew. Either way, these words will be theirs one day when my words have stopped.
If that has happened and you're reading this now, know that I love you both and that you were the joy of my life. I was never perfect but you two brought me closer to it when you merged into my lane of life. Don't ever cry for me, laugh instead. Laugh out-loud and hard when you think of me.

Thanks for listening

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lonely

I'm lonely tonight.
Sometimes I feel that way for unexpected reasons.