Saturday, November 28, 2009


I'm officially registered for the Dallas White Rock marathon. I even have a hotel room and it's still 2 weeks away! How about that planning? I may be turning a corner here.

I am really considering actually running this marathon. As in running it hard and not just for some easy miles. It's my last marathon of 2009 which has not been s stellar year for Willie's marathon performance. Wouldn't it be nice to end the year on a good note? Wouldn't it? Wouldn't it?

Right now I'm relaxing on the knowledge that I can still run marathons and that I still enjoy the experience. But wouldn't a good sub-3:50 finishing time be wonderful in Dallas? Wouldn't it?

Thanks for listening

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Thanksgiving Rememberance

Have you ever had something happen to you that you swore you would never forget only to be struck by the memory of it many years later? Today I heard a story on NPR that brought back a memory I thought I would never forget but did. I'll use it as my little way of giving thanks.

When I was a young, know-it-all, high school punk of a Willie my brother was serving in the Air Force and stationed in Japan. My wonderful parents offered me the chance to go visit him one summer and I jumped at the chance. My father went to a lot of trouble to work with a travel agency to plan the entire trip down to the smallest detail. Funny how parents get uptight about letting a teenage boy travel from Southeastern Ohio to Japan huh? Geesh, go figure. Since I knew everything there was to know about everything at that time of my life I ignored most of his planning and figured I could safely travel half way around the world on my own. Just so you get a feel for how inexperienced and unprepared I was let me just say that I had never flown on an airplane before either!

My parents got me to the airport and my first flight went uneventful which just added to my confidence that this trip was going to be a breeze. I flew to Minneapolis where I would catch a non-stop flight to Tokyo. I don't remember how long that flight was scheduled for but it was long. Real long. Really, really long. I did get to fly on a 747 though and I was excited about that for about the first 20 minutes of the flight. That excitement wore off eventually and I realized that I was flying at 30,000 feet over nothing but water for thousands of miles. My bullet-proof teenage ego was strong enough to not let the reality of this situation set in however and I remained confident. At some point over the pacific we flew over a Typhoon. Ever seen one of those airplane crisis movies where the plane shakes so bad that the overhead bins open and things fall out? Yea, that's what happened. People screamed, bags fell out, and Willie? Oh he LOVED it! Thought it was the coolest thing ever. No fear teenager remember.

So I made it through the flight and landed in Narita airport in Tokyo. In order to get up North to where my brother lived I had to get across Tokyo to the other airport, Haneda airport, where I would catch a short flight North. I vaguely remembered that I was supposed to find a bus service at the airport that would take me across town and they would speak English and be expecting me. I wasn't exactly sure where this service was located but figured I'd be able to find it NO PROBLEM, how big could Tokyo airport be anyway???

Ok so I couldn't find the bus service. Well actually I found many, many bus services but none of them spoke English or knew of me. So now I panicked. I was thousands of miles from home in a massive city and I had no idea how to get where I needed to be. That's when I met my angel.

I had seen him in the airport in Minneapolis. He was hard to miss actually since he was clearly Japanese and was wearing a "White Trash" hat and a black leather jacket. I remember laughing at him wondering whether he knew what that term meant. He sat a few rows up from my on the flight but I had never spoken with him. He saw me in the airport and I guess noticed I was lost and more than a little scared. He came over to me and introduced himself speaking perfect English. I told him my story and that I needed to get to the other airport but didn't know which bus I should take. He went and spoke with each of the bus services and confirmed that none of them were expecting me. He also discovered that the bus would take 3 hours to get across town which would cause me to miss my flight North. And just to make sure that I was completely screwed, he said they only accepted Yen and I only had US Dollars.

This is when he grew one of his angel wings. He told me that he lived here in Tokyo and that the subway was much faster than the bus and that he could get me to the other airport. He wasn't sure we could get there in time for my next flight since we'd lost so much time but he was willing to try. Since I had no other options I agreed and we set out on our journey across Tokyo together. He bought all my subway fare and even introduced me to iced coffee which at the time I thought was awful! He told me all about Tokyo and described everything that we passed. He also explained that he was an English teacher at a school here in Tokyo and that's why he spoke such good English. I actually relaxed a bit and was enjoying the trip.

When we arrived at Hadena airport I realized I'd missed my flight North. There were no other flights that day and I'd have to wait until morning to leave. Now I was scared again. My first thought was that I would sleep in the airport but a security guard quickly informed us that the airport actually closed and I couldn't stay there overnight. Now I REALLY freaked! I was going to be on the street outside the airport overnight. My teenage ego was now a crying baby boy who wanted his mommy real bad.

This is when my friend grew his other angel wing. Unknown to me, he called around and found me a hotel room close to the airport. Knowing I had no money he even paid for the room in advance! I was so relieved. I thanked my friend and caught the shuttle bus to the hotel.

It was on this ride that it finally hit me what had just happened. How could I have been so lucky to have a complete stranger just casually notice that I needed help and spend the entire day and quite a lot of money helping me across Tokyo? Oh AND a Japanese English teacher?? Really? My goodness it gives me goosebumps even 20 years later!

I can never thank this person enough. I don't have his name or any contact information for him even if I wanted to thank him. So here I sit 20 years later with my own 2 boys in the comfort of my own home and I am struck by how much this person may have had a role in ensuring my life turned out this way. It could have easily gone so much worse back then.

So this is my little way of sending out a nameless THANK YOU! I'm grateful for what you did for me and I hope you'd be happy that I learned so much from the events of that day. I learned how wonderful an act of kindness can be and how it can have impacts that you can't even fathom at the time.

Thanks for listening

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tulsa Route 66 Marathon

Hey guess what I did yesterday. You know the drill, no more writing until you guess!

Guess damn it!

That's right boys and girls (mostly girls), Willie ran a marathon. 26.2 miles of wonderfully painful foot pounding joy!

You wouldn't know it because I haven't written a meaningful word on this blog for some time but I was REALLY looking forward to this weekend. I was extremely worried that I would get sick again or I'd hurt some crucial leg part or the world would come to an end or something along those lines but nothing happened! Things may just be turning a corner for (not so) old Willie.

I had planned to go up to Tulsa on Saturday afternoon to hit the expo, drop my children's college funds on meaningless running junk, and grab some dinner. Things didn't turn out that way, however, and I never made it to Tulsa on Saturday. I had a good friend pick up my packet at the expo for me and we arranged to meet before the start so I could actually have a bib and a chip. Those are important things to have.

My truck is technically a vehicle in that it has 4 tires and an engine but, while that engine has 8 cylinders, it is currently running on somewhere between 4 and 6 of them depending on the weather. This left me with the options of either running a 123 mile warm up or begging someone for a ride to the race. Luckily I have wonderful friends and I got to ride up to the race with one of the best. I even got a pre-race meal of oatmeal and yogurt which is now my staple diet and absolutely the greatest combination of foods ever assembled! Heaven in a bowl! Oh and coffee. Always coffee. We listened to Christmas music the entire way to Tulsa because we are both complete Christmas freaks and a wonderful station here in OKC has already started playing constant Christmas music. It was, by far, the best pre-race drive I've ever had! So much fun.

We made it to the race and the nerves started reminding me just how far 26.2 miles actually is. I'm a big enough man to say that I was scared. Really scared. All those horrible thoughts of failure and pain jumped from their beds where they'd been sleeping and were like a 2 year old at Christmas. So very excited to let me know how thoroughly unprepared I was for this marathon. I concentrated on getting all my gear together and finding the rest of our friends to keep those thoughts from dominating.

I was also very excited because I was going to meet Sarah The Queen. I met her and her wonderful husband a few minutes before the race and I recognized them immediately. The pictures on her blog don't do her justice! Folks she is beautiful! The funny thing was that I felt like I knew her husband just as well as her because I'd read so much about him! It was like meeting an old friend for the first time if that makes any sense at all. They are a fabulous couple and I'm blessed to have met them. I can't say enough how fabulous it is to meet blog friends. Every one I've ever met has been GREAT!

Since I really didn't have a race strategy and I hadn't run any long runs I decided to use this race as a training run and just get the miles in. This was the first time that I can honestly say I lined up at the start with no preconceived time goals in mind. I was just out for a long run with a few thousand of my best friends. As I was standing in the corral waiting to start that thought hit me and I felt a wave of relaxation come over me. All the nerves were gone and I was really happy which is something I haven't been able to say for a long time.

The start was really crowded but I was able to get near the 4:15 pace group which is where Sarah said she was going to be. I wanted to run with her for the first 15 miles so we could chat and I could feel out my legs. I didn't see her at the start but figured I'd find her once the pack thinned out over the first few miles. I took off at an easy pace and spent the first 2 miles looking around for Sarah. I slowed up a bit to let her pass me figuring she had been unable to work her way up from the back of the crowded start. More than once I totally embarrassed myself when I thought I saw her and ran up next to some girl and looked them in the face only to discover it wasn't Sarah and that young girls don't like old, bald guys running next to them and looking them in the face.

So mile 4 came and went and I still hadn't found her. I passed a row of porta-potties and had a wonderful idea to try and kill two birds with one stone (or bodily function as it were). So I waited in line at the porta-potties and watched as hundreds of runners passed me. Still no Sarah. After I took care of some business I was well behind the 4:30 pace group and totally convinced that I now would be able to find her. I took off at a good sub-8 minute pace working my way through the crowds and looking at every young girl I thought looked like Sarah. Again with the embarrassing moments. There may be a wanted poster somewhere in Tulsa with my picture on it. "Wanted for harassing young runners".

I caught the 4:30 pace group and the 4:15 pace group and still had not found Sarah. It was now getting on about 7 miles and I had to figure out what I was going to do with this race. I rested for awhile and then decided to just run my original strategy of easy running to 15 then see what I had left from there on in. I wanted negative splits to get that extra work on my legs once they were good and tired. So I settled into a nice 8:30 pace and started enjoying the beautiful day and the wonderful sights of Tulsa. Guess what happened. Go on guess!

That's right! I caught Sarah! Turns out she entered the starting corral from the front and got caught way up front. She was well ahead of her 4:15 pace group the whole time! I love little twists like that. I changed my strategy once and again and decided to run with her to mile 15 like I'd originally planned. After all it's not everyday that you get to meet a blogging friend and I was afraid I wouldn't have any time after the race to chat so this was my only opportunity to talk with her. We chatted about everything and it was wonderful. I can't describe to you how much I was really enjoying this race. It was just a great day and I was just trying to take advantage of all it had to offer me.

Unfortunately, Sarah wasn't running anywhere near her best and she started getting dizzy. If you've read her blog you know she suffers from a heart condition that causes her to pass out sometimes. I was very concerned for her and completely scared at the same time. I'm completely inadequate at helping people when they have medical problems. I am really good at being that crazy-panicky guy who runs around screaming wildly though so that was my plan if she happened to have any problems. She assured me that she wasn't going to pass out and she was being really smart and taking it easy when needed so I relaxed a bit. I also noticed many, many medical personnel on the course which added to my relief.

Mile 15 rolled around and I thought really hard about just staying with her but I was also concerned that I was making things worse by putting pressure on her to keep going. I can also be a bit annoying sometimes and was worried I may be driving this poor girl crazy at a time when she wanted to be alone. After some more assurance from her that she would be OK, I took off at a little faster pace. We had run the half in 2:06 and I was curious to see if I could run fast enough in the second half to still break 4 hours.

I ran right around 8 minute pace for the next few miles and it felt WONDERFUL! My legs were striding out and eating up the pavement. My breathing was controlled and my back was straight and relaxed. A great running feeling!

I was able to keep an 8 to 8:30 pace until about mile 21. At that point my knees started to feel tight and my back was tired. I slowed a little but kept running. I knew this condition was all due to a lack of long runs. I just didn't have the endurance in my knees and back to make the distance. They weren't used to this much time on my feet. It's funny that I didn't get down at that thought though. I almost expected it to happen so when it did I just accepted it.

I struggled through the last few miles and finished in 4:04. I strode proudly across the finish with my head up and a smile on my face. I was happy. Happy with a 4:04. Maybe I'm starting over, maybe I'm getting older, or maybe I'm just accepting what life is giving me with a smile now instead of fighting it. I'll get back to the 3:32 I ran at this race last year but it may take awhile and who knows, I may enjoy the journey more the second time around.

Thanks for listening

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pre marathon thoughts

So I haven't written anything in awhile and to be honest I'm really
missing it. I've given you guys a long enough break and now it's time
to make you suffer at the hands of my pixel shaped thoughts again.
Life is tough sometimes which I think we all know. Everyone struggles.
Those struggles may seem trivial to an outsider but to the person
struggling they are the most important thing in the world and thus
deserve full attention. What's my point? He'll if I know other than to
convey that I struggle and I know you do also. Though your struggles
may not spur me the way they do you, I understand and am willing to
help. Even if that help is nothing more than reading your thoughts and
sending unobservable thoughts and well wishes your way.


Running for me is a very emotional endeavor. A wonderful friend told
me recently that my emotions make me who I am and that they enjoyed
that part of me. I, in fact, hate that I even have emotions. As it is
though, there's not much I can do about it. I am me and I have deep
emotions. I cry at the end of marathons, I have a horrible addiction
to Nicholas Sparks books, I like more sad songs than happy ones, I
write a blog in order to get the mess of thoughts and feelings out of
my head. These are not things that a purely logical person enjoys. So
here is the question I have been unable to answer in all my many
years. Is it OK to let your emotions run free or is it better to keep
them under control? I'm inclined to believe, like so many other
things in this time-space continuum we exist in, that it depends. Some
situations warrant restraint while others cry out for open loop
emotions. The trick is to figure out which is which. Still working on
that one.


I'm running a marathon on Sunday. Let me say that another way, HOLY
CRAP I'M RUNNING A MARATHON ON SUNDAY! There, that's better. I haven't trained much for this marathon and I'm a little scared. I know I
always say 'run fearless' but that's mainly because I struggle (see
above) with fear so much. The logical part of my brain says that being
afraid of a marathon is silly. If it hurts just stop right? This is
simple, I don't HAVE to run 26.2, no one is making me do it. But as
you, my fellow insane friends, know it's not that simple. Dnf'ing is
worse than any pain because it lasts forever. I've set myself up for
this run and failing would be a failure of my spirit which is worse
than any outward embarrassment or shame I may feel. External impacts of
failing are not the motivating force of a marathoner. Most I believe
are motivated by an internal force of personal accomplishment and self
fulfilment. I know I am and I'm really scared that part of me could
take a massive hit on Sunday.

Well as is the norm for me lately I'm out of time. My plane is landing
and the steward is giving me the evil eye. Time is the one thing I
have none of lately. You guys and gals keep up the great running and
I'll be back to a regular schedule of writing soon. Pinky swear.

Thanks for listening

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Return to {insert something here}

Isn't it funny how you can be fully aware of something but it never seems to become real until someone else points it out?

I know very well that I haven't written a pixel-formed word on this electronic shrink I call a blog in many weeks. But when that fact was confirmed for me today by a wonderful friend whom I had seen in awhile, I immediately planned a writing session for today. I think that's call shame but since I don't get the whole "emotional" thing at all, I really can only speculate. It's hard to shame a West Virginia hill-billy after all.

So here I am! I'm writing. See I just did it again!

The tough part is to have something to write about. My subject should be easy to chose since this is a running blog. A blog about running that is. Running blog. Yea. That's what this is really.

Running. Hmmm, that's a tough subject lately. I have run. I ran today, in fact! Look at me go making blog fodder like that. I ran 4 miles at the tail-end of the 12 mile group training run. I forgot Paula so I don't know how fast I did it and I'm only guessing at the 4 mile distance. It felt good but my chest was a little tight afterwards.

I should backup and tell you (the one person left reading this blog, or you, the poor sap who typed a URL wrong and ended up here by some weird twist of fate) that the major event in my life lately has been SICKNESS! That's right people, I'm a freakin hostel for germs and viruses lately.

"Come one, Come all! Stay at Germ-de-Willie! A 5-Star luxury biological disaster that will pamper your entire microscopic family. Kids eat free on Wednesday"

If you remember (Ha!) I spent a week fighting and losing a battle with the flu. The aftershocks of that little rumble were just beginning to wear off last week. Monday I felt GREAT for the first time and I took full advantage of it by running 5 miles incredibly hard (read STUPID). Tuesday I still felt good so I started up my gym workouts again. I did a small core routine in the morning during which my core complained the entire time but finished like a trooper. I continued to feel good after work so I ran a quick 3 miles in the evening. Wednesday I went to Yoga. Take a minute and let that sink in. Willie......Yoga......Ummmmm. That's right I finally did it. I took a Yoga class and it was really cool. I did the Breath of Fire, was a Willow tree, and took the universe into my soul and then let it out many times. I went for the stretching and was satisfied with it in the end. I need stretching and will breathe the universe of Willow trees if that's what it takes to get it.
Wednesday night I ran a quick 2 miles out at the Lake and as I was leaving noticed a slight tingle in my throat. That tingle quickly turned into pain and the rest of my body joined in with gusto so that my entire carbon shell was in full chorus making Willie feel like CRAP later that evening. Those little glandy-things in my neck were (are) swollen like little rocks and it hurt to breathe. So much for being back in good form.
So now it's Sunday and the time between Wednesday night and right now is a black hole of misery that I really don't care to remember. I'm feeling better but my glandy-things are still swollen and it hurts to swallow which I guess shows improvement.

{begin whiny-girlyman section}
I really want to be well. And not just well for a day or two. Well for like a month! That would be great! Maybe I need a bubble. Willie's bubble of wellness I'll call it. Anyone got one of those? If so, bleach it out and send it to me please.

So I'm back. I've missed you.

Thanks for listening

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
17' 51+0' 307.6-0.5+72 ft
27' 30+0' 098.0-0.2-17 ft
36' 46-0' 358.9+0.7-56 ft
end6' 27-0' 549.3+1.10 ft
Versus average of 7' 21 min/mile

Monday, November 2, 2009

Route:--Elev. Avg:1215 ft
Location:Oklahoma City/Tinker AFB, OKElev. Gain:-52 ft
Date:11/02/09Up/Downhill: [+433/-485]
Time:04:09 PMDifficulty:2.8 / 5.0
 73 F temp; 35% humidity
 73 F heat index; winds NW 9

Distance: 5.01 miles
Speed:8.1 mph
Pace:7' 26 /mi
Elevation (ft)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
18' 13+0' 477.3-0.8+52 ft
27' 46+0' 207.7-0.4-68 ft
37' 23-0' 038.1+0.00 ft
47' 22-0' 048.1+0.1+62 ft
end6' 24-1' 029.4+1.3-98 ft
Versus average of 7' 26 min/mile