Saturday, June 2, 2018

Run to Race or Race to Run

I have been thinking the last couple of weeks about races.  Not about running one really, but just about those larger races that have taken place the last couple of months.  I see folks I know talking online about races they participated in or have coming up or speak to local runners about how their races went.  With Memorial Day just occurring, there was a lot of talk about Bolder Boulder and locally about the Cotton Row Run here in Huntsville.  When reading about folks races and talking to others, I am really not jealous that I didn't get to race with them.  I haven't really felt anything that would be classified as missing running in the races.  I have sort of been like this my whole life, but here in the past 3 years maybe, I have not had the urge to jump in weekend races or participate in many races during the year.

Now don't get me wrong, I still absolutely love running. You may think I am nuts, but I enjoy my alarm going off at 5 and finding the inner push to get out of bed and get out on the roads.  I enjoy the training.  I thrive on the self-motivation.  I enjoy having a plan from Coach Will and I love having the discipline to follow that plan.  I love the track workouts; I love the tempo runs; I love the long runs; I love the short, easy recovery runs. Ok - truth in advertising, I only like the tempo runs.  I love when they are over and I have accomplished them though.  There is something satisfying about having a plan and accomplishing that plan week after week.

I just do not love the races though.  I am not talking about not loving the effort required to run a race.  I am talking about just not feeling it when it comes to stepping up to the starting line.  I am likely in the minority among runners, here.  I feel like most runners enjoy racing and tolerate training so that they can race harder and faster.  I, on the other hand, only really use a race as a focal point to base my training around.  It gives a little upper to just going out every day and doing whatever sort of training run I feel like doing.  It adds a plan to the training.  I like the idea of a race being somewhere out there in the future that my training is based around.  I just don't like when it comes time for that race.

To be honest again, most times waking up on the morning of a race, driving to the race, and toeing the starting line actually mildly terrifies me.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It scares me.  Now I have always had nerves when it comes to racing, but the past couple of years those nerves have morphed into being downright scared.  I do not know what is scary to me.  I don't think it is some innate fear of failure or fear of not placing somewhere high, but I cannot rule that out I guess.  Maybe with the injuries that have plagued me over the past couple of years, I now have instilled a correlation in my head to racing and having a sidelining injury and my body and mind would rather not race than have to take a long time off from training.  I have joked with myself many times that a sports psychologist is what I really need.

My running self has evolved into someone that races to run.  What I mean by that is I would rather just be training for a race than actually racing.  I no longer run to race.  I no longer put up with training so that it makes me a better racer.  In thinking about this over the past several weeks, I don't know if this is normal for folks my age that are well on the downward slope of the ability graph.  Is this something that comes about when you are somewhere around the half century mark?  Or is it just how my body and mind have decided to live out this portion of my life.

I would like to know, if for no other reason than my own sanity, what others think.  For those that are around my age or older, do you still enjoy racing?  Did there come a time in your life where you changed from running to race to racing to run like I have?  For those not around my age, what are your thoughts? Am I in the minority when it comes to this?

Let me know.

While I wait to see what everyone else thinks, I will continue to revel in my alarm going off and in hitting the roads to follow the plan that Coach has set for me.  I will continue to bask in the glow of my training runs and accomplishing them, knocking them off day by day.  And, since it is hard for me to let go of things, I will continue to stress about and fear race days.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Setting Up Shop in Colorado Springs

So, the last week has been a whirlwind of trying to find a place to live in Colorado Springs, getting work done, signing papers for that place to live, shopping for some furniture and household items to make the place somewhat livable, setting up utilities, getting Matthew set up in his new internship, and still getting my running in at altitude.

View of Pikes Peak
I am exhausted.  But it is getting done.  I miss having E- with me to help as she is the one that has the head for this.  She is a lot smarter about these types of things than I am.  I have been relying on texts and phone calls with her a lot this past week.  I miss having her here to help with decisions; however, I miss her so much more because she is my sweetheart.  I miss seeing her before I fall asleep.   I miss seeing her when I get up in the morning to go run.  I miss seeing her when I get back from work.  I am definitely being selfish because I want her to move here with me.  This long term assignment is going to be hard being away from her.  I knew that was going to be the case before I started working this with my company, but now it is hitting me as to the depth of this longing.  I am sure I will get through it, but this aspect is going to be the worst part of the coming year.
View from Garden of the Gods

On a brighter note, I have immensely enjoyed this past week with M-.  He is getting his feet wet in his new internship position and I think he is having a ball so far being in Colorado Springs.  I am so excited for him to get to spend the summer here and I hope that he gets out and about to do as many things away from work as he can.  Due to him not having all of his badges yet, he has been having to ride to and from work with me, a 25 minute trip each way, and he has been staying with me until we get the apartment set up.  This is the most time I have spent with him for years and years, and I don't know about him, but I know that he hasn't gotten on my nerves at all!  I am sure I have gotten on his, but that's what Dads do.  It has been fun shopping for the apartment and furniture with him.  I am sure our testosterone dominated minds haven't picked out the best furniture in the world, but it is ours.  Our bachelor pad is coming together (somewhat :-) ).
M- outside of Garden of the Gods

M- in Garden of the Gods

The coming months are going to continue to be a whirlwind, I am sure.  I can already tell that when M- is done with his internship and has to go back to school in August, my life is going to become lonely.  I will miss E-; I will miss Rebbie; I will miss M-; I will miss my pups.  This is what I feel that I am being called to do for work though, so that will sustain me when I am missing them the most.

So this chapter of my life is taking shape.  The intro is being written and we will see how it takes shape.  Right now the conclusion is unknown and this chapter could definitely go a multitude of directions.  Hopefully it will end up being a fun ride!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Progression (And That Someone)

Having recently talked about my work location changes, it got me thinking about progression in facets of my life.  Progression of getting things at work set up and approved for the assignment in Colorado Springs is just one of the items that I have been tracking and thinking about lately.

Another that has been on my mind for a long time is my running progression and getting back to a semblance of shape that I used to be in prior to my hamstring injuries.  While I know that I likely will never be able to spin my wheels on the streets as fast as I used to, I do know that I have some racing left in me and am training to get to the point where I can do that.  My training has been going quite well.  I am pleased to say the least.  My coach has me up to around 50 miles a week and we just bumped up the number of days per week I am training from 5 to 6.  This progression has been metered out slowly over the past 4-5 months so that I do not have a reoccurrence of my hamstring issues and to force me to make sure I am working not only on my running, but also on keeping my muscles and core strengthened.  While we are slowly bumping up the mileage, we are also bumping up the types of workouts I am completing, track intervals, progression runs, tempos, fartlek runs, wave tempos.  Getting back into these types of runs is infusing my spirit.  I didn't realize how much I had been missing getting some laps in on the track.  The big thing I figured out I was missing was the feeling you get after completing one of those hard workouts that at first seems daunting when read.  Success breeds success when it comes to running and training.

If I take a look at my life from a somewhat wider focus, there is something that I see that has been present in my work progression as well as running progression, supporting me in these focused areas and contributing to these areas, but also has been present in everything else in my life and I dare say defines my life.  That something is my wife.  Elizabeth truly is my life.  She is the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning.  She is the last thing I think of when I go to sleep.  I do not know that I could keep track of the number of times I think about her during the day when I am at work.

But, you say, how does this fit into the theme of progression?  Getting to the point where I have this immense love for E- has been a steady progression from when I first met her years ago at Clemson.  Have I loved her all of this time?  Of course I have.  But this love is multi-faceted and builds upon itself.  Just as success breeds success in running, love breeds love in life.  We have been married for over 25 years now and I am still finding things about E- that make me grin like a kid and build my love for her.  If someone is your life, you can't help but build your love for them and you can't help but get excited about how your life with them will progress, no matter how long you have had them in your life.  I have been thinking about this a lot lately because as I potentially transition in the work place, I will be away from her for long periods of time and I am not going to like that.  I always want to be around her, mainly just to be around her.  She calms me.  She is my focal point when I need to orient myself.  I am hoping that I will be able to find that focal point over the phone when I need it while in Colorado without her.

Progression. Everything we successfully do in life has a progression.  Everything we unsuccessfully do in life has a progression.  Everything we attempt has a progression.  You get my point.  How you live your life depends on how you meter out that progression.  Be wise in how you progress and items in your life will work themselves out.

What items are you working on right now in your lives?  Do you have a progression plan for them or are you sitting back and just observing how they progress?  No matter which, I hope you have someone in your life that is there with you as you go.  I definitely know I have such a someone and I love her to death.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


  So in my last post, which by the way has been too long ago, I wrote of how I tend to handle making larger decisions, and how I tend to obsess over them (see: Decisions, Decisions).  I have not followed up since then on if I had made a decision yet.

  Well, I have.  More accurately, we have, as this decision involved my whole family, not just me.  At work, I have been pursuing an innovation which involves a new type of position.  This position involves embedding a development/integration position at a location that is not Huntsville.  As part of  bringing this to my program for consideration, I have volunteered to be the person to assume these new roles and responsibilities.  What this means is that I will be splitting time between here in Alabama and in:

(imaginary drum roll)

Colorado Springs, CO

  As I move into this role, the bulk of my time will gravitate towards CO.  What about my family, you ask?  For the next several years, E- and I did not feel comfortable doing a full-blown move to CO while the kids adult children are in college.  We wanted to have someone close enough to drive to Auburn or Starkville in case something came up.  Even with a larger part of my time being in CO, I will be in Huntsville periodically and E- will come out to CO to spend time there too.   Part of this will be E- and I feeling out how this works, how we feel about it and things like that.  Same goes for figuring out the work/position part.

 When I first mentioned this to E-, I expected a flat-out NO!  However, her response was "Heck yeah!" followed by "I would move there if we didn't have M and R in college close to here." It seems she is as ready for some life changes as I am.

 Will I be slightly nervous doing this?  Of course I will.  That is who I am; I cannot change that.  However, as I have told E-, one reason I feel like this is the path I am supposed to take is that I have not been stressed about it.  I have not even been nervous about it yet, other than just momentary "what about this" and "what about that" questions that pop into my head at random times.  This lack of stress and nervousness is not the norm for me, so I am taking this as my sign.

 We are ready for a new adventure and if this works out in the long run, it will be just that.  I see others that I know that move to various places and do not seem to be too phased by it.  E- and I have not done that since moving here from graduate school back in 1991, mainly because we loved the Huntsville/Madison area and the excellent schools located here for our children took precedence over anything else.

  I am excited.  E- is excited (or at least I believe she is!).  And, another shocker to me, M and R are excited about it as well.

  Will we end up in Colorado Springs permanently in the future?  I don't know.  But it is fun and exciting to know that over the next several years, that answer will take shape.

  I am sure future posts will bring new info on how this is all working, how my running is going now that I will definitely be getting plenty of training in altitude, and how E- and my adventures are taking shape.  For those of you in or close to Colorado Springs, give me a ping as I will be looking for establishing new connections while I am there.

 Here's to those of you that let me know how you handle making major decisions after I posed that question in my last post.  It was nice to see how everyone handles it slightly different, but kind of the same.  Big props to my father-in-law, Zeb, for sending me a nice email on past decisions he has had to make.  What all of you sent as comments, texts, or emails helped me organize my lists and gave me other things to think about at the same time.

 In my heart, at this point in time, I am confident that I have made the right decision.  That doesn't mean that I will not have to make another decision in the future related to this same item, but I will worry that in the future when/if it comes.

 I will ask another question in closing.  After making past major decisions, how did things turn out?  Do any of you regret the decisions you made or if things didn't turn out as expected, are you still glad you chose the path you did?

 Wish us luck on our new Clemens' adventure!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Decisions, Decisions

I have stated before, and I will state again, I do not do well with major decisions.  I take that back.  I do not do well with decisions, period.  They can be simple, they can be complex; making decisions causes me anxiety and stress.  So when the occasional life-changing decision comes along, you can imagine how much the stress and anxiety ratchets up.

I am on the cusp of one of these right now.  This decision will be one of the biggest decisions I have had to make in a long time.  While I do not look forward to that day when I actually have to decide, if and when it comes, this decision is self-imposed.  I have no one to blame for it but myself.

In thinking about this decision though, I also began thinking about how I handle items like this and what I might be able to do to help ease the stress and anxiety.  I see others making hard, life-changing decisions and I wonder how they do it without showing any stress.  How do they look so calm and happy when going through the decision making process?

For me and my obsessive/compulsive tendencies, I make lists.  Pros and Cons.  Random thoughts. Others' inputs and ideas on the topic.  I don't necessarily do this so that I can rank them and see if they offset each other.  I do it mainly just to do it.  I like the process.  I like seeing it "on paper".  I like being able to read through them over and over.  I like being able to think about things that I may have forgotten.

Lists calm me.

By the way, I don't do this just for decisions.  Any time I travel, I have a list for packing.  If I don't do that, inevitably I forget something.  For example, as I sit here and type this in Colorado Springs, I am sporting 3 days worth of beard growth.  Why, you ask?  It is not because I forgot my razor.  However, I did forget the charging cord for my razor.  And my razor had enough juice left for one shave.  Yes, my lists go to the detail of not only listing razor, but also listing the charging cord.  I didn't make a list and print it out and I failed.  My family makes fun of me for having packing lists, but they just do not understand the depths of my stress about forgetting something.

So, besides my calming lists, I am trying techniques to not induce excessive stress upon myself over this potential, impending decision I will have to make.  Yoga helps.  Reading helps.  Lying in my bed with my eyes closed and trying not to panic helps.

So I am soliciting input from you all.  What do you do that helps you stay calm over big decisions you have to make?  What techniques do you have that help you figure out the right decision for you?  How do you keep so calm and happy looking when your mind is racing over pros and cons?  Send them to me.

I am making a list.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

True Definition of Teammate

Something happened on my run this morning and I felt it deserved a little mention. It is not necessarily what happened that is the part that I wanted to publicize, but the person that initiated it. It was just another example of how a little, tiny thing can make someone's day and it was a great example of what being a teammate means.

I was in the 2nd mile of 7. This 7 was going to be my second longest run since October 1 due to my nagging injury. I don't know that I have mentioned that injury in past posts, have I? I will make sure I dedicate more posts later to my hamstring. :-)

Anyway, back to my run. As I came around a bend, a familiar face was running towards me. Now, if you know this person, you know the exact face I am talking about. Because no matter how long she has been running or how hard she has been running (it can be in the middle of a race), she always has the biggest, shining smile when she sees you. It has the power to instantly dissipate any and all anxiety, stress, and bad moods. It did its work again this morning.

But it is not her smile that prompted me to write this post. It was her actions as she passed by. How great it was for my soul to get a big "YEAH!" when she passed. It was that kind of "YEAH!" that I could feel came from her knowing how much I have been struggling with my injury and from her knowing how much it lifts my spirit to be out running, no matter the pace or the miles. It was that kind of yell that was genuine; she was truly happy for me.

That, my friends, is the definition of a teammate. It is not worrying how many races someone is running, their race times, how many miles someone is getting in. It is knowing their struggles, knowing how much it means to them to be back out there, and genuinely celebrating for them and with them.

It does not take much to be someone's teammate. While this person is my teammate both on the Huntsville Fleet Feet Racing Team and with RunningLane, she is more than that. She is a teammate in life, in getting through life's struggles and celebrating whatever victories can be found in this messed up world. And she is a teammate not by any grand actions or big shows. She is a teammate by her smile, by her wave, by her heartfelt "YEAH!" because she knows and understands. That's all it takes, folks. Trust me, that's all it takes.

So no matter what you are doing or where you are, be the best teammate possible. Be the best co-worker, the best athletic teammate, the best spouse, the best parent, the best child, the best boy/girlfriend, the best family member, the best fellow human you can be. Smile, wave, hug, but better yet, give that word of true celebration and encouragement that lets your teammates know that you listen, that you understand, and that you are truly happy for the little achievements over whatever struggles they are trying to put in their past.

So, thank you for being my teammate, Lauren Mitchell. And thanks, once again, for your beautiful smile and your "YEAH!" this morning. But more importantly, thank you for reminding me what it means to be a teammate.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Blessings From Being Injured. Wait... What?!?!

 Many of my posts over the last year or two have either been focused on or have mentioned my struggle with my injured hamstring.  It has kept me out of serious training for a while now and having a long term injury like this can be more mentally draining than anything it does to you physically.  I have found it very easy to become borderline depressed.  Not only am I somewhat mentally depressed because I cannot seem to get back to some level of regular training, but running is my stress release and is what I turn to when I need a break or when I need to sort out life in general.

 Sitting here this morning sipping my second cappuccino, I decided to focus not on the lowlights of being injured and those effects that struggling through an injury brings into one's head, but on blessings that have appeared in my life during the time I have been injured.  So here goes.  Some of these blessings I can put into words right now, some I cannot.

  • The biggest blessing that has been reinforced during this time has been my wife.  Time and time again, I realize and am shown that Elizabeth is probably the biggest blessing that God has given me in my life.  When I cannot run and spend the amount of time training I would like, I get to spend more time with her because I am not going to bed as early. I get to just hang with her more in the evenings and just be.  I offer up and go on more dates with her, even if it is just a date going to the grocery store to shop together.  When I do get a run in, they are shorter and slower, so she is more willing to ride her bike with me when I run.  Just more time I get to spend with her!
  • A blessing related to the going on more dates with Elizabeth is that I am more prone to hanging out with friends more often since I am not staying home to get to bed early.  Without that early morning training run calling, I can relax when we are out visiting with friends.
  • One thing that I have done over the many years I have been running is efficiently train my body and mind to be an early riser.  So, even when I am not training, my mind still is expecting to get things going early in the morning.  During an injury, I use this fact to get in to work early before most of my fellow workers get in.  I get so much done during this time that I feel less stressed during the rest of the work day.
  • Not being able to run has opened up my mind to engaging my body in new and alternate ways of exercising.  Yoga, cycling, strenghtening, walking the dogs - I now look for ways to get some form of exercise in to keep myself sane.
  • Meeting new people and establishing and reinforcing relationships with those professionals who are helping me recover from my injury and helping me in general.  While it is not good as to why I find myself in their office or talking to them, it is always good to establish these connections and develop new friendships and solidify those already established.  From all of the folks at Results Physiotherapy and SpineCare that I enjoy talking with and working with to looking into cultivating a coaching relationship with Will at Running Lane, I find that my sphere increases of those that I can turn to when I need help and hopefully, I lend some blessing into their lives as well since my main job here on Earth is to pass along blessings I receive to others.
  • Another blessing I have realized/rediscovered is the quantity of folks out there supporting me both in person and online. Their support does mean something to me.  Just the simple mention that they empathize with me and are rooting for me lifts my spirit on those days when my mood takes a hit.
  • In the view of my job being to pass along blessings, I have found more opportunities to connect and commiserate with others in their injuries and life struggles.  Just as others raise my spirit, I look for ways to lift theirs.  I look for ways in a simple text, a simple comment, a simple wave, a simple smile to pass along a blessing to someone else.  In some cases, it may be reflecting back a blessing that they gave to me in the past that they may not even realize they gave me. 

  I am sure that there are plenty of other blessings that I have been given during this time that I don't even realize I was given.  That's how life works; blessings wash over us and you would think we would recognize them and we don't.  Some are big, some are small, but they all weigh the same.  They all work to raise us up.  All of my blessings work to show me what I should truly focus on.  In this day and age of complaining about everything that happens in this world, or taking everything as a personal attack against one's self or one's beliefs, or attacking everyone that does not believe the same way or have the same values, I choose to focus on blessings, both received and given, and to focus on how I can take more of the blessings I have been given and reflect them back to others.  Just as my spirit is lifted by the hands of all of those that I personally know and by those that I don't, I want to be that extra set of hands that lift others up.  Being injured has shown me how I can be those hands.  I urge everyone else to think about life in the same way, be the light of support, not the darkness of complaint and affront.  Use your periods of injury or struggle to recognize blessings in your life.  When you start focusing on these blessings, your struggles have a harder time establishing a stronghold in your mind and you will have no choice but to pass along blessings to others.