What can I say? I love to run. I've run 4 full marathons and 6 halfs. But I love God more and I'm determined to run this race of life for Him to receive the ultimate prize of Heaven. I'd like to share my thoughts with you. You can agree or disagree. Comment or don't. You can read or not read. But it's here if you want it. Enjoy! .

Monday, November 30, 2009

Old Me vs New Me. Yikes!


My 2nd marathon is in 5 days. 5 days. 5 stinkin' days. I should be freaking out. Maybe I am inside but I'll keep it hidden so as not to scare anyone. Actually, I'm not freaking out. I'm not even nervous or anxious at this point. Oh, I will be. When I wake up Saturday morning. When I put on my running clothes and bib number. When I get into my starting corral. When the gun goes off. But then it will be over. The nervousness will be gone when I actually start running. And then God only knows what will happen for the next four hours (hopefully less than 4 hours). I'll give it all to Him at that point and just trust in my training, my supportive family, but mostly in Him. I can't believe it's in 5 days. It hasn't really sunk in I guess.

Nate and Andrea from church will be there running the 5K. They are both awesome and amazing runners. They also offered to order tickets to a pasta dinner and Grizzlies game. $25 for all you can eat pasta, bread, and drinks as well as the game ticket. Not a bad deal. So Mark and I decided to do that too. That'll be fun. I've never been to a Grizzlies game. In fact, it's been probably 20 years since I went to an NBA game. It's going to be a fun weekend. I can't wait.

Oh, by the way, the title of this post is attributed to the fact that we found a picture recently. We were searching for old pictures of the boys and Santa and found the picture below hidden in one of the frames. It was shocking! Susan was shocked. I was shocked. Not to offend anyone here, but I look like I ate a cow. A whole cow. Bones and all. I'm huge. Shout out to Courtney who also has a similar picture of the past me. But here's the picture.

I would say I'm close to 200 pounds in that picture. Now, here's a picture of me recently at Disney World.

Looks different, huh? I weighed myself yesterday after my 10 mile run and I now weigh 149. That's my lowest weight ever - well at least since I weighed that back in high school on the way up. So I've probably lost about 50 pounds since I started running about 3 years ago. I guess it's like one of those magazine adds for diet pills. The before and after me. " Look what these diet pills can do for you." Except I don't take diet pills. I just did it by running. I still don't eat great. Susan will tell you. That's my hardest thing. But I try. Sometimes.

(A kid brought me a chocolate doughnut as I am writing this. Not kidding. I have to eat it or the kid will feel bad, right? Chocolate doughnuts are my weakness. Mean kid...who is now my favorite student. Ok, this doughnut is so good. Sorry, back to the post...)

Oh well, I told Courtney and I'll tell the world now. If you ever see me starting to balloon back up, show me this picture and just shake your head in a negative way. I'll get the message.

I'll try to write from Memphis on Friday and let you know how things are going. Not sure if the old Super 8 will have wireless. If they ever did, someone probably stole it. We'll see. Until then...

Keep runnin',

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's Official. We're Going Back to the World!!


One week from right now I will be a little....what's the word? Anxious. Nervous. Excited. Stressed. Adrenalineized. Is that a word? One week from right now I will be sitting in the scariest hotel room ever (see a couple of posts down) on the night before my 2nd marathon. I should be asleep one week from right now, but I know we won't be. Mark and I will be talking in our hotel room. Or we might be pushing the dresser in front of the door for the night. Whatever. The point is - I can't believe it's just one week away. It seems so long ago when I decided I wanted to do another marathon. I actually decided the day of my first marathon. I had thought about doing a 2nd but that day was when I decided I had to do it again. There were so many good things that far outweighed any bad. I knew I wanted to experience all that good again. And I knew Memphis was the place And it's almost here.

Well, it's officially official. Today, we called and finalized our reservations for our next trip to Disney World. Our tradition of going once a year continues. For the past three years, we have gone in October during Fall Break. But for a couple of reasons which I'll discuss later, it will be better if we go at a different time next year. So recently, we decided on May, right when school lets out. I will love that. I always enjoy having trips to look forward to as school closes. Last year, it was Holiday World which we loved. This year, it's THE World. We're only staying four nights instead of our usual five. Money's a little tight. And we're only going to three parks instead of our usual four. We're skipping out on Animal Kingdom this time. I'll miss it, especially some of the rides (Dinosaur - my favorite), but it's the easiest park to give up. We have it done in just a few hours. There's just not much there so it'll be fine to give it up for this trip. We'll go back in the future. We also booked our restaurants today and got everything we wanted. I'm very excited as are Susan and the boys. Yes, we went ahead and told them. No surprises this time. Oh well - I'll talk more about the trip as it approaches. It's still 6 months away but it's always fun to get it on the calendar. I'm hoping my next trip to Disney after that is also on the calendar - the Goofy Challenge. Registering for that comes up during the first or 2nd week of January so I'll keep you posted.

On a side note - this post is taking me forever to type because I'm watching "Footloose" in the background. Haven't seen that one in a long time. I still think it's a pretty good movie. Maybe I'm crazy. Well, I know I'm crazy, but does anyone else think that's a good movie? Sorry - back to important things...

I got the first half of the outside lights up. I'll finish up tomorrow. I guess I should've kept a count of how many lights but it's gotta be several thousand. I'll try to get a picture or video on here or something. Just call me Clark.

Doing my last long run Sunday - 10 miles. I'm still deciding on the 5k for January. I'll probably register for one or the other next week at some point. Ate a huge Thanksgiving lunch yesterday and then ran home from my parents (5.5 miles). My dessert(s) hadn't quite digested yet so my stomach hurt a little but at least I ran off a few of the thousands of calories I most likely ate.

One last thing. My Auburn Tigers lost a hard fought game to Alabama today. 26-21. I was very proud as I was expecting a blow out loss. So it's still great to be an Auburn Tiger. And I hope Florida kills Bama next week. I never root for Florida, but go Gators!

Keep runnin',

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Animals Versus Predators


Just got back from Opryland. Yes, I still call it Opryland and I always will. I miss that place. Susan and I actually got to talking about it tonight. We told the boys all about all the rides and what each one did. No mall, no matter how big can ever replace what was Opryland. Sorry - short rant. We do enjoy the hotel and went to the Delta tonight to enjoy the water show, boat ride and Christmas decorations. We'll start decorating our house tomorrow.

I'm looking for a 5K for the Winter. I'll probably take a week off after the marathon but I certainly don't want to get out of shape or stop for very long. I need another race to look towards. I am doing the Country Music 1/2 in April but I felt like I needed something in between to keep me motivated. So I've narrowed it down to two races: The Zoo Run Run 5K at the Nashville Zoo OR the Nashville Predators Fangtastic 5K. The Zoo run is at the end of January and the Predators race is at the beginning of February so they are around the same time. They are both $25 so money doesn't make a difference. But there are pros and cons for each.

Zoo Run Pros - I've done it before so I know the course. Smaller race which I like (not too crowded). Got a nice T-shirt last time. Enjoy supporting the zoo (we're members). Fun course as you run throughout the zoo and see the animals as you go.

Zoo Run Cons - I've done it before (do I need something new?). Some running on trails and rough surfaces. Not an easy course (some hills).

Predators Run Pros - Never done it before so would be something new. Run downtown and most likely a little flatter. Get a free ticket to a Predators game plus the t-shirt.

Predators Run Cons - A lot bigger so more crowded and less chance to place well. You only get one ticket to a Predators game (like I'm gonna go by myself). Unfamiliar course.

So I'm still deciding. I'm leaning towards the Zoo run but I'll let you know in the next week or so. I'm just excited to have another race almost on the calendar with Susan's approval. That's always a big step.

10 days. 10 days!! until the marathon. Holy cow! I'm getting excited. I'm in the taper so I'm not running as much which feels a little weird but it is nice to have a little extra time to sleep.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I'm very excited to be out of school and love this time of year. I'm going all out on the outside lights this year. More about that later. It's gonna be crazy!!

Keep runnin',

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Hotel from Down Under - And I Don't Mean Australia

10:01 AM

I had every intention of running last night but I was so tired. I think I'm on a bad schedule where I am getting tired really early (7-8 PM) and am waking up early (4-5AM). I can't seem to get off that schedule. I would rather get tired around 10-11 and wake up around 5-6 but I'm about an hour or two off. Anyways, I got up this morning around 4 and ran the five miles. So technically I did it today (Wed.) but I'm counting it as my Tuesday run b/c I have every intention of running tonight after church. But I may do it tomorrow morning. We'll see.

Well here goes. The hotel story. As you know if you've read any of this blog, I am running a marathon in a little over 2 weeks in Memphis. About 3-4 months ago, I decided I needed to start looking for a hotel. The race starts at 8AM so I didn't want to drive from Nashville that morning, plus I needed to register on Friday anyways. So I began looking for a hotel. I knew that Susan and the boys weren't going to go for good reason so I began looking as cheap as possible. My feelings on hotels has always been that it's just a room. Now don't get me wrong, I like nice hotels and the few times I've been privileged to stay in one have been great, but I'm basically fine staying in anything with a bed. That's why we stay cheap at Disney. We're only in the room awake for a couple of hours at most so what's the point of paying a lot of money for a huge room. I realize that if I had the money, I might feel differently, but I would hope I wouldn't. All that to say, since my family wasn't coming to Memphis, I knew I would just find a cheap room and go with it. On the race website, they had a list of hotels, how far they were from the start line, and how much they were per night. I scrolled down and down and down until I found the right price. Distance didn't matter as much since I will have a car. I knew when I saw the Super 8 only 2 miles from the start at the low low price of $45 a night, I had found my room. I clicked on the hotel website to get the number and happened to notice the reviews. Holy cow - the reviews!! Pause on that story because it leads me to another story....

In 2005, I was in charge of planning the reward trip for our church. I work part time at our church with the youth and have been in charge of the reward trip for many years. The reward trip is just that - a reward for those that have participated in a certain number of service projects throughout the year. In 2005, the reward was King's Island in Cincinnati. I was in charge of finding hotels, getting park tickets, getting a list of those going, etc. etc. I always find several hotel choices and then take them to the youth minister so we can discuss the best options. We decided (and I'm gonna use "we" here so everyone can't put ALL the blame on me) to go with the Econo-Lodge in Erlanger, KY for our first night. It was cheap, not too far outside of Cincinnati, and looked pretty nice on the internet. On the day we were supposed to leave, I just happened to be watching the news and noticed the top story about how a couple had escaped from prison (from right here in TN by the way - ironic?) and had been caught in Ohio. Click here for the story if you just really have a lot of time to waste. Before the couple was caught (after murdering a prison guard no less), they had stayed in, you guessed it, the Econo-Lodge in Erlanger, KY. I called my youth minister immediately. We called the hotel. They said the hotel had been cleared and all would be fine. All would not be fine.

When we arrived at the Econo-Lodge that night, it took forever to get checked in. I had specifically asked for non-smoking rooms and I think 4 out of 15 rooms were non-smoking. The hotel was next to a very loud bar with music. The rooms were disgusting and didn't seem to have been cleaned in months. So while I was dealing with all that, I kindof forgot about the news story. It never crossed my mind that the room where the fugitive couple had stayed would be given to us, or for that matter, be available to anyone. But as you've probably figured out, room 111 was assigned to us. We still didn't know that was THE room and we hadn't told the kids about the news story, but some had already heard and it spread quick. We assigned four high school boys to room 111. They quickly came and told us about the room. I still wasn't convinced it was THE room until I got to the room and some scary looking lady was sitting in her car in the parking lot and said (and I quote), "Room 111, right thar, that's them criminal's room."

Why me?

It was filthy (which matched all the rooms) but there was a very specific and large blood stain on the bed spread (by the way - the fugitive had been shot in the escape).

I am realizing as I'm writing this that I still can't believe it really happened. Sorry - got off track.

Now the boys were okay with it. They were a little upset but in a funny way. They filmed it and made jokes. We realized afterward that we should have asked for another room, but it was so late and we were so confused by it all that for some reason we didn't. These boys' parents were less than happy when we got home and rightly so. It was a nightmare come true. We laugh about it now but it really wasn't funny at the time. By the way, I would later complain and get an apology letter from the hotel management - didn't help much. I will never stay in an Econo-Lodge again. Period.

Now, I told that story because one of the boys in room 111 that night was Mark Slagle - the same Mark I previously wrote about who will be my roommate in Memphis. I booked the hotel before I knew he was coming. When he offered to run and I asked him if he wanted to share the room, I forgot all about the reviews and the above story. Click here to read the reviews and you'll see why this story is funny. The reviews match the description of the Econo-Lodge from 4 years ago. In fact the 2nd one matches the title of this post - just not quite as nice as I made it. When I told Mark about the reviews, he just laughed. He might not be laughing in 2 weeks. The picture makes the hotel look pretty nice but I'm sure that's deceiving. I really want to run this race so I'm just hoping I make it to the start line after a night in this hotel. I'm assuming it is probably also in a scary part of town as I've certainly heard that Memphis has some scary parts, actually a lot of them. No offense, Memphis. Well, at least we'll have each other and won't be alone, which was my original plan. I don't mind a dirty room too much as long as the bed is sleepable. Is that a word? I guess if someone scary comes knocking on our door, we can throw Super 8 soaps at them and hit them over the head with the ice bucket, if we even get one. Please pray for our safety - and I'm pretty serious about that. I'm sure we'll look back and laugh on it as we already have but I hope nothing happens to take that laughter away. Oh well - I know this is way too long, but I had to share.

Better go work on my karate.

Keep runnin',

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Last Long Run


Just a quick post to say my last long run before my marathon is done. I just finished 22 miles in 3:06, averaging just under 8:30 per mile. I am very happy with my time. I was expecting around 3:20. This gives me even more confidence that I can do this marathon under 4 hours. It felt great this morning. I could tell I was going fast. My legs did start to get that numb feeling with about 3 miles left but I made it home fine. I just hope I can do that last 4 miles on race day. It's a little scary to stop at 22 miles but that's what all the programs recommend.

Now I'll start my taper with 12 miles next week and probably 10 the week before the race. I'm about to go turn on the oven to surprise the family with cinnamon rolls this morning. That's just as much my reward as it is theirs. But I figure I deserve them after running 22 miles. And Max picked California Pizza Kitchen for lunch today. Even more reward.

I'll write more about the marathon at some point this week. Hope everyone has a great week.

Keep runnin',

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Mark


My heel was a little sore after Monday's long run. I ran 20. It took 2 hours and 53 minutes. 2:35 AM-5:28AM. Not bad. By the way, I did four 5-mile loops this time instead of my one long 20-mile loop. Decided to try something new. It was a little boring but I think it was a little easier. I stayed close to home, passed it four times. Flatter streets. But like I said, my heel hurt pretty bad, especially on Tuesday, so I took Tuesday off. Figured I'd give my feet an extra day to rest. It helped. I felt better yesterday and ran 5 last night.

The marathon is a little over 3 weeks away. Very close. Like I said last time, I'm looking forward to it for so many reasons. It'll be nice to run a new race. I've heard many good things about this race. It'll be interesting to see how I do. It's a trip and I enjoy any trip, no matter how short or close. But I'm really looking forward to it because of Mark. I mentioned Mark Slagle last time. Since my family isn't going for very good reasons, it'll be very nice to have Mark there. Mark is like a brother to me, since I never had one. We met when I was Mark's teacher and camp counselor at church. Even though he's about 15 years younger, I have always enjoyed any time we've had together. We've had a lot of laughs together over the years and Mark is one of the most talented people I've ever met. He has been the star of many of my camp skits and I couldn't ask for better. He made those skits legen....wait for it...dary. (Sorry, I watch "How I Met Your Mother".) Mark is just awesome in so many ways.

This summer, I experienced one of the greatest weeks of my life. I went on Trek with 14 other guys from church. We flew out to Salida, Colorado and climbed Mount Antora. It was an incredible, spiritual, memorable, life-changing adventure and I will never forget it. Mark was one of the two guides that led us up that mountain and for that I will be eternally grateful. He was already a best friend but through that, our friendship grew even stronger. On our last night, we were eating at Sonic and somehow the Memphis marathon came up. I told Mark he needed to run with me. I was surprised when he quickly agreed. That's so Mark. He will do anything and be anywhere you need him to be at the drop of a hat. He didn't even think about having to run several miles and the pain he might have, he just said, "I'll be there.". Now, being that he has never done a major race that I know of, I'm glad he'll be doing the half marathon while I do the whole. And I'm sure we won't stay together. But just the fact that he's been running, training, and preparing for this is just awesome. It's a true testament to what a great friend he is.

I talked to Mark yesterday and he said he's still good to go. He's been running and can't wait for the trip. Our hotel is a whole other post and I'll talk about that soon. There's a definite story there. Let's just say neither of us needs to be by ourselves in that place. But it will be awesome and I certainly can't wait. It'll be another one of many adventures with Mark.

I'll be running my longest run this Sunday morning before I start tapering. I'll do 22 and it'll be a big loop instead of short ones. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Until then...

Keep runnin',

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Four Weeks and Counting

10:03 AM

I just completed a 41-mile week. I don't think I've ever done over 40 miles in a week. I could be wrong but I don't think I am. And that was with a class trip this week. I went to Camp Cosby in Alpine, AL with my 6th graders. This was my 10th trip. I love it there. Absolutely awesome. And this year's 6th graders are just outstanding. I can't say enough. But I was very proud of myself for getting up early Thursday and Friday while up there and running 4 miles both mornings. They were both great runs. It's beautiful up there and it felt so good to get a morning run in both days. I just finished 5 for today and that makes 41 for the week. Not to toot my own horn, but toot toot a little. Sorry - just celebrating. I'm done now. On to bigger and better things.

Today marks exactly 4 weeks until my next marathon. As previously mentioned, I am running the St. Jude's Marathon in Memphis, TN on December 5. That is four weeks from today. I know I'll be nervous and anxious as it approaches, but I am really excited. I have heard so many good things about this marathon. Mainly the flatness of it. That's always good. But I've also just heard it's a great race. It's well organized and fun to run. Plus the fact that the money is going toward such a good cause with the hospital there and all. I've heard that some of the kids come out and cheer. Not sure if that's true or not.

I have three goals for this marathon.
1. Finish. This is always goal one. Finish without quitting and without getting injured.
2. Don't walk. This is so much easier said than done but if I can run 22 without stopping (my longest), I can surely do 4 more measly miles.
3. Finish under 4 hours. I was so close in April at the Country Music Marathon. 4:11. So I think it's more than a reasonable goal. I'm hoping for much cooler temperatures this time. That's what got me in April.

I am also just looking forward to the trip. I know several people that will be there either running or cheering. The Hall's from church will be cheering. My cousin's wife will be running. Go Susan! And one of my best friends will be there with me. Mark Slagle agreed to do the half while I run the whole. I am so proud and honored that he'll be there. I'll talk more about him later but we're sharing a room Friday night and it will be so much easier having someone there to talk to and take away the pre-race jitters. Susan and the boys seriously thought about coming but decided not to and I don't blame them. We really can't pay for a nice hotel and I wouldn't dream of having them stay where I'm staying. More about that later too. Plus there are things going on here at home that weekend. It's just better for them to be here. So Mark will be my family that weekend. He already is.

Well, I'm about to head to the state Cross Country meet to cheer on our HS team. Can't wait for that. They have had an awesome season and I'm hoping for victories today for both girls and boys. After that I'm headed to our church youth retreat where I'm speaking tonight. I'll run just 3 miles there tomorrow morning and save my long run for Monday morning before school. Yuck. I don't like doing it that way but I don't really have a choice. 20 miles Monday morning.

Keep runnin',