Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's About the Cross

On Christmas Eve, I attended the evening worship service with my parents and most of my brothers, sisters and their families. We participated in the Lord's Supper as a family. It was pretty moving.

One interesting element of the service was a short worship video featuring a song by a group that was new to me, Go Fish. I don't think I fully agree with the theme of the song -- that Christmas is all about the end of the story, Christ's death on the cross. Christ's death is the most important event but His birth is extremely important. God incarnate is an incredible thing. Christ gave up His glory to accommodate himself to us -- He became one of us, He stooped to our level, He spoke our language, He lived our lives! I'm sure we could discuss that topic (the importance of the incarnation versus substitutionary death) for a long, long time. The video is thought provoking -- enjoy and think:



Happy New Year,
Bob

End of Year

In the past 2 weeks, I and my family have driven 3000+ miles. We attended a wedding in Little Rock, AR; we visited some long-time friends in Alexandria, LA; we ate supper with my brother and his family in Norcross, GA; we had Christmas Eve and day with my family in Greenville, SC; and we had Christmas night and a few days with my wife's family in Columbia, SC. It was a long trip but great fun. In those 2 weeks, I ran in 4 different states (AR, LA, SC, and VA). I had hoped to run the Big Dam Bridge in Little Rock but it rained that day.

Here is running review for 2006 -- trivia:

Miles Run: 1,364.4
Number of Runs: 218 (includes 2 elliptical workouts)
Longest Run: 10.39 miles @ 7:56 mpm, 30-Dec-06 (yesterday)
Fastest Run: Greenville, SC Candlelight Run for Hope, 24-Jun-06, 5km @ 7:12 mpm
Shoes: 1 pair Brooks Adrenaline GTS5, 1 pair Brooks Adrenaline ASR, 2 pair Brooks Adrenaline GTS6, 1 pair Etonic Jepara SC (current)
States: VA, SC, FL, TN, AR, LA, TX, NM
Countries: USA, Rep. of South Africa, Zambia, Madagascar, Kenya, Dem. Rep. of Congo
Favorite Run: Probably the trail at Harrison Bay State Park in Harrison, TN
Most Exotic Run: Toliara, Madagascar
Most Fun Run: Christmas Lights Run, 5.3 miles, Richmond, VA -- group fun run to see lights
Worst Run: 4 miles on the treadmill on 22-Dec-06!!

Enough trivia. I hope your running in 2006 was as satisfying for you as mine was for me.

Run well,
Bob A

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Holiday Lights Run

Over the weekend, I found out that one of the local running shops had planned a couple of 5.3 mile night runs this week -- going through neighbourhoods to see the holiday lights. It's a runner's twist on an old Christmas tradition. I had a meeting in D.C. today but got back in plenty of time. I was glad because I can't run Thursday night for the second run.

It was cold -- somewhere close to 32°. But, it was fun to run with a group. There were about 8 of us and one dog in the front pack of 7-8 minutes per mile runners. The dog was so excited about running and showed us all up -- he looked like he was walking briskly. The sky was clear and the moon was almost full, so it was a really pretty night. And the houses were decorated nicely.

The distraction of running with and talking to others while running was good. I ran faster than I've run in months -- depending on exactly how long the run was, I finished in 7:20 - 7:24 minutes per mile. It was a really fun run.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Starting Spiritual Conversations

As I've said before, running is not a time, for me, when I do a lot of thinking. Mostly, I seem to be focused on whether or not I'll actually make it back home before dying.

Today, though, was a little different. It was a gorgeous morning. I slept in a bit and headed out at about 8:10 -- it was a crisp 35° and the sun was shining. Enough of a breeze to keep me cool (yes, even at 35° I needed to keep cool) I took a route (5.2 miles) that I hadn't run in a long time and it goes around a small lake.

Yesterday, while we had a prayer time with the new missionaries to our region who are in orientation, one of them prayed for us that we would find ways to do missions/minister to our neighbours. America is such a private place that we've found it hard to even get opportunities for spiritual conversations with the people whose houses we can see from our front porch.

I had been mulling over an idea for a few days and was thinking about it while running. As a way to simply open the door for these kinds of conversations, we are considering inviting the closest neighbours to the house for refreshments and a "modern" presentation of the traditional Christmas story, the birth of Christ. We would use candles to represent the characters. We would light each candle as that character comes "on stage" (Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, Jesus, wise men) and sing a Christmas carol at each point. Then, as each character leaves the stage (wise men return home, shepherds go back to their sheep, Mary and Joseph die), their candle would be snuffed out until only Jesus, the light of the world, remains lit. It's simple yet very powerful and almost completely non-threatening to nominal or non-believers.

As I ran, I thought and prayed about that and just became convinced that it was worth trying to arrange. Linda and I talked about it when I got back and she agreed. So, we're going to try to make it happen with about 12 of our neighbours. Let's see if we can pull it off (putting it here, might be just the "pressure" we need).

Run well,
Bob

Friday, December 1, 2006

No Choice ... Gotta Run

I knew that rain was predicted for this morning but was hoping it would hold off until 6 AM or so. Headed out the door about 5:05 so I could get back before it rained. As usual, I unlocked the door, walked out, and pulled it shut behind me. Stepped off the porch and find that it's sprinkling just a bit. Decision time ... run in the rain (it's 66°, so not too bad unless the bottom drops out) or head to the dreadmill at the YMCA? As I'm pondering, the wind picks up and the rain gets a bit harder. That's makes the decision easy -- I'll go to the Y.

I turn around to go back to get my DL, Y card, and keys and ... for the first time in 18 months, I've locked myself out of the house!! Unbelievable! Everybody else is asleep. Now, what do I do -- run in the rain, sit on the porch for an hour and read the paper until somebody wakes up, or wake everybody up? The last option would have resulted in some serious moaning and groaning and I really don't want to miss my run, so off I go. Fortunately, it only sprinkled a bit. It was so warm and humid that the little bit of rain felt good.

Turned out to be a decent run -- 7.5 miles in about 59 minutes. When I got back, someone was awake to let me in. It's provided several people with a laugh today and that's a good thing. All's well that ends well.

Recent history: I managed 3 runs over the Thanksgiving holiday -- 2 of 7+ miles and another of about 5.7, so the holiday feasting didn't go to [my] waist.

Y'all run well,
Bob

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Run With Perseverance

Tomorrow, I've been asked to teach our adult Bible study class at Gayton Baptist Church. It's my favourite passage, Hebrews 12:1-29 -- OK, my favourite passage is verses 1-3:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. [Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV]

If I have internet access during the class, I plan to use this YouTube video clip:



Speaking of running, my run this morning was really nice. I finally got to run a route I've wanted to run for a month or more. I thought it was 9.3 miles but it turned out to be 9.6. At mile 6, I suddenly realized that I felt great. It was one of those in the zone times when I could have kept going. It took me 1:15:08 -- 07:47 mpm.

Run with perseverance,
Bob

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Father's Love; A Son's Joy

If you haven't heard about Dick and Rick Hoyt, their's is a great story -- click the link below to read the story and see the YouTube video:

---> Dick and Rick Hoyt <---

I first read about them a few months back in Runner's World. Even then, I had to wonder if I could or would do that for my son or daughter -- if not marathons and triathlons, I certainly hope I would do something similar.

So, this is dedicated to the world's two greatest kids, Stacey and Stephen -- I love you.

Run life well,
Dad (Bob)

Hebrews 12:1-2

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hair-Raising Experience

... or, as my wife quipped, Bugs in Your Teeth!.

Totally not running related just cool (for me). Prior to heading to Ft. Worth last week, I had our travel people reserve a compact rental car for me. When I got to Ft. Worth around midnight Central Time, I was a bit out of it and not really paying attention to the Thrifty Car Rental attendant. Finally, what she was saying broke through "... soft top ..." That perked me up -- I get to drive a convertible.

Yes, a small thing but I've never driven or ridden in a convertible. Midnight-thirty, driving from DFW to Southwestern Seminary with the top down!! Then, Wednesday and Thursday were absolutely perfect weather for a convertible -- mid-80's. Every chance I got, I had the top down. I wouldn't want a convertible as my main car, but if I were stinking wealthy and were to get a fun car, it just might be a convertible.

Over the weekend, this Pluggers cartoon got me chuckling:

Pluggers and Convertibles

Running? Oh, yeah ... I didn't run between Thursday (Flat Land post) and today. Ran 7.2 great miles today -- 55:41.98 minutes -- 07:43.23 mpm.

Run well, y'all,
Bob
Richmond

Friday, November 10, 2006

Flat Land

I just returned from a trip to Ft. Worth, Tx -- I was talking to prospective missionaries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was a moderately successful trip but no banner headlines.

Of course, I took my running gear. I couldn't run Wednesday morning because I didn't get into my room until about 1:00 am and had an 8:00 appointment. So, I postponed until Wednesday morning and ran 5.7 miles in the area of the campus (click here to see my route -- there are, contrary to my preferences, some overlaps). I knew Ft. Worth and the seminary were flat, but I think over my entire run the maximum elevation change was no more than 22 feet. Now, some folks like flat land running saying that they can run faster. I find that it's harder, overall, than moderately hilly areas because you have to push yourself the whole way. So, I wasn't overly surprised when I was feeling really tired.

Ah, but it seems that those who like flat land may well be right. It turns out that I was tired because I ran faster than normal -- 07:30.59 minutes per mile. I haven't run that fast in 2-3 months. I didn't know my time until after I ran because I refuse to watch my watch while I run. So, "Wa-hooo!"

One of the really nice things about running for exercise is the relative ease of exercising no matter where I am -- pack my shoes, shorts, and shirt and I'm set to go.

Run well,
Bob

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.... (Hebrews 12:1-2a -- NIV)

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Not for Wimps

Tuesday I had a bit of knee-twinge so took Wednesday off. Thursday and Friday I tried the elliptical machines at the YMCA. I have to confess that my impression of the elliptical machine -- from the perspective of someone who had never tried one but only watched others -- was that it was easy. "They" say that confession is good for the soul, right? Well, here's my confession: The elliptical machine is not for wimps. It was hard and I am sore. I apologize to all the ellipticalites out there.

Friday, when I finished 30 +/- minutes on the elliptical, I had to stretch out those muscles so I hopped on the treadmill for a quick mile. My legs went, "Ahhhhhh! We know this motion." The nice discovery was that my knee seemed fine so I can go back to running.

The second nice discovery is that the elliptical is an excellent cross-training device as it works different muscles and can provide some balance to running.

Slept in on Saturday. That may have been smarter than I thought since the low Friday night was about 24°. I ran 6.8 miles this morning in 30° weather. The leaves are just past their peak here but were still pretty. And, what a beautiful sunrise as I finished at 6:30!

Run well,
Bob

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

What a Pain

Sunday morning I just decided not to run. It was the right decision and I really didn't miss it. But Monday, I was ready to hit the road and did a longer run.

Then, yesterday, my loose plan called for 5.3 miles. Off I went but right at 4 miles, I had this sudden sharp pain in my right knee. I slowed way down, thinking that walking the last 1.3 miles with a painful knee was not going to be fun. But, it eased off and I moved my pace back to normal and finished. The rest of the day, my knee didn't hurt but it just felt weird -- like it was going to buckle. Today became an unplanned rest day. It felt strange until about mid-day but then felt normal. I think I'll take at least one more day off and see. I might go to the "Y" and hit the elliptical machine. That will be a new experience but it's supposed to be good aerobic exercise without the pounding.

Bob

Runner's World Fast Fact: I'm among 63% of runners who run in the morning and 19% who run before dawn.

Saturday Fireworks

All week I had anticipated a long run on Saturday. I had a new route I wanted to try and it had been a couple of weeks since I had done more than my normal, so I was planning 9-10 miles. The only problem was that the weather prediction was rain. I woke up earlier than necessary but that was OK -- I like pre-dawn. It was cloudy but wasn't raining. Off I went and was feeling pretty good.

Then around 3 miles out, a few drops of rain. Not good but it's warm and I really don't mind, too much, running in the rain. Still ... rain equals wet feet and wet feet and long don't go well together. I'm already considering cutting back to about 6.6 miles.

Whoa! Lightning? Hmmmm. There it is again and, yes, it is lightning. Decision's made -- I'm heading home. Uh-oh -- I'm a long way from home -- it's at least as far back the way I came as continuing on the 6.6 miles. Nothing to do but push on and pray that the lightning stays a long way off (if every second's delay between the lightning and the thunder equals a mile, then the bad storm is still 5-7 miles away).

Just after making a turn, I realize that I can cut through a neighbourhood up ahead and shave a few more tenths of a mile off. However, now it's pouring down rain -- we're talking stinging rain, so much rain that I can't see through my glasses, dense enough of a downpour that I have to run right up to the street signs to read them. I ended up doing the last 2.5 miles with my glasses in my hand, every step feeling like I've just stepped into a water-filled pothole, and wondering what stranger's porch I'm going to stand on if the storm catches me. (Can you imagine coming out of your house to get the paper early Saturday morning and finding a dripping wet stranger on your porch? That's definitely a last resort option.)

Finally, I'm home and stretching and ... wouldn't you know it ... the rain stops. Still, it was a good run and a good time -- lightning is a great motivator!

Run well,
Bob

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Long Saturday Run

Oh, it was COLD this morning! I slept in a bit and didn't leave until 7:30 but it was 33º and about 85% humidity -- it was only 35º when I finished at 8:40. First time in the season to wear a sweatshirt and gloves. While I most definitely prefer 33º to 75º, my favourite running temperatures are 45-55º.

I decided to run a little longer today -- no particular reason, just to do it. And, then, I went even longer than planned. It turned out to be my longest run in a year -- almost 8.6 miles. It's satisfying but it wore me out. Even in cold weather, I learned today that I need to rehydrate well after that much running. I didn't and really felt it around midday.

I need new shoes. My Brooks Adrenaline ASR's still have a couple hundred miles left in them but they are for cold weather -- too warm for anything above about 45º. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 6's have 410 miles on them and my knee is telling me the cushioning is compacted. Because I can only get about 400 miles out of the GTS 6's, I considered looking for a different brand/style. But, except for the wear, the Brooks have worked for me, so maybe I'll just be conservative and stick with them.

Run well and stay warm,
Bob

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Mud, Sore Muscles, and Clean Shoes

Saturday morning -- it's still raining. Since it's cooler than what I want to run in (yeah, I know, don't end a phrase with a preposition -- how would you say that otherwise?), I decided to wait and either hit the dreadmill again when the Y opens at 8 or wait 'til it quits raining. Well, at 8, I'm upgrading the operating system software on my wife's computer so I don't go anywhere and it kept raining for a long time.

Around 3:30, the rain lets up. It's still too close to lunch so I wait until 4:40 and head out. It's cool and very cloudy but no rain -- until I've walked .25 miles and then run .25 miles. It was just barely sprinkling so, do I leave my glasses on the porch or take a chance and run with them on? The problem with glasses is that when it rains, it's harder to see with them on that without them. But, I took the chance -- wrong decision because, within another .25 miles, the bottom drops out. I'm not going to run .5 miles out of my way to leave the glasses on the porch, so off I go. Fortunately, after a couple of miles, there was no more than just a sprinkle every now and then.

What a hard run but I was determined to run at least 6.2 miles. It's rained so much in the last 48 hours, though, that the grass verges are really soggy and traffic is a bit too heavy for me to feel completely comfortable running on the road itself. I really think the reason the run felt so hard was that my shoes were soaked and heavier than normal -- they made my legs feel like lead. At one point, I was in soil so soft that I sank -- now my shoes are covered with mud and the water actually poured over the top of my shoes. Now my legs are really heavy.

I did finish. It was a longer route than I remembered. In addition, because of traffic, I had to run a bit extra at some intersections to go behind the cars. So, rather than 6.2 miles, it was 6.7 miles (no wonder I was tired). A side "benefit" -- my shoes really needed washing anyway but running through the mud made that mandatory. Yesterday was a good day to do that since today is a rest day and they have time (hopefully) to dry.

Because, I guess, of the extra weight in my shoes and running against a fairly stiff breeze for at least half the run, I was dead tired when I finished. And, my quads were really sore. I was glad to get to bed last night -- got 8 hours of sleep which also tells me that the run was harder than normal.

I'm glad I ran yesterday (28 miles for the week) but even more glad for a day off today.

Run well,
Bob

Back to the Dreadmill

Friday morning -- wake up at 4:45 -- hear the rain -- hard rain. It's days like this when I'm glad we have a YMCA membership. So, I'm off to the Y to put in some miles on the dreadmill. I managed 4.5 miles of running (plus .2 miles of warmup walking and 8+/- minutes of cool-down.

I still don't know why the treadmill is so much harder than running outside. But, I found out about a kindred spirit. The current Runner's World cover story is Lance Armstrong's debut NY Marathon. In the interview he says more than 30 minutes on the treadmill is really hard. I ran 34:30 and it was hard!

Oh, well. I got my miles in.

Run well,
Bob

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Trails Are Interesting

We're in Chattanooga, TN, staying with some long-time friends. Because of where they live, running on the roads is not a great option -- the roads are fairly narrow and very curvy. But, our friends live near Harrison State Park and there is a 4.5 mile trail that goes through the woods and along the shoreline of the lake. It's a nice trail for running but, because Chattanooga is on the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, it's too dark to run on the trail until about 7:10 am (I wasn't interested in tripping over the tree roots) -- even then, the first 10-15 minutes are a little tedious.

I could get used to running on trails. No worries about traffic, great scenery (once it was light enough), great variety of environment. A great big THANK YOU to the state of Tennessee for providing this trail and for measuring it for the runners/walkers.

Run well,
Bob

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tigoni Trails

Though it's about the hardest running I've ever done, I'm enjoying running in Tigoni, Kenya -- about 30 minutes NW of and 2000' higher than Nairobi. There's just something special about running in that cold, thin air in the dawn fog. The altitude is not bothering me nearly as much as I thought -- I guess 3 years of steady running have put me in shape.

This morning, I was later going out. We didn't have to leave for church until 10:30, so I hit the road at about 6:30. Kenya roads are dirty and there's a permanent film of dirt and stuff on the roads around Tigoni. When it's wet, it's not really slick but I'm aware that I don't have perfect traction. Of course, my shoes also have 300+ miles on them so they are beginning to wear.

After about 3.5 km (2.1 miles), I've just come through a small valley where the air is always a bit cooler and am heading up a short, but steep, hill. At the top is a dog! Looked like a Collie/Alsatian mix. It wasn't barking at anything and didn't seem particularly stirred up and looked like it had a collar on, still ... after getting bit while running about 6 years ago, I'm pretty dog-shy. But, turning around would have been just as hard (physically) as going on, so, I headed to the far side of the 1.5 lane road and kept going. My heartrate increased significantly. But, the dog just watched me go by -- turned as I passed him but never barked or made a move toward me. Whew!

I added a bit of extra mileage this morning. At one point, took a left up a hill rather than right down. When I turned around for the final 2-3 km, I heard someone running behind me at a faster pace than I. I had seen a friend when I first started out -- he was about 75 yards ahead of me and took a different route, so I figured he was ending his run in the same general vicinity as I and was just catching up to me. In a minute, though, a young Kenyan man passed me -- I greeted him, with no response. Fine -- he's one of the famed Kenyan runners getting in his mileage and he's just focused. Well, after a few dozen yards, he slowed and let me catch up to him. Turned out that "he" was a "she". I almost ran off the road because in all my years of living in Kenya (since 1987), I have NEVER seen a Kenyan female running on the roads -- obviously, with their stars rising in the world of distance racing, they're running somewhere but I've not seen them in that area at all. I tried to ask her where she had started and where she was headed, but I couldn't get a response out of her. Language was not the issue -- maybe the hoovering (anybody reading this old enough to remember Hoover vacuum cleaners?) of my 52-year old lungs was the problem; maybe she just wanted some company for a few hundred metres; maybe she wanted to be sure this old man didn't die on the road; who knows. After a few minutes, though, she asked me where I was heading. So, I told her. She said she was going on. Kwa heri and off she went.

Anyway, 2 kinda' neat experiences this morning. Never a dull moment when living in Kenya.

Got to attend the worship service of a church that we had helped start 8-9 years ago. That was fun. We saw lots of long-time friends and came into Nairobi with some of them for the best Indian (Asian) food I have ever had. There may be excellent Indian food in Richmond, VA, but we haven't found anything to rival the Open House in Nairobi. Good food; good friends.

We're going to hate having to leave and head back to the US on Thursday, but we go where God calls and Richmond is that place for now.

Run well,
Bob

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

High Altitude Running

It was with mixed emotions that I anticipated running today. A bit of background. Until mid-2002, we lived in Tigoni, Kenya. Tigoni is in the highlands of Kenya and sits at about 7500' above sea level. Back in 1999, I had run fairly regularly in Tigoni but there was one hill that I had never conquered -- always had to walk a bit on it -- and another that I had never tried because it is a 0.75 km steep uphill. Around that time, I was running in Tanzania one morning and was surrounded by a pack of garbage heap village dogs, one of whom decided my leg might be a great protein supplement for his daily fare. He took a bite and, fortunately, decided he didn't like my taste. But, that experience sort of dampened my enthusiasm for running and a couple of months later, I quit running in East Africa until I took it back up in Nairobi in 2003.

We're about halfway through a 3 week trip to Kenya and DR Congo and staying at the Baptist Conference Centre in Tigoni (Brackenhurst Baptist International Centre) -- at the top of the hill that I had never tried. So, this morning, my plan was to run down that hill, run my old route which includes the hill I had never conquered, and then back up the hill to the conference centre. I was excited about trying but a little afraid that I couldn't do it.

So, about 5:40 this morning, I headed out and 35 minutes later I had conquered BOTH hills! I felt good about that. Without being too philosophical, this morning helped me realize that in many, many cases, the anticipation of a difficult task is worse than the task itself.

I'll do it again tomorrow. It is really good to be "home" and to be running in very cool weather -- it was probably around 52º this morning.

Live well,
Bob

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Running in DR Congo

Well, I've run in my 5th African country in 2006. Got in about 4.25 miles in Kinshasa, DR Congo this morning. Interesting run. A lot more hills than I expected -- long and fairly steep and the downhills aren't just an easy jaunt. So, I was pretty tired by the time I finished.

At one point, I was running along a ridge, overlooking downtown Kinshasa, the Congo river, and Congo-Brazzaville. That was pretty neat. It's a huge city of about 10 million people but it feels more like a lot of moderate-sized African towns just crammed together. I just pray that the gospel will penetrate this whole city.

The really interesting thing was the reaction of the people on the street to me while I was running. The only people who initiated any kind of greeting with me were young men and they invariably greeted me with Bonjour. It's assumed that white folks here speak French -- I don't, except for a few phrases excavated from high school memories. I also don't speak Lingala except for the single word of greeting, Mbote. Anyway, other people would generally respond to me if I greeted them first with either Bonjour or Mbote. The look on the faces of a lot of people was one of amused confusion -- Why is this white guy running?

All in all, a good run.

Yesterday, we spent the day with a new missionary couple (one year) and a group of pastors with whom they are working. One of the pastors had just returned from a trip, with another pastor and a layman, to the "interior" and gave a report. A 3 week trip turned into about 3 months and they had clothes and other things stolen at one point, but he was excited because a number of people had given their lives to Christ and several churches had started. I had been asked to share a devotional thought, so I chose Hebrews 12:1-2 which uses a running metaphor to talk about being a follower of Christ. It was a good day.

Perhaps more later about the rest of today. For now, run or waddle well.

Bob

Friday, September 1, 2006

Ahh. Back Home

If I don't post more regularly, I'll never have anyone reading this. But, then, this is more for me than anything else.

It is soooo good to be back in Africa. I got to run in my old haunts in Nairobi on Wednesday. After 15 months of running at about 250' above sea level, I was dreading the "hoovering" at 5700'. What a pleasant surprise to run 5 miles and be tired but not gasping for breath. I think it hurts my legs more than my lungs. The same thing happened in Johannesburg in March. My theory is that once someone is in good aerobic shape, the lower concentration of oxygen affects muscles more than lungs.

Tomorrow, Saturday, I hope to run in Kinshasa, Dem Rep of Congo. That will be my 5th African country to run in this year.

Live well, y'all.

Bob

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Taste of Fall?

It won't last, but the last two mornings have been great! Sunday morning, it was 59º and 90% humidity; this morning, it was 63º and 75% humidity. How could you not run?

My runs these two days seem to confirm my theory about the heat and humidity. Sunday, I ran 7.2 miles at 07:40 mpm. This morning I ran 4 miles at 07:30 mpm. So, I endure the remainder of the dog days and look forward to Fall and Winter.

Yesterday, the theme of the worship service at our church, Gayton Baptist Church, was the holiness of God. My head-song this morning was Holy, Holy, Holy. Strange song to sing while running, I know, but it kept me focused on the right thing.

Live well,
Bob

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hills

Hills are my friend. No, hills will kill me! That was the basic content of my self-conversation this morning as I ran a new route. It was up and down all the way. It was a really nice neighbourhood -- lots of oak trees. If we have the right weather this fall, it will be a beautiful route to run in October. See the route by clicking here.

This was actually the most profitable run of my life. :) I found a one-dollar bill on the road. Wahoo!!

Bob

Monday, July 17, 2006

Summer Running

I like running and I like running in the early morning. I really liked running this winter and saw my times improve. All of a sudden, though, I slowed up. It's one thing to do that with intention. But, I didn't decide to slow down -- I just did. Up to May or early June, I could count on regularly getting in a daily 4-6 mile run that was between 07:20 and 07:40 minutes per mile; sometimes 07:10-07:15 if I felt extra good. Now, 07:40 mpm is a good run with 07:45-07:59 being the norm.

My first thought was that it was just age suddenly catching up with me. I really didn't get serious about running until 3 years ago. I was 49 and needed to lose weight and get in decent physical shape -- too much family medical history to risk any other state of being. So, now I'm 52. But I don't think age-related slowness comes on suddenly. That just doesn't make sense.

My definitely non-professional opinion is that it must be the humidity. For the last several weeks, early morning temps have been 62-75. That's not too bad (I prefer about 50). However, the humidity in Short Pump has been 90-96%. Five minutes after finishing any run, there is not a single dry spot on my body or clothes. That pretty well correlates with my slower times.

So, I endure this for a season and look forward to Fall and speedier times. Now, if that doesn't happen, it's back to the drawing board.

Bob

"First Lady of CBS News"

Not running related at all. But still random thoughts.

First Lady of CBS News ready to work
By GLENN GARVIN
Miami Herald
PASADENA, Calif.
(Click here for the full Miami Herald/Mercury News article.)

SNIPPET OF THE ARTICLE:

``We heard from many people that the news is just too depressing,'' Couric said. ``Now, obviously, we can't sugarcoat what's going on in the world, but there are cases where I believe we can be a little more solution-oriented.''

Oh, and, a few less shouting heads, please.

Viewers ``didn't feel that the country was as polarized as was being illustrated in the media in the various forms of news they were watching. One woman in Minneapolis said, `Whatever happened to critical thinking?' '' Couric said.

``Some people felt as if the media in general had abdicated its role of really talking about facts and information rather than just points of view. They also wanted more civil discourse. You know, they want more thinking and less spewing, as one man said.''

END OF ARTICLE SNIPPET

BOB'S COMMENTS

I'm not a Katie Couric fan -- not a naysayer, either. I guess I'm somewhat neutral. However, in a Miami Herald interview, published by Mercury News, in which she talks about CBS News' process of finding out what people think about the current state of news broadcasting, Couric has made two points with which I agree:

1. News media focus on the negative and ignore the good (at least, that's how I interpret her first statement).

... and ...

2. I detest the shouting matches that CNN seems to have started several years ago with its Crossfire program and which many news shows have adopted -- that seems to be all I can catch on Fox News and MSNBC. Rather than providing an environment for exploring (key word) opposing perspectives on the news, it seems to lead to shallow opinion-sharing, staunch defensiveness, and denigration of other points of view ("Aw, come on ... how can you possibly say that?!" type of statements). Some networks seem to go out of their way to find news people with the loudest, most obnoxious voices to deliver the news -- even when they are the only one on the set.

Now, can Katie Couric deliver the solution-oriented, critically thought out news that she says is needed? That remains to be seen. She has a huge barrier to cross with her background on fluff-news (morning "news" talk shows). Charlie Gibson has the same barrier in his move from Good Morning America to ABC Nightly News (not sure if that's the right name).

It would be great if Couric can pull this off. I guess we'll see in the Fall.

Bob

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Free!

I ran 4.5 miles this morning in just under 35 minutes. While doing that, I both contemplated and exercised my unalienable rights:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Life: This is one of the reasons I started running 3 years ago. At that point, I was technically obese (BMI of just over 30) and, with family history of high BP, high cholesterol, Type II diabetes, and heart disease, I wanted to do what I could to extend both the quality and length of my life.

Liberty: OK, this is stretching it a bit, but I am free to choose whether or not to do something about my health. So, today I chose to do something positive about it -- I ran. But, at least where I live, I'm also simply free to run without worrying about harrassment from some petty, tyrannical government official. Working with and around folks who live in some 140 countries around the world, I don't take that freedom for granted as much as I might under other circumstances.

Pursuit of Happiness: I like the fact that the founding fathers recognized and stated that Happiness is not the right but the pursuit of Happiness is. There are lots of ways to be happy. I'm grateful to be a part of a family in which I'm happy. While I would be glad to get rid of some of the facets of my job, I am involved in something that has eternal significance and that brings a great deal of satisfaction, which is at least one part of happiness. In a physical and mental sense, running is another way that I pursue happiness -- good health, relief of stress, the chance to think through stuff are all contributors to happiness.

Wouldn't it be great if every government recognized those rights? All men (read, humans) are created equal and so deserve to enjoy those rights.

Bob
...even young people tire and drop out ... but those who wait upon God get fresh strength ... they run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind. Isaiah 40:30-31 (The Message)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Candle Light Run for Hope

In my last post, 2 1/2 months ago, I mentioned that I was getting ready for the Candle Light Run for Hope. It was my first race since high school. I had hoped to do the race in about 21:42, or just under 07:00 mpm. Yeah, I said 20:00-21:00 in my last post but I realized that 20 was unrealistic and 21 would be a stretch.

It worked out for us to go to Greenville on Wednesday night before the race on Saturday. I ran the course on Thursday and Friday mornings. That was good -- I was concerned because Greenville is more hilly than Richmond, so the trial runs gave me some idea what I was up against. It wasn't going to be too bad.

However, I realized on Friday that I really had no way to judge my pace. I didn't know anybody else who was running so didn't have anybody with whom I could compare myself. It didn't look like there were going to be markers on the route. In high school, while none of the runners were equal, we were all close enough so that we could pace ourselves against each other. In this race, there were going to be all ages and all skill levels. If I ended up pacing myself by someone 20-25 years younger than me, I would end up killing myself.



The night of the race (9 pm start), figuring I would finish in the top 1/3, I was able to get to start in the lead pack (I'm the yellow shirt just right of center). That kept me from getting tangled up in the mass. For the first 3/4 of a mile, my mouth was dry -- I guess it was the nervousness. Several times during the race, I was pretty much running by myself and that was a little strange. At the second water station, I grabbed a cup of water to wet my mouth (poured most of it over my head) and someone was standing there calling out times. Turned out to be the 2 mile mark and I was at about 14:05.

However, the last 1.1 miles was mostly uphill and I slowed down. I ended up running the 5k in 22:46 (a pace of 07:20 mpm). I'll admit to some initial disappointment as I crossed the finish mat but quickly realized that I didn't do badly at all for my first race. When the results were posted, I was 76th overall and 5th in my age group (50-54) -- click on the title for this posting (or here) to see the complete results.



I don't know how many more races I'll run -- I'm not willing to shell out a lot of money to run. If I run again, I would really like to run with somebody else who is shooting for roughly the same pace. That would help me run better but would also be more fun!


Run well, y'all,
Bob

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Online Again

Yeah, I know, 4 months is a loooong break in the world of blogging. This was an experiment, anyway, so I don't feel too badly.

I've continued to run. Found that I liked running in the winter. My favourite temperature is upper 40's to lower 50's.

In the interval, I've also decided to enter a race -- the Candlelight 5k Run for Hope in Greenville, SC, 24 June -- so I've started some interval training. My goal is 21 minutes; my "Can't believe I did it" goal is 20 minutes. I'm doing the intervals on a local high school track on Saturday mornings -- 5x1km at goal pace. Let me tell you, that's hard!! In order to do a 20 minute 5k, I have to run 1:36.0 400 meter splits and, at 52, that's not a cake walk.

In 3 previous weeks (we were out of town last week, so it was the 3 weekends before that), I had done fine -- moving toward the 1:36.0 splits and did the 5x1km's and enough slower running to complete 10 km. Yesterday, I think I was a bit dehydrated and we had done yard work on Friday -- shovelling, squatting to pull weeds, etc. -- and I just couldn't do it. I got through 3x1k splits but when I got to the 4th, there just wasn't enough left. I did a 400 meter and then had to drop back. In the end, I did a total of 7.6 km and was worn out.

It was a disappointing day but I know that rotten days just happen. It was also a reminder to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Run well,
Bob