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It’s Not About the Turkey

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Today, on this day, as we corporately and individually give thanks for our many blessings, there is so much for which I am thankful that I simply cannot list everything…yet I feel compelled to share with you some of that for which I give thanks.

I am thankful to be born in this country, free to write this and free to speak my mind. Free to practice the religion I choose. Free to follow and serve the God I love. Free to raise my family without living in fear for our lives. At times, when I reflect on how much our country has changed in recent years, I become anxious for what our country is becoming, what we’re leaving behind of it for you and your generation. I fear that we’re on a path leading to the destruction of the great country I’ve known for almost 40 years…that you will never know the country I knew, or that which our fathers and grandfathers knew. Yet I am thankful for the opportunity to live here, because even the poorest among our citizens are still wealthy when compared to citizens of the world.

I am thankful for that which I do not know…and those whom I will never know. I’m thankful for the son who stood the line and died beside his brother in arms in defense of freedom. I’m thankful for the father who, despite his fear and uncertainty, left his children and wife behind to serve in ways I’ll never comprehend. I’m thankful for the pilot who returned safely from hostile airspace, protecting from above other brothers, uncles, sons and daughters from danger close. I’m thankful for the sailor who provided a safe haven for those pilots in the waters around this world. I’m thankful for the soldier who safely crossed back inside the wire, though emotionally scarred for what he had to endure. I’m thankful for the moms, daughters and sisters who left their babies behind to fight for their future, and my own. There are so many acts of valor, courage, bravery, sacrifice and honor which we will never know, performed by people we will never meet for which we owe a debt we can never repay. I am thankful for the things paid forward to me.

I regret I did not have the courage to serve when it was my time, though I am thankful for a job that allows me to pay a little forward to someone else. When so many are without work, I am thankful for the opportunity to be productive and fruitful, using that which God has given me to help others…to help them navigate what is often the worst day of their lives. At times, I may take being a firefighter for granted, but at the core of my soul, I know I am truly blessed to be doing what I love…to be living every young boy’s dream job. I pray that as you grow into adulthood, you would be able to do the same…find a career doing what you are passionate about, regardless of what that is.

I am thankful for you. I may not always show it, but I am. Thankful for your mother in more ways than I can ever explain. Ways in which I pray you will know one day as you leave our nest to start families of your own. Each of you has blessed my life in ways I cannot fully comprehend. You each bring to our family a uniqueness that you alone own, and for that I am eternally grateful…blessed and thankful for each of you. I pray you will one day experience the joys of parenthood.

I am thankful for the things in life that seem small on any other day, but without which, life would be remarkably different. Things like,

Shoes
Batteries
Eyeglasses
Toilet paper
Internet
Paper clips
Plastic wrap
Duct tape and WD-40
Coffee
Running water and electricity
The microwave
Butterfly kisses and big boy hugs
Freon
Dirt piles that entertain young minds for hours
Wiley Coyote and the Road Runner
NASCAR
Toenail clippers and soap
True friends with whom to share laughter and tears
Chocolate
Bacon
Chocolate covered bacon

But above all else, I am thankful for a God who loves me enough…and wants me with Him in eternity so greatly…that He sent his Son to die an unimaginably brutal death for me. That He took my place in death so that I might join Him in Life. I can never imagine offering up any one of your lives to spare the life of someone else, yet God did that for me…and for you. It’s my prayer that if you don’t yet know Jesus as your personal Savior, that you would soon. Our time here is not guaranteed, and it grows shorter with every passing breath. In the end times, there is no mention of a great nation to the west…no rising up of a people or nation resembling ours. It’s up to you and I to keep this land we love free. That starts with taking stock of and recognizing ALL that we have to be thankful for…the big and the small…and acknowledging that today is not about the turkey at all.

Love,

Dad

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My Run Journal – June 2012

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“Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.”
Lee Haney

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
start here.

Click here to see my May 2012 Run Journal

6/1
3.1 miles on the road in 43:20. I pushed the first mile about as fast I could at a steady pace and ran it in 10:24, my fastest mile ever. Unfortunately, that means I did the last 2.1 miles at well over a 15:00/mile pace. I’m really trying to pick up my pace because I’m tired of running a 15 minute mile for 2-3 hours to get the mileage I need every week. I want the distance of the half marathon at the pace I know I’m capable of running, about 02:15. The only way I know to do that is to keep pushing at the front end and gradually adding distance to it before I feel the need to back down to a slower pace. Setting “small goals that I can build upon slowly.”

6/4
One mile at the track in 10:28. Felt good. Was pretty winded and not sure that I could have done another lap at that pace.

Love,

Dad

My Run Journal – May 2012

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“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Neale Donald

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
start here.

Click here to see my April 2012 Run Journal

5/5
God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. Today’s half marathon in Indy, the Mini 500, was grueling and painful, and a privilege. I started out the first mile at a 13:40 pace and felt really good. I slowed over the next 7 miles, barely holding a 15:00 pace through 8 miles. At 8.5 miles, I hit the wall, and had to slow and walk. Honestly, I was pretty much walking already…my mind just didn’t know it yet. For the last 4.5 miles, it was all I could do to jog .1 mile at a time, fast walking twice as far. I finished, though. And I’m happy with that…because God is happy with me for living outside of my comfort zone. I enjoyed crossing the field of bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, along with the sights of downtown Indy.
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My official time was 03:28:42, burning over 5100 calories. My heart rate was over 85% of my recommended max heart rate for over three hours. Aye carumba!

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Time to rest up for the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon in two weeks.

5/6
My body is SO sore! I need a chiropractor and a masseuse on call after a race. Today, it’s 45 minutes of stretching and a 10 minute walk on the treadmill. Ouch!

5/19
Ran a 5K with dad today in Joplin…the inaugural Joplin Memorial Run. Enjoyed it. I’d signed up for the half marathon, but hurt my neck earlier in the week and didn’t want to risk making it worse. I enjoyed the run with dad. He says I pushed him to a little faster pace, which ended up being a personal record for him, and third place in his age bracket. Seeing the whole family at the finish line cheering is on was awesome! It was a good run and workout. Felt good to get moving again after the half in Indy two weeks ago.

5/21
Good workout at the track with a friend. Jogged 1/2 mile, did some ab work (crunches, planks and scissors), followed by 10 sprints up a 20 yard, 30 degree hill. Very winded after. Jogged another 1/2 mile and walked 1/2 mile to cool down.

5/22
Nice 45 minute workout at the track. Four 100 yard dashes, 4-40 yard sprints, averaging 8 seconds, and 1/2 mile jog. NE was with me for most of it, and SI came in at the end for a lap around the track. Nice to run with my boys. Earlier today, NE and I ran 1/3 mile around the block at his request. As long as they enjoy running with me, I’m in.

5/25
One hour total body workout at work with the fitness trainer. Abs and core muscles, cardio and legs. My legs were (and still are) jello, and I came as close to puking as I’ve ever come without actually blowing chunks…I’m sore already, only 6 hours later, and loving it.

5/27
1.5 miles on the treadmill in just over 18:00, alternating every .25 miles between a 6.0 and a 3.5 speed.

5/29
1.5 miles on the treadmill…intervals of .25 miles at a 6.0 speed (10min/mile) followed by .25 mile or less at a 3.5-4.0 speed, starting with .33 mile at the 6.0 speed. Check out my new goal in My June Run Journal

Love,

Dad

The Journey is the Reward

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Last Saturday night, I slept like crap.  It was already one of those nights I knew would be a hard night to sleep.  Going into my first half marathon had been a trying time, filled with nerves, excitement, and anxiety.  Renting a hotel room within walking distance of the start/finish line was intentional.  I wanted to be able to sleep in a little longer than I would be able to if I stayed at home.  It’s about a 45 minute drive from home, not counting time to find parking and navigate the people to get in place on time, so I was looking forward to a rest-filled evening.  it did not help that some yahoo decided to run through the halls at 2:00 a.m. knocking loudly on every door…twice!  Ugh.  What I had not taken into consideration was the need to turn off the text and notification features of my cell phone.  All the friends and family sending me texts and commenting on my Facebook posts with words of encouragement coming in through the wee hours of the night were appreciated for their intent…next time, though, I think I may turn the phone off and read them in the morning.  🙂

So, after a pretty restless night, I was up at 5:30 a.m., which is WAY early for me anyway.  After some good stretching and a couple cups of coffee, we were off to the race.  A half mile walk to the start line, we remarked on how nice it was…cool but not chilly, and a little warmer than the forecast predicted, it was shaping up to be a great day to run.  We walked the site the day before, and while I knew there were 20,000+ runners registered for the event, I was not prepared to see such a mass of people in one place.  With the band playing and the excitement of the atmosphere, I can see how it would be easy to get wrapped up in the day’s events and lose focus.  As the race was starting at 7:30 with the runners at the front of the line, I was able to focus on my race, remember my preparations and training and get in a zone to set out on a 13.1 mile journey of a lifetime.

At about 8:00, 30 minutes after the initial start for the front corrals, I was off and running.  Having your mom walking alongside me outside the barrier right up to the start line was encouraging.  The first few miles were pretty easy, as I was distracted with the mass of people running with and around me.  Weaving in and out of thousands of runners while making sure not to cut someone else off is not an easy feat, and it served to keep my mind off the pain my body feels when it starts adjusting to running as I first start out.  At mile 2, I looked up in time to see your mom taking this picture of me:

STL Rock & Roll 2 Mile Mark

STL Rock & Roll 2 Mile Mark

Seeing her was the encouragement I needed to keep pushing.  At the 5K mark, my time was 39:48.  With a pace of just over 13:00/mile, I was on target to reach my goal of finishing in under 3 hours, and feeling really good.  The next three miles, I settled into a groove and hit the 10K mark at 01:23:02.  Calculating that I had slowed in that second 3 miles, I tried to pick back up to a 13:00/mile pace and hold it.  As I was in the middle of mile 9, I could see it off in the distance.  It was creeping up on me slowly but surely, and I knew it.  At mile 10, I hit it.

They say there’s a point in long distance running when all runners hit it.  For some, it creeps up sooner than later.  For others, they find it later in their run.  For me, it was at mile 10.  The wall is that mental and physical barrier that jumps up and bites you in the butt.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  My lower back was hurting, and my hamstrings were killing me.  Even my shoulders and arms were tired, which was a first for me in my running.  I’m not sure if it was a lack of sleep, improper pre-race diet/hydration or something else that brought it on so quickly and with such force, but as I crossed the 10 mile mark, I was right in the middle of it.  I’m sure most of it was psychological, but nonetheless, I lost the battle.  I had to slow down to a walk for about half of mile 10, running every now and then, but never more than about .10 mile at a time for that mile.

In my training, the most I ran was 10 miles.  The experts say that in training, you never really run the entire race distance beforehand.  The theory is that on race day, the adrenaline and excitement of the atmosphere around you will keep you pushing and carry you through that last 3 miles.  Yeah, okay!  As I finished 11 miles, I was receiving texts from your mom and other family, encouraging me to keep pushing.  I got emotional in that 11th mile, and was able to kick it up to a steady jog for the last mile and a half.  I was disappointed in my finish, in that I wasn’t able to find the strength to finish strong.  I crossed the line pretty slowly, not with the rush of emotion and energy I’d hoped for.  I finished with a time of 03:10:02, 10 minutes slower than my 3 hour mark, but still faster than my couch.  The emotion hit me when I saw your mom.  I almost cried like a baby.  Almost.  🙂

In no particular order, some of the lessons I’m taking from this first half marathon:

  1. Turn your phone off the night before the race.  Get in your zone and focus your attention on the task at hand.  If you want some encouragement from friends, read it in the morning after you’ve slept all night to a quiet phone.
  2. Eat more than a bagel with peanut butter for breakfast when running 13.1 miles or more.  I should’ve eaten the banana too.  I had a huge carb-filled meal the night before, but that was at 6:00 p.m.  The only other food I ate was the bagel in the morning about an hour before the start.  I fought hunger from early on.  In mile 5 or so, I could start feeling the energy drop as my sugar level dropped.  Take a sports drink with you instead of water.  They’ll have water on the course, and while some races have energy drinks, you need more than water.  Take it with you.  Also, take a snack for the post-race.  I was relying on what food would be provided.  An apple and a few orange slices were not enough to carry me through the next 2 hours until we got to lunch.  As we got to the restaurant, I had a sugar crash and almost puked.  I didn’t, but came close.  Treat yourself to a nice meal afterward…feed your crave, whatever it is.  Mine was a gourmet burger and fries.  Best burger I’ve ever eaten.
  3. I need to strengthen my core and major muscle groups.  My hamstrings tightened up pretty quickly, and my back was killing me.  Strengthening the abs and back will help hold my frame up better, which will lengthen my endurance and tolerance for pain as my running posture holds up where it should be.  My knees held up pretty good, so the stretches I’m doing are working.
  4. My running stance sucks.  As the full marathon runners were passing me in the last couple miles, I would notice their posture.  Their shoulders were pulled back while their chest was pushed forward, almost exaggerated in appearance.  But their stride had bounce and energy.  I’d try to mimic it, but my lower back was already hurting so badly from my poor posture that I couldn’t hold it for very long.
  5. Along those lines, the extra weight of the cotton shirt when it gets sweat-soaked is weighing me down.  I need to either learn to eat better and lose more weight or get over my self-consciousness about how I look in the tight-fitting, moisture-wicking shirts.  They’re designed to be worn by people with fewer curves than me, and having my fat jiggle as I run is not something I’m prepared to put on display to the world.  Haha.
  6. Until I can fit in the moisture-wicking shirts, I need to apply more Vasoline to my nipples.  The sweat-soaked shirt runs the Vasoline off within the 13.1 miles.  They weren’t bleeding, but they were close.  In the shower afterward, I could tell they would have been bleeding within another 20 minutes of running.  The extra set of dry clothes in my gear bag to change in to after the race was a good call.
  7. There’s no shame in stopping to stretch for a minute when you hit the wall.  I could have used it, and I should have done it.  Looking back, I think it would have helped.
  8. Take some single-use ice packs with towels and tape with you in your gear bag.  I would have loved to have ice on my knees and ankles for the ride home.
  9. Spend the money for a good post-race massage, within a couple days.  I did, and I won’t do another long distance race without one afterward.  It works out the soreness and speeds the recovery process.
  10. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment.  With the excitement of the event and adrenaline pumping, the atmosphere can quickly envelope you into losing focus.  You have to run your race.  Do what you’ve trained for and what you know is right.  In life, it’s not much different.  The world around us demands our attention, distracts us from our race, and competes for our time and attention.  It can be easy to get caught up in it and lose sight of the end game…the prize waiting for us at the end of our life when God calls us home.

Mostly, I was reminded that God has a plan for my life.  I don’t know the full extent of His plan, or how He intends to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together, but it’s there nonetheless.  I’m moving forward in my running journey and already looking at four long distance races for next year.  Two are local, and two are within a day’s drive.  While this race did not end with the euphoric high I was expecting or the strong finish I’d hoped for, I’m happy with my effort and the result.  I set out with one goal…to complete a half marathon.  I did that.  Not in the time, i was shooting for, but within a respectable time for my overall physical condition, running history and level of training.    I can say with certainty that completing this race has been the single most rewarding personal accomplishment of my life.  Not to be confused with experiences like the birth of my children or marrying your mother…those are things I either experienced or accomplished with someone else’s effort.  Running is a solo effort.  While the encouragement and support of friends and family definitely helped me find the motivation and resolve to get through the tough times, when you find yourself in the back stretch of a 13.1 mile run, hitting a wall like no other…it’s all you and God at that point.  You either have to find the resolve from within or from above, but no one can do it for you.  There will be days I don’t know if I can do a Half Marathon.  There will be a lifetime knowing I have.  The reward was not waiting for me at the finish line.  The journey is the reward.

Love,

Dad

My Run Journal – August 2011

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“To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first.”
William Shakespeare

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
Start here.

Go here to see My Run Journal – July 2011

8/1
Week 7 Day 1. Today is 3.5 miles, and it’s hot. Stupid hot. Triple digits again. Before the heat index. I tried a late evening run for the first time. I don’t usually like running at night, because in the past, working out usually wakes me up. Evening workouts leave me lying in bed wide awake. However, I’ve got a few things working against me here. Running in this heat is just asking for heat stroke or injury, so it’s gotta be early morning or late evening after the sun goes down. I’m not an early riser, so before bed it is. I’ve also been really tired after my runs lately. I don’t like it, but I’m going to try to embrace it and run before bed.

I’ve been reading an article from a health website every day or so, and I just read one that talked about how new runners shouldn’t be focused on pace as much as their perceived work effort. They encouraged that by focusing on the perceived work effort, the pace will improve on its own. As I run more, it becomes easier to run longer distances, without becoming winded. The body adapts to the work, and as it does, it takes more effort to continue improving performance. That’s the wall I’ve been at the base of for a week or so…not improving and finding it more and more difficult to get out and run. I’ve been focusing on my per mile pace so much that I’ve been discouraged in some of my runs.

Tonight was a good run. I took a new route through the neighborhood that I’ll call Hutching’s Farm. Right at 3.5 miles, it was a nice jog with new scenery. I kept my head up more…because it was dark and other people were on the sidewalk, with overhanging trees threatening to decapitate me. Haha. I walked more on this run than any other 3.5 mile jog…but I also ran faster than normal. Did the first mile in about 12 minutes and was winded by 1.25 miles. At most, I only walked .05 miles at once, always running at least twice as far. Total time was 51:31, which is 4:23 faster than my 3.5 miles 7 days ago. I feel good about that. Maybe this is the start of climbing over the wall. I also incorporated 10 minutes of stretching my legs and low back afterward. Hoping it will help with the soreness.

8/2
Week 7 Day 2. My knees are killing me today. More so than normal. I blame it on the shoes. I left my running shoes at work last week, so I’m using my older running shoes. Still, it’s off to the track for 2 miles of intervals. It’s another late night run, starting at 9:00 pm. Same routine as last week, a near sprint for 100 meters, walk 100, etc. Each 100 meter run was:

Lap 1 – 29.5 & 29.3
Lap 2 – 31.2 & 30.0
Lap 3 – 31.6 & 32.4
Lap 4 – 31.3 & 29.5
Lap 5 – 32.5 & 32.7
Lap 6 – 31.5 & 33.6
Lap 7 – 33.0 & 30.4
Lap 8 – 31.4 & 33.2

The last three intervals were actually in the parking lot, because they turned the track lights off. They were probably a little less than 100 meters, so I added 2 seconds to the time I had. As I was stretching afterward, I’d been sitting for a couple minutes when the app I use to log my runs said I’d reached my 2 mile goal. When I stopped it was at 1.94. Haha. I guess it takes a few minutes to “catch up”. Either way, I feel good about tonight’s run. My knees still hurt to beat the band though. Total time was 30:36…slower than the pace I’d prefer, but I’m not focusing on pace, remember.

8/3
Week 7 Day 3. It should have been a 3.5 mile run day, but a last minute decision to work a trade threw off my plans for a late night run. I’ll swap my rest day tomorrow for today.

8/4
Week 7 Day 4. 3.5 miles on the treadmill. After a sleepless night at work and a busy day, I did it at 8:45 at night. It was a good run, and I’m feeling great about it. I did it at a 5.0 pace, doing the first two miles in 12:10 and 12:08 respectively. At 2.5 miles, I walked for .1 mile and did that third mile in about 13 minutes. Somewhere in the last half mile, I walked for .05 of it and finished the 3.5 miles in 42:55. I was never really winded, but felt like I was working. For not having slept more than 3o minutes in over 36 hours, I feel good about this run. Time for a chocolate chip cookie. 🙂

8/5
Week 7 Day 5. Supposed to be a 40 minute cross-training day. I did 10 minutes on the treadmill for a health and wellness assessment, ad that’s it. Feeling lazy.

8/6
Week 7 Day 6. Long run day. From station #4 in Cave Springs, I ram up to Mid Rivers Mall and back. Six miles in 01:29:11. I told myself when I started my goal was 01:30:00, and that I’d be thrilled with anything under 01:25:00, but disappointed with anything over 01:40:00. I hit my goal, and I’m thrilled about it! I jogged the entire 6 miles nonstop. Although I had some slower paces going up some long hills, I never really was winded or short of breath. The entire run felt good, and as I write this 20 minutes after stopping, I feel great. Hungry, but great. I think the post-run stretching is working better, because my legs felt decent throughout the run. Gotta start improving the strength and flexibility in my lower back so it won’t hurt as much either. The weight of my sweat-soaked shirt weighs me down and causes me to hunch forward and look down, contributing to the back pain. I need to find a moisture resistant shirt that fits. I’m excited that I just hit this personal best! To think that four months ago, I couldn’t even jog a mile, and I just did six relatively easily on my cardio output! I now believe I can actually do this!

8/11
Week 8 Day 4. You’ll notice it’s been a few days since my last entry. I haven’t run all week…since my 6 mile run last Saturday. Several things going on this week threw off my schedule and sucked my motivation. I took Sunday as a scheduled and normal rest day following the long run Saturday. I was scheduled to run 4 miles, 2 miles, and 3.5 miles on Monday, Tuesday Wednesday this week with Tuesday being intervals. On Monday, I didn’t have the mental capacity to pull it together. I was struggling with some issues unrelated to running, but that’s another story. I couldn’t get it together mentally to tackle what I needed to do to keep training for the race. I just dropped the ball.

On Tuesday, I found some motivation to get out and finish the pool, and I found the people to come help, so I spent the day out in the heat doing what needed to be done before we could do what needed to be done with all the help coming in the evening. Too tired to run, and quite frankly still mentally fatigued from Monday. We were up until 3:00 a.m. working on the pool, so come Wednesday, I was exhausted…to say the least. I’m too old for all-nighters, and Wednesday was proof of that. I felt like crap all day, so no running again. The last thing I want to do is make things worse by forcing a run with extreme exhaustion. Which brings me to Thursday. After four days of no exercise…no running…no nothing but working on the pool, it’s time to get out and do something. It’s been too long. I should probably do 3.5 or 4 miles today, but I want to ease back into it, since I’m still not feeling 100 percent. I’m a little achy all over, with a sore throat and runny nose. I’m hoping it’s just allergies, as the weather has cooled down significantly in the past week…from 100’s to mid 70’s. Nonetheless, I’m out for 2 miles. I got 1.6 miles in before getting dispatched on a call, so that’s it. It was a slow, easy run around the station, about a 15/min per mile pace…enough to log some miles without over-stressing my weakened body.

I had been struggling with having not run for 3 of the days I should have. And then I sat down to write this, and before I did, I read an email with a daily devotion, and I find encouragement in the need for this week’s rest. My commitment to training is unwavering by this unplanned break, and I will press on toward the goal He has set out for me. You might find some encouragement in the devotion also:

Tough Sledding

Matthew 11:28-29
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy
burdens, and I will give you rest” (v.28).

While we were on vacation in Alaska, our family visited the kennels that house Denali’s sled dogs. There we got to observe and learn about these amazing animals that help park rangers patrol the vast wilderness of Mount McKinley National Park during the long, harsh winter months.

One of the intriguing things we discovered about sled dogs is their incredible stamina. Patrols using the tireless canines can last up to 6 weeks—and the dogs are more than up for it. Alaskan Huskies live to run and pull. The only problem is that they don’t know when to stop. Rangers have to make them stop and rest. Otherwise, they’d simply run themselves to death.

Maybe it’s my love for dogs, but I saw a parallel to my life that was striking. I too love to “run” and “pull” my own weight. I’m the kind of person who is typically on the go and has trouble slowing down and resting. In fact, my family understandably gets after me when I wolf down (pun intended) a meal standing up.

A sled dog’s need for rest resonates with the words of David in Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads
me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength” (vv.1-3). This is a wonderful description of God’s loving care for us. Too often, however, I am running so hard that He can’t restore my weary heart. It’s why I need a wise and loving Shepherd who says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary” (Matthew 11:28).

God meant for us to work and to pull our own weight (Genesis 2:15). But He also knows we need rest or we will run ourselves ragged. Jesus, may we learn to respond to Your call to rest. —Jeff Olson

8/25
Week 10 Day 4. Today was a rough day mentally. Got a lot done around the house with NE and SI, and it’s time to get back to running…the half marathon is only 8 weeks away. At 8:15 p.m., I set out for a jog on a 5.4 mile roundtrip route. It was a pretty slow pace, but after two and a half weeks off I’m looking to log the distance, not work on the speed yet. As I get back into the daily runs, I’ll begin reincorporating speed work. The run took me 01:28:49, but I did it virtually nonstop…”stopping” only long enough to buy a power drink at the designated gas station halfway point. I feel really good about this run…I was expecting a setback. And while it was about two minutes per mile slower than my desired race pace, I’m confident I can get the speed back in the coming weeks. I’m really encouraged that I could handle the distance well, without tapering off. The pace I set when I started was the pace I finished at. Finished with a 30 minute moonlit dip in the pool, a glorious way to end a run.

8/30
Week 11 Day 2. I took a dew days off between that run last Thursday and today. I forgot how hard running is on my knees. It took 2 days just to get to where I could walk up and down stairs without wincing in pain. Yesterday, I was at work, and we had training all day…high angle rescue work outside. I climbed over 200′ straight up, arm over arm, and it kicked my butt. I’m calling that a cross-training day. This morning after momma and all the kids were off to school, I set out on a route to get 4.5 miles done. A little faster pace, but still not back to where I was three weeks ago, I jogged all but about 200 yards…which came in three different walking breaks. This run wore me out. By the end, I could barely hold my own body upright. My breathing was fine and under control, but my legs and back were done. Total time was 01:03:47, an average 14:00/mile pace. I need to knock about a minute off per mile to hit my race goal. I do love the post-run swim in the pool.

8/31
Week 11 Day 3. Ran 3 miles in 42:00 tonight after the kids went to bed, right at a 14:00 pace. I think the first mile may have been a faster pace, though…sure felt faster at the start. Running in the dark is a challenge. I really need to find the energy to wake up and run early morning. Although, the post-run dip in the pool by moonlight is peaceful.

Total miles logged in August = 27.9. And that’s August 2011. To continue this journey with me, check out my September Run Journal.

Love,

Dad

Your Mom

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I’ve been told that one of the best gifts I could ever give you, my children, is to love your mom…to show and model what love is by honoring our marriage vows and loving here.  So, I want to take a chance to express just some of how I feel about your mom.  The words below pale in comparison to the words of my heart and soul when it comes to her.  She is my soul mate, my partner, my best friend.  If I should be taken from this life before you’ve grown into adults, it’s my desire for you to know how much she means to me.  It is my prayer that each of you find a love like ours…that you find someone to share in your successes…to stand by you in your failures…to cry with…to laugh with…to share in all that life brings your way.  It is also my prayer that I have modeled for you what true love is…shown you how to love your spouse…how to treat women with kindness, tenderness, love and respect.  (SD it would be your mom’s job to teach you how to be a Godly wife, to love and respect your husband…I believe she does that every day.)

I met your mom while I was in college at SMSU in Springfield.  It’s MSU now, but not back in 1992.  I had just finished my freshman year and started working at McDonald’s a mile or so from my dorm.  I was an assistant manager, trying to pay my way through college.  In the fall of ’92, as I was entering my sophomore year, I first met her.  She was a senior in high school, working at the same McDonald’s part-time.  I’ll be honest here (because she’ll call me out on it if I’m not 🙂 ), I wasn’t interested in her at first.  I was interested in one of her friends, which never went anywhere, thankfully.  We went out together a couple times in groups of friends, and your mom…she worked her magic on me.  She found a way to catch my attention, and from the first kiss I was hooked…I knew she was the one.  Within months we were planning the wedding, and the following June we were married.  I have only one regret about our time dating.  I did her parents (your Grandma and Grandpa) wrong.  Way wrong.  The first time they met me, I was moving her out of the house into our own apartment.  Wrong.  I hate that about my past.  I’m ashamed of it…ashamed and embarrassed to admit it.  Don’t ever do that.  Please.  The parents of any girl you’re dating or are interested in dating deserve way more respect than I gave them in that.

Your mom has blessed me more than I could ever imagine.  In all our years together, she has been faithful, devoted and tender-hearted.  The beautiful children that she’s given me are more than I deserve.  You don’t know this, but I was hesitant (to say the least) when she first approached me about becoming foster/adoptive parents, and now I can’t imagine life without you SD.  The pain and discomfort she endured to birth you boys is a gift beyond my ability to express gratitude.  She has created a home for us that is perfect.  In the eyes of an outsider, they may not see it as perfect, but I do.  She is the right mom for all of you…perfect for the job, she was handpicked by God for her role as mother for you and husband for me, and she fulfills it daily better than anyone I know.

Her humble, servant’s heart is something to be admired by others.  Her willingness to always put the needs of her family above her own is a wonderful model for you to see how Jesus always served others.  Her love for each of us is greater than any bond I know.  Her willingness to walk alongside me through all these years is honorable.  She has stayed with me through my selfishness and pride and made me the man I am today.  She is what has softened my heart and turned my eyes and heart toward Jesus…in her humble, quiet, unselfish willingness to serve.  She truly is a Godly woman, and I love and respect her for it.  I know I don’t tell or show her this enough, but I thank God daily for her.  I could not navigate this life without her constant companionship and love.  She is the Proverbs 31 wife!

Eighteen years ago today, we made a promise before God and family.  A promise to love each other through good and bad.  A promise to honor each other in sickness and in health.  A promise to respect each other in all that we do.  A promise to put the needs of the other above our own.  We’ve certainly seen our share of good and bad times.  We’ve survived some hard times, and we’ve enjoyed some easy ones.  I don’t need to share all the details…she and I both know our story, and some things are just for us to know…one of the joys of marriage.  We’ve certainly worked through our troubles, though, and we’ve always stood firm alongside each other.  I’m looking forward, with joy and anticipation, for what lies ahead for us in the next 18 years…and beyond.  I look forward to growing old with her…to walking beside her throughout the remainder of our lives.  Whatever hardships and struggles await us, I’m blessed beyond words to have her by my side.   There is no other.   There will never be another.  She is the love of my life…my soul mate.

Love always,

Dad

Fix a Flat

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Changing a flat tire is a pretty simple task.  It does involve some degree of concern for safety, though, so let’s cover that first.  If you’re changing a flat tire, odds are you’re not doing it in the safety of your driveway.  Chances are, you’re changing it in the rain or snow on a dark night in the middle of nowhere or on the side of an interstate highway.  If you’re on the highway, drive the vehicle to the nearest exit ramp.  People drive like idiots and have little concern or patience for a stranded motorist, so stopping on an interstate is one notch above a suicide run.  Driving a mile or so on a flat tire to the next exit is not going to hurt it enough to risk laying under a car on the shoulder as cars whiz by at 70+ MPH…less than 5 feet from you.

If you MUST do it on the highway, pull as far to the right as physically possible.  Go off the road onto the grass if you can…the key here is to put as much space between you and the lanes of traffic as possible.  That in mind, you need a firm surface to put the jack down so that it is solid and less likely to fail, killing you.  If you’re in the left lane when your car breaks down or develops a flat, DO NOT settle for stopping in the left lane!  Do whatever you gotta do to get to the right shoulder.  Stopping in the left lane or on the left shoulder will surely get you killed.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  Cut people off if you must, but get it to the right.  Hazard lights…use them.

Next, you need to be on a flat surface, if possible.  If not, you need to chock the tires on the downhill side of the vehicle.  Parking brake needs to be applied and the vehicle needs to be in park, ignition turned off.  If you don’t chock the downhill side, you run the risk of the vehicle rolling off the jack and killing you.  Chock it.  I generally throw the new tire under it and then swap it with the flat one after I’ve taken it off the car.

Find the jack and lug nut wrench for your vehicle (this is something you should already know the location of prior to driving the vehicle).  Using the wrench, loosen the lug nuts (5 little round things in the center of your tire.  This might not be easy…man up and do it.  Put them in your pocket.  Don’t do what I did once and set them on the ground.  When they roll off, and you lose them you got problems on a grander scale.  Once you have them off, set the jack under the frame of the vehicle nearest the tire that’s flat.  Don’t use the bumper, use the frame…the solid piece of metal that looks firm.  Do exactly what the name of this tool implies…jack it up and lift the vehicle off the ground enough that the flat tire is off the ground.  Pull the flat tire off and put the new one on in its place.  You may need to jack the vehicle a little higher to get the new tire on.

Once it’s on, place the lug nuts back on the vehicle and hand tighten all of them.  Then take the wrench and tighten every other one as much as you can before the wheel spins freely.  It doesn’t matter which one you start with, just make sure you skip the next one in line so that you’re doing every other one.  If we say the first one you tighten is #1, then you would do #3, #5, #2, #4 in that order.  This ensures the tire is on evenly and not torqued.  Lower the jack so that the vehicle is resting back on the ground and then tighten the lug nuts as hard as you can using the same alternating method.  Replace the jack and wrench, and put the flat tire in the trunk or back of the vehicle.

Congratulations, you’ve now successfully changed your first tire.  Now, please learn from my experiences and consider the following troubleshooting tips:

1.  The little miniature tire you may have for a spare tire is often referred to as a “donut”.  Not all vehicles have donuts…some have regular sized tires.  If yours has a donut for a spare, you need to be aware that it’s not designed for continuous driving.  Put it on and drive to the nearest tire store or garage and have the flat tire either repaired or replaced and get the donut back into spare status.  Driving on a donut tire is asking for trouble.

2.  If the tire won’t come off the vehicle after you’ve removed the lug nuts, make sure it’s completely off the ground.  If it is, then kick it.  Hard.  If kicking it doesn’t work, a sledge hammer will.  Just make sure you’re hitting the rubber of the tire, not the metal of the wheel.  This happened to us on the Dodge Caravan once.  Also make sure you chocked it, because chances are if you’re kicking it hard enough, it’ll come off the jack.  Not that it fell off on me when I kicked it…just saying…safety first.

3.  If you’re changing a tire on a Dodge Caravan….good luck.  Dodge sucks.  They put the spare tire under the undercarriage in between the driver and passenger.  There’s a little hole in the floor of the inside compartment with a bolt.  You gotta turn that bolt to release the spare, which will be hanging by a chain that you gotta figure out how to get out of the spare tire without seeing it…because it’s under the vehicle that has only about 6″ of clearance under it.  Oh, and it will be next to impossible to put the flat tire back in that chain and lift it back off the ground to stow it as you drive off.  You gotta take the stupid thing to a mechanic to get it back together.  Try this in the dead of winter with 2″ of snow on the ground and no gloves to keep your fingers warm.  Lesson to take home from this…don’t buy Dodge vans….EVER!!!

4.  Think about what you’re doing…you’re crawling under a 2-ton piece of machinery.  It won’t give when it lands on you.  I’ve seen people become trapped under a vehicle they’re working on…it’s not pretty and it rarely ends well.  A 2-ton vehicle will crush bones and internal organs without hesitation.  Be safe…apply the parking brake and chock the vehicle so it doesn’t roll of the jack if the parking brake fails…which does happen.  If you’re under the vehicle when it rolls off the jack, I pray you’re ready to meet Jesus face-to-face, because that’s more than likely what’s coming next for ya’.