Monday, November 29, 2010

Turning The Page

Turning the page. Getting life back to normal. How in the world does one do this after the loss of a loved one. I'm working on it. I don't have my exact path figured out yet but I'm on it. I was going to train for the Little Rock Marathon which is March 6. I lost a couple of weeks of training so now I'm really not sure. I want a big spring event.
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There is a local ultra in Mid-March which has my
attention. It is a 12 Hour/24 Hour Endurance Weekend. It goes toward a scholarship fund to benefit students with disabilities. I like that. The proceeds definitely serve an excellent purpose.
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I'm most certainly a race junkie as I have openly admitted in the past. Yes, the first step...... admitting there may be a problem. So, how about hitting the 5-K circuit and really placing a focus on getting back to times I was running 4 or 5 years ago. Without a doubt, I could do that. (The times were not that fast so I feel confident I could regain that form.) Hmmm......... if that was so great 5 years ago, why did I move on to other things, boredom, burnout?
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As you can tell from the pictures, I want a little adventure but I also want to feel the pain of training for a real event. I want to call on that inner toughness to complete a training program and I want to compete a little. I will admit that I have ran more than my share of events with the primary goal being to run to the best of my ability on that day. Very often, I trained to complete the event, not compete the event. I have a slight edge and I want to take it into my training and event schedule as I enter the new year.
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Here is where my blog friends step in. I'll take suggestions. Feel free to critique my blog post. Be harsh. Throw out the kid gloves and give me the the straight poop. I'm really at the point where I want to attack an event but I'm just kind of at a loss as to the distance and nature of the event.
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Things are going well. School is back in session after the Thanksgiving Holidays. I'll be honest, it's fourteen days until Christmas Break. We then get another couple weeks off which I plan to use wisely. We may try to sneak in a little travel time that has been neglected and I most certainly want to make use of the time off to boost the training miles before school starts again in January. The ball is in your court, provide some input. Challenge me. Question my toughness, go on, make my day. (Can I say that? Is there a copyright?) Seriously, hammer me with some suggestions to guide me along. If it's your words which strike the chord and propel me on toward my next event, you will get major "props." Maybe even a guest blog post or something. At the very least, I'll hang your picture in our family room during the holiday season.
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Every day is a good day, some are just better.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things Just Won't Be The Same


I can easily say that the last eight days have been the most difficult eight days of my 46 years on the planet. As most of my loyal readers know, my dad has been in poor health for quite some time now. My phone rang at around 4:30 a.m. on November 14. It was my mom. My dad was having problems breathing and she needed help.
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As you will remember, my dad recently finished a 17 day stay in the hospital. That Sunday was to be his 17th day home. He willingly to my surprise went home with the help of hospice which I blogged about a couple weeks back.
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On this particular Sunday however, our time with Dad came to a close. I arrived to the house right around 5:00 a.m. I honestly hadn't much more than walked into his bedroom and said a few words to Mom when he left us. I honestly believe deep down inside that he waited for me to get there so Mom had someone with her. He knew I was coming and as I pulled into the driveway, Mom had said, "I believe Mark is here."
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We have had two years to get ready for this event to take place. Two years ago when he spent time in the Nursing Home, I prayed for God to make him better or ease his pain. Simply put, take him if necessary. It was an unbelievable time. The amount of suffering that I have watched this man endure is beyond what words can explain. He worked so hard to get back home to my mom. They have been married 55 years with their anniversary coming up on January 29th. She was truly the love of his life. They went to church together as kids and first dated when they went on a hayride together when they were 16. They later met and went out for a burger. Three kids and fifty-five years later, here we are. As I stated, we've had two years to prepare for this. You tell yourself over and over that you know its coming and then dad won't be suffering and won't be in pain. Preparation right? Lord no. Not at all.
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My dad was a great guy. He had a quick wit and the man could tell a story. And when he started, don't get in a hurry. He took his good old easy time getting you all the necessary details. He had numerous little sayings which I already tend to use in my daily verse. In all of his struggles, he kept his sense of humor. He had his dark moments but honestly, they were few and far between. The doctors and nurses who took care of him always commented on his sense of humor and general wonderful personality.
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Growing up, we generally traveled or took a family vacation each summer. Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Branson, the Smoky Mountain National Park, Las Vegas, Daytona Beach, the Florida Keys, Grand Teton National Park. Dad loved the mountains. He loved to travel. He had been a store manager for International Harvester. When sales were good, they earned a trip. He and Mom went to Hawaii, Acapulco, Las Vegas, Florida, and an Alaskan cruise. Wonderful times.
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We always cut wood for our winter heat. He had two weeks of vacation. We cut wood one week and traveled the next. As I got older, we learned to cut a little more early in the summer so as to get finished earlier. Finishing earlier meant we could leaver earlier. We always packed a cooler with ham or bologna and stopped at rest stops to eat a family meal or grab a snack. Things I've done with my kids now. We always seemed to find a good diner for breakfast. I would be screaming and hollering to stop at McDonalds. That seldom happened. Dad liked a good sit down breakfast. I now have that curse! I love breakfast and the more "down home" the diner, the better.
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I could keep this post going all evening as you can tell. I have so many memories and stories that I could share. I honestly just don't know how to say goodbye. It has been so tough. My brother and I have been so fortunate. I look forward to working my way through these early stages. I may take time to tell a story once in a while or share an occasional picture. Its going to take a while.
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I gave you two pictures today. The first is our final Thanksgiving together. We thought we would still have Pop this year. It suddenly became a very emotional and sentimental picture with his passing. The second picture isn't of great quality. Its actually a picture of a picture. I couldn't get the original to copy. It is of Dad with Mom standing in the background. Folks, my Mom can flat cook. Her kitchen is THE gathering place when you go to their house. Its going to be tough with Pop not sitting at the end of the table in his normal spot.
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Dad, I love you and I thank you for all of the many things that you taught me and did for me during our time together. I just don't have words to express how bad I miss you and how much I dread having to learn to live life without your presence. Its most certainly going to be a difficult adjustment to make. You were a great husband to mom, dad to me and Roger, and papaw to my children. We will honor you memory in many ways over the coming holidays as we try to move forward. I know you are in a better place, that you are no longer suffering, and that you are having a great reunion, a joyous celebration unlike no other.
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I would like to give a special thanks to all the individuals who read and follow my blog. I wish you and your families all the best as we enter the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's About Passion


We needed a little break this week in my Physical Science Class. After a big Unit Test last week and a 3 chapter Math Test Monday, they wanted a video.
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So. Its character building time. I broke out my Aron Ralston video--Suvivor. You know the story. Aron is the guy who got his arm pinned by the huge boulder while hiking in Southeastern Utah. After being trapped there for several days, he amputated his right arm and hiked out.
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The video, which I purchased off of nbc.com for a measly six dollars is fantastic. The first day sets the stage and is ok. The second day is where Aron gets into the actual amputation process which includes the breaking of his forearm bones, the drinking of his own urine, and his amazing hike back to civilization.
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Two really cool things happened in class over these two days:
DAY ONE
On day one, they are talking about how Aron quit his job at Intel so that he could go on a mountain climbing adventure instead. We had discussed that this was a job with a fantastic company which most likely included a wonderful salary and terrific benefits.

Right in front of me, one student asked another: "He quit his job? Why? To go mountain climbing?" The other student, a young lady looked back at him and simply said:

"ITS ABOUT PASSION."

That was it. I was all in. SOMEBODY GETS IT!!

DAY TWO
We finished the movie today. At the end of my last period class (which is the group that I couldn't really tell if they were enjoying the video or not), two young ladies went to the library and checked out Aron's book; "Between a Rock and a Hard Place." I walked into the library after school just in time to see the third and final copy of this book being checked out. Again, by a student that I wasn't real sure if he enjoyed the video or not.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
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I tried to clue them in a little as to "How bad do you want to live?" and "What could you do to survive?" I didn't expect the parade to the library to get the books nor the extra special passion comment. Again, one of those little things in education we don't get paid for.
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The picture above is myself and Aron. He spoke at Southeast Missouri State University last year as part of the University Speaker Series. I was on the front row sitting with our librarian. She beat me there and saved me a seat. Meeting him and getting the picture was well worth the stand in line. He is truly an inspiring individual. His movie came out last week. I don't know if it will make it to Southeast Missouri movie theatres or not.... NETFLIX anyone?
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As always, EVERY DAY IS A GOOD DAY, SOME ARE JUST BETTER. THANKS FOR READING!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What? Fall Back? I HATE TAPERING!! No Way!!

We almost have all of the clocks set back. Ok, coffee pot, microwave, stove, bedroom, cell phone (wait, that one did itself), once we get the cars done we can start replacing batteries and hit the furnace filter. I only wish the transition to having one less hour of daylight was as easy!
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This was an excellent week of school and a great week of training. I logged 21.6 miles for the week including 16 miles on the bike. The bike rides were Sunday and Monday with 9 and 7 miles coming on those days.
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My running total was very pleasing. I hammered out 3.5 on Tuesday and 3 on Wednesday. On both of these days, I mixed in some fartleks to liven up the workout and get the feet moving. Its just fun to say fartlek. Thursday was a day off. Friday was a K-Mart Blue Light special or a Schnuck's Double Coupon Day. I woke up to an easy 4 miler at 5 a.m. That evening, the wife had a basketball game (remember she is the cheer coach), her fourth night out this week. After getting home, watching some ESPN, rearranging my sock drawer, contemplating world hunger, and playing with my toes for a couple of hours, I decided to wrap up the week by doing an 8 miler in the park. Nothing like a good 12 mile day. She and I actually kicked out an easy 3 yesterday to top the twenty mile mark which is ONE of my training goals each week. I like to track how often I top 20 and how often I top 30 miles as I progress through a training program.
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I'm basically counting this week as Week 1 (or Week 18--I usually count down to create a sense of urgency) toward a big time spring event. I'm really leaning toward the Little Rock Marathon which is exactly 18, excuse me 17 weeks away. I've run the half marathon there 3 times. As you can see from the picture, the full marathon medal is HUGE. I could make weiner jokes here but being in public education it just wouldn't be appropriate. (Ok, I'll save them for the teacher's lounge.) And just to set the record straight, that's not my bed, or my medal, or my weiner....dog. Sorry, couldn't resist that one! There is another event in March which intrigues me. There is an ultra which a friend of mine hosts. It includes a 12 hour and a 24 hour event. I'd love to add the 12 hour to my list of accomplishments. Its a new event. Last year was the first year and 52 miles won it. Hmmmm.......
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The blog has been under construction a little. I've added a quote which I created with the help of a blog that I've been reading. More on that on a later post. I've added some information as to some of my running history. There are a bunch more races that need to go in the Classic Racing Section but I'm thinking of changing that section.
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Best wishes to all as the holidays approach and as always......
EVERY DAY IS A GOOD DAY, SOME ARE JUST BETTER. THANKS FOR READING!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Long Time No See....

Hello Blogging World. Things have been just plain hectic since my last blog post. As you may remember, the Lewis and Clark Half Marathon went extremely well. I was pleased with my overall time as well as my age group placement and overall finish.

I had plans to go to Wynne, Arkansas and run the Mid South Half Marathon this weekend.... but, plans change. My dad recently spent 17 days in the hospital. I took two and a half days off of school at the end of his stay to help my mom with decisions that had to be made.

I'm not sure how much you may be familiar with our fam's history here so hang on..... Pop or Ralph as I usually call him (he calls me the same), has been through it all. He has Parkinson's Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, and Emphysema. All are in the advanced stages. We went through lung cancer about ten years ago. At that point, the doctor in St. Louis gave him three years due to the Emphysema. Obviously, we beat that one!

Over the last ten years, there have been numerous angiograms, stints, a gall bladder surgery, shall I go on? Dad has been cat-like definitely utilizing all of his available nine lives! Two years ago he had open heart surgery and went back and forth from the Hospital, to the Nursing Home, to Therapy, to the Hospital, to the Nursing Home.... got the idea?

We nearly lost him on one occasion but after five days on the Ventilator, he stayed with us. He actually went home on election day TWO YEARS AGO TODAY after having surgery on August 1st. Happy Anniversary DAD!

Back to today.... 17 days. I do believe his second longest stay only to be overshadowed by his stay following open heart. Going home was kind of happy-sad. A good-bad thing. Dad accepted hospice which means we most likely don't go back to the hospital for lung related issues. It was his decision. It felt weird walking out of the hospital for maybe the last time. I can't explain the things I felt. I'm not sure what I feel at this point or how to place it into words so lets talk running.......

Good Idea, Change The Subject. As I stated, the run this weekend is OFF. It was a cheapie. Only 25 to enter so I don't feel bad there. I really feel like I could do the run but just need the time to relax and kick back.

I am hoping to train for a spring marathon. My options are the Little Rock Marathon, the Country Music Marathon, and the St. Louis Marathon. There is also a local ultra which would be excellent as well.

I'm leaning toward the Little Rock event. I haven't preregistered yet which is the final commitment but I've charted out the training. Its most certainly leading the way in my thoughts.

THE MEDAL IS FREAKING HUGE AND I LIKE BLING!!!

I am going to continue to build my base adding a little strength work and cross training and using the next week or two to officially decide. Ok, TRUTH-----I'm going to do the training program for the next couple of weeks in case that is the way I want to go. There! I feel better. Honesty. The program is much like the half program I used. Short, Medium Long, Short, Medium Long, LONG. Depending on the day, mixing in some fartleks, hill work, and maybe some YASSOS.

We'll see where this goes. I honestly won't know till I get there.

Every day is a good day, some are just better. Thanks for reading.