Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanks, Mrs. Novotny!

One year ago today, I walked by Mrs. Novotny's room and, on a whim, stopped in to ask her how much she would charge for guitar lessons.

"For you?" she asked.

"Yes." I answered.

Her reply blew me away. She simply and quietly said, "Nothing." She told me later that she knew it would help me in my ministry, so she was glad to help out.

That afternoon around 3:45, Mrs. Novotny sat down with me and taught me how to play an E minor chord and a few notes. She sent me home with a guitar and a beginners book.

I am so thankful for Mrs. Novotny's lesson today. Playing the guitar and singing regularly help me express my heart to God and give me an outlet for the weird thoughts in my head too. I've written more than twenty new songs since I learned the E minor chord on December 5, 2012.

From the bottom of my heart...thanks, Mrs. Novotny!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wise counsel...

I read the story of Rehoboam's ascent to the throne of Israel from 2 Kings 12 this morning. It struck me as completely insane that this young king rejected the advice of the older advisers, men who had time and time again heard the judgments and wisdom of his father, Solomon, the wisest man ever to have lived. Did he not thin that maybe these guys might know a little bit about life and wise actions? He didn't act on it if he thought it.

So let me ask you a question or two to challenge your thinking: Who are the wise men and women near you? Are you listening to them or to the "young men" you grew up with who are self-centered and unwise?

Who you listen to matters. Find godly advisers who will point you in the right direction. Reject every bit of guidance that exalts you or sounds even a little bit self-serving.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Craving junk...

I went to the store last night to buy fruits and vegetables. Nice green leafy lettuce, a firm green cucumber, crunchy orange carrots and the like were on my list. Junk food was not. I went to the produce department, picked out a tomato or two, some green peppers, the other things on the list and then I began to roam aimlessly down other aisles. I walked down the drinks row. No problems. I strolled down the crackers and chips row. Big problem.

I love Kroger's Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper kettle chips. A bag of these savory creations "fell" into my cart. I wandered down a few more aisles. Somewhere in the frozen food section, a question popped into my head. "Why am I carrying a bag of greasy potato chips toward the checkout stand?"

Just over a year ago, I finally gave up soda pop. I craved it every day for weeks after I quit. Eventually, though, my desire for fizzy drinks dissipated. I stopped wanting a sip every ten minutes. I turned down offers of Pepsi, my favorite cola, time and time again. Who needs it?

Back to last night's bag of chips. When the "why am I carrying these things" question came to me, I shook my head at my illicit longing for junk. Then I did what I had never done before. I pulled the bag out of  my cart, set it down in the nearby ice cream cone display and walked away.

Can I kick the chip habit? I believe I can. I invite you to hold me accountable. No more chips. more gummy worms. It's time to end the reign of junk in my belly.

Friday, July 5, 2013

I give you my neck...

I watched part of it. I didn't want to, but I was strangely drawn to the video that was purportedly of a priest being beheaded by a mob of Muslims. I listened to the language I couldn't understand being spoken and then to the indecipherable shouts as the man in ropes was thrown forward and the barbarous act of beheading began. I was thankful that the crowd blocked my view as the camera rolled. It was only after the butchering was done that I saw the head held high by the man in black who'd done the deed. I shut down the site at that point. I was sickened enough.

Ever since I watched this murderous act, I've been thinking. Back in the 70s, I watched my fair share of end times movies. I remember one scene in particular from one of the apocalyptic thrillers. A man of faith was walked up several steps to a guillotine and his head was removed in a split second. My heart was in my throat, but I decided then that if I was called upon to give my life for Jesus, I could do it.

The feelings I had while watching what I believed was a gruesome martyrdom were much different at first. The length of time it took from the first cut to the finished decapitation was longer than the quick and relatively painless death of the man in the movie. I imagined how awful it would be to feel the first stroke of the blade across the neck. I wondered how long the pain continued after the vocal cords could no longer scream. Thinking about it made me sick. I felt for the priest who turned out to not be a priest as he lost his life at the hands of evil men.

My perspective has changed over time. The time of the cutting wasn't really all that long. Maybe a minute. While not pleasant, at least not as pleasant in thought as death by guillotine, it would be endurable. I've suffered pain for longer already. Granted, the pain I've gone through hasn't had the additional fearfulness the surety of death must bring, but still I've tasted agony once or twice. It is bearable for a minute or two or three.

This realization has led me to pray a prayer that may sound strange to some. I've been praying, "Lord, I give you my neck." I know martyrdom may never be my lot in life, but I want to make sure the decision is made now to choose Jesus over life. If I wait, I'm afraid I might chicken out when the large knives come out. My heart is in my throat again, but I know I could do it endure even the worst death imaginable with God's strength. It was, after all, his power that got Jesus through the much longer and more agonizing execution he suffered through.

"For the joy set before him he 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 sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Jesus has had my heart to do with as he pleases for many years. I choose today to give him my neck too. However he can use it. It is his.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I'm a liar...

I've come to that place in my recovery where I am finally ready to start thinking about and dealing with the root of the problem - my character defects. I've got a bunch of them. One of the most egregious is my tendency to not be quite truthful. I am, more often that I'd like to be, dishonest. Just so you understand what I'm saying, here's a personalized definition of dishonesty I ran across on a fellow struggler's blog.
  • Dishonesty – Sins of omission and commission. Telling lies, hiding things, telling half truths or pretending something is so that isn't. Withholding important information. Adding untrue details to stories and situations. Stealing, cheating, taking things that aren't ours and that we aren't entitled to. (From Don't Drink and Don't Die)
I've been guilty of everything mentioned here. I'm especially bad when it comes to adding untrue details to stories and situations. I went to the dentist last week and when they asked me if I flossed, I said, "Yes." I don't know why I did it. I have flossed. I flossed regularly after my last exam. I did it for weeks and then I quit. When I said, "Yes," I probably hadn't flossed in over a month. Why did I say, "Yes"?

I am working on this defect of character. With God's help - he knows I need it - I will be honest in all my dealings with others.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Overthinking the Marathon...

I recently picked up and read a copy of Ray Charbonneau’s self-published work, Overthinking the Marathon. From the very beginning, the author’s conversational style grabbed me. Every day as he trained for the 2012 Cape Cod Marathon, he “scribbled” out a personal story worth reading. He made me feel like a friend he was sharing an important part of his life with.

Sometimes his tales were filled with wild animals (mostly bunnies). He considered these to be good omens worth mentioning on dozens of occasions.

Ray often talked about his wife’s training for her third marathon. I appreciated the way he spoke of his wife with great respect. His obvious love for her was refreshing in a world where spouses are so often grumping and complaining about each other. He cheered for her as much as she did for him.

There were also plenty of reports on his running club’s outings. He talked about their regular events and the special things they did together. Sometimes he’d miss a run to judge a cooking contest that the group was putting on. Other times, he’d volunteer at a race with others from the club. As a reader, I almost felt like I was a part of the Sommerville Road Runners when the last page was turned.

Ray running in an event
I laughed throughout the book as Ray described the adjustments he made to his shoe inserts. He changed his mind about what he needed more often than I could imagine anyone doing. He’d add a shim here and a wedge there.

The race reports sprinkled throughout the book were as detailed as anyone could ask for. He talked about the joys and successes right along with the aches and pains and disappointments. He was honest about his mistakes and admitted in the end that he probably raced too much in his lead up to the Cape Cod.

Charbonneau has a knack for making running advice interesting and helpful. In my favorite chapter of the entire book, “This I Believe,” he reasoned with his readers that longer-than-marathon runs are necessary for everyone training for a fast marathon. His logic was clear and quite convincing. Here’s just one paragraph worth of his advice.

“Plan to run the extra-long run slower than usual so it doesn’t take too much out of you. Don’t worry about the time. Your only goal is to put in the distance. Run comfortably; take walking breaks if you want. Stop at a store to get more sports drink, or on a bridge to admire the view.” (Sorry no page numbers on the Kindle. You can look for Thursday, August 16th.)

As a cyclist and runner who loves both sports, I was greatly entertained by Ray’s great dislike of cycling. His tales of woe and of trying out clipless pedals made me smile as I remembered my own plunge into the world of complete attachment to the bike.

The culmination of the book, the high point, was Charbonneau’s post-race report on the Cape Cod Marathon. Throughout the book he’d been working hard to be ready for a Boston qualifying time at the October race. Running with him every mile of the way from the starting line to the finish was a satisfying journey. I’ll let you read the book to find out if he met his BQ goal. I’d hate to ruin the surprise.

Ray and Mike meet before
the 2013 Boston Marathon
Having finished Overthinking the Marathon, I am ready to read another of his books. Right now, I’ve got my eye on Chasing the Runner’s High: My Sixty Million-Step Plan. Just the title makes me want to pick it up and start reading.

(Update: Ray ran in the 2013 Boston Marathon as a guide for a visually impaired runner named Mike. The two of them crossed the finish line in 3:58 (chip time). The time on the clock was 4:05. The pair walked away from the finish area just five to six minutes before the bombs went off.)

GIVEAWAY: Tasha won an eBook copy of "Overthinking the Marathon" on Wednesday, Apri 24, 2013. Thanks to all who read the review. A big thank you goes to Ray for making this giveaway possible.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The ides of April...

Yesterday when I tweeted, "Beware the ides of April," I was thinking about taxes, not the Boston Marathon. I never imagined that I would click around later in the day and see smoke billowing from the buildings near the famous race's finish line. I couldn't have dreamed up the images of collapsed and wounded bodies.

I ran angry this morning. Really angry. My pace doesn't show it. My pace was actually over a minute per mile slower than my last run's. The crazy squiggly lines at the beginning of my run are the only evidence of the ire in my heart. I thought a lot about the cowardly act as I ran this way and that. Then, when I got back to near where I'd begun, an idea struck me. I would run to honor the fallen. The end result can be seen in my GPS map. The mess of angry zigzagging now resembles the smoke from the bombing.

God bless those who have lost loved ones, those who have lost limbs, those who are traumatized. God help those who carried out the bombing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Exploited towers...

What's the first thing you see when you look at this picture? My guess is you saw a plane about to hit a building. That's not what this picture is about at all. The events of 9-11-01 made you focus on the plane and not on the wire walker traipsing across the void between the two towers.

Philippe Petit, a French man, covered the distance between the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City eight times on August 7, 1974. He spent 45 minutes suspended 450 meters above the ground. He finally stepped off the cable only because the police were going to bring a helicopter in to pluck him off of it. He was afraid the turbulence could dislodge him from his scanty walkway.

Philippe's feat was memorialized in the 2005 film, Man on Wire.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Forgiveness brings healing...

It is with just a little fear and trepidation that I share a bit of my story with you today. I've never shared this part of my life anywhere outside my family and a few close friends. Until recently, I'm sure I would have been terrified by the thought of posting it online. But this part of my story is about God and the healing and freedom he brings, so I can't keep it quiet any longer.

Growing up, my family moved around a lot as my dad changed jobs. I went to five elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. I normally found friends quickly at a new school, but when we moved from a small town in Iowa to Sacramento, California, between my seventh and eighth grade years, things were different. I don’t know what it was, but I found new relationships difficult after this move. Maybe I was overwhelmed by the big city atmosphere or maybe it was because middle school is just plain awkward. Whatever the reason, it took longer to find peers to associate with.

Into that void stepped a man who, upon coming to our church, took charge of the youth group. He voluntarily spent time with us, teaching our Sunday School class and organizing fun events. I took to this man and we became friends.  We did lots of stuff together. He came to the school from time to time and took me out to lunch at a nearby fast food restaurant.

After a few months, this man’s mom kicked him out of her house. That’s what he told us anyway. I’m not sure now whether he was telling the truth or not. To make a long story short, my parents allowed him to move into our house.

Shortly after he came under our roof, he began visiting me at night when everyone was a sleep. He would ask if he could do things that I wasn’t sure he should do, but I was afraid of losing his friendship so I went along with his requests. For a little over a year, I was sexually and emotionally abused by this man in my own home. Whenever he sensed I was getting uncomfortable with what he was doing, he would threaten to kill himself if I ever told anyone what he was doing.

Finally, one day after he had asked me if he could do something that I found repulsive, I told my mom what had been taking place. That ended the sexual abuse, but didn’t quite completely end the emotional abuse. The last thing he said to me was, “I’ll come back for you when you turn 18.” That one sentence caused me to live in fear for years.

Less than a year after the end of this relationship, we moved back to Iowa. Just after we arrived, I went to summer camp and there, for some reason, I decided it was time to tell someone outside of my family what had happened. My poor counselor was shocked and not exactly sure what to do with this kid that kept yelling angrily, over and over, “I hate him! I hate him! I hate him!”

For the next two or three years, I lived with seething anger that I kept buried in my heart. Repressing it led to depression. Fear was there too. I was 18 and I was terrified when I thought that this man might reenter my life.

During the summer between my sophomore and junior years at college, I ran across these words of Jesus in Matthew 6:14-15, “But if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I realized I was in serious trouble with God. I had not forgiven my abuser. With the Holy Spirit’s help, I chose to do so that day. That choice was the beginning of my healing.

Over the next few years, God brought a series of people into my life, people who counseled with me and prayed with me till I was set free from my anger. I remember the day I knew I had what God wanted for me. I prayed and the burden was lifted. I was no longer angry. The chains of bitterness and hatred that had wrapped themselves around my heart were broken. I was free!

I am grateful to God for all the work he has done in my heart. I want nothing more than for each of you to find the freedom I have found in Jesus. Today, when I think of the man who molested me, I pray for him. I want nothing less than his presence with me in heaven. I pray that God will save him through faith in Jesus and set him free from his sin so that he and I can worship before God’s throne together for eternity.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The cautious return...

The day after I quit Facebook, Twitter and other social networks at God's command, I received notification from the library that a book I'd asked them to purchase had arrived. I went straight to 401 S. Jackson and picked up their freshly acquired copy of @stickyJesus. I laughed at the irony of it all. Here I was holding a copy of a book designed to help Jesus' followers serve him and live out their faith online and I had just left the world of status updates and tweets. Still, I thought it was an interesting topic, so I took it home.

Over the next several evenings and a Saturday, I read @stickyJesus from cover to cover. I was encouraged by the authors' call to missionary service in cyberspace. I was confronted by their warnings against pride and self-promotion. That was me. I wasn't online to show Jesus to the world. I was there to draw people to Mike Neifert (or openmikey, my most frequent username). I prayed a lot as I read. I confessed my sin to God.

I finished the book in a few short days. It's message sat there in my heart. I continued to pray. Then something unexpected happened. God released me to return to Facebook and Twitter. I was shocked and just a little suspicious. Was this "me" giving "me" permission or was it really God? I'm really good at rationalization. (We all are, aren't we?) I didn't rejoin the surfing throngs right away. I waited and developed a safety net. I did not want to return to my previous state of obsession. I did not want to become distracted from face-to-face relationships by their pixelated versions.

I went to Google and typed in: parental control software. I found a review of five products on and chose Norton Online Family from the list. I set up my account, added a "child" named mikey, then called one of my accountability partners from Celebrate Recovery. I gave him the login information for my Norton account and asked him to monitor my internet usage.

Now, every time I log in, I am warned: "Norton Family is running on this computer and is currently supervising activity associated with this Windows account." Some of you might find that stifling. I have found it to be quite freeing. I have a "watchdog" in place to keep me away from trouble.

I am thankful to God for his leading in my life. His provision of a close friend is awesome. I am accountable to both. And now I'm accountable to you too. Feel free to ask me about my "online" life anytime you see me more frequently than it seems wise. If I'm posting frivolous stuff or self-promoting things, call me on it. I want to serve God and live righteously online. I want to show God-given self-control and wisdom.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lying is lying...

Perhaps you've been watching the NCAA tournament this weekend. I've watched a game or two. I love it that CBS (and it's partners) have made every game available online. That means I can catch all the action without subscribing to cable. I refuse to pay good money for rotten TV. (Update: the free stuff ends after four hours. It was too good to be true.)

So I logged on for the first time yesterday to watch Wichita State beat Gonzaga. Well, I didn't know at the time that was going to be the result. I was just going to see what happened. During a commercial break I was treated to a Coke Zero commercial or two that made excuses for making brackets and watching games during work hours. The ads made it sound like it was patriotic to cheat your boss. (It's not, by the way.)

Then today I discovered the "Boss Button" on the site. I was curious, so I clicked on it. Immediately my screen was transformed. It looked like I was working on email. This "Boss Button" is designed to make it easier to trick your boss and do what you want on his time. Ugh!

I know all of this is in jest, but as one who has struggled with keeping my focus on work during work hours I find it less than funny. Lying is lying. It should not be encouraged by anyone. I encourage all my readers to give a day's work for a day's pay.

"And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colassians 3:17)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A shocker?

The first number one seed falls! Gonzaga just couldn't keep the Shockers down. Enjoyed watching every minute of it! It was a good night to be in yellow! Sweet 16, baby!

The noble hero...

There have been few heroes of late who show any nobility at all. Most have no morals at all. They're self-centered, self-focused, self-absorbed men who care only for their own glory. (Ironman comes to mind. Captain America is, in my mind, the most notable exception.)

I was pleasantly surprised by the noble Bruce Wayne of The Dark Knight Rises. (Yes, I just now got around to watching it.) His choice to take a bomb away from Gotham and seemingly die for the people caused my chest to swell with admiration. That, my friends, is what being a man is all about. The fact that he survives does not in any way diminish his heroism. Thanks, Christopher Nolan, for giving us someone to look up to. Can't wait for Man of Steel!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quitting Facebook...

A little over a week ago, I stepped away from all my social media networks. I deleted my account on dailymile, a community of athletes I’d called home since 2010. I disabled my Facebook profile and suspended my Twitter account. )I still have my Google+ account up and running, but that’s kind of a joke. I only use it to repost my blog entries. I’ve never browsed the site or looked at anyone else’s profile.)

Why did I commit cyber hari-kari? God told me to. That’s the short answer. Living for online companionship had become an idol in my life. I was spending way too much time “stalking” people without really connecting with any of them. Facebook and Twitter were distracting me when I needed to spend face-to-face time with my family. dailymile, which has no value at all to my work, would, from time to time, suck me in to its web during work hours. All together, these networks were eating away at real relationship time. I was watching stupid videos and devouring vacuous memes, not conversing with people. That’s why God commanded me to jump ship.

Please understand, I’m not saying everyone needs to leave social media sites. There are many good things about them. You can keep up with far-flung nieces and nephews. You can encourage friends who are struggling in life. You can share things that have been helpful to you with the world. Being on Facebook is for most people a good thing. It is not sinful to have a Twitter account.

For me, however, it was a control issue. I was out of control. God knew it. I knew it. It just took me awhile to admit it and take the steps God was calling me to. He’d given the command once or twice before and, I’m ashamed to confess it, I’d been unwilling to comply.

I was reminded of Paul’s words shortly after I severed ties online. "'I have the right to do anything,' you say—but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything'—but I will not be mastered by anything." (1 Corinthians 6:12) Regaining mastery over the permissible is what this “fast” is all about. I will not return to any of these sites until God gives me the green light. That’s not going to happen until all is right in my relationship with him and with others.

If something is mastering you, if something is keeping you from an intimate connection with God and those around you, I urge you: cut the ties! Learn to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Learn to love  our neighbor as yourself. Those are the things that matter.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Slogging around town...

I woke up at 7:15. It's nice to sleep in every once in awhile. Yes, that is sleeping in! I wandered around the house getting ready to run. It took me almost 45 minutes to get out the door. I love slow mornings!

I started out with plans to run around the north side of town. I wasn't in any big hurry. I was just running, listening to music, not a care in the world. I made twists and turns as they presented themselves. I avoided unpaved surfaces since it had rained in the night and was threatening to do so again. It did spit on me a few times. Nothing more.

I felt like quitting about a mile and a half in. I was sore and tired. I couldn't get a good breath in the moist air. I almost turned back. I didn't. Instead I forced myself to run further from home. I'm glad I did. I probably got four miles more than I would have otherwise.

Nothing terribly exciting happened on this run. No near misses by cars or vicious dog encounters. I didn't even see another runner or walker. I finished up my run just past my house because I'm not good at stopping just short of a new mile. I stopped at seven and walked back to the house, then to the store to pick up a few things. By the time I was back, a few others were stirring. I hit the shower and ate breakfast. Now I'm ready for the day. (garmin data)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Welcome to the gun show...

Just before I left for my run this morning, I saw a dailymile friend's comment on yesterday's workout. He said, "Make sure the paths of your runs do not end up in the shape of any firearms. You may get banned." Well, I am a rebel. I quickly drew up a route, memorized it and shouted, "Welcome to the gun show!" as I stepped out the door to make it happen.

I was a bit sore this morning. My legs did not want to move at first. Thankfully, I had a block to walk before I got to the start of my route. That worked out some of the kinks. The rest were dissipated as I began running. With Big Daddy Weave blaring in my ears, I began tracing.

I ran up School to Pine, took a left and ran south to make my trigger. I planned to make it a bit longer, but I had to turn around when I saw a dog loose. I'm not deathly afraid of dogs, but I've learned not to startle them in the dark. They don't take kindly to such things.

I ran back up to School, turned right and ran back to Thompson which took me down to Cleveland and around to Oak to complete the trigger guard. I ran up Oak to School and back to Thompson to complete that part.

Turning around, I ran back to Oak and took it south to Highway 54. I ran across the street and took the sidewalk west to Main. There wasn't very much traffic, so I had no problem crossing the highway again and heading north on Main. I ran up to School did a little zigging and zagging to make the hammer, then ran down Cherry to add the top of the barrel. A little more twists and turns and the picture was complete.

What was left to do? Retrace the outline to make sure it looked good from outer space. That's what any Garmin artist worth his weight in electronics would do. There were no dogs on the second time around, but there was more traffic. I had to stop and walk once to let an oil tanker pass. No need to die for time's sake. I'm never in that big of a hurry.

I finished up and walked the block back home. I was really pleased with my master "piece" when I saw it uploaded. Hope you all enjoy it! (garmin data)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Restart number 54...

It's probably an exaggeration, but this morning's run felt like my 54th attempt to get back in the groove of training. I've definitely been in a deep blue workout funk. I haven't been able to find the "want to" for several weeks. I could blame it all on my January 5th injury, but that would be unfair. My body's all healed up. It's my mind and heart that need help.

Yesterday, I asked friends on Facebook and dailymile to yell at me. They did. I was lovingly chided for slacking off. A few people told me they counted on me for inspiration for their own workouts. That's scary! With their voices ringing in my ears, I set my alarm up and hour and went to bed earlier than I had been for the past several weeks.

I woke up this morning at 5:00. It was dark and cold, but not quite as dark or cold as it has been. It was actually above freezing! That made it easier to gear up and get out the door. Temps in the teens and twenties have been part of my problem.

I headed out with no particular plan other than to run till 6:30. I ran out to the highway and ran along the just recently cleared sidewalks. I didn't encounter a single snowy spot or ice patch. That was nice.

When I reached Main Street, I decided to turn south and run down to Fifth which I'd take to the far side of town. Getting far from home makes me run farther. I have to get back, right? I crossed to the west side of Main and ran down the wide sidewalks. I glanced at the movie theater's marquee to see what was showing. I read it, but can't for the life of me remember what's showing now.

Turning west on Fifth, I enjoyed the short downhill by the Blythe Family Fitness Center and Pratt High. I didn't find as much pleasure in the long, gradual uphill that followed. My hamstrings were sore and grumbly. They were happier when I was a lazy bum. I told them to shut up and kept running.

At Illinois, I turned south and ran down the hill. I must say, it is really nice to run down this hill every once in awhile. I usually find myself climbing it. Ugh! It's longer going up! I'm sure of it.

I turned the corner and headed back east on Tenth. I encountered more cars in that half mile or so than I did on all the rest of my run. Not sure why there was so much traffic on a back street.

As I reapproached Main, Lemon Park called my name, so I turned this way, then that to get there. I ran a loop around the sidewalk. I saw no one until I got back around near the entrance. There I spotted two walkers on the road. I shouted a "good morning" to them and ran on. They were pulling away in their car just as I got back to the parking lot. I must have scared them off.

I ran up the hill on Pine, passing another walker as I did so. I turned east on Sixth and ran to Howard which took me north back to home base. I was close to 10K, but I stopped. It was 6:30. Time to go in and get some breakfast before the day's "stuff" begins in earnest.

If you were among those who "shouted" at me to get going yesterday, thanks. I needed the kick in the pants. (garmin data)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Jesus' deadly stare...

Who is this guy? I know he's supposed to be Jesus, but he looks pretty scary to me. His eyes whisper, "I am just toying with you till the chance to kill you presents itself." Not sure I want this "Jesus" anywhere near me. Even though I love the real Jesus, I don't think I will be sharing this photo anywhere except here. That's okay, though, because 61,662 people have already shared him with their Facebook world. Apologies to my friends who will not be able to see their "savior's" intense stare as they scan my wall.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Clear road hunting...

I decided it was time to start increasing my mileage. I know you don't see that in a 2.75 mile run, but it's true. This is the first time since January 5 that I've run two days in a row. I ran with my Knuckle Lights for visibility and enjoyed the slightly lighter time of day. Next week after that crazy time-change thing, I'll be plunged back into utter darkness. I guess I'll take the light while I have it.

I left the house in search of a new route. I didn't want to do the same emergency snow routes as I did yesterday. No sense in getting in a rut - literally or figuratively. I ran over to Stout on School, then turned south and ran all the way down to Sixth Street. The streets were clearer than the ones I took yesterday! I saw only a patch or two of ice and they were easily avoided.

I turned onto Oak and ran up the hill toward Main. When I got to Main, I started to run across to the far side when I noticed the nice, dry sidewalks. I redirected my feet to the flat surface and ran up to Second. The only problems came in front of unused buildings and the donut shop. They should not make those places smell so good. I fled the temptation.

I turned east on Second and ran over to Oak, greeting a good friend along the way. He was out scraping his windshield. Another neighbor greeted me as well. I turned south on Oak to avoid the snow-pack and ice to the east and ran to Third which I took all the way to Howard which took me north to my home. I ran past the house and did a little out and back to get up to 2.75. Call me OCD if you like. I just can't end on a weird number when I nice pretty distance is so close at hand. (garmin data)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Post-blizzard shake out...

It was 11 days ago when I last ran. In those 11 days, two snow storms blasted through town dumping more than a foot of snow on the streets. I live on a snow route, so my street was "cleared" early. It was still snow and ice packed. I thought better of it every time I thought about running. No sense in risking injury from a fall.

With the melting that took place yesterday, I felt it was safe enough to go out this morning. At 18 degrees, I figured the ice patches would at least be solid. I wouldn't have to worry about falling through and getting wet feet. My socks got soaked yesterday while I was shoveling snow and slush. I wasn't keen on repeating that.

I stepped out into the cold just before 6:30. Normally on a school day, I'd be stepping back in to fix breakfast at that time. Today is not a normal day. My kids' school is on a two-hour delay, so they don't have to show up till 10:00. They're ready to go. They haven't been to school since the 19th.

My plan from the beginning was to run on emergency snow routes. That, if figured, would give me the best footing. I started out running down Howard to mail some bills and my daughter's tax payment, then ran through the grocery store's parking lot over to Lawrence, through the bank's parking lot and onto Stout.

Stout had a few spots that were icy, but it was mostly clean. I took it up to School, then headed west. School was by far the worst street I ran on. There was a stretch or two where I was running on hard snow and ice. I did not like that one bit. I slowed down and placed each foot carefully.

I turned north on Main, ran across to the other side and followed it up to Maple. Parts of Main were treacherous too. Thankfully, I saw all the slick spots and avoided them.

Turning east on Maple, I ran down the hill, then back up it. This quarter mile or so was the driest of all the streets I ran on. Only when I came to the intersection of Stout and turned south did I have ice to deal with.

I ran down Stout to School and did another loop of the same snow routes bringing me back to School on Stout again. I thought about turning onto School and taking the shorter route home, but opted for the longer route. Retracing my steps through the parking lots, I made my way back to Howard and ran north to home. Glancing at my Garmin, I saw I was close to four and a quarter miles, so I ran till I reached that point then stopped. I turned around and walked straight to my front door. I was tired of the chilled air and ready for a little warmth. (garmin data)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The non-group run...

I got up early this morning to meet my Pratt Running Club friends. It was dark and cold. I ran to our meeting place, arriving just before 6:00. I waited. No one showed up. Perhaps 16 degrees was just too much for some of them. Whatever the reason, I ended up running solo.

I ran away from our meeting place and ran around town. As I ran, I sang the country song I'd begun writing in my head. I made up parts of two more verses and a change in the chorus. Keeping my mind occupied in this manner, made it much easier to keep going. I hardly noticed the chill.

I ended up running 10K. It took me a little longer than I would hope for in a race, but I wasn't racing anyone. I guess I'm pleased. (garmin data)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wal-Mart run...

It was kind of spitting rain when I headed out on my run this morning. Not enough to get me really wet, just enough to make me notice it. I wonder if we really will get some snow today as predicted.

I started out running west on School, then south on Stout. I wanted to run a loop out and around Wal-Mart, so this was the best way to start. My doctor said I need to switch things up, so I tried running on the opposite side of the street and on sidewalks to avoid tweaking my back. Of course, that makes me paranoid about cars sneaking up on me from behind, so I'm constantly twisting my back to look. Not sure if that's a good trade off.

I ran down Stout and crossed the highway and ran on down Rochester to Sixth Street. I turned east on Sixth and ran all the way over to Fincham. Along the way, I ran past a friends house as he was coming out to get in his car. He goes fishing early every morning. I yelled something about fish still sleeping and kept right on running.

I turned north on Fincham and ran up to Wal-Mart. On a whim, I decided to run through the Wal-Mart parking lot and cross the grass over to the Day's Inn. There's not a lot of shopping going on at 6:15, so it wasn't all that dangerous. I ran up the Day's Inn drive and crossed the highway again so I could go north on 61.

Running up 61, I saw a few cars. Thankfully they saw me too. I ran along the nice wide shoulders up to Maple and turned west.

On Maple I ran right down the center of the street. I ran to the bottom of the hill and turned south on Parkway. I like running this street with the trees on the east side. It's kind of pretty even in the dark. I ran to Parkview and, turning west, ran up the nasty little hill to Terrace.

Terrace took me back to School and home. When I passed the house, I was about a quarter mile from four miles, so I ran on to Cambridge and did a quick loop around the block, jogging east on Random and then back north on Edgeford. I hit my goal just before reaching the house. (garmin data)

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I started out this morning with the goal of running 5K. I wasn't expecting anything special. I just wanted to run.

I started out running up Welton and then down Maple toward Highway 61. I was feeling really good. No soreness or stiffness like I had on Wednesday. I was surprised when I looked at my Garmin and found that I was running along near 8:00 pace as I was running up the hill. That's when I decided to go for a fast 5K.

After a first mile at 8:15, I ramped it up as I ran along the highway. I was running around 7:30 some of the time. I turned the corner onto the cemetery road, ran past the place with the wicked dog. I finished my second mile in 7:41and then headed up the hill.

While running upwards, I passed a couple of friends who were running down the hill. One of the, Shelly P., asked how I was feeling. I told her I was good. I should have said great since I was way better than I was two or three weeks ago. Thanks for asking, Shelly! I appreciate your concern and support!

I ran around the corner onto Stout and did my best to maintain my pace, but pushing it made me feel nauseous. Not being the smartest banana in the bunch - I do belong to the Idiots Running Club - I kept going. I figured I could puke in stride and still have a great time. I'm happy to report that though I tried hard, I did not toss my cookies. I finished my third mile with a slight drop in pace - 7:57 - but no mishaps.

My last tenth of mile on Lawrence wasn't anything special. I finished. That's about all I can say. My heart was beating so hard I could almost hear it. I walked for five or six minutes to get it back under control then went inside. I plan to run again this afternoon with my wife. She likes running when it's warm. (garmin data)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Easing back into it...

One month ago yesterday I injured my back. Two weeks after that I tried to run again. That run stressed my back again. Today, with just a little trepidation, I went back out. I promised myself I wasn't going to keep going if my back hurt at all. This was a test run and no matter how long or short it was, it was not going to aggravate things.

I started out not knowing if I was going to run two blocks or two miles or two hundred miles. (That might be a bit of exaggeration there at the end.) I ran down School Street with no plan at all. When I got to Hillside, a dog on the loose chose my first direction change for me. He wasn't much of a dog, but I value my ankles so I turned.

I spent the next mile or so trying to decide how my back felt as I warmed up. There was a little stiffness in my joints and a little ache here and there in my muscles, but overall, not bad.

On the advice of my doctor, I ran on the opposite side of the street. I would never do that in a big city. In Pratt, KS, on side streets, it turned out to be quite safe. I think I saw three or four cars out this morning and none of them was approaching me from behind.

I finished up my run right at 6:30, walked around the block to let things cool down, then stepped inside. I'm a little sore, but I think I'll survive. I guess I'm back. (garmin data)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Back" at it...

Hi. Remember me? It's been awhile since I posted a workout. A dozen days to be exact. Those twelve days were filled with lots of lower back pain, ice, ibuprofen and three or four visits to my chiropractor. All that to take care of an inflamed disk in my lower back. Ugh! Avoid lower back pain. That's my word of advice for you today.

I woke up this morning at 5:15. I felt great - only a little stiffness - so I decided to try running. My plan was to stay close to home and quit running if I encountered any pain at all. I was not going to make the same mistake I did twelve days ago and run for an hour or so after the initial pain. No way!

I got dressed, grabbed my poor neglected Garmin and headed out the door. With no plan in mind, I started running. There was just a twinge here and there as I started. Not pain really. Just annoyances. I kept my back as steady as I could till it loosened up.

I thought about just running the mile loop I'm familiar with so that every time by the house I'd have the option of stopping, but I was soon feeling pretty confident so I ditched that idea and just ran around town. I ran past four or five churches where close friends serve and then ran past the EMS station. I prayed for all the pastors and paramedics as I did. God knows that pastors and medics need help!

I finished my run and decided to walk around the block to cool down. Just after I turned the corner, I was startled by a shadowy figure standing by a car and the sound of something metallic hitting the ground. After the shock wore off, I figured out it was my neighbor and not some dark knight who was about to pick up his sword and dispense with me. The sound was him dropping one of the two canes he needs to get around. It was laying on the ground at his feet. Good timing. God's timing! I picked the cane up for him. He thanked me and I went on, my day off to a great start! (garmin data)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

North and south half mary...

It was warmer this morning than any of my previous morning runs this year. I started out with a goal of running 12 miles and ended up overachieving by a mile point 1. I ran all the streets in the northeast quadrant of town, doubling back where I had to, but mostly running up and down time and time again. I cheated through someone's yard early on, but other than that I stayed on the street. I got warm around three miles in, took off my headband and ran for about a mile before my ears started screaming at me to put the thing back on. It stayed in place the rest of the way. I had a bit of pain in my lower back for most of this run, but it was bearable. I'll be glad when all the ice and snow melt away. I'd love it if we'd get back into the 50 to 60 degree range. 28 is just not pleasant. (garmin data)

After work with my wife...

My wife has started back into running again, so when I got home from work I went out with her. She's using the Couch to 5K program, so we ran and walked alternately for about 20 minutes.

All the snow and ice are melting right now, so the biggest chore was finding dry pavement to run on. We decided to give Stout a try since it's one of the main thoroughfares near us. Cleared streets and traffic go together. Thankfully, there weren't a lot of people out when we were.

My wife's plan was to run 90 seconds at 10:00 pace, then walk briskly for 2 minutes. In twenty minutes, you can do that six times. That's what we did. We went north on Stout first, running and walking our way out to the cemetery. After three rotations, we turned around and ran and walked back. We hit our last walk just about right. We were less than a block from home.

I'm proud of my wife. Nearly every running time was at 10:00 pace or slightly faster than that target. The last run was closer to 9:20 pace. (garmin data)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

First run of 2013 at home...

It was a bit nippy this morning - 17F when I woke up! I got dressed and ready to run anyway. There's no way I'm going to get ready for a 100-miler if I don't run in all conditions.

I stepped outside and my beard immediately froze. I ran a few steps and my eyelashes iced over. It was cold, but once I got warmed up it wasn't all that bad.

Since this was my first run at home since the beginning of the year, I decided to run a "2013" route. I must say it was much easier to do here than it was in Wichita. There were hardly any straight streets there. Straight streets abound in Pratt! I only had to go a couple of blocks over to begin my drawing.

I ran the route twice, having close encounters with a car only a few times. The ice and hard packed snow on the streets were of greater concern than the traffic. I was only a little nervous once or twice as I rounded corners and climbed hills on the slippery stuff.

I finished up, walked a short way home to cool down, and stepped inside. I must say, gas heat is one of the greatest inventions ever! (garmin data)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 zero zapper...

I couldn't leave my mileage for 2013 at zero for very long. It just wouldn't be right. I had to get out for a run this morning. I just had to. It was a beautiful snowy morning. 20F with a light wind.

I got up around 7:30, grabbed my gear, got dressed, spent too long on dailymile, then headed out for my run.

I had planned out my route ahead of time, so I knew as soon as I left my in-laws' driveway where I was going. I ran up Oak and over to Osage, then north to 30th which I took west to Seneca.

I took the little jog north on Seneca, then continued west on 30th. I crossed the little foot bridge at Glenn and ran on to Everett which was the street where things started to get interesting in my plan. I ran this way and that, doubling back on my tracks at times, so that when I was done with the next mile or two, I had a beautiful 2013 on my GPS display.

That done, I re-crossed the foot bridge, ran back down 30th to Osage and returned to my in-laws' house. I was just short of 10K at that point, so I ran south to 33rd, turned around and ran back till I had that distance. I pressed stop and walked the rest of the way back.

My beard froze quite nicely while I was out and 2013's zero has been zapped. I am happy. (garmin data)