"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Climb Every Mountain

This morning Bill and I revisited our old familiar running route – the greenway along Willey Drive and the Roanoke River.

It was the first time we have run together in a while and I found it fitting we should do so along this course where we shared many a pre-dawn run while training for the Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon.

A light misting of rain filled the sky but the temperature was moderate so overall, the running conditions were just fine. As we proceeded along our well known route, I began to think of what awaits tomorrow morning;

The run ↑ UP ↑ Mill Mountain.

Using the U.S. Track and Field website’s route mapping feature, reveals this little jaunt to be an approximate 5 mile climb of nearly 1100 feet. And while it might not be Mt. Everest, I’m pretty sure it will prove to be a daunting challenge.

I’ll let you know how we fare.

“Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

Saturday, December 30, 2006

And Then There Were Three

I went for a short 3 mile run this morning.

Thought I might do more when I started but didn't feel it today.

Have battled a bit of a cold for several days and am a bit fatigued from the fight so considering the circumstances, persevering for 3 miles is okay by me.

I'm still on for the annual run UP Mill Mountain on New Year's Day!

“Without perseverance talent is a barren bed” - Welsh Proverb

Friday, December 29, 2006

Reflections on 50

Turning 50 isn’t what it used to be.

Or maybe it only seems that way because this past July, I did so.

I remember as the day of reckoning neared, I felt no undue apprehension; no obsession with negative self-evaluation; no sense of pending doom and gloom. Instead a certain degree of excitement filled my days as the count down timer on my Google homepage kept me abreast of the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds remaining until I arrived at the beginning of my brand new decade.

As the days and weeks passed, I began to view the increasing lines in my face and my graying hair in a different light. The words distinguished and stately faintly echoed somewhere in the far regions of my consciousness. When the need for new glasses arose, I chose a frame style reminiscent of those worn by my father for my new progressive lens bifocals. And at some point, I considered smoking a pipe.

I was embracing my fifty-ness with open arms.

When the day finally arrived, a few friends and family members gathered with me to help celebrate my milestone. Those yet to cross this threshold of time showered me with the usual array of gag gifts; a box of Depends, some Rogaine, a walker, etc., while the over 50 contingent simply looked on with that recognizable, all knowing expression which says both, “It’s really not a big deal” and “Boy, I wish I were 50 again.”

My wife’s sister and husband gave me $12.50, the exact amount needed for an AARP membership. I promptly mailed it in.

My two adult children called to wish me well and in doing so, uncomfortably uttered the words old man no fewer than a dozen times.

And my college freshman (step) daughter assured me I didn’t at all look 50.

She’s really sweet.

Not long afterwards, I went for my obligatory physical examination and received a clean bill of health. This included the welcome news that I would not be subjected to the ever so humbling experience of another colonoscopy for 10 more years.

Words alone cannot adequately express my gratitude for this revelation.

And so as I look back over the course of time since my birthday, I realize I didn’t feel 50 then, nor do I now. In many ways in fact, I feel better than I have at any other time in my life.

For example in reaching this point, I’ve discovered there is either less stress in my life to contend with or dealing with it more effectively is simpler. Either way, it’s a win.

At 50, parental responsibilities, fiscal concerns and the concept of time are vastly different from when I was a younger man.

And physically, I’ve never been fitter.

Six years ago, I became a runner and since July I’ve run two half marathons. And even though my favorite running shirt states “In my mind, I am a Kenyan,” I haven’t set any speed records.

But I have finished.

And I intend to continue finishing in 2007 as a full race calendar awaits. This could be the year I run my first marathon, or triathlon, or ultra.

Who knows?

After all, I’m only 50.

“Age Doesn't Matter Unless You're a Cheese” - Kathryn and Ross Petras

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Blacksburg Classic

Having dropped the entry form into the mail while in route to work this morning, my next race is now indelibly etched upon the calendar.

Sponsored by the Blacksburg Striders, the 22nd annual running of the Blacksburg Classic 10 Mile & 5K Run will be held on Saturday, February 24th and Bill and I will be there for the 10 miler.

Both routes are on rolling courses through Blacksburg VA, near the Virginia Tech campus and utilize residential roads as well as a local greenway, the Huckleberry Trail. (See above photo.)

Fortunately for me, I celebrated a Fleet Feet Christmas as Beth found everything I could possibly want and/or need relative to running within the confines of those four walls. (Excluding the way cool Garmin Forerunner 205 which she ordered on line.) From a much needed reflective vest to warm winter running apparel and new socks, I am pretty well set until spring when I will need to replace my shoes.

As a special surprise, she also framed my Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon Triple F - finisher’s certificate, finish line photo and finisher’s medal.


“Only think of two things - the gun and the tape. When you hear the one, just run like hell until you break the other.” - Sam Mussabini

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas The Morn Before Christmas

‘Twas the morn before Christmas, when all through the streets
A smattering of cars, I did happen to meet;
Filled with anxious faces of those not yet done,
They off to the malls and I off on a run;

I set out in earnest and down Grandin I sped,
While visions of a Garmin danced in my head;
Clad in my Under Armour, and Fleet Feet cap,
I settled my pace and followed my map,

When off in the distance there arose such a clatter,
I picked up my speed to see what was the matter.
Crossing Memorial I flew like a flash,
And on past the firehouse I continued to dash.

The sun of the morn on the pavement below
And 60 degree temperatures guaranteed no snow,
But what to my sweat filled eyes should appear,
But a beat up old pickup with no second gear,

With a harried little driver, so tense and distraught,
I knew in a moment no presents he’d bought.
More rapid than eagles his curses they came,
As he called his poor truck a bevy of names;

‘You Bastard, you Lemon, you Junk Pile and Heap!
I should dig a big hole and bury you deep!
Off to the stores! Off to the mall!
Now start! damn you start! Or Triple A I will call!’

In a panic he reached and jerked the glove box handle,
Knocking away a flashlight, some maps and a candle;
And with rage and a match, he held up the title;
When suddenly the old truck, began to idle.

His eyes - they now twinkled! His dimples how merry!
He threw it in first and left in a hurry.
Speeding on to the mall for his last minute shopping,
Hoping his truck had no thoughts of stopping.

I stood there and watched as he faded from sight,
The smoke from his exhaust obscuring my sight;
Grateful that I, share not his ill fate;
Of having to shop at such a late date.

For fortunate am I during the holiday spree,
As Beth does the shopping, wraps the gifts and trims the tree;
In addition, the cooking and the halls to bedeck;
All I have to do is hand her the check.

So as I began once again to finish my run;
I thought to myself, I am the lucky one.
To have such a friend, a lover and wife,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Good Life!

(My humblest apologies to Clement Clark Moore.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

It Is What It Is

Today marks yet another unseasonably warm day for the middle of December. It is projected to reach nearly 70 degrees! And while I’m not complaining, I do find it disturbingly odd … in a Twilight Zone-ish sort of way.

Perhaps this foreboding sense of gathering gloom is because I happened upon War of the Worlds on HBO last night. This of course is Stephen Spielberg’s adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic story of the same name. This eerily realistic tale of alien invasion was made all the more frightening as its starring role was played by Tom Cruise, whose bizarre behavior in recent months has led many to conclude that he is in fact, an alien himself.

Nevertheless, the weather is what it is. Regardless of how good, bad or bizarre, it brings what Mother Nature deems appropriate. And if she elects to offset today’s mildness with tomorrow’s bitterness, then so be it.

I’ll still be out there, dressed appropriately and keeping a sharp eye peeled for tentacle laden pods and sofa hopping Tom Cruises.

Five miles today.

“There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting” – George Carlin

Sunday, December 17, 2006

An Epiphany

My running partner Bill called me Saturday and during the course of our conversation it became apparent to both us that our collective motivation and focus regarding training, is directly proportional to having set a goal.

What a surprise!

Of course we both knew this about ourselves. We, like many people merely tuck away information such as this in those dark and dusty corners of the brain where it often lays hidden and obscured for indeterminable amounts of time.

Modern science has yet to ascertain the cause of either this phenomenon or the reasons for the periodic re-emergence of these personal postulates. However, the initial epiphany like effect of these seemingly sudden revelations, is a given.

So now that we have once again embraced “Know thyself”, the profound adage spawned by the philosophy of Socrates, we’re back on track.

The Goal: The Blacksburg 10 Miler
The Date: February 24, 2007
The Training: Commences January 1, 2007 (with the Star City Striders annual run up Mill Mountain)

I got a jump start today with a 5 miler.

“Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power” - Seneca

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Father's Pride

I returned from Florida Saturday night and left again Sunday morning for Boone North Carolina. This one day trip was very special as I made this journey in order to attend my son’s college graduation from Appalachian State University.

Ben will be 26 years old in March and was therefore one of the oldest members of his graduating class but unlike many who finish college at an older age, his completion was not due to taking five or six years to complete a four year degree.

He spent the first four years after high school serving in the United States Marine Corp and in doing so, grew up. In the process, he developed the self discipline and determination required to see him through the collegiate phase of his life. Attending full time, including summers, Ben earned his degree in three years and I am immensely proud of him and his achievement.

Many people helped him along the way; my wife and I, his mom and her husband, other family memebers and Garrett, the special woman in his life.

But he deserves the real credit because he set his sights on his goal and never lost sight of it.

To celebrate, I ran 6 miles this morning.

Congratulations son!

Love you,


“The education of the will is the object of our existence.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Florida In December

Among the many pleasant activities enjoyed while on vacation in Florida was being able to run in what I, a non-Floridian viewed as pristine December weather.

Sunday December 3rd – 3 miles
Monday December 4th – 3 miles
Tuesday December 5th – 3 miles
Thursday December 7th – 5 miles
Friday December 8th – 3 miles

This was good for many reasons not the least of which was the vast quantities of food consumed and the fact that while on vacation, the clock always indicates it’s beer-thirty.

“No one needs a vacation more than the person who just had one.” - Anonymous

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Drumstick Dash - Post Race Report

Given the immense success of the inaugural running of the Drumstick Dash, it seems an update is in order.

Total Participation:
Over 1550 runners and walkers
Over 100 volunteers
Over a dozen musicians
One Turkey

Kevin Spencer – Official Mascot

Total Money Raised for the Rescue Mission:
Over $100,000.00

Significant Finishers:
Beth Anne Woodward - my (step) daughter
2nd Place Finisher 15 – 19 Year Old Age Group
17th Place Overall Female
Finishing Time: 23:32

As a runner who has participated in numerous events, I know staging this race was no small undertaking. The sheer size alone made it the largest race ever held in our city … but it was managed flawlessly. Everything from the packet pickup, course layout, water stations, entertainment and post-race festivities were extremely well organized and went off without a hitch.

Lee Clark of the Roanoke Rescue Mission said, “People wanted two things. They wanted something to do with their family, and they wanted to help. People didn’t need to collect pledges from 30 of their friends; all they had to do is show up pay the entry fee and have fun.”

And that’s just what we did.

“The secret of success is constancy of purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli