"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."

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007

More Than A Spark

When I got home from my run last night, I discovered the current issue of Runner’s World had arrived in the mail. And while I’m not a die hard magazine reader, I do enjoy perusing this publication. So last night as I sat at the kitchen table, I opened it up and discovered an inspirational article about an amazing person – Amy Winters.

A life long athlete, Amy ran the Boston Marathon in 1992 for a personal-best time of 3 hours, 16 minutes. Then in 1994 while riding a motorcycle, a car pulled out in front of her. The resulting accident crushed her left foot and over the next three years, she endured more than 25 surgeries. Eventually her left leg was amputated just below the knee.

"I was told in 1994 I wouldn't run again. That lit a spark in me.”

In 2006, she ran the Cleveland Marathon in 3:26.19 and placed 20th overall among 3,399 female finishers. Her time in Cleveland was a world record for female amputees.

Very impressive especially when you read her philosophy on attitude. Amy states matter of factly that her leg is gone and while there is nothing she can do about it, she can control how she deals with it.

I typically like to end a post with a quote and I don’t think I could have found a better one to finish this entry than what follows.

“I am not only trying to do this to prove something to myself, but also to show all people -- able-bodied and disabled -- that there are no limits to what one can do if you put your mind to it. The only limits that we have are the ones we set for ourselves.” – Amy Winters

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Star Trail

Having recently participated in my first trail race, I decided I would re-visit that wonderful experience this evening after work and headed for the Star Trail.

The Star Trail rises 800 feet above the City of Roanoke beginning at the Roanoke River and climbing 1.7-miles UP to Roanoke’s highest point- the summit of Mill Mountain.

Going up was no picnic for me and I found myself having to walk quite a bit but once I got there, the effort was more than worth it. To sit in the forest and enjoy the feel of the cool breeze, the sounds of scampering wildlife and the scents of the damp earth, brings forth a primal sense of intense pleasure which is altogether different from that of the pavement.

I loved everything about it. I wanted to stay there. I didn't want to leave.

But eventually, I did leave. And in doing so, I discovered that descending 800 feet over 1.7 miles is much faster but not without it's own challenges. An unlimited supply of rocks, roots, limbs and holes kept me on my toes so to speak, as I navigated the trail in the day's waning light.

Fortunately I made it to the bottom unscathed and as I climbed into the car and gazed upward, I thought to myself, what a wonderful world.

“What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner” - Sidonie Gabrielle

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Remember

March 22, 1981

I remember …

… it was a cold Spring day which would before nightfall, see 10 inches of fresh fallen snow covering the ground.

I remember …

… the first words I heard that morning were, “my water broke.” Simple words, yet profoundly significant.

I remember …

… witnessing the miracle of life first hand and holding him as he gazed up with a seeming expression of recognition.

I remember …

… the love I felt, how it engulfed me, how it brought overwhelming emotion and unashamed tears of joy.

I remember it all clearly … 26 years ago today.

Happy Birthday Ben.

I love you,


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Glory Days

Another "Spring" like day made an appearance.

Tis beautiful indeed but me thinks March is up to her old tricks again as the local weather soothsayer with his all knowing Viper Radar forsees rain and a high of 45 degrees on the horizon ... but today was beautiful and not being one to waste a perfectly good 65 degree early evening, I put in 4 more miles along the river.

It felt great although my feet and knees doth protest a bit as I sit at this keyboard.

Could this be the reason?

Are my Saucony Trigons done?

Are they destined for retirement?

Have their glory days passed?

I think so my friends ... I think so.

"All good things must come to an end." - attributed to Chaucer (circa 1374)

Monday, March 19, 2007


As the cooler weather again somewhat abated, I ventured out once more to The Wiley for a leisurely post work 4 miler.

It was most pleasant save one disturbingly bizzare sight I inadvertantly happened upon.

Without going into great detail, let me just say this experience reaffirmed my belief that people will indeed surprise you and regardless of how well you may think you know someone, everyone has their secrets.

"Reality's truth is often bizarre." - Anon

Sunday, March 18, 2007

March Madness

During my 6 mile run this morning, I thought about the title of today's post. And contrary to what most may discern from this posting's title, it does not concern NCAA basketball. Don't get me wrong, I love that March Madness. It's the other one which causes me yearly angst.

I speak of course of the March Madness which is the consummate tease.

The one where a mere smattering of back to back 73 degree days causes one to mentally exchange their winter wardrobe for that of shorts, tee shirts and sandals. The one which brings on what seems to be an exponential explosion of Spring's first flowers and the emergence of the first hints of green among the barren limbs of the trees behind my house. The one which brings people out to The Wiley in droves.

The one which lulls us into a false sense of "Spring" security.

And then, BAM, 30 degrees with 25 mile per our winds making it feel like the low 20's ... or BAM, 10 - 12 inches of fresh fallen snow; the real wet and heavy kind ... or BAM, sleet and freezing rain.

My son will be 26 years old on Thursday, March 22nd. It snowed 10 inches the day he was born.

You would think I would learn after all these years but I haven't. Every March when those "nice" days make an appearance, my mind seems to completely forget what hindsight clearly decries as inevitable, i.e. it ain't over till it's over.

Ergo, March Madness.

"There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting." - George Carlin

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tis A Grand Day Indeed

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand. - Irish Blessing

So said Father Tom Miller, on this day when everyone is at least a wee bit Irish, as he recited a prayer before the start of this morning's Shamrock Hill 5K Run.

And as fate would have it, the road did rise up to me us, the wind was at our backs (for the last 1.5 miles), the sun did shine upon our faces, if rain fell, it was far from us and by all accounts, God did hold us in the palm of his hand.

And now that it's done, another great Irish tradition awaits.

Cead Mile Failte!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Wiley

This evening was basically a repeat of yesterday evening, i.e. Ah ... Daylight Saving Time. Except tonight Bill and I met at our old running spot, affectionately known as The Wiley. This is the greenway which runs along the Roanoke River and passes through both Smith and Wasena Parks.

This picturesque setting is a favorite place for Bill and I but as evidenced by the number of people present, we are not alone.

Male and female, old and young, fast and slow catagorized the huge ensemble of runners, walkers, skaters, bikers and variety of canine critters who took advantage of the beautiful evening to gather at and traverse the greenway.
As we ran along it was obvious that the variety of now forming buds will soon fill the trees with foilage as Spring once again usurps Winter's harsh reign, thereby signifying life's continued rebirth.

It's a great time to be living in the Blue Ridge.

And as this transition takes place, Bill and I will be spending many miles together at The Wiley as we prepare for the runs which lie ahead.

See you out there.

“Dip him in the river who loves water.” - William Blake

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shine On

Ah .... Daylight Saving Time ... Sun still shining at 6 pm as I leave from work ... Sun still shining at 6:20 when I pull into my driveway ... Sun still shining at 6:40 when I step back outside in my running clothes ...Sun still shining when I finish about 4 miles.

Ah ... Life is good.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Good Walk Spoiled?

It has been one week since my last run. I have no excuses. It simply is what it is.

But as I traversed 5 ½ miles this morning, I thought of the all the times over the past few years my running partner, Bill and I, have experienced a vacillation in our regimen; often in sync and sometimes independently.

The causes for falling off the wagon so to speak are many and as I ran this morning, the spring like atmosphere led me to contemplate Bill’s other passion (and potential cause for increased vacillation); golf.

If you’ve perused Bill’s blog - Tow Da Line – you know he is an avid golfer. But I know he is not only an avid golfer, but also an exceptional one. And by exceptional, I mean both in terms of his skill at the game as well as his willingness to golf with those with little or no skill, like myself and in doing so, lend his expertise in helping one improve their game.

Golf for me is a very enjoyable exercise even though I consider breaking 100 to be cause for celebrations involving Dom Perignon and a fine Cohiba.

No, the PGA Tour is definitely not in my future but like many, I do have the occasional exceptional shot which keeps the dream alive. And in doing so, keeps me coming back in the hopes that perhaps someday the exception might become the rule.

It is with this in mind I offer the following dissertation penned after a particularly challenging day on the links several years ago.



It goes without saying to step up to a tee box and address a golf ball in the presence of others is to, in a sense, expose and lay bare one’s self for all to see and more importantly, critique. However, the undeniable truth known to all who play or have ever played is that, it is the ball itself, which is the genuine intimidator. This small, seemingly unassuming dimpled orb sits smugly atop the erect tee, silently taunting and jeering as one struggles to dispel the voices of despair that incessantly echo within one’s ears.

As the golfer attempts to complete his or her pre-drive checklist; feet at shoulder width, head down, elbow locked, measured back swing, coiled release and follow through, the object of their obsession continually interjects painful reminders of; the ball swallowing pond to the right, the Black Forest where balls have been known to vanish forever on the left, the sand trap created by a meteor strike and the $896.22 that has obviously been wasted on clubs, lessons, videos, green fees and apparel.

Adding insult to injury, this demonic device will periodically fly in the proper direction, attaining sufficient loft so as to allow it to travel an acceptable distance, thereby perpetuating the illusion that one may actually possess some degree of knowledge about that which one is doing. Of course, it is very likely that whatever smattering of confidence such a shot may have produced, will be immediately and totally obliterated as the second shot will either dribble a pathetic ten feet along with a just excavated boulder sized clump of earth or will instead leap from the sod and fly in a direction that is exactly 90 degrees away from that which was intended. Either result inevitably produces a rejuvenated effort by the ball to further its goal of dominating its opponent to such a degree that what remains is no more than a wretched and dismal mass of poorly dressed goo.

Striving to survive this battle of wits and therefore their sanity, golfers often employ various tactics which are designed to improve their odds of overcoming the ball’s antagonistic attacks. These include wearing a favorite hat or sweater, carrying a lucky ball marker in their left pocket, sacrificially slaughtering a goat prior to beginning the round or drinking volumes of adult beverages before the hour of 10 am.

So why do we play?

Why do we subject ourselves to this abusive, sadistic ritual of self-degradation?

Two reasons, I believe.

The first is the thrill of the occasional good shot produces a sensation which is both euphoric and addictive, not unlike heroin. In fact, if the truth were known, I would speculate that many a 7-Eleven has fallen victim to the unstoppable cravings of a gaudily dressed golfer in need of money for green fees.

And second, in an obscure way, golf provides us an opportunity to restore some degree of balance into our lives by not so subtly reminding us we are about as far from perfect as anything can be.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a goat to slaughter.

“Golf is a game in which you yell "Fore!", shoot six, and write down five” - Paul Harvey

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Explore Your Limits

Today I ran my first trail run - the Virginia Explore Park's Explore Your Limits 10K trail run.

It was challenging. Dodging roots and rock, navigating mud, ascending and descending hills through the woods is a brand new experience for this pavement runner.

And I liked it.

I think I'll do some more of this trail running.

And what a beautiful place to enjoy this experience. The Explore Park is an 1,100-acre facility on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Roanoke VA, which was created by the General Assembly in 1986 as part of a public-private partnership. The Park encompasses an outdoor living history museum, outdoor recreation venues, and natural areas along with miles of trails for runners, hikers and moutain bikers alike.

In addition, Explore Park’s Historic Areas feature a unique blend of early western Virginia eras and cultures. Here you'll find the Totero Village, an authentic glimpse into the life of the Native Americans in this region in the 17th century.

There is also the Frontier Fort, a fortified homestead common to Virginia’s western frontier in the 18th century and from the 19th Century, a farm and farm animals, one-room school, blacksmith shop, working grist mill and Virginia’s most expansive river culture interpretive site.

Explore Park is a living museum dedicated to preserving the early American history which is native to the Blue Ridge. From the recreated structures to the period clad presenters, you'll feel as though you've taken a step back in time - and you'll love it.

If you haven't yet done so, plan to visit soon. Oh and by the way, This guy is holding the starting gun from today's race.

How cool is that?