My First Half

Yesterday, I ran my first official half marathon. I was in the midwest visiting some friends and was talked into running. It didn’t take much convincing. I have some tremendously supportive friends. One has taken up true barefoot running and sports a kilt whilst doing so. He has completed the Leadville 50 miler. Another completed her third half marathon yesterday and has finished a 25k trail run. The third has completed several half and full marathons as well as the Bataan march. Each has motivated me in some way. Well, yesterday the four of us set out on a journey and all four of us finished. The course weaved through neighborhoods and many spectators lent their support cheering, clanging triangles and cow bells. Each lap I looked forward to the next group smiling and cheering. This kept up my motivation and kept a smile on my face as I pushed on. For the first four miles, I ran along side a guy juggling as he ran. Near mile ten, my hip flexors were twenty kinds of upset with me. We had a conversation and my hip flexors agreed to hang in there. With each turn of the course, runners continued to encourage one another. I had a small band maintaining pace with me at the last mile. I kept spreading the encouragement as we neared the finish. I met with my three friends at this point and it propelled me to cross that finish line. Motivation kept me going. I considered stopping to walk during the event however, belief and faith as well as hope carried me and lifted me. At the finish, a man placed a medal around my neck. It occurred to me that I really did complete the run. What I really wanted was the reflective space blanket. I have watched so many runners over the years walk around with the silver colored blankets and that’s what I wanted. I was not hypothermic. It just brought a sense of accomplishment. I stretched as I promised my hip flexors I would do. Then I set out and linked up with each of my friends on various portions of the course. I have lived in Iraq and in Afghanistan. I have spent a fair amount of time having rockets, mortars, and road side bombs disrupting my days. Well, yesterday I did not have that. Yesterday, my only challenge was myself.

Today, I feel like a zombie and will continue to stretch. Bits and pieces of my body I’ve never known to exist have spoken up and voiced their complaints. I am using this as an opportunity to continue toward my goal of competing in a triathlon in 2013. Don’t tell those achey bits and pieces that very soon I will be back at it, barefoot.

Heartland-White as Snow

I drove to Memphis. I have made this trip many times each year growing up. My grandparents are getting older as are all of us and history is held with them. I loaded up several days ago and made a day trip of it to visit family. There was no snow on Christmas nor on Boxing Day at my folks home. As I headed out on the nearly deserted highways in our heartland, the grass began to become sketchy with bits of white that later progressed to a light blanket. Drifts of snow smacked against the sides of trunks and clung to limbs of trees. I felt a smile develop on my face.

I cannot recall ever seeing snow on a previous journey to Memphis. The U2 song Heartland sums up the emotional feeling and conjures up thoughts of a warm orange setting sun as it spreads across the land.

The land is perpetually moist down in the low lands. The rich soil that spreads across many counties in all directions around the Mississippi River was being kept moist again this visit as a fresh blanket of snow nestled the farmland. This brought to mind another song from U2 titled White As Snow. This song discusses youth and purity. As I listened to radio reports of the school shootings in Connecticut, I prayed for the children and those families whose holidays will forever be changed.
In an online news report from Reuters,
“Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said he would form a commission to make recommendations on school safety, mental health, and prevention of gun violence. Malloy, who toured the new Sandy Hook school, wants the panel to report to him by March 15 while the state legislature is still in session.
‘We don’t yet know the underlying cause behind this tragedy, and we probably never will,’ Malloy said in a statement. ‘But that can’t be an excuse for inaction.'”
I am not proposing any grand ideas of what could have been done differently or changing any laws. One thing the mainstream media has neglected to discuss is that evil does exist in this world. Evil is what motivates one person to outright kill and murder innocent children. This event was not about self defense in which the shooter was trying to protect himself. Simply put, it was an evil act.

Our nation continues to try to become more “politically correct” and continues to attempt to separate God from our lives. We are becoming more and more about self gratification; we are more about if it feels right and pleases us then we should do it at the expense of all others and most importantly God.

I am no priest, rabbi, pastor, nun nor deacon. I am no angel. I have made my share of mistakes. However, I pray that we renew our faith as a nation. That we may all become white as snow.

God Bless.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/01/04/usa-shooting-connecticut-idINDEE90301920130104

Cacophony

Today has been a mixed day. I shall emphasize the positive aspects. I met up with several friends, folks I have admired and worked with several years ago. Having planted seeds of inspiration years ago, one inspired me to return to school. Like a professional farmer, he repeated that sewing process again, today. Fertile soil. It’s important to surround ourselves with people who encourage us and challenge us. Likewise, it’s important to encourage others to reach higher.

Someone I once supervised wanted to return to school. His goal was to become a physician assistant. I wrote a letter of recommendation and he was accepted. I received a photo this week of his graduation. I am so proud of him. Like all of us, he needed a chance. He had the ability within him. Sometimes, we all need that encouragement. The seeds were scattered and sewn into fertile soil.

Today, someone returned that favor to me. My mind is spinning, thinking, contemplating. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason and that God places us where he wants us. We may not always know why at the time, however if we remain quiet and open, He will reveal it at the right moment. Like fertile soil, it may stink a bit, however will produce abundantly.

I did not run today. Recently, someone introduced me to an app called Zombies Run. I have found that I have a renewed thrill with running. My times have improved. Though I’m not really being chased by zombies, I can picture a growling horde moving my direction as I pick up the pace and complete the missions. Merriam-Webster describes a cacophony as a harsh or discordant sound. (http://i.word.com/idictionary/cacophony) What ever the motivation, it is important to reach higher and to improve aspects in our lives. Be that the motivation is positive or negative, I’ve heard that we can all serve as examples.

I decided this year to train for triathlons. I came close to death several times during 2012. I was angry for a while. With prayer and forgiveness, I decided to focus that energy and anger into improving myself. I began cycling and improving my running. Next, I will incorporate swimming into my weekly exercise.

I want to share some of my fertile soil with you. I ask you do the same. Reach out and encourage others to improve their lives as well. We all have room for improvement. Whether the storm clouds are on the horizon with rain or the sun is shining, it’s all for the better. We just need to plant the seeds.

God bless. Make it fun.

Twinings

The cool wind glides through my hair as I deeply inhale. A sharp sensation injects my lungs and I cough out an exhale. The sun shining on my face is deceptively warm against the harsh winter sky. My ears and nose wish to hide, to seek solace inside somewhere warm.

The holidays are upon us. I cherish this time with family and friends. As well, I appreciate the time for exercise and on occasion, the solitude.

This is the first entry for a blog, my blog. A chance for the thoughts I embrace whilst swimming, biking, running, hiking, canoeing, climbing, etc., to be captured in prose. The thoughts shall be given a chance to take shape and to be shared. I wish you the best in all of your endeavors. Make it fun.

History/trivia: (I understand that the tea company Twinings has had the longest continuous use of a logo since the 1700s. Just food for thought). Cheers.

Merry Christmas. God bless.