Thursday, January 27, 2011

Treading on Butterflies

Butterflies have been constant companions of mine.  Not the cute yellow flutter bugs or the majestic Monarch, but rather the ones that hatch from cocoons deep in my stomach at just the moment I realize something may go horribly wrong.  The long walk to take a test for which I did not study.  The approach to ask a girl out on a date whom is out of my league.  Lining up for my first marathon with an uncertain ankle.  Peering over the precipice of a sheer granite face. (I realized this week I am not afraid of heights.  I am afraid of falling.  This perspective came to me when I considered why I dislike pull ups.  I am afraid of falling. Figure that one out.)

My butterflies swarm for numerous reasons.  Nerves.  Fear.  Uncertainty.  Anticipation of the unknown and all the perils that my twisted mind can imagine.  These feelings of dread or terror are usually borne of new love, loss of control at work, new and unprepared adventure or by simply moving outside one's comfort zone.

What does the presence of butterflies say about the sufferer?  How does the absence of said uneasiness also define someone?  Does a lack of butterflies bely an iron nerve, or boredom with the task at hand?

To me the nervousness and terror that accompany the swarm represents a fear of failure.  The dreaded "NO".  The unsurmountable obstacle.  The feeling of being "not good enough".  What I discovered is that by removing the opportunity to fail the butterflies are unable to take flight.

Am I advocating staying locked away and not trying to overcome my fears?  To the contrary, I am saying to examine what drives your fear and go the opposite direction.  Set your course to your own greatness.  Resolve that you will best that obstacle, but in your own way.  Smash through and scatter the butterflies to the winds.  If you cannot beat another runner, beat the clock.  If you are unable to go faster, go farther.  If you cannot go farther, at least go and drop any worries about how you look in the process.

When I first stepped into a 5k race ten months ago I was scared.  The first quarter mile was a nightmare.  My feet felt as if they belonged to another body.  I wondered whether I belonged in the front or whether I was more suited to the middle.  Maybe the back of the pack was more realistic.  I had no clue.

Was I fast enough?  Was I strong enough?  Hell, did I even look like a runner? (I hear these questions or self-criticisms online daily.  My thought - stuff it!  Get out there and do whatever you are capable of today.  Any result is one thousand percent better than what you could accomplish staying on the couch.)

I have a better idea of my capabilities now.  My nervousness has been supplanted by reassurance.  With each mile I feel more at home in my own skin.  With each run I feel more comfortable with my own sinew and bone.  And with each race I feel less afraid of what I was and more certain of what I am.  While butterflies once swarmed and flittered around my stomach they now tread under foot (or under VFF to be more precise).  Every step removes self-doubt.  Every stride puts distance between me and my insecurity.  My recent pacing may be due less to running from something but more to running toward something better.  Toward positive self-talk.  Toward appreciating my reflection in a mirror.  Toward breaking the  chains of self-restraint and achieving what I want or need in life.

I don't run to crush those loose butterflies under foot.  That would mean stomping through a run and stomping through life.  That leads to pain and discomfort both physical and emotional.  Rather I glide over those butterflies.  Hopping from one to another staying light and fluid so as not to kill them.  I may need the fretfulness to again remind me that some avenues are not worth exploring.  The swarm is a warning to stay clear of unnecessary dangers.

When I step out my door for a long run I am no longer anxious, except to get my legs churning.  When I step up to the starting line of a race I am no longer lost.  My only challenge is to be better than yesterday, in whatever way possible.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Do you hear the words coming out of my mouth???

Words have meaning.  Mention any topic in the current national political debate and you will see what I mean.  The audience will ascribe its own meaning or interpretation based upon the individual backgrounds or experiences of the audience members.  Once you say something you cannot take it back.  Once you type something anyone has opportunity to read and dissect and parse the words beyond their original intent. 

I am guilty of over analyzing some one's words.  I wrote a recent blog post about my jump to interpret another person's words to find greater meaning or context.  To be honest I did not ask the writer for clarification.  I made an assumption and ran with it.  I do not think I was far off the mark, but I have a different feeling on some of the remarks a few weeks later.

I'm at a different level of my training
The daily miler wrote of being at a different level of training than the "typical" DMer.  This may not be the huge insult I thought it was initially.  We all have different pursuits, motivations and goals.  It is rare to find two "athletes" with the same level of fitness, pace, desire, focus or determination.  And not everyone wants to run a marathon.  But we all want encouragement to keep trying.  My own wife has started running for fitness but has no desire (so she says) to run long or race.  I have to remember that "you" are not me.  Please understand that I am fine with that.  My training does not prevent me from acknowledging your effort or encouraging you along your path.

I have a lot on my plate - need to stay focused
Maybe not "a lot", but I have big goals for racing in 2011.  An online friend isn't big in public displays of resolutions or goal setting.  You can find my goals in print if you care to look but I'm not going to waste space here.  My point is that with time getting short I have to make some things happen.  I will share.  I enjoy taking people along for the ride.  If my posts motivate you or give you fuel for your own efforts then I am happy for you.  If my posts make you think I am showing off or being arrogant then either I have failed or you missed my point.  I have to accept that people will be turned off when they assume I have a "better than you" attitude.  My attitude is really grounded in the idea that I am not gifted.  I have no unique talents.  I have just made my way a little further down the road.

But this is what I hear from some people locked in their own struggles:
  • I can't...
  • My body won't let me...
  • I'm not a...
  • This is torture...
If you have said something above recently I'd like to know why.

I posted something last week to share how I feel when I run.  This has less to do with being fast than being joyful in the moment.  I really do not care what you do (just do something).  I really do not care how you do it (just do your best).  I really do not care how far or how fast you go (just do what you can however you can). The point of the video is to demonstrate how much joy and excitement running gives me.  I still struggle with pain.  I still struggle with fatigue.  I still combat emotional and mental demons.  But I am trying to transcend those demons to something better.

I cannot wait for race season to begin for me on February 5th.  Of course I look forward to competing and pursuing my limits of speed and endurance.  But what I am really anticipating is the opportunity to stand at the finish line and cheer on as many finishers as possible.  Now get out there and give me something to cheer!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Face of Daily Mile

As seen on the daily mile community blog - Jan 18, 2011

When you look into the mirror what do you see?  The question is simple enough yet difficult to answer.

This question came to me as I discussed how to write this post with a friend today.  The subject of our chat was Daily Mile and why we “love” it so dearly.  We all have different reasons for using this website as evidenced by today’s #dailymission (Jan 12, 2011).  Some of the members use the site’s map feature.  Many of the members use the workout log to track all sorts of data including miles traveled and donuts “burned”.  While countless others, like me, use Daily Mile as a social network.  The connections created with other members and posts shared unrelated to exercise amongst us DMers give Daily Mile a life and energy I have not found anywhere else.  The friends I have here may not be “real” in the flesh-and-blood sense of my immediate family or people I encounter daily around town, but the population of Daily Mile is as real and true and open as any people I have ever met.

Someone asked me about the “faces” of Daily Mile. As if a blue ribbon committee were to chisel out the Mt Rushmore of Daily Mile who would make the cut? How do you decide from the thousands of people who populate this site? There are so many stories to consider. There are so many personalities to sift through and so many achievements great and small to recognize.

Picking one person would prove fruitless and probably cause more than a few arguments. Yet I think here is where the beauty of Daily Mile can be found. It has something for everyone, from the seasoned marathoner to the first-time jogger. Even walkers, swimmers, bikers and triathletes have a place here. All you need is a goal you find worthwhile, even if your goal is merely to get off the couch for 30 minutes.

I love how Daily Mile gives a voice to the masses. Each posted workout, note, photo or video is a window into someone's mind. Each post has the potential to reveal a fragment of the person. And these fragments may be pieced together to reveal a truly personal portrait. We present opportunities to laugh, cry, cheer, console, empathize and sit in awe of the human spirit.

Daily Mile is not about exercise alone.  And it has little to do with athletic achievement.  Whether Ben or Kelly realizes it, the mission of Daily Mile is to allow its members to discover themselves and to love themselves.  It enables each of us to see us as we are and to reveal the potential locked within.

After I wrote about my “Prediction Run” on New Year’s Day a reader commented on my blog.  She said that while I often remark on my old self-image as a turtle she sees her “future self”.  She sees in me someone full of confidence and enthusiasm and desire.  She wants to “be” that person.  Her comment reminded me that perspective is powerful.  How we want to see ourselves often sets our course.

The acknowledgement is that life is not always rosy or perfect. Not every run is the planned length or projected pace. Not every workout is pain free or effortless. “Real life” often creeps in and slows us down. Even I wonder at times if that next run means anything. Shouldn't I be doing something more productive with my time and energy? Running does not pay bills. Running does not cook dinner or sort the laundry or get the kids ready for school in the morning. What running does give me is a glimpse into my soul. It provides me with peace of mind no drug can replicate. It is more therapeutic than any session in counseling. Running is my safety valve.

You can succumb to the pressure and give up on your dreams or you can be epic in your goals and ambitions.

What my time on this site has revealed is there is no “face” of Daily Mile.  When I look in the mirror I see myself of course.  I see what I have become through my sweat and toil and efforts in the heat of summer and dead of winter.  I also see what I once was (and maybe still am in some recesses of my mind) and understand that this process is not a solitary one.  Daily Mile is not just about logging workouts or socializing with like-minded people from various points on a map.  It is about unlocking your potential and learning to love yourself. 

There is no single “voice” of Daily Mile.

The common thread of Daily Mile is HEART.

Heart cannot be measured in miles or pace times or race victories. Heart is measured by how much is given in setting and reaching otherwise impossible goals. Heart is measured by the ferocity of the fighter. And after this week there is no underestimating the fight within the Daily Miler.

We fall so that we learn to get up. We struggle so that we learn to overcome. We fail so that we learn to succeed.

I asked one of my dearest friends this afternoon what she sees when she looks in the mirror.  I wanted her to consider what part of her enables her to love herself.  There was no prodding or direction given on my part.  Her answer was that she loves how she does not give up pursuing what she wants; what she deems worthwhile. 

So when you look in the mirror do you see something worthwhile?  I ask because when I consider the face of Daily Mile, I see you.

At the end of the day my mama told me don't let no one break me.
At the end of the day nobody ever could stop me.
At the end of the day you can't regret it if you were trying.
At the end of the day I'm walking with the heart of a lion.
     -Kid Cudi, Heart of a Lion

Thursday, January 13, 2011

what I feel when I run fast

Some of my friends on Daily Mile have commented on my enthusiasm toward running.  I must say that I do enjoy it, do not see it as suffering (unless the bitter wind blows) and enjoy pushing beyond my limits.

To give you an idea of what I feel when I run (especially when I chuck the planned pace and lean into it) I found this clip from one of my all time favorite movies.  It captures the joy I feel when I'm unencumbered by pain or injury or nagging distractions of the world.

Of course you don't have to match my speeds to get the same feeling.  Just be willing push a little harder.  Push a little farther.  And be brave.  You won't know your limits till you push against them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

you canNOT be serious!

Something smacked me across the face Sunday evening and left a bitter taste in my mouth.  We all have reasons for living our lives as we do.  Every person comes to daily mile for something different.  Each of us takes away something different to apply in life.  Whether it is one more mile run, a few seconds shaved off the PR, that last 5 pounds dropped, or to simply hear another voice express the thoughts in my own head.

  • A person questioned the seriousness of Daily Mile.  The idea is that Daily Mile is not for "the serious athlete".  Who said Daily Mile has to be serious.  Or silly.  Or anything other than what you want it to be when you log in at that time.
  • What you discover in exploring the posts of Daily Mile and fleshing out those relationships beyond the pages of the website is a plethora of emotion - joy, pain, suffering, elation, heartbreak, loss, rejuvenation and resurrection.
  • Some friends have dealt with the loss of unborn children.
  • More than a few friends have battled through serious injury to achieve amazing goals.
  • A few are still sidelined by injury, dealing with the mental and emotional toll of not seeing the desired results.  Sometimes "wanting" is not enough.
  • One is wading through the devastation of a crumbling relationship.
  • Another runs in memory of a lost loved one, but sidelined by illness.
  • At least one friend runs alone.  Without support of family.
  • More than a few have made remarkable strides in health and weight loss, simply because.
  • There is the amazing runner burned with Boston and another 4 months of running with a sliver of glass buried in her foot.
  • Some run while struggling with unemployment, or work that is less than satisfying.  Devoid of meaning.
  • A person saw the light leading to better health, only to loss her closest friend.
  • A few struggle with being overwhelmed by life.  Work and family are all-consuming and little time is left for self.
  • And I read several posts crying out over a loss of motivation.  You can be so close to something awesome, only to veer off the track and get lost.
If you recognize any of these people I ask you not mention their names in the comments.  Several people could fit into many of these examples and I would rather not call out someone publicly.  Some are public with their own stories (guilty as charged), or you may have had private conversations and know the details.  If so, send along a few words of encouragement.

The point of all this is to say that while Daily Mile may not be for "the serious athlete", it is a well of serious emotion.  We come for the smiles, the laughter, the tears.  The highs and lows.  The congratulations and the condolences.  Daily Mile is about living your best life possible.

But if you think Daily Mile is not serious enough, you may not understand what Daily Mile is truly about.

PS After reading comments posted to Daily Mile and directly to my blog I am overwhelmed by the passion exhibited by the readers.  Thank you taking time to read and respond.  Use that passion in your workout and no goal will be beyond your reach.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 Goals in Motion

  • 2800mi +/-
  • 3 marathons 
  • as many 5k, 10k & halves as possible within training schedules
  • Summer Solstice night run (of my own making) - approximately 10 hrs, mileage TBD
  • Speed goals 
    • 5mi    30min 
    • 9mi    60min   January 6, 2011 - training run, 9mi/ 57min 33 sec @ 6.24/mi pace
    • 13.1   85min 
    • 26.2   2.55.00
    • BQ @ 3.15.00  February 19, 2011 - MB Marathon, 3hr 9min 20sec @ 7.14/mi pace
    • NYCQ @ 2.55.00
  • maintain nutritional goals
  • continue and expand running blog.
  • run like you stole my children.
  • be moved to excellence everyday.

A Life Out of Balance

Balance.  Do we ever truly find balance in life?  The scales usually tip heavily to one side or the other.  Work life.  Finances.  Justice.  Romance.  Even life and death (In the course of history we're dead a lot longer than we are alive.  No balance there.)  Just as the pendulum swings side to side it is difficult to find and maintain any sort of middle ground.

Balance.  I have thought about "balance" a lot lately.  My wife has addressed "balance" with me in the last few days.  The balance between my "running" life and my life seems loaded overwhelmingly to the "running" side.

Balance.  I started running in college.  Long distance running for PE credit in my senior year.  I also ran occasionally in the ten years after graduation.  But I struggled to find the balance.  Work and family and general malaise conspired to apply the breaks to my activity.  It was physically painful.  The physical pain led to mental exhaustion.  And because of the pressures of "life" I usually retreated back to nothingness.

Wake.  Work.  Home.  Sleep.

I do not mean to say those years were wasted.  I married an incredibly beautiful and caring woman.  She is an amazing mother.  We have two daughters.  They are smarter and prettier and sweeter than anything I could possibly deserve.  I know every parent utters those words time to time, but I believe it.  Watching them grow and develop into their distinct personalities is a daily awakening to the mysteries of life.

Balance.  I have always struggled with balance.  The tendency is to slide along till something grabs hold of me, then go full bore till the need, desire, or novelty of the "thing" wears off.  Running was like that for ten or so years.  Something I needed to do for health.  I just never imagined the power or benefit for my mental health.

Before I took the running class in college my athletic life consisted of one year in Little League baseball, one summer morning of high school football practice and a couple of years of club rugby in college.  I love baseball as a spectator sport.  My limited hand-eye coordination prevented me from ever being a true athlete.  I participated in 3rd grade and also began wearing prescription glasses the same year.  Didn't help.

I thought football would be a great way to meet girls and talked a friend into going out to spring practice.  Those two weeks left me totally unprepared for what was to come the following July.  Spring football does not feature much running.

My first real practice started at 6pm on a Monday in July.  If you ever spend time along coastal south Georgia you know how humid the area can be.  The running was incessant.  I ran some in the months prior.  The head coach even worked with a few of us before classes the previous spring practicing technique.  But I was not ready physically or emotionally for running in pads.  The non-stop motion.  The unrelenting pace.

After I got home and cried from the exhaustion, I bagged up my gear and rode my bike to Coach Willis' house.  I knocked on his door and gave him the pads and helmet back.  I figured seeing him face-to-face was better that returning to the practice field and quitting in front of the team.  Tears streamed down my face as I rode home.

Club rugby was great fun with guys I truly enjoyed.  But it was more of a drinking club than athletic endeavor.  If you ever had opportunity to "shoot a boot" you know what I'm saying.

So for about thirty-six years my life was out of balance toward a sedentary life.

Balance.  When you life long enough the personality traits get set.  Expectations are established.  An unexpected life tends to unfold on the tragic side.  Marathon training became a way to shred the old unbalanced life.  Time to get moving.  Time to cease being still.  Time to cease being silent.  Time to stop hiding from myself and time to enjoy being "me".

It may appear that I am now living a life out of balance.  Too much running.  Too much time writing or talking or thinking about running and all things running.  I have an online community of running friends, people that may not know the full scope of my life, but that know the side I most enjoy developing and sharing.  And a few of these friends have been invited behind the curtain, exposed to more of me than most care to know.  But the trade off is that I have friends now beyond running.  I don't make friends easily and struggle to find common ground with strangers.  Running has opened doors of opportunity to friendship that I have rarely experienced.

Balance.  The concern is what level these new friendships rise to.  Some may think my home life will suffer because of my immersion in this running life.  I see the point.  I share things will runners that non-runners seldom understand.  That bond enables me to share deeper emotions and experiences beyond running.  The fear is that running and the running community with supplant my family and cause me to disassociate myself from wife and children.  Would not be first time a family was fractured due to a life seeking balance.

I don't see the unbalanced life in the now.  The past year is too small a sample set to look for balance.  I see the pendulum swinging for the past 37+ years.  I existed for so long as nothing, not active, without physical or emotional purpose.  Running provides the balance I need emotionally.  The sense of worth and purpose I have with running never surfaced in school or at work.  Despite injury or pain or disappointment, running has always been something to drive me to emotional heights no drug could induce.

Balance.  This new balance (depending on your perspective) has thrown my life sadly out of balance.  Through running and writing I have plumbed the depths of me, searching for what I am about.  I have discovered that I am capable of pushing myself to crazy distances and what for me are unreal speeds.  I have discovered I am capable of expressing raw emotion and an ability to bring a reader inside my head.  The payoff is the feedback from the reader, from the online community.

I have so much to say.  I have thoughts that need to be said out loud.  I feel that someone needs to hear what I have to say.  But there is a cost.  The exposure I is beyond my control.  Anyone can read this.  Of course it is my choice to write and post my thoughts.  Once I publish this post I lose the ability to control who reads it and how it is interpreted.  So you won't know everything.  I have to keep some things inside.  And that is part of the anguish.

Balance.  Life gets in the way so often.  The online community provides something that I do not have elsewhere.  If you don't run, maybe you read my words and aspire to run.  Maybe do not run as far or as fast but aspire to something more based on my example.  If I motivate one person to live a more balanced, active, fulfilled life then every word I write is worth the exposure.  The raw nerves are soothed by the positive feedback and growing friendships.

The renewed sadness comes from learning the cost at home.  Do you share with family the thoughts or emotions shared with runners.  Does your family get it?  Do they care?  Do they feel left out or jealous or envious of your time and thought given to this other circle of friends?

Balance.  The pain is from knowing I lived so long a life out of balance.  An unhealthy life without joy for myself.  No internal pleasure.  Nothing about me to love.  And I now suffer the knowledge that I have shut out people that need me more than ever.  People that may no longer understand me but need the person I have become.  A stronger me.  A more compassionate me.  A more confident me.

The realization is that I am now what I was meant to be.  A husband.  A father of two daughters.  I have figure out how this "me" fits into the life I built with my family and my job, and how "me" fits with the people I brought into my life.

And what I discovered is I need every single one of you.  Andria, my girls and my growing circle of friends.  Balance is like running.  Have to work at it every day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Day Prediction Run

Let me get the rant out of the way first.  I want to finish this post on as long a string of positive notes as possible.

Today's race was a "prediction run".  You predict you expected finishing time and try to finish as close to that time as possible.  Overall winners and age group awards are based on the variance from the prediction to the actual finish.  Example - if you predicted a 40 minute total time for the 5k and finished one second off you will probably be the winner.  This type of race rewards the runner most able to maintain a pace, not necessarily the fastest.  And the rule is that participants are prohibited from using any electronic timing devices - stopwatches, gps, mp3, cell phones, etc.  You "gotta feel it".

I was not a winner today.  My prediction was 44 seconds off of my actual time.  No overall or age group award for me.

You say "but Una, not everyone can be a winner.  Its a little arrogant to expect to winner or place in every race."

Sure.  I concede that point.  But, and its a big Sir Mix-a-Lot "baby got back" kind of but, I was the first finisher.  First.  Finisher.  Overall.

Let that one sink in.

The formerly pudgy turtle was the first finisher in a 5k race and collected no medal or official recognition.

But don't worry about it.  Cos now I'm gonna tell you why the past 48 hours have been the best of my running life and why this was my most enjoyable race every.  I don't need a medal to remember this day.

The runners assembled at the starting line.  Another fellow asked about my Five Fingers.  You can see me discussing the finer points of Five Fingers and Chi Running.  Like I have anything else to talk about.  lol  I heard the starter dishing out the pre-race instructions, excused myself to the front of the pack and set myself to get to work.

My prediction time was not really important to me.  My 5k PR is 18.31, set in October.  I ran a total of 30 miles yesterday and honestly knew that setting a new PR would be a tall order.  But I hoped.  I set my prediction at 18.31.

The starter's pistol fired and we were off.  I took the lead from the start and felt comfortable immediately.  Till the first turn.  The course was a triple loop around a lake at a local shopping center.  Restaurants and shops on one side.  Ballfields on the other.
The were no course markings and most of the course was easy to follow, but the first turn left the sidewalk and went across a footbridge.  I turned to the pack behind me and asked if this is where we turned.  Somebody said "don't know".  I took the turn anyway and led the way.

Immediately I was passed by a man and then a woman.  No worries though.  Still early.  The far side of the loop was hot and calm.  No wind to deal with.  But after the turn and return to the start/finish area there was a strong, cool headwind.  Not great but ok.

The woman fell away before the end of the first lap and I began to close ground on the lead male.  At this point I heard heavy footsteps behind me.  The pack was closing on me.

As we swept through the start/finish area I ditched my hat and shades.  Time to get aerodynamic.

I could see across the lake and realized the field was really spread out.  Didn't know if people were running hard or trying to run easy based upon predictions.  During the second lap I moved into the lead.  "The stomper" was still on my heels.

My effort felt really solid throughout, in spite of the "excessive" mileage yesterday.  And my spirits were high.  "Heart of a Lion" by Kid Cudi was playing in my head.  That song is also the inspiration for my current profile pic.  While in Disney's Animal Kingdom I learned that the male lion hangs at the house all day protecting the pride, while the females hunt.  Guess I was prowling my territory watching for danger.  Ready to strike.

As I approached the "bell lap" I dropped my shirt with my hat and shades.  Was getting really hot (warm.  mind out of the gutter people!) and needed to keep the focus sharp.  I noticed "the stomper" was no longer behind me.  Wasn't sure where he was but I kept my eyes forward.

Now this is where my personality and reason for being on daily mile came out.  As I passed the slower runners I called out "good job", "looking great", "keep going".  A few folks jumped off the sidewalk to clear the way.  Some called back with "way to go" or "man he's fast".  I gave a thumbs up whenever possible.  I want to push others to excel even in my own race.  I want you to have as much fun as I am.  Cos this is fun dammit!

At the final turn I could almost see the finish area.  I peeked back and saw "the stomper" 30 yards behind me.  "Keep the focus and keep the faith".  "This is your race to take."  "Don't slow down."  "Do.  Not.  Puke!"


First finisher.

The second runner was about 25 seconds behind.  I never felt so elated.  The nausea of the final stretch was immediately gone.

I then ran a cool down lap.  Runners still on the course recognized me and understood I was easing back and offered congratulations on a strong run.  After this loop I grabbed a bagel and stopped by the car for my phone.  When I got back to the loop I saw a 9 year old boy struggling along.  He was an overweight little boy and I saw much of myself in this kid.

I headed his way and asked if I could tag along.  He didn't talk much but did not tell this stranger to get lost.  I decided this would be a great opportunity to coach up the little guy.  It was his second race.  He alternated running and walking.  No pushing from me.  Just encouragement when he picked up the pace.  I talked about the importance of breathing.  How he could slow down the mental part of a race like an NFL quarterback just by controlling his breathing.  Slower breath rate means less anxiety and less wasted energy, thus a stronger finish and more enjoyable race.

I left the kid half way around and scooted over a second foot bridge to the assembly area to await the awards.  "The stomper" (I wish I could remember names) and an older fellow from from Rodchester Hills, MI both asked about my race and my Five Fingers.  When I told them I've only run a few years, this was my first top finish, and I still see "the turtle" they each gave me a look of disbelief.  But the older fella gave great advice, some much appreciated praise and small talk about the Boston, NYC and San Diego marathons.

I had a long talk with my wife this evening about my running and home life.  This race and the miles of the past few days is really big (duh!) for me in many ways.  Balance is elusive.  For as frustrating as business is (real estate), every time I get an email or comment about advice or questions or positive feedback I am on cloud nine.  I never imagined the success and connections possible when I took up running as a way to lose weight.  Every time one of you says "way to go" or "you are an inspiration" I carry a little bit my motivation and courage with me.  And I also carry a bit of those who can't run.  Caylee was with me today.  See Sara M.'s profile to learn about this beautiful child.  Today wasn't my fastest.  It was just my best.

Thank you all.  I hope to stay as humble and grounded as possible.  And thanks for accepting me as I am.  You are the true gift.