29 April 2010

Nervous. Officially nervous.

Earlier this week, I posted my plan for the week. It's Thursday evening, and to recap, I've run exactly 4.10 miles and I have the 1/2 marathon in 36 hours. I guess I took tapering to a new level. I tried to make it all work as planned, but no.

Monday - 13 hour day at work, although I did get my run in at lunch
Tuesday - 11 hours at the office and had planned to run when I got home. Instead, did the week's grocery shopping. Somehow going up and down the aisles of Target didn't count.
Wednesday - 345AM wake-up call so I could do my three segment, three time zone same day turn to PHX to bring my mom here. Thanks to some drama with an A320 going mechanical in DEN, that plan nearly got blasted. However, man does it pay to be Global Services with Mother United, or based on the latest rumours, should I say Unitental. They pulled it out of the proverbial flames, got me to PHX, and we got back to ORD early! So no run.
Thursday - 430AM wake-up so I could get into the office for a global conference call. Day ended 12 hours later and an unpleasant commute home. The winds here a living up the "Windy City" moniker tonight and there's just no way I'm going to try and fight the winds and get in a decent run.

So I will run first thing in the morning. Couple of miles to loosen my legs. And then we'll head down to Champaign. As of Monday, I was feeling primed. And now, I am as nervous as can be about my first 1/2 marathon. I've got to get a good night's sleep tonight. That should help to put me at ease. I need to get rid of this nervous thing. Because this is it. 36 hours and counting...

25 April 2010

The week ahead...

First of all, Happy ANZAC Day to my mates in Australia and New Zealand. I'll go on record here saying how much I miss Australia. What an amazing country and I've seen just a sliver of it. Some of the best people are to be found there! Great place.

I digress. This week, oh this week. Here's what's on tap:
Monday - work and a four miler
Tuesday - a day in the office and a four miler
Wednesday - same-day turn to PHX to pick up my Mom and bring her up here. All legs successfully upgraded, thank you, Mother United!
Thursday - a day in the office and a mere two mile run
Friday - leave for Champaign for the festivities associated with the Illinois Marathon
Saturday - the day that's been a long, long time coming. My first 1/2 Marathon. We leave the start line at 7:30AM. Click here to see a video of the course. The host is very Midwestern. So on race morning, I welcome any and all prayers, sacrifices (animal or otherwise, lighting of whatever on my behalf that morning. I'm not too proud to beg!

Seriously, make with the prayers. That being said, I'm really excited. I feel ready for this. I feel like I've prepared as best I can. And here's the ridiculous part...it's six days before the 1/2, a distance I've yet to complete, and I'm giving serious, serious thought to a marathon. So serious that I've picked out the one I'll do - the Indianapolis Marathon. In October. Of this year. Am I crazy?

23 April 2010


I did the following to my left ankle today during a four-mile run at lunch:
Left Ankle, Rolled

I've rolled aforementioned ankle on other runs but this one was a little different. It was instantly tender. I did myself no favors as I continued to run on it. I was 1.25 miles into my run and I was bent on completing it. It didn't hurt that bad and I actually found myself running a little faster (three of the four miles were sub-10 minute miles - color me happy!). Then I got home and it turned dull pain. It's not swelling but it hurts. So it's wrapped, elevated and iced. So I'm working the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) plan as best I can.

I need to run six miles tomorrow and I need to be ready for this 1/2 in seven days, people. If I can't run in the morning, I fear that I will find myself wallowing in self-pity and another kind of roll. This kind:

That wallowing will only lead to another roll in my gut. And I need that like I need a hole in my head. So here's to snapping back first thing in the morning.

18 April 2010


For those who are new to the Den, I'm training for my first 1/2 marathon during the Illinois Marathon. As of today, said 1/2 marathon is in 13 days. I've been training religiously for this thing, thanks to CARA. Yesterday was our longest run yet as a group - nine miles.

In a word, it was awesome (OK, three words but you get what I'm saying). We started at 7:30AM with temps in the low 40s, which was pretty ideal. A couple of our regulars weren't there, so my group leader and I went out a little faster than our normal pace. I'd run last week with a faster group and had managed to keep up but didn't want to stress it on the longer run. We wound up running a faster pace anyway. We headed south on the Prairie Path and it was gorgeous! Spring was evident everywhere and that may have charged the run as well.

The pace was great - sub 10 minute miles for seven of the nine miles and conversational pace the whole time. I didn't feel tired and never got that "By all that's holy, when is this ending?" feeling that sometimes creeps up. What I was able to envision was finishing the 1/2 without shame. As we ran the last mile, I started getting really excited about the race on May 1. It's going to be, dare I say it, fun.

Fun. I never thought I would have equated running with fun, but here I am saying it's fun. It's challenging. It's good for the mind and soul. It makes me happy. It really is a good time. And can I just tell you how much I love my shoes:
Well done, Brooks, well done!

So, I'm having fun with this running thing. Logic and several of my friends say I've got a marathon in me. I'm going to see how I do at the 1/2 before I make that decision. Although the Honolulu Marathon in December or Bermuda Marathon in January has a certain appeal...

14 April 2010

On the anniversary of Apollo 13

On April 13, 1970, the three man crew of the Apollo 13 mission to the moon encountered an unprecedented event - the rupture of an oxygen tank that damaged the spacecraft and led the crew and the team on the ground to race to find a way to bring the crippled craft back to earth. The incredible story has been chronicled in book and in Ron Howard's excellent 1995 film, Apollo 13.

It's a fascinating story and an amazing testament to what it meant to America to win the race to space. So I was most honored last night to attend the 40th anniversary celebration for the Apollo 13 mission and its crew last night at the Adler Planetarium. In attendance were the two surviving members of the crew, Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, along with several members of Mission Control.
Lovell, Sweigert, and Haise - the crew of Apollo 13

There were other astronauts there including Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. What an incredibly exclusive club he is in! Imagine my delight when I learned I would be sitting with him at dinner. He's a very private, quiet man but could not have been nicer. I was simply in awe of him, realizing that he had walked on the moon, and the first one to do it, to boot.

As I spoke with Mr. Armstrong and saw these other astronauts and crew, who are now all in the late 70s and 80s, I couldn't help but wonder what the future of space exploration is for our nation. Are we equipped now to do what they did then? It was fascinating to hear each of them recount what they experienced during that mission and how they kept their cool and were so focused on making this NASA's "most successful failure."

What they did 40 years ago was a spectacular success. I was honored to be there last night. It was a night to remember. I know I'm going to be watching "Apollo 13" this weekend. So should you.

12 April 2010

Reprehensible and stupid - a rough combination

Dictionary.com defines the word reprehensible in the following way: "deserving of reproof, rebuke or censure; blameworthy"

It defines the word stupid as follows: "lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull; characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness; foolish; senseless; tediously dull, inane, pointless; annoying or irritating; troublesome; in a state of stupor; stupefied"

I like dictionary.com. It lacks one thing that real dictionaries have - the occasional picture that helps to define the word. For those two words, the following picture easily and perfectly defines both words:
I give you Mr. Reprehensible and his partner Miss Stupid

If you don't know who these two geniuses are, you haven't been watching the.best.reality.show.on.TV - The Amazing Race. While I won't recap this season here, I will say I was tired of these two the minute they showed up in the first episode. They have demonstrated time again why the gene pool filter should kick in forcing some people to never procreate. To say they are just a bit dim would be an understatement. I can forgive stupid, but what has been most unforgivable has been the hate they have spewed the entire race. Caite (who spells like that? Seriously.) is a former pageant princess who made an epic error in a pageant a few years ago and she's never recovered. She and her dim, tragically dim, boyfriend are also packing a pretty big case of homophobia. They've had it in for another team, Carol and Brandy, from the moment Phil, the show's host, yelled "GO!" Caite has referred to them as the 'lesbians' ever since and each time she says that word, it came out more and more venomously. You could feel the hate oozing out of her. Hardly pageant like behavior, wouldn't you say. Last night, they took the hate to new heights, managing to get rid of their nemesis. Fine. It's a game. But enough with the hate.

In watching this season of the "Race" and the antics of these two people, I realize how tired I've grown of hate. It makes for some serious ugly. It's tiresome. It's unpleasant. I'm over it.

Earlier I mentioned Caite's epic error in a pageant...well, here it is:

It speaks for itself. And sadly, so does she.

10 April 2010

My 316th Post

Today marks the 316th post I've made here in the Den. Is there any significance to this number for me? No, nothing. I mean it's not like any of us is going to live to the ripe old age of 316 (unless we suddenly become Methusaleh-like and I just don't see that happening). I can't think of much that 316 represents. I'd like to point out that I've never driven on this stretch of road numbered 316:

Come to think of my driving experience in Minnesota, it's limited to a drive of death around Rochester in April during an ice storm. Yes, you read that right an ice storm at the end of April. What else for 316? I got nothin', really nothing.

05 April 2010

Food News - Good and Bad

Yesterday was a glorious day as we celebrated Easter. Wonderful spiritual instruction, gorgeous weather, and a delicious dinner surrounded by family. Ham done just right, potatoes, killer salad, asparagus, and amazing homemade wheat rolls. It was a good,good day for food.

And the good kept coming this morning. A reader of the blog read my earlier post lamenting my inability to find Lyle's Golden Syrup. On that subject, I took that search to the city on Friday and came up empty, so I was once again contemplating a haul to London. Anyway, this intrepid reader let me know that amazon.com has started selling this stuff. So first thing this morning, I logged on and searched for Lyles and within 30 seconds, my order was confirmed. To say I was delighted would be an understatement. Now I just have to wait patiently for the order to arrive. If all goes according to time, I should be making English flapjacks this Saturday. This, my friends, is very, very good news on the food front.

And now the bad news from the food front. It's a little known fact that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken briefly when she was in high school. This was long, long before they changed their name to KFC in a vain attempt to hide the fried nature of their menu. She treats this experience very much like a veteran with PTSD. She barely speaks of it and the very sight of a KFC invokes near panic. If you ever want to have her freak, just ask her about the gravy on the mashed potatoes. That is a good time. The mere suggestion of stopping there elicits a very negative reaction. So we've pretty much never been there. That being said, I've always eyed KFC with some curiosity. I now look at it with revulsion. Why? Take a look at their newest product:

Yep, that's two pieces of fried chicken replacing the buns on a cheese and bacon sandwich. Just looking at it makes me kind of sick. I'm fairly certain that absolutely no good can come from it. To me, this is yet another sign of food armageddon. Like I said, this one was bad news on the food front.

Have I tried this? Nope. Will I? Nope. I'm no food puritan, not by any stretch of the imagination. But this one I just can't do.

04 April 2010


It's Easter Sunday. On this day, the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and I am grateful to be a part of that celebration. I love this day. I know He lives and am so thankful for the hope that this knowledge, this testimony, brings. He does live and He loves us, even me. I know that. I'm grateful for the hope that this knowledge brings. This clip says it well:
He lives!

The words of the hymn "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" are so powerful:

I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living Head.
He lives to bless me with his love.
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to bless in time of need.

He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives, my kind, wise heav’nly Friend.
He lives and loves me to the end.
He lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing.
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
He lives and grants me daily breath.
He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare.
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”
He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”

May your Easter be a blessed one.

03 April 2010

Pardon our dust

So I'm trying to tweak this blog with zero, and I mean, zero, HTML experience. It may very well end in disaster. Thanks, HJ, for the consult. It's gotten me started. In the meantime, please be patient if things look maladjusted for awhile, or until I run out of patience with the attempt. In the meantime, here's a shot of us under the "Bean" from Friday's day in the city:

I like that my block head is hidden by my iPhone. Thank you, weird sculpture/fun house mirror, for not making my head look freakishly large.

By the way, any of you with any kind of further HTML skills and would like to do a consult on the potential blog overhaul, I welcome the feedback.