30 June 2010

Motivation, I need some

I'm in a running funk. I can think of no other way to describe it. Since running this past Saturday in the oven that is Las Vegas, I have been gutted when it comes to my training. My work schedule has been awful this week and that's made it very challenging, but not impossible. I am in the middle of training for another half-marathon and I am spent. I don't think it's so much physical as it is mental. I am in desperate need of motivation here. Maybe this will work...

Who am I kidding? I mean I like the way running makes me feel. I like what it does to my mind. I just don't get why I am in the funk that I'm in right now. I have got to get out of it. Otherwise, I'll turn into this again:
Cover your eyes!

May this never happen again. So, readers, toss me some motivation. What works for you? Would love to hear it.

27 June 2010

From the CO President's Club in IAH

I've been a bit remiss in posting this week. A lot of things going on and had a weekend trip thrown in and I'm now on my way home from that trip. I'm in Houston (IAH) awaiting my delayed connection to ORD. Delayed, Chicago...are there two words that are more synonymous? I dare say no. Good thing I've got President Club access and can enjoy their free wifi and never-ending supply of Fritos (time to up the quality on the snacks, that's all I'm saying).

I'll be glad to get home. We're still down a kid in the Den. CAL got home yesterday from, and I quote, "the best week of my life." The Boy left yesterday for two weeks and he's already having, and I quote, "a blast." He's also already burning through the minutes on his pre-paid cell phone that we got him for his trip. Should I be concerned that my children seem to have a much better time when they are away?

Maybe I can ponder that nugget on the flight home. That is of course if I don't get distracted watching World Cup on the live TV that Continental has. Well-done on that in-flight entertainment enhancement, Continental, well-done!

23 June 2010

"Oh the humidity!"

With all due respect to Herbert Morrison as he gave the live play-by-play of the Hindenburg as it landed (well, crashed) in 1937, all I can say is, "Oh the humidity!"

While not as epic as the humidity and heat combo platter in Houston or Miami, we are in the throes of a heat and humidity fiesta that has made being outside pretty much awful. Running in it is a test of wills, to say the least. I ran last night and did speedwork with my group. It was 91 degrees and the humidity was pounding. It made speedwork more like slow work. I ran again this morning at 5AM and did some hill work at the end of my three-miler and I pretty much came home as sweaty as the guy/missing link in this picture:

No wonder Ben Stiller is in full repel mode!

It's like being back in Miami again. Feels like I'm running in the deep end of a heated swimming pool. Ugh...and I can hear the thunder rolling right now. More thunderstorms. More heat. More humidity. And maybe a tornado warning. Midwest summers...they're never dull.

20 June 2010

A melancholy Father's Day

It's a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon, one of those that makes living in the Midwest awesome. Another awesome part of the day - Brazil won its match against the Ivory Coast in World Cup play. Some fine fake injury drama on the pitch too during the match made it fun to watch.

The day dawned early as I had church meetings starting at 6AM. I was out of the house before the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and the Boy were awake. We connected later at church. Our service focused on the love of our Father in Heaven and I spent a great deal of the meeting thinking about His love and the tender mercies He has shown me and my family. I could not help but think of my late father and the love always showed me. This is the first Father's Day since his passing last September. This realization is where the day's melancholy kicked in. I miss him and will miss not talking to him today, to wish him a happy Father's Day and to once again thank him for all he did for me. I'm most grateful that we had those conversations while he was living and that I don't feel like things were left unsaid. They weren't. I'm glad we had the relationship that we did and I'm most grateful to know that our relationship has not ended. It's just "on hold" until we are joined together again. And we will be, of that I am certain.

So that sense of melancholy is still hanging around, to be honest. The girls are together in Utah and I'm missing the Highnesses. But the melancholy is offset by the other events of the day. When I got home from my post-church meetings, I was told to go take a nap. So up to bed I went and shortly thereafter, I got my belated breakfast in bed. Vanilla scones. Pretty darn excellent. And then it was time to read the Sunday New York Times with one eye while watching World Cup out the other. And now I'm getting psych'd for dinner - spicy pasta and shrimp with red velvet cupcakes for dessert. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is nothing that the cupcake can't do. They are awesome.

So, while I'm a bit melancholy, I'm also know I've been blessed by tremendous examples of fatherhood in my late father and late father-in-law and in the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML's stepfather, Paul. I'm grateful for those examples and they all make me want to be a better father to my children every day. I am so proud of our Lady of BYU, CAL, and the Boy. It's an honor to be their dad. I am grateful for that privilege.

19 June 2010

Weekend without the kids

So we got another peek into "empty nesting" over the last couple of days. CAL left to hang with Our Lady of BYU earlier in the week and the Boy has been gone since Friday morning at a church youth conference. He gets home later tonight. So what have the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML done?

- Saw "Toy Story 3" on Friday. It was absolutely incredible. It was pretty much perfection - from the story to the animation to the laughter...it really was perfect. We were the only couple in the theatre without children. That was kind of funny.
- I ran nine miles with the group this morning. Way more manageable today.
- I redeemed a couple of gift cards and added several more books to the home library. While on that trip, I picked up this gem:
Maple-Bacon Cupcake
Let me just say this thing was awesome. The cupcake itself was a maple-infused vanilla, with a maple buttercream frosting, topped with a crispy piece of sweet, sweet bacon. It was amazing. Kudos to the folks at Sugar Monkey Cupcakes for baking this thing up. Loved, loved, loved it. It was all I could do to not go back and buy a dozen.

- More errands. We went to an over-the-top kitchen and bath store to pick out fixtures for the upcoming redo of our Mike Brady designed demon kitchen. Umm...who would pay several thousand dollars for a sink? So after that trip into Unreality World, we were off to Home Depot, where as usual, no one was particularly helpful, but that was fine. Although kudos to them for hiding their kitchen sink aisle and turning it into a sink version of "Where's Waldo."

So in spite of not having the kids around, we are both pretty tired. Quiet night on the horizon. Maybe a couple of hours of World Cup recaps. Or maybe we'll purge some of the lame stuff on the DVR. Good times.

16 June 2010

The One Summer Blockbuster I'm Really Eager to See

So far, I've seen exactly one of the big summer "blockbuster" movies. That one was the fourth installment of the Shrek series and quite frankly, it was not particularly awesome. And there's not been a lot in the previews that's forcing me into the theaters this summer. Except for one movie and it opens this Friday, June 18th. I speak of course of "Toy Story 3."

As a solidly middle-aged father of three where even my youngest is out of the target kid demographic for this film, I am all kinds of excited to see it. I can watch the "Toy Story" films over and over again. The story lines are crisp, funny, and are not the usual maudlin Disney flotsam and jetsam - thank you, Pixar for raising the bar. Although the Disney Parent Killing Machine is in place here (as usual, one parent is M.I.A. - so, boo, Pixar, for not raising the bar on this one).

Here's the trailer:

I'm not to proud to admit that there are things in these movies that have always made me remember that I don't have a heart of stone (although I still stand firm on my negative position on Valentine's Day). I cried in during the first ten minutes of "Up" and this scene/song from "Toy Story 2" still gets me:

Now usually for me, Sarah MacLachlan is the musical equivalent of nails screeching across the chalkboard. Not here. Maybe it's because I see so much of my girls' growing up in this song. Always gets me.

So who knows what will get me in the third movie. I don't care. I can't wait to find out.

13 June 2010

Another running milestone

Running milestones are many - a PR in a 10K, or a half, or finishing a first marathon. Others include unpleasant chafing, bloody nipples, gastrointestinal drama, or the pukes. I've hit a lot of these milestones and hit another one yesterday during the weekly CARA group run.

We were running eight miles or six miles for the novices. While it was cloudy and appeared cool, stepping outside told a different story. The humidity in the air was so thick you could slice it. Seriously. It was ugly but we headed out. First mile was fine - about a 10:10 pace, but somewhere in the second mile, my stomach made it perfectly clear, it was not happy with conditions inside and out. I immediately started to dial down the pace but before I knew it, I was off the trail, and hunched over, inviting the yogurt I'd had early to move out. And then, like the fool, it was back to the trail to catch up with the group. Got to mile three and then brought the last of the group back in. I threw in the towel at six miles. Have to admit we all kind of looked like the walking wounded as we gathered at our finishing point. I certainly felt like it.

I got so, so spoiled last summer. We had hardly any humidity to speak of and the temps were so mild. This summer is not starting off that way by any stretch. The humidity has been brutal. However, it still beats running in the dry heat of the desert. I ran nearly four miles on Thursday in Las Vegas and even going out at 545AM, it was already 90 degrees and miserable. Felt like I was breathing in fire. I'd rather go the drowning route.

So a new week is upon me and we'll see how the running goes. Need to get 20 miles in. Mapping it out now. It's been a good Sunday. Talks today at church were really good. Helped me to put the things of most worth into brighter focus. Yeah, it's been a good day. Well, not so good for the Australian Socceroos. The German national team eviscerated them in their opening World Cup match. It was a little tough to watch but the World Cup has started well. It's going to be a great month of matches.

06 June 2010

Working the Church Nursery

From time to time here in the Den, I've made mention of the opportunity that has been mine to serve in a bishopric in a local ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It's been a tremendous experience, and I'm grateful for it.

One of the unique things about our church is that we serve on a voluntary basis. No one is making bank in their church callings. We all hold normal jobs in addition to our church service. It makes for a unique environment. We try to manage it as best we can, seeking God's guidance continually, but sometimes for a host of reasons, we find ourselves short-staffed. That happened today. So my fellow counselor, Andrew, and I did some pinch-hitting, as it were, and covered the church nursery for two hours.

Eight toddlers, mostly around the two year mark, versus two dads. One dad - that would be me - has been out of the toddler business for far, far too long. Mercifully, the other dad, Andrew, is the father of six and one of those six was one of our charges in the nursery, so he's a little more dialed in to this group. It was good, dare I say a miracle, that he was there. Clearly my first instinct to pull out my iPhone to find an app or game for them to play was not the best.

So here's what I learned today:
- Puzzles are an endless source of fascination. Beating the pieces into submission to make them fit is a must.
- "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" is a great fallback song when you can't remember the full verses to pretty much any Primary song.
- Dunking animal crackers in water is apparently a taste treat. One I don't get.
- The rules of "Duck, Duck, Goose" have changed. Now according to how our little group played it, once the Goose is tagged, a melee of running by everyone in the circle must occur.
- When a kid bangs his finger/head and is on the verge of a big crying jag, asking if he wants to go to the hospital stops the jag instantly.
- Working the nursery is awesome. And exhausting.

All in all, we had a good day in there. This much I know though, I'm going to bed early tonight. These guys wore me out.

04 June 2010

National Doughnut Day

It's National Doughnut Day. Need I say more? Please act accordingly. Stop in at your favorite purveyor of these treats - be it a local bakery, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, or if you are lucky enough to live near Psycho Donuts, just enjoy a doughnut (or two) today. Thank you.

02 June 2010

It's National Running Day

How many of you knew that today, June 2, was National Running Day? You can stop scurrying to Wikipedia to find out more now. Just click on "National Running Day" above to learn more.

I wouldn't have known it was National Running Day either if I hadn't gotten a heads up from the gang at CARA. So it's not the most widely publicized of days and I don't imagine that Hallmark has a card for it (I just checked their website and they don't offer said card - frankly, I'm relieved).

I am proud to call myself a runner. I'm not a fast runner. I don't think I'll win my age group until I'm in my late 70's. I am fine with that. I run for how it makes me feel. I run to stay healthy. I run to think and sometimes, not to think. Running allows me to see the world from an entirely different perspective. I like what I see, for the most part.

I've gone from being overwhelmed at the thought of running a 5K to completing my first half marathon.
Right before my first 5K, June 2008
Me and my medal from my first half, May 2010

So, honor this day by going for a run...even if that's from the couch to the bathroom. Just run. Read this article from Runner's World for some additional thoughts on how to celebrate. I'll run tonight. What are you going to do?