Sunday, March 13, 2011


(18 November 2006)
Its not always easy to identify exactly where and when something started. For example, can you tell me when you had your first glass of Oreos and milk? Or perhaps when you bit your fingernails for the first time? Or even when or where you ran your first race? I have no idea when I ran my first competitive road race, nor could I tell you when Karen and I ran together for the first time. But if you get a bit more specific, sometimes you can pin it down. I DO know when Karen and I ran our first half-marathon together. We had enjoyed running together for quite some time, but during her pregnancy with Rachel, it was a convenient excuse not to run - as was the case for a month or two thereafter. However, when she realized she wasn't getting her weight back to pre-Rachel levels very quickly, she decided a running goal might help. And so we registered for the Valley of Fire State Park Half-Marathon. And on Saturday, 18 November 2006, we ran our first Half together. It was an inauspicious event, but looking back, quite a Running Start.

We would have been hard pressed to pick a better event to start running Half-marathons together. The course - though not without some significant hills - was in a spectacular setting of red rock and desert; it was a pretty small, intimate event that was reasonably well-supported; the weather was great; we were pretty well-prepared; and we had family (Alysia) with us to help us with Rachel.
(Thanks, Buggy! You got us off to a good start, even if we were so fast you missed our finish!) Notwithstanding the lame pasta dinner the night before, or even the rather run-down accommodations in a declining resort on Lake Mead for a couple of nights, we completed the goal we set out to do - probably even doing better than we might have expected (Karen finished second in her age group).
And little did we realize what we had set in motion. (Is there some saying about "humble beginnings"?)
I suspect I (we) have logged close to 5000, if not 6000 running miles since that event. There have been races across the country and even in foreign ones. But it started somewhere - in this case in the Valley of Fire. And that would be the message of this race and this event. Whatever we do - and whenever we do it - it is a step somewhere, in some direction. We may not know today where that step will take us, but taking it with commitment, purpose and with an effort worthy of who we are, will always be to our advantage - and just may make much more of a difference than we would ever imagine.

And in case you are wondering - why this blog now? I need to catch up on those early, pre-blogging, events to complete the record - and to really provide A RUNNING START.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

NEW AGE Running

What runner isn’t interested in a (legal) energy boost before running a race? Typically that means pre-race carbo loading, getting lots of rest and tapering the training leading up to the event. Unless, of course, your race happens to be in Sedona, Arizona – one of the world’s New Age centers and home of more than one well-known vortex! And what, might you ask is a vortex? (At least I had to ask.) Although science has its own definition, New Age practitioners take that definition a bit further in describing “swirling centers of subtle energy coming from the surface of the earth”. Since most of the Sedona vortexes are reasonably accessible, we reasoned we ought to take advantage of one and took the short walk up onto a red-rock ridge to experience the “Airport Vortex”.
I can assure you the view was spectacular. As for having the “required, but normally present” sensitivity to feel and absorb the energy – well, perhaps race results would be a better indicator.
Sedona is truly a beautiful and eclectic place. The scenery is spectacular – combining desert landscapes with gorgeous red rock buttes, towers and cliffs, along with chalky ridges and mountains nearly surrounding the area. The city is a place that has exponentially grown in the last few decades and now sprawls between and among the red rocks.
It also boasts more New Age practitioners and businesses than you are likely to find any place else, to include palm readers, spiritual advisors, vortex tours, UFO centers and other self-awareness enterprises. (We admit to visiting a UFO business and the aforementioned vortex, but only photographed some of the others mentioned.)

The trip ended up being among our favorites. The race was run on a spectacular course through the red-rock country, the weather was great and we enjoyed our visit to Sedona – to include several really good (fairly traditional) meals and some hiking. Bookending the trip were visits with Emily in Las Vegas (to include the Cirque du Soleil show, “Ka”, which was pretty incredible) and time at Hoover Dam on the front end; and a drive through Oak Canyon, and a stop at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on the return. We were powerfully reminded of the amazing grandeur of the Lord’s creations. It still takes my breath away.

Another factor contributing to the success of the trip was being able to enjoy it with Karen’s brother, Tom. He flew into Las Vegas and drove to Sedona with us – running the full marathon, rather than our wimpy Half. He is pursuing the same 50-State goal as we are, but with the full marathon. This was our third race with him (and his first visit to the Grand Canyon) – and we have enjoyed them all!

But back to the race. What did the Airport Vortex do for me? Before sharing my own assessment, there are a couple of things worth knowing about the course. First – it was VERY challenging. There were a number of significant, extended hills – to include a long one from mile 12 to mile 13 (which should be illegal). Contributing to the challenge was the elevation. Although only at 4500’, which is about where we live and train, we seldom run races at that elevation. Second – this was an early season race, meaning the training leading up to it was limited. With that information out there, certainly no PR was expected. And none was achieved. I felt I ran a good race, but my pace – even after the vortex – was about 45 seconds per mile slower than my time last year in Fargo ND (where, to the best of my knowledge, there is no vortex). The moral of this story? You might be better served by ensuring the training and preparation are consistent with the goals. In my case, they were – but I will admit the vortex was an interesting concept – and I would not hesitate to go back to Sedona. However, hiking and scenery and more time in Oak Creek Canyon would be the draw.

In an attempt to make the length of my blog rival that of Dacia’s regular tomes, there is one additional thought to share from this race. On a couple of the final hills it is accurate to say that I was dragging. They were tough! In those moments, the beauty of the area I was running through was not foremost on my mind – until I caught myself. Despite fatigue, it was still WOW! I couldn’t help but think how often we do the same in life. Invariably, there is beauty all around – but how easily and often do we miss it? I believe New Age thinking promotes self-awareness – and maybe that is a good thing, in moderation. However, I am far from a New Age advocate, but can still offer this nugget: Don’t let the occasional drudgery and demands of life make you miss the beauty that is there to be seen. And don’t run so fast that you miss it, either!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


On Tuesday, March 1st, at approximately 9:10 p.m., at the Lehi Legacy Center, I achieved a major breakthrough – not only in the storied annals of my running history, but in the demonstration of my ageless technological savvy!

After inserting a white cable into a green unit and placing speaker buds in my ears – and then after some experimentation to find a way to turn the unit on – there was music!! In fact, there was very LOUD music – so loud as to be definitely detrimental to my hearing. On the brink of a failed experiment I spied two young ladies who, most certainly, knew the secret of volume control. With the curl of a finger, they solved the mystery for me and off I ran – rocking to the sounds of the Lion King!

An hour later, I removed the buds from my ears and eventually figured out how to turn the unit off. I had listened to everything from piano concertos, to Men from the Tabernacle Choir, to Disney to excerpts from a How to Build Wealth book. I had done the IPOD!!

Okay – I admit it took me a couple of weeks to get this far. I also acknowledge my selection of music or content (let’s see, would that be a playlist?) left something to be desired. I’ll even confess I didn’t solve the ear bud cord tension issue. But hey – I ran with my IPOD. Is that a breakthrough, or what?? And for the most part, I thought it was pretty nice and may have helped the time go by a bit quicker which, given the objective of 52 laps in the gym, was indeed welcome. Give me another 24 months and, no doubt, I’ll get to the bottom of the other issues!

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

(Now, if I can just remember where I put it when I got back from the gym last night…)