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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sharing Our Sport - Turkey Style

This Thursday, I'll be running the Turkey Trot in Abilene, Texas. We'll be there visiting family for Thanksgiving. What better way to get out of the house and avoid cooking than to run in a race. Seriously, who could deny you? It is all in the name of "exercise" and "exercise" is good...even those who don't do it acknowledge this fact.

This natural progression of thoughts led me elsewhere though. The "Turkey Trot" brings out a lot of casual runners and a many non-runners. Whether it is to be with family, challenge a sibling or to burn a few calories to justify the gluttony ahead, thousands of people will participate in a race that they otherwise would never consider.

These casual runners deserve to be greeted with a warm smile. Be friendly. Wish them well. Point them to the porta-potty or registration table. Let's do our best to show them what a great community we have crafted. While some might say the sport is getting overcrowded (noted by the quick sell-outs of some of the premier running events), I, like most, believe that continued growth is simply wonderful.

Maybe the most important thing we can do is to pray for our fellow runners on Thursday and beyond. This is important. Something simple is just fine. Maybe start by remembering to pray for a safe race just before the gun goes off. Heck, I don't know...pick your spot; whatever is comfortable for you.

Ten years ago at a Turkey Trot, I ran up on a guy who was in cardiac arrest. Fellow runners surrounded him while the paramedics labored to save the man's life. He was less than a quarter of a mile from the finish. I don't know whether he was a serious runner or one of the casual participants. It doesn't matter because the reality is that any of us could end up there.

Thankfully, he recovered. However, the image haunted me for some time. I felt for his family. Talk about disrupting the annual family fest. On Thursday, when their family has the obligatory round robin dialogue of "what are you thankful for this year?", I'm guessing the answers are a bit different than most. The words might be similar...I'm just guessing they really mean it.

So, please pray. Prayer is a powerful thing for many reasons and in many ways. Your fellow runners deserve your well wishes and your prayers.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace.

Randy

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Natural Energy Boost


Like everyone else, I refuel during an endurance event with standard tools of our trade: Energy gels and sports drinks. I was honking down a box of raisins earlier this week (exciting I know, but I got burned out on my kids' Halloween candy) and took a gander at the nutritional information on the carton. I compared it to the Clif, GU and Hammer gels I had on hand and was suddenly curious if this little red box contained an extremely cheap alternative. Take a look at Raisins vs. Clif Shot:


You have to admit that it is close. So, is close close enough? I need a nutritionist to tell me what heck all the extra Potassium and Sugar might do to me at mile 20. The lower Sodium is not ideal so one may need to swing by a McDonald's for a small fry. The Fiber...well, who knows. It just seems to me to be worth discussing.

Maybe raisins are not as easily digested?

The content reminds me of a comparison I did of some so called "All-Natural Nutrition Bars" and a variety of candy bars. Differences sure, but enough to pay 2 or 3 times more? I suppose it depends on what you consider food Kryptonite.

Would love to hear from anyone who has information on why we don't use more readily available foods to refuel on long runs.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace,

Randy

Monday, November 16, 2009

Insomnia: Friend or Foe?

I'm sure this is quite common, but I have a touch of insomnia. It is either that or I generally only need about 4 to 5 hours of sleep each night. I will admit to getting a bit cranky if I go more than a few days on less than four hours. Otherwise, it doesn't seem to impact my family or co-workers (or their afraid to tell me out of fear).

The troubling thing is that I suspected my hours of sleep would naturally increase as I added mileage. The body needs to recover and I can think of nothing better than slumber to assist the reconstruction. This has not been the case. Running more might have even shortened my nights. I wake up and my mind just races off to the day ahead.

I tried a better diet, no booze, no caffeine, no fun, etc. Nothing worked (which is awesome because I could go back to having fun again). About the only thing that help me fall asleep after waking up after only a couple hours of sleep was prayer. No, I wasn't prayer for sleep...I just fell asleep while praying. It is amazing how well it works.

I went in for a check-up a couple weeks back and had planned on finally telling the doctor about my struggle to sleep the past few years. I'm sure you can hear it now. "Is your job very stressful?" Yeah, who's isn't? Obvious question and after question leading to a prescription for Ambien or something else I didn't want. So, I kept my mouth shut.

It turns out that I have adjusted my life around the hours I sleep and I kind of like it in a strange way. When I wake up at 3:45 AM and can't go back to sleep, I go for a run. The trouble comes on cold winter mornings or the dreaded off day in the training plan. With a marathon taper coming up after this weekend's long run and the weather here in Texas finally turning a bit colder, I may soon change my tune about how beneficial insomnia can be to a runner (I admit this could just be seasonal euphoria). I must also admit that it is less than ideal when on vacation. Nevertheless, I remember in the past when the alarm would go off at 5:30 AM and it would take every ounce of energy I could muster to get my lazy butt out of bed to go for a run. The run often was terminated...'I think I hear rain.' I'll take cold darkness on the street over that any day.

So, now I'm just considered weird by my family, my neighbors and our neighborhood police officer who occasionally pulls up beside me asking how far I'm going that morning. I can handle the label....suits me just fine.

Run in Peace

Randy

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Randy Runs

While it might seem appropriate to introduce myself and how long I've been running or what I'm training for, I simply don't see much interest in that. Those details will come with time. I basically want to do one thing here. Weave the passions of my life together and see if there is anyone out there that views life through the same lens. It'll be a fun ride for me and I hope for a few others as well.

On my run a few days back, I reached into my hydration contraption and touched a small silver pocket cross. This cross (and a few others like it that I no longer posses) has special meaning to me. This meaning will be shared down the line in these pages, but the cross made me wonder who else out there runs with a cross in their pocket, around their neck or tattooed across their back, shoulder or unmentionables.

A blog (along with Twitter & Facebook accounts) and website were born on that run a few days ago. Since then I've tried to sort it out. Why me? What'll I do? What shall I say? What is the purpose? The answers I have not obtained. I will press on to see where and why I have been led here.

The cross gave me hope that others (and many that are crossless) have had the same experience that I've had over years traveling the roads, paths and trails on foot. Through perspiration and prayer I've come to know God. I have found few other ways to get that close.

Make no mistake, this Blog will be about running. Running will be the canvas and the clay. So, relax. Come back once in awhile.

Time to go eat some pasta...semi-long run in the morning.

Be well,

Randy