LifeRevelation

Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “endurance”

How I Ran Across the US

From http://thebettermanprojects.wordpress.com

People always have the same question when they discover I have run across the United States, “How did you do that?”

My answer has varied throughout the years. Not because I am being shifty. I want to answer as honestly as possible, but as I grow as an individual, I have discovered something quite remarkable about my past experiences. Although the events of the past are set in stone, the life lessons learned are not.  Those life lessons are active, moving, and working. Each passing year reveals more fruit.

Lately I have been giving considerable thought to how I learned my life lessons. There has been an extremely wide variety of methods. The one  constant however,  is I tend to learn by experience. This has not always been the best method. It has often been the source of intense hurt and suffering for those who love me.

Several years ago I began to think I was my own worse enemy. This thought took hold during an extremely difficult period that I had inflicted on myself. I labored to dig myself out of the hole I had so expertly dug, then dove into. This was no quick and easy fix. Lives were damaged, families hurt, feelings were rubbed raw and bloody, and this was the best side of it, and I was responsible for all of it.

After years of struggle I was able to see fruit from my effort. My life began to be about something else other than the tragedy. About the same time another idea began to germinate. I certainly wasn’t willing to embrace it. I didn’t believe I deserved it, but I certainly was willing to consider it. With the passage of time, I entertained the idea more often. I grew to like it. I kept it guarded at first. I didn’t tell any one. I wanted to make sure it was Truth before I shared it.

Finally, the time arrived that I was willing not only to share it, but more importantly, to believe it. I decided to defeat the little voice in my head that had always proudly proclaimed I was good for nothing. I realized after all those years of believing I was my own worse enemy, what I was doing was looking at the wrong end of the stick.

Instead of thinking of myself as the antagonist, I could be my best friend.

What a concept! I could set myself up to be successful instead of fail. Of course, failure is considerably easier to engineer, but success is far more exciting. I’ve never been shy of doing whatever is necessary to get the job done. Once committed to a goal, I could/would lower my head and move heaven and earth to get whatever was needed done. This was my game and I loved it. I could make my world better.

I haven’t completely defeated the little voice, but I have severely contained his ability to control how I view life. He no longer reigns supreme without any opposition.

So how did I run across the United States? By defeating the little voice inside of me that told me to quit.

Be encouraged!

The Brain: As I Know It

http://www.willamette.edu/~gorr/classes/cs449/brain.html

I do a lot of thinking throughout the day.

Some of it is non-productive like; “When are the Cubs ever going to be real baseball team?” or “What if I won the lottery?” or “How happy I would be if Jake the Wonder Dog would stop licking his privates when people are visiting.”

Some of my thinking is very non-productive such as;  “I wish I was smarter”. or “Hey idiot, why don’t you learn how to drive!” or  “Wow are those ever big?”

Every once in a while I veer over to productive thinking usually along these lines: “I think the world needs to hear about virtues.” or “I believe we can create a company around that idea.” or I should get up and go tell Susie I love her.”

Over the years my brain has truly amazed me. Let me show why I believe that.

Once there was a man who was a successful drug dealer. He was making a seven-figure a year income. He had all the man toys that a seven-figure a year income can provide. He had nice homes, several luxury sports cars, bespoke suits, over 200 pairs of shoes, dined in all the right restaurants, attended (backstage) all the big rock n’ roll shows, dated models, and never wanted for a single physical thing in life.

Then there was another man who was quite different from the first. This man pushed his body to the limit. He was an ultra-distance runner. He started by running 5Ks, then quickly went through 10Ks, half-marathons, marathons, and ultra marathons. Then he started running even longer distances. He ran 335 miles from Houston to Dallas, Texas. He ran 665 miles from Copper Harbor, Michigan to Pontiac Stadium outside of Detroit. Eventually, he ran 3,160 miles across the United States.

Now let me introduce you to a third man. This man climbed the corporate ladder quickly and became a member of the management team for a Global 100 manufacturing firm. While with this company he developed the metrics for identifying high-potential and high-performing associates. He then developed a program to ensure these associates continued to grow within the organization.

Finally, let me present to you a man who very few know. He is quiet and studious. He takes his role in life quite serious and seeks to share what little wisdom God has graced him with. Several years ago he was baptized into the ancient Christian Church known as the Eastern Orthodox Church. Officially it is the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church, but he doesn’t mention that often. It just makes people wonder if he is Bulgarian (he is not) and it takes a long time to explain why he belongs to a Bulgarian Church when he isn’t Bulgarian, so he skips over that part. He prays frequently for his family, those he knows, and the world around him. He sincerely believes in his heart that prayer changes things, especially when nothing else seems to. He is much quieter than the other men and is happiest when it is simply his wife, his pets, his grandson (whom he adores more than life itself) and himself.

All four of these men know each other. In fact, you might say they know each other intimately, although not in a sexual way. They recognize a little bit of themselves in each other. They have a special feel for what the other might be thinking. They sense the emotions and thoughts of each other.

All four of these men are me. 

Now back to the thinking I do. How is it that these four men can exist within one human being? If we rule out schizophrenia (which we can), how can this happen? I believe I know the answer.

The brain is capable of far more than we think. It is capable of rewiring itself. We know, from what scientists have seen with those who have had brain damage, the neurons will begin to seek alternate routes of connection. I am no scientists and I’m certainly not a brain specialists or psychologist of any kind, but I know what I have lived through. I know how I have taken the grey matter I have been bequeathed and changed how I think. I know it wasn’t easy. Plain and simple, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. In some ways it took years to make the transition. I am the living, breathing proof lives can and do change for the better.

The reason I am telling this story again, I have told it a different way before, is I hope to spread hope to anyone who is struggling, either with changing or one who isn’t changing. There is always hope. Hope never weakens. It is always there.

Be encouraged!

Hello Readers,

I found this story truly remarkable. I got it from 52 Weeks, 52 Pounds, I believe he got it from Keeping Off 200 Pounds. Awesome story and well told.

Have a great weekend.

Be encouraged!

Keeping Off 200 Pounds

I’m just running out the door for the weekend but I wanted to share this video with you all. My husband forwarded me this (ok, you may have already seen it on Facebook) and it is amazingly inspirational! Take a look, it’s about 4 minutes, and it proves that anybody can find something that works for them, and it’s never too late to start!

View original post

Before We Go Any Further

Stop Sign 2 Clip Art

PLEASE LOOK AT THE DAY & DATE

OF THE LAST POST

THEY DON’T MATCH

Here is my point…lying and believing are intertwined. Someone once commented they believed people wanted to hear a lie just as often as they wanted to be told the truth. While I”m not ready to whole-heartedly embrace that philosophy, I do believe there is a connection between lying and what we want to hear.

Do I believe there should be a NO LYING DAY? Absolutely. I would love to see the concept reported on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, the news wires, and go viral. What a great concept. The realty will probably fall far short.

Why? Because many of us are simply comfortable in our lies. It is where we live and work. Our lies are no more a distinct separate part of our existence. They are part and parcel of who we are. We have lived and breathed them for so long, that our lies feel like the truth, and the truth now feels as strange as lies once did.

We operate in a world that not only encouraged the use of falsehoods, but actually, it many respects rewards it. Whatever the reason for lying, we are masters at justifying it. All the way from “everybody does it” (which is probably true) to “it wasn’t REALLY a lie.”  If we want to, we can find an excuse.

I have received several emails and comments about this subject. Many writers were intrigued by the question of morality it raises, others were more interested in the philosophical underpinnings. There were writers who complained of my over-simplified explanation. The point is, the issue of lying, deserves to be a topic of conversation. It needs the light of us blog writers, the press, think tanks, TED talks, church groups, and folks sitting around having a few beers. In my heart I believe change bubbles up. Only when we the common folk, the 99%, the silent majority, or whatever it is we are going by now, rise up and say, “Wait a minute! This is an issue. Lets talk about it.”, we are going to continue to experience an erosion of truth it all its forms.

I hope this post causes you to think. After you think about lies, and truth, and the role you play in it, maybe you will talk. Start a conversation with a loved one, or your child, the neighbor, your pastor, those in your study group, or any one who is willing to listen. With all my heart I believe change bubbles up. And, just maybe, some day we really will have a day of NO LYING.

Be encouraged!

 

From Those Who Comment…

This post is purely inspired by those who commented on Lying–Maybe…Maybe Not.

Lem Usita writes at www.identityspecialist.wordpress.com. His post show a deft knowledge of leadership and how it ought to work. Her posts are filled with practical, rubber-meets-the-road type of information that I personally crave. I am the just-tell-me-what-to-do-and get out-of-the-way kind of guy, and Lem tells you what and how to do it. He wrote:

You bring up an interesting idea for me – this idea that lying takes on different forms depending on your stage of development – pick your developmental theory. I need to think about what a lie looks like in light of this. Do you have any articles that talk about this?
Thanks for the post.

I responded with:

Lem, first of all let me say how much I enjoy your posts regarding leadership. I would like to swap a few emails, or even a phone call or two , to discuss my experiences in leadership development at a Global 100 manufacturing firm. I think you’ll find the stories interesting.

Developmental theories are kind of like a bad haircut, everyone has had one, but their idea of what it is differs widely. Lying when we are younger is often seen as punishment avoidance. Q.-Did you spill the milk? A.-No way, the cat did it. As we age lying is the result of peer acceptance or is seen as a useful tool to gain something. Such as Q.-Hey Dad, can I have the car keys? A./Q.-Did you get your room cleaned like your Mom asked? A.-Yeah, pretty much (Reality-room looks like a bomb went off in it, but you told the guys it would be no problem getting your Dad’s car and promised to pick them up at 6:00). By the time you have graduated from college and entered the work force, the lies start to look more like CYA. Q.-Did you get the Jones Report done? A.-Yeah, you’ll have it on your desk when you arrive in the morning. (Reality-What the hell is the Jones report?)

If you look at Maslow and Metamotivation, is it possible we are seeking fulfillment of our Being Needs via lying through our teeth?

I don’t have any articles which speak directly about what I’ve written. However, I have pulled from Psychology Journals, books, magazines, newspapers, and friends who I have bombarded with questions, concepts, and theories. While sitting around having a few beers I have often pulled the topic of our conversation from whether the Yankees will pull it together to make another run for the pennant to when do our dreams become reality?

I drive my friends nuts, but as long as I’m buying, they seem to hang around. lol

My email is stephenedwards922@gmail.com. Give me a holler and maybe we can exchange phone numbers. By the way…what do you think…when do dreams become reality?

Another comment I received was from 5kidsmom. She writes at www.carnivalcommunications.wordpress.com. Her writing is clear, pure and cleverly insightful. I have always deeply enjoyed her thought process and delivery. Also in the interest of honesty; her and I have discovered we share remarkably similar, yet different perspectives, so we have agreed to collaborate on a book. She wrote th:

oh my….
>>>>>”Some men (not all, ;) have to lie about ‘WHY’ they lie!!<<<<<<
Rack ’em up boys!! Keep lying about why you’re lying, we’re listening LOL! What he doesn’t realize is….while little boys are lying to their mothers, (???FEAR??) little girls are being taught by their fathers, BOYS LIE!
Too late MacIntyre—-we’re onto you, and just like you, we started ‘getting it’, from a very young age!! That’s no lie ;) One more thing, boys lying to their Mom’s didn’t really make life easier, it probably just sparred them the consequences. So come on guys, you lie because you’re afraid of the wrath lol!

I responded:

Gosh, this lying thing has started our own little personal firestorm. Why? Well probably for two reasons. 1.) We all do it. We aren’t exactly proud of that fact. We don’t go around saying, “Alright! I just told another whopper!” Truth is we are ashamed. We are ashamed, because even after all we’ve been taught (programmed?) we still know it is wrong. 2.) We have all been lied to and it is frustrating. It hurts and we clearly understand the world (shoot, forget the world, even our little lives) would be a better place if everyone would stop.

Boys lie to girls, girls lie to boys, men lie to women, women lie to men, men lie to men, women lie to women, employees lie to bosses, bosses lie to employees, companies lie to customers, customers lie to companies, races lie to other races, nations lie to other nations, and I’m relatively confident if the human race ever encounters extra terrestrials, we will lie to them too.

So the bottom line is, “What do we do?”

This is too good for just a reply. I’m going to take this out and put it on the big screen. I will have a post forthwith, which will answer the question, “What do we do?”

WHAT DO WE DO?

Here is what I propose:

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20,2012 IS A NO LYING DAY

START EMAILING YOUR FRIENDS & EVERYONE IN THE WORLD YOU KNOW! TELL EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING YOU COME INTO CONTACT WITH THAT WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 2012 IS A NO LYING DAY. WE WILL TELL NO LIES FROM MIDNIGHT TO MIDNIGHT.

NOW GO

BE ENCOURAGED!

GUTS HHG

Head, Heart, & Guts. Could it be this is all we need to be truly successful in every area of our lives? Might it be possible to reduce all the variance of life down to something so simple it could be covered by three diagrams I lifted off of Google images?

Well it might not provide you with the opportunity to become one with everything in the universe, but I’m willing to state it could radically revolutionize most of our lives in a way we never thought possible. Even though I really had to evaluate a lot of disgusting photos to find one that covered Guts without provoking a gag response, I believe these simple drawings portray EXACTLY what we need for a successful life. A life of transformation for us privately and for the businesses we own or work at.

This is the last of a three-part installment. I have arranged these drawings in a certain order, because I believe it is the order they need to be accomplished. Let’s take a look at Guts.

Obviously when you google “guts” you can get some interesting responses. especially if you are searching under Images.  If  you are just doing a regular search then things kind of take a turn toward the bizarre: There is a church in Oklahoma called Guts; a VERY weird article by Chuck Palahniuk; and something about Georgetown University Transportation.

When I think of guts I am reminded of a bumper sticker that was popular when I was much younger, it read: GOD, GUNS, & GUTS IS WHAT MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT. Although I never was convinced it was the truth, neither did I ever want to engage the owners of those vehicles who had the sticker plastered across their bumper in any type of meaningful dialogue. They tended to be large, burly men with a certain redness reflecting from their necks. Besides they usually had a gunrack cradling a rifle displayed in the back window. Those types of things can severely reduce your desire to prove yourself right.

Needless to say, I am thinking of a different type of guts. The kind that enables you to get up and do what needs to done. It is the part of you that decides to keep pushing when everything in life looks uphill. But let’s be honest…we don’t have that motivation everyday do we?

I am a morning person. The minute the alarm goes off I’m up and raring to go. Jake the Wonder Dog loves it. Susie the Wonder Wife, not so much. But after I’m up there are times when I don’t want to sit down and wrestle with trying to find the exact word to convey what I am thinking as I blog.  I am not excited by the opportunity to answer the 50 -100 emails that show up in my New Mail box every morning.  No that I’m not grateful, because I am, but there are times when all I want to do is put life on pause and go goof off. Just to keep sane, every once in a while I do just that. I take off with Susie the Wonder Wife and simply goof off. But too much of that and all of a sudden instead of 50 – 100 emails, I find 500-1000. Instead of having the time to select the right word or key phrase to express exactly what I am feeling, I am rushing at the speed of light to meet a  fast approaching deadline.

We all have those times don’t we? When we would rather do nothing, or hangout with our buds, or shop, or nearly anything except the job at hand. Well here are few Major Keys I use to keep the motivation high. I put them all in the Key of F:

     Major Key #1 is FREAK. Yeah I’m old enough to remember the 60’s, but this is a little different. Look and think of ideas, situations, and people in entirely new and different ways. Explore different avenues, read different books, look at different magazines, and talk to different people. Do not be afraid to set out in an entirely new way. You need to be unaverage.

     Major Key #2 is FEELING. You need to feel it. Remember it is the root core of what you do. Let it wash over and possess who you are. In other words be authentic. Authenticity is something sorely missing from the business community. When expressed others will feel your authenticity and will respond to it.

     Major Key #3 is FORWARD. Whatever it is you are doing needs to be moving the needle forward. You must be committing value to your life and company each day no matter how insignificant. My stride is only 30 inches. So when I ran across America it took a lot of strides (6,670,930 give or take one or two). Although each one was less than a yard long, when repeated often enough, I was able to cover more than 3,100 miles. each step counts.

     Major Key #4 is FLEXIBLE. Be willing to alter your plans from time to time. Having a map to reach your personal and business goals is important. Without at least an idea of where you want to go you will spend a lot of time chasing down bunny trails. Being flexible is different. Sometimes Plan B is Plan A. You want to roll with the punches. They hurt less if you go with it. Standing rigid and not giving an inch insures optimum bruising.        

     Major Key #5 is FORCE. There will be times when all you can do is take the bull by the tail and face the situation, as my Father liked to say. The only attitude which will get you through the day is your tough, thick hide, perseverance. Fortunately you should not have to use this too often. If you find yourselves resorting to this frequently then you might want to take a serious look at what and how you are doing. Frequent use of FORCE is a big red flag telling you something is dreadfully off track.

     Major Key #6 is FUN. Yuck it up. Learn to turn down the heat and intensity and ratchet up the good times. Blow off steam with your spouse, kids, and/or friends. Turn on the enjoyable. Life is too short to live it any other way. I use this one the most.

     Major Key #7 is FORGIVENESS. There have been times in my life when remembering an offense or disappointment has kept me being at my best. It holds onto my thoughts. I’m not clear and open to give or receive. Forgive others when they fall short, which they will do from time to time. I’m not saying don’t have standards, just realize that we are all human and as a result mistakes are bound to happen. The hardest part is to forgive yourself. Don’t keep beating yourself up when you drop the ball. When you look in the mirror and see the enemy, it is time to make peace. 

     This concludes our HEAD, HEART, & GUTS trilogy. I’ve had fun putting this together. I hope you have found it rewarding. As always, my goal is to encourage you to live a full and exciting life. May all your life dreams become a reality.

Be encouraged.

Heart of HHG

Head, Heart, & Guts. Could it be this is all we need to be truly successful in every area of our lives? Might it be possible to reduce all the variance of life down to something so simple it could be covered by three diagrams I lifted off of Google images?

Well it might not provide you with the opportunity to become one with everything in the universe, but I’m willing to state it could radically revolutionize most of our lives in a way we never thought possible. Even though I really had to evaluate a lot of disgusting photos to find one that covered Guts without provoking a gag response, I believe these simple drawings portray EXACTLY what we need for a successful life. A life of transformation for us privately and for the businesses we own or work at.

This is the second of a three-part installment. I have arranged these drawings in a certain order, because I believe it is the order they need to be accomplished. Let’s take a look at the Heart.

This is the Wikipedia definition of Heart; 

The heart is a myogenic muscular organ found in all animals with a circulatory system (including all vertebrates), which pumps blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions.

This isn’t the heart I am talking about.

Here is another Heart definition;

Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson first showed the world that women can rock when their band, Heart, stormed the charts in the ‘70’s with hits like “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” “Straight On,” and so many more. (off of www.heart-music.com)

Again, not the Heart I am referencing.

This is more like what I had in mine when I write about the Heart;

“…the emphasis of knowledge and emotion is centered in the heart.”

I am not thinking of the heart as a blood pumping organ, nor a Seattle based 80’s band, but as a place within us where our emotions reside. A place we tend to guard. It is the place where we nurture and grow our hopes and dreams. I like to think of it as the place where passion is born.

When Googling the internet this is what you get for passion;

or

While I have nothing against either expression of passion, neither is the exact type I am writing about. The passion I am writing about is described by Merriam-Webster online as:  a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept. I like that. “A strong liking or desire for or a devotion” is EXACTLY what I am mean. Devotion is a very strong word, it conjures up thoughts of religious fervor. Now I understand how that thought can send many to move the cursor to the little x in the upper right corner, but hear me out.

Your passion will motivate people to devote their being to your cause. The deep-seated, singular desire to do what it is you want to do. This comes quite easy for me, because I am a type-A personality. This didn’t work for me when I was standing in a dimly lit bar, late at night, plying myself with alcohol and drugs, while planning my next crime. It was when I got my life turned around and began to focus on health, success, and sharing with others, I found it to be a godsend. The very thing which enabled me to destroy a large portion of my life is what provided me with the passion to create not only a new me, but to also help others.

Once you find the one thing in life you truly want to do, your TruePath, you will discover your passion, your desire, and your devotion will flow like water down a mountain side after a spring shower. Your passion will run over obstacles. It will flow around impediments. It will create a new course when others are dammed up. Your passion will drive you to find answers. It will cause you to create your own opportunities. It will provide you with what you need to get up and do what needs to be done.  

I hope reading this last paragraph left you a little breathless. I wrote it while holding my breath. I get so excited about what I’m trying to convey to you as a reader that I forget to breathe. 

At LifeRevelation we call this the InflamedAche. Yeah I know it borders on corny, but you never forget it. All of us have at one time or another had some type of inflammation. As an ex-ultra-distance runner and now an ultra-distance cyclist I am intimately acquainted with inflammation and aches. Yet the all consuming scream for attention is exactly what I feel when I sit down to write for this blog, or when I work on my book, or speak to an audience who can’t wait to hear what a guy with my past has to say.

Find your TruePath and the InflamedAche of passion will come…just be ready.

Be encouraged!

 

 

Insanely long post…enjoy!

 

My last blog was an opening into my life. I want to open the window just a hair more, so please bear with me. I promise to get back to awe-inspiring (lol) commentary soon.

This is an excerpt from a book I am writing about my run across America. A few years ago I ran 3,160 miles from Pacific Grove, CA to Rehoboth Beach, DE. This transcontinental run was the thrill of a lifetime. Susie drove the sag vehicle and did everything else in the whole world like bill paying, laundry, finding food, coordinating logistics with our run co-ordinator who was operating out of Waco, TX, getting gas, getting us to media outlets on time for interviews, having the oil changed, finding host families homes in the pitch dark out in the middle of the desert, and keeping me relatively happy and sane. While everyone oohs and aahs over me running across the United States, the true hero is Susie. Without her there would have been no run. I actually had the easier part.

This is a description of my first attempts at trying to run. I hope you enjoy and feel free to laugh out loud whenever the mood strikes.

Oh I should also mention this entry is insanely long. Not the quick 300 -500 word note. This puppy runs over 3400 words. So if you have anything you need to do…go do it. Then grab a cup of coffee, or soft drink, or maybe a local brew (and a sandwich if you are in the mood), put your feet up, lean back, scratch where it itches, and settle in for long read.

Oh gosh one more thing before we get going…Please send me some comments. As noted this is from a book I’m writing and I would like to know what folks think. All I ask is that you be kind…since I’m the sensitive artist type…lol.

Be encouraged.

A Few Years Ago

One day Bryon came rushing up to me with this preposterous idea that if we wanted to be real men (and we desperately did), then we needed to run this incredibly hard race he had heard about. It was 7.6 mile long and called the Siberian Wilderness Run. The race was run on the first Saturday of the New Year regardless of the weather conditions. I was to later discover the race was laid out over a reclaimed strip mine outside of Danville, Illinois. Since then I’ve learned this also wasn’t exactly the highest test of true grit and testosterone that Bryon had described it to be either. There are much harder races held around the country. However, at the time, to a couple of guys, whose idea of running was considering quickening their walking pace if caught in a thunderstorm, this seemed like the testosterone running equivalent of climbing Everest.

Bryon stressed our need to train properly for this event. Since it wasn’t run until January and this was September I figured I had an adequate amount of time to whip my body into tip-top running shape, whatever that was. Now Bryon and I were also, as guys tend to be in this type of environment, extremely competitive. There was absolutely no way I was going to let Bryon beat me in this race. Do or die, I had no idea how, but he wasn’t going to get to the finish line before me.

So I began to train. However I had no idea what was the proper protocol for training to run a race. Actually, I didn’t know anything about running at all. My entire running experience was comprised of one month of running on the cross-country team my freshman year in high school. During that time I missed as many practices as possible, took every shortcut I could when we practiced, and finished dead last in both of the races I ran. Not exactly a stellar career in running. No one would have observed my running stats and predicted anything other than maybe a career on the debate team. But this was different. Bryon was also going to be running. My pride, ego, and manhood were on the line. When we were in the gym I made sure I lifted what he lifted, for as many reps as he did. Even though he had me beat by almost fifty pounds I was completely focused on not being outdone. As far as running was concerned I figured if you put one foot in front of the other enough times you would eventually get to where you wanted to go. All I had to do was master it faster than Bryon and I would be home free.

There was a closed road next to the apartment complex where I was living. This road was exactly one mile long. So I thought I would begin my training by running the length of this road. That would be a mile. Having not a clue, I more or less thought this would be a respectable distance to begin with and besides I didn’t have any way of measuring something shorter, so a mile it would be.

Earlier I mentioned it was September. The city I was living it at the time has a weather phenomenon called precocious enough, “The Dog Days of Summer.” The name hearkens back to Roman times. According to the bastion of latter-day knowledge, Wikipedia, the Romans associated the hot sultry weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the “Dog Star” because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Traditionally the Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing the star was responsible for the hot humid weather. (I can tell you our little brown and white-haired Jake the Wonder Dog is greatly relieved this is no longer commonly practiced.) This weather pattern can be wicked. Instead of enjoying temperate, cool fall weather, you actually are laboring in ninety degree temperatures similar to the dead of summer. Humidity not wanting to be out done by the temperature, tries to match it. So you are left with ninety degree temperatures and ninety percent humidity. Get out of your air-conditioned car and before you can make it into your office you are soaked in sweat. Truly beautiful. This was the weather I started training in. And since I did not know anything about how to properly train I ran without any water.

The first day out I ran the length of the road which was a mile. It was then I discovered the first flaw in my training program. When you run a mile away from your home and you believe you are done, well you aren’t. You are a mile from home. This requires running back. So I ran back. As the sweat ran directly down my forehead, stinging the bejesus out of my eyes I learned the second problem with my training program. When you run without water, in ninety degree weather, in ninety-two percent humidity, you can get very, very thirsty. I stumbled back to my apartment, clawed open the front door, set the temperature to cool the apartment to 50 degrees, and fumbled around with a glass, ice cubes, and the faucet for about five minutes before getting enough water in the glass to drink, then downing it as fast as possible. I repeated this sad, inefficient method several times until I was saturated. After about a dozen glasses of ice-cold refreshing water I hobbled into my bedroom using what little tiny bit of muscles in my legs that would still respond to mental stimuli and fell down on the bed into a deep and wonderful sleep. After several hours I awoke to discover problems three and four with my training program. After you have run it is not a good idea to remain immobile for several hours. The muscles constrict and absolutely do not want to be stretched back out. They respond with an amazing quantity of screaming pain. At the time I was making this remarkable discovery I was also experiencing the fourth training problem. Do you remember me telling you when I came in I had turned the thermostat for the air conditioner down to 50? Well it worked! The temperature in my room was 50 degrees and apparently in an effort to conserve warmth I had drawn my body up into as tight of a ball as possible. I had lain down while still wearing my sweat soaked t-shirt and shorts which were now frozen solid and encrusted in layers of salt. This incidentally did nothing to help my muscles when I tried to stretch them out. So with great concentration I fought my way into the living room to turn the thermostat up to 90. Then I made my way down the hall moaning, groaning, shaking, stumbling and falling against the wall on the way to the bathroom, where I turned on the shower water as hot as possible and got in clothes, running shoes, and all.

That was day one of running.

All I knew about exercise was that in order for you to get the full benefit, it must be progressive. In other words, you can’t simply do the same thing over and over again and expect to make gains. You can’t lift the same weight, the same number of reps and expect glorious bulging muscles. You must alter the intensity, or the duration, or something to make each effort a little bit more difficult. So since I had run two miles the first day I figured three would be good for the next day. Now I imagine as you read those words you are starting to get this Cheshire cat grin on your face due to you recognizing the obvious. Because you realize that if I run down and back that is two miles, in order to run three miles I would need to have figured out a way to measure a half mile. But I hadn’t done that. I am a firm believer that only a little bit of running can make you stupid. So once again I’m running and I get through the first two. As I turn into the third mile it dawns on me that I will still be a mile away from my apartment when I’m done with the three. So I gut it out and run back for a total of four miles. And let me tell you, if you think you are thirsty after two miles of running in the Dog Days of Summer, well four miles will practically kill you. But at least I was getting somewhat smarter. I had turned the AC down to 68 when I left and resolved it would go no further. I had put several glasses of water in the refrigerator and I had promised myself I would take a shower once I got home and not lie down but meet a group of friends for dinner.

Day two done and I was getting a little smarter.

Day three and I was ready. I found an insulated water jug, filled it with ice and water, and set it in the shade near where I would be starting. I realized ahead of time I would be running six miles. I brought an old handkerchief to tie around my head which made me look (depending on your point of view) like some crazy Bonsai pilot or a renegade Harley rider, but at least it would keep the sweat on my forehead from running directly into my eyeballs causing me to writhe and cry out in pain. Speaking of pain. I was starting to understand why a lot of people refuse to run. I was getting really stiff and sore. Walking a normal gait was now completely out of the question. I kept my legs as stiff as possible, which wasn’t that difficult considering they didn’t want to bend any way, and then I ambled from side to side. Setting down or standing up wasn’t difficult, but the transition between the two was excruciating. I was getting to the point where I didn’t want to go out in public much, because when I either went to sit down or stand up I would scream out in loud voice like I had been forcibly hit with a blunt instrument. People were beginning to stare. My friends were beginning to shun me.

I made it the six miles on day three, but it was ugly. After the first 400 – 500 yards of something resembling shuffle-stumbling-falling forward type of gait, my muscles would begin to loosen up to the point where forward motion was actually possible without drawing attention to myself. During the beginning of this run while I was still hobbling and yelling I saw a lady come out into the back yard, get her kids, and go back into the house all the while staring at me like I might be the real life incarnation of the Night of the Living Dead. I think she thought I was trying to flee from guys in white coats. But I did it. Six miles how awesome!

Day four was eight miles, but the side effects were beginning to intensify. No longer would anyone ask me out if it meant being seen in public with me. Not only was I completely unable to walk normally, but I hadn’t slept well now for three days. The muscles in my legs were spasming so bad it was keeping me awake. I had stopped shaving because it required me to stand still while I attempted to drag a razor-sharp implement around my neck and over my face. I could no longer trust my legs to hold me still. I didn’t know what I would do if one of my legs suddenly started spasming while I was in the middle of scrapping the razor across my Adam’s apple. I could just see my friends finding me days later on the bathroom floor in a pool of blood with my throat slit open. “Poor Steve.” they would say, “Who knew? Wonder why he didn’t want to talk about it? This way is never the answer”

So there I was with legs that would spasm, jerk violently, then give out, blood-shot eyes from not sleeping, four-day growth of beard. Actually it was four days in some spots and only one day in some others, because I had tried to shave, but became so unsteady I thought I had better quit. It didn’t look to cool, but at least I wasn’t on the floor of the bathroom in a pool of coagulating blood waiting to be discovered. I was running. No wonder there were a lot of people who don’t run. Who could endure this much pain and continue to function as a contributing member of society? Oh yeah…I made it through day five with ten miles. Then I survived day six and twelve miles, using only the type of sheer gut wrenching grit that Green Beret types use in extreme training, but I had run into a problem. I was out of food at my apartment.

I thought about just calling for a pizza, but I was trying to keep my weight down and so I didn’t want to be pigging out on pizza. I just had to pull it together enough to go to the store, buy a few food items to fuel this awesome running machine, and get back so I could collapse and recuperate.

No military invasion has had greater precision planning than I executed for my siege of the local supermarket. I calculated how many steps to the car. I checked the best time to leave the apartment so I wouldn’t encounter any of my friends going or coming from work. I figured just this once I could park in the handicap parking by the front door. I didn’t have the requisite sticker hanging from the mirror, but I knew one look at me and they would figure it was in the mail. So after surveying the apartment complex for the best slow traffic time, I staggered out the front door. Fortunately, I was on the first floor. Had I have been on the second…well let’s just say none of you would be hearing these words now. I drove slowly and cautiously. I had visions of my legs suddenly violently yo-yoing up and down uncontrollably and before I could regain control I would have rammed my car into a church bus carrying mentally disabled children on their way to meet the Governor for a special commendation award, or careen into a fire truck on its way to rescue a mother of five from a burning building. I imagined every disaster scenario possible, and a few that weren’t possible. Then suddenly I was there. The Promised Land hadn’t looked as good to the Jews after forty years of wandering in the desert as that handicap parking spot looked to me. I had made it unscathed and without incident. Unless you count the lady walking her little dachshund through the intersection and I simply couldn’t get my leg to move over onto the brake fast enough so I laid on the horn as I dragged my foot off the accelerator and coasted by. Besides it didn’t really hurt her any to hoof it a little quicker. She looked like she could use some exercise. She should take up running. Drop that weight like a bowling ball rolling off the table. Anyway I had made it. Now all I had to do was stumble around the grocery store while bending over and clinging onto the shopping cart. I figured this move would take some of the weight off my legs and put it on forearms. My forearms hadn’t been pulling much weight since I started this running thing so I figured they could help out. Even in this battered state I still had my priorities and that included going by the magazine counter. I have read voraciously all my life. I inherited it from my Dad, along with a few other traits I believe I have already mentioned. Mrs. VanHorn, the town librarian, fanned my reading spark into a full-blown inferno when one day she said to me, “Stephen, I think there are some books over here that you might enjoy.” She lead me out of the kid’s section of the library and over to where the adult books were kept. And this was long before the term “adult books” had any type of perversion attached to it. Thank you Mrs. VanHorn my life has never been the same from that day forward. I have often told my wife, “I’ve never regretted buying a book, but I’ve been married a few times.”

So there I was in front of the magazine counter looking over the newest editions of Rolling Stone, Time, and Flex when my eyes came across a title I had never seen before. It took a few moments, but I was finally able to ever so carefully bend over and lift it up. The title was “Runner’s World”. I thought that was the craziest thing I had ever seen. And I’ve seen some crazy things. Who in the world would buy a magazine about running? I mean after all what is there to it? You take one foot and put it in front of the other, then repeat until done. It isn’t rocket science. But as I was doing my commentary in my head, my eyes spied something which shook me to my very core. I busted out laughing right in the front of the magazine counter in the middle of the supermarket. There in bold, black letters, for the entire world to see, and especially me, it said, “To avoid injury only increase your mileage 10% per week.” By my calculations I had increased my mileage 1100% in my first week.

If they ever make a film about my life (fat chance) this is the point where they will insert Handel”s Hallelujah Chorus. I swore I could hear angels singing. At last my life was saved. I could rejoin the human race. At some point, maybe even have children. I clutched that magazine like a drowning man clutches a life vest. I was saved.

I don’t know how many of you have made it this far…but I thank you. Please let me know what you think.

Be encouraged!

Post Navigation