Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “run across the United States”

Sort of Like Responsibility…Part V

There are few things in life that split people as quickly as talking about religion. Everyone has an idea, a thought, and/or a conviction. And rare is the individual who will listen to views, other than their own, without certain walls going up. So what I am going to ask may border on the impossible…or at least in the very difficult zone. Yes this post is going to be about what I think about God. But is only my thoughts. I am not writing to sway anyone’s opinion. I’m writing this post with the same intention I have written the prior four posts on responsibility (there is only one more), to share what has happened in my life and to prove to others who have issues, situations, or circumstances in their life that there is hope. Real honest to God, life changing hope.

So, as I usually do, let me start with a story…

The year is 1998 and I have already made significant changes to my life. Although those changes started only four years earlier, I am a completely different person. Not that there weren’t matters that needed attention (and still do). But I was no longer spending every night in a bar, chasing every skirt who happened by, or indulging my considerable desire to steal everything that wasn’t locked down and stowed away. The drug use was history and I had quit drinking. Both were considered minor miracles by those who knew me, because I had been doing a gram of cocaine a day (no worry about pesky nasal hair) and drinking a case of beer and a bottle of cognac (nice mix, huh?) a day.

No coincidence, Susie and I had been married for four years as well. Her presence in  my life had opened the eyes that were blind, the ears that were shut, and the heart that was to hard to care. It was like being born again…literally. I was experiencing emotions I didn’t know existed. I would watch the McDonald’s commercial where the little ducklings followed their mother in the rain, and tears would roll down my cheeks. I could talk to people about Susie and choke up ( actually this one still happens). I suddenly found myself loving small children, something that had NEVER happened before.

Susie had introduced me to church, which I thought was about as strange as anything I had ever witnessed, and I had witnessed MANY strange things. I liked it, but it just felt weird. I had never attended church in my life and I was extremely uncomfortable. It was like a secret society. The people were nice enough, but they had there own way of talking. A language I was completely unsure of. It was English all right, but in the world I came from being “washed in the blood,” meant you were probably dead of a gun shot wound or had been bludgeoned to death. Even the individual words were used in a different context. “God” was no longer connected to damn it and “Jesus Christ” now referred to a person/deity as opposed to being an expression of surprise. I also noticed no one used the F word, this was extremely strange, and VERY difficult to get use to. Occasionally I would slip and I was aware this was not a good thing. Susie promised to help me.

In 1998 I met this man……I’m not quite sure why he is holding that sign, but just ignore it. His name is Fr. Stevan Bauman and he is without a doubt the greatest person I have ever met in my life, which is something he would definitely not acknowledge. Knowing him has changed my life from our very first encounter over lunch at a downtown Indianapolis restaurant. I came home and told Susie things were going to change. This was a fairly large statement considering the evidence I have just presented. Over the years Fr. Stevan and I have grown quite close. When I was baptized into the Eastern Orthodox Church he became my godfather. His presence has been like having my own flesh and blood incarnation of God, another statement he wouldn’t be able to disown fast enough.  He is kind and gentle, compassionate and loving, holy and pure, patient and humble. I don’t believe he knows what anger or frustration are.

So what is this post all about?…certainly not just a window into a side of me that I rarely talk about. Well yes and no…I do want you to know about this side of me, I think it will help you understand me and my writing better, but no I’m not trying to convert you or anything remotely like it. I’m not trying to convince you of the presence of God…or of the Truth of Creation.

So what is it?…it’s about being honest, being open, being vulnerable, being authentic, and being real. It is about telling the Truth. My journey through this life has been exciting and painful, thrilling and suicidal, adventurous and paranoid. At one time my living expenses were $33,000 a month and my income far exceeded my expenses. Other times I stood in front of a Coke machine and cried because I didn’t have enough money…and this was when they were only cost 35 cents. I have run across America and stood in front of thousands telling about it and I’ve slept in a dark alley next to a dumpster because I had nowhere else to go. I have known personal pain so severe I didn’t know if I could draw my next breath and happiness so complete I didn’t have words to express it.

I have been delivered…I have been set free…I am alive…and anyone and everyone can do it…no matter where you are at, or what you have done, or what has been done to you…so please…be encouraged!

New Post

It has been quite a while since I have published a post of my own content.  There have been roughly two reasons for this. The first being that my energies have gone into the two projects that I hold dear to my heart a) writing my book and (b) the creation of LifeRevelation as a company.  The second reason was I kept finding great, life-changing content from other blogs that I wanted to reblog. I felt they had a great message and I wanted to do my part in spreading the good news.

Now I have something I want to talk about.

But first let me entertain you with a story.

The morning was overcast. In fact, for several previous hours it had been pouring down rain.  Now it looked like the front may move on, or maybe it would start raining again. I was a poor predictor of weather. Whatever I thought it was going to do, it usually did the opposite, but today I really wanted the sun to shine.

It was April 1, 1996 and this was an important day. It was the beginning of my run across America. I had planned, trained, and fretted about this day for the past eighteen months. There were thousands of little tiny details which needed to fall perfectly in place, and they had. Looking back it was a miracle I had gotten to this point. Everything had to point to this moment. Any number of things could have gone wrong, but they didn’t. People I never expected and people I didn’t know had stepped up and volunteered their time, money, and energies to make this happen.

My ego had dreamed about the hundreds who would come to see me begin. The business men and women who would delay their morning agendas to come down to the beach. The local runners who would write notes to schools so their children could witness this event. Local news outlets would jockey for the best position to catch the boardwalk, the sand, the ocean, and me in the early morning light.

Then there was reality and reality was proving my ego to be a damn liar.

On the beach that fateful morning was my wife Susie and I, and two other people and a dog. A husband and wife out teaching their black Lab to fetch. He was picking up the rudiments of fetching pretty quickly.

My Timex Ironman watch digitally moved closer to the 8:00 start time. I tried to control my wavering emotions; “God I am beginning a run across America!” “This is nuts there are only two people and a dog here.” “I am about to start an adventure of a lifetime.” “There are only two people and a dog here?”

Susie walked over to the lady to tell her what we were doing and to ask if she would photograph us. The lady agreed without any comment on our big adventure.

My watch said 8:00, it was time. Susie and I took off our shoes and strolled into the Pacific Ocean up to our ankles. Immediately we noticed the jellyfish completely surrounding us. “Just great” I thought to myself, “five seconds into the run and I get attacked by jellyfish. No amount of training prepared me for this.”

But the jellyfish kept their distant and Susie and I did the quickest hug, smile, and jump out of the water combination on record. Fortunately the lady manning the camera seemed to have great reflexes because she got a picture of us before we landed on the sand.

A few moments later my running shoes were laced and I was running down Pacific Grove’s Ocean View Boulevard.

That is when it hit me:


Never before in my life have I ever wanted to quit something so badly. Every ounce of my being wanted to stop right then and there. Maybe Susie could claim the wounded woman and get her old job back as CFO of a trucking company. I could claim an injury…or temporary insanity…or just come clean and say, “Sorry you all. This is just more than I can do.”

All the time I was possessed by these thoughts I kept running. I didn’t do it because I knew I could run through these doubts. It just never occurred to me I could quit while I was thinking about how to quit, and save my marriage.

I knew Susie would kill me if I quit. On training runs when I would be nearly dying after running 50+ miles in 90 degree heat with 93% humidity, Susie would pull up in our car and ask, “Can’t you do another mile or two? I mean come on, you can make at least that little bit, can’t you? Being married to Susie was not for the faint of heart.

I began to notice something as I ran. I felt good. In fact, I felt like I was floating along. There was no effort to swinging my arms forward. My head rested evenly releasing any tension in my shoulders. My legs felt like they were floating and my feet thought they were wrapped in pillows.

But something else was also going on. This was on a much deeper level. A sense of peace was bubbling to the surface. The panic began to dissipate. I felt free. The clouds where rolling away and so was my ego and worry. The sun came out and I began to ease into the running I knew I could do for miles on end.

When you look at what is going on in your life, how does it feel? Are there situations and circumstances that just scare the bejesus out of you? Are sometimes you just down right afraid? Is fear as real to you as tonight’s TV schedule?

May I suggest a quality that my eighth grade home room teacher called, “Stick-to-it-tiveness.” I call it perseverance. It is not a wonder drug that will cure every heart, soul, mental, and physical ailment known to mankind. But what it will do in certain situations is help you get through some pretty rough patches in your life.

If one thing worked for everybody we wouldn’t have any problems in the world. One size doesn’t fit all. But occasionally what has worked for one person will help out another.

Be encouraged!

Moving On Up!


As many of you know, I am writing a book about the lessons I learned while running 3160 miles across the United States. The tentative title is Running Across America & Down Other Roads. I would like to announce that I am the little guy at the top of the diagram above who is doing the Happy Dance. Actually I am not represented on the diagram. I am somewhere in between “I Will Do It” and “Yes, I Did It!” I think my position could best be described as “I Am Doing It.”

“I Am Doing It,” isn’t all that bad of a place to be. I have overcome the “I Won’t Do It” phase. It only took about sixteen years for me to finally be victorious. My basic reason for struggling so long at the base of the stairs was because I had this love/hate relationship with what I had accomplished. No doubt, running across this incredible country of ours is the greatest physical feat I have accomplished. However, for years when people discovered what I had done, I was met with one of two responses: 1) That is awesome, tell me about it. or 2) Hmmm, I wonder if dinner is ready.

Either folks wanted to know every detail starting with why and finishing with how or they didn’t want to hear another word about it. I loved explaining to people all the ins and outs of the run, but response number 2 left me bewildered, feeling awkward, and, in the interest of complete honesty, a little hurt. Overall it left me not wanting to talk about it, because I never knew what the reaction was going to be.

My wrestling with fear of success/failure kept me from moving for years. As I realized (I am a very slow learner) that people’s response should not be the governing factor on how I live my life, my writing began.

Once I got started the rest of the steps went by easily. I figured out how to organize my research, thoughts, ideas, various journals, notes, photos, and recollections. Susie-who is the world’s greatest organizer-pitched in and got me going on the right track. Publishers got interested and now I’m writing, editing, and immensely enjoying the process.

But I want to ask you, Where are you at on the steps? What are the reasons for where you are? What will it take to move up a step? What holds you back? Why not move today?

Let me know.

Be encouraged!

How I Ran Across the US


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!

Virtue #3 – Ambition


Well here is one virtue I think at first glance we all go, “Hmm, are you sure about this?”

Everyone of us knows someone who has taken ambition, cut the chain, and ran with it. They have run so far with it that ambition no longer looks like ambition. It looks more like greed and walking all over people to get what you want (e.g., Michael Douglas in Wall Street).

Yet let’s back up and look at ambition in its true sense. defines the word as:


  1. an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.
  2. the object, state, or result desired or sought after
  3. desire for work or activity; energy

I will admit the first definition about desiring to achieve power and/or fame makes me a slight bit uneasy, but only because of their abuse. The word earnest thrown in their before the word desire creates for me a better feeling. Mainly because when I think of earnest, I think sincere and honest.

I don’t believe we have to make a choice between being ambitious and having principles. I would like to think I have ambition. Actually, I believe I have above average ambition. I know as I made the effort to turn my life around I was very ambitious. I was not going to fail. My entire focus was in breaking the bonds that I had created in my old life and establishing new positive valuable ones.

When I ran the 3,160 miles across the United States I definitely had the desire. As I have created this blog, worked on my book, and sought speaking engagements to spread hope, motivation, and success I have had ambition.

In our marriage, Susie and I have exercised ambition to be happy and content. Growing up our children understood that ambition is a necessary quality to live life to its fullest. We have already discussed with our six-year-old grandson what ambition is and how it is correctly used.

Ambition has an old fashion feel; like somehow we are now beyond the concept. Yet pure ambition can be used to propel you beyond the roadblocks and obstacles of life. It can be used to harness your positive energies and open a world of possibilities.


As I’ve written this I have struggled with exactly how to portray this virtue. On the one hand, I want to caution against the run away freight train that turns ambition into nothing more than clawing one’s way up the ladder of life.  While on the other, I want you to understand I believe ambition is an essential feature to be successful; whether we are talking about careers, marriages, friendships, or companies.

Like most elements of life I think there is a tension that exists between good and evil. Lack too little ambition and you end up sitting in the basement of your parent’s house playing video games every day for the rest of your life. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you will ruthlessly walk over people and principles to attain power/fame/wealth.

Ambition is good, too much and you have a problem. Be ambitious, but be cautious.

Be encouraged!

Before We Go Any Further

Stop Sign 2 Clip Art




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 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 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 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?”


Here is what I propose:





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