Sunday, June 7, 2009

My visit with an old friend today....

I had one of those runs I remember from years past when I entered into that zone. I had gone back and forth all day on whether I would run or not making up several excuses if I had chosen not to.
I succumbed to them all and headed out from my house around 7:00pm. It was still quite warm, maybe up in the 80's but I did take a sports drink with me.
I started off the run with Afro Celts Sound System cd called "Anatomic" , good music to run to and allow your mind to wander.

It felt good out there running and noticed people along the way waving which is always a boost.I passed people walking on the course and was greeted with a smile and encouragement. My first milestone was at the 2 mile mark where my last run on this course began the mental and physical breakdown.

It did not happen today, at that point I took off my shirt and started drinking Gatorade, I was beginning to feel the flow.
I had some good moments of thought, about how my friend Wes and I use to run together, I talked with him some. I thought of my dad as well and talked with him as well.

Before I knew it I was 4 miles in and knew I was not going to stop until I reached 6 miles.

It felt really good and I even felt strong enough the last mile to pick up the pace.

It has been MANY years since I have run this far without walking, without pain and without doubts.

I so needed it for mental and physical reasons. It was nice to be back in that zone and I equate it to meeting up with an old friend and picking up the conversation like there was never a pause.

I now have the mental and physical validation I was seeking and hope this is the foundation and starting point of my second foray into running.

I finished up overjoyed, confident and emotionally uplifted.

Funny how when you run your problems and concerns never want to join, I like that.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wes, running trails and I

"Let's go run the trails at Kennesaw Mountain!" Wes said to me. We had been training on pavement for a long time, all around Marietta, up Hwy 41, Franklin Road and the Marietta loop. I was a bit reluctant because trails meant strange areas, critters, the unknown.

I agreed and we met at the Visitors Center at Kennesaw Mountain and agreed to run a 6 mile loop. "Take it easy it is not the same as running on pavement" Wes said.

We took off running and within the first 10 yards I tripped and fell literally on my face, embarrassed as well as shocked I got up and wiped myself off, I had abrasions and blood on my hands and knees. "Do you want to quit?" Wes asked me as we laughed it off as we did most things.

"No way!", I said trying to keep my pride intact.

"The thing about trails is that you can enjoy the great scenery but know there are a lot of bumps, rocks, tree limbs etc to get in your way, you will learn to run comfortably with an anticipatory gait which will allow you to enjoy the course." he remarked so we took off for one of many runs through the 18 mile loop of trails. Most of the time we did not even talk, we just ran and took in the historical moments of what actually went on there during the Civil War.

There are still the war trenches and cannons through the run but what is most memorable was the silence and beauty of it all.

I had no idea what lessons I was learning about life on those trails during that time. I was still young and life was a simple paved road with everything laid out plainly in site; little did know.

I ran those same trails today and it has been over 15 years or more since I have run that course. It is a brutal, unforgiven course of long and short hills but what really takes my breath away is not so much the hills but the silence, the beauty and memories of running there with Wes many years ago.

It is still a tough course and many times I wanted to quit but I stayed focused, I enjoyed the scenery and it brought back so many memories. At one point I saw a family of deer crossing the trail ahead of me.

Wes was not with me physically but I so felt his presence as I took my time avoiding the obstacles that could trip me up.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Music that molds me....

I think music is one thing everyone has in common despite the different genres that are out there.
I was very fortunate to have exposure to a lot of different types of music growing up whether it was my parent's, my older sister, and friends.
Earlier in life it was more entertaining, the beat, dancing, spinning in circles in our living room until I was dizzy.
As I reached my teens it took on many other meanings, and lyrics were the lure from being "infactuated" with some girl or the defining of a so call heart break through a certain song wallowing in the perceived pain.

I had the pleasure of spending one of my many years in music in choir where Mr. Jackson, our choral director who made us understand, dissect and feel the meaning in the lyrics and melody. He exposed us to all types and opened up my eyes to the poetic and melodic direction.

It is quite a warming experience for me now after many, many years how much music played a part in defining my character and the lens of how I view life.
I love listening to songs of my youth and realizing that I have reached a point in my life where the meaning of certain lyrics are prevalent in my life today.

Of course my parents gave me the firm foundation and sense of values, music allowed me to expand on that solid foundation in many different ways.

As I go back and experience the music of the past I am blessed that I can look back and smile knowing I understand where the music has lead me to and helped be the person I am today.

The learning and growing never ends, the feelings never cease but expand.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rain and thoughts....

It has been raining here steadily for two days and it got me thinking as I dash in and out trying to stay dry.
For the past 4 years I have read everything I could get my hands on about the Vietnam war, I remember seeing pieces of coverage on TV and the casualty numbers but really too young to digest at the time.

I cannot answer to why I have been so obsessed with reading about many types of experiences during this conflict but my insatiable appetite has made me more aware and appreciative of what all soldiers went through.

Every book I have read talks of monsoon season where it pours buckets, on a daily, weekly basis and how the men had to live in it, no cover, warmth or protection...and oh yeah, people trying to kill them as well.

I cannot say I understand that conflict or war in itself but it makes me more tolerant of my perceived discomforts. I am appreciative of my choices and options as well as appreciative of the arm forces choice to serve.

On rainy days, hot and cold days when all I can do is remain in relative comfort I realize that there are others who do not have those options.

The people I passed at the public transportation stop huddled in the rain, being downtown and seeing homeless people walking in the elements allowed me to say a silent prayer of God bless them.
There are no easy solutions but awareness, empathy and concern is a great start. I do not think we stop to think how fortunate and blessed we are......I do ....daily.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"This Woman's Work"

I first heard this song in the Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth McGovern movie "She's having a baby" and I remember the scene which was a very emotional to this day. It is probably the only song I can recall from Kate Bush.

I also heard it performed by Maxwell and it invokes the same feelings maybe more. It is such a beautiful song from many views. The respect I have for women in their role as mothers and the tribulations and imminent danger of bearing a child could bring.

The lyrics also speak of words not spoken, gestures not made and feelings unreveal and the pain of realizing that certain things in life can be painful left undone. Closure is a fair analogy but always looked upon as finality but, one can argue that every moment, breath and step we embark on could be the ending of our time.

Listening to "This Woman's Work" takes me on a journey of appreciation of so many things and it touches me deep confirming that I am not only alive in existence but in feelings and it makes me smile in which there are no words worthy of describing.

I am not sure if I complicate things by my thinking but going on a journey with the company of a song takes me to place places familiar and some not so familiar but I always follow where I am lead.

I'm just saying that I was taken on this journey today after listening to this song and I wanted to share my insight.

I beg to differ on the line in the song, "make it go away"...I prefer to revel in it and let it go away in time on it's on time...I guess that is closure.....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Countdown or should I say count up to 50...

So there it is....I am not reluctant to admit that next year, February 1, I turn the BIG 50!
I talked with someone (I will not name) who will turn 50 this weekend and she was not that thrilled to say the least.
I am actually fine with it. I consider myself a youthful type of guy, some (wife and daughter call it immaturity, my sons will not dare comment out of fear....I mean respect), I do laugh, A LOT...I wear Under Armour workout gear and hats, my daughter and son's friends think I am cool. I am in pretty good shape...did an hour plus of cardio yesterday ending with a mile run and leg workout, I can still run up to 6 miles maybe more if I am being chased.
The grayness tends to accumulate on my face, very little on my head and I do have a full head of hair, I will stop there. I have two younger brothers who have more gray on their heads and a bit soft around the middle so take that Gerald and David. David is a Fulton County Sheriff so I better be careful.

Speaking of my clowning around and my brother David I have a story....David dropped by my house a while back in the squad car, as he came up to the door to ring the doorbell I ran out the back door and down the street when David on cue (unrehearsed mind you)started chasing me and pretending to yell in his radio "office in pursuit!"
He caught me by the tennis courts and we pretended to tussle as he was trying to cuff me. Of course there were neighbors watching in horror until we started cracking up hysterically! I guess you had to be there.

I digress but anyway on my 40th birthday I got a tattoo, yes a real one, a Superman emblem with the words from a Seal song, "State of Grace" around it (if you dare check out the lyrics, you may get it). No, I was not intoxicated, I actually went during lunch on my birthday and of course shocked everyone. I also had to answer to my mom 3 months later when my sister accidently showed her video from my party. She was a bit mad but laughed it off saying I was always the different one....what? running marathons, triathlons, white river rafting, SCUBA diving with sharks, dating out of my race was not thrillseeking enough? Sorry I had to bring that up.

So what will I do for the BIG 50? Tattoo...possibly...earring....doubt mom would really freak and no I am afraid of her, I am a man! Ha...Ha...really I respect her A LOT!
I would like a "midlife crisis convertible but my slush fund is quite small these days but I will do something!!

I would like to run a 1/2 marathon and work my way up to a full again but not sure if my body can take the pounding, we will see but what I do know is that I will be a very fit and fit looking 50!

I probably will never really grow dear friend Wes taught me that age is a number and should not dictate certain behaviour, that laughing is better than crying and smiling always beats a frown.

My father and best friend Wes passed away at 54....I hope to exceed that number but if I do not I will go out laughing....unless it hurts real bad!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One would think.....

Or really does anyone get use to or comfortable with death? Maybe a mortician, EMS worker of doctor but at this point in my life I have walked through people I knew and people I knew closely dying. I can remember as early as my sophomore year of High School when prior to going to band camp I went to see my ailing grandfather and was blown away by all of the machines and tubes coming out of him. It scared me more than anything and he actually died while I was at camp and I was not told until camp was over. My parents did not want to interrupt my first year in the marching band. I cannot say that I felt sorrow but always wishing that I did not house the memory of him in the hospital and it was quite difficult for me to remember him in a normal setting.

I also remember this girl that I sat next to in band that I cannot ever remember her conversing with anyone. She appeared solemn and later she committed suicide, I have thought of her often and wondered what demons she was holding inside.

I taught swimming with this guy, Henry Schoonover, who was a bit older but I knew that he wrestled for a rival high school; he was very good and quite popular. I was thrilled to have him as a co-worker and friend. Often between teaching swimming classes we would use the gymnastic mats to go over some wrestling moves. He was a remarkable guy and had earned an appointment to the Naval Academy. I’m not sure when I found out but he ran into some bad karma there injuring his back and getting involved with a woman I a thinking was not good for him or vice versa. Anyway, unable to wrestle and dealing with a family before he was ready he committed suicide. It shocked me but I do not remember it going any farther in my coming to grips with it.

My “Bigmama” grandmother passed away shortly after and what a lady, I spent a lot of time growing up over her house sitting on the porch and talking every afternoon. I cannot remember her ever being angry with me and while I was sad she passed away, it was also a relief because she had been ill for so long. I remember my mom calling me over to the house the morning she died and how I felt when I saw her trying to confirm that she was actually dead.

I thought at the time that I was due a break from people around me dying then the next year my dad was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. I was stunned at first and it took me a long time to process the reality my father dying which put me in a state of denial. He told me he needed me to be strong and we spent many a day talking about life and everything else in between. He was taking this concoction called Bromptons (?) which was a liquid morphine and I believe cocaine mix to ward off the intense pain he was in. I remember the X markings on his body to guide the radiation treatments given to reduce the size of the massive tumor on his lung.

He lasted several months, longer than they gave him and it appeared that he made up his mind to make it to Christmas and New Years. It was a few days after January 1st when I felt he chose to let go and the decline was rapid. I still do not know why I chose to stay over the night he died; I remember talking to a friend saying I do not think he will last a week. I had no idea that he would lose his battle that night, January 8th, 1985 at 2:21 am. I was laying down in front of the fireplace when shortly after my mom called me to his bedside where he took his last breath. I remember the pained look on his face which bothered me and it was then that I finally cried. I also remember the complete silence in the room, having lung cancer is not pretty and the labored breathing still comes to mind whenever I hear a coffee percolator. He was 54 and told me earlier that he was not afraid to die and felt he had lived a long full life….this was a rare moment that I recall my dad was wrong.

Through the years after going to multiple funerals on a regular basis I felt that I had become numb to death. Sure I felt sorrow but not too much because growing older and having older relatives pass away was becoming routine.

I think there is a line in the scripture that states, “Death is Sure”, but I really do not give it much thought. I have become more paranoid or even hypochondriac (ish) thinking that I will develop cancer due to my family’s history. There are times when I have been convinced that cancer is developing inside of me and I am obsessed with cutting it off at the pass. I also have hypertension so I am under a cardiologist’s care as well as several medications. I do wonder at times what will knock me off.

Wes, my friend who passed away last month opened my eyes to a sense of reality. I am still in disbelief that he died and I actually dreamed about him last night and remember crying when I saw him. My mom has always said do not put a human on a pedestal. It was not that Wes was on a pedestal but he was a fitness fanatic, a coach and Physical Education teacher and in my eyes, someone who would live a long time. Wes could do anything, he was strong not just in a physical way but his whole being was strong. Other than my parents I cannot think of anyone who has affected me more; he was a life coach to me.
I guess his passing was a gut checking reality to me; realization confirming that all of our days are numbered and not on our own personal timetable.

This past few weeks after his death has seen me walk gingerly through life; trying to avoid the inevitable like I really can control the time and place. It is constantly on my mind now that I too can drop dead at any time regardless of my fitness level and medications. Walking into the house, into my office, anywhere it is like I am trying to look around the corner for the reaper to appear. My physical steps are gingerly taken and I need to wake out of this.

This is my attempt at accepting the inevitable….I guess by trying to freeze frame every moment, succumbing to the fact that the only thing you can really be sure of is death and yes taxes. My legacy is what I am working now. Maybe writing about it is comforting knowing that those who care about me will have a glimpse of what I feel.

What I need to focus on is living each day like it was my last, leaving nothing undone.