Saturday, February 14, 2009


Second bad long run in a row for both T and I. Last week I blamed it in sudden weather changes. This week it dawned on me -- we are both wearing the same shoes we completed the marathon in. Duh. My legs are hurting because my shoes are dead.

Looks like I get to spend Monday on a Columbia trip to buy new running shoes. Chances are, I'm hanging up the 2130s (or whatever number they are on these days) for something with better arch support.

Yay for new shoes. Boo on crappy-feeling long runs.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Back on My Feet

It's a phenomenon that is happening more often than I like. Just before Christmas, I shared that a romantic comedy made me cry. This morning, an article in Runner's World is making me pause every few paragraphs to avoid bursting into full-out tears.

Yesterday was one of those strange magazine days. I found both the February and March issues of Runner's World in my mailbox. And not wanting to get ahead of myself, I've been paging through February while sneaking jealous glances at the March issue. That is, until I settled in on this story.

I turned to the middle first, where I saw a funny pull-quote: "It's like I'm doing a butt-lick." Solomon yelled. The runner beside him looked puzzled. "I mean fartlek!"

What on earth kind of story inspires that kind of quote? I paged back. "The first time Mike Solomon smoked crack, he ran."

Surely this isn't a story telling runners they should start drugs...

Course not. It's a story about a running ministry. A group of homeless men led by a Crazy Running Girl, who believes training for a half marathon will help them get back on their feet -- hence their name "Back on My Feet."

You can read the story online here.

A little under a year ago, I accidentally provided the catalyst for an ecumenical clergy group -- men and women who meet once a month at the Salvation Army shelter. We talk about the needs of the shelter and folks who are staying there -- and the ones who are unable to get in. We talk about how our churches can get involved.

I'm not entirely sure the shelter needs us -- the woman who essentially runs the place is an incredibly gifted person. She is passionate about the people who set foot in her "home" and loves them dearly. I'm convinced anyone who hears her speak would immediate do anything in their power to help -- so she hardly needs a group of haphazard clergy and a goofy religious reporter (that would be me) to motivate church members.

But we need them. We need to be reminded that our daily actions have an impact on how others live -- or don't live. We need to step into the shelter and see the artwork on the walls and hear the stories of the individuals who rely on the location where we meet for their next meal; for their home of being back on their feet.

Back on My Feet and the Friends of the Salvation Army Coalition remind me that we all need someone to count on. We all need to know someone is with us. Whether that is a fellow runner or someone who sacrifices her time to sit beside you in a hospital room and rejoice with you on the good days.

The folks of BOMF (as they call it) have learned that there are no shortcuts in the world of distance running. The road knows when you've put the miles in. And the same is true in life. We can accomplish amazing things when we take that first step and put in the hard work of living well.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Walking with the big dogs

I had a fantastic revelation while eating lunch. I hate football. No that isn’t the revelation. But since about 95.6% (give or take) of the U.S. population would be enjoying the Super Bowl game – or at least the commercials, I would go to the gym. It was brilliant.

I loaded some lectures onto my rarely used mp3 player and prepared to listen to Madeleine L’Engle or Tony Campolo or Don Miller while trying out the 3-in-1 cardio machine.

Got in my car, put on my retired Mizuno running shoes and prepared to put my fabulous idea into practice. Only one problem. I got to the gym half an hour before it would close for the day. Who knew they closed at 6 on Sundays.

Determined not to waste my cardio energy, I decided to park at the trail head and get a good walk in.

While listening to Madeleine talk about fantasy (read more about this on my non-running blog at, I set out on my familiar trail.
About a mile and a half out -- past all the office buildings and the Italian restaurant –- I see a rather large dog next to the trail. As I saw no person with the dog, this gave me pause. It begins to cross the road, and I follow it with my gaze. Another dog. They seem to be headed away from the trail, so I keep walking. Then I see it. Something too big to be a dog following behind. That’s when it hits me –- these aren’t dogs, they are deer. My this point, I’m less than a quarter mile away and still walking -– more slowly now -– toward them. A fourth deer stops before reaching the road and looks at me.

I pause Madeleine, amazed by the scene before me. The four make it across the road about the time I reach the place they had been standing on the trail. Then I hear it. To my left, in the little wilderness area by the trail, are at least three more deer (it’s dark at this point, and we are far enough away from the streetlamps that I can’t tell the still deer from the rest of the landscape). A couple are still moving around, and one – the biggest – studies me. I stop moving and look back. We both stood there for a moment or two; both curious and perhaps cautious. I hear a clicking noise, and they all run back in the forest.

And I realize: this is not something that happens in a gym. BUT, since I’m listening (or at least was until I paused) to a talk on fantasy, I had to picture running on a treadmill while a herd (or flock or gaggle, whatever) of deer frolic by in front of me. As fun as that would be –- I think the outdoors have got something magical!

So, all you football fans, keep your game and your commercials. I’ll keep walking with the deer.