First photo essay from Jr’s European tour Spring 2013


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Catching up with Jr; part 2 The Euro Tour or Jr. Storms Europe

Jr is currently travelling through Europe. He is suffering from jet lag. A couple of days ago in Germany at 10 am he was still lying in bed snoring away. The night before while mom and dad tried to sleep, Jr sat on the edge of the bed babbling away. Three year olds by no fault of their own don’t understand time zones.

Another night at 1:30 am (7:30 pm home time) he was on the floor in 3 year old push up position. When I asked him what he was doing he told me that he was exercising to keep his body “healthy!”

This exercising thing is really taking off. Currently we are in Spain. This morning at breakfast I asked him to get off the floor. He said, “No,” then stood up and stretched his hands way up in the air and told me he was, “exercising!” He proceeded to do some deep knee bends followed by some big arms circles.

Two days ago we travelled by train covering a distance that would have taken us at least three hours by car (not counting possible time being lost) in just over an hour. Train travel in Europe is great but if you are in a country not of your native tongue don’t expect a lot of help or pleasant service from the ticket agents. There are sour people everywhere I guess.

When I am travelling in a foreign land I find it smart to try and live a little bit as a local would. The first day in a new area I try and find a grocery counter where I can make a small transaction like buying some bottled water and a little fruit. This helps to ingratiate me to the area. Buying some fruits or vegetables helps stabilize my diet. One of the first things that often disappears from your diet when you travel are these micronutrient foods. Find something you like that is in season first and then branch out as you become more experienced with the local cuisine. For instance in Shanghai I bought some lychee fruit initially then when I grew bolder later I bought some meat from a street vendor. Here in Spain the oranges seem abundant and fresh so I’ve been chowing down on a fruit treat that seems less and less available in season and quality where we live. This one little thing helps to overcome fear of a strange new place, teaches me a little about how local commerce is done and also allocates me some supplies. Plus you’ll save money buying groceries and eating from street vendors instead of in restaurants all of the time. Slowly as I learn the lay of the area I will enlarge my circles and scopes of terrain as my comfort grows with the area. When travelling with Jr finding a park, play ground or play area is high on the priority list also. Three year olds also have no concept of the significance of historic sites. Dragging them constantly to and fro is hardly fair. Finding a balance of fun kid stuff, warm family moments and interesting adult stuff helps make for a far more enjoyable vacation for everyone.

Jr is at stage where he gifts us some of the most adorable moments.

He says, “OTAY,” instead of okay just like Buckwheat from The Little Rascals.

When you ask him a question as a failsafe he usually replies with, “no,” first. Then he thinks about the question and will often change his answer to “yes” if he was offered something in his favor such as a bike ride or a cookie!

The other day he asked me to make a heart with him. “Heart me dad,” he asked. I thought he meant make a heart for him so I patted my heart and then pointed at his. “No,” he said as he shook his head. “Make a heart {with me}.” He then made hand gestures implying that I do it with my hands.

“Oh,” I thought and I made a heart shape with my hands.

Still he shook his head. He grabbed my hand and joined it with his. Now I got it! Together we made a heart shape with one of his hands and one of mine. Is there anything sweeter than that?

He thinks potty humor is funny. He routinely will add “poop” into any conversation. “Poop,” and “poopy” seem to be the “butt” of his sense of humor. Every spoken “poop,” is followed by many giggles.

The other day he asked a couple of his mom’s lady peers from work if they had wee wees like his daddy and he has?!?!

He likes whales. Not just any whales though. He likes Humpback whales.

When he says yellow it comes out like “jello.”

Stop is, “BOP!”

At home much of our living room is taken up by a giant cardboard rocket ship that Jr painted himself. Maybe that inspires Jr to the stars, I don’t know? What it does encourage is lots of painting, coloring and creative play. It also inspires mom and dad to wish for more room.

Jr has a stunning (I mean STUNNING) amount of energy. He can go and go and go.

Mrs. Daddio has travelled quite a bit for work the past couple of years.  When she is gone Jr’s verve can wear dad out. Last time she was away some of his activities included playing in the mud and ice after school (I guess that’s my fault for being the permissive one), keeping me up until odd hours of the night and snow days and sleigh rides with dad pulling.

One day he discovered his testicles in the tub! He told me there was two of them! He was quite scared by them, thinking something was wrong! When I explained to him that it was okay and that I also had a pair he felt much relieved. The next time he was in the tub he felt a lot better. When he asked to see mine though, shy dad felt a little uncomfortable!

He will often join you in the potty. There is no private time in our house anymore. When you are about half way through he will insist that he also has to go and that it is an emergency!

Still he is very sweet. When mom was away last the time span included Valentine’s Day. He was very excited to receive Valentine’s from his teachers (really they were from his peers but the teachers handed them out). He was also sad for me because I didn’t get any. He thus shared his with me.

At school they have circle time. He goes to a Spanish Emersion Montessori preschool and of course his teachers there are Hispanic. When we flew to Spain a couple of days ago the stewardesses on the plane were also of Hispanic descent. He was excited to see them and exclaimed pointing, “Teachers!”

The other day on our walk around Zaragoza the Spanish city we are in we came across a park where of course we had some play time. At the park some moms were having circle time with their young ones singing and playing. Wouldn’t you know it Jr went right up and asked to join with sad puppy dog eyes. The nice ladies welcomed him to their group and Jr wasn’t any the wiser.

In Germany he went with me to visit with my cousin and her family including her daughter (so his second and third cousins). He was very excited and when we were a bit lost he was sad because he couldn’t find his family. When we did find their flat finally and he got to meet them for the first time I don’t think I’ve ever seen him happier. He loves all of his family; parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents (of course) and pseudo aunts and uncles and friends alike.

When mom was away recently he insisted that we made sure we had a “birthday cake” and flowers to greet her with upon her return. The day before mom arrived home we franticly cleaned the house and then went out to get her some nice things to make her meals with over her return home weekend. When we arrived home until we picked her up at the airport Jr would not eat any of the nice things we had gotten for mom, not even the cake or sweet goods. He was on a hunger strike!

I don’t go away as often as my lovely bride the beautiful, “Mother of Jr” but occasionally I do go away for a weekend for work or an activity. When I went away to run my birthday marathon (yes I know crazy way to celebrate) a couple of weeks ago Jr did something sweet and unexpected that he also does when his mom is away. He insisted on having a picture with dad in it, present at the dinner table! Yes my heart breaks too and when I returned home only two days later I swear he had grown exponentially..

Miss a day, miss a lot.

Peace and love all.



Opportunities…to have your cake and eat it too!

The other day I celebrated my 40th birthday. Never has there been a happier 40 year old. I feel so very lucky to have such a great family to share my life experiences with, to have such a beautiful wife and son to share life’s joy with is blessed. Jr was pretty happy with the whole affair too. He spends parts of every day in search of birthday cake. For him to actually find treasure is priceless. Even though it wasn’t his birthday cake (insert Jr doing his cute, sad face here with a sound clip of, “ahhhhhh” in the back ground); it was still mostly his and he didn’t mind sharing at all. Truth be told he actually likes the concept of birthday cake more than the cake itself. Once he has a slice in front of him, after a few bites he is pretty pleased to move on to the next big thing.

At my cake cutting ceremony besides my family were some close friends. Included amongst them were a couple of pals of Jr’s. All told including our Jr there was a two year old, a 3 year old and a 4 year old. They made a racket that made you go, “wow.” They also make you go wow in other ways. By the time they will be school age (5) they will all know or be able to;

  •          their colors and shapes in both Spanish and English
  •          count, also in both languages
  •          Jr’s friends will be Spanish-English bilingual and Jr will have basic Spanish speaking and comprehension skills
  •          some basic math skills like addition, subtraction and most likely some multiplication and maybe division too
  •          the alphabet
  •          rudimentary reading and writing
  •          spell their names
  •          paint, color and quite possibly draw some
  •          use scissors appropriately as well as glue

They will also all have some stage presence and experience and also athletic experience. Of course they will also possess some computer skills and be able to teach their parents how to use the remote control on the television!  All of them will have travelled to multiple regions of both the United States and at least one other country. Speaking on Jr’s behalf he has already been on three continents and to both North American coasts. Barring complete disaster he will also be able to play the violin; which if you’ve been to one of his lessons is not completely out of the realm of possibility (complete disaster that is!)!

This makes me go wow. After all this is a skill set that goes beyond that of some adults I have met! At the very least it is beyond that of what I recall from my peer group growing up. They are also separated from many of their own generation by one thing, opportunity. Our children have had the opportunity to access early childhood education with supportive parents at home. They have always had available good nutrition and a clean, safe home environment. Jr’s artwork hangs about our house and there are always art supplies available (out and open) for him to use. Mom and dad are not musically inclined so we have sought sources of outside help to help educate both Jr and us in this ubiquitous discipline. He is allowed to help with chores and projects and hears yes, okay and sure often, even when maybe it makes more work for mom and dad. Learning tools and access to education are a big part of the process of education. In this small sample size it is hard not to have a little wow factor as per just how big a role they play.

Peace and love all.


Jr is in Europe this month. Of course he is not there alone. Mom and dad are travelling with him. Over the next month keep checking back in here at Dad’s Point of View for photo essays and updates as Jr storms Europe.

Catching up with Jr; Part 1


Dad and son camp out in the living room

Dad and son camp out in the living room


Jr cooking a marshmellow in the fireplace and yes that is a rocketship in the foreground!

Jr cooking a marshmellow in the fireplace and yes that is a rocketship in the foreground!


Dad and son practicing our tent sleeping at home

Dad and son practicing our tent sleeping at home

As the saying goes, miss a week miss a lot. When you have a three year old missing a week might as well be missing a year. While I’ve been busy…well…being busy and while I have written…it has been mostly non- Junior related we have all missed out on the retelling of some great Junior three and a half year old moments. The time for retelling is upon us.

Naps are now rare and 110% is the new calm, 200% the new normal and 300% the new busy. Sleep is now the most precious commodity on the planet!

The park is one of our favorite places, all of them, “That one over there and that one over there, and hmmmm, that one over there,” as Jr would say, pointing in every direction as he talks.

Buildings we visit regularly are houses. For instance Jr’s Montessori School is in a community center. He refers to it as the teacher’s house. At the teacher’s house he tells me they have food, “apple juice and water and crackers and cheese and carrots and blech, I don’t like that,” describing something he is not fond of. He also tells me that is where they keep his friends!

 Date night is now a rented family movie streamed digitally and some homemade popcorn cooked on the stove.

Last Friday we camped overnight…in the living room. I set up a tent and made a fire and we roasted marshmellows.  Jr and I slept in sleeping bags in the tent. I didn’t quite fit and Jr insisted we zipper up the flap. Luckily it was one of those play tents with an opening to attach a tunnel to. I was able to sneak my feet and legs out the tunnel hole and fun was had by all. Mrs. Daddio had a good night’s sleep without me cramping up the bed and Jr fell asleep by the fire in his sleeping bag. When I woke in the morning wrapped up in my own sleeping bag my back hurt only half as much as I thought it would. That means we can do this all again some other time!

Here is one about me. I don’t like going to the doctor’s office. Either you go there and waste a whole bunch of time or you go there and they find something wrong with you. I don’t want either of those things.

Though still sweet and innocent and mommy’s and daddy’s little boy Junior shows tremendous signs of independence. He loves to help clean be it the floors or with the snow shoveling. If he is asked to wait, “just a minute” enough times he might just do something on his own or get whatever he wanted himself. He is not afraid to voice his opinion. He will move to the front of the line when necessary (a good trait for an only brother to posses) and has a quiet confidence to stay on task intrinsically. I believe of course, some of these traits are inherent to his character but I also wonder if our encouraging parenting and concentrated efforts to say yes more than we say “NO” has helped nurture his abilities to cope.

Jr has recently been transitioning from the, I will stick to what I am comfortable with stage to the, I am ready to start trying new things again stage. This is a great time for parents because finally new things can be introduced to his diet without too much controversy, new shows and movies (thank goodness for the break from Barney!) can be enjoyed and generally speaking discovery if encouraged leads to many bright eyed moments of joy.

I have discovered that when the time is right all children learn what they need to know. Eventually when they are ready they go potty all on their own. After all how many of your peers at work have their parents come by two to three times a day to help them go to the bathroom? If you keep the option open to them the same goes for most everything else. Eventually they will learn table manners, getting dressed, eating healthy, proper bathing and grooming skills and many other things all when they are ready intrinsically. As parents the important things to do are to stay positive and proactive and to ensure that opportunities to succeed are available.

Speaking of parenting, this is a reminder that we are in the 21st century. If the only thing you are teaching your child(ren) is a lesson maybe you need one yourself.

Now back to some Jr stories.

Mom often travels for work. This leaves Jr and me together, often for extended periods of time. Last time she was away he asked me, “Where does mommy lives?”

I told him, “Right here with us she is only just travelling for work.”

He seemed satisfied with that answer.

We have turned our fridge into a giant chalkboard. On one side I write the monthly calendar. When mommy was away I showed Jr what day we were on now and counted to what day she was coming home. He understood (not bad for three!) and every day after that we had to review the calendar. When the day of homecoming was near he insisted we had flowers and a birthday cake for mommy in the house, ready for her. And we did. We met her at the airport with flowers and balloons and in the fridge when we arrived home was waiting a great chocolate “birthday” cake!

He likes to talk on the phone…and talk…and talk. I think with all of the travel in our house and all of his non-immediate family living substantial distances apart from us phone calls and him being encouraged to take part in them has been a big part of his being a part of things. He seems to understand the concept of these great distances and now you had better have some free time available just in case Jr dials you up.

He loves the snow. When it snows here he helps me shovel the driveway and sidewalks with his little shovel. Afterwards I pile him onto his sleigh and pull him around the neighborhood usually ending up at one of the community parks where we play for a while. When we arrive home it is nap time…for dad!

Peace and love all.


The Writer’s cut

One of my favorite features when you get a movie on DVD is watching the movie with voice overs from the directors, writers, actors etc. I feel that this is such a unique opportunity to learn how an artist puts together their work. As I was writing Adventures in Marathoning; The 2013 Ground Hog Day Marathon I had the idea that I also could do something unique like this; kind of a review of how and why I wrote what I did. Here it is!

When I started writing Dad’s Point of View I had no idea where it would lead me. Little did I expect that it would lead me to here and today.  I think I could say the same thing for marathon running. Now as I near 40 two of the things that I believe most define me other than my roles as a father and husband are my web logging (blogging) of Dad’s Point of View and my running. I would also say that those 4 things; being a father, a husband, a writer and a runner have allowed me more personal growth and well being than any other 4 things I have ever been a part of in my entire life. That is the backdrop for my writing.

The original idea behind Dad’s Point of View was that at the very least I would have a kind of running account of the growing up of our son and family. My original and still intention was to do this for the first 13 years of his life. After that I have always suspected he would want his privacy back (probably long before that!) and also I would feel the need to also protect his privacy. For the first year I wrote diligently every day thinking I would be able to carry that mostly on for the duration but as I realize now as he ages there is less free time for everything for mom and dad. That original year (final copies at least) is lost to time as my service provider quit operating out of the blue and the original Dad’s Point of View database is I do not know where? Lesson learned on my part.

One of the lessons that marathoning has taught me is not to give up. Sometimes merely continuing to put one foot in front of the other is enough to finish the race. To be successful you merely need to start a challenge and then complete it. Often times there are difficulties but continuing on through, no matter how long it takes is what allows for completion. Losing our database was heartbreaking and difficult but despite having little technical education I started up again with another provider and with only little delay we were back up and running.

As opposite to that first year as can be our recent publishing history has been inconsistent, hence the Dad’s Point of View by-line “publishing randomly Monday to Sunday” a tiny inside joke about just when our next post might appear? In one of those classic twists of dramatic irony I never quite clue in when veteran parents offer advice, as in when I was told it only gets busier I blew it off in the same way I did when we were told to stock up on sleep when Jr was still a preborn. Even as I write this paragraph I have had to stop three times now as Jr has asked me to come to the next room to share a hug, come to visit me to climb on me and once more as he came to collect some loose change that sat at the corner of my desk. Right now as I attempt to concentrate he is talking loudly to me from the next room updating me on the rainy weather outside. He just came back one more time half running with safety scissors! to climb on my chair and tell me that he had cut the straw that he was using to drink his apple juice. That is my work environment. I couldn’t be luckier even if it makes things just a little bit trickier.

Again, he just came back to share my office chair. He is now behind me bouncing, grabbing at my shoulders and pushing on my back, as he screams “woo hoo, ee hee,” while he counts his new found wealth half in Spanish and half in English. Then he randomly kissed my cheek and climbed down. He is off again and I need to check on dinner!

You might be able to see now why writing Adventures in Marathoning; The 2013 Ground Hog Day Marathon parts 1 and 2 at nearly 7,000 words was a massive project for me to complete in one week. There is no going off to a quiet office space where I can work for a couple of hours or more. The reality is there is a busy three plus year always needing attention and then there is everything else.

Much in the same way that writing and publishing Dad’s Point of View might be more of a challenge than first views might appear so too is the marathoning. For the same reasons writing is a challenge training also has its complications. The fact is Jr is the priority and his time comes first. Also as my bride has traveled extensively for work over the past couple of years, free time when Jr is actually in the care of other responsible adults is rare. I can only train when he is in competent care. When my bride is travelling that basically means the mornings when he goes to his preschool. Some days this time is sucked up with tasks further up on the priority ladder. It is also time I could use to write. Really though when it is just the two of us it is my only free time and if I run regularly it gives me the motivation to be disciplined with everything else. If I make running a priority not only is my mental and physical health in a better place but I am much more efficient with everything else. It is a lifestyle circle that makes sense. It is not just the running benefits that are important but it is everything else that the running lines up in my life as well. Even if a little is  not the amount I would like to get in to properly prepare myself to compete in marathons it is much better than zero, which is closer to what I become without the discipline that running affords me.

Lately the one thing that has taken to the back burner has been my writing but I keep publishing and producing as I can, adding to my portfolio. My life’s work will include something more with each piece I write, maybe it is a Dad’s Point of View article or maybe it is a poem for my wife or even a recipe. Each piece is a part of the legacy. That keeps me going. When it is all said and done I can say, “I did this, this and this,” instead of “????????”

There is one other thing that holds me back when writing something like “Adventures in Marathoning…

I am not particular about writing about myself. If there was once a time where I wanted to be and was THE GUY those times are mostly past for me. I will be and still can be and really have no problem playing that roll but my honest preference now is to take a back seat, being dad and husband before anything else.  These are the most important roles I will ever play in this life and I am lucky and privileged to have gotten this part in the play. I would prefer to honor my good fortune by writing about dad, husband and family things than about my own adventures no matter how fun they may be. Sometimes it is a little tuff to put words to paper when you are always wondering, “Is this what I really should be doing?”

Still those adventures are a part of the tapestry of my life and recording them for posterity is important to completing the scene. Running marathons is also not something everyone has the opportunity to do and in documenting my perspective I feel that I can give the readers a little bit of an inside track on what it is like to experience such events. One of the most important things I have learned in life is that it is not the accolades or the number of accomplishments that you achieve but it is learning to appreciate the opportunity to achieve and accomplish that is important. It is not the trophy that makes the experience it is the journey and wisdom learned along the way. This really came to fruition for me when I ran what I will always consider my unofficial tenth marathon in New York City’s Central Park this fall “Anyways.” It was a virtuous experience done because I put in the work and the time and had the discipline and diligence to get it done. That will always be one of the most rewarding days of my life. My memories and triumph will be my medal of memory. That day taught me a lot.

When I write an article the size of Adventures in Marathoning it isn’t just the words to type that need be accomplished. This is a one man show and there is more to it than just writing my thoughts down. With limited time and resources sometimes the final product may suffer but the other option would be to not put anything out at all and that would be a folly of complete failure. It is better to have tried and not been perfect than to never have tried at all. I have two New Year’s resolutions this year;

  1.        Drink more water
  2.        Don’t be afraid

Fear of failure is the Achilles heel of many a would be success story. I would rather try and finish last than watch life pass me by.  One of the harder things it seems that non-runners don’t get about what we do is that it is not where we finish or how fast or what status a race has to us it is the virtue of competing and doing what is hard that matters most. Sure we all keep track of things in our own way and have delusions of grandeur but it is important to remember just how difficult things of this nature are and that is what makes it worthwhile. Blogging is much the same way, yes there will be a low wattage light bulb at the end of the tunnel… eventually but for now the important thing is to stay challenged and to compete to learn and improve.

Like I said this is a one man show. That means I am the business lead, information technologies and support group, author, creative lead, editor, fact checker, photographer, biographer, advocate, advertising department, publisher, producer,  human resources, complaints reconciliation and general Grand Pooh-Bah for every single thing Dad’s Point of View does. What generally suffers when I am pressed for time are not just the number of pieces that I can output but also the quality of those pieces and at times even their final editing. Here is how the process happens.

The author (me) has an idea. That idea get’s written in my notebook with the intent of turning it into an article at the first possible moment. As soon as I start putting thought to paper (which is now really using technology to twist brain patterns into data) Jr appears and does his best to make things challenging. If I work diligently after as few as 100 starts and stops I will have a piece that is ready to start the publishing process. It will be then proof read for grammar and spelling errors as well as for content quality (all also by me). To perfect a piece depending on how diligently I apply myself to it this might take 3-10 proof reads but lately I have time for one. Knowing that I will be sacrificing some quality I try to prioritize and in the least try to make sure that everything is readable, logically sound and all major spelling and grammar mistakes  have been corrected. Then the article will be submitted to the publishing department (me). It will be transcribed for and then formatted for the Dad’s Point of View Publishing tool. Once this is done before publishing it will again need to be edited for content and correctness. This can take some time as it requires a page change every time a correction is made and the editor (me again!) must wait for changes to be inputted, uploaded and downloaded. This makes the quality of the first edit that much more important. For something the size that was Adventures in Marathoning; The 2013 Ground Hog Day Marathon this step will take at least an hour before the piece is near ready to be published. Of course the more that I write and publish the faster I become at all of this which makes consistency or lack thereof that much more important.

If there is artwork or photography to be added to an article this is the next step. The art department (me) will sort through relevant photographs and pick out the ones best suited to a piece. Next those pictures need to be uploaded to my portable publishing center (my laptop) where they will be edited for appearance and data size. After that they need to be catalogued before uploading to the Dad’s Point of View publishing tool (Word Press-thank-you!). There they need to be re -catalogued before being inserted into the appropriate point in a post where again they must be checked for position and content. Finally if all appears correct the article can be posted to the World Wide Web as a Dad’s Point of View Post. I would like to review each article a couple of more times before posting in this way but time restricts me from generally achieving more than one maybe two edits.

When an article has finally been published it will be proofread one more time in its published format. Sometimes in the different font or screen volume a new error might be picked up and it too will need to be corrected.

Once published a memo goes from publishing and production to advertising (me to me). Via social media we notify the public that a new post has been published. Hopefully soon after you are enjoying another “great” Dad’s Point of View posting.

Soon the whole process is begun anew before sleep comes to carry us away and pleasant dreams are had by all.

Peace and love all.

Daddio and company!


Daddio hard at work on Dad's point of View  at worldwide headquarters

Daddio hard at work on Dad’s Point of View at worldwide headquarters


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Adventures in marathoning; The 2013 Ground Hog Day marathon part 2

See part 1 here Adventures in marathoning; the 2013 Ground Hog Day Marathon part 1

The snow was still falling and blowing and piling up on the path. The treading wasn’t too bad but footing was not like it would be if we were running on dry unencumbered ground. Trail runs are generally more technical and trickier than road races and this one was providing its own uniqueness. Still as far as I was concerned it was better than running in 90*F heat where your body can’t cool down. The course called for 6 repeat loops approximately 4.4 miles each. The first part of the course was hilly and with the blowing snow I concentrated mostly on getting used to the conditions and staying on the correct trail. There were two ruts in the deep snow packed trail similar to what a tractor would make that we were running through. Soon an etiquette formed where most participants ran in one rut while others passed in the other. With more traffic running on the one side it made for easier running but as you passed you would have to cross through a snow barrier into the less trod side where snow would accumulate. Having started back a little further than I would have liked I was spending considerable time and energy  navigating back and forth every time I caught up to slower runners that needed passing. Soon we came to the first aid station where cheerful volunteers handed out water and Gatorade. I took a water slowed to make equipment adjustments and headed off down the hill that preceded the aid station tent.  The rest of the first lap was much like the rest. After the initial part of the course was behind us the trail became more forested and thus sheltered. Everywhere the snow had laid a thick white billowing blanket. It felt good to be out in nature moving. After mile 2 I began to heat up and removed my hat, storing it away in my coat pocket. The trail was sidewalk thin and was fuller than I expected as both marathoners and half marathoners shared the course. As the race grew participants were beginning to spread out and establish their own pace. Still I had to do more passing than I would have liked and often times needed to go between runners with an, “excuse me I’m coming right between you,” through the snowy center hump, every time with a “thank you” and a “great pace” to go along with a smile. Mile 3 was mostly flat and eventually just after we climbed a snowy turn up hill mile 4 beckoned. Shortly after that we looped back toward the start/finish stretch.

Things began to become congested again along the straight away. I looked at the course outline on the race website beforehand but really when I’ve never been to an area before course maps are all basically an unlearned language to me. You have to experience the land a few times before you get the hang of it. As it was I wasn’t the only person slightly confused. As I came across earlier starters and some faster paced runners on the straight away I heard some of them comment about the confusion as well. Of course it all made sense if we were running 6 equal and identical laps we would need to cross our tracks going the other way at least once each lap. I congratulated every runner that was already going the other way as they ran by me on their first lap and carried on through the start line where an aid station had been set up behind it. I grabbed a Gatorade cup and stopped to walk as I consumed it and an energy gel.  I circled about and headed back in the direction I came, back into the blowing snow. Things started to make sense to me. Maybe I was just waking up.

Like I had just done I smiled and pepped up each person coming the other way as I headed out for lap number two and they came in to finish their first. It was a relief to get the first lap out of the way and I came to a corner where incoming runners headed towards the start/finish area that I had just come from and outgoing runners split off in the opposite direction. This mimicked the route we took on the first lap and the course was starting to make some sense to me. As I headed into the hilly and exposed expanse of the first portion of the trail there was some congestion as I started running into some of the slower mid-pack half marathoners. Blowing and fresh snow made for some trudging conditions especially when passing out of the main ruts.

My body temperature had definitely risen with the morning’s activity and despite conditions my toque had made its way into my coat pocket. My earlier prediction had come true and I knew that I was one thin orange neon sweater over dressed. As I made my way up and down the hills through to the first aid station the arm band with my cellular phone had slid off of my sweater and into my coat’s sleeve. What a pain. I couldn’t quite slide it back in place and had to run with it until I got to the aid station where I could pull over and take off my coat to access it. When I pulled up to the fuel stop I finally did have at it. I snapped it back in place as tight as it would hold onto the slippery yellow material and ran downhill trying to put my coat on. It might have been quicker to just take the time to put my coat on at the top of the hill. Running through the slippery snow downhill while trying to reach back for my coat sleeves was tougher than I expected. A ways up I finally had it all back together and concentrated on the task at hat. A number of folks commented on my hatless head. I suppose they thought me a little off. I thought we all were. I zoned back into the ebb and flow of activity.

As the trail turned into the forest the canopy of branches that acted as a pseudo roof over the trail grew thick with a framework of white fresh snow. As we ran under it branches that became over burdened with cover dropped snow onto the unsuspecting below. It was like I was running in an A.J. Casson painting.

Between miles 3 and 4 of lap 2 (between 7.5 and 8.5 miles overall) the usual suspects started to act up; my aching left knee and its corresponding hip which compensates for it when it isn’t well. The galoshes that were adding traction to my trail shoes were also starting to pinch my toes together. It was all too early for this type of nonsense so I tried to put any pain(s) out of mind and continued through. Still I rolled through the crowded out and back area into the finish/start turn around in pretty good shape. Covered in snow and despite equipment corrections  I had run the 2nd lap at near perfect pace just over a minute less than my first easy paced lap (lap 1 41:23 for 4.4 miles, lap 2 in 40:12). I felt pretty good and took time to down another cup of electrolyte replacement drink and a 2nd energy gel. As I started out again I felt a funny flap, flap under my left foot.

It was the rubber traction devices I had strapped to my shoes. One had slipped off of the toe box. I had to pull over into the deep snow to snap it back into place as runners passed me in both directions. When I got started again I made sure to stay positive and encouraging to others as they passed or I passed in either direction. Encouraging words are a boost to both those receiving and also to those that proffer them.

I tried to bear down and focus on lap three. Laps one and two I wanted to take it easy a bit not really knowing what my conditioning was like. Less than two weeks earlier my training had been interrupted by a nasty spell of bronchitis that had ripped through our household. I hadn’t really been able to test myself in the winter conditions like I would have liked and it definitely had taken some of my upper level oxygen intake away. I tried running the first day I had felt better but that hadn’t gone so well. Have you ever tried running with bronchitis? Think gag reflex. It isn’t very pleasant. My conditioning would just have to be what it was. Still, even though I didn’t get out into the winter to train as much as I would have liked before marathoning I could rely on substantial winter running experience.

I knew that short quick controlled steps would serve me better in the snow than would long seeking ones. I knew that short breaths would easily pull the oxygen in that I needed to help fuel my aerobic activity if I controlled my pace and that long gasping ones would only burn my lungs. I knew to trust myself. I knew that runners that passed me too early would come back on their own. I knew that the cold wouldn’t freeze me or that the snow wouldn’t melt me away. I knew that if you ran long enough into the snow and wind with a knit hat on icicles could form on your ear lobes and also that the moment you were exposed to any heat they would melt off. I knew the value of a good coat and I knew when two pairs of socks were the prudent choice. I knew to have faith and I knew to have fun. I knew that one step in front of the other would get the job done.

I was starting to get the hang of the trail or déjà vu or maybe a little bit of both. This was the Ground Hog Day Marathon after all. This time when we rolled into the flat section between miles 3 and 4 of the trail I looked to my right and realized there was a river there. “When did that happen,” I thought? It was covered in a slushy ice but was still moving rather well.  It was the perfect complement to a scene that included that same snowy canopy that I described earlier. My knee was starting to ache substantially more and I knew that the pinching pain of my toes would only get worse. I still had over a half marathon to go so I needed to draw my attention away from such trivialities as my aches. I decided to focus on getting through the start finish area in as close to two hours as I could. I have run half splits in between 92 and 95 minutes in the past so two hours would be a bit slow for me but uh, this time I was running in the snow!

Some of the faster half marathoners worked hard to finish strong. I egged on for them, “That’s the way to finish” I would bellow as they went by me.  I pushed through and worked hard to get my half time right around 2 hours and came through in just over, shaving time off the previous lap, splitting lap number three in 39:50 for 4.4 miles. As always when running a marathon it feels good to get the first half over with. After all I still had 13.1 miles to go.

This day the unevenness of the path and the constant struggle to pick my legs out of the snow with each step was taking its toll on me. After gel number 4 and a quick regrouping with some fluids I was off again. My knee pain had worsened and I knew that I would have to ease into it. Lap number four was going to be difficult.

Eventually the knee pain grew worse. My double socks had also scrunched up and my toes were now being pinched into ever worsening shape. Blisters were undoubtedly forming. Also eventually the snow ceased. I just can’t remember when. Time blurred. I began to lap many of the slower half marathon runners who were still on their last lap. As I did the math I realized that even later on lap 5 I would still be passing the back of the pack half marathoners. I guess things couldn’t be that bad? I trudged along. We were all in the same boat facing the same conditions. I was thankful for my experience, my strengths and even wrought joy from my weaknesses. I passed a kind couple who asked me what lap I was on and if I was doing the full. When I replied, “four and full.” They cheered me on even though they were a lap down and in the same event. I smiled and wished them well.  I limped on. Some of the joy had passed and I struggled, some of the faster runners passed me as I tried to keep track of them. This time as I came upon the hill that took us up to the flatter stretch where the start/finish promenade combined outgoing and incoming runners I was thankful as much as anything else. I tried to keep track of the outgoing runners as much as I could to judge my place. It was mostly easy to pick out the slower half runners by their pace. Some of the faster full runners looked strong. I didn’t feel strong. I wondered how I looked?

I had now finished four laps, 17 miles. I took my time consuming one more gel and some fluids, sucked in some wind, visualized success and took off. Yes, four laps were done (or YES! four laps were done!!). Some others ran by me as I took my time consuming calories. I kept track of them to the best of my abilities. Four hours was still in my grasp but only barely now. I had lost nearly 8 minutes running lap four in 47:22. My goal now was to finish lap 5. If I could get this lap in… then if I had to pull myself hands and knees to the finish line I could get another 4.4 more miles in to finish. A young fellow wearing ski goggles and a heavy coat passed me as we climbed the hill to my favorite aid station. He chuckled thinking I was funny being out without a hat. Truth be told I thought he was a bit funny in his heavy hat, coat and goggles. We laughed together. I began to enjoy myself again. I reviewed my goals. Finish. This was after all the first of four marathons I would be running in four months. I wanted to run myself into shape. I was doing that. Maybe if conditions are perfect I would be able to take one more crack at sub 3:15 when I run the Barcelona marathon, the third in my spring series and the only “non-tough” one of the bunch. I wanted to stay healthy so that I could enjoy “keeping” up with our son as he grows up. I was doing this in part for charity to make a better world. To do all of those things I needed to finish this race in healthy condition so as I could go on to the next step of my journey.

I eased back on the throttle and even though some portions were difficult I enjoyed the beauty of the scenery. I chatted up my fellow competitors and cheered them on. I began to enjoy the riverside run. It was breathtaking. Soon I came to where this had all begun. Lap number 5 was in the books.

Lap 5 was much like lap 4. I had finished it 9 seconds faster in 47:13. My streak of 9 straight 4 hour marathons was cooked. This time I was a bit quicker making the turn but I still took my time to fuel up. I filed away every single person who went by me. Just before I began to run again a lady passed me in a purple jacket. I know how these things work. I know four miles. It is one lap around my subdivision at home that I run 3-5 times most every week. I know that mile 21 and change is way too early to make a break in a marathon. I know that mile 24 is too early to make such a break. I buoyed. I steadied. I set my determination. I might not catch everyone within my reach but I would try. I knew that naturally some would just come back to me. Adrenaline and competition are funny things. I was determined to get this finished.

I cruised out. I had already decided that there would be no difference to me if I ran 4:10 or more. I just wanted to finish strong. I took it easy during the first hilly portion of the track and made a special point to flash my biggest grin and thank every single spectator that had braved the conditions to cheer us on and every one at the aid stations who had helped us all day. I felt good, rejuvenated even. I ran strong down the big winding hill and was careful of my footing. My focus seemed to have returned. Slowly I started to reel in some of my competitors and again lap some of the more evenly paced full runners. I made sure to wish each well and encouraged everyone to push strongly on. Off in the distance I glimpsed ski goggles. Where was purple jacket? I continued to run strong into the woods. I held a little back knowing that it was still too soon to let go. I had faith that there would still be runners coming back to me. I needn’t go to them. I began catching up to familiar faces and worked steadily as I went by each one. The leaders would be finishing now a few even having lapped me. That made me feel good. My strength was calm, strong and determined. I was self motivated to finish with my best effort. As we wound through turns I glimpsed purple jacket still running strong a few winds of the road in front of me. Was I gaining on her or was she distancing herself from me. What was the gap between us 30 seconds, a minute, more? I passed long blond hair who had blown by me as we turned lap 4. She was fading fast. I came upon others pulled over and then carried forward.

When we turned along the river where mile 3 through 4 stretched ski goggles was waiting for me. He was fading. I was surging. Instead of sprinting I stayed the course and took my time catching up to him. With steady pace I pulled along the side of him and encouraged him to run in with me. There is nothing but good feelings when you pull someone home with you in a race of this difficulty, even if they in turn pull away from you. Alas I ran forward myself. Not too far off was purple jacket. I could see her surge and then fall back then surge again. “Stay strong,” I said. I concentrated on a quick leg turnover and keeping my stride rate up. Most to all of these competitors I was coming up upon were younger and fitter. Were they stronger though?

I pushed. I worked with my hips and big gluteus muscles. I passed a few others. Purple jacket surged again. She was gaining ground but we still had more than a mile to go. Then she slowed and walked. I pushed forward. This was my goal. I kept going and when she started to run again I was still gaining on her. I was determined now to catch up before the hill that would take us through the last mile. Soon the gap became steps, then less and then I was edging in front. I encouraged my foil to run in with me. I told her how strong her running had looked when she blew by me at the start of the lap. She picked up and was determined to try. That’s the way to fight! That’s the way to give it your all. That’s the way to finish strong. Give it your best shot. Give it your all. Never give up. Never give in.

I pushed myself now. I came to the big swinging hill and noted the ice that had now formed on it. I drove up it and toward the 4 mile marker. When I arrived there I was alone. In the distance were three young fellows who I had ran with for a bit earlier. I had let them go on ahead wisely to save my knee but now they gave me one more goal to go after. My gait grew and I did my best to stride into a sprint. The finish line was now in view, maybe 200 meters ahead. I looked left. I looked right. I looked behind. I wasn’t going to win. I wasn’t going to win my age group or even garner a top ten finish but I was going to surge home and I was going to do it alone.

And then…and then it was how it had always been. I was back where I had started. I had finished marathon number 10, the Inaugural Ground Hog Day Marathon on February 2nd 2013 in Grand Rapids, Michigan under very special, very unique, very difficult conditions. At the finish line greeting the runners stood Don Kern the race director. I made a special point of thanking him. He had organized my bookend 1st and 10th marathons. Without people like him who go the extra mile to organize events in the community the adventures to be had would be far fewer and communities would be far less enjoyable. I waited for ski goggles and purple jacket to give them high fives and to congratulate them. I cheered some others through. I collected my medal and stiffly had some pictures taken. That darned “smart” phone turned out useful after all. I never caught the three young musketeers but there will be other races. In fact there will be one more in less than a month now, the promised to be tough Umstead Trail Marathon in the William B. Umstead State park in North Carolina.

My calculations had my final lap in at 43:33, close to 4 minutes faster than my fifth lap and faster than the final 4.4 miles of my 3:14:33 personal record run under near perfect conditions on a fast course in Toronto a few years prior. That’s the way to finish!

Alas I still had one more marathon to run that day. Stiff, wet and chilled, medal draped around my neck, hat now on to keep me warm I had to make the mile or so trek back to my car! Off I went one step at a time. This would take…

Alongside pulled a fellow competitor who had run the half marathon. Someone had given her a ride to her car and now she was paying forward. I thanked her graciously but declined, offering up that there would be others in much more need of a ride than I. I continued, dazed. A little ways up the same car pulled alongside me again this time with a couple of passengers riding in the back. When I was offered a second chance I took it. How many people do you know that would offer smelly, cold, wet and dirty marathoners a mile ride? When we got to our cars I asked our savior her name specifically so I could thank her when I wrote this. Lisa thank you! We could use a few more in this world of your ilk.

When I arrived back at the hotel room it all sunk in when I got the biggest smile from my little guy. I put my medal around his neck and told him that I had won that for him. He smiled further, grinning from ear to ear as he wore it proudly.  He gave me a great big hug and I picked him up. After I put him down to change. I took off my coat and sweaters. He gasped and said, “Daddy you hurt!” Then he pointed at my chest. I was going to reply that yes I was hurting a little bit but it was okay, thinking of the stiffness in my legs but when I looked down I could only chuckle. My shirt was stuck to my chest and about two thirds of the way up there were two big blood stains. Ah, the dreaded runner’s red nipples. That would hurt in the shower!

I ended up tied for 38th overall, 39th officially either losing the tie breaker alphabetically or for some other reason (out of 143 brave participants), 4th in my 35-39 year old age group and 37th amongst males. I talked to the winner after and he thought conditions were tough. He was a 2:30 runner and finished in 2:58:33. For someone of his quality to be 30 minutes off his time speaks volumes. Slightly brain dead and low on glycogen I only smiled. In retrospect I found them challenging but not impossible. Collaterally I had developed some blisters on the underside and side to side of some toes and I’ll be lucky to keep all of my toe nails. Other than that. I’m back to training lightly getting ready for continued adventures.

When my wife called later in the day to check on us she asked me if I had fun. I thought for a minute before replying easily, “YES!”

Now that’s the way to finish.

Never give up or give in.

Peace and love all.


Ground Hog Day marathon 2013 the author's finish line photo

Ground Hog Day marathon 2013 the author’s finish line photo

Jr my champion with his Ground Hog Day marathon

Jr my champion with “his” Ground Hog Day marathon medal

End of part 2

Next up; the writer’s cut.

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Adventures in marathoning; The 2013 Ground Hog Day Marathon part 1

The day started…the day started the night before.

We had driven across the state of Michigan moving westward, starting in the Detroit region heading towards our destination in Grand Rapids. It was a Friday evening and we were travelling to run in the Inaugural Ground Hog Marathon February 2nd, 2013 which would take place the next morning.  It was an unusually frigid day in Michigan unlike in the early winter. Then, when I had registered for this first annual winter race it was another (another as in recent history, another) mild winter day. Then I had dreams of perfect fast conditions. Now as snow fell in blustery near white out conditions and ice and slush framed the interstate highway into Grand Rapids I wondered exactly what I had gotten myself into!

As we exited the highway and entered the city my doubts were validated. We were met with snow covered streets and even poorer visibility than we experienced on the highway. Why were we even out in this weather? A few blizzard like miles later we had made our way to our first destination of the weekend, the race start area where I was to pick up my race packet for the next morning’s race. I found a spot to park and left my passengers (my son and father) waiting in the warm car while I went out into the chill and frost of the night. Snow blew in what seemed every direction. “This wouldn’t last until morning,” I thought to myself.

I found my way into the tented shelter that would serve as event headquarters for the weekend. Chilled volunteers helped me attain my race credentials and answered my questions, even the inane ones. Outside they were having a snowshoe race. I returned to the car and we headed to the hotel that would serve as our personal event headquarters for the weekend. In the meantime weather and road conditions worsened. My brain played this recording as I navigated traffic and roads, “winter marathon??? When did you think that was a good idea?”

Evening at the hotel included a fast food dinner of both fish and beef burgers and chili washed down with shakes. This isn’t exactly the perfect prerace meal but at least it is high in calories. Calories mean fuel and running 26.2 miles in cold weather through ice and snow would certainly require plenty of fuel. I strapped a pair of galoshes that have spikes on the heels and wire piping under the toe box to my trail shoes. This set up would hopefully give me some traction in what was due to be a snow covered 26.2 miles. What it would do to my feet I didn’t know? What I did know was that I committed to this journey and if I was going to complete it then the next morning I would need to get “er” done! This was to be the first of 4 marathons in 4 months that I would be running this spring to help support The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training in its mission to find a cure for blood cancers. I was pot committed now. Successful people only really need to do two things in order to be successful; they start things and they finish them. I needed to get this journey started and this race finished, no matter what it took.

Jr, grandpa and I were up later than I would have wished mostly waiting for Jr to fall asleep. We watched Japanese styled cartoons on the hotel television which at first glimpse might seem dull but hours later the soap opera style plot kept thickening and never ending. Eventually everyone else fell asleep and I was able to get a few extra things ready for the morning before heading to what was left of the bed myself.

Morning always comes too quick for these things…always. My cell phone alarm woke me up and luckily only me. I am certain that most of my competitors in these things are not up past midnight with their three year olds trying to get them to sleep or up with them in the middle of the night to get them a glass of apple juice. They are likely rested, fed, stretched and rested again. That is too bad for them. They may have things easier but my life is far more “enriching” than theirs. As I have many times before I made coffee in the little in room pot and stuffed down a banana and looked around the fridge for something salty to fuel my day with. “Okay, let’s do this,” I said to myself.

I started to lay out my gear and tied the radio frequency timing chip that would keep track of my progress on race day into my shoelaces. “Oh, oh.” A quick look in my race bag provided the day’s first dilemma. I had failed to pack the insulated running undergarments I intended to wear. The insulation part of these shorts would have been just a bonus what I really needed was the short’s anti-chafing capacity. If I wasn’t careful now, 26 miles later my inner legs might be rubbed raw by the friction caused by 4 hours of running. I was extra careful to apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly to my legs, under my arms and other sensitive areas that would over heat during the race. This would create a moisture barrier that would help relieve the stress caused by friction. I also put a thick dab under my eyes and around my nose to protect those areas from the wind. I then layered up and prepared to leave. A good bye kiss to Jr’s forehead as he slept and a few quick instructions with my dad who travelled with us to baby sit (Jr’s mom was travelling for work) and I was out the door with my running gear.

I was now leaving later than I intended originally and had a mere hour to make the trek to the start staging area. I grabbed a couple bananas and a coffee from the complimentary continental breakfast that the hotel had out. When I got to the lobby doors I met the outside sights with surprise.

The night before when I returned to the hotel with dinner, though still snowing temperatures were dropping into the frigid range. Snow will only form under certain conditions and not when the mercury drops below a certain point. Certainly we were getting into that range. I definitely did not expect to be met by another 8 or so inches of snow blanketing the car and everything else too. On top of that it was still snowing heavily too! I cleaned the car of snow, packed up and headed out towards the highway where I was met by conditions I would not normally be out in and that others were obviously not capable of navigating correctly. It always amazes me how when conditions require caution and visible deterrents such as cars spinning out and others littering the ditches some drivers still cannot use sound judgment.

As I neared the race staging area, exiting off the interstate I was met with conditions similar to what we had the night before except there was an incremental increase in snow cover. I was aware that there would be limited parking at the race start area and that I would likely have to find parking at an alternate lot designated by organizers where shuttles were promised to pick us up to escort us to the start staging area. I had no idea where the alternate lot was so here I was out in this strange city in blizzard like conditions looking for somewhere that I didn’t have directions for. That is what I like to refer to as faith! I decided the best plan of attack would be to crawl the car through the snow in the direction of the race start area. On this morning at least my faith served me well. As I came nearer my destination I spotted a herd of cars gathering on the other side of a park across the way. “Who else would be out in his weather,” I thought.

When I arrived in the parking lot the display of neon shoes, pants and jackets confirmed that yes indeed this was a hard core group of runners. Correct; who else would be gathering in this weather! I found a spot between  snow banks for my car and made some quick gear decisions. The temperature didn’t seem to be rising to the point where shorts would be appropriate so nylon pants would cover my legs and two pairs of socks including a good tight pair of running socks closest to the skin would be shrouded with my trail shoes which in turn had extra treading attached via rubber strap on galoshes with spikes and wire piping attached to them. I decided to strap my cell phone on via arm band just in case of emergency (not knowing the course) and also for posterity pictures. I had already decided on wearing my best running coat, the one that afforded the most protection and a hooded sweater for extra warmth over an old race shirt that had been with me on many such adventures (for luck if nothing else). At the last minute I decided to put on an extra sweater; a thin one ,neon orange to go with the neon yellow hoodie and the red coat with silver reflective stripes. Some people dress for style. My style is called functionality and comfort. I knew the extra sweater would have me overheating early in the race but if this weather continued running pace would be hard to maintain and as I slowed I knew that my body temperature would drop as my body moved slower. It would gradually be more affected by the conditions and it would be then that the extra sweater would come in handy. I also packed in my pockets 6 energy gels, an extra hat and extra gloves. I double checked that I had my wedding band taped securely to the second finger on my left hand so as not to lose it and then I headed to join the others who were waiting for our ride to the staging area.

All the while I was smiling. I know this implies a little bit of simplicity on my part but I can’t help but feel that the surreal way I live vicariously through myself and the way I third person view the world to be a little bit humorous. Yes even as I grew chilly changing into extra gear in the snow blurred parking lot and others giggled at the “crazy”, I was amused by the whole scene. I was also amused when I dropped my hat in the snow and had to go find it. And when I forgot my extra gloves and had to climb back through the snow banks to get them and when I forgot to attach my music player to my waistband even though I carefully took extra time to string my headphones through my clothes and around my neck just so. I had to climb back through the snow to get that too. All this time I had to keep fumbling with the car keys and double and triple checking to make sure they were secured in my pocket so as not to lose them in the snow where they might not be found till next spring. Finally it was time for the bus.

The bus turned out to actually be a converted old trolley car. This was getting almost too good to be true. We all piled in. The trolley/bus was soon full of runners dressed in various shades of neon and grey. In spite of the weather outside inside it was warm and dry. Rock and roll played on the PA system and to make everything just groovy enough various colored bands of rope lighting followed the interior trim line. When Van Halen came on the stereo system someone (the driver I assume) cranked the volume. At this point I couldn’t resist anymore and had to say something. My quip of, “I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for this but I certainly didn’t expect this,” elicited laughs and helped thaw some of the nerves of those aboard. The mood seemed to lighten after that and soon our little rolling runner’s “nightclub” had arrived at our destination.

There was now little time before the race was scheduled to start at 8am. Some of the commuters hustled to the start line. I joined some others and hustled towards the blue portables. It was time and a combination of stress, adrenaline and coffee was making me volatile. In the air a young lady began to sing the Star Spangled Banner. I took off my blue and white Toronto Maple’s Leafs hat and held it over my heart as I continued my journey.

After nature’s call I headed back towards the start line where the race was beginning. I would usually like to get near the front especially in what was likely to be mostly a single track race so that I could run with my peers and would have to do less shuffling forward during the race but on this day that wasn’t happening. I missed going out with the leaders by a few minutes as I waited in line to get to the start line. Due to the snow space was tight and organizers were trying to get everyone to start in waves to avoid clustering but in reality most everyone was in a sort of, “what are we doing  here daze” and they were taking their time getting to the start line. There timing mats were set to begin timing each individual the moment they crossed. It looked like it would be easier to get nearer the front than I thought and I easily edged my way through the crowd. I overheard someone telling his friends how “excited” they were that they would be participating in their “first”. I couldn’t help but chuckle and ask, “This is going to be your first marathon?”

“Yes,” they replied.

“Good choice,” I answered.

Everyone laughed heartily especially the first timer. I made my way to the start line and with a beep, beep of the timer I was off!

End of part 1

Part 2 to be published Sunday, followed shortly after by the “writer’s” comments!

4 marathons in 4 months to beat cancer


Me after completing 100 km 62 miles) Next up 4 marathons in 4 months to beat cancer

I’m running 4 marathons in 4 months to help find a cure for blood cancers.
I keep thinking that cancer will go away. Every time I turn around a friend, a family member or a peer seems newly diagnosed. Humanity has made much progress in my lifetime. As global population has boomed over the past 40 years we have done much economically, technologically and philosophically to keep pace with our demands for resources and to expand the platform of growth and progress that over millennia the human race has been built upon. Yet there is still work to do and as technology advances I sometimes fear that we may be losing the focus necessary to continue to grow and prosper. Many afflictions still affect humanity and with each small step forward we continue to advance the human cause for millennia to come. One of these afflictions that we may be in near reach of curing is cancer. As science further explores the human genome and as research progresses each day we come closer to cures.

My hope is that within our life time we can do away with the C-word and extinguish this horrible disease. My hope is that we find a cure for cancer.
It is easy to make talk or to put words on paper but neither one pushes the boundaries that actions can. Advocacy is one form of help action is another. I want to do what I can to make the world a better place for my family, for my son’s future, for his future family and for people everywhere.
By being an advocate and initiating action I am only doing my small part. I may not be able to be on the front lines or have access to laboratory skills but I do have the ability to talk, write a little and I can run long distances at moderate speeds. I will use the skills I have to help make a positive difference in the world around me.
This spring I will be attempting to complete 4 marathons in 4 months to help make that possibility a reality. They will include The Groundhog’s Day Marathon in Grand Rapids, Michigan on February 2nd 2013 (yes February 2nd in Michigan!!), I’ll be celebrating my 40th birthday a few days after it by running the Umstead Trail Marathon on March 2nd, 2013 at the William B. Umstead state Park just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, the Marato de Barcelona, Espana (si that is the Barcelona Marathon in Spain) only a few weeks later on March 17th, 2013 and my efforts will culminate with my benefit race on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society May 5th, 2013 when I go Piggly Wiggly in Cincinnati for the 15th Flying Pig Marathon.
By taking on these challenges I hope to prove that there is nothing to be afraid of. We can take on tough challenges and succeed. We can change the world one feat (or even one foot strike!) at a time. We can influence the future. We can make a difference. We can still push the boundaries of possibility. We can run marathons. We can climb mountains. We can find a cure for cancer.
We are making a difference. We are succeeding. A cure is out there we just need to go find it.
Help me make a difference. Become part of my team and let’s help fund a brighter tomorrow for our families, for families everywhere and especially for the families in need of HOPE TODAY.
Donate, cheer, be an advocate, help whichever way you can, every positive initiative helps.
Keep checking back here for updates tracking the progress of my journey or follow me on my personal fundraising page,

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I look forward to this adventure together.
Peace and love all.

Things three year olds say

Everyone has slow start days. Today is mine. I wonder if your body realizes subconsciously that it is allowed to relax at just the right times. Isn’t it strange that you sleep in, have a slow day, are tired, even that your body holds off on getting sick until just the time when you have…time for it? Maybe my body knew today was a Sunday where little was going, then said, “Okay today is your day to heal up.”

I often lament the pace of our lives. I was worrying about my slow start today before I decided that it was okay. There will be time to do everything I want to do today and maybe I SHOULD slow it down a bit. Like many others out there our house has been rocked by winter colds the last couple of weeks. For us bouts of bronchitis has been the culprit. I know that I’ve been running on low for a few months now so it is not surprising with my reserves at their lowest  that finally I came down with something. The body needs time to heal and relax and restore after an infection. The original and at the time radical idea of a Sabbath, a workers day of rest, was meant to let the body do  just that, rest and heal. Besides if you find that you slow things down just a little bit you become even more productive than when you’re being torn in a million directions. Today I’ve decided to try just that.

A few minutes ago I had the urge to go downstairs. Uh, uh I’m not falling for that one again. You know that joke that the Universe plays on you when it draws you to the basement only to leave you clueless as to why you are there? I’ve fallen for it  a million times. When Junior came to me a few minutes later needing a change of clothes because he had spilled his milk all over himself I realized why I needed to go downstairs…the laundry!!! Same joke only different outcome. Got me again!

When I ask Jr to be careful I inevitably receive this response, “Why?”

“Don’t eat the poop.” That is what Jr tells me. “Yucky, gross, blah with his tongue hanging out of his mouth,” he says. “Don’t eat poop!!!”

I don’t know where this comes from but it is something he feels very necessary to tell me almost every trip to the potty.

It is a very important concept.

I’m glad he understands it.

I just don’t know why he feels the need to tell me every time we’re in the potty.


Peace and love all.





The Olympics…of Marriage


One enchanting moment in time or when we were young(er)!!!

One enchanting moment in time or when we were young(er)!!!

My bride and I have been married five years today!!!!

I mean this is in the nicest and best way possible even though I know that it will be misinterpreted. It seems like forever. I can already hear the catcalls and the boos but hold on give me a second to explain.

What I mean is that I cannot remember not being married. Marriage is such a state of bliss for me it is all I know.  And that is my honest state of being. I consider myself the luckiest man alive and I owe it all to my bride.

She isn’t just in my heart and soul. She is my heart and soul.

Each year for our anniversary we get each other a gift corresponding to the numbered year of that year’s anniversary. For instance for our first anniversary the gifts had something to do with the number one, for the second they had to be related to the number two and so on. This year the number is obviously five. When I think of marriage and the number five the first things that come to my mind are rings (as in our wedding bands) and then the Olympic rings all five of them blue, yellow, black, green and red. Now my gift isn’t about rings or about colors in fact it isn’t even here yet because after all…I’m a guy and these things are always hard for us but what I realized is that marriage is like the Olympics. Okay I think I just got myself in trouble again.

I don’t mean marriage is a competition like the Olympics what I mean is that marriage is the pinnacle of hard work, discipline, compromise and sacrifice. It is success in its highest and purest form.

That’s what I wanted to say the first time.

At first I thought it was as simple as learning one new thing each year. You know like in year one you learn to communicate blah, blah, blah…Of course in year one I was clueless so that is an easy assumption for me to make. So, I sat and thought about this because I had to. I still don’t have a gift. Here is what my thinking got me.

You don’t learn one thing every year. You learn a lot of things every day and you work your damn ass off to make things as perfect as possible. Here are the five rings of marriage.

  1.        Understanding; empathy and compassion
  2.        Mutuality; sharing
  3.        Togetherness; what you’re in this for
  4.        Laughter; the best medicine
  5.        Communication; and I don’t mean your cellular plan!

Life is better when you have someone to share it with. Life grows when you have togetherness. Thank you Honey Bear for helping me become whole.

Happy fifth Anniversary

I Love you.


Now about that gift…it’s going to be a little late. You see I went out for milk and bread…