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10 Essential Tips to Find That Perfect Corporate Gift

Your regarded customers, steadfast clients and stunning representatives are your most significant resource. The correct blessing picked with care and consideration will fortify connections, regardless of whether to remunerate accomplishment or commend achievement. Why settle for a conventional blessing when you can dazzle with the phenomenal?

I have assembled the fundamental tips to locate that corporate blessing.

Simply read on

1) Must Always Select A Quality Gift

As a matter of first importance, you should choose a blessing that you would be glad to put your organization name on. Your client and customers are destined to accept your blessing as an impression of how you view and worth relationship with them.

On the off chance that your initial introduction taking a gander at the blessing, is floating towards it being modest or normally accessible stuff, odds are that they will see precisely the same way.

2) Always and Always Check Corporate Policies

In all honesty, numerous associat…

Every Day Is A Gift

Every Thought...

Week 45: Marathon

I’m taking time off this week for a morning run, if the Moleskin rivers can wait and the Waste Land elements will allow. God willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll see you on the other side.


11/04:

Marathon: Saying The Word


Goal: Marathon!  Not yet set: the goals within the goal, those to be measured by calendar and stopwatch and map.  These will be left for the days ahead.  They will br noted on these pages from time to time, as they occur to me, but I want this journal to mark the course of that larger more singular project.  Indeed, in these first pages let me put aside the history that got me here, my present position, the odds I might give myself.  I will worry about these asides tomorrow, even as I set and tweak those other calibrators, but for today...

Let me just chew on that word for a moment: Marathon...  Mmmm! The epitomal run.  A distance to brag about, the messenger’s challenge, the body’s approachable limits.  A number for the bumper, a medal for the wall, just for finishing.  A dedication of time and an appreciation of place.  An opportunity and, appropos this journal before me, a journey.  And yet, not even a full day’s journey, barely a morning’s effort.

And yet again, how many hours, days, months will precede that effort and how long, how much more than a day, might it take to recover from that morning run? Honestly, this will be a luxury of time, a bold claim to stake, especially for someone of my age and station with all that I already have on my calendar and map and watch.  But let me make it that, a luxury.  Let me take it as such and hold on to it and own it as one might own prominent portfolio items or value it as one should value things that matter most.  I have a home, I have family and a career and faith to get me by, but for the next stretch of the way let me also have this:  Marathon!  A course to run, a race to prepare for and work towards, a distance to rise up to, a goal to pronounce.  May 27, 2015, consider it declared: I will be running 26.2 miles, all at once.
 
It is hardly a unique ambition, this.  Four days ago, just last weekend — a little bit of history here — I ran a precedent challenge, a combination 10 kilometer run on a Saturday night and a half marathon the next morning.  Not everyone running was there for the one-two punch, but I was hardly alone, and of the two separate races, significantly more people had signed up for the longer 13 mile run.  And not all the half-long runners will take the double down dare later this year, but I am sure many will.  Many of us!
 
Based on what I saw last fall, when I had last (and first!) run a halfway race, there were thousands who ran the thirteen miles with me but 1,200 more who signed up for the greater double distance that day, runners like me who had decidedly set their goal and built themselves up to the challenge.  And this was just one race in one city, among many others throughout the world assembling thousands upon thousands of runners from early spring to late fall, some running with experience, many experiencing the race for the first time. This time, I will be one of them. And however sore and weary I may be on that day, I will be happy, thrilled to be part of the crowd.
 
I have come to this decision only today, after a relatively short three mile morning run.  Time and circumstance may have me ponder and rethink the decision, but that is why I am writing this down right now.  Journals have helped me get to and though previous goals, so here I am again, holding myself to my word.  I think I just gave this new journal a name: Accountability.  Less the accountancy of daily details, more a running account of my journey, noting what it takes to get to that capital G, the Goal, the biG run the Mega run, the Marathon.

Mmmm... I am still chewing on that word.  Eight letters, 26.2 miles long.  Nine times the distance I ran this morning.  More graspable, only twice the stretch of last Sunday’s run, although that is still as long as I have ever run at one time.  But let me keep grasping: my two day race was six miles closer and just seven miles from where I am setting my one day sights: two days, 19 miles will not be the same as a one morning marathon experience, but hold me to this: I will keep reaching...
 

So, when Persia was dust,
     all cried “To Acropolis!”
Run Pheidippides, one race more!
     The meed is thy due!
  
   ...He flung down his shield,
Ran like fire once more,
    And the space ‘twixt the Fennel0field
And Athens was stubble again,
     A field which a fire runs through.
  
— from Pheidippides, 
by Robert Browning (1879)


11/05:

Accountability: Running The Race


But where was I? Oh yes.  Accountability.  Another word to chew.  I am committing, with this running account, to an indelible narrative.  These words are not just to masticate but to keep me honest.  As long as I’m chewing, though, let me spit out some gristle.  Accountability does not mean the ability to account but rather the state of being accountable.  In other words, I am not striving to run every day to demonstrate an ability to run, I am running with purpose towards that larger goal, and by these words a declared goal.  If somehow I do not reach that goal, these words, as long as I keep writing them, will serve to show the effort or, perhaps, the lack thereof.  But of course I have not set out to on this writing/running project merely to reveal successes and shortcomings.  I make this effort with an intended commitment to get to the finish line.
 
Ah yes, the finish line!  The glory, the relief, the grand finale.  That larger goal I’ve been chewing on.  But if I am going to be held accountable there will have to be more to this than running on and writing down, more than this initial reflection of the starting gun (“ready, set, goal!”) and the checkered flag of the final pages.  Readers, skip ahead, see for yourselves if I get there.  But then come back, because I want to share with you the substance of the race.  It is that substance, after all, that keeps me going.
 
Every once in a while, the story is told of a marathon cheater who crosses the finish line but is later discovered to have taken a shortcut.  Why?  Glory, I suppose, and a more immediate gratification.  But hers (I will explain the pronoun) was a race without accountability and she was a racer without much of a story to tell, one who started, finished and then put the book away, or rather had it thrown at her when th cheat was revealed.  Experience tells me — and who doesn’t know this? — that a race with a starting shot and a photo finish but nothing in between isn’t much to talk about.  But I wonder, what was her story, such as it was?

I remember, from the last incarnation I had read of her, that she was a she: my choice of pronoun was not arbitrary, but of course not relevant either, as there were, it turns out, plenty of men and women who cheated before her.  She is this year’s latest example, though, and if I call out her gender it is only because I have nothing else to say about her.  She is an empty book with blank pages.  They caught he when someone noticed she didn’t show up in any mid-race photos.  She didn’t say anything in the article I read, but what could she possibly say?  She was, and forever will  be, a runner without substance, unremarkable, unaccountable, unless... could there be more to her story than the run?
 
Let me give her a paragraph.  Her name, in this latest pose, is Kendall Schlerr.  The race she ran or didn’t run, was the 2015 St. Louis Marathon, and it appears she may not have run it for two years in a row.  This year she was briefly deemed the fastest female of the race; last year she was awarded third place, a feat that until this year had not been questioned.

Last year’s time ostensibly qualified her for the Boston Marathon, which as far as I know she also did not run.  This year’s race time was, it seemed, under three hours, even though, as internet sleuths later discovered, her last half marathon posted was over two and a half hours long.  She fooled people at the St. Louis finish line, though, long enough to get a photo taken with Jackie Joyner Kersee but not long enough to garner the $1,500.00 prize or secure invitations for any more races to come.
 
Which leads back to that question: Why?  Stealing glory and grabbing gratification, yes, but I still have to wonder: for all these words might say, she’s still an empty running suit without a narrative, the ghost the cameras couldn’t capture and, sadly, one of many like her: Mike Rossi, New York, 2015; Tony Gaskill, London, 2010; Dana Patterson, Arizona, 2009; Rosie Ruiz, Boston, 1980; etc, etc. Sure, they have name notoriety and back stories of their own, but they have no story of the run.
 
I will not dwell further on Kendall and her ilk, but their pseudo-stories nonetheless compel me to consider how I might experience that real moment of crossing the marathon finish line: with integrity and accountability, of course, but more than that, with an exhilaration of having realized what I had been dreaming about for miles before; with a satisfaction, surely, after all the regimen that will have to precede the race; with gratitude, beyond all gratification, for God allowing my knees and legs and lungs to hold out; and, undoubtedly, with perspectives that I cannot begin to fathom now and will not know the night before, or at the morning’s alarm, or at mile 14, 20, 25...

I am eager for this moment.  I am eager to finish the race and live in the thrill of the moment, but I am also eager to earn it, for all that it will take.


Whatever work you find to do,
do it with all your might,
for there is neither achievement nor planning nor science,
nor wisdom in Sheol where you are going.
Another thing I have observed under the sun,
that the race is not won by the speediest,
nor the battle by the champions;
it is not the wise who get the food,
nor the intelligent wealth,
nor the learned favor.
Chance and mischance befall them all.
We do not know when our time will come...

— Ecclesiastes 9:10-12a,
by Qoheleth, the Preacher

(New Jerusalem Bible, 1985)


11/06: 

Narrative: As History Would Have It


“You know, the first marathon runner died at the finish line.” So a chuckling brother-in-law told me when I mentioned my big goal.  Very funny, my brother.  But it is true for us all, in a way: we will all die at the end of the race.  At my age, I suspect it will happen at some point in the next thirty or forty years.  For the first marathoner, though, it was reportedly more immediate.  His name, according to Lucian, a Greek writer who told the story in passing, was Philippides, although some prefer to translate the name from an earlier, less fatal history by Herodotus, related 500 years closer to the event.  Herodotus wrote of a day-runner named Pheidippides who did not immediately die when the race was done.
 
In his own time, Pheidippides would inspire an annual torch race ceremony, but he was primarily a forerunner to the events at Marathon, a field of battle twenty-some miles outside of Athens from which Lucian’s Philippides was later said to have ventured after, and not before, the battle was won.  Pheidippides undertook a longer journey before the battle, and he ran peripherally, from Athens to Sparta and back.  In time Heracleides and others, including Plutarch and later Lucian, started revising the details and making the runner a legend, as if the original day-runner story weren’t already remarkable.
 
I like the Lucian tale, and I will retell his version, but let it first be noted: Herodotus was called the Father of History, and it is his account, told thirty or forty years after the event, that is about as accurate as we can expect.  Yes, Pheidippides was a long-distance runner, and yes, he inspired a festival run, but it wasn’t to or from Marathon, it wasn’t the 26.2 miles we are now familiar with and he didn’t declare victory and collapse at the finish line.  In fact, if we accept the first report, the span he covered between Athens and Sparta was an incredible distance of six marathon races, and he ran it twice.  And yet not so incredible: there is an obscure but real race run today that is directly attributed to that journey: the Spartathlon, 153 miles long, and despite how super-human that may sound, people actually run it and have even fit it into a very long day, with the best time under 21 hours.  True!  And history-based.  But then, eventually, came a satirist named Lucian, who wrote, among other things, his own “True History” (really!), a more accessible set of essays for the masses.  Here then, in the spirit of Lucian, is my own retelling of the tale:
 
And so it was from the fields of Fennel, or what the Greeks call “Marathon” (chew on that!), that a professional dispatch runner was called upon to deliver fresh news from the battlefront.  “Go to Athens, twenty six miles around the corner, and tell them what has happened here,” the soldiers said.  The man, named Philippides, lover of horses, set off immediately.  It was in the heat of September and the way across Attica was hilly and indirect, and all the horses he cared for were tired from the battle and never good for more than a six mile run anyway, so Philippides (or Pheidippides if you prefer) made his way on foot.  When at last he arrived in Athens, he ran straight to the authorities and, with his breath nearly spent, declared, “Victory! Nike! Rejoice, for we have won the battle!”  And then, his mission complete, he collapsed and died.  And to this day, very few people talk about the three hundred miles he once ran from Athens to Sparta and back, or how he was one of many on the battlefields of Fennel.  No, they talk about that three or four hour summer run he ran, and how he put all that he had into it, and how in the end he raised his hands up and called it as he saw it, a win for the team and an accomplishment beyond the run itself.  And yes, in the end, he died, as we all will one day, but not until after our final race is run.
 
Did this really happen? Of course it did! This was not another legend of the gods, like so many other Greek stories; this was a reflection of mortality, yet also of will and purpose and endurance and all that makes us human.  And this is how we remember the run of Philippides, or Pheidippides if you will, but even in the name it is less about the runner than it is about the run, more about the dramatic race than the original dispatch.  It was a run that followed a battle with news to report and victory to declare, but even the name that once belonged to the battle and the news and the victory now describes, above all else, the runner’s achievement: Marathon!
   
Footnote to history: Sometimes truth is what we make it, but let me try to get it right. Lucian (125-180 AD) did write A True History, an extensive work that did not include his account of the runner Philippides.  That mention was limited to a few brief sentences in A Slip of the Tongue in Salutation, a short side essay about the cultural habit of greeting people with a careless wish for joy.  And I have let Lucian inspire me to retell his tale, but with a careless regard for truth, so, more carefully now: The Battle of Marathon occurred in 490 BC (or BCE, if you will).  Herodotus chronicled the event in Histories, ca. 440 BCE, and his account refers to a day-runner named Pheidippides, or in some later redrafts Philippides, but with no mention of a post-battle run or the declaration “Nenikekamos” (Joy, we won!).  More than five hundred years later, Mestius Plutarchus of Chaermea, citing a lost work by Heracleides of Pontus (390-310 BCE), related the joy account in “On the Glory of Athens” in Volume IV of his Moral Essays (ca 100 AD (or CE if you’d rather)).  Heracleides called the runner Thersippus, wrote Plutarch, but “most historians declare that it was Eucles who ran in full armor, hot from the battle, and bursting in at the doors of the first men of the State, could only say “Hail! We are victorious!’ and straightaway expired.  (From Plutarch, Moralia, tr. Cherniss/Humbold, Loeb Library 1911). Those other works Plutarch referred to have never been found, and thus his account of a Marathon to Athens run is the earliest mention we have, 590 years after it was supposed to have occurred.  Sometimes history is how we take it.

 
Bringing news of Marathon, he found the archons seated, in
suspense regarding the issue of the battle. ‘Joy, we win!’ he said, 
and died upon his message, breathing his last word Joy.”
  
— from A Slip of the Tongue in Salutation, 
by Lucian (ca 180 AD; tr. Fowler, 1905).
 

11/07: 

Joy: Whatever The Distance


There is, while we’re at it, some question about the route and the distance of that historical legendary run.  The ancient Olympic games, which spanned more than a thousand years from 776 BCE to 394 CE, well established by the time the Battle of Marathon was fought, never had a race longer than its “dolichos,” (long race) of about three to five miles, and there never was a marathon race, per se, until the modern Olympic organizers conceived of it.  The first Olympic marathon in 1896 was set at 24.85 miles, literally following a path from Marathon to Athens, but that distance by various routes can range from a hilly 21 miles to a flat 25.5 miles.  In 1908, London declared their Olympic course would be 25 miles, but by the time the route was mapped out to pass through palace gates and end with a final stadium lap it had stretched to 26.2 miles.  By 1920, Belgium had extended it even further, to 26.56 miles.  Finally, in 1921, the International Olympic Committee standardized it to the London length.  For now, though, let’s just call the Marathon stretch, roughly twenty something miles, what it has become: the ultimate dolichos, a torchlight to follow, a doable but formidable killer of a challenge, and, if what they tell me is true, a joy to run.

But of course I have not yet run that race.  Indeed, these last few days, even as I have been writing about the Philippidean distance, my mind and physical efforts have been focused on another race with a more immediate goal: the 5K run, five kilometers or 3.1 miles long: effectively, going back to the ancient games, a 5,000 meter dolichos.  Today was my culmination of that accessible joy: a fundraiser at the middle school of, over time, five of my nieces and nephews: the kids, as it happens, of my brother-in-law who first told me that Philippides story.  Eric had run the Chicago Marathon a few years ago, and he and my sister Anne had been early encouragers to my expanding runs.  I ran their same fundraiser a year before and I was happy to return, especially as this year my youngest niece and nephew, seven year old twins, were running the race with me.
 
It was a change-up to my training, though.  For the last month or two I had been prepping exclusively for last weekend’s two day run, increasing my regimen to the point that I was alternating every other day with 6.2 and 13.1 mile distances.  With this pattern, a 3.1 mile run would seem to be easy, but my split times had reflected the longer distance pace and now, suddenly, I fell compelled to amp up the effort.  Unfortunately, after that double run (and just before this journal began) I had to take a couple of days off, out of necessity: that last race had been a tough one.  The course was hillier than I had trained for and I was cursed with a late spring head cold in the days leading up to the effort.  As the congestion got the best of me I finished Sunday’s half marathon with a deliberate easiness, stopping at every water station in the second half and even walking at the end of the toughest hill. My end time was almost six minutes slower than my training time.
 
All things considered, I was happy just to have crossed the finish line, but then I rested hard on Monday and Tuesday and it wasn’t until Wednesday that I ran again, just three days before the fundraiser.  That day’s run was my first concerted 5K distance in over eight months, and my pace time showed it.  But the challenge was ahead of me, so I ran the same stretch again on Thursday, then Thursday evening, then Friday.  The times were starting to drop, still thirty second slower than last fall’s treadmill bursts, but I had cut off more than a minute in two days and was starting to feel good about it.
 
On race day eve, I spent the night at my sister’s house, and we loaded up with pizza and beer and a little whiskey. Not wise, I know, but this felt good too. And this morning I woke up early, hydrated myself in measures equal to the evening intake, did a few stretch routines and was ready to run.

Let me back up a bit though.  I am still relatively new to this life, and the 5K race is still kind of a big deal for me.  It was not so  long ago, three and a half years back, that I ran my first long run.  It was a memorable moment, not just to run and finish but to go through all it took to get to that starting line.  Six months earlier I had been 85 pounds heavier, slowly recovering from back surgery a few years before and demonstrably unable to run for more than a quarter mile without getting completely winded.  The wake up call was a Friday night hospital visit with scary high blood pressure, keeping me in the emergency room for more than six hours.  They released me with a prescription for Lisinopril, but those six hours set the tone for the next six months and longer.  It also forced me to decision: it was time to turn it all around.  Not only was I approaching 250 pounds, I was approaching the big 50 and then the even bigger 51, the age at which my dad had died of a heart attack.  I also had two single-parented teenagers to think about, and I wanted to live longer, for their sake, but I also wanted to feel better than I had been feeling.
 
That was April 2012.  I still keep the hospital wrist band in my medicine chest.  By October I had cut ten inches off my waistline, and by November, two days after Thanksgiving, I was running three miles in thirty degree weather. And I was overjoyed.  Indeed, not only did I finish that first race, I won my age group.  I had just turned 50 a few weeks before, but right then I felt very young.  My time was 26:30: not so impressive in retrospect, and I would not have won the age group in most races, but this was a local food pantry fundraiser with only four of us in the men over 50 category, and two of the four had walked the course.  It still felt good, though, and to this day my “COOL 5K” medal hangs from my rear view mirror.  Someday I hope to buy one of those 26.2 ovals for my bumper, for all to see, but that 5K medal means just as much to me.
 
Which brings me to today’s 5K.  I may never qualify for the Boston Marathon.  For men aged 50-54 the cutoff time is three and a half hours, and my best posted half marathon, after only two so far, is 1:58.  Sure, there is room and time for improvement, but a realistic goal, in my mind anyway, is to simply double my half-time.  On the other hand, after today...

First of all, it was a fun day, and a pleasure just to cheer my niece and nephew on as they finished their first distance race.  It was also nice to feel healthy again without any lingering effect from last week’s cold or the soreness the hills had given me.  But best of all was the finish: I needed very little time to catch my breath and still had a lot of run in me, but not only that, I won my age group again and even posted my best 5K time ever, at 23:10.  The mind starts to work: imagine, a 46:20 10K, three minutes faster than my best treadmill time, then extrapolate that to a 1:38 half and a 3:15 full.  No way!  But add some unshakeable hope and suddenly I’m in Boston territory!
 
It will be, as it has been, a joy just to finish the race, and I will be happy to wake up to run a local marathon that requires no qualifying time and to last the 26 miles.  That 26.2 oval is all I need for a medal, and I will display it proudly.  Meanwhile, yes, I will track my times, work to cut the seconds off as I add the miles on and do my best to stick to the training regimen, but it will be a joy, as it has been, whatever the clock says at the end.  It will be a victory.  As it should be and as it is, with every race.

 
The important thing... is not so much to win as to take part. 
The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.  
The essential thing is not to have won but to have fought well.

—Pierre de Couobertin, founder of the modern Olympics and promoter of the marathon, in
what would become the Olymic creed, 1908


11/08: 

Commitment: Keeping Track


I will be happy with a four hour marathon.  Seeing how last week’s run went I will be content just to run the race and cross the line, but if I can maintain my health and stick to the training I think a four hour finish is doable.  So there it is, a time: my first goal within a goal.  And now for the next: the calendar.  Today is the day to formally commit.  In a small way, I am motivated today by a deadline: at my half marathon last November I was given a couple of $10.00 coupons, part of the virtual goody bag all runners are given, and they will expire today.  I could still sign up after today, but the cost goes up and the slots are limited and time is running out.
 
There were a few different races promoted by the goody bag, and I start to realize that I’ll need some interim races to keep me in shape through the summer.  And just like that, I’ve signed up for several races in the next six months.  First, in two weeks, a half marathon along Milwaukee’s lakefront.  Then, in August, with summer at its peak, another half over the hills of Madison.  There  is another possibility for something in July, up in Michigan, but I’ll put that on hold for now.  But here, finally —this is it, the big one, can’t believe I’m doing this, haven’t actually done anything yet but it’s time, and it’s on the books now: in Madison, Wisconsin, on November 8, the Marathon.

The next six months may be filled with uncertainties and hesitations, but let me do my best to purge them all at once. I will be busy, too busy from time to time, to fit in two and three and four hour training runs. It will not be easy to make time. It will rain at the end of spring and it will be hot in the summer and cold and windy in the fall. I will be sore now and then, with blisters and charlie horses and tired limbs and, as I’m already learning, more peculiar ailments: bleeding nipples, lingering toenail shades, chafed skin, numb extremities. I will not always be on track with pace and distance goals. I will occasionally have to resort to the treadmill, with all its limitations, and this will throw my routine off. I will surely get another cold or two, or maybe even worse, a strained muscle or the flu or who knows what else could set me back a week or more. Some days I will just be plain tired. I will not always be motivated, maybe even discouraged, and I will wonder, am already wondering, why I have chosen these Madison hills for my ultimate run.  But God help me, I’m gonna do this!  And just to prove the point, let me set this pen aside.  It’s time to run...
   
...And so it was, perhaps as a sign, certainly as an encouragement, that in the afternoon on the last day of May, a day after a 5,000 meter race and hours after purging myself of excuses, full of a newfound commitment and out to prove a point, I went on an amazing run.  It had been cold this morning, a pre-purge excuse, so I skipped th run before breakfast routine and instead took to the path in the late afternoon before the sun went down.  I thought I’d do a more laid back effort, something longer than last week’s short bursts but with no great pressure on time and more concentration on a steady pace.  I decided to do eight minute miles for as long as I could sustain them.  Yesterday’s fast 5K had begun with a 7:15 pace in the first mile; today I might let the first lap go faster than 8:00, but not too fast.  And so it went: Mile 1, 7:30.  Mile 2, 8:00.  Mile 3, 8:00.  Mile 4, 8:10.  By the time I reached Mile 6 I had slipped to an 8:29 pace, but the 10K split was a very encouraging 50:30, my best time for that length in a long time.  I felt great, too, so I kept running beyond my first thoughts and all the way to 13.1 miles, maintaining a fairly steady pace and, ultimately, shattering my personal record by more than five minutes.
 
Including training runs, prior to today I had run this half marathon distance ten times.  Last November, in training for my first official run, I did not reach that mark until about two weeks before the race, but then I ran it four times in training, each time clocking in at about two hours.  The posted race time was even a little better, at 1:58.30, and I was content.  I did not train for that stretch again until the beginning of this month, prepping for last week’s big race, but I built up to four times in the week and a half leading up to the race, bumping my time down to 1:58 a few days before the weekend.  My second big race itself was a downer, though, and with that bad cold, a double-run exhaustion and more hills than I could handle I finished at just over 2:04.
 
But today was a different story.  More than content, more than happy, today I am thrilled with the time I posted.  Nenikekamos!  That cold-laden run is behind me, because today, just a week later, in my first rerun of the distance, with a healthy body, an easy schedule, no hills and a good pace, I eclipsed all prior personal bests with a 1:52:45.  And with that, the next step forward begins!


We are different, in essence, from other men [and women].  
If you want to win something, run 100 meters.  If you want 
to experience something, run a marathon.
  
—Emil Zatopek, four time Olympic 
gold medalist (5K, 1952; 10K, 1948 
and 1952; marathon, 1952).



11/09: 

Training: The Ongoing Education


Two chapters into this journey, which apparently may go on for a few more pages now, I gave my effort a title: Accountability.  And I want this to keep me accountable, so the title will stick, but as I was out running today it occurred to me that I could easily come up with a dozen other names for this project.   ... “Fennel Fields” ... “The Morning Run” ... “What To Do When You’re Fifty Two”
 
I try not to think too much when I run.  It slows down the pace and takes away from the pure meditation of the moment.  For the same reasons I do not wear headphones when I run.  Every once in a while, though, the flash of a thought occurs, and often as a brief spark no longer than a book title.  ... “Head Up, Eyes Forward” ... “Steadily Better” ... “Uphill Is Forward And Ahead”
 
Now and then, at some detriment to my pace, a flash-thought bounces around for more than a few seconds.  Today it was this:  ... “Maybe I Oughta Join A Club”
 
A but more clunky than those other passing titles, and it stuck with me enough that later, off-track, my mind started to argue back.  In the three years I’ve been running, with each gradual advancement I have found myself embracing my introversion, enjoying the personal accomplishment and defending the self-determinate nature of the run.  More title here:  ... “The Runner’s Achievements” ... “Daily Devotions” ... “The Joy Of The Distance” ... “Victory Is Mine”
 
That last one is part of the argument back, though, a stubborn spin to what Pheidippides reportely said at the end of his race.  But it was not just “Nike” he delared, but “Nenikekamos,” or “Rejoice, victory is ours.”  And I know better, don’t I?  I mean to say, I know I am not alone on this run.  Even as I pride myself for the personal adventure, I know I am picking up plenty of good pointers from others:  Hydrate – Small sips, not big gulps – Keep that steady pace – Know when to stop – Mix it up, short and long – Carbs the night before – Three runs a week to be consistent, four to be serious – Don’t let a little rain stop you!  These flashes are not my own titles but thoughts I’ve borrowed form other runners, things I’ve learned along the way. Maybe I really should join a club.  But there are reasons I haven’t joined one yet and may not do so any time soon.  Time management, keeping a spontaneous edge and finding simple contentment, to begin with.  But there is another, more prevalent reason: I enjoy the discovery of the run and how I get things out of it I don’t expect, things that maybe others could teach me but probably not as pointedly as the run itself teaches me.

Running through a blackbird’s territory. Finding things to focus on ahead of me. Learning a good breathing pace. The blessing of a cool morning. An appreciation of rain. All sorts of possible titles.

And yesterday, apart from that runner’s club flash, I was taught a new lesson, and again it came as a quick spark I was not expecting.  For all my planned runs and set daily distances, I have learned just yesterday, and today again, that it is refreshing to run without a plan now and then, or rather to get beyond the plan.  Yesterday my intention was to run a hard-paces ten kilometers for time, but when I got to mile six, when I should have been exhausted form the push, I felt like stretching it a few more miles and the next thing I knew I had run as long as I had ever run.  And then today I thought I would run an easier stretch, no more than five kilometers after yesterday’s twenty one.  The first hundred meters seemed to corroborate that idea, as I was stiff and felt slow out of the gate, but the first mile’s pace turned out to be a fairly respectable 8:20, then the second mile was the same and the third was 8:10, even better. I was keeping pace, unexpectedly, and it did not feel right to stop while I was ahead so I kept on. Mile 4, an 8:20 pace. Mile 5, 8:20 again.  Finally, at Mile 6, I slipped to 8:50, but that was okay, as it was already a better run than I had counted on.  Pace is everything, a lesson already considered, but now, with feet to the trail, I was learning it and figuring out how to make it real, not by regimen but by simply allowing it to happen when it does.

It won’t be the same every day.  Yesterday I set a new personal best; today was no record breaker but it was an even keel. Both days had distances and designs that weren’t in the lesson plans.  As it should be from time to time.
 

Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves.  It teaches us 
to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us 
to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This 
is what it’s all about.
  
— Patti Sue Plumet, 
U.S. Olympian, 1988, 1992.

 
11/10: 

Nenikekamos!

to my brother Josh,
and from you to me


If every day is a gift
     it doesn’t seem fair
Whenever there has to be
    the days one must battle for
But let each breath that you breathe
    fill you with the air
Of revelry and the spirit
    of wanting to breathe it more.
Let every day you’re alive
    be given to you
And every battle you fight
    be an opportunity
To know the giver is good
    who sees you through
To celebrate your life
    and declare it victory.
 
Let every breath I breathe
    lead me to believe
In heaven’s hold with the spirit
    of wanting to breathe it deep.
Let every day I’m alive
    be mine to receive
And every battle that I survive
    be mine to keep.
Let me know the grace is good
    that sets me free
To celebrate the gift
    and declare the victory.

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