Thursday, December 22, 2011

XC Club Nats--A Blessed 2011

I'm starting to think about what happened on Saturday in Seattle.  It seemed like such an ordinary sort of day.  But I know it was not.
I don't take more than a minute off my best 10K every day.  In the mud.
Now I have a cold, but I don't care.  It was worth it.

On December 10, I ran a personal best by 70 seconds for 10,000 meters.  That's about 11 seconds faster per mile than a year ago at the same race, but in comparing all the data, the Seattle course with it's mud was about 20-30 seconds slower than McAlpine a year ago.  Maybe I can break 34 minutes in a year.  That would be great.

I didn't feel my best going into the race.  Travel was tough to the Pacific Northwest as we knew it would be.  As time would tell, a cold was coming on.  But I didn't feel particularly bad either.  Legs were surprisingly loose on the Friday shakeout run on the course.  I was having a great time with teammates and I just generally had my head in the game.  I felt calm and focused.  There's not much to tell about the race.  I ran the first 5K in 17:10 and the second 5K in 17:19.  I knew I would be near the back of the race and having experienced that sensation last year, I was okay with that.  I knew my teammates would do their thing and I would not be a factor in the scoring.  Basically, I knew what to expect and I didn't set my expectations too high.  Still, I was expecting to run much faster than I ever had before.  So there was plenty to keep me focused and nervous.  I went out pretty smart, maybe a few seconds too fast, but I held back as much as I could.  I consistently passed runners throughout the race and only lost ground in the final sprint.

I wanted to negative split, (run the second half faster than the first), but the course made that goal very tough.  It got muddier with each 2K lap and each hoof that trampled all over it.  I took wide lines rather than running the tangents and I think that was the fastest way around.  I wanted to push a button and really pick it up at both the 6K and the 8K mark, but the legs didn't have an extra gear.  The ground was just so soft and didn't give back much at all.  I was working harder, but still running the same splits or a second or two slower per kilometer.

Only real disappointment, I thought I was a little weak mentally in the last 2K.  I knew it was going to be a big PR, under 35 minutes, and I think I settled.  I knew I was the 7th runner and my score would not count for the team, but it was no excuse.  I should have pushed harder.  I think 15 seconds faster could have happened if I was just a little tougher mentally.  I should have raced every jersey in the last 10 minutes of the race and next time I will.

Still, the outcome was predictable.  I told the church a few days before, great day--33:59.  Bad day--35:00+.  I got out of Club Nats what I put into my training all fall--a huge PR and one of my most successful races ever.  Can I go faster?  Absolutely.  I had said all along that my intention was to take cyclocross more seriously next fall, not be in running shape this time next year, but now I am not sure.  I really love running and I want to keep moving forward, quietly, patiently, wiser for what has occurred in 2011.  Perhaps some cycling and swimming in the summer and then back to what I know and love best.

...I'm still sick, but who cares, really.  Even my immune system knew when to break down.  The only exercise I have done in the past 12 days was a long run at Uwharrie (could not pass up that opportunity) and a cyclocross race in Winston (I performed dreadfully with a smile on my face).  It is as if my body simply said, "We will not perform, not now.  It's our time off."  I think of my body as parts in case the plural seems odd.  My body has been in a hibernating, recovering, putting on weight sort of mode.  But it's time to get back off the couch.  Time to pull out of this chest/sinus virus and get back to work.  I ran 11 minutes steady today and felt terrible.  No problem.  Tomorrow I am waking up early to run with friends.  I don't expect it to feel great.  I just expect to show up.

Training goals leading to Boston...but there is no rush in the next month.  As 2011 becomes 2012, I just need to run and enjoy it.  Run fast.  Do other stuff like INSANITY: THE ASYLUM which is on the way from Team Beach Body. The running goals are very simple.  Over a 10 week period from January 30-April 7, I will accumulate 1440 Kilometers (a little over 900 miles).  Flesh that out with a lot of long runs, progression runs, speed work like 400s and mile repeats and a bunch of hills.  All that and I should be able to run about 2:40 at the Boston Marathon on April 16.

I may seem overly confident, but here was my 2011.
I keep up with seven Personal Records or PR's as we call them.
10 mile
Half Marathon

In my 36th year on the planet, and my 28th year of competitive running, I set PR's in all those distances excluding the 5K.  I have never had that kind of sweeping success at anything.

What did I do???
  • I pastored the Tobacco Trail Church.  I consider the training and racing one of the most important aspects of my pastoral ministry in God's church and my personal prayer life.  Church and running feed one another.  They always have, but 2011 was the first complete calendar year of my life when I was pastor of a church.  I don't think the athletic success is unrelated.  Others will disagree, but that gives us something to talk about, and that something is Jesus.
  • I ran more miles--a lot more.  As many as 85 per week this fall with one or two hard speed workouts.  In the Spring my marathon training peaked at 100 miles in a week.
  • I took Juice PLUS+ every day.  All fall I doubled the dosage.  I also drank a lot of smoothies.  I think these two contributed to less sugar consumption and more front-loading of nutrition early in the day.  I didn't lose a lot of weight, but people thought I did.  So, I guess my body changed.
  • I ran with a lot of friends.  Most consistent training partner was Jason and less consistent, but still very important, the rest of the Bull City Track Club.  This whole network meant a lot of accountability, fun, encouragement, discipline, tweaking workouts and probably 20-30 extra runs that I would not have done in years when I had fewer running peers and very few faster harriers to chase.  I ran a lot those other years too, so 20-30 extra runs in a year is a decent addition.  Sometimes running with faster people can beat you down, but you skip a few runs with the group and run by yourself.  If I had to choose, I would run with the pack.  It works for wolves and such.
  • I wrote more about running.  It helps me put it the experience in perspective and enjoy the process.
  • I worked at a running store and I am always being encouraged and educated by others successes and even failures.  Running can get pretty lonely, even when you train with others, but hearing how it is going from hundreds of other runners really helps me stick with it.  I am a part of an extensive running community which includes Bull City Running Company and BCTC, Trailheads, Godiva, and running friends all over the country.  Runners are weird.  Most of us will admit to this fact.  But we love running and we recognize the benefits of sharing it with one another.  I've always done this, but it grows and grows as the years pass and 2011 showed a steady growth if not a spike.
Even with all this I am still scratching my head.  I feel truly blessed by God.  Like I have been struck with a gift and one that I must not take for granted. Cumulatively on my six PR distances, measuring from 2010 and earlier I improved 26 minutes and 33 seconds.  I feel like I have started over as a runner--been re-purposed.  I don't want to be greedy and I remind myself that I hope to be participating in this activity 40 years from now.  But I don't want to squander this gift either.  I think, no, I know, I am still a runner.   Maybe next fall I can shave a few seconds off my 16:25 five kilometer mark.  Easier said than done, but I can do it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Waiting to go on

Last night in worship I read "Waiting to Go On," by David Whyte.  From it:
We are getting ready
just to be ready
and nothing else.

I like this with six days left in Advent.  The text was the story of Zechariah, Elizabeth and John the Baptist.  Zechariah is punished (or blessed) with a temporary gift of muteness.  We all prayed to be more silent this next week and be listeners and hearers.

Read Whyte's poem in it's entirety and an excellent reflection at:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

OAR--better known as Once a Runner

Cassidy walked through the turn, pumping his arms a little, thinking of the nervous crowd noises as the pace began to pick up. Perhaps there would be only a small group left in it now; three, four, maybe. But they would all have ambitions; no one ever ran down the back straight with the leaders without thinking he had a shot at it.          From The Orb
Cassidy was in extremis. They had gone through the first mile in 4:37 and Cassidy thought with alarm: godamighty that hurt. The heavy training of the past several weeks had sapped him. When he reached down for an extra surge just to hold pace, he found only a searing strained feeling with which he was intimately familiar: red line city. He was not enjoying his weekend.          From Cross Country
 Cassidy did not allow himself to think of racing pace, for these 63 second quarter miles required so much effort it would have been heartbreaking to think how much faster a pace was required in an actual race.          From The Interval Workout 
 Then he unzipped the vertical zippers along the legs of his sweatpants and felt up and down both achilles tendons. All the knots and lumps were gone. Soft trails, he thought; godamn Denton and those beautiful soft trails. He had made it through the winter okay, only two colds and no real injuries. He was a man without an alibi.          From The Race
And he had the power. He knew that too as they sped down the straight, really feeling it now, the lactic acid aching through his body, but also starting the build-up, getting excited knowing that this time it would not be long, that it wasn't going to go on forever after all.          From The Race

Daniel Vestal: Attentiveness at Advent | Faith & Leadership

Daniel Vestal: Attentiveness at Advent | Faith & Leadership

The head of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship helps me turn into Advent.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advent--2nd Round

                                                                                     Advent Lighting by Virginia, George, William

Like this post by inner city mountain biking.  Pump track is about
50 yards to the left of our altar.

Advent Song Leading by Elmer and Megan

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Club Nats--Seven Days to go

Next Saturday is as close to the World XC Championships as this age grouper is ever going to get.  Club Nats are fine for me and I hope I am racing with packs like these boys when I am at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle, WA.  It's flat and likely fast, but effort is the same as if it were hilly, muddy, snowy, whatever.  10,000 meters can only be lost in the first kilometer.  Go out hard, but calm.  Then sit in for about the next 15-20 minutes at the pace dictated by the training that has or has not been done.  For me, that's 3:30 per kilometer, maybe 3:25, but no crazy low 3's.  I'll only pay for it later.

Round through the 6K mark and start the race.  Reel folks in, one by one, pack by pack, maybe even four at a time like the pack pictured above.  For all I know, the guy in the background, over the shoulder of the runner in the green and red, the harrier in blue shorts and white singlet, is mowing down this pack and when he pulls up on his teamate in the foreground, second in line, they are going to start moving up together picking off runners up ahead who are starting to move in quicksand.

Last weekend, I was that guy moving up late in the race and picking off runners.  Too often I'm the other guy.  Even if this tactic sequesters me to the back of the race early, I'm going with the same hunt from the back plan in Washington.  Patience, Patience, Patience.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mistletoe Thump Down

Our friend Mark Kohler took this shot just before the finish line of the Mistletoe Half Marathon in Winston-Salem this morning.
Kristen was amazing.  She demolished a PR from only seven weeks ago on another hilly course.  This secures both of us for entry into the 2012 New York City Marathon. 

She is so fit right now that even what I thought was a struggling day for her (leg wise), you just tell her what to do and she does it.  Okay, pick it up, we've got 5K to go.  Tuck in behind going into this headwind.  Go get that guy in the black gloves.

This was Kristen at the 10K. 

Not looking so good and these were her words.  She said post-race, I knew he was taking my picture so I tried to smile.  That was all I had. 

Sadly, as the picture grimly confirms, she never had that loose feeling, or if it was there, only from about mile five to mile six and you can see in the picture it had come and quickly gone bye bye. The mile following this photo was close to eight minutes and I thought to myself, I'm gonna to have to get creative if this is the direction that we are going with the splits.  But she regrouped, maintained pace through the Wake Forest campus, and at 10 miles did exactly what we had planned--picked it up.  As my buddy Thomas joined us for half a mile, I could tell my wife was looking down at the metaphorical dirty clothes.  You know the ones at the bottom of the hurt locker that you don't even really want to pick up because no good can come of it, they are beyond the hopes of the washing machine, so you usually just avoid them.  My wife describes the sensation another way, as that bloody taste when you spit.  Yep, that's lactic acid creeping up and over the shoulders.  When a stout time goal is starring you in the face, best to hunker down and get to the finish line of what you started because that's the fastest way to the end of the pain.

So she did--1:35:29.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bull City Track Club: Hope Valley Family Marathon

Bull City Track Club: Hope Valley Family Marathon: One of our many community outreach events, the Hope Valley Family Marathon . Pictured below are two BCTC members, David Tallon and Kim Page...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Worship on the First of Advent--11/27/11

We gathered at 10:00am, a grassy plot along the American Tobacco Trail near Southpoint Crossing Shopping Center.
  •  Coffee, Juice, Bagles
  • Advent Liturgy to begin formally (first children led us in Johnny Appleseed)
  • Reading of Isaiah 64:1-9
  • Hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
  • Preaching, Wombs and Warning Signs
  • Common Prayer and Clay Molding
  • Eucharist
  • Sending Forth

Wombs and Warning Signs

The last four weeks have had my words and prayers in the space of Trust. Susannah's steadfast trust, Psalm 9, Psalm 37...

Isaiah says to us in the voice of the Father, I am the potter and you are the clay.

We are the clay, you are the potter;
   we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:8)

Just on a glance, during a square dance, and walking under the New Lodge, This summer at Eagle's Nest Camp, I saw a master potter working the wheel. Children were gathered around asking about the process, probably distracting his work, but he let it be a teaching moment. He let them watch him shape the sides of what looked like the makings of an intricate vase or drinking pitcher. One who knows pottery, knows that what seems almost done, good enough, and already in the image of the completed project is often 30 minutes or more from completion, or about to be scrapped and re-sculpted. Clay doesn't go anywhere from the perspective of matter, but there is a cataclysmic metamorphosis. Some of us are vastly different mounds of clay then we were 40 years ago or yesterday. For all I know, someone is about to be molded beyond recognition today.

Talking about the poems
I'm working diligently on a book of poetry. My mother and I attended a conference and it inspired me to attempt a self-published book of poetry.  I wrote and taped to the front cover of this red notebook filled with verses: 
 March 9, 2011
2011--goal.  One poem for each week of the year.  52.  I'm at 19 poems and I am in the 10th week of the year.
I have 40 poems that I would be willing to put in a book and have other people read, love, make fun of, whatever. I need 12 more by December 31.  That means I have a great deal of work to complete in the next and last five weeks of the year.  Here is one of the poems that is in progress and process of becoming one of the 52.
(Note: I considered reading 10/10/03, but opted for the following rougher set of verses:

Fourteener along the Boyne

Outside Slane 
from Rossnaree
we clopped and clipped
in and out of weather
sideways rain
then sun rays

All the while Boyne flowed
in the valley

Lush is the order of the hour
Wind blows hard in
this tenth month
announcing a shift

Yet here in Ireland green persists
Cattle graze
lean into gusts
on flowing emerald slopes
just as they have
for generations

Panes shake at Rossnaree
as I scribe and soak in 
the county Meath

Wind whips over the grass
Picking up speed
as the ground drops
out from underneath the gust
The force of air
loses its' surface
the vector keeps it straight
in mid-air
and it seeks another structure
to engage

Tops of foliage down the hillside
receive a glancing blow
but the big back stop
is Spruce
He's braced and ready
has received a thousand blows
and will not fall

Now here comes the rain
And the temperature drops
or so it looks
from inside mortar and windows
it's cold in here
but not like out there

Come down rain 
and wet this Earth
whet my pen

At home the wind
eases back in the rain
but hardly here
the two know each 
other all too well
and collaborate and 
equate to October

So much of the work done for these poems has been accomplished away from them.  One note to myself in the red notebook: 

-Check old Journals
-Find/Check old Notebooks
-Scour my writing

Now with what seems like absent minded notes like these, it means I did a lot of partial work on verses and then had to get away, get some perspective, go running, burp a baby, eat.  I didn't forget them.  I just seems like I forgot them.  Often the words appeared when I was away from the medium of writing and I would hurry back and scribe as best I could.

Talking about the womb
Moving to a subject further outside my expertise than poetry, but stay with me and hold together the image of the clay and the potter, the poetic process, and enter the womb.  

I know about half as much about the womb as many of you. I've lived in one. Nine, better ten months, if you ask most mothers. That big circle in a Venn Diagram includes each of us, we all spent a season in a womb. But many of you have double, triple, and exponential experience with the womb. For you've baked more than bread there, unless you take seriously that bread is body.  A person has grown in many of you.

Carlyle Marney takes the image to our gathering and says, “The church is the womb within which persons happen and recognize one another” (from the Preface in Recovery of the Person).

But, think on that womb time. Ask mothers. It's an odd time. At times the two are so closely connected, and as one, that no one else can get into that relationship. Much ink has spilled over this affect for the rest of life on all parties—moms, babies, daddies, mommies mommies. Think in your own family—the womb changes everything. When we left the hospital I had the most protective, and hypothetically threatened sensation of my life. If anyone tries to hurt this trio, I'll kill 'em. I was overwhelmed by the power of the womb.

But at times, mothers feel distant from the child that grows inside. Oh, mother walks around with the child, but wants to go back to work and not nap for four hours in the middle of the day. Or, she feels so good, almost forgets the protrusion 15 inches South upon a simple glance.

God does this too, like a mother with so much acreage under her wings. God doesn't forget, but seemingly turns to other projects and leaves the womb for a bit to check on and tend to other plots. 

But inside the womb, that seemingly forgotten incubator, is still where persons happen and recognize one another. Whether God seems hovered over or off to other chores, we still have the blood and the nutrients and the ability within that womb to recognize one another in our fullness. To truly be human. Think of an excerpt from our Acts reading when receiving new members: “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” When we grow in the womb, all the body parts are in a symphony sharing and distributing resources. 

Talking about the potter and the clay
A friend said of a shambled life, Has God forgotten to show mercy? Did God forget me?

No, your Father got up from the wheel and is at work as ever, though it is so tough to see and touch right now. The vessel he's crafting in you, that is you, is God's most special work. He can't rush it. When you were born, it only seemed like you were done, that you had been brought to completion.

No, he's still molding you. For God to spin the wheel and lay hands on you will take as much time away from the wheel, maybe much more time away from it, then it will with hands on directly as the clay moves in time and space.

What's the first Advent message?  That your God, the one who promised Emmanuel, is about to sit down at the wheel.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turn Your Face: I love the colors of Fall. Someone said to me on...

Turn Your Face:

I love the colors of Fall. Someone said to me on...
: I love the colors of Fall. Someone said to me once he didn’t because everything was dying. I don’t think so and wrote a poem about it. ...

Friday, November 4, 2011

The OK Runner: Newburyport Half Marathon

The OK Runner: Newburyport Half Marathon: Time: 113:42 Distance: 28.81k W/u : 28:38 for 5.49k Race: 71:45 for 5th place C/d : 13:19 for 2.32k I ran a half marathon today. I ne...

My buddies, Jordan and Megan, have moved from Charlotte to Boston. Bummer. We usually got to run every couple of months together, but work pulled them to New England. Megan is setting up for a great effort and the US Marathon trials at
on January 14, 2012. Jordan is making the return from injuries and trying to get training rolling again. Read his recent post above.

Bull City Track Club: Great American XC, Carrboro 10K, and XC Nats

This post begins with a race report from Alex Varner, photos are by Kim Page, and final thoughts are from me, George Linney.

Bull City Track Club: Great American XC, Carrboro 10K, and XC Nats: Alex and Adam rolling past 2K by Alex Varner (written 10/1/11) I headed over to Cary with some other Bull City open men to take on the ...

Want to join the Bull City Track Club? Come see us at the store, We have a lot of fun.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

proper fitting shoes

I continue to love running. This piece of paper was not only designed to be my race mantra, but it indicates a few goals during the Utah Valley Marathon (6/10/11). I had a few more notes to share on the race, even now, four months later.
39:10 for 10K 6:18pace. Good running, but then a bathroom break.
1:24:44 6:27 pace. Pace really slowed from mile 6 to mile 13. This was not a strong part of the race. I let things slip too much and it cost me 2:49.
Mile 15 – 6:15
16 – 634
17 – 616
18 – 609
19 – 630
20 – 620
21 – 635
22 – 627
23 – 646
24 – 717
25 – 700
26 – 644
I ran 1:24.43 for the first half. I ran 1:26.16 for the second half. I finished in 16th place overall, 3rd in my age group.
Where I slipped up...for the 6.9 miles from the 10K to Half Marathon it took me 45:34. That's a 6:36 pace. That was too slow for those early/middle miles. Granted, I stopped to use the restroom during those miles and that cost me. I should have hydrated a little less, but that happens with a point to point course, waking up at 2am and starting the race at 6am.
Some of my pre-race comments:
"Reading notes from friends and starting to fuel. 3.5 hrs to race time. Great day for a 26.2 mile fun run at
Never knew how many folks resonate with Eric Liddell and Chariots of Fire. Don't forget the drive of Harold Abrams. And the coaching of Sam Massubini. The hymn Jerusalem, a blessing upon the land on which you reside. Here's to you Durham."
I ran 2:50 @ Utah Valley Marathon. 
Even now with a great deal left on the table from back in June, I love running.  I am pointing long term towards, 4/16/12 and the Boston Marathon.  I would like to take a shot at 2:40.  I believe I can run closer to a six minute pace for 26.2 miles.
This week I will hopefully complete 80 miles of training with two workouts, one on the track and one hill work out.  I'm sore and achy, but everything is manageable.  There are those who doubt my training methods, but I had good success with high mileage in the Spring and I can feel my body growing stronger just as it did before.  I rested well in June and July before this slow build.  A lot of work has to be endured for small bits of improvement.  I am still achieving my fastest times, but the preparation takes careful calculation and some risk.
I am thankful for proper fitting shoes.  I feel like the one being spoken about in Ephesians and I do feel peaceful and ready--I have the right equipment.  Running helps show me the way in the rest of my life.  My job as a pastor is to help equip others for ministry.  This happens in many different ways--unique to each individual's gifts.  We often make blunders before finding the right relationships and plots to serve.  I am practicing greater and greater patience.  Wait for God to show the clear way.  It happens that way with running as well.  Long seasons of preparation before small improvements.  They are not the prettiest feet, but they work.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


In 48 my boy will be 8
how can that be
2003 and he was born
while I was on holiday
from Stanley's Christian Ethics

We studied war no more
marriage and fidelity
worship habits
practices of prayer

But mid-way through holiday,
by this evening, the 8th, a Wednesday,
Kristen was breathing heavy and sleepless
I rested and turns out I'd need it
We'd take it where we could get it

48 hours later he came to the world healthy
affirming much of what I was purposed for
and a few other chores
and calls

He was long like Usain @ 9 lbs 2 ounces
A special boy with a keen eye for the world
soaking it all in always taking in all the stimuli

At seven almost eight, the world is his oyster
He can do it all
Musician, runner, mathematician,
and why not
why not seek them all
Capture this season and ride it out until the next one
comes to you in a flurry

Friday, October 7, 2011

lament to sunshine

When the truth is
I miss you
a hillside for hunting
off to the left
Come on in
I’ve gotta tell you what a state I’m in

Today, I run the road from Drogheda
wet from a hard rain, but not anymore
now sun is over the horizon at my left
and I sink to 6:30s
why not, for I’m tired but Coldplay works
through the fatigue
I’d do well to do just the same
I envision them playing at Slane Castle
It is nearby, but I am not going
touristy things are not on my list
I have been to Open Farm and down to Duleek Quarry
stopped at the bridge
over the railroad tracks
watched the tractors
churn the earth
while birds seek the afterbirth
of the newly delivered
soil turned over
I’ve seen the way these people live—mostly farmers
it is what I came for.

Check out: 
I wrote from the second story of this building looking out over the River Boyne and her lush green pastures.

County Meath

County Meath is filled with gems
The Castle at Slane, the fight for 
Old Bridge, there are fisherman
@ Drogheda
of course there's Brú na Bóinne 
where graves are marked and short days counted

Boyne flows on and on
not a care
for all the fuss
out to sea she ripples
never naming yet carving the countryside

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Turning on Time

She used to turn in July
seemingly not knowing
the time
and the season

Now she turns on time
just now the grassy hues turn to

Is it the four years of maturity
watching out over the land on this welcome path
this Forest Brook, she sits on high ground

When she first took root
why did she fall early

It is October in the Piedmont
and the time is on time for dipping temps
and falling leaves

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Reading When Receiving New Members

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

At the right time

What is the right time

Romans 5:6b

Timing is everything

This morning I was slow

The time was off

The splits were surprising

But tomorrow promises to be different

I know I can go faster

Maybe comparing to ten years ago is the wrong yard stick

Compare to today

So far, in 2011, I have set new PR's in the marathon and the mile

Not bad at 36 years young

I can go faster

Not as fast as everyone around me, but fast

I know I can go faster

I need to increase the volume

decrease the intake of hops

watch my eating

sleep in my bed not on the sofa

My back cannot take it any longer

Next Friday is not about time, but effort at Great American

Hebrews 12.1

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How Can I Pay for a Session of Eagle's Nest Camp? | Eagles Nest Camp Blog | Summer Camp in the North Carolina Mountains | Eagle's Nest

How Can I Pay for a Session of Eagle's Nest Camp? Eagles Nest Camp Blog Summer Camp in the North Carolina Mountains Eagle's Nest

Paige lays out a great plan for how to send kids to camp. It takes some hard work, grassroots type hard work, but those who really want to go to camp can do it. This stretching and prioritizing can even be extended to the children who attend camp. Think in a creative and disciplined way.

My parents sent Allison and me to camp in 1986 and paid for it all. I was 11 and Allison was 13. The Nest changed our lives and I don't remember having a greater priority than getting back to ENC the following year. Beginning in 1987, we each paid for half. Back then that was about $600 of a $1200 tuition (ah...inflation). For a 12 year old that was a lot. It meant I deposited monies from grass cutting, baby sitting, birthday, Christmas, Valentine's, etc. Wherever the money was coming in I had to be thinking about getting back to Pisgah Forest for three weeks the following summer. I believe it shaped my sense of money, savings, and most importantly, how I came to remember special experiences. Every time I gave up buying a pack of baseball cards, I had to remember an underwater-recovery pry that Grant had showed me or a Lodge led by Bruce that taught me how to Rock to the Casbah.

I spent the next eight summers at this camp. I was a camper for four summers, JC (Junior Counselor) for two, and a staff member for three summers. When the days grew long 43 Hart Rd was where I wanted to be up through my early 20s.

Now I started much later than my children. George IV started at five and Kathryn will start in 2012 as a seven year old. Their earning potential is compromised compared to me when I was 12 and older, but it is time to start thinking about counting the cost. Right now we have budgeted for only Kathryn to attend in 2012, but maybe George IV should get to consider what he is willing to give up in order to return to Eagle's Nest.

These are conversations that will unfold this fall. I hope you will consider such talks. My parents were creative and optimistic about how to get us to camp year after year. I wonder if they knew this would turn out to be one of their best instincts as parents.

The first task in getting to camp is not to lead with "No, we can't possibly afford that." You don't know that until you have turned over a few rocks, had a few conversations, prayed a little, meditated, let it simmer. Practice patience and humility and Eagle's Nest can be a part of your future.

Bull Durham Blues Festival Lineup

Bull Durham Blues Festival Lineup

Hoping to make this event on Saturday night - - 24th Annual Bull Durham Blues Festival on September 10, 2011 at Durham Central Park from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Also, hope to attend a reading at Joe Van Gogh's on Broad Street from 6-9pm on Saturday. Friends from will be sharing Prison Readings. Read more at:!/event.php?eid=243226225710860.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Could Rastas and Christians Really Unite? | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Saturday, 9am
Could Rastas and Christians Really Unite? | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

This article plus today's participation in the festival in Mebane will hopefully inspire a reflection.

We will be exploring the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

After a great afternoon of making new friends at RALAK on Saturday, here is my reflection.

Down by da tree
We gathered
in the shade
her spines like the long bows
sweeping and curving
make the circle
dense dripline
40 x 40
for the four of us and more
for our sitting

It is the willow tree
Give thanks for the willow tree

She says, come
and sit
stay and listen
hear the wind
feel the sun
listen to the welcome from the drum

Heart beatin'
Foot thumpin'
Land shakin'

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Our most natural instinct
Copying rhythms
But not plagiarism
It is nearly impossible to cheat in this regard for you will put your own mark, your own twist
You always do

Keep at it
Keep tweaking
Keep molding and shaping
It's a journey, often a long one
But you've got time
Where are you going to go?
If you get a flat, fix it, or turn around and ride home slowly and gingerly, not to make it worse. You'll get to the bottom of it.
The point of the ride was to hope, to wish, to imagine, that it would go off flawlessly. For sometimes it does. Sometimes you are flying with the wind in your face and all is right with the world. These are the days to imitate, to re-create. To enjoy recreation.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weekend Update: August 25-27

Weekend Update: August 25-27

On Saturday, the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Greater Raleigh will host its annual Children’s Good News Spectacular. The event will be held in the Graham Building and will feature inflatable games and rides, popcorn, snow cones, drinks, an illusion show and several gospel presentations. Last year’s event had more than 10,000 attendees and this year’s event promises to bring more spectacular growth.

3FCT Run/Ride--Sunday, September 11

I have some dreams around a Third Fork Creek Trail Run/Ride (3FCT). Here's what I have so far:

Sunday, September 11, 8:00am.
Meet at Sounthern Boundaries Park in Durham and be ready to run or ride at 8am.

Here's the route:
3FCT to Woodcroft Pkwy.
Take a left.
Take a left at ATT.
Then you can get back to Southern Boundaries on the path of your choice.
Last left turn option is MLK, but you can turn many places before. What's the fastest way home? You decide. My estimate on the distance is 10 miles, but I will let you techies confirm or deny.

--Fast cyclists might think about two loops.
--Self-supported event so bring your own gear and care for oneself and others.

Given that this is our September 11 Remembrance:
We are asking for a donation of $10 (or more) and all proceeds will go to supporting post-9-11 war veterans going to the State Fair. What's better than that??? Maybe they will let some TTC folks tag along!

From VA website:

Want to RSVP?
text: 919.414.6565
Want to decide the morning of, the minute before?
Well then, just show up.

Queen of the Slide

I am queen of the slide
and no one can stop me
not the sun
nor the wind
not my little brother
not a friend

I'm queen of the slide
but what do I do
when all my subjects have fled?
Who am I queen of then?
The slide still knows who's boss
but who else?

I will reign over the swings

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Small, Local Businesses Speed Income Growth

Small, Local Businesses Speed Income Growth


A Natseeho tribute
for that is what I am
not by choice
at least not my own choosing
still chosen

Yet, to tell the truth
I am in a Migisi season on the wheel
soaring high on the wings
of an eagle
looking down from far above and seeing mice, buffalo, bears

But I return home
because Lovett sings it proud
They just don't come no better than a bear

Bears have been driven out of the wilderness
yet they return
to compost heaps
trash cans
we are proud and mighty
saavy enough to scavange

Ursus americanus
you'll find us in the Southland
among the pines
through and through
as the wheel spins and the weather shifts
climates change
and so we shift as well
changing weight on giant haunches

Sharp claws
are best
for pickin' on that banjo in a stringband
one for which we were made

West to Cherokee
East to Wilmington
and points between
we lie resting
in the rolling hills
of tobacco road

We take on the Bull
and take none of it

Birds are Busy

Birds are busy in the morning
A fat cardinal flies low from fence to branch
Out of the reeds and rushes flits a brown one
Thrushes skirt the playground and perch on a tall pine
Blue bird seeks his mate guarding the eggs
White moon falling sees all
While fall threatens on a mild August morn
Green is abundant on this piedmont landscape
Good camo for these wing-ed friends

--a selection from Border Ways.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Utah Valley Marathon

On June 11, 2011 I ran the Utah Valley Marathon. I'm using the picture above for a couple of reasons. First, the runners in the Hope Valley Marathon are angled downhill and that was the theme of this marathon. I also felt like I took along with me the spirit of the TTC, Durham, and the Bull City Track Club. There were a lot of folks rooting for me from NC and I really felt those good vibes. I even think that all the support helped me overcome what was a pretty tight and sluggish day of running. When I was trying to loosen up the legs before the run, I never really could. I felt tight jogging, stretching and even during the entire 26.2 miles. Some days are just that way--tight.

Like I said, I never really felt all that great during the race. It was downhill and that did not seem particularly helpful. It started at 6,000 feet and dropped to 4,500 feet which I thought would be a huge help, but a physiology guy informed that altitude numbers like these probably account for 3-5% drop in performance.

My feet were throbbing in the second half of the race. Here are pictures of me slogging it out. It didn't help that the first half of race was all asphalt only to transition into a concrete slab for the last 13 miles.

All complaining aside, I set a PR by seven minutes from Umstead in April and by 20 minutes from my best road marathon. Even feeling sluggish I was fit enough to keep moving at 6:30 pace throughout the race. I attribute my success to 70+ mile weeks since January and a peak training week of 100 miles in early May. My first and second half splits were only 90 seconds apart. So the numbers were good, but I felt that on a better day I could have gone more than five minutes faster. I ran 2:50 and had a great time with North Carolina friends, Bob Callanan, Holly and Dave Plotts. I had never been to the Provo area of Utah and it was a great weekend getaway.

I thought I would be done with the marathon for a few years, but sub 2:45 is well within reach. I think it will happen on Patriot's Day with a handful of BCTC folks all trying to run fast and enjoy the Boston buzz.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FirstGiving - Your fundraising

Support TTC and our fundraising efforts for Habitat for Humanity.

FirstGiving - Your fundraising

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Casting the net: Extending the vision

Today marks day eight for the teams in RAAM 2011. I wonder what they are feeling, those who are still at work somewhere nearing the east coast, those who have finished and are trying to get purchase on a life without the steady rhythm of pedal strokes and Five Hour Energy.

In the Race Across America version 2010 by this Saturday morning our team would have been sleeping, traveling, eating, or catching up with loved ones after having rolled up to the Chesapeake Bay yesterday morning. Early on the previous morning, still about ten miles out from the finish, with head barely held above my front stem yet still rolling forward with my teamates, Henry Kaestner asked me the question, "When will we hear from the Tobacco Trail Church next?" I said to him, an answer that seemed as natural as any other sort of pleasantry though I had no idea where it came from, "This is it right now. Us riding is the Tobacco Trail Church."

That was a vision quest sort of time for our community. I'm feeling it again.

I took a picture this morning of the bluebirds back at work, late in the season by my memory, casting their vision for new life, growth, maturity.

I think TTC is in growth mode, casting a wide net, seeing what will come back. I sense people getting a bit restless--always a good thing if not a comfortable thing. To be squirmy is to be ready to move.

Those eggs are filled with squirminess inside. I trust that. I did not touch them for that might scare mom and dad away. But I trust they are warm with movement, pulsing with cellular growth, ready to hatch.

What warmth is dwelling inside the Tobacco Trail Community today? I think it has to do with running and church, coffee and cycling. I'm looking forward to seeing it all come to fruition.

Cast your nets wide today. Risk an empty catch and switch to the other side of the boat if and when the directive comes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shoulda Set for Crete

On the way to Rome
the winds were against us
and we shoulda set for Crete
and stayed a piece

Aristarchus from Thessalonica
was with us
bet he knew our people there

No good bein' a prisoner
when the sea and the wind burp and howl
against our wayward ways

The centurion had a fool plan
that had us doggin' on toward the big city
but he was a fool

Get us killed is what would happen in this weather
Right on past Crete
in the wintry weather violent and all a fuss

Fortnight later, well past old Crete now
I told 'em
stay on this ship
if you want to live
and they did
and we did

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Happened in West Virginia

What happened in WV
was a ride on two wheels
up a hill
into the lush green
as the horizon
edged upward
False flats
and then up again
Curve and weave
Cut the corners
Or stay to the right
for safety and to abide
in the laws of the land
good laws
better not to surprise oncoming traffic
in a dart
for their lives
and his

Thursday, May 19, 2011

DOUGHMAN--Support Durham Inner-city Gardeners

I can't wait for The Doughman next weekend when we defend our title. Want to help our team, The Suffern All-Stars, raise money for SEEDS and DIG? Give at: All donations will go to DIG and you will help us reach our time-bonus goal of two minutes which requires $500. Come out and support, 8am on Saturday, May 28, in the Durham Centre parking lot (corner of Foster and Seminary).

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Wild Roses

they can't be contained
never thought they would
revolting from dormancy
no one can stop them
no one can contain them
they bleed on a green backdrop
no matter that I see them behind black iron bars
that's just a fence
with a gate for me
but for these buds
they will grow through if they so desire
perhaps even clinging and wrapping
becoming one

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

The Road to Emmaus

In Luke's 24th Chapter we get everything we need to be the church: Gathering, Word, Practice, and Sending Forth.

Today at the Tobacco Trail Church we will scorn death as People of the Resurrection and try to make sense of this story. We are also eating cake because our family has had the practice of eating a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas and why not have another one on the weekend that he was raised to new life.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thirsty Thursday

I ran my fastest Thirsty Thursday this morning. That's strange because it is Friday. Does that mean it is yesterday?

For one thing, I am rarely able to make it out to Carolina North on a Thursday so waiting for a chance to run with the normal Thursday crowd could have been far down the road on the calendar.

I was of the mind to try and run a fast fitness test. Probably not a good idea with the achy and snotty symptoms of a sinus infection, but I had an axe to grind since I am not running the Duke Invite 5K this evening. I will be pulling for my teammates, though, Alex Varner, Patrick Reaves, and Sarah Lee. I think they will all have great showings.

As for me, I scratched on Tuesday knowing I was not race ready with the coughing and spurting that was worsening with each day.

Still, this morning I decided, probably against my better judgment, to try for a quick time. I didn't have a date listed for my previous best Thirsty Thursday of 37:50, but based on my other notes I think it was 2008 or 2009. A while back and it was time to try for this one again.

I didn't feel good. Not at the start, not in the middle, not coming home. Yet, I ran 36:53. Not bad considering. I'm definitely a lot faster than I was a few years ago.

In a few weeks, I will try for a 36:30. Today and one more attempt are good yardsticks for how I might fair at Philosopher's Way on May 7.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Love Wins

Everybody and their brother, folks two on a mule are criticizing Rob Bell these days. The safe play from the orthodox world is to condemn Bell. I heard him in the Fall in a live speech. He wasn't very good.

He was great. He spoke of the Gospel as being both simultaneously "light" and "heavy." I get that.

I press those who watch these videos and possibly even read the book to consider how much this merging of Heaven and Earth is the message being offered to us by N.T. Wright in his work of the last few years.

ABC Video

All worthy of consideration.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Keyser to Cumberland, WV to Maryland, on a hot 35th birthday

One of the most famous recoveries in cycling occurred as Lance
Armstrong avoided a huge crash...he instinctively scurried through the hillside and though skipping the switchback, gained no advantage and rejoined the leaders.

It was my birthday, June 18 and Dave Hoffman and I would be riding out of the Walmart parking lot, but logistics made it such that it was just me for now.

At 4:26pm on June 18, 2010 we crossed the time check just South of Keyser, West Virginia. What that meant in real time was Henry McCoy was barreling down WV SR 220 and soon and very soon it would be my turn to ride a bike.

About 15 minutes earlier I had doubted.

I stood there, out on the highway in the blazing sun, wondering if I was going to make it. I had not slept in days it felt like. I was so tired--pumping Five Hour Energy's like chewing gum...around the clock. It seemed so far until the end of this race, the sun would set again before we would finish. How much longer could it go on?

No one on my team was ready. Not only were people tired, but we needed some van transition time so that trash could be removed and new food and gear and riders loaded in. This was going to take a few minutes even if we were alert and we were not. The other riders and the drivers could barely move so the going was slow, but Henry was coming fast. So I waited, just me and my bike. I had the turns written on my arms so that I could find my way down the road in this Five O'clock traffic.

Moments before I had walked across the Walmart parking lot in the 90 degree heat just having used the facilities and in a haze of fatigue unlike any that had ever come my way. I've been tired before, but not like this. I wondered if I could go on. Could I get back on the bike and do my part to help Durham and my team?

I was feeling the weight of the world and I thought this is what I came here for, to see if I can go through this moment and find out what's on the other side. I wasn't sure that I could, but I looked back at the hot asphalt behind me and saw that I was not exiting my physical body, and no part of me had been left back there in a greasy puddle. I must have been walking back to the curb where Lance was poking around his stuff. I poked around mine. I put on my race bibs and jersey one more time, and made the necessary preparations to ride a bike for about the 40th separate time over the last six days.

It seemed like we were a million miles from Oceanside, CA (more like 2500) and million more from Annapolis, Maryland, (more like 400). This is the kind of spot in these races where teams quit. A waterfall of fatigue and despair washes over the group and they just say, we did good. Let's call it a day and find a hotel. Nobody said that in this group.

I'm back on the bike and coming back to life. Once set in the motion of bike riding I was starting to return to the land of the living. Cars were flying by and I was enjoying the excitement. I didn't necessarily stop for red lights if it was clear, this was a race, and I was in a hurry.

I was by myself, because like I said, no one was ready, not even the van. If something went wrong, I was on my own, just out here on the road. It was kind of nice. Not much true solitude during this race. Usually a van nearby to point the way or shine lights to help illuminate the road ahead. Now it was just me in rush hour traffic, sort of rural rush hour, but still rush hour.

I motored down the road and finally heard the van behind me. You get the sense because the rest of the traffic is sort of stalled. I was moving fast, but bike fast, maybe 22 miles per hour. Not car fast.

So why would I ever think to lead with that heroic recovery by Lance Armstrong? Well, it was what flashed through my mind when my tired hallucinogenic body made a wrong turn and went left against a one way street. The van yelled behind me, WRONG. I darted right, over the curb, through the grass in the Exxon parking lot and I bunny hopped an eight inch curb. To this day, it's the coolest thing I have ever done on a bike.

The day before I saw Lance, this one was Lance Condray, do it on a bike. I had tried it once. Now it was instinct. I leveled the pedals, front and back, parallel to the ground and picked the bike up with my feet, jumped the curb and with the forward momentum, cleared the back wheel and landed flat on the concrete in front of me.

I turned back to the right, back toward the road I had been on, but it was a two-way street and I was now on the left side of the road. I rode facing traffic, five or so cars passed and honked, I found my gap and made my way back across the road and onto the right side.

One block more and there is the left--the one I should have taken. I got lucky, because now luck seemed clearly to be on my side and I flowed right into the left turn lane as the cars were moving forward and with no stops and at a busy intersection I was turning left and hauling past one of the solo riders. She had a caravan behind her, but it was such a rush to see one of these brave souls who had started three days before our eight person team.

Within a half mile up the road, even more excitement. The 4th place team, the one we had been chasing down for 24 hours, there they were and I passed the rider on the uphill as if he were standing still. We assumed they were 45 minutes ahead of us. We later found out that they had made a wrong turn, but whatever the circumstances, it was one of the crowning moments in the race. Our whole team had been focused on this since the middle of the night before and now it was our job to gap them as much as possible between here and the finish line.

I had been riding more than 10 miles, a long pull for our rotation. Only one van was behind me, but I pulled off and Dave Hoffman and I began our beautiful work together. I rode the uphills and he hammered down. For four rotations, back and forth, we blistered the hills outside of Keyser, West Virginia. We were like machines. Zbow and Ben handled the logistics, bike on, bike off, try not to hit anything with the van. As I recall, we may have lost a rear-view mirror along this stretch, whatever, seriously, whatever, collateral damage at this point. We were all focused and pushing the limits of what we were being asked to do. It was a beautiful sight.

When Lance took over for us, I basically blacked out for 45 minutes.
Is it weird that I am a little sad that we are not all going to be in California the second week in June?

Christopher Gergen bear-hugged me at the start of the Great Human Race on Saturday, and I thought to myself, any person on that trip is a friend for life, a brother or sister in a way that is intimate beyond words. We have been to hell and back. I love you all.