April 22, 2016

Running is ...

Running puts me with my people. Running gets me out of my head and completely in my head at the same time. Running is the thing I do better than all the other things.

Running allows me to eat whatever I want. Running keeps me awake at night. Running gets me out of bed in the morning. Running makes the nap a necessity, and a distinct pleasure.

Running is my reason for so many other activities like yoga and strength work that complement it. Running betters my days. Running gives me concentrated time to help shape my perspective.

Running is who I am. Running is who I want to be. Running makes me whole.

Running shapes my words. Running fuels my self-discovery. Running hones my grit.

Running helps me choose which dreams to chase. Running makes me vulnerable. Running heals me.

Running is simple. Running is profound.

Running is my canvas.

March 23, 2016

Feel the Air

Dear Joe,

What a gift, dude.

So I was missing you fiercely this morning. After my short run, I found myself reminiscing about random times we shared when I remembered you teaching me basic Tai Chi.

On a whim — or so I thought —I jumped online, and the very first video I found was the exact opening 10 poses that you taught me in the summer of 1980 in Knoxville.

After watching it over coffee, I hit rewind and managed to stumble and bumble through the whole series of movements. The final two poses in the sequence are relatively complicated. Feeling like a bit fawn-like, the thought occurred to me that maybe I should just shelve this Tai Chi thing for another time. Plenty of causes on my plate for now.

That's when I remembered fussing about those final poses out there in the grass near the UT Aquatics Center, and you telling me, "Before long, you'll feel the air around you and you'll know how to move."

I never really got there. Stayed with it the rest of that summer, but glided away from it by the time I returned to college that fall. Don't recall giving Tai Chi another even semi-serious thought until this morning. Almost 35 years ago. You know how long it takes your little brother to learn some stuff.

Fast-forward to lunchtime today. After having watched the vid a couple more times  throughout the morning, I tried the sequence again in the bathroom here at work. Nice wide mirror in there. Anyway, guess what? I totally felt the air. Pushed it away. Drew it back to me. Squeezed around it. Released it.

Gonna keep at the Tai Chi this time. Much better focus today, interestingly. It's been a lot better lately cuz of meditation, but it was razor-sharp today.

Thanks, Joe. Gift unwrapped. And yeah, I'm one step closer to that #builtgentrytough ink, too, btw. I know you're always with me, but I still miss the hell outta your laugh and your loud and your smile.

Love you, big bro.

Bill

P.S. Feel the air, indeed.

December 30, 2015

Dear 2016 ...

Subtitle: Putting It Out There.

Some of what I have in store for you, 2016. Let's get after it.

• Way more eating.

• 230 72-hour miles.

• Call more walks.

• More Goblet Squats.

• Hit more driver.

• Own Crow Pose.

• Up meditation practice.

• Use more nightcrawler.

• More Dancer Pose.

• 23:45 Umstead 100.

• Play more harmonica.

• Increase burpee pull-ups.

• Write more words.

• More dark chocolate.

• Read more words.

• 202-pound bench press.

• Remember reading glasses.

• Speak fewer words.

• More TRX sessions.

• Help someone finish.

• One 5-minute plank.

• Send handwritten letters.

• More tempo runs.

• Keep chasing dreams.

• Spread more love.

November 2, 2015

This Day

The boy remembers.

The date was Nov. 2, 1975. The boy was 14 and a high school freshman.

Waiting on him at home after school was a package from his much older brother. Inside the box was a pair of adidas SL-72s. Blue with white stripes. His first pair of real running shoes.

Inside the box was a note. It said, "Start running. Love, Joe." He signed it with a backwards J, a family joke because that's the way the boy had written his brother's name on one of his brother's senior football schedule when the boy was 4 years old.

The boy held the SL-72s as if they were treasures. He turned them over. He unlaced them and re-laced them so that the laces were perfectly even at the tops. He slipped them on. The size 10.5s fit perfectly.

The boy wore them outside. He walked around in the yard. He almost walked into one of the End Zone Trees (a different story for a different day) because he couldn't take his eyes off the shoes. Running shoes. Real running shoes.

JV football season was over. JV basketball season hadn't started yet. The boy had dreams of being a star athlete like his older brother, who owned football, basketball and track during his days in their small town. The boy was always dreaming.

The boy went back inside and dug around until he unearthed a pair of shorts. He slipped them on over the SL-72s, walked down the driveway and started running.

Down Chestnut, right on F down to the bottom of the hill, across North, across Jackson and up to U.S. 340. Left on 340, the boy ran, reveling in the thwack-thwack-thwack sound of the shoes scuffing along the pavement. Left on Spotswood Trail, left on Lee, right on another cross street, then left on Jackson and eventually back to F and what seemed like a Mount Everest-sized hill that led him back to his house.

The boy was out of breath. The boy had finished his first real run. In his very own adidas SL-72s. The boy was enthralled. Even at age 14, the boy somehow knew that he had found something. Or that something had found him.

The boy appeared devoid of running talent at first, but hung in there because the act of running gave him a feeling that none of the other sports provided him. Running, the boy came to realize, was special because it was all his. His losses. His wins. His journey.

Much has happened to the boy since that day. Many successes. Many failures. Many, many happy times. And through it all, Running has continued — over and over and over again — to find the boy and fill his cup to overflowing.

It's been 40 years now. And the boy still remembers.

October 7, 2015

Blessings

Blessings, blessings, everywhere
Which ones will you choose?
Calm your mind, expand your heart,
What have you to lose?

Blessings, blessings, everywhere,
Strength and joy and peace,
All of this and so much more
Deserve your heart's release.

Blessings, blessings, everywhere,
Come along with me,
A climb atop a mountain range,
A walk along the sea.

Blessings, blessings, everywhere,
Focus on the Now,
Take the time to really see
Each and every Wow.

Blessings, blessings, everywhere
Which ones warm your heart?
Take a moment, inhale joy,
Find a place and start.

September 13, 2015

Reboot?

Sometimes, I can be such a pompous ass.

I just had to do this lifting exercise called a split jerk. And I just had to use 20-pound dumbbells because, well, my 5-pounders the only other dumbbells would be way too easy. Also never mind that it's the first time I had done the exercise. Main result: Tweaked my right IT Band.

And — because I'm scared witless about my upcoming attempt of the oft-attempted-yet-rarely-completed Wild Oak Trail 100-Miler — I just had to do a 6-hour runwalk the next day. The low-back stiffness dissipated after 4 hours, so I thought it was fine. I didn't really even notice the IT band. I mean, it only hurt every time my right foot hit the ground. (Pompous. Ass.)

So, of course it's only natural that I would go out the next day for 2:30:00 with my buddy Bob. I mean, the IT band wasn't too bad at all. And we did the whole thing on soft ground. And I always go Sundays with Bob. (See the pattern here?)

Then I just had to go short on Monday because it was Day 140 of my current run streak. And I'm sure that the dull thud in the hip was more because I hadn't done yoga yet that morning than because I'm a pompous ass. (Impressive, huh?)

Same same with Tuesday's 2 hours, Wednesday's 20 minutes. And Thursday's 3:15:00.

Pretty sure that Thursday's effort gets me the nod as undisputed president of the Pompous Ass Club.

Silver lining: I haven't run a step since Thursday. It's Sunday evening and the stiffness is gone. I'm waiting at least until Tuesday to try it out. Might extend the break until Thursday. Dear Body, thank you for this wake-up call. Received and acknowledged. Good will come from this little blip.

More silver lining: Thanks to sage advice from someone who knows much — "You have the physical strength. Start to focus on mental strength." — I'm changing a lot about this time's Wild Oak approach.

I've used much of this thumb-twiddling time the past several days to focus on how this Wild Oak should go. And that's when it hit me — dramatic flame-outs in my two previous attempts are all on me. I've tried to bull my way through them. Little attention to planning. Less attention to execution. Just train myself up, roll out there, be all bad-ass and take it by storm. So far, that's gotten me to 37 miles once and 54 miles the other time.

The game-day Wild Oak approach this time? Take what it gives. Soak it all in. Look forward to the hard parts and laugh with them. Easy breezy. Think. small.

I'm running with buddies. And getting help from other buddies. And pledging to use good sense on all things physical this next month-plus. And working on getting my mind really, really right.

If things break well, Sunday, Oct. 25, may find the Pompous Ass Club president's post up for grabs again.

August 12, 2015

75

I looked into your eyes this morning and was moved to tears.

So young, even in that full Marine dress with your newly minted face of stone.

The inscription below your photo reads that you were one day shy of 20 years old when you breathed your final breath back in 2005. One day from 20. Damn.

And there I was, dripping wet after pushing pretty hard on this morning's sweet run around our little country town under perhaps the most vibrantly starry sky I've seen in years, when I happened past the house where I think your mom still lives. It's the one with your photo tacked to a tree out front, and the words "Freedom Isn't Free."

So I looked in your eyes, and I wished that I had known you. And that you were still here. That you hadn't made the ultimate sacrifice in that faraway land one day shy of turning 20.

So I hope you'll forgive an old guy, LCPT Daniel Bubb, for shedding some tears in your honor.

And then I did the only thing I could think of to do in your honor — I dropped to the pavement and started cranking out push-ups. Maybe it was the moment, but those push-ups were a whole lot easier that normal. Maybe I'm crazy, but I swear I could feel your presence urging me on. 10, 20, 30 ... So I kept going ... 40, 50, 60 ... 75. Complete failure. Plastered flat. Gasping for breath.

Then I rose, and I looked into your eyes again. And I said a short prayer for you and so many others who have given their all for others.

Although I didn't know you, Daniel, I am honored by your life, your service and your sacrifice.

You are not forgotten. I will carry this time with me for many, many days. 

I hope, somehow, that the connection I felt this morning was felt on your end, too.

Rest in peace, brave warrior. What is remembered lives.