Monday, January 23, 2012

How I got into running

I don't remember exactly went I started running.  I think it was in the early 1990s.  I know I was getting close to 40 years old and my body was transitioning into my middle-age years.  I could no longer eat anything I wanted and keep weight off.  So I  started to run partly because I wanted to increase calorie burning so I could continue to eat the donuts and other treats that I love.  I'm pretty sure I was Bishop of the Louisville Second Ward at the time and was looking for ways to cope with that stress.  Lyle Stucki and Craig Pickett and Chris Wakild were running together on Saturday mornings and they invited me to join them.  So I guess I also started running for social reasons too.  I remember the first time I ran with them it almost killed me.  In order to be able to keep up with them on Saturdays, I had to start running during the week as well.  With work and family and church responsibilities it made the most sense to do my running in the mornings, early.  So I got started by running around the "big block" near our house on Borney Circle at 6:00 AM.  It was a killer at the beginning.  But over time that circuit got easier and I started to look for new routes.  I finally settled on a route that took me about 3 miles.  I would run that on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  On Saturdays I would run with my friends and we would usually do 5 or 6 miles.

Louisville had a race series that occurred each spring.  It started in March with the City Run that was a 5K race and another race (I can't remember the name) that was 10K.  Then in April there was the Vencor Run that was a 15K race.  Then just before the Kentucky Derby there was a mini-marathon (half marathon) in late April.  I participated in that series several times.  The half marathon (13.1 miles) seemed especially difficult.  The course wound through one of the parks and was very up and down, but it always felt good to finish.

Then someone came up with the idea that we should run a marathon (26.2 miles).  We started looking around for the ideal race.  The criteria we used were 1) it had to located in a city that we could drive to in no more than 4 hours, 2) it had to be on a Saturday, not a Sunday, and 3) it had to have enough runners that there was no danger in us coming in very last.  We found a marathon that fit all the criteria.  It was the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama.  Huntsville is known as the Rocket City because it has a NASA facility that was involved in the US space program.  Training for a marathon is time consuming. My mid-week runs had to get longer and my Saturday runs had to gradually lengthen until I was running 20 miles (3 hours).  We worked at it for a good 4 months before the race.  The day of the race it was raining and windy.  The first half of the course took us straight into the wind and the rain pelted our faces and felt like darts hitting our skin.  The second half of the course came back the other way so the wind was at our backs and was better, but we were really tired.  It took me about 4 hours and 30 minutes to complete the race (my goal was to beat 4 hours).  I remember after the race that I started to shiver uncontrollably.  I must have gotten some hypothermia from the cold weather conditions.  Thankfully, they treated us to hot chili at the end of the race and that helped warm me back up.  I vowed never to run another marathon.  Interestingly, the next day in the van coming home we were already talking about another marathon.

Since then, I have completed 6 other marathons and have reached my goal of beating 4 hours one time.  I tore the cartilage in my knee three years ago running a half marathon in Bryce Canyon and had to have surgery.  Since then my knee hasn't felt strong enough to run long distances.  I am hoping this year may be better.

I still run 5 days a week.  I like how it makes me feel good.  I like to start my day with exercise, I believe it helps me think better during the day.  I like to have the time while I am running to just think about things. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I love to read

For many many years I have gotten real enjoyment from reading.  I know my mom read a lot of novels and my dad always had something he was reading too.  I remember that my Grandpa Dickson liked to read as well.  I can remember in elementary school when I was learning to read.  We used some sort of reading module curriculum where you worked at your own pace.  If you finished one module, you got to go to the next higher module.  Each module got harder.

When I think of reading for pleasure, my first memories are of reading the Hardy Boys series.  Frank and Joe Hardy were the teenage sons of a private investigator and always managed to get caught up in some kind of caper that required them to use their budding sleuthing skills.  We have the whole series down in the basement, but I'm not sure if any of our kids ever got into them.  Any of you grandkids can borrow them anytime you like.  I also remember reading fictional stories about baseball and other sports, and I read a biography about my favorite baseball player, Willie Mays.

During high school I got interested in Mark Twain.  I think I read most of his books.  I loved the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  I though Mark Twain was really funny with his dry satirical humor.  His travel books like Innocents Abroad and others were also fun to read.  I also developed an enjoyment for some of the well-known 20th Century authors like John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, and others.

In my college years, I remember reading all of James Harriot's books in the All Creatures Great and Small series.  I loved reading about his adventures as a veterinarian in the rural Yorkshire Dales of England.  He was a great storyteller and had a way of making you feel like you were there witnessing his adventures first hand.  He also had a great sense of humor.

I have read many of the books written by Dick Francis.  His mysteries always had something to do with the horse racing industry in England.  I like Clive Cussler and all of his Dirk Pitt adventures.  Dirk Pitt was a mans man and could rescue any damsel in distress or save the world from any environmental disaster just in the nick of time.  Other authors of fiction that I enjoy include Michael Crichton,  James Patterson, Robin Cook, Johnathon Kellerman, Faye Kellerman, and others.

I also enjoy reading nonfiction.  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey is one of my favorite books of all times.  I like David McCullough and his historical books.  I have read books about leadership, about science, about history, about religion, and many other topics.

And of course, I have read the scriptures nightly for as many years as I can remember.  I have probably read The Book of Mormon the most, followed by The New Testament and The Doctrine and Covenants.  I believe that regular reading of the scriptures helps me be a better person and helps my days go better.

I have had too many hours of enjoyment from reading to count them all.  I hope you will learn to like reading and start to read books for fun as soon as you are able.  Learning to read is not easy, but it is one skill that is well worth acquiring.