Thursday, March 31, 2016

Your Pace or Mine - Texas Independence Relay 2016 - 200 miles of Fun!

During my last post, I was discussing my up and down health the last few months.  I also mentioned that Susan and I had been asked to run in a relay race called the Texas Independence Relay. We were asked to join the team by our friends Brad and Kristi Clyburne. Brad has talked to me about this race for many years, but I was always focused on triathlons and never could fit it into the schedule. Well this year it worked for both Susan and I to be part of the TIR challenge. I have tried to describe what this relay is to many people, but couldn't do it justice, so below is a description from the TIR website.

The Challenge
The Texas Independence Relay is composed of 40 relay legs of various lengths, totaling over 200 miles. The course starts in Gonzales, where the spark of the Texas Revolution took place, and it finishes at the San Jacinto Monument, where Texas Independence was won! To tackle this formidable task, your team will have of up to 12 members (your choice!), and you’ll have an exceptional time furthering good friendships and making new ones! You’ll encourage each other along the way while you visit the small cities of Gonzales, Shiner, Moulton, Flatonia, Schulenburg, Weimar, Borden, Columbus, Altair, Eagle Lake, Wallis, Orchard, Simonton, and Fulshear. Then, you’ll make your way through the paramount city of Houston, experiencing it in a way you never have before! Racing on a team with your friends in this unique format over an incomparable span of Texas steeped with momentous history all amounts to a GREAT time that you’ll fondly remember for... well.. the rest of your life! This all takes place over Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, and don’t forget the Texas Independence Party (the TIP!) on Friday, April 1! Come and take it… if you have what it takes!

Your Epic Texas Journey

Gonzales is a wonderfully welcoming town, rich with history and attractive to tourists looking to escape the big city! Your entire team will run a small loop together around downtown, marking the commencement of your journey. You’ll enjoy picturesque rolling hills replete with blooming Texas wildflowers on perfect relay roads as you journey over rural dirt roads - even passing Sam Houston’s Tree! After leaving Gonzales, you’ll get a taste of smaller Texas towns with exceptionally large hearts! Shiner, Moulton, Flatonia, Schulenburg, and Weimar, you’ll appreciate each town’s individual flavor, but you will also note that they all possess a distinct relaxing quality. By the time your team reaches Columbus, the sun will be retiring for the day.
Eagle Lake, Wallis, Orchard, Simonton, and Fulshear will be sleeping communities as you pass through (though at least a few will stay up to curiously observe your unrelenting journey through the night). Pressing on tirelessly toward the finish, you and your team will follow the beacons of flashing lights (other runners).

When you begin to make your way through Cinco Ranch on the west side of Houston, you’ll notice early indicators that a new day is being gifted to us! You’ll also become aware that you’re crossing the threshold between country and city. Between here and downtown, you’ll traverse paths that wind through pleasing parks (George Bush Park, Terry Hershey Park, Memorial Park, and the Buffalo Bayou). You’ll admire stately homes in well-preserved neighborhoods, and then, you’ll stride through Houston’s very downtown, passing right by reflective sky scrapers and the Toyota Center!

After exiting downtown, you’ll head south to Houston's museum district and Hermann Park, even passing beneath Sam Houston's impressive statue that points the way to the finish! You'll continue to navigate east on the Brays Bayou Path followed by quiet neighborhoods. Finally, your epic Texas journey culminates with a momentous celebratory finish in La Porte at the San Jacinto Battleground and Monument!

Here is also a nice description from our esteemed crew chief, Brad: Our team, Your Pace or Mine?, consists of 12 runners from Fort Worth, Aledo & Lubbock.  Several of the runners have completed several half marathons, marathons, ultramarathons, & triathlons, while others will enter the TIR with a race resume of a few 5 & 10K races.  Eight of the 12 runners are running along with their spouse, therefore we split the vans into male and female.  The thought process here was two-fold privacy and ...self preservation, but the ultimate goal is just to have some fun. 

Susan and I have both been having our struggles with training, but today we realized that we are very excited to meet up with a great group of folks and just have a weird sort of fun. So tomorrow we are going to head off early to meet the group in Aledo then all drive to Gonzales, TX. Then Saturday morning we will go off at 7:20am, and we should finish around 3:00pm on Sunday in Houston. So if you pray put one out there for our group this weekend. We'll see you soon!

If you want to follow our unusual weekend go to the links below:

Keep Fighting,

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Giving Up the Ghost

I saved the title for this post more than a month ago with the intent of telling all of you that it was time to give up the ghost. Some of you that haven't heard this phrase before this is how wiktionary defines it:
give up the ghost ‎(third-person singular simple present gives up the ghostpresent participle giving up the ghostsimple past gave up the ghostpast participle given up the ghost)
  1. (intransitive, idiomatic) To cease clinging to life; to die [quotations ▼]
  2. (intransitive, idiomatic, figuratively) To quit; to cease functioning.
    My old computer finally gave up the ghost the other day.
  3. (intransitive, with of) To cede a commitment to or identification with.  [quotations ▼]

As many of you know this blog started during a time that I was having some of heart related issues with my training. When I visited my cardiologist one day I decided to document not only my issues, but also the fact that I was fighting something that had affected my family for years. Something that even factoring in genetics could be improved with lifestyle, and that even a terminally short, formally fat guy named Keebler could be fit and healthy.

While all along hoping that I could inspire others to quit accepting the fallacy that if we aren't sick we are healthy. I have always believed that too many things have fallen in place for this not to be a path that God has put me on, and if any thing I said or have written here has helped one person then it has been all worth it.

Then along the way I think that I started to believe that if I didn't keep surpassing my last goal, race distance, or whatever other stupid way to measure ourselves then I was giving others a reason to quit. I know that it sounds slightly koo koo, or maybe a lot koo koo.

Now I am sure all of this has been a form of therapy for me to try to come to grips with the loss of my Dad unexpectedly from heart issues. I still hate that he wasn't able to be here to see my kids and my sister's son grow up. I still hate that I can see pain in my Mom's eyes even after 7 years.The reality is that many times after going through something life altering you have to accept a new kind of normal. You have to learn to fight in a different way.

That acceptance of that new normal can either be a starting off point to something greater, or it can be  an anchor. Now since I was in the hospital in May I have started to write about what was going on several times, but since I kept waiting until the message was what I thought you would expect to be written. You know we all love that come back story, but when you are dealing with something as finicky as a human body you can't force the outcome.  I am slowly starting to learn that sometimes the fight has to change even if the reason doesn't change.

Slight excerpt from what training has been like for the last few months:

Released to train again:
Start slow and take it easy

Feeling good and starting to test myself on a few intervals, and they feel great.
I am even running at paces I haven't done before!

Feeling sick and energy levels suck! Take a day off.

Better time to start back. Runs feeling good.

Sick and I can barely keep my eyes open. I am so tired! Writing this sentence has made me tired.

Take time off to recover.

Feeling good again. Time to start again.

Energy levels are down again.

Sick again! Time to rest.

I think that you are getting the point!

Now those of you that know the usual training levels I have done over the years this is no where near that, but I did go by all the regular standards of building back exercise levels very slowly. I have really been striving to not get injured or have any other setbacks.

Still this same pattern has gone on since I was in the hospital, and being brutally honest I have barely had the energy to get through most days. When you feel like that there is very little left to be good in the other parts of your life. So I know I haven't been the best husband or the best Dad, and none of this matters if those parts of my life can't be met.

During this time I am looking around my circle of friends, and like many of you, I don't have to look far for some people going through some real serious shit in their lives. So my first thought is I can't write and bitch about putting my body through hell, and then come on here and grip when it won't do what I want it to anymore. That is when my first time I started to ask the question, maybe it's time to give up the ghost? Is it?

Well nearly at the same time that these thoughts were going through my mind a few other things happened.

First, my friend Jerred asked me to meet with an engineer from Texas Tech, Luciano Castillo, who was developing some devices for the healthcare industry and they needed someone that had completely gone from one side of the health scale to the other to be part of their team. That first meeting started to light a fire that I believed had burned out. Not to mention I have been able to join a group of folks that are so inspiring, because of all of the things they are trying to do to help people. More on this in another post.

Second, I started working with a doctor to help work on my immunity and exhaustion. During one of those meetings after telling him that maybe I needed to quit writing and that maybe my passion to help others had run it's course. He said, "Maybe this season that you are in is God's way of showing others they can't quit working on their own health."

Finally, I was contacted by a couple of old friends, Gary Schwantz and Jennifer Sedia, who wanted to meet. That meeting turned into another very inspiring talk on what we do to inspire and motivate people to be healthier.

I am forgetting many other instances that have happened over the last few months. The main reason is that I was trying to focus on how crappy things were for me. Then feeling bad because I have friends that are in their own bad situations, and I really don't feel that I should even be bitching. Expect the difference is that for who I was nine years ago to who I am now is that I know what good should feel like.

Not all things have been exhausted and bad the last few months. I actually have had some fantastic runs with friends and some really nice beers. All of these years I have only trained by myself, and really needed that time for reflection and prayer. Now I have started to run with my friend Jerred, and I really have come to appreciate running with no purpose than to hang out. Some days we talk about heavy stuff, and other times are just for talking complete nonsense.

The good weeks are starting to last a little longer every time. Right now I am in one of the down phases, but instead of training through it I am just trying to get healthy. The good has been good enough that Susan and I are even going to race with a team in Texas Independence Relay, but more on that in another post. I might not be what I think that I should be for that, but I am really trying to be smart and find that balance again.

I was used to always trending up, and instead I have gone through some pretty severe ups and downs. That is life! We all have our issues and troubles. Trying to compare those will never do any of us any good. We need to try to be there when we can for each other.  As long as we can do good in the world, and I am not talking about huge things. Just simple things things like trying to smile at someone when you walk by them in the hall, maybe trying to actually listen to someone without looking at your phone, asking for help and trying not to handle it all, or just stopping our loud lives  and listening to what God might be trying to say to you.

This week I have been listening to Joy Week on the Bobby Bones show, and for those that don't listen  it is real simple. It is just a week that they try to put as much joy as they can out the world. With hope that it will slowly blank out all the bad shit that permeates everything else. As long as their is this kind of fight going on, we all should keep fighting in our own way.   My way of fighting might be a little different, but it's not over yet.

So put a smile on your face and don't even think about giving up the ghost!

In the spirit of pimpinjoy,

I am inspired by many people and things daily, but for awhile now I have heard some good preaching through J.J. Grey. Even if you don't hear the same message that I do keep searching for what will inspire you.

I tried so hard to be the person
everybody thought I was
I pushed myself and everyone
almost over the edge
This mirrored light that sends back
everything that you send out
The grace you give, given back
loving every minute you live

Every Minute - J.J. Grey Video