Random Rantings and Ravings from a Slow-Poke Runner in the Heart of the South. (A Weeekly (sort of) Blog about running and just about anything else)

Saturday, December 31, 2005

2006 Resolutions

Well, it’s that time of the year again…the last day of it that is!!! Time to review the year and how I did on the resolutions I set about this time last year. I really don’t remember any but two of my goals but with this blog, I bet I won’t have that problem next year! I know I did pretty well on both of the resolutions I set, but I did not successfully complete either, which is a little disappointing.

I know one of my resolutions had to do with my Christian faith and reading the Bible through in a year’s time. I started off strong but had a big problem with consistency throughout the year. I finished all of the New Testament (which I read first) but only got through Joshua in the Old Testament. Sorry God!

I also wanted to lose all of the weight I need to lose in this past year. I had some success in this department as well, losing about 50 pounds; but I still fell short – probably about 25 pounds short to be honest! Now with this, I feel like I was more consistent but when I got 25 pounds away from my goal, my body didn’t seem to cooperate. Eating and working out as I had before, I hit a major plateau. I never seemed to push through and will probably find that I have packed on an additional five pounds or so after these last couple of weeks!

There have been some ups and downs in 2005 as I am sure many of you have experienced in this year as well. I will have to say; overall, it has been a great year. We have enjoyed pretty good health as a family and I have got to see my two precious kids grow another year older. My little one-year-old buddy has grown from a baby to a little handsome toddler and my precious three-year-old daughter continues to amaze me with how smart she is.

We have settled into Tupelo now and the community seems to suit us. I have become successful in my job and began work on a license that will allow me to practice independently. We have made many new friends that we love and enjoy being close to so many of my family members.

Most importantly to this blog, I have stayed on track with my running, despite a few setbacks and injuries. I ran two 5-k runs and look to run several more races in the new year.
Now I am not one to get all philosophical, poetic, or cute in my resolutions for the new year. I just like to spell them out there in specific black and white. So far all of you still reading along, here goes:

First my running goals because if any experienced runners are reading this, I would love your input. I am not sure if it is possible to improve my speed while working on increasing distance at the same time. As you will see with my goals, I want to better my pace but I also want to run much longer than I am. I have access to the training programs in several books I have but I am not sure how to improve in my ability to run both faster and longer. But here are goals I have that I think are realistic based on my latest 5k time:


  • Improve my recent PR 5K time (27:59in Oct. 05) by at least 3 minutes (under 25 minutes)
  • Run the Gum Tree 10K Run in May 06’ in under 55 minutes
  • Run and finish the Tupelo 14.2 miler in September 06
  • Run and finish the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December 06

Seriously, I am a beginner and would appreciate any feedback from those more experienced out there. I ran some in college to lose weight and had faster times then. I did a 5k 15 years ago at 23:38 and ran miles close to six minutes. Maybe some one can tell me how long it will take me to reach just that level again. Run and finish the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December 06

Now, on to my other resolutions.


Of course, I want to lose those 25 pounds I mentioned earlier. This may not show exactly on the scale, however, because I want to work out with weights and improve my overall strength and physique as well. So, I guess my resolution here is just to improve my overall physical health through weight loss, continued aerobic training, and strength training with weights.


I want to keep challenging my brain in 2006. I read more in 2005, but want to consistently read more non-fiction that will increase my knowledge as well as entertain me. So my resolution is to read 4 non-fiction books every two months in the following loose rotation (that I plan to follow loosely). 1 Religious/Inspirational/Christian Living Book, 1 Sports/Adventure Book, 1 History Book, and 1 Psychology/Counseling Book. If I read any fiction, I still plan to stick to my overall goal for nonfiction books. Some of you may read much more than this but I have a lot on my plate and it is hard to read with two little ones running around!

In addition to this reading, I want to keep abreast of the latest research in my field of psychology and counseling. I know I will be attending more workshops in 2006 due to the requirements of my licensure but I plan to carve out a few hours monthly to go the library and read some of the latest research on best practice techniques.


I am blessed with an incredible family. I already mentioned my two beautiful kids but I also have a wonderful, supportive wife who is much prettier now than when I married her twelve and a half years ago. Although I am already closely connected with my family and have a great marriage, I want to concentrate more on bettering these relationships in 2006. This includes watching a little less television and having more date nights with my wife.


I would be remiss not to mention the most important relationship in my life. This is one area I want to give the most attention to in 2006. God has been a source of constant strength and support for me and my family, but I want to strive for a closeness in 2006 that I have not experienced in some time, if ever. I resolve toward consistency in every area of my spiritual life. I WILL make time for daily study, meditation, and prayer. Although God knows me pretty in and out, I want to know Him like never before. Toward this effort, I will establish a new blog tomorrow that will include reflections from my journey toward knowing God in a deeper way. This blog will continue to focus primarily on running but the new blog will have a decided emphasis on my spiritual life.


My wife and I have talking about this a lot lately. People often describe me as a very balanced individual and I guess this is true in some respects. But I have a tendency to do well in one area to the detriment of several others. I have struggled throughout my life to stay focused on several pursuits and to do well at those pursuits. So in 2006 I plan to be more balanced in my thinking, in my view of people, in my pursuits, and in my worldview. This is a complex issue and I am not implying that I will lose all subjectivity. Mainly, I just don’t want to be too focused on certain goals that I lose sight of the bigger picture and the things that are most important in my life.


I have reading more on global warming and although I am a conservative thinker, I am convinced that there are changes taking place in our climate due to our over-consumption of resources. Although I don’t plan to become any whacko (big sigh of relief from # 2 oldest brother), I do plan to do my part. Recycling is not easy where I live as there is no curbside recycling and not an abundance of drop-off sites. Nevertheless, my household has pledged to begin recycling our newspapers, plastics, and aluminum cans for 2006. We will also slowly replace our bulbs to miniature fluorescents, and maybe even write our political representatives about issues of concern. I already drive an economy car and although we don’t plan to trade my wife’s SUV in 2006, when we do, it will also be for a smaller-sized car. Who knows, maybe we will even trade for a hybrid.


I know may have heard this phrase coined in the Covey books but I do see this as an important element I overlooked in 2005. I plan a weekly review of my goals and that I have in my life, the dreams that God has given me, and plan to stay focused on the task that lies ahead of me. I will post a brief weekly review on both of blogs to summarize my efforts and plan to review this for other areas as well. So many times we fall into a state of lethargy that eventually leads to us giving up on things that are really important to us.

I am excited about the new year and I hope anyone reading this is as equally excited. I will now leave you with a paraphrase of a quote often attributed to various individuals from Martin Luther King, Jr to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but our power to do is increased.”

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Lamenting Leaving

Today was my last day in Tennessee as my family and I will head back home in the morning. Consequencly, it's my last time to do any runs on the trails of the IJAMS Nature Center or on the Greenway down Neyland Drive. Unfortunately, we don't enjoy the same provision for the running community in North Mississippi that residents of Knoxville are able to utilize. Although there has been some talk through the years, there is no Greenway and as I mentioned in an eariler post, few running trails. The trails around Knoxville have been great and I also enjoyed a visit to the Knoxville Runner's Market, a running speciality store. We don't have such a store in my area and it was nice to browse and pick up a reasonably priced long-sleeve Adidas running shirt with reflective stripes on the sleeves.

I was able to run three times at IJAMS and completed a four mile run at the Greenway yesterday. Running along Neyland Drive is fun. As a Tennessee Vols fan, its nice to gaze at the football stadium and run alongside the Tennessee River, but running the trails at IJAMS was a real treat.

I ran a total of five miles today but I took my time and enjoyed being out in nature, taking several pictures I would like to share. The trail is basically a mixture of dirt, gravel, or mulch and my new trail shoes seem to handle the terrain terrifically. These first ten miles felt great - the shoes have great support and seem to grip the trail nicely.

After about a 1/2 mile, the trail paralleled an offshoot of the Tennessee river and had a long boardwalk hanging over the water with rock cliffs and caves on the right. I ran a little more gingerly here as the boardwalk was wet and pretty slick, but it was beautiful.

It was quite hilly at times but when it got too steep, I just walked. After about a mile and a half, I came to an old quarry and took some pictures of what looked like a fort but was probably where they did some of their mining. There is a quarry lake there too that reminded me alot of the movie, Breaking Away.

I backtracked the River trail and then went up to the Discover Trails to a beautiful overlook. It was quite hilly here and this was one of the sections I had to do a lot of walking. I explored a little up here, finding an organic garden and one of the nature center's teaching houses. I then went back down and did the river trail loop again.

When I came back to my in-laws, I used the google satellite pedometer and was surprised to find that I had went more than five miles. You see, that is the thing about running trails like these; it is so fun, the miles don't seem as difficult. And that is why I lament so much about leaving.

Now don't get me wrong, I am glad I got to break in my trail shoes on such a great trail. Plus, it really inspired me to run up here for a week. But I am not looking forward to returning home and running the same ol' routes as always. I have been in the running blahs the last few weeks as it is!

However, I do promise myself to visit the trails in my community more often and, who knows, maybe one of these trails will become a favorite for me. I know that trail runners here in Knoxville probably wish they lived out west somewhere as the grass is always greener some where else. So I am going to try to change my attitude and attack the trails in Tupelo!

I will be taking my camera and will publish some info on these trails for anyone who is interested. I don't know if there is anyone in the community other than my brother who regularly reads this blog but if several of us join up together, we may have our own running trails built in Tupelo one day! As ol' Roy would say..."Happy trails to you!"

Monday, December 26, 2005

Moving On!!!

Well here I am in Knoxville after four days of "smorgasbording" and very little running. But it was a great Christmas! All the family had a great time together, it was a joy to see my kids open up their presents, and I got those trail shoes I wanted!

I will be here in Knoxville until Friday and have done some research to see if there are some good trails to explore close by. I have found the IJAMS Nature Center which has several miles of trails and a call to the center informed me that they welcome runners out to the trails.

I must admit I am a little nervous because I don't know just how hilly these trails are and I have slipped in my mileage the last two weeks. Knoxville is of Everest proportions compared to Northeast Mississippi so we will have to see if the quads are really up to it. Of course, I noticed one of the trails parallels the Tennessee river with a boardwalk so hopefully it won't be too bad. Nevertheless, my new trail shoes beckon and I must heed their call!

I trust anyone reading this had a wonderful Christmas holiday and I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year! Soon I will post my goals for the new year - an admission to the entire world of the weight loss and running I hope to accomplish in the new year! Heck, I may even throw in some of my own personal goals as well. Until then....

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Running Blahs

Running has given me a lot over the last year and a half. I have lost a significant amount of weight. I have reduced or even eliminated a lot of my health problems. I am more fit since at least my college years and have more energy as well.

But here lately I feel that running is taking from me. I am in the running blahs. My mileage the first three days of the week: a whopping 4 1/2 miles. I just can't get motivated. Although my 3 mile run this morning felt okay, I just didn't seem to have the same "drive". I had to quit early Monday because I just didn't feel up to it.

I know a lot of this has to do with the colder weather. To me, colder than 40 degrees is just too cold to run outside. I know some of you may think I am a sissy for this and I am happy to accept that title if it means not going out there when its freezing cold! Creating even more of a problem, my gym has two of its treadmills down. Its getting a lot harder to jump on one and it also creates more pressure to stick to their 30 minute rule. Yes, the mean stares from the gym floor police is too much for me.

So I just can't seem to get motivated. Next week I will be out of town visiting relatives for the Holidays so my workouts will be seriously cramped. But I am not going to fret too much until the start of the new year. And until then....buffets here I come!!! WOO HOOO!!!!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Trail Running Here I Come!

Running just 20 miles a week or more can definitely lead to a dangerous adversary that threatens to suck the life out of training. That adversary is BOREDOM. And I have definitely been there lately! Even adding some new songs to my ipod mix has not helped to make the miles any more exciting. Adding to the misery is the fact that many of my winter runs have been on a treadmill. And I know there are scores of runners who can attest to the boredom of a six-miler on a rotating belt.

I have been reading to try to keep myself motivated in my running and check out some trail running blogs quite frequently. One of them is Scott Dunlap's blog that has been voted one of the best running blogs on the web. I love the woods so running down a trail really appeals to me. There's just one problem - I don't live in a very trail-runner-friendly area. It's not like there are trails designed or designated for trail running. There are a few short foot paths and a couple mountain bike trails but that is it. And none of these offer the views of some of the areas I read about online. So you guys who have awesome running trails or live in communities that respect the running community, be thankful!

But I don't want to make excuses because any trail would beat pounding down my same boring neighborhood road. I am fortunate that I have the Natchez Trace Parkway pretty close with a 6-mile trail within a 1/2 mile of my house. The trail is actually a horse trail for the first mile or so and then goes through a meadow to an Old Cherokee village. It then is a great running trail (similar to the picture to the left) and goes for about two miles to a big overlook. The only negative is it loops up to the parkway several times so you don't really feel that isolated. I have not been any further than the overlook but I think it goes another couple of miles.

There are two mountain bike trails in the area that would serve as pretty good running trails but they are both a 20-minute drive away. Even though these aren't ideal options, they should serve as good options to get rid of the monotony of sticking to the streets.

I have asked for a pair of Nike Trail Shoes for Christmas and, because my 3-year old daughter can't keep secrets, I am pretty confident I am getting them. :-) I didn't ask for the best shoes in the world but I think they will be a decent pair to see if I can stick with it. So pretty soon I will try hitting the trails! Maybe I will even don a headlamp and run at night! Nahhhhh...I am too big of a scarety cat!

On to Bigger things? (muscles I mean)

Well this week started a new slant on my weekly workouts. I have a new workout partner who joined me in the mornings and we sort of balance each other out with our strenghts. He is a former college athlete (sprinter and running back) with a history that emphasized weight training. He is currently in his second year of medical residency. He is a big dude with a lot of strength left, despite his lack of workouts the last few years.

On the other hand, I have been empasizing cardio workouts - namely running. I have worked up to about 20 miles a week, although I have slipped the last 2 weeks. I will be kicking his butt in the running department while he will have no trouble kicking mine when it comes to weight lifting.

He has changed up how we will be lifting on the days we weight train. Mondays and fridays will be upper body workouts and Wednesdays will be leg days. On Wednesday of last week, he killed my legs with some heavy duty workouts designed to increase strength and mass. It really affected my running for a few days but I think it will help in the long run to increase my leg strength. He assures me I will get used to the workouts so I hope so.

While I still want to stick to my running goals, I think the increased emphasis on weight training will improve my overall health. But for now I need to kick it in gear with the running. My miles have slipped with my son's illness last week and the soreness I dealt with this week. I will be taking some runs off while traveling the week after Christmas so I need to really kick it in gear this next week.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Pre-New Year's Resolution

Ok. So here's a pre-New Year's Resolution: I want to post on my blog more! SO for now on I will at least try to do a weekly entry that summarizes my feelings for the week.

This was a frustrating week for me in the running department. I know sitting in an emergency room with my 2-year-old ALL NIGHT LONG on Tuesday/Wednesday probably did a lot to bonk my running totals this week. But I almost hate to fill out this morning's entry in my running log and see the totals. I have been doing well but it seemed like I just hit a wall this week. Anybody else out there have weeks like this?

It brings me back to one of my early blogs about plateaus. But man! Is this one canyon I have found myself in. Seriously, my weight has not budged for, like, eight weeks! And this is with me eating pretty low-fat and averaging 20 miles a week. It's not like I am splurging a lot. I can't understand it but after the holidays I am going to try to add in some activity in the evenings, cut back on all of my sugars, and not eat after dinner. I guess till then, I'll be happy just to maintain through these next few tempting weeks!


Just a short rant. I saw on Fox news today that the most "googled" word on the net was the word "Integrity". It is no surprise in the world we live in today. So may people see so few examples of it that everyone has to look it up to find out what it is!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I just finished the book, Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of An All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes. Here's a guy who has run 226 miles nonstop and is planning to run 500 miles some time soon. Now while I don't expect to get into ultra-running any time soon; it did, for the first time, get me to consider running a marathon next year.

It is a very motivational book for those running or even those exercising to get fit. How a seemingly regular guy can run over 200 miles is astounding!

On a longer run last week, when I really had to push myself, some of his writing came to mind. Now, Mr. Karnazes's "walls" are much more challenging and dramatic than I will probably ever face. However, it came to mind how those of us who are challenging ourselves on a daily basis face our own walls every single day, and in that way are in the same company of athletes like Karnazes.

I was able overcome my wall that day on a run that is probably a tenth of what he averages on his daily runs. But it was a wall nevertheless, that in my mind and at my "physicallity" was callenging. Karnazes has overcome walls that only a select few will face. Lance Arsmtrong has overcome a much greater challenge and has inspired millions with his triumphs.

What "walls" are you facing right now in your life and in your challenge to get fit, or to better your PR's? Who can you inspire by breaking through your walls?