NaPoWriMo Poem #2

No. 2: A poem that tells a lie…

Sticks and stones
May break my bones
But words will never hurt me

Until I lie alone
In my bed of sticks and stones


NaPoWriMo: National Poetry Writing Month

Poem #1 for NaPoWriMo, a poem starting with the first line from another poem…

Beginning with the first line of At a Window by Carl Sandburg: “Give me hunger”


Give me hunger.

Test me, and see if I recall
The instinct to survive.

You are afraid I’ve grown content.

That I may have forgotten what it means
To want, or need what I do not have.

You say it’s the frozen foods, the summer vegetables in winter, Real Housewives reruns on three times a day, sports without commercials, and self watering plants that make me lazy.

Well maybe you’re right
Ernest said, “Hunger is good discipline”.

Give me hunger and we will see.

For more information on the National Poetry Writing Month project, go to

Appreciating twenty miles

Here we are with just over two weeks to go until the Chicago Marathon. Last Sunday I participated in an organized twenty mile training run that was designed to simulate the marathon. I felt great for the first 16 miles, and then I survived the last 4 on mental power. Not that I have a strong mind,  just the ability to distract myself from pain and defeat. Come to think of it, that’s actually how I became the neighborhood “Mercy” champ as a kid.

In the case of miles 17 through 20 on Sunday, I reminded myself that I was fortunate to have the time, opportunity, and at least in theory the ability, to run twenty miles along Lake Michigan on a beautiful Sunday morning. The day before, I had been at the dog beach with my two dogs. While I had my head turned to see what one of my dogs was doing, a group of four dogs playing chase (including the other one of mine) slammed into my lower legs causing my right knee to buckle slightly. As I grimaced and thought about my twenty mile run the next day, the owner of one of the dogs asked if I was okay and if they got my knee. As I said through gritted teeth, “Oh, just a little”, I realized that she had a prosthetic leg, and I recognized instantly that it could be worse.

When I was feeling beat down late in my run Sunday, I thought of the swing of her hip as she brought her prothesis around to take a step. It looked painful to me, and she seemed to be dealing with it courageously. Instant perspective. I also thought about the Arthritis Foundation black tie event I had gone to the night before with Susan, my wife, and her parents. It was the annual Freedom of Movement Gala, which is all about honoring those who have dedicated themselves and often their entire careers to finding and improving possible cures and treatments for the over 100 forms of arthritis that affect an estimated 50 million people, 300,000 of which are children.

The Freedom of Movement should not be taken for granted, as I reminded myself more than once in the last couple of miles of Sunday’s run. I was relieved and refreshed when I turned the last corner, then crossed the finish line and headed straight for the stretching area where staff from the physical therapy sponsor were on hand to stretch out tired runners. My hip flexors and glutes were so glad to see them.

For more information about the charity I am running to raise funds for, Back on My Feet, or the about the Arthritis Foundation, please see the links below…

Just 14 Miles

Every mile in your training is important for your conditioning and your confidence, and some give you an ego boost as well.  Take the fourteen I ran with the CARA training group this past Saturday.

It’s always funny when you get to the point in marathon training where you discover that your perspective has warped.  That happens when you say something along these lines, “My Saturday run was just fourteen miles this week”. Other marathoners will respond with recognition that this is a cut-back week designed to keep you from over training after going on a longer run the previous week. Normal people will say, “‘Just?’ You’ve got to be kidding”. At this point in the conversation, it’s hard not to smile and think how far you’ve come in the months of training leading up to this moment. “Just 14” becomes a badge of honor.

After a few seconds of basking in the glory though, your perspective starts to shift again. Fourteen really is a “just” when you realize that at mile fourteen of the marathon, you will still have 12.2 to go. At this point in your mental conversation, you have to remind yourself that the twenty miler you ran the previous week earns you the right to see the 14 miler for the warm-up run that it is.

Seriously though, it is a good opportunity to look back over your training log and see all the miles you’ve come and the steady increase in how far you can go in a single run somewhat comfortably (or not comfortably, but hey you did it and that counts). You can also recognize that you really were able to take what seemed like a daunting task and do it one mile at a time.

Now with a relatively easy week under my belt, it is time to turn my attention toward the twenty mile marathon simulation hosted by CARA next Sunday morning; the Newton Ready to Run 20 Miler, which will be held at the lakefront. I will be running with my pace group, and hoping to finish in less than 3 hours and 10 minutes.

That’s right, I said it…”just” 3 hours and 10 minutes. ;->


RECOVERY… is what you hope your body goes through after you push it to its limits. After a twenty mile run on Saturday, I spent most of yesterday hoping for recovery. Following church (soul recovery), I laid down on the couch, and in between Daphne (the dog) waking me up to play with and/or walk her and Lulu Mae (the other dog) several times, I slept for a few hours. Based on how I felt after that, sleep is the best option in the world. There was also a lot of stretching and elevating limbs. I am amazed at how a long run affects your upper body almost as much as your legs. I have to remember to work on my arm strength too, so that I can wave at folks lined up along the marathon route.

This was the first of two twenty mile runs this training season, and it was good to get it behind me. I finished having run the average pace I wanted, BUT that did not count the water/rest stops along the way.  I rested much longer at those than I will during the actual marathon.  The competitive part of me (the part that should be more concerned than it is about my health) wants to not rest, and the smarter part of me remembers that this is a TRAINING run, and that I shouldn’t push too hard in training if I want to get to the starting line healthy. I keep repeating in my head that the point is to push just enough to get stronger. Once again I’ve discovered that the mental part of distance running is so important, which is why I need to be able to wave when I run the Chicago Marathon in October.  You get back what you give out, and the energy of the crowd can be unbelievable.  Not to mention that I need to able to lift my arms in triumph as I cross the finish line and the race photographers snap my photo.

With upper body strength in mind, I did a light circuit of weight training last night.  That was the final step in getting the blood flowing through all of those sore muscles and to clean out the remnants of lactic acid from the long run.  After that I felt like a healthy person again who could move without screaming pain in any muscles or joints and without waddling pathetically. I found recovery.

This week is a step back week, so we will only be running 14 miles on Saturday. The next Saturday will be the second twenty miler of the season, and it is set up to more closely simulate a marathon, with stations where you can get your water and sports drink on the fly and keep your pace going. One of the hardest things both physically and mentally is to get going again once you’ve stopped, so this will help. Then, I will also have a more honest assessment of how October will be.

Be sure to check out my Back on My Feet Fund Racer page…
BoMF 2012Chicagomar/gavmo


Why Do I Run?

Is it for health? Is it so that one day, while I am running along minding my own business, a photographer from Runner’s World magazine discovers me running in the scenic midwest and takes my picture unawares, and then I become the next sensation on the cover of the December issue? Is it because it gets me out of walking the dogs at 5:45 in the morning (It doesn’t. I have to walk them at 4:45 instead.)? Is it because Susan likes the way my legs look when there is muscle definition in them? Is it because for that short time I am light as a feather and strong as a horse? Is it because if one day I run far enough, or eat enough energy gels I will discover the meaning of life? Is it so that I will have an excuse to get new running gear?

It may be some or all of these reasons, but the important thing is… I run.  I’m a runner, and my goal right now is getting ready for the 2012 Chicago Marathon that will be on October 7th.  More specifically, my goal is to run my smartest marathon yet.  By that I mean getting at least to mile twenty with something left in my tank.  I tend to go out too fast in races of any distance. This summer, I have been training with the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) in the 9 minute 30 second pace group. So far my longest run at that pace has been 18 miles.Yep, that means 8+ miles to go at that pace to get there. The good news is that I think I can do it, I just need to remember that and stay focused on my form and my pace.  We will be running 20 miles this Saturday, so that we will be a good test.

Over the next several weeks, I will keep this blog up to date with my adventures in preparing for and running the marathon, so please check back, and if you are inspired, please visit my fund raising page…