Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pre Race Eating

Since starting to run long, I've found that I typically gain weight during runs. In high school, I remember going out on a particularly hot day, running about 8 miles and losing about 8 lbs. Now, when I go out on a particularly hot day (or cold day) and run 8 (or 30 miles) I typically gain about 5 lbs. I don't gain that weight by eating lots of food after the run, I gain that weight while running!

I'm tempted to bring along an extra pair of shorts one size larger for the second half of the run.

I think all of this weight gain is because I eat so much during the run. I have to. After the first two hours, I am starving. I've learned that if I don't eat a considerable amount of calories around 2 hours, I bonk real bad at 2:30 - 3 hours. In fact, the most difficult part of most of my long runs is at the 2.5 hour mark.

To compensate, my typical breakfast before a long run includes several of those hideous pastry strudels that are so absolutely scrumptious, as well as an egg McMuffin, a bowl of cereal, MoJo bar, and a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. And I'm still starving at 2.5 hours.

Also to compensate, I have typically started to power-eat the week before a long race. For both Leadvilles, I must have gained 7 lbs in the week leading up to the race. I'm certain that the race officials had to check the rules to see if the Dough Boy was actually allowed to run. And then, I continued the eating, weight-gaining frenzy through the first 50 miles. And I guess it continued after I DNF'd... for several days. Well, actually through to the next Saturday.

One aspect of this pre-race eating changed as I prepared for FANS. Actually, it was the only preparation I did for FANS this year, as I didn't put in one single training mile. This year, I prepared by not power-eating the week before.

I'm not sure why. I knew that I could eat continuously during the race as by this time in my short, long-running career I've learned what to eat while running and how to eat so as to not get sick while eating and running. Yeah, I'm real proud of that.

So I went into FANS relatively not-fat. And it worked. I wasn't unusually hungry, my body didn't start consuming itself (there's still plenty of fat in this body to consume), and I actually felt a little more light and nimble on my feet.

So, this week, part of my race preparation - in fact my only race preparation (I just have not had time to run) - has been to eat less.

I think I will try to drink more, though. The forecast for Saturday is 90, the hottest day in the next seven days.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Tonight on FB, I noticed Helen Lavin's status was a link to her Bighorn 50M race report. Helen, I'll read it tomorrow, need to get to bed tonight.

However, I then realized that I did not have a link on my blog site to Helen's blog. I can't believe it. How insensitive of me.

Helen is one of my greatest ultra running heroes, primarily because she is so down to earth. I really started to get to know Helen this winter when she participated in my little underground, night, full-moon run on the frozen St. Croix River from Marine down to Stillwater. She was a great help as she and I ran out looking for another runner who had missed the halfway aid station. Then she ran with Marty to the high bridge. All the while, tending to the conversation, the path, the perils, the cold with great grace.

Lots of other nice things to say about Helen, but you'd be better served by just going over and reading her blog. Helen, you're a great person and runner.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Busting with Posts

I have three blog posts just busting to get out. I just wrote one. I was going to get out of my suit, but Zeke is asleep in our room, so I can't change. So, here I am with a little time to crank out another post. Wait, Eli wants to show me something now. Maybe it'll get written tonight. What's left:

Pre-race eating

Ultra-Running & A Prig's Heart Slowly Changing

We have recently become friends with a great family from church, Sean and Julie. It turns out that Sean's brother is the lead singer in the band Fee. This has caused a number of memories to come flooding back to me and reminded me of yet another beneficial aspect of running long that I'll now relate.

Prior to five years ago, I was a running prig and prick. (I won't make a link to any definitions of prick as most are R rated. The G- rating would be: a person regarded as highly unpleasant.) While prig is a more accurate description, my priggishness resulted in being a prick, including the R-rated aspects. I was a prig and a prick because I looked down on other runners who weren't as good or worthy as myself. I scorned people:
• if they ever walked during a run
• wore headphones and listened to music while running ("It isn't natural, they miss the sounds of birds, traffic, or anything other than their music for that matter")
• who stopped at aid stations to take a break
• who carried fanny packs
• whose running form was even just a little off
• whose heads bobbed too much
• who ran with tight fists, arms swinging too high
• who ran in the wrong shoes.

It wasn't just that I had priggish thoughts; I had a prig's heart. This meant that all my thoughts toward others were condescending when it came to running, and a few other areas of life, and no one was safe from my judgment. I was confident that everybody could learn from me.

As Leadville 100 approached in the fall of 2008, it became apparent that my good friend and running partner, Pete, was not going to be running. This left me to run the first 50 miles alone. Now being alone is one of the bittersweet aspects of running long. I love and I hate being alone. But the thought of running those first 50 miles alone and trying to make the cut-offs was too much for me. So, I decided that I would break one of my cardinal rules, buy a cheap mp3 player, and listen to music while running.

And here is where the band Fee comes in. I created a playlist called worship. It contained a lot of songs. I burned the same songs for Marty and it took up 3 cds. I burned them for Marty so she could in some way be a part of that week with me (she stayed home). She later told me it really helped her. The first two songs were songs by Fee; "All Because of Jesus," and "Beautiful the Blood." There were other songs by Fee on that Playlist. In fact, I can even picture certain places on the Leadville course where certain of those songs played.

I hope that I'm not as priggish and prickish as I used to be. I think that bands like Laura Story, U2, Cold Play, Taylor Swift, Switchfoot, Goo Goo Dolls, Leeland (oh, Leeland!), David Crowder, Starfield, Tomlin, Andy Park and Fee have all played a significant roll in that transformation.

So, Sean, tell your brother that his music has traversed Hope Pass (hopefully one of these years it will traverse both directions), has been played on many a full-moon night, has been sung too on many a leaf-strewn trail, and has played a significant roll in making me a better, more gracious runner and person. Tell him thanks from me, so if he ever wonders if it's worth it, he'll know of at least one person his efforts have impacted.

A Cost

The past few days, I have actually been reminded of one of the costs of ultra running. It's not that big of a deal. Shoot, several years ago, one of the runners of Arrowhead 135 lost several fingers.

And this running long is certainly not like mountain climbing, white water rafting or sword juggling where one's life is part of the gamble of participating.

However, several years back, Pete and I would meet once a week for our long run. At that time, we were meeting in Taylors Falls and either running right there in the WI park or driving up to Wild River.

It was a badge of honor to be out in the cold. The colder the better. During most runs, despite heroic efforts, my water tube would freeze and Pete's bottles would turn to slushies. During this time, I learned the value of wool.

One particularly cold morning, I could not keep my face warm, particularly my nose. A week later, I noticed that there was a tiny spot on my nose where the skin was dry and flaky.

Guess what? To this day, and strangely more often when it is warm, that frost-bitten spot on my nose burns and flakes. SO, there is a cost of running long.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One Final Post

Tonight, my blog counter sent me an email.
I've now had 11,000 visits.
I greatly appreciate all those who read my blog.

I had intended to blog to publicly determine why I love to run long. After almost five years, I still don't think I am able to say definitively why.

The why is always there. I am always evaluating how running long affects the family, work, health, my attitude, my hope, my relationship with Christ. I'm always trying to determine the costs.

In the end, I continue to find that the benefits are still outweighing the costs.

Some of these posts have been running or race reports, with awful, boring details about pace, heart rate, food intake, and all those things we think are so important while running. But most of the posts have been about me fighting demons, joking about the mundane, talking about my wife and or kids, posting photos, and dreaming about the next long run.

Oh to continue to do what I memorized and used as my mantra for many a road race before running trails, "...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame..."

Messages in BIG LETTERS

My last post reminded me of another suit incident.

About two months ago, I found a great designer suit at Goodwill. Yes, Goodwill.
Inspite of hanging the suit outside, in the garage and several other highly volatile areas, the suit still smelled.

Now, the label states in large letters, DRY CLEAN ONLY. Nevertheless, I threw it in the washing machine.

I would never throw a suit in the dryer. No way. That's stupid. But the washer? It's just water, right?

Was I ever wrong. The suit came out small. Really small. It wouldn't fit on many dogs.

So, I've learned my lesson. When a message is in LARGE PRINT, it's serious.

Fitted Shirt

It's come to this. And it's just the beginning.

Several weeks ago, while sliding the iPhone into my dress slacks, I ripped a corner of the pocket. I really only have two functional suits at the present time, and since I had a custody hearing the next day, this meant that I would not be wearing the blue suit. While the rip was small, visions of bigger splits went through my mind, and I figured why take a chance.

This past week, I went looking for a new suit. Now, I'm going to get the rip fixed, but it really is time to get a new suit as I spend most of my days wearing suits.

So, I found a nice, relatively inexpensive suit and while it was getting fitted, two major developments took place. First, the tailor suggested that I try a 39 regular rather then my normal 40. Since there were no 39s, she suggested that I just try a 38. I did. It fit great.

Now, I must define great. I like wearing loose fitting clothes - I want to be able to move my arms and not have the shirt pull too tightly. Suits are notorious for being tight. Consequently, I have always purchased suits based on how much looseness I can get.
The 38R is not loose. In fact, it's tight across the back of the arms. But it looks great. I've always been told that a suit should fit a little tight, but I have rebelled against that until now.

So, the second development... as I'm getting fitted, I point out that my dress shirts are always bulgy at the waist. The tailor told me exactly what I expected and did not want to hear, "You should wear fitted shirts."

I tried a fitted shirt many years ago. I could barely breathe. I have not worn one since.

After getting fitted for the suit, I bought a fitted shirt. I was going to wear it to church this morning for a trial run, but it was much too formal. However, it felt great. Yes, it was tighter than I like, but here's the point of this blog.

I'm getting older. It's time to wear fitted shirts, to wear a suit to the office a little more, to feel a little restriction.

However, if you see me on the trail wearing spandex, shoot me and claim you thought I was a deer. It will be a mercy killing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

One of the things I love about having so many children is the number of relational dynamics that exist. In fact, most of these exist without my even knowing about them.

Read Emma's blog about one sweet relationship inside our family.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Kitchen Chair

The Twins are sitting on the chair next to my side of the bed. Oh, yes, the chair. There's a chair there instead of a bookshelf because the bookshelf is temporarily downstairs. The bookshelf is typically bulging with an assortment of books, each with a bookmark sticking out of the pages, rarely closer to the end than the beginning. The bookshelf got relegated to the basement when Lizzie and Sadie came.

We thought it best that the two girls begin their new life in America in our bedroom. Our bedroom size has its limits, so out went my bookshelf and out went the drying rack upon which all my running things get piled. But I still needed something upon which to place a few, at first two and I now count six plus a few running magazines, books. So, a kitchen chair seemed like a good idea.

This chair is actually quite famous. We purchased it from an antique store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It served as a kitchen chair for our family and the dorm girls living in our home for nearly five years before we brought it with us to Minnesota. Here, it was used as a computer desk chair, a home school chair, a chair for when guests would come over, and occasionally a chair at the kitchen table. Somewhere along the way, in 2006, it became the chair upon which I set my running clothes and packs to dry. It's not a big chair, so it was often overflowing with gators, a Camelbak pack, wool socks, wool shirts, shorts, speedos, a drying water bladder, baggies filled with salt tablets and cubes. If I used it while running, it ended up on the chair.

So why is the chair famous? In 2007, after perusing some of my magazines and living through my early morning jaunts with Pete, Marty wrote a funny little article about my stepping into ultrarunning. It was so funny that people encouraged her to send it to some papers. One of our now good friends, who at the time was a reporter, showed up and wrote an article about the family and the running. Marty then sent her funny little article in to Ultrarunning Magazine. Tia Bodington liked it and "it used to be a kitchen chair" appeared on page 9 of the November 2007 edition.

That same kitchen chair, with many a recent wine stain, now serves as my temporary, make-shift night stand. As such, the Twins are on it, waiting to be read. The Twins are "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall and "Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner" by Dean Karnazes.

Dean's book got me into ultrarunning by helping me understand that 1) walking is just fine while running, 2) the body can do much more than we think it can and 3) running longer can make life greater and actually be better for the family than the marathon distance. I reread this book every spring.

Christopher's book has challenged me to consider barefoot running and to not see running as a separate compartment of my life. Plus, this book is so well written and so immensely informative and provocative as he delves into the life of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico that at times I wondered if the book was really about running.

So there they sit, the Twins. It's time that I reread them both.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Incredible Blue Grass Concert

sTonight, as part of the Lake Country Fiddle Pal Camp week, there was a concert in Marine on St. Croix. It featured all of the instructors from the camp and then the members of Ten Penny Nail.

Now, I've taken the kids to some incredible concerts: for rock, U2 in Soldier's Field and for bluegrass, Chris Thile, formerly of Nickel Creek and now with Punch Brothers. Nickel Creek is sweet bluegrass music, dominated by the almost supernatural talent of Chris Thile. And Punch Brothers are completely and to a band member, almost faultless in their uncanny abilities.

But this concert tonight was even better. Punch Brothers' music and themes are so dark. And each member can sound similar, except for Chris. But tonight... it was happy, dancing, clapping, hooting, and sheer pleasantries. Each musician brought their own style and emphasis. So, here are some videos:

First, one of the favorites of the evening:
Ten Penny Nail, performing "After the Rain"

April Verch

April Verch singing about a flower. Don;t know name of song.

David Keenan

Rona Wilkie, singing a Gaelic song about a girl drowning. Yeah. But it was great.

One last clip:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I rented Invictus this evening. Most likely it will take about 4 nights to get through it.
However, I started it, watched about 10 minutes of it, and already my heart is in my throat. I have a strong feeling that I will be tearing much throughout this movie.

I'm reading "The Power of One" right now. It is about South Africa around the time of WWII. It is very descriptive in its portrayal of apartheid in the tiniest matters of life.

I didn't think Marty wanted to watch, but I will happily be starting it over later this evening to begin it with her.

It's Officially "no"

At the beginning of the year, I had said that since we were pursuing adoption, this would not be the year to fill a racing calendar. I haven't. There are aspects of my well-being that feel this deeply.
But it's been a good decision. It's a good year to scale back.

Nevertheless, this week I've been thinking about Leadville. See, over the past 3-4 months, I've nailed down my mistakes and determined how to re-pass Hope Pass.

Last night I brought up the subject.

I have a great wife. We sat by the pool after she had had an exhausting day directing a great first-day of fiddle camp. In her lap was Sadie drinking her bottle. In the pool were four screaming and wrestling boys - two not our own. Two toddlers frittered about on the deck, always on the verge of falling into the sea-of-drowning-death, and two older girls coming in and out of the conversation with various IMPORTANT questions.

In spite of all that confusion and kid-fusion, and with the prospect of me spending a week in the mountains by myself, she didn't freak out. She simply reminded me that this would probably not be the best year because it costs so much money to make that race happen.

She is right. And her response was what I needed to be smart.
That has been happening in many areas of my life right now. I am very appreciative.

Marty did suggest that I could look for a closer 100 miler.

So, I'm considering the race that I vowed I would never attempt. Yes, you guessed: Sawtooth 100. From what I have heard, and compared to my experiences at Leadville, Sawtooth is more difficult.

So, Steve G, Bill and others, I need to start getting your advice?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Emma: The First Born

Thus begins a series of blogs about the kids.

Emma is 16. She is about to get her license but we need to practice the parallel parking, and entrance onto the highways a little more. And she just needs to drive more. She and I have spent many hours driving; though she would say that we have not spent enough. She is correct. We have been using Drivers Ed in Box which is very good; but I got sick of it. Emma dutifully figured all its nuances out, then took me through it, then patiently fretted when I got tired of its repetitive exercises.

Emma and Sadie

Emma, me and Levi splitting wood at the cabin on the North Shore

Emma and Zeke

A gift not so well received!

Zeke, Grace, Eli, Lizzie, Emma and Zeke (Sadie not pictured)

Emma and Lizzie

Sadie, Jeanna and Emma
one of Emma's best friends
read Emma's blog about her

Emma will be in 11th grade next year. I used to tease her often that I wanted her to enter college when she turned 16. Emma lines up all her school work and dutifully does it in order and far ahead of time. I finished my high school senior paper at 6am the morning it was due. I started the paper at 10pm the night before. I completed my college junior thesis during my senior year, and my senior thesis in the sixth year. Emma has most of her papers done weeks before they are due.

And she's bright. Since Christmas, we have been trying to meet once a week to discuss our readings in a book. Our goals is to make it through 4 theological books by the end of this summer. If we don't, it will be because dad can;t keep up. Our first book was Duties of Parents, by J.C. Ryle. This delightful 19th C primer on parenting is quick but chock full of good stuff which Marty and I strive to implement. I want Emma to have a strong vision for what parenting is about. The book that we are working through right now is The Sovereignty of God, By A.W. Pink. It is more substantial, but lucidly written. Emma has been wrestling with an Armenian and this book has been a great read. Often, Armenians have simple analogies that leave the Calvinist stumped, because analogies and little stories are not the way to develop a theology. It has left Emma quite frustrated. I've forgotten what our next book will be, but it doesn't matter. I'm far behind Emma in Pink's book, and we're about 3 weeks behind in meeting - all my fault.

Emma is also great at math. Some concepts don;t come easy, but Emma is a hard worker and she sticks with a problem until she understands it. We've spent several nights trying to navigate our way through an Alg II or geometry problem.

Enough for tonight. I'll continue with Emma again and talk about her ability to engage with all of her siblings, an incredible skill that will help her throughout all situations in life.

A good running thought.

I have learned many lessons from running "long" these past 4 years. One of these lessons finally got described last night. It's a thought that Pete and others have taught me, but naming it has eluded me until now:

Any run that is good is a great run. Run in such a way that all your runs are good.

It came out as ..."and all runs should be good" but I've never liked the word "should" since attending Cono Presbyterian, and "are" still infers that I should run in a manner so that the run is good.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Running this Year

My plan for this year has been to take each day, each week, each month as it comes. Consequently, I did not, in typical January fashion, fill in my 2010 race calender, sign up for all my races and then start fretting about how little running I was actually doing.

Instead, with the possibility that we would be adding kiddos to the family, I decided to wait. So, I decided to run and got into FANS 24 Hours about two weeks before the event. Zero training. And currently, the only race for which I'm signed up is Afton. I missed the Twin Cities deadline - my annual road marathon (just to get the tech t-shirt).

The point is, this is the year to play it by ear; to see what each month, each week allows.

But you know what went through my mind tonight as I dogged my way through 1 mile on the treadmill? "I should see if Leadville 100 in August still has openings?" Silly, isn't it?

Capitalist Sense of Personal Responsibilty

That was in my last post but it just isn't the right way to describe what I was getting at.

What I was describing doesn't have anything to do with capitalism or with a notion of creating wealth.

What I was attempting to say was that the way I deal with people heading down a wrong moral path is wrong. I think things like, "They need to change. I need to tell them they're wrong, and if they don't change, then leave them to their own devises." I think, "They need to take personal responsibility for their errors."

What I meant to say in the last post is that God's grace doesn't deal with us that way. God enters the path of error with me in order to draw me out of the path of error.

That's what I recently saw and experienced. That's what I'm not good at. That's what rescues people.

A Friend at All Times

I have a good friend who taught me much about marketing, recruiting, administrating, dealing with sin, relationships, smoking a cigar, and many other things.

A long time ago, he hired me to take his place. I "fired" him, and he willingly left, in order to save his marriage. His marriage was saved. I later hired him to replace me.

Two months ago, he gave advice that I detested. In general, the advice was to remain a friend to the one who is running toward danger, the one who is intentionally choosing, in spite of confrontation, to go down a wrong path.

I detested this advice because I didn't want to be a co-conspirator, a facilitator in the other's path.
• If I listen to this person's retelling of the story, reshaping history, am I not endorsing their behavior?
• If they are continuing down a wrong path, isn't it better that I cut off the relationship and let them know how mad I am at them?

I was wrong to detest my good friend's advice. The grace of God is much more complex than my limited sense of justice and capitalistic sense of personal responsibility.

I have just now amazingly seen how one friend, sitting with the other, entering the path with the other, drinking a beer with the other, staying with the other, and not leaving in disgust or judgment, can be used by God to save the other. A person wise and understanding enough to save another by not leaving.

My good friend, you are right. I am wrong. I will strive to go down that path with the other, because I am down that path myself far too often. I am rescued only by those who go down it with me in order to save me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

FANS 24 Hour

Finally, a few words about the FANS race.
Again this year, as the day approached, I wondered if I really could run around Lake Nokomis over and over again. And again this year, I wondered if I would be able to do so in rain and puddles.
I prepared an iPod with songs and sermons, hoping that as a last resort, I could at least drop into a U2 induced coma. By noon, I had listened to Matt Chandler, R.C. Sproul and 2 Piper messages.
For the first couple of hours, I ran steadily at a 6 mile an hour pace. By noon, I had unwisely fallen into a bad habit of running too fast when I would run. Fortunately, Kevin Martin jumped in and with great care, helped me back off to a more steady running pace that enabled me to run longer between each walk. This set a great tone for the whole race.

Christian Jakob Burmeister Hicks. I met Christian during an underground 50 miler several years ago and he's impressed me ever since. He balances life, family, sports and all so well. I'm pretty confident that he did a lap with me because the conversation I remember having with him seemed long.

Steve VerBeek. As the sun set, Steve from church came with his wife and two boys. He intended to do one lap and ended up doing many. His wife drove to get me espresso. By this time, it had stopped raining.

Steve Grabowski and Bill Pomerenke and Brent. Steve told me he'd join at 10pm and run until 3am. He brought along Bill and then stayed until 7am. Bill let me borrow his lighter headlamp, and Steve was able to get in a full marathon. I hadn't known that Brent was going to join.

Dean Malley. Dean is my great friend. We met at church about 2 years ago. Dean and his wife have spent many a night at our house after spending a Saturday afternoon watching parenting videos. Last year, Dean did a few laps with me. This year, Dean arrived around 3am and said he might be able to stay until 4:30. At 5:20, after no one at home was answering the phone, he decided that everything must still be okay and continued with me until 7:30. It was a great reunion with him and his wife as they met me (what was left) in the church bookstore later that morning. Mara-Liisa, thanks for letting me have your husband. His sharp, and ever poignant discussions actually kept me awake. He is a sharp thinker even in the wee hours. At 4, before the sun came up, I was slurring my speech. At 7:30, as he and Helen Lavin made the last lap with me, I was literally swaying between the two.

Helen Lavin. Helen was at the beginning and the end. Helen weighed me in in the morning. She stayed around for awhile. Then, she drove to the Kettle race in WI to pace someone. Then all of the sudden, I saw her again later in the race. She had come back due to the severe weather over there. Helen ran the last lap with me and Dean.

Nobody really wants to read the details about the miles, etc. Suffice it to say that there were so many there who accomplished more than they could have imagined. Like the runner who walked with one leg in a cast using crutches, the entire 24 hours. I could never have done that.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Run with Zach

Zach is a recent friend and fellow Christian. We have some incredible connections from about 20 years ago. Zach is an impressive guy.

He told me last week, after I asked about his shoes (Salomons I believe, or maybe Adidas), that he would join me for a trail run. I assured him that it would be slow and enjoyable.

Zach and I ran the outer loop at O'Brien this morning. Zach ran like he'd been running trails for years. Zach is accustomed to running every step of a run, even if it results in problems. This morning, with a combination of running and walking, I think he had a great time. And great conversation to boot. And how can any run be bad when running in the woods and through morning fog?

A Year in Review

I'm preparing to get my blogging juices flowing once again. Here's the primer. A quick, down and dirty, non-comprehensive look at the past 6-8 months.

Truly one of my favorite places to run: on the frozen St. Croix River. As the river thawed this spring, I was saddened to see my running highway, by which I could run from downtown Stillwater to just north of our house, disappear. Next winter: a 20-25 mile run from Stillwater to Taylor's Falls!

The kids joined me on the river for an afternoon of river running and checking out the ice falls across from the Boom Site.

Runners in the first annual Full Moon River Run in January. In the entry way before taking off.

The day after Valentine's Day, Ryan Carter and I ran 55 miles through the Cities. For me, it was a great way to drive out the jitters before Marty traveled to Ethiopia.

One of our infamous Uno tournaments.

At the airport waiting for Marty and Lisa to board the place for Ethiopia. Still had five children at this time :)

And then there were.....SEVEN!

Friends from church greeting Marty and the girls at the airport on Feb 27

And thus began our families increased use of Kleenexes.

And clever ways to stay productive.

Finally, the Two Rivers Shuffle underground run hosted by Shawn Tracy (partially pictured) in May. 23 miles with Pete Grimes and Shawn running some of the most treacherous and single-tracked trails right in the heart of the Cities.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What We Won't be Seeing

photos from last summer when I took the kids to Chicago to see U2

We had tickets for the upcoming concert here in Minneapolis.
We hope to not lose them, because we've been told they will be good in 2011 when they try to tour again.

Today's Run

How did I prepare for today's hearing? Packed a bag of clothes for a post-hearing run!

No, seriously. Today was the third and final installment in a rather lengthy hearing. 3 months lengthy. One of the many things I did to prepare for today's installment was to prepare for my post-hearing sanity. This included: shorts, shirt, shoes, water bottle and salt tablets.

We began at 8:30 and finished at 12:30. After some post-hearing follow up with clients, I donned the running attire and headed out to SLOWLY tackle Stillwater hills.

I set the daunting goal of attempting to run hills in such a manner that I would bring my heart rate down as I ascended. I think it's possible, but I certainly wasn't able to do it today. At best, I was able to keep my heart rate from topping 175 - and this is on a hill that takes 2 minutes to run up. I ran five hills

It felt great. I'm very thankful to be running again with it only being 9 days since I ran those 93 miles.

Tonight, Zeke talked me into giving him and Lizzie under-dogs out on the swings. Levi talked me and the older kids into a game of Apples to Apples. Marty talked me and the whole gang into a walk around the block (an additional mile for the log book). I talked the older kids into beginning another MST3K movie, "Attack of the Gila Monsters." I talked no one into anything!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Posts about Kids

I'm working on it. I'm writing descriptions of each of the kids (7) right now. I thought it best to write a little "off blog" about each kid first so that the creative juices get spread out over all the kids a little more evenly.

If I start blogging live, I either start with Emma the oldest or Sadie the youngest. Then, as is typical with most of my life, the writings about the first kids would be less good and funny than subsequent kids. Also, the later kids might just get described in bullet points, while the earlier kids would get full-on, descriptive paragraphs.

Also, there might be days, weeks, even months between each kid's blogs if I try to write them separately. This might cause great confusion among blog readers who 1) might be gearing up to read about each child in quick succession or 2) stumble upon my blog between kid-descriptive blogs and make the horrible mistake of assuming incorrectly that we have 3 children. When you have 7 you really want all assumptions about the number of children to be sufficiently weighty and substantial. No wimpy assumption when the day includes everything from under-dog pushes to college planning, from games of Apples to Apples to incessant drooling due to new teeth.

So, if possible, wait. Descriptive posts about each child are soon in coming.

Oh, today I ran up 4 flights of stairs. In dress shoes. It felt glorious.
Tomorrow, slow repeat hills in downtown Stillwater as a post-hearing stress release.

Runner Post

Anytime someone takes up running, it should be commended.
A friend from church has just started; well, maybe restarted, I'm not certain.
To aid her in her resolve, her sister signed her up for an upcoming 5K.
Check out her new blog site and give her an encouraging word.
In fact, encourage her to not worry so much about running every step (walk a little, and go farther).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blogging about the Kids

Next week, I hope to start blogging a little more frequently and will begin by highlighting each of the seven children in their own blog post. As I have thought about doing this, I have thought about what all of the kids have in common and what they all don't have in common.

Here's my short lists.
In common:
• they are all highly verbal. There is so much conversation in our house that we often have to have periods of no talking. Even Sadie can carry her own "verbal weight." Lizzie's language is a combination of massacred English words, Amharic vowel and consonant sounds, and hysteric excitement.
• they all love to swim
• they all read
• no child is Asian, although several had Mongolian spots when born.

Not in common:
• they fall asleep at different times.
• they each are able to time their interruptions such that there is a constant, unending assault on concentration.

Inviting Interruptions

The Button family bluegrass band will be performing today at the Desiring God picnic at the North Campus site. Larry Agnew was so kind as to invite them and join them on accordion.

The kids have spent the last week practicing their set, and in the process, straining the limits of their patience for each other.

Emma will be playing fiddle and guitar, Eli is on fiddle, Grace plays mandolin, and Levi will be a guest singer in two songs.