Monday, February 21, 2011

Journey to 13.1

I really stumbled into the whole thing.

As part of our adoption process, both Kristy and I had to have full physical exams. At the time, I was not concerned about my health. I figured that the test results would say that I probably ate too many cheeseburgers and fried shrimp po-boys, but other than that I thought I'd be okay.

I went in for my physical exam in September of 2010. It turned out to be everything I thought. Other than my triglycerides being a point or two too high, the doctor said I was fine. He told me to exercise a little more and eat a little better. (Isn't this what doctors always say no matter what?)

So, that's how I began running.

I actually started off on the elliptical machine at the gym. I would work that machine for about 25 - 35 minutes to build up my endurance. I didn't mind this so much because at the gym all of the elipticals have TV's and since Kris and I don't have a TV at home, it was kind of cool to catch up on ESPN. After about 2 weeks on the ellipical, I started running 2 miles, 3 days a week. It took me about 20 minutes or so when I began. I quickly started building up my endurance until one day I invited myself on a four mile run with a friend of mine who is an avid runner. I didn't miss a beat and was able to keep up for the whole run.

That day, I decided to start training for the Rock n' Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon that was coming up in 5 months.

This turned out to be one of the most fun decisions I have ever made. It was an amazing experience. My training consisted of running 4 days a week. I would run short runs of 3 -4 miles on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursday and then a long run, between 8 and 12 miles every Saturday.

As I started out I was averaging about 10 minute miles. As my training progressed I was able to consistently run at 8:50 miles.

My friends, who I was going to run the race with, had already run a half marathon and had finished in 1 hour and 57 minutes. We wanted to beat that time so we came up with a schedule to help us run the race in 1 hour and 55 minutes. Each Saturday for our long runs we were consistently aiming to run 8:42 miles. On the day of our 12 mile training run, we nailed it. It took exactly 1 hour and 44 minutes, which was right where we needed to be to finish our race on time. We were definitely feeling prepared.

The overall experience was fantastic. I hurt myself twice during my training which led to me missing about 3 training runs. I tweaked my back one day and landed in the chiropractors office within hours. He fixed me up good and had me back in my running shoes within about 3 days. The other injury was a mild foot injury, but I believe that was simply due to the increase in mileage that I was experiencing.

Throughout my 5 months of training, here are a couple of things that I learned:

1. I found that I run much better in cold weather than hot weather and I run very fast when temperatures are below freezing before the sun rises.

2. I run better to music than I do to podcast.

3. Whenever my run mix lands on tracks by Eminem or Rocky soundtrack tunes, my pace picks up considerably and I play the air drums.

4. Running on a treadmill is misery compared to running outdoors.

5. I actually love running and had no idea for a long time.

6. Above everything else, I learned that running with friends is much more fun than running by myself. This in turn has caused me to re-evaluate all things that I have always done by myself. There's something very beautiful about sharing life with others.

I'll post soon about race day and how we beat our desired time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Do Your Tweets Say About You?

Last week, I was listening to sports radio one morning as the guys were talking about the potential upcoming lockout in the NFL. At one point, the discussion turned towards the idea that the only way the players are going to be able to win out against the owners is if the players, all of the players, actually stick together – which of course probably won’t happen because the players aren’t all on the same page. This would not have been as big of a deal 10 years ago, but today in the world of status updates and tweets players are going to quickly show each other, the world and most importantly- the owners – that they aren’t all in agreement and the owners should easily win this thing. All of this to get to the most interesting thing that that the radio show host said that morning when he was talking about Twitter (and I paraphrase) – “We live in a world where you can tell everyone exactly what you’re thinking at every moment about everything. The problem is people don’t think before they hit send.”

This isn’t really a new problem; this whole idea of people not thinking before they hit send. In the past, there was no ‘send’ button to hit, but it was all about spewing things off at the mouth. At least back then when we would let our mouth speak before our brain kicked in, it would only hit a few people (which is no better, but illustrates the point.) Now, though, in 2011, it’s easier to share with 10’s of 100’s of 1000’s of people with the simple click of a button.

Lately, I have been paying much more attention to what I tweet as well as what others post and tweet. It’s fascinating how much you can learn about a person (or yourself), by just checking out their one sentence updates or tweets. More than anything, you can begin to determine what a person’s life is about, what consumes their thoughts and their time, what they are for and even more often, what they are against.

Both Twitter and Facebook give people an opportunity to write a bio. I enjoy the bio section, especially on Twitter as it gives you a chance to communicate who you are and what you’re about in a very short snippet. It’s interesting though how my bio really doesn’t speak nearly as much about me as my updates do.

I took a look back through my last 25 tweets, just to see what I am all about or at least what my tweets say I'm all about. Here’s what I found:

Tweets about:
Friends I love: 3
Running: 5
My family: 3
Coffee: 1
Writing: 10
Random thoughts: 2
Football: 1

I'm actaully okay with these numbers. (I was very curious to see what I was going to find in the archives). It’s my desire that people would know me for what I’m for, not for what I’m against; for what I love, not for what I hate. That people would know me for who I really am and who I am becoming; not for some phony me.

Just like in my speech, I think the best way for me to continue growing in these areas is to actually think before I hit 'send'.

So, what are your thoughts? What do your tweets (or fb updates) say about you and your life? Do people know you for what you are for or for what you're against? Do they convey the real you? Do you think before you hit send?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Letters to Zoe

One of my fondest, most vivid memories is of the day my first son was born and that first night in the hospital with by beautiful wife and our new baby boy. Even today, 6 years later, I can distinctly remember holding him in my arms and the words that I spoke over him and to him that night. Just as vivid and memorable is the night that I experienced the same feelings with our second son, just fourteen months later.

It didn't take me long to realize that though my heart was full of love and full of words for my sons, there was no way I would ever be able to remember everything on my own and there was no way for them to one day, in the future, know what I was saying and feeling for them at these present moments.

So, began, letters to my sons.

I love the technological advancements that have been made over the years that have made communicating much easier through avenues such as emailing, texting, facebooking, tweeting, blogging, skyping and so on. But for me, there is still no better way to communicate and express myself than through a handwritten letter.

Today, I am the proud dad of 4 beautiful and amazing boys. My boys are currently ages 6, 5, 4 & 2. At present, my Kristy and I are also in the (very slow) process of adopting our daughter, Zoe Moon, from Ethiopia.

These days, I keep a journal for each of my boys in which I regularly write letters to them. The letters are usually written at random times throughout the year as well as a letter to each boy on his birthday every year. This has been an amazing way for me to communicate with my boys and also have a book of letters to one day give to each. Even now, as they are growing older, I have recently begun sitting down with them and reading some of their letters to them.

Not too long ago, I headed over to Barnes and Noble to pick up my newest journal. This one is a little different. It's pink. And I cannot wait for the day that I am able to hold my Zoe and begin reading all of the letters that have been written to her even while she is over 8000 away.

I'm curious, what are some of your fun and creative traditions?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Birthday Traditions

Birthdays were always a special day in my family when I was growing up. It was normal to wake up on the morning of your birthday to a house full of streamers, balloons, party favors, presents and much more. The entire day was devoted to that birthday boy (or girl). You ate what you wanted for breakfast, got to choose your favorite meal for dinner and of course, mom always baked your favorite cake.

When Kristy and I started having kids, I knew that big birthday celebrations were one tradition that I wanted to keep going. For this reason, we make sure the whole day is special. The birthday boy (they’re currently aren’t any little birthday girls in our home, but that will change as soon as our Zoe arrives!) is king for the day, choosing what we eat, what games we play, what cake we eat and so on. Our birthday boy wakes up to a home decorated full of balloons and streamers and Happy Birthday signs. We sing happy birthday every chance we get throughout the day. I have also added what has quickly become the favorite tradition of the boys…breakfast with dad.

Having four little boys, I work very hard to spend one on one time with each one. Sometimes it is easier than others but this one thing I have found certainly works very well at least once a year. The morning of our boy's birthday, I take that one boy out to eat breakfast wherever he would like to go. It doesn’t matter which day of the week it is (which means they get to be late for school if needed). It’s pretty cost effective while they’re young because they usually just want to go to IHOP most of the time. I’m sure when they start getting older, they’ll want to hit up The Court of Two Sisters or Brennan’s or some other high roller place, but until then, Dunkin’ Donuts and IHOP are the fan favorites. It’s kind of interesting, because I take the boys to eat breakfast one on one at other times throughout the year, but for some reason, that birthday breakfast is one they enjoy the most.

This week, we celebrated our 3rd boy’s 4th birthday. The breakfast with dad tradition might seem like a weak tradition on the surface, but this year, I realized how amazing it really is when my 6 and 5 year old boys started telling their 4 year old brother just how lucky he was because he got to go to breakfast with dad.

Nate’s choice for breakfast was beignets at CafĂ© du Monde. We had a great time….just the two of us. It was a great birthday for my amazing boy.

What kinds of birthday traditions do you have in your home with your loved ones - kids, spouse, etc.?

For those who are interested, I will be doing my first book giveaway with this blog. Here’s how and what you win:
1. Share this blog on your FB page or retweet it
2. Become a follower of this blog or a follower on twitter
3. Leave a comment in the thoughts section of this blog about your family birthday traditions

To win you must do all of the above (unless you don't have a FB account).

A winner will be randomly selected on Friday, February 4 at 5:00 pm. If the winner is the father of a son under the age of 12 that dad will win a copy of John Eldredge's book, The Way of the Wild Heart. If not, the winner will receive their choice of any one book under my ‘books that changed my mind’ list. (Dads - if you already have Eldredge's book, then you'll also be able to choose from the list.)