Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Halftime!

Tomorrow is June 30th. Half of the year is gone. So tell me (or someone else or just yourself), how's it going? Are you on schedule to have the kind of year you planned? Business working? Family? Recreational activities? Other things? How's your running going?

I don't believe in New Years resolutions. To me, any day is a good day to set goals and strive to get better. I do know, however, that many goals are set in conjunction with the calendar year. So, since tomorrow is the halfway point, I'll ask again, how is it going? 

For me, I am on target for some of my goals, really close enough to call it "on target" for some others, and there are some that simply are not happening as I planned. As a result, I am optimistic about a few, hopeful on some others and ready to either alter a few OR find some new approaches that will help me achieve those pesky ones.

As runners, many of us log our mileage because it gives us feedback on the way to our goals. Mileage might be a goal, a PR at a particular distance or in many cases goals are event driven. To finish a marathon, to participate in a special event. There are as many goals as we are able to imagine. So, how are you doing?

I set several goals this year and will be accountable right here, right now. Mileage: goal is 2700, after tomorrow's run I'll be at 1328. Very close to halfway to the goal. Since I'm about to begin an 18 week marathon training block, I'm feeling pretty good about that one. Next goal was to run every day. Well, so far, so good. I haven't missed a day yet, and while I don't get overly obsessed with the "streak," I like it as it means I haven't been seriously sick or injured. Goal 3: to complete a marathon..... done! Napa Valley in March.

That leaves two other goals: to complete a Half Ironman and to qualify for Boston. Those have yet to come. HIM is set for September 11th and it is my plan to qualify for Boston on November 5th in Savannah, GA (which according to the new Boston qualifying rules, that should get me in for the year 2031 - if I'm far enough under the standard...).

For me, and hopefully you as well, none of this is a surprise. I monitor my goals constantly. Like the blue dot steadily moving along the purple line of my iphone Google map, it helps me to be able to see where I am along the purple line that is my goals and the direction of my life. If I don't know, well...... I don't know. So, I want to keep track.

When the Cheshire Cat told Alice that it doesn't matter which way you go if you don't know where you're going, he was unknowingly referring to goal setting and achieving. What he didn't tell her was that if you not only don't know (or care) where you are going AND have no idea where you are, you are in double trouble (ORRRRRR maybe completely happy not worrying about such things, but I digress...).

So what am I saying?

If unlike Alice, you have a goal, a destination, now is a good time to evaluate how your journey is progressing (as is every other day but halfway is kind of a landmark). If you're on track - great. If not, it's perfectly okay to alter the plan or even the goal. Yes, even the goal. They are yours, by the way, no one said they weren't adjustable.

It's halftime. How's it going?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Robert Gilbert Sands: Happy Father's Day

My Dad circa: 1948
Tomorrow is Father's Day. I've written numerous newsletter posts and blogs about my Mom over the years, but never really pontificated about my Dad. My favorite Dad stories have to do with sports: the one he wanted for me and the one he didn't.

My Dad wanted me to play baseball and for years I played in every summer league in town. He rarely missed a game and always staked out the same location: right behind home plate. You see, I pitched and my Dad loved that by engaging in that activity I was giving him the right to criticize, harass and just plain be mean to whomever was unlucky enough to draw the home plate umpire duties for the day. From his perch, my Dad powered through every ump cliche ever used, as well as a few of his own. His trademark, however, was the extra pair of glasses he would offer after a disputed ball was thrown.

One time when I was seventeen, about 20 minutes before a game I was warming up on the sideline and our umpire for the day, Sam Palmara, opened the gate, entered the field said "HI" and then did a double take. He stopped and said, "Sands, you're pitching today aren't you?"
"Yeah," I answered, "is there a problem?"
"Not with you. That just means I have to put up with your old man. Man, he gets to me."
"If you called them all strikes, it wouldn't be a problem, huh?"

Might be the best picture I have of my Dad
My downfall with my Dad (probably not my ONLY downfall) was that I didn't end up playing baseball. I chose to run and worse than that, I chose running in college over the war in Vietnam. Despite never missing a ballgame, in the 25 years I ran while he was alive, he came to ONE meet. It was the Schafer Relays and I was mid pre-race ritual for anchoring the 2 Mile Relay. Out of what seemed to be nowhere, my Brother Ernie appeared and said, "Dad's here."
"What's he doing here?" I asked. "He came to see you run. You'd better be good."  Yikes.

They handed me the baton that day in fifth place. I moved us up to second. In the process I ran my fastest half ever, a 2:02 (even splits of 61, 61). When I arrived home that night, I handed my Dad my medal and said, "Thanks for coming to watch me run."  "You passed alot of guys," he said. And that was it.

My Dad died of cancer in 1991. The night before he died, I was able to fly in from Colorado to spend some time. "Richard needs to be here," he told my Mom. That night, I barely understood a thing he said. After six years of fighting and having half his neck and throat removed in the process, much of what he said had to be in a faint whisper. Instead of making him talk, I read him the newspaper.

Visiting us in Colorado 1984
The next morning, I awoke to what seemed incomprehensible. My Dad was in the living room, talking AS PLAIN AS DAY, to my Mom. Knowing our time was short, I spent a great deal of the morning just yacking with him about whatever crossed our minds. Later in the morning, after amusing himself with my Mom's antics while losing a game of Dutch Rummy to me, he laughed, excused himself to take a nap and left us for the last time. We tried to wake him a few hours later to take his medicine, but he was gone. He hadn't looked so content and peaceful in years.

A few years before his death, it dawned on me that in my whole life, I don't ever remember him telling me those words every child wants to hear, I Love You. My Mom said it was just his way, heck, he rarely told her either. He ADORED his Grandkids. There was no doubt about that love. I took it, however, as a challenge. From that moment on, whenever my Dad and I conversed, it always ended with me saying, "I Love You, Dad!"

The closest he ever came was at Christmas, a few weeks before he died, he answered, "You too."

Robert Gilbert Sands: I love you. Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Beautiful People Are.... well, Beautiful!

My Memorial Day Monday was spent in Boulder taking in the Bolder Boulder Pro Team Race. I enjoy the Pro Race (the Elite race), partly because of the Team competition, but mostly because it's fun to watch the best of the best. This year, my son Ryan and I passed on the running to partake in the spectating.

While 54,000 hit the streets earlier in the morning, and I would dare say most all could be classified as beautiful, the elites gave the word "beautiful" a new definition.
Ryan Hall in full flight

In college, at 6-1 139, I remember being a little bigger (at least taller) than my distance running cohorts. To today's elite athlete I would have looked like a giant.

Ryan Hall, who appears to tower over the Kenyan and Ethiopians on television, is just a little bit of a guy (don't get me wrong, though, the dude looks like a stud!). The East Africans are like finely tuned race cars: lean, light with powerful motors.

As small as the men are, the women are/were even smaller. Amy Hastings couldn't have been cuter, while at the same time more fit and chiseled for racing. Renee Metvier-Bailey and Magdalena Lewey-Boulet were both considerably tinier than I had imagined.

Abs and Abs
The visual gift of the crop top made it clear that, despite what we might want to believe when we read the monthly running articles, these athletes are serious about strength and core exercises. The abs of the day, by the way, belonged to Adriana Pirtea Nelson (who claims to do only three core exercises). I must say, all in all, I haven't seen so many six packs since my fraternity days!


That brings us to another Bolder Boulder revelation: all those form drills. Does anyone REALLY do them? Well, I can tell you first hand, because she worked through her set directly in front of us, Amy Hastings does her form drills. As shown in the first few minutes of the women's race video below, Hastings works through her motions with focus. They must be working as Amy has a powerful, fluid stride.


We saw the racers only three times: the start, just past the one mile and right after five miles. Unfortunately, that was it. A few years ago, the Bolder Boulder elite course was a loop where the runners passed a plethora of time. It was a little bit more spectator friendly. Neither course allowed one the opportunity to both watch the race and see the finish in Folsom Field. Because of that, I have no actual Race Report for you.


All I can tell you is that the beautiful people are ..... still beautiful!