Sunday, September 28, 2014

Some Days You Have To Stop and Think

Here it is, Sunday night, and I have to say I wrung pretty much everything I could out of this weekend.

First of all, my run today! I went to Hawk Hollow and it was just a glorious place to be. There is still a little bit of color left in some of the flowers and under a clear, sunny sky it looked absolutely fabulous. Just a beautiful place.

My run was decent. When I woke up today my back was a little tight, which when my back is tight, the entire lower half of my body tends to follow suit. So I was back to shuffling along a little, which really wasn't that bad considering the surroundings.

It was also hot! I didn't think about it that much when I walked out of the house, but it really started to hit me on the back half of the trail. It was kind of a surprise to get home and find out that it was 80 degrees outside. Guess I should've checked that before I left and brought some water. :--)

This week I'm going to try and get a few more runs in and throw in some hills or a little speedwork or something. I'm a big believer in to run fast (or faster) you have to train that way. I'd really like to break 30 minutes in my next 5K in four weeks, and that's the way to get there. I'm also going to start logging my runs, because believe it or not I haven't used a log for quite some time. Mostly because of the fact that outside of the 4-5 months I trained for the marathon last year, my running (or lack thereof) has kind of depressed me a little bit.

So anyway, my weekend (and there is a really deep point to it, so keep reading). Friday I drove to Peoria to meet some high school friends for a round of golf. A group of guys had gotten together for the last several years to play and this was the first time I was able to join them. It was a nice time, a couple of the guys I hadn't seen in almost 20 years, but it didn't take long for things to be just like they were back in the day. I had so much fun I already committed for next year!

After that I drove to Lincoln as I was going on to St. Louis for Matt's XC meet Saturday morning. I actually got to indulge in one of my other passions -- auto racing -- as the local dirt track about a mile from my hotel had some racing going on. That was a lot of fun, after going to some of the biggest races in the world, like the Indianapolis 500 or Daytona 500, it was cool to get back to the roots of the sport.

Saturday morning I got up and finished the drive to St. Louis, and after a few tense moments finding the park I got there about 10 minutes before the race started. Matt ran a 12-second PR for the 8K distance (30:48) and the team finished third overall, but just one point out of second. Everyone showed improvement and the kids are making a lot of progress this season.

A great weekend, but at times my mind was someplace else. As I was driving to Peoria on Friday morning I received word that another high school friend had passed away overnight. He had been ill for a while and lost his battle at the age of 44. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

Ken had been a classmate from the seventh grade on, and he and I had several classes together and our paths crossed a lot during the day. When you go to a small school like we did (an enrollment of around 800 kids), you cross paths with a lot of people! He was always a good student, particularly in history, where he had an amazing recollection of dates, places and people.

What I liked about Ken, and what I grew to respect as time went on, was that he was just a peaceful person who was kind to everyone. It didn't surprise me that he ultimately became a minister, because even when we were kids he lived such a life of kindness, compassion and integrity.

At one time, he was also a standout runner, particularly in track, where he was a sub-2:00 800 guy who competed in the state track meet. His son (a senior this year) is also a very good runner who I got to watch at the state meet this past May since Matt was there with his 4x800 team. I had hoped to see Ken there but he was not in any shape to travel, which really was disappointing as I was looking forward to meeting up with him and talking about our son's running careers.

So he's been on my mind this weekend, and his passing is just another reminder of the preciousness of this life. I've actually been reminded of that a lot in the past year, starting back last December when a co-worker of mine passed away of a heart attack in his sleep.

Earlier this year one of Kevin's classmates lost his mom to cancer, and one of Matt's friends since kindergarten lost his dad to an ATV accident, and a track teammate's mom passed away about a month ago. And back in August, a sportswriter I knew -- who was an avid runner and triathlete -- died of a heart attack at age 39.

All of the people I just mentioned were all around my age, or even younger. It's certainly a scary thing to think about, you know? It's just a reminder to do our best to live our lives and enjoy what we have, instead of wasting time focusing on the stuff we don't. Stuff like this is the reason I'm trying to make positive changes in my life, not just with my health but my general attitude too.

So godspeed, Ken, I hope we meet again someday. Today I run in your memory.

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