Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Now for the icing on the cake

I did it!  With today's new tally, I've made my goal of $2000.00!  It appears, however, that I've underestimated the generosity of my friends and family and set my goals too low.   I still have a week and a half to go before the race and I think we can blow by my mustache goal of $3000.00 pretty easily.   Since I set my main goal at $2000.00, you could say getting to $3000.00 would be icing on the cake. . . but who likes cake without icing?

The more icing the better!

So let's do it!   We're currently at $2350.00 with 27 different individuals/families contributing!    Every little bit definitely makes a difference and with 93% of the HealthEd Connect budget going directly to programs it is clear that your donation will directly impact the lives of women and children who desperately need it.

On to the thermometers!


First Goal - $1000          Stretch Goal  - $2000                Mustache Goal - $3000

As always if you want to support my run go to and click on the button donate now or follow this link.   You'll see "Jeff's run for healthy kids" in the purpose of gift  drop down menu.   If you want to learn more about why I'm running for HealthEd Connect click here

And as an added incentive - if we get to $5000.00, then I will shave my head for the run in addition to sporting the mustache.    Throwing that out there in case there's someone out there who likes a challenge.

( I was trying to find some examples online but most of them were too scary to post, you'll have to use your imagination)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Some unintended and pleasant consequences

When I set out to write this blog, my plan was to blog about my training for a half marathon to raise money for HealthEd Connect.   It's been fun to share with folks my trials and tribulations as I train and I've been amazed and inspired by the support I have received so far.  There will be a fundraising update below that will demonstrate that support.

But before I get to the thermometers, I've noticed a couple of other unintended consequences.   First, I've had 3 or 4 people let me know that reading my blog has either helped them start running for the first time or get the motivation to get back into running.   As I've said earlier, getting back in shape and challenging oneself is tough. It's hard to overcome the inertia of our busy lives and to find time to get moving.   I also think hearing about other people taking the leap can be motivational as well.  I hope people continue to share with me their own goals as we all work to lead healthier lives.  

Second, I've reconnected with some friends of mine that I haven't heard from in awhile.   As I've written this blog, I realize that some of my strongest relationships have developed over running together.  I've had great conversations with folks over the years as we've run many miles and blogging about running has reminded me of those relationships.   I guess social media can be helpful at times.

Third, I'm realizing how truly generous my friends and family are.   It's feels great to know that there are people out there willing to support something for which I feel so passionate.   Thanks again to everyone's generosity.    

And now, what you've been waiting for - the thermometers!

ok, so my thermometers aren't as cool as this one

Here's the real thing


First Goal - $1000          Stretch Goal  - $2000                Mustache Goal - $3000

As always if you want to support my run go to and click on the button donate now or follow this link.   You'll see "Jeff's run for healthy kids" in the purpose of gift  drop down menu. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

half way to mustache

We went camping for the first time as a family of four last night.  We camped at Round Mountain Campground in Pike National Forest.    We camped with two other families and had a great time!  There was a bit more rain than we would have liked, but all in all it was a good time in nature with great people.  Next year, we'll have to go for more than one night!

I'm also continuing on with my training despite the camping expedition.  I ran 12 miles yesterday morning before we left and despite being stiff from sleeping on the ground, I managed to do 5 miles today (while pushing Brooks in the stroller, on a wet, gravelly path).    I'm going to start tapering now and am looking forward to the chance to let my body recover a bit.

Most importantly, I got a surprise update on the fundraising front.   Thanks to some very generous donations, I am now at $1505.00.   That means I've met my first goal of $1000, I'm 3/4 the way to my stretch goal of $2000.00 and 1/2 way to my mustache goal of $3000.00.  With less than 2 weeks to go, I can feel the momentum and am hoping we fly past the $2000.00 mark.

And now, the thermometers!


First Goal - $1000          Stretch Goal  - $2000                Mustache Goal - $3000

As always if you want to support my run and improve the lives of many orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nepal then go to and click on the button donate now or follow this link.   You'll see "Jeff's run for healthy kids" in the purpose of gift  drop down menu. 

Thanks again for everyone's support, I really appreciate it!   (And I appreciate all the comments too!)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fundraising Update

Quick update today - With a little less than 2 weeks to go we're getting closer and closer to the 1st goal of $1000.00!   We're now at $855.00.   Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far, your generosity makes a difference.

And now, the thermometers!


First Goal - $1000          Stretch Goal  - $2000                Mustache Goal - $3000

As a reminder, if you want your donation to count toward the run (and the mustache goal), it needs to be done online by the Thursday before the race (August 8th).  

If you want to contribute to the race go to then go to and click on the button donate now or follow this link.   You'll see "Jeff's run for healthy kids" in the purpose of gift  drop down menu.  

Thanks again for everyone's support.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Next stop - Triathlon???

The last few days, I've been reading about the adventures of my friends Jim and Anne as they bike across the great state of Iowa.   For the past 41 years, a bunch of bike nuts embark on this great journey through the event known as Ragbrai (The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa).  If their blog is any indication, it sounds like they're having a great time.    Good luck Anne and Jim!

When I hear about friends training for bike races and triathlons, I often get the notion that I should train for a triathlon myself.   It's a popular thing out here in Colorado and I know tons of people that have completed them.  Still there are two main reasons why I don't compete in triathlons:

1. I can't ride a bike.

2. I can't swim.

1. I can't ride a bike. 

Ok, it's not totally true, but I am miserable on a bike.   It all began at the tender age of 10, when I fell off my bike going up my steep driveway and chipped one of my front teeth.   I grew up in a super hilly neighborhood, so I wasn't that confident on my bike to begin with.  After the fall, my confidence along with my tooth was shattered.

I never really rode a bike again until I went to Hawaii with my family.   My dad convinced me to bike down Mount Haleakala.   We woke up way before the sunrise and headed up to the top of the volcano where we watched the sun rise over the clouds.  It was pretty surreal.  Then we had to ride down the volcano on these bikes with super fat wheels and very little peddling.  Not sure that really counts as riding a bike.

My biking tribulations continued when I spent two months in Malawi.  We were scheduled to go visit a village 20 km from where we were staying.   Normally when we travelled we would all pile into these minivans and head off down the road.  The catch with this particular trip was that the only real way to get there was by bicycle because the roads were not well maintained.    I didn't want to let everyone down, so I agreed to go on the trip.     The bikes that we rented looked like they were constructed in the  50s and had super thin tires.   They would have potentially made ok road bikes, but as I mentioned earlier we were traveling on roads that were not suitable for cars or I would argue bikes.   The trails we were on would have been beautiful mountain biking trails, but we were not on mountain bikes.   I probably fell over 50 times over the course of the 20 km.   The folks that we were traveling with were super gracious, but I can only imagine what was going on in their heads.   I could blame the bike, but my partner Audra peddled gracefully and effortlessly on a bike that was nearly identical to mine.    We made it (there and back), and there were no broken bones, but it definitely didn't add to my confidence on two wheels.

So, for me to compete in a triathlon, I'm going to need to learn to ride a bike.  Maybe I can learn from my 3 year old Grayson who is already a master on his strider.

2. I can't swim. 

Again, a bit of an exaggeration.  I can definitely stay afloat in the water and have fun in the ocean or pool.  Still, my swimming form is so poor that it quickly becomes an anaerobic endeavor when I swim. After swimming one length of the pool I am already so out of breath that I have to stop and catch my breath.  If I were to swim the distance needed to compete in a triathlon, I would have to stop every 50  yards to catch my breath.  It would make traveling the 1760 yards needed to finish the swimming portion, pretty difficult and the course might be closed by the time I get to the bike.

So for me to compete in a triathlon I need to learn to bike and swim.  If I do . . . I'm sure I'll blog about it.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Goal updates and odds and ends

Our good friends Justin and Helen were in town visiting us over the last couple of days.   They have a 2 month old and it's been fun just hanging out and catching up in between crying babies.   We went for a walk to Wash Park today and probably logged in 5 miles of walking in the oven that is Denver right now.   Unfortunately I still had to run 5 miles as part of my training schedule.  It was a tough run tonight at 7:45, but I survived.  I think sticking to a training schedule in the summer is hard because of visitors and vacations.   Still, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Super babies!!

I also promised Helen (who is one of my few regulars who reads the blog, that she'd get mentioned in the blog.  Here we are in the middle of our walk around wash park.  Thanks Helen!

Not bad, for 95 degrees!

Goal update #1 - The Fundraising goal - $2000.00

We're holding steady at $710 for HealthEd Connect.   The last time I'll probably be able to check for donations is the Thursday before the race - August 8th.  So don't wait until the last minute if you want to help me reach my $3000.00 goal and force me to race in a mustache.  

If you want to donate, go to and click on the button pay now or follow this link.   You'll see "Jeff's run for healthy kids" in the purpose of gift  drop down menu.  

Thanks everyone for their support

Goal update #2 - The Time - 1 hour 40 minutes

As you could read from my blog two days ago, I still remain under my goal times for my training.  I appreciate my dad's comment that I'll be aided by parent's, my wife's and my kid's raucous cheering, but it will be an uphill battle that's for sure.   

Goal update #3 - The Bet - 

I also am running this race to try to build some cushion on my year-long bet with my brother.  My brother just got married a week and half ago and is saddled with shin splints.  I have tried to take advantage and am currently 45.1 miles ahead of him.  If he heals and runs a marathon later this year, I will need a much bigger cushion.   Is it bad I'm hoping he won't be able to run a marathon

Sorry for the random thoughts.  I hope everyone is well.  See below for some blogs to check out. 

Blogs to check out: - a blog by a friend of mine named Rachel.  She runs a lot and writes about a lot of interesting things including living in New York.    Check it out! - a blog by my friends Ann and Jim.  They're riding ragbrai - a multiday bike ride across Iowa - for their wedding anniversary.  I'll have more on ragbrai and biking tomorrow.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Results and my favorite places to run

The results are in - I finished a 15K "race" at 71 minutes and 58 seconds.   About 2 minutes off of my goal and at a pace of 7:43 minute miles.  I just wasn't able to maintain my goal pace of 7:30 the whole distance and slowed down significantly by the end.    Unfortunately, to get my goal of 1 hour 40 minutes for the half marathon, I need to average a pace of 7:38 minute miles.    And I'll have to do it for a longer distance and at a higher altitude then I ran today.   It's tempting to rethink my goal, but I think I'll stay in denial a little bit longer.   

I'm sure I looked about like this on my run today.  

I did my whole run at Wash Park today.  I've mentioned Wash Park in my blog before and I'll still maintain that it's one of the best city parks to run in that's out there.  It's a 2.5 mile loop with only 2 or 3 car entrances throughout the park, so there's no need to wait at stop lights.   It's a great place to do speed workouts because of that lack of interruption As I was running today, I thought about some of my favorite places to train in the different cities where I've lived.   

Denver - Wash Park

Great loop, two big lakes, lots of people watching, lots of fellow runners.  At 1.5 miles from my house, you'll often see me there running. 

Arlington, VA - W&OD trail

I lived in Arlington VA for a year and even trained for the Marine Corps marathon while living there.   One of my favorite trails for my long runs was the W&OD trail.    The trail begins in Alexandria and goes for over 45 miles.   The paved trail runs along the old Washington and Old Dominion Railroad line.   What I love about it is that you can run 10 miles each way and only cross a few streets.  It's super popular with cyclists and runners and it's fun to be able to run through the suburbs of DC without having to navigate the crazy traffic that comes with D. C.   

The green line is the trail

Pittsburgh, PA - Frick Park
Frick Park is this gigantic park located in the city of Pittsburgh that was donated by Henry Clay Frick to the city in the early 1900s.  Frick park has many trails to run or hike on and what I love about it is that you don't realize you're in the middle of the city when you run through Frick Park.  I remember a run after a nice big snowfall and feeling like I was running through the forests of rural PA.   We didn't live that far from Frick when I was in Pittsburgh and despite needing to scale the obnoxiously steep hill that is Shady Ave. to get there, it was always my favorite place to run.  

Kansas City - Little Blue Trace Trail
I didn't run that much while living in Kansas City.  When I do get back there and have time to run, I love to go out to the Little Blue Trace Trail.  It's a 11 mile paved trail along the Little Blue River.  It's super scenic and I've even run into people I know occasionally.

Lamoni, IA - Trestles
Not sure what the name of this running trail was, but it followed an old railroad track in an area that was lined with trees.  It ended at an old bridge that we all called the trestles.  Had some great runs with friends and this is where I began my love of running.    It looks like the bridge has now been rebuilt and the trail is now maintained.   Glad to see that others are enjoying my favorite trail for both running and walking.  

What are your favorite trails where you live?  Put em in the comment section so I can explore new running trails the next time I'm in your neck of the woods.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Big Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow's a big test.  I'm running a 15K as part of my training and I'm hoping to keep a 7:30 pace the whole time.  This means I'm hoping to finish in under 70 minutes.   If I can't do this, the chances of me meeting my goal of 1:40 is nearly impossible if I can't finish 15K in 70 minutes.    

It wouldn't be the end of the world, but it definitely is a measuring stick.   As will be the next donation update.  If I haven't hit $1000.00 yet, I'm guessing my $3000.00 mustache goal will not be likely (which would make Karyn happy).    

I'll let you know.  I'm running at 6 AM mountain time so I can go in to work after that.  Should be a busy day.  I know my five readers will be anxiously waiting at their laptops for the results of my run.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Great Shoe Debate


For the last couple of years there has been a raging debate in the running community around what's the best shoe to wear.   For many years the thought was that the best way to prevent injury was to make running shoes that had thicker soles and elevated heels which would control pronation of the foot.   Theoretically this was to reduce the impact of the foot striking the ground.   The problem was that there was no evidence to prove that adding this extra cushion helped.  It did make replacing shoes frequently a necessity, which brought in more money to shoe companies.   I've heard the advice to replace my running shoes every 300 miles (which for me can be years or 3 or 4 months depending if I'm on a running kick. )

Then came the book Born to Run and along with it a newfound craze to run as close to barefoot as possible.   
Let's all run barefoot guys!
I've read the book and I really enjoyed it.  I think it's a good read and has an interesting take on the history of running.  It's a good motivator for running if you need one.    It also makes the argument for barefoot running, or minimalist running.   The idea being that we were born without shoes, and that our bodies were made to run without shoes, so we should find shoes that replicate the barefoot experience.   This would help minimize injuries.  However, there has been little data to prove this and there have been a couple of studies which may suggest that this isn't the case.  If you want a good article that is much more articulate at describing the debate go to this website.  

The reality is that there isn't a lot of evidence that matters on either side.  A lot of studies look at biomechanical differences, which I don't care that much about.   What I always try to look for in any scientific study on humans is what is the actual impact on the person.  How many injuries are associated with each type of shoe.   It also has to be free from bias - read not paid for by a shoe company.  It looks like there may be a randomized control trial coming up that may shed some light on the subject.

So what shoe do you use?  Does it work for you?  Do you struggle with injuries?   I have converted to the minimalist shoe, but only after a prolonged break in period.  It's pretty easy to break them in when you're starting from no running at all.   The biggest issue I see with barefoot running is that people make the change too quickly and exchange one set of injuries for another.   

I really like my minimalist shoe.   The main reason is that it got me jazzed about running again and as I've mentioned previously, getting me excited about running can be challenging.   I'd love to hear form folks that run about what shoe they like to use. 

If all else fails you can try these:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Denial - Part deux

So yesterday I posted about denial and how it can help people function in the face of severe illness as well as when running.  I also mentioned that denial can cause deleterious effects.   Today I wanted to expand the conversation around denial to the issue of poverty and injustice.  

I've been extremely blessed in my life and have had access to education and other resources that have allowed me to expand my world view greatly.   These opportunities are not available to the vast majority of the world's population and while I certainly worked hard throughout my life, there are other folks who work really hard too and they will never have even have a chance to become a physician, travel to various parts of the world, run a half marathon and blog about it,  or even have the chance to grow up without the fear of violence, hunger or debilitating illness.  

This is not fair.   There are systems in place that make it impossible for children growing up in rural villages in many African and Asian countries to even have a shot at a decent education, or an improved livelihood for themselves and their families.   It's what has led to these statistics for the population in Malawi:

Life expectancy: 54
Infant Mortality Rate: 53 per 1000 live births
Maternal Mortality Rate: 680 per 100,000 live births
Adult HIV rate: 10% of all adults have HIV

Now I think if we're all honest, we respond to those extremely sobering statistics with an element of denial.  In some ways that's a good thing.   The problems are so big and so complex that without at least some denial, we would be quickly overwhelmed and paralyzed by the weight of the issues.   Some denial allows us to function in this world  and not become overwhelmed with depression.

However, too much denial can be a bad thing.   It allows us to avoid the reality of what our fellow humanity is facing.  It causes some to turn a blind eye at the least or worse become so self centered that they use their wealth and resources to serve themselves or to wield their own political or economic power over others.  

But it doesn't have to be that way.  There are so many folks out there doing work to break down the systems that lead to poverty and injustice.   And it's why I'm running to support HealthEd Connect, because I think it is at least a small way that I can help out an organization whose mission is to get at some of the systemic issues that have led to the tremendous disparity throughout the world.  

I'm super excited that we've already raised $710.00 and hopeful that I can get close to the $3000.00 stretch goal that I've set.   If you're interested in supporting HealthEd Connect please go to and click on the button pay now or follow this link.   You'll see "Jeff's run for healthy kids" in the purpose of gift  drop down menu.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Denial - it's not just a river in Egypt

"I live in a grassy hut high on the hill of denial" - patient in the hospital where I work. 

For those of you who don't know, I'm a hospice and palliative care physician.   Palliative care is a new specialty in medicine that focuses on supporting patients emotionally, spiritually, physicially and socially as they deal with advancing illness.   I see a lot of people in the hospital that are facing the last chapter of their lives or in the lives of their friends or family members.    As you can imagine, people facing terminal illness respond with varying degrees of acceptance of their prognosis.  Some respond in truly remarkable ways, with total acceptance and willingness to face the reality of their situation.   I am always in awe of those persons and wonder how they gained that level of resiliency in their lives. 

Others cope by using varying degrees of denial.  I don't think that denial in and of itself is a bad thing.   Denial allows some people to function, to take each day at a time and not get overwhelmed at the inevitability of their own mortality.   However, denial also comes with its downside.  If a person's level of denial prevents them from letting others know about their preferences for care at the end of life by avoiding completing advance directives, they run the risk of having unwanted treatments in the last days and weeks of their lives.     Even more importantly they risk not having resolution with their family members and loved ones. For example they don't get to say the four things that matter most that Ira Byock a hospice doctor talks about - Thank you, I love you, please forgive me, I forgive you.   Denial is not always a good thing.

I think runners can cope by using denial as well.   Anyone that's trained for a race has been in denial at times.   Whether it's denial about the worsening knee pain that won't go away, denial that skipping several training sessions in a row is no big deal, or that 26.2 miles really isn't that far - denial can help a person keep running.   I'm certainly in denial about a few things with this race:

1. Running at nearly 8,500 feet shouldn't be that different than 5,280.
2. I'm not slowing down as I get older
3. Even though I'm not hitting my goal times in my workouts, I can still make my goal time for my race at 3000 feet higher in altitude. 
4. Many people are reading my blog
5. I look darn good when I run

It's hard looking this good when I run . . .

See, denial helps me keep going, it helps me function.   It's what's gonna get me up in the morning tomorrow at 5:55 AM so I can run 9 - 400m repeats at 7 minute mile pace, which really means 7:20 pace, but that's not what I'm gonna tell myself.

But, denial can also be a problem.  Denial is what keeps you running when you have nagging injuries that turn into full blown overuse injuries like shin splints or plantar fasciitis.  The theory no pain, no gain doesn't always work in running.

I also think we live in a healthy state of denial about the tremendous injustice in this world . . . more to come on that tomorrow . . . tonight I better get to bed or I'll have to be in denial that lack of sleep makes it harder to run.

I shouldn't have stayed up so late blogging!

Addendum: For those of you who don't get the title of this post (ahem . . . Karyn), this illustration below will hopefully help

Monday, July 15, 2013

Back to running after a weekend of rest

I'm back on track today after a couple of days of rest.  I ran 5 miles today and felt really good.   It's funny how fresh your legs feel when you take a couple of days off.   

I needed to take a couple of days off to share in my brother Ryan's wedding.   It was tons of fun.  There was good food, good music and most importantly amazing people present to help celebrate Ryan and Christine joining forces. 

Here were a couple of highlights:

1. Rehearsal Dinner:

After a lengthy rehearsal with an extremely detailed wedding coordinator supplied by the church and a ring bearer who was filled with more than trepidation , we went to Jack Stack BBQ.  

They like to eat their pigs at Jack Stack
I fortunately had run 11 miles that morning so I was starving.   It's partly true that when you run you can eat whatever you want . . . however, I find that when I'm training for long races I usually gain weight rather than lose it.  Mentally I think I can eat anything and everything . . . physically, even a run of 11 miles burns around 1100 calories . . . which isn't anything and everything.   Regardless, I destroyed a bunch of ribs, brisket, sausage and burnt ends. . . . yum.

2. Wedding Day:
I've been in a few weddings before and even officiated at 3 . . . but this wedding wins the prize for the most challenging to coordinate.  I'm sure that had something to do with Karyn, Grayson (3.5 years old) and I being in the wedding as well as having a 14 month old who wanted to make an appearance.   With two different babysitters and some near tantrums we survived.   Special thanks to my parents for being invaluable and our two babysitters for helping two small children get to sleep in a hotel room.  

The ceremony was beautiful and really well officiated.  I thought the minister had some great things to say about marriage that avoided many of the cliches and traditional images that had been the norm in a patriarchal society where the man is considered the head of the household.   Definitely a good spirit about the service . . .

AND Grayson made it down the aisle as a ring bearer.  He looked great and chose to walk down the aisle holding his mom's hand.  Both looked great and if I can get a picture I'll post it.  (Do you think we had time to take good pictures and run after two little boys in suits?)

The reception was tons of fun, they had a great band and my toast went off reasonably well:

Something I said, must have made them laugh . . . either that or there was food poisoning.  

3. Sunday brunch - We had Sunday Brunch at Lydia's in downtown KC.  Having spent most of my formative years in the suburbs of KC and then essentially moving away at 18, I am always surprised by the many things that Kansas City has to offer.  I feel like sometime soon we need to spend a week exploring Kansas City.  Lydia's was some great Italian food.  We all left full.


4. The return home - After lunch, battling food comas - We set out for Denver.   We've made this drive across Kansas a few times in the last few months.  It's 10 hours for us to do it and the boys do great.   Karyn and I were so tired that we barely made it.   But we did.  Everyone slept well last night.  This morning I learned that we've already raised $710.00 for HealthEd Connect so that definitely made my day!

And this morning we discovered what happens when you forget to pick your zucchini before a vacation:

Great Weekend and I hope Ryan and Christine are having a good honeymoon and that Ryan doesn't run at all!

Fundraising update!

I know everyone's been waiting on the edge of their seats . . . waiting for me to update the fundraising thermometer. . . so I'm here to tell you, Dad, the waiting is over.    The donation report is run every Thursday and it looks like HealthEd Connect has received $710.00 so far!  I'm so lucky to have such generous friends and family.   Thank you so much - the community health workers, their communities and the kids will benefit greatly from your generosity.  

And now, here they are, the fundraising thermometers:


First Goal - $1000          Stretch Goal  - $2000                Mustache Goal - $3000

So as you can see. . . we're well on our way to meeting my first Goal of $1000.00 and there's still four more weeks to go.  So if you want to make the red move up the first, second, or third thermometer and maybe even help get me mustached, then go to and click on the button pay now or follow this link.   You'll see "Jeff's run for healthy kids" in the purpose of gift  drop down menu.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Notes from the Road

I'm in Kansas City getting ready for my brother's wedding tomorrow.  I just have a few thoughts and notes from the Road.

1. Running away from home is tough -  It's hard to stay on a training program when you're traveling.  Challenges are many: finding a good place to run, finding the time to run, remembering all of your running gear, etc.   I unfortunately made it all the way out to Kansas City and had forgotten my trusty Garmin GPS runner.  Since I don't have a smart phone to help me know how far I've gone or a regular watch, this made doing a speed workout a bit challenging.  Fortunately, I was able to borrow my dad's digital watch for one day and my brother's garmin the next.  

2. Missouri is much more humid than Denver - I forget what it's like to step out of the house and immediately start sweating.   This definitely impacts runs and it's why I think it is much easier to run in the middle of a hot summer day in Denver than in a city like Kansas City or Houston.  

3. Missouri is a lot lower in elevation than Denver - It's obvious, but elevation makes a pretty big difference.   I ran in Blue Springs this morning, elevation 974 feet which has substantially more oxygen than Denver, elevation 5280 feet.

4. Results - I ran 5 miles yesterday at a pretty good pace (based on my dad's stopwatch and google pedometer).   I ran 11 miles today on the little blue trace trail, which is a great trail to run on in Independence and I even saw a mama and baby deer along the trail.  I'm now 17 miles ahead of Ryan on my year long bet.  I actually felt pretty good during the runs, despite my sleep deprivation.  It may have something to do with the extra oxygen in the air.

5. You never know who you'll run into on your runs away from home - At mile 9, I ran across Ken McLaughlin and Danny Belrose who were on their walk the other way.  If you've never seen Ken's numerous posts on facebook, I suggest you check them out.  No guarantee that you'll be smarter afterwards, but you will probably be entertained.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bet update!

It's official . . . I have pulled ahead of my brother in the 2013 Manuel year long running bet.  (I need to come up with a better title.   I am officially 1.3 miles ahead of my brother.   This may not last long, so I thought I'd commemorate it   

That is all.

Movies that motivate

Had another tough run this morning.   Had to get up at 5:50 in order to get to work on time.   My legs were definitely stiff.

So as I ran today I thought about some of the movies that motivate me and I thought I'd share some clips.  Feel free to add any that motivate you in the comment section.

1.  Hoosiers - This was my go to movie in high school and college.  I would always watch it before volleyball tryouts or a big tournament.  It doesn't get much better than this final scene.

 I'll make it.

I know what you're thinking . . . why would you watch a basketball movie to get motivated to play volleyball?  Have you seen the volleyball scenes?  RIDICULOUS!

Clearly this scene is not about the volleyball. . . and clearly the only time anyone looks like they know what they're doing is when they pan out to the fill-ins.

2.  Karate Kid - I grew up watching this movie.  Who didn't practice the crane kick as a little kid.  

Of course with any sports movie, the most motivating part is the sports montage!   

3.  Say Anything - I know what you're thinking . . . Say Anything???? How is that a motivator.   In college . . . a friend of mine, who will remain nameless for now, would always ask to watch this movie with me when he was about to ask someone out on a date.    Maybe I'll bust out my boombox and serenade Karyn one of these nights.  

In your eyes!

Send me the movies that motivate you.  I'll make a follow up blog with clips from your movies if I get enough.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Motivation: negative negative reinforcement

It's been a couple of tough training days.    I've felt a bit off.  This is partly due to some lingering stomach queasiness and having too much to do and not enough time to do it.   I was up until midnight last night putting the finishing (and starting) touches on the sermon I gave today.  Then I woke up at 6 AM to run 10 of the most difficult miles of my training thus far.  My legs just felt super tired and stiff the whole time.   Then I preached at our Greenwood congregation and am now praying that the kids fall asleep so I can get a quick nap in before I jump into our gigantic to do list, all of which needs to be completed before we head to KC on Wednesday for my brother's wedding.

In busy times it's so easy to skip a run or two.  And usually for me, one or two equals three, four, five, etc.  It's important to find some way to stay motivated.

Finding the motivation to change can be difficult and we medical professionals spend a ton of time trying to convince people to change negative health habits.   I was listening to a great story a couple of months ago on NPR on a new way to think about helping us keep true to the changes we are trying to make.  (If I were a good blogger, I would link to the archived story, but I wasn't able to find it - just don't tell google!)    So as I am needing an extra surge of motivation, I thought I'd share it with you.

Negative Negative reinforcement - and no that doesn't make it positive reinforcement!

Unfortunately, this is my life right now!

The premise is this

1. Figure out what habit you really want to break - start running, stop smoking, decrease caloric intake, stop swearing, etc.  

2. Come up with your goal - quit smoking entirely, run five days a week, quit eating desert, only say 2 swear words a day, etc.

3. Determine a motivating amount of money to put in a jar each time you slip up - this needs to be enough to be painful, but not too much that you go bankrupt

4. Choose a charity that you are fundamentally opposed to their mission (I'm tempted to give examples of charities but will withhold to hopefully avoid a bunch of negative comments in the comment section)

5. Each month donate the money in the jar to the charity that you depise

That's it!

If you stick to this formula, you will change your habits in no time.  I guarantee it.

For anyone that wants to comment and share about one of the habits they're trying to change and how it's going, feel free to do so.

Sermon I gave today: Humble Yourself

After my ten mile run this morning, I preached at our Greenwood Congregation here in Denver.   I always like the opportunity to reflect on a scripture and usually end up coming up with a sermon that is as much for me as anyone.   I'll post it below, if anyone wants to read it.

I also included a shoutout to Mister Rogers in my sermon.  Here's the video I referenced in my talk:

And here's my sermon.  It's meant to be read aloud so the grammar isn't perfect.  Sorry Karyn!

Humble Yourself

What does it mean to "humble yourself"?   As I was preparing for today's theme, I began thinking about times that I've been humbled.  My first thought was about some of my most embarrassing moments . . . like the time I threw up all over the kid in front of me in our second grade musical performance . . . or the night before my first marathon when I became nervous and a little overzealous in my attempts to carbo-load and ate way too much spaghetti.   It's clear that a nervous stomach and too much pasta can only lead to something bad and my friend's parent’s front yard took the brunt of that mistake.    As I thought about these humbling moments,  I realized that most of my embarrassing moments centered around throwing up.   As I reflected further I was pretty sure that today's theme was not asking us to all to embarrass ourselves . . . So I went in a different direction and looked up the definition of humble to help me in my preparation  . . . but didn't get much further so instead I think we should look at today's scripture for some further clues.  Today's scripture comes from 2 Kings 5:1-14 and as is often true when I preach, the scripture centers around healing.  It's also a story where many of the characters are humbled either by choice or because of life circumstances.   

The story begins with Naaman, one of King Aram's top commanders in the Syrian Army.  He had led King Aram's army to victory in numerous battles and with his success had come great power and riches in his own right.  Naaman was living well.   He had his own land.  He had a beautiful wife and many slaves and servants.   But he had one problem.   He had begun noticing some changes in his skin.  I'm sure like many of us, he initially ignored them.   It's nothing . . . maybe I brushed up against a tree branch . . . or was in the sun too long.  It'll go away.  But It didn't go away and as his affliction spread . . . he realized that he had contracted leprosy, one of the most socially ostracizing and physically disfiguring diseases of his time.  It's clear what an impact leprosy had on people of ancient times as it keeps showing up over and over in many stories from the Bible.  Here's a man at the top of his power, who has contracted an illness that could push him to the margins of society in many cultures.  Fortunately, in Syria this was not the custom, still it obviously affected him greatly.      If there's one thing in this world that is the great equalizer, it is disease and illness.   Contrary to what some people think . . . there are diseases that will devastate the body no matter how much money, resources, or connections a person has.    All of us are susceptible to illness and unlike what we see on TV . . . we don't always find the cure.       

But this story is not just about Naaman.   It's also the story of a servant girl from Israel.  She had been abducted in one of Naaman's raids and was now forced to live a life of slave labor as the servant of Naaman's wife.   She had been hearing the story of how her master was struggling with Leprosy.   She saw this as an opportunity to share the story of the God of Israel and God's power to heal.   She knew of a prophet who had the ability to heal leprosy and she shared this information with her master.  Naaman, hearing the chance to possibly be cured, told king Aram.  But Aram and Naaman didn't fully listen to the story and assumed that the power to heal rested in the hands of the King of Israel.     Since King Aram wanted to help his most trusted military commander, he wrote a letter to the king of Israel.    He also sent lots of silver, gold and fine clothes as surely the task of healing requires some monetary compensation as well.  

So Naaman and his entourage visited the King of Israel with a letter that said "when this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”   You can imagine the king's surprise upon receiving this letter.  I’m guessing he freaked out because though he was the king, he didn’t have the power to heal.   He acknowledged his limits by saying “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”  The King of Israel's first thought was that Aram, a rival leader who had clashed with Israel before, was trying to pick a fight with him and was asking him to do something impossible so that when he failed he would have an excuse to go to war.  He was so dismayed that he tore his clothes.  

Elisha, the prophet the girl was talking about, heard about this clothes tearing business and let the king know that he shouldn't be worried.   Elisha could heal this man and this would help Namaan learn about the power of the God of Israel.   

The king sends Naaman to Elisha's house.   Naaman with his huge entourage and his gold and silver, showed up at Elisha's simple dwelling.  Who knows what was running through Naaman's mind at this point.   He probably felt that he was being led on a wild goose chase and how could this simple man possibly heal him?  He never should have listened to that slave girl.  

As he waited outside, a messenger arrived.  He brought a message from Elisha that said  “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.”   Now you can imagine someone of Naaman's stature being a little annoyed that he wasn't properly greeted by this Elisha character.   Here he had travelled many miles to come see this man to be healed and he didn't even have the decency to come out to greet him.  He also thought that he would give him some complicated ritual to cleanse his body, and all he was asked to do was bathe in the Joran river.    He knew of far better rivers in his home country that would be more suitable to clean a person of his importance.   Yet here he was, being told to go to the Jordan river.   He was so mad that he left Elisha's house in disgust.   

Then one of his servants came up to him and told him that he was being ridiculous and letting his pride get the best of him.   He pointed out that before they had traveled to Israel, Naaman had been willing to try exotic treatments for his leprosy.  So why was he refusing the simple command to wash and be clean?  Naaman thought about this for awhile and then he had a change of heart.  The scripture ends by saying "So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean."

The story continues on, however, and Naaman, being completely transformed by this healing experience, returns to Elisha and confesses his belief in the  power and grace of God.   He wants to give Elisha some token of his appreciation but Elisha refuses, telling him to go in peace.  

In this brief story, we can learn a lot about what it means to humble oneself.   Each of these characters struggled with humility.  Obviously the main character Naaman was humbled by his disease.  The illness was not his choice . . . however, as sometimes happens in the ups and downs of life . . .when we are humbled by life circumstances . . . we open ourselves up to be humble to others and to become more aware of God’s presence in our lives.   It must have taken a lot of pride swallowing and desperation for self-important Naaman to listen to the advice of a lowly female servant.   Part of humbling yourself is being open to the perspectives and views of others, even if they don't seem to have as much importance or "value" as you do.   It is truly believing that the spirit of God dwells in all of us and that we need to be open to that spirit through our own humility.    There was healing and restoration to be had, but Namaan first needed to give up his pride and listen to a young servant woman.    Admitting we don't have all the answers can be painful . . . but if we humbly admit our shortcomings . . . we will become much more aware of God's nudgings in our life.   

We learn more about humility through the intriguing young servant girl.   She is similar to many characters in the Old Testament who keep their faith despite the tremendous hardship they experience through being exiled from their homeland.   This young girl is away from her family, working for the wife of her captor.   A tremendously humbling situation, again not of her choosing.   But she's very important to this lesson on humility.   You see . . . being humble doesn't always mean being meek and passive.   This is something I need to remind myself of often.   Just because we are humble and open to different perspectives and God’s presence in our lives and the lives of others, doesn't mean that we should sit idly be and watch injustice occur.   

For this young girl had a strong belief in the one true God of Israel.   She believed that the healing, restorative power that comes from faith in God was so powerful that she couldn't be quiet when she saw an opportunity for this healing.   I'm sure she took many risks by speaking up . . . as she was in no position of power and could be cast aside for no good reason whatsoever.  Yet she did speak up . . . as did Namaan's other servants at the end of the story.  . .and in so doing Namaan was healed and God's blessings flowed.   This story gives me hope that no matter how humbling our circumstances may be, God can use each of us to help bring God’s healing love, reconciliation and restorative justice to a world in desperate need of it.  

As I thought about different humble people that I know, I couldn't help but think of one of my personal heroes Mr. Rogers.   I can't remember if I've shared my admiration . . . or what some may call obsession . . .  of Fred Rogers with this congregation before, but I'm going to do it again.   As most of you know, I went to medical school in Pittsburgh which was the home of Mr. Rogers.   I actually lived in Mister Rogers' neighborhood!   I had always been amazed at the wisdom of Fred Rogers and his focus on making children feel special.  I was in Pittsburgh when Fred Rogers was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died shortly thereafter.   

After his death, there were numerous TV specials and tributes were I learned more about the man behind the puppets.  Fred Rogers was a man who worked tirelessly as an advocate for children and to make television more educational and less mind numbing for kids.   He had attended theology school and his Christian faith led him to live a life of humility.   Here he was. . . a famous TV personality who could have used that fame for his own good fortune.  Yet he chose not to.  He turned down multiple lucrative offers to take his show to broadcast TV and make lots more money.  He chose not to make any endorsements.    He could be seen at the community swimming pool doing laps every morning . . . or driving around town in his well worn car.   He always flew coach and always . . . always had time for children.    His humility was even evidenced as he sought treatment for his cancer. . . Always the teacher, he did what many celebrities would not even think of doing . . . he allowed physicians in training to participate in his care by allowing medical students and residents to see him while he was in the hospital and at his most vulnerable.  

Yet, Mister Rogers was not meek . . . nor did he stand by passively when he felt the need to speak out for something.   There is a wonderful video of his testimony at a congressional hearing in the late 60s, when PBS funding was going to be cut.   Here he was, a relatively unknown TV show host for children speaking, in front of many self-important politicians asking for money for PBS.   In this video (you should watch it on youtube) he calmly but firmly explained the need for thoughtful programming for children that taught them the importance of understanding their feelings and that each child is special by just being themselves.   In his unnassuming voice, mister rogers had the congressmen eating out of the palm of his hand by the end of his testimony . . . and the funding was renewed.   His humility and respectful approach to an issue he felt passionate about . . . was way more powerful than what often happens in today's politics.  I wonder what would happen if some of our current leaders and tv and radio personalities exhibited just a little bit of humility.   

So humbling ourselves means that we put aside the prideful notion that we as individuals have all the answers and be open to the spirit moving in all of us.   But it doesn't mean that we need to be passive and meek.  Instead we need to speak up when we see injustice or have an opportunity to share God's love and grace with others.  

As the story ends, Namaan is a changed person.  It took him awhile to cast aside his pride as he fought hard against being humble and listening to this random prophet in a foreign land.  But when he did, his life was transformed.   When we truly humble ourselves, our lives are stripped of the protective barriers that pride puts up.  We become vulnerable and we become open to the transformative change that comes from being in the presence of God.  

The most humbling experience of my life came during my fourth year in medical school when i spent a month working in the capital city of Malawi.  Prior to medschool, I had spent two months living in Malawi as a World Service Corps volunteer.   I was so excited to go back to Malawi both to see some of the friends that I made and to use some of the skills that I had spent the last 4 years working hard to hone.   Despite the warnings from my faculty sponsor (and my own previous experience), I was sure that there was something I could offer the patients in the hospital and that by being there I would make a significant difference.   You see I was trained in one of the best medical schools in the United States that is home to some of the best medical care in the world.   Certainly I'd be able to teach some of the hospital staff a few things.

That perspective changed the first day I set foot on the pediatric ward.   The 300 sick children in one large room was hard enough to see.   There were three to four children to a crib, with their mothers huddled over them.  Most of the kids were malnourished, many afflicted with AIDS, malaria or both.  As we were getting ready to start rounds, I heard the nurse say that there was supposed to be five nurses on duty the night before, but two had just moved to the UK for better jobs and the other two were sick, so she was the only nurse that night to care for 300 children.   There had been 8 deaths overnight because of the short staffing.  There wasn't a chance for this to sink in before we were off to rounds.   
We started on the new admissions and the first child I saw was 2 but looked the size of a 9 month old.   She was breathing fast and using every muscle in her chest to try to breath.  I felt her pulse and it was 190.   I listened to her lungs and they were full of wheezes.   I began urgently talking to the medical assistant who was with me.   I rattled off a dozen orders that this baby needed right now.   I asked about oxygen . . . about nebulized albuterol . . . about powerful antibiotics . . . about IV fluids . . . and about what this child needed most -a ventilator, life support.   The medical assistant gave me a knowing look and showed me the orders written on this little girl's chart.  This medical assistant with only one year of training knew exactly what the girl needed and had ordered all the things I mentioned last night. . . but none of these things were available and with only one nurse for 300 children, only 3 oxygen stations that were already in use and only penicillin and chloramphenicol for antibiotics -  this child would not survive.  We wrote a few notes in the chart and moved on to the next child in the same crib.   

Two minutes later, I heard a shriek and then sobbing.  I turned to look in the direction of the shriek and the mother of the child we just examined was bent over her daughter.  I looked down and the little girl was no longer breathing.   I remember feeling a flood of emotion at that moment.   Tremendous sadness at the loss of life . . . tremendous helplessness that there was nothing I could do about it . . . tremendous anger at a system that allowed such horrible injustice.    Here i was equipped with tremendous education . . . and there was nothing I could do to save that child.   This was the first and only time I've examined a child that was deathly ill and was unable to do anything at all because there were no resources.   I felt powerless . . . I was humbled. . . and it changed me.    Like Namaan, my humbling experience changed my outlook on the world and my relationship with God.   I now want to understand all the factors that contributed to the death of that child and countless others like her in the developing world.   I now support organizations and people that are working tirelessly to get to the root of the problems facing the developing world and how to help support sustainable solutions to those problems.   I support the church's mission to abolish poverty and end suffering.   And I also remain humble enough to admit that I'm definitely not perfect and that I often fall short in working to accomplish that mission.  There's so much more that I could be doing to fight against injustice and I often come up with excuses. . . some more worthy than others.   Yet . . . Despite my shortcomings . . . despite all of our shortcomings . . .God continues to use us and calls us to bring about God's blessings to the world.  What a powerful and humbling promise!

We have an opportunity today to humble ourselves as we participate in the sacrament of communion.   In communion we all come to the Lord's Table . . . stripped of our status and privilege  . . . checking our pride at the door . . . because all of us are invited to share in the love, healing and reconciliation that comes through Christ no matter where we’ve come from, or what we've done or haven't done.   We all come to the table as equals in the eye's of God and by coming to the table, it is my hope and prayer that we are transformed and out of us God's blessings flow.   Let us share together at the table.