Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Buried Treasures

The earth yielded up its treasures readily on Father's Day, for some reason. I was weeding a long-neglected garden in my yard on Sunday, yanking out unwanted growth by the fistfuls, when I saw the first object lying half-buried.

Glittering in the freshly-exposed dirt like fool's gold was a medium-sized yellow Leggo block. I pulled it out and set it aside, a relic from the days long ago when my yard rang with the happy cries of three boys at play, long before the divorce wars started and the permanent estrangement from them all ensued.

Next to be encountered was a toy soldier lying on his back embedded in the earth. This would be the playground of my middle son, I smilingly mused, the only one of my three sons that used to actively set up battle lines with opposing armies of toy soldiers.

Last up was a pint-sized green plastic toy grenade that I could easily enclose in my hand. I imagined Johnny's chubby little boy's fist holding it, looking for the best spot to toss it into the enemy camp.

Memories. Treasures.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Four Miles in Forty Minutes

A local running store, Pacers, puts on a series of road races throughout the DC region, and they were sponsoring a 4-mile Dad's Day race in South Arlington this morning. It started and ended at the old Gotta Run store I used to use as the home base for the training programs I formerly conducted for my former running club. I love running down there, by the Pentagon.

I wanted to run the race, although I knew I wouldn't have a good time given my overweight condition and lack of a base. An hour before the start it was threatening to rain and since nobody I knew was going to be there, I decided to run a virtual 4-miler on the W&OD Trail behind my house instead and save the entry fee.

The trail is mostly flat and has half-mile markers, so it's easy to keep track of your time. I walked out my door and within a minute and a half was at mile marker 7.

I punched my Timex Ironman and ran east to mile marker 6 in 9:36. The morning was overcast and deceptively humid. Turning around and running westbound, I was passed by a runner and I passed another runner. Just like a race! my mind enthused to my tiring body.

I passed mile marker 7 at 19:45, halfway through the "race." I seriously considered making this a 2-mile race instead as I looked longingly at the back of my house when I passed it (coffee inside! food! McDonald coupons!)

However I soldiered on, slowing considerably. I arrived at mile marker 8 and turned around at 31:58, an ugly mile but now three quarters done. It had started raining and I was drenched.

As I shuffled my way back eastbound, I mused about my coaching days. Oftentimes when I encountered a runner plodding along in a fatigued rut, I would suggest varying the pace to break the painful mental monotony the runner's tiredness had induced. Speed it up a little, in other words, because it's rejuvenating plus you "get there" sooner.

I picked it up and felt better. The last mile was my best mile except for the first mile.

I diverted from the trail half a mile from mile marker 7, onto residential streets so I could finish the "race" right at my house. My watch showed 38 minutes and change with three blocks to go. I ran faster. Turnover! my mind told my body.

Silly delineations matter to runners. I certainly wanted to break 40 minutes for the "race."

I was closely monitoring my watch as my house came into view. I stepped onto the sidewalk of the block my house is on and punched my Ironman. 39:59:51. Made it!

Who could say that just because I hadn't reached my driveway yet that the 4-mile point wasn't somewhere on that block. I'm putting this sub-40 virtual 4-miler into the books.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dad's Day

Tomorrow is Father's Day. Although I have three sons, it's not much of a day for me since they are all estranged from me due to their Mother's active overbearing of their wills (Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS) when they were minors during a nuclear divorce and they haven't spoken with me in years.

Those four took every cent in court-ordered child support though, even as they were active scofflaws in ignoring the visitation and joint-custody orders for years. Court orders only applied to me, see.

I have moved on and put them out of my heart, although not out of my mind, through forgiveness, which I actively work on through my faith as practiced at the Falls Church--Episcopal congregation. It's been a return to church for me after decades of absence, even as I leave my fatherhood behind due to being deprived of my children through the actions of the alienating parent (some people consider PAS to be a form of child abuse).

Nobody knows or cares about this scourge upon Western society except those to whom it has happened (mostly fathers), and then it is like your children died and you are thereby grievously deprived of the rest of your normal, humdrum life. Research indicates that the afflicted children (victims) tend to develop a lifelong inability to form close relationships and are frequently emotionally unstable.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You Can Start Next Week

A Memorial Day twenty-minute 3K race time while in recovery mode after surgery is fine, but I want to get back to running! I laid off any further running til the following Monday when I ran 2 1/2 miles around the Capitol at noon with a co-worker L, at a sedentary 12-minute pace. Still in recovery mode, you know?

Tuesday we went 3 miles around Capitol Hill at a 10-minute pace with a brief pause to listen to comments Senator Barbara Boxer made to a professional nursing association assembled in a nearby park, about keeping the government's hands off our Medicare as we know it (think Paul Ryan's impoverishing Vouchercare). Only in DC can a casual noontime jog be so elucidating.

Oppressive heat enveloped DC on Wednesday when 99 degree heat settled in accompanied by humidity. I just had to run in such a challenging environment so at noon I ran 2 1/2 miles around the Capitol at a 9-minute pace before I left work early to keep a 2-week post-op appointment with the operating surgeon. That run felt great!

The doc examined the incision on my stomach, said it was healing nicely and gave me the okay to start running again in another week. I celebrated my imminent return to running by running 5K in 102 degree heat with L the next day and 3.2 miles in 99 degree humidity at lunchtime today. I gotta be honest though, I had to walk in the last mile each day because, apparently, I'm not enough used to such brutal running conditions yet. But I hope I'll get there real soon.