Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt

I’m all in favor of Easter egg hunts where robins are shaking off the last bit of winter and little ones eagerly await the gathering of those colorful plastic eggs with a miniature surprise inside. But let’s be very clear on something; just because the calendar says its spring time, does not mean one can show up at the local Easter egg hunt in a sun dress and flip flops. Have you any idea what the weather is like in Nebraska in April? But no-sir-eee, a mere 30 mile an hour wind and runny noses aren’t keeping us from trekking out in the cold.

We’d decided to just stay in the car for a few minutes before subjecting ourselves to the cold temperatures. After all, we could SEE the starting line so we easily jump out and sprint if need be. But a 5 year old who knows that the egg hunt starts at 1:00 and sees that the clock now says 12:51 was having no part of staying in the car one second more! So…we don our winter parkas, our Nebraska stocking caps and brave the outdoors. After sitting in the cold wind for nearly two minutes the 3 year old says, “This is taking forever!” 

Of course I’d left the house this morning without a coat (what’s new?) so I was extremely glad when I remembered my ‘survival bag’ in my trunk which contains a double layer winter coat! Note to self: add a stocking cap to survival bag. 

Dear daughter hadn’t brought a coat either so she ran back to the car to get a blanket to wrap around herself. Initially she was concerned about looking silly but that thought lasted a mere second once the cold set in. Upon seeing a blanket, the three year old became his mommy’s best buddy as he cuddled up close for extra warmth.

Standing next to us was a grandpa who went to wipe his dear granddaughter’s nose at which point the kleenex blew out of his pocket. Darling little granddaughter tries chasing it down, grandpa chases after granddaughter and he runs her over trying to get said kleenex, which results in little girl crashing on the sidewalk. All the while the grandpa is rushing her back to the starting line so she doesn’t miss out on a precious piece of chocolate candy. The tears in her eyes were a sure sign she was not having too much fun right about then.

Meanwhile my own grown daughter is laughing at the entire situation! I swear, I do not know where they get that! Both my girls think it’s hilarious when people fall down and crash! (In all fairness, I think they get it from their father.)

It’s almost start time. “When you hear that whistle, you GO GO GO we tell two preschool boys.  “Oh, and don’t take candy from the really little kids,” my daughter adds.  The whistle sounds…. The hunt is on! The 5 year old is on a mad run across the grass shoveling in as many eggs as his little pink fingers will allow. The 3 year old picks up about ten eggs and proceeds to say that he is done; he doesn’t want any more eggs. It’s classic to say the least. 
On your mark...Get set.... GO!

In a blink it was over. This is one event you definitely want to be on time for. My daughter looked at her watch and laughed. It took two minutes. The things we’ll do for chocolate! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

National Library Week - April 13-19 2014

Librarians have a  powerful and  positive impact on parents, writers, students and readers every single day
National Library Week is the perfect time to visit your community's library and be a part of the wonderful environment of books. 

Take a group of FRIENDS  to the library to check out the newest mystery authors.

Take your Grandchildren to the picture book section and check out the book "Tuesday". Every child's imagination tells the story differently.

Celebrate by curling up on the floor with your favorite book. 

Attend  children's story hour and interact with the puppets as you listen to Peter Rabbit scurry through Mr. McGregor's garden.

 Surprise someone with a wonderful book of poetry. Shel Silverstein will definitely make you smile.


A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded.”
Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Count down

18 days

Having never traveled internationally, I'm doing a fair share of research on-line about the dos and don't of travel in Italy. Some of the things I'm finding are interesting to say the least. I'm anxious to see how many things I've read turn out to be true in our own travel experience.

 Tip #1 ~ Don't sit down in an Italian cafe. No, really don't. Why? Because as soon as you sit down rather than stand at the bar, the price of whatever you eat or drink will double.

Tip #2 ~ Touching the produce, such as fruits and vegetables, is considered very rude in Italy. The shopper must never handle the produce unless given permission by the shop owner. Most people visiting Italy find this out the hard way. 

I'm looking forward to shopping at the outdoor street markets for lunch time picnics or creating meals for ourselves while we're there.
I just hope we remember to ask for help before picking up a piece of produce to test it's freshness. If not, I may have a story to tell later. :)
And after walking around all day long, I will gladly pay whatever it takes to sit at a table to eat my meal. :)

** I didn't know ..... Italy is only slightly larger than the state of Arizona**

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Count Down

The count down has officially begun!!!

I've always been fascinated by other cultures - the history, the foods, the people, every aspect of it.
In 24 days our two daughters, my sister and I will be on our way to Italy. Yes Italy!! I can barely believe it. I'm incredibly excited to absorb the sounds and smells and visuals of our first city, Venice. I've researched the city, I've read blogs, I've followed forums, I've asked questions and I've seen pictures of the scenery but when I find myself standing along the canals of a city built on the water..... it will be difficult to find the words to describe it. 

Throughout the 'planning' process there have been many laughs from the messages sent back and forth between the four of us. My youngest daughter, J, is nervous. Actually, there for a while I didn't think she was going to go with us on this trip. She is very anxious about leaving the United States and initially she said she just couldn't bring herself to do it. But she's going and I'm so glad she is. One this is for sure, she won't be wandering off on her own, she'll be clinging tightly to one of us at all times. 
We've rented apartments in each city which is also a topic of discussion for daughters, J and K. "Haven't you seen the movie Taken?" they asked??????!!!!???  Oh goodness, it's going to be interesting. :)

*****Things to know about Italy*****
In public restrooms, toilet paper is a rarity, so always keep a travel pack of Kleenex in your purse! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fair Warning - This Will Be A RANT

I wrote this post a few weeks ago and didn't get it posted to my blog until now. After this evening I thought it was the perfect time. 

As we visited the children’s museum the other day I could not help but notice all the people on their cell phones! The vast majority of them were texting.There were SO many parents who had young children there playing and yet the parents were on their phones! There was very little interaction with the children. Yes, I realize it's a museum designed for children but there are so many great opportunities for fun and teaching and imagination moments in this museum. How sad that so many of the parents missed out on those special moments with their kids. 

During that same weekend we attended several basketball games. At half time of one game I went to the bathroom and upon returning I looked down on the crowd as I was walking back to my seat and again couldn’t help but notice all the people hunched over their phones! Heads down, fingers texting an obviously extrememly important message. **insert sarcasm here**

Today, after church, we went out for lunch and sat across from a table consisting of mom, teenage daughter and young son, maybe twelve years old. There was no interaction. I mean NO interaction. Each person at that table had their own phone and each was enthralled with the phone and not the people at the table. At one point I heard talking and thought they had finally begun a conversation but when I looked, the mom was talking to someone on her phone! So there they were – mom talking to someone on her phone, sitting across from her daughter and next to her son and yet no one was talking to each other! Literally. What in the world is happening to the ability to just talk to people? We're losing the basic art of conversation. Not to mention the basic art of family time.

After my grandson's soccer game tonight we stopped by the playground for a few minutes before heading to the car. There was a little girl, approximately 5 years old, going down the slide head first and on her back. At the bottom of the slide she couldn't get herself turned around so she was 'holding up traffic' as the other kids came down. The adult that was with her (I later found out it was her mother), was hollering at her to get off because there were kids coming down. The little girl was doing her best but needed some help. The adult said she couldn't help her much because she only had one arm to help with. Her arm that was "unable" to help her CHILD was holding a Cell Phone! Yep!  When the adult said she only had one arm to help the little girl hollered, "Then put down your stupid phone!" Mom answered, "No. You get to play so I'm playing. You're at the playground and this is my playground.", as she proceeded to continue to text. Myself, my daughter, grandsons along with a few other people at the playground were very close by, obviously close enough to hear this entire conversation. Sadly, this didn't concern this mother one bit. Grrrrr. Now seriously, who in the world could she have been texting that was more important than spending a few minutes of playtime with her own daughter???

I realize that people use their phones to communicate with family/work/friends but it has become much more than that. People have their cell phones attached to their ears or have their eyes glued to the screen afraid they may miss a text. Is it really worth it? If it’s not a true emergency do you really need to answer your phone? Let them leave a message. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy the moment you’re in when your eyes are on the phone, waiting for someone to call or text you.  

I remember the day I dropped my phone in the toilet. True story. I panicked. I had no way to communicate with the outside world! Oh gosh, was the phone store open today? Surely it was! I would call to see what their hours are but wait....I have no phone! I’m completely shut off from civilization! I jump in my car and drive the 30 miles to get a new phone. Please let the store be open… please let the store by open. As I pull up to the store I see an “Open” sign and a weight is lifted off my chest. I can breathe easier now. I’ll have a new phone soon. This new phone will clearly make my life better. I can post directly to facebook now right? I can tell the world that I’m eating ice cream at the Life Is Good cafe as I’m sitting on the red chair facing the window. I can answer any question that comes to mind by googling it instantly. Need the definition of a word? Just a minute, I'll google it. I will become infinitely smarter. I will now be a true member of the elite smart phone family.

When did I realize there was a problem?

Maybe it was when I began taking my phone to the bathroom with me because I might miss a call while I was pottying. 

Maybe it was when I found my husband had fallen asleep while checking emails; the phone clenched tightly in his hand, him snoring.

Perhaps it was when I find myself thinking I heard the sound of a text coming through and I rush to the kitchen to see who sent it. 

Or maybe it was when I went to town and actually forgot to take my phone and I felt a bit of a panic come over me. I even thought about turning around and getting my phone just in case I needed it. 

Or when I wake up in the morning and immediately check my phone to see who posted what on facebook; in the middle of the night.

Or when I was stopped at a red light and checked to see if I’d gotten a text since I left the store five minutes ago. 

Or when I’m reading the news on my computer and have my phone right beside me in case it rings.

And then -- when I realized I was checking my phone before reading my Bible.

This imaginary fallacy that this little box will change my life. How is it helping me be a better person? A better wife? A better mom? A better grandma?  To create a deeper love for Christ?

 As handy as it is to text my kids, I want to actually hear their voices. I love their voices. I enjoy talking to them.

Communication, verbal eye to eye human communication is becoming a lost art. One which I hope we can all try to practice more; especially with our families. 

*******Thought for the day ********

The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
Joseph Priestley

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring time in Nebraska - gotta love it!

24 degrees and snowing = soup!  At our house soup is welcomed anytime but especially today. And my favorite kind of soup is when I rummage through the fridge and freezer to see what I can find and throw it all in a pot.

I started with some chicken stock, chopped up half an onion, two carrots, a potato, a bit of broccoli left over in the fridge, and a garlic clove. Behind the ice cream I found a little bit of frozen chicken (which I had completely forgotten about), corn, peas and a few herbs from last year's garden (parsley, rosemary, thyme, and basil). ** If you're old, you might be thinking of Simon and Garfunkel right now**

 Within 15 minutes I had a hearty pot of soup on the stove. As I'm stirring up this colorful pot of deliciousness there seemed to be something missing..... tomatoes!!! Thankfully we still have plenty of our canned tomatoes so I dumped a jar in. "Dumped" is a very technical culinary term you know. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Half Marathon of Doom

This is for anyone who has or wants to run a half marathon. It will make you smile. Run Strong My Friends!

The Half-Marathon of Doom

I hate jogging. But I'm also married. So last January when my wife came to me and told me that I was running in Nashville's half-marathon come late April, I acquiesced. My wife was of the opinion that we didn't do enough activities together as a couple, that we didn't share enough common interests. So, as relationships often go, this meant I would do something that she liked to do and that I hated.


For a long time.

So we began to train. After six weeks my wife dropped out, citing pregnancy as an excuse. As if. So now I was alone in my quest to run half of a marathon, 13.1 long, agonizing miles. Prior to training I had never run more than six miles. My rationale for why I'd never run more than six miles was fairly straightforward--running more than six miles was a lot like running less than six miles, boring. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I trained long enough and broke through the six-mile plateau I'd experience the heretofore phantom "runner's high" or, at some point, receive my own long-fabled El Dorado of running, a second wind.

Maybe, at long last, after fifteen years of occasional bouts of running outside of sports, I just hadn't cracked the magical code that would lead me to jogging nirvana. I could be the smiling Buddha of Northwest Nashville's streets, a Svengali of the stride,he link is to my story about why I hate jogging that I wrote last year.)

I broke through mile-marker after mile-marker on my own personal journey to running redemption. Seven miles, eight miles, nine miles, 10 miles, they all fell at my feet -- now clad in brand new shiny New Balance kicks -- and still ... nothing.

Except, that is, bloody nipples.

And let me tell you, bloody nipples are not signposts on the path to nirvana. They burn in the shower. And they make you feel weird, really weird. In fact, and this might be irrational, but I'd like to suggest a addendum to the hoary cliche, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," And that is: "If your nipples bleed, you are in danger of imminent death."

Or so I thought.

But then I talked to runners. In soft, conspiratorial whispers, I confessed to my malady. "My nipples are bleeding," I softly whispered.

And the runners laughed.

Patted me on the back, giggled, even, "Of course, they do," they said, "That's normal."

It was at that point that severe trepidation set in.

But several months later, I found myself on vacation in San Diego polishing off a hilly 9-mile run without any issues whatsoever. (My nipples now had calluses, which sounds even grosser, I think, than merely bleeding.)

I never ran more than 10 miles, which had me a bit nervous, but everyone I asked about this told me that I was in good shape for the half-marathon.

"Don't worry about that, you'll get such a surge of adrenaline that it will carry you through the first few miles. You won't even know you're running," said my friend Tardio, who would be running his second consecutive Country Music Marathon. Last year he ran the half-marathon in 2:01:10. This year his goal is to break two hours.

"Also," he said, leaning in closer to impart greater knowledge, "there are lots of really hot chicks who run this thing. All in good shape. You get behind one of them and you just draft off her ass. You won't even realize how long you've been running."

So advised, my wife dropped me off at Nashville's Centennial Park early on the morning of Saturday, April 24th.

She gave me a kiss, waved, and my son, two years old, piped up from the back.

"Daddy jog, daddy jog!" he squealed.

Thousands of runners, our numbers pinned to the front of our shirts like criminals on work release, milled about, stretching, cajoling our muscles to respond to the coming challenge. And the run was only the lesser of evils, a major tornado system was forecast to arrive in the city just as the half-marathon was scheduled to end. As omens go, this was a bit foreboding, a potential sign that the Gods did not want or need me to run.

"Daddy will jog," I said, as if I was General Douglas MacArthur surveying the Pacific Islands that would soon be conquered.

I waved goodbye to my family. Now there was only one problem, I already had to go the bathroom.

So let's begin with the numerical countdown of my jogging distances.

-500 yards

As some joggers are beginning to depart, I take advantage of a home court edge and, rather than search all the port-o-potties for one with toilet paper, cross the street and walk into the lobby of a Holiday Inn Express on Nashville's West End Avenue, just behind the start of the marathon.

Here, on the positive side, I luxuriate in toilet paper and my surroundings. On the negative side, while here, my running group, those poor saps who planned on finishing their half-marathons in around 2 hours and twenty minutes, depart on their journey.

So too does everyone else, it would appear, who is planning on finishing in less than three hours.

In fact, while I don't know it yet, because of the onrushing tornadoes the start to the half-marathon has been bumped up by fifteen minutes and by the time I begin, forty-five minutes has already passed and only old women, walkers, and pink hula-hoopists -- no joke -- are left around me.


As far ahead as I can see a tremendous mass of people fills West End Avenue. All of us are headed for downtown's riverfront, the first two-mile distance.

Earlier, as I'd noted, everyone reported that I would feel a tremendous adrenalin rush, a oneness with nature that would transcend all prior running feelings.

I would not feel the first few steps I took because I would be gliding on air.

Instead, I feel nothing.

The only sound I can hear is from my wife's iPod. (Evidently I am the only human left on Earth who doesn't have his own iPod.) As such, I'm listening to an angry lesbian sing about being an angry lesbian. I flash a song ahead.

Another angry lesbian.

Things are not going well.

Mile One

I have yet to see an attractive woman.

When I see my friend Tardio after the race, the first thing he will say is, "How hot were all the girls? I drafted behind one for 12 miles."

Tardio will fail in his goal this year to break two hours in the half-marathon. This year he runs 2 hours, 50 seconds. Yep, he shaved twenty seconds off last year's time, less than 1.5 seconds per mile faster.

The only positive from the race so far?

I've done a good job protecting my nipples, band-aids plus athletic tape. Affixed by my wife in the bathroom of our house while my son squealed and danced.

"Daddy's nipples are gone!" he screamed, "Daddy's nipples hurt!"

My son, inexplicably, learned the word nipples based upon the one time I complained about my nipples bleeding in his presence. Since that story he has been obsessed with the health of my nipples.

Occasionally he will stop what he's doing, coloring pictures at a restaurant, let's say, look up at me with a serious expression on his face and say, "Daddy, your nipples okay?"

Mile Two

Now we're downtown in Nashville, moving downhill for the first time among the honky-tonk bars. In theory this is better than moving uphill, but it's also about this time that I should be hitting my stride, warming up. Instead I can barely breathe.

Partly this is because I am allergic to every allergen on Earth and the fine people at Nashville's marathon have scheduled their marathon at the apex of Nashville's spring. (By the way, I've exaggerated a bit by saying that I'm allergic to everything. Actually, I'm allergic to 14 of the 16 things they test you for at Vanderbilt University's allergy clinic. I am not allergic to mold. So if the marathon route includes any cave systems, I'll be fine.)

As far as I can see, I'm surrounded by old women. It's like I've suddenly found myself in a post-menopausal race to death.

I have no idea what my pace is, but I'm certain that it's measured with a sundial.

Mile Three

At the rise of a hill near Nashville's Music Row, I can see my house beckoning in the distance.

For a moment I contemplate making the turn, jogging on home. But I don't have a key to the house and my wife and son might not be there.

So I persevere.

On up the hill and past a huge digital clock that is counting down from the moment the marathon began. Since I have no idea what time I started, I have no idea what my pace is.

A woman beside me slips on a paper cup and goes down ... hard.

I feel like I'm on the Trail of Tears.

Mile Four

I curse aloud for the first time as a new hill looms. The designers of Nashville's half-marathon course have eschewed fancy contraptions such as even terrain. Instead this course consists almost entirely of hills and downhills.

It's like jogging in Switzerland.

I believe I curse softly to myself.

But a shirtless man in cowboy boots and an oversized, red-foam cowboy hat hears me.

"You got it, man," he says.

I get a glass of water for the first time and attempt to drink it while still moving.

I don't know why I do this. Because it's necessary that the eight seconds I stop running not be wasted from my time?

I fail at drinking while jogging.

And by fail, I mean choke myself and nearly drown.

I've only seen people drink water while running before on television and they've always made it look easy. Only, it isn't easy.

In fact, it may be impossible to master without practice. If you don't believe me go outside during your lunch break and try to drink a cup of water while running across the parking lot.

But be sure there is someone there to watch you. So you don't drown.

Mile Five

We're now on Belmont Boulevard and runners who are several miles ahead of us are whooshing past on the other side of the road.

It's very tempting to consider making a turn here and shaving off three or four miles from the run. Not because I want my time to be better or so I can lie about how fast I am, but just so I can be done.

The tornadoes don't appear very close. Instead it's humid, the air is heavy and people are sitting on the side of the road cheering us on while drinking alcohol and eating food.

I hate these people right now because they are clearly smarter than we are.

In fact, I'm fairly certain I could drink 13 beers much faster than I could run 13 miles. Why didn't I choose to do that today instead?

Mile Six

I spend this entire mile trying to think of a worse athletic gift to have than the ability to run long distances at a fast speed.

I decide there isn't one.

Ultimately, I rely on these five principal grounds:

a. You are always doing the exact same motion.

Even if you're a really good runner you basically repeat the exact same motion: Lift right leg, lower right leg. Lift left leg, lower left leg. Pump arms. Repeat several thousand times until finished.

How much more boring can any sport get?

b. You can't share your sports gift with anyone.

For example, if you're a good golfer or a good basketball player, other people who aren't any good still enjoy playing with you and gain satisfaction from your gift.

Ergo, if Tiger Woods and I are playing golf, I can still play alongside him even though he can drive the golf ball 350 yards and birdie every hole. We can still hang out in the cart amidst my eight strokes, discuss the porn stars that he's had sex with, and have a good day.

Same with say, Kobe Bryant, on my pick-up basketball team. He can still dunk on people, make no-look passes, the game isn't as much fun for him, but it's infinitely cooler for everyone else on the court to be able to play with him.

It's this way with most great sports gifts.

But not distance running.

c. Aside from increasing your endurance, what skills can you work on when it comes to distance running?

Most sports become more enjoyable because you can work on subtle intricacies to make your game better. In other words, they have multiple parts that allow you to make your end product better. Think putting in golf, free throws in basketball, dribbling in soccer, picking up spares in bowling.

The nuance of the sport and its challenging parts that make up the whole make it more fun than it otherwise would be.

But other than the distance of the run, what changes with distance running?


d. You have no teammates.

Ultimately you're all alone. Which makes running the perfect rehearsal for death.

e. It's still really hard

Endurance running doesn't come easy to these guys or gals who are good at it. Ultimately someone will run the half-marathon in 1 hour and six minutes. That's barely over five minutes for 13 straight miles.

It still sucks even if you're good.

You can try to rebut these arguments as to why endurance running is the worst possible sports skill to have, but you'll be wrong.

It is the worst and there isn't a close second.

Mile Seven

I make the mistake of starting to count backwards. As in, once I finish this mile I'll only have 5.1 miles left.

That's when I realize that I still have a long way to go before I'm finished.

At this point people on the side of the road are passing out orange slices, bananas and apples. I devour the orange slice.

Three, actually.

It's the best part of the race, how good the juice tastes. I've never thought an orange tasted better. It's the most enjoyable part of the race so far.

Then I do the math. Based on my entry fee, I've paid $33 for each orange slice, more than a Las Vegas lap dance.

Mile Eight

I stop running.

I know, I know, I suck.

You're supposed to run the whole thing without stopping! At least that's what runners say.

Well, I have nothing left. Also, and this is a new theory I develop at this point in the race as well: running is for people with really low self-esteem.


Because people with really low self-esteem always believe they are going to fail and then when they don't fail -- by sheer dint of metronomic movement -- completing a run gives them a moment's brief satisfaction. I think a runner's high is really just what people with normal self-esteem feel like every day.

I don't have low self-esteem. In fact, I may have the exact opposite flaw which is why I automatically assume I can do anything.

In other words, failing surprises me, not success. So I already know exactly what I'll feel like if I complete the jog, exactly what I feel like every day.

Mile Nine

A man in a Michigan State t-shirt is cheering on the marathoners.

Michigan State, really?

After you ripped out the heart of the Tennessee basketball program a month ago with your one-point win that kept the Voles from our first Final Four ever?

I hate this man.

I contemplate punching him because the subsequent police-car ride would be air-conditioned.

Also, I've finally found a song I want to hear on my wife's iPod-- Eminem's The Real Slim Shady.

The song is now, wait for it, 11 years old. (Kathy Griffin was in the video!) And I haven't heard it in at least seven years. I'd forgotten how funny it is.

So I listen to it 10 times in a row.

This is the only time I smile during the race.

Mile 10

A woman jogs past me.

She has a sign on her back.

It says:

"65 Tomorrow!"

Mile 11

A man trips and falls into me.

My leg crumples.

"Sorry, buddy," he says.

It would be just my luck to tear an ACL while walking in a half-marathon and being run into by someone else.

Volunteers standing along the side of the street are passing out runner's goo to eat.

The goo tastes like old bubble gum that has been left in a 1984 Volkswagen on the hottest month of a Florida summer.

Then served.

But people are shoveling it into their mouths like its caviar.

Most of the people around me are walking now, a large collection of malcontents who will later lie and say the half-marathon was a life-changing experience. And as they eat their goo they toss the rappers to the ground so that now the ground is sticky and you feel like you're in an old movie theater.

Above us the sky is ominous, the wind is chilled, the tornadoes are coming.

Mile 12

My wife and son are waiting on the side of the road to say hello.

I'm running again now.

My wife says, "We've been waiting an hour, where have you been?"

We're a half-mile from our house. I contemplate stepping out of the race and walking home with them.

And why shouldn't I?

Because I've been fooled by the low self-esteemed runners. They say that if you don't finish the race there's no point in trying. But how does this logic work in running and nowhere else in modern American life?

No one else insists that you complete the whole thing lest your partial completion be worthless.

For instance, if you eat half a birthday cake, no one points to the remaining birthday cake and says you need to finish it or else the half you ate won't be worth anything.

That's ludicrous, right?

Yet when you start a long run, if you don't finish it, everyone calls you a quitter.

But apply that logic into any other part of life and it falls apart.

It's raining now.

I keep on running, cursing in my head.

Mile 13

I keep expecting to feel a measure of joy, some sense of accomplishment as the end nears.

Instead ... I feel nothing but anger over the falling rain, over the tornado that may arrive at any moment, over my decision to run 13.1 miles.

When I cross the finish line, the camera flashes. Later, I'll go back and look at the picture. I look as I felt then, disgusted.

I can memorialize that feeling for $34.95.

Or I can pretend this never happened.

I take the latter option.

My half marathon time: 2 hours 47 minutes and 27 seconds.

This is good for a robust 17,385th place.

Of the 8,988 men who compete in the race, I come in 7,188th place. In my age group, men 30-34, I come in 1,327th place out of just 1,541 competitors.  

For this accomplishment, I receive a medal, a stale bagel and a bottle of water.

The rain pours down as I make my way past hordes of racers clamoring for free bananas. As the final race insult, I now have to walk two additional miles back to my house in the pouring rain.

As I'm walking, the wind and rain pushes my sweaty hair down onto my forehead where the sweat pours out, mixes with the rain, and rolls into my eyes until I can't see.

I feel like Oedipus.

The whole way home I think this and this alone: I will never run another mile for as long as I live.


And I mean it.

At home my wife opens the door. "

"We're so proud of you," she says.

I hand my completion medal to my son, thinking that maybe he wants it as a toy. He looks at the medal for a moment and then drops it onto the floor. "Daddy," he says, "do your nipples hurt?"

Small victories.