2012 Champaign St. Jude Runners

2012 Champaign St. Jude Runners
Our AMAZING group of runners for 2012~

St. Jude Supporters

St. Jude Supporters
After running for 20 hours, the thousands of supporters lining the streets to cheer our arrival is an important and welcome boost!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ed: So how do you run faster?

I've been able to reliably run an 11-minute mile now. Yay!

The mystery still for me, is in the pacing. I've been trying to figure out exactly how to pace myself correctly so I don't burn out too early. My history has been to run too fast at first, then get too tapped out to keep it up for 2 miles or so. There has to be a way to figure out this conundrum.

So I asked Kathleen. She was engrossed in her morning paper, but that did not deter me. I had to know.

"How do you run faster?"

She looked at me sorta weird...like I just asked a really stupid question (I am well-familiar with that look). One of those sideways Huh? looks. She paused a moment, gathering her thoughts--I leaned forward as I eagerly awaited her advice.

"Well, you run faster for a bit, then slower, then faster...and eventually you'll be able to run faster." She turned back to her paper.

That was not the sage advice I was looking for.

"No, I mean, HOW do you run faster?"

Sideways look again. She clearly was not getting it. I got the same response.

A bit about me: I can be geeky at times. I get engrossed in minutia, and tend to like things broken down into something that can be translated into an equation. I like things that way--easier for me to understand and digest. In short...I'm a nerd.

"No. I mean pacing. Each step goes just so far. Each step takes a certain amount of time. Do you keep the same stride length, and increase how fast your legs move, or do you increase your stride length and keep the same cadence?"

She was back buried in her paper. She clearly was tired of this line of questioning. She is not a nerd.

"I dunno. I guess both"

Exasperated, I turned to the comfort of my laptop computer.

I could not help but notice that running on the sidewalk entails watching the concrete seams go by evenly. For the most part, those concrete sections are all the same. The construction requires repetition...and those seams are 60 inches apart (yes, I went out and measured them). One mile equals 63360 inches (give or take a smidge). Hmm. That means there are 1056 concrete tiles in a mile**. A few more taps at the keyboard, and that turned into 96 tiles per minute, or if you prefer (and I did) 1.6 tiles per second.

Now THAT information I can work with. Obviously, however, 1.6 tiles per second is not overly helpful for me. I need to further define that into something more easily packaged. Like, 16 tiles in 10 seconds or something like that. But I needed to know the length of my stride to factor that into the equation.

"Sweetie, when you are running, how far is each stride for you? I need to figure out my stride. Have you measured how far you get per step?"

OK. I admit. That was too far. Especially with a wife engrossed in her paper. Her turn to be exasperated.

"Just take a step and measure it."

That clearly won't work. That's not very precise. There are too many variables, and far too small a sample. This had to be done scientifically.

I explained to Kathleen (not really sure she heard me...I don't think she looked up) that the way to do this was to measure the length of our sidewalk, using the tiles as a reference, then run 100 feet or so counting my strides, then divide 1200 inches by the number of strides and I'll have a reasonable estimation of the average length of my stride.

Voila! I can now use that to calculate the strides I need over time, occasionally count the tiles as they go by to make a check, and I'll ensure to maintain a consistent pace for the St. Jude run.

I was excited (nerds get that way about such things) I shared my new-found knowledge with Kathleen.

"And exactly how will that help you on the black top in the middle of the farmland. You do realize there're no sidewalks, and we run in the street, right?"


...anybody interested in a slightly used Excel file?

Wait! If the corn rows are planted evenly....hmmm

** Along the way, I learned something. The number of tiles was close enough to 1000--and that got me curious. So I looked up the history of a mile, and learned that the origin of the word finds its roots in latin for mille passuum or "1000 paces." Before I dumped my Excel program, I discovered that the ancients used a 63" average stride to measure a mile...close enough for me and gives different meaning to those concrete sections.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ed: Donors and Donations

Yesterday I made our first deposit of the donations we've received from generous supporters of our upcoming run. There will be more deposits before we start our run August 5th.

I tend to get a little reflective from time-to-time, and yesterday was one of those days.

Being part of raising money for St. Jude, part of funding hope for sick children, has been a bit of journey for me. This isn't dropping a dollar in the Salvation Army pot during the Christmas season. This has required some time, certainly some energy, and a little humbleness to solicit our friends, family, and strangers for money during these tight times.

In a few weeks, it will put a physical demand on all the runners who will participate in this wonderful cause.

Kathleen and I were talking about it last night. Runners have been training and preparing for this---it will be difficult no doubt--but we suspect there is not a single parent of a St. Jude patient who wouldn't trade places with us in a second if it meant their child did not require the kind of care St. Jude offers. I can't even begin to imagine the heartbreak--and hope--that these parents and children go through.

Gathering up the manila envelope with the donations we've so far received, I headed out to the bank to make a deposit for St. Jude Runners. I got thinking about that envelope, what was in it, and what it meant.

The hours spent preparing the donation requests entailed writing a letter, hand-writing each address, stamping the reply envelope, stamping the outside envelope, and getting it off in the mail. Each donation represented somebody else having to take the time to write a check, and send the envelope back to us. "Thank You!" notes are written and mailed back. There were donations of all amounts, large and small. Almost all donations that, in the eye of the donor, were "small" had a hand-written note apologizing that it was not more. I wish I could convey the deep appreciation we had for EACH donation...no apologies necessary.

That little manila envelope represented so much. There was a lot of love, care, and energy stored up in there. And hope.

So I got to the bank, and filled out a couple of deposit slips. We had more checks than the line-by-line listing allowed, so it required a bit to get it all organized. Frankly, I kept screwing it up, and had to fill out more than a couple of deposit slips. I would add it up wrong, or I miscounted the checks, or something. It was always something. But, I finally had something I was convinced was accurate--and stood in line to make the deposit.

Approaching the counter, I described what the event was all about (got a lot of approving nods from customers and tellers alike), and handed over the donations and deposit slips. The helpful teller noted the total from the slips, made some sort of entries into the computer, printed out the receipt, and handed it to me with her good wishes. She did not count, nor verify what I gave her...I was a bit astounded, particularly with my gnashing of teeth with my ineptness in filling out those slips correctly the first time.

"Don't you count and verify the checks??" I asked her with my head askew.

"Nope. They all get batch run through a computer reader, any errors will be corrected later" was her reply.


So in the end, all these donations were treated as one big total. The computer, sans emotion, will dutifully record each one without pausing to think about the meaning of each individual amount--large or small. The computer won't fret about the value of the individual donation...but that total amount will join others as they come in from all over. I left the bank satisfied as I realized that although I brought individual donations from our friends and family--what really counted was that we were, each of us in our own way, helping those children at St. Jude.

All donations count toward the total at the end. No apologies needed.

Today's video:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ed: Of heat indexes and pacing

I decided to tackle a modified route that I ran yesterday, but do it at night this time. Not sure that was overly useful since my weather app dutifully told me that with 89% humidity, the "feels like" temperature was 102° at 9 PM. No matter how one measures it, it is warm tonight.

I had a couple of goals in mind. First and foremost was to complete the run without stopping. I sorta cheated in that I decided to cut the route a little shorter and make it only 2.2 miles. The second was to work on my pacing. For that I needed to establish some reference points. I located the one and two mile points using GoogleEarth, and made a mental note.

After some stretching at my customary mini-boulder on the neighbor's lawn, and I was on my way.

Not far into my run I passed though what could only be described as hazy fog of cigarette smoke. There was nobody around, but it sure lingered. That was unpleasant...the humidity really intensified the experience--and not in a good way. I continued south as I did yesterday, made my turn to the west, and ran past my one mile reference point. I looked at my watch and was dismayed.


That's not a pace that will be helpful on the St. Jude run. I'm capable of a 12 minute pace, but I made the mistake of not fixing an earlier reference point to check how I am doing. Memo to self: when adjusting my running for a specific pace, I would do better than to check at one mile. I need a 1/4 and 1/2 mile fix. Not tonight though...no information to work with. So I press on to my two-mile mark.

Running at night has some benefits (temperature--normally), but certainly there are some drawbacks. There are no streetlights where we live, save for the occasional home with something out in the driveway. Oncoming cars tend to blind, making seeing challenging on a dark sidewalk. For the most part though, I can see well enough with the occasional passing car, yard lights, and just the ambient light that a neighborhood casts. There are, to be sure, some pretty dark areas that I am running in. Running in the darkness is an act of faith more than anything else. Pretty sure there's concrete there, and I think it's level...


Second memo to self: call the city and have them take a look at that frost-heave. I remembered seeing it in the daylight yesterday, and it was a good 4-6 inches displaced from level. Running at a constant pace, one expects shoe-and-concrete to connect with a certain rhythm. Back there? Not so much. That took my breath away, but I kept running on. I was just glad it was a drop and not a step up. Making a face-plant on concrete would have made me grumpy.

I finally turned down the road towards my home, and passed the two-mile mark. I looked at my watch again and was not happy with what I saw: 27:10. Not good enough. I maintained a consistent pace for the entire run, but I need to be faster. From my previous measurements I knew that I had .2 miles to finish the run at our home--so I bolted for that last bit. I ran basically as fast as my legs would carry me--and finished that part without stopping. I had the energy to run at a fairly good clip--even after running almost a half hour.

I think tomorrow is a rest day. I need to give the legs a chance to recuperate. My next run will be the same distance, but I'm kicking the pace up.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tonight's video is DJ's story:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ed: Time to face the heat...and got my rear handed to me

I've been putting this off, but, like ripping off a bandaid--it was time to just do it.

I know that part of the Champaign-to-Peoria run involves running in oppressive heat. Or at least an expectation of it. So I decided today was the day to increase my distance, and at the same time, run during the hottest part of the day. It was in the low 90's this afternoon, just perfect to see where I am in terms of preparedness for what I'll be facing in less than three weeks.

I also decided to mix it up a bit, and leave the familiar confines of my little neighborhood street run. That decision would have unintended consequences later.

So for this run, instead of heading due west, I would instead turn south. Our neighborhood, as is custom for the midwest, is boxed cleanly in a one square mile area, bounded conveniently by four major intersections each one mile apart. Within that square mile are all the multitudes of streets, drives, courts, and walking paths that make a pleasant place to live.

It also makes a great place to plan runs that ensure this particular home-body doesn't stray too far from the cave. In fact, I've taken GoogleEarth and tracked out a circuitous run within the upper left corner of our square mile of where we live, and it totals up to a 5K run. GoogleEarth tells me that I am never farther than .47 miles from my home (or 440.69 Smoots* if you're into that sort of measurement).

So...back to the run. I head south, knowing this was scary uncharted waters for me. I've pre-plotted the distance and know that my run will be just shy of three miles. It's an unfamiliar path to the southern border of our square mile. I don't know what my time references are--in my usual route I know where I should be by looking at my watch (or vice-versa). But I certainly won't have that comfort on the relay to Peoria either.

Right on schedule, about two minutes into my run, my legs start to complain a bit--but as I've mentioned this is just background stuff. I just ignore it. My pace is...well...I don't know what my pace is. I looked at my watch, and it's been six minutes of running--but that is meaningless without context (I noted that in my usual route, I would be turning north at that point). I have an older iPhone that simply gives up and quits if I dare to challenge the GPS to keep accurate record for time and distance.

So, I plod on, silently pacing my steps: St. Jude, St. Jude, St. Jude.

Finally I hit the southern border, and turn west. The heat is now starting to take a bit of a toll on me. I'm still OK, but I feel like it would not take much convincing for me to simply just start walking. I actually toy with the idea, but dismiss it. At least based on simple geometry, I know how far this part of the run is to the western edge. I make the turn to the north, and now note it is exactly one mile until I hit the northern border. Based on my normal pacing, that should be 12 minutes away. I also know that before I actually get to the northern border, I will re-connect with my familiar route where I make my turn to the north.

I find myself looking forward to reconnecting back to my old route--but I unwittingly set up a failure as a result.

With the afternoon sun, and my northerly course, it's getting pretty warm on the left side of my body. I really am sensing the onset of fatigue--something I've been unfamiliar with in my training. I've been careful not to push too hard--but this is crunch time. The run is less than three weeks away so I have to push harder now. Heat, distance, and running harder is a recipe for some serious body aches.

As I work my way north, I finally see the road I normally run west on. I mentally reconnect myself to that point, and visualize what is ahead. The grocery store, bank, fast food place, church, barking dog, then home. For my run, I planned on completing it in 33 minutes--that would ensure that I am minimally maintaining a 12-minute per mile pace. I won't set records with that--I used to be able to run it in seven, but that was 86 pounds and 40 years ago (yikes!).

But it will do.

I assess my stamina, my energy, my complaining legs, the heat--and judge the remaining part of the run--I'm good. I don't have much in the way of reserves left...but I can do this. As I near my familiar land mark, or so I thought, I realized with some sort of runner's horror that I mentally peaked too early. That was NOT my corner. This is what I meant earlier about setting myself up for a failure.

Well where was I? Surely it cant' be far. Next block up maybe? There's a jog in the sidewalk, and bushes block my view, so I am unsure of exactly how far I have to go. As I finally get a clear shot of the distant traffic light, I realized that I was well short of my planned reconnect to my old route. I still had maybe a quarter-mile to go until I got back on familiar territory. I kept plodding on...St. Jude, St. Jude, St. Jude. Finally I was back on my old route again--there's the defunct office building, and the signage for the grocery store not much further past that.

But here's where the familiarity did me in. I had peaked mentally too early. I was now exhausted and was starting to experience some side pain. I'd been running for about 28 minutes without stopping at this point, I did not want to create any issues that would carry into tomorrow.

I reluctantly stopped running, and started walking. I walked for about 2 or 3 minutes, then picked up the pace again--only to have to stop once more because of the side pain. At least that stupid barking dog wasn't there to see me walking (truth be told, I sorta missed that wretched creature). The second walk allowed me sufficient recovery to run the remainder home, but I failed to run the entire extended route non-stop in the heat.

OK. So I got my butt handed to me today. Tomorrow is another training day for me, and I'll get back out there again and have another go at it. I'm still far closer to being ready than I think Kathleen is thinking, but I'm getting there!

I'll be ready to participate in that relay of 110 miles, or if you prefer, 104,023.95 Smoots.

*A Smoot is equal to one Oliver Smoot's height in 1958--or more accurately 5' 7" If you really want to expand your horizon about why there's even a Smoot unit of measure on GoogleEarth, you can find out about it in a Wikipedia article.

Tonight's video is about 5-yr old Ellen Taylor

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kathleen: My Turn

Okay, so I've always thought blogging was a little pointless (my apologies to all the bloggers out there), but hey, I can't let my husband get all the glory :-), so now it's my turn.

Where do I even begin explaining my involvement with St. Jude? I suppose I could say it started from birth. Having the privilege of being born half Lebanese, I'm sure somewhere in that large Lebanese family tree Danny Thomas, Hollywood entertainer and founder of the St. Jude Research Hospital, is a distant relative. And here's what the Lebanese do, they support other Lebanese; so when a cousin wants to start a hospital for sick kids, we get behind him and support him. From grade school days all the way through to today, the kids of St. Jude have always held a special place in my heart.

But, what made me want to run for the kids? That seed was planted from the days of working in Peoria at WEEK-TV, the station that broadcasts the local telethon for the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate. Every year, WEEK employees volunteer their time in broadcasting the telethon; definitely a highlight of the year for a lot of us (anyone remember the year Wayne Newton made a surprise appearance?). For me, the highlight of the telethon was the arrival of the runners. What an awe inspiring sight to see hundreds of runners, who for miles and miles gave it their all, physically and mentally, to help the kids of St. Jude. And every year, like a dutiful Cubs fan, I would say "next year". Next year I'm running. But, like every loyal Cubs fan knows, next year never came.

Fast forward to 2010. One day last spring, while out on my quiet, 3-mile morning run, I was suddenly inspired. This year. This was going to be the year I ran for the kids. The feeling was so strong, I couldn't breathe (not good while running). Here was a dream of mine about to be fulfilled. But, then the doubts crept in. Can I really run a 100+ mile overnight relay while sleep deprived? Can I train enough to be ready by August? I knew enough about the St. Jude runs to be deterred and scared. But, then, could I live with myself if I had given in to my fears? Couldn't I just write a check to St. Jude and say "next year"? Absolutely not....2010 was going to be the year. God gave me a strong pair of legs, and I was going to do something good with them. I got home, shared my news with Ed, who looked at me like I was oxygen deprived (which I may have been), and having his full support I signed up for the Champaign to Peoria Run. In what some may consider karma, coincidence, or the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I got an email later that day from my sister Jen, who told me she had just signed up to run the St. Jude Tri-County Run. I had no idea she was thinking of running too. Wow! Meeting my sister at the finish line...2010 was meant to be!

August 6, 2010 - the day arrives. Ed, Hallie and I showed up at the Meijer parking lot ready to meet the other runners and head out of town. To say I was a bundle of nerves was an understatement. Being somewhat shy, the thought of spending the next 24 hours with total strangers was completely unnerving. Would anyone want to be my friend? I felt like it was the first day of college all over again. I was completely out of my comfort zone and ready to bolt home. But, if we all stay in our comfort zones life would be boring and unfulfilling. I was here for three reasons: 1. The kids of St. Jude 2. As a philanthropic example to our daughter.  3. To fulfill a 20 year old dream. Next year was here.

Next time: 24 hours that changed my life.

Ed: Reflecting on a transformation

Tonight, I'm in a reflective mood.

Just over a year ago St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was not even something I thought about, much less had an appreciation for. Frankly, I think that when my wife first started talking about participating in the run from Champaign to Peoria, all I heard (at least that's how my brain processed it) was that she had a really long run ahead of her. I was proud of her for training to run the relay all the way there...but that was about it.

I also had no idea of the scale of the run to Peoria. I just assumed that it was a bunch of nice folks from Champaign who would drum up some coin for some sort of hospital that did some good things for children--and present a check for a couple grand if all went well.

I was also thinking they should have simply held a nice bake sale and called it a day--and saved the agony of making that run.

But, Kathleen was determined. She would run. I would remain behind with our then three-year old, and drive to Peoria the next day to cheer her arrival. I figured I'd see the 47 runners take off for Peoria Friday night, then cheer the arrival of 47 runners (minus any drop outs) when they showed up where ever they were going to be. We'd have a nice dinner with the in-laws, and drive home. I was dimly aware that Kathleen mentioned some sort of ceremony, but how long could that take with 47 people?

My first surprise was the start of the event in Champaign. There were the runners, for sure, but the number of supporters there was a surprise. So were the support vehicles, RVs, and the State Trooper for an escort.

This was not just some folks going out for a jog.

It took a bit to corral everybody together, but once some nice words were said, a group prayer done...off they went with encouraging music blaring from the chase (not exactly an accurate description...maybe drive-from-behind-at-a-jog) van.

Holding our three-year old and watching this gaggle of runners fade away (along with the rocking music), I found my eyes welling with tears of pride as I watched my wife, her companions, RVs, van, and the festive lights (they're festive as long as they aren't in your mirror) of the trooper's squad car disappear down the road.

This was not what I had in mind.

The next day I bundled our toddler and stuff into the car and headed off to Peoria to greet the arrival of the Champaign runners in Peoria. It takes almost 24 hours for the relay to finish the 109 mile run, so it would be late in the afternoon. For me and our toddler it was a comfortable one hour forty minute drive.

My next surprise was driving to the appointed pick up area. I couldn't get there. Barricades were all over the place. Police were everywhere to block traffic and redirect. The local TV stations were all set up with mushroom-like antennas festooning their vans.

For 47 runners? The lightbulb started to brighten a tad. This REALLY was not what I was expecting.

When I finally found some parking and met up with other family members (Kathleen's family is conveniently from Peoria), there were probably well over a thousand people milling around, waiting the runners. By now, I figured out there were more than 47 tired folks inbound from Champaign.

Then it happened.

The first wave of runners (Chillicothe?) came around the corner with their music blaring from a car painted to look like the Blues' Brothers car. These happy folks were running and dancing to the music...people were cheering them on. I got caught up in the festivities and started clapping and cheering them on too!

More waves of runners showed up from all around the area. Kathleen's group were mustered on the other side of the Bob Michael Bridge (it's soaring, curving height looked more like an impediment to runners rather than a conveyance over the river). With the magic of texting, I was soon aware that Kathleen's group was next over the bridge.

Then we saw them way off in the distance as they crested the bridge.

The same gaggle of runners last seen in Champaign were leading the pack of RVs with the rockin' music blaring. It was not lost on me that while I slept comfortably these folks had been running through the night. Running through the heat while I drove in my air conditioned car. Pushing through fatigue. Pushing through the pain.

They made it.

I was never more filled with pride as I saw Kathleen in the crowd. She had trained so hard to be part of this. She had accomplished her goal! She picked me out of the greeting line and raised her hands in joy. Our little one got excited as she saw her mother approach. When the runners finally reached where we were standing, Kathleen swung by and gave our three-year old what was probably a world-class sweaty kiss, and she was gone with the rest of the runners to cross the nearby finish line.

There was not a dry eye anywhere.

The arrival of the remaining runners took a while. I learned that the honor of finishing the process were the runners who took three days to run from Memphis to Peoria (Memphis!?). The Memphis-to-Peoria run was the first to start this fund raising event in 1982. All the other runs are simply off-shoots of this event.

We finally found Kathleen in a large parking lot for our happy reunion. She was, as were all the runners, sweaty, tired, but elated.

A few hours later, we attended a fundraiser finale dinner at a local convention center. Waves and waves of now-dried and somewhat rested runners entered to thunderous applause. In another area of the center, a telethon was underway to collect donations for St. Jude. Stories of how St. Jude saved lives were highlighted throughout the night. The whole evening had me slack-jawed as the full import of the event finally became clear to me. I believe that night over two million dollars were raised by the runners alone.

This is a big deal. That would have been some bake sale.

All these runners who had given so much of their energy and bodies simply did not join some group of runners like a scene in Forrest Gump. These folks had to request donations and acquire a minimum amount for the honor of running. And make no mistake...it is an honor to run and be part of this.

I left that night swearing that I would participate the following year with my wife. I'd get this 56-year old body in good enough shape to run the relay. It's been a struggle, but I'm almost there with less than three weeks to go.

Thanks to all of you for donating to our run. Kathleen and I are closing in on two thousand dollars--and have earned the honor of participating in the 2011 St. Jude run.

I'm looking forward to crossing that final bridge. I'll be the tired sweaty one, probably with tears, crossing the finish line in Peoria--but you won't notice me...everyone will look like that.

See you at the finish line?

Today's video is appropriately something from last year's Champaign-to-Peoria run.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ed: Running at Night

OK. So, this morning was a washout. I had to go to work during the day, and with the evening activities, dinner, and getting our child bathed and off to bed, it was tough to change into my running clothes and step outside.

But the reality was that as I stood at the corner of my street, and stared down that long sidewalk--I really didn't want to go. My knees are still a tad achey, I had eaten a full meal an hour earlier--it's a bad idea to run, right?

The kids. St. Jude kids. Their faces float through my mind. The images of Ben and Hayden from my earlier YouTube link drifted into my mind.

So I take off at an easy trot.

It's a nice night anyway. Cool temperatures. The moon is full, or nearly so. Earlier I decided to go without my beloved Bruddah Iz music, and simply run without headsets and music--I'm glad I did. With the night cloaking my world, my traveling companions were my footfalls and my steady breathing--and my achey knees--but they don't make any noise (well, when it's really quiet I can do a parlor trick with my crunchy knees).

Rabbits! Do you know how many rabbits are in the yards in the early evening? They scamper here and there as I approach. Some freezing in place. Others, for whatever reason, must think I'm going to devour them. I find them somewhat amusing--even entertaining. I continue on running.

I have found that as long as I run my current pace, I go into an automatic mode. My legs sorta ache about 2 minutes into my run, but never get worse than that. I've gotten used to the ache, and simply ignore it. I'm never out of breath at my pace. It tells me that I can push harder, but right now it's about distance and stamina. I'll worry about pace later. Right now I can run for 32 minutes without stopping, and even then, feel like I could continue on for another 10 or 15.

That ain't half bad for a couch potato only a few months ago!

I rounded a corner, and headed north. The cool northerly breeze continues to be welcome, but as I approached the local grocery store, it brought with it some gnarly smelling stuff from the dumpsters in the back.

Running outdoors really makes me tuned into the smells. Last week my olfactory nerves took a big "ka-whoomph" with a rotting raccoon carcass on a country road. Got to pass that twice. Ick. I was surprised to be able to tell who was smoking in cars as they whoosh by. Weird. I also have discovered that I am not fond of the smells wafting from the local McDonald's. Don't get me wrong--I love a Big Mac--but that greasy smell is really unpleasant when running by.

I was more than halfway through my run when I suddenly felt like walking. Not for any particular reason. My familiar leg-ache was right were it should be, and my breathing was not labored at all. I just wanted to walk.

Then I quite literally started thinking about Ben and Hayden. Children I've never met...they're faces and stories on an Internet video clip--but they were very real. St. Jude was able to buy them time with their families, but ultimately, both lost their battles. I suddenly felt their presence on either side of my elbows--urging me on. I felt lighter on my feet, and somehow refreshed.

I didn't stop, and continued on.

By the way...thanks to whomever parked their cars blocking the sidewalk. The only way to get around was to run out into Kirby traffic to get back on the sidewalk. Real nice.

Oh yeah. And for the kid driving by who hollered an obscenity at me--classy. Really nice. You must make your parents proud. Maybe I should have worn my headphones.

I finally made the last turn towards home. I ran past that scary, but presumably harmless, Rottweiler that always makes a mad dash at me. I'm still suspicious of that waist high chain link fence between me and that barking beast. I think if it wanted to clear it, it could.

The familiar sight of my home comes into view. I slow to a walk exactly at the point where 18 minutes earlier I was waffling about running tonight. It turned out to be a nice night for a run--glad I did it. I'm not quite ready for August 5th--but I'm confident that if I continue to run every day, and work towards running 3 times a day, I'll be fine.

It's all about those St. Jude kids. They need hope. We can help.

Today's St. Jude video:

Ed: To run, or not run, in the rain

Well, the grand scheme of running this morning is delayed a touch. Thunderstorms are rattling through the area, and looks like it will be raining for a few hours.

Of course, that brings up the question of what will happen when we run to Peoria. No fair calling off the run because of the rain! In fact, my very own sister reminded me of the fact that last December I was to participate in a 5K run in support of homeless folks...it was in a downpour--and I ran exactly, uh, about 100 yards and gave up.

Kathleen, of course, powered through it and ran (even slogging through 18" flood waters).

So what about a 109 mile course in the summer? What are the chances of getting rained on in early August? Pretty good, I hope! Kathleen tells me that in sweltering heat, a rain is welcome.

The problem this morning is fairly straightforward--I only have one pair of running shoes and one pair of running clothes. Kathleen has been admonishing me to go out get an extra pair just for days like this.

...looks like it's time make a run to the store.

St. Jude, St. Jude, St. Jude

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ed: Getting ready for the run. T-24 days.

Well, it's less than a month away now, and Kathleen and I are getting prepared for our run to Peoria on August 5th - 6th. Basically we are preparing by running almost every day (Kathleen more so than me...I'm still working up to that). We've been pushing through the humidity and the heat, but it's all about raising money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

I've chosen to run a circuit around our neighborhood. It's familiar to me and I know exactly where I should be and when. I know where to add an extra block to add distance, or exactly where the distance markers are for each step. I visualize the distances and the goals, and just set my pace so I don't fatigue out.

Kathleen mentioned something that helps her...and it helps me. To keep pushing when I think it is easier to stop and walk, I silently repeat "St. Jude, St Jude, St. Jude" as I pace (as in right foot "Saint," left foot "Jude"). I also think of the children that need help...with a young daughter in our family, we can easily relate to the need--but thankful we have a healthy child.

I ran this morning...and plan to run again tonight. Stay tuned!

St. Jude, St. Jude, St. Jude.

Today's video of why we run: