Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Anticipation: the Best Part of Waiting

For this Wednesday, I'm writing about . . .


Deb Runs

This is part of the Wednesday Word link-up that Debbie at shares -- please go check over her site and see what a great variety of bloggers are anticipating. But then come back here and read my stuff!

The thought of anticipation goes hand in hand with an element of waiting; it's the silver lining of the wait "cloud." It's a good part of the journey.

I think no one gets this better than the people who put together the Marine Corps Marathon. Once you are registered for it, you get an email or two about being Mission Ready. But as the race nears, the emails get more frequent and more inspiring, and they get you so excited for the event that you wonder if it can possibly live up to what you've anticipated.

(In my two times running that thing, it definitely has.)

I once saw a news report or TV show about lottery players, and the lottery spokesperson explained that when someone buys a ticket, they're actually buying a dream. It's the same thing -- you're buying the anticipation of being suddenly richer (even if it's only $5 richer). And unfortunately, unlike the Marine Corps Marathon, I haven't had the opportunity to find out if that particular reality lives up to my visions of millions in the couple of times I've bought in to that dream.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

M is for Meaningful

Something I want to start doing is "M" posts on Mondays (M is for music, maps, mom, medicate, etc.), and I know it's Tuesday but I didn't get a chance to write yesterday so here you go.

Yesterday was Memorial Day, of course, and last week my friend Ilham posted about a run that was being held by the group wear blue: run to remember. Since I had already planned to pledge mileage that day for Specialist Sarina Butcher, I thought this would be a great way to get it done.

Plus, Ilham is always a great person to run with, and when I found out that Meg N. and Melanie A. we're going to be there, I knew I had to be part of it.

Here's Ilham with Renee and Meg.

Here's Melanie and me
The event exceeded all expectations. The runners were encouraged to wear blue and everyone seemed to get that message. It was a sea of blue! There had to have been between 200 - 300 people taking part, and what impressed me the most were all the families there.

At 8:30, the group assembled for a Circle of Remembrance, where the names of the military members killed in action last week were read. Then, we went around the circle and everyone who was dedicating their run read the name(s) of their service member. We had a moment of silence and were off for our tour of Lake Mercer.

It was a steamy morning but most of the course was shaded. I ran behind Meg and Ilham for awhile.

But then I headed out on my own because I'm uptight like that. I got passed by two dads and a mom who were pushing strollers-- hats off to them because a couple of those kids were not small.

And speaking of big kids, Melanie's first grader did the four miles right alongside her mom, which is really impressive.

Soon enough we all met up at the end and enjoyed some delicious fruit and granola bars, and the Springfield, VA, Chik-Fil-A brought sandwiches for all. People mingled for a bit before taking off to their various Memorial Day events.

I was so glad to have gotten the day started with this one.

And most importantly . . .

Sarina Butcher was a specialist in the United States Army, a member of the Oklahoma National Guard serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. On November 1, 2011, the vehicle in which she was traveling hit an improvised explosive device and she passed away as a result of her injuries. She was 19 years old, which is one year older than my daughter is now. She left behind a daughter of her own.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sharing Burke Lake

Jim's cousin David lives just down the road, but because he has a family and we have a family, it's rare that we get a chance for our families to do much together.

That's why this morning was pretty special -- I got to catch up with David's wonderful wife Megan for a quick run around Burke Lake.

David and Megan are from the younger branch of the family tree; they're about 14 years younger than us. In turn, their kids are about 14 years younger than our kids, and I love hearing stories about the four-year-old and the two-year-old (because it makes teenagers seem kind of easy by comparison).

And she's simply a very nice person, so our 6 1/2 miles flew by. The morning was a little bit of a throwback at 50 degrees. Nice and cool!

By the time we wrapped up, a group was setting up a fun run around the lake with various exercise stations. We got two young ladies dressed in red superhero capes to take our picture on the dock.

The young ladies were preparing to do a yoga station on the dock and were worried they'd fall in the water. We assured them that they seemed very centered. And indeed, they take a fine picture.

How was your Saturday morning?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Marine Corps Historic Half Race Report

At the largest public research university in Virginia (aka, George Mason University, aka the place where I work), Thursday and Friday of last week were like April 15 for the accountants: the convocation ceremonies for our college's students. Our office puts in a lot of hours leading up to the events and we hustle nonstop during the ceremonies, but it's totally worth it to be part of such a special day for so many people.

And for the past two years, I've had my own special reward the weekend afterward, which is to head to Fredericksburg, Virginia for the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon.

Fredericksburg is just about an hour down the highway from our house, and this year I opted not to spend the night before the race in a hotel but to simply drive to the expo on Saturday, then drive down again for the race on Sunday. I might have to rethink that in the future. I-95 traffic is no joke.

The expo is very a good one. There are lots of vendors with a wide array of items, plenty of entertainment and features, and even therapy dogs hanging out. The package pick-up is very well-organized and I was really excited to meet Sid Busch volunteering at my window.

Sid is a retired Navy Senior Chief who has run a host of marathons (over 200) holding the American flag in honor of fallen troops -- he dedicates each race to a particular member of the armed forces who was killed in action. Sid does a race almost every weekend and now I know he volunteers at them, too. The Richmond Times-Dispatch did a great article on him and his mission.

He is also an extremely nice guy. If you get a chance to say hi during a race, please do!

Since the race started at 7:00 am, I was in the car by about at about 4:45 for the trip down to Fredericksburg. Parking near the start is plentiful and easy. I met up with some Red Felt friends for a picture at the Virginia Runner store (which kindly opens its restrooms to the runners and serves as the meeting spot for the Team Red, White and Blue runners) and we quickly made it over to the start line.

This is a friendly race in every way. The whole route is lined with energetic spectators and Marines cheering you on. The area police and sheriff's officers at the intersections make a point to thank you for coming out. There are so many kids to high-five and some terrific signs along the course.

The route winds through the historic city of Fredericksburg, which dates back to the late 1600's (!). It honors its colonial and Civil War heritage and has maintained many of its old buildings. Fredericksburg is situated right on the Rappahannock River, which is part of the race course. The scenery in this 13.1 miles is ever changing and is never boring.

What also keeps it interesting are, alas, the changes in elevation! Much is made of the run up Hospital Hill <---- (check out this link because you can see Fredericksburg news editor Jim Toler charge up the hill at a snappy pace). It starts at about Mile 10.5 of the course. But the course is pretty roll-y all the way through, so by the time you get to Hospital Hill, you are glad if you kept a little something in the tank for it. I enjoyed the course much more this year, knowing what lay ahead.

Midway up Hospital Hill, the Wear Blue . . . Run to Remember group has a "blue mile," posting photos of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines killed in the line of duty, along with volunteers holding American flags. It is powerful and sobering and goes a long way to make you forget about your own struggles on that hill.

Lucky me, as soon as we neared the end of the hill, there was Zarif and Handan, two beautiful friends with a cooler of iced washcloths and cold water! It was a crazy humid day on Sunday and having this respite meant the world to all of the Handan and Zarif fans.

The end of the course is full of Marines, and as the last runners come in, each of them is accompanied by a Marine escort. The very last runner comes in with a whole crew of them! This kind of camaraderie is all over this race, and it's one of the things that has come to make it a must-do for me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday Word: Appreciation

It's Wednesday and I am hooking up with to talk about this week's word: appreciation.

Debbie's post is terrific, you should check it out. She writes notes of appreciation to a huge variety of people who have touched her life, and it's a lovely thing to read. You can see it here:


For the past two Novembers, on Facebook, I've done gratitude posts, where I write all month about the things for which I am grateful. It's a wonderful exercise to get yourself outside yourself and realize all of the reasons you have to appreciate those around you.

But something I am striving to do more of is to do just what Debbie did in her post -- actually tell people how much I appreciate when they go out of their way to help me out. It feels great to have your contribution be acknowledged, to be appreciated, not just in the "thank you" sense of appreciation, but in the "I understand the extent to which you helped me" sense of the word.

At the end of the day, we're all just trying to help each other out a little, I hope. And if you can make someone else understand how important they are to you, that's the best result.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Convocation! Day Two

At George Mason, we've got 11 or 12 different colleges, and the college where I work, Humanities and Social Sciences, is the biggest.

We are so big that we hold two convocation ceremonies at the end of the year. One for our humanities grads: the English majors, the history people, the global affairs folks, philosophy, foreign languages, integrative studies. All those guys. Then we have one for our social sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics.

Last night's ceremony, for humanities, was from 7:00 - 9:00 pm. This morning we're hosting our social sciences graduates from 10:00 am - noon. As I write this, it's 7:30 and I'm at the office finishing up some tasks for the event and feeling sorry for myself because the campus Starbucks isn't even open yet (what is this travesty, I ask!).

So no exercise this morning, except to proudly march around the Patriot Center being happy for our grads. Because despite the hard work for a few days, this is truly the best part of my job.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Memorial Day Run: Wear Blue

Sandra W., one of the runners in the Red Felt running group, put this link up. It is a great way to make your miles mean something on a special day:

Wear Blue: Run to Remember -- Memorial Day