Friday, May 31, 2013

No Time Like the Present

The big "Milestones" serve to remind us how special life is. They help us to connect to our roots. 


We're not always going to do things that are of a spectacular nature. But even the little things we do go a long way to affecting the lives of those around us. I learned that in part from my little sister. As RUNNERS, we know that. We run for personal reasons, of course. We run to stay healthy and to achieve personal goals.


We also run to connect with friends, and in doing so we help each other through our various problems and challenges. 


We run, and set a great example for our families. They see the benefits of setting goals and working through a plan. They learn the joys of physical fitness.


We run, so that we'll still be there for the people we love far into the future.


Now is the time we have. Use it wisely.  

I'll see you at the finish line in October.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Fan Club Needs a New President

This edition is pretty personal, but I've been running for a lot of years now, and my running friends have become part of my family. In honor of my sister, Lauraine Kern Emmons.

It's been an interesting last week and a half. A reminder that life is important and we shouldn't wait to do what needs to be done.


She was the self proclaimed president of the "Marathon Don Fan Club." She bragged about me all the time, and even thought almost ALL of my jokes were funny. She's my little sister. I got a call from my brother-in-law, Brian, on Friday just over a week ago. It wasn't good news.


and the adventure continues ...


The next generations go on - after the funeral on Monday, Tuesday was a three-day trip to Mackinac Island with my middle granddaughter, Amber, for a third-grade field trip. Friday night, her brother Cody graduated from Hopkins High School. 


The lovely Francine and I spent the weekend in Cheyenne, Wyoming with my good friend, Brent Weigner, and his wife, Sue. Brent directs the Wyoming Marathon, and on Sunday we celebrated my sister Lauraine's life by running the marathon in her honor. 


I had LOTS of time on Sunday to remember the 53 years we spent together. Time to smile, cry, sometimes regret that we didn't do more together. Time to reflect on the things she left behind. She was the one who kept up on the family stuff, keeping track of everyone. She drove up to visit my Grandma once a week. (Grandma will be 99 in July.) I called her once just to recruit her to travel on a marathon trip with Francine so she wouldn't have to road-trip alone.

We have right now.

This past week has been a great reminder that we shouldn't waste the time we have. Right now we need to pay attention to the things and the people who are important. Right now, we need to work on our goals and our relationships. Right now is the time we have. We need to use it wisely.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mosquitoes and Inspiration

You know what's worse than sore legs after the River Bank Run? It's the mosquito hatch that usually happens the next week. It's nature's way of telling you that you need to do tempo runs. Because, if you stop running for even a second or two, you suddenly become a blood donor. Your only hope is to keep moving. What a great training opportunity!


Inspirational stuff.

I try and write something that will inspire people in this newsletter. But this time I can't really come up with anything better than the article that the lovely Francine wrote in her GRRC Mentor Group newsletter. (Incidentally, she won her age group at the Fifth Third River Bank Run)


Individual Success is Really a Group Effort

by Francine Robinson


"No one who achieves success does so without the help of others.  The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude." Alfred North Whitehead


I was trying to find just the right quote to express myself this week. As many of you know, I had a very good River Bank Run on Saturday--it was my best time (2:02:29) since 2004! I was very pleased, and surprised, to learn that I also placed first in my age group, 55-59.  I've received all sorts of congratulations, and I appreciate them all.  My good friend Sue, whom I run with throughout the week, sent me a very complimentary e-mail, crediting me for "setting my sights high, working hard to achieve my goals, and proving to myself and everyone what I am capable of."


But while I will acknowledge that I train hard to reach my running goals, and constantly work at drawing on my inner strength when the going gets tough, I can honestly say that my success WOULD NOT be possible without the continual support and encouragement from family, friends, fellow runners, running coaches--and even the occasional stranger! Allow me to elaborate by sharing with you parts of my journey at last week's race and the "Lucky Seven' lessons I learned.

  • My journey really started before the race, when my friend Bree (a RBR pacer) said to me, "So, is it going to be an age group award today?"  I laughed at her, giving her every reason why that wouldn't happen ("two marathons in April, tired legs, stressful day at work on Friday, etc.")  Lesson one.  Be grateful for friends who believe in you, and then believe in yourself.
  • Next, I was lined up at the start line with another friend, Andrea, and telling her that I was concerned that the stress I was under from circumstances the day before would cause me to have less energy for the race.  Andrea said,"Don't think about that.  Just go out there and enjoy the run, and focus on the race experience."  Lesson two.  Stay positive, and don't waste energy on negative thoughts.
  • I went out a little faster than I originally planned, and around mile five there was a runner who heard me talking to friends that I met on the course about how I should back off, because I went out too fast. When I began to back off, this woman said to me, "Hey yellow! (I was wearing a yellow singlet.) Keep up that pace--you can do it!"  I thought to myself, "Hey, thanks random stranger!" And I kept going.  Lesson three.  Don't give up so easily. Other people, even strangers, can recognize your potential.
  • All along the course I came in contact with other runners or spectators who knew me and gave me thumbs up or said, "You're looking strong!"  Lesson four. Let the support and encouragement of people who care about you lift you up.
  • About halfway through the race, I thought if I stayed at or near my pace, I could finish faster than last year.  However, at mile 13, I was feeling ill and sore, and I started "negotiating" with myself. You know--"Well, I have been running 8's for so long, even if I back off to a 9-minute pace, my finish time will still be respectable." At that point, I was blessed to be spotted by Mike Lapp. Mike knows me, and he only had to look at my face to know what I was thinking.  He knew I had the inner strength to stay on pace, and so he jumped in and ran a mile with me, staying just a step or two ahead to keep me from slowing down.  At mile 14, he knew he had helped me enough that I could get through the remaining miles by myself, and he ran off to help someone else.  Lesson five. Take advantage of the help others offer you.  You don't have to do this yourself! Inner strength is important, but sometimes it is drawn out through the kindness and encouragement of someone else.
  • As for the final miles of my race, there were even more familiar faces closer to the finish line, and constantly hearing, "Good job, Francine!" lifted my spirits and kept me strong, knowing I didn't have that much farther to go.  Lesson six. Embrace the energy and enthusiasm around you.
  • My success was also made possible by the amazing volunteers. From the cheer stations, to the course marshals, to the aid stations (where they carefully hold the cups just right so the runners can grab them as they pass), to the medical volunteers, and finally to the finish line volunteers who stand there for hours supporting the runners.  Lesson seven.  If you recognize the contribution of the volunteers and express your gratitude, you will feel a positive energy.

So I leave you with this thought that occurred to me after my race last week. While I have written many times about being successful in your running and your life through your own efforts--by having a positive attitude, by recognizing your inner strength, and by digging deep when you're struggling--don't think you ever have to "go it alone."  Let the people who care about you be your support and your strength when you need it. Then make sure they know that you are grateful to have them in your life!


Don't stop dreaming, and always keep moving forward! 

Monday, May 06, 2013

River Bank Run Week!

It's here! The Fifth Third River Bank Run is this Saturday. It's like a holiday for runners here in Grand Rapids, with many people challenging themselves to a 25K distance for the first time ever.


It also has a special place in my heart. In 1995, somewhere out around six or seven miles on Indian Mounds Road, I listened as a couple runners talked about marathon training. Before we turned off Indian Mounds, I decided training for a marathon that fall was my next big goal. 


The next day was spent with very sore legs. But the summer was spent building up my long runs and visualizing that first marathon medal hanging around my neck. I'd get up super early on Sunday mornings so I could run longer and longer on the back roads around Martin, Michigan. It was an exciting time of life.


THE RIVER BANK RUN CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE! It sure changed mine. Hope to see you out there this weekend.