Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another reason why ...

... My wife is the best!

She called me this morning just to tell me that she heard about Notre Dame's public sale of tickets for the football season opener against San Diego State on Saturday, Sept. 6.

So, I hopped on the ND website and bought a pair of tickets and now we have a date scheduled for next Saturday.

My wife is amazing!

A Riddle

What do you get when you cross two kids who love to play outside with a garden hose and the spot in the yard where the sandbox normally sits?

Answer: Lots of messy fun!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


As much as I've dreamed of living in a tropical climate, I have to admit that I love the seasons we get to experience here in northern Indiana.

My favorite season of all is fall, which is almost here and I'm excited. I love the way the air feels crisp and the colors are warm even if the weather is not. I love it when I can wear shorts and a long-sleeved T-shirt and be completely comfortable.

Watching things change as the seasons change is probably the best part of the whole thing. Seeing the corn go from green to brown, the trees go from green to all sorts of colors and the mornings go from warm to cool is something I never want to miss.

I love the seasons life brings and takes away as well. Right now is a season of uncertainty, determination, achievement, change and failure in my family's life. It's also a season of expectation, excitement and comfort.

So many things are about to change for us: Hanah is going to start school next week, with Katie as her teacher; David is almost four years old and will take part in some of the school lessons; We think we'll be moving away from the lake in the next few months and into a big, old, beautiful house in Mishawaka; Katie and I will be able to call ourselves half-marathoners at the end of September.

I'm excited for all of these changes, yet unsure what they will bring about. But that's the beauty of seasons - you get some good (fall, summer and spring) and some bad (winter) but there's always another one on the way!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Race Week

Tomorrow starts race week as I prepare for the Blueberry Stomp 15K on Monday morning. That's 9.3 miles - farther than any of my training runs so far. But I'm approaching the race as a training run since my normal long run for this week would be 8 miles.

I'm excited to run the race because it will be much more fun than a normal training run. There will be lots of people, a festival going on in Plymouth, water stations along the race route and free food at the end - not to mention a Blueberry Stomp shirt!

I'm tweaking my training plan this week so I build up to the race on Monday. Tuesday will be a 5-mile run, followed by 3 miles on Wednesday. Thursday will be another 5-mile day. Friday and Saturday will be rest days followed by an easy 2-mile run on Sunday. Then it's race day - 9 a.m. Monday morning.

The fact that I'm excited, and not dreading, a 9.3-mile run that is a week away is crazy. I never thought I would do a race longer than a 10K, let alone a 15K and a half marathon in the same month!

I really want this to become a lifestyle. I never thought I would say this, but I want to be a runner for the rest of my life!


Saturday's prescribed half marathon training regimen was eight miles. It took me 1:17:14 to complete it, but I did it and exactly halfway through I crossed an unbelievable milestone.

The milestone was 100 training miles completed - in 54 days. I have never run that much in my life.

Before committing to this training, the thought of running 100 miles - no matter how many days I was given - would have seemed impossible.

So, I'm excited to keep going. I'm excited to reach 200!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Entertaining or Aggravating?

I watched the final of the Men's 100 meter race at the Beijing Olympics and was absolutely stunned at the performance of Usain Bolt from Jamaica.

This guy is 6'5" and blew away the field on his way to a new world record of 9.69.

That was stunning.

What happened next was also stunning, but for a completely different reason.

Bolt started his post-race celebration during the race. With about 20 meters to go, Bolt broke his running form, spread his arms wide and then began to pound his chest (which is my least favorite celebratory gesture of all).

Who knows how fast his time could have been if he had kept his form and run hard all the way to the end? He may have set the record at an almost incomprehensible time - maybe even sub-9.6.

I heard on the radio today that track and field athletes get bonus money for breaking world records and perhaps Bolt was easing up so it would be easier for him to break the world record again. I don't know if that's what happened or not, but if so it was an even more disgusting display.

So, what was your reaction? Did you think Bolt's race and celebration was entertaining or aggravating?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Greatest Athlete?

There's been a lot of talk the past few days as to whether Michael Phelps is one of the best athletes of all time. No doubt Phelps deserves to be in that conversation, but how do you determine something like that?

It's nearly impossible to compare a guy like Phelps with others in the same conversation, like Lance Armstrong, Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. First of all, none of those guys play(ed) the same sports so you can't compare career statistics or accomplishments. There's no way to say for certain how one athlete would do in another sport.

All that said, I'm currently watching the USA Men's Basketball Team against Greece (thanks to NBC's live coverage online) and I think I'm seeing one of the best athletes I've ever seen.

LeBron James is listed at 6'8" and 250 pounds, a pretty good size for a small or power forward in the NBA. But when you watch him, he looks more like a guard. Often he leads the fast break for Team USA and often he finishes it as well. His combination of size, strength, speed and finesse are something I've never seen before.

I feel completely comfortable saying LeBron is the best athlete I've ever seen. He might not do so well in the pool against Phelps, on the baseball field against Babe, on the golf course against Tiger or on a bike against Lance, but I'd bet with the right coaching and lots of practice he would make a pretty decent tight end, wide receiver, defensive end, high jumper, long jumper or volleyball player.

I won't say he's the best athlete of all time because I still don't believe it's possible to make a definitive statement like that, but he's the first one I think of when that conversation starts.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Leadership Summit

For the second year in a row, I attended the Leadership Summit, an annual conference hosted by Willow Creek. I was at one of the many satellite sites, Granger Community Church.

This year's roster of speakers included Bill Hybels, Gary Haugen, Wendy Kopp, Bill George, John Burke, Efrem Smith, Craig Groeschel, Catherine Rohr, Chuck Colson and Brad Anderson.

Two of those speakers really stuck out to me - Gary Haugen and Craig Groeschel. That is not to say the other speakers weren't great, it's just that Haugen and Groeschel really captivated me.

Before I get into those two I wanted to point out how impressive Wendy Kopp and Catherine Rohr were. These two women founded organizations based on their passions, stuck it out in the midst of adversity and are making a difference in the world.

Gary Haugen is the president if International Justice Mission and spoke on Leadership That Matters (To God and to God's People). He works with people who are victims of injustice and asked, "How are they supposed to believe God is good?" Then he pointed out how the Bible says God's only plan to convince those people is US!

A few powerful points from Haugen:

Just because I'm leading and people are following doesn't mean I'm leading them in things that matter to their maker.

When the task seems hopeless, we lead by re-centering the basis of our hope. Give what you have to God and let Him work the miracles.

When the task seems scary, we lead by remind God's people that Jesus came to make us brave - not safe. Follow Jesus beyond what you can control.

When the task seems hard, we must choose not to be safe, seek deep spiritual health, pursue excellence and seize the joy.

If you want to ignite passion, lead people on a more demanding climb where it is unsafe to go without God.

Craig Groeschel is the senior pastor of and talked about IT. That's not IT as in computer stuff, but as in the IT factor. Groeschel candidly admitted that he doesn't know exactly what IT is or how to get IT, but he pointed out several qualities that are evident when IT is present and coupled each quality with a question:

1. Laser Focus (not more ministries, better ministries)
Q: What do we need to stop doing?

2. Seeing opportunities where others see obstacles (you have everything you need to do what God wants you to do)
Q: What is God trying to show you through your greatest limitation?

3. Willingness to fail (failure is not an option, it's a necessity)
Q: What has God called you to do that you're afraid to attempt? When will you do it?

4. Led by people who have IT (you need to have IT for your ministry to get IT)
Q: If you don't have IT what are you going to do to get IT?

Now, there are several people in my blogroll who have also written about their experience at Leadership Summit. Read their much more insightful comments here, here, here and here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The World's Second-Best Sporting Event

I've called the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament the world's greatest sporting event far too many times to go back on it now, so I'll have to designate the Summer Olympics as the world's second-best sporting event.

Every time the Summer Olympics roll around I get this new feeling of national pride and anticipation. I want the United States to win every event and every medal. That desire soon fades as I watch the unknown athletes from small countries achieving history and making their people proud.

Then there are the stories of amazing commitment, bravery and overcoming obstacles and adversity. Watching Derek Redmond - with the help of his father - finish the 400 meter race after an injury took him out of contention to win was something I'll never forget.

Watching the pride and joy on the faces of Olympic medal winners can nearly bring me to tears.

I can't wait to watch a whole new set of stories unfold as this year's Olympics unfold in Beijing.

What's your favorite Olympic memory?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Great Day with My Beautiful Wife

Monday was one of the best days I've had in a while. Katie and I got to spend most of the day by ourselves and we went to Chicago.

She got to spend some of her birthday money at a cool store called Lululemon, we got some Jamba Juice smoothies, went to Nike Town where I almost bought a pair of Team USA basketball shorts and then finished up the day with a meal and dessert at The Cheesecake Factory.

Maybe the best parts of our day were the times on the road when we got to talk about whatever was on our minds. With two kids running around us all the time it is sometimes hard to have any one-on-one time.

I love talking with my wife. When we get that kind of time together I'm always reminded why she is the best friend I've ever had. She gets me and I get her - there's nothing better than that!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What a Weekend

As mentioned in my half marathon training log, my weekend started at 9 p.m. Friday night with the first of three softball games that ended at 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning. I got home at 4 a.m. and slept until 9, then took a nap from 11-12.

The rest of Saturday was spent swimming and playing with the kids, eating dinner at the Syracuse drive-in (mmm, frosty mug root beer) and ice cream at Joe's (mmm, peanut butter cup).

Sunday was another big day because I had planned a surprise birthday party for my wife, Katie, who turned 30 on Monday. Despite several glitches in the plan - and a few text messages that could have ruined things if Katie had seen them - the surprise worked and Katie was shocked.

Katie has some pretty incredible friends and they played the biggest part in her party. Mindy Graverson, Janelle Prenkert and Leslie Yoder all pitched in - recruited some additional help just before the party started - and pulled off a great party for Katie. We enjoyed all kinds of good food, cake and ice cream, a pinata, volleyball and fireworks.

To top it all off, Katie and I drove to Chicago on Monday. Her biggest birthday wish was some shopping at Lululemon - a store that sells athletic apparel that fits tall women. We got some Jamba Juice, shopped and ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.

It was a full, fun weekend and I completely enjoyed all of it - especially celebrating my wife. She's an amazing woman and it was fun to make a big deal out of her.

Here's some pictures from the party: