Day at the Office

Day at the Office
All Terrain Vehicle
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Phillppians 3:14

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Head Cold that Has Dropped Me to the Canvas!

Christmas has come and gone and I can honestly say that this has been one of my most enjoyable Christmas that I can remember. Being a full commission salesman and the struggling economy may have played a part. Although things are fine at the moment, I was brought back to the realization of what is wife, my kids, my faith. What a blessing!

With that being said, I have had a cold for the past 10 days that has whipped me. My wife also has the same cold that she came down with at the very same time that I did.

December 14, I ran the Whiterock Marathon. (race report at Rusty Safety Pins) At mile 2 I knew something was wrong with my body and at mile 4, I puked. I felt fine that morning before the race, but by the time I went to bed that evening I knew that my ill feelings were more than post marathon recovery pains. By Monday morning my wife and I were both feeling bad and Monday night it was a full blown head cold/upper respiritory infection. I felt so bad the entire post marathon week that I didn't even run around the block.

So to cut to the chase scene: it has been nearly 2 weeks since I got sick and both my wife and I still have not recovered. I did go to spin twice this week and I ran 3 times.....but is has been brutal....a lot of hacking up lung cookies and shooting snot rockets out the nose. This weekend I really need to get a 25 to 30 mile run in as Bandera 50K is in 2 weeks...I was looking forward to racing it strong, but at this point I just want to finish it without it being a Bataan Death March. I will post the elevation of that little race later. Suffice it to say that you are either ascending or descending...oh what fun!

Despite the head cold, I am thankful. Thankful for my wife, my kids, my Savior, whose birthday we just celebrated yesterday. Godspeed and try to avoid this head cold stuff...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gift Wrapping Tips for Men - By Dave Barry

I didn't write this. Wish I did. Enjoy.

This is the time of year when we think back to the very first Christmas when the Three Wise Men: Gaspar, Balthazar and Herb went to see the baby Jesus; and according to the Book of Matthew, "presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh." These are simple words, but if we analyze them carefully, we discover an important, yet often overlooked, theological fact. There is no mention of wrapping paper. If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so: "And lo, the gifts were inside 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper was festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman. And Joseph was going to throw it away, but Mary saideth unto him, she saideth, 'Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for next year!' And Joseph did rolleth his eyeballs. And the baby Jesus was more interested in the paper than the frankincense." But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped.

This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:
1. They were wise.
2. They were men.Men are not big gift wrappers.

Men do not understand the point of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it off. This is not just my opinion; this is a scientific fact based on a statistical survey of two guys I know. One is Rob, who said the only time he ever wraps a gift is "if it's such a poor gift that I don't want to be there when the person opens it." The other is Gene, who told me he does wrap gifts, but as a matter of principle never takes more than 15 seconds per gift." No one ever had to wonder which presents daddy wrapped at Christmas," Gene said. "They were the ones that looked like enormous spitballs."

I also wrap gifts, but because of some defect in my motor skills, I can never completely wrap them. I can take a gift the size of a deck of cards and put it the exact center of a piece of wrapping paper the size of a regulation volleyball court, but when I am done folding and taping, you can still see a sector of the gift peeking out. (Sometimes I camouflage this sector with a marking pen.) If I had been an ancient Egyptian in the field of mummies, the lower half of the Pharaoh's body would be covered only by Scotch tape. On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My wife, like many women, actually likes wrapping things. If she gives you a gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries separately, which to me is very close to being a symptom of mental illness. If it were possible, my wife would wrap each individual volt. My point is that gift-wrapping is one of those skills like having babies that come more naturally to women than to men. That is why today I am presenting:

GIFT-WRAPPING TIPS FOR MEN:* Whenever possible, buy gifts that are already wrapped. If, when the recipient opens the gift, neither one of you recognizes it, you can claim that it's myrrh.* The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch. They must be smoking crack.* If you're giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper!Just put it inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive bows on it. This creates a festive visual effect that is sure to delight the lucky recipient on Christmas morning:

YOUR WIFE: Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?
YOU: It's a gift! See? It has a bow!
YOUR WIFE (peering into the trash bag): It's a leaf blower.
YOU: Gas-powered! Five horsepower!
YOUR WIFE: I want a divorce.
YOU: I also got you some myrrh.

In conclusion, remember that the important thing is not what you give or how you wrap it. The important thing, during this veryspecial time of year, is that you save the receipt.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The human spirit knows no bounds. This is one major reason I participate in endurance events. The stripping away of perceived limitations to go beyond what most think impossible.

So this evening, walk, jog, or run a mile...or maybe 20 miles.

This photo is courtesy of my wife Brenda. She took it about 200 feet from the finish line of the Dallas Whiterock Marathon 2008. The Dallas Whiterock Marathon's beneficiary is Scottish Rite Hospital that helps those like the young boy running the last part with the two adult runners. Note of interest: The double amputee passed me at about mile 21.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rusty Safety Pins

Just a couple of weeks ago I was laughing with Bill Rogers about how you know it has been a long race day if your safety pins that adhere your race number to your person are rusted by the end of the race.

During Sunday’s Dallas Whiterock Marathon, I was out there so long that I was afraid that it would take WD40 to break loose my safety pins.

The synopsis:

It was warm, got up to 79 F. It was windy, gusting up to 40 MPH. At mile 2, I was sweating profusely. My heart rate was too high. I tried to bring it down…to no avail. The reason? Don’t really know, maybe I started out too fast with the high temps that I had not run in during the last couple of months. I was nauseated much of the race and knew around mile 4 that was going to be a tough day and that I just wanted to try to hold my self together.

It was a worse day for many other people.
At mile 22, a 29 year old experienced runner went down only to pass away after attempts to restart her heart. She was from Austin, a newlywed and just had completed graduate school at LSU. Keep her family in your prayers.

At mile 9.5, a young guy went down hard in front of me. The man directly in front caught him. I ran back about ¼ mile to try to get some medical attention from the previous add station. While the other runner had his cell phone and called 911. We moved on when some of the spectators where caring for him. My guess, severe dehydration.

I finally finished. A miserable day in a marathon is still better than any day in the office. I have learned that I really prefer trail running.

On a much lighter note on two accounts:

At about mile 7, I hear, “DAVE, DAVE!” I turn around and see a guy I have never personally met but recognize him anyway. His name is Derek and we frequent each others blog. He ran the first leg of the relay and then was going to finish up by running the whole marathon. He caught up to me and it was good to meet him. I saw him a couple other times on the course and he was always smiling. Additionally I met BrendaC who also frequents my blog. She had flown down from Virginia Beach and my wife and I had dinner with her on Saturday evening. She actually looked really strong during the race when she blew by me. Good times, good times!

After the race, our daughter, Macy got lost from us in the throes of humanity. Adrenaline kicked in and my legs didn’t hurt so badly. She was quickly found and taken to the medical tent and then brought to us after I let a policeman know that we had misplaced our 5 year old daughter. Macy was pretty shaken up. To help her out, the race personnel gave her a Marathon finisher’s medal. If I knew it was that easy, I would have gotten lost and then cried a little. You have to get lost because only crying doesn’t get you a medal. :)

Tonight, maybe a little spin class.
(all pics are 10 minute post race, pre Macy Misplacement)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dallas Marathon Packet Pickup

In 2 days the Dallas Whiterock Marathon will be run. That was the race last year that caused me to re lace up the running shoes and to make it happen. Even though I really don't care for road racing and much prefer the trail race, I feel indebted to the Dallas Marathon for the motivation nudge this past year.

So today I picked up the race packet. It included the personalized bib, a long sleeve cotton shirt and and a short sleeve tech shirt.

This is not my first marathon. So after running a 50K, some pretty tough trail races and a decent amount of trail runs over 30 miles, why is it that the marathon still intimidates me a bit. Seriously, I have run 30K trail races that made the marathon look like a walk in the park. I am in the best shape of my life. I feel good...and yet I feel unprepared....why???! I don't know. It may be that for so long in my life, the marathon distance was heralded as the be all/end all distance to conquer. That last statement just made the marathon a mental thing didn't it. Back to my hypothesis that running is mental.... isn't it!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

OH Trashy Christmas Tree...and I love IT!

Christmas time is my favorite time of year. Last Sunday I began dragging the Yuletide decor out of storage and at this point we are just about done. Yeah, I takes us about a week to get it all done up right.

Since we are finished decorating. I started looking at our Christmas tree last night. In our Plano area, it is vogue to have all tree decorations match and to have a common theme. If your really gung ho, you spend the money to change the tree decor/theme every year. We are not those people on either account. In fact the Elliott family tree decor is about as eclectic and diverse as you possible can get.

You see, when Bren and I got married...we had love baby...but not much money, honey. Therefore the Christmas decorations were either found on really really cheap sales or just plan cheap to begin with. So the $15 dollar Angel that topped the Elliott's first Christmas tree is still the same one that tops it now. We have the money to change it....but I don't want to. It's got 13 years of memories in it now. And that is pretty much the same statement that can be said for every ornament on the tree.

Yeah, yeah...some of them border on the trashy side....but I like'em.

Like the Marlyn Monroe ornament in her famous "oh my skirt is flying up - Seven Year Itch" pose. It was given as joke, to me, from Bren's brother. Who doesn't want Marylin under, or in my case, on your tree. The other ornaments might not be quite so provocative, but just as cool. Like the Redstone Mercury Rocket that actually counts down then lights up on lift off. I got it when I was a flight design engineer at NASA. Or how about the 3 Disney ornaments that we got when we went to DisneyWorld. I'm a huge Elvis fan, so we have 2 Elvis that actually sings "Blue Christmas." The list goes on....3 Superman ornaments, Santa Clause by the Campfire... We have ornaments that represent our interest, points in our life, and last but certainly not least, our Christian Faith.

Now the kids are into it,. insuring that their Christmas tree ornaments adorn the tree. My wife, every year, attempts to purchase an ornament that is indicative of that child in that year. For example, Luke has 2 Toy Story ornaments featuring Buzz Lightyear and Cowboy Woody. When he was 3 and 4, not much could compete with that Disney film. Last year, Macy received a ballerina ornament representing her first year to take dance. Hope had a Waterford Crystal Baby carriage representing her first Christmas. (I didn't say all of them are cheap!) This list also goes on and on. We also have the ornaments that the kids made in school...they all go on the tree...even the less attractive ones.

I know of one individual who makes her children hang the ornaments they made on the back of the tree so they can not be seen. What's the purpose. The whole reason I want them on the tree is to remind myself of the wonderful memories of our family. Our Tree is a window pane into the Elliott's hearts, a portrait of our lives.

Luke is now 7 and Macy now 5. And although this "Tough" Marine sometimes doesn't want to admit it, I soften up at the thought that they won't be around forever. Yesterday I was rocking Luke to sleep. Today, he will want to go play catch. Yesterday, Macy and I made a gingerbread house together. It's a tradition for just she and I. She won't always want me to make make sure the icing is on just right. And Hope, well, she acts just like her daddy...and always makes me laugh. She too, one day, will move on. This is not a bad thing, just normal. So for now, I want my Christmas tree to look like the hodge podge of decor that it actually is....