The Last Lecture and Thank You

At least once a year since 2008, I have watched the below video – The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Today I felt the need to watch it again – no I am in perfect health, I just felt it was time to watch it again.

Although the video is a little long, it is worth the time to watch it. If you watch it closely it will make you think and sometime in the course of that thinking you might become uncomfortable, but it will make you think and that is what is important.


If you do watch it, what I am writing below will make sense.

Childhood Dreams

Childhood dreams that I can remember:

1.  Be an astronaut:  Never accomplished. I have 20/350 and 20/400 vision, so flying was out of the question, even as a crew member, but I lived  this dream vicariously through Bruce Melnick, a Coast Guard aviator that I was stationed with in the 70’s.  He was selected as an Astronaut and I followed his exploits during the Endeavor and Discovery missions. Mr. Melnick might not remember that YN3 from AIRSTA Cape Cod, but I still lived one of my dreams through him.

2.  Be a knight in shining armor.  Since reading and watching King Arthur, Robin Hood and Ivanhoe, when I was a kid, I always wanted to be a hero. I may never be a  the Knight in Shining Armor, but thanks to books or computer software, I can rescue princess, kill evil dragons, and do good deeds.

In the real world, I simply try to do good when I can.

3.  Be a power forward for the Boston Celtics.  The “impossible dream” at 5’7″, (and very little talent) — but basketball taught me perseverance, toughness, teamwork and the willingness to dive in, when I probably should have stayed outside where it is safer, instead of going in amongst the “trees”.

4.  Date Ms. America.  Beautiful women have captivated men throughout time and I am no different…but I got lucky – even though she doesn’t have the title Ms. America, I married the most beautiful woman in the world and am very lucky to have her in my life.

5.  Become a Sailor.  I was always eavesdropping on my grandfather and his buddies when they were in their “cups” and began to tell their “sea” stories.  Then I would raid my grandfather and uncle’s “sea chests” and taking out their old Navy uniforms to wear, even though, I couldn’t sit down when they caught up with me.  Although I didn’t go in the Navy, I did go in the U.S. Coast Guard and retired from there, so I became a “real” sailor.

6. Win the Boston Marathon: I think that a lot of kids growing up in New England had this dream. I wanted run and win the Boston Marathon after listening to George Hale (you have to be from Maine) talk about this race during the evening news back in the 60’s. I have considered myself a runner for over 40 years, but not a very good one. Running has been and will be an important part of my life.

I still have not run, much less won the Boston Marathon. But I am training to qualify for Boston at the Marine Corps Marathon 2013 and am planning to run there in 2015. No I don’t expect to win, but by going as an official runner I will have done something special in my eyes. (Positive statements only)

Thank You

My Wife. She believes in my dreams, enough to go back to work, while I stay at home to pursue them and supports me through my moments of self-doubt. We work as a partners, teammates and trust one another, which is what I believe a marriage should be. I love you Mary.

My Father. We have both grown up a lot over the years and I am proud to call him my friend – as well as my father. We haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but he has always had my back and has defended and supported me, even when he didn’t agree with my choices. He taught me the value of both working hard and hard work (they are different).

One thing that he taught me is that just because you have a piece of paper, doesn’t always mean you are smart, educated or right. It just means that you may have had a little more money and the timing was right, that others were not so fortunate to have had.

My Mom. She believed in me when even I didn’t. I miss her terribly and wish that we could have some of those conversations again and that I could tell her that I am following my dreams again.

Mr. Kenneth Smith. My high school cross-country coach, who scared the hell when I first met him, but I do not believe that I have met too many finer gentlemen in my life. The mentor to a scared little boy who didn’t have a clue about so many things. You are the one who introduced me to my lifelong addiction/affliction – running.

Captain Timothy McKinna, USCG(Ret). One of my mentors in the Coast Guard and another gentleman that I will never forget the lessons that he taught me and someone who was always willing to listen, when I needed to talk. Yes he was a runner also.

Mike B – From creating fairy seats for my daughters to fixing old Jeeps, you have been my friend and someone I can call if I need anything. I value our friendship more than you will ever know.

There have been so many others that I could make this a forever post, but as Dr. Pausch said we do not go through life alone and I think that we have to learn to appreciate what others do for us, before we can learn to say thank you. Even though it should be the other way around.

The reality is that

“The Last Lecture” affected me profoundly the first time that I saw it, and every time I watch it, I learn something new. It helps to ground me, remind me to do better than I think I can and gives me confidence that I can still chase my dreams.

I think that sometimes we  get so caught up in things being about me, me, me; that we forget to take time out to look around us, appreciate what we do have – spiritually and materially and give credit for a great deal of our successes on those who helped us succeed – we didn’t do it alone.

Remember – just because you have others who help you, does not mean that you do not have to do the work. If you don’t or are unwilling to do the work – a dream just becomes a fantasy that will never become a reality.

Those brick walls only stop those who do not want it bad enough.

  • What do you think?
  • Is there a dream that you have, that a brick wall is in your way?
  • What are you going to do about it?

Live your life well, do the right things for the right reasons, remember those childhood dreams and to say thank you.

Thank you everyone, who took the time to read this post. And to the memory of Dr. Randy Pausch, who I never knew, but who’s words have affected me so much. Thank you.

Sometimes You Have to Run Slower to Run Faster

Why I am not running down back for a while! Ice, slush & mud

Today was scheduled to be an easy 6.0 miler and you know what – I DID IT!

Every time I caught myself starting to run a little faster, I slowed back down and all of my miles ended up over 9:00 average pace and at no time did I go under an 8:00 pace during the run.

This is a first for me, usually I end up running sub 8:00 pace, multiple times in a run and for me to keep it this slow for over 6.0 miles – is a good thing.

What in the hell are you talking about Harold?

Aren’t you supposed to be working on going faster not slower?

Sometimes to improve your speed as a runner, you need to learn to go slow also, especially on your recovery runs. I don’t mean 20 to 30 seconds slower than your normal training pace, but 1 to 2 minutes slower and then do your faster runs faster, instead of just a little bit faster.

For far too many years, I was running most of my miles in that middle ground 8:10 to 8:40 pace (for me), where I was doing more – running to run than running to train.

I think what really changed my philosophy on slower running was when I read this from the Hanson’s Marathon Method book pg 41:

Misconceptions abound when it comes to easy running. Such training is often thought of as unnecessary, filler mileage. Many new runners believe that these days can be considered optional because they don’t provide any real benefits. Don’t be fooled; easy mileage plays a vital role in a runner’s development. Every run doesn’t need to be — and should not be — a knock-down, drag-out experience. Easy runs dole out plenty of important advantages, without any of the pain, by providing a gentler overload that can be applied in a higher volume than in SOS workouts.

In their book there is is a lot of information devoted to Easy days. After reading those sections, it finally got through my thick skull that I needed to change things in how I train.

That was the easy part saying that I was going to do it. Doing it proved to be a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, as you can tell from my excitement about being able to maintain a slower pace at the start of this post.

Now that I am actually, well mostly following a training plan, for an important to me Half Marathon in June and then the Marine Corps Marathon in October, I need to at least follow the basics of that plan. I’m in my second week and I can already tell that there is a difference in how I feel. I am not as exhausted all the time, even though I hit 50 miles last week (not part of the plan), so in my mind there is something to this going slower thing.

Today was a scheduled recovery day run, after yesterday’s tough, but great Interval workout, according to the Hanson’s Marathon Method pg 45, my easy runs should be between a 9:00 and 10:00 minute pace and as you can see:

I got close a couple of times, but caught myself before I broke 9:00 for an average mile pace.

I ran in the Superiors with the Swiftwick Aspire 12’s and they didn’t bother a bit, my feet were comfortable the entire run, they seem like a good combination. I still find it amazing how certain sock/shoe combinations work and others don’t at all. I know that I feel pretty good sitting here post-run in the Aspire’s, with my feet up.

Overall, today’s run in rain showers was a good run and the best part is that there were no twinges or niggles that felt like they were slowing me down and when I finished, I felt like I could have gone a lot further. I am becoming more and more a believer that sometimes you do have to run slower, to run faster (and farther).