Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keep running Matt, keep running!

Well, for those of you who are asking yourselves, "I wonder how the training for the Nashville Half Marathon is going for that fat guy?"  In my estimation, it is going well.  I still don't feel good when I run (not sure that day will ever come), but I hurt less (baby steps, right?).  I am running around 25 miles a week now, which is good for me (if you are some ultramarathoner, please do not post a comment about how you run twice as much).  My speed is creeping up slowly ("slowly" and "creeping" are two perfect words to describe my running style) and I am seeing overall improvement.  I've been talking to several people about the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon (Saturday, April 30th), which is only a little more than 4 weeks away and I am actually starting to get excited.  This run is one of the premier Half-Marathons in the country (coming from I guy who has run a grand total of two). 

But what I am really excited about is the opportunity to raise money for a great cause.  If you want to support me or motivate me, please consider giving to the cause I am running for - the People for Care and Learning ( in what they are calling the "Run for Hope".  This organization is doing AMAZING things in SE Asia.  A perfect example is that for only a $10 gift, you can help a family in Cambodia who are currently drinking filthy water with a water filtration system.  This small gift can ultimately save children's lives!  So, go to and give today.  Even a gift of $10 can save a life in Cambodia . . . and help to serve as motivation for me!

A quick story.  I got on the treadmill this morning for a 4.5 mile run and a friend got on the one next to me, we started running at about the same time.  As he was running, I asked him how far he was going, he said he was going about the same distance as me.  I was at 3.85 miles and he started his cool down . . . yes, I am that slow.  Nonetheless, I finished the 4.5 miles (even went out to 4.65 miles because I had a little extra time) and felt good doing it.

Someone asked me my goals in running this half and I was hesitant to say, because that makes me accountable and nobody likes being held accountable for what they say, especially me.  But, in an effort to be transparent (another word I am not a fan of), I'd like to finish . . . yes, finish.  Not good enough you say?  I'd like to beat my time from 2 years ago = 2 hours and 24 minutes.  Not sure about that, my training was derailed by a nasty cold for a couple weeks, but we'll see what I can do.  What is my real goal?  To raise $3000 for People for Care and Learning on this run.  You can't help me with goal #1 and #2 (unless you want to run in my place), but you can help with #3, so consider giving at the link above!

Thanks for your support and I'll try not to embarrass myself, although that would make for a great blog entry!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Cost Benefit Analysis of a Four Year Old

In everything we do, we do a mental cost-benefit analysis. Most are very simple and don’t need much assessment, but the truth is, we all do it. For example, while sitting on the couch, watching the last two minutes of the game, your wife yells from the kitchen, “Matt (which would be weird, unless your name is Matt), come in here right now and look at this!” In this situation, I have several options; (a) Yell back, “No, you come here right now and tell me about it!”, (b) Get off the couch at the next commercial break and saunter out into the kitchen, (c) Jump off the couch and sprint to the kitchen.

Now, a quick cost-benefit analysis tells me that that in option (a), the “cost” associated with the above comment will far outweigh the benefit of seeing the last two minutes of the game. In fact, in all likelihood, I wouldn’t see the final two minutes of the game anyways because the TV would be tossed out the window. A similar analysis of option (b) would suggest that the penalties for my slow response might not result in a broken TV, but anger and frustration nonetheless. So while the consequences are less severe, the cost still outweighs the benefit (for you gentlemen that disagree with my analysis . . . your wife is either a saint, or she is plotting her revenge as we speak). Option (c) is obviously the best choice . . . at least for me in my household.

My son is learning to do a similar analysis of difficult situations. Recently, while riding through the yard on his motorized toy tractor, my son almost hit the dog. Seeing that our dog is a member of our family, I said, “Don’t hit the dog or I’ll take that tractor away from you for being irresponsible.” He stops the motor and looks up thoughtfully as if pondering this dilemma. As moments pass, I can almost hear his inner-voice, “If I hit the dog, it might be funny, but I’ll lose the tractor. How long is it worth losing the tractor to see the dog jump?”

In an effort to get the answer to that question, he asks me, “Forever?” Now, at four years old, these are terms he is utilizing on a regular basis – always, never, and forever. My guess is, at four, everything except immediate satisfaction feels like forever.

However, in this case, by looking at the expression on his face (and by being someone with great experience in this type of assessment), I recognize he is doing a cost-benefit analysis. I also know that he is probably thinking that “forever” is probably too high a cost to pay. So, like any responsible, caring, respectable parent, I respond by saying, “Yes, forever!” Alright, I might have exaggerated a bit, but as I watched his shoulders sag, and disappointment spread across his face, I knew that it probably saved the dogs life.

He disappointedly looked at the dog and said, “Alright Tucker, get out of the way.” And so, the cost-benefit training has begun for this little boy. In a couple decades, his wife can thank me as he jumps off the couch to help her in the kitchen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I wonder if I can still make a dentist appointment?

Many of you may already know, in an effort to whip myself into shape, I have agreed to run a half marathon. When I made this decision, other activities seemed more appealing to me, like going to the dentist, or being stuck in the eye by a hot stick, but the health benefits seemed to be greater with running than with those activities, so I went with the half marathon.

Some have asked if that distance is difficult, to which I respond, “Duh, it’s 13.1 miles!” But the truth is that the training is difficult part. The day after day, week after week of running on the treadmill or on city streets is the most challenging component. The day of the race is actually a relief (imagine hearing this at the finish line, “Yes! It’s all over! I can quit training!”). Look, my body just isn’t made to run. I watch some guys run and they look like a sports car, it is natural for them. I am more like a tractor. Have you ever gotten behind a big tractor while it is driving down the road? Then you know what it is like to watch me run. The terms, lumbering, slow, and awkward have all been used to describe my running style.

Others have asked, “Once you get in your running groove, do you feel that runners’ high?” My answer is simply, “No, I have never felt a runners’ high. I have felt runners’ pain, does that count?” Nonetheless, my training began about six weeks ago and besides some time off due to illness, I have been faithfully working out during that time. I have already seen some benefits; like having more energy and losing some weight. But, I also have felt the side effects of this big guy running; a sore back, knees, ankles, and wrist (You may be asking yourself, wrist? Well, at this point, I hate running so much, that any pain or discomfort I experience, I blame on running, so yes, my wrist).

So why do I do this if it just results in pain and complaining? Well, I’ll give you the standard answer . . . for my health. I want energy for my kids and a long life with my family. While that answer is certainly true, there is also another motivating factor. When I signed up to run this torture test (it sounded like a great idea at the time, of course, I hadn’t run a single mile in a while and the pain involved clearly had slipped my mind), I paid a $100 nonrefundable entry fee and booked a hotel room. My negative feelings about running pale in comparison to my cheapness and there is no way I am throwing away that type of money, so, suffer, I will. With my money protected, my training keeps plodding (probably the perfect word to describe my training) along.

During a recent training session on our property, my son decided to come out to join me. I took great pride in the fact that I could easily outrun his John Deere tractor (forget the fact that it was a toy and the packaging said it was 3 year olds and up). He had to adjust his strategy to stay with me (since I was leaving him in the dust) and started just cutting across the middle of the yard just to catch me on the far side and say, “Hi Daddy”. This, by the way, was the best cheering section I’ve ever had and a wonderful motivator. Eventually I hit my cool down lap and my son got off of his tractor and walked with me. I was walking at a quick pace, so he would fall back a bit and have to run to catch up. After weeks of training, my son summed up my feelings best when at the end of our cool down lap he said, “Boy, all this running sure is tiring, let’s go in the house and rest.” My sentiments exactly, maybe I can still change my plans and make a dentist appointment.

For information on how you can support me on this run and an incredible nonprofit organization at the same time, see the posting below.

Run for Hope

Yes, I am doing it again, I am running the Nashville 1/2 Marathon on Saturday, April 30th (that's 13.1 miles . . . slightly further than I drive to and from work everyday). So what is this about, have I lost my mind? Well . . . yes I have. But at least I am doing it for a good cause. This year I am running for the nonprofit, People for Care and Learning ( They have titled this event the Run for Hope. No, it isn't Matt Ryerson's Hope I can Run, it's the RUN FOR HOPE!

PCL has done a tremendous amount of work in SE Asia serving those in poverty with very little hope. They have supplied water filters for children who were drinking filthy river water and built homes for families living in the streets. This is an incredible organization with incredible leadership. It is definitely something I support and something you can get behind.

I say all that only to let you know I haven't totally lost my mind (only partially) and I hope that you can find a way to support me in this effort. To give, simple go to my fundraising website at and give. You can give a set amount or a per mile rate (remember, that is 13.1 miles . . . ouch!)

Keep visiting the blog and I'll keep you updated on my training (and pain).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The early bird gets the worm . . . whatever.

The early bird gets the worm. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Who said that junk? Seriously, who likes to get up early? I know, my grandfather, who was a farmer, did more before sunrise than most people do all day, but he also ate dinner at 4:00 p.m. and was in bed at 8:00 p.m.. That’s just not normal, besides, he missed all the good television shows! He would tell us he’d be up at the rooster’s crow, but I am not so sure the rooster was actually awake. In fact, I believe he went out and woke the rooster up and the rooster was probably saying the same thing I say now, “What are you doing up so early?!?!”

Now, if you are one of those people who gets up early every morning and watches the sun rise, I am impressed, in fact, I may envy you just a bit (a very small bit). Unfortunately, my wife and I aren’t exactly what you would describe as “morning people”. The only reason I get up before dawn is because I need to do it to stay employed and my wife, doesn’t really get going until she has that first cup of coffee.

Years ago, when we were newly married, we loved our Saturdays as they were reserved for sleeping in and eating a late breakfast. Then we had kids. Now, don’t for a second get me wrong, we absolutely love our children, no hesitation or doubt about it. I just have the ability to show them how much I love them a little better AFTER 9:00 a.m.

When they were first born, their sleeping habits were all over the place, and that is to be expected. I mean crying babies at 3:00 a.m. are something we were prepared for with newborns. The good news is, cribs today are generally created to prevent children from escaping. Which means, on any given Saturday morning, when a child in a crib wakes up pre-6:00 a.m., you can simply wait them out until they fall back asleep. Unfortunately, they eventually figure out that if they scream, “MOMMA!” for long enough, that someone will come (interpret “someone” as momma).

Also, somewhere along the line, the child outgrows the crib and moves into a bed where we, as parents, can no longer cage them in. This is when problems can develop for parents who prefer to sleep late. Our son, was a prime example. When he figured out his new found freedom, we had a 5:00 a.m. visitor to our room several days in a row, singing, “Good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning, to you and you and you!” (oh how I regretted teaching him that song!). Finally, a tired mother laid down the law - nobody gets out of bed before the sun gets out of bed. I think that is a policy that the whole world should adopt it. The world would probably be a happier and more peaceful place to live if we did.

Nonetheless, our children are consistent breakers of this policy. We’ve tried everything, including letting them stay up late the night before, in hopes of getting them tired enough to sleep late. Nonetheless, their little biological clocks tick on and they wake up happy excited to tackle the day. Maybe like my grandfather, they’ll get more done before dawn than most get done all day. Maybe they’ll get that proverbial worm . . . but then, who really wants a worm that early in the morning anyways?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Be sweet to your little sister . . . or not.

My son can be a sweet boy. Recently, when my wife told him she loved him, he turned to her and said in a sweet voice, “Awwwww, such a precious mommy.” We have no idea where he got that, but it was sweet nonetheless. Another example of the potential he has to be sweet was one recent afternoon when my wife was generally not feeling well, he went and got her a cold glass of water without her even asking. He just wanted to help his mommy feel better.

Unfortunately, with his little sister, some of his sweetness evaporates. I guess this isn’t all that uncommon. The fights my brother and I had as children have legendary status. I wasn’t necessarily a sweet big brother, in fact, I was downright mean. At some level, I probably feel some sort of guilt for trying to torture my brother (although I have a difficult time finding it), so I want my son to be a different big brother . . . a sweet big brother.

The good news is, our son isn’t usually overtly mean (although he’ll occasionally take things from her and refuse to share – and drawing blood is only an occasional consequence). Like many younger siblings, our daughter clearly looks up to her brother. She often follows him around the house and mimics his behaviors (unfortunately, this includes both good and bad behaviors). On one recent occasion, she followed him into his room in an effort to get him to play with her. He was clearly annoyed by this and certainly didn’t want his little sister tagging along, so he picked up one of the dogs toys, threw it out of his room and yelled, “Fetch!” I’ll give him points for being creative, I would just yell at my little brother, “Get out!” and push him out of my room. What is most interesting is that our dog doesn’t even fetch, so what made his think his little sister would fetch is anybody’s guess.

Despite this, we continue to parent him to be sweet to his sister and we believe he will eventually grow to understand she’s not just a pest, but his loving little sister. In fact, just recently, my son found a bag of M&M’s in the house. Chocolate being his third favorite food group, following closely behind cookies and Cheetos, he did not delay in tearing the bag open and digging in. Suddenly, without warning, my son found the sweetness he so often displays for us and, without being told, offered to share his M&M’s with his little sister. Has it finally happened? Is he warming up to his little sister, anxious to serve her and share with her? It was finally here, the moment we were waiting for, the moment we knew would eventually come. He’s not me, he’ll be a good big brother.

Then, while our daughter was momentarily distracted by this surprising turn in generosity, he ran. Yes, he ran and hid so that he could finish off the rest of bag without the hassle of having to share with that little pest we affectionately call his sister, the kindness just a simple diversion. Baby steps, right?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Momma, you drive me . . .

My wife, being in a wonderful mood, danced her way into a room where my son and I were sitting watching television, and in an effort to entertain us, she began serenading us in a loud and somewhat sarcastically opera-style singing voice. We allowed this to continue for a minute without interruption before my son finally responded to this “intrusion” of his regularly scheduled programming with the following comment, “Momma, you’re driving me . . . “ I am certain his plan was to tell his mother she was driving him crazy, but as we all know, that would not be the wisest choice of words to utter, even if they are true.

Now, you’ll notice he showed some wisdom and did not finish his comment. He stormed into that sentence with a lot of confidence, but as he worked his way through the actual words, he quickly trailed off until he was quiet. The room was silent and you could tell by the look on his face that he had realized what he was saying and who he was saying it to. My wife and I just stood, staring in silence, watching closely for what would happen next. You could almost see him thinking through his next move carefully. He was probably already concerned that he had gone too far, but by our lack of immediate response, he must have figured there was a small window of opportunity to recover from this near blunder and his mind started strategizing.

This moment seemed to stretch on as his mind searched for a word or sentence he could insert into his wayward bound comment that could potentially save the day. After a few seconds of searching, stumbling over unintelligible words and coming up empty, he went to his go-to, feel-good comment, “I love you Mommy!” Now, play that phrase through your mind in the voice of a 4 year old boy, while he adds a little extra sugar in an effort to play up his cuteness. After a momentary pause, my wife and I could do nothing except burst into laughter. The sense of relief that spread over my son’s face when we started laughing showed he understood he had dodged a bullet. He understood he found the right words at the right time and it was clear he also understood he had almost stumbled upon the absolute wrong words at the wrong time.

His re-evaluation of his commentary gave me a sense of pride. Obviously I am not proud he was about to tell his momma she drives him crazy. I was proud in that at only 4 years old, he is already assessing the value and impact of his words. Ideally, he would have done this assessment prior to the words leaving his mouth. To his credit, he trailed off before his tongue landed on the key word, “crazy” (and probably the word that would have landed him in the most trouble). Now, the challenge is for me to apply this lesson learned to my own life the next time my wife is driving me . . .

“I love you!” Maybe that will save the day if I say it in a cute voice.