Saturday, December 24, 2011

Setting Goals, Meeting Expectations

At the end of each year we each start to reflect on the things we set out to accomplish during the year.  Sometimes these are New Year’s resolutions and sometimes they are mid-year adjustments.  As I look back at 2011 I see some things I am proud to have accomplished.  And of course there are things that I didn't finish, but I know I can keep working on them next year.

Setting My Goals
As I started 2011 I wanted to focus on running with the hopeful side benefit of loosing weight.  I also wanted to continue to support the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign.  I had an idea that would combine the two – donate $1 for every mile that I ran.  My plan also includes encouraging others to join and they could donate for my miles or theirs. 

My original goal was 1000 miles and a total of $1500 raised between me and my friends and family. This sounded easy since I had ran that many in 2010.  Plus that is under 20 miles per week.  With the training for Lake McMurtry 50K, OKC Marathon and Route 66 Marathon it should be easy, really easy…

Meeting My Goals
I had not looked at my total miles for a while and after the Route 66 Marathon I took off a couple of weeks of running.  After a couple of week of nursing a sore calf/shin and burritoed in blanks on cold mornings I looked at my schedule and realized I was 15 miles under 1100 miles total.  I was very pleased and thought I could get the 15 miles in by the end of the year easy.

Resetting Expectations
Then I made the mistake of attending the TATUR Christmas Party and watched the movie Unbreakable (  I guess the movie inspired me a bit (or it could have been the beer) but I thought “1200 miles might be a better goal.”  Followed by “if they guys can run 100 miles of mountain trails in 24-30 hours, I can run that far in three weeks.”

The big mistake I then made was mentioning “a few more miles” to my friends Ken Childress and Kathy Hoover.  They both said “you can do it” and the rest of the conversation was like this:
Ken: “How many miles to do you need?”
Me: <pause> “About 100.”
Ken: “Umm, how close to 100?”
Me: <longer pause> “115.”
Ken: <his turn to pause><blink><stare> “We should start early then - 6:00 Saturday.”
Me: <big smiles>

That was a Tuesday night.  This is the text with Ken on Friday evening:

Things have picked up this last week.  So far I have run 46 miles leaving 69 miles in 8 days.  I can do this especially with great friends encouraging me on.

How You Can Help
You can join me on Saturday mornings at 8:00 as I’ll be running with the RunnersWorld Tulsa running group.  I’ll then go out to get a few extra miles.

You can also help support my mission by donating to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign.  Simply click on and donate a few dollars.  For every dollar you donate between now and December 31st, I will add that many miles to my 1000 mile goal for 2012.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Calm After The Storm

What a great “3 day weekend” – 3 days of Route 66 Marathon activities and another $29 for the kids at the YMCA.  It was a busy weekend, but I am already looking forward to next year.  

Here are some of the best items of the weekend

Friday Night at volunteer check-in
  • Many volunteers checking in including groups of 40+ people
  • Several runners stopped to check in.  When we told them "this was volunteer check in and racers are one more down" we had several friends and family say "I can volunteer.  Where do you need me?"  We had at least 20 people sign up that night.

Saturday 5K with YMCA
  • Plan: be the sweeper for 150 first time runners and encourage them in.
  • Revised plan (revised by Summer at T -1:00 on the start line): "keep an eye on these two kids"
  • Reaction: "What? Me? They are fast."
  • Results: finished in 31 min with Nacho and Josiah

Sunday Route 66 Full Marathon
  • Best sign: 15th & Peoria "Way to go random stranger.  You're doing great"
  • Best water stop: Cascia Hall.  Man with megaphone directing traffic into the restrooms
  • Best unofficial aid station: Cold beer at mile 17
  • Best course location: "Mile 25.9"
  • Best sight: My family cheering me along Peoria and at the finish line.

Your’s truly at the finish line.  Found out later this was a 18 minute PR (over Oklahoma City).  Finished in 5:20 - enough for 9th in the “big boys” division.

Next year I’ll carry camera.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Perfect Storm

This is it.  Sunday is the event I've been looking forward to all year - the Route 66 Marathon.  Two years ago I ran my first marathon here and I look forward to it each year.

This year I get a double whammy on race satisfaction.  As you know my goal this year is to raise money to help kids through the YMCA programs.  I am donating $1 for each mile that I run and asking my friends to do the same. 

This year I get to run WITH the kids that benefit from these YMCA programs!

Blue Cross Blue Shield is encouraging Tulsa kids to get active by sponsoring hundreds of kids to run in the Route 66 Marathon 5K on Saturday.  Local youth programs like the YMCA have been training with these kids for the past several weeks.  I will be running the 5K with the Y kids on Saturday.  Be on the lookout for hundreds of kids (and me) in matching shirts.  This will be great to see again how my donations can help kids from all over Tulsa.

On Sunday I will also be running the Route 66 Full Marathon.  I'm looking forward to the new route this year as we tour Maple Ridge, Downtown, Brookside and TU.  I really like this course because it is almost in my back yard.  The course is within 3 blocks of my house 3 times.

I would like to ask for your help in one of three ways:
  1. Join us for the 5K run on Saturday.  Your $25 entry fee will help Tulsa in many ways through the United Way organizations.  Plus,  you will possibly inspire one of these new runners to become a lifetime runner.
  2. Come out Saturday and cheer on these new runners.  Look for hundreds of kids wearing matching YMCA shirts and yell for them.  I'm sure this will encourage them to run another race.
  3. Donate a few dollars to help support the Tulsa YMCA youth programs through our Strong Kids Campaign.   I’d like to see you match my donation for this one day - $26.20.  You can donate online at

Here is a quick progress update:
Miles:  1043
Donations:  $1303.00

Thanks again for your support,

Friday, September 16, 2011


How would you define “community”?  I always thought of it simply as a geographic region such as a city.  Merriam-Webster defines it as “a unified body of individuals”.  After this past weekend I couldn't agree more!

I've been running with RunnersWorld Tulsa training groups for a few years and have made many new friends along the way.  I’ve discovered some with common beliefs (and some polar opposites). 

Over the past few months a saw something unexpected – a simple “suggestion” became more like a virus in a small community.  Of course it was fueled by discussion, support and a bit of peer pressure.  Before long nine dedicated runners had become Triathletes!  These people went out of their way to take on a new challenge.  Nothing motivated them more than the encouragement from their running buddies – their community.  They dusted off their bikes or borrowed biked from friends and neighbors, researched training plans, and rallied each other for long training sessions. 

Misty, Darcy, Sue, Kathy, Guy, Troy, Tom, Venus and Lygea (not pictured) are now TRIATHLETES and members of another strong community!!

The most impressive thing to me is that each person had the courage to start.  While each had their own reason they worked together as a community to take on and overcome a new challenge.  I’m glad that I can call each one of the people my “triathlete buddy” now (in addition to my “running buddy”).

Lifelong Connections
This reminds me of the results I see with the kids attending Westside YMCA and Camp Takatoka.  Many of these kids start their first week away from home in a strange location with strange kids and councilors.  By the end of the five days they have made friends for life, learned they can take on new challenges and overcame their fears.  These experiences are truly life-changing and these kids will be part of an unbreakable community of their own.

I’m able to see firsthand how my financial and time contributions have impacted many lives.  This is why I am donating as much as I can this year.  I encourage you to do the same.  As of today I have raised $1039.  Please join me and my other buddies supporting this community.  You can donate now at

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekend Adventures

I was lucky enough to spend Saturday searching in the woods at Westside YMCA.  Normally this YMCA is for kids and summer camp.  But this weekend was for big kids at the third annual TATUR Mud, Sweat and Tears Adventure Race.

This race reminds me of the fun the kids have at Westside YMCA summer camp.  I feel like I’m experiencing the fun and challenges of camp – team work, problem solving, pushing your limits and learning new skills.  These experiences are exactly why I am so passionate about the YMCA youth programs and do what I can to help send more kids to camp.

This was the third year of the Mud, Seat and Tears Adventure Race race and the third year that I participated.  I was looking for a teammate who could uphold my record – last place finish.  Kathy Hoover agreed to run with me this year.  I was concerned her abilities might get us better than last place – until she told me she would have to borrow a mountain bike.  We were set to race.

This is a fun race all based on the name “adventure race” since you don’t know what you’re getting into until at the start line – or sometimes in the middle of the race.  Teams of two only told to bring a mountain bike, running shoes and “problem solving skills”.

18 teams lined up at the start line at 9:00am for the race instructions.  First up was a scavenger hunt around the Westside YMCA. We had to search through trees, streams and rocks to find the letters “RACE”.  Then we were told to go to Lake Logan to find our “jug” – which of course was floating in the lake.  Kathy took that one and didn’t waste any time taking off shoes and socks like other runners.

Then it was a 16 mile bike ride along the west side trails to find hidden checkpoints.  Some were camouflaged and others were well hidden – like just inside the Trek Store with all of the employees huddled around watching the runners scramble.  The last three miles of the bike was across Turkey Mountain.  It was a fairly mild bike trail and I actually rode about half of it. 

We were given another challenge at the start of the run - carry an egg with you and if you bring it back whole you get two minutes deducted from your time.

By the time we started the run it was starting to heat up – what turns out to be the last 100+ day of the summer (well, I hope).  We then had a 4+ mile run through Turkey Mountain to hit another 10 checkpoints.  This route was pretty tough as it took us to all of the high points on the mountain – and what seemed like all of the low points with all of the ups and downs. 

By noon I was feeling a little nauseous so we walked a lot of the run course.  We found all of the check points without any problems.  Thanks to the weekly TATUR runs I felt like I knew where I was at most of the time.  We saw several teams who had gotten off course or missed a few check points so they were backtracking.

We finished the run course and made it to the finish line with our unbroken egg (thanks to my Mary Poppins style Camelbak.  Our finish time was 3:27.  This was my fastest time for this race, but too fast for last place.  We were 12th overall (out of 18 teams) and 4th place coed team.

This was another great year for a great race around Turkey Mountain and other areas of Tulsa.  Scott Herbst and the other volunteers made the day a lot of fun and I can’t wait to do this again next year.  [And thanks for letting me snag some photos from the facebook group.  There are many more at]

Mark your calendars for September 8th 2012 and join this crazy fun.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


This week I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite places – YMCA Camp Takatoka.  This camp continues to have a great influence on my family.  I enjoy doing what I can to support this camp including raising money to send kids to this camp.  But seeing the results first hand is spectacular.

Thursday was the monthly Camping Services Advisory Board meeting and we chose to hold it at Camp Takatoka located on Fort Gibson Lake.  There were 14 board members, donors and family enjoying the evening outdoors with the campers and staff.  We were able to have dinner with the campers and then be a part of Thursday Night Live, a skit and awards event. 

There were many great experiences that evening, but one really stands out.  I sat for a few minutes at the dinner table with the half-and-half group.  This was a great group of smiling 7 year-olds wanting to tell me everything about their second day at camp. 

As I was returning to my table a 10 year-old at the next table said “You should sit with us now.”  When I asked why he responded “because we are awesome kids having an awesome time at this awesome camp!” 

In three seconds, this kid expressed the true feelings of his week at camp.  More importantly, this short one-week experience will stick with him the rest of his life.  This is exactly what I think of camp and why I’m supportive of these programs.

Please join me in supporting YMCA camp programs such as Camp Takatoka and Westside YMCA by donating at


Friday, May 13, 2011

A Memorial Marathon

On Sunday, May 1, I ran the OKC Memorial Marathon.  I’ve never participated in this race before but I won’t miss another one.

The first thing I notice about this race was the volunteers.  Everyone was happy to be there - standing in the rain, spilling water on themselves, picking up trash, and thanking me for running in the race.  Every runner was just as enthusiastic.  It took me a while to realize why…

I can’t imagine how the events of April 19, 1995 have impacted the families of the victims.  I know people who worked in the Murrah building but none were injured.  I really didn’t have a personal connection to any of the victims.

On Sunday I was running alongside Keri - one of the girls from this year’s training group.  This was her first marathon and she was wearing a “I’m running in memory of Steve W.”  She told me that Steve was related to a friend of the family.  Keri never had a chance to meet this man but seemed to know he was special based on his family.  I thought it was quite honorable for her to run in someone else’s name.  I continued to think about both of our motivation for a few miles.

Then out of nowhere a girl ran up behind Keri and asked “How do you know Steve?”  After Keri told the story the girl said “Steve was my father.”  Once again I was dumbfounded.  I didn’t hear the full conversation but Keri described how her family convinced her to run this Marathon for Steve.  It was then I decided that if she could run this race I can certainly finish no matter what the conditions. 

I plan to add The OKC Memorial Marathon to my list of “regular runs”.  I’ll go back each year in honor of the strong people I’ve met through running as well as  Steve and his daughter.  I’ll continue to run my other races for the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign.  But I’ll run this one for a different reason.

Monday, April 11, 2011

By the Numbers at Lake McMurtry 50K Trail Run

72,746 steps
5,347 calories
553 minutes
50 km
7 Dixie cups
5 PBJ sandwiches
3 handfuls Peanut M&Ms (two scoops of Skittles spit out)
2.4 gallons of sports drink
2 beers
1 BBQ sandwich
1 bruised toenail
0 blisters

#1 reason for running on Saturday - $31 raised for the YMCA summer camps

And as a bonus, here are a few mores stats about the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign:
$150 donation provides one week of day camp at Westside YMCA
$500 donation provides one week of overnight camp at Camp Takatoka
$1200 donation one year of sponsorship of the GO program for one student
$3,695,236 = YMCA provided to support families in the Tulsa area in 2010

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Helping Others – You Can Too

It was mid-December when I decided to set new goals for running.  I was wrapped up in a new distance milestone, studying training plans, and picking the right “race”.  Training was well underway in January when I thought – “why am I doing this almost every day?  It’s fun, but why?”

It was then I decided to run for a better reason.  I thought about the many ways running has helped me – more than just “health” (but more about that some other time).  It reminded me of the great things the YMCA camps and programs have done for me, my kids and many other families in Tulsa.  I realized these two things go together like peanut butter and jelly so I decided to run for YMCA Camp Takatoka and Westside Y.  That’s why I am donating $1 for every mile that I run in 2011 to the YMCA.

Join me in supporting the YMCA 2011 Strong Kids Campaign by donating at  Here are some ideas for you to consider:
  • One-time donation of $500, 25, 100, 50, 25
  • Pledge a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter for each mile I run in 2011
  • Sponsor a month a month of my running – maybe your birthday or your kid’s birthday
  • Volunteer at the YMCA (I do)

Every bit helps YMCA programs like summer camps, sports leagues, and family activities like Hero Camp.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

In the beginning – It was a late start

I started running a few years ago.  I wasn’t much of an athlete in school and never really worried about “being in shape”.  I’d never stepped into a gym unless I was lost.  At age 39 a couple of good buddies and I decided to try a triathlon.  Maybe it was the scotch, but it sure sounded like a good idea at the time.  We trained for several months and completed the Tulsa Triathlon one week before I turned 40.  We kept it up for several years but then injuries, work, and growing families took us in different directions.  We still enjoy an occasional run and camaraderie over coffee.  There is always an interesting story to hear.

During the triathlon training I really enjoyed the running.  I don’t know exactly why but I can think of two reasons.  First and foremost are the friends that I have made just because they are about the same pace as I am (or willing to slow down for me).  I’ve heard so many stories that make you feel good or make you think about how you are living your own life.  I have been lucky enough to find some true role models with a few miles of running each Saturday morning.

Second, would be the view.  Since I travel for my job I pack a pair of running shoes and take off in some new direction to get a unique view of a new city.  I’ve enjoyed seeing more of Tulsa this way as well as cities like Philadelphia, Denver, Atlanta, LA, Portland, even Lisbon, Portugal.  I hope that I can see even more cites.

Both of these remind me how lucky I am.  Everyone has difficult times in their life and everyone needs a support system.  The Tulsa YMCA has helped me and my family improve ourselves in many different ways– from swimming lessons (me at 39) to hands-on leadership training for my kids.  I've seen first-hand other lives that have been touched by the YMCA programs.  I'll be posting some of these on this blog from time to time.

I want to make sure the YMCA can help as many other families as possible.  Please join me in supporting these programs through their 2011 Strong Kids Campaign.  I am donating $1 for every mile that I run in 2011.  You can check my progress at  You can join me in support of the YMCA kids programs by donating at


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mitch Mock Marathon

This weekend I wasn't able to join the training group for their long run (see previous post on the Snake Run).  To keep my mileage up – and YMCA donations on track – I participated in Sunday’s first annual Mitch Mock Marathon.  Don’t confuse this with the Mock Mitch Marathon which can be found here.

Here are a few highlights from Sunday’s journey:

The start line was well prepared and oddly enough the crowd was calm.  I guess a 6:00am start time limits your time to get anxious.

The course included Riverside trails on the Westside – there were some unexpended “obstacles” near the pedestrian bridge (but not photographic evidence).  It also included 6 miles of trails on Turkey Mountain, including a short repeat of the snake trail.  As you would expect with any “mock” event there were frequent tour stops – QT, Reconciliation Park, and the Center of the Universe.  Thanks to the local construction companies that sponsored on-course port-a-potties.

The final leg of the event included the “Urban Challenge” with tasks such as avoiding cars and potholes, face-to-face interaction with panhandlers, discovering an unknown park and fence scaling.  Participation almost doubled for this leg as Arena joined in the challenge.

It was nice to see so many spectators on the course.  Some were a bit stiff, but looked like the enjoyed the event.

Some of the fans made a lot of noise and it was nice to have their support.

The finish line was top notch and the fans were very enthusiastic.

The finishers’ award were some of the best in the region.

I consider the Mitch Mock Marathon a successful event and I hope it will be repeated in the future.  I plan to participate again next year if the race directors will let me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Other Side of the Finish Line

Saturday was the TATUR Snake Run and the fourth year this race was held on some of the easiest trails on Turkey Mountain.  It is also my fourth year volunteering at this race. 

I can’t recall exactly how I started helping with this particular race, but I keep volunteering because of the runners.  In this particular event the runners run for three or six hours to complete as many 4 mile laps as possible.  I’ve always helped with counting laps and get to see each runner 3 to 10 times (if not more).  A lot of these people have kept me motivated and pushing my limits and this is a way that I can give back to them and the Tulsa community.

The start line a few minutes before race time.
As you can see, trail runners prepare for a race a little differently.

I remember the first time I was counting laps and kept track with check marks next to race numbers.  It also rained that year.  In the end the winner was the person with the biggest smear next to their name.  Since then I wrote a small program so we could simply enter the racer numbers to track the results.  This has made it a lot easier even as we have more events and more runners.

From my unique viewpoint I was able to see some pretty cool things:
  1. Hundreds of runners as they finish each lap.  Several of them set new personal records each time they crossed that line.
  2. Dogs running off into the woods at the start of the race. 
  3. A dog being carried out of the woods after running almost 16 miles.
  4. Race directors running around like crazy to keep everything organized, on time, efficient, and safe.
  5. Beer as an energy drink (as I always suspected it was).
  6. The sound of 200 shiny medals and 200 proud runners standing in line for these medals.
  7. Semi-organized chaos at 5:00am – exactly what you would expect that early.
  8. Runners helping runners with advice and continual motivation.
  9. Racers staying to help clean-up, down to the last cup.
  10. People who normally volunteer racing.  People who normally run volunteering.
There were also a few things that I didn’t see:
  1. The three aid stations and staff with magical powers able to transport themselves through the woods.  (Actually, the runners passed the same point three times on the out & back course, they just didn’t all realize it.)
  2. Anyone fall (although there was evidence of a few).
  3. Anyone complain.
  4. Trash on the trail after the race.
  5. Snakes (and I was looking).
More pictures of this event and a nifty report from the race director can be found at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Meet KiKi

This is why I am running for the YMCA Stong Kids Campaign.  You can donate at to help support programs like the GO Club program at McClure.

KiKi, a fourth grader at McClure, was known as a school bully and a frequent flyer in the principal's office.  When I say frequent flyer, you have no idea how much time we spent together.  KiKi could lead a group of students into a "he said, she said" rumor mill with great skill.  Kiki was overweight and although other students knew better than to tease her, her self esteem was very low.  She also struggled academically.  In the middle of the winter her family's apartment at London Square was destroyed in a major fire.  The last several months of school they were relocated several times as they tried to get their lives back on track.

After Matt made his presentation to the McClure staff about the GO Club program, KiKi's fourth grade teacher emphatically recommended her.  In partnership with the GO program each Thursday the Tulsa HUB would teach the kids bicycle skills and safety.  The first time that the students actually got on the bicycles it became apparent that KiKi, school bully and one of the oldest students in the group, couldn't ride a bike! Thru the efforts of HUB volunteers (and A LOT of individual coaching by Summer) KiKi learned to ride a bike for the first time.  She even made the 6 mile ride to the Quick Trip Park as part of the culminating activities. 

Before school ended, KiKi admitted to me that she also didn't know how to swim.  She admitted to being a little nervous about summer camp and swim lessons but when I reminded her that she had just accomplished an amazing feat of learning to ride a bicycle, she grinned and agreed that she could tackle swimming too.

On the next to last day of school KiKi's homeroom class called me to meet them in the hallway.  Each student had on a t-shirt that read "I grew _____ years in reading."   Their teacher had on a t-shirt that read "we grew 2.5 years in reading."    As I praised the students, wiped my tears, and told them how proud I was of them-the entire class started saying-"Ms. Baston, Ms. Baston – KiKi grew the most."  Sure enough, KiKi was standing proudly with a t-shirt that said "I grew 2.75 years in reading."  Now this was a class of students who earlier in the year was frustrated and tired of KiKi's behavior but now couldn't wait to tell me that she had made the most progress in reading of anyone in the class.

KiKi had made huge progress in other ways as well.  Not once since she started GO did KiKi appear in my office on a disciplinary referral.  In fact, teachers and students noticed a new confidence in her and we saw her becoming a model citizen.  KiKi has returned to McClure this year.  Although we've only been in school for 4 days-we see a new KiKi.    She has already asked when GO will start!

How Yoo Do’in

This past week I looked back at my progress – 5 runs so far in February is not what I was hoping for.  I've run about half of my training plan but I’m not worried about it.  I feel like I’m on good pace for my target “race”.  February will provide $40 to the YMCA.  January was a good month with $125 raised.  You can track my progress at

Please join me in supporting these great programs.  I have pledged $1 for every mile that I run in 2011.  You can join me in supporting the Y Camps by pledging 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, or more for every mile that I run (or that you run).  Or you can simply make a flat donation for the 2011 Strong Kids Campaign at

Thanks for your support!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Getting Started

I like to run.  I can’t say exactly why I started a few years ago, but I enjoy it.  Each year I have set new goals for myself – all based on longer distances.  

For 2011 I’ve decided to put my running to a different use.  I am a big fan of the YMCA Camp Takatoka and Westside YMCA.  I plan to donate $1 for every mile that I run in 2011.  I want you to join me in supporting these great programs by pledging a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, or dollar for each of my miles.  Or start your own plan and donate for each of your miles.

It’s impressive to see firsthand the impact these programs have on kids in the Tulsa area.  It is very hard to describe, but here is a try: