Four Words


There are too many teachers to list here that impacted my life: Phillips, Bryant, Davis, Pippen, Stringfellow, Jackson, Cornelius, Goforth, Prosser, Miss Emily, Mashburn, Taylor, Winston Parden (from church) and the list could go on. There is one who stands out even among this list of great educators and principals. It is an understatement to say I was a undisciplined student. I was distracting, always making jokes, and looking for attention. I owe an apology to all the educators that had to tackle the task of providing my education. Coach C, Mr. Jackson, and Mr. Davis all provided that education courtesy of a paddle. Third grade teacher, Miss Hill, left a lasting mark on my heart and life. Miss Hill was a grandmother figure who wore long skirts, tweed jackets, pointed classes, and had well kept white hair. She carried herself with grace and dignity. Being disruptive in her class meant writing on the blackboard. I wrote on the board on many occasions.

schoolpic

I still remember that I was in Connecticut singing when I found out that she passed away. I sat looking out the window watching it snow and just wept. I had regret that I never shared with Miss Hill how much she had impacted my life. It made me sad and at the same time deeply grateful for her compassion and tenderness in dealing with me.

There was a day in third grade that stands out. The class was supposed to be working on homework. “David,” I looked up and Miss Hill was looking straight at me. I was confused because I was actually working on my studies. I was being called up to her desk. “Oh crap! Wonder what I will be writing on the board this time” summarized my thoughts. A deep breath and I begin the slow walk to the front of class. I walk around the side of the desk and she summons me closer. She sat tall and proud in her desk. Sitting down her pen, she leans forward and putting her arms around me. She smiles and said “I believe in you.” She then hugs me and sends me back to my desk.

I was blown away. I had never heard those words before or at least that I could recall. She believed in me? Why? Looking back now, she wasn’t saying she agreed with my behavior or antics. She wasn’t saying I could be anything I dreamed of being. She was telling me that she saw potential that I couldn’t see and she was doing her part to water that seed in my life. I along with all the people and educators after ward would love to tell you that my life immediately changed but that isn’t true. My behavior in her class improved drastically. I had many lessons ahead to learn and powerful failings that would drive me back to that third grade moment.

I wonder what she saw that day. It remains a mystery. I do know that day a teacher shaped my heart and life. I know it is one of the reasons I try to encourage other people. An encouraging word, text, email, or prayer can help shape someone’s day or even their life.

To every teacher that welcomes a new school year, thank you. There is a child you will see each day who will look back and one day tell stories of your impact on their life. To each parent, show grace and pray for them. They are being used to help shape and mold your children.

Four words, “I believe in you” helped shape my life. Thank you Miss Hill. Any encouragement others receive from me is in part because of you.

DG

What teacher shaped your life? Leave comments below telling them thank you.

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KT Tape Tips


Some tips to make your KT Tape experience even better.

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Why I wear 2XU


Disclaimer: I have received no compensation or product for this review. The opinions are mine alone

2XU Socks

After several years of seeking to figure out running on my own and some injuries later, my game plan changed. I began to surround myself with knowledgeable people and companies who were committed to the health and well being of the athlete. I also learned that an important part of my training was my recovery after a workout. 2XU (pronounced 2 times you) is well positioned to meet both those needs for me, support before, during, and after a workout.

Pictured above is an example of me using the New Compression Performance Run Sock. Graduated compression, achilles support, and breathability makes this sock work for me. I often nixed the idea of a run compression sock because even though it had great compression it didn’t meet the needs of my feet. Past compression socks tended to lack support or wicking in the foot causing friction or hot spots. That isn’t the case with the 2XU version. I don’t hesitate whether its a long slow run or speed work at the track.

I also like to recover in my 2XU gear. I like to combine the 3/4 Compression tights with the calf sleeves to speed up recovery. The “legs up the wall” drill works wonders for me. I have been impressed with the upgrades in material and breathability of the calf sleeves. The new version has similar breathable material and seamless construction as the run sock.

2XU Recovery

If 2XU only offered these options, I would still wholeheartedly endorse them, however, they also offer running, tri-gear, wetsuits, etc. Their overall approach to making us better athletes can be found at http://www.athlete2-0.com/ a website dedicated to helping athletes train smarter, fuel more efficiently, and recover rapidly.

Check them out! Step up your training and recovery to another level.

DG

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I hit the wall in May


Ever been there? Let me clarify my funk in May. Everyone has bad days or a bad few days but when running becomes a grind for several weeks in a row then it is time for evaluation. May was a wall for me. I’m still not sure I can explain it but running the RNR Nashville Half Marathon in the rain was mentally exhausting. It is not what caused my wall but it was a catalyst that seemed to snowball.

I wasn’t enjoying running. I was cheering other people on in their journey but I was struggling to get my mind focused for each run. I knew there was a problem in the middle of May when with no physical ailments, I shut down a long run after five miles. I began at that point working with others and reviewing past training strategies to see where I was missing it. I spoke to Ali over at www.msprun.com who shared some of her struggles recently. I also talked to my running buddy Josh. Below are a list of things that have changed from before. I won’t tell you what changes I made moving forward because I want to hear your similar struggle and strategy to recharge.

icebreak

See my doctor: when I started back in 2010, the first thing we found was I had low testosterone. It was quickly addressed and helped me lose 35 lbs over the course of a year. I had given blood the first part of May and thought that could be part of my sluggishness. We checked my T just in case. ALl levels were fine so we continued with the regimen we have scheduled.

Fuel: I love sweets. Was I eating more sweets or had my habits become inconsistent in the area of food?

Sleep: I can tell you this one was a quick answer. I had allowed my sleep patterns to vary from night to night. This is going back to a routine. Asleep by 10 pm with no questions.

Stretching: I had been inconsistent with my pre run stretching and post run passive stretching. Some days I gave it a half hearted effort in warming up. That set the tone for the run.

Re-examine my WHY: This one should be a constant subject. Why do I run? Why do I post to social media? What is my strategy? What is the big picture goal that I am aiming to achieve? Knowing the WHY makes it easier to set the smaller goals and daily goals to achieve the overall purpose.

Friends: Who have I been listening to and repeating their thought process or pattern?

Naked: Some days I need to run with no agenda and no music. I need to focus only on what is around me and staying present in the moment for the moment.

Family and friends: Have I made the effort to invest in those that I love and cherish?

samford5k

What about you? How have you broken through a tough season of training or feeling mentally out of it? Leave comments below. Thank you for stopping by!

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Team Refuel


Team Refuel

So I am a finalist with Team Refuel Got Chocolate Milk campaign.

Vote here once a day from each of your electronic devices.

http://gotchocolatemilk.com/team-refuel/david-graves

And voting goes to a good cause – for every vote cast, $1 will go to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

What it means to finish in the top 4

If you are one of two top vote-getters by the end of the month you will become a sponsored athlete of Team REFUEL and win $500 sponsorship, customized training gear and race entry to any rock n roll marathon and triathlon events.

Thank you for your support and sharing this with your friends on social media to help.

#runfree

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St Jude Country Music Half Marathon Inner Dialogue


recovery and reflection

My friend Katelin posted her thoughts from her first marathon in a similar way. I thought it gave great insight to what happens to a runner during the race. So hear is my thought process the day of the race. Runners will appreciate this and others will think I’m crazy. I am okay with both.

4 am alarm goes off. Here goes. Clothes are ready but its cold. Should I wear a long sleeve shirt and through it away after mile 1 or 2? I love my gear and I didn’t bring a throw away shirt! David, where is your rain jacket? It wasn’t cold enough for a rain jacket. You chose to run in your yellow nike shirt to honor Boston plus it’s comfy. 4:45 am let’s go! Platinum parking opens at 5 and I’m not sure what traffic will be like. Would rather be there early and hang out than be stuck in traffic on race day. Watch battery is full, fuel belt is loaded, and gear is go. Text Kara to find out what time to meet up with them to help tape. 5:15 am parked and relaxing at the back of my car eating a banana. Temperature is warmer and that’s good but its humid. Stay hydrated no matter what. Remember you have adjusted your race goal after working the KT Tape booth at the expo Thursday and Friday. How cool was it to meet all those people and help them at the expo? Last check before locking the car. Key goes in my back pocket for safe keeping and it’s time to find the shuttle. 5:25 am gonna need the bathroom when I get to the VIP area. Shuttle takes a while to travel 3 miles. Are we still in Nashville? Rain it hitting the windows of the shuttle and people are beginning to wine. I tune out knowing I’ve already decided that I’ll be soaked and the motto for this race “it is what it is!” On site and looking for the restroom. There is a line at the guys bathroom! What the deuce? I’ve seen long line at the women’s restroom for races but rarely at men’s. Apparently every guy in VIP tried to wait until the last minute to poop, me included. Bathroom check! Found food provided by Publix, downed a bagel, and grabbed a protein bar. Text from Kara to meet them by the elevators. Head up and tape Kara and Kim. They are good to go. Laura is going to run the same place I have planned. Want to run it together? Sounds great, I will meet you at the corral. 6:50 am and I head out the hotel door for the start line. I’m not starting until 7:20. Raining steady. It is what it is. Found my corral but can’t find Laura. Crap! Keep looking, there is time. Keep your mind clear. This rain is cold. Dummy for not packing the jacket. Don’t wait to start music and watch when you get to the line that will be too late. Corrals are moving forward to be released. Hopefully I will track down Laura out there. Definitely want to help pace her. Our corral is next. You’re gonna be here a while, relax, don’t go out to fast, be gentle to yourself on the hills. 4 3 2 1 and we are off. Find your groove after this first downhill. Mile one, you’re going out faster than planned. Relax. Mile 2 and the hill is approaching. How are you feeling? Back not tight, knees feel good, and achilles okay Sweet. It hasn’t stopped raining but it is light so I’m good. Mile 3 and pacing is now where I want it. I feel good. So thankful for KT Tape and all the people I met at the Expo. How cool is that that I was able to share other runner’s journey with them while I taped them? 5k mark, still ahead of schedule RELAX. Mile 4 my shoes are SOAKED and the rain has picked up. Just laugh it off. Look at all the volunteers who showed up and are still out here weathering this to cheer for us!!! Mile 5, check out the guy in the wheelchair with Achilles International who is running the race, he has supporters around him but he is climbing this hill with no help. My runner spirit screams “YEAH!” to him. American flag and soldier passes me on the right. My mind drifts to my dad and becomes sentimental. Love my family. OUCH!!! What just happened to my left hamstring? What is this pulling? Come on! I reach back my left hand and its just my shorts stuck to me like they are trying to give my legs a hickey! I just made myself laugh. I wonder how Kelly is doing? Dinner was fun last night. Approaching mile 6 and my mind starts to drift. There’s Kim! Let’s run together! She asked what mile we are on. My Nike GPS is ahead by .2 of a mile. We are coming up on six. Got to low five the kids with the sign that says free high fives! Bam Bam Bam Bam four kids with high fives. 10k mark and staying hydrated. How’s my pace. I’m slowing down but still on pace. It is what it is. Mile 7 this is where I always find my second wind. Feeling relaxed but lost Kim. Where is Laura? I hope here race is going well. See some people shaking. Didn’t consider lower body temps. Can you get hypothermia with it in the low 50’s. Some streets have flooding at the edges. Mile 8 and that water is gushing. Did I just see Baby Moses float down the river? Made myself laugh again. I need to pee. Just pee on yourself. You are already soaked. Laughing again but seriously I have to pee. Find a place. Did that girl just pop a squat by some shrubbery? It is what it is! Mile 8 and my new favorite song comes on, Mirrors by Justin Timberlake. I start singing out loud to the people around me. Got a head nod from a girl who knew the beat. Others just waved and smile. Having fun now. Am I cold? Heck yeah I am cold! Keep singing, this song last 6 minutes and then countdown begins. I start counting down from mile 9. I can run four miles on even the worst day. I got this. Pacing is two minutes off. Sub 2:30 and we are good. Mile 9 mind is quiet. I love when this happens! Music is playing and people cheering but somehow I am lost in the quiet. Mile 10 and I snap out of it. I have to pee. Find a place to pee. Seriously find a place. There is an ambulance, I will go behind it. Nope, there is a potty in the distance with no line. No wammies, no wammies, make it, make it….. No line! Pee Break and happy dance. Still have half a bottle of nuun with my fuel belt. Why? Was easier at water stations. That’s not normal as they are usually packed. Well done Nashville having tables separated out for less congestion. This race is much improved from when I ran it in 2009. I may run this next year! Small climb and turn for mile 11. Check out the girls dressed as babies in the costumes with the sign that says Want to go back to my crib. That’s funny. Mile 11 check! still on pace to sub 2:30. What’s that girl doing? Police officer is helping her stand. She looks like she is trying to stretch her calf. Keep going to sub 2:30. Almost done. Don’t pass her by!! You wouldn’t want someone to do that to one of your friends. Hang a sharp left avoiding other runners. Are you okay? She is having severe cramps in her legs and feet. Slowly begin to massage her calf and it’s not helping. Try the other calf. She is shaking and cannot stand. Lay down and let’s stretch your foot and calf that way. Is this your first half? She laughs and says “It’s my sixth! I’ve been cramping since mile FOUR.” We need salt. Police officer tells her that if the ambulance comes she will not be able to finish the race. This sucks. Take my two packets of GU. We have to get electrolytes and salt in your system. Take off your shoe and I will try to flex out that cramp. Here is my bottle of nuun. Drink this as fast as you can. Another runner shows up and says “I’m a nurse.” I give here the rundown and she takes over. “Thank you,” the girl says. I hope you finish. I hope she finishes. Not gonna make 2:30. What’s the motto? It is what it is. WOW! Stopping for 10 minutes and then trying to run ain’t as easy. I am looking like a mall walker with big arm swings going .5 mile an hour. Made myself laugh again. So thankful for my family and those who support me. I am a blessed guy. Thank you Lord for that. Somebody just crop dusted me. That is not cool. Mile 12 almost there. Another dude cramped up on the side of the road but medical staff is already there. Sorry bro but if I stop again, I would have to roll to the finish line. There’s the stadium. Hate that I have made Kim, Laura, and Kara wait for me to finish. They probably already left. Final turn for the finish line. Are you going to break out the old school bowling pose for this? It would be funny. Just finish. No pose. Get the medal and let’s go. 2:38. Not what I had hoped for but focusing on the word, finisher. You can’t finish if you don’t start.

Come back tomorrow for some stories about some amazing people I met, a story that may make you cry, and a cute ballerina.

Thank you all for your love and support.

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What’s your race day plan?


In light of Boston, this is a chance for us as runners to examine our race day preparation. I reached out to some running friends all over the country and asked if they would answer five quick questions about their race day plan. Below are their answers and mine as well. Thank you to each of them for their honesty. Feel free to chime in with your suggestions. We are a community and if you have something that works, let us know in the comment section. Be sure to share this on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, etc. The more people talking, the better ideas we may find. Best thoughts and prayers to those affected in Boston and to each of you as you take to the streets, trails, or treadmill.

1. Do you fill out the emergency information on the back of your bib?
Ali – I don’t other than my name because I run with a RoadID
Raul – Yes I do fill out the emergency info. On the back of the BIB and I always put down my wife as my emergency contact.
Katelin – No, I have never filled out the emergency information on my bib. Eeeek.
Gio – No
Emily – Yes, Always
Raquel – No – I didn’t fill out the back of my bib….I now know that I should and will do this for all races!
David – Usually I just write that my road ID is on my wrist but below is my last bib, the USMC 17.75K and it’s completely blank. I felt sick when I saw it.

race bib

2. Do you use roadid? If so, when is the last time you verified information being current? www.roadid.com
Raul – I recently ordered a new Road ID my last one was left behind in a Utah hotel. It has been something really important to me especially after a love one was killed on his bike by a motorist that struck him and didn’t stop to see if he was ok. My information is current.
Katelin – Yes, I make sure to wear my roadid on all my runs. I received it in back in December, but will already need to update medical hx. I feel more comfortable knowing emergency personel can contact my loved ones if needed.
Gio – No, but I’m going to be getting one soon
Emily – I do not. However, I am thinking this is very silly on my behalf. I certainly should. As a 99% treadmill runner, I hadn’t thought to buy one. I am now realizing it is important…..even if it’s JUST for races.
Raquel – No – I didnt have RoadId, but wish I did and should get one!
David – Yes. I use the interactive model which stores all my information online; contacts, insurance information, etc. I update my information or review every three months.
Ali – Yes! I update/check my info every 6 months or whenever something major happens (like moving or new phone number)

My Road ID

3. Do certain people know your pacing or splits at certain distances?
Katelin – Absolutely. I have family or friends at any race greater than a 10k. They know my expected time of arrival and estimated pace. Sometimes I’ll even text my boyfriend/mom midway through to tell them where I am.
Gio – Yes, my wife knows and if other friends decide to follow me.
Emily – Yes, my husband is always at my races & knows approximately when I will be at certain points on the course.
Raquel – Yes I had a lot of people watching me by getting my splits texted to them and alot of people in my life know my typical pace and what to expect for a finish time.
David – My family and a few running friends will know my benchmarks for the event. I let them know my finish time and splits.
Ali – They have an idea of my pacing/splits and an estimate of when to expect me.
Raul – Typically my wife will track me in races and it’s to have a better idea of when she should start making her way to the finish line.

4. Do you have a plan if cell coverage is out to communicate your safety?
Gio – No. Never thought of it!
Emily – No. Had never thought of this…until yesterday.(Boston)
Raquel – No I don’t and didn’t have an alternative plan when and if cell service was out. These are all things I should think about in the future. These questions are making me feel bad for myself not knowing that I should have done all of this beforehand.
David – I foolishly believed I would always be able to use my cell. Definitely a wake up call for me.
Ali– I make sure to walk any new running trails/paths before with someone to make sure I have cell coverage
Raul– I run a lot on my local trails and I never get any cell coverage. I tell my wife usually what trails I will be on and if something was to happen to me she would have a better idea were to start looking.
Katelin -My boyfriend tells me where he’ll be at certain places throughout the race, but I do rely heavily on my cell phone.

5. Any tips you have for other runners?
Emily – I do always plan with my family where to meet after the race. A location that has been decided the night before.
Raquel – Other tips for runners….. to carry ID and/or cell phone on them and to 100% fill out the back of a bib. Also to have a meeting place or two of them set in place before a large run. My parents don’t know Boston that well, so it was hard for them to navigate and it took them over 2 hours to find me after I stopped running.
David – Take the extra five minutes to fill out your race bib and make a plan. No one plans on disaster. The five minutes can save you and your family from extra emotional distress.
Ali– Be careful with what you’re sharing on your runs. Some apps can share real-time gps locations so make sure you know what you’re sharing beforehand!
Raul– Have fun and be safe. A good thing to have if you don’t already own one is a RoadId it might just save your life. I would also tell them to listen to your body ”Health Before Miles”
Katelin – Roadid is huge. Get one! If anything happens, this is the only way EMS can identify you and contact your family. It is cheap and necessary, and not just for those with medical conditions. God forbid you are struck by a vehicle, etc. I always take my cell phone with me and make sure it’s at least 75% charged.
Gio – Always know the course and the town. Whether you have ran the course many times or it will be your first. If you have a geographical outlook on where you are running and what is around. If there were to be a situation, you would not be lost!

Now it’s your turn. Answer the five questions in the comments below:
1. Do you fill out the emergency information on the back of your bib?

2. Do you use roadid? If so, when is the last time you verified information being current?

3. Do certain people know your pacing or splits at certain distances?

4. Do you have a plan if cell coverage is out to communicate your safety?

5. Any tips you have for other runners?

Thank you for being a part of the discussion to help us all be safer and better prepared on race day.

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