regarding leprechauns and running

Posted October 8, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Running, short stories


I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that I was making notes about a story with a leprechaun in it. I want to say that I don’t write fantasy, and maybe by some definitions of the genre I don’t, but I just counted, and six of my twenty-nine published stories have a fantastic element that drives the plot, seven if you want to loop in science fiction. That’s more than the number of my stories that involve running as important to the plot, which surprises me.

I “finished” the new story, the one that involves the leprechaun (though you wouldn’t recognize him as such on a first reading, and he’s not the central character). This story doesn’t change the math though since it involves both fantasy and running.

I’m calling it “BQ,” which may mean something to a few of you. It’s made clear in the story what that references. Right now it sits at 2,200+ words though I think that may increase a bit as I fortify the growth of the character in the plot.

After I wrote the last words of the story — last words that came to me unbidden and really, really summed up the theme (as though by magic) — I gave the story a read through out loud and really liked what I heard. I realize this is tempting fate, being so confident about a story at such an early stage, but sometimes my stories do develop this way. I guess this is the story I had hoped to write during my week in Seattle; it just came to me in its own time.

So I’ll let it gestate for a while and continue to tinker with it. But I already have a journal in mind that I think will like it. Nice way to start a week.



Posted October 3, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Fathers and Sons, Humble efforts

Tags: ,

So one of the lit mags that ran one of my stories, The Magnolia Review, which ran “Fire Sermon,” has a Kickstarter campaign and if they raise enuf money, they’re going to put out a print edition of the issue with my story in it. Through some quirk, I received an email about it, welcoming me to make a pledge.

While it is nice to see the shelf with the journals holding my stories getting more full, I don’t absolutely have to have a printed copy of each one. Still, I went to the site just to see what it was all about.

And what did I find but that they excerpted my story as a sample of what was in the issue.

As I write this, they have a long, long way to go to reach their goal, but I confess that I did do my part to help them reach it!

in retrospect

Posted October 2, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Running

it may have been a bad idea to go for a bike ride Sunday after my first running race in a year. My quads are really, really angry with me right now!

UMKC Regalia Run 5K 2018 ~ race recap

Posted October 1, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Running


About what you’d expect from someone who hadn’t run a step in 11 months and was running poorly in the six months prior to that.

So I ran the UMKC Regalia Run 5K again this year. I’ve participated it every year since its inception six years ago, and I’d decided that whatever else I might do/not do in my running life, I would continue to participate in this. It’s only due to that vow that I signed up; I haven’t found whatever spark or motivation I once had for running. I want to, and I’d taken up bike riding in the hope that it would segue into running again, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Anyway, on with the gruesome details. As I said, I hadn’t trained for this one single bit, and that certainly showed in my performance. We arrived at the University early and did our customary sitting around. In past years it has been colder, and last year it was raining, but this year was favorable: the temps were in the 60s, and while the sky was overcast, there was no threat of rain. Shortly before the race started, the start/finish arch collapsed, which some might have taken as a sign of things to come. It seems that the fan that kept the arch inflated had died. Not to worry, though, for the outfit running the event had a back-up fan installed quickly. (A random man in the crowd turned to me and said he was amazed that anyone would have thought to have a back-up fan, but I guess this has happened before.)

If you’ve read my past accounts of this race (except for last year when I didn’t post one out of disgust with myself), you know that both the start and the finish are uphill. That’s evil, of course, but it’s also tradition now. There was the usual speechifying before the start, most of which was inaudible due to poor technology. (Tech is not my thing, of course, but this hasn’t been a problem in the past.) Eventually they got to the countdown, and then we were off.

I had told myself not to expect anything, good or bad, in my performance. If by some miracle I could run long, I would. And if I needed to walk, I would. Before the first quarter mile, I was already walking. It was clear that no miracle was going to befall me this day. The run/walk strategy is what I relied on for the duration of the run. I ran as much of the downhill stretches as I could, thinking that I merely had to throw one foot in front of the other and just let gravity do the hard work, but even that wasn’t something I could sustain. I managed to run past my wife, who was stationed in her usual place about a half mile after the start. And I kept challenging myself to run to this or that point I identified on the course ahead of me. I even ran up parts of some of the long hills. But to be honest, I probably walked half of the 3.1 miles. It was not my best 5K, and I’m too intimidated to look in my records to see if it might actually be my worst 5K.

It would be easy to take discouragement from this. When I ran the KC Half Marathon in October of last year (also not documented here), I did so poorly that I asked myself why I was even doing these things at all if that was all the better I could do. I found myself asking this same question during the 5K, but I shouted it down. I knew I hadn’t trained. I knew to expect a poor performance. The fact that I’d entered at all was a contradiction of my negative mindset.

My hope is that this run will be a turning point, that I’ll lace up and get some training in now. Notably, I did not wear my running watch to the race. I think part of the reason I lost my enthusiasm for running was that I was overanalyzing my performance. Rather than just getting out and grabbing some miles for exercise and training, I was obsessing over my times and pace and distance. All I could learn from that was that I wasn’t running as I had in my youth (four whole years earlier, that is). So when I crossed the finish line at this 5K — running! uphill! — I had no idea what my time was, whether it was close to respectable or further evidence that I should quit. (And I didn’t learn my time until I got home and looked it up online.)

But some points:

  • Had I finished only four minutes faster, I would have gotten third in my age group, which I had done once before at this race.
  • Had I finished a little over six minutes faster, I would have beaten my time for the race from last year.
  • I had finished in the top two-thirds of all runners of the 5K. There were nearly 40 finishers behind me.
  • Had I trained at all for this, I am sure I could have turned in a better performance, both in terms of finish time and the physical exhaustion I felt, which strongly suggests to me that I’m not without hope (at least in terms of running).
  • No complaints.* No throbbing knees or screaming ankles. Even my hips, commonly the least enthusiastic member of the team, bitched not. My quads were a bit angry, but a brief (brief because it hurt!) session with the foam roller helped enuf that I was able to get on my bike later that day for a dozen miles. It was only at the end of the day that I took two ibuprofen.

I could say that I have nothing on my racing dance card, but that’s not quite right. In fact, I am signed up for a one mile run, a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon, and a full marathon. All within a few days of each other. And all at Disney World in January. My offspring decided that the best way to honor my personal odometer turning over a significant number this year was to take the whole family (10 adults and six children, who will all be under 4 years old) to Disney World for a week. I’m not going to run in all of those events, but I’m thinking of doing the 5K and then the half marathon, which was always my favorite distance for a race.

*Okay, one complaint, but not from my poor body. When I finished, there were only three cartons of chocolate milk left — for everyone! This race has been bad about having chocolate milk. I think in the six years I’ve run this, only one time did they have copious amounts of chocolate milk.

recovery reading

Posted September 24, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Ramblings Off Topic, Reviews and Responses

Tags: , , ,

Have you ever heard of a “recovery reading” or a “recovery writer”? I know I read about this somewhere, but I’m turning up no references. The idea is that after you’ve read something that wasn’t very good (for whatever reason, and there could be many where “good” is relative), you read something that you know is very good (again) as a way to “recover” from your “bad” reading experience.

Say, for example, you like to read Westerns but for some reason you picked up To The Lighthouse and all you can think about is getting back to Westerns you enjoy. The Westerns become your recovery reading; your favorite author is your recovery writer. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with To the Lighthouse, you concede, but it’s just not your thing, and you feel that you want to get back to where you once belonged.

That’s where I am now. I recently read the novel The Last Child by John Hart. I knew nothing more about it than what was blurbed on the back cover, and I picked it up at the used bookstore as something to read on the airplane coming back from Seattle last week. It turned out to be a police procedural thriller, filled with red herrings, tense cliffhanger chapters, and leading to a clever shaggy dog resolution. (Plus there were some well written images and word usages.) I don’t read in that genre, but it certainly seemed to deliver the goods. I was literally telling myself that I would read “just one more chapter” each night as I lay in bed, well past lights out. I did an eighty-page sprint to the end Sunday morning because I had to know how it all resolved. (It turned on an unreliable witness.) And while I don’t regret reading it, I don’t suppose I’ll read any more from this writer.

And now I’m turning to my recovery reading. I’ve started By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham. I had read his Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Hours, by fortunate coincidence not long after I had (re)read Mrs Dalloway, and the book connected with me. I was impressed with the three narratives and how they blended so well. And I reveled in the human nature insights Cunningham salted throughout. Not long after that I had listened to his re-told fairy tales The Wild Swan on a drive to/from my little Ozark cabin. After that I knew I would be reading Micheal Cunningham often.

I don’t mean to assert that Cunningham is a better writer than Hart. That would be like saying a baseball player is a better athlete than a football player (or whether a cat or a dog is a better companion). I only say that when I’ve ventured outside of my familiar (and am better for it), I am glad I have something to return to that works for me.

Do you have a recovery writer? (or any strong feelings on the dog/cat thing?)

blue skies over Washington ~ Skywatch Friday

Posted September 21, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Ramblings Off Topic

Tags: , ,

I was in Seattle for a week, and it rained most of the time. (Everyone was grateful for the rain since it had been “dry” up there for so long. I guess my arrival brought the change in the weather.) I think it was Sunday when we had driven to my sister-in-law’s ranchette near Duvall to see her cattle and tiny house (rented as an overnight for guests). And while we there, the gray clouds scattered and left this impressive scene, looking east. That’s part of the ranchette in the foreground.

My wife is still up there and won’t return until next week, so I’m on pet sitting duty.

On one of my past visits to Seattle I managed to write an entire story (first draft) that eventually was published. I was hoping to do the same on this visit, but that didn’t happen. I tinkered with a couple of existing stories, and I made some notes for a new story (a fantasy piece involving a leprechaun, believe it or not), but that’s it.

“The Kick”

Posted September 20, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: short stories

Tags: ,

My story “The Kick” appears in the latest edition of Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature. Once again, I’m in the latter half of the volume, but I don’t mind. It’s a good-looking publication. (This is the second story I’ve had published by Aethlon!)

“The Kick” is the closest I’ve come to writing a 2nd-person narrator story. I don’t think it’s quite that, but the voice seems compelling (to me). This story is not part of the One-Match Fire universe, but it does involve running.

Yes, the edition date is a bit old, but it is the most current edition. I suppose they’re a little behind in issues and they’re keeping the dating consistent.