Tag Archives: Exercise

Here’s hoping the fires in Colorado Springs are put out soon!

June 29, 2012

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As I took my 3-mile walk last night, the sirens I heard as I neared Snelling Avenue brought my thoughts to Colorado Springs and the raging wildfires that have claimed one life and more than 300 homes.

My youngest brother Pat lives there with his wife Kara and four daughters, the youngest of whom is recovering from open heart surgery. As I turned around on Snelling to walk back home, I said a prayer for them. This morning, I followed up with a phone call to Pat, who assured me everything was OK for him, Kara and the girls.

That was nice to hear. I was able to respond with some good news of my own: I won two first-place awards at the annual Catholic Press Association convention, which took place last week in Indianapolis. The highlight is the awards banquet on Friday night. This is only the third time in 16 years I have made it to the convention, so it was nice to be able to make it this year.

Believe it or not, both of my firsts were in writing categories – best feature story and best sports story. The feature was about the Gross family and the loss of Michael and Anne’s teenage daughter, Teresa, to suicide. The other was a sports story about former NFL (and Vikings) quarterback Brooks Bollinger, who took over as head football coach at Hill-Murray High School in Maplewood.

I know it may come as a surprise to some folks that I won two writing awards, but I actually have been a writer longer than I have been a photographer. I will continue doing both in my new role as senior content specialist in the archdiocese communications department, which officially begins next week. I enjoy my role of telling stories with words and pictures, and I’m very thankful that it will continue. May God continue to bless my work – and keep my brother and his family safe in Colorado Springs!

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Memorial Day is more than just a holiday

May 25, 2012


As I went on my 3-mile walk last night, I walked past an American flag at Cretin-Derham Hall High School, just a block from my home in St. Paul. I’m sure I’ve seen it before, but it caught my eye on this occasion.

It got me to thinking about Memorial Day. This particular day has special meaning for me in two ways: 1. My dad is a World War II vet; and, 2. My first wife, Jennifer, died on Memorial Day in 1995.

My thoughts – and emotions – vacillated between these two realities as I took my paces in the evening twilight. The month of May is always hard for me, and this was no exception. I found myself silently saluting those who have paid the ultimate price in military service. I’m glad my dad was not among them, or I wouldn’t be here.

Though Jennifer never served in the military, she is forever linked to this day for me. Perhaps, it’s fitting she died on Memorial Day. I believe she gave everything she had in being a nurse, mother and wife. Many people, myself included, consider her a hero for the way she tirelessly and fearlessly cared for the many cancer patients in her charge, during the time she worked as an oncology nurse. She treated them with respect and dignity, and was not afraid to ask them how they were preparing for death when that reality was imminent in their lives.

One story stands out. On our wedding day in February of 1990, she had invited a terminally ill teenager named Melanie to our wedding and reception. Melanie was a standout track athlete, and beautiful on top of that. Sadly, the cancer ravaged her body, and quickly. In just a matter of months, she wasted away to the point where she looked like a Jew in a Nazi concentration camp.

Amazingly, so close to death, she managed to come to our reception. Seeing her come into the hotel lobby, Jennifer rushed to greet her, seeming not to notice her gaunt condition. I, on the other hand, was taken aback by her appearance, and thought she might die right there in front of us.

Jennifer cheerfully embraced Melanie and thanked her for coming, as her mother stood somberly behind the wheelchair. After a few minutes, Jennifer leaned over to say goodbye. She said that she wasn’t coming back to work for another week, so she wanted to say goodbye.

She knew she would never see Melanie again, and was offering her final farewell.

Jennifer was right. Melanie died a few days later. I often wonder if the two have met in heaven. I know Jennifer is there. I hope Melanie is, too.

This will be a hard weekend for me, as it always is. But, as I like to tell people, it is not a grief without hope. So, as I prepare to shed the tears I always do on this weekend, I humbly ask for prayers. And, I offer this simple message to my dear, departed wife:

“Jennifer, I will always love you. I miss you, and look forward to seeing you again in the fullness of God’s Kingdom. I salute you and your dedicated service to the Lord and to all of those who suffered with cancer whom you lovingly ministered to throughout your nursing career. May you rest in peace.”


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Moving forward

April 28, 2011


I have been taking walks for the last few weeks and it feels great. There is no problem with my left ankle at all. Walking for 2 miles feels just fine.

So, on Tuesday, I decided to push it farther. I walked for about 4.5 miles and even took on the steep “Davern Hill.” My legs were a little tired and sore afterward, but my ankle felt good. I took 2-mile walks yesterday and today, and there was no trouble. Looks like my sprained ankle recovery is about complete. Praise God!

I’m glad to be walking well because I go turkey hunting next week. I have a season in Minnesota that starts on Tuesday, and a season in Wisconsin that starts the next day. The weather is looking good for at least the first part of the week, and I hope that gets the toms gobbling.

Unfortunately, most of the reports I have been hearing up ’til now are bad. Hunters aren’t seeing many birds nor hearing many gobbles. I’m sure the weather has a lot to do with that. Clear skies and warm temperatures do wonders for a gobbler’s mood. Hopefully, the toms will sound off when I’m in the woods.

I ran into a fellow turkey hunter yesterday at the St. Paul Seminary — Father Troy Przybilla, the new vocations director. He’s going turkey hunting this weekend down in southeastern Minnesota. He likes to go in late April and early May so he can try to find morel mushrooms. Says he has had great success with both turkeys and mushrooms at this time of year.

I have always wanted to pick morel mushrooms. I may try to schedule a trip with Father Przybilla someday. Then, maybe he could show me how to cook them. In the meantime, I am going to do a radio show with him that will air on Friday, May 27 from 9-10 a.m. on Relevant Radio 1330. We’ll talk about the outdoors — perhaps, each of our turkey hunts — and his vocation to the priesthood.

I’m looking forward to it. Should be fun. Be sure to tune in!

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A bad fall

January 11, 2011

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On Monday, Jan. 3, my life took a turn — literally. While on a run that morning, I turned my ankle — severely, in fact. I have been on crutches ever since, waiting patiently for the slow healing process to unfold.

It has been hard, but I have seen the fingerprints of God in all this, starting with the first few moments after it happened. Though jogging at a slow pace because of the snow and ice, I, nonetheless, found myself sprawled on the pavement a mile from my house.

Instantly, I knew it was a bad injury to my left ankle. I had taken a stride forward and all of my weight was on that ankle, which rolled and buckled. In a matter of a second or two, my thoughts went from finishing my run to wondering how I would get back home.

It couldn’t have been more than five or 10 seconds later that I heard the sound of a vehicle driving toward me. That’s when I realized I would probably would need some help.

Fortunately, the person, a woman about my age, stopped, rolled down her window and asked if I was OK. When I said no, she offered me a ride home, which I gladly accepted.

Later, I realized that God was looking out for me and was providing me with the help I needed. I even mentioned this to my rescuer, who thought that was a nice way of looking at things. She seemed somewhat surprised.

We didn’t have any further conversation about God or spiritual matters. The pain set in shortly after I got into her van, and I was moaning and groaning all the way back to my house.

From there, it was my wife, Julie, and my four children that began taking turns attending to me. I must say, they have done a remarkable job. That has been a great blessing for me. Julie, in particular, has been just terrific. She has such a giving heart and it has been made manifest over the last week.

I am greatly humbled by her service, and the service of my children. I haven’t been able to put much weight on the ankle — even a week later. So, they have had to do lots of things for me. Julie has been there every time I needed her, even though she works a part-time job and has had to manage the kids and the household since my injury.

You learn a lot about God’s love when someone loves you the way Julie has loved me. Perhaps, God wanted me to see this more. Certainly, I have had time for more prayer and reflection while spending time icing and elevating my ankle. Obviously, I want to get better soon and be back to normal again, but I also want to make sure I remember the lessons of love my wife has taught me.

I sure hope I can be there for her if the tables are ever turned. She has proven over and over that she is a highly committed and loyal person. And, to think, God is even more faithful to us than that. This truth should alleviate all doubt about God’s providential care for me.

Sadly, it doesn’t. Though my name isn’t Thomas, I seem to have a serious doubting streak within me. Not sure why that is. Original sin, perhaps? No matter the cause, it’s something I continue to struggle with. During this time of recovery, I sense God is calling me to a deeper level of trust.

Why is that so hard? Does he ever fail to provide for me? No. However, he does allow things — bad things — to happen to me from time to time. That can be a tough truth to swallow, but God does not hide it from us. I was reminded of it on Friday, Jan. 7 when I read a verse from 1 John. In verse 19 of chapter 5, it says, “We know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the evil one.”

There’s the answer. Because Satan has power over this world, he inflicts pain and suffering on those in it, including Christians. That’s the reality we face in this life.

What can we do? Someone recently noted that my ankle injury is an opportunity to offer my suffering up for the intentions of others. I have done this a few times. I believe in this idea, though I’m very curious about what effects such prayers have. Sometimes, I wonder if it does any good at all, and start moving toward doubt, once again.

Here is another area where pure trust is needed. After I die, I’d love to find out what effects my prayers had on others. Perhaps, I’ll be surprised. Years ago, when my grandmother, Ruth Kramer, was in her 80s, she wondered aloud whether the prayers of elderly shut-ins like her had more influence on the world than the works of powerful people like Donald Trump.

I think she’s got a point. In faith, I will offer more of my sufferings as prayer. At the same time, I will continue to pray for a full and speedy recovery.

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Davern hill one more time

November 2, 2009


For the second time, I conquered the Davern hill near my home in St. Paul. I made the four-and-a-half-mile jog one week after I did it for the first time.

This time, I hit the pavement at 5 a.m. The early start time was needed because my friend, Pete Wolney, planned on picking me up at 7 to go on our annual fall fishing trip to Lake of the Woods. We normally go earlier than this, but the walleyes have been late in their annual migration from the main lake into the Rainy River.
In fact, the major run still hasn’t happened, so many of the fish are still in the lake. Fortunately, they are biting well and anglers who make the trip out past the gap and into the main basin are being rewarded with limits of walleyes.
Hopefully, the winds won’t be too strong and we’ll be able to get out there, too. I will have a report from our trip later in the week. Then, after that, it’s the deer hunting opener on Saturday!
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Running in the rain

October 30, 2009


I went over to Battle Creek Regional Park in St. Paul yesterday to see my son, Joe, compete in the last cross country race of his high school career. He is a senior at Trinity School at River Ridge in Eagan. It was the section meet and he was shooting for his best time of the year.

He is the No. 6 runner on the team, and only the top five score in a meet. So, he was running for pride. He also was trying to push through some physical problems he has been having throughout the season, particularly the last few weeks. He has been getting ill during and after races, and he’s not sure why.
The rainy, sloppy conditions yesterday definitely did not help. He got off to a pretty good start, but faded later in the race. I shouted encouragement as he ran by, hoping to spur him on to a kick at the end.
He struggled to finish, but I was proud of him nonetheless. Sometimes, it’s hardest to complete a task when you know the results you are hoping for won’t happen. That was definitely the case here.
But,  there’s a valuable lesson that can come from this experience, and I hope he will learn it. I think it’s good when things don’t come easy and we have to work hard to achieve results that are below our expectations. Too often, I think, parents try to shield their children from things like this.
But, these kinds of experiences build character in ways success often doesn’t. So, I walk away happy from this event, especially that Joe didn’t give up and pushed to the end.
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Conquering Davern Hill

October 26, 2009


I have been thinking about it for weeks. There is a steep hill on Davern Street about 2 miles from my house and I made it my goal to jog all the way to the hill and down it, then jog back up and all the way home.

The total distance is 4 1/2 miles, which is up about 1 1/2 miles from what I have been doing for the last two and a half months. Various muscle cramps over the last two months kept me from taking on the hill.
But, today, I am proud to say, I finally conquered Davern Hill. After going without muscle cramps for two weeks, I decided I was ready to take on the challenge. I told my son, Joe, this morning as I was getting ready to head out on my run, that this was the day.
He offered a few brief words of encouragement, and off I went. I ran slower than usual to make sure I had enough gas in the tank to get up the hill. The steepness of it was a serious challenge and I huffed my way up at a very slow jog. I joked later that I probably would have needed a running judge to verify that I was, indeed, jogging up the hill.
No matter. What counts is I made it up the hill and all the way home! It was a joyful moment for me and I high-fived my wife, Julie, when I got back home. What was interesting, and a little surprising, was that after I got up the steep part of the hill, the other, less steep, inclines that I faced on the return trip were not a problem at all. In fact, when I got back home, I felt as though I could have kept going.
It’s nice to see my body responding to the exertion. I hope that continues. Not sure what my next running goal is. I do know that, when we go out to Montana over Thanksgiving, I want to be able to go up the mountain where my father-in-law’s land is. I’m hoping all of this running and walking will be adequate training for the task.
For now, I’ll bask in the glow of conquering Davern Hill.
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Another 5K

September 14, 2009


On Saturday, I ran my the second 5K event of my life and second in the last month. There were only 35 people entered and most were not serious runners. Still, I was excited to be a part of it.

Joining me was my son, Joe, who runs cross country for his school, Trinity at River Ridge in Eagan. That’s where the event was held and two of his teammates were there to compete.
Within minutes, they left me in the dust and ran at a much faster pace. But, that was fine with me. I just wanted to finish and try to run at a good pace. I ended up beating my previous time by more than two minutes. My time was 26 minutes, 7 seconds. Meanwhile, Joe ended up winning the race. He and another guy led the pack for a while, then the other guy faded. Joe won by about 30 seconds.
Some people remarked afterward that they didn’t know I was a runner. Actually, I have never considered myself a runner, though I have been walking and running for more than two months now. It feels good to keep it up and improve my time.
But, a Dick Beardsley I am not. And, that’s quite alright with me. I’m just happy to be able to do regular exercise and stay in good health. It’s a blessing from the Lord and I’m very grateful.
As for running more races, we’ll see.
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Hamstring healing

September 4, 2009


Two days ago, I went for my usual morning run near my home in St. Paul. I have battled through tightness in my Achilles tendon in my left leg and have been stretching it before and after every walk or jog.

But, on this day, it was my left hamstring that gave me trouble. Moments after waving to my son, Joe, who passed me going the opposite way, I felt a sharp pain in my left hamstring. I limped home and battled pain for the rest of the day. That evening, I got together with several friends and they said a prayer over me for healing.
The next morning, it was tight, but I managed to go on a 2-mile walk. Then, today, almost all of the pain was gone and I was able to go on a 3-mile run. I feel as though God healed my hamstring. I was worried I pulled the muscle and would not be able to run for days, even weeks. But, just two days after the injury, I was able to complete my run.
Praise God! He listens to our prayers and reaches in to offer healing. Perhaps, the injury wasn’t as serious as I first thought. Still, I think it’s remarkable to see such improvement in just two days. To be sure, I’ll be careful to avoid further injury and will be diligent about stretching before and after every walk or run.
I also hope to continue to “confidently approach the throne of grace” as the Scripture says “to find help in time of need.”
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Run in the sun

August 24, 2009

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It was a beautiful, sunny morning at Blackhawk Park in Eagan Saturday when I arrived there with my oldest son, Joe. We were there to participate in a special run put on by the boys and girls cross country teams of Trinity School, where Joe will be a senior starting this week.

Family members, friends and alums were invited to join the runners for a lap or two around the pond in the park. Folks were given the option of running one, two or three miles. Having trained for a few weeks and having done several three-mile runs, I chose to go the distance.
Before the run, I made my son promise he wouldn’t laugh at me when I crossed the finish line. I figured I probably would be the last person to make it across. That was fine with me. I was just happy to be out there running at all.
Sure enough, the cross country runners left me in the dust pretty quickly. I managed to pass one young boy on the course and that was it. By the time I was finished, I was sore and nearly out of breath. But, I made it just like I said I would.
I thought Joe and the other runners would be there cheering for me at the end, but they decided to go for a cool down run after they finished. Cooling down for me simply meant feasting on the free ice cream stacked in coolers near the parking lot.
That was a nice reward, but the bigger payoff was being able to be there with Joe, even though we didn’t run side by side. He’s way ahead of me in terms of training, plus he’s almost 30 years younger. I just hope to continue running, while he has far loftier goals.
I hope he’s able to keep running long after he graduates in May 2010. I talked another dad who was an avid runner for 25 years before he developed knee trouble. He now does other things like swimming and biking. He said he talked to a doctor who said most people can run for about 25 years before developing knee problems.
That means I have about 24 years and 10 months of running left!
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