Sunday, February 15, 2009

Who was Saint Valentine?

Last night was our 131st monthiversary. Billie and I decided early on after we got married in 1998 that we would celebrate our anniversary every month, rather than every year, so last night we went to a St. Valentine's day dinner dance to celebrate our monthiversary. While enjoying the food and the music, I wondered about St. Valentine: who was he, and how did all this February 14th stuff start?

So today I googled him. The first link I found was broken, but Wikipedia, as usual, turned out to have more information than I could possibly use. Mostly, it says that he is a melange of multiple martyrs, but this quotation is the most succint:

Historian Jack Oruch has made the case that the traditions associated with "Valentine's Day", documented in Geoffrey Chaucer's Parliament of Foules and set in the fictional context of an old tradition, had no such tradition before Chaucer.[20] He argues that the speculative explanation of sentimental customs, posing as historical fact, had their origins among 18th-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler's Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars. In the French 14th-century manuscript illumination from a Vies des Saints (illustration above), Saint Valentine, bishop of Terni, oversees the construction of his basilica at Terni; there is no suggestion here yet that the bishop was a patron of lovers.[21]

Sadly, then, he's probably just a legend. Even if I had known that, though, I don't think it would have stopped us from having a great monthiversary celebration. And next month is our anniversary, so we'll do something really special then!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Your Chance to be on TV!

Tomorrow, the last day of January, will be huge for us! I'll be running in a 5K in Conroe in the morning, accompanied by my daughter Sally, in memory of her mother. My granddaughter was intending to run with us, making it three generations, but she has a strep throat, so will not join us.

Then in the afternoon, Billie and I are heading to Dallas for Trent Willmon's Live DVD recording, which is taking place at his show at Gilley's in the evening. Billie is now a best selling author, and will be signing both her books at the merchandise table after the show. Trent will be also be autographing the CD audio version of the book, in addition to his usual merchandise of CDs, T-shirts and other memorabilia. This CD was completed in Nashville yesterday, so tomorrow night will be the first time it will actually be available

The DVD will include a lot of audience participation, so come on out and join us. This is your chance to be in the DVD, which will be shown on TV!

Where else can you get a triple opportunity like this:
  1. To be in on a live recording
  2. To meet and talk with a Nashville recording artist
  3. To meet and get autographed books from a best selling author!

Oh, did I forget to mention that I'll be there too? If you need some more excitement that day, you could come to Conroe and cheer me on in my 5K, starting at 9:00 AM. Ending, I trust, within an hour or less ...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Billie's a Celebrity!

"Billie Willmon Jenkin's office in her Elkins Lake home is proof of her colorful character. Frogs of every size, shape and color adorn the walls and dance across the filing cabinets. Photos from her many travels, including an up-close and personal visit with a dolphin, are plastered to every surface."
So begins the front-page article in yesterday's Huntsville Item Lifestyles section. Matthew Jackson, from the Item, interviewed Billie last week, and the result is an excellent article about her life in Houston, West Texas and Huntsville. The article is titled "Journey of Acceptance" and tells of the events that led up to her publishing "The Knock-Kneed Cowboy".
To read the full article, go to this link.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Trent Willmon and the Knock-Kneed Cowboy

I stumbled out of the door today for a long, slow run and noticed that Fedex had left a package by the door for Billie. For the next hour and a half, I didn't think much about it as I enjoyed the sunshine and the fact that I was running again. I have had an upper respiratory infection that just didn't want to quit, and when I tried to run earlier this week I found that I got so out of breath that even walking was tough!

Right now, I'm getting back to my half training schedule for the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville in April. From others who have run it, I hear that it's a lot of fun. So, at the end of April Billie and I will spend a few days in Nashville and get to visit Trent (her son the Nashville recording artist).

When I got back from my run, Billie was really excited. Her new book "The Knock-Kneed Cowboy" came out in time for Christmas and she had the idea of creating an audio version. The only problem was finding someone to read it.

Then she had the brilliant idea of getting Trent Willmon to record it. He would record the books, they would both market it and share the proceeds! And the Fedex package contained the recording.

She was listening to it when I got back, so I stopped for a while to listen, too. Trent was reading the part where Casey meets Gus, the fairy godfrog. It was amazing to hear what a great job he did with the voices of Casey, Gus and Honey -- this record is destined to be a collector's item!

Billie already has a lot of orders -- you can get the book, the CD or a combination from her website Go look now, while you're thinking about it!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What we've been doing

Somehow, the summer slipped away from us -- we got so busy doing things. I've been developing websites and blogs, Billie's been writing.

Here are my main websites: is, as you might suspect, a site for Beginning Runners. It has a weekly newsletter service with about 200 members. As of now, this is a free service, but I intend to make it a paid service soon. For those members who subscribe while it's still free, they will continue to get a free service. So if you know of anyone who might be interested, get them to join before the price goes up! is a similar site, but at present it comprises articles and links to places where runners can buy stuff at special rates. It also has lots of links to other resources, mainly for runners. There is also a blog, consisting mostly of items from my newsletters, at

Some people, though, aren't all that interested in running (!), so I developed some other sites. is intended for anyone who wants to take control of their own health. This doesn't mean ignoring what your doctor says, but it does mean being informed about your own health needs. This one also has a blog at

If you're into gym equipment, especially for home gyms, take a look at There's a blog for this one, too, but not much on it yet.

In the line of business, I have a site for business networking at There are 12 other sites (subdomains) associated with this one, covering topics like trademarking, using social sites, paper shredders for security, home offices -- lots of stuff. Let me now if you're interested in any of these -- I can give you a list.

Then there are about another 50-100 sites I aim to develop in the near future.

Looking back on this, no wonder I've been busy!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Some Days are Diamonds ...

I am writing this in the dog days of August. We have had a week or more of 100+ temperatures, so I have been running early to avoid the heat.

Yesterday, I stepped outside the door intending to do a pace run before a storm came through. Unfortunately, I was just too late -- it had already started raining. I decided against going out, and postponed my pace run until today.

As I was warming up today, I realized that it seemed a lot tougher than usual. I thought it was foggy, but when I took off my sunglasses I realized what the problem was. After all the rain we had with the storm, the temperature had dropped, but the humidity was at least 100% -- my shades were fogging up!

I decided against a pace run, and just stuck with an easy run, although it didn't feel that easy. I felt like I was breathing underwater! Today was not one of those diamonds ...

When that sort of thing happens, I am tempted to feel disappointed in myself. but then I remind myself that it was just one run. Tomorrow will be another run, and I'll have forgotten all about today's run by then. I take each run as it comes: not good, not bad, just the way it was. And I remind myself that, just by going out there and doing it, I'm doing more than most folks!

Right now, I'm not training for any particular event, so my emphasis is on enjoying my running, rather than pushing to excel. Even when I'm training, though, I recognize that some days I just can't follow my plan. Not to worry, take a break -- there's always tomorrow.

And enjoy the diamonds when they come.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tips on Running Form

There are as many different styles of running as there are runners. Sometimes, what looks like poor running form can work well for a particular runner. The great Olympian, Emil Zatopek, used to run with his head rolling from side to side. This became his trademark: if his coach had trained him to keep his head straight, he would probably never have broken as many records as he did.

Having said that, there are several pointers you can use to make your running more efficient. Just remember that if one of these feels really awkward to you, it may not fit with your particular style. Be flexible.

First, let's talk about posture. The idea is to run tall, with the work being done by the lower body and the upper body relaxed. Think of it as though you were on a horse: the legs do all the work. If your shoulders and arms are tense, you will tire more easily and you're wasting energy on the parts that are not contributing to your run.

The next topic is the feet. If your feet are slapping the ground, you are wasting energy there. Run quietly and you'll feel the difference.

Your feet also should "pull" you along the ground, This means that you will pull back after each foot strike and push forward with a little spring at each toe-off. If you're bouncing, you're probably wasting energy here, too.

Your stride should be comfortably long. Beginning runners, especially, have a tendency to overstride, believing that this will help them go faster. Overstriding, though, puts undue stress on the legs and can lead to injuries. Stretching out your legs with strides once in a while during a run is good, but you should not try to maintain long strides throughout your runs. Running tall, as if there were a string pulling your head up, will help lengthen your stride length naturally.

When running up hills, you'll find that using your arms to "pull" you up the hill can help. Otherwise, your arms will normally be relaxed and moving more or less straight ahead and back. I find that my arms tend to cross over my body, especially when I'm tired, but this is less efficient than having them move straight ahead and back. On longer runs, it's a good idea to let your arms just hang down and flap around for a while every now and then, as it helps to relax the arms and shoulders and get the circulation moving better through the arms and hands.

All this applies after you have warmed up. The warmup phase, the first ten minutes or so of each run, is when your body is getting used to moving. After that, when you are starting to run easier, is when to concentrate on your running form. At first, it's best only to concern yourself with your form during your easy or long, slow runs. If you can concentrate on good form during the middle third of each of these runs, you'll find that it begins to feel natural. Your form, and hence your pace, will gradually improve.

Here's to your great running form!