One of my dad’s most stern admonitions.  “Willie, you keep that up and you’re going to get a hard row to hoe!”  Or, “Willie, are you giving me a hard row to hoe?”  Dad will be 84 on January 5th.  I called on Christmas Day and found him on top of his barn, patching a leaky roof.  One of the last Real American Cowboys.

Life in general  is a tough row to hoe.  The tougher the row, the tougher the man.  I’m going to paraphrase something I saw on the www:  Man and several boys in a mid-day July cornfield.  Covered in sweat and dirt and labor.  A couple of the sweltering boys spy a watering hole and petition for a swim.  “Back to work!” says the man.  The man’s wife inquires later as to why no respite was given.  “Because I’m growing men, not corn!”

I’ve laid out a tough row for Nebraska.  Those that have done the work have turned to be the best men.  I heard from one this past weekend.

James McGown is now 41.  I was privileged and honored to coach him to consecutive US Olympic Marathon Trials, ’04 & ’08.  He’s going to be running the Lincoln Half for us, Once A Real Mate, Always A Real Mate.  I’ve been keen on his professional development, now the Superintendent at Brady HS.  The McGown family perfectly landed on 40 acres with an old  Victorian three story, a stocked sand pit, trails to run, room to hunt and grow and raise children the Right Way.  I had to tell him how much it means personally that he chooses to run with/for me.  His reply something so dear that it choked  me up a bit.  “I would have never kept running if it wasn’t for you Will, I’ll always run for you.”

The toughest row.  Bringing out the best in men.  I have a feeling my dad would get along just fine with James.