(8) Just Me Marathon: Time (2/7)

“I challenge myself to stop comparing what I learn to the past.” Scott Belsky

So long ago, really only about ten years,
Time was the enemy, a relentless opponent
Who stood as an obstacle to success.
The ticking drummed a beat
Easily infecting many things that I attempted to do,
Running being the one
Most severely affected.

Time counts for basketball,
Or even the laconic sports of baseball and golf,
Never pressured me to rush,
Never encouraged me to feel put upon,
They just were and I knew how to relax into their rhythms.
Running was not that way,
Time was to be defeated.

Only nobody beats time,
As time is the endurance athlete that keeps going.
It’s the one whose hair never grays,
Muscles never fatigue,
For whom competitiveness reigns supreme.
No amount of effort,
No quantity of performance enhancement,
Nothing slows time down. Eventually, it will win.

Goals of the present
Should not be based on goals of the past.
Moments are now,
This is the time.
Remembering what once was,
A dinner, crazy intimacy, or a magic run
Is the stuff of folly.
For those types of thoughts
Leave a person in the past
Only to be passed…no crushed, by time.

(8) Just Me Marathon Reflections (1/7)

“I challenge myself to stop comparing what I learn to the past.” Scott Belsky

I got into my truck this morning,
The radio was playing some awful 80s song,
I switched the station and Strauss’ Metapmorphosen was playing.
It seemed appropriate, so I let it play.
The mood of the music was cool, calming and
With my next five to six hours booked by a real, albeit made up marathon
All the good vibes I could absorb.

2006 was the last time I ran for so many miles
Where would this go?

When the song was over, the lady started talking in the classical dj soft voice,
I bailed, hitting next as I pulled into the parking lot of the YMCA,
10,000 Maniacs came on singing about changes in the weather,
Funny, they are playing in my town in about three weeks,

Something was up…

Marathon Journal: 8-19-17

img_1433There are things that we commit to and regret. Maybe it’s a party in the neighborhood. Could it be trying to publish a novel? What about running a marathon? Well, I’m all in for all three, plenty of commitments and a wealth of regret to go around. About a year ago, I set my sights on running a marathon in my fiftieth year. I started out training well for an old guy who had let fitness kind of get away. It’s a funny thing about getting older, some aspects of life get harder. Running has never been the easiest thing for me, but I have managed to finish ten marathons and one ultra. None were particularly fast and I thought those days were over. Then, I had some blood work, got some numbers I never thought I’d have, and the idea of running a marathon was reborn.

Let me say my health is fine. My numbers were associated with too big a gut and a lifestyle that was slipping into that barley, hops, and mash routine. I also found little time to exercise because I began coaching. The only real time to go for a run was in the morning before school and that is great until winter. Even driving over to the YMCA is tougher because it’s so much easier to just sleep. After all, how important is it to run anyway? I noticed my clothes were getting bigger, my ties looser, and my attitude about me becoming worse. I decided that I would run a marathon at my YMCA.

There is a track at the Y and it says 16-laps per mile. That’s 419.2 laps for a marathon. Funny, I’m just realizing the .2, which is a stupid joke people who run marathons like to throw around, “Twenty-six is easy, it’s the .2 that’s hard.” I told you, stupid because I don’t think there is anything easy about going out for twenty-six miles and change. In all the races I did, there were moments of pain, moments of doubt, serious questioning of my sanity, and the realization that I had not trained enough. I always got hurt or justified that I could make up the miles on another day. My times in all the other races probably reflect my lack of commitment to following a training program to the letter of the law.

Whatever…

Besides the coaching, life tended to get in my way. Fifty has been much more difficult than forty. I have wrestled with bulging weight, too much alcohol, an unhealthy diet, and a level of confidence that’s more New Orleans than Mount Everest. I would not say that any of the issues were serious problems, but in my final analysis, each has contributed to a pretty blah year. Once my baseball season ended, I began training again and I had a moment of clarity that sometimes comes from nowhere. I need to get my act together for many reasons, physical, mental, and social. Where did I turn for help? The internet of course. I began binging YouTube videos like they were peanut M&Ms. My go to was Chase Jarvis Live. He does a show where he asks leaders from a variety of areas about their techniques, attitudes, and processes around being creative. I’ve learned a great deal about perspective from the people on his show and they have had a serious effect on how I approach writing, but the moment was, “Why aren’t you putting their lessons to use in your daily life also?” There are too many things to get into with this blog post, but Tim Ferriss, Jason Silva, Steven Kotler, Jamie Wheal, and a host of others dropped nuggets of information on me that took me places my mind had not been in such a long time. I was learning about experimenting with different nutritional aspects on micro levels. I was re-introduced to “flow,” which I knew as “being in the zone.” I started making changes to my nutrition (intermittent fasting, vegetables, cutting carbs) and the weight began to drop (ten pounds in eight weeks). I also began thinking in ways that promoted an easier way of being. I found that when I was exercising or even just hanging out that I could easily calm an over chatty brain. I felt different, but I was still in the awkward-new-skill-way where everything had to be planned and nothing felt natural.

Then I had a couple of evenings that I’d like to forget. Nothing tragic or illegal, but I’ll simply say that in my evolving minimalist attitude, I had to ask myself, “What value does alcohol bring to my life?” Don’t get me wrong, a cold beer or a neat glass of whiskey is amazing, but my ideas of drinking had become too much about bonding. I could go on about how that was symbolic of how I was feeling in other areas of my life, but after my own foul balls with the bottle and hearing of my neighbor dropping into (and thankfully out of) a coma due to alcohol poisoning, I made the choice to give up drinking. Over the last six weeks, I haven’t be 100% dry, but I don’t go seeking a beer and I politely refuse when I’m offered one at a pool or party. Since mid July, I’ve had 8-beers. That’s a big difference from a “nightly pop or two.” It’s weird not drinking and I must say it’s hard. Not because I crave alcohol, but because it is such of an important part of socializing for so many people. Anyway, it’s not something I’m looking for and I feel mostly better because of the change.

So, did you run or not?…

I did. I ran the race today. Just me and the miles on the track. There were other people training. There were exercise classes below on the gym floor. None of them knew what I was doing. It was great. The only problem was that my training had been as weak as ever. Maybe even weaker. My long run should have been in the low twenties a few weeks ago. That was when I was wrestling with the decision to quit drinking, so the training was kind of eh then. In fact, last Saturday I ran ten miles, my longest since 2007. Today, the first ten miles were a breeze. At eleven, I could feel tightness in my legs. By thirteen, I had introduced a survival technique of walking and running (1 lap walking, 4 laps running). Fifteen was the wall. I felt like quitting and sticking with my plan to run the whole thing in September. I texted my daughter and a friend, they both sent positivity that kept me going. The last hour sucked as nearly every step was a push as to whether my quads were going to cramp or allow me to move freely.

Finally, after six-hours and five minutes, my worst time ever, I was done. I didn’t cry like I did after my first marathon. So far, I haven’t had to go down the stairs backward. I didn’t see any actors from The Wire like I did in Baltimore. What I did was beat back some personal demons and prove to myself that all the excuse making and reliance on unhealthy coping mechanisms was killing me. I ran for charity, raising a couple hundred bucks for the Y, but the payout to my psyche was just as important for me. I needed this and while some may suggest that this was not that big of a deal, it meant everything to me.

Everyone, go do something big for yourself…

(7) Hate Will Lose (5/7)

“Poetic facts lay their claims on us.” Jason Silva

Hatred lays waste to goodness.
It works its evil destruction through fear,
The threat of violence
Being the blade that cuts hearts united.

Goodness denies the demonic ways of hate.
Good works its magic with faith,
The belief of equality and the strength of something higher
Being the antidote to hate.

(7) And…? (4/7)

“Poetic facts lay their claims on us.” Jason Silva

Not enough is done to help the ladies of justice and liberty,
They probably get paid less than the statues of men,
Even the Confederate ones,
Who are unfortunates in history,
Dudes fighting for the wrong cause,
Losers, I’d say, no matter the metric used to gauge their role.
Dixie demagogues…face up to it, y’all.

Growing up in the South
Taught me many lessons about the goodness of all people.
Yet it never taught me how it felt
To live under the symbols of hate expressing
A glorified revisionist interpretation of history.
I never thought how divisive a statue of Jackson or Lee
Could be.

In fact, I never thought of how the grand ole south
Where the mint juleps, land of cotton, and horrible segregation
Cast a pal on people that co-ops a decent life and
Breeds contempt for everyone who dares to decry
Race baiting, racial intolerance, racism,
Whatever the smarter set decides to call this thing that
We do not have the social efficacy to rise against.

Nope. My south was full of diversity.
I ran around with everyone not caring much about how they looked,
Where they worshipped, or where they were from.
I only cared about who they were
And throughout, I learned to be better, not perfect,
Closer than what is possible when fitting in or humor breeds a long lasting shame
Like it did in Albemarle County the other day.

There are moments that can define who we are,
It’s a gift, though, to be able to think,
To be able to reflect and not accept things as they are,
To know that the way we treat others, whether overtly or not,
Will be judged, not only by society but spiritually as well.
Knowing is a process and I know that this ground of Charlottesville
Has been a place of inspiration for me and for this nation.

Yet, Charlottesville just happens to be in the south,
Another unfortunate, only this time geography, not history
Being the spotlight that shows the worst of people.
Too many other places could also absorb the same negativity
As that little town in Virginia
With its big university and dubious legacy
That goes back at least as far as the Founding Fathers.

The time for bitching is over.
Let Lady Justice do her thing,
How about some mandatory sentences for hate?
How about a national crisis as a result of hate groups?
How about all the rocks get turned over so
Hatred has no place to hide.
Whatchya say Donnie? Jeffy?

(7) No Slogans Here (3/7)

“Poetic facts lay their claims on us.” Jason Silva

Not for lovers today,
Nope,
Virginia showed its ass
In a way that
She strongly wants to escape.

The problem is that hatred
Does not respect state lines.
Truth is, left unchecked
These Puritans and seekers of Alabaster lives
Will go everywhere.
Wreaking havoc with fear.

Where is Lady Justice?
How about Lady Liberty?
They are more than statues, Sir.
They are ideas that are more important
Than focus groups,
Base constituents, and
Air time on conservative news outlets.

Let them go, Sir.
Groping will not solve your problems,
Nor will it get Virginia back to being
For lovers and on
The track of expunging its past.

(7) She’s Tough (2/7)

“Poetic facts lay their claims on us.” Jason Silva

She will find her way
Chilling the vitriol of race and propaganda
She will bring those scales
Weighing the cost of your freedom against your lack of worth.
She will choose appropriate sentences
Assigning your existence to the place where your hate can do the least harm.

She will get battered for doing that
Taking the political tongue lashing with a moral high ground.
She will look to us for support
Imploring us to know that we value the rule of law over fear-based opposition.
She will win,
Hatred will lose.

(7) When? (1/7)

“Poetic facts lay their claims on us.” Jason Silva

Death.
Territorial.
Selfish.
Intolerant.
Reverence.
Love.

She’s not supposed to see most of that.
Her eyes blindfolded to steer clear of the worst of us
So she can bring the beauty of justice
To groups who cannot bear the responsibility
Of love and reverence for all people.

Today, though, she is hamstrung
By a tide of hatred that seems unchecked by
Those who ran on her virtues and others who are
Bastardizing her ideals for their immoral wants,
A desire for purity that is more poisonous than the melting pot they shame.

When will Lady Justice have her way?
When will she be unshackled to do her job
Against all evil and not just that identified by the powerful few?
When will this hatred for one another pass away?
When?