“Are you really running a marathon?”

It’s a question that has so many implications. On what hand, it’s a question of awe, like “I couldn’t do that. You’re effing, crazy.” On the other, it’s a question that suggests a certain disdain and maybe even jealousy. I never know how to interpret the intentions of the questioner, so I just answer, “Yep.”

“Are you doing Boston?”

That’s the next question that usually comes from people when they find out that I’m running a marathon. I get that Boston and New York are the biggies, the ones with the crazy prestige, but is it possible that the Kardashian effect of being famous for no reason other than being famous is at work in these two bloated races? I mean 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles, right? So what difference does it make if there are thousands of people running the race or just one? Distance is distance and time only time.

In the interest of full disclosure, I never qualified for either Boston or New York in my running heyday. I’m not bitter about it either. Both of those races have a tradition and standard that makes them special. Promotion and history also make them important races. I would never want to be bitter or arrogant by dismissing what those races stand for and have done for charities and the sport of running. However, I think that achievement of running a marathon by only Boston or New York smacks of elitism or backwater ignorance of what runners go through in all marathons.

It’s not the distance. It’s the test. Be it 5K, 10K, or those first few steps towards a new year’s resolution, it does not matter. Being in the game is what matters.

Sorry for the rant…

So the training this week has been tough. I decided to shut down and let my calf feel better. Those who are following along know that basketball has become my Achilles heel and I keep straining my calf playing. As a mark for AARP, I probably should be thinking of not playing the game, but effit, I love the game. Of course, that makes distance running a bit of a challenge. Calves are important for running, but there are workarounds.

The first has been rest, stretching, and water. The more I rest, stretch, and drink water the better my leg feels. The second has been a documentary I saw on Netflix called, “Finding Traction.” (Long story short…it’s about a woman doing an ultra-distance.) It’s awesome because it shows the struggle and potential that is involved when a person decides to test themselves against themselves.

That’s what running a marathon is about. It’s not about the charity. It’s not about the distance. It’s about the runner. What is she willing to do to finish? What are his goals?

And that spirit that is in all of us.

It may not be expressed by running a marathon. It might be expressed by volunteering or becoming an advocate for a cause. The journey may reveal itself in the pursuit of artistic creation. It might just be shown by being a good person every day. Running is only one expression of our potential and it need not be limited to a timed event over a given distance in a “big time” city.

Sorry for the lecture…

As I’m writing this post, I’m listening to a Bruce Springsteen concert I saw in September. It was my first and you know what they say about the first time… Well, this concert was nothing like that because I have vivid memories of being at Citizen’s Bank Park under near 100-degree heat with my son and standing for nearly four hours rocking out. It’s the same feeling I’m trying to capture in this run. I’m getting older. I haven’t been exercising as much as I did when I was young. I still think like a youngster and I’m having a hard time accepting that I have to slow some things down.

I see in that concert a guy who denies accepting whatever limitations age brings. I watched those guys deny time, age, heat, Mother Nature, boredom, and whatever else comes with a rocking chair, a front porch, and whatever pill is supposed to make us stand up and be felt. I’ll let the couch be a part of my life, but I won’t let it rule who I am. My spirit wants to do something, something more than I think I can do right now.

That’s what that concert meant to me. That’s what this “race” means to me.

I suppose that’s why I’m running this marathon of mine. Not for any glory. Not for any pseudo-fame. For me. To prove that I can. It should not be measured by New York, Boston, or the Rock and Roll series. My 493 laps around the indoor track at my YMCA has all the challenges of those races, distance, endurance, and monotony. I’ll be my own crew without any volunteers and for an hour or two, I’ll have thump-thump music from the classes taking place on the gym for below. That has got to be on a par with Heartbreak Hill…

Enough, my friend’s Christmas gift has me going Hemingway (not really, Hemingway, it’s an expression…)

For the week, lots of stretching. Today I played basketball for about fifteen minutes as we were short players at practice. My calf is a little sore, but it’s my middle finger on my right hand that is swollen and blue. I’d show you, but people might be offended.

I could care less about the swelling. It’s part of putting yourself out there.

Thank you for reading about my little marathon journey. Remember, this is about finding purpose in the run. I also have a practical purpose of raising funds for charity. My charity is the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to donate to their fund the link is below. However, any charity could benefit from a donation, so if you want to donate somewhere else, I’d love that just as much.

Donate Kennett YMCA: Thanks, everyone!

From the journal of Carter Hamorton…

12/27/16

In its archaic sense, husbandry means to care for the house. At one time, I suppose that meant tacking down shingles and keeping raiding bands of marauders from pillaging the homestead, but it sure means something different today. We are a breed that has been domesticated to the point where social manipulation has removed every reason for our existence from being. It’s a wonder women keep us around at all. From what I hear, there is a lot of discussion by women about the ways husbands from all over the place fail to measure up to whatever standard there is for them. In fairness, there is probably and an equal amount of comradery built over a beer and venting of the idiosyncratic ways of wives. Maybe that is why we are so necessary to each other, but I do question if husbands are going the way of the arctic shelf.

Those are the thoughts that run through my head when I’m driving. I get behind the wheel and have some music playing too loudly and my mind starts passing the time. Perhaps driving has become so comfortable in my big rig that I’m not really too concerned with what’s going on around me. I don’t have to shift gears and there is some kind of buzzer or vibration that will remind me of danger, should it come my way. If only the car makers could invent something to keep the deer off the road. Such is driving…

Only this time my wandering mind was tripping during a basketball game. I was sitting in a crowd who was there to catch a holiday high school matinee that featured two evenly matched teams. I was there with my notebook and phone. The notebook, old school, is useful for jotting notes. Sometimes, I prefer to write instead of typing notes into the phone. My phone was there to let a friend know the score of the game because he is too proud to step into the lavish gymnasium where the game was being played. He is city and blue collar. The school is country and full of gentleman farmers, mostly horse people. Truth be told, most of the money probably isn’t with the farms, but more with the financial management types that have moved into the far reaches of the county.

Anyway, there I was at the game minding my own business and taking stock of the crowd. My hometown was represented to the left. To my right were the teams who were waiting to play the third game of the tournament. I was nestled into a peaceful plot of my own with no one to talk to. It was wonderful. The game was tight, but in the end, one team pulled away much like a Sixers game. Small mistakes piled up for the home team and in the end, the guys could not make up for what they had done wrong. A perfect life lesson…

As the end became less in doubt, the crowd began to change for the next game. A father, who was being dragged along by three elementary school aged children, corralled them into a small space several rows below me. He held their snacks and did his best to dole them out while his urchins jumped, stomped, pushed, and struggled to keep the Ring Pops from turning the bleachers purple. He looked tired in his “Life Is Good” t-shirt. His jeans had gone about as far as they could go and his facial hair was bordering on beard length. There was definitely too much growth for a razor. He would need clippers to trim that hedge down.

I thought how nice it was for him to take the kids to the game and let his wife have some quiet time. Modern day husbandry is more about not being around as much as it is to protect the family and the property. Good husbands know when to get out. I’m guessing this has been the idea for hundreds of years and the most concrete reason I can come up with for that is golf.

The frustration on the father’s face was growing. He became more insistent in his orders. He grabbed the dancing son and stuck him to a spot next to him. He threw the Ring Pop away. Father brought them to the game and they were going to watch the game. Little did I know that his frustration was not just about the kids. In came his wife with her friend. They were dolled up in suburban glam, knee high boots, tight jeans, bangs, and fancy bags. Their makeup was too much for a high school game, but enough to throw the scent off of whatever they were trying to hide.

He looked to his love with an expression pleading for help, because after all, he had asked her to go to the game with them before she got the bright idea to come with her friend. For the record, her friend’s husband wanted nothing to do with the game and since this December day was in the sixties, he went golfing. The husband with three organic anchors sitting next to him in the prime basketball watching seats near the floor, got the following response from the women he loves, “Oh dear, let’s go up here with Duerson family.”

I did a quick peek behind me to see more kids and a similarly QVC styled mom getting up to do the cheek to cheek kissing thing. I turned back to the husband just in time to see him mumble something about having something shoved into a nether region. I assumed this was not a pleasant thought for him, yet he rose and gathered all of the food and coats. He walked up the steps as if heading to the gallows or having been lambasted for something in the bathroom, be it hair, smell, or amount of time under the soothing waters really doesn’t matter. He looked my way and shook his head. I nodded back and gave the “I feel you brother” grimace.

About that time I heard, “Excuse me.” To my right stood another pair of boots and jeans, but this time, no bangs. This hair was straightened to the very edge of it’s potential and if there is a thing called country gothic, this woman had it. She was horse elite and Vampira all in one. She kept walking and instinctively I looked to my right, away from her, to see who was with her. Not surprisingly, I saw a gentleman who was older than me with the beginnings of a combover dressed in a suit that was vintage Miami Vice. His threads were not old, quite the contrary. He had the loafers, no socks, and the thin jacket. The difference was that he also had a fancy scarf. I felt underdressed in his presence. My jeans, running shoes, and an unused golf shirt don’t reflect much of a fashion style, only a need to be comfortable.

“I don’t know where my wife’s going,” he said. He was breathing hard and seemed noticeably older than his wife.

I looked back to her direction and she was already in the other section of the bleachers and taking off her coat. Their age difference was not as great as my initial observation as it became obvious of the additions and subtractions that the doctors had provided her. Of course, there was the possibility that she was a vampire and had been around for eternity. Perhaps this is why her husband was short of breath. Maybe she had been draining him of blood.

I replied, “She didn’t make it easy for you.”

He said, “She never effing does.”

With that, he puffed along in his loafers. Once there, he sat next to his wife, pulled out a comb, straightened the thinness above, and committed himself to staying awake as long as possible. He was at that age when an afternoon nap has the same power that the mythical cool breeze had in his youth. Only this time, his head bows down in sleep instead of standing at attention.

I couldn’t help but think these two guys were perfect examples of the dwindling importance of men. They were dogs to be commanded, oxen to carry heavy loads, or horses to never be ridden. They were husbands and like most of the husbands I know, devoid of anything masculine, resigned to life on the farm, surrendered to the almighty power of our wives. Face it, any guy who tells you he is in charge is either wrong or abusive. We are beholden to our wives and as society evolves those things that were once the dominion of men reach extinction, we better figure out how to make a change lest we go the way of Dodo birds, dinosaurs, and the ABA.

With my head numb from the combination of basketball and sociology, I got back into my truck. A Duran Duran song came on and I didn’t even have the testosterone to change it. The school is close to my home, so I made it there before the song was over. I got out of the truck thinking about the first time I heard D&D on MTV and how I swore I would never choose them over my classic rock gods from back in the day. They are, however, one of my wife’s favorite bands and I rarely change the station, even when I’m alone. She has that kind of influence over me…

I turned the knob on the door and was greeted by an adoring dog and a “Hello” from my wife somewhere in the house. The television was on and it looked like I was in for the effing movie with Mr. Darcy again.

I thought, “I need to get my clubs out.”

philadelphia_from_south_street_bridge_july_2016_panorama_3

Watching an art show
About Philadelphia
While gearing up for my
First Eagles game.

What a life
Full of complexity and extremes
The subtle bullying arrogance of the arts
With the not so subtle bullying of sports.
I drift from pole to pole
Loving the thought stimulated by both.

PBS has shown the hidden beauty of Philly.
Now let’s hope I don’t get bloodied
By the mob at the LINC.

I love this city!

Photo Credit:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/Philadelphia_from_South_Street_Bridge_July_2016_panorama_3.jpg