Marathon Journal: For 2-22-17 (+ a Rant)

Before you read any further, know that this is part of an educational rant and part training journal. The two go together even though the ranting is about Physical Education and the journal is about training for my ridiculous marathon plan.

Still here? Good.

Some background: I have been a teacher for 23-years. I started in elementary school, moved to middle school, and currently teach high school. For a few years, I was also an adjunct to a well-respected teacher preparation college. My subjects are Health and Physical Education. I teach people. I’m opinionated about my profession and believe that my opinion is subject to criticism. Take this as you will…

The delivery of a sound educational program is grounded in some sort of theory. From that theory, programs are developed. The programs must be assessed against outcomes. I cannot cite the article that I learned that from, but please know that this is the foundation for many of the decisions that I make in my job as a GYM teacher. (Those of you in the profession who are offended by “GYM teacher,” I make no apologies. “We are what we are and what we are is an illusion…” Le Cage Au Folles, I believe…). For those of you not in the profession, PE/Gym teachers spend a great deal of time trying to improve the image of what they do. We have a professional organization with a cute name, “SHAPE,” (Society of Health and Physical Education) that works as an advocate for all things health and physical education. State departments of education have created standards, cultivated by physical educators, that stand on a buffet of themes that include, team sports, individual sports, dance, science, decision making, problem- solving, and fitness. All of the standards are meant to show the money brokers that physical education matters in an educational context. It’s as if the profession cannot stand on its own, so it took a shotgun planning approach to say, “Look at all the ways we matter.”

And still, the profession struggles for respectability. There are too many reasons to go into, but the major things that seem to keep people from liking PE are: that people see no reason for a gym class, that people do not want to sweat, or PE is not fun. The “PE Council of Higher Education” will say that the problems stem from a lack of coherent instruction or poorly designed programs. Practitioners will say that the schedules are messed up and that there is a disconnect between what professor types think should be happening in schools and what the constraints of PE in the real world are all about.

“Chris, what does all of this have to do with your marathon training? I don’t need an essay on education. Heck, I went to school. Duh…”

“I hear you. I’m also with you. Remember, I am ranting.”

Learning is a highly complex and messy process. My theory is that the messier the process the better, so I teach, I am purposefully vague with instructions or I place barriers up for students to work around. A member of fictitious PE Council of Higher Education asked me today if that meant, “handing kids a racquet and shuttlecock and sending them out to play badminton without any prior instruction.” My answer, “Why not?” was not received well. Here is my reasoning, people need to learn how to think and make choices. I see badminton as a tool to help my students think and as a means to have them moving around. Through all of that, I want them to have fun. Experience, learning, and research have shown me a few things about how people learn. First, people are capable of more than we believe, so we have to remove ourselves and allow them to grow. I am not suggesting that PE teachers leave a class to chaos, but I am saying to PE teachers that their students will find the answers and develop skills if we give them both the chance and time. We are not coaching a team, so our approach does not need to be limited by skill development, game strategy, or herding students into a large group game. We are facilitating learning experiences, so it’s okay to concentrate on outcomes beyond the physical. How about developing self-efficacy, decision-making, resilience, or sweat equity (I just made that up…)?

Second, the most powerful person in any class is every student. If they don’t buy into what is happening in class, the program will suffer and the profession will stay second class in the minds of the people bringing the next consumers of our product to life. Allowing and expecting that students find a way to understand the importance of physical activity (on their terms) is a very important aspect of what we do. Doing so allows students to participate in a self-directed and personally meaningful experience that has a real opportunity to tap into real life skills and social constructs like self-efficacy, resilience, or joy. Let the program be more than a bunch of rules or “official” looking sports. Allow the program to be flexible and in tune with the individual needs of the students. That individuality is how adults exercise. There is value in team sports, but the edge of the cliff for team sports participation rapidly approaches by high school.

Finally, all of what happens in PE can be around a culture of fun. Dodgeball is fun. Dance is fun. Team sports are fun. Experiencing all of those may not be fun for all students, but finding the types of things that students like should be something that PE teachers strive for. Fun makes everything else easier, more enjoyable, and I believe more meaningful.

“Okay, Chris, do you have data to support your theory and program?”

“Why yes, smarty pants, I do.” (Insert proper emoji)

The quick report on a study I did last year was to measure the general self-efficacy (belief a student can create success) through participation in a strength and conditioning class. Without all the educational research mumbo jumbo (doctoral terms!), the students’ self-efficacy scores rose from the pretest at the beginning of the year to the posttest at the end of the year. Think about this, though, I didn’t make a big deal about standards. I wasn’t cranky about perfect form. I didn’t even ask them to tell me about the scientific appropriateness of plyometrics training on the regeneration of muscle tissue. (I guess that’s a thing…). Strangely, though, students who were unable to sign up for the class again this year talk about how great that class was and how they are still exercising. There you have it…

I know that this rant about physical education teachers is exhausting, but too much of what we do in the gym (and in education in general) forgets that we teach people. We do not teach subjects. “Education through the physical” is my mantra. “Education of the physical” is a side dish for me. Getting students to feel good about themselves because they realize that they can create success (whatever their metric is) is my goal. The rest of this stuff, standards, scripted learning, public versus charter versus private is just BS…

“Marathon journal, yo?…”

“Here it is and thank you for staying with me.”


Take this marathon I’m running…it’s one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever had. I’m running a marathon on an indoor track. Who does such a thing? Better than that, I’m only halfway training. I could care less about my time. There won’t be a crew, nobody will be getting paid overtime, and there won’t be any litter to pick up after I’m done.

It’s going to be great!

I started out on this journey simply wanting to prove that at my advanced age and level of ignored fitness that I could complete a marathon. My long run right now is about six miles. I’m running in about a month and should have a long run closer to twenty miles, but I don’t really care. I’ve got all day to go the distance. I’m not worried about a standard, pace, or a mileage/skill progression. I’m running for the fun of it. I’ll benefit from the exercise, but I’ll savor the accomplishment.

So in the name of denying essential content, as a protest against something with a #, and in the spirit of anyone who remembers a great day of dodgeball in gym class, I RUN!

Not really, I’m just doing this to see if I can. I believe it so.

Thanks to my PE teachers who understood what was important…

Marathon Journal: For 2/14/17

My Old Running Haunts…

The last couple of days have been about letting go of the coaching laziness and getting back to the running routine. It’s tough making life changes and made more difficult by the “crud” that is going around. I’ve been mixing in running here and there, but the distances have been hampered by lungs that are still trying to get clear. I added some indoor cycling to the mix and I hope that the fitness will come back quickly.

Tonight, as I try to fight off the incredible hunger I have after a Rock-n-Roll ride, I got to ride around some of my old running roads. How did it ever happen? There is no way I ever ran the hills and fought through the funk of the mushroom industry. I guess age has something do with it. When I went through my first running boom, I was about 15 years younger. I’m sure a lot of my running energy was due to being young. I’d bet my recoveries were faster too. Then there is the lighter factor, all those microbrews and Pop-Tarts add up.

When I think about it, though, this time around is not that different than back then. I grinding minutes wherever I can. Sometimes I run the track, sometimes on a treadmill, and others I’m just cruising with my dog. I just go and that’s the best part, just like when I got to the point when I could handle hills and real mileage. Maybe tonight was not so much about an awe of my running past, but instead seeing a hill and waiting for the day when I run it like I used to.

Thank you for reading my blog. I am running this marathon of one to support the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to support the Y, I have provided the link to their site below. Since this about running for a charity of my choice, I think it awesome if you would prefer to donate somewhere else. In fact, I would love it…good for this journey’s spirit!

Donate to the Kennett YMCA!

Marathon Journal: For 2-9-17

And now I cough…

The last few days have been up and down. I nearly wrote roller coaster, but that was too cliche, so I settled for up and down. Cliche… Sunday began my battle with the previous week of work where our tiny office served as an incubator for whatever viral-respiratory thing is going around. Since there were only two days left in my basketball season I stayed in the germ-laden environment about forty-eight hours longer than I should have. Finally, Wednesday arrived and I hunkered down for some serious recuperation.

What I didn’t know was that there would be little rest, except for the two-hour nap I took after watching Rectify and listening to the pundits go round and round about the latest whatever is going on in Washington fiasco. I’ll just say this, “Both sides, GET IT TOGETHER!” Did I mention that the temperature was a balmy sixty-three degrees. That’s about fifteen to twenty degrees above normal and all I could muster was a short walk with my dog and some time sitting on the deck. Yesterday was the perfect day to run, warm, sunny, and no real commitments, although I was home from work.

So I slept…

The weather has changed dramatically today. There will probably be about four or five inches of snow on the ground by the time this storm goes through. Schools are closed and when I awoke, the pundits were still lamenting alternate facts, media shaming, executive lies, double talk, and whether the Knicks need an intervention. Since the school cancellation call woke me at five, I watched the heavy snow falling nearly from it’s beginning. I noshed on a bagel and rushed through the New York Times Mini-Crossword puzzle in near record time, but something came over me. I had to go for a run despite the medical advice to sit the next few days out. The doctor pushed hard for me to get a flu shot, but on her recommendation, I held firm. She talked of resting for about a week so there would be less of a chance for my cold to turn into something else. She took my insurance and co-pay quickly after I said, “No.”

And then I ran…

I layered up, found some gloves and a knit cap, and asked my dog if he wanted to go. Since he took about a minute to do his business earlier in the morning, I already knew the answer. Into the white out, I went. The flakes were being blown around by a steady wind that made them feel more like sleet than snow. The salt trucks and plows were out and they had turned the roads in my little neighborhood into a slushy mess. The sky was gray and for a second I thought, “This is not a good day to run.” Still, though, I kept going, slowly of course, and left my neighborhood for the next one “up the way.” I made it past the oil change place, then the Dunkin, past the home style food restaurant and the shuttered ice cream stand, around the loop in the next neighborhood, and finally, home.

It sure felt good. Since then the coughing has started. My lungs are saying to the illness that it’s time to go. I’m not at all bothered by the hack. I’ve got nowhere to go today. So maybe I’ll catch the next episode of Rectify and take another nap. Maybe I’ll even grade some papers. Maybe not…

Thank you for reading my blog. I am running this “marathon of one” to support the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to support the Y, I have provided the link to their site below. Since this about running for a charity of my choice, I think it would be awesome if you donated to the Kennett Area YMCA, if you have a cause close to your heart, by all means, use the spirit of this challenge to give to a charity or organization you are more comfortable with. I would love that…good for this journey’s spirit!

Donate to the Kennett YMCA

Marathon Journal: For 2-5-17

What an interesting week of training. I didn’t run at all. For those of you following along, it would be reasonable to think something was up with my calf. Thankfully, there is nothing going on there. I just didn’t feel like running. Instead, I played basketball. Yes, I played basketball and risked injuring my calf again. I know, I’m crazy, stupid, or whatever negative label most appropriately describes my decision-making process. Here is the reality of this marathon training…I don’t care about it. I’m doing this because I want to and I’m going to do it my way. Sure, there are principles of training that I should be following. I know there are all sorts of programs I should be following, but this week was busy and I’m not going to miss the opportunity to shoot some pain free hoops if I can.

I marvel at people who have the single-minded focus to train with a strict discipline. I used to run with a group and there was a guy who was training for a 100-mile race. He would three hours in the darkness of the early morning, squeeze in a run at lunch, run three more hours at night. He was inspiring and off-putting at the same time. I could not fathom his ability to endure the hours of training, nor did I want the aches he often complained about. He ran his race and I think it took him about twenty-seven hours. He also came home with a bump on his head as he fell asleep while running at one point. After his story, I knew that kind of training was beyond me and that I need to keep things in perspective.

So on this day gray day, I write while watching golf in the desert, sipping tea from Mrs. Robinson’s shop, nursing a sinus infection, and glad to have sweated it out on the basketball court this week. Tuesday, my coaching season ends. Then I’m back to the serious training. Rest assured, though, I’m not going to go crazy. I’m not capable of doing that.

Thank you for reading my blog. I am running this “marathon of one” to support the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to support the Y, I have provided the link to their site below. Since this about running for a charity of my choice, I think it would be awesome if you donated to the Kennett Area YMCA, but if you have a cause close to your heart, by all means, use the spirit of this challenge to give to a charity or organization you are more comfortable with. I would love that…good for this journey’s spirit!

Donate-Kennett YMCA

Marathon Journal: For 1-29-17


This is the hat circa 2004-05…


The week got away from me with basketball and binge watching TV taking over. I think there should be an understanding that if a person takes a nap on Sunday, time stops for them to ensure that they do not lose valuable weekend time. My nap today, shortened the weekend by about two hours, but that was because my run started yesterday at about noon and ended around 9:30 this morning. I’ll explain later…

First, for those following along, my calf finally gave in and relaxed. Maybe it was the bananas. Maybe it was the near non-stop stretching. Could it have been “A Fine Pilsner” or two…or three… In desperation, I picked up a heating pad and turned my left leg into the human equivalent of a pig on a spit. Whatever it was, I felt good enough to go for a run today after bashing my calf like the guy in Washington bashing us with his Animal House float looking head. (Go watch the movie. He appears right before Otter gets beaten up! Hmmm, sounds like the Constitution.)

So about this one run of the week starting yesterday… My role as the 9th-grade basketball coach at school gives me the opportunity to sort of hang out with the JV and Varsity teams at their games. Yesterday, we were playing an away game and I was sitting at the end of the bench during warm ups scouting out the local team’s talent when an old man came over to talk to me. He started telling me all about John Wooden, John Thompson, and Bobby Knight. Each had been an inspiration to him and he learned a great deal from them that he used with his teams. Our talk was so relaxing and kind of took my mind away from my previous task. As he walked away, I must have been “blank slating” because my eyes went right to a man wearing a black hat from a trail race. The race is a 50K (31-miles) that I ran back in ’03 or ’04. We talked a bit about the race and he asked if I still had my hat (The race is called the Hat Run and they give out baseball caps instead of t-shirts.). I had mine up until a year ago when my pit bull decided to put an end to the hat. We got a laugh out of that and the game began.

Talking with the men must have affected me on some level. After a few cautious laps on the track this morning, I began thinking of both. They were older. Each was polite and willing to share their experiences. One was African American and the other white, which is not really important, except that I think there are people in our country who would shy away from either because of their “color.” People are people, people. Learn to appreciate each other.

So there I was on the run. I felt great and got buffet ideas about how much I was going to run. Below the track in a corner room off the gym, I could hear the Spinning instructor yelling and today her music was great (except for that “round and round” song…). The rest of the gym was empty for the first thirty minutes. My legs were fresh. My lungs were clear and I decided that I would go for ninety minutes. A few minutes before nine that all changed. The group exercise class started to “Walking Dead” into the gym. They shuffled across the floor with big water bottles, Coach bags, and yoga mats for the floor work. The “Sundayers” crack me up because they have unofficially assigned spots. Each week women go to the same places on the floor and God forbid someone new to the class take their spot. It cracks me up.

Fifteen minutes into the class, the music turned on me. The song had a sound that sounded like those crazy horns from the World Cup. I totally lost concentration and the calm of the empty gym floated away with the “EEEHEHEHEER” of the music. Then some guy in the front row started yelling the stereotypical aerobics yell and I was done. I did the self-talk thing to convince myself that this was good mental practice for the grind of running a marathon, but it didn’t work. I mixed in some thrusters, sit-ups, hip raises, and then hit the road.

From the calm of casual conversations to the beat down of thump-thump music… My run was today was awesome. Thinking about the two old guys was a relief from the news polarizing my country. Hopefully, this new governing style will understand that when one system pushes, other systems push back. Maybe whoever is running our country will step away and let the government represent all of the people and not just the egos of those holding office and the ledgers of those paying to get them elected. I’m glad I thought about that after the run. Too bad the country didn’t think about it before the election.

Thank you for reading my blog. The marathon I am training for is real, but I’m the only person running it. I am going to run 493 laps around the track at the Kennett Area YMCA and make a donation to the Y as my “entry fee.” If you would like to donate to the Kennett Y, I have included the link below. However, the true spirit of this run is to donate where you want, so feel free to donate to a charity you prefer if you are so inclined. I’d love that!

Donate to the Kennett YMCA

Marathon Journal: For 1-21-17

Let’s get right to the crux of things. I beat to a different drum, but not so different that I could be called “out there.” I’ve learned over the past few days, that I don’t get excited by comedies. They are okay, but I don’t hold onto the jokes from movies or television shows the way some people do. At the same time, though, I love banter with friends that is funny. Go figure. I also learned that I have a fashion sense that is polarizing. I wore a bolo tie the other day and it caused quite a stir. There weren’t any riots on the streets of the Nation’s capitol, but the tie was a love it or hate it proposition. For what it’s worth, I like the tie and will wear it again.

The shocker for me has been the reaction from people when I tell them about this marathon.They cannot get their heads around the idea that I am going to run twenty-six miles (and change) around a gym court. I was even told it was weird. I guess it’s weird in the context of normal marathon running. All of the marathons I ran in my thirties were point-to-point races. They were outside with cheering fans and regular water stops. Traffic was diverted so that we could run a race of individual accomplishment under the guise of raising money for charity. I always wondered if the police, who made the race safe by managing the traffic headache, were working for free. If not, a portion of my entry went to paying overtime and not to the charity for the race.

I find that weird. So, I’m running this race in a way that makes me feel like 100% of my efforts are going to the organization of my choice. If it’s not apparent from this post, I also have a fairly opinionated and stubborn streak. I just want to do this my way and I am more than a little surprised at the reactions of people. The track freaks them out. Ultimately, though, distance is distance.

As for the training, the week went well. My calf is sore and I have given into this being my challenge. I will continue to train and manage the pain smartly, but I will not give into this silly tightness. Go ahead, tell me of the future damage I could cause. I’ll listen, but I’m doing this race to test me and I’ll find a way to work around tight calves. After all, I’ve had them all my life. Despite the pain, I put in twelve miles this week and am ready for whatever comes next.

Weirdo, out…

Marathon Journal: For 1/14/17

The Marathon Course


We are built to run. We move forward with efficiency. We can cool down effectively. We are able to think and make decisions about pace, technique, and whatever else comes to mind. Thinking comes with some barriers, though. Because we have the power to make choices about what we do, motivation, or lack thereof, becomes a factor in our training. What do we do to manage those moments when motivation becomes a barrier to our training? How do we get back on track or stay moving when our energy is down? I bet there are a million answers to that because we all have our ways of maintaining our commitment to exercising.

I’m writing this after a thirty-minute run under the most horrible condition, blasting thump-thump music. I arrived at the Y this morning unsure of what I would do. My calf is still sore, more so after running twenty minutes yesterday. The parking lot was so full that I could not find an easy spot for my truck. Everything I was thinking told me to just go home. I’ve got at least 100 reasons to run this “sort of” race, so I decided to make the walk over the bridge and hit the track. Don’t make fun of me, but the distance from my truck to the track might have been two-hundred yards. When I finally got to the track (two minutes, maybe), I was washed over by a tsunami of sound. The banging bass muffled the incomprehensible exhortations of a tank topped man getting a hoard of people to do whatever form of weight lifting cardio they were doing.

Yesterday, I ran in the gym at my school with music from Hayes Carl, Paul McCartney, and whatever else is stored on my iPod. That’s right, iPod, it’s a Classic and it still charges. The tunes were soothing and let my mind focus on how I felt. However, I ran alone and before long my calf was letting me know it was time to quit. I gave in rather easily. Today, I was faced with the daunting task of running through the multitude of aural and visual distractions that I knew would beat me down in just a few minutes.

So I started running. The first few laps were tough. I could hear the guy breathing into his microphone. My calf was tight, but the tightness would move around leaving different parts of it relaxed. The thought crept into my head that maybe it was going to be okay. Below, the entire gym floor was covered with people working hard. I peeked over the rail while they were squatting and something happened. The bars going up and down must have hypnotized me or something because I got into a flow that would last for the next thirty minutes. I barely thought about my calf. I dismissed the hoots and “yee-haws” from the class below. Ultimately, I had the best run I’ve had in a long time.

I think it was the thump-thump music. Somehow the music put my mind at ease and let me do what I’m designed to do, run. I didn’t think about sticky muscle fibers, weight, angry parents, or the confirmation of Cabinet members. I just ran.

That’s how it should be…

Thank you for reading my blog. I am running this “marathon of one” to support the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to support the Y, I have provided the link to their site below. Since this about running for a charity of my choice, I think it would be awesome if you donated to the Kennett Area YMCA, if you have a cause close to your heart, by all means, use the spirit of this challenge to give to a charity or organization you are more comfortable with. I would love that…good for this journey’s spirit!

Kennett Area YMCA-Donate


Photo Credit: Chris Hancock-All rights reserved

Marathon Journal: For 1-6-17

“Man, up…”

I’ve been coaching basketball and trying to instill a sense of toughness about playing the game. I was never a great player, but I wasn’t afraid of playing against anyone, either. After running marathons, I thought maybe I was “basketball tough” as a runner. At least, twelve years ago when I was in a real training groove and blew out my hamstring, but still ran a marathon with no training after the last six weeks before the marathon.

It’s strange how our perceptions of the past can cloud our visions of today. I’m barking at my players to, “Man Up,” and I’m hobbling around on this cranky calf, all the while making it the excuse not to run. Before someone writes in lecturing me about how “no pain, no gain” is wrong, let me remind you that the principle of overload essentially says that we must push our bodies to discomfort before adaptations occur. It would seem that arguing about fitness is about as pointless as listening to the Republicans and Democrats prove they are in it for something different than what’s best for America. My fitness reality has been that running “hurts” because of the challenge much in the same way a difficult basketball practice is a grind because of the effort that it requires. Neither fitness nor basketball requires the infliction of pain, but both require finding that threshold of pain tolerance to make the runner/athlete better.

Monday, I ran for my first time in nearly three weeks. My calf felt good, no pain. I got to my practice early and started around the court with the lights in the gym off, no music, and a calm that inspired a less than speedy pace. I didn’t count the laps and had trouble remembering when I started. I was running and that was enough. The echo in my school’s old auxiliary gym reminds me of the old Blow Gymnasium at William and Mary. I used to run there, too, and the gym had a sound that brought peace to my heart. Old Blow Gym also had the smell of decades of sweat and chlorine from the pool, but that place was the best babysitter I ever had.

After twenty minutes, I could feel a little twinge starting to invade my calf. Rather than force the issue, I retreated to a walk and then found a wall for some serious stretching. Our practice came and a few players showed up for the holiday practice and still no pain. I thought that maybe I was home free on this injury.

Then, Tuesday came and it was back to work. Somewhere during the day, the pain came back and now I’m back where I was a few weeks ago. I’m not sure work caused the soreness, but I don’t want to blame it on running. Tomorrow, though, I may be putting the calf to the test. Snow is in the forecast and there is nothing I like more than running in the snow, so if the opportunity presents itself, I will “man up” and get a few minutes of running in the season’s first coating. Like Blow Gym, there is a sound to running in snow, the crunch and the calm.

I know, I should rest… I’m tired of rest. Let’s get it on…

Thank you for reading my blog. I am running this marathon of one to support the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to support the Y, I have provided the link to their site below. Since this about running for a charity of my choice, I think it awesome if you would prefer to donate somewhere else. In fact, I would love it…good for this journey’s spirit!

As an aside, I did get notified of a donation that was made to the Y. I don’t like to embarrass people by using their names, so I’ll give you the initials of the donor. THANKS, MOM!…

Kennett YMCA Donations

Marathon Journal: For 12/30/16

“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!

Marathon Journal: For 12-22-16

For those of you following along, you know last week I said that I would have to take leave of playing basketball because it was interfering with my marathon training. Well, guess what, the pull of the hoop is much stronger than I anticipated and I did almost no running. In terms of marathon training, I did nothing, but remember this marathon is about the process and finding the way to the finish line in terms of happiness, not grinding to get some unimportant goal.

Yada, yada, yada…

Sometimes life gets in the way and coaching is proving to be more exhausting than I thought. I like to get involved in practice and we barely take a break during our two-hour practice. I usually get involved for a few minutes and inevitably my calf will tighten up, but I’ve found a tolerance to the pain because I want to help these guys get better.

John Wayne, right?

The truth is last week was crazy. Besides the cranky calf, I got to experience the joys of fasting, drinking the prep, the agony after the prep, the midday nap from anesthesia, and the joy of a Monte Cristo with fries after the procedure. For those of you not following my code, I’m talking a colonoscopy. After the experience of the routine screening, I didn’t feel like doing much. The days of doing nothing but stuffing my face were good. I got to see my son play a gig here in town and dared my calf to tighten up in practice. Man, it was a good week.

But the training…

I’ve run ten marathons. I understand the volume of running that I need to do to make this thing survivable. My last marathon, I ran without training for the better part of a month because of a blown out hamstring that I hurt playing Ultimate. The epic nature and mythology of the whole marathon thing are lost on me because I’m not willing to die to finish the race. In that way, I don’t let running get in the way of life. There’s so much for us to do and all of it can be enjoyed so long as it’s all kept in perspective.

And I think that is why I have chosen to run for the Kennett YMCA. I know that my donation will help provide access to the Y for families who could not otherwise afford to use the Y. Getting kids and their families to understand that exercise has many benefits and that the benefits can be realized without pushing themselves into a relationship with the porcelain bowl I spent so much time with last week is important to me. Sure, there is a place for the high-intensity training, but it’s about knowing when. It’s about personal choice and perspective.

So with the pipes clean and more time to run, I’m about ready to see if the old gastrocnemius will hold up. There’s also a few days of basketball practice to make my running life teeter on the edge of unfortunate occurrences.

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.

Kennett Area YMCA Donations