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The sun was supposed to shine,
My New Year’s mood was bright,
Only I was rocking shorts
As snow fell over the open fields
Inviting me for a run.

Goggins, the voice,
The profanity, the wisdom,
The honest understanding of human nature
Rang in my head and put me in that place,
The one where the excuses lack a toe hold,
The one where conviction seizes the moment
Where not is not allowed.

Just two days ago this run wrecked me
Taking every bit of energy in my legs,
In my motivation well
And using it to add to the fuel making these fields special.

The sun poked through for awhile,
I was deep in the woods,
Navigating roots and rocks,
Hashing it out with steep hills, and
Sidestepping mini bogs.

The invitation accepted,
The new year starting off well,
Confirmation of the Goggins ethos,
Excuse free exercise,
The best kind.

Hanging out,
Walking with some running,
Drinking with some wrapping,
Baked goods make a good offering
To help pass the working hours on.

Some of us must work,
No time for midweek socializing,
Lunches to attend,
Classes to inspire.
Bull sheeeit.

Can that be said?
Only during dodgeball
When wussified parents think
The kids should win just because.
Make sure they get their snack, though,
A thoughtful lady signed up to bring them.

Because enjoying a snack
Is more important than winning,
Being competitive being a sin and all,
Unless, of course, it’s on an easy run
Where the BS is all about hanging out,
Being with the crew, and
Walking under a beautiful half moon.

It’s been awhile
Since the cosmos offered
A bountiful running-writing experience
Where the social aspects
Of graceful knuckle-dragging five in the morning
Fitness freaks was more important than the
Slide-rule, data-driven, goal-directed running junky behaviors
That I had allowed to cloister the life-affirming,
Soul soothing potential of good runs spent with friends.

On this morning when light snow
Fell from the darkness with a softness
That lifted my spirit while somehow
Inspiring tired legs to wallow on normally manageable hills,
Suffer through an eternally long warm-up lap
Barely clocking in at half a mile, the snow it teased and pushed
A steady stream of conversation
That ultimately proved to be fatigue’s cure
Due to its energy producing current
Which was able to keep a small group
Chugging down what seemed to be a never ending road.

Cars passed, bright lights reflecting off of the flakes,
Danger in the blindness they produced and
The sudden decelerations of the drivers
Who must have been cursing our reflective asses.
There was laughter at the thought of our own evasive maneuvers,
Gridiron inspiration with snowbank tackles
To keep everyone safe from the bull-rushing automobiles.
There were laughs at the image of babies being popped from the womb
In a kind of pimple popping way, complete with malice for the moment
And the kind of wisdom that comes with a decree.
There was that uneasy laughter that comes
When responsibility must be held accountable
And tough decisions about missed deadlines and certificates unearned come due.

While the cars and birthing room carnage are scary,
The thought of an 80s pop star slinking around on one leg
In the wee hours of any morning
While be cheered by nearly as old women
Who squeezed into their teenage fishnets and nuclear cooling tower breast cones
Very nearly had a few tapping out.

Age has no dignity…

Yet these runs, unlike the ones in the leftover sorority girl fishnets,
Keep me feeling young.
This morning with all the distraction
Took away from my realizing I was super tired.
It guided me to a place
Where I know numbers, but I don’t accept them as annual rings.
The challenge of working out each day is great,
The little bit of effort it takes to hang with my friends
Is easily, no readily, expended.

Shallow breathing,
When I should be kicking a little harder,
The mind says go,
Legs counter with no.
So it is this morning
With the day ahead,
Lethargic being the way,
But it’s nothing to fear,
Tired is temporary,
Some good oats,
A bit of rest,
Perhaps a book tonight, and
With any luck a run in some snow tomorrow.
The energy is rising already!

Swim, bike, run
Swim, bike, run
Swim, bike, run
My goodness,
What have I done?

The laps pile up
The pedaling never stops
And the miles
They are what they are,
An eternal pounding.

I’m loving this,
A new challenge,
Unknown distances
Greater accountiblity,
Awesomeness.

Races have a soul,
Philly has a soul,
Too often that Philly way
Is a soul steeped in harshness,
Bitterness,
What ifs…

This past Sunday clouds took a break
From draining themselves
On the hopefuls who were looking for personal greatness
Along the streets of Philadelphia
Where dreams are often dashed
In whatever macabre deviance cast out by the city.

With the rain stopped, the cold kept a hold on the scantily clad throng,
Finally, the gun sounded and off they went
Chugging through the neighborhoods,
Looping through the parks, and living in the Philly vibe
That if nothing else, is tough.

A little bitch of a hill in Fairmount,
The uneven pavement of Old City,
Whiskey charity, and the boredom of West River Drive
Each doing nothing to inspire doom, gloom, or failure,
Until they joined forces with Mother Nature.

Or maybe it was Old Man Winter who brought the pain,
With a nasty wind off the Schuylkill blowing heavy rain sideways that
Made a wild trip through Manayunk a serious battle to prevent leg cramps.
The weather and electrolyte depletion could not defy this soul
For lessons from Goggins ran deep and kept purpose in the forefront.

Neither snow, sleet, nor hail could slow the pace,
Not even a full bladder could stop a determined stride
Each hobble bringing the finish line closer until it got real when.
The personal clouds opened up
Letting loose a torrent camouflaged by nature’s storm.

Toughness,
That intangible trait, something the Greek used to factor in,
Before he became a racist buffoon,
Is the one thing that culminates from all those hours of training,
And in the City of Brotherly Love, thousands showed their mettle.

Forget the metal platitudes, the dry fit t-shirts,
Forget the celebrities at the start,
Marathons are about a soul, an ethos
That we can do something crazy, something seemingly impossible,
Something fitting for a city like Philadelphia.

For in all the ugliness of the urban area,
All the pain and suffering that exists at one end of the city’s continuum
Not all hurt must be dire,
Hips might quit, fingers might get cold, hypothermia might be right around the corner,
But soul can soothe all ills.

A soul is an identity,
The energy that lets others know this is who we are
Take it or leave it.
And I’m taking it, the warts of Philly, the gifts of Philly,
The soul of Philly.

Twenty-six miles and change,
Not much on the scale of accomplishments,
Five hours
Not much on the scale of accomplishments,
But I’m damn proud of the experience.

The cold, the cramps, the confluence of cold rain and hot whatever that was,
We were out there testing ourselves,
Treating ourselves to the power of uncertainty,
Gaining new scars, better stories, and callouses against doubt and regret,
Souls, that’s what we got, yo.

Effing ninety seconds,
That’s not a long time
Over the course of twenty-six miles,
But that’s how many extra I used
Beyond my goal time.

There are plenty of excuses,
Rain, sleet, snow, and hail
Each driven sideways by a cold wind…
Forget that, I loved the challenge,
Especially after listening to Goggins for two days.

Age? Can’t do that either,
There were some super fast times
Chalked up by old heads like me.
No excuses, I ran what the clock said I ran,
Every effing winterized, long-of-the-tooth step.