Races have a soul,
Philly has a soul,
Too often that Philly way
Is a soul steeped in harshness,
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.

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.

The stuff we want to avoid,
Like botox lipped sidewalks
Than interfere with a runner’s flow.
Who’s responsible for this shit,
Keeping things level,
Allowing our journeys to be safe?

People have the wherewithal to announce
Blue herons pick at eyes
So wear goggles when feeding them,
But who can say
When a fall
Might take us down.

Nobody claims any responsibility,
Lock and key lipped posers
Who only know that they are done
And not responsible for this shit,
Keeping things calm
Allowing journeys to be enjoyed.

It’s a wonder we don’t all fall,
The way things go,
All ragged, haggard, and torn
With scraped hands,
Bruised egos,
And scars over every last bit of vulnerability.
Maybe there’s a long ass form to fill out,
Something to document each fall,
When running,
From grace,
After a storm.

Eh, I’ll just keep picking my feet up
And putting them down.
Bumps happen.


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

An accomplishment,
Trees growing to touch the sky
Measure nature’s chi.
Running matters so little
Compared to life’s long journey.


Photo Credit: Pexels.com

There are many ways of looking at exercise. What I am about to write goes against my recent dabbling in high-intensity interval training, but this marathon I’m training for has been about me finding motivation and success and as I’ve written in the past, the clown thing worked for me in some respects and wasted me in others. I had a very hard time keeping my intensity high and keeping my volume of exercise in perspective. Since I’m a habit guy, I need routine and I could never find one suitable while doing CrossFit.

That would be a “me” problem and not a flaw of CrossFit.

I made some real progress this week by reaching into my old bag of tricks, namely, I slowed down and committed to time. However, I also kept with some of my favorite CrossFit methods and relied on AMRAPs this week. AMRAP stands for as many rounds as possible. The goal is to complete as many rounds of the prescribed exercises as possible in a given time. I chose to run on the indoor track this week and set my AMRAP goal for 90-minutes. Essentially, I was shooting for as many laps as I could get in an hour and a half.

I reasoned that I would push myself to run/walk as fast as possible while getting myself mentally in shape for extended runs. For those of you following along, you might be thinking that this would be too long of a time given the lack of training I’ve done, but I also thought walking might become a big part of what I was doing. Since I’m really only concerned with completing the distance, I’m not too concerned about how long it takes me to finish.

So here’s what happened…7.5 miles…disappointing compared to ten years ago but encouraging for yesterday. For stubbornness, I went ahead and finished the last half of mile for a total of 95-minutes of run/walking. I didn’t have any real issues. When my legs were too tired, I either slowed down or walked. Both of the group exercise classes on the gym floor below distracted me from being bothered and there was enough traffic on the track to give me obstacles to keep the monotony from setting in.

Then I woke up this morning… I’ve been sorer (see my first week after my first CrossFit workout), but I was determined to get back over to the Y. At 8:10, I started walking with a two-hour goal of nothing but walking. The gym was empty, the track was empty, and my mind was empty. After an hour there was a crowd building. For about twenty minutes, I talked with a woman I used to work with, but I could not remember her name. Then I followed an older guy who had amazing pace. He knew I was following along and he would surge from time to time. Finally, he turned right for the exit and I was left with about twenty minutes and an unofficial AMRAP goal of 128 laps. I was at about 113 with around 12-minutes to go.

With so little time left, I did what any overly competitive jerk would do, I started to run. I ran a lap and walked a lap. Time seemed to be moving faster at the end of the run, so I just went for it. Making the time felt great and I was not in the least bit bothered by running about six or seven laps during the workout. In fact, I was surprised at how well my legs felt in those short few laps.

The key to the last few days was getting over the mental barrier of time and once again learning that pacing is very important to how well I perform while exercising. I’m not a “balls to the wall” exerciser. I’m probably too analytical about what I’m doing, although some have suggested that I don’t think about things enough. Issues…

Tomorrow is the next big day. It will be my first three-day push and my first with new gear…thanks, Apple… I wonder what kind of nerdy data I can get from this thing.

Why are we here? Such a complex question, huh? I wrestle to find an answer and even though I just learned to drive a John Deere tractor, I know there is much more than the rest of what I have going on. That’s not to say that my life is unhappy or in some way lacking, but is work, eat, sleep all there is?

A Little History…

I’ve written about running before. The crib version goes like this: I grew up hating to run. As an adult, I started running because it was cheap. I began running marathons for complex social reasons. I quit running because the social stuff sort of simplified. Now I’m running again and I think I like it.

Marathon running was an escape. I don’t think I ever had any purpose in my running beyond getting away from the aggravation of life. I signed up for marathons unaware of the charities they supported. It was just something to do that was away from where I was then.

That being said, “I’m training for a marathon again.”

Before people get worried, I’m not running away from anything like I did last time around.

So What’s Going On?…

This time I’m running with purpose. Vanity, in the guise of improving my health, is the first. A classmate from high school commented that our hoops team could have used my “size” back in the day. He meant nothing by it and I thought I took nothing by it, but the truth is I took it the same way as my son calling me a whale back in the late 90s. As John Milton said, “Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.” I shouldn’t care how I look, but when I think about the effect of not exercising and my increasing waist line, I can’t help but get up off the couch.

Goal Number 1: Whittle my weight down to 200-pounds…

The goal is realistic, but it will take some serious effort on the eating front. I began toying with the idea of running a marathon back in the summer. To help, I also started modifying how I eat and saw great results on the weight loss front. I beat Halloween away and then the time change came around. Since then, I’ve had a hard time keeping true to my plan. Oh well, it’s part of the process, right?

The second purpose is just because. I want to see if I can. Back in the day I ran angry. There was such a negative energy to what I was doing that I’m not sure I realized any true health benefits from all those miles. My life is right where I want it and the nagging thought of past running foibles bugs me enough to want to put a period on that part of my life. The irony of it all is that running is the tool that I’m using to bridge unhappy and happy. I lost too much back then and I’ve allowed running to be a casualty of those times. Not now because I am happy and despite what I’ve written previously, I think I’ve always like running.

Goal Number 2: Run a marathon by April 8, 2017.

There are plenty of marathons out there to choose from, but I just don’t feel like driving anywhere to run one, so I’m going to do my own marathon. The race won’t show up on web sites or running store flyers and there will only be one contestant, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a cause. I have been given permission to run “my race” at my local YMCA. The Y has an indoor track (16 laps/mile, 419.2 laps=26.2 miles). That’s my race. I have an old school counter and I’m rounding up the race distance to 420 laps. Hopefully, I’ll finish between 4-4.5 hours and that will be that.

Goal Number 3: Raise some money for “organizations…”

Besides the running, I am hoping to raise some funds. I’m not much for soliciting help for causes, so I’m keeping this low key. First, I’m donating “a registration fee” amount to my local YMCA. They did not ask, but I love the Y and want to do right by them. If you would like to support my effort to help out the Y, the information is below.


This is a personal cause of mine and I think the true purpose of this run is to find what it important for me. The Kennett YMCA might not be your thing, but there are other causes that are just as worthwhile. Giving to an organization that means more to you would be an equally appreciated way to support me on this journey.

Moving Forward…

Each week until I get to the “marathon” I am going to put a post on the blog about the week’s training. You know, so I can feel good about what I’ve done. There is a certain amount of ego in running and you know what I mean. Seriously, at a party get stuck talking to a runner. We are the worst. I’ll also remind people of the purpose of my journey and hopefully kick start someone on their fitness journey. Seriously, though, I think quite a bit when I run and there is always something to write about there. Finally, I’ll gently ask you to make a donation to a charity, but I’ll keep this subtle.

Thank you for your support with my blog and good luck with finding the reasons for why we are here. They are so elusive…

Pre-training Stats:

Running Laps: 731
Walking Laps: 160
Squats: 140
Lunges: 72 (How much do these su, I mean, hurt?)
Hip Raises: 40 (I need to do more of these.)
Calf Raises: 35

Longest Run: 6-miles

To donate to the Kennett Area YMCA use the following link: