Heading west, young man
A belly full of carbs and
A stein full of coffee.
Pittsburgh or bust
There’s steel out there,
A rugged attitude to inspire
One different than what I’m leaving.
Get on board,
Adventure is waiting for you

If only you grow up.

pexels-photo-247477

“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

“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.

“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…

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…

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!

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