Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

We’re to that time of year again. Hopefully it has been a happy and healthy year for you. The trouble with New Years Eve is that we’re obliged to think of ways to improve ourselves. The list has to be realistic and must have a definite cutoff point or it gets out of hand and none of it is ever achieved. It must also be meaningful and involve some suffering on your part to show that you are serious.

This year I vow to try to listen to other peoples ideas with an open mind, even if the ideas seem trivial and a waste of time.

In my home I will turn off the light and do 30 crunches or 20 pushups each time I leave a room. I think for this resolution to be clear, the definition of room has to be established. Large open areas where you pass from room to room without opening and closing doors can’t really be included; also rooms where someone else is likely to need the light on are taboo. I think that each time I leave my closet I will apply this rule, unless there is enough light from the bathroom so I can see into the closet without turning the light on. Without having to turn the light off, the whole rule can’t apply and should not be applied fractionally.

I want to be more social and go out of my way to be kind to others. If, for instance, someone drops some packages in the rain and needs help picking them up then I would do that. There are no exceptions to this rule, unless the impact of taking the time to help one person would impact multiple others negatively. An example of this would be making the whole carpool late for work just to help one person, or if it were raining really hard.

I think I will just stick with trying not to do things to excess, except where running is concerned, and…
In all seriousness, a Happy New Year to all. May you find humor in life and goodness in others.

Running Hazards

I usually run early in the morning in the dark. It’s just the way it
works out and not really what I would choose. For some reason
darkness brings out the need for people to mess with the helpless

I have almost been clipped by car mirrors several times. Some
were just careless drivers, some were almost certainly
intentional. I only say this because the cars headlights came back
on and the engine started back up right after they zipped noiselessly
passed me, and they had shifted over into the oncoming traffic lane
to get extra close to me. I quit wearing the reflective vest after this
one; I think it’s best to give them as little time to think about
messing with you as possible.

I have been hit or narrowly missed by an array of flying objects:
coke cans, batteries, 32 ounces of sports drink (direct hit), and a
bullet (which I can only hope was fired for effect and not really with
intent to harm).

While running in the rain in Portland, OR (even for Portland this
was a particularly long winded storm and the streets were flooded)
I was completely soaked. A couple of young men decided to drive
into the small lake which had formed along the road; the wall of
water in their wake was impressive, and thinking that I could get
no wetter had been a mistake. I had a measure of appreciation for
their achievement, but it was short lived. The puddle grabbed their
tires and pulled them into the curb. They managed to bounce off,
regain control and speed away. I tried to wave to them but could
only get one finger to extend.

There’s no question that running can be hazardous.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sweet Peas

I have not run a marathon for several years and recently picked March second as my come back marathon. I only intend to run a solid race, and not to over do it. I ran longer this morning than I have for a while, and though I enjoyed it I realized that I have some work to do. My body is used to being given the nourishment it needs as it is needed, and not utilizing what is stored. I must say that I now have more stored than I have had for 10 years, so utilizing it should not be a difficult task. I had no water or food with me, and I went through several stages of deprivation.

As my energy stores went low, and I was mildly dehydrated, I developed cravings for various foods. You know that you are truly hungry when you crave peas and potatoes and corn. Highly refined sugars like candy bars and ice cream were not even on the list. As I pressed on, partly to achieve what I had set out to achieve, and partly because I had several miles to go to get to the prearranged meeting place with my wife, the next phase of suffering kicked in. A wave of emotion swept over me and I was sorry for nearly everything I had done wrong in my life. I vowed to be a better person and make the wrongs right, if I could just taste sweet succulent peas one more time.

At that moment I passed a bottle of urine in a tree along the trail. Someone had used their empty water bottle to hold their urine, and then had displayed it for the masses to enjoy. I didn’t have to urinate as I was fairly dehydrated now. Why didn’t I bring water? I would do better. Soon my trained body would use stored glycogen and fat to fuel my runs, and I would carry water on long runs. I would still whiz off in the bushes as whizzing is a private matter, and I would devote some of my free time to policing the area along the trails I used. I wanted to be part of the running community and not just an interested outsider.

I was delirious when I met my wife at Starbucks and had a pumpkin scone and a venti Sumatra. Peas seemed less important than they had a short time ago. I’m looking at the folded over application for the local running club, that actually was printed out but never left the tray, and I realize that being part of a club is not really a priority. Perhaps I can start my own club. I set the rules and plan the runs, and I don’t even have to join. I’m a slave driver but I think I can take it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

In the beginning

Let’s call me the marathon man, or the son of the marathon man. My father doesn’t run so it’s more of a figurative name that shows my true lineage from ancient runners. I prescribe to the notion that I control my own destiny: I imagine, therefore I think I am. All of this to say that, though I may look more like one with a Napoleon complex, in my heart I am one with a Haile Gebrselassie complex. The movie “Endurance” fills me with the idea that I may amount to something someday, something extraordinary.
I have achieved a lot as a runner but, with my eye always on what’s next, I may be a little bit intense at times. I think that this mostly comes from doubting what my ultimate ability is, and trying to improve on that predetermined mark.

I raised 2 kids that both have the ability to be far more than I could ever be. I am looking at a picture of my son as a freshman in high school in the semi finals of the state wrestling tournament. I could never have been there, but I made sure that he could be. Somehow that plan backfired on me and he ended up hating the sport and, for a couple of years, me. I think we’re past that now, but he probably has the right to carry it over for a few more years if he’d like to. The question is: How can good intentions be so misguided? I think the answer is a simple one; the intentions were not good at their core. The core was rotten and not really about what was good for him. Part of the problem is that I grew up with my kids, and learned valuable lessons about life after I was past the point of needing them as a parent. The other part of the problem is that I am simply not a good parent. In retrospect I wouldn’t have kids…until I was 30 that is…but, who knew?

I have found running to be the perfect thing for me, and endurance running fits even better with my tendencies toward excess in pretty much all aspects of my life. When I run I can be “the marathon man,” and I can have a purpose and maybe an ultimate result in my life that is extraordinary.

The universe amazes me, people confuse me, running grounds me, and my kids make me wish I could have been more than I am. I am here to share the nonsense that fills my head, and you must believe that it truly fills my head.