30 of 52: That Time I Ran on a Monday

Friends Don’t Let Friends Miss Leg Day

Saturday May 25th, 2019 – was leg day.

I moved to a third story walk up (read: stairs) on Memorial day weekend. I had considered hiring movers because I’m tired of moving my own crap around and three flights. Yuck. I got a couple estimates which basically just helped to realign my idea of my financial position with reality.

Doable? Yes. But really it felt like I’d be spending a lot of money for something I could do myself. Or with the help of friends. I opted to make it an event and call it – “Leg Day”. Cus you know – carrying a bunch of stuff up three flights of stairs…

This thing was HEAVY.

Alright so the long and short of it is this – I was really busy packing and moving little things and with truck rentals and “leg day” I had to move the run to Monday.

I know – the rules say I have to run at some point between Friday night at 5pm and Sunday night at 10. Well – if you read the last post you know how I like to ignore my own rules when I need to.

On this occasion I gave myself another day to get this run in. I make another change to the rules next week…but that’s for the next report.

The Run

Dan wasn’t able to make it to leg day but I wanted him to see the new place so I suggested we start from my place. He had a full house and plans later that morning so we had to get a little creative with the run.

We started with a running tour of the new neighborhood and then made our way back to wards his place. When we got there we were at just about 9 miles and decided to stop for some water. Given the time and his to-do list, he called it a day on the run – but since he was going to be out running a few quick errands and he needed to get back to my place to pick up his car he jokingly said he’d race me back to my place.

I knew better to try and improvise my return route from my run a few weeks ago and just came back along West Street and Riva road. No sooner had I climbed the stairs to my place and poured some cold water did Dan knock on the door. I opened to door to see his usual big grin – wanting to know how long I had been home.

We laughed at how perfect the timing was, he grabbed the keys to his car and left me his pickup so I could move any stragglers from the old place.

Not the Run

If you know me well then you know I have mixed feelings about ignoring my own rules.

On the one hand – I believe that for the most part we make our own way in this world. From wherever we happen to be to where we wish to go – the work is ours to do. Sometimes we need to make adjustments in order to get things done. The upside to being flexible in this way is that it allows you to come up with some creative solutions (check out last weeks run). I don’t think that beating yourself up over the small stuff is worth it.

The flip side is that I feel like discipline is important and I fear that if I make small exceptions for myself then what’s to keep me from making more and larger exceptions later on? If I get to change the rules whenever I want then what happens to my integrity? Can I say that I am a person who can be relied on? That I behave consistently? That I make decisions based on a set of beliefs that don’t change?

How can I ever be sure what’s right and wrong if I get to change my mind about stuff whenever I want?

It’s obvious to see the results of this in my running or training for triathlon or with my playing trumpet. When you make small exceptions for yourself your performance suffers. But in life… with yourself. I feel like it’s harder to see right away. We don’t often recognize the moments when we’re looking at the result of our behavior.

Yeah – I may be over thinking it. I know I’m just talking about running here but I’m deeply concerned about my quality as a human being so this is likely the kind of thing I’m thinking about if you see me just staring into space. I feel like just the fact that it’s a concern to me is a good thing. I also feel like I’m the guy I want to be.

Just sometimes it might be nice to have something concrete to fall back on or refer to, you know? I never was one for letting other people do my thinking for me. (I don’t want to wind up like Chidi on “The Good Place”.)

Anyhow – Leg day was a blast. A lot of people showed up and I absolutely could not have done it without everyone’s help. I feel like this was a moment that showed me the result of my behavior.

It’s like life. It’s a lot of hard work, but if you’re a decent person and ask nicely people will help you get through it.

So basically:

Life is like leg day.
Friends don’t let friends skip leg day.
Friends don’t let friends skip life.

Next Week: Rock Hall International Triathlon

29 of 52: The Kings Dominion Half Marathon

The Longest Half Marathon Ever

First off – this isn’t the real thing. King’s Dominion has a half marathon called the “Run n Ride”. It’s actually a festival with four distances including… a Quarter Marathon – because a 10k is just so overdone these days. This was not that…

See, what happened was I had a lot of stuff going on this particular weekend. Saturday was the spring band trip for my daughter – and not just any band trip – but the *last* spring band trip. Not only her last, but my last. I have been a chaperone on this trip for the last 6 years – though I missed last year which is all the more reason why I could not miss this one under any circumstances.

Here’s the thing about this trip. You have to be at the school around 4 in the morning – drive down to King’s Dominion (or Hershey or Bush Gardens…) perform, walk around the park and then you don’t get home until midnight or so. It’s a very long day.

Now you may be thinking – “c’mon Chris. You could just run the next day. You’ve done weirder stuff than this.” And you’re right. Normally this would not be a big deal but I had already committed to volunteering at the Hero Boys 5k the next morning and had a concert immediately following.

So looking back on my calendar I had planned to run Friday night from 5 – 7:30 but… I do have a day job and well, it was getting busy.

Good News – I was writing music and doing voiceover.

Bad News – If I didn’t finish what was on my plate before Saturday I was going to hold up production for the rest of the weekend.

It took longer than expected to finish. It was Friday night at 7 and I was beat. The whole week or two leading up to this had been the same. I didn’t know it at the time but I would remain this busy for the next 5 weeks.

Needless to say – I did not feel like lacing up and running 13.1. I was beat already and had to be up at 3:00 AM to get to that filed trip. My girlfriend Katie – ever the problem solver – says: “You know what you *could* do… log your miles while you’re walking around King’s Dominion. I bet you get almost 13 miles just from that.”


The “Run”

Obviously – I didn’t run while I was in the park chaperoning. At first I was a little apprehensive about just walking around in circles to “get my steps”. I mean – it’s a little weird, right? “Who’s that guy walking around the ride over and over?”

It looked weird. It felt weird. At first. After awhile I just forgot about it and fell into a rhythm. I guess it’s not unlike running in the snow. People look at you crazy, you feel a little crazy but after awhile it just doesn’t matter.

I underestimated how difficult this would be. I figured that I’d need to run a little when I got home but I wanted to minimize that as much as possible so I was really keeping an eye on the clock. Every time the kids were in line for a ride I would just walk as much as possible without getting too far away from where they were – but the miles did not come easily.

That took forever – and I’m not even done.

I was moving about 1 mile per hour and by the end of the day I had only strung together 8.5 miles. By the time we got home it was nearly midnight and I had 4.6 miles to go. I decided on a short route close to home, on sidewalks and under street lights.

At the time, I lived at the end of a street that is home to several hotels and there was a lot more traffic – pedestrian and auto – than I had anticipated. I was actually glad for it. Running in the middle of the night when you’re completely alone is seriously creepy.

Talk about a negative split!

Not the Run

I suppose there will be folks who would read this and say – “well this one doesn’t count” – and I guess they’d be right on some level. I didn’t run a consecutive 13.1 but aside from a few races I think I always do *some* walking so – who cares. I covered 13.1 miles in a day. Racking up 8.5 miles while chaperoning took some doing – it took an extra effort – and I had to run 4.5 miles when I got home in the middle of the night so… for me – it counts.

I have two thoughts happening right now.

  • I love a good solution. I love when things are put together – things that “don’t belong” together – to make something happen. And by “belong together” I mean like – it’s not the way you would normally do it. When you do something a lot you can easily constrain yourself simply because the act of invention needed to achieve your goal hasn’t been necessary for awhile. Invention and creation bring me joy. Whether or not I’m the inventor is irrelevant.
  • The point here is to consistently make an effort to cover 13.1 miles. If it’s something I would do naturally I wouldn’t bother writing about it. It probably wouldn’t make me think a whole lot. It would be like writing about every time I parked my car. “Parked the car again today. Got that sucker right between the lines… again.”

A special thanks to Katie for recognizing that I had constrained myself out of a solution and supporting me by coming up with something I never would have thought of on my own.

Next Week: That Time I Ran on a Monday

28 of 52: Running in the Future

Who Moved My Cheese?

One of my favorite books ever is “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard. I didn’t read it until I was out of college but I know a copy of it appeared in my house when I was still in high school. My foggy and clumsy summary of the book is this:

Shit is going to happen. There’s nothing you can do about it. The faster you can accept what the actual reality of the situation is, the more successful and happy you will be. The end.

Now – as a child I was always looking forward to the next thing and was never really satisfied with where I was or what I was doing in the moment. Maybe this is why I identified so much with Luke Skywalker as a kid.

“A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away…to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing.”

Yoda – The Empire Strikes Back

I know – my nerd is showing…

In my defense – being a kid kind of sucked. I moved a fair amount and I was constantly having to make friends and learn local “kid customs” and social structures. Present me is grateful for the experience of learning how to adapt and while while it sucked for younger me – it was also kind of exciting. In a way I kind of grew up inside of that book and over time I came to understand that the sooner I got out exploring my new situation the happier I would be.

If you aren’t focused on mourning the loss of what was, you’ll be able to see what an amazing opportunity a fresh start really is.

So that’s what I did on this particular run. I had been looking for a new place to live and finally found one. I was set to sign the lease a couple days later so I couldn’t resist going out to run in my future neighborhood.

The Run

The good news is that I was only moving about a mile and a half from my other place and I really wanted to run every nook and cranny of the new place. I’ve been there before – when I was in college a friend of mine owned a place in there and then after college another friend bought his first family home there. I had even run through there a couple of times in more recent years after I moved to the Annapolis area and as recently as this past year a couple times but I didn’t pay too much attention to anything other than trying to pick out where my friends had lived.

This time I wanted to explore every road, every trail (there are a couple), every little detail so that I could imagine myself there and how living there would be.

That squiggly bit at the bottom is the new neighborhood.

So a mile and a half there and a mile and a half back meant I would need to run 10 miles in the new place. As it turns out there are just about 5 miles of running in the new place so I just ran every road in there twice. Worked out pretty well.

Running it twice gave me a chance to look at everything a second time. Yes – I know how that sounds but hear me out. There’s a great Marvin Minsky phrase I love to use in the context of teaching and learning and that is

“You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way”

Marvin Minsky

So looking at everything a second time I tried to see it in another way.

Not The Run

Honestly I need to start using this approach more when I’m trying to figure out how I want things to be when it comes to running and playing trumpet and writing music. I use it all the time with stuff like “my life” – where I want to live, what I want to do, what I want to have.

It feels a little bit like obsessing over something, but what I believe is that if you focus long enough and hard enough on some end state, your brain will fill in the gaps as long as it has the information it needs in order to so.

“I can’t stop thinking about Five Guys burgers. “

  • You know where it is
  • You can drive
  • You have cash
  • You know how long it will take and the amount of effort it will require to get there
  • You also know what it’s like to succeed

It’s so easy because you have all the information and resources you need at your fingertips. Even if you were missing some of the information in this case, it’s easy information to come by.

“I really want to run a 5 minute mile.”

  • Can I? Like physically is this even possible?
  • How much will I have to train? How often? How long? How Hard?
  • Will it be worth it?

It’s not as easy as grabbing a burger because not only are there more unknowns – but finding the answers to these questions is harder than finding the answers to the burger thing. Like – where do you even start?

Finding as many people who are as much like me as I can find and who have already done what I want to do and asking them how they did it has always worked for me. They can help break most of it down for me so I have the information I need to answer the unknowns as they apply to my situation.

I think we all do this naturally when life gets really shitty and we just need to make it better because we *have* to. Like that time my car got hit, the kitchen ceiling collapsed, and we lost a household income all in the same month with two kids under 5 in the house. You can’t ignore that shit. You can’t focus on *anything* else until the pressing needs are met, until you figure out a way to make it happen.

But what if I could get ahead of things and apply the same focus on creating what I desire rather than fixing what I can’t live with? When things are “fine” I tend to coast and leave things as they are – rather than pursue what’s in my heart. Looking back, when I did stay motivated there were a lot of times where I made the mistake of continuing to go after more of what I already had instead of asking what really mattered to me as an individual.

But I also succeeded a lot. I know this works. I know that consistently looking into your future and understanding what you want to accomplish with as much detail and in more that one way – works. But unlike my childhood self, I’ll just be a little more mindful to appreciate the present while I’m doing it.

Next Week: The King’s Dominion Half Marathon

27 of 52: Cherry Pit

The First Race I Ever Ran

When I first started running I did a lot of training on my own. I mean – I did *all* of my training on my own up until my first 14 mile run. After that I started looking for people to run with and found the Annapolis Striders and before you know it I had signed up for my first race – the Cherry Pit 10 miler.

In DC there is a rather large 10 mile race called the Cherry Blossom 10 mile run. Run through Washington DC among the Cherry Blossoms with 20,000 of your closest friends. I’ve never run that race because I’m not a huge fan of big crowds (although someone was talking about the Chicago Marathon the other dat and to my surprise I was oddly interested – maybe next year.)

The OTHER reason I’ve never run it is because is usually falls on the same day as the Cherry PIT 10 mile race and being the sentimental guy that I am I’m guess I’m loyal to this race. It was my first and while it’s a small local race, the course is not easy, the field is challenging, my friends are here and it’s part of the Champ series so it costs like 10 bucks!

I remember showing up the first year and seeing people running before the race – warming up. I thought they were crazy. I was worried about covering the miles and these people were running extra! WTH

It think temps were in the 50’s so of course I was layered up. Shorts and pants on the bottom, shirt and long sleeved shirt on top – oh and lets not forget the HAT! Not a running hat – A WINTER hat! (I used to get sick quite easily if my head got cold.) I was definitely new at this.

My first year of racing.

The plan was to find some peeps and run a few miles before the race started – but as it happened I walked into the cafeteria where check in was happening and Susan Noble and one other person (who I can’t remember) were trying their hardest to get everyone checked in – but they were quickly falling behind and the line…. grew.

Susan. Coach Susan. Race Director Susan. Founder of Hero Boys Susan. My Friend Susan… asked a few of us nearby (who were oblivious to the situation) if we could lend a hand so we did. It was a blur so I can’t remember exactly who jumped in except for Kim – but I know there were more of us.

Anyways – after registration/check-in was under control I found myself outside thinking “man, there’s no way I have time for three miles before the race. I’ll have to do some after.”

I wandered outside and ran into Jimmy, Kim, Dave, Henry and Kit (and Susan – she’s everywhere) and we ran until just before the race was set to start. I think we got a mile and change. As it happened, there was a significant delay to start of the race (something to do with waiting for folks to set up traffic cones) so we were actually able to go back out and finish 3.1 miles prior to the race which is nice. I was now that person I thought was crazy for running before a race. It was raining a bit so after warming up we waited under some cover in front of the school until the start.

L to R: Dave, Henry, Susan, me, Kit, and Jimmy.

The Run

We ran 10 miles. The end. Just kidding – some stuff happened.

I remember running with Kim… for about a minute before she disappeared off into the race and after that I was on my own. I was still riding a little high from my PR at the B&A but I did not want to push too hard. Though I did want to try that “focus on the moment” thing to see if I could get it to work again.

The race starts with a little twisty turny bit to get out of the high school campus and onto the main road and then you’re on a hill for … awhile. It’s not like really steep , some might call it “rolling” but by and large you’re going up and to me it always seems long. By the numbers it turns out to be 122 ft of climbing over almost 3 miles.

I think it’s no secret that I’m as exactly as tough as I need to be for the task at hand (maybe a little less). This is great – because I can do stuff. Also this sucks because everything I do seems hard. This three mile “hill” then… not steep, but sucky.

Somewhere between mile 6.5 and 7 of the race I gave up on the focus trick. It was raining I was tired and I PR’d a couple weeks ago I didn’t need to prove anything, right? So I decided to walk a bit on the other long-ass “hill” that is Muddy Creek road. After being passed by a few folks I decided to give the old running thing a try again – at least until I saw Susan under an umbrella directing runners to make the left turn at the top of the hill.

I decided this would be a good opportunity to take a little break so I hung out with Susan and cheered on some of the other runners until I spotted Mitch coming up the hill.

I met Mitch during my first year of Marathon training. He taught me a lot about the ups and downs of running – how physically, mentally and emotionally you should expect peaks and valleys on any given run. He taught me to never assume any run was going to be easy – or hard for that matter.

Mitch yelled (at) to me to “c’mon and get on the train!”

So I did. And I hung on for as long as I could – which was almost to the end. Mitch will always be faster than me in the same way that a son will never think that they can “take” their dad. This day he was faster than me in the old fashioned way and left me alone for the last quarter mile or so to finish squarely in the middle of the pack.

Not the Run

It’s neat to look back on the first time I ran this race and how far I’ve come as a runner and how fortunate I am to be a part of this amazing community of people.

When I ran this race the first time, I underestimated my pace. I didn’t know that on race day some weird shit happens and it’s possible to run faster than you usually do. Anyways – I told my family what time I thought I would finish. They were on time – but I was early. And it was one of the loneliest moments in my recent memory. I had done this new thing and done well but I had no one to share it with. I didn’t know *anyone* else at the race and the fam-a-lam wasn’t there to see me finish.

Of all the good things I remember about running this race over the years I will try to always include that lonely feeling also – because it brings the value of the friendships and community I’ve since become a part of into sharp relief.

Next Week: Running into the Future