51 of 52: Hello Old Frenemy

I Know We Broke Up – But I was Desperate

You see, I was in Phoenix with Katie for a week. She was there for a conference. It was her birthday week. I thought it would be fun to tag along and work in person with a team mate of mine who works there. I also figured I could make this another destination run. I used to live near Phoenix as a kid (35+ years ago) so I even considered running to my old house and back. That is until I looked on a map and realized that would have been a 45 mile run.

That was a bucket full of nope for a ton of reasons. 13.1 around town would be fine thanks.

What I did NOT realize was how busy I would be at work this particular week catching up on work I should have done before “right now” but that’s not what I’m here to talk about (though I vaguely mention it tangentially in “Not the Run” – a prize if you can find it.) . The bottom line here is that mixing in a concert, a live comedy show and a birthday dinner with a very full work work week meant for three VERY late nights in a row for me. Like to bed at 4am, back to work at 7am.

Throw in some random germs from air travel and this Kid gets what you might call – “sick”.

So – we returned home around 1:30 am on Sunday. If you’re thinking “hey – this sounds just like when you came home from the Keys and whined about running the Metric Marathon” – you’re right this was the second time in three weeks and I knew it was gonna suck. I just didn’t know how much yet. So like I was saying, we got back around 1:30 am on Sunday…

Naptown Jazz Kids (the jazz education non-profit I’m involved in) was hosting our “Big Band Explosion” concert – that Sunday. This is our first year and this was our first Fall program. We had kids from the CYSO Jazz Ensemble, the University of Maryland Jazz Ensemble (my alma mater), and the Army Blues all playing one concert together. Trust me – it’s a really cool thing to do and see.

Anyhow – we had a 1pm sound check so doing the math I figured if I leave at 12:15 to get to the sound check, that means I need to be in the shower by 11:45 which means I need to be on the road running by 8:45. It’s 1:30 now so that means 7 hours of sleep. I can do this. Except…

I was SICK. Yes, it was that basic “just-getting-sick-but-a-man-will-stay-in-bed-instead-of-sucking-it-up-and-rocking-the-household-3-infants-and-a-full-time-job-like-a-real-woman” kind of sick. I got up and it was cold and raining outside. And I didn’t leave any wiggle room in the schedule which meant – I would need to run AFTER the concert UNLESS (as Katie suggested) “…you could run on the treadmill downstairs”.

Yes but – we broke up… me and the treadmill that is. I lay in bed thinking “surely there must be some other way” but no, Katie was right so I rolled on down to the basement and got ready to hit the treadmill. Except that… the treadmill was stuck in a software update loop! I was out of luck. I would have to run after the concert. Hopefully the rain would have eased up by then. I figured at least now I could sleep some more and keep from getting “Sick For Real”.

A broken treadmill. Update: As of this writing I have fixed it.

So I went back to sleep for a couple hours, woke up and hit the concert. I was not feeling any better or more rested and the rain was most definitely NOT going to be letting up.

After the sound check Emily (fellow NJK board member) and I were talking and looking out into the rain and I mentioned I still had to get my run in. She was like “in this weather?! AND you’re sick! ” and then something along the lines of it being dumb or crazy or something (but she was nice about it). I said it would be fine since I would be dressed for the weather… but deep down I knew she was right. But at week 51 what else could I do?

The Run

Spoiler – I did NOT go run outside that night. On my way home from the concert I was talking to Katie and she said “I wish I would have thought of this sooner but you could have gone to Fitness 19 this morning and run there.” I joined a gym near her place for just such an occasion.


I went home and slept. Katie in one ear suggesting I run on the treadmill and Emily in the other pointing out that running outside would be irresponsible. I woke up and realized what anyone reading this is probably yelling at me through the screen – and that is that I could drive back up to Columbia and run on the treadmill at the gym that night. So that’s what I did.

At 8pm on Sunday night I started my 13.1 mile run on a treadmill. I know -we broke up. I know I said I wouldn’t run another 13.1 on the treadmill but you see, I really was desperate.

It was easy to look at the bright side. It was dark, cold, and raining – but I would be warm inside and could watch a movie or catch up on podcasts. I decided to check out “The Game Changers” on Netflix. I ran for about an hour until I took a short bio break.

The movie had my full attention and weeks later I’m still trying to learn more about plant based diets and I’m finding there are so many opposing studies and views on diets. (Shocker) I’ve significantly reduced the amount of animal products in my diet to see how it goes (not that I was eating a ton of meat to begin with) but I’m almost to the point where I want to say “man – just use your head and don’t eat things that make you feel like crap.” Anyhow – I’m not a scientist. I don’t enjoy reading studies so I’m not about to make any claims here or anywhere else about nutrition. I’ll only ever say “this is what I do and this is how I feel.” PLUS – it seems pretty evident that livestock is a woefully inefficient food source when it comes to how many resources are required to produce the amount of animal products that we do.

After the Game Changers I started watching Ozark. I’m surprised I didn’t run an extra 2 hours! I was hooked and made short work of the remaining episodes over the next couple weeks.

Thank goodness for streaming. It made this next-to-the-last of these runs bearable. I finished up, drove home, took a hot shower and collapsed into bed.

Not the Run

Every day I take a minute remind myself to ask myself Jim Ryan’s 5 essential questions throughout the day. They are:

1. Wait. What?  (Make sure you understand)
2. I wonder how…why…if…  (Stay curious)
3. Couldn’t we at least…?  (Take action)
4. How can I help? (Be specific and effective)
5. What truly matters?

Some days it’s a going through the motions sort of thing. Other days I put real energy into it – but my current rambling comes from that last question. What truly matters to me? If I’m looking within arms reach…

How people treat each other matters.

While I can control how I treat others, how other people treat each other is largely out of my control. It’s upsetting to see people not even try – in real life and online – but my biggest beef is with “entities” – political or commercial – putting power and profit over people and the planet. These entities are made of people so I don’t understand why this happens. Oh wait – power and money and probably fear of losing them. I’ve never had a significant excess of either so I can’t claim that I would be any better – but I’d like to think I would be. Anyhow…

These entities are made of people. I’m one of them. I’m a contractor at a Federal agency. It would be easy to say “how can I change anything?” I am not a fan of the tax code – but “how can I possibly change that? I make software training.” Well the short answer is that I can’t directly affect the tax code and yet – there are still MANY opportunities for me to treat people with kindness, with respect, to try to understand them and their needs.

Example? You know those incredibly boring computer based required trainings you take at work? That’s my industry. Wouldn’t you like it if the training was more human? Like if you felt that the people who designed the course actually gave a crap if you learned something? Me too – so I try to make that the starting point of my designs. I feel like the more a person feels heard or understood, the more likely they will be to listen to and understand others. Am I spitting into an ocean of a problem? Yes – but spit is what I have so spit is what I will do.

How I treat myself matters.

Suffice it to say that how I treat myself is a reflection of how I feel about myself. They are inextricably linked. Negative and positive spirals thrive in how I treat myself. If I’m not liking myself I won’t insist on the things that I know are good for me. Time with friends is the first to go, then exercise, then quality food in portions that make sense. Yes – I am quick to celebrate anything from a holiday to an excellent mood to just surviving the day – but that’s not what I’m talking about here. It’s important for me to remember how to deliberately stay out of the self loathing end of the spectrum and how to move myself towards the self loving end – and to do that I find relies on HOW I TREAT OTHER PEOPLE.

Well now that’s a very “snake eating itself” sort of arrangement I have isn’t it?

You see – if I make a mistake, or fail at something – I’m still okay with myself – but when I’m an asshole about it I am not okay with myself and I react accordingly. See above: become hermit, sit on couch, eat crap. Even more important and less obvious are times where I am apparently “crushing it” but I’m not really deserving of it. So that old classic- “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose but how you run the race” is really coming into focus.

Plus – being nice to people feels good and its the number one thing I know of that moves me from not feeling good about myself to feeling good about myself – but… It’s harder to be nice to people when I’m not feeling great about myself. Well it’s hard to do all kinds of things and we do them anyways so – just do it. (Thank you Nike) .

I’m struggling to put a bow on this one but I think I’ve gone on for long enough. Besides – the questions are always more important than the answers.

Next Week: The End?

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