Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spring Marathon ~ Which One To Do?

So, I’m pretty sure I want to do a Spring Marathon.  I need to decide which one to run, and pretty quick, because the first one on the list is opening registration Saturday, December 1st, and the word from those who know say it sells out in one day.

 Here’s my  list of Options:

 Bayshore MarathonTraverse City, Saturday, May 25th

PRO: Great scenery, always wanted to run this event, great town, popular and mid-sized but not huge. Flat course. My parents have a condo 40 minutes away I can stay at.

CON: In-state but still travel at a 4 hour drive. Have to decide early and commit and it’s a holiday weekend so who knows what I’ll want to do. Family will have to adjust to my schedule, and hate to ask this when I also expect to travel to New York in November 2013 for the marathon.

Lansing Marathon. - April 21st, 2013

PRO: An hours drive. A date with some good weather. The infamous Detroit Runner has it on his schedule. It would be neat to see more of Lansing, a college town with a mix of rural areas    

CON: Lansing? (Moo-U?) I’m a wolverine, so I'd be a stranger in a strange land. Small marathon, no race day pickup unlike Toledo so I would have to travel there the night before.

Glass City Marathon - Toledo, Ohio, April 28th, 2013

PRO: Similar to above, flat and good time of the year. Also an hours drive, so its close, and I can do race day pick up so can sleep in my own bed and leave my house at 4:30 am and eat breakfast on the road, stop at a Cracker Barrell or Citgo for my morning sit-down, and get my race bib and be good to go. Day tripping.

CON: Also a small marathon, and I have no ties whatsoever to Toledo (except I’ve been to the Zoo, which is wonderful, and wasn’t Klinger from MASH born there?)

Martian Martian - Dearborn, MI  April 13th, 2013
PRO: Running Fit supports it, and they’re good people. The race has some fun race gimmicks and themes. Great kids run.  A 30 minute drive or less

CON: The course is pretty hilly, but that’s the only fun part. Mundane and blah.  The full gives you nothing that the half doesn’t give.

Ann Arbor Marathon - June 9th, 2013

PRO: Ran it last year and enjoyed myself. Ann Arbor is a critical part of my formative years. If I run it this year, I will be tied for running it the most consecutive years in a row of anyone~ twice J.  They are changing the course a bit.  A 35 minute drive. Did I mention it’s Ann Arbor? Starts at the Big House, runs through familiar areas. I'd like to support Champions for Charity and their efforts implementing an Ann Arbor marathon.

CON: It’s really a summer marathon at June 8th. From who I have spoken with, the course changes aren’t really the parts I wanted changed.  Very, very Hilly course.

So, there you have it. If you've run one of these, let me know. The decision time is coming. Tick-tock, tick-tock…...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Feedback On '9 Reasons Recovering Addicts Run'

Yes, I'm an egomaniac with an inferiority complex, so I love to get feedback on my posts. No article has received as large a response as the post:   '9 Reasons Recovering Addicts Run'
The post made it in Predawn Runner as one of his highlights of the month.  I was contacted by a 1/2 way house who had used the article for a group therapy session, it was posted on 'Treatment Talks' facebook page, and Yahoo bought it off of me for the price of a 12 pack of soda water. (For the article on Yahoo, click here)

Ironically, I wrote the article in a manic rush since I was about to read "Running Ransom Road" a book which traces a self-described "ex-addict's" journey through his past through marathoning. I'd been wanting to write on the subject for quite a while, and didn't want to unconsciously plagiarize the book, so figured I should get it out of the way. Yes, I typed away Jack Kerouac-style minus the Benzos.

Before I brake my arm patting myself on the back, here's a response I received from a runner/recovering addict who had written from the same experience: (posted here with permission of the author.) To me, it shows how pervasive running is as an outlet for those with a history of addiction,

It's a touching read with some very sharp and very personal observations.  (Thanks Eric)

A Running Addiction 
Eric Stanley
A while ago I found myself in the middle of a dusty trail marathon.  The forecast had said the day’s high was going to be 87 degrees.  It was currently approaching 90 and not yet 10:00 AM.  I had run the first half of the race well within my capabilities… far beyond, in retrospect, what conditions allowed.  I was on my hands and knees on the side of the trail vomiting watered down Gatorade, dully aware I was not sweating anymore and was getting goose pimples. 
The occasional runner would pass and shout a word of encouragement.  One asked if I was alright.  I mindlessly waved him off and allowed him to continue his own race… it was the least I could do.  Standing up I experienced tunnel vision, and a contrasted view of the world where the brights were too bright and the darks were too dark.  I made the decision and began heading back to the last aid station.  My race was over. 
When I made it back to the aid station I found out that the staff I took for granted when I filled my water bottle, was made up of high school students with no knowledge of what an unhealthy runner looked like, no first aid skills, and no way to communicate with “real” race officials.  Instead, I was greeted by cheers since I was the first person returning from the out and back section of the course.  I explained I was dropping out, and needed help.  I was rewarded with blank stares and directions on how to get back to the starting line. 
Cutting the course where I could, stopping to relieve myself when I was forced to, I managed to walk the 6 miles back to race HQ.  By that time I had recovered some, and was greeted with confusion and disbelief when I refused to cross the finish line and explained I had dropped out.
This story is familiar to some; you’ve read other reports of races gone bad.  Some of you have experienced similar occurrences in one form or another for yourself.  This is where, based on the title of the article, you expect a moral to the story, how I love running, how much running means to me, what I learned, how I got better.
I’m sorry to disappoint.  It was a clever title to make you read this far.
Although this is a true story, it doubles as a metaphor for my life.
I’m a recovering addict.
Two years ago my life had spiraled out of control.  Issues I had lived with most of my life had come to a head, and I was on the verge of losing my wife, my children, my home, my career.  Anything that had any value in my life was an eye blink away from being gone.  Forever.  And like a strained hamstring, or a tight IT band, that I needed to last for one more race, I hid it.  I hid it all.  I buried a damning dysfunction behind false smiles, trivial conversations, and the “healthy” habit of running.  All the while I planned how I was going to get my next fix.
I was on my hands and knees puking the guts out of my life, waving people on, telling them I was OK.  My smile was so sincere, they believed me. 
So, what happened?
I was saved. 
Not in a biblical, spiritual, Southern Baptist Bible beating, slap on the forehead, born again saving.  Although I’m sure there is a bigger plan in all of this.  I was lucky enough to have a wife who saw me at my lowest low.  Who took the worse psychological abuse I could dish out.  Who saw me as someone who apparently did not care about anything, and she decided there was something worth keeping.  She saved me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not married to a saint, I’m not that lucky, but through a perfect storm of issues and resources, I was lucky enough to have a wife who cared enough to try to understand.  I can never give her enough credit.
I was given an ultimatum and a choice.
I chose to reach out and take the hand that was offered.  With my wife’s help I was able to find a group of people who were able to help start getting clean.  With a lot of really hard work, a strong support group, and a wife who loves me, I’m sober and healthy.
It’s not a happily ever after story.  There have been trials and tribulations.  There have been relapses and setbacks.  I’ve reached out to people who I thought were supposed to help and was rebuffed, and referred away.  By the time this is printed I will have a year sobriety.  My wife and I have a strong relationship that is healthier and better than ever; I’m a better father and a better employee.  But it’s a lot of work, and in some ways and at some times it is a daily struggle.
There are a number of elite and sub-elite runners, marathoners, and ultra-marathoners who are recovering addicts.  These athletes are normally the low-key men and women who are quick with a wave and a smile, can sometimes be within striking distance of a historic finish and are able to fade willingly into anonymity.  Running attracts addicts.  Look it up.  Once you get past all the pat-myself-on-the-back articles about being a “running addict” you’ll find hundreds of resources dealing with running as a therapy for addiction recovery, why addicts run, physiological and psychological benefits of running for addicts, entire programs set up to reach out to addicts to use running to help get them clean.
Why?  Lots of reasons.  At my worst it was an escape.  At my not quite worst it was an exercise of control – addicts like to have control, at least the illusion of it, and running provides the perfect outlet for exerting control in an aspect of your life.  You can make it all about charts and graphs, times and goals.  You can literally force your body to do things that it should not be able to do – run 16 miles with the last 4 at 10K race pace.  And addicts can get off on that.  For some, depending on the addiction, it can actually give them an outlet to delve deeper into their junk, to medicate without the drug of choice – then to medicate again with it.
In recovery running can be a therapy.  It can be a time for meditation, for prayer, a stress reliever.  Scientifically speaking endorphins and adrenaline can take the edge off of chemical dependencies or physiological behaviors.  Spiritually speaking it gives time to think, reflect, pray, commune, discover a meaning for your life, or any of a number of benefits that can be valuable to a person.
All I know is this.  Running alone is not a cure.  Running by itself cannot, by the sheer nature of its potential, be the sole answer.  Has it worked for individuals?  Sure… but so has cold turkey.
Think of your absolutely worst running experience.  Think of your lowest low.  Your hardest hurdle.  The biggest wall.  The most terrible cramp.  The career-ending injury.  Heatstroke.  Dehydration.  Hypothermia.  There are people out there, people you know, who are suffering much much worse… because someone they know has an addiction.  That is the suffering I caused my wife.
                For anyone reading this who needs a word of encouragement.  You are not alone.  There are people out there who want to help.  You are not the worst, not the first, not the only.  If you are curious about my story, or just want a sounding board for your own issues, I’m willing to listen.  And I’m always up for a run.
                Eric Stanley
                Sober since October 18th 2011.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Medals, Shirts, Goody-Bags, and Race Day Swag

So, this may sound terrible, but, I don’t really like medals. And I don’t really understand them.

As I write this, I have a dozen medals strewn about the house. The only one I am sure of its whereabouts is the Boston marathon medal. The rest are tucked up in my closet somewhere. Others are in the basement in the pile of kids toys, a couple probably on the neck of some Barbie dolls. Others have been the wrecking ball for a pile of lego towers.

I do love the moment when I get the medal. It is one of the most glorious experiences a human can live through. That utter and extreme exhaustion and sense of desperation to get to the finish line ~ I’ve often imagined the medal is a high-powered magnet and my chest made of unique metal, being pulled to the finish by near super-natural forces.

And then when I see the medal person after the finish, my fondness for the volunteer is tremendous. If the medal-giver had hair like the heat-miser, lightening bolts sprung forth from their heads, and the birds chirped the song “hallelujah”, it would be a less glorious moment than it already is. I want to hug them, kiss them, and fall into their arms in a sweaty, slimery mess. When I die, the faces of those who have given me the marathon medal at the finish will certainly flash through my eyes.

But I don’t tend to cherish the medal. Some of my reasons;  It is something I never wear other than for a few minutes after the event since it scratches my neck pretty quick and hangs a little heavy. I have enough baggage.

And of course there’s the curse of, ‘Everyone gets the same medal.’  Yes, you earned it, but to use the same term for what you get in the marathon as what you get for finishing in a the top three doesn’t fit. *Ducks, cause I’m certain someone's throwing a shoe at me or something*

I realize that the greatest triumphs of the human spirit exist not in the front of the pack, but much farther back.  The challenges of runners who finish in twice the time of the elite runners are often much greater, and the stories of miracles are  more abundant in the 5 hour finishers than the 3 hour finishers. I’ve seen many first hand accounts of this.  But I think the rewards for this are not in the medal.

In fact, my oldest daughter indirectly agrees. When I come home from a marathon, and show her the medal, she always says something like:

 “Did you get first place?” 

“Um, no dear,” I say, head to the ground, superman status squashed, “I got the same medal they gave everybody.”

 My youngest daughter, on the other hand, who stayed home with her grandmother while I went to run the New York Marathon, was very excited after I had promised her that I was going to New York to win her a medal.  Yes, she understood it was canceled, but a few days ago, three weeks after the event, she drew me a picture about how her Daddy “won her a trophy.”  (Sad face here).  And now I have learned that the New York Road Runners are handing out the 2012 medals to those who were registered for the  New York City Marathon.   I can’t be giving her a medal I didn’t earn.  

Maybe I just need a medal display holder like my buddy Jeff at Detroit Runner.  

Without a medal, there couldn’t have been that extraordinary ending to the movie St. Ralph.  A must see movie for any marathoner.

 When I finished the Chicago Marathon in 2008, which I ran to raise funds for the American Cancer Society to honor a family member who had been stricken, I presented the loved one with the medal upon arriving home.  The moment had meaning for both of us.  (He is now a cancer survivor with 'No Evidence of Disease' ~ no correlation of course) 

But for myself and by myself, the medals just don’t mean as much.  However, I do LOVE me some event shirts.  Love them.

Race event shirts are conversation starters when I see folks on the street wearing them, and I take it as a free invitation to start chatting.

 “Hey, you ran Chicago in 2006?”  I can say out of nowhere in some Kansas City airport during a layover. I can recognize the shirts easy in the pile of dirty clothes and pick them out quick. The high-tech feels great, and my kids love to use them for pajamas

In fact, many of them, even thought they are perfect for running in, I refuse to so they don’t get that permanent sweat stink.

I’m also a sucker for a jacket. Before I ran my first Boston, I always admired runners wearing Boston Marathon jackets. They were part of a gang I wasn’t cool enough for, the fraternity I rushed but didn’t get accepted into, and yes, runners who were just faster than I.

Now that I have my jacket, I only wear it to run in, since it has that permanent sweat stink, and besides, 2010 was an ugly year for the Boston marathon Jackets.  The 2012 New York Jacket was going to be my ‘wear more often’ one, but we all know how that story goes...

And I also love that moment where you take your bag of goodies from the expo back to your house or hotel room to see how creative they can be.

A sample tube of 'on the go' tuna? Oh yum, perfect for race day

Coupon for my race- time tattooed on my arse cheeks? Give me two of those.

Vegan organic free-range recyclable Gu packets? Scott Jurek bile never tasted so good.

Four dollars off a Bass-o-Matic fish blender?  “I’ll never have to scale, cut, or gut again!!”

Imagine my disappointment that I have not yet received a sample size box of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs

Yes, you could live by wearing the clothes you get in the goody bag and eating the samples.

But not forever. My old cotton shirts from over ten years ago have become stretched out and their necks are ragged. I barely wear them any more since I have the more comfy modern shirts.

But even my recent shirts are wearing down, getting tiny stitch marks in them, permanent coffee stains, and just the general yuck from being worn weekly and washed just as much,

Yep, those shirts aren’t permanent and won’t last forever. It’s too bad they couldn’t give us something more everlasting made of tough, raw material to highlight the incredible life-changing accomplishment of finishing a marathon.

Like a medal.

STRAY on Amazon

The Jade Rabbit on Amazon

Monday, November 19, 2012

Grateful For My Scars

Is it trite to say I'm thankful for my running and all the wonders it has brought me?

Yeah, it is. The answer's in the question.

Ah, but peel back the layers and you'll find that running is like ogres is like onions, and behind that layer of running gratitude, I think what I'm really grateful for is the recovery from the run. The healing.

Without healing there would be no run.The running part is easy. I've never been one to lack in motivation to get out there door. Maybe in putting in enough miles when my legs aren't responding, maybe in not stretching enough or eating for ideal training, but I can run anytime, in most any weather.

Each run tears the body down a bit so that it can be built back stronger, the trick is not to tear it down so much that it gets injured.  Pushing your limits means always dancing on that edge, and often going over it as my latest injury reminded me.

But I'm very grateful that the relatively minor injury is healing, and I'm feeling ready to hit some harder training in the days/weeks to come. Time off to recover and heal after an injury makes you miss what you had, but damn, instead of lamenting the time off of running I try to flip the switch and be grateful I'm healing. This time of slower/less running isn't permanent. It's temporary.

Yep, today I'm grateful for healing and recovery. If I hadn't recovered from lots of damage I've done to my body, brain, and soul through my life I'd be a wreck.  But, as of now, I can run, and can heal and recover.

But, as I age I'm healing much slower and my recovery time seems twice as long.

I know some aged folks who, when I have an experience with them, say out loud, "you know, as you get older, you often wonder if this the last time in your life you'll be doing this..."

Carpe diem or carpe party-poooping, one or the other,

But the day will come when I no longer can do this, no longer can marathon, since I wont be able to recover and heal. One of these injuries may become permanent. One day I may actually have that heart attack or wreck my knees like the smokers and sedentary folks have all been warning me as they list off the reasons running isn't good for me.

 For now, I have had to heal over and recover many times, and have a lot of scars, both physical and otherwise, but I like to think that he who dies with the most battle scars wins.

I want to be one of those guys where folks say "wow, you are still running a marathon at your age...?"

I'm thinking that doesn't even come into play until post -50 years old, right? Probably more like 60.

In other news, the Ann Arbor Marathon announced they are running on June 9th, the weekend after the Dexter to Ann Arbor half-marathon (oh, I can hear the Ann Arbor running community clamoring from here.)

I was just at the Big House last Saturday for the Michigan/Iowa game, and one of my favorite parts of going to each game is the nostalgic walk to the stadium. Well, now I have the nostalgia of last year's Ann Arbor marathon which started at the stadium and then ran past it again at mile 23 or so.

The football game was wonderful. 55 degrees, sunny, a unique Denard Robinson/Devon Gardner backfield, and the incredible beat of my favorite running song "Seven Nation Army" blaring to pump up the crowd. That primal, slow and steady beat that crescendos until your insides are ready to burst.

(I realize it's a popular song for lots of sporting events, but Jack White is Michigan and Detroit, the rest are just borrowing him.)

Yes, I want a football game, a marathon, and a life that is worthy of having the song Seven Nation Army as its soundtrack. And this means a lot of physical beatings, a lot of hurt, and needing a lot of time to recover and heal.

And I'm grateful for that, so for now, I’m fine... I carry a lot of scars. I like the way that sounds. I carry a lot of scars.”

(pretend I didn't plagiarize this line from the novel The Beach.) 

Happy Thanksgiving. Rub your scars, whether they be on your skin or your heart, and think of how dull life would be if you had none.

STRAY on Amazon

The Jade Rabbit on Amazon

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Darryl Dixon Runs His First Marathon

The New York City Marathon was canceled, but I am still imagining the "What if..." 

What I'm doing instead is imagining "What if.." someone else ran that New York City marathon.

What if that someone else who ran was an incredible bad-ass;
 Someone who was small yet ferocious.
 Someone who was lovable yet savage.

I'm talking about none other than that little ball of hate; 

Darryl from The Walking Dead ~ Darryl is the coolest bad-ass around.  We may have hated him at first, but his sensitive and caring side grew while his bad-assery got sharper. Yes, he carries a cross-bow, never tires, ratchets up the zombie body count and spits out zombie blood.

Darryl's felt lost his whole life, you can tell. He has never really felt important like he deserved, but to train for and run a marathon, that would give him the respect he has been waiting for.

Darryl would of course not bother to taper. The only taper he knew about was when he sliced himself open with a hunting knife, and brother Merle said, "oh, you got a cut? Well, 'Taper shut' then would you, and get on with it."

Marathon morning, he would eat bacon and ham for breakfast from a pig he killed himself. Or perhaps even a squirrel or opossum.

He would wear a sleeveless shirt, the sleeves having been torn off, of course, and we're not taking a hi-tech, moisture-wickering shirt, were' talking 100% southern cotton. Yep, cotton enough that it would make your nipples bleed before mile one, but when you're made of Darryl material, you don't pay that no mind.

And Darryl wouldn't take a bus over the bridge or ride a ferry to get to the start at Staten Island for the start of the New York City Marathon like the rest of us. Hell no.

Darryl Swims To The Start

The only problem would be if Merle ran alongside him.  We know Merle would lecture Darryl on turning his back on family for running a marathon.

Of course,  Merle got arrested by the cops on the way, and got handcuffed to a park bench while the cop chased off some marathon bandits. 

and Darryl would surely want to go back and rescue him

We all know Merle would just chop his hand off, and end up the right hand man of the Race Director/Governor, take your pick.

Darryl is perfect marathon material.  He doesn't feel pain, and the solitary nature of running lets him keep his hard-ass independent edge, at the same time be part of a large group all with a common goal.

Darryl would speed up with pain along the course and be on pace for a negative split and a very respectable sub 4 marathon.

But when he hits the 20 mile mark near Central Park he's sure to see what happens when runners don't pace themselves correctly and just can't run anymore. Yep, it's a sight that makes his blood boil.  

Yep, they're everywhere. The Runners who have bonked out and smashed into the wall, and have now become: "Walkers"~  'Ravaged bodies that grunt, barely moving with stiff legs and slime all over their inhuman faces', so he shoots as many as he can in the head, grabs all the food from the aid stations for supplies, and takes a detour towards a safer shelter.  DNF and NHFA  (never heard from again)

Word is, Darryl is still out there, living in secret dwellings in Central Park.  Some folks say they've seen him. Others say he will appear every first Sunday in November, to take care of the 'Walkers.'

So, let that be a lesson as to why we all need to finish our marathons and not do the 'zombie shuffle' to the end. Cause he's out there. Darryl Dixon.

My Zombie Short Story, 99 cents on Amazon,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Altered States & Symptoms Of Inner Peace

 We've all been there; tired from the day, wanting to just sit in front of the TV, eat, stay indoors, and turn to jelly in front of our favorite show - or the alarm rings at 5 am and the urge to stay in bed and fall back asleep sucks at our soul -  But if we can just get ourselves out the door and run some miles, we know we will return with some energy.  A run will leave us fully revitalized with energy and mental clarity.

Running can put you in a diametrically opposed state of being, delivering you from being tired, angry, discontent, and flip these feelings into something much more glorious and life-affirming.

Angry or depressed?  Once you 'run it out', the emotions spin from your body and you find yourself unburdened from your stress.

Yes, we are Chemically Dependent on what running does to our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls.

In fact, most of us have come to rely on running as our mood stabilizer, our energizer, and don't just reap the benefits, but demand them once we know their full capabilities.

Compare this to the another form chemical dependency, Alcoholism, which also puts one in an "altered state", but unlike running, it ultimately leads to the exact opposite of the desired effect. 

Check out the following poem which describes this insidious nature of addiction. 

We Drank
We drank for happiness and became unhappy.
We drank for joy and became miserable.
We drank for sociability and became argumentative.
We drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.
We drank for friendship and made enemies.
We drank for sleep and awakened without rest.
We drank for strength and felt weak.
We drank “medicinally” and acquired health problems.
We drank for relaxation and got the shakes.
We drank for bravery and became afraid.
We drank for confidence and became doubtful.
We drank to make conversation easier and slurred our speech.
We drank to feel heavenly and ended up feeling like hell.
We drank to forget and were forever haunted.
We drank for freedom and became slaves.
We drank to erase problems and saw them multiply.
We drank to cope with life and invited death.

*Another favorite 'poem' of mine is called "The Symptoms Of Inner Peace," and I am sure many runners will be able to relate to sense of contentment described below. 

The Symptoms Of Inner Peace

Be on the lookout for symptoms of Inner Peace. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to Inner Peace, and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.

Some signs and symptoms of inner peace:

- A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based
    on past experiences.

- An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

- A loss of interest in judging other people.

- A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

- A loss of interest in conflict.

- A loss of the ability to worry (this is a very serious symptom).

- Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation. 

- Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

- An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

- An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others, as well as

    the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

If you have some or all of the above symptoms - please be advised that your
condition of Inner Peace may be so far advanced as to not be curable. If you are exposed to anyone exhibiting any of these symptoms, remain exposed only at your own risk.
- Saskia Davis -

*I first read this over 20 years ago when I was experiencing nothing like 'Inner Peace', but the words stuck with me, and I've been searching to experience the symptoms ever since.  Thankfully, some of the symptoms have appeared, and, in fact, are most evident when my running is at its peak.

I sure hope it's contagious.  
(Symptoms of Inner Peace Website)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz: The Story of Two Would-Be Marathoners

The Disney Movie is a Testimony to the Power of Running a Marathon? Here's How:

(This article is now also available on Yahoo)

While Wreck-it Ralph may be no Toy Story, it has the imagination, wit, and message that will stick with you. That message has a special place for me as a marathoner.

Ralph is the bad guy in a video game, but gets tired of being villianized, so goes 'turbo' and leaves the game to try and forge a new identity. To be recognized and validated by the other characters who habitat his game, he first has to win a medal, any medal. And on his adventure, he meets Vanellope Von Schweetz, the coolest character of the movie voiced by Sarah Silverman in a perfect fit.

Somebody, somewhere watched the move and saw the story of two marathoners. I know I'm not the only one.

First there was Ralph, who, in turning over a new leaf and forging a new identify, first needed to win a medal. How many marathoners haven't felt a glorious shift in identity, a shedding of their snake skin, when they've received the medal around their neck at the end of a marathon or other running event?
Ralph with his Medal

And then there's Vanellope, who's whole existence is threatened if she's not allowed to participate in a race. She's been banned from racing, and to get a chance at winning the race and crossing the finish is not only her dream, but the only way her character can go on since she's considered a "glitch." A glitch is like the Leper of the Video Game world. Ralph becomes her mentor, her big brother, and almost a daddy figure as he decides to help her reach her full racing potential (and in doing so becomes the heroic figure the medal would suggest.)
Vanellope ~ Underneath that smile is a Glitch who lives in fear

Yep, Vanelllope needs a race just to confirm her existence, which is pretty much what every marathon means to me. Every event I've ever run has been me trying to prove my worth, find out what I'm made of, silence the inner voices that says, "you suck". It's the arena I prove myself in, and I couldn't help but remember my own long journey to qualify for the Boston Marathon as I watched the wit and wisdom of Vanellope and her journey to make it across the finish line. Her battle was to get to the start of a go-cart race in the video game Sugar Rush, mine was to make it to Hopkinton and run to the gold and blue Boston Marathon finish line. But I am Vanellope Von Schweetz. And for many years while I tried to qualify for Boston I felt like a glitch, but ten years later I finally hit my qualifying time and felt like king of the world.

If you're a marathoner and haven't seen Wreck-It Ralph, I'm thinking this message will be in the back of your mind when you do. And at your next event, you'll either get your medal like Ralph and come to peace with your place in the universe, or you'll find out your secret true and glorious identity when you cross the finish line like Vanellope.
Ralph & Vanellope

As for now, I’ve decided to put myself on cruise control for the next weeks, heal up some injuries, and come January start to train harder for maybe a spring half-marathon (Grosse Isle) and Full Marathon, (Lansing?) and then run the New York City Marathon next fall pending the looming decision of the New York Road Runners. 

Looking back at my training since April 2012, I’ve done one 26.2 mile race, a 13.1 mile race, and Ten 20 mile runs, all in a span of 7 months.  That's 12 incredibly taxing runs in 29 weeks.

For some this would work, but that’s just not how I usually roll. Much of this was done in an attempt to not lose my endurance between the Ann Arbor and New York City marathons, but I’m thinking doing all these 20 milers wasn’t the way to go. (as was kindly suggested by a future Olympian Trial Runner).  Best to have done maybe some generic 2 hour runs in the months between.

 I figure if I just keep trying and stay true, lilke Vanellope Von Scweetz, then a Wreck-It Ralph will come along to help me stop feeling like a glitch, and I'll make it to a finish line and a medal just fine.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Never Mind I'll Find Someone Like You

 "Never mind I'll find someone like you, 
I wish nothing but the best for you, too. 
"Don't forget me," I begged,
 "I'll remember," you said.
 Sometimes it lasts in love, 
but sometimes it hurts instead."

 Yeah, after training for the New York City Marathon and then having it canceled, and left with no marathon at all, I'm feeling like the sad sort of angry recipient of a hurtful breakup. I'm eating comfort food, wearing pajamas all day long, and waiting anxiously on any message from the New York Road Runners.

Yesterday they wrote me and I clicked with the excitement, hope, and desperation of getting an email from a lost love. The message said thanks for the time and space while they make a decision. True Story.

Yep. Dumped.  And I’m doing the post-breakup ruminating, obsessing, perseverating.  Time for some therapy.

"My therapist said not to see you no more
 She said you’re like a disease without any cure
She said I’m so obsessed that I’m becoming a bore"
Got to move on, but I'm torn in looking for another marathon. There's some injuries to heal in my legs, and my broken heart, but I'm all relatively high-mileaged enduranced-up, and to not tap into that is a missed opportunity.

But any other marathon at this point seems like a cheap substitute. Like a rebound after a bad break-up that just isn't like the real thing. Can't be. And we all know what happens with rebounds; Feelings develop. People get hurt. Better to take some time to heal perhaps.

 There's the urge to sow my seed and run a slew of late fall marathons, but that means travel and I can't be doing a destination Marathon again. Closer to home, there's the inaugural Groundhog marathon on February 2nd in Grand Rapids. There's some spring marathons in the area like the Martian Marathon, Lansing Marathon, A Running Fit Trail marathon.

'So the eagle flies with the dove, 
and if you can't be with the one you love,
honey, love the one you're with'
~Crosby, Stills, & Nash

Hmmm. Maybe it's best to turtle-up and commiserate and rent all the break up movies I can find.  Here's some shots from some of my favorites.  Not in order, except for the first one, which is my favorite.

'You know what sucks? Realizing that everything you believe in is complete and utter bullshit!'
 ~ 5 Stars

"Chasing Amy" ~
 Ben Affleck's character blows it big time in this scene, and now he's forever Chasing Amy

"High Fidelity" ~ I'll make you a tape

"Annie Hall"
A great movie on the neurotic male psyche after a breakup.
 Yes, I looked all over New York City For Woody Allen.

And I found him!
(at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum)

Ah, the heartache of poor Mikey, who is also trying to move on after disappointment. "The best thing you can do is get back out there," says Vince Vaughn who has been playing his same character from Swingers since

*Mike: How did you get over it? I mean, how long did it take?

*Rob: Sometimes it still hurts. You know how it is, man. It's like, you wake up every day and it hurts a little bit less, and then you wake up one day and it doesn't hurt at all. And the funny thing is, this is kinda weird, but it's like, it's like you almost miss that pain.

~For a more serious discussion of the Marathon, see these posts below:
NYCM Under Assault    
Learning To Face The Path At Your Pace
NYCM~ The Year Without A Santa Claus


Lullabies for Suffering is Now Available on Kindle

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