Saturday, April 28, 2012

What the Republican Primary teaches us about running...

So with announcement that carried about as much necessity as those signs in an airport telling you aren't allowed to bring a bomb on the airplane, Newt Gingrich officially dropped his bid to win the Republican Presidential Nomination. An announcement that shocked only those who get their weather from a groundhog, watch the show "Bones", and think they just won a free iPad. But now that the former Speaker of the House has officially dropped out of the race, combined with Mitt Romney's recent primary victories, I think it's finally safe to say that this primary season has officially ended.

And in my apartment that is a very sad day. No, not because my guy didn't win, or anything. No, this is a very sad day, because quite frankly, politics aside, it was a blast to watch.

So in my own attempt to continue to prolong the fun, I've decided to dedicate a blog entry to the men that made it so. So, without further ado, here is a list of what we as runners, can learn from the Republican Presidential Primary...

1.) It's Nice to Have Friends

So after the United States Supreme Court made it's controversial ruling in 2010 invalidating several aspects of the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Bill, a new age of campaigning began. Simply put, the Supreme Court ruled that the government could not regulate what outside entities can legally spend on political advertising. Essentially, as long as these groups did not interact with the campaign directly, they could spend as much money they wanted.

This alteration to previous laws resulted in record amounts of money spent through out the past few months of campaigning. A group supporting Rick Santorum spent $7,529,000 dollars, Newt Gingrichs' $18,064,000, and the eventual winner, Mitt Romney $42,497,000.

And as astounding as those figures are, they become even more so when you add that in many cases the majority of these donations were made by just a few individuals.

In the case of Newt Gingrich, a man by the name of Sheldon Adelson and his wife, donated more than $10,000,000 to Newt's campaign. Now to date, Newt was able to amass a grand total of 137 delegates, which for Mr. and Mrs. Adelson ends up working out to a return of $72,992 per delegate. Which in turn might make this the worst bet I've seen since that morning I agreed to bet my father on the previous nights Phillies game (for the record, I was eight, and it seemed like a good deal at the time.).

Having said all that, and despite Mr. Gingrich coming up well short, most political experts would tell you that without the money donated by The Adelson's, he would have done far worse.

The same, I believe, can be said for running.

Cause it seems to me that the height of arrogance, isn't to over inflate your accomplishments, but rather to over inflate your own role within those accomplishments.

Because, I believe, if we are honest, when we look back at the journey, and how we got here, none of us can truly say we did it alone.

Well, at least I can't.

2.) Translations

So it doesn't take long after you have tuned in to watch any of these candidates before you realize that they speak in code. The same can be said for the vocabulary we use in the running world. The following is a list of translations to prove my point...

Massachusetts Moderate- Someone from Boston who owns every Dixie Chicks album, and drinks raspberry tea.

Rolling Hills- Fucking enormous hills that will make you want to knife your eyes out.

Barack Obama- Satan

Barack Hussein Obama- Closeted Muslim Terrorist Satan

Obamacare- A policy that lets Satan kick you in the nuts while having sex with your elderly neighbor.

No iPods- Wear your iPod.

Ronald Reagan- Cue choir of angels...

Heat Advisory- Dan, we know you aren't gonna read this, but we figured we'd try anyway.

Liberal- Pussy

Cash Prize for Top Finishers- So much for winning this race.

3.) 10,000 Dollar Bets

Yeah, don't make $10,000 bets...

It doesn't have anything to do with running, it's just solid advice.

4.) Try Not to Forget the Important Stuff

Before Rick Perry announced his candidacy he was viewed as the biggest potential threat to Mitt Romney's campaign. A tough talking Governor from the state of Texas, who has a history of creating jobs, and a conservative track record to boot. He seemed to be the best chance to bring together both the small government wing of the party with the religious right. He had the backing of the wealthy, and powerful business from his home state, and looked poised, at one point to take the national stage by storm, destined to succeed.

And then, well... then he joined the race, and the rest they say, is history.

The downward spiral that ensued was as sharp as it was unexpected. Cause it seemed that Rick Perry the Governor had a lot going for him, but Rick Perry the candidate... yeahhhh, not so much.

Nothing highlighted this more than during one of the many debates, he began to answer a question very forcefully telling the moderator that as President he would immediately cut three departments from the Federal Government. Which sounded great to the Republican audience, the only problem being that he then couldn't remember which departments he would cut.

Which brings me to my point about running.

I know, for this runner, how important it is to remember. How important it is to remember where I came from, and what I came from. To remember the moments that weren't as glamorous, the ones that didn't come with finishers medals. Cause as nice as it is to recall the times when you crossed those finish lines, the true gratitude comes when we can look back at the steps we took to get there, steps that began long before they toed the starting line.

5.) Angry? Try gay porn...

So, Rick Santorum probably won't win any appreciation awards from gay/lesbian societies any time soon. After a political career of letting his own beliefs about homosexuality out, Mr. Santorum seemed to succeed in making himself public enemy of gay and lesbian activist organizations.

But, if we look a bit closer, I think we will find some lessons within how these organizations chose to deal with their displeasure with the Senator and his comments. They didn't scream and yell, or run mean spirited attack ads against him on T.V.. No, instead they chose to attack him in other ingenious ways.

With glitter, and gay porn.

They would throw what have collectively come to be known as glitter bombs on him during public events (large handfuls of glitter). And in yet another act of fabulousity they took Rick's likeness and made a mosaic of him using tiny images of gay pornography.

What do we take from this as runners?

Well, I don't know if you are like me, but there are a couple guys (and more than a few ladies) I see at local races who are always just a little faster than me.

So maybe at the next race, I won't look at them and see assholes who are faster than me, but instead, look at them and see gay porn.

6. Ron Paul

 So while this isn't a blog meant to comment on any of the actual politics of this primary season, I have admit a fondness that I have for Ron Paul. Not because I agree with virtually any part of his platform, but rather because say what you want about the man, but he is who he is. And because of that I find myself admiring him for that.

And there's something to be said about the man, and something I think we could all take from him.

There's something about he entered into this race, a race that he had almost no chance of winning, and gave it his all as well. There's something to be said for how he stuck to his beliefs, even when they were unpopular.

And I think as runners this is perhaps the most important thing we can hope to learn.

Because in all reality, how many of us line up at a race and hope to win. How many of us will ever be the one to hold up that trophy at the end.

And because of that, because winning, at least for this runner, isn't really ever the overall possibility, what else is left, other than to run the best way I know how. To run, not for glory or victory, but for the only reason that's left.

To run for ourselves.

God Bless America!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The "C" Word (No, not that one...)

So when I was a kid, my parents weren't exactly social butterflies. Which is not to say that my mother and father didn't have friends. They did. They had their various collection of aging hippies, and raging liberals. But despite this, it was a rare occasion when my parents would go out with them on a Friday or Saturday night. Though, their were such occurrences.

I can recall one such instance. I remember the night very clearly. My parents left, my older sister, younger brother and I to go to a RHLARSS rally (Raving Hippie Liberals Against Racist Street Signs, this was before Black Street was re-named to African American Street). But alas, for them, the Bi-Polar Personalities Babysitting Union they usually used was on strike this particular month, leaving them no option but to call in reserve duty.

They had to call my grandparents.

Now I will tell you that my Grandparents as a couple were some of the sweetest people you could hope to meet. An old school Italian love story, having grown up across the street from each as kids, only to marry once my Grandfather returned home from the navy. All around terrific, and strong people, from the greatest generation. A couple that lived the pits of the Great Depression. A couple that soldiered through World War II. A couple that braved the Cold War. A couple that survived poverty, fascism, and communism, but one that never stood a chance against a much different opposition.

Their grandchildren.

By this point in our lives, we were a well oiled machine. Kate, my older sister was the brains of the outfit, cunning and strategic. My brother was the rookie, the youngest of the three, who was a master of the escape, he'd bat his eyes and let loose a few tears and just like that our punishment would slowly go away. And me, I was the wild card, the one who answered the call when someone needed to pretend to break their leg, or to put the dog in the shower.

But on this particular night, the plan was much less ambitious. And as we finished our nutritious meal of pizza and ice cream, everything was going as planned. We nestled ourselves down into the couch cushions of our living room and watched with delight as my grandmother inserted the video cassette tape that we had picked out earlier that night at the movie store. Her hand paused as her eyes stared at the back of the box cover.

"Now wait a second, what is this "R" on the box."

"That means 'registered', it's a copyright thing."

My ten year old voice is met with an approving look from my sister's thirteen year old eyes.

And just like that, my grandmother shrugged and pressed play on our movie for the night.

"Four Weddings and a Funeral"

And as Hugh Grant's eyes open, and he looks at the alarm clock and utters the first line of the movie, the line we had waited all night to hear.


Now, you maybe wondering why I am telling this story. One of the answers to that question is that it cracks me up, the other is that it is an example of one of the movies, or television shows that I watched at a younger age that eventually helped form a rather immature understanding of rather mature concepts. And this was something I had been thinking about recently. I was thinking about how various perceptions of adult life have turned out to be incorrect.

And this very much came to light after I had a conversation about a frequently covered topic in today's pop culture. A topic that we have all seen parodied or dissected in movies and television shows.

The topic of the "C" word, commitment.

So in some ways, this entry is really more of a confession. My own way of admitting that it's possible I let film directors and screenwriters cement my own feelings on important ideas like commitment. But, I don't know, I guess that happens. I guess you can only watch so many episodes of Seinfeld before you get this certain view of commitment, and what it looks like.

That it's something some men and women struggle with. Something that "good" men are able to do, remaining loyal, or faithful to their partners, while others, those who we don't look at as "good" struggle and fall short.

Though, as I sit here, I don't think that's right.

Cause it seems to me that commitment really only exists when there is struggle. That commitment is only necessary when you need to overcome something.
But somewhere along the way, I was taught that commitment is the absence of that thought that tries to talk you out of something. That it's this absolute trust in something you should remain faithful to, a friend, a girlfriend, a training plan, a job. That truly committed people don't think twice about straying from the designated path before them.

But I think that's wrong. And in many ways, I think commitment is actually the exact opposite. That it's actually looking at that path, and looking at all the possible other directions that may look better or easier at that moment, and deciding, in the face of all of them, to stick what's hard, to stick what you signed up for, or chose, or started. 

But I guess, that's the other point of this blog.

Cause it seems to me that among all of the false lessons I learned about commitment, the worst of all was that this is not something you can talk about. That somehow you aren't supposed to say out loud that you struggle with commitment. That somehow voicing it in some way reveals a weakness about yourself, or your spirit.

Which is hard, especially when the person you are most struggling to remain committed to isn't a significant other or friend. It's much harder when the person you are struggling to remain committed to isn't another person at all, but rather, when it's you.

Cause if I look back at the person I've cheated on the most, it's always been myself.

And honestly, I don't even know where I am going with this, except to say this...

That I made a commitment not to run for three weeks, and let my leg heal.

And to tell you that this is what my fear of commitment looks like, the fear that I will let myself down again.

So, so far so good.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How I got here; Part Two

A wise man once told me that you should never discount your own story. Because even though others may have stories that are more interesting, more painful, or more triumphant, you should never forget that yours is worth telling too. He told me that I should never shy away from telling my story, cause simply put, it's the only one you got.

Naturally as runners we all have our stories. Our own unique reasons for doing the things we do. Myself, being no exception. And while I have heard stories far more inspiring, or exciting than my own, I'm afraid that doesn't change the fact that I only have one to tell.

My own.

And to that end, I started at the beginning.

But I guess that is the most interesting part of the start of something. Of this dynamic that exists within that first step.

Because you see, on one hand, that first step is incredibly important and worthy of telling. That first step, and everything that went into it. The decision that led to it, and maybe in some cases, where it led away from. All of these are crucial to the story, but, in my opinion, the real reason that the tale of the first step must be told, is simply because without a first, there can be no second.

But at the same time, for all the reasons that the beginning of our journey bears so much relevance you can't deny the flip side of the coin. That for as telling as the start of something is, it is just that, the telling of the start. And while first steps frequently start with grand beginnings, they are but one step on a journey, of a story.

And as another wise man once wrote,"It is not where you've been that matters, but where you are going."

So while step one is where my story began, step two, step three and all the steps afterwards is where it was going.

Though, in many ways that is a much harder story to tell. Cause I'm afraid, while my running career has been easily marked with mile markers and turns (Tim Kerr 5k notwithstanding), the life that has taken place around that career isn't so easily defined. Cause I guess, at least from my own experience, this latest stretch of my journey hasn't exactly played out like it does in the movies. Where characters have moments or breakthroughs against backdrops of a well chosen soundtrack.

That while it would be nice to have these milestones of progress marked by a trendy hit by The Fray, it never exactly seems to work like that. Cause it seems, in real life, moments of progress are almost always seen in a retrospective light.

Those moments when you realize you somewhere along the way you became the person who shows up when they say they will show up, instead of the excuse. Those moments where you chose to tell the truth, instead of the convenience of the lie. Those moments when the snooze button no longer defines your morning. Those moments where you realize, not that you are changing, but that somewhere along the way you have already changed, and you didn't even notice.

And thats a harder story to tell.

It's a harder story to tell, because quite frankly, I don't know when, or where it happened. To put it another way, I'm not sure when I became the type of person who could ever hope to be the type of person I wanted to be.

But while I can't answer questions like when, or where, I can tell you that I think that the answer to 'the how' exists in that one word in the previous sentence.


That the answer, or the story of how I got here, is actually not the story of I got here, but instead, how we got here.

Cause, in many ways, that is the whole story, the process by which I stopped being "I" and started to become "We". The process by which, I stopped being different, I stopped being smarter than, I stopped being less than, I stopped being weaker, or stronger, or too cool. The process by which I stopped looking at you for all the differences that lay between us, your gender, your education, your bank account, your age. The process by which I stopped looking at you, and started to look at me inside of you.

The process by which I found that when I look into your eyes, I know that we are all the same.

And the basic truth, that if I am just like you, and you are just like me, then all those things you have that I want, the honesty, the commitment, the respect, the love, that maybe, one day, I could hope to have them too.

But who knows, maybe this story didn't make a lot of sense, and maybe it wasn't as exciting, or inspiring as some others. So I'm sorry, but for the story of 'how I got here', in the words of my friend...

It's the only one I got.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Daniel and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Race

So as a kid growing up, I wasn't what you would call a "lover of literature". I wasn't exactly the kid you would find tucked into a corner turning the pages of a book. Nor was I the child clutching a flashlight long after bedtime reading beneath the covers. No, there was something about this process that we call reading that just wasn't my cup of tea as a kid, presumably because it couldn't be done while rambunctiously bouncing on couch cushions and doing wind sprints back and forth from the kitchen to the living room (believe it or not, I had a hard time sitting still.)

But that is not to say, that on occasion, I didn't trip, and find myself between the cover of a book. There were occurrences where I could be found piecing my way through the "Bert and Ernie Alphabet Book", or sitting on my mothers lap as she read to me "The Adventures of Davy Crockett", (Yes, Ludington Library, twas I who checked it out, and you'll never catch me alive.). And though the list of books that could be classified as my childhood favorites is rather short, one that sticks out is the story of a boy named Alexander. Specifically, about a boy named Alexander, who had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

This childrens book, as I remember, begins with Alexander waking up with gum in his hair. And from there his day takes turn, after turn for the worse. His brothers get all the good prizes from the cereal boxes, his teacher makes fun of the way he sings, his dentist finds a cavity, the shoe store is out of his preferred style of shoe, and worst of all, he is served lima beans for dinner.

The story ends with Alexander in bed, vowing to move to Australia, when his mother delivers the message that it is okay, that everyone has bad days, even in Australia.
Fast forward twenty some years to Monday, April 16th, 2012.
A morning where I woke up much like Alexander, though the gum in my hair was more of the metaphoric variety.

And while it certainly, by no means irregular for any of us to have a day filled with bad luck, this one is noteworthy not entirely for the bad luck itself, but instead for the bad luck that it happened to occur on this particular day.

This particular April 16th.

This day, that for most of the population is just simply another Monday. This third Monday in April, collectively known in New England as Patriot's Day. Or, for others still, a day that is simply known by it's two word title "Marathon Monday".

April 16th, 2012, the date of the 117th Boston Marathon.

And though I can't say I was made fun of by any elementary school teachers, or served lima beans for breakfast, it was clear from the start that this race was never going to be my race.

It began innocently enough, an alarm clock that had a mind of it's own, and a disproportionately slow bathroom line. These early omens continued from there with iPod malfunctions, and shoelace pit stops. And then these rather small hiccups spilled over into larger ones, record temperatures in the high 80s, the visit of a shin injury that just didn't take to running downhill, and eventually the display of a watch as eleven minute miles became twelve.

And just like that, that's how it ended. What once began as a race with hopes of a sprint to a personal best, ended with a limp to a finish line thirty minutes too late.

April 16th, 2012, the day of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad race...

Oh, and one other thing...

It was great.

Which I guess doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

But it was.

And I'm okay that it doesn't make a lot of sense, cause I think, in a way, you just had to be there to understand. Though the "there" in question, isn't exactly where you might expect.

Because I'm not great as this. I'm not great when other people are watching. Because, you see, sometimes I get lost in that black hole of trying to make you proud. In that rather simplistic rabbit hole, that if I can just run far enough, or fast enough that you'll be proud of me. An idea that I've chased, almost literally, for some time, from state to state, from race to race. And while many things have improved over those races, both the distances, and times, I doubt it will surprise you to hear the one thing that didn't was that idea that I still needed to make you proud.

That thought I worked so hard to get rid of. A thought that took a colossal failure as big as this one to realize this unlikely truth, that the only way to outrun it was, actually, to slow down.

But I guess you had to be there.

And I don't mean the race itself.

No, the "there" I'm talking about, isn't the start, or the finish, or any of the miles in between. No, the "there" I'm talking about is in me, in my head.

Cause at some point, even if it were only for a few fleeting moments, I let go. I let go of this idea that accomplishment was something only you gave me. That success was something I needed you to validate. That victory, or winning, can only occur when you say so. At some point, somewhere, I let go of that.

And even if it only existed for those few seconds, I can at least smile at the fact that it existed at all.

And I've been smiling ever since. 

And all it took was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad race.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Sum of My Parts

So this quote came to mind earlier this week. It's one of those quotes you hear all the time but, if you are like me, never took the time to actually play it out in your head.

"The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts"

But I guess, upon further review it makes sense. I mean, generally speaking, when you connect a multitude of parts and put them together, naturally they would become a great entity, than they would be on their own.

But if you do a google search, you'll actually find that this theory, put forth by Aristotle (yeah, I didn't know that either), has not only extended into a wide range of realms, but is something of a philosophical hot point, with several differing viewpoints. I was quite surprised to see what I had perceived to be a rather straightforward quotation is a concept that invades a plethora of subjects some as basic as mathematics, and simple anatomy, to ones as complex as emergent structures, and holistic economics.

Now, I'll be honest, I don't know the first thing about emergent structures, or economics, let alone math or anatomy, but I did my best to follow along with what these thinkers were debating. And from what I could tell the gist seems to be on how we define entities.

Is a chain of Dunkin Donuts a company, or is a company a chain of Dunkin Donuts?

And after some exhaustive reading, the answer I've come to is... I don't give a shit.

Which is not to say that I didn't find it, at least partially, interesting. Though after reading entirely too much about what a bunch of dead, German, white guys thought, I ended up at the same place I began when considering this quote. Because it seemed for as complex as people can make this theory, I find it's simplicity infinitely more interesting. Cause, believe it or not, when I was thinking of this quote earlier this week it wasn't as part of a train of thought about emergent systems (or would that be a train of emergent systems and the thoughts that summed it up?).

So as I read more, I couldn't help but think that in some small way I disagreed with the sentiment of the quote. Not that I disagreed with the actual meaning of it. I don't think the whole is by any means less than the sum of it's parts. But the more I read, the more I thought that it's possible the sum gets a little too much attention.

So as I sit here today, a few days off from probably the biggest race I've ever run, I can't help but think of the sum of my own parts. I can't help but think of the sum of the parts that have led me to this moment, and to question how, within this quote, they get overlooked. And as I sit here today, years removed from darker places, and days away from the next hill to climb, I can't think of a more appropriate time not to acknowlegde the sum or the whole, but rather the parts themselves.

I am the kindness of strangers who answered my late night phone calls.

I am the love of a father who dropped me off, and picked me back up.

I am the patience of a man who picks me up, and the wisdom to let me learn my own lessons.

I am the rocks that fly to tap on a second floor window.

I am the laughter of friends who don't mind hearing the same jokes over and over again.

I am the friend of a man always wants to walk beside me.

I am the understanding of friends who understand me before I understand myself.

I am the space you give me to be me.

I am the forgiveness of those who gave it before I ever had to ask.

I am the courage of those who lit the way before me.

I am the inside joke with a brother that will never make sense to anyone else the way it does to us.

I am the gifts from the last twelve days, and every day before that over the last two years.

I am words. Words written on cards, and tucked in envelopes. Words written through e-mail and text messages. And words written in eyes, and smiles.

I am the strength of those who believe in me, when I don't believe in myself.

I am the debt to those who care enough to read a blog by someone who is making it up all up as he goes.

I am the memory of where I cam from.

I am the liar, the cheat, the thief, and the grace to try and be none of these.

I am the lesson friends taught me, that I am the road, not the destination.

I am the family recipe passed down by my grandmother.

I am the grace of those who sacrifice without hesitation to take care of me.

I am the love without conditions that's always been there.


I am the knowledge that the greatness of my whole, is the not sum of my parts, but the sum of the parts that you all have given to me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lies, More Lies, and Weather Reports

So it first occurred to me, as I stepped out of the pool, having just finished the last set of laps before my race next week. And as I dripped my way over to the clumped up towel awaiting me on an unoccupied table, I couldn't help but glance back at the water as it slowly began to calm down. It hit me that this really was the last time I would step out of the pool which has served as a kind of lifeboat for a training plan that was sunk by a leg injury.

I realized at that moment that the final checklist that is the final week before a marathon had begun. The last long run, the last bit of speed work, the time you lace up your shoes, etc. Some of which beg for a certain level of goodbye, much in the same way you look at an old car as you trade it in, thanking it for getting you as far as it has.

But yes, the week before a marathon is one that is unlike any other in a runner's life. It's the one week where you seek to fight against all of those principals that you've fought so hard to instill inside of you. You fight the instinct to run a little farther, or faster, substituting time off to give your legs a chance to heal. You avoid the foods you once craved to sustain your training, for now the abundance of carbs would not be burned up over long miles, and instead attach to your hips making for long miles come race day.

But mostly, you spend the week before the race, talking about the race. You've trained for months and now all that is left to do is answer the various forms of the same question.

"So, are you ready for the race?"

I smile and say yes. I tell them about the extra little bounce in my step. I mention the last few long runs I've had and how good they felt. I talk about an excitement to get to the starting line. I describe the impatience and eagerness that accompanies with such excitement. I speak about the confidence that comes with previous experience at the distance. I answer about expected paces and finish times. I use phrases like "really looking forward to it", "should be a lot of fun", and "I can't wait.".

I smile and say yes.

And I lie to them.

I leave out the truth. I leave out the eighteen times I've checked the ten day weather report that morning alone. I omit the tidbits about not being able to sleep. I neglect to mention the disappointment that won't shake about an injury that won't heal. I avoid the reality that I haven't had a full week of training in over 6 weeks. I shy away from terms like "worried", "scared", and "nervous".

"So, are you excited for the race?"

I smile and say yes.

"Partly cloudy, high of 68, weather looks great."

I lie, disregarding the report from earlier that morning that had called for rain. 

And I could tell you that I lie to them because I don't know what else to say. I could tell you that I avoid the exact nature of my feelings because it seems somehow wrong or ungrateful to feel this way while being so privileged. I could tell you anything, any excuse I could think of to avoid the truth.

Which I guess brings me to the point of this blog.

Though, I should say this blog isn't about lying to you. It's not about putting on a good face, to cover the scared one beneath it. It's not about trying to sound optimistic when you feel anything but. It's not about feigned enthusiasm, forced excitement or faked confidence.

Rather this blog is about a different type of lying. The lie that says we will never be good enough. The lie that says, inevitably, we will let everyone down. The lie that says that these good people in our lives will find out who we really are and leave us. The lie that says no one will understand.

And the worst lie of all, the lie that you are the only one who has ever felt this way.

This blog, you see, isn't about the lies I tell you, it's about the lies I tell myself.

Lies that never seem like lies until I do the one thing that sometimes seems the scariest to do... tell all of you.

So now you know...

And for the record, I just checked, it's a beautiful night in Boston tonight.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Break!!!

So it was 10:45am and I was walking down the sidewalk outside my apartment minding my own business when a mom pushing a stroller approached me. I paused as the stroller went by, glancing at the four year old boy with short red curls. I smiled to the young lad, who's eyes promptly squinted as he glared back at me.

"Why don't you get a job, hippie?"

Then he nodded to his mother and the two of them continued on their way.

Okay, okay, so maybe he didn't actually say that, but I contend that he was thinking it. At any rate, it's spring break for those of us in the education business, which has provided me with more than enough free time to sit back and think of all the things that I have learned whilst on vacation. So without further ado, here are some thoughts I've jotted down during spring break thus far.

If anyone meets Mr. YouTube please ask him for me if I can have the hours between 9am to 11am April 2nd 2012, back.

If given the choice between being at the start or something, or the finish, I'll take the start every time.

Never assume soccer moms driving silver Honda CRVs won't give you the finger after you beep at them for driving on the wrong side of the road... you know who you are ma'am.

When ordering an HD movie on demand at your parents house, make sure to check whether or not your parents have an HD television.

Having more free time doesn't increase the amount of time you exercise, it just increases the amount of time you spend making excuses not to exercise.

Old man in an orange speedo is a hard image to get out of your head.

The main difference, in my opinion, between the "have"s and the "have not"s, is that the "have"s change their brita filter.

The only silver lining to realizing you forgot your bathing suit when in the pool locker room, is realizing before you take your pants off.

I'm not above putting on big boy pants just to go to the grocery store to try and trick people into thinking I have actually have something else to do that day.

It means the world when friends come to watch me on race day, and even more when they come the months before.

Sometimes the best help we can offer is to say that you'll be here when they get back... though it may be the hardest.

When organizing a March Madness Pool don't invite your mother, unless you are prepared to lose to your mother.

You know you aren't the target demographic for daytime television viewership when every commercial starts with "Have you been injured in an accident?".

When you don't know what to do, doing nothing still seems to be right thing... which still blows.

Running without music after your iPod dies gives you a chance to clear your mind.... ahhh fuck, orange speedo again.

Running for an overall goal sometimes makes you forget at one point just running was once the overall goal.

Sometimes it is as simple as tying your shoes.

Did someone really think it was a good idea to advertise for the $10.99 Golden Corral all-you-can-eat buffet in the middle of the show "Chopped" on the Food Network? As if the viewers watching someone herb roast scallops were going to jump out the door for the endless plate of meatloaf.

Obsession to fix things tends to lead to more breaking.

My dishwasher smells... that's the whole thought... my dishwasher smells.

I should probably start making up some stories to tell people when they asked me what I did on vacation... I don't think "Thursday I took a shower" is gonna cut it.


The hardest part of vacation, is allowing yourself the permission to be on vacation.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


So in the course of writing a blog, there is kind of backlog of blog ideas that either exists, or in many cases doesn't exist at all. It seems to be a constant swing of both having too much to write, and then the next week too little. And it's within this roller coaster that I can occasionally get myself in trouble. Cause, you see, there are various instances where I will think of something to write about, usually an idea or experience that I expect to play out somewhere. And in these instances, when I begin to look for something specifically, I can in some cases, lose sight of what is actually going around me, or in this case me.

Which brings me to the story of this weekend.

A story that began according to the script that I had pre-written in my mind, only to change, ironically, right around the halfway point.

But, I'll start at the beginning, which, I've been assured, is a very good place to start...

So according to it's website, "Halfway to Broad" is a "5-mile loop beginning on West River Drive next to the Philadelphia Art Museum. The site goes on to describe a course that winds through Fairmount Park, and traces the banks of the Schuylkyll River. The race gets it's name from the genius of it's marketing niche. Philadelphia is home to the worlds biggest ten mile run, known as the Broad Street Run. "Halfway to Broad" seeks to capitalize on the 33,000 race entrants by providing a race both half the distance, and halfway through the majority of ten mile training plans.

And, oh yeah, it's proceeds go to Back on My Feet (the homeless running program that I've been running with for two years and a couple of months.).

And right around there is when it began.

Cause I guess there was just something about it, about this race, in particular, that I liked instantly, something that seemed inherently blog worthy. Something about how it was a race to prepare us for a larger one. Something about the idea of there being such a wide range of people participating, from first time distance runners, to blazingly fast veterans. Something about the course, and the simplistic beauty of an out and back (a race that goes straight out to a fixed turn around point, and returns along the same course.).

And, I guess, above all others, there was something about the idea of "halfway" that stuck with me.

Something about that point in a race, in a journey that is wholly unique. That point at which you are no longer on your way out, nor are you on your way back. Where you are no closer to the beginning, than you are to the end. Where you have no more steps to take, than you have already taken.

It was that idea that stuck with me.

And as I stood at the start of this race, I couldn't help but feel as though I was standing as part of several races.

And as I looked at the faces of the men around me, the faces that, I'll be honest, look little like mine, both in age, in color, and in the things they've seen, I found myself thinking a little bit more about being halfway.

I found myself thinking about being at that halfway point, at the turn around point. And then about the journey back. The journey back from homelessness, from loneliness, and from things I probably couldn't imagine, and definitely wouldn't want to. I found myself thinking about that and what it must have been like to be at that halfway point.

At which point, I stopped.

Because, as it seemed, in my attempt to conjure up an eloquent blog post about the redemptive journey of a homeless man, I forgot the most basic lesson they have taught me. Because at that moment I remembered that these are not stories of homeless men getting back on their feet. They are not stories of homeless men finding their way back. They are not stories of homeless men turning around halfway through their journey and fighting to get back.

They are not stories of homeless men at all.

They are simply stories about men.

Men who have at some point been down, just like all of us, just like me.

Which then got me thinking, that maybe the hubris of this failed blog entry was, in a weird way, denying that the real story here that begged further review, wasn't anyone elses story, but my own.

Cause, I guess the part I left out about this idea of being "halfway", is that moment when you are standing, making the decision to turn back towards something, rather than away from it.

Cause I have one of those.

I don't know, maybe we all do.

But, I guess, as I sit here writing this, it seems that maybe more importantly than remembering the path that led to such a moment, and the beginnings of the journey back, is to remember, above all us, the reason you turned around at all.