Last week I posted about non-running members, and while the comments here were all very positive … that is because we are all runners. It is the very nature of our somewhat insular community that we would share some common thoughts – and this would naturally include running, healthy pursuits and more. However, ourside of the blog … I got feedback. Feedback from a variety of sources, that was uniform – and uniformly different from the comments.
Feedback is good – it is a reminder that our perspective is incomplete. Running is inherently a personal endeavour, a selfish solo sport. That doesn’t make us selfish for running, because the health benefits make us better in so many ways – it just means that like pretty much any exercise, the focus is on us. Which means we aren’t necessarily objective about the greater impact of our activities – and so we need to listen when we are told “you have no idea what it is like to be waiting on the other side of the finish line.”
So let’s take a look at some other thoughts:
Thoughts from the Other Side of the Barrier
1. It is NEVER ‘Just a Run’ – sure you can get hurt stepping into the shower, but running presents unique challenges. All this winter I ran in some incredibly dangerous conditions – sub-zero temperatures with strong winds, days school was cancelled, unplowed roads and so on. In summer, there is heat exhaustion and dehydration to content with as well! Sometimes we say we’re going for 5-6 miles and end up doing 9-10 (that isn’t just me, right?) and our family wonders where we are. Things a runner might call ‘a challenge’, their supporters think of as ‘scary’ or ‘stupid’.
The longer the distance, the greater the chance of things happening, the greater the worry.
2. The Fear of the Medical Tent – this past year at the Wineglass Marathon was brutal. Not only were the temperatures over 80F and humid, it had already cooled down in our area so no one was ready for it! As a result I passed two people loading into ambulances, had a police officer ask about another collapsed runner, saw more people vomiting than usual, people really hating it, and so on.
But while I saw that from the road, all my wife and kids saw was the people in awful shape finishing before me, including one who collapsed and had to be carried off less than 100 yards before the finish – and an overflowing medical tent. The uncertainty is incredibly hard for those waiting for loved ones.
3. By The Side of the Road, Somewhere – pretty much every week this year there has been something on Facebook about a runner or biker who was hit or side-swiped or otherwise run off the road. And despite having ‘Find my phone’ and so on, it can be nerve-wracking when our loved ones head out the door, and don’t really know exactly when they’ll be home, and so on.
4. Running a Marathon? 3-4 Hours Means 2 – 3 Days! – last summer when I did the PA Grand Canyon, getting the packet was the day before, and the hours were about noon to 6, meaning that with the 1+ hour drive it ripped apart THAT day, then the race day is pretty much entirely consumed. And if you are traveling further then you might end up with two nights in a hotel.
And suddenly we see how a nice little morning run and cheap shoes twice a year can transform into something that takes up entire weekends and costs thousands of dollars per year between race fees, lodging, transportation, supplies, equipment and so on.
5. Fear of Injury – runners worry about injuries, but so do their loved ones for a few reasons: the obvious concern about any injury, knowing how much the inability to run will impact the person’s life, and the ‘stupid factor’.
There are some of my friends here who will laugh at that – but I can cite more than a couple of people who have ended up re-injured or hurt their recovery by being over-zealous, and at least one I am pretty sure did it but never fessed up.
6. More Than Just You – again, the risk you take, the chance of injury, and so on … they don’t happen in a vacuum. If you are hurt or hit by a car or suffer a heart attack, you are unable to be there for loved ones, your job, your kids, and so on. And while you can certainly get an injury doing anything, doing an endurance sport where you push your body like a marathon adds to the risk, and it is always worth considering the risk/reward in the context of all the others impacted by your life.
The bottom line? While running is a solo activity, it is very much a ‘team sport’. I am very lucky to have an amazing team to support me and call me out on all of the stupid crap I do … and I really try to listen to the feedback. As runners, that is what we need to do – be thankful for the love in our lives, appreciative of the support, and reflective of all the worry and concern these people have for us. And we should listen.
Day Two: Nine Loves
1. Lisa – I have been with Lisa for more years than I have been without her, and I cannot imagine a day where I am not connected to her. I get a little ‘eye-folly’ when everyone is a ‘soul mate’ … but all I know is I am very happy, have a great life, and feel incredibly fortunate.
2. Danny – Danny is a reflection of me in very many ways, but he also has elements of Lisa and is very much his own individual. I keep signing up for NaNoWriMo to write a novel, but the reality is Danny can jot off something for a creative writing assignment in 30 minutes that is better than anything I have ever written. He has great artistic vision, is funny and talented in many ways, and has a big heart. Oh, and I have to mention that in his room now he has CDs from both Miles Davis and Pat Metheny.
3. Chris – As Danny reflects me, so does Chris reflect Lisa. But he also brings in much of my musical passion and a sense of style and flair all his own. He is gifted musically and as a chef, but also in so many other ways. His photographic vision stuns me as someone who is a total hack, and his open heart and love for the downtrodden always inspire me.
4. Our pets – we have two dogs, two cats and two fish. We take in pets are parts of the family, not ‘things’ – they are our babies, and didn’t stop being so when we had kids. Our dogs are Norfolk Terriers, scrappy little beasts who are so full of joy; we have one cat who is 13 with cancer we got as a kitten, and who continues to terrorize the neighborhood … the other was dumped on us ‘to watch for a few weeks’ – three years ago. She was abused and neglected and is slowly adapting to love and togetherness.
5. Running – Yeah, no surprise here.
6. My job – I am very fortunate that I have had three really great jobs of the five (really four and one 3-month contract) I’ve had since starting my professional career. One got me started, the second allowed me to flourish, and at Corning I am growing and developing and experiencing the breadth of stuff the company does – and making a difference.
7. Music (making & listening) – I have a deep and intense of love of music. Listening to something I love has a profound impact … but nothing compares to the feeling of making my own music. For several years I have put my music on the back burner, noodling with guitar and keyboard – but this past month resurrecting my studio has been completely amazing. Listening to stuff I had been working on before energizes and transports me, and starting to do new stuff makes time evaporate!
8. Food – I might have a ‘complicated’ relationship with eating, but I love food. And really in the last year I cannot name any time I have had ‘food regrets’ like I have always had throughout my life. Yet I have baked cakes, eaten scones and gobs of ice cream, many glasses of wine and so on. I had called this approach ‘intentional eating’, and it has been the best thing I have ever done for my eating – I eat what I want and ‘own it’, but what I want is almost exclusively ‘good fuel’.
9. Technology – not just stuff like computer devices … just technology. Old telephones intrigued me as a kid, then programming, games, circuit boards, lasers, computer devices of all types. I used to joke that I interfaced better with machines than with people, not really true, but it was always a natural connection for me.
Bonus. My Blog Friends! – I am fortunate to have ‘internet friends’ I have known for almost 20 years now who I have never met in person but connect with at least annually. I also remain in occasional contact with a few folks from sites I’ve written for through the years, but mostly not.
Yet over the last few years things have changed: I have become genuine friends with the editors at Gear Diary – there is an annual ‘GearFest’ at one of the co-owner’s lake house which is a blast, and one of the editors and her wife were amazingly supportive taking me in and cooking me dinner one night while I was with my brother after his heart attack. Now I have made some excellent connections through blogging – people I consider genuine friends who I would love to actually meet someday, but regardless I am made better by knowing them. Thanks to all of you.
So what do YOU love?