Parent Brag Moment – NYU Tisch Film School Bound!

All The Broken Little Leaves

Last week I promised to share some good news with a little tease, and noted that those who follow me on social media already saw it. So for those who don’t, here is the news: our older son Danny applied ‘early decision’ to New York University and specifically the Tisch School of the Arts in the film program.

And … he was accepted! Not just that, he got what my wife called a ‘BIG ASS SCHOLARSHIP’ that meant rather than the expected tense sitting around the table with computer, pencil and slide rule trying to squeeze out enough money to get him there … last week were able to simply say ‘you’re going’, click the ‘Accept Offer’ button (which naturally comes with a good sized ‘deposit’ requirement) and that is it … he is part of the NYU class of 2019.

If you asked me a year ago when we were going to be now … I wouldn’t have known what to tell you. He was getting solid grades but his study habits were atrocious, and in one of his AP classes it was having a significant impact, and so we got him involved in a special ‘study plan’ that involved the teacher and guidance office. We did that for a few months and while I would like to say it helped, I think that simply maturing, having older friends graduating and heading to college and having his own aspirations are what mostly got him back on track.

It has been an amazing transformation – he has grown up and matured so much into an amazing young man, with an incredible artistic vision and deep and insightful way of looking at the world.

When looking at colleges it is one thing to look on paper, another to see it in person. So while he had an interest in RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology), he pretty well hated the campus. He liked the University of Rochester Campus, but not the programs. His other schools he liked for both academics and the campus were Syracuse, SUNY Purchase, and Boston University. But NYU … there was just a palpable difference … this was totally his place. There was no question – it was a great fit.

I want to share his portfolio video that he submitted (and wanted to get his permission, which he gave me yesterday), but first wanted to share some images from our trip:

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This was taken from the window of our apartment where we stayed for the week.

 

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Couldn’t have asked for a better place!

 

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Washington Square Park – NYU surrounds this, calling it ‘their unofficial quad’.

 

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In the bookstore … these were the books they were looking at …

 

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… not these. I was looking at these.

 

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Filming a jazz combo playing in the park.

 

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At Alice’s Tea Cup on the upper west side

 

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Central Park selfie!

 

It was a great vacation, and more importantly we came away with the school that was far and away his top choice … and will now be where he is living starting in Fall 2015. Here is his portfolio video (note – there is NSFW language and difficult themes):

Friday Five – Blog-ospheric Inspiration and Love

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OK, so while I noted I wouldn’t writing as much, that hasn’t stopped me from reading. And while I complained a bit a couple of weeks ago about what felt like ‘post fall-running hangover’ hitting lots of blogs with the ‘blahs’, and last week about some lazy link-ups … this week has been brimming with great stuff! To the point where I am quoting stuff below and feel bad because there is so much more great content out this week that I left behind.

As for the image at the top, it might not really seem fit with my theme – but it was in an email I got from Megan at The Lyons Share today, and she said “This quote is just SCREAMING “Michael”!!!!!!! Couldn’t help but think of you! Hope you have a wonderful day 🙂 🙂 “. It was an amazingly kind and thoughtful thing to do while I was sitting at my desk scrambling to get a ton of stuff done before heading home … and was so very much appreciated!

What I wanted to highlight was some of the amazing things I have been reading this week – there are just so many awesome people in our community that have important things to say. So I will start with posts from my two ‘Most Inspiring Runners’ and go from there:

1. T-Rex Runner – Eating Disorder Recovery

I have repeatedly recommended Danielle’s ‘Life with ED’ series as ‘required reading’ for anyone who needs to eat food, and last night she posted her last entry, about trying to normalize her relationship with food and her body especially in the wake of having had both major and minor surgery this year. Here is a little bit:

Eating disorder recovery isn’t linear, and it isn’t easy. I will probably never call myself “recovered;” I’ll be perpetually “recovering,” at least, I hope, since that is better than relapse. It’s a process and something that takes a lot of hard work. No one can do it for me. While some days it seems hopeless and that I’ll never be able to change the way I think about myself, some days are days like yesterday. And then I think, “Maybe not today, but one day.”

2. Gluten Free Treadmill – Falling in Love

Speaking of essential series, I really want Laura to re-publish her series from her ‘And This Is Thirty’ blog, but that is an entirely different topic. Right now Laura is doing a ‘Best of 2014 Series’, and the other day looked at her resolutions and bucket list. If you follow her you know she had a relationship earlier this year, so I loved reading this:

8. Fall in love. I did, and then fell out. But it was totally worth every second and I’m a better person for it and really ready for the next time.

And of course this one as well:

4. Be awesome and all-around hard-core. Obviously.

There is a ton more, and the rest of the series is great. And, oh yeah – she’s running ACROSS THE COUNTRY next year. So there’s that.

3. Fit Fresh and Funny – Loving Life While Facing Challenges

I have always enjoyed Laura’s blog, because she has had to deal with serious medical issues – and handles them honestly (i.e. they suck) but is always funny and up front with them. Recently what she thought was a migraine turned out to be viral encephalitis (in other words, swelling of the brain caused by a virus). If that sounds like serious shit – it is. But that didn’t stop her today from taking stock of all of the fortunes and happiness she has in her life:

Because I am exhausted, have a brain infection, and a relapse going on that makes me sorry I pushed myself the last week. But I also have a husband upstairs cooking me dinner while singing to the Violent Femmes at the top of his lungs.

4. Paleo Running Momma – But I Don’t WANNA!

I like to give Michele at Paleo Running Momma a hard time about being linear and structured – and she says it wasn’t always that way – but I also know how my wife doubled-down on structure and organization as a stay-at-home mom with little ones. It just works that way … or you get even more chaos! (heck, we still have a wall calendar with everyone’s stuff on it in our kitchen that we live by!). But yesterday she wrote about how without the rigor and schedule of a training plan in support of a marathon goal, she is floundering a bit finding motivation. I love that even as she is working hard to build her brand and coaching business (btw – she is doing special coaching deals right now, hit her up for details), she beings out some totally honest posts like this one. Check it out:

Because every morning I have been not wanting to get up to run. Like there hasn’t been even one day I just got out of bed without hesitating, it’s a struggle every day.

This really sucks! It’s amazing how I will complain either way. Which is it? Do you like getting up early or do you wish you could sleep later? Meh, I think it’s both. But right now I’m wishing I was happier with early. It makes for a much less rushed and stressful morning.

5. Fueled By Lolz – Body Image Insanity

Hollie can be totally hilarious – but she is often also quite pointed in what she is saying. Her post about signing a wedding dress waiver earlier this week is one such post. Because the need for a waiver is fairly new, and is based on the whole ‘bridezilla’ thing coupled with the trend of associating body image with a size number (which is why they say that the old store ‘5-7-9’ would now be ‘0-3-5’0! And so rather than think ‘I want to look my best on my wedding day’, it is ‘I am wearing a size 4 for my wedding’. See the problem for dress shops? Hollie takes it further:

It takes me back to this straight forward point: no one knows or cares what dress you are. No one cares your weight. At your wedding, people notice how happy and how glowing you are…not your damn dress size.

I used ‘bonus’ because I am sticking to ‘Friday Five’ as a theme and then cheating by adding two bonus items. So there are seven.

Bonus #1. Running Out of Wine – Phantom Technology Woes

I love when Lisa, who always comes across so structured and organized in her posts, lets things wander about with a ‘Thinking Out Loud’ that is true-to-name. This was one of those weeks – and what she said had me cracking up:

My Garmin keeps buzzing in the other room right now and I have no idea why. And I am too lazy to go check/go make it stop. Its also continued to do whatever it wants on many of my runs. Like the map will make it look like a ran through the harbor. I swear I’m not that talented.

Bonus #2. The Lyons Share – Own Your Feelings

I alreadu mentioned Megan for the quote at the top – which was an awesome event today. But I always love her posts – she is mainly doing a ‘Motivation Monday’ and ‘Foodie Friday’, but makes them all worth reading (such as this or this). Here is a great quote from her post about dealing with your feelings:

Even while there is a time and a place to put on a happy face, though, it’s not healthy to bottle up all of your emotions inside and pretend that you never feel anything but happy. I talk to my girls at Girls on the Run about the fact that emotions might be “comfortable” and “uncomfortable,” but they are not “good” and “bad.” Being angry, frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, or anxious might not be the most pleasant way to feel, but those feelings are valid and should be expressed rather than smothered.

How about me?

Well, if you follow me on social media you know I have had some good stuff happening in our family, which is exciting – more on that later. But aside from that it is just the normal wonderful life I enjoy – Lisa, the boys, the dogs and cats, great job, nice home, and so on.

What thoughts do YOU have to share?

Monday Moments – Grateful ‘Leftovers’, Pet Peeves and Random Reality Checks

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I survived 30 days of Grateful posts … and while it was rewarding and I loved all of the great comments, it was exhausting. But I was left with a bunch of thoughts – positive, negative, etc – that I figured I would just spill out … so here goes:

Grateful ‘Leftovers’
1. I am grateful for YOU. Anyone reading this, as I get a bunch of reads and views from non-commenters (which is fine, of course). The comments here, the great thoughts shared on your own blogs, fun pics on Instagram, and so on. They are great and make me proud to be part of this group.

2. The running community Here I am talking about online, local, pretty much everyone who runs or volunteers to help runners or works in some capacity helping runners. The stories I hear all over the place warm my heart.

3. The non-running community These are the people who get us to races, cheer us on, worry when we aren’t home when we said, and so on. They are also the people who deal with redirected traffic at races, runners with headphones not following traffic rules, and so on. I complain about the occasional ‘morning moron’ who intentionally tries to push me off the road, but in general everyone I meet and talk to and deal with is incredibly encouraging and kind.

4. My Co-Workers I have talked about how wonderful everyone was when I was losing weight back in 2012, and also noted the supportive people on my project team going back and forth to Kentucky last year. And this year has been great as well – I have loved watching as some people have succeeded at joining the ‘100+’ club and looking great, and continued enjoying the support. I got asked a couple of times about my 5K this week, and it is great.

While I’m at it let me add ‘The Power of a Simple Text’ – the way my company works is very project based, so I have worked with more than a dozen separate groups of people over the 6.5 years I’ve been there. For the most part things just fade into the background, you say a quick ‘hi’ in the hallways, or at local events if you see each other. But then there are occasional friends who stick with you – and I got a fun and friendly text from one person the other night that was just super-nice and very much appreciated.

5. Humor I love laughing and having fun – which is why I have shared things such as the Oatmeal talk the other day. I love comedy movies from Airplane to Monty Python to the Marx Brothers to Blazing Saddles and more …web comics, Dilbert, Bloom County, and on and on. I love the Instagram account ‘Unspirational’, and things like this:

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Pet Peeves
1. OK, this isn’t a pet peeve, but when I said in a post I would alienate some people … I wasn’t wrong. In spite of putting out content consistently for a month I have lost readers and subscribers and followers – and that is after being virtually silent for a month!

2. ‘Clean Eating’ – I am a huge fan of eating well, eating REAL food, and so on. But as I have said, ‘Clean Eating’ is seldom used in a positive way – I see it on Instagram, blogs and so on as a ‘brag-term’, or sometimes a ‘superiority hammer’, but never as anything constructive. It is a vague and largely meaningless term as used. It might as well be ‘#ImEatingCleanerThanYOUBitches’ for the way it is portrayed!

3. Instagram Hashtag ‘Attention-seekers’ (because I don’t like that word that rhymes with ‘store’, and find it still has negative connotations towards women) … um, there was one young runner whose blog I used to follow who tagged all of her Instagram posts with things like #fitnessmodel and #fitspo and about 25 more #things … and it attracted the type of attention you might expect. Sure Instagram is another way of getting yourself seen … but what is your message, and how do your hashtags convey that and what type of audience are you attracting? I do NOT believe that all attention is good attention.

4. THIS! – I mean, is there even a web site there?

Is There a Site

OK, it is pretty clear if you look at the title what site that is, and I have emailed Michele about it, and we still follow each other and comment on posts and it is all in good fun, but here’s the thing – on the one hand people need to pay for their sites, maybe for the effort they put into blogging, and if lucky enough to get a few more $ on top of that. I also understand that to get that money requires advertising, which requires code that needs to be *seen* to be useful.

But on the other hand there are limits to what people should have to deal with – and if I am an email subscriber to your blog, and click on that link in my email, I should NEVER see another thing to sign up! That is just not cool – and it is not an ad that is making you money. And to have them double-stacked with an advert on the bottom? Yeah, pretty much useless. There are more than a few sites where I see the sign-up bar at top – and I already get the daily email from all of them. Please make it stop – we should be partners working together for the best overall experience, and while we know that usually includes advertising … try to minimize the clutter wherever possible.

5. Deleted Comments, Non-Replies, Link-Ups.

Look, it is your blog, do what you want. But always be mindful of what you are doing compared to what you want for yourself. I have had a couple of ‘interesting’ experiences recently…

Replies – We want people to comment, and should honor the time they put into reading our stuff and commenting with at least a small acknowledgement. Or not – but be consistent. If you get 20 comments and respond to 5, that is one thing … but if you get 50 and reply to 49 – not so cool. And if it seems to happen fairly consistently? … well, I have ended up unsubscribing from a few sites after what felt like a campaign of non-responses.

Deletions – Personally I have never deleted a comment. I know several bloggers who HAVE deleted some, but generally because they are offensive and/or inappropriate. This past week I saw a blog post that I found a bit ironic (it talked about what it was like in the ‘old days’ and the blogger is under 25) … and replied in a light but needling manner. I started getting notifications, and headed to the site to read more comments … but noticed that there were fewer than when I had left my comment – which was also gone. Oh well – not everyone can take a joke, and it is the right of every blogger to control their own narrative.

‘Living for the Link Up’ – I love ‘Thinking Out Loud’ posts that actually ARE somewhat random – because let’s face it, at this point in our blogging community I will see close to 100 posts on my blog feed that are just ‘Thursday’s Post’ with a TOL slapped on it just to get in on the link-up. We get it – link-ups are a great way to build readership (or at least increase numbers of followers). But while anyone can add a link to the link-up, PLEASE at least try – an ordered list on a single topic? That is NOT a TOL post 🙂

OK … enough whining 🙂

Random Reality Checks

1. Exhaustion – I loved doing the 30 days of Gratitude, but similar to when I pounded out those ’10 Days of You’ in 10 days, while also doing other things … well, I am burnt.

2. Plans for Rest of 2014 Blogging – I have a couple of other posts planned: (a) a Year in Review and Goals for 2015, and … Chances are that will be all I post.

3. What Happens in 2015? – no clue. As of right now I have no concrete plans. I would like to say I’ll do a weekly check-in, but I have no idea. I’ll still be running, and you’ll see me on Instagram, but I don’t know how much (if at all) I’ll be here.

4. Focus on Being a Good Friend, Rather Than Popular! – here is the thing: as I have slowed up blogging two things have happened: (a) I enjoy my favorite bloggers more and (b) my tolerance for BS and shenanigans has dropped to nil. So rather than do the normal ‘follow 100 blogs and comment like a mad fool to try to get more followers and so on’ … I have already pared my list back considerably.

5. I Miss My Other Writing / Review Crew – before I launched this blog (and even with overlap) I was an editor at another site, and had been writing running-related stuff (The Monday Mile) for a while. But I felt like it encroached on the unified voice of the site (though no one ever said that to me) while restricting me from really exploring what I wanted to write about.

In the past 14 months I’ve published nearly 400 posts on this blog, and have really enjoyed myself, but it has been all-consuming of my internet time. So on the other site I went from being an editor to a contributor to a no-show (and on another site I have totally disengaged) … and frankly I miss that crew. These are the best people I have worked with in the 20+ years I have been writing things on the internet, and when we all met in person for the first time it was as if the email discussion just continued but live – and when Lisa joined us the following year she was immediately part of the crew. I want that back, and have started working on writing more for that site.

So that is everything for now!

Thanks again for all your support!

A Quick Look Back at 2014 in Running

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I had been planning a ‘year in review’ post which will come at the year end, but the other day Amanda at Miss Zippy challenged everyone to do a quick ‘how was your year in running’ post … so here it goes!

Before I answer her questions, I look at the year in a few ways:
– I started the year and ended the year healthy and without injury.
– I ran more miles this year than any other year … again. In fact, since I ‘got serious’ about running in April 2012 I have run well over 8000 miles. (whew!)
– I didn’t run a marathon, half-marathon or ultra … all of which I planned but scheduling, activities with the kids, and family vacations all are higher priority. The final chance at a half was Nov 2nd … and I was sick!
– Unlike 2013, work has had me local all year (5 miles from home!) – Yay for family time!
– I think I became a Saucony lover this year between the Kinvara 4, Virrata 2 and especially the Kinvara 5.

Best race experience? That is easy – I only ran ONE race. But still the ‘Selfless Elf 5K’ was an amazing race because I ran it full of fun and joy, and also got my fastest recorded pace … like, ever. 7:21/mile … I still can’t associate those numbers with ME.

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Best run? 2014 was an odd year because I ran pretty much alone all year, and almost always on the same half-dozen routes. But there were two runs that stand out – the 5K and my first run on the Catharine Valley Trail. The 5K I mentioned above, but I will still go back to the first trail run for me this year. It was a goal to hit the trails more … and I only did a few, and they were on ‘groomed’ trails so it wasn’t too hard. But when I did it, the 12 miles on the Catharine Valley trail were just perfect – I appreciated the change and the trails were awesome!

Best new piece of gear? I would have to go with the Garmin VivoSmart. I get notifications on my wrist (which stopped being useful once the average daily run temperature dropped below 25F last month), so I can see what is coming in. I also get daily tracking, and the ‘goal’ increases based on you surpassing it … so now I am pressed harder and harder to make the goal. Review coming soon 🙂 Also loved? The Magellan Echo and Garmin Forerunner 15. So no matter what it is something on my wrist!

Best piece of running advice you received? It was a question from last year, : ‘where do you see yourself as a runner in 5, 10 and 20 years.’ My answer is that in 2014 I crossed the 25 year mark as a runner, starting in 1989 at nearly 400lbs. In 25 years I will be 73 – and I would love if I could still be showing up to run local 5K events and maybe even longer wherever we are then! That self-advice put all of my other goals in perspective.

Most inspirational runner? Tough call, so I am naming two:

Danielle the T-Rex Runner. Here is a woman who has struggled with eating disorders that were literally destroying her, has other health issues she has shared, ended up with surgery last year on her digestive track … and again this year had surgery on her back … and has just run her second marathon within a month.

Laura Parson from TheGlutenFreeTreadmill: Laura has picked up her life after dealing with some awful treatment at her previous job, is pursuing a doctorate in women’s studies in North Dakota, and has taken her passion as an ultra-runner and turned it into a quest that will have her running across the country next summer. That’s right … running. across. the. country. As in San Francisco to NYC. All to support RAINN and an awareness of violence against women. Amazing and inspirational.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? (same as last year, boring I know – but it is my mantra). Nothing about running matters more to me than getting up tomorrow for my 5+ mile run.

How was YOUR year in running?

Music Notation that Tells You All You Need to Know About Modern Pop

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My post yesterday was a bit heavy – and the comments were AWESOME! But what I had scheduled for today was ALSO heavy … so I decided to step back and set that one up for Monday and put something a bit lighter up instead.

Do you have friends who can’t just enjoy something as entertainment? You know what I mean – because of what they study and how they look at things, they immediately dissect things in that area and can’t help saying it out loud, robbing you of your ability to just ‘think it was fun’? Maybe it is movies, or books or architecture or pizza or whatever … chances you know someone like that.

Well, despite a lifetime of trying NOT to be … that is me when it comes to music. I hear music with a dissecting ear – when a new song comes on (say, as we listened to the new Taylor Swift album, for example) I immediately hear the way that the rhythm section was construction, the way the beats and baselines were shaped according to what will sound familiar but not immediately reductive … the way that the harmonic structure borrows enough from existing Top 40 and something from the 80s to tweak that part of your brain that says “I like this, but I don’t know why”.

Through the years it might seem to an observer that I have gotten better about this, that I am not the music snob that I was in high school and college. That would be untrue, but two things HAVE happened:
– I have learned to let those voices have their chats inside my head since almost no one really wants to hear about it.
– Most music is really meant to just be entertainment, and so I have become much better at discussing highlighting little elements of familiarity (something like “hear how that line kinda sounds like that Police song?”), which is a much more fun discussion.

ANYWAY … I found this little comic amusing!

Happy Friday – and thanks again so much for the incredible insights and comments on yesterday’s post!

Source: Medium.com

Why Not Everyone Should Run a Marathon

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The other day one of my favorite bloggers, Lisa at Running Out of Wine, posted about “Why Everyone Should Run A Marathon” … and since I was apparently feeling rather contrary, I had to disagree – at least in part. Not that I don’t LOVE the marathon and running long distances … just that I think it isn’t for everyone – not even all runners.

Actually one of the motivations for me to write about this and take an opposing view was that I felt like “everyone else is falling over themselves to agree”, and typically that means either an obvious truth or a bad case of ‘hive mind’. And apologies to the commenters, but I think it is the latter. As runners we so often just can’t see outside of our bizarre little cult! More on that later …

Anyway let’s jump right into things!

How I Agree:

Lisa made some really good points about the process – here are just a couple:

3. You will learn to push through when things hurt or get hard.
5. You will overcome self-doubt time and time again.

These are things I agree with, along with much of the basic reasoning she stated, and think that stepping outside your comfort zone is important, as is pushing yourself (basically the same thing) … and also setting and working towards audacious goals.

Where I Become Unsure:

2. The process takes a whole lot of dedication.

I loved this article about marathon running and what happens to you:

In the weeks leading up to the race, you will undoubtedly find yourself in the pub on a Friday night, talking to a friend with intense zeal about how you “really need to work on speeding up your splits”, or you’ve “been experimenting with a combination of electrolytes and gels”. STOP. Take a breath. Go and take a long, hard look in the mirror. And ask yourself why you have turned into a wanker.

That cracks me up, but the reality is that things like putting in a couple of 20 mile runs takes TIME. If you are working full time, are in a relationship, have pets and/or kids … then it is no longer about just YOU. Suddenly there are multiple people involved – and the ‘required dedication’ goes beyond you. Again, more on that in a bit …

How I DISagree: Here are 10 reasons you should NOT run a marathon:

1. You just aren’t THAT into running: if you managed one 5K on a ‘Couch to 5K’ program and thought it was OK, but suddenly have loads of people saying ‘you HAVE to run a marathon now!’ … and all you can think is ‘ugh, I thought I was done!’. Then you get registered and take a look at a training plan and realize ‘this sucks … I HATE running!’

2. You can’t afford to pay your rent: marathons are EXPENSIVE. In general you can plan at least $100 for registration alone. And unless it is local, plan extra money for food and travel and someplace to stay. Also plan to add money to your weekly grocery bill for the added fuel you’ll need … as well as new running shoes, more clothes, higher laundry expenses, and …well, if you get really into it the costs can quickly spiral out of control!

3. You can’t or won’t allocate the training time: maybe you have a job with long hours and a longer commute, maybe you’re in a new relationship, maybe you are addicted to Skyrim or Minecraft or quilting or origami or whatever … regardless the reason, unless you can plan to set aside at least a dozen hours a week strictly for running – as well as added time for stretching, icing, rolling and whatever else you need – you might be training for an injury rather than a race!

4. You have been injured running before: if you know anyone who has been injured in the past, you know that once your body is weakened in a certain spot it is more likely to get re-injured in that same spot. The saying I heard ages ago “bad breath can be cured with a Tic-Tac, bad knees are for life” comes to mind.

Also, unless you have experience or a coach or fitness partners it can be nearly impossible to find that line between GOOD pushing and BAD pushing. Another old saying “turn the screw until it snaps, then back off a half-turn” … translates pretty much into ‘keep pushing until you have a stress fracture … then back off’.

5. Your primary goal for running is weight loss: sure you MIGHT lose weight training for a marathon – but really only if you are very much overweight. The reality is that once you are close to your ‘correct’ weight (whatever THAT is) you are at least as likely to GAIN weight as to lose it. And for many … that is a total cause to freak out!

6. It will deplete your immune system: regular exercise helps keep you healthy. But like a few other things on this list, once you go past the 10 or so mile point and particularly up to the 20+ mile level for marathons, you are depleting your immune system. THIS is why rest and recovery are so important … and why with a busy non-marathon schedule it is so easy to end up sick and subsequently injured.

7. Your REAL goal is to go faster or do shorter distances: we have been sold on believing that races are progressive – a 10K is ‘better’ than 5K, half-marathon is more ‘real’ than 10K … and marathon is the pinnacle (ultras are just for crazy people 🙂 ). News Flash: It is NONSENSE! No race or distance is ‘better’ than the others – they are all different. What you need for each one is different and as we are all different people some of us will excel at shorter, faster races while others can plod along forever.

8. Because everyone else is doing it: good old peer pressure! I’ve known people who have done some running even though it wasn’t their thing, just because someone else was – one even tried to train for a race because they are very competitive with their significant other! Marathon training is a significant commitment that should really be internally motivated.

9. You Just Want to BQ!: this might seem weird, but I have heard and read about people who really weren’t runners but who were motivated to try to push for a marathon based solely on the Boston Marathon … and this goes all the way back to the 80s! The problem is that with THAT as a singular goal, unless you have significant natural running skill, you are likely in for a much longer and harder path than you imagined. And if you tick off any of the OTHER items on the list … maybe you should start with a 5K or 10K and see if you catch the ‘running bug’.

10. Your Heart isn’t healthy enough: we all know that exercise is good for your cardio-vascular system. But we have also learned that distance running such as marathons can damage your heart a little bit, especially if you have not put in the time to build up your fitness level. It is another good reason to know your risk factors and get yourself checked out before embarking on something like marathon training.

OK, so given that I do at least one run longer than a half-marathon most weeks all year long, and this summer seemed to have a 20+ miler at least every other week … I might sound like a hypocrite. But here’s the thing – I LOVE running, and for me running and marathoning have been some of the greatest things in my life. Running has been a constant companion for nearly 26 years, and I hope to still be running in another 26 years!

But perhaps the BIGGEST reason why not everyone should run a marathon is that they haven’t considered the impact that marathon training can have on their lives and relationships.

Understanding The Context of Your Running – It is NOT All About You!

Last May I posted about ‘Helping Your Non-Running Family Understand’ … and the swift, strong and negative reaction from non-runners in my real and virtual life led to me posting ‘The Other Side of the Finish Line’. The bottom line is this – these things are never so simple as they seem, and individual activities really don’t exist for anyone with attachments and responsibilities outside of themselves (which is pretty much everyone to varying degrees … and those with significant others and kids even more so).

There is a term used mostly jokingly called a ‘running widow’, basically talking about the impact of long training seasons on pretty much everything else in life. It wasn’t something I was really aware of for most of my life … until last year. During 2012 I was losing weight, on a great pursuit of getting fit and healthy and eventually running a marathon. Lisa was the most supportive person in the world, but worried about my restricted eating and constantly told me to ‘not do something stupid’. That is because she is smart – I WAS being stupid.

But in 2013 I was traveling a lot for work to Kentucky (pretty Mon-Fri much every week for 6 months), and also ran two marathons and a half marathon. It was a bit much, really – but again, my family was there for me every step of the way. But another thing I did in 2013 was to start taking rest days whenever Lisa and I both had a day off. And into this year Lisa would still feel odd when her schedule changed and we’d be together and it was obvious I had planned a long run – and to be fair it took me some time to let go of all of that – and talking it through with her (surprise – it all comes back to fear of getting fat again!).

Last year I also came across a couple of blog posts about the potential for training (running, triathlon, etc) to ruin your relationship, here and here. There was also an article in the Wall Street Journal back in 2011 on the subject.

I had thought about this more than a few times this year as I was reading about training, and also when I felt pressure that I HAD to go out for a run, or comments from friends or family or the boys. I am definitely fortunate to have moderating forces in my life to ‘keep me real’. Not that I am saying I see too much ‘not real’ on the internet … well, I guess I actually am.

A couple of other links to ‘running widow’ posts I’ve stashed in a couple of drafts over the last year or so (I’ve told you guys I am a ‘draft junkie’!) – The Running Widow, Losing a Spouse to His Hobby, The Non-Running Spouse, Confessions of a Running Widow, It’s Me or the London Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon Leads to Divorce … and OH so many more! Here are a few quotes:

… He was taking this running far more serious than I ever wanted to and at that moment, I remember looking at him and saying “I am done running with you. You just sucked all of the fun out of this.” And that is the day when I became a “running widow”.

It’s a common affliction, being a widow to a spouse’s hobby. My father was a golf fanatic and as a result, my mother was a golf widow, and I grew up a golf orphan. …

… These people, they are driven. You don’t try to shape the experience. You just accept them and support them and get out of their way, because they’re going to run. They’ll find the hour. They’ll work it in however they have to. You can stay in bed.

So if you read on and are nodding in agreement or perhaps sympathy then the chances are, you too are a Running Widow. And a Running Widow knows that the support doesn’t start and end on race day, but somehow (and none of us can exactly pin point when it happened) you turned into a one woman cheer squad/ exercise nutrition expert/cook/chauffeur/masseuse and nurse.

Now don’t get me wrong, you may like running. Indeed I am quite partial to jog along the beach on a sunny morning, and have even been known to take part in City2Surf, voluntarily. But a Running Widow knows another world of running. It isn’t a charity fun run, or just a way of keeping fit, it’s a world with words like Hoka, Garmin, S-Labs, Kilian, Skins and Glide, and where the North Face isn’t just somewhere you shop for a ski jacket. …

… Sporting widowhood spans all disciplines, from golf to football, but marathon running is by far the most all-consuming. It seems that jogging 30 to 55 miles a week is fundamentally incompatible with socialising, dating and basic conversation – unless, of course, it’s to do with the marathon. And I’m not the only one who’s struggling to cope. …

… Marriages across this great nation are being torn asunder due to excessive exercise.

Experts are calling it “exercise divorce.” The out-of-shape partner left on the sidelines calls it irreconcilable differences with someone devoted first and foremost to a great set of calves and the daily endorphine rush. …

Nicole wrote a great post (that referenced a great post from Michele that I couldn’t find anymore) called “Does life get in the way of running? Or running in the way of life?” … and it fully addresses the reality of the challenges of trying to have a full life AND be fully engaged with marathon training. Spoiler alert: it is NOT easy!

And that is OK – and the struggle those ladies express is natural and felt by many people trying to juggle too much and adding yet another demanding activity to the pile. THAT is not the problem … the problem is when you DON’T ask yourself that question … when you start saying “I have a long run, guess missing that dance recital is OK”, and of course your kids will say ‘sure, it is fine’. And then it gets easier … and easier … and suddenly you are easily missing birthdays, anniversaries, school events – and pretty much deserting your life FOR A HOBBY.

Am I making too big a deal of this? Probably – we are all a product of our likes and interests, and in a relationship we have interests that overlap, those that conflict and still others that are separate. But there is a significant difference between a 5K and a marathon in terms of the scope and time and length of training investment. If you are not in it together … then it is something that is between you. That doesn’t mean it is – it is just something you need to deal with, otherwise it can become a serious issue as noted in many places around the internet.

Just as divorce and breakups and other problems can lead someone to pursue a marathon … so too can the pursuit of a marathon lead to problems in relationships that you weren’t expecting.

What are YOUR thoughts on all of this?

Video Games – A Winner, and Another Freebie!

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Well, last week I posted offering a free copy of The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings – and today I am announcing a winner!

I had to REALLY dig deep for this one … joking, there was only one person who commented, so Darlin’ Rae wins! Yay! 🙂 I have sent an email with the code. I really enjoy her site, she just got married and her posts are loads of fun – check it out!

While I am at it I have ANOTHER freebie! Age of Wonders, a classic 1999 turn-based strategy game! Here is the description:

Welcome to Age of Wonders, the authentic turn-based fantasy strategy classic that started the hit series. Age of Wonders’ intimate atmosphere with painterly graphics still shines today. The game’s fully patched up, start building your fantasy empire today!

The Age of Wonders, once a time of magic and peace. An age swept into the ravaging gale of chaos by the arrival of a single, uninvited race: the Humans. The fragile balance that existed between the ancient races, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and others, has changed into a struggle for power and survival in the wake of the turmoil the Humans have brought to the land. Prepare for a strategy adventure where you will uncover wondrous ancient artifacts, awesome magical power, and the secrets of a shattered empire. Ally with the forces of light or darkness to determine the fate of the world in the Age of Wonders!

* Age of Wonders is a turn-based game combining the best elements of strategy, adventure and role-playing.
* Forge strategic alliances with compatible races to leverage each race’s unique skills and abilities.
* Experience captivating single player campaign playable from the light and dark side.
* Play multi-player games against your friends through hotseat play, play-by-email, or over LAN or the Internet. The latter two modes feature an additional game play mode of simultaneous turns for a fast game pace.
12 unique fantasy races, over 50 different heroes with upgradable abilities, dozens of spells and scores of locations to explore
Employ strategic and tactical skills to command troops in capturing vital locations and defeating enemies
Battle your way through vast open lands, breach the outer wall in city sieges and explore deadly dungeons

The rules? You comment, you’re entered. I’ll select a winner on Friday the 12th.

Creationism? Evolution? Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) Has Another Idea!

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At this time of the year there seems to be as much discord – over shopping, rampant commercialism, the ‘war on Christmas’, whatever else – as there is ‘peace and love’ that the holidays celebrated would suggest.

So instead … how about something howlingly funny?

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I am an unabashed fan of ‘The Oatmeal’, and recently he was doing a keynote talk at BAHFest (FESTIVAL of BAD AD HOC HYPOTHESES) which has been released on Youtube and gotten a ton of views. It is about his view of the universe, and his deity that he calls Jibbers Crabst … for the rest, just watch and listen (oh, and watch the sign language interpreter as well!)

Note: everything about this is disrespectful and irreverent towards organized religion, but is meant purely as humor. If you cannot find humor in such things, I suggest you skip the video. Also, rampant profanity.

Selfless Elf 5K Race Summary! 22:48 total, 7:21/mile, 7 Minute PR!

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While I was all ready to have a faceless 2014, an opportunity came up to run an inaugural 5K charity race that Lisa had heard about. She had hoped we both could do it, but her work schedule wouldn’t allow for it … so I signed up on my own!

Downtown Corning holds a Sparkle festival each year as the culmination of a week of holiday events starting with the tree lighting at the Centerway. This year they added a 5K, sponsored by Wegman’s and benefitting the Food Bank of the Southern Tier (our local food pantry). And when Wegman’s ‘sponsored it’, it wasn’t just the usual ‘throw a few dollars’ at it … they paid for everything so that all money collected went to the charity!

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Aside from registering for the race which also got you a shirt and socks, they were selling elf ears and jingle bracelets with all of THAT money going to charity – so we bought two each. Above is a picture of all my gear laid out – and Lisa wore her ears and bracelet to work. This is what I looked like all decked out to go:

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For a bit of history, I have run THREE 5K races, all in 2012:
– My first was a 32:02 … but a HUGE personal victory!
– My second was two weeks later and 29.46, which stands as my PR
– My third was two more weeks later, and it was over 90F, and I still broke 30 minutes with 29:51

I have expressed my ‘fear’ of the 5K – it is more of a sprint than an endurance challenge. I was all nerves getting ready to go. But in my head I had three goals:
C goal: beat my PR
B goal: break 25 minutes
A goal: hit 8 minute/mile average
A+ goal: while breaking 8min/mile, why not break 24 minutes?!?

Honestly if I broke 25 minutes I would have been ecstatic – everything else was ‘gravy’. Also honestly, if I did NOT break 25 minutes I’d have been disappointed … which was definitely part of my fear.

The race start was at the Corning High School stadium, but finished in downtown Corning at the Centerway. So I parked over in the garage by the finish (brought my badge because it is normally restricted access) and walked back over the bridge. Since we’d been to that stadium many times (marching band competitions, also for the GlassFest 5 miler) – I assumed things would be open so I could use the rest room before the start. Nope. Ugh – fortunately it wasn’t urgent!

Here is a picture I took waiting at the start – I didn’t notice at the time, but the guy in the sweatshirt moved right in front as I gook the shot … there was a guy dressed like ‘Buddy the Elf’ from the movie Elf that I was trying to get in the frame.

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I lined up a bit back from the start – I didn’t want to be TOO far back, but also wanted to let the ‘speedy elves’, as the announcer called them, go out first. I did a selfie to show how the crowd was starting to assemble. There ended up being more than 750 people registered – they accepted registrations for 750 and let people pay $20 at the race to join in with a tag.

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Here is the course map:

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It was a bit of a weird course, and totally depended on the volunteers! You might notice that the course took us to the same intersections more than once – which gets confusing unless you have someone directing you! Fortunately there were volunteers all over the course!

I went out strong, wearing my Garmin to help keep track of my pace and make sure I didn’t lag at all. I was asking people fairly consistently, and for the first quarter mile or so had the usual congestion – but people were actually pretty good about lining up according to their intended run/walk status. The biggest issue for me were the groups who were several across and not really pushing the pace – or getting out of the way!

While I knew I was doing more than a casual pace, it also wasn’t a hard pace – I wasn’t sprinting, and it felt like a pretty sustainable pace. When I heard the first mile go off I was a bit surprised – I thought I’d gone further and just missed the chime. I definitely slowed a bit then, but kicked myself in the butt and got moving again.

There were a bunch of times I wish I had more pictures – the outfits were great! I was just past the two mile mark when a couple of really young kids blew by me – it is just always awesome for me to see kids who aren’t even teenagers running so gracefully and effortlessly, chatting as they went.

I was worried about doing the underpass and heading over the bridge if I would sustain things – but I did! As I was crossing the pedestrian bridge I passed someone who looked familiar … who then just edged me at the finish. You can see his name listed above mine on the results below – it ended up being the boys middle school history teacher (and advisor for some activities and all around great guy). We chatted for a bit and it was nice to catch up on kids and life.

I grabbed a picture of the finish time board – I had no idea how quickly they would get things online (answer was very quickly!) The placement had no meaning at that point as it had to do with how many were finished when they printed.

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When I approached the finish line the ‘minute’ numbers were obscured, so I had no clue on my time until I was within about 10 meters of the finish. When I saw 22 minutes? I couldn’t believe it! I was going to easily break 23 minutes … who WAS this guy running this race? A 7:21 pace? I NEVER do that! That is a *7* Minute PR!

I came in #77 out of 692 recorded finishers (they had to close the course at 5PM to kick off Sparkle), 49th man, 11th in my age group (the winner was in my age group as well!).

I am terribly proud of myself – no humble-brag here, I have cut 3 minutes per mile off my first 5K pace, and my per mile pace is about 50% lower than what I first recorded back in April 2012 (my first GPS run ever). I couldn’t be happier – and I have gotten some amazing comments on Facebook and Instagram from all of my awesome friends!

It is also a reminder that to paraphrase Tip O’Neill “all achievements are personal”.