We learn humility through accepting humiliations cheerfully.” ~ Mother Teresa

Walter, Attila and Me 1

Well, Friends, the Cape Cod Half Marathon is in the books and good news, you guys!  I finished it.  I didn’t even have to get on the sweep up bus for those who just can’t make the minimum course time. W-I-N!

My training for this event was sub par, even by my own low standards.  That’s not an excuse.  That’s a fact. I knew that this would be hard and I was right.

Walter and I got up at Zero-Dark-Thirty to drive to the Cape.  For some insane reason, Walter’s girlfriend (Cynthia?) and my niece decided to come cheer us on.  We met up with Attila near the start and began our pre-race routines.  The slowest rendition of the National Anthem in the history of the Republic was sung.   The horn sounded and the field of about 1,200 runners set out.

Walter, Attila and I hung towards the back of the pack. That was our “strategy.”  Attila ran the Chicago Marathon the week before and she wanted to hang back with me.  Walter, whose own training was a bit wanting, also decided to hang back.  It began beautifully.  We ran around the Cape and could see Martha’s Vineyard in the distance. It was cool and breezy, but not really cold and the skies were clear. Really it was a beautiful day for running.

At about the 5 mile point Walter decided to pick up the pace a bit.  Being only half crazy, I decided to keep my plodding pace.  Attila stayed with me.  She said she was a little sore from the marathon, but I knew she was just making sure that she could report back to Walter if I ended up on a Life Flight to Mass Gen.

I figure we were at about the 7-mile marker – Attila and I were running in a little bit of a pack, enjoying the view and our conversation.  One of the spectators who lined the route yelled, “Way to go ladies! . . . . and man!”  Nice. . .

We were at about the 8-mile point when a spectator encouraged us by revealing something that I hadn’t known.  He smiled and said, “Have fun in the hills!” Hills?  No one said anything to me about hills. What the hell? This is Cape F*#$ing Cod!  It’s supposed to be flat!

But, there were, in fact, hills – plural.  Even though I currently am a denizen of the city where three rivers merge, I hadn’t trained for hills.

I handled the first hill or two alright, but on the third hill I had to walk a bit and that is when IT happened.  Phil passed me.  Phil was an elderly speed walker.  By elderly, I mean maybe late 60’s, early 70’s.  I know his name was Phil because of his mantra. Phil was “walking” the tangents, so his course up the hill took him directly in front of me as he cut diagonally across the road, nearly stepping on my foot.  As he passed I could hear him repeat, “You’re strong, Phil.  You’re strong, Phil,” or some such crap.

I resolved that I wouldn’t be defeated by a speed walker in a half marathon.  THAT COULD NOT HAPPEN.

It happened.  I got defeated by an elderly race-walker in a half marathon.  No joke.  Phil WAS strong.  He also had really, really long legs.  He was a giant, really.  Imagine you are Jack-in-the-Beanstock running from the Giant – – – that’s how much ground Phil was covering in a single stride compared to me.  Again, no excuses, just facts.

It was my second worst Half Marathon finish.  Only the debacle of 2011 where I ran on an injured hip was worse.  It was also the hardest race of my life, I think.  Harder than the Marine Corps Marathon.

I finished.  I was able to spend a fantastic morning with Walter and Attila and some quality time with Walter’s girlfriend and my niece.  I’d never seen the Cape before.  And, I stayed off the short bus designed for “special” runners like me.

Yeah, I’m a pathetic runner and I got beat by someone who WALKED the whole damn thing.  But, I had fun and my humiliation wasn’t enough to make me quit.  I’m looking for my next race. Any suggestions?

Until next time, PR

Cape Code Half Medal 2

Introducing – “The Best Of” Series

As you may know, this blog originated because of a series of email that I sent over a nearly three year period. Although exceptionally silly, these email were intended to encourage my colleagues to join me in my runs. Today, I introduce the first of some of those email. This email from August 22, 2011, contains the first reference that I can find to my “pathetic” running abilities.

“I may be fat, but I’m slow.” ~ a T-Shirt I saw

Colleagues,

What an awesome week of running last week. It’s been awhile since my last update, so here’s the gouge to catch you up – On Wednesday XO, LN1 “Afterburner” Burks and I went for a 4 mile run. That 4 miles actually turned out to be 4.25 (those fractions really add up when you total your weekly mileage). I don’t know if this was Afterburner’s first run since having undergone that little incident – you remember . . . childbirth??? I tend to think it was not her first run since then because, if it was, I’m really either pathetically out of shape or she is a prior Olympian!

I was on leave on Thursday and Friday. But on Friday, I went for a little jog with XO, CDR O, Too-Fast
and M Squared.

Too-Fast lived up to his name and reputation. He took off like someone was chasing him, made the turn around, and greeted us on his way back about the time I made it through the turn style leading off base. The rest of us kind of plodded along together, but I’m pretty sure that M2 was just being kind by throttling back (or maybe she was actually interested in my theory that Han Solo and Jabba the Hut were actually brothers who were separated at birth). I don’t know if anyone else was interested in my theory but I so lost track of time that we actually ran 8.75 miles! (See how those fractions add up?)

Today I plan on an easy 3-miler around base. Before you get all, “what a wimp!” on me – my goal for this week is 20 miles. Today is just to warm up the sore muscles from Friday and enjoy the day. I’ll be under my tree at 1115. Here is the route http://www.mapitnow.com/? maproute=38859

I really hope you can join me.

“I Think I’m in Trouble” ~ Lindsey Buckingham

The PR is in trouble – his half marathon is two weeks away and he’s run precisely twice since his last post [I thought it might be fun to refer to myself in the third person like the cool kids on TV do].  He’s surely got trouble!  Right here in (three) River(s) City!  [Nope, it’s not all that fun.  It’s actually rather tiresome].

I’d already ran four halfs by this time last year.  This year I have precisely ZERO under my belt.  None.  A big Goose Egg.  Plus, my training has fallen off a cliff.

I have a boatload of excuses.  New job.  New town.  New life.  New house.  Big hills.  Rain.  Wind.  Government Shut Down.  Pretty Little Liars retrospective on TV.  Unusual lunar events.   Alien assassination attempts.  Zombies. . . Yak. Yak. Yak. Yabadabadoo.  It doesn’t matter:  the bottom line is that I’m running 13.1 miles in two weeks and I’m not ready.

Two years ago I ran a half marathon when my hip was hurting pretty badly.  It was the race where I was nearly beaten by an 89-year-old man who looked like he was recovering from a debilitating stroke (true story AND I can prove it for any doubters out there.  It’s 100 % true).  I don’t remember how pathetic my time was that day, but I seem to remember that it was in the neighborhood of an embarrassing 2:40.  I’m currently healthy and not in pain.  I’m just old, fat and lazy. . . this race could be even worse.  Potentially must worse.

Walter and Attila have registered for this race and they are expecting me to show up.  And, show up I SHALL!  I ran 5 miles last weekend (nearly killed me).  I followed that with an 8 mile run on Monday and 4 mile run today.  The plan is 4 more on Friday and a 10 mile run some time this weekend.  Then, a DRAMATIC taper the following week.  I will show up.  I will finish, but I won’t promise that my pathetic pace will be sufficient to keep me off the short bus for the stragglers who can’t maintain the minimum pace.

Wish me luck.  I’ll check in afterwards and regale you with stories of my heroic effort and legendary failure.

Till next time, PR

“Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.” ~ Walter Sobchak

Blogging is hard. It’s probably not a great idea if I do it at work (at least during my probationary period).  If I do it when I get home, I don’t have time to  watch four straight hours of “Family Guy” on TBS.   A person needs to have priorities and if I can’t do this at work, I just don’t know when I’m going to fit it in.

Still, I have squeezed in a few runs and found a few minutes to provide you with a few highlights.  They weren’t really all that great, but there is a common theme running through them all.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure what that is, so I’ll leave it to you to discover it.  In my mind it’s either “The Native Population is Extraordinarily Nice and Helpful” or “Stepford – They’re In On it!”  I’ll lay out the facts and you decide – or leave a comment with your thematic suggestion.

About a week ago I went for a leisurely 4-miler in a park near my palatial estate (apartment complex).  There’s an asphalt path that is adjacent to a fairly busy road.  It begins at one end of the park and goes for two miles to the end of the park.  There’s a large guard rail that separates the street from the path.  The path is always full of people – joggers, walkers, children holding hands and chasing butterflies – you know what I’m talking about.  It’s lovely.   If it weren’t for its proximity to a fairly busy street it would be perfect.  So – I was at about the 1.75 mile point when I saw a man ahead of me standing on the other side of the guard rail, in the street.  He was dressed like a runner.  He was facing in my direction and waving with both arms above his head.  I didn’t pay him too much attention.  I figured that he was signaling to a friend that he was meeting for a run in the park.  As the distance between us closed, his gestures became more frantic, as though the person he was meeting hadn’t seen him yet.  At the point where I was about 10 yards away from him I noticed that he had assumed the pose of an umpire at home plate and he was pointing at ME with both arms straight out in front of his face and he was yelling, “STOP!!!”  I still figured that it was a mistake.  I thought he had either mistaken me for someone else or he was really quite rude.  I stopped and looked at him quizzically.  He looked back at me with a mixture of frustration and incredulity and excitedly said, “There’s a rabid raccoon RIGHT THERE,” pointing at a dark shape huddled against the guard rail on the side closet to me.  I looked at the creature and I have to say, it didn’t look much like a raccoon to me.  It could’ve been the shadows playing tricks on me, but I thought it was brown and full of angry, sharp teeth – you know – a woodchuck sorta thing. . .  I didn’t investigate it any further.  I thanked the Samaritan, crossed the street and continued running the last quarter-mile to my turn around spot, all the while considering how that crazy woodchuck from the banks of Lake Michigan crossed the 500 miles between here and there, located me, and set up a clever ambush.  I began to wonder if the Samaritan’s role in all of this was to lure me in for a closer look so that the crazy bastard could launch its attack.  I hit the turn around and started back, resolved to stop and investigate more fully.  I wasn’t afraid of that woodchuck.  I’d already snap kicked him into a tree during our first encounter and if that man was as crazy as that woodchuck, well, I’d snap kick him too.  Oddly, by the time I got back the racoon/woodchuck and the man were both GONE.  OK – I’m a self-confessed pathetic runner, but, I’d only covered a half mile, at most.  In that span of time both the “rabid” creature and the Good Samaritan had mysteriously vanished!  I did notice a red streak on the asphalt about 2 feet wide that continued into the underbrush off of the trail, but again, it could have been the shadows . . . I’m sure that woodchuck wasn’t strong enough to have severed that man’s femoral artery and drag him into the brush.  I’m pretty sure . . .

This past Sunday I decided to go for a run, but figured a change of venue might be wise.  (One of the best ways to thwart an attacker is to change your routine!)  I didn’t go back to the park.  Instead, I went to a nature trail a mile or so away from the apartment.  It’s a beautiful trail that follows a creek bottom (so there aren’t a lot of hills).  The trail is made of crushed asphalt and limestone and is lined with trees that are particularly beautiful this time of year.  The maple, elm and oak trees are turning and the leaves were just beginning to drop.  It’s a popular place for runners, walkers, bicyclists, and nature lovers of all ages – a very idyllic scene.  Anyway – – – I set out on a “long” run.  I had just started – maybe two miles into it when I saw a man (a different man) walking on the path by towards me.  He held up his hand and this time I knew he wanted to talk to me.  I stopped and he said, “Just so you know, there’s a big snake on the trail just ahead.”  Hmmm. . . this is weird . . . I’ve never been stalked by a snake before.  “Oh, that’s great.  I hate snakes,” I replied.  He agreed and told me that he turned around rather than continue down the path because the snake was sprawled out in the middle of the path, effectively blocking it off.  I thanked him for the warning, but continued on because, hey, it’s a snake.  I ran a short distance and rounded the bend and there it was.  Only this wasn’t an ordinary snake.  Right now you should be thinking “Chamber of Secrets” type-of-snake.  It was much more like a basilisk than a snake.  I stopped and eyed the creature.  It wasn’t moving at all and, in fact, appeared to be dead.  I kicked some dirt at it and then picked up a rock and threw it and it didn’t move a muscle.  I speak Parcel, so I yelled a few insulting words at it in Parcel and approached slowly.  Still, no movement.  I carefully walked around the tail end of it (on the opposite side of all of the teeth, venom and hell-fire colored eyes).  Figuring that this particular basilisk breathed no more, I resumed my run.  I reached a turn around on the path about 5 minutes later and headed back in the direction of the beast.  As I rounded the corner I could see that it was gone.  There was no one else on the path but me (and the snake) and the snake was simply gone.  I continued on my run considering the implications of these curious events.  The basilisk was obviously not dead.  I suspect that it also had set an ambush to lure me into striking range, but it likely drifted off to dreamland, warmed by the sunlit path.  But what, I wondered, was the role of the man who had warned me.  Another Samaritan?  Or someone who had my psychological profile and knew that I wouldn’t do anything other than get a closer look?  Hmmmm. . . .

I didn’t know for sure until my run yesterday.  I returned to the same path and ran the same route.  I HAD to know whether or not the forces of evil had brought a new enemy to bear.  The deer (ARD’s), the woodchuck, bears and other assorted ploys have all failed.  Maybe “they” were trying something new.  I had to know.  I ran the same route.  More leaves had fallen on to the path since my run on Sunday.  It was a wonderful afternoon.  The sun peeked through the trees casting shadows of light and dark around me.  There didn’t seem to be very many people on the path – I guess they were still at work or in school.  I got into a rhythm and all I could hear was the sound of my breathing and the crunching of the leaves underfoot.  I didn’t see any woodchucks or rabid raccoons or even any basilisks.  In fact, I didn’t notice anything unusual at all . . . at first.  As I ran back past the place where the basilisk had set its trap I could hear something.  If it hadn’t been for the Autumn leaves I wouldn’t have noticed it all.  I could hear leaves crunching underfoot, but the sounds weren’t synchronized with the falling of my feet.  My first reaction was to think that a runner was coming from behind and preparing to pass me (after all, that happens quite frequently).  I glanced over my shoulder to look and noticed movement in the trees about 10 yards off the trail.  There was something out there, running alongside the trail, trying to use the trees for cover, and stalking me.  I’m not too proud to admit that I was afraid – my thoughts passed from a passing runner to a Yeti running a parallel course, preparing to toss me around like a twig.  As I regained my composure and started to think about what I should do, I stole another glance at the tree line.  Now, I couldn’t swear to this in a court of law, but I’m pretty sure I know what I saw . . . it wasn’t a Yeti.  It was a group of PEOPLE.  There appeared to be about 7 or 8 people out there running in single file through the woods keeping a perfect pace with me.  A couple of them were children, about 12 years old or so.  They were running  just on the other side of the tree line in the underbrush, taking care to be a quiet as possible and occasionally glancing my way.  Among the adults I’m certain I saw at least one of the two men who served as a Samaritan during my last several runs.  I yelled at them, really out of shock and fear.  I quickly turned my attention to the path, looking for an escape route.  When I glanced back at my stalkers, they weren’t there.  It was though they’d vanished into thin air (or possibly used a turnkey?).

True story.  I don’t know what’s going on here, but it’s starting to freak me out – just a little bit.  The only thing I know with some level of certainty is that I NEED a running partner.  This kind of thing just doesn’t happen when I run with someone else.  When I run alone, it’s like a scene from American Horror Story.

The Cape Code Half is staring me in the face this month and I’m not ready.  Bonner – who’s running it with me – has been offering helpful and encouraging words to keep me motivated.  He’s so full of life and exudes such positive energy, I’m thinking that his new running moniker should be Walter.  Plus, I really need someone in the group named for a Lebowski character and he just can’t be The Dude (I think that’s more me).

Please leave a comment – let me know what you make of all of this. 

Until next time, PR