Sunday, June 30, 2013

1001 Miles

Today, I posted on Facebook that I had run 1001 miles in the first six months of the year.  Interesting fact.  The most I have ever run in six months.  And definitely more than a friend who I think of as being the "master of long distances who does not make a habit of ultras."

But what does 1001 miles really mean?

In this six months, it has meant a lot of running alone.  My primary long distance training partner had a stress fracture in the femur.  I've switched from running with Back on My Feet very frequently to more miles alone.  With respect to the former, I did find other training partners to do many (but not all) the long miles with.  With respect to the latter, the drive time to get to Back on My Feet is taxing and sometimes I could not get out of the house early enough with the demands of my new position at Johns Hopkins.  What will I do in the future?  I am not sure.  The running alone is not so bad for day to day runs of 6-8 miles when I just want an entire workout to be done in an hour.  The company of fellow runners is especially helpful on the track (I think I ended up with only one track workout alone) and on the long runs.  And even with the long runs sometimes it is nice just to have time to myself to think.  Still, I got back into running as a social thing in 2010, and I definitely don't want to lose that aspect of what I do.  I'll have to sort this one out over time.  And find a way to stay in touch with Back on My Feet at least a little.

If I ran the miles at an average page of 8 minutes, that would be over 133 hours of running.  Add to that travel time when I do run with others.  Stretching, etc.  And you easily get up to a week.  Or almost 4% of my time.  That is a lot.  Yes, it is part of my identity.  But, maybe it should not be such a large part of my identity.  I'll have to think of how large a role running should play in my life moving ahead.

And, on top of that, we have the fact that I could move away from running in my fitness.  An average of almost 6 miles per day every day is a lot.  I've run six straight days each of the last two weeks.  Granted, never achieving total weekly mileage much above 40 since Boston, but still running on many days.  I am not doing much strength or other cardio and am definitely putting myself at risk of repetition motion type of injury.  I may have to come to grips with the fact that to continue to do what I love I have to mix in a few other things sometimes.

If I replace running with other fitness, then fitness as a whole will still take up the same amount of time or more because when I do other fitness, I can't just roll out of bed and do it.  I have to go to a gym in most cases.  So, as I move ahead the question becomes how does fitness fit in my life and how does running fit into fitness.

And how do I involve my kids?

All what types of goals will I set if I don't have running goals?  I am someone driven by goals, after all?  Would they be musical goals?  Would they be spiritual goals?  Would they be job-related goals  Would they be entrepreneurial goals?  Would they be household goals?  Would they be family goals?

If I give away too much running here will be a void.  If I give away running, I better find something interesting and productive and positive with which to fill the void that will emerge.

I'm sure I can find things.

Noticing how much running I have been doing, really does bring to the forefront the need to seriously assess what comes next.

It is interesting that there are many cases in which achievement forces reconsideration as I assess what that achievement required.  I don't regret decisions made.  But I am not stuck, and I can change priorities moving ahead if different priorities would lead to more meaningful outcomes.  All this running has made a difference in my world and my journey. There may be many other things that can change and be changed for the better in the worlds of those around me if I pull back at least a bit for the coming six months.

When I total up my miles six months from now, it will be interesting to make an inference about whether I can line up my actions with my ponderings when it comes to new ideas about running and priorities in my life.

And, at today's mass, which did not even feature Father Sam but did feature the new deacon at our church, what was the homily about?  Priorities as demonstrated in 1 Kings and Luke.  Once again, my worlds wrap around each other in so many interesting ways.   

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Connecting Dots for Others

I haven't blogged much since I completed my series of post-Boston Marathon essays.  I did mention my 21st wedding anniversary.

This week I have found myself helping someone else to connect dots and thinking about what it means professionally.  I like to relate the ideas of connecting dots and building bridges.  I think they have the same basic motivating thought process.  Two things need to be joined.  I like to think conceptually about how to bring the things that needs to be joined together.  As I have commented to a few people at work, I have a fine time building bridges.  My next professional challenge is to keep the traffic moving once I have the bridge built.  Building the bridge and thinking that the "traffic" will continue to go on its own has not been a working professional strategy for me in the past.  I have learned that I cannot simply expect the "traffic" to go.  I have to manage the traffic even once the bridge is built.  It is symbolic of follow-up and continued nurturing that I will do in my professional life.

So, getting back to the dots I was helping someone else to connect, a friend mentioned an idea they had about a tattoo.  (And, no, I was neither providing the dots for the tattoo ink nor planning to connect them.  I will leave that to my tattoo artist if this person eventually does get a tattoo and eventually chooses the same artist I chose.)  Instead, I just added to the person's thinking by helping to brainstorm a bit about interesting expansions of this person's idea.

However, for the first time in the year since I got the background for my tattoo inked, I also cautioned my friend.  This person had mentioned some problems with a personal relationship.  Given the permanence of a tattoo, I warned the person not to get the tattoo until there is some healing.  When a person has a wounded soul may not be a good time to make decisions that are so permanent.  I related to my friend a number of things I've heard about tattoos.  One--that as a mature adult it is good to ponder the idea for a year.  Two--that getting a tattoo--even if it is very discrete--is a permanent change that makes you part of a culture that not everyone favors.  So think hard.  The friend said they (I know it is not correct English but I am cautiously protecting the friend's identity) would wait.

What I will encourage this friend to do, however, is to find a way to tell the story they want to tell.  Getting a tattoo in post-young adult life always seems to be associated with wanting a permanent record of a story that is critical to tell.  So, tell the story.  Write about it.  If willing--put it in a blog.  If not--just journal.  Sketch it.  Sing it.  Play it.  Share it.  Find a way to let the story out.  And if the story is meaningful enough and is still with you when the dust clears and you still want to have the story near you all the time, then a tattoo may be the right form of expression.  But only if you need the story there all the time.  Otherwise, send the story into the world, let it go, and move on.

Tattoo as story telling--I think so.  Tattoo as connecting dots in our own lives and meaning--I think so.  Tattoo as art--of course.  The key is just to know when is the time to make it permanent and to think of the role it serves.  Can that role be served some other way or not?  And will getting the tattoo help put the story to rest even as you have it close to you forever?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Celebrating 21 Years!

Today, Sherry and I celebrate 21 years of marriage together.  Some of the years were easier and some were harder.  Some were better than others.  Some were just what I bargained for and others have brought challenges.  The challenges come as Sherry and I face different challenges in our individual lives.  The challenges come as our kids face different challenges.  In this past year we had some new ones--for example, changing relationships for our oldest and behavior issues for our youngest.  But when all is said and done every year has been worth it.  And I would definitely do it again!  The song that was our song at our wedding reception, "Don't Know Much,"  had the refrain, "I don't know much, but I know I love you, and that may be all I need to know."  As true now as it has ever been.  And true throughout the 21 years.