Friday, April 24, 2015

A Racing Meaning Poem

Being in the Presence of the Best

There can be something
That is the best
About every race—
Even if it is not
The time.
Of course,
Usually when runners
Speak of, “the best,”
They mean time.
But if a runner
Runs enough races,
It is impossible
To always
Run faster.
And even with a race
That is planned for months
With meticulously scheduled
Sometimes things don’t work. 
For some races,
I can see it weeks in advance.
Weather was bad.
Workouts were missed.
Life gets in the way.
For other races,
It is clear that morning.
Bad night’s rest.
Something eaten didn’t sit right.
Too hot.
And sometimes it is during the race
That it becomes clear
That it will not be the fastest.
But it doesn’t mean
That there can’t be something
That is the best.
And if I pick out
What I think
Might be best
In advance,
And think about
Being in the presence of the best,
Then the race can still be one
To remember.
Most constant pace—
Even if not the fastest.
Meeting other runners.
Helping someone
Who would otherwise
Be behind me,
By encouraging them
As they run
Alongside me—
Or ahead of me.
Or maybe smiling more.
Or maybe just
Taking the time
To take in the sights
And sounds
And smells
Of the race.
Doing this will ensure
That the race will be
More than just
A few random bytes
With a name, date, and time
In my electronic device.
It will be a story
I can someday share
With my children’s children.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Running's Meaning Now and How it Reflects on Life

Seeing friends who are running Boston tomorrow posting about what it took to get there but feeling that they wont' do as well tomorrow as they did when they qualified, makes me think of the running lessons I've learned in the past week and how they fit into life in general.

Past eight days of running:

Saturday April 11--fantastic intervals on the roads with four easy halves surrounding three hard miles that averaged 6:20 (alone)

Sunday April 12--A progression for the ages averaging 7:15 over 8 miles on the roads (alone)


Tuesday April 14 --tempo with my long time friend and running partner, Lauren, averaging 8:06 over 7 miles downtown

Wednesday--easy 3.1 alone

Thursday--easy 2.1 alone

Friday--easy 5 along

Saturday--10 at 8:02 on relatively flat trail with even longer-time running partner and friend, Joselyn

Today--warm up just short of a mile followed by a 5K in 20:05

A year ago I would have been annoyed not to break 20.  A year ago I trained for three things: breaking 19 in a 5K (which I only ever did on a treadmill), going sub-2:30 in a 20 mile race on Labor Day weekend (which I did by only seconds), and going sub-3:10 in a marathon (which I did by 11 seconds).  The big picture was important but in each season (spring, summer, and fall) the big picture all led to a single day.

With no overarching goals for the year, I don't have a goal that every run is leading up to.  So, I am more truly looking at the bigger picture.  Having two great workouts last weekend--wonderful!  Tight muscles the rest of Sunday and Monday--of course.  Fun 7 miler with a friend who is preparing for a marathon--great to be able to provide support.  Three easy days--just what I needed.  Crazy to run a 10 miler (even at a pace a minute per mile slower than my best) the day before a 5K, probably.  But I enjoyed the run with my friend and got to share something I'd baked.  The fact that the 20:05 was a little slower than hoped for?  Not a problem.  The course included grass and multiple hills.  I got to see family.  I got to see an old colleague.  And I still placed in a way that got me an award.  So, the one race didn't yield exactly the time I would've liked (sub-20) but the sum total of my running for the last eight days can't be beat.

And the sum total of my life this weekend was just amazing.  Baking on Saturday morning before the run on Saturday.  The run.  Taking my 15 year old to the zoo for volunteering.  A stop at Dunkin Donuts.  A stop at Whole Foods.  Coming home, cleaning up, and cooking the bacon from Whole Foods as well as chopping the tomato and onion I'd bought.  Going to my son's lacrosse game.  Coming home and making lunch sandwiches of bagels, salmon, bacon, tomato, onion, and cream cheese.  Going to the JHU lacrosse game.  Picking up the son at the zoo.  Coming home and having a dinner that included steak, some of the cornbread I'd baked, and a tomato salad with balsamic vinegar.  Then going to see an inter-art production at the Baltimore School for the Arts.  Home.  Sleep.  Going to the 5K.  Coming home and taking the youngest to ice hockey try outs or the fall.  Coming home and showering.  Fixing lunch and taking my middle one to boy choir.  Groceries and a compliment for my tattoo.  A quick catnap.  Then on to the boy choir concert.  One of the best ever.  Joshua had a great solo in Ride the Chariot.   The whole concert choir did a wonderful job in Give Me Jesus--not used to hearing it in boy choir (hear it in church) but loved the arrangement.  Reminder that if I base everyone on what I believe (love of others is a guiding principle) then the rest will fall into place.  Then two more.  Three great handbell songs.  Really enjoyed Fantasy on Hyfrydol.  The young men's choir (which my son does not sing in) did four wonderful songs and I got chills up my spine as they sang "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from Les Mis.  What a great song for older boys--singing about looking forward to freedom.  The closing songs from the combined choirs were cool.  I'm hoping that one day they bring back "Never Failed Me Yet."

Then, dropped off son at youth group at church. Came home to pizza that had been completed by my 10 year old.  I started the dough.  He did everything else including making an Old Bay crust.

What a fantastic weekend of time with kids, time watching kids, time with Sherry, time baking, time making meals, and time running.  The key is always to look at the whole and to appreciate the amazing whole that I have.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Still Raw

When the nearly inevitable guilty verdict in the Boston Marathon bombing case came down last week, I posted on Facebook that I thought I had finally achieved a greater sense of closure.

Then, this morning when I was listening to the news on NPR at 6:20 AM, I heard a familiar voice who is both a colleague and an NPR reader.  She led in with one year ago today before proceeding to discuss the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing from two years ago.

I realized at the moment just how raw my feelings still were.

I shouted at the radio "What the F***?!?"  Regardless of who the reader was I could not believe that a trusted news source would incorrectly write the script indicating the wrong anniversary of the bombing.

Then, I wondered.  Could I have heard it wrong?  Could I have misperceived what was said?  After all, I hadn't been listening all that closely to the news.

Then I stopped and concentrated on driving rather than on the news or on my hurt feelings.  It was an easy couple of minutes to the grocery store and I calmed down.

But I had one clear realization.  My 26 healing essays of two years ago.  The many miles I had put in immediately after the Boston Marathon including a crazy number in the first week of the marathon.  The 2222.2 miles last year.  The best marathon I'd ever run.  And a winter and spring of running with three close friends, especially one getting ready for her own spring marathon, had not cleared my mind of the event.

It was a reminder of why, in addition to the unusual 10 AM starting time, I didn't need or even really want to go back to the Boston Marathon again.  Despite many great friends who run it multiple years in a row,  Despite the excitement.  I don't need that stress.

I should probably not even listen to anything having to do with sentencing.

At this point, I just need to move past.

But no matter how close to forever moving past I thought I was--this morning I quickly realized I wasn't.

How odd.  And how unexpected.