Sunday, December 29, 2013

DFL is Still Better than DNF

DFL was a decent band...and the acronym is something I've tried to avoid being since I started racing...Dead F*cking Last.

Today I came close.  And as I did I started pondering what the big deal is. I'm a runner, and not a great one at that, but I'm not a racer, not a podium contender. So what does it matter if I finish last just as long as I finish avoid getting swept. There was a peace that descended, not enough to sooth the shin splint in my right leg, but enough to help me grin in the face of the freezing rain, winds and pain. 

I will finish. Not gonna make the time I want, but so what! I'm having the time I wanted...a good one.  Doing an activity that I enjoy, like most runners constantly question why, but nevertheless out there putting one foot in front of the other...sometimes even next to each other if I've gotten tired enough for the shuffle.

So my first race back is done. I finished. The things I was really worried about, my knee and back, performed well.  Also, I learned that the heart and dedication are still there just have to go get the legs back!

What a great day and I feel lucky to have had it.  And lucky for the friends I made there and even more so lucky for the friends waiting at the finish line.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I once was blind...maybe should've stayed that way

Fair warning: I'm slightly tipsy so sentence structure and niceties may not exist.  Proceed with caution.

My running...I'm a fat kid. No excuses. No pity. Fact.  And I have Asthma. It was much worse when I was younger.  I used to wrestle and during one practice it acted up...I went to the ER and they chest stabbed me with adrenaline.  That was one of two times.  When it gets real hot or cold or humid I'm screwed.  But I'm not bright so I do it anyway.

Well, that mile in high school, I'll never forget it.  The entire class...I mean ENTIRE class cheering me on ie waiting for me to cross the line so we could move on to 5th period history.

So imagine my surprise.  Wait, go back.  My mom is a single mother of two sons and...well a bad man decision maker, but she's Lancaster County true sun down to sun down. Farmer's daughter.  Anything to keep the roof.  So when she worked I developed a relationship with the neighbors.  So much so that after the first 6 years my friends just started calling them the second family.  

Aaand then the second family fell apart.  Divorce.  The second mom started working out like a fiend and I started trying to run with her...and I could. Not fast or long, but my breathing had seemed to subside in my 20's.  She signed up for a 5k I said fuck it, but too late...luck be a lady though her son Kyle, my now brother, didn't want to run it so I took his spot...and thanks to a name mix up I got 2nd in girls 19-24. Still a family any rate that's the start of my running. 

So years down the road and various piss poor 5k's I get married.  My (ex)wife is a founder of the Dutchland Rollers and boyfriends/husbands are called widows due to the amount of time the girls spend on it.  Sooo anyway, I thought distance running would be a good way to fill my time while she was at practice...given the previous paragraphs you should be thinking "idiot you gon' die"! But I took to it.

I signed up for the DE Half Marathon cause I didn't know much except it's close and flat.  I finished, despite nerves and a 1/2" of rain during the first 6 miles. I finished. I teared up. 

And I think I signed up for the Goofy Challenge shortly there after. The Goofy is in Walt Disney World. It's a half 13.1 miles on Sat and a full 26.2 on Sunday 39.3 miles in two days. 

Which leads me back to the title. I just had such blind faith in myself. I knew I wouldn't do well, but I would finish.  That got lost.  Maybe during the hard times of the marriage or the divorce. Whatever. I miss my ahhh fuck it attitude.  I won't win, but I can finish...ANYTHING! 

Gotta get that mindset back cause I have at least one 50k in my 2014 future!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

About Me/A Fun Story

Like many people my parents were divorced.  My dad got me every other weekend and two weeks every Summer.  He was a man that tried, but had many, many flaws.  The one year when I was 7 or 8 he sent me with my aunt during the two weeks we were supposed to spend together.  My aunt, my one cousin and myself drove from PA up to Canada.  We stopped at my aunt's friends house to stay in Vermont or Connecticut or one of those New England states that run together unless you live there.  Well the 2nd or 3rd day we were there I was riding a scooter, tried to do a trick and fell.  I land on the kickstand and it went in my upper thigh.  A scooter kickstand, back in the 80's, looked like a "u" with 3/4" arms at the top and one of those arms went straight in my leg.  It took me a minute to realize what happened, but being a child, when I did I did what any kid would...screamed my head off.  Help, help at a screechy, pre-puberty volume.  Nobody came. So after a few minutes I stood up with the kickstand still in my leg and walked back to the house carrying the scooter (still embedded in my leg) next to me for 4 or 5 blocks.

This is one of my first life lessons that stuck with me.  Ask for help, if it doesn't come you have the strength in you to make it back to where somebody cares.   I still have a "v" shaped scar where it went.

All that being said, the more damaging part of that trip was when we eventually made it to Canada...all the cartoons were in French! That's messed up!

Friday, December 13, 2013

"Not my race"

These words were one of the first things I heard today. And some of the most offensive I heard in a while...until it was explained...which I will do now.  My one friend (term used loosely not sure he's fond of me, but damn he's tolerant) is crewing Hellgate for my other friend (again term used loosely as we've known each other 15 years but only sorta).  That being said I respect the hell out of these guys for things they've overcome as runners and men.

I got heated for a minute. These guys are ultra runners. Ultra in the distance, ultra in that my best is their hear "it's not my race"...well I was...confused. Running; good, bad, ugly, is a beautiful friendship building...brotherhood/sisterhood building thing, and to hear it's not my race. Well...

Then I got it. Your mother, brother, first love, best friend, Jebus...whomever could be out there crewing and supporting you, but it's YOUR race! Up to you to gut it through. Up to you to finish. Up to you to deal with your time. Up to you to deal with the training and sacrifices you made to, hopefully, make it to the finish line.

Endurance racing/running is about you and what is deep down.

God willing you have a bearded king or a tattooed redeemer at your side as you push yourself through those last miles to success!

Best of luck and much respect to both of you. Godspeed for what it means to you!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Training Thoughts A.D.D and Ohhhh Bubbles

So first I'd be remiss if I didn't say Thank You to the companies that have helped me over the last 5 years...and hopefully the next 5+.

At 5' 10" and 225lbs (on a good day) I realize it's probably my larger than average runner size and ideal 9d shoe size that have gotten me wear tests from New Balance, Brooks, Puma, Saucony and Pearl Izumi, but it's well appreciated all the same.

Also, I've been lucky enough to win some things from Nathan Hydration, Mizuno and Power Balance.

The Active Network has been amazing and the chance to be an Active Ambassador for reGen and Aquaphor helped me meet so many amazing people/athletes.  Also, two years as a member of the Timex Factory Team. There's no better feeling than representing and spreading the word of companies you believe in while doing something you love.

Thanks for the past, present...and God-willing...future support.

Another thought: I've noticed I have a running ego. Never thought I had an ego about anything! However, during this starting over I've noticed that it's been the most difficult, humbling part.  I was never really fast, and certainly aren't now, but I used to be better than this. It makes it difficult and slightly embarrassing.  I know with time I'll get back to where I was and beyond, but patience has always been my Achilles heel.

One more thing.  Why are people so snooty about training?  Can't be a "runner" and lift or can't be serious about lifting and run.  Why can't people just accept that we're lucky to have and use these wonderful bodies as often and in as many ways as possible?

The best part of this experience (endurance training over the last 5 years) has been the challenge to let go of my preconceived notions and thoughts...just trying to keep an open mind and spirit.

Although the tester shoes and gear haven't been bad either!  ;)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Not Your Normal Rest Day

I've been having a rough few weeks. Nothing particular happened. Maybe the dreary Winter days had an impact...or the temp job, that even though I like it, a full-time desk job is different, and weirdly tiring, compared to a run around do multiple things part-time job. Or maybe who knows what, but I've been...not myself, and especially not my new self.

So yesterday I woke up and was just exhausted and sad, but I had it in mind that it was time to get back on track.  Last night I took a rest night, but not the normal kind. This was a rest night from sadness and crappy moods! I hit the weights...hard...and it felt great! The weights hit back and pushed my crappy mood and listlessness  right out of my mind and muscles.  Exercise brings smiles. Exercising brings a sense of accomplishment...and obviously it's hard to be down when you're building yourself up.

I subbed a physical rest day for a mental rest day and I think it's going to help me make it through THIS day and the next day and the next day...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I Christmas'd Myself

It finally happened. I finally checked my ego and accepted I'm going to be staying here longer than I thought. When my ex-wife asked me for a separation in June of 2012 and ultimately a divorce that Aug, my early 30's male brain blew a gasket.  My heart was hurting and I somehow felt really indignant that all I had was my childhood bed and 8ft of garage space at my mom's to call home and try to rebuild. So I did what any rational person would, acted totally irrational.  Got pissy, occasionally threw pity parties( table of 1), I made constant promises to myself like "ok, but it's only going to be 3 months"(it's been over a year) or "just til I get out of debt"(thanks to my hospital visit and subsequent time off work I'm now roughly 4k deeper in), but I just kept trying to stroke my ego and not despise my situation.  What I thought were life plans or goals were really just mental band-aids to something I didn't think I ego.

Ok, soooo now for the cheery part.  As I've harped on in nearly every post, I've changed.  I'm in a good spot...not finished, not where I want to be, but making actual positive steps and not just falsely trying to reassure myself of man/adulthood.  And in that vain I took a step back and realized how lucky I am to have had a roof to come back to or a tiny spot to store my stuff or a mother, who God bless her, was willing to try and be supportive of her son's mental and physical difficulties.

I'm mentally and definitely physically stronger and better prepared than I was a year ago.  I finally realized all this and I realized that if I'm going to follow my plan to really run and bike again, to do races next year...well, I'm going to have to open some baggage.  Not the emotional kind, that's been opened, dumped, sorted, pissed on, set on fire, covered with tears, swept back in the bag, then redumped and resorted.  No, real bags...the garbage kind, as when I "moved" that is what I had on hand after my two suit cases and a duffel were full.  So, I finally went through and found running shorts, pants, shirts I forgot I had or thought I lost and some cycling shorts I spent part of the Summer looking for.  Also found a box of Nathan Hydration( my favorite brand) stuff that I won in a contest or got for volunteering for them a couple of years ago at the PhillyTri.  It was like an endurance Christmas! I'm excited to have it. I'm excited to use some and tuck some away.  And I'm certainly excited to break it out in the Spring, put one foot in front of the other and get back to crossing some finish lines!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Paper or Plastic?

I just pretty much maxed out my one credit card.  However, unlike last year when I did it, this isn't about drinking myself silly in an effort to forget pain or accept my situation.  This time is a celebration!  I registered for The Flying Pig Half Marathon.  It's the only race, without a lottery system, that I've wanted to do since I started running and never got around to. 

I'm so excited for this one!  I have plenty of time to train and I'm looking forward to getting back to my favorite distance.  Also, it's early May so the weather should be decent. 

It feels strange that I'm more worried about affording the travel and the hotel than I am about kicking the crap out of this race!  I'm fully confident that this will be a great experience.  Plus, hopefully, I'll get to add another "I ran in a really dangerous place and didn't get shot" name to the list...Philly, Baltimore, DC, seems like if it's sketchy and in the Northeast I've run there. 

I've gone through so many positive changes, especially in the last few months, and I'm grateful to have this chance to set a goal and accomplish it.  Also, I'm grateful for the people(some I barely know or only know through social media) that didn't give up on me in the dark times and more especially didn't allow me to give up on myself. 

Can't wait to get that little piggy medal placed around my know, in 6 months.  Ha!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Change is scary.  Change is frustrating.  Change is exhilarating.  Change is confusing.  Change is necessary.

Sooo, I've been thinking about change.  How the good majority of people try to find a spot where they are comfortable and then try to maintain that, but not athletes.  We aim for change on a daily basis, whether it be an extra five feet on a run or 2 more reps pressed out in a gym.  Constant change and improvement is the goal.

Are we wired different?  More accepting of failure on those rare occasions we just...can't?  Do we have a mental strength that most don't want to try for? 

Yes, maybe and if you're going to be dumb you gotta be tough.

Here's to another chance to try and make those changes positive and huge!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ego in the Backseat

I've done it!  I finally signed up for another race.  My second of the year.  This might be an accomplishment for some people, but considering I was doing 15-20 races a year for the 3 years before my life went pear-shaped it's really disappointing.

That being said, I'm really excited!  I've done this race before and failed miserably... just a 5-miler and I did 12-something miles. Granted, it's the last weekend in December and my asthma destroys the minimal running ability I do have during Winter.  Going from my normal pace to that was disappointing to say the least.

I had conflicting thoughts about signing up for this.  It's still going to be cold and hilly and maybe slightly snow covered like the last time and that could be setting my ego, and possibly my race outlook for next year, up for a huge let down.  Then I flipped it and applied my new positive attitude.  Yeah it's going to be cold and hilly and maybe slightly snow covered, but I have two months to train, I'm physically stronger than I was last time and what might be most important, I'm mentally stronger.  Ok, maybe not in relation to my running. I have doubts there that haven't surfaced in a long time.  But in general, I'm more positive about life and my abilities to overcome any challenge. 

So, Dec. 29th and that stupid hill at the beginning, and consequently, being an out and back, at the end as well, I'm coming for you. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I was reminded the other day that anything worth having doesn't come easy.  There will be struggles. There will be setbacks.  The naysayers will come for you.  We just have to stick to our plan and to our guns and we will succeed.  Trying, not even necessarily accomplishing, to reach your goal can be enough to drive us forward toward bigger and better things.  Striving to be the best we can be and make the most out of the gift that is a new day will get us to where we need to be.  Persevere.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rest Day Lament: The Necessary Evil

Rest days.  I get it.  Our bodies need to recover from strenuous training, especially after returning from an absence.  However, they aren't always welcomed.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes I pray for that one day between my three and three training, but not always. 

Some days you are just flowing.  Training is going well and you don't want to stop the momentum.  You know yourself and know that you could just keep going, but there's a plan and to deviate could potentially hurt your future efforts. 

I've only really used strict rest days with lifting.  Running or cycling I take a day off or reduce mileage, but it's not really structured.

I guess I view rest days as the responsible, adult thing to do now.  So rest body.  Take advantage.  Cause when this day is done it's back to training and regaining the health we lost over the last year and a half.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Starting Again

Ok, so I'm starting over.

I had a blog and I had a different time/place in my life.  This is a fresh start.

I had a back injury and a knee injury...and then another back injury.  They were all unpleasant, all non-running related.  Then to top it off I had a divorce.  A crappy, slightly unexpected divorce.  One I did not handle well. 

The last year has not been me at my best.  I've drank too much.  I've spent too much time with girls trying to fill a void.  I've pitied myself like that would provide some relief.  I've failed.

I'm over all of that.  I've finally accepted my position.  I've decided to try again.  I want to forgive myself for anything I may have done wrong.  I want to forgive myself for whatever led to the divorce and the 3 or 4 races that I had committed to, but did not complete.  Not only didn't complete, but didn't start. 

I'm in a good spot.  A new head space where I feel confident.  I want to write more.  I'm working out again and training, going to train through the Winter and then start running further in the Spring.  I'm looking forward to next year.  I want to come back.  I'm not fast.  I'll never be fast.  Probably never be thin or have the body type I want, but I finally want to try again.  I feel good...mentally and physically.  I've had too many chances wear testing for some great companies and representing Team reGen and Team Aquaphor as an Active Ambassador to be as selfish and wasteful as I've been over the last year.

Coming back and feeling good!  Let's do this!