Failure Potential

I had made up my mind that I would challenge myself this year.  I would try things I had a good chance of failing at doing.  I would try some new things.  In 2016, I set a volume goal and I hit it easily.  In fact, I really didn’t fail at accomplishing any of my goals last year, so among the goals this year was a challenge to do 5 things at which I might fail.

I actually did fail at my first attempt at a 50k – we accomplished about 30k, but decided to stop due to weather conditions and the potential (turned reality) of a harrowing commute home.

My second attempt at a 50k was my second “Failure Potential,” but although it took me just about 7 hours I completed it.  I really really really hate failing.  I got the distance, but in terms of trail races, it was a relatively flat course, so while it was a personal victory not to fail it wasn’t the most technical of courses.

My third “failure potential” attempt was another 50k on a very technical course and about 6100′ of elevation gain up and down a mountain. This as one I probably should have allowed myself to fail; about mile 10 I fell, gashed open my arm, broke a toe and damaged a tendon.  I was so delirious, I actually wound up adding an extra mile by wandering around a little off track. It took more than 10 hours on a course with a 10 hour limit, having been allowed to finish by virtue of avoiding course marshalls for the last 40 minutes or so.

So the fourth was another 50k, and at this point you’re probably saying to yourself, “if you’ve already done 2 what would make you think you couldn’t do it again?”  Here’s where my head was though: the last time I had done the distance, I had messed myself up.  Badly. I really wasn’t sure I was ready to do this again physically, I wasn’t sure I was mentally able to do it.  Frankly, I may not have been able to do it, but at the end of my first of 3 loops there was my friend Rich and his son.  I was such a great feeling seeing them there to welcome me in and to see me off that it was just what I needed to keep going.  Had they not been there to volunteer, I likely would have given it up.

So where am I for the fifth?  Originally, I had a different plan.  I am registered for a December 32-miler that’s described as “nightmarish” and with December weather in New England such as it is, I’m pretty sure this may be one of the bigger challenges of the year – except my boy now has an event on that day and I need to be there.  So I needed a different plan.

Another goal was to break two-hours running a half marathon.  I was able to accomplish that in October. 1:51:56, but a week ago I as given a bib for another half marathon with a three day notice on a much flatter course than the October race.  The week before that, I had run a 10-miler at an 8:18 pace so I really thought I had a good chance of beating that 1:52 time. And so it was, my Failure Possibility was to break 1:50:00.

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, crowd and outdoor
That’s me in the orange shirt about 3 rows back. For the record, this was the Wave 2 start line. 9:00m/m runners don’t start at the starting line otherwise.

For the first couple of miles I was feeling good, but I really had to pee: the porta potties at the starting line were packed, so I had to wait.  Fortunately there were some on the route and I availed myself of one at mile 3.  That took about 40-50 seconds,  but my mile pace was still reasonable for that mile.  The real problem kicked in after that though.  I had slept terribly the night before; I went to bed too early, woke up in the middle of the night and was terrified I’d over sleep, so I stayed up.  It turns out running 13 miles on 4-hours sleep is really, really hard.  Never mind trying to beat a 1:50:00 pace.

It had rained all morning and through most of the race.  The course was part bike path and drainage was suspect, so on top of low octane fuel I was battling mud and the elements.  As 1:50 came and went I still had the opportunity to finish in under 2-hours.

And there it was. As I hit 13 miles, I was just over 1:55.  The last .1-mile+ was a path along a water element, which was flooded and muddy.  People were trying to avoid the water and mud by running  along the side, but if I tried that I’d never finish in under 2-hours, so I took the Spartan Race option and went through, high-stepping and all.  A minor victory in that I finished 1:57:38 so I had conquered the 2-hour mark twice this year and really twice in a month, but I failed at my time goal by almost 8-minutes. Or put another way, by about 30-seconds a mile.

My 5 opportunities for failure netted a 3 wins – 2 losses record.  Not bad, really. I found some limits, worked harder and got past one of them.  I’m going to try to beat that 1:50:00 time again, but it’s probably going to be next year before I can attempt it so I feel pretty comfortable that I can report out on this endeavor.  I learned more resilience from this than any other goal I’d set for myself, something I hadn’t anticipated.  The goal was to push myself by getting out of my safe zone.  What I got out of it was that I need to aim higher more often and what I learned was how resilient I can be.  Very awakening.

Very awakening.



30 Day Music Challenge: Day 30

Day 30. A song that reminds you of yourself.

I’ve struggled with this one. The culmination of a month’s worth of music should be something meaningful, especially when describing oneself, no? I mean, over the previous 29 days there have been several hundred songs referenced. ONE has to stand out somehow as being mindful of oneself.

I don’t know that this song does fully remind me of…me, but it does a good job. I don’t want to be an American Idiot.

This song stands for so much of how I feel about America today, and so I think it’s worth my day 30 pick.

I want to thank everyone who has participated in this little exercise. It’s been so fun learning about your musical taste and learning from your participation. It’s been a very fun month.

Wisdom of Crowds Picks:

Piano Man Billy Joel

Just the Way You Are Billy Joel

F**kin’ Perfect P!nk

Dancing With Myself Billy Idol

Try Colbie Caillat

Here I Go Again Whitesnake

‘Voodoo Child’ (Slight Return) Jimi Hendrix

You Don’t Own Me Leslie Gore

Beautiful  Christina Aguilera

Somebody To Love Kacey Musgraves

“Bad Girls”  MIA

For Your Precious Love Michael McDonald

Ballerina Girl Lionel Richie

Idiots Rule Jane’s Addiction

Under the sun Black Sabbath

All On Me Devin Dawson

That I Would Be Good  Alanis Morissette




30 Day Music Challenge: Day 29

A song that you remember from your childhood.

I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with this, but I sat and thought for a couple of minutes and it was right there. Plain as day.

This isn’t contemporaneous with my childhood, it was an oldie even then, but it was a song my parents enjoyed so I remember hearing it not infrequently.

It’s a silly song, but it’s fun.

Wisdom of Crowds Picks:

Jelly Man Kelly James Taylor

Stuck In The Middle With You Stealers Wheel

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go Wham!

One Billion Is Big The Fat Boys

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego

Dominique  The Singing Nun

The Candy Man  Sammy Davis, Jr.

Don’t Stop Believin’ Journey

Eruption/You Really Got Me Van Halen

Puff the Magic Dragon” Peter, Paul & Mary


Happy & You Know It

I Want To Hold Your Hand The Beatles

RINGO Lorne Greene

Summer Wine Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood

Courtship of Eddie’s Father theme song

Surfin’ Safari  The Beach Boys



30 Day Music Challenge: Day 28

A song by an artist with a voice you love.

There are a few I love for different reasons. I think Paul Stanley has one of the more unique sounds out there, especially with Kiss’ mid 1980’s stuff.

Ozzy’s earlier stuff into the 1990’s is similarly unique.

I love the stuff my daughter has recorded, although it would be patronizing for me to choose that – I assure you that if I didn’t think it would be over the top, I would go there.

There’s Colbie Caillat whose voice is just like butter. But none of these folks are my pick on this 28th day of the challenge.

This one is probably going to come out of the woodwork though, you’re probably not going to see it coming. I can’t point to a given song by this person that I love, nor have I ever considered myself a fan, but the voice. Simply amazing. So much power and control.

Wisdom of Crowds Picks:

You Raise Me Up” Josh Groban

Sweet Surrender” Sarah McLaughlin

Angel” Sarah McLaughlin

Suedehead” Morrissey

Patience” Guns N Roses

Magic man” Heart

Alone” Heart

“Are You Strong Enough to Be My Man” Sheryl Crow & Stevie Nicks

Hunger Strike” Temple of the Dog

“Road Trippin” Ashlee Keating
”I Finally Found Someone” Bryan Adams & Barbra Streisand
Voices” Cheap Trick
Evergreen” Barbra Streisand
Stay A Little Longer” Brothers Osborne
Runaway” Bonnie Raitt
Mercedes Benz” Janis Joplin

30 Day Music Challenge: Day 27

A song that breaks your heart.

Schmaltz. Pure, unadulterated schmaltz. If I had to choose 3 words to describe my pick, they would be the words. I really don’t know how else to categorize it.

On Day 10, I went with Gary Jules’ version of “Mad World” as a song that makes me sad. This one doesn’t make me sad, per se, and “Mad World” doesn’t break my heart, so this is in an interesting place.

With the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, you’d think I’d choose “Candle In The Wind,” but that doesn’t break my heart. It doesn’t even make me sad. I always felt manipulated by EJ trotting that song out for Diana – but then again, I’m not British, so I suppose it’s not meant for me anyway.
But back to my choice. Why this song? Well, as ridiculous as it sounds, at various inflection points in my life it’s come out from under its rock, played itself in the background of the soundtrack of my life and burrowed its way into my ear, quietly speaking to me.

So, don’t judge. Or if you do judge, you had best put up your own song.

Wisdom of Crowds Picks:

Time To Say Goodbye” Andrea Botcelli & Sarah Brightman

Tears In Heaven” Eric Clapton

Wildfire” Michael Martin Murphy

One” Faith Hill

One” Three Dog Night

“Only The Lonely” Roy Orbison

Everybody Hurts” REM

The Drugs Don’t Work” The Verve

 AVE MARIA” Andrea Bocelli

One” Metallica

Turn! Turn! Turn!” The Byrds

He Stopped Loving Her Today” George Jones

Lips of An Angel” Hinder

30 Day Music Challenge: Day 26

A song that makes you want to fall in love.

This is a thing? A song…that makes you want to fall in love? A song does that? What does that even mean? “Goodness, this song is so mushy, it makes me want to fall in love so I can better enjoy it!”

I think I’d prefer to choose a song about being in love.

I remember being a small child in the back seat of my parents’ car with this coming over the old crackly AM radio when AM radio is where you would hear the contemporary hits of the day.

Especially pertinent as it references this past weekend.

Wisdom of Crowds Picks:

Unity” Shinedown

Fortress Around Your Heart” Sting

Welcome To The Jungle” Guns N Roses

My baby you” Marc Anthony

Like I’m Gonna Lose You ft. John Legend” Meghan Trainor

A Song For You” The Carpenters

Harvest Moon” Neil Young

Could It Be Magic” Barry Manilow

High On You” Survivor

Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying ” Gerry & The Pacemakers

You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” Rod Stewart

Truly Madly Deeply” Savage Garden

Sweet Surrender” Sarah McLaughlin


30 Day Music Challenge: Day 25

A song by an artist no longer living.

I’ve thought a little about this and it comes down to two: Elvis and Prince.

Now I can think of a bunch of artists I want to point to, but when I first started thinking about this day’s theme it was these two that came to my mind first.

I talked a little about my rationale for Elvis in my Day 23 post, where I could remember as a 7-year old hearing the news Elvis had died when I can’t remember much of that age. I am a bit of an EP fan, although not huge; I have an album called “The Top 10 Hits” and that’s pretty much all I need. Maybe “Viva Las Vegas” tossed in for good measure, but otherwise, I’m good with it. It’s just that he has pretty much hung around the outskirts of my life my entire life. Kind of the familiar stranger you see on the bus every day on your commute or at the coffee store that one day just inexplicably stops showing up.

Prince is a different vibe. I was never a big fan, although I have always adored “Purple Rain” and some other assorted songs along the way. “1999” and it’s hit songs were about as deep into the catalog as I got with him – a few random songs here and there, but really just the early/mid-1980’s stuff. When he died, however, he was hailed as a musical genius. I’m still not convinced that genius is quite the word, but he was supremely talented and I know he had an oversized impact on a lot of the people in my generation and for that, I have to recognize a certain affinity.

So, Elvis, you’ve gotten the nod twice from me in three days, both for having died, yet not having your music chosen. I’m sorry for that. Sometimes a mile wide and an inch deep just doesn’t do it.

Now, with that as lead up, there’s a dirth of video versions of Prince’s “Delirious” which is the song I wanted to highlight, so I’m going to provide a link to the audio.

Wisdom of Crowds Picks:

Suspicious Minds” Elvis Presley

“Miss Misery” Elliot Smith

Let’s Dance” David Bowie

More than A Feeling” Boston

The thrill is gone” BB King & Eric Clapton

Lawyers, Guns and Money” Warren Zevon

Imagine” John Lennon

All Along The Watchtower” Jimi Hendrix

Down in a Hole” Alice in Chains

One More Light Live” Linkin Park

Piece Of My Heart” Big Brother and the Holding Company

Space Oddity” David Bowie

Don’t Change” INXS

Georgia On My Mind “ Ray Charles

Ripple” Grateful Dead

Greatest Love Of All” Whitney Houston

At Last” Etta James