2018 Race Recap #22: Boston Spartan Sprint (Open)

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Team Mo, rocking the bling at the finish.

Early this week, my daughter texted me and told me that her plans for today had changed and was wondering if there was a race we could do. As it turns out, there was.  Of course, I was already registered for the Sprint and was kind of hoping to rip it up, but I would run with her.  And then it occurred to me that I didn’t have to make a choice.  Since my debacle with the second Beast a couple of weeks back, I really can’t see my way through to getting another one on the calendar (who knows), so my hope of earning a double trifecta this year has been pretty much shot. So since I had a code for a Sprint I decided to just run a second lap: two laps in the same day only count toward the Trifecta once. Groupon had an afternoon entry AND a discount code, so we were able to pick up a couple of late entries for about $60 each – so I got to run with both.

Also of note, since Spartan considers a second lap of the course a separate race – different bib numbers, second full registration fee, second insurance fee, second shirt, medal – I consider it a second race too. A race like FIT Challenge considers multi-laps an add-on so I consider that the same race. That’s the difference between an entity overly focused on profit margin (and not wholly well run either as illustrated below) and a labor of love that’s actually profitable and well regarded (and well run).

As soon as the first race of the day was finished – it began to rain.  And hard too.  So I took up shelter at the facility’s shooting range and waited for the kids to get there.  Which is another story, and since this is my blog, I’ll happily digress and tell you that story.

On Thursday of this week, Spartan announced it was changing up the usual practice of $10 parking and instead would make parking free and charge $5 per person to ride the shuttle.  After the backlash on social media about this – that it was contradictory to the idea of carpooling, and/or that folks would simply drop off at the facility and then park – it became clear that it wasn’t going to work out quite the way the race anticipated and on Friday they announced a clarification that what they really meant was that it would be $5 per person to ride the shuttle, with a max of $10 per car. Now all well and good for me – because the kids were showing up later and were riding in together, it was $15 instead of $20.

These guys CRUSHED it, and I’m happy they let me tag along.

However, by the time they arrived for our 12:15 heat, the lot was full and they were now redirected to a secondary lot at a college in the next town over – 15 or 20 minutes away.  Now, there was no mention of this lot on the web site and I’m quite sure I received no email about it.  So the kids find the new place, and wait.  And wait. And wait. Because apparently no one told the shuttle drivers to go there…or how to get there.  5 arrived at once, then another that they got on.  Where they would have been 45 minutes early, they now arrived late.  Inexcusable logistics problems by a company that runs races all year across the country AND, let’s not forget this was not the first time they’d run this specific race in this venue.

Remember, it’s now been about 2.5 hours since my first race ended. I’ve been steadily rained on for two hours, muscles cooling off, and pretty sure my body had gone into full recovery mode – even if I’d only run 5-odd miles, it was longer than it had taken me to run the first race.

The rain made the already muddy course ridiculously sloppy – more than a few of the obstacles were almost impassable, Olympus was exponentially more difficult than it was in the morning; the slip wall was true to its name.  The Sandbag Carry and the Herc Hoist were made more difficult with the water having penetrated the bags.  I used the very same station at the Herc Hoist that I had used in the morning and while it’s safe to say fatigue played a part, I’m quite sure it was also much heavier after sitting in the rain.  The bucket carry was more difficult due to the course itself – thicker, sloppier mud made slipping quite the hazard.

All of which said, it was awesome to run with these guys. “Team Mo” was an experience I wouldn’t give back at all. Watching them help each other and support each other. Not a thing better than that.  On this time around the course, I came up with 5.63 miles and 1375′ of elevation gain.

Results (Open)

1:59:51

OVERALL: 1363/ 4655
MALE: 1028/ 2692
M 45-49: 107/ 272

Today Was A Good Day

There was a moment today, there were a few of us tracking one of the guys in our running group as he was attempting a Boston Marathon qualifying time (BQ) for next year, when it really fully occurred to me.  There we were, every few minutes, checking on Bill’s progress in the Providence Marathon, commenting on the ridiculous pacing. No other reason to be cheering for this guy other than the fact that we know him.

And that’s when it occurred to me. I was volunteering with a group of people who make time in their lives to compete, and who join others for accountability and for companionship. It occurred to me that I care about this guy and his sometimes weird foibles because, like the other people I run with, he’s got a good heart, he’s a good guy, and we all share a common interest in running.

I ran a small 5k that my running group was timing. I didn’t run a particularly good race, but it was good enough for 5th place and an age group win. I’ve never actually won a race before and an AG win is about as good as it gets for me.  My squad celebrated with some goofy pictures.

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Caption: “No! Pants stay on!”

We had a fun time, told goofy stories, and celebrated.

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Another post on the club page celebrated a second members’ BQ time today.  Still another celebrated a third club member’s win in another race- Pack Monadnock 10 Miler – with a roster of other club members to run.  Just a ridiculously supportive group of people, thrown together for the sole reason we like to pursue a common hobby, but who are actually supportive of each other.  It’s not often, indeed I think it’s a special thing, when disparate groups of people come together around a common pursuit and support each other in doing what they set out to do.  I think about my half marathon in March when one of the club members taking pictures saw me coming at mile 13, got visibly intense and excited for me and yelled me on – she was excited for me because I was that close to the goal I had articulated of finishing in under 1:50:00.  I finished in 1:49, something I credit in part to seeing her there yelling for me – it was just enough to kick me in the pants enough to find just a little more in the tank.

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Now, here’s the important thing: not one of those posts were from the person who actually DID the thing of some note – it was only after someone else cheered and crowed about the performance did the individual say something.  There were no “I BQ’d today!” posts, there was a post about the journey from surviving advanced cancer and setting this day as a goal after it had been previously mentioned and even then it was about the journey: if couldn’t be farther away from a “lookit me” post.

There are so many inspirational people and things all around if you just take a few moments to look.  For me, it’s the Bills and Karens of the world, who worked hard, struggled, and pushed to get their goals. It’s also the folks that come out to volunteer and time races and share in others’ celebrations. Why wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with people with odd quirks, foibles, and personalities who work hard and are there to celebrate for you when you succeed?

I’ve said before that I actually don’t find running fun, or enjoyable. That’s true. I’ve said I run so I can run, that I like being able to do it. That’s also true. Today was the day I realized that I like it for the community. The accountability, the friendship, and the community.

So, we move on. I’m planning my first marathon, I know someone else who is going to run his first. I’ve cheered for a runner who literally finished last in his first marathon. Why wouldn’t you surround yourself with such people?

2018 Race Recap #20: Corduroy King 5K

Image may contain: 3 people, including Mark Welburn and Jeff Kristoff, people smiling, people standing, outdoor and natureHonestly, this wasn’t my first choice of races when it came up on the calendar. There are a bunch of races I really wanted to be doing today, but familial obligations required I do this one.  Nothing against this race specifically, it’s just I’d rather be doing races with a little more substance to them – a little longer or more difficult. As it happens though, I’ve been dealing with some injury and not running well, so it turns out this was the race I should do. I’m slowly realizing that “what ifs” and “shouldas” do nothing more than suck the life out of your present moment.

It’s also a race to raise money for a good cause – scholarships to an experiential learning program for kids with Autism, so at the end of the day, its not as if anything bad came out of it. Lastly, it was my very first 5k ever a few years ago, so if for no other reason, it should hold a little extra special place in my heart.

The course is about as flat as one gets and it was a smaller group – perhaps 70 or so runners and walkers.  Despite my myriad dents and dings, I got out to a decent start…and about 0.1 mile in I realized my shoe was untied so I had to stop…and let everyone I had just passed, run by me. I picked it back up and ran by them again, this time more or less for good.  My piriformis is still giving me fits, so I wasn’t running as hard as I’d prefer, but for the most part it felt good during the race.

The last 0.1 mile is pretty much down hill, so I started a full on sprint from the 3-mile mark through the finish.  For that tenth-mile, my pace was 6-min/mile.  For the rest of the race it was right around 8-min/mile.  So, a rather disappointing time – made moreso because my running club was timing the race, so I got to be disappointed in the company of friends. That said, I finished 5th overall and won my age division, so I can’t be too grumpy about the situation…and having friends at the finish was a big rush, and may have fueled the sprint I was just talking about – we may never know.

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As it turned out, my kids each won their respective age groups too, so we all got some spiffy medals.

Results:

2018: 24:54
2016: 25:55
2015: 35:40

2018 Race Recap #19: Tri-State NJ Beast

Yup. Day #2.  Second one in two days.  For a middle aged, marginally fit guy pushing to find his limits, this was an expression of that journey.  Guess what? I found the limits. I have to say that of some 130 races over the last 2 and a half years or so, this is the most humbling…no humiliating I have felt.

First the course specifics and details.  Sunday clocked in at 14.1 miles – just about a mile shorter than Saturday’s course. I haven’t looked at the maps of both to know if there was actually a mile less or if my watch was inaccurate or what – actually it would be more than a mile less because on Sunday, I missed the spear throw that I made Saturday and had to take a penalty loop.  More on penalties later, because they play a substantial role in my story of Sunday. Elevation gain Sunday was up over 5200′ compared with 5000′ Saturday which would definitely be reflected in that spear penalty as it was just straight up…forever…or so it seemed.

I missed obstacles I got on Saturday, I got one Sunday that I had missed Saturday which felt good. The lesson of the day, though, is that Spartan races are more than physical challenges – they’re mental challenges.  I pushed through this race, and was physically compromised to be sure, but I did it. My mental acuity though, my mental acuity failed.  I failed 3 obstacles with a burpee penalty – 30 burpees and a time penalty.  When I crossed the finish line – I actually took some time to pull myself together before jumping over the fire at the finish – I felt like I had crushed the race.

I later found that I had been disqualified.  It seems I had failed to complete the requisite 30 burpees on ALL 3 failures.  ALL of completing progressively fewer – including the penultimate obstacle on the course – which is the one I apparently didn’t put in the minimum.  I KNOW I counted 30, but knowing you counted 30 clearly doesn’t mean you completed 30.  So, I failed.  And while I finished, and not technically a DNF, I was disqualified.  Rules violation and rules are rules. I’m beside myself upset, all that time and effort to blow it on the last one.

At first I was frustrated because I thought it was glitch or misunderstanding at one station. I was firmly convinced of it.  Then I was angry.  But while I could argue one station, I can’t argue with three.  I blew it. Perhaps at some point I’ll be able to look at a bright side, but I don’t see a bright side right now.  I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m humiliated.  You’ve got to play by the rules and if you don’t you have to pay the consequences.

Mental exhaustion. Physical exhaustion.  Whatever. Fact of the matter is that I pushed my limits and found that I’m not where I thought I am.  Perhaps that’s the bright side – knowing how exertion affects my mental acuity will help me down the road.  Perhaps. Right now, I just feel defeated.  “Disqualified.” Basically says “cheat.”

When I decided to start recapping each race this year, it was an accountability instrument. I wanted to see my progress through the year, and I wanted to see my opportunities to improve.  I honestly never thought I would fail or at least fail for these reasons.  I thought I was better than that, but now that I know I’m not, I never ever want to be here again.  Failing is one thing – its human – but “disqualification,” damn. I never want to feel this way again.  In failing I know I’m pushing, growing, becoming better. I’m trying hard to see this in that way. I desperately want to see it that way. That’s all just framing – what matters is what I do with it.  The story you tell yourself is irrelevant if you don’t do something to improve from it.

 

 

2018 Race Recap #18: Tri-State NJ Beast

Last summer, I had planned to do the Savage Race in Massachusetts, but has to bail due to injury.  I traded my deferral code for Savage to a guy for a Spartan code which became this race.

The Beast is the longest and most difficult of Spartan’s three standard race distances: Sprint, Super, and Beast. Once past Beast, you get into the Ultra or Ultra Beast which is generally speaking some variation of the Beast course, and several Hurricane Heats which are a variation of the race.  Touted at 13+ miles, 30+ obstacles.  My watch totaled 15 some odd miles and, honestly I didn’t count the obstacles.  This was my third Beast – my second time here at Vernon – and (I think) my tenth Spartan race and I’ve found over time that it’s a fool’s errand to focus too much on distance traveled or on obstacles completed.

What started out as a raw, overcast day turned into a bright, sunny 70-degree slice of perfection. Not too hot, not too cold.  The site is the Mountain Creek Resort,  a New York City metro area ski resort. Unrelated to the race itself, while out on the course, there are definitely signs the resort has its troubles. In all honesty, I wasn’t entire sure the complex was actually still operational and the Wikipedia entry kind of explains its current state.  Another proximate ski area, Tuxedo Ridge in Tuxedo, NY has also had its financial difficulties and has hosted its share of Spartan Races as well.  Its hard to know if the financial difficulties are related to the willingness to host an obstacle course race or if its mere coincidence.

This years Beast seemed less difficult overall.  The thing with Spartan is they’re not terribly innovative and they trot out generally the same obstacles year over year.  This race seemed much more of a trail race through the hiking trails of the resort and less the mountain slog that I’ve seen at Killington (oh dear God, the quads!!) and to a lesser degree here last year. There was some mountain climbing but it wasn’t the gratuitous “we’re making you climb this because we can” sort of climb.

I was running with a first time Beast participant and it was a challenging race for her, so I don’t want to discount the level of difficulty involved, its just that it seemed like an easier course over last year.  I’ll be taking another stab at it in a few hours so we’ll see how my experience Saturday affects my performance Sunday.

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My usual Beast race buddy and my first time runner.

I had been really nervous about how my butt injury would hold up, but it held up pretty well – no major discomfort at all, perhaps a few twings here and there but overall nothing that would hold me up.  I was able to hit several obstacles I didn’t think I would which was a bit of a minor victory – any time you can avoid burpees is a good time – and for the most part even the ones I failed limited the burpees with an additional course trail instead.  (Innovation!!!)

Spartan did a little something new with the Ultra Beast course this year, by adding a 3 mile addition to the first loop of the course. This really seemed to mess up a lot of the folks we encountered along the way and it would appear a good number of them missed the course cut off to continue.  More than a couple were complaining about the hellish trail in that 3-miles. I have no way of knowing, but perhaps that was some of the more difficult trail the Beast course was lacking.

The obstacles seemed to be more standard than they have been in the past: the buckets at the bucket carry were prefilled, the farmer’s log “logs” were concrete atlas stones with handles built into them instead of actual, you know, logs. The sandbag carry was far more difficult than I remember it being in the past – large wreck bags instead of the sand filled pancakes that had been the obstacle – and the Herc Hoist seemed far more heavy than I remember it being, although several days of rain previous to race day may have helped both of those items become more heavy than anticipated.

I clocked 15.1 miles and just over 5000′ of elevation gain.

Overall, not my best time ever – I ran the Men’s elite heat (well, kinda – since my friend isn’t a male, she couldn’t run in the men’s elite heat so I delayed my start) and finished last in my age group and something like 3 slots off last for the heat.  Overall though, according to Athlinks, I finished solidly in the middle as I usually do.  I finished about 7 minutes slower than last year – we’ll see how I do Day 2 after having experienced the course.

Spartan Beast

Tri-State NJ 2018 6:09:12
Tri-State NJ 2017 6:02:24
Vermont Beast 2016 8:37:50

2018 Race Recap #16: F.I.T. Challenge

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That means I finished 3 laps, not that I came in third…BUT pretty slick swag nonetheless.

What can I say about this race? What I’ve come to find about small and/or local obstacle course races is that they’re generally low-rent, or just poorly executed. There are some  that are well considered and crafted with love, but just aren’t challenging.

The Wason Pond Pounder (Chester, NH) for instance, is lovingly crafted, and well done. The non-profit that runs the race, gives as much back to the community as they can without compromising the quality of the race. It’s a family oriented race, and a lot of people spend a lot of time planning it. But, it’s just not all that challenging – it’s not designed to be.

Similarly, The Samurai Sprint (Westport, MA) is a fun course and is well executed, but it’s “fun.” There were some elements to it last year that I found challenging, but overall it wasn’t designed to be anything more than fun.

The FIT Challenge, though. This is a challenge. It’s tough. The course is approximately 5k distance (plus or minus…well, plus), its 30-odd obstacles will test your meddle, oh and there’s the small matter of about 1400′ in elevation gain. That doesn’t do it for you? Ok, well, you can do multiple laps for $10 more.  Its probably the only smaller, local race that should be considered in the same conversation with Bone Frog or Spartan – to this point: who was at the starting line today? Norm Koch. The designer behind the early Spartan Races.

F.I.T. is a acronym. Fortitude. Integrity. Toughness. The race doesn’t demand you complete an obstacle under penalty of burpee, only that you give it a good faith effort. No mud for mud’s sake. Fortitude to take on a very difficult challenge. And of course, the Toughness to keep going when you’d rather not.

It plays out thusly. 30 obstacles. In 3.5 or-so miles.  Let that sink in. Essentially, if you’re not climbing s trail (remember – 1400′ of elevation gain), you’re climbing a wall…or a rope…or a peg board… you get the picture.  Suffice to say, I’m a fan on FIT Challenge.

This year I was determined to get- in 5 laps. It wasn’t long into my first lap that I realized that 5 wasn’t going to happen today. Robb, the race director, was very clear in his communications out that multi-lappers could assert a limited right of way, but I felt like such a dink asking to go ahead that I didn’t ask.  That’s on me. Now, the one criticism I have is that there are some difficult obstacles that require a reasonable time commitment…and on a short course, with multiple waves (no matter how hard you try to space them out) you’re going to get a log jam.  So, if you’re really going for time, you can get frustrated.

It was about 3/4 of the way through my second lap that I knew 4 would be a stretch. I was really fatiguing from climbing and was really starting to fail obstacles as a result. By the time I finished lap 2 I held out some hope I could get 4 in, but about a mile into lap 3 I knew that it would be my last one. I was failing obstacles I had done easily on my first go around, and struggled through on my second.

These things are placed rather deliberately to be challenging. Upper body, followed by a log carry, over to a rope climb, to a peg board…

There was a 5-hour cut off for multi-laps. Meaning that you had to start your last lap before 5 hours expired. In this case, I finished my 3rd lap with about 30-minutes left – I COULD have gone for 4…could have except I’d have wound up pissing everyone off because I’d fail everything and would probably be a menace to myself on those pretty technical trails.

No automatic alt text available.One of the frills of the FIT Challenge is the swag. A shirt, a head buff, finishers’ medal with pins for each lap complete, and if you do three or more laps you earn a block that Robb makes by hand.  The rarer ones are, of course, nicer. Those “5” Lap blocks are pretty spectacular. My “3” block…less so. But – going back to the beginning here, where I talk about being crafted with love – they’re each unique, put together by hand by a guy that really cares about the product.

There were some obstacles that broke mid course (sand bag hoist) and I’m pretty sure that can happen at any event. Frankly with the abundance of other obstacles, it was nice to take a pass on that one. Last year one of the floating walls was out of commission for a bit, which caused a significant back up on the lone remaining one.  The thing is with a short course, and a relatively small race (there were about 900 participants today, as compared with the several thousand that go through a Spartan Sprint), there are only a couple of stations for each obstacle (I think there may have been 3 sand bag hoists) and when one or two get 86’d the entire obstacle goes down and given the ethos of the race, obstacles are tough. So it takes a while to complete them…which causes lines…

I hate to suggest taking obstacles out – FIT has some ridiculously innovative ones and I love that he reinvests into the product – but some could be reconsidered. Lines at the inverted cargo net get pretty long. This is so clearly a labor of love, that I think I’d rather suggest making the course even longer and perhaps placing those time consuming obstacles at the top of a hefty climb to keep the group thin, but consistent.  Or spread the waves out even more.  Hard to say; I’m pretty sure it’s a work in progress and there are worse things to be vexed by.

So, results? Pretty much par for the course. 50 percentile.

Results

Multi-Lap:
2018: 63/126, 4:30:07
2017: 128/161, 5:06:38

Single Lap:
2016: 619/983 1:58:20

An improvement over last year on a more challenging incarnation of the course, and I feel better than I did last year afterward.

Reframing Stress

My definition of stress for this purpose is along the lines of “the physio-emotional response to external demands/stimuli.” Stress doesn’t necessarily have to be negative: psychologists differentiate between “eustress,” that stress springing from demanding situations where a positive outcome is or can be expected, and “distress,” which is that which comes from situations in which a negative outcome is or can be expected.  Want some examples?  Basically, when TØP sing about being “Stressed Out,” they’re really singing about being “Distressed Out.”

Of course, that’s my undergraduate level understanding of psychology speaking – there’s a greater level of differentiation to be sure, but for current purposes I think that dichotomy will suffice nicely. It’s been a long time since I graduated college so my understanding is likely more than a little rusty as well.

There’s all kinds of negative jazz that goes down when you’re constantly experiencing your world though the lens of “distress.” Anxiety, perceived loss of self-control, feelings of lack of coping ability.  Which is ultimately what it comes down to for me: it’s a RESPONSE to these external stimuli, and our choice of response is ours.  In other words, we own our response and that the stimuli doesn’t inherently cause eustress or distress.

I find having a running partner – whether or not they know they’re my partner (which sounds far creepier than I intend…basically someone I use to pace myself) – creates a eustressful situation: it keeps me moving toward my goals.  I run more consistently,  longer, and better when I have someone else to run with.  I went for a run last night with someone whose a better runner than I am; I wanted to quit half way through, but I didn’t because I was responding to that potentially stressful situation by pushing myself toward the end of the run, by keeping up with him, by not quitting when it would have been easier to do so.  I could have gone the other way: quit because I was feeling uncomfortable, but I chose the opposite response.

There are variables in our life at play that affect our choice of responses: if your boss is being secretive about plans, or perhaps leaving you off invitations for meetings to which you should be invited, you could respond in several ways: “I can’t change the situation, so it is what it is…” to “I must be getting fired! What am I going to do?”

In the second scenario, is it really about the prospect of losing THAT job that concerns you or is the the ramifications of losing that job that concerns you: money concerns, job searching skills to brush up on, employment prospects…the list goes on. It’s the variables in our lives that affect how we will respond to those stressors: have we maintained our professional network and continued to develop skills or have we coasted? Have we been saving money for a rainy day or have we spent it as we got it?

I want to make that point without getting into a conversation around privilege – I get it, there are many many people who due to circumstances cannot make ends meet even with a consistent paycheck, never mind save a portion of it for a “rainy day,” for a great multitude of reasons. The fact of the matter is that folks in lower socio-economic levels are generally more stressed than higher income earners.  It’s really hard to find time to relax or work out, if you’re commuting between two part time jobs.

“Chronic stressors such as food insecurity, substandard housing, and greater exposure to violence have also been demonstrated to increase the wear and tear on biological systems.” (Schanzenbach, Mumford, et al., “Money Lightens the Load“)

I  also know many, many folks who make choices that inhibit that ability to save for a rainy day.  Here’s an example: Cigarettes consistently sell for more than $11/pack – or about the after-tax take home for an hours’ work at minimum wage.  There’s a choice to be made between saving that hour’s pay and buying a pack of smokes.  If you’re making $12/hour full time, your gross pay is $480.  If you’re smoking a pack a day, that’s about $77/week or about 16% of your pre-tax wages. This isn’t to say you should or shouldn’t smoke, this isn’t to place judgement on a choice to smoke, it is saying that it is a choice and a value judgement that it’s more important to smoke than it is to have that $77/week.  There are these variables and choices around every one of us, every day.  There are other, too many to name, variables that aren’t as easy to identify.

Back in 2017, the NPR podcast “Hidden Brain” did a piece on the “Scarcity Trap,” where the scarcity of needs causes the person experiencing the scarcity focuses the brain on that need. If money’s the problem, all you can think about is all the things you need – to the exclusion of future needs.  Perhaps quitting smoking would be more stressful than having that additional means for other purposes.

“Scarcity takes a huge toll. It robs people of insight. And it helps to explain why, when we’re in a hole, we sometimes dig ourselves even deeper. ”
– Shankar Vedantam, “Hidden Brain”

Everyone’s circumstances are different, and the purpose of this post isn’t to discuss why those circumstances exist, but rather simply to identify why someone may feel distressed. Also, it’s at this point that you may be interested in the full length version of the “Hidden Brain” story from above. As it happens, quite by happenstance this episode was recently replayed.

Feelings of helplessness or lack of control impact one’s ability to see the brighter side, or in other words, affect your ability to see how you can see the control you can exert. Part of that is taking control of the situation before it seems so far out of reach.  Amazon is really, REALLY good at connecting you to things you want, and makes it really easy for you to get them — until you max out your credit card buying them. You’re far more likely to pay attention to Amazon than the credit card’s website…or CreditKarma or any of the myriad credit scoring sites.

I say “part of that is…” and not the far more complete, “the key is…” because the key isn’t necessarily to catch it before you believe you’ve come too far, the key is to acknowledge your situation. “I’m drowning in debt,” “I’ve been written up a couple of times at work and if I mess up one more time…,” “My spouse has been really kind of crummy lately…”

I’m also aware of folks who have to work really, really hard to keep their status where it is – they’re exhausted because they’re always on point, always working to their full potential, meaning there is no leeway – a wrong step, a lost opportunity takes longer to recover from.  Which is why, I can imagine, bandwidth being so problematic.  There are no easy solutions in life – any life advice designed for a general audience will fall flat. Everyone has their unique situations, we all have courses to navigate. BUT because of that, you have to be honest with yourself. You have to know what your limits are – challenge what you “know,” but understand where you are currently and just how long it will take to build your capacity. Not everyone can do that.

That said, what I’ve found is that it’s rarely too late to course correct.  Certainly, when they’re tossing dirt over your body it’s too late; “rarely” is not “never”  but so much of progress is having the realization that you’re not where you want to be and working toward where you do want to be. It’s not getting discourages with incremental gains. Temporary set backs. Injuries. Whatever. But those are long term goals. You’ve got to be able to focus on the long term, and if you’ve got a deficit you’re not able to.

The eustress of working toward a future, further-out positive goal has to outweigh the distress of the negative feelings of the immediate situation. Feeling that deficit – “I’m so fat, and I’m not losing weight fast enough” – leads me to eat that bag of Cheetos. When I can focus on the longer term goal and realize that as long as I’m staying on track, I’m losing weight slowly and surely AND, more importantly, I’m losing body fat then I can concentrate on just drinking the glass of water.

Getting oneself out of a crummy credit score takes time. It takes concerted steps to pay off more than you’re spending, but it’s really hard to do that if all you can see if what you don’t have.  Its about maintaining control. Understanding where you are, understanding there are steps to take – even if you don’t know what they are just yet, and continuing to work toward them.  It’s about wanting that goal more than wanting the shorter term pleasures.  Losing THAT job would hurt, afterall we have THAT job to make ends meet, to pay for the things we need in life, but if we spend a little more time focusing on the future – tucking a little away – we could alleviate the distress of the current situation (am I going to lose my job?) by reframing saving for a rainy day as a eustressor.  Having enough FU money that you don’t really have to deal with worrying about whether or not you’re going to lose your job.

Whatever journey you’re on, whatever you you’re looking to become, it is at the end of the day a process. A process requiring long term commitment. It’s stressful – distressful – to see just how far/long it is to get to where you want to be, so be kind to yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to experience eustress – small milestones along the way. Its really about reframing the perception – stress is all about how you perceive it: if its negative, its distress.  If you want to run a marathon, you have got to start working on 5ks. Focus on them until you’re ready for a 10k…and a 15k…the marathon is someday, the 5k is the now. Chunks big enough to swallow.

Obiter dictum: Semper Fi

I just updated my 2018 Race/Goal Tracker page.  My monthly running total for March, despite having three more days than February, came up 10 miles shorter than last month: 140.75 vs. 150.8.

NB: I usually only record tenths, unless I’m recording a quarter mile. So I’ll only record a 0.1, 0.2, 0.25, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.75, 0.8, or 0.9.

So, as I’m trying to increase my mileage, it’s important to me to be sure I’m on track; I use the approach that if  you manage the week, then you’re managing the month; if you’re managing the month, then you’re managing the quarter; if you’re managing the quarter, you’re managing the year.

Anyway, I finished March with 393.55 miles run on the year, which puts me at…get this… 26.2% of my goal for 2018 (it’s actually 26.237% but that’s neither a compelling story nor is it wholly accurate due to the rounding discussed above, so we’re going with 26.2%).

Oddly enough, on March 29 I was informed that I had been selected in the Marine Corps. Marathon lottery to be invited to participate in the 43rd MCM, an invitation I chose to accept. I had registered for the lottery on the last day it was open as a lark – I mean, seemed interesting enough and I had poked at it with a stick previously enough to know what package tours and the like cost. So I clearly hadn’t ruled it out, but I honestly didn’t think I’d get in.

I didn’t plan to be 26.2% of my goal, didn’t set out a plan to run a marathon – I’ve famously avoided running marathons, actually, opting for either halfs or 50ks and thereby fully bypassing the 26.2 mark totally.  The reason for that is typical me: a former supervisor has asked me if I was planning to run any marathons and I responded “I will never do 26.2…” so in the interest of maintaining my integrity, I’ve just skipped over it.  I mean 31.1 is by definition NOT 26.2 and don’t think the irony of  my “no 26.2 mile races” commitment being undone by a race honoring “Semper Fidelis” is lost on me.

Somehow it all came together at the end of the third month of the year. The fates have apparently dictated that I do this. I have remained true to my vow I would not run a marathon, but once the fates start lining up what am I supposed to do?

More interesting is the idea that on the 44th week of the year last year, I hit my goal of 1000 miles. That week was the week of October 29 and November 4. The MCM this year is October 28, so perhaps there’s a possibility that I could hit my 1500 mile goal at that point.  As I write this, I’m currently 95 miles off the pace that would have that happen, but I have almost 8 months to get onto that pace.

Sometimes goals, and challenges have to be fluid and flexible, and sometimes you just have to go with the flow – to be ready to accept a challenge when one is offered.

Marathon training starts now.

2018 Race Recap #15: CMS 52-Week 5k

I’m just going to say it: today was not going to be a great race day for me regardless. It was perfect weather, if a touch cold. There was a bit of a headwind for the first mile and for the last .2 mile, but that wasn’t it. I haven’t felt quite right since last weeks’ trail race – a few dings, and dents – and I promised my boy that I would run with him today.  Today was basically going to be some time on my feet with my boy, nursing some sore parts.

Photo
He really doesn’t dig selfies.

And so it was.  My watch recorded a 9:11 pace: the first mile was respectable enough, but at about 1.5 miles I realized I had gotten a little far ahead and one of my running club friends on his way by – because, that’s his MO – said something about me throwing the kid under the bus, so I realized I needed to do a better job of running with him.

I played cat and mouse for the rest of the race, and for the last stretch I waited for him – even giving up a finishing position!! – and we sprinted to the finish.  Officially we finished 17 and 18.

I’ll take that experience with him over running my best.

Counter Clockwise (Last 5):

March 31: 28:33, 40 degrees, windy
March 10: 24:11, 32-degrees, windy
March 3: 24:30 40-ish degrees, cloudy
February 17: 24:22
October 21, 2017: 25:13

Favorite Facebook Statuses: The Boy

My son and I have a pretty good relationship. He says and does goofy things – more than you might expect – and when I came across an old status update on Facebook’s “on this day” feature, I decided to go back and find my favorite updates springing from my relationship with him.

This is a pretty good selection of them; I know there are some that aren’t there, I just can’t put my hands on them, but will add them if/when I come across them again.

These aren’t in any specific order, more often than not they just happen to be the order in which they showed up in my search.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did re-living the experiences behind them.

March 27, 2014

The boy lost a tooth tonight. So for our evening story, I felt duty bound to tell him about the “Tooth Ogre” who uses kids’ teeth as a pretext for the opportunity to be invited into their rooms so she can drool on them.

 

March 4, 2015

As he was going to bed, I told him I love him. He then says, “ever since I could understand words, all I’ve heard you say is that you’re going to love me always no matter what.” I consider that a win.

July 23, 2017

Please stop telling the boy that hes my mini-me. It’s preventing me from calling him “Stinky” and “Clown faced dog.” Thank you.

October 1, 2011

The latest bed-time avoidance questions: “Are bunnies enemies of penguins?” and “how long can you let a fan run for 50-days without turning it off?”

July 14, 2010

The Boy said he was supposed to have a date with his girlfriend Melanie today, but she is 16 and decided to go on vacation today. He says she’s a good kisser.

May 27, 2015 ·

The Boy: “You know that awkward moment when you see a pretty girl sitting by herself and you ask her if she wants to sit with you and stuff and she says ‘No, I’m sitting with somebody…’?”

December 22, 2017

The boy is making his lunch with one hand, and holding his phone in the other watching YouTube videos.

“Why don’t you out your phone down and pay attention to what you’re doing?”

Puts phone down face up on the counter and keeps watching videos.

May 4, 2012

Me: “So how come you don’t like her? She likes you.”

The Boy: “She’s mature…and I’m not.”

Me: “So, that’s a problem for you?”

The Boy: “Yeah, I don’t like mature people.”

 

June 1, 2015

He just showed me his persuasive writing paper and I’m now absolutely convinced that robot teachers are bad teachers. I didn’t even know there was a controversy.

 

May 27, 2014

Tonight’s bedtime story was about the boy and me hitchhiking on the moon, en route to the dark side to see if there were aliens on that side. We got picked up by one of those aliens, and he didn’t want to let us out. So the boy distracted him by playing Scrabble while I took over the ship and flew it home. Of course, the only Scrabble board was in the alien’s language and he got all flustered when the boy was making up nonsense words, so when we landed on Earth, the alien simply stormed off. All of which the boy seemed to enjoy, but I lost all credibility when I suggested that I think the alien works at Wal-Mart now. He found everything else believable except that.

 

November 28, 2012

My favorite quote from his letter to Santa – here’s the boy stating his case: “My room is kind of messy, but I clean it sometimes…like last month.

February 26, 2015

The boys words of wisdom while avoiding bedtime:

“What if the toothfairy has a pawn shop?”

“I had to do an opinion paper – I wrote ‘Robot Teachers are bad’”

“Think about a fancy girl wearing a jewel encrusted hat…her head would keep falling down…”

“I had to look up how to spell ‘ironic’ in one of those books with the list of words…”

October 11, 2014

Out of nowhere, he says “I like talking to you, Dad” Me, thinking I’m #doingitright: “Thank you, boy. You know you can tell me anything, right?” The Boy:”Yeah, When we talk I learn all kinds of dumb things…”

May 2, 2015

The Boy: “I’ve got Thor’s bat!”

“But Thor had a hammer”

The Boy “Not when he played baseball…”

 

July 2, 2017

So here’s the latest letter home from camp from the boy:

“I am awesome.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I found expired glue. I got my memory foam pillow and it is good. I went to do riflery. I’m not dead and I’m happy. ”

 

June 1, 2015

“You should play this game. You can get married, get a dream home, and have kids.”

I already got married, have a dream home and have kids…

“Yeah, but this is fun…”

October 11, 2015

“If we get snatched by a ton of bats, I’m blaming it on you.”

No automatic alt text available.

 

December 21, 2015

Scene: At the bus stop

Me: Hey man, how do you put your jacket on inside-out?

The Boy: Same way I put sweatpants on backwards two days in a row. I was in Social Studies and realized I had a pocket in front.

August 12, 2014

The Boy: “This place is really organized”

Me: “Honey, this is a bathroom.”

 

May 21, 2017

The Boy: “You’re bleeding.”

Me: “I know. How manly is that?” He asks, hoping to impress the boy.

B: “How’d that happen?” Questioning further

M: “I stuck my finger on a thorn”

B: “Not very.”

 

October 2, 2011

We’re watching Spongebob, and the boy blurts out, “Yeah, that’s what she said…”

December 31, 2014

Picked up my first pair of glasses today. The boy tells me, “You kind of look like Papa [my Dad] in those.” He had no idea how big a compliment that was to me.

April 20, 2012

“how do you spell ‘Goober Doober’?”. G-o-o-b-e-r d-o-o-b-e-r. “Nice, I DO know how to spell make believe words.”

April 19, 2018

On our way home tonight, the boy says, “I saw this great quote: ‘There are only two days in your life that matter – the day you’re born and the day you realize why.’ I know that I’ve had them both already.”
Suitably impressed, I say “Really. So what have you realized about why you were born?” To which he said, “I dunno.”

April 27, 2014

 More words of wisdom from the boy: “I think the zombies had a pretty good life before the plants showed up.”
May 8, 2009

I told the boy that he needed to learn to poop on the potty. He looked at me and said, “relax.” Oh man…