Saturday, February 20, 2016

Marathons are like presidential campaigns…only shorter

Image result for Run presidential campaign
In a less than lucid moment the other day I was toying with the idea that I might try an ultramarathon, a race longer than 26 miles.  Nothing crazy like 50 or 100 miles but maybe a 50K (about 31 miles).    The next day I found myself 5 miles into a 15 mile run on a 2 degree day with a 30-40 mph head wind and as I scrape the ice off my mustache and eyebrows a more rational version of myself decided to reconsider.   Instead, I decided that I should consider joining the presidential race.   
Like most candidates I built my list of pros and cons on why I would be qualified to run.
-          Like the other candidates I have the stamina to travel long distances on a regular basis.  But where they need jets and buses I can save the environment by running.

-          I can be tenacious to the point of stubbornness when I know I’m right and everyone else is wrong…which is most of the time.

-          Like the other candidates, I have strong opinions on what we need to do to fix the country but no specifics on how I would get it done

-          I’m willing to party with just about anyone so I could be right at home with both parties. 

-          I have lots of experience debating.  Frequently  it involves whether to get out of bed to go running on cold mornings or  whether to stop or keep going on long runs.  

-          Campaign stops are like water stops…you stop for a bit of refreshment, some high fives with supporters, tell everyone you’re doing great and then off again till  you reach the next one.

-          I have 4 grandchildren (and 2 on the way) so lots of experience kissing babies (and cleaning up messes).

-          I have lots of people who support my races in the past.  Why not this one?

-          I’m not much into mudslinging (but I could challenge other candidates to a Mud Run)

-          Fund raising…I don’t mind asking for money to help others.  Couldn’t get there for myself.

-          I have limited experience in politics (can’t decide if this is a Pro or Con).

-          Despite being a legend in my own mind, my ego isn’t big enough.

-          I’m not a very good liar

-          I think the Pope is a good guy

Despite the long list of Pros, and the overwhelming amount of encouragement I’ve received, I’ve decided that the race,  which will last over a year and a half, is much too much like an ultramarathon.  Instead, I’ll be sticking to shorter races like the marathon and focus my fund raising on making one small corner of the world a better place. 
I do wonder what it would be like if the presidential campaign season was limited to less than 3 months like other countries.   Since we call it a race, let’s have the  candidates compete in a Mud Run together as a way of seeing their true personalities.  Who will be the trash talkers before the race even starts.  Who would be the ones helping others over/under obstacles along the way.  Which ones would run around the mud pool, crawl through it or just throw it at others.   Which candidates have the staying power to complete the race and which ones drop out when the going gets tough.      It may not be the best way to pick a candidate but it would surely tell you a lot about them.  Worst case, it would shorten the campaign season and save a boat load of money.    

 Clearly I have too much time to think while I’m running. 
Till next time…

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Second Efforts, Second Chances, Second Winds

In 2003 I ran the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon with my daughter Heather and her roommate Abby.  It was their first marathon and they brought the old man along to keep them company.   Somewhere around 20 miles it became clear Abby was struggling, at one point mistaking one of the bands playing along the route for a water stop.  We got her into a medical tent and they worked on her for about 10 minutes, pouring salt packets into her mouth and giving her water.    Shortly after, as the medical team was arranging for a ride to the finish, Abby pops up off the cot and declares she’s going out to finish the race.    And we did.

Five  years before in 1998 at the mature running age of 11 year old, a  boy named James Bonnett completed the same marathon in 3:28 winning the under 19 division.  The next year in the Across the Years 24 hour race (where you run as many miles as you can in 24 hours) he finished second running just over 101 miles.  Over the next years he was a phenon among the ultra marathon crowd placing high in the ranking of a number of 50 and 100 mile races.    By 2010 at 24 years old he couldn’t run a half mile.   Down on his luck, separated from his wife, and in a job he didn’t like, he decided to try running again.  His first day out he couldn’t make it around the block.   Three years later he won one of the premier ultra marathons, the Zane Grey 50 Mile run.

In the 1972 Olympics a Finnish runner Lasse Viren,  running in the 10,000 meter race, tripped and fell clearly ending his chances of winning a medal.  He got up and not only finished in the medals, he won the gold and set an Olympic record.   He went on to win the gold in the 5,000 meter race as well.

In 1996, a few years before James ran the San Diego marathon, I thought I had run my last Boston Marathon.    I had been away from marathon running for almost a decade but I had signed up for the 100Th Boston Marathon because…well..because it was the 100th and I wanted to be part of the experience.   It was a great experience but definitely not anything to write home about in terms of performance.     With that under my belt I was done with Boston.  Or so I thought.

I’ve learned a lot from running over the years.   Like how to pace myself so I don’t burn out, how to deal with the frustration of injuries when you least can afford them,  and motivating yourself to get out of bed  for that long run on a single digit winter morning.  I’ve also learned that help often comes when you least expect it, like the popsicle someone gave me during a 90 degree Boston Marathon, or having your sister join me to get me through the tough miles at the end of a race.  Or a friend running with you and sharing your grief after the loss of a child. 

 While running has given me a lot, it’s greatest lesson have been in teaching me to deal with life’s challenges and knowing that second efforts can lead to second chances.

It’s the reason I started Help in the Nick of Time.  To find a way to give people who are struggling a little bit of a second wind, a little boost  to help them see the other side of the near term troubles and to help them help themselves to find a way forward.   Our efforts are modest but to the people they help they mean the world.   Showing them a second effort can lead to a second chance.  For the support you have given me over the years I can’t thank you enough.  

So while I thought I was done with Boston 20 years ago, life had other ideas.   This is my second effort to give others a second chance.   A goal worth running for.