Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hard Time Parting with Running Shoes

I find it challenging to part with running shoes.  Not my favorite pair of dress or comfortable shoes.  My running shoes.

Anyone who has known me since I ran the Boston Marathon in 2013 may recall that when I was finished with those shoes, I wanted to find some meaning for them, so I had them turned into a trophy that I then donated back to the league of schools that I had grown up in to use as a sportsmanship award for cross country.

When the shoes in which I ran my best marathon (a 3:09:49) had used up all their miles, I kept them as walking shoes until yesterday.  It was not unusual for me to transition shoes from running shoes to walking shoes.  But I usually made the transition with each new pair of running shoes.  Buy new ones.  Make old ones into walking shoes.  Take last pair of walking shoes and donate them to a place that takes old shoes. I had done that for a while.  But I kept the shoes that I had trained and raced in during the fall of 2014 for a long time.  Why?  They had a lot of sentimental value.  My best marathon was almost five minutes faster than my second best.  That meant a lot.  So did running my best half just six days after my best marathon.  And, on top of that, one of my fastest 5K races a few weeks before the marathon.  And fall of 2014 was part of the evolution of multiple running friendships.  So, I had a lot of reasons to keep them.  But I retired them yesterday.

The reason for their retirement was that that the shoes in which I ran Comrades had reached their mileage limit as running shoes.  They now have more sentimental value than my Philadelphia marathon shoes.  So, I will have a nice pair of gray (or maco, as in the shark) Launch 2 Brooks running shoes to wear as walking around shoes for a while.  Those shoes also have a lot of stories associated with them as the entire Comrades preparation and running experience was incredible and forced me to think about the value of running in new ways.

Yesterday, I also retired my one pair of Newtons.  My Newtons were like a fling.  I have a record of every mile run in Brooks starting with a pair of Ghost 4’s that I ran in for the first time on June 13, 2012.  Four years with one brand except for this pair of Newtons.  I have a friend who has not had a single issue with stress fractures since she switched to Newtons.  And I am glad for her.  In the meantime, I used them for short runs this year, finally accumulated enough miles, and now am ready to move ahead.

My next pair is a pair of Ghost 9’s. I’ve bounced back and forth between the Ghosts and the Launches during the 4+ years of keeping records.  With my first run in the Ghost 9’s, I have accumulated over 8500 miles in the 4+ years of keeping very careful records.  In those miles, I have made numerous friends, shared numerous stories, and accumulated many memories.  It Is amazing to think of how far friendships have come in the four years.  All that I have seen of Baltimore and the world.  And the many interesting events and people I have encountered.

Sometimes long, sometimes short, sometimes alone, sometimes with a partner, and sometimes with a group.  Sometimes reciting the Serenity Prayer before we begin.  Sometimes having to fight for every step.  Sometimes feeling like I could run forever.  At least for the 55 mile run in South Africa, pretty much factually running forever. 

Running as a party of relay teams with names like Who’s the Mentor, Running Family, and Amicis Animalium.  Two of those runs happened in shoes that were either retired or changing roles yesterday.  How running helps to develop day to day positive relationships with sharing life and sharing stories.  Sharing fun.  Sharing ideas.  Sharing what comes from the heart.

The relationships are ones that I have to continue to nurture.  But taking the time to be with someone to speed up together or to slow down together.  To wait together.  To do whatever one can to help the other not think about how much they hurt.  To do everything possible to avoid overheating or freezing.  That is what the shoes have brought me.  That is what I anticipate the shoes will continue to bring me.  Each pair of running shoes is truly a part of my identity. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Baltimore Wildlife While Running--17 August 2016

As we ran past the church of St. Vincent de Paul
We spoke of Olympians giving it their all—
Particularly a runner whose race had ended
With a fall that led to her torso extended.
A victory that led to a bit of concern
About the rules of the race forcing people to learn
That the torso is what determines who is best
By crossing the finish line before all the rest—
Getting back to our run we noticed a creature
For whom our quick run was an unwelcome feature. 
A rat who in its own way was trying to give
It’s all and bring home a big piece of bread to live,
But we startled it with our loud, rapid, long strides
So our now not champion rat ran off to hide. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Travels to New York City

So, Sherry and I have traveled without boys to New York City.  We arrived yesterday, and, as invited to, made ourselves at home in an apartment we are borrowing for a few days.  We then grabbed lunch at Abitino's on 2nd Ave near 40th, picked up a few groceries to save money on breakfasts, and walked back to the apartment in the rain.  After a little rest, we walked all the way over to the 600 block of 9th Ave for dinner at La Carafe (French/Mediterranean) including a nice rosé with syrah and grenache.  We then saw, Cats on 52nd Street and cut through Times Square on the walk back to the apartment and stopped in Grand Central Terminal for a picture or two.  Didn't get to sleep until after midnight and I slept till 7:30.  Nice for me.

This morning, after getting started at a leisurely pace, we went to Grand Central to get the subway to Bowling Green Station and then took a tour cruise around.  The walk to Pier 16 was fun going along the water and the tour was great for pictures of the rebuilt World Trade Center and Statue of Liberty among other things.  We then had lunch at Industrial Kitchen and walked up to the 9/11 Memorial.  It was somber and the pools were amazing.  The fact that someone left one white flower near a name was also powerful.

As I sit an get ready to join a colleague for dinner at a fine Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side this evening, I ponder Memory from Cats, the entire story of Cats, and the rebuilding in lower Manhattan.  Seeing Cats and hearing the heartfelt singing of Memory was a reminder of someone I'd known in high school.  Someone who sang a couple of songs I wrote as an undergraduate.  Someone who has a great alto voice that could belt out Memory with the same power as the singer at the Neil Simon Theater last night.  

And I messaged her just to see how she was doing.  

She commented that she was not singing much but is enjoying her "current gig".  (In other words, being a physician.)  

There is nothing wrong with finding one's career.  (I certainly have.)  There is nothing wrong walking away from old pursuits (I have had to make a choice between different pursuits--running and music--twice and running won both times.)  There is nothing wrong with "growing up and acting like an adult" and doing all the responsible things.  We need that, of course. 

However, there is also something to be said for making a choice that leads to renewal.  This is where the rebuilding in lower Manhattan comes in.  Obviously, violence and destruction are much different from choices that we make as we grow up and grow old.  But the sense of renewal at the 9/11 site--the gleaming glass, the energy, the willpower, and the quiet memory, are all things that are important.  And all reflect on growth, renewal, and better.

With respect to Memory, each of us has things that we once were that we are no more.  Things that we have grown away from.  But things that may continue to inspire and motivate.  And it is that point on which I'd like to end.  Making music still inspires me.  Writing still inspires me.  Running still inspires me.  Baking inspires me.  And making art inspires me.  And I leave a lot of my "active" life with the moon in the sky and approaching dawn (my favorite time to run).  What I choose each day and/or for the next phase of my life is just that, my choice.  Constrained by a need to make a living--of course.  Constrained by the impact of choices I made long ago, like three boys, of course.  Constrained by my talent or lack of--for sure.  

But I have the choice and can either live with just the memories or let the memories be transformational--creating new opportunities, creating new possibilities, creating new challenges.  And always--absolutely always--finding the joy.  Radiating the joy.  Being the joy.  For myself.  For others.  Belting out my own version of memories and renewal each and every time a new drawn breaks and a new day awaits.  Building on what I have.  Making the most of what is to come. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Where Do We Belong?

The seagull seemed out of place
Or at least in a place one is not often there to see
On Baltimore near Exeter
With other local birds, all appearing hungry.
It was while we ran east on Baltimore,
Headed back to Patterson Park,
After a run that took us to the Jones Falls
Starting while it was still a little dark.
And we noted how unusual
It was to find the seagull there
Rather than at the Inner Harbor or the bay
Or perhaps the seashore.  Someplace where
One would expect to find other gulls
Perhaps an entire flock
Rather than just the lonely one
There near the corner of the block.
And as we ran closer to the gull
It rose up and made its sound
Telling us it was not happy
That we were even around.
So, to him we must have appeared
Just as much out of our place
Running so early in the heat
With only one training for a race.
And perhaps there really is not absolute
Place in which we should truly be
And so it is just a question of
How often we are there to see.
And where we should truly be is not so much a place
As in relation to others who
Share the love and joy and passion
Like the gull’s flock we find our “tribe” so true.
And so in the end the most important note
Was that the gull was not with others of its kind.
It needed to return to its flock
As much as any person needs to find
The tribe to whom he or she relates
The one or group providing love and being there
To help the person to self-actualize
To love, to care. To help and to share.