Friday, September 26, 2014

I run because I love to kick....

I was a burned out soccer player. I had the choice of playing football or cross country. I knew I wasn't a football player, but I suspected I could run as soccer frequently required it.

I joined cross country and found quickly that the running I did as a soccer player was quite different from the running cross country required. I was used to going full tilt in pursuit of a loose ball or breaking up a play. It was in these moments when I laid it all on the line for a few seconds that I loved soccer most.

This was the only kind of running I knew. But, cross country required running for a few miles, not a few seconds. I labored mightily at each practice logging a few miles.

I'd collapse in my mom's car at the end of each practice. I'd usually fall asleep on the way home exhausted from just trying to stay in contact with my teammates. Maybe I wasn't a runner.

In lieu of any other viable alternatives, I kept showing up. I somehow managed to survive the first few weeks of practice. I wasn't the slowest runner on the team, but I had no illusions I was a ringer.

The season started and simply showing up regularly managed to get me on the varsity squad. But, I had no idea what I was doing when I toed the line. I merely tried to hang with the guy in front of me and not pass out.

September faded into October. I notched the miles and toed the line week after week, but I still wasn't sure if running was for me. There was nothing I could find in cross country that matched the rush I used to feel when I'd score a goal or shut someone down.

Then, everything changed. It was early November. It was a brisk morning. A long season would come to a close in twenty minutes (or less).

The gun fired and masses of young harriers bolted. Once again, I simply tried to stay in contact with the runner in front of me. I was keenly aware of the finality of this effort.

Win, lose, or draw, it was all on the line today. Whether I was meant to be a runner or not, I would spend it all. I would find out what I could do.

The race unfolded no differently from any other race I had participated in that season. I hung on. I hung in.

Two miles felt like an eternity. One more mile seemed staggering. I was running on fumes.

I crested the final hill of the race and made one final turn. Off in the distance, I saw the finish line. A sea of runners was before me.

Something deep inside of me stirred. I was tired, but something inside wanted out. I unleashed a war cry.

A surge of adrenaline coursed through me and I exploded. The gear I had used for so many years to break away and score a goal or stop an attacking striker had been engaged. I was unleashing hell.

Runner after runner was left behind as I put everything I had into my final finish of the season. I knew I couldn't hold this for long, but the finish line kept getting closer. I just had to keep the wheels turning a bit longer.

Gasping, heaving, and laboring, I soared past a few more runners before careening across the finish line. I had discovered my kick. I hadn't scored a goal or shut down an opposing player, but the rush was unmistakable.

From that day forward, my kick would be my secret weapon. I lived to kick. My kick won races. My kick snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Most importantly, my kick made me a runner. I loved running so fast that no one could keep up with me if only for a few seconds. My kick gave me confidence.

More than twenty years later, my kick still keeps me in the hunt. My kick makes me a runner. The surge of adrenaline that washes over me when I floor it keeps me coming back for more.

I run because I love to kick...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I run because I am slow...

Countless people tell me they are slow. I hear it all the time. I hear it so frequently from so many people, the word 'slow' means very little to me anymore.

Usain Bolt can cover 100 meters in just a hair over nine and a half seconds. This is fast, but it is glacial in comparison to what a cheetah can run for the same distance.

There are those who can run a mile in five minutes. Some can run a mile in less than four minutes. But, this pales in comparison to what your average gazelle can notch a mile in.

Then, there are the world's best marathoners. The current world record stands at 2:03:23 which is nearly 13 miles per hour. Your average golf cart can roll at 15 miles per hour.

Setting aside the handful of athletes who win major races and hold world records, there are the rest of us. We toe the line and rarely (if ever) win. There is almost always someone in front of us when we cross the finish line.

But, it's more than likely that there is at least one person who finishes behind you. Even if you are the last to cross the line, there are countless who would never consider toeing the line. There are innumerable who will never get off the couch.

So, you never need to worry about being slow. There will always be  someone who is slower. But, there is nothing wrong with being slow, however one defines this.

In the grand scheme of things, all of us are slow. There will always be someone (or some thing) faster than us. Being slow isn't a character flaw, it's a universal.

That doesn't mean you have to like it. I don't like it. I yearn to run faster too.

I run because I am slow...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I run because I feel small..

Some days simply kick your ass. They bring you to your knees. They make you beg for mercy.

I don't relish these days. I crumple in a heap on the floor. Defeated and spent, I wonder how to get up off the floor.

Life can make you feel infinitesimally small sometimes. It can make you feel decidedly diminutive. I feel so small, I could simply disappear.

The universe is gigantic. I am a speck of dust on a rock hurtling through space. My life is a blink of the universe's eye.

But, some of the greatest things start with small things. My business started with a craigslist ad. Now it is a tribe of thousands.

There was a time when I could barely run a mile and now I have completed innumerable. I felt small when I started. There is no question I am bigger now.

I pull myself off the ground. I uncrumple myself. I get a little bit bigger.

There was a time when I could barely get anyone to respond to an email. Now, I have to fight them off. I once barely got by, now I fly.

I stand up. I take a few deep breaths. I am bigger still.

Once, I could barely write a page. Now I can't stop writing. Pandora's box is open.

I was broken once. But, I fought my way back to the top. I have taken a few cheap shots, but shook them off.

I look off to the horizon. It is huge. It goes on forever. But, I am big too.

I just need a reminder. I take one small step and then a bigger one. I run because I feel small.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I run because there is still much to explore...

In a previous life, I was an explorer. If not an explorer, maybe I was an adventurer. It's possible I was also once a detective. Maybe I have been all of the above.

There are some mysteries still out there, but not as many as there once were. The great unknown is not as vast and as great as it once was. Most stones have been unturned.

There aren't many blank spots on the map. The Antarctic continent has been conquered. Many lost cities have been found.

For those who seek adventure and conquering the great unknown, things have changed. The desire to explore points elsewhere. This desire now points inward.

The limits of what an individual can do are unclear. The map has not been written. Exploring these limits is perhaps the greatest adventure of all.

This adventure doesn't require a huge budget or a team of explorers. You don't have to travel anywhere exotic to begin this journey. It starts right outside your door with just a few steps.

I have ventured far and wide. I have found myself alone in the middle of nowhere. I have been places I can barely describe.

I have asked things of my body few would ask. I have brazenly ignored the warning signs in pursuit of one more mile. Caution has been thrown to the wind on countless occasions.

I have run headlong into the wall. I have spent miles in the pain cave. I have been knocked down many times. But, I am still here.

The boundaries and limitations of what I can do are still nebulous. They are still unclear. They probably always will be.

But, the quest to find them never gets old. I always learn something new. I always push a bit further and just when I think I have gone as far as I can, I go farther.

I run because there is still much to explore...

Monday, September 22, 2014

I run because I don't know what to say..

I'm flummoxed. I'm tongue tied. Words fail me.

Maybe the challenge is the person I'm giving the message. Will they understand it? Will they receive it the right way? Will I deliver it the right way to them?

Getting the thoughts to crystallize might be the problem. They bounce around like socks tumbling in a dryer. Nothing coalesces. Nothing comes together.

Maybe it's just a bad message. If you're lucky, you never have to deliver this kind of message. But, there aren't many who don't eventually get the unfortunate task of delivering a bad message.

I find myself in a quagmire. Unable to figure a way out, I remain silent. The thoughts fight to come out, but the lips resist.

I find a few words. It's barely a fragment of a sentence. My lips nearly open.

Then, it all falls apart. The nascent beginnings of something lucid, something coherent fades away into the ether. I'm left mute again.

Maybe I simply need a change of scenery. They say a change of scenery is therapeutic. Maybe it will serve to loosen my tongue

In lieu of a better idea, I take flight. Where I find what I need is anyone's guess. My destination is unknown.

Nor is it known if this will serve to help me find the words I seek. The feet turn over in rhythm with the wheels turning in my head. The thoughts continue to tumble like socks, but it is now a slower tumble.

The ground rolls by beneath me. The fragments of coherent thought become less fragmentary. A few of the words I need make an appearance.

My breath enters and exits steadily, rhythmically. The words start to come a bit more readily. A few half baked thoughts are spawned.

Sweat emerges. Along with this sweat comes the stringing together of a few coherent thoughts. My lips purse as I rehearse delivering the message.

I've run headlong into the wall and survived. I've spent time in the pain cave and came out unscathed. Finding what to say is not impossible.

I run because I don't know what to say...

Friday, September 19, 2014

I run because I want to save the world....

I don't watch the news much. I should be better informed. But, virtually everything the news delivers depresses me.

Catastrophes and disasters surround us. We are on borrowed time. The world is falling apart.

The rich and powerful expand their empire and those who don't fall into this category work harder for less. It behooves you to lower your expectations. It behooves you to get what you can while you can.

The world feels like a darker, more foreboding place than it did when I was young. It seems like a more cutthroat, Machiavellian place. Shadows abound.

I feel like I am watching a train wreck happening. I wave my arms furiously hoping the conductor will see me. I yell as loud as I can hoping to somehow avert disaster.

I often feel helpless. Sometimes it all feels futile to me. But, not all is lost.

In big and small ways, I cast light on the shadows. I convince others to run with me. Each mile they run is a shadow killer.

Each mile prolongs youth. Each run staves off anxiety and depression. Each miles makes us better.

I have helped thousands of people become runners. By becoming runners, they have become better people. Infected by me, they become smarter, bolder, and happier.

Maybe they in turn spread the disease to someone else. The virus grows and the shadows dissipate. The light grows.

There is much I can't control. There are forces much larger than me at work. I am just one person.

But, I do what I can. I spread my virus in whatever I can. I infect as many as I can.

I run because I want to save the world...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I run because I am on fire...

I could tell something was different as soon as I walked out the door. I was breathing easier. There was a bounce in my step.

I tightened my laces. I shook out the kinks. I exhaled. I clicked my watch and the game was afoot.

It only took a few strides for me to feel it. I glided across the ground barely making contact. I was rolling.

Running was far from a chore today. It was what I was born to do today. My legs turned over unconsciously, effortlessly.

I smiled with the knowledge that this was a special day. I could go as far and as fast as I wanted. This run was mine.

Had I slept particularly well last night? Did I eat something special?  Was there a mysterious PED circulating in my bloodstream I had inadvertently ingested?

Maybe it was all of the above. Whatever the reason(s), I wasn't looking a gift horse in the mouth. I would simply run like one.

Everything was a blur as I flew by. Trees and bushes blended together as my strides turned into miles. The paved road faded and segued into a dirt trail.

Clouds of dirt and dust kicked up as I glided uphill. Lizards and beetles scattered in my wake. I'd leave the final destination to my legs. They seemed to know best.

The ascent continued. I was nonplussed. Everything was clicking. I was just getting warmed up.

Hundreds of feet I climbed. The world below grew smaller and smaller. My wheels turned over faster and faster.

I shifted into a higher gear. Sweat poured down providing a subtle reminder that while I felt unstoppable today, I was still at least vaguely human. Although, I felt far from human.

The hills kept coming. So, did I. Hundreds of feet turned into thousands. I touched the clouds and ran through the fog pouring over the hill.

The crest approached and I floored it. My legs seemed to have a mind of their own. They spun furiously with the knowledge that I could handle anything today.

I paused briefly at the crest. Looming ahead was yet another mountain to climb. There was no debate.

I shook out the kinks. I exhaled. I rolled on.

I run because I am on fire.....

Saturday Recovery Run @ PSOAS (9/20/14)

Saturday's recovery run launches from outside 333 3rd Street between Folsom/Harrison.

If you need to use the restroom, change, and/or store some personal items, head up to PSOAS in Suite 205.

Here's a link to the course map-

Saturday's Recovery Run Course Map.

Here is a brief description of the course:

We will cross Folsom from 3rd Street onto the sidewalk and take a right. We will run along Folsom all the way to the Embarcadero. We will cross the street and take a left onto the Embarcadero.

Run along the Embarcadero past the Ferry Building. Beginner runners will run to the intersection of Embarcadero/Green. Look for the street sign for ‘GREEN’. This is a hair over 1.5 miles. Turn around and head back to PSOAS for 3 MILES!

Everyone else will continue running along the Embarcadero. Intermediate runners will run to the intersection of Embarcadero/Bay. Look for the Houston's Restaurant on the LEFT side of the Embarcadero. This is 2 miles Turn around and head back to PSOAS for 4 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will continue running along the Embarcadero until it turns into ‘Jefferson’. Run along Jefferson to the intersection of Jefferson/Powell. Look for the Gap Store on the left. This is 2.5 miles. Advanced level runners will turn around here and head back to PSOAS for 5 MILES!

Race level runners will running through Fisherman’s Wharf right to the edge of Aquatic Park. Once you reach the cul-de-sac at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf/Aquatic Park, you’ve logged 3 miles. Turn around and head back to PSOAS for 6 MILES!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I run because I can weather the storm...

Something is off. Actually, it's not just one thing that is off. Everything is off.

Mercury is in retrograde. The stars are grossly misaligned. I am experiencing some kind of karmic retribution.

The fates have conspired against me. The hits just keep coming. The storm continues.

My every move is met with a stout headwind. I seek refuge from the torrential downpour, but there is no shelter to be had. Everything is an uphill battle.

Drenched, cold, and exhausted, I contemplate stopping. What's the point of continuing? This is futile. It is sisyphean.

The wind howls angrily in my direction. It mocks me as I try to take another step forward. This is no storm, it is a tempest.

I lean over and breathe deeply. Have I been here before? How did I survive last time?

Thunder rumbles menacingly in the distance. The dark clouds shift nervously above me. The rain turns cold and becomes sleet.

I could cry, but I laugh instead. The universe is clearly getting a kick out of my plight. A crack of lightning erupts across the sky for a split second illuminating everything.

It jars me. It provides the illumination I need. Everything is ephemeral. Everything is transitory.

Nothing lasts forever. Let the tempest rage. It will die soon, but I won't.

I take another step. It's a slow and muddy step that barely covers a few inches. It's a baby best.

The wind rages again. I take another step. The sleet pelts my face. I cover a few more inches.

Trees shake violently. Their leaves assault my face. I lift my foot again.

The tempest screams in protest. I smile in response. I am a force of nature too.

I run because I can weather the storm.....

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I run because there are countless to convert....

I identify as agnostic. But, I am not without religion. My religion is largely comprised of breathing, sweating, and persevering.

This is a religion measured in miles, commitment, and consistency. Failures and shortcomings are not ignored, but they are not belabored. You examine them, learn what you can, and keep moving forward.

It's a religion that requires extensive travel. One must cover hills, trails, and valleys. Plodding forward for unknown miles in search of salvation is not unusual.

It is a set of beliefs that requires dealing with discomfort. Enduring wind, rain, sleet, and more is required. I'd be lying if I said there was no self-flagellation involved.

It's a meritocracy. Hard work is rewarded. It's not a question of if, but when you will be rewarded. Salvation is earned.

This religion doesn't discriminate. Big and small are welcome. Fast and slow are embraced. Wherever you come from and whatever your past might look like, there is room for you.

Just show up. Just try. Just go one step further than you did last time. That's all I ask from my congregation.

I've invested the better part of a decade trying to convert people. I haven't been able to get everyone to drink the Kool-Aid, but I've managed to convert a few thousand, maybe more.

I don't dwell on those I haven't managed to convert. Those I have managed to convert are often changed forever. Once you've seen the light, there's no going back.

My religion has served as a catalyst for exploring new directions. It's catalyzed new thought. It has opened eyes.

I've seen many from my congregation go further than they ever could have imagined. I've been witness to members of my flock explore parts of themselves they never knew existed.  Enlightenment is not unusual.

I've witnessed love. I've witnessed marriage. I've been blessed to see children born from couples who met in some way, shape, or form via my teachings.

I am extraordinarily lucky to have affected as many as I have. But, I'm not done. There are so many more out there who need help. There are so many more who are looking for salvation.

I run because there are countless to convert...

Monday, September 15, 2014

I run because another path is out there..

Everything feels small. Everything feels routine. I feel trapped inside a machine of my own making.

I do my job. I come home. Rinse and repeat.

A nagging anxiety creeps up from somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach. It gnaws impatiently. It growls in discontent.

This is not what I dreamt of as a child. This is not what I aspired to. This is not the life I want.

There has to be another way. Surely, there is another path. I can't see it clearly, but I know it must be there.

I have no illusions traveling this path will be easy. It will have no shortage of hills. It will have a multitude of bumps. It will be a long road.

But, grinding down hills is my thing. Taking bumps is not foreign to me. Logging a few extra miles is not a problem.

This path includes constant uncertainty. No compass can ensure safe navigation. Moments of doubt and fear will be around every corner.

All of this gives me pause, but does not stop me. Fear isn't always a bad thing. Fear can keep you on your toes.

I open the door and look outside the machine I am trapped inside. The sun shines. The wind blows. There isn't a single path, there are countless.

I take the first trepidatious step and I am still standing. I take a few more. The fear is there, but it is muted and understated.

The walk turns into a run. The dangers of this new path are far outweighed by the opportunities. I don't have to be a cog. I don't have to be caged.

I do have to deal with the hills, bumps, uncertainty, and additional miles this path demands. But, living something other than a small life requires this. The easy path is not enough for me...

I run because another path is out there..

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I run because there are bigger beasts to slay...

It started with a couple exhausting, painful miles. I had been an athlete for fourteen years, but running was a different beast. It gave no quarter.

Exhausted, I wondered how anyone could engage in this kind of senseless self/flagellation on a regular basis. This beast had fangs and didn't back down. It would make you bleed.

While I was wobbly, I was still standing. My armor was dinged, but not terribly dented. I licked my wounds and sharpened my spears.

I ran far and wide. I ran long hills left me gasping. I braved the bitter cold in preparation for my next encounter with the beast.

I would be tougher. I would be stronger. I would not fold.

The beast had gotten the better of me the first time around. Maybe I hadn't taken it seriously the first time. This mistake would not be repeated.

I would be ready for the next encounter. I slogged through a withering hill visualizing the beast staring at me. It licked its teeth eager to test me, eager to end me.

I stared back defiantly. I tried to convey quiet confidence. Fierce and hungry this beast was, but invincible it wasn't. It could bleed too.

But, the questions persisted. Was I ready to bleed to win? Was I ready to suffer in order to move forward?

The only way I could know for sure was to stand toe to toe again. So, I found myself staring again at the beast. In a few short minutes, we would lock horns again.

The quiet before the storm was deafening. This would be a slugfest. It would not be pretty.

But, there is little about running that is pretty. It more often involves being tough, being patient, and sometimes being beastly.

The game was afoot. I kept stride. I reveled in the knowledge that I would draw blood one way or the other. Win or lose, my adversary would not forget me.

Nor would I forget to take nothing for granted. Predictably, no quarter was given. Predictably, we both drew blood.

I careened towards the finish line with the breath of the beast hot down my neck. Fatigue took a backseat as I realized I was inches from the next step.

I let it all out. What little I had left was spent. Mercifully, it ended.

The beast was at my feet. I had felled it. I would live to run another day.

In the distance, I saw storm clouds. I heard thunder. I could not linger long.

Something bolder was out there. Something tougher was out there. Something bigger was out there.

I run because there are bigger beasts to slay...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I run because I am a persistence hunter...

One step fades into another. How many miles I have covered is anyone's guess. This trail feels like a labyrinth.

Where it began and where it ends is an enigma wrapped in a conundrum. Every twist and turn leads me to yet another stretch that feels like a dead end. I feel the Minotaur breathing down my neck.

The fog is thick and suffocating. This doesn't help as my peripheral vision begins to fade, the latest victim of the stifling fatigue of countless miles. But, ignorance is bliss.

Not seeing what lies ahead is a gift. Yet another mile, yet another hill, and yet another death blow undoubtedly lies ahead. Leaden and lethargic, I take another step and another breath.

Overhead I see them circling. In the fog and haze of fatigue, they look like vultures. Impatient, they wait for my imminent collapse, my imminent failure, and ultimate demise.

They are just hawks. This bird of prey isn't seeking me. But, they remind me how close I am to the edge.

The tank has been empty for some time. The wheels barely turn over. It's become a game of inches.

If only I had inches to go. But, such is not my luck. There are too many inches in a mile to count and an inch already feels like a mile.

While hunger has not completely seized me yet, it makes its presence known. The desperate cry for fuel becomes louder with each step. It lurks in a dark corner impatiently waiting for the wheels to stop.

Blind instinct carries me forward yet another inch. The wind carries a scent that is vaguely familiar. It is a scent that suggests there is some faint hope of me finishing this. It is a scent that reminds me of home.

The fog begins to fade. The trail begins to end. The hunt is nearly over. My prey is close.

I segue into a walk that is more of a stagger. The closeted hunger takes over. The wait is over.

Coated with salt, caked in mud, and drenched in sweat, I labor through a few more slow steps. I lean over, close my eyes, and exhale.

My number is called and I slowly lift my head. Before me is that which will quiet the hunger. It will satiate. It will bring me back from the dead.

My prey has finally succumbed. It lies before me. It is a potent melange of grilled beef, melted cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon.

It is the finest meal I have ever had.

I run because I am a persistence hunter...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I run because of Pre...

His home was little more than a bus. Running was his religion. Racing was an opportunity to see who had the most guts.

He was brash. He was brazen. He was Pre.

Every American record from 2,000-10,000 was his for a period of time. Bold frontrunning was his style.
Win or lose, he'd make you bleed.

He was bold. He blazed his own trails. He was Pre.

Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain are but a couple of iconoclasts he's been compared to. Races were a work of art for him. Something beautiful happened when he ran.

He was fearless. He was tenacious. He was Pre.

Giving anything less than your best was unacceptable. Doing so was compromising the gift. His gift was staggering.

He was a force of nature. He was the kraken unleashed. He was Pre.

His poker face was non-existent.
Fatigue and pain were never masked. His heart was always on his sleeve.

He was fierce. He was passionate. He was Pre.

They say the star that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast. 24 years was as long as he burned. While his reign was far too short, it was blindingly bright.

He was the unleashing of hell. He was the perfect storm. He was Pre.

Or at least, this is my impression of who Prefontaine was. I never had the good fortune to meet him. I imagine at least some of this captures the essence of Pre.

I will never own the records Pre did. I will never inspire as many people as Pre did. But, my passion for running rivals Pre's and what he accomplished in less than quarter of a century helps keep the fire lit. 

I run because of Pre.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

I run because I am an outsider...

I don't remember feeling terribly comfortable in my own skin when I was a kid. For reasons I didn't ever really understand, I always felt a bit out of place. I always felt different.

I often retreated to the comfort of books. Fantastic worlds crafted by J.R.R. Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander provided an escape to a place where being different was often celebrated. It was those who were different who made a difference.

Around the same time, I watched lots of movies on the big and small screen. I found myself connecting with outsiders like Mad Max from 'The Road Warrior'. I rooted for underdogs like Charlie Bucket from 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'.

While I went to school, participated in soccer, and wasn't a complete misanthrope, I generally felt least comfortable in the company of my peers. It wasn't them, it was me. I didn't think anyone could understand me. I could barely understand myself.

Middle school gave way to high school and while the setting changed, I didn't change much. I felt like an outsider. I had no real connection to any cliques or social groups. My skin felt no less comfortable.

I would eventually grow weary of soccer and fate thrust running onto me. I found myself on the cross country team and began to realize perhaps I was in the company of fellow outsiders.

Running was not a sport many understood. I encountered many who thought it was silly. I encountered some who thought it was not a sport.

As someone who often felt like an outsider, it seemed I had found my calling. I relished the fact that not many seemed to understand running. I felt misunderstood, so it only seemed appropriate that I engage in a sport many didn't understand.

I ran faster and longer, embracing my outsider status. Naysayers could mock me all they wanted. They had no idea what it took to run a 5K in under eighteen minutes. They could never understand what it took to run ten miles.

As I came to know running, I came to know myself. I learned I could go farther than most. I learned I could go faster than most. If being an outsider meant I was faster and could go farther than most, I could live with it.

I came to relish the fact that my runs were mine and mine alone. I didn't have to share them with anyone and there weren't many who could do them with me even if they wanted to. Those who couldn't appreciate what I was doing were on the outside.

While I am markedly more comfortable in my own skin today, I still identify as an outsider. But, it's a title I wear proudly. It means walking (or running) to the beat of a different drum. Being an outsider means taking paths and trails others wouldn't consider.

Outsiders go places others won't. I run because I am an outsider...

Monday, September 08, 2014

I run because I am haunted....

They say you should live in the now. Forget the past. You can't change it. It's best to let it go.

I try to leave the past behind. I'm sure most people do. But, just because your past is behind you doesn't mean it's dead and buried.

Some nights the past comes back to haunt you. Maybe it's in a dream. Maybe it's something other than a dream.

It's often said houses are haunted because the previous inhabitants of said house died in some violent or tragic way. The spirits of the dead hang around because there's unfinished business.

Or perhaps the spirits that remain are just confused. Maybe they don't know they're dead.

Tragedy is a part of life in big and small ways. I like to think time heals 'most' wounds and tragedies. But, sometimes the wind blows the right way and you feel a twinge. You feel an ache.

You feel echoes from the past. Ghosts coming back to remind you that there's unfinished business. Maybe it's business that will never be finished.

Sometimes these ghosts castigate you. They chastise you for doing something you shouldn't have done. They browbeat you for something you should have said, but didn't.

It isn't always the case that they're trying to torment you. Maybe the intent is to make sure you don't make the mistake again. Maybe the intent is to help you avoid future tragedy.

In the movies, you often get rid of ghosts by taking care of the unfinished business or righting whatever wrong was committed. Things are rectified.

In real life, we never really get closure. You never really walk away with all the answers. Ghosts linger and haunt.

I've long since given up on getting rid of mine entirely. They come and they go. But, as far as hauntings go, mine isn't so bad and it's not as bad as it once was.

When the ghosts become too much to bear, I do what the frightened often do in the movies, I run away. I have no illusions this is a permanent solution. It's a stopgap measure.

But, running is an act that is profoundly present. There is no question of where I am when I run. I am in the moment. The past is behind me and has no bearing on where I am going.

While ghosts may be real just as my past may be real, it is the present that ultimately matters most. What matters most is what's directly in front of me.

In the end, there are no permanent solutions to a haunting. Ghosts come and go. When the bumps in the night become too much to bear, I run. I run because I am haunted.....

Saturday, September 06, 2014

I run because I have nothing to write about...

It stares at me menacingly...daring me to take a step forward. It is steep, it is long, and seemingly unending.

It can't be reasoned with. It can't be bargained with. It absolutely will not stop.

I try to put on a brave face and move forward. A stout headwind immediately slows my progress. I look skyward for help. There is none to be had.

I look down and see my feet laboring, slogging, and generally disappointing. My body reeks of fatigue. Slow death breathes down my neck..

My mind aches with the voices that serve no purpose but to undermine, unravel, and derail. I tell them to fuck off, but they know I am all bark and no bite today.

My progress has devolved to glacial flailing. The body and mind conspire against me. It's a perfect storm of capitulation. I take a few more slow, painful steps, nevertheless.

That is all I can muster. It's ugly. It's short. It's contrived. But, I pulled it off.

I managed to sully half a page with a few words, a few half baked thoughts, and numerous flaws. But, I still did something.

I set it aside. I can't be Hemingway every day. In fact, I will never be Hemingway. I need a change of scenery.

The door opens and the path goes on for as long as I need it to. Inspiration might be a few miles or a few hours away. I will find it one way or the other.

I run because I have nothing to write about.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Epic Run Lowdown...

We're looking forward to seeing you on Sunday @ 9:30AM for an EPIC Summer Run of 3ish or 7ish miles launching from A Runner's Mind @ 3575 Sacramento Street!

Please read all of the below for an optimal experience tomorrow!

Epic Raffle Prizes up for grabs on Sunday! To be eligible, one must be officially registered by 3PM ON SATURDAY!

While all of the Newton Running Socks have been claimed, ALL parties officially registered for the run have a shot at winning one of the following EPIC raffle prizes...
-A sweet Newton prize pack.
-Free entry into Halloween 13.1 training program launching on 8/16 ($150 value)
-Free entry to The Honey Badger Half/10K/5K on Sat, 10/25 ($75 value)
-$50 in A Runner's Mind gift certificates planted in TWO SILVER SHOES ALONG THE COURSE!
-A free entry to the 9/14 City Beer Run!
-A free month at Studiomix!
-A case of Zico Coconut Water and more..
Even if you don't manage to score one of the aforementioned raffle prizes, EVERYONE is a winner as we'll have RED HOOK BEER, Zico Coconut Water, EPIC BAR products, Brownie Brittle, free technical shirts, and other snacks/refreshments for everyone upon completion of the Epic Run!
All raffle prizes and socks will be distributed FOLLOWING THE RUN AT A RUNNER'S MIND.
If you know anyone who STILL hasn't signed up, encourage them to do so before 3PM ON SATURDAY. Anyone who signs up AFTER 3PM SATURDAY will not be eligible for any of the raffle prizes!

Two Silver Shoes on the Epic Run Course!

Somewhere along the course, there are TWO silver shoes! If you find one of them and bring them back to A Runner's Mind, you'll get a $25 A Runner's Mind Gift Certificate!

Here are two photos to give you some idea of where they might be located...

There's a silver shoe about .6 miles in and not too far from the following...

There's a second silver shoe about 2.6 miles in and not too far from this view...

Schedule for Sunday's Epic Summer Run..

-9:15AM-Arrive at A Runner's Mind & test drive some Newton kicks! We'd encourage you to arrive a bit early to check out some of Newton's latest kicks to 'test drive' for your epic run.
-9:30AM-Epic Run Directions & Announcements! I will provide some direction around Sunday's run(s) and make a few announcements before we head out.
-9:30AM-10:45AM (approx)-GET EPIC! Whether you're doing the 3ish mile course or the 6ish mile course, you'll see some EPIC stuff along the way, tackle some hills, trails, and more! GET EPIC!
-10:45AM-12:00PM (approx)-PARTY! Claim your Newton Socks (if you're on the list of first 40 who registered), stick around and refuel, rehydrate, score an EPIC raffle prize, and party with your fellow runners!

Course Maps/Descriptions/Cheat Sheets

We will be marking the courses THOROUGHLY with chalk on paved portions and flour on trail portions. This being said, PLEASE take a look at the course maps/descriptions below.
Additionally, you may want to download and print the cheat sheet to take with you on the run.

Epic Summer Run 3ish Course Map & Description
Epic Summer Run 3ish Cheat Sheet
Epic Summer Run 6ish Course Map & Description
Epic Summer Run 6ish Cheat Sheet

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday!


-Marathon Matt

Epic Run #2 (6ish Miles) Cheat Sheet

Here's a description of said course...
Follow chalk markings indicating 'E' with arrows on paved roads. Follow flour arrows on trail segments.
-Launch from Mountain Lake Park.
-Turn RIGHT once you crest the hill (.35 miles approx).
-Follow paved path uphill towards Presidio Golf Course. (.65 miles approx)
-Run through Golf Course via path until you run into Washington(.7 miles approx)
-Cross Washington and head towards Amatury Loop.
-Take a LEFT on Bay Area Ridge Trail at Amatury Loop.
-Cross Park Blvd on Bay Area Ridge Trail. (.78 miles approx)
-At Rob Hill Campground follow Access Road to Washington Blvd.(1.25 miles approx)
-Follow Trail Left on Washington Blvd. Turn left at crosswalk to Immigrant Point Overlook.
-At Immigrant Point Overlook take steps down to Lincoln Blvd/Battery to Bluffs Trail (1.6 miles approx)
-Cross Lincoln Blvd. Join Battery to Bluffs Trail and follow trail
-Continue onto California Coastal Trail underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. (2.6 miles approx)
-Re-Join Battery East Trail (paved pedestrian path).
-Follow paved path to intersection of Lincoln/Long Ave. Look for stop signs.
-Continue on paved path through intersection to Crissy Field Overlook. Look for the 'E' with an arrow directing you to turnaround! (3.17 miles approx)

Epic Run #2 (3ish Miles) Cheat Sheet

Follow chalk markings indicating 'E' with arrows on paved roads. Follow flour arrows on trail segments.
-Launch from Mountain Lake Park.
-Turn RIGHT once you crest the hill (.35 miles approx).
-Follow paved path uphill towards Presidio Golf Course. (.65 miles approx)
-Run through Golf Course via path until you run into Washington(.7 miles approx)
-Cross Washington and head towards Amatury Loop.
-Take a LEFT on Bay Area Ridge Trail at Amatury Loop.
-Cross Park Blvd on Bay Area Ridge Trail. (.78 miles approx)
-At Rob Hill Campground follow Access Road to Washington Blvd.(1.25 miles approx)
-Follow Trail Left on Washington Blvd. Turn left at crosswalk to Immigrant Point Overlook.
-At Immigrant Point Overlook take steps down to Lincoln Blvd/Battery to Bluffs Trail (1.6 miles approx)
-Look for chalk 'E' and arrow indicating you should turn around.

Epic Run #2 (3ish miles) Course Map & Description

We'll get things rolling with an easy 1/2 mile warmup run through Arguello Gate and head towards Mountain Lake Park. We'll do some range of motion drills before starting the run.

Here's a link to the course map....

Here's a description of said course...
Follow chalk markings indicating 'E' with arrows on paved roads. Follow flour arrows on trail segments.

-Launch from Mountain Lake Park.
-Turn RIGHT once you crest the hill (.35 miles approx).
-Follow paved path uphill towards Presidio Golf Course. (.65 miles approx)
-Run through Golf Course via path until you run into Washington(.7 miles approx)
-Cross Washington and head towards Amatury Loop.
-Take a LEFT on Bay Area Ridge Trail at Amatury Loop.
-Cross Park Blvd on Bay Area Ridge Trail. (.78 miles approx)
-At Rob Hill Campground follow Access Road to Washington Blvd.(1.25 miles approx)
-Follow Trail Left on Washington Blvd. Turn left at crosswalk to Immigrant Point Overlook.
-At Immigrant Point Overlook take steps down to Lincoln Blvd/Battery to Bluffs Trail (1.6 miles approx)
-Look for chalk 'E' and arrow indicating you should turn around.

Epic Run #2 (6ish miles) Course Map & Description

We'll get things rolling with an easy 1/2 mile warmup run through Arguello Gate and head towards Mountain Lake Park. We'll do some range of motion drills before starting the run.

Here's a link to the course map....

Here's a description of said course...
Follow chalk markings indicating 'E' with arrows on paved roads. Follow flour arrows on trail segments.

-Launch from Mountain Lake Park.
-Turn RIGHT once you crest the hill (.35 miles approx).
-Follow paved path uphill towards Presidio Golf Course. (.65 miles approx)
-Run through Golf Course via path until you run into Washington(.7 miles approx)
-Cross Washington and head towards Amatury Loop.
-Take a LEFT on Bay Area Ridge Trail at Amatury Loop.
-Cross Park Blvd on Bay Area Ridge Trail. (.78 miles approx)
-At Rob Hill Campground follow Access Road to Washington Blvd.(1.25 miles approx)
-Follow Trail Left on Washington Blvd. Turn left at crosswalk to Immigrant Point Overlook.
-At Immigrant Point Overlook take steps down to Lincoln Blvd/Battery to Bluffs Trail (1.6 miles approx)
-Cross Lincoln Blvd. Join Battery to Bluffs Trail and follow trail
-Continue onto California Coastal Trail underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. (2.6 miles approx)
-Re-Join Battery East Trail (paved pedestrian path).
-Follow paved path to intersection of Lincoln/Long Ave. Look for stop signs.
-Continue on paved path through intersection to Crissy Field Overlook. Look for the 'E' with an arrow directing you to turnaround! (3.17 miles approx)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

I run because I am a rule breaker..

I look both ways before crossing the street. I yield to pedestrians. I drive at a reasonable speed. Generally speaking, I follow the rules.

I pay my bills. I pay my taxes. I drive on the right side of the road. I stop at red lights. I avoid breaking the law.

I don't mind following most rules and obeying most laws provided they make sense and generally prevent society from devolving into complete chaos.

But, there's a part of me that yearns to break all of them. It's not that I want to cause problems and chaos. However, there's a part of me that questions everything. There's a part of me that accepts nothing on face value.

If you accept everything as it is, how can you change anything? How can you make anything better? How can you move forward?

Rules often seem to be about what you can't do. Rules are often about limits and I'm not a big fan of placing limits on things.

Sometimes you have to question the rules. Sometimes you have to challenge the rules. Sometimes you even have to break the rules.

It was once believed that it was humanly impossible to run a mile in under four minutes. Fortunately, Roger Bannister had the good sense to challenge this rule and found it to be bunk.

For a long time, it was believed that women were simply too fragile to run, let alone handle the demands of the marathon. It took the bold rule breaking of Kathrine Switzer at the Boston Marathon to prove this rule was bunk too.

Running is a wonderful way to break the rules. The act itself is an act of defiance. Each stride you take defies the law of gravity. Humans weren't designed to fly, but for a brief moment we do. If you want to be a rebel, run.

When you roll through town in a car or on a bike, you have to follow the designated path. The runner need not follow a designated path. Runners can blaze their own path, trail, or journey. There is no right side of the road when you run.

There's no speed limit with running. In fact, running slow is often frowned upon. Whereas running fast is glorified. If you have a penchant for breaking the speed limit, running might be your thing.

Running provides the opportunity every day to break the rules and challenge your limits. This isn't to say breaking the rules and challenging your limits will always succeed.

But, it's the only way I know of to move forward. I run because I am a rule breaker...

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

I run because the gods demand it...

I identify as agnostic, but I believe there is some entity (perhaps multiple entities) more powerful than me. Whether or not said entity influences my life in any significant way, I don't know. But, I like to think this is the case.

There was the time I was running and desperate for water. I could think of nothing else. Upon cresting a hill, a bottle of water lay on the ground in front of me. This could have been dumb luck, but it felt like divine intervention.

More than 44 miles into my first (and likely only) 50 miler, I was drowning in fatigue and pain. Uncertain about how far I could go, I somehow found myself able to stay afloat and run the last few miles. I suspect something larger than me was at work this day.

On a good day with my runners, I often say the running gods smiled on us. While there may not be any running gods that influence my runs or races, it's reassuring to delude oneself into thinking there might be.

Gods can be fickle, though. There have been days when I should have run brilliantly, but for reasons I can't comprehend, the stars didn't align. The gods simply didn't smile that day. Perhaps I failed them somehow.

Each time I put on my shoes and head out the door, I make an offering to them. It's my hope that my consistent and conscientious offerings will elicit a positive response more often than not.

I battle mightily through the last interval of a track workout hoping they will reward me on the day I need their help most. I push through a steep incline clinging to the idea that they will allow me the strength to do the same the next time I toe the line.

I run through torrential rain and stout headwinds with the hope they may help provide the weather I need on the day I need it. I surge towards the finish line running on fumes hoping that my efforts will not go unnoticed.

I've pushed myself perilously close to the limits of what my body can support. I've staggered across the finish line lightheaded, dizzy, and barely coherent. I can only hope this pleases them.

I've made my offerings on treadmills, trails, tracks, roads, and paths. Some may accuse me of being a zealot and they wouldn't be entirely wrong. I can only hope that my zealotry will pay dividends.

I have no way of knowing for sure if it will. My efforts are a leap of faith. But, I like to think that those who take the leap are rewarded more than those who choose not to. I run because the gods demand it..

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

I run because I want more life..

The advent of botox, plastic surgery, and other forms of cosmetic enhancement suggest that youth is something many desperately want to cling to. There are also age defying creams and lotions. You can also take advantage of cryogenics and seemingly live forever.

In the not too distant future, gene therapy may allow us to drink from the fountain of youth and never age. They say youth is wasted on the young and perhaps this is true as you rarely see the young ardently trying to cling to their youth in the same way that the 'youth challenged' do.

There are things I enjoyed about being younger, but there are plenty of things I experienced in my younger years that I have no interest in revisiting or prolonging. Becoming youth challenged isn't the end of the world.

As my youth becomes more challenged with each passing day, I've come to realize that receding (or disappearing) hair doesn't bother me. Nor do the more abundant wrinkles I see in the mirror. The idea of not being around eventually doesn't even necessarily bother me that much.

What bothers me most about getting older is life seems to move faster and faster. I know this isn't really the case, but perception is nine-tenths of the law. I perceive life to move much faster than it once did.

The breakneck pace of youth challenged life all but guarantees I will shuffle off this mortal coil with more than a few things left undone. This is admittedly a big bummer.

There is one way I know of to slow things down, though. Running slows the aging process. In effect, running grants more life.

At the end of the day, I don't give a shit about being young forever. What matters to me is having enough life to at least do 'most' of the things I would like to do. I figure running on a regular basis is buying me a few more years.

This means time to write a book. This means time to produce another event. This means time to make a few more people happy. It also means a few more opportunities to run.

I run because I want more life.

Monday, September 01, 2014

I run because I am a wanderer...

My family moved numerous times when I was a kid. Sometimes it was just thirty minutes away. Sometimes it was halfway across the country.

These moves were accompanied by new phone numbers, new schools, and new friends. I never particularly enjoyed these moves. They were never easy. They were always stressful.

Independent of our numerous moves, we took countless family road trips across the country. From Kansas to Connecticut and back. We drove my sister from Kansas to Los Angeles and back after dropping her off for college.

While we weren't gypsies, our existence seemed at least quasi-nomadic. It seemed we never stayed anywhere for long. Roots were never allowed to grow too deep.

Sometimes I'd wonder if my father was actually a secret government agent. Perhaps his 'real' job was the reason why we had to move so often.

By the time I got to high school I started to identify as a nomad. I never really expected to stay in one place for very long. Very little seemed permanent or stable to me.

I traveled so much that it almost seemed unnatural to not be traveling. If I stayed in one place for too long, I'd get antsy. Wanderlust took hold.

Traveling during high school was no easy feat as I rarely had money, a car, or any real means of going anywhere.

Fortunately, there was one mode of travel at my disposal that I could always count on. While my journeys were never terribly long, they were long enough to scratch the itch. The lust to wander lessened.

I'd travel down back roads I didn't know and stumble onto things I hadn't seen before. I ran down rocky trails startling deer as they meandered through the woods.

I rarely had a real destination in mind when I traveled.  I was never really sure where I was going. But, that doesn't mean my travels were aimless.

I was always looking for something new, something novel, or something to inspire the next journey. While part of me yearned to have a home that felt stable and permanent, I came to realize that the road had in many respects become my home.

My home became an enormous, expansive place filled with micro-climates, interesting people, and surprises. Even if I traveled the same path every day, it was never the same path twice.

Every day I have an opportunity to expand my home and fill it with novel experiences, memories, and journeys. I run because I am a wanderer...