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Will Run, For Food… or Sucking Face

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Veni, ego ran, comedi…

This is a running story.

I came. I ran. I ate. 

It’s also a story about appetites.

It sounds pretty simple but it’s that middle part about running that always hurts. Sometimes the hurt is good, sometimes it’s the shits.

Either way, it’s a lot of work for a banana and some energy juice like Gatorade…

Actually… this year’s energy drink at the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon Aid Stations was called NUUN… as in NUUN of the good tasting stuff… it should be renamed … YUCK.

Finally, this is a story about different reasons for running.

CAVEAT EMPTOR: Not all of the words I write in this post will caress the politically correct or gender-sensitive #MeToo notes that will please you all.

Don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Running Reason #1 – As a man, I figure it’s important to subject myself – as if I’m in the throes of childbirth labour – yes, to subject myself to a mere couple of hours of discomfort building into a major pain in my lower half by the finish. Surely this makes me more empathetic to the suffering of my female brethren who bravely bear little vernix-greasy ragamuffins.

Understanding in all its forms makes the world a better place, right?

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Running Reason #2 – One of the big reasons I used to run in marathons and half marathons and 10k races was for the food.

They say that running is supposed to make you a healthy stud but MY big motivator after the gun or horn sounded to begin the race was to drive a mad headlong rush towards the food table at the finish line.

In years past, the food table… sometimes called the refreshment or recharge zone, was an enticing spread: lots of fresh fruit and muffins and donuts and bagels, chilled chocolate milk, occasionally yogurt or ice cream, even pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. Wine or beer. Guilt-free gluttony.

I’d walk the line, sweat dripping profusely and load my arms to the gunnels with carbs aplenty.

Who wouldn’t run 21.1 or 42.2 kilometres for this buffet of gustatory delight?

More recently, on a tragic note, my experience has been a dwindling of the repasts that greet us sweaty, smelling-like-The-Walking-Dead-zombies at the finish line. They boost entry fees ever higher while trashing the carb quotient… WTF!

In future, I’m going to stage a sit-in at the halfway mark and disobediently refuse to run further until the food situation is remedied… or… they institute a tradition akin to that at the Boston Marathon as outlined below…

Running Reason #3 – The Boston Marathon offers another type of buffet… another appetitic (my word!) temptation for the runners.

Thousands of young women from Wellesley College, scholarly ladies all, line the halfway point of the route in the renowned “Scream Tunnel”.

Kiss Me, I’m an International Student”; “Kiss Me, It’s My First Marathon”; “Kiss Me, I’m an Econ Major”; “Kiss Me, I’m Single”; “Kiss Me, I’ll Try Not To Puke”.

Yes, for decades now, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors from Wellesley have mobbed and “signaged” the 21k. point of the marathon: screaming, high-fiving… and… kissing the athletes.

Like ghoulishly-garbed kidlets candy-counting their Halloween loot, the young women compare kiss counts at the end of the day.

And a large group of sweaty, blotchy runners get a joyful moment of reprieve from their discomfort.

OK, it’s maybe not #MeToo friendly, but I won’t judge!

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Running Reason #4 – the final, and for me, the most important reason for running is the endorphin-laced sense of achievement.

Crossing the final few metres of a long run where your Prussian blue New Balance shoes feel like they have gooey bubblegum attached, body caked in salty sweat, scanning the timing clock ticking off the seconds, hearing the cowbells and the announcer’s voice and the loud music is high on the heaven-on-earth scale of inner joy.

Running is a solitary challenge to the body, mind and soul.

Solitary while surrounded by thousands of other human passengers all in alignment with their personal dreams and goals, the joys and sorrows that brought them here to persevere through the taxing kilometres.

Solitary while jostling along the imagined food table line, angling for the freshest, yummiest, chocolate-dipped donut on the serving platter. The final endurance test.

Soul food for the soles.

 

Achievement and The 7 foot Tall Dude

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Little Compton Fair_01

I arrived at the start line of a 10k running race the other day and there was this dude in hot orange fluorescent neon shoes. He was 7 feet tall if he was an inch.

We were all gathered there at the start line – about 200 eager runners hopping nervously in the early morning chill, a bit of dew still clinging to the grass blades under our feet, all revved up and ready to go, waiting for the crack of the starter pistol or siren.

Then this oddity-of-height dude begins jumping up and down, probably to keep warm, but it looks like he’s on a trampoline or something because he floats way above the heads of the crowd.

You know just looking at him that as long as he can stay upright on those fleshy stilts sticking out beneath his shorts that he’ll cross the finish line in about 10 lopes of his supernaturally long legs, miles ahead of anyone else.

And sure enough, he did.

I used to enter running races with this imaginary vision of myself crossing the finish line, arms raised in glorious triumph … crowds of well-wishers cheering the winner … yup … ME.

Of course this is a totally imagination-based scenario because I’ve broken the tape of a race at the head of the pack … not once … nope … not even remotely close … not even when I was in my prime 20’s and ’30’s.

And I never will, but that’s OK, because I live my days like a scattergun.

Scattergun smoke

I call it my “ADHD” which probably offends those with true medically-diagnosed cases of the disorder. But, for me, it loosely describes my everyday approach to life.

My ADHD is what allows me to enjoy and feel passion for all of the things I love to do. It’s unrestrictive… it’s like the passing wind, rustling freely through a wheat field with lots of wide open space to reach towards the horizon miles off in the distance.

I like to achieve.

But my life isn’t based only on success in one area that I practice … I pursue a lot of interests each day in a lot of different regions … sports and physical activity, investing, reading, building, writing, cooking, gardening. And that’s where I find my comfort zone… my zen.

Maybe it’s a neurosis or a psychosis or a vicious brain tumour that makes it happen, I don’t know.

I’m driven, maybe even haunted, by reaching for the carrot that taunts and teases me in front of my nose.

If I can’t make my nose bleed with excitement each day with a feeling of “I made this”, or “great forward momentum“, I end my day feeling blah and uninspired, maybe the way you feel when you can’t summon your daily bowel movement routine.

Achievement is my mental “Ex-Lax“. I produce, I achieve, I feel light and unburdened.

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Not every day produces something – a blog post, a new song, a gate on the chicken coop run, a chicken parmigiana to die for – I’m proud of … many times I do get achievement “constipation”.

But I know enough that if I plug away day in and day out, leaving worrisome thoughts behind … a day arrives where the stars align and something otherworldly materializes and this is enough to keep me motivated to get up the following day and keep trying.

Maybe this is one of the reasons aging gives us confidence and understanding. We learn about our capabilities and believe in ourselves – we finally believe in our own powers that once locked us in doubter’s prison in our earlier years.

I know what I need is there inside, I just need to be patient, get in behind and push a little, and allow it to surface.

A smile will come to me as I realize that once again I’ve produced something. I’ve achieved, therefore I am …

In 1880, Leo Tolstoy, after he wrote “War and Peace“, published a book that took him 30 years to write called “The Kingdom of God is Within You“.

This book focused not on a supernatural heaven that waits us later but on the choices we can make today that can make us happy and inspired. My “ADHD” is a choice that I’ve embraced and makes me feel happy and inspired.

In the end, I feel like I’m 7 feet tall at the start of the race and I know I’m a winner.

When I’m acting in a creative, productive way, even if I don’t cross the finish line first, or have a million blog followers, or make 25% annual investing returns like Warren Buffett, I’m enjoying the process and getting my little thrills in the little things that I can make happen.

And that’s all I ask, thank you very much …

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