May 3, 2019 – Pawn Sacrifice

On May 1st, 2019, I deleted the apps for Facebook and Facebook Messenger from my phone.  I had decided it was time to take an extended break from social media.  I didn’t like what it was doing to me and I hadn’t for a long time.  So while I had logged out previously, even temporarily suspended my accounts for a week at a time, it seemed like a full on cleanse was in order.  I’m hoping, not to focus on my “brand” as social influencers like the deplorable Olivia Jade might say, but instead focus on me… on life… on the real world.  It’s perhaps a Quixotic quest for personal understanding and growth but it is in the end MY Quixotic quest rather than one curated and remotely influenced by bots and trolls.

I’m keeping up with my blog now and again though… and despite being a subsidiary of Facebook, I’m occasionally still posting to Instagram which for some reason feels slightly less insidious and nefarious than the Facebook mothership.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally taken some critiques from readers of RunKevinRun that the posts can be… depressing?  Negative?  Wallowing?  I’ve always tried to keep things relatively “real” on this site, chronicling the highs and lows of running and life.  If Facebook often strikes me as a Stepford Wives/50s Sitcom superficiality of a rose-tinted lens that obscures reality and presents if not an idealized version of life at least a carefully smeared with Vaseline fuzz that hides the warts and all of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  After all, it isn’t always “living one’s best life” in life.  It’s hard, it’s a struggle, it’s filled with setbacks and disappointments and inexplicable, irrational, emotional and truly human moments.

I’ve recently been reading Meb Keflezighi’s memoir entitled 26 Marathons: What I Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life from My Marathon Career.  Using the 26 professional marathons he ran as a structure for life lessons, Meb provides a look at what worked and what didn’t work for him on the road to success… including the setbacks and disappointments.  It’s at times inspirational and at times a bit too for me touchy-feely.  But I that’s probably true of all personal stories and attempts to draw out and share advice/lessons from this thing called life.  Hell, MY blog is ALL about touchy-feely mumbo jumbo and personal wonkiness.  But it’s had me thinking a bit about struggles and how even those in the elite of elites can struggle.

And that’s why I’ve tried to be honest and open on this blog – to demonstrate that even though I’ve run 400+ marathons, it’s still hard… and always will be.

Today I’m off to Europe for two weekends of running… and a few days of adventures in between.  I’m feeling woefully ill-prepared.  Packing wise, I really feel discombobulated and out of sorts.  I’m pretty sure I have everything in my bag – running gear, Garmin watch, a few extra layers for walking around since apparently it’s getting down to the high 30s at night in Prague and Geneva over the next few days.  But I’m also feeling ill-prepared and nervous about the marathons themselves.

You’d think after literally hundreds of start lines, I’d be less nervous.  And yet… and yet….

I’ve been struggling with recovery these past few months.  Yesterday was a major stumbling block on the road to race readiness.  I did a short 6 miler… and it was rough.  I had problems maintaining even a 12-minute-mile pace… almost a full 5 minutes slower per mile than my best pace.  That’s the difference between a 3 hour marathon and a 5 hour, 15 minute finish.  That’s… disheartening to say the least.

I’ve gone in waves, feeling better and worse in the last few weeks.  I thought I had finally rounded a corner and was proceeding toward rebuilding but yesterday felt like a colossal run in the wrong direction.  I’ve long known I’ve had an addictive personality, inherited on the genetic code from the Hanna side of the family.  There’s a mania I find myself dealing with – it’s why when I started down the road to 50 states, it really became a thing… ditto with the 7 continents… ditto with the Road To marathon series… and now with the I’m already kind of sick of Marathon Globetrotters circuit.  The latter is probably because I spent a tidy sum on a club shirt that would not have been out of place in the famous Carol Burnett Gone with the Wind sketch.  Drowning in tech fabric, I also look like I’d be at home afloat in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade.  Sigh.  Ironically, given my ballooning waist line due to sub-par running, stress eating and the ravages of decades of life, that shirt may soon fit perfectly.  Which prompts a double sigh.

This is a bit of a wallowing post but it’s also relatively real… at least more real than I’d ever think to have posted onto Facebook.  Facebook.  Sigh.  It’s much more of a Fakebook, a sliver of life posted online to digitally keep up with the Joneses.

I’m waiting to board my flight.  And I’m just pushed and pulled in all kinds of directions.  I failed to get out and run this morning, my alarm going off at 5:30 AM to allow me time to get home and shower and get on the road to the airport.  But my body and mind just shrugged it off and instead of lacing up, I tapped the snooze button repeatedly.  That’s… troubling.

We will see what happens Sunday in Prague.

Meb Keflezighi’s primary advice to runners, and indeed humans in life, can be summed up in this excerpt from his book:

“A marathon is a metaphor for life, and life is not easy. A marathon’s not easy.  But through hard work and keeping the spirit up, [being] the best that you can be that day, even when things are not going your [way], stick to it. When you finish, you can evaluate, what are the three things positive, what are the three things that [are] negative, and change. We’re humans, we make mistakes. But if we modify, we can be a better us.”

I will do my best… and if I can say that, and I can do that, then whatever the clock time says, I will be able to hold my head up high.  And that is assuredly worth the uncertainty, the worry, the effort.

One foot in front of the other.