“Oh!” I thought to myself during my slow, slow, painfully slow in oh-so-many ways run this morning. “I’ll run up to the top of Diamond Head Crater! That’ll be a fun hill challenge and will partially excuse this hurt-ass (in oh-so-many ways) pace!”
And as I headed to the cross walk, I came upon this sign:
I removed my frayed “shoe wallet” during the Avengers Half Marathon weekend in Anaheim. It had ripped open and my rental car keys had fallen out, prompting me to have to circle back and find them in the dark, all the while having my fellow “helpful” runners tell me I was going the wrong way. That’s all context and excuse for why I didn’t have any money on me as I was out and about. I really should carry some money in case of emergencies but, hey-ho, I’ve fallen and dusted myself off, blood dripping from cuts and scrapes, and hobbled back to my house far-too-often to be worried about needing to get emergency supplies. Or so I thought. Besides, I usually have my iPhone with me. I can call somebody or ApplePay if the need arose.
But I cannot do that when it’s one dollar “cash only” for walk-ins at Diamond Head Crater.
Moral of the story – either carry a few bucks or have a running shirt printed that says, “Brother, can you spare a dollar?”
Upon reflection, at least in part, this is why I run:
Over the course of my marathoning, I’ve been trying to avoid repeating races whenever possible as there are just so many things I HAVEN’T seen and done; it seems silly to go somewhere I’ve already been when I could go some place new and different. The running is a means to travel and the travel is a means to run. And by going places and eating all the food and drinking all the drinks in sight, I justify at least part of the sloth and Saturnalia through 26.2 miles of running. And so why not see, eat, and drink in new places in new civilizations? Why not boldly run where I’ve never run before?
However, there are exceptions to this primary directive. I keep coming back to do the Honolulu Marathon because it’s a good way to get Mom out to the 50th State … and, well, it doesn’t exactly suck for me being here either. I mean, look at how I spent my afternoon in Waikiki:
At the moment, the weather in Oahu is downright ideal. The humidity is way down and that’s forecast to continue straight through race day. It should make for fast times on the course… albeit perhaps not for me as I’m still struggling with my recovery plans.
In fact, if this were a 1960s style sitcom starring Taylor Swift, I’d be the evil twin character brought in during sweeps week. “Taylor Tardy” or maybe “Taylor Laggard.” I’d be the mirror universe Taylor though, that’s for sure.
Look at what I made me do – I struggled mightily just to pull together a 10K this morning.
That’s not even a quarter of what I need to do on Sunday. Sigh. Maybe more Hula Pie would help… or maybe I need to keep hydrating.
Mai Tais are good for that, right? Or is that Rum and Pineapple?
I’m in a dark place; I seem to have gone from renting an apartment in such a land to being landed gentry; if not a permanent resident there I certainly have a vacation home amongst the dismal and depressed.
There are times when I aspirationally seek to write something profound… or maybe insightful… but at the very least I try and aim for something worthy of skimming. Today’s a moment of pretention and I’m not entirely sure where it falls on the continuum of quality. But it seemed like a good idea when I first opened my copy of Microsoft Word on this flight to this weekend’s marathon in Hawaii.
You know those sports movies/interviews/documentaries/self-help books wherein we learn competitors “visualize” their success? The ones that demonstrate how the athlete recites a mantra or engages in some good luck ritual to set him or herself up for victory? There are times when I think I have my own mantra/ritual… and then there are times when I think it’s all a bunch of hooey about a whole bunch of hooey.
But as I said above – I’m in a dark place. And I’m willing to try just about anything. My brother recently advised me to maybe go see a doctor for the lingering tailbone issues, the pain in my butt still being, well, a pain in my butt. But I waved this sensible advice aside. Ergo, maybe I’m *not* willing to try anything. Between you, me, and the other tens of runkevinrun.com readers, I’ve found sports medicine on these kinds of injuries to be a waste of time, money and energy. Maybe the stretches or techniques they prescribe are a benefit but the diagnosis and treatment usually comes down to rest, ice, compression, elevation – the RICE methodology that’s been drilled into athletes since time immemorial (albeit maybe not always in that same terminology). But it always comes down to “maybe you shouldn’t run as much as you are…”
Which, yeah, maybe but… well… do I run to feel better even if it causes pain or am in pain because I’m running trying to feel better? That’s not phrased correctly but, shrug, you know what I mean. And if not, well, relying on me at this point to make sense is perhaps senseless.
Bottom line: I’m not running well. Of that I can aver and testify under oath. I’ve written about it on this stilly blog thing seemingly ad nauseam. And all of that is contributing to my mood to be sure. I’ve tried internally analyzing a few things, not only physical interrogations but mental diagnostics as well to see if I can’t break through the “wall” of doubt, pain, and failure.
And here’s where the pretention comes in. I’ve been pondering how there are two types of me when it comes to running.
Ready for the pretention? Because here it comes.
I’m either the road runner (beep-beep!) or I’m the coyote.
And not the real world animals. I’m talking the Looney Tunes characters.
The fact is I have been known on rare occasions to be a seemingly mindless running machine, a driven, focused, running, always running, dude… to the point that laws of physics do not apply.
e.g. If there’s a mental wall, I can paint a hole and run right through it.
But far more often I’m Wile E. Coyote, self-proclaimed and self-printed business card emblazoned “super genius.” I have plans and notions; I’m an ideas man! I seemingly have an unlimited amount of imagination and access to ACME products to make my vision a reality. But I also tend to have my plans and ideas and notions and concepts go horribly, horribly, painfully awry.
e.g. 2: The Secret of the Ooze: If there’s a catapult that will fling a rock on me, it’ll flip itself backwards and the shooter will be hoisted by his or her own petard… or in this case trebuchet.
Sure, sure. I can bounce back… albeit of late the plummeting to the ground and the mushroom cloud as I SPLAT has been requiring a bit more recovery than a simple editorial wipe to the next scene.
In my younger days, I could shake off my body contorted into an accordion thanks to a fall from the sky fairly quickly. But time and cumulative impacts have slowed my recoveries and it’s taking longer and longer to pick myself up from the dusty desert floor and make that phone call to ACME to order supplies for my next big “super genius” idea.
And yet I’m still trying. Some comedian or communication studies scholar or maybe it was a pundit discussed the inherent optimism of Wile E. He has an obsession with capturing and eating the Road Runner no matter the costs, no matter what toll it takes, no matter the difficulties encountered. Consider this: Surely there must be something in the ACME catalog Wile E could order to eat. They sell rockets and explosives and signs and wings and anvils, so many anvils. They must have food. There’s definitely bird seed in there as Wile E. keeps pouring an ACME carton to tempt the road runner to stop and dine. And not only to stop and dine, but to tempt the bird to stop on a giant “X” painted on the road, the target for the ACME contraption that could finally THIS TIME capture the speedy bird.
Wile E. Coyote is Don Quixote, dreaming the impossible dream.
And so while failure has of late become more a norm than an exception, I’m trying to tell myself, “Beep beep, THAT!” (Editor’s Note: The “beeps” here are of the “expletive deleted” variety and not RR speak).
If Wile E. ever did catch that road runner, ever did dine out on its carcass, where would he be? He’d discover perhaps that road runner tastes just like chicken, that “victory” in this regard may be a disappointment, especially given the time and effort it took to achieve the goal. Maybe it’s better to always just miss the reality of the situation and instead dream of what it would be like, that the possibility is better than the reality.
Maybe then instead of running as a destination and a goal to be checked off, I’ve forgotten that it was never really about the end, it’s always about the journey. And that instead of seeking a finality or a sense that, “yeah, that was a great run today” only to be disappointed in the run being, well, a painful failure, maybe I need to re-trench and re-think as I did when I started out as a “new runner.” Namely I need to get back to the notion of, “that was a tough day out there. But that just means it was a great run to build upon for the next.”
This is a pretentious, rambling, sorry excuse for a blog post. But maybe it’s a great one to build upon for the future.
There are a number of ways for me to fail when it comes to running. My alarm went off this morning and I ignored it. I ate a ton of crappy, empty caloric depressingly bad for me and not even all that tasty foodstuffs. I disappeared down a couple of i-rabbit holes, the tumbling, spiraling “informational” detours of the web. And when I finally did go for a run, it was much more of an “air quote run” than an actual run. I was lumbering, pained, slow, and just… defeated.
So I decided to try for a win. I’m heading to Guam in April 2018 to run their marathon, my own form of running protest against North Korean saber rattling. This seemed like a fun idea until it turns out the entire world is now within their strike capacity so, ya know, I’m just as likely to ALWAYS be ducking and covering and curling into a fetal position no matter where I am.
Still, I’m registered and if I am going to duck and cover, why not do it someplace new?
The airfare to this US territory though is astronomical:
But fortunately I have some miles leftover on United from when I was auditioning them to be my preferred carrier (they made it to callbacks but were cut in the second round). Thus my “win” for the day is cashing in miles and $41.66 for a $1786.95 ticket.
It’s not much of a win… but these days, when winning is so rare, we take what we can get.
I do wish I could say I was sick of winning. But that would just be untrue.
One of my favorite quotes about southern California comes from Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968):
“Some people around San Bernardino say that Arthwell Hayton suffered; others say that he did not suffer at all. Perhaps he did not, for time past is not believed to have any bearing upon time present, or future, out in the golden land where every day the world is born anew.”
I’m pretty sure I’ve used pieces of that prose before somewhere or other on this blog; indeed, now and again I use it in every day conversations when describing this place. It’s befitting that the quote affords a bit of blog deja vu though, for today was my fifth race with Charlie Alewine Racing and I was once again back at the Long Beach Running Path.
Charlie offers a frequent runners program wherein if you run 4 of his races, you get the fifth one free. So today was a “freebie.” And I was looking forward to it as a chance to somewhat redeem myself after a rough showing out in Bagan; I thought this would be a good recovery run on a well-known course and what was forecast to be pretty ideal starting line temperatures in the mid-50s.
The race however was far from a walk on the beach. What I had imagined to be an ego-boosting race was more akin to a roundhouse kick to the face delivered by Chuck Norris, followed by a roundhouse kick delivered by Jean Claude Van Damme, and ending with a bone-smashing aikido chop from Steven Seagal.
My tailbone injury is apparently not healed as by the third lap of the four lap course I was definitely feeling a twinge of pain in the ol’ buttocks (not a metaphor… a literal pain in my ass). By the fourth loop I was feeling that old Ventura Marathon misery. I had started today’s race on a slow pace and it just got slower… and slower… and slower with each passing mile.
I am astonished at how quickly the endurance training dissipates when training is curtailed or (as in some of the past weeks) avoided in its entirety. It takes so long to build back up. I find myself demoralized rather than energized by the run.
It was for all intents and purposes a shameful, embarrassing, and depressing showing for me.
I didn’t trip and I finished and that’s not nothing I suppose. And as always the volunteers and fellow runners were inspirations. a large group of friends from all over North America had converged on Long Beach for this weekend and wanted to run their first half marathons — so they all PR’d and that was fun to see.
But as I slouched toward my car, I didn’t feel as I was in this golden land like I had been born anew. I felt old and wounded and sad. This was not how I imagined this day going.
Still, thanks for the free run, Charlie. Maybe I’ll be better the next time. It’s that (possibly misguided) hope that keeps me getting up way too early on a weekend and toeing the starting line at a race.
Fourteen and a half-hours separate the Los Angeles time zone (where I am at the moment) and Myanmar’s.
I’m struggling with the transition back into this world as it is, catching up on mail, paperwork, and bills. I want to say my internal clock is messed up mainly because of that extra half hour, that that 30 minute shift is really throwing me for a loop but… I don’t know. The few hours sleep I’ve cumulatively collected in catnap doses isn’t helping lift the fog of confusion that’s for sure.
I went for a run this morning and it was slow, slower, and slowest. As a stick to prod me along and hopefully “get right,” I’m toying with adding a Charlie Alewine marathon on Saturday down in Long Beach. I’m too cheap to pay the online transaction fee… and by waiting to pay “on the day” I still have an option to just not go. I’m not great at Cortez-ian “burning my ships” to force the issue.
I could use it as a tune-up for Honolulu. I hit some metaphorical walls plus fell onto the literal dirt in Bagan and so maybe a marathon “cleanse” is in order. To run or to rest, that is the question… and since my lucky coin is a double-sided half-dollar, the odds are ever in my favor… provided of course I always call “heads.”
As an aside, I updated the TOURS page of the site. You can access the index of Bagan Temple Marathon pages there or by clicking the logo below.