Monday, January 27, 2020

New beginnings.

Yes, I saw Brittany Runs a Marathon. I was curious as to how it walks the line between celebrating such an achievement and loving the body you're in, and I am happy to report that it does a pretty good job at illustrating that those are two different things.

And it made me cry, and fuck you, it made me cry. Because running a marathon is hard, and I never knew how hard until last year and it made me never want to run ever again.

Or maybe it was because I watched my mother die and that made me never want to do anything ever again.

So, we're doing something different. I am going to run whenever. No goals, no races, no marathons. Not now, maybe not ever again, who knows. But I have a daughter who runs and I have a son who is now run-curious. And if they can get me to run, who am I to say no?

Happy New Year.

Distance: 2.35 miles
Duration: 25:00
Pace: 10:42
Route: Horizon Loop
Temperature: 33°
Climate: cool
Mood: good, thanks

He and I. We ran. No stopping. It's a whole new world.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Before I go forever.

Wearing it.
It has been quite a month. I feel selfish taking a run on this particular afternoon, but I haven't exercised, at all, since the marathon. And that's not good, either.

Distance: 2 miles
Duration: 17:51
Pace: 8:55
Route: Horizon Loop
Temperature: 40°
Climate: sunny & cool
Mood: ???

So, here's the deal. Shortly after the race I began taking Wellbutrin (bupropion) for anxiety and depression. The effect was almost immediate, with some bizarre though not unpleasant side effects. However, after a few weeks I began experiencing chest pains which were presumably muscular, not vascular in nature. And yet, the toll emotionally was extreme, this "heart attack lite," and so we decided to make a change.

Now I am taking Zoloft (sertraline) which is also effective, but the jury is still out as to whether I am going to stick with it. Simply put, I feel less inspired than usual, which was what I always worried would happen on antidepressants.

However, the last time I took a session of meds was eight years ago. In 2011 I wrote two plays, which was two more plays than I had written the year before. I also ran half as much as the annual average and gained a great deal of weight.

So here we are. Today the wife texted me to say how beautiful it is outside, and she was right. It was, is gorgeous. And I ran.

What's That Lyric?
The Night - Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Random thoughts on the race.

With Con & Nell, Oct. 13, 2019
This will be unpleasant.

The large band-aids (nipple protectors) fell off around mile ten. Like, both of them, within a quarter mile of each other, just started sliding down my torso. The lesson here, trim chest hair no less than a week to five days beforehand. (Trim too close to the run and you will be a miserable, itchy madman.)

These shoes. I reported an unhappy toenail incident when I ran the twenty mile, my first long run with these shoes. Well, I think I may have killed most of the toenails on my right foot. It's too early to tell but they are all very tender and bruised. Ditto a few on the left foot. Hate to be a hater, but I think it's the shoes. The soles are just a little too soft, not enough support.

Seriously. These shoes trashed all my toenails.

Spent the week answering people's queries about the race. "How did it go?" I feel like an idiot when I answer, "it was hard."  Of course it was hard, it's a marathon! But this was harder. I wanted to enjoy it more. Memories of previous races I don't recall the pain. Perhaps that is what I will be left with for Chicago.

It truly was a beautiful day.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Duration: 28:43
Pace: 8:49
Route: Forest Hill Loop
Temperature: 64°
Climate: perfect
Mood: not bad

Since the race I have been eating. Eating everything. No abandon. Not exactly true, I have been avoiding sweets. But fats, I'm all over that. Okay, a week. You had a week. It's time to exhibit traditional restraint. I think I can manage that.

Baseline: 179.5 lbs.
Today: 170 lbs. (+2.5)
Goal: 160 lbs.

Okay, I love running again.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

This is Chicago.
Saturday evening we hooked up Chris's cousin and her husband and hung around Wrigleyville. Had a beer at the Cubby Bear, then massive carboloading at Happy Camper. Pita and hummus was the order of the evening and I fairly stuffed myself.

Official Time: 4:05:18
Avg. Pace: 9:22

Personal Best: 3:42:07 (Twin Cities 2015)

Not my best day. It feels wrong to be self-critical. But this was hard. Very, very hard. Like, New York City hard. The last two races, while not a walk in the park, were full of positive energy. I felt good, even when I was stiff and wanting to stop.

It all comes down to training. NYC I did my best, but I had no idea what I was in store for. It's not just about building muscle and endurance, you are putting chemicals into your muscles throughout training that make it possible to go long distances.

My first half was under two hours. But by mile twenty I was sore. Not spent, not like New York where my stomach hurt and I was dehydrated and under nourished. Quite the opposite, I feel I consumed too much water, too many energy snacks. I just crapped out. I wanted to walk. I wanted to quit.

And yet! Four hours and five minutes? That's great! Really, it is. I set a goal for myself -- four hours -- which was arbitrary. I wasn't out to break any records, knew I couldn't. I may even have kept up but I stopped to pee twice. I haven't needed a bathroom break the last two marathons. I timed it just right then, never needing to stop.

The Chicago is big, 45,000 runners. That's well more than Cleveland and the Twin Cities combined. And it was a beautiful day, just perfect, in spite of my fears. Glorious. I was dressed appropriately, with long sleeves, gloves (which I eventually ditched) a beanie (also hit the curb) and a billed hat. I haven't worn sunglasses for a marathon and didn't start today. Shorts were also called for and I was never uncomfortably chilly.

And there were live bands and lots and lots of loud music, and enormous crowds! My knowledge of Chicago neighborhoods is not impressive, but I was particularly touched by the excitement in the Mexican neighborhoods, and the Greek neighborhood, and Chinatown, and that part of town where they had stages and stages of dancing drag queens.

What marked this city as different from the few other races, or specifically New York where there are also enormous crowds, is how narrow the streets are compared to NYC, so the crowds were deafening, and pushing into the street. I felt like I did a lot more jostling for position, and all the time than I have ever had to do before.

In spite of the stiffness and pain (my sciatica, oy) I was pretty fierce on the inclines. That's a thing I do. And I did rally very late in the game, in the last mile, to keep my chin up and make a good showing. Crossing the finish line, I thought, well. I did that.

Once I made my way through the gauntlet of drinks and snacks and apples (oh GOD, that apple was the best thing I ever ate) and getting warm clothes on, I met up with Chris and Allie, and also my mother-in-Law Connie and her sister Nell, who were visiting this weekend. We all found a table at Rudy's Bar and Grille and I ate and relaxed and was so grateful to have crossed that particular finish line.

I will never forget, though, shortly after the race was concluded, and this wonderful volunteer gave me my medal. I looked at the inscription and at the bottom it reads I AM A MARATHONER.

I started to cry. Because whatever else you might call me, I certainly am that.

Congratulations to all those members of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation TEAM CHALLENGE, and thanks to all those who supported my campaign. We did good.

And thanks to Chris and Allie, so much, for their love and support throughout my training and especially for this memorable weekend.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Pre-Marathon Two-Miler

Took a two-mile pre-race run with Allie, up Foster Avenue to Lake Michigan. That was a very good idea, not just because that's the thing you're supposed to do, but I have gotten really freaked out about the weather.

Allie keeps saying how perfect the forecast is. Yes, dry is paramount, I would be miserable if it were due to rain, downright maudlin. It would be like saying goodbye to all my toenails. But it's supposed to be in the mid-40s tomorrow, and I would prefer the mid-50s.

And yet, it was the mid-40s  this morning and it felt all right. I have my disposable cold weather sweatsuit, and think I can manage in shorts. The wind will be a challenge, but I just don't want to wear long pants.

We are Team Challenge!
Distance: 2 miles
Duration: 19:41
Pace: 9:51
Route: Foster Avenue to Lake Michigan and Back
Temperature: 45°
Climate: sunny & cold
Mood: getting better
Stretches: oh, uh. no.
Water: yes

Met up with all the Team Challenge folks at Bar Louie last night, got to chat up some of the organizers, runners, and supporters, and to enjoy a fine Goose Island IPA. I was hardly the one who had traveled farthest to be here. For several this will be their first marathon, and I was feeding off their excitement.

The plan is to meet up at the Congress Plaza Hotel tomorrow morning at 6:30, a warm place to gather before heading into the elements. This is a welcome invitation, as so many marathons I have attended require hours of standing around outside in the cold until the start.

It was pretty brisk out last night, but Chris, Allie and I still did a little walk around that neighborhood after the meet-up in search of dessert, and I found Gordo's which makes hand-dipped ice cream bars. Perfect!

We closed the evening seeing The Infinite Wrench, which is literally one block from where we are staying. It's always fascinating to me to share the Neo-Futurists with new people. It has been some time.

Friday, October 11, 2019


We are in Chicago. And by we I mean Chris, Allie and I. We began this journey together and we will finish it together, I on the course, and they showing support.

We decided upon the train. Chris had never taken Amtrak! I am not certain, but I believe I have not taken a train since before we had living children. I wondered if it was the same, or if cutbacks had made it unpleasant.

Rest assured, it's the same. Wide seats, and plenty of them. Years of legroom. We boarded at three in the morning, and I stayed awake for a short while, writing, looking out into the darkness. And while coach is not the most comfortable place to sleep, sleep I did.

It's very relaxing taking the train. No one rushes about, it is a very not-tense way to travel. And quite possibly the cheapest. I keep waiting for the airline industry to collapse, but it won't. The government will continue to prop up planes, and Amtrak will go the way of the streetcar and the stagecoach.

Chicago was raining was when we arrived at Union Station, and we had a choice; take our car to Andersonville and drop off our things first, or to head straight for the Expo.

We chose the latter. I am quite used to carrying my bags with me through crowded spaces, and we successfully got our packets (Chris calls it the $200 T-shirt) and I was able to get a new glasses strap and some yummy, yummy gels.

We are staying at the apartment of Chris's best friend Ben. It's a beautiful place, and a real Chicago townhouse, with a wood pantry off the kitchen, cabinets in the short halls between rooms. It is a gift to be able to stay at a place like this, on a weekend like this.

Apart from a bagel just before the train arrived, however, we had not had anything to eat. "Breakfast" was at 1:00 PM (CT) at Pauline's Breakfast which was just exactly what was necessary, in sustenance and decor.

A little later there's a reception for members of TEAM CHALLENGE, and our apartment is literally a five minute walk from the Neo-Futurists ... so guess what we're doing tonight?

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Can't wait until the weekend comes!

On average, a dozen people read this blog. Unless I post something on social media, between ten and twenty people read each individual post. That's enough to assume they are all bots. No offense to those one or two of you who may be human.

You may have noticed I have had nothing to say for about a week. That is because my mother was in the hospital, I won't go into details, she's fine now, really. Fine and at home, which is good.

But I have never wanted to run a marathon less than I want to run Chicago on Sunday. I haven't had nor taken the opportunity to train properly. My long runs have been painful, and I'm not better prepared now than I was three weeks ago.

Distance: 4 miles
Duration: 34:32
Pace: 8:37
Route: Forest Hill Loop
Temperature: 62°
Climate: cool. nice.
Mood: all right
Stretches: yes
Water: yes

That, and I am depressed. Unfocused. Stressed out.

There is good news. I had an allergy test yesterday, and I am not allergic to seafood. I am allergic to the histamines that can develop in seafood that has been sitting around for a few days, so. Maybe no more raw seafood, no more sushi.

Tomorrow I meet with a new doctor, which I hope is a fruitful relationship. I need a physical. I am concerned about my sugar intake. Yesterday I wrote a play about it.

The weather in Chicago this week should be ideal. Dry, cool. Fifty degrees. I will be prepared for that.

That's it. That's all I got.

What's That Lyric?
Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!) - XTC