Friday, June 24, 2011

Pony up!

Dear above-average-looking with way-above-average-intelligence readers of DougRun365,

We've had a lot of fun, haven't we. Remember that one post? That really funny one? Man, that was great...

Hey, I'd like to discuss something with you... Have you ever heard of Amway?


I wouldn't do that to you. I like you folks.

I am, though, going to ask you to pull your wallet. Pull it out of your back pocket, or purse, or your back pack, or your desk drawer. Or maybe your a big shot with a money clip. Doesn't matter, just keep reading, please.

For those of you who have been paying attention the last few weeks, you already know that I've been channeled my considerable power and influence in the running community in the direction of an amazing organization called Back on My Feet.

If you weren't aware of this, where have you been? What, if I don't write every day you stop reading? Click that link back there and get caught up, we'll wait... Done? Ok.

I haven't asked for much more than your adoration, and there's been the occasional cry for affirmation in the form of a comment posting, but now I'm asking for hard cash for a good cause. Actually, they also take debit cards, credit cards, and AMEX.

My local chapter of Back on My Feet is running a little fundraiser and I'm determined to do my part by asking you do do your part. But, I'm also going to step up.

Here's the deal... Go to this page (totally secure, I promise) and enter your donation amount. It goes straight to Back on My Feet Indianapolis. Any amount helps, but let's not be shy... or cheap. Give what you can.

Here's what I'll do... every single donation will get a huge thank you call out on this here blog. That's right... your name will be on the internet!* Don't worry, I won't put how much you donated. I will, however, express my sincere gratitude for supporting an insanely worthy cause that means a lot to me. And, if I know you, I'll include a flattering anecdote. If I don't know you, feel free to send me a flattering anecdote.

But wait, there's more...

The largest donation will earn the donor... drum roll, please... Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-ok-rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-ok, cut the-rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-ENOUGH!

Drummers... yeesh!

The largest donation will earn the donor a run with this humble blogger, complete with a special fountain-defiling experience, souvenir photo, and a DougRun365 post just for/about them. I KNOW!

I fully expect a bidding war.

Please, pull out your card, click the link, fill out the form, and bask in the feelings of generosity and good deeding.

Seriously, do it now, before you forget.

I thank you, as will those who, through your donation, get back on their feet.

Good running,

*Unless you ask me not to.

Image from here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fountains - Catching Up

My penchant for fountains is well documented.

This year, though, I've been a little lax in keeping you, the above-average-looking readers of DougRuns365, up to date on my path of desecration. Also, the map, in my opinion the best use of the internet ever, was low on photographic evidence of my conquests.

In February, I was in Orlando on business. I hadn't been running much, trying to heal up from my year of running (and writing) every day, but ran a nice loop around the faux lake in the resort. There were several fountains to defile, but I chose just the one closest to the room.

2/8/2011 - Disney Coronado Springs Resort

There was a bit of a lull in the spree until late April when the GF and I headed to French Lick*. We took a detour to check out a winery in Columbus, IN. The wine was about as good as you'd expect from a winery in Columbus, IN. On the way back to the highway, we drove by the Bartholomew Consolidated School Administration Building... there were screeching brakes...

4/23/2011 - Bartholomew Consolidated School Administration Building

In May, I was in Atlanta. For a city in the south, there weren't many fountains. This one, though, was more than worthy...

5/17/2011 - Centennial Olympic Park

There was an odd fountain at my Atlanta hotel. I'm not sure what they were going for, but to me it said "Alien ship crashed through the roof and ruined this fountain." It was undercover and oddly lit, which is my excuse for the crappy picture...
5/17/2011 - Fountain outside Marriott Marquis main entrance

One of my epic fails in fountain defiling was on my birthday last year when I saved the fountain for when I was ready to leave and, when I returned to it, found it turned off. This year, also on my birthday, that wrong was righted...

5/20/2011 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway

That brings us to this weekend. Milwaukee Wisconsin has no fountains. None. At least not downtown. Believe me, I looked.

In town for the IndyCar race with my youngest, we zipped all over the place, all the while I had an eye out for a pool of water with some squirting up, and came up empty. Before the long trip home, we decided to check out the (foggy) lakeshore. Having seen enough fog, we set the GPS for "home". As if that bossy lady inside that tiny box knew, she took us up a steep hill to Old North Point Water Tower (which looks to the untrained eye a lot like Chicago's water tower) and like an oasis to a lost desert traveler, a real beauty appeared...

6/20/2011 - North Point Park, adjacent to the Old North Point Water Tower.

About 0.3 seconds after taking this picture, my youngest asked "Can I get in?" making this just about the best way to end a fantastic Father's Day weekend.

Good running,

*Just to be clear, I am referring here to the town in Indiana.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Break Up

In January, I ended a long term relationship.

I haven't brought it up until now. It's kinda hard to talk about.

I was in this relationship for over 15 years, but then, the "other half" of the relationship.. well, changed.

It was really great for a long time. We kinda grew up together. But over the last few years we started to go in different directions, and then... there was an incident.

It involved my best running buddy Marty. I can't go into the details, but it was ugly. It's easy to forget that sometimes people aren't really who you think they are.

My friend Scott has a band. The band's name is Yoko Moment. It's named for that moment when you are faced with a choice, a choice of loyalty - your relationship, or your friends. John chose Yoko over his mates from Liverpool. I chose to stick by my friend, Marty. It wasn't a difficult decision.

So, it's been almost 6 months, I've had time to adjust, and I'm going public - I have broken up with The Runners Forum.*

A runner's running store is like your team, it's who you identify with.** It's the hub of your running community. You know the folks who work there, you get to know the other runners who are on the "team", you wear their logo'ed shirts, and if you're really into them, you might even work there part time, just to hang out (and get a discount on shoes). Changing stores is not something that happens often, or is taken lightly. But when things just aren't right, when you don't feel comfortable there anymore, it's time to move on, and you know it.

So, I'm back on the market all you running stores out there... size 10.5, neutral, T-shirt size L. I like high-cut shorts, no-show socks, and walks on the beach.

Good running,

*Marty doesn't go there anymore, either.

**If you buy all of your running gear online, you're missing out, but that's cool, your choice. But don't you dare go into a running store, even The Runners Forum, and try on shoes, milking them for their advice, and then order the same shoes from the web to save a few dollars. That's pure douche-baggery.

Image from here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Participating from the Bench

Not being able to run sucks. No way to sugar coat it.

Except for my once-a-week, against-the-advice-of-my-trainer runs with Back on My Feet, I'm on the sidelines.

I've spent the last few weeks moping around, pouting, complaining. I haven't feel like writing. I don't really want to talk to anybody. I rarely shave. I'm not very good company. I'm cranky and pissy and short on the ol' temper.

This weekend, though, I may have found a cure.

Friday night I watched my youngest kick some serious butt at his first track meet of the season. Last year, his first season, he struggled. He just wanted so bad to be faster. I explained to him that kids mature and get stronger and get faster at different rates. And in this race, the little dude was flyin'! It was nice to be proven right. It felt better to see the look in his eyes when he held off the kid in the next lane to get his first blue ribbon.

Really, just walking around the infield, watching the kids out there running, just for the fun of it, was uplifting. They know that running is fun.

Gaggle of young sprinters waiting patiently for their crack at the 100m dash.

After the meet, I was stoked. And starving. Before I knew it, I'd eaten an entire small pizza (Bazbeaux: sausage and mushroom). It was delicious, but I DO NOT recommend eating the whole thing, especially if you are not running regularly. But with a stuffed tummy, I was sleepy and ready for bed.

Good thing, because early Saturday morning, I wedged myself out of bed, stumbled to my car, and wound through the streets of Carmel to find a more-or-less random spot on a more-or-less random street.

I've been involved in distance running for many years. I've run countless races. I've perfected my hydrating technique while snagging hundreds, if not thousands of cups of water from anonymous volunteers. But before Saturday, I'd never worked a water stop. I'd never been on the other side of that frantic, splashy exchange.

I had a blast! Our crew was small but lively. Ten minutes into setup and we were already making each other laugh. We were having so much fun, that folks from the neighborhood came out and joined us. Spontaneous volunteerism! The highlight was the trio of kids who setup a competing lemonade stand across the street. I'm pretty sure they out sold us, and I know they out yelled us.

The competition stealing another customer.

Waterstop #11 was voted the best stop on the course. This poll was unscientific in that it didn't actually exist, but I can't imagine another stop as entertaining as ours. And the runners were amazing. Halfway through their race on a hot, muggy day, well over half summoned the breath to say "Thank you." as they plucked a cup from our hands. Such a polite breed we are.

If was exciting to see the elites zip by, but it was inspiring to see those for whom a half marathon is a real challenge. They were pressing forward, one step at a time, with determination and spunk, and usually a smile.

Water Stop #11 during a rare lull.

After all the fun of cup duty, I was ready to get home and release the hound.* Unfortunately, because there was this marathon thing going on, I couldn't get home, not in my car, anyway. Believe me, I tried.

One of the thousands of advantages of being a runner is that you get to know the streets around you. Not just the main streets, all of the streets. I used that knowledge to little avail. I managed to get within half a mile of home. I was closer to the finish line, so I went there.

It was a good choice.

There is no better place to get motivated to train for a marathon than the finish line of another marathon. It is a rejuvenating, energizing, moving place to be. I stood there for 90 minutes in the hot sun watching complete strangers finish their race. Ok, I didn't actually know these people, but they weren't strangers. They were runners, marathoners. People like me. And together, we were sharing their achievement, though aside from adding my claps to the applause of a few dozen others', my sharing was of the vicarious sort.

Need a lift? Hang around a marathon finish line.

When the finish dried up, I finally made it home. I really, really wanted to go for a run. Even though I couldn't, I felt a little bit better about it. I'd spent most of the last 24 hours soaking up to my neck in my sport, experiencing it from different perspectives, letting it remind me why I miss it so much. And now, I love it even more.

Good running,

* That is not a euphemism. I literally mean letting the dog out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brew Mile

Run a mile. Drink a beer. Raise some money for a good cause.

Seems like a pretty decent idea, right?

Dude, you have no idea...

I showed up early to help set up. As we put together the finish line, Marty and I guessed that 50, maybe, MAYBE 100 people would turn out for the first Brew Mile. There wasn't a ton of marketing, just an email, some tweets, a little Facebook action. It was pizza oven hot, too. And, it was Wednesday.

By 5:30, 30 minutes before registration officially opened, we had a small table setup to hand out numbers and collect the $5 (proceeds went to Back on My Feet). At 5:31 we had our first participants signed in.

And they kept coming.

By 6:00pm we had a steady stream. By 6:30, the posted start time of the race, the line snaked through the parking lot. We were moving them through as fast as we could, and they just kept coming. It was exhausting, exhilarating, and exciting. Singles, couples, whole families. We ran out of numbers, so I scribbled numbers on Post-It sized slips of paper. And despite the heat, and the up to 15 minute wait, no one complained, everyone was smiling, everyone was having fun.

Finally, at 7:00pm, we registered the last runner. The line was empty. Off to the start we all meandered. The start signal wasn't a cannon, or a gun, or even a countdown through a blow horn. It was just one guy shouting, "Ok... GO!"

Off they went, with giggles and smiles, down the Monon Trail.

I didn't run myself. I'd already violated my "You really shouldn't run for awhile" orders earlier in the day, so I helped at the finish. And I loved it. Every finisher was smiling and/or laughing, including Joann, the 78 year-old woman with her white cotton gloves (?!?) who finished far from last.

It was casual. It was social. It was low key. It was a big fat reminder that running is fun. Even the results include the runner's favorite beer.

After the mile, the crowd lingered. And there was more than the one free beer's worth of lingering. I met a dozen new runner friends before I realized it was 9:30. 9:30!  That's past my curfew on school nights. Not really, but I had to scoot home to release the hound. Still, it was tough to leave. These were my people...

I can't wait until the next Brew Mile.

Good running,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Back on My Feet

Today was National Running Day.

What is the right way to celebrate a made up national day? For me, of course, it's to hit the road for a run.

But today wasn't just any run. Today was Wednesday. And on Wednesdays I hoist my body out of bed at 4:30am, stretch half-heartedly between yawns, and drive 30 minutes to downtown Indianapolis. There, I run with my team.

My team is made up of strangers, but only because I'm new. They are from all walks of life. They are of many shapes, and sizes, and stories. And about half of them are homeless.

The other half are team members who show up to run with the homeless half. We come from all over the city. We run together, we talk and laugh together, we stretch together, and then half of us go home. The other half go back to their group house. They've been placed there by case workers and social workers, given a chance to rebuild themselves, to get control of their lives, and to start over again. And they've decided to run as part of their program.

The team is organized by a group called, fittingly, Back on My Feet. BoMF uses running as the basis of a program to build a sense of community, self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and strength for the homeless population. They are funded by donations and by corporate sponsors. There are chapters in 7 US cities.

Last year I'd read about the organization and chapters in other US cities and was blown away. And to tell the truth, I felt a little envious of the runners in those other cities.

Earlier this year, DougRun365 reader, knower of all things going down in Indy, and virtual friend, Amy Crook pointed me to a news article about a BoMF chapter opening in Indianapolis. As I read the article, my heart started to race... I read faster and faster...

I've never been one to feel a "calling" to something, but seriously people, an organization that uses running to rebuild peoples lives... this is right in my wheel house. This is my passion and my mission come to life. How can I not be here. Immediately, I knew I had to get involved.

And by immediately, I mean it took 2 months.

The deal is, before you can join the team, you need to go through an orientation meeting. These meetings were systematically scheduled so as to make it impossible for me to attend. At least, that is, until last month.

The orientation is all about the organization, how it started, how it's funded, what the runs are like, stuff like that. The BoMF folks didn't know it at the time, but it was just a formality. Twelve seconds into it, I knew I was in.

I've been on two team runs. We meet butt-early. I run slow. We hug, a lot. And we sweat. And then we hug some more. It's not especially sanitary, but it is heartfelt.

Honestly, the experience is beyond words. It's something you have to see, to be in, to appreciate. The love and respect and support shared in that circle of runners is real, and I am honored to be a part of it.

If you would like to be a part of it, too, check out this link to learn more and this link to sign up for an orientation meeting to learn even more. Or, if you can't join us for the runs, consider throwing a few dollars their way.

Good running,