Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Went to a party and a race broke out

See... told ya.

The Back on My Feet 42K Relay was a total blast.

Over 95 Teams

Gorgeous location

Bitchin' course

Perfect morning

Some quotes... from real people... not made up, I promise:

  • "For sure the most fun I've ever had at a race!"
  • "I think all races should be just like yesterday."
  • "That was too fun. When's the next one?"
  • "You'll be able to spot your dad easy, he runs like a girl."*
There were some great performances put in on Sunday.
  • A two-person team finished 6th overall. 
  • 5 people ran the whole deal solo.
  • "The Firm" wore ties, long-sleeve shirts, and dress pants, for the duration. (Guys, you might want to read this post on chafing.)
  • We formed a circle of 400 people.
  • I passed The Flash, who wasn't nearly as fast as I'd been led to believe by the comic books.
There were hundreds of great stories created last Sunday morning.

There are also many great stories about how some of those runners found themselves on that bridge, surrounded by caring, loving, supportive friends that they didn't have just a few weeks ago. And about how they're running farther and faster and stronger than they ever could have dreamed that same few weeks ago. And about how far they've come personally, in so many ways, since that same few weeks ago. And there are even more great stories to come as they move forward in their personal journey of rediscovery, a journey that started with Back on My Feet.

One of my favorite stories, though, has nothing to do with that stuff, directly. It's the story of "McMarathoners", a CoEd, 2-person team, the members of which happen to be married... to each other. It's possible that they chose this approach so they wouldn't have to spend any time together during the relay. But I'm pretty sure that's not the case. A couple that can share a marathon, 2.2 miles at a time, has got something going on.

The McMarathoners also wore kilts

The real star of the event, though, was the event itself. With manageable distances and plenty of time to hang out, visit with friends, make new ones, it was a true celebration of running, and of the fellowship that runners share. That's fitting, really, considering that's the foundation on which Back on My Feet is built. The fantastic setting, the music, the goofy costumes, the loud cheers for runners coming in and going out, the even louder cheers for runners across the river, and the mingling of 95 teams of runners, my kind of people, made it one of the best races of any kind I've ever attended.

Everyone was smiling and laughing and chatting and having fun. And I don't just mean when they were on the bridge waiting to run. Out on the course I exchanged at least a couple words with everyone I passed, and everyone who passed me. I'm not talking about the usual "Good job" or "Looking good". I asked most of those I was running next to "Having fun?", and every single one of them replied with some form of "Hell yes! You?" That is the sign of a truly special event.

Until you've done a distance relay, you can't appreciate the camaraderie you feel with your team. And until you've done a short loop distance relay, you can't appreciate how much camaraderie you can feel for, and from, the other teams.

I personally want to thank my good friend Marty for lending his race to Back on My Feet and for the idea of having it in beautiful White River Park, and Beth for giving the green light (way better than a 5K, right?) and her most excellent leadership and daring to think that we might have as many as 70 teams, and I'm sure Brian did something helpful. And a huge virtual standing ovation for Lindsey for making it all actually real. You're a rock star!

Beth and Lindsey

And special thanks to Bob, Mike, and Eric for manning up and keeping it fun. Next time, a better name, better splits, and we're gonna tailgate until they kick us out.

10th over all, 7th in division,
#28 in your program but #1 in your hearts,
The Nerd Herd
Voted Sexiest Male Team (unofficially)

Good running,

*Thanks, Bob, for the gift that keeps on giving... the gift of perpetual ridicule from one's children.

Photos from GreenSky Media (Chris Thornberry), Kelly's Blog, and the GF.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hard being a dad...

... when you have to tell your son one of his heroes is gone.

The Duke and I wish you godspeed, Dan Wheldon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Life, Death, and the Marathon

It's not uncommon to hear about someone dying while competing in a marathon.

Just last weekend, William Caviness, a firefighter from North Carolina, died within a mile of the finish. (Story here). It's always heartbreaking. And it's a little frightening.

None of us want to drop dead on a run. And especially not in the middle of a race. And especially especially not within sight of the finish. If my number's up and I gotta go during a marathon, I really want to get my damn medal first.

We read the details, hoping to find a cause, a reason why they fell and we won't. But, they always seem to be "avid runners", "well trained", "fit for the race".

Holy crap! That could be me!

We runners like to think that what we do is good for us, makes us more healthy, will help us live longer, not kill us.

Any time I hear about a fellow runner dropping dead on a run, for weeks I will notice a little extra hint of tightness on my chest, or what seems like slightly more labored breathing, or some extra thumping from my heart as I climb a hill.

I start contemplating the math... how beats has my heart given me so far this life? How many more does it have left? Is this run adding to that total, or using a bunch of those precious beats up all at once?

But then I think of the other 40,000+ runners who had a great day last Sunday in Chicago. They came, they ran, they sweat through their shirts, they finished. Their hearts raced with anticipation at the start, and kept blood flowing for 26.2 miles, and each heart fluttered a bit when it crossed the finish line, and maybe skipped a beat or two when a its runner found a loved one waiting for them.

And I think about those finishers who are pushing the odds a lot more than I am, like Julian Gordon who finished the Chicago marathon at age 75. (Story here)  He was second in his age group. That means that there are at least 2 crazy old men still running marathons. I plan to be one myself some day.

And there's the story of Amber and June Miller. Amber ran/walked the marathon 39 weeks pregnant. (Story here) That's just about as pregnant as you can get there folks. June also finished the marathon, inside Amber's belly, and was born shortly after her mom grabbed a post-race sandwich and made it to the hospital. I'm assuming she got a ride.

Amber and June Miller. That kid should get a finisher's medal.
Or maybe Amber should get two.

There are at least 39,998 other awesome stories of triumph and fun and laughs and tears of joy from that marathon. In the grand epic of life on planet earth, those stories will echo at least as long as the one terribly sad story.

You might die just short of the finish of your next race. Or while typing a blog post. Or while driving to meet some friends.

But how we go isn't really that important. It's what we do before our time, our unfairly short time, is up.

I like to spend a lot of my time with people like William, Julian, Amber, June, and the other folks who laced up last Sunday.

Good running,

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs

I never met Steve Jobs.

Still, I feel a great loss this evening.

Steve wasn't a runner, as fas as I know, but he had the heart of a runner. He plotted his course, his own course, and pounded it out. And he was never ok with anything other than the absolute best result possible.

Besides, he gave us the iPod, the distance runner's most loyal companion. And that's good enough reason for me to talk about him for a bit.

Steve built a company like no other company in the world, one that took on not only the computer giants, but also the collective notion, the very idea of what a computer was.

Then it was all taken away from him.

Then he went back and did it again.

And then he did it with music.

And then telephones.

And then computers again.

He thought differently. He wanted us to "think different".

I'm not quite naive enough to think that Steve did this for the betterment of mankind. He did it to make money. A lot of money. But he also had an insatiable drive to change the world.

I don't want to imagine a world without Toy Story, without an iPhone to map my run and snap a picture from a fountain, without FaceTime calls to my kids, without the Mac on which I'm writing this post.

I remember sitting in this same chair, with this same Mac, then only a few days old (the Mac, not me), when I started this blog. I can't explain it, but I know in my heart that the machine inspired me with its design. But even more importantly, when I needed to write, the design made sure that the machine didn't get in my way. On a PC, my writing would have been different. I would have been different.

Steve did change the world. He also, in a small way, changed me.

Thanks Steve.

I highly recommend reading the commencement speech Steve gave at Stanford. Read it and tell me you aren't inspired to do something insanely great.

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." Yeah, Steve was one of us, alright.

Good running,