What Being Alive Means

Two days ago, a Friday morning, I was sitting in my kitchen and doing my morning contemplation. The bush outside the window still doesn’t have any buds on it. Spring is here, but cold and rain abound. I cried out to The Universe, “bring me what being alive means!” Yes, I was emphatic in my feeling. It is an unspecific request except I was feeling a very specific feeling. I want to do and experiece whatever being alive means.

On my plate are various possibilites of things that could be done. But first up was a half marathon race the next day. I often feel misunderstood when it comes to running. People’s reactions to me, a 64 year old who still does 70 miles a week, almost never feels satisfying. But in asking The Universe for the meaning of being alive, I got a vision of my running. Suddenly I knew with every fiber of my being that running was my expression of the meaning of being alive. And off I went to packet pickup.

Saturday morning the alarm goes off at 5 am. I leap out of bed, eager for the race. I slept great and it was easy to get up. I drank a cup of coffee while I got my gear together. I get to the race site very early so that I could have a primo parking spot. I sat in my car reading a book. As time for the start of the race crept closer, I went into the stadium and found a women’s bathroom with no line. All of these pre-race activites were manifestations of being alive.

I went to the start line, along with about 900 other runners. We were all excited. Raring to go. The national anthem was sung. I get teary eyes seeing the flag and hearing the anthem, every time. And we are off.

The city where the race was run is hilly. Very hilly. Brutally hilly. I ran the race at threshold breathing, which meant an average of 10 minutes per mile. I did well chugging my way uphill and practically sprinted the down hills. I worked hard to stay ahead of the 2:15 pace bunny. As the miles went by, I was becoming more and more amazed at myself as I kept maintaining a 10 minute per mile pace. I had known I could run one 10 minute mile, but I didn’t know I could run a bunch of them. And the hills kept coming. The uphills became more and more difficult to get up.

Arriving at mile 11, I was with the 2:15 pace bunny, and I was the only one with her. All the others had dropped off. She encouraged me. I told her how surprised I was to see how fast I could run. I clung to her. I tried hard to stay with her, even as more uphills continued to present themselves. I told her that I thought the course was cruel. She laughed, “You got this. Just keep going.”

Suddenly I recognized the area of the finishing track. I got on the track and sprinted around to the finishline. I looked at the clock: 2 hours, 13 minutes and some seconds. Wow! I did it. I couldn’t believe it. Thats the fastest half marathon I’ve run in a long time. Wow!

A man came up behind me. He was a little taller than me, probably six two, possible of Indian descent, with a little grey at his temples, so definitely younger. He thanked me. He said he had been following me and working hard to maintain my pace. He thanked me for being his pace bunny. Amazing.

After I got home, I checked the results online. Whoop! I got first place in my age group. I beat 12 other sixty something ladies. Yes, seeing my name pop up at the top of the list felt like winning the lottery or something. I kept reliving the feeling of putting my all into maintaing my pace and running as fast as I could without dying.

And that folks is what the Universe brought me: what being alive means.

So the next time you see some old lady shuffling along the sidewalk, just remember. To her, being out there is the essence and feeling of the meaning of being alive. It is a tremendous contribution to the well being of our world.


Surprising Results

Sometimes, when things go differently than planned, the results are better. How so you ask?

Last October 2021, I signed up for three marathons in three states in three days. This was not so unusual as I have done multi-day marathons before. I signed up so long ago because prices for events go up the closer to the event you get. The event itself was this past weekend. I have been anticipating the event for months. In the meantime, I have gone in a 50k race and dealt with a sore hip (from work), which restricted my training. But going into the weekend, I felt completely good in my hips and legs.

Day 1 marathon was in Miami, Oklahoma. I drove down the night before and stayed in a hotel. The race took place at a park near the Neosho River. To complete a marathon, we had to do 14 laps of the course. I started off running because I felt rested and good. It was not a hot day, but very humid. I was doing well for about 9 miles. Then I realized that if I was going to do three marathons in three days, I needed to slow down and put in walk breaks. I did put in the walk breaks. At which point I began to get bored and wonder why I was doing boring laps in a park. I got up to around 16 miles and realized that I was thinking of cheating in order to get done quicker. I realized that I cared nothing about notching my belt with another marathon. Then I thought, “Don’t cheat. If you’re not in this game then just quit.” After 9 laps/17+ miles, I realized that I didn’t want to do any more laps. So I went to the timing table and told them I was quitting. They gave me a half marathon medal without blinking an eye. It turns out that the half marathon medal was the same as the full marathon medal. So I got the bling and went home. I was quite happy to begin my 3 hour drive 2 hours sooner than planned.

Sunrise over the Neosho River

Day 2 race was in St Joseph Missouri, a short drive from my home. I woke up before the 4:30 am alarm and enthusiastically got out of bed. I was prepared to run a half marathon as fast as I could. No plan to try a full marathon suffer-fest. Just run the half and enjoy yourself. It was turning out that I much more enjoy a fast half marathon more than a slow full marathon, at least when the course is 14-16 laps of boredom.

Day 3 race was in Hiawatha Kansas, a short drive from my home. I woke up at 3am, a full hour before the alarm, and couldn’t go back to sleep. I checked the weather because thunderstorms were predicted. Depending on how bad they were, I knew I wouldn’t go to the race. There were storms but they didn’t look that bad. I would have to run in the rain, however. I was interested in getting my body to the race start and not in laying in bed. I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep regardless. So I made a bargain with myself. I said, “Get in the car and go to the race. If it is miserable, then just run a 5k, get your medal and go home.” That is, just get going and see what happens. I did it! I made it to the race and began running. I felt tired from the previous 2 days of racing, but not injured. It was raining so I wore a jacket. All the other racers were out there in jackets and ponchos, toughing it out. And there I was too, getting the miles done. But my brain wanted to cheat and go home. I was conscious of my brain trying to talk me out of what I was doing. If the rain had been worse, maybe I would have obeyed. But the rain wasn’t that bad and it did let up after I had run 10 miles and only had 3 to go. I finished! I didn’t cheat! I’m incredibly proud of myself.

What is all this about cheating you ask? Well, these races are very low-key. The timing is pretty loose. They have a start time. You tell the timer when you are done. Each lap you pick a rubberband off a table to keep track of how many laps you have run. Nothing stops you from picking up two rubber bands. Heck, you don’t even have to show the timer how many rubber bands you have when you say you are done. So really, it is up to the person to be honest with themselves. Some part of my brain strongly wants to cheat, but I never do. I think I endure my cheater brain every marathon I try to run. My brain is much more peaceful when a racecourse is a loop where you can’t cheat in order to get to the finish line.

What was the most memorable part of the 3 days? All 3 days there was a woman on the course who had both legs in full-length braces and used crutches. She was out there doing miles. I didn’t talk to her, but I watched. Why was she wearing braces and how strongly motivated she must be to get out there and do miles? Interesting. Here I am completely healthy and thinking about cheating, and I’m sharing the course with someone in leg braces. After I finished my race on day 3, the woman happened to be in the finish area, getting ready to start another lap. She asked me if I was done and was I coming to day 4 (it was an 8-day series but I signed up for 3 days). I said I wasn’t coming to day 4. She asked if she could take my picture. It turns out she wanted a selfie with me. I moved into position behind her shoulder. I could see myself in her camera. I look like a little kid in my ball cap, happy. She must have been watching me run miles while she was hobbling along. She wanted a picture with me. How special. I keep thinking about how I felt in that moment. It gives me goosebumps to think of it but I can’t explain why.

You would not believe how happy I was with myself about the results of this weekend: 3 races done at pretty good speed and no cheating. No laying in bed when I could have gone to a race. No useless suffering just to notch my belt. So this is what life can be about: how you feel about what you are doing, not what you seem to be doing.

Racing Season 2021

I run and work out a lot. Unbelievable numbers of miles pass under my feet. This year, I’ve been feeling especially good and training for marathons has gone really well. I also lift weights and cross-train. Winter is coming. There will be more cross-training. I might even buy a new ex-bike this year. I’d like to have an assault bike.

Anyway, the racing season started with a DNS (did not start). I was entered in a marathon up in Iowa in the middle of September. It is cold in Iowa in September, right? Not this year. Temps were scheduled to be very hot. I didn’t sleep at all the night before the race worrying about it. Hence when the alarm went off at 3 am, I was unable to drag my body out of bed and get in the car.

Race number two was in Manhattan Kansas in early October. To ensure that my body made it to the start line, I got a hotel in Manhattan. Same hot temperatures, but at least I started and finished the race. I did really well considering the heat, finishing in 5:18. I ran all the way up to 21 miles, then had to add some walk breaks to manage my body heat. I won my age group, but I was the only lady in my age group. Actually, the oldest lady in the race.

Little Apple Marathon

In my life, both times in my 50th decade of existence, I have qualified to run the Boston Marathon. But I never wanted to go to Boston because it seemed like an expensive hassle. Mostly, I just like to brag about how I had qualified to run Boston. This year, the Boston Marathon sponsored a virtual marathon. I signed up for it in order to get the swag. My Little Apple marathon time was used for the Boston virtual marathon. The swag was very crummy considering how much money I spent on it. The size small shirt is too big for me to wear. Having signed up for numerous virtual marathons in the past two years, I’ve become a swag aficionado. The virtual Houston marathon had the best swag, with the Marine Corps and the Air Force also pretty good. But, I don’t think I’ll sign up for any more virtual marathons since real races are now available.

Swag from virtual Boston marathon

After the Little Apple marathon, I was very excited about my physical shape, so I signed up for one more race this year. I decided on a half marathon with the intention of seeing how fast I could do it. I met my expectations with the Longview Half marathon. The weather was clear and cold. Yes! A pretty flat course, but not totally flat. I did run to my potential considering I had on a couple of layers of clothes. I finished in 2:21, 10:53 minutes per mile, which is a little better than my training run a week ago. I do like the idea of trying to race as fast as individually possible once a year. It feels good to put an effort into something. I got second in my age group. As of this writing, I think there were four ladies in that age group. The medal was really pretty and I love the hoodie we got. Overall, SUCCESS! A good way to end the racing season.

Before the start of the Longview half marathon
At the finish of the Longview half Marathon
Great Swag from the Longview Half

Now, I plan to discontinue marathon training until the spring. No racing probably until March. But I will keep up daily physical fitness and shorter runs. 90 minutes is about all I can stand when it is really cold. Also, I am busy with my new part-time job. My new job is in a health food grocery. I find myself eating much higher on the vibrational scale. My well-being is trending higher.

Letter 4/28/2020

A beautiful sunny day here. I ran really well in Parkville.

I wore a buff for the first time in order to have a flexible face covering option for passing people on a trail. I admit that it doesn\’t seem necessary, except for the occasional group of people who don\’t practice social distancing. I did make a good example and discovered that it is not that annoying to pull it up when you pass people. I think that if I ever go in another real race, having a mask option and a hand cleaning option will be necessary.

Speaking of races. I\’ve entered another virtual race. Great Virtual race across Tennessee. Virtual races would seem stupid in any other year than this one. But, the races I\’ve entered so far offer benefits I won\’t be able to get in a normal year. Like the Aravaipa race offered a cool belt buckle. The race across Tennessee makes sense if you follow ultra running and have heard about the Vol State race or Laz Lake. Vol State race won\’t be happening this year, but I couldn\’t do it anyway. It is too hard for me to actually run across Tennessee in the given time frame. But I\’m happy to focus my running on getting the miles in over 4 months. And getting a t-shirt that won\’t ever be available again. Only 4684 participants so far.

I have been taking good advantage of my corona-cation. I totally appreciate the gifts given.

Race Report — KC Marathon

The alarm went off at 3:40 am. I was dead asleep. I knew the forecast called for rain today, but I hadn\’t seriously decided that maybe I didn\’t want to run a marathon in the rain. Marathons take me a long time so getting too cold is a consideration. But not today. The temps were in the 50s. Looking at the radar, the rain didn\’t look too hard. After some coffee and yogurt, packing my stuff, I was on the way to the race. Only a 20 minute drive. I was there very early so no problem getting a parking spot where I wanted. I sat in my car and read a book.

About an hour before the race, I went over to the festival area near the start. I had on a light weight poncho because of the rain. Most people were standing under tents, which is where I stood. I used the porta potties. They had alot of them so no waiting. About 15 minutes before the start, I got myself into the starting corral. I was positioned near the 4:50 pace bunny, although I lost him as soon as the race started. There were thousands of runners, doing the full marathon, the half marathon or 10k, all lined up together. I couldn\’t hear what the announcer was saying at all. Everybody shut up for the national anthem, which sounded like a recorded rendition using a clarinet and no voice. Wait, you cant find a good singer in the city? There were fire works when the horn blew. It took me at least a minute to begin to even move forward.

The race starts in an area known as Crown Center. The first part of the race goes north into downtown, and then circles south along The Paseo, The Plaza, along Ward Parkway, Brookside, Waldo, a bit into Johnson County, along Ward Parkway, back toward The Plaza, West Port, and back to Crown Center. It was a very decent tour of Kansas City and featured some really affluent sections with massive stately old mansions. 

It rained lightly for about 2.5 hours. I ran at a 10:19 pace for the first half. I knew I could keep up that pace for 16 miles and that then I\’d start to be whupped. I had a secret wish to finish in under 5 hours.
For much of the first half, I was wondering if I really should complete this race. The rain was not thrilling me and 26 miles seemed like a long way. But, as I approached the split where the half marathoners headed home, my body swung itself into the full marathon course. I resigned myself to finishing. All this mental struggle even though I was having a banner day: fastest paces in several years. I did great but did slow down for the last 8 miles. I didn\’t do any walking except for through aid stations. My jogging in the last 4 miles was slow, even on the down hills. My legs hurt, but no blisters or other injuries.

I started to hope for a sub-five hour finish. That would be major for me. I kept jogging although I\’m sure I looked like I was barely moving. It wasn\’t raining and the sun shone in spots. The last mile was a gentle down hill but still I couldn\’t bring myself to pound my quads very hard. Lots of people were at the finish line. I made it! 4:49 by my Garmin (which doesn\’t include 2 pit stops). Second in my age group.

No pictures until the race photographer publishes. Due to the rain, I didn\’t take my cell phone on course.

Bryce Canyon Ultra – the morning after

I am sitting in a very nice Best Western, getting ready to drive to the airport and go home. No 50k medal, but a great vacation experience.

Yesterday I completed 19 miles of a mountain trail 50k race. The trail wound up the mountain through pine trees and mountain meadows going from 7,000 to 9,000 feet. At one place I got to stand at the bottom of a beautiful Hoo Doo type cliff, and then stand at the 9,000 foot top looking over a vast horizon.

The trail was difficult in spots being steep in places. Not a problem going up, but my mind snapped shut at the thought of going down. I have no quads because there are no natural hills where I live; and anyway, my knees are not perfect.

I spent most of my time in pine trees looking at the trail in order not to trip. There wasn\’t much time to see and enjoy as I was trying to meet cut off times for the race. While the race management was allowing people to keep going as long as they wanted, they were closing aid stations; which meant no water if you got there too late.

At 19 miles, I was a little past cut off and heading into the severe down hill part of the course. It would have taken me more than 4 hours to get down the mountain, with tricky steep downhill parts. I couldn\’t imagine doing it. So when they said that the extraction vehicle was there, I jumped in it. I was going to get a \”did not finish\” (DNF) no matter what I did, so might as well skip the pain.

I have to admit that the trail in the mountain was either too long or too difficult for me. I see that I have limits. I can do alot but not everything. Or if I plan on doing everything, it might take awhile.

Trail runs are a weird animal. You must look down and watch the tripping hazards or you are going down. Even a second of inattention can bring you down. This concentration and focus is meditative in the sense that you can\’t think of too much else. If you want to look around, you have to stop or find a piece of trail with no hazards. My life is like this. Most of it has been spent concentrating on the trail in my immediate view, not looking around to enjoy anything.

I wonder if I can fix that when I enter retirement? Both inner and outer vistas need to be enjoyed and pondered. Stop trying to achieve, or ward off the competition, or finish projects at work as I people please bosses. My life so far: Survive a dysfunctional family. Go to college and get an engineering degree. Get a job and then get another job and then another job and so on. Who am I in all of that?

Getting sober was meaningful. Getting spirituality was meaningful. Running was meaningful. But these are things hidden from my co-workers. So, while I\’ve spent humongous amounts of time at work, most of it was acting. I wasn\’t really me.

In a weird way, I am DNF-ing my career because I am resigning at the age of 59; with money but not a retirement as far as the company is concerned. No gold watches. The golden hand cuffs are being ripped off, not released. But I don\’t think I will DNF my life. I think I must quit my career in order to finish my life successfully.

Success for me is more about thinking than achieving, even though I have spent a good deal of my life beating other people.

You know, you can run laps around a small park for hours and look inward toward greater things. This is prayer. You can sit in your house meditating. This is prayer. You can wonder why you were at a trail race and what happened to you during it. This is prayer. I look at my career and admit my feelings about what happened. This is prayer.

During my 3 day vacation, I felt alot of appreciation for seeing Utah and hiking some incredible rocks.

See you again soon.

Running Happiness

I went in a half marathon yesterday. It was on wide dirt trails in a park. I didn\’t go there planning to race, but every race causes me to run faster than I normally would.

At first, I was following a lady who I\’ve seen at other races. I think she is my age. I know she is faster than me. After awhile I had to let her go. I knew I couldn\’t sustain her pace for 13 miles. Not that much later, I passed her when she was walking.

For about the first 7 miles, the footing was good and I kept to a nearly 6 mph pace. Then, we entered an area where there was some mud, the footing was uneven and leaves were hiding trip hazards. I had to slow down some and pray not to trip. But I still found that I really wanted to run fast. But, my knee was having some glitches due to the uneven footing. It was a balancing act.

I did what I could and finally made it out of the treachery onto better trails. I crossed the finish line in 2:18, which was 10:25 pace according to my Garmin. I told the RD I was over the age of 50. He immediately said, \”You are the first Master\’s woman,\” and handed me an award. I was so thrilled. Here is my picture with the award.

Then, I started walking to my car. I was talking to a nice looking man who was also walking. He said he was 58. I mentioned I was the Masters winner. We discussed why it was that we were still doing this even though we are \”old\”. It is funny to think of \”mature\” people still competing and being happy about age group awards.

I really loved the experience of \”hell bent for leather\” I had in the treacherous part of the course. My concentration was fully on the trail in front of me and how fast could I go.

In a month, I\’ll be 57. I love that I\’m still doing races at age 57.

This morning, I had time to sleep in and then ponder. I love fast races. In contrast, I still want to do a ultra endurance event. I asked myself the question again: which one? Today the answer came. Some days I run fast and short, and glory in the speed. Other days, I go slow and long and wander down dark corridors of pain and failure. I need to do both some of the time.

Today is a very rainy day. Since it is also chilly, I think I will put on a rain suit and go slow outside for a little bit.

Next Saturday is a full marathon. I can\’t wait to see how that works out.

La Porte Half Marathon

The second leg of my November race tri-fecta happened today.

2,000 people and a bridge.

I\’ve been feeling good lately. And today I thought, well, it is only a half marathon. I started off running with the crowd, passing those walkers and other slow pokes who should have started further back in the crowd. While we had a big wide road to run on, it was still crowded most of the race.

During the first 5 miles, I was near 11 min miles. Then we head up and over the bridge, around a marina and back over the bridge. When we get down the steepest par of the bridge, there is about 3 miles to go. I was around 10:30 minutes per mile pace (average for the race) at that point.

It being \”only\” a half marathon, I decided to burn it in. I had about one more mile of gradual down hill and then 2 miles of flat. It was the first time in ages I have allowed myself to run full out for any distance at all. I had a mantra in my mind and I didn\’t think of anything else. My mantra was, \”Father all power comes from you all-one.\”

In a race this big, I knew full well that there would be no age group award. But it the last 3 miles I thought: run your own race.  I kept my form straight and put the pedal to the medal, all fears of injury aside.

I finished in 2h16min. That is the fastest half marathon I\’ve run in years. It felt good. Now, several hours later, I\’m also sure I didn\’t hurt anything. And this despite that I ran 12 miles yesterday.

It is strange to me now to compare my body for different type of races. In the past month I\’ve done a real slow ultra marathon, a very decent full marathon and today this very speedy half marathon. Today, running fast with only a mantra in my consciousness was more spiritually mesmerizing than the hours going at slow pace in the ultra.

Physically, I\’m more successful at faster shorter races, like a full marathon, than I am trudging through an ultra. What I wanted in ultras, meditation, seems best obtained on slow training runs in the Seabrook trails. I also meditate by sitting. But I am never successful at the ultra marathon. I get into pain and decide to quit; perhaps wisely so as I\’ve never irreparably injured myself. As a means of spiritual enlightenment, it is not working.

I am closer to admitting who and what I really am.

I have been trying to decide whether to enter a double marathon (2 marathons in 2 days) in February, or go in a bigger race which would be either one full marathon or one half marathon. It is very difficult for me to let go of the multi-day race, but I would have more fun and be happier going in the bigger race. The double marathon would be very small and on a very boring lap type course. Blisters would occur. It is such a small race that it has low quality swag and pretty expensive. But it IS a double. I want to do a double close to home so I can decide if I want to go in any more ultras. But I fail at ultras.

I really am a marathoner. I should just do it.

Next weekend, I\’m going in another full marathon.

Post Surgery Return to Racing

It was a beautiful day in Baytown yesterday.  I went in a half marathon which included this bridge. It was my first half marathon and longest run since heel spur surgery in September. I finished in 2:25, which works out to 11:06 per mile. That is fantastic!

Here is the long form of the race report:
The post surgery journey…
9/1/13 I was supposed to be in a 12 hour race. It was in Fenton Missouri and the temperature was a humid +90F. My heel did really well for about 4 hours and 16 or so miles. Then, the pain in the heel became totally bad. At a little over 7 hours and 26 miles, I decided to bag the race. I decided that I would come home and find an orthopedic.
I went to the insurance company web site. I typed in “heel spur surgery” and picked a clinic. I called the clinic and told the nurse what I wanted. She made an appointment with Dr Panchbhavi. I went to see him, a quiet Indian; professor of orthopedics at UTMB. Surgery was scheduled.
9/26/13 half marathon in 2h50. I was in massive pain due to a retrocalcaneal heel spur. I could hardly walk after that. 
I spent the following week in Pittsburgh for work thinking I’d have surgery on Thursday after I got home. On Monday 9/23, the clinic called and asked if I could do my surgery the following day. I lined up a friend to drive me around, left instructions for my boss to move my computer stuff to an accessible office and off I went.
9/24/13 by 10 am, I am home with pain killers and crutches. They should give you training on crutches. This evening I nearly kill myself on one step.
I am non-weight bearing for 6 weeks. On day 2, I realize that crutches are really hard on me. I ask a friend to borrow his knee scooter. I ask another friend to go to the state office and obtain a handicapped parking tag for me. I ask someone to drive me to the drug store to buy a shower bench.
10/1 I go for my post surgical Dr appointment. The surgical splint is removed and I have a boot. 5 more weeks of non-weight bearing.
I begin to complete twice daily floor exercises; leg lifts and situps of various types. After a couple of weeks, I add easy stationary bike. After another week, my upper body is not so exhausted from the crutches so I add upper body free weights to the routine.
11/4 I go to the doctor. The boot is removed and he wishes me a nice life. What? That’s it? 
I hire myself a sports chiropractor, Dr Dustin, to help me rehab my achilles. We begin twice weekly sessions.
It is amazing how sorry a calf and foot can become if not used for 6 weeks. The first few days, there was a massive pain in my foot and I can’t really use the achilles at all.
11/9 My first walk outside in Seabrook park. 0.46 miles took 18 minutes. The next day I went 1.6 miles in 44 minutes. God my foot hurt. I saw the regular people in the park but I don’t think they recognized me.
Life goes on. My worst problem seems to be wearing shoes at work. I am in pain all day every day. But it is getting better. I progress with Dr Dustin through level 1 then level 2 then level 3. My weekend walks become jog/ walks and I get able to go longer and longer. I am cross training a lot and continuing my leg lifts and core exercises. I start to do short runs.
In January, United Airlines lowered the price of a round trip ticket to Calgary to $570. Since I have friends meeting in Calgary for the marathon on 6/1, how could I not pass up buying a ticket? My weekend long jog/walk is already at 10 miles. 
Then, I decide to enter a half marathon in my home town in March. It is good swag and would be in the park I am always in so I might as well enter. Then, I decide, what the heck; and enter a half marathon in Baytown in February.
That brings me to today, 2/15/2014. 4 months and change, still dealing with various issues but overall doing well. I begin my day as usual with my spiritual lesson from A Course in Miracles: “God is the love in which I forgive” I won’t explain all about what the book says about this phrase but I bring it up because my mind was stuck on it all during the race. 
I get a great parking spot and wait in the car for race time. Then, I am at a starting line with several hundred other runners. I like it. I like seeing the various shapes and sizes of the people who presume to run half marathons. I am one of them.
Start. I just start jogging. I am doing easy pace. After a mile I look at my Garmin: easy pace is just over 11 min miles. What? Isn’t that too fast? I guess it is, but it is easy so I just keep doing easy. Miles go by and the pace remains the same. A little slower going up the bridge but a little faster coming down the bridge.
My buddy from work, Barry, is at the bottom of the bridge and takes my picture. The race moves onto a bike path and the volunteers have put a lot of motivating signs along the course. These are entertaining. I keep running. 
Does my foot hurt? Exactly where? How bad is it? Yes it hurts, but I keep going without any trouble. I look at my watch some more. Wow, I’m really going fast. I feel ok energy wise. Worries about the foot are not too bad. I keep passing people. Just one more mile. I put a little effort into it, trying to balance speed with worry.
I see the finish. I look intense as I pass the photographer. They announce my name as I cross the line. I stop the Garmin and look: 2h25 at an average speed of 11:06 per mile. OMG, awesome!
This was the longest post-surgery run in distance and by far the fastest.  I really don’t know how it was possible. It means a lot to me to be running at all. When I decided to go for surgery I didn’t care if I ever ran again. I was just hoping to walk without being hateful all the time. Thirteen 11 min miles seems incredible. But I did it. Now several hours later, my heel is not in bad shape; just the usual scar tissue pain.
Am I different now? Not really. When I go in a race, I try a little harder than when by myself. And so I amaze myself. Races are a pain as they require logistics; but they also bring camaraderie and swag. So, a balance; enough but not too much. 
Running and racing have been part of my life since I was a teenager. I can\’t give it up.

Private Marathons

Sunday, I had a really good time at the Navy Marathon in Corpus Christi. Nice bling. Nice people.

This morning, I went for a test run in a new set of insoles and my left heel felt great. Then I thought, hey, lets go to San Antonio this weekend and run a marathon and a half marathon. I thought I\’d do real races instead of my private races.

I got to the signup web page and saw that it would be $200 to enter the 2 races; add in the gas and the hotel and my \”click submit\” mechanism suddenly stalled. I am already signed up for a race in April which doesn\’t require a hotel. I might go to Dallas in May.

And so now you know why I don\’t race that much; and count my private marathons instead. Time and money are at a premium.

Besides the money, there is the time. Time spent driving is time lost from contemplation, pondering that great silence.

So, I will release the stress of going to a race and just stay home. I\’ll do my miles in Seabrook, nodding happily at the other runners who join me every week.

What is my goal? If I have no plan to talk to anyone about my races, then  private marathon deserves a private goal. Secretly, I record my accomplishment on a piece of paper taped to my bed room wall.

All of this is about fitness, yes. It is also about longevity. It is also about contemplation. In the quietness of my soul, the mind beyond my normal consciousness, the miles symbolize eternity. The miles symbolize peace.