Monday, December 14, 2015

New Blog

I've started a new blog about all things NOT related to running...

...It's about what life is like as a full-time stay-at-home Dad, part-time adventure seeker, and recent transplant to Down East Maine.

And, it's called Permanent Vacationland 
Check it out!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chapter 1

Never Again

I rediscovered running in 1998, when I was an out-of-shape, over-weight 29-year old who desperately needed a lifestyle change. “Why not try running again?”, I said. “It couldn’t possibly be worse than it was in high school.” Well, turns out it takes significantly more effort to propel a 240 pound body than it does for one that’s half that. It was then, in this state of self-induced suffering, that I decided I needed a goal to distract me from the pain I was feeling. So I vowed that, once I could run a mile without stopping, I’d start training for the Boston Marathon. For some strange reason this seemed like a logical progression to me. Little did I know, that decision would start me on the journey of profound joy and stunning disappointment that is long distance running.  
When I began, I had no idea where running would take me. All I knew was that I needed to get out, get away, and do something. Because, when you feel like you’ve lost all control, something is a whole lot better than nothing. At the time, there was trouble at home and it seemed like my world was crashing down all around me. I needed a way to release the stress and tension of the day, to have some time and space for myself, to clear my head, expand my lungs and refresh my spirit. So, I opened the front door of my house and went for a walk.           
I was living in Marblehead Massachusetts  at the time, where there were a great many historic houses, picturesque parks and scenic seascapes to look at during my time on the roads. I enjoyed meandering through town just soaking it all in and letting my mind wander          
After a while, I wasn’t satisfied with merely walking everywhere. Too impatient for that, I wanted to cover some serious ground. Walking just plain took too long. So, I would walk a little, jog a little, then repeat – morphing into something I fondly called “wogs”.
After a few months of this, I got a little better, started losing weight and the wogs slowly became jogs. Then, I decided to take the next step and began timing myself. Nothing hardcore. I’d just check the clock on the cable box when I headed out the door and check it again when I returned. In the beginning, it took me 30 minutes to complete my 2.5 mile circuit. But, with each subsequent trip, the duration got shorter and my confidence grew as a result. As the confidence grew, so did the distance - from 2.5 to 4.5, and from 4.5 to 7. But, regardless of how far I jogged, I always did so in a loop. Because I was afraid that, with all that was going on at home, if I did an “out and back” I might reach the turn-around point and just keep on going.
When I officially started “training” for the Boston Marathon, I didn’t know anything about the science of marathoning. The words tempo, interval and fartlek meant nothing to me. All I knew was that in one year’s time, I needed to find a way to run, walk, or crawl 26.2 miles. And that I should probably trade in my Nike “high-top” basketball sneakers for some real running shoes. After building up slowly over the course of the year, I got my long run up to 16 miles and proclaimed myself “ready” for the 1999 Boston Marathon. On race day, I started at the back of the pack, with the rest of the unqualified runners (or bandits), and began what turned out to be an arduous, 26.2 mile wog from Hopkinton to Boston. More than 4 and a half hours later, I crossed the finish line on Boylston Street a bruised and bloody mess. I staggered to the curb, crumpled to the ground and exclaimed to no one in particular, “Never again!”
It’s been 16 years (and 20 marathons) since that fateful day. And what started as a walk has turned into so much more. I’m now a fortunate husband, a proud father of four, and a semi-proud owner of a three hour, zero minute and twenty two second marathon personal best. So, just how did I get from “Never again” to running twenty marathons - and now to signing up for my first 100 mile race? Well, it’s actually a rather interesting answer. And one that will unfold through the collection of stories that wind their way through the remaining pages of this book.
I hope you enjoy the journey. I know I did.