Sunday, March 19, 2017

Do You Still Run? - Part 7: Find Your Pleasant State

When the best laid plans go awry, one can only focus on making things right. Or, if that is just simply not a possibility, you have to make yourself right and find your pleasant state of being.

Not everything will flow perfectly in line, some things just don't work. Whether its work, play, running, relationships - you name it - they don't always work well together. Rather than dwell on what isn't working, or didn't turn out the way you thought, you have to move forward. For myself, I haven't been the greatest at relationships, specifically, romantic relationships. When they end they can, at times, be debilitating.

East Pleasant and South State in
Marion, Ohio
In what seems like the 100th time, I fell into this category recently. My only real saving grace is that I have learned, sort of, how to better deal with such situations. Work and running have been my coping mechanism

s, with running being my major escape from reality. Since I was pulled back into the running thing last August, I have started and finished every run in front of my apartment. Each run has been followed by a cool down stroll for about half a block before turning around and heading home.

I laughed the first time I noticed it a few months ago, but it really hit home in January when I suddenly found myself single again. The turn around point for that cool down I mentioned, its at the corner of Pleasant and State.

Those days when my overactive mind keeps wanting to run in the wrong direction and its hard to just simply BE, they have always ended with a run and a walk to this corner. The workout allows me to sweat out the frustration and the pilgrimage to these cross streets are my personal Buddha. It reminds me to move on, the past is the past and to look forward and find my pleasant state.

Even after those less than stellar days, glancing up at these street signs make me smile. It makes me laugh, realizing how much time I can (and have) wasted thinking about the woulda, shoulda, coulda of what I have and haven't done. Whether its regarding my professional life, running, the general future or ALL of my relationships - all I can do is move on. And hopefully learn from them, I am continually growing up, and at 41 years of age, I am nowhere near "grown up". I will likely always be growing up in some way or another.

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Coincidentally, the other end of the block I live on is at the corner of Church and State. So, I live in between finding my personal nirvana (pleasant state) or succumbing to the norm and following the unwritten rules we are told that - in not so many words - must be followed in order to be a generally good human being (church and state).
East Church and South State in
Marion, Ohio

Well, I'm running again at middle age after more than a decade of not running at all - which isn't normal. I have regained the better part of the love/hate relationship with my older muscles and they are (for the most part) cooperating with the challenge of running The Buck Fifty 150 Mile Team Relay in my hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio come April 7th and 8th. My part consists of 16.5 miles (three separate legs) within a 24 hour period.

Along with getting a very consistent 6:30 to 6:45 pace for five to seven miles runs, there has been some strength training which has aided the ability to maintain that pace. And I haven't deviated from that script, which is also not normal. I have, in the past, become bored with a regime and let it go by the wayside. This, though, I am determined to be more than just a participant. I want to prove to myself that am not a complete slacker (a little bit of a slacker, but not a huge lazy bum).

Here is the map of The Buck Fifty Race 

The eight months of training have been peppered with races every so often to break up the monotony of just pursuing personal records and milestones. This month's challenge was the St. Patrick's Day 4 Miler at Kinsale in Powell, Ohio. This had to be a better experience than last month's 10K trudge through the rain soaked, mud trough along the trails of Alum Creek State Park (not your normal race).

Our unseasonably warm, early spring reverted to the norm on this day a bit. We had an overcast sky and lite drizzle most of the afternoon, but luckily it moved on prior to our 6pm start time. Breezy and 39 degrees meant that gloves were a must, but otherwise decent running gear would suit just fine. I made my way to the front of the starting pack and chat with some of the older gentlemen who run this race on a regular basis. One of them jokingly motioned to the runner behind me, a kid who looked like he was about 15.

"He's gonna kick a our ass", I was told.

The start/finish line from the
finishing side
Well, he definitely looked the part. Dark green running shorts with a light green singlet tucked in around a tiny waste and stretching like I used to do when I was running competitively. The count down began, the horn went off and like clock work the 80 pound flash of green darted ahead of everyone. I wasn't about to keep up with him, but he did do us a favor by being the rabbit needed to get our chilly legs warmed up. Probably a half mile in and my crappy eyesight could only see a blip of fluorescent green in the distance.

I thought I was the only one blown away by his "pedal to the metal" scheme, but just before the first mile marker another runner creeps up behind me and once he gets in my peripheral, he glances at his watch - looks up and squints to search for the ever-fading green dot in front of us and forces out a breathless, "What the hell?!"

"Tell me about it", was the my short and sweet reply.

We continued on and unlike the leprechaun flash, I was able to keep this guy in my line of sight the rest of the way. There were two more gentleman who made there way past me, one at about the three mile mark and again with about a half mile to go. At this time, I didn't want to chase anyone down - I just wanted to keep my pacing and they gave me something to focus on as the cold air began minimizing my lung capacity.

Making our way off the golf course and back to the clubhouse and fitness center, I turn the corner to the finish and begin searching for the clock. My watery eyes find it through the headwind that's pounding my face and I see that I'm under 25:00 minutes as I cross the end line. Grabbing a bottle of water from a race volunteer, then tearing off the lid and downing the liquid refreshment, I raise my left wrist to glance at my watch and see out of the corner of my eye that I finished at 24:52. I was very pleased to know that I had obliterated my goal of 25:30. And the fifth place finish was just icing on the cake.

Full results:

(FYI: the kid who took off like a bolt of lightning, he finished in 21:15)

Slowly, other runners begin trickling in and made there way to the after party in the heated circus tent-like set up complete with food, beer, live band and just general camaraderie for the exhausted competitors - many of whom were in their best St. Patrick's Day costume or flare.

Being among the first to finish meant that I was among the first wave of folks into the after party. There were a handful of tables with seats and bar-style table tops scattered throughout the venue. I yanked off the FREE BEER ticket off of my bib number, grabbed my much deserved suds and manned one of the table tops, dropping my bag of belongings at my feet.

My finishers medal and
complimentary beer.
As the finishers filed in, the available tables and seating dried up quickly. Noticing several people looking in earnest for a home base, I caught the attention of some wondering eyes and motioned to my table. The three friends were thankful to find a spot to chill. The three - Lynn, Jenn and Kay - were decked out in full St. Patrick's garb, including oversized, bright green, leprechaun top hats...full bright green beards and plastic, black-rimmed eyeglasses. They were dressed essentially the same and generally looked similar, it helped that all of the race bibs had your first name on them so it was nice to be able to differentiate until we were used to one another..

I had not planned to spend much time at the after party, but Lynn, Jenn and Kay let me tag along and we had our own little party with a number of others joining our dancing, singing and goofing off for the evening. I didn't really know anyone there, but it was nice to find some like minds to hangout with and for that, I am thankful. As we left, I heard one of them say to me, "See you next year!" That made me smile and as much as that sounds like a great plan, I couldn't tell you what I'm doing next week - let alone next year. Though, if there is an opportunity to run that race next year, I will it do without a second thought.

I doubt I will see or hear from those three again, but they made my night...No, they made my weekend.  I don't remember that last time I had that much fun. Thank You Lynn, Jenn and Kay for including a complete, goofy stranger in your quest to be the life of the party. Wherever you are, high fives all around....and seriously, THANK YOU.

Coming back down to Earth, I don't know if I have found my pleasant state, but the pursuit is getting ever more bright and promising. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I happened to come across a friend of mine whom I had not spoken to in a couple of years. Well, rather, she found me and reached out to say "hey". Back then I think we connected because we were at points in our lives where just having a like mind to feed off of was a pacifier for being in places we didn't want to be at that time.

Now in different - and better - places, we've started a habit of grabbing dinner, hanging out and generally catching up with one another. What makes it excitedly odd is that we haven't skipped a beat, those couple of years had no affect on relating to one another at all. It isn't something that just simply happens everyday, somebody appearing out of the blue - its not normal, but that's okay because neither of us are. (Yeah, there isn't a theme here at all.)

Speaking of odd, it is now less than three weeks and counting till The Buck Fifty 150 Mile Team Relay. How in the hell has my thinking of "Oh, it's nine months away" turned into this vortex of nerves for an ambitious, yet provocative (and probably stupid), desire to be even more eccentric and bizarre than I am now? That is just simply not normal, but that's how I like it, its how I prefer it.

This, now, is my pleasant state of being...just let go...and breathe...

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And (Ross County) miles to go before I sleep,
And (Ross County) miles to go before I sleep...

Step 1 - Do You Still Run? Part 1 Getting Started: COMPLETED

Step 2 - Do You Still Run? Part 2 Being Consistent, Make Progress: COMPLETED

Step 3 - Do You Still Run? Part 3 Increasing Mileage: COMPLETED

Step 4 - Do You Still Run? Part 4 Ho, Ho, Ho-ly Crap.

Step 5 - Do You Still Run? Part 5 Run (Not Bud) Wiser, Enjoy Your Craft (Beer)

Step 6 - Do You Still Run? Part 6 When Nature Attacks

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