NOTE: If you would like to follow my progress or send cheers during the race, there is info at the end of this post on how to do that.
The Waiting Game
So, now I wait. Or rather, I taper. Tapering is a needed but disconcerting time of training. It’s where you reduce your workouts in mileage and intensity as you get closer to your goal race. In the case of marathon it is usually 2 weeks with the first of those being just a mild reduction and the 2nd week being a much more severe reduction.
This past week I ran my usual 5 days but didn’t do as many miles and I didn’t do a lot of hills. But I did do speed work, even though I wasn’t planning on it.
Waiting, waiting, waiting
Over the past weekend we found out that the elder statesman of Tulsa running, Bobby Bomer, had to have emergency abdominal surgery. He leads our weekly workouts at the University of Tulsa track on Tuesday mornings and evenings. I was called to take his place on Tuesday morning. That meant a 4:45am wake up to get there on time. I was planning on just leading the warm up and encouraging people as they ran, maybe doing some light running, but not doing the sprints. But Bobby’s wife Judy was there to help lead so I gave into the temptation and ran. It turned out to be wonderful. It was the first true fall day, with temps in the low 50s as we started. It was refreshing and exhilarating. Later that day I led my usual group on our afternoon run (not speed work) and that same feeling continued. It was cool and dry and we ran strong and fast for the entire time. I was thinking ‘I hope my race is at this temperature!’.
At the end of our early morning speed workout the TU Students were warming up for theirs.
Reducing and Refining
The rest of the week I ran just the mileage I would normally run with my group, nothing extra, nothing intense. I also ran just what Pathways was running on Saturday, 10 miles. I didn’t do any extra before or after. It was odd after so many weeks of continually pushing the weekly miles up to be reducing them.
Strong Runners at Sunset in Broken Arrow, OK
Aches, Pains and Fences
One of the worst things about tapering is ‘ghost injuries’. I had 2 days this week where I ran with my big toe aching quite a bit. An injury? A problem? Serious? Long Term? What does it mean for my race? Will I be able to run? Then a day later it disappeared. My back was aching, probably will be a problem I am sure. Next morning, it was gone. I felt weak a few afternoons ago. Maybe the flu? A cold? What if I am sick for my race? But the truth was I just needed to eat lunch. What is that all about? It’s about freaking out about every little thing. You have invested so much for so long in running towards this goal that when you are so close you see the tiniest little thing as a potential game changer or ender. It does sometimes happen of course, but the vast majority of time it turns out to be nothing.
The other thing you worry about is doing some other random activity in these taper weeks that will wipe you out. For example, in the 2 weeks before my first marathon in 2010 I rebuilt a fence in my backyard. It had to be done, the fence was falling apart and we had 2 dogs who were about to get out. But it was back-breaking work and I came to the start line of the race with a very sore back. I learned my lesson that day – no heavy lifting, no DIY projects, no fence building in the weeks leading up to the race.
The old fence during a hail storm – note the chairs blocking the gaps so the dogs wouldn’t break through.
And of course I am constantly checking the weather for that day. What would be my ideal conditions? Probably about 45-50º to start and moving up to 60 or so, with cloud cover and just enough wind to keep the air moving. What does it look like it will be? As of now, it appears it will be about 53º to start moving up to about 70 by the time I finish with a mild wind. It will be part sun, part clouds. That sounds pretty good to me, I’ll take it.
Beautiful sky during our first true fall run.
Tomorrow we head off to Washington DC. If you would like to follow me and find out how I am progressing during the race there are a number of ways to do it. Feel free to spread the word to others you know who might be interested.
Go to the MCM website and you will find lots of options.
I suggest the simplest, which is the ‘RUNNER TRACKING’. All you have to do is type in my name or bib number (24944) and put in how you want alerts to come.
A cooler way to follow is to do the ‘MAP TRACK’. It has a map that allows you to see in real-time where I am on the course.
I am also registered with the MOTIGO app. You can record cheers and encouragements and they will be played wherever in the race you tell it to play.
And the very best way to do any of that is to download the MCM app.
That is it for now! Next time you hear from me I will hopefully be tired and smiling with a big medal around my neck!
See you running,
The woman thought about her selves and didn’t feel anything but.
Drawing and short story © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Being an artist sets you outside a certain framework of society. Think of it this way. If you were a back-to-nature family living off the land, growing your own veggies, killing your own wild game, making your own clothes, and building your own home and furniture, how connected would you feel to a media that was constantly talking about and advertising processed food, big box stores, beauty products, vacations to all-inclusive resorts, and more? I expect you would feel like none it applies to you. You aren’t who they are talking to, right?
The Needy System
Being an artist can be the same way and here’s why. The social system I just mentioned wants us to need it for entertainment, creativity, purpose. It works hard to integrate (or entrap, depending on your perspective) individuals into that system. It wants dependence because that is how it runs. But artists don’t need that. We don’t have our identity in a job we do, we have it in our own creativity. We don’t have our identity in the system and thus we are not dependent on it. We are a danger to that system’s hegemony.
Now in most cases the artist isn’t THAT big a danger. They aren’t creating something that is going to threaten or destroy the system, they are just a grain of sand in the lotion. And, just as sometimes lotion manufacturers like some sort of mild abrasive in their lotion to clean or refresh the skin better, the system likes these artists because they give the illusion of freedom. They are free to do what they want and that means so are you. But the system knows that while technically you are free, you aren’t going to exploit that freedom to do anything radical.
What happens when artists really do something radical? They are attacked, minimized and ostracized. Their creations are publicized as dangerous or evil or ugly. It is the product of a disturbed mind or a dangerous philosophy or a perverted morality. It is not to be trusted. To show interest in it casts the viewer in an ugly light.
A great example of course is music. in the 20th century we have plenty of examples. Elvis was dangerous. The Rolling Stones were dangerous. ‘Negro music’ was dangerous. Go back even farther and, hard as it is to believe, the Waltz was dangerous.
The Beautiful Effort
And underneath it all, why is art dangerous? Because it gives sight and sound to pain, longing, need, wonder, love, hate and more, and turns it into beauty. I don’t mean everyone will see it as beautiful, even those not entrapped in the system. What I mean is the artistic impulse and the artistic process is beautiful. Not because the end result will always look beautiful but because the effort is a beautiful and noble effort to understand all those things at the deepest level.
And that is dangerous.
Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“What marks the artist is their power to shape the material of pain we all share.” – Lionel Trilling, 1905-1975, American Essayist and Teacher
A Good Soaking
Do you know my favorite weather for a run? I will give you a hint: it’s the exact opposite of what many, if not most, people would say is their favorite weather. Many would say their favorite would be sunny and maybe about 80º, right? Most runners wouldn’t say that, though 80º isn’t that bad, at least not when you live in Oklahoma where there are about 60 days over 90º every summer. But most runners would also not say their favorite is my favorite because my favorite is rain. Yes, GLORIOUS EXHILARATING CHALLENGING ENERGIZING FUN LIBERATING RAIN! My favorite marathon (Dallas 2014), the one I crossed the finish line feeling best, was the one I ran in a torrential downpour from about mile 22 to 25 (with much of the rest of the marathon in light rain as well). How good did I feel? My last 6 miles were faster than my first 6. That tells you something.
Fleet Feet Runners in the Rain!
This week I had the best rain run of my life. It was raining and about 70º. But it wasn’t just that it was raining, it was that it had been raining all day and the streets were wild flowing rivers by the time we started our run. We ran exactly one block before we hit our first river and had to splash at least one foot into it. Within another 2 blocks we had already given up trying to avoid puddles and rivers because our shoes were soaked already. And that’s when it got fun. No longer worrying about getting wet, we were out to enjoy ourselves. We had a challenging 5 mile course that was new to most of us. We went up and down busy streets with driveways of water. We ran over sidewalks that had never been edged, had about a foot of width to them and about 4 inches of water. We ran down small town streets with puddles the size of small towns. We jumped, we leaped, we splashed, we oohed and ahhed. Most of all we smiled and laughed. Ok, most of all we watched where we were going to avoid falling into a pit or something, but after that we smiled and laughed a lot! We did what adults never get to do unless they are runners, and that is play in the rain.
After 5 miles in the rain, happy as a clam!
In the meanwhile I had an injury scare. On Tuesday morning I was doing my usual stretching and calisthenics when I heard a very loud and distinct crack in my rib cage while using some 5 lbs weights. It hurt and I immediately stopped. It felt like I had been punched really hard in my ribs. It was way up high on my right side, even with my man boob but under my arm pit. I got up and walked around. I breathed deep. I bent over. I sat down. What was it? A cracked rib? It certainly sounded like a crack, but maybe it was just a pop or a snap I heard, not a crack. The fact that I could breathe deep with no extra pain made me think it wasn’t a cracked rib. It was probably just a pulled chest muscle of some sort but I didn’t know.
I spent the rest of the day doing what I usually do and monitoring the pain level. It wasn’t that bad but it definitely was there. I have a pretty high pain tolerance so I have to remind myself that just because I can handle it doesn’t mean it is ok. I was pretty nervous about what it could be, especially this close to my goal race. What if it really was a cracked rib, then what!?
I went to my scheduled run that evening. It hurt as I first started running, the impact definitely was jostling it. But after a few miles it started to mellow out. After I got home the pain didn’t increase so I decided I would sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. Wednesday morning I woke up and it was a bit sore. I skipped my stretching that morning. I went through my day and by mid morning I had forgotten about it. By about 1 pm I was testing it and it surprisingly felt like it was barely there. As a matter of fact the only time I really felt it at all that day was when I laid down on the floor to show my wife Linda exactly what I was doing as it happened. I didn’t reinjure it then, just noticed the pain. Wednesday night I did the rain run mentioned above and felt great. Thursday I did another run of equal length and felt great. If I press in that spot I can still feel a soreness but other than that it’s like it never happened. Whew, crisis averted!
The Rest of the Week
The long run this week was supposed to be 16 miles. I did 3.5 miles with the half marathon group, then did 9 with my Pathways group. We actually did a mock Tulsa Run (their 9.3 mile goal race). We did a slow jog to the exact start line and then ran over 3/4 of the race course. We ended at the exact finish line.
Amazing and strong PW1 at the end of our mock Tulsa Run!
I had to quickly run back to the store to get some veggie trays my wife had made that I had in my car to bring to a nearby church for a funeral. I had until 9:30 to do it and got it there by 9:15, yay me! Then I ran back to the finish line and met the rest of Pathways as they came in. I took pics of them all and then ran another mile at cool down pace. That gave me 13.1 for the day and that felt like plenty. When you are this close to a race it’s better to be safe and end healthy than to push for a certain amount of miles.
Two weeks to go and now I start my Taper! More on that next week. If you would like to read the rest of my Marathon Training posts simply click on the ‘series’ drop down menu on the right and pick ‘marathon training’.
See you running,
The Adventures of Medusa
Medusa never goes to the hair stylist because her hair is very hard to tame. But she was going to a big ball honoring her contribution to the new Herpetology exhibition at the Zoo and wanted to try something new. She showed the stylist a picture of a famous celebrity and told her she wanted hair like that. The stylist did her best but it wasn’t good enough and she never went back.
Drawing and short story © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
To see more of Medusa’s adventures in daily life use the ‘series’ drop down menu on the right and click on ‘Adventures of Medusa’.
Week 16 – After a Long Run
After you run a long race you are supposed to take at least a few days, if not a few weeks, off to let your body recover and rejuvenate. But after a long training run it isn’t the same. You are still in training and you still have your goal race ahead of you so you still have to run. However, you should consider the punishment you put your body through on that long run and remember not to overdo it the next week.
I didn’t do that very well after my 20 miler and I could feel it. My legs were tired most of the week, my joints were aching and my muscles sore. I thought it might get better as the week progressed but by the time I ran my fourth run of the week I felt pretty wiped out. I was able to do all the runs and keep my pace, but it was definitely harder than usual. Luckily my long run of the week wasn’t a LONG run in the scheme of things. It was supposed to be about 12 miles. I ran 3 before the group run and 6 with my Pathways group and said, “You know what, I am good with nine miles.” and was done for the week. It was a smart move. It wasn’t much less but psychologically it was a good decision.
Also a good decision was stopping in front of Good Ol’ Ben and taking our picture. This house has a statue of Jesus as well. Maybe next time we will get a pic with him!
The Pathways 1 team giving the thumbs up for Uncle Ben.
Week 17 – The Even Longer Run
This is it, the big week! This week was shaping up to be the longest mileage week of training. I expected to hit get close to 50 miles and I did, getting 48.4. I front loaded the week with longer mileage runs and ended with a short run on Thursday. I was able to get in a bit of speed work and a progression run as well. Friday was a rest day and I needed it. My knees, which have never been a sore point, definitely had a bit of soreness and I was a bit anxious about that in anticipation of the long run.
The Long Run
What does a really long run look like? Here it is:
- Wake up time – 4:30am – Cheerios and a banana for breakfast (my long run habit)
- Solo start time – 5:20am – 4 miles – Electrolyte tablets at the start, water and energy nutrition gel at end.
- M2 group start time – 6:15am – 18 miles – 5 water stops with Nuun (electrolyte drink) and water. At 3 of the 4 water stops I had another gel and at one of the later water stops I had 2 more electrolyte tablets.
- Moment of Falling – 7:am (approx) – fell while gabbing away but was able to break the fall lightly with my hands and then roll to my right and get up. Slight scrape on my elbows but didn’t hurt myself and was able to keep running just fine.
- Finish time – 9:20am – Stretching, water, OJ and bagels at the store.
- Daylight Donuts – 10:15am – 2 jalapeno sausage rolls and a donut (another long run habit)
- Home – 10:25am – Jump in bed and watch Good Morning America with my wife while I eat.
- Later – shower, nap, football, post pics, second nap.
Those are the basics, But it doesn’t tell the story of how much fun it is to run with great people for that long. Conversations ebb and flow in an organic and natural way. We told funny and helpful stories about marathons (of course), the National Anthem protests and other social issues, ‘where the hell are we on our route?’, my unexpected fall (see above) which led to all sorts of falling stories, injuries, heart rate monitoring, fitness tests, beautiful homes and landscaping (which we saw in abundance), running through pain, long run recovery techniques including Cryo treatments (super dooper cold ice treatments that last 3 minutes), and more ‘where the hell are we on our route?’. And that was just a small part of what I happen to be part of. I overheard in the background a lot more talking among runners that I didn’t know what they were talking about.
Here are my stats for the 22 miles.
I have 3 weeks to go until the Marine Corps Marathon on October 22nd. This coming week will be less mileage and then I start my 2 week taper with even less mileage so I am in prime condition for the race.
That’s it for now! If you would like to read the other marathon training blog posts use the Series drop down menu on the right and choose ‘marathon training’
See you running,
A woman with a hairdo too old for her talking to her friend about packing her bags three times before he came home and how he never knew while they drank coffee and talked too loud so I could hear their divorce woes on a humid night in Tulsa.
I drew this a Starbucks in 2003 and colored it in 2017.
Drawing and story © Marty Coleman
For Sale – Original Drawing | Print
Who do you know with a great reputation primarily from their own bragging about their reputation? I suspect not many. And if you do know anyone who is always trying to prop their reputation up through their own bragging I also suspect you think they are somewhat pathetic and sad to see them do so.
In sports there are some who are known as ‘hot dogs’. They brag about themselves constantly. And there is one determining factor as to whether we will stand for that type of behavior; do they back it up with action? If they do, then we may not like the bragging but we will say, at least he or she backs it up, right? But if they don’t? Then there is a no more pathetic person than that one. He or she becomes an embarrassment.
If I was talking to The Orange Man I would tell him that a person’s reputation isn’t what they say it is, it’s what other people say it is. The more you tell people how great you are, the less likely it is they will believe you or like you, because you haven’t proved it to them, you’ve just shouted it at them. And eventually, they will take great satisfaction in seeing your self-blown bubble burst.
Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“Reputation is a bubble a person bursts when they try to blow it up for themselves.” – Emma Carleton (1850-1925) American Journalist.
In The Long Run
inside a long run are many short runs. These segments might be physical, emotional, psychological, but whatever form they take, they make for mini-ecosystems within the larger one.
My friend and fellow marathoner Cindy Knull wrote this last week and I thought it fit how I feel as a long distance runner.
“Running long distance is a metaphor for life. The sun sets and it rises. It rains and freezes. The sun shines and it thaws. Pain comes and we push through. The high comes and we exude joy. We fret and we revel. We fight and we win. We fight and learn to rise again. Sometimes we trip and get bruised, but we get up and try again. We get sidelined–for a season–then we come back new. We run in sun, rain, night, day, dark, light, winter, spring, summer, and fall, the cold, the heat, the wind, the freeze. Breathe in breathe out. Running teaches you perseverance in the face of immense obstacles, how to fight your demons, problem solve, meditate, joy in winning, coping with disappointment, how to handle loss, how to keep moving forward, and how to accept where you are but to know when to try harder. It teaches you your limits–it shows you where you stand. And it never lies or gives up on you. It will never take more than you give. It’s not a thing you do…it’s a relationship. My run, my pace.”
Cindy Jackson Knull
In The Long Run, part 2
My long run this week was 20 miles and it was definitely an example of runs within runs. I decided that anything would be better than running all 20 miles by myself so I chose to combine it with 2 races at Fleet Feet Tulsa to see if I could make it an entertaining and interesting outing. My 20 mile plan included 5k at 7:30am and a quarter marathon at 8:30am for a total of 9.65 miles. That left 10.45 more miles to fit in before, during and/or after those races. If I started running at 6am by myself I figured I could finish 8 miles before the first race. I knew I would finish the first race in under 30 minutes and could safely run another 2.5 miles before the second race started. My goal was to be at the start line of the second race needing exactly 6.55 miles (the distance of the race) to get to 20.
It worked out exactly as I planned. I had to zigzag a little on the final straightaway to the finish line to make sure I hit 20, but I did it. I finished the 20 miles in 3:10 for a 9:30 average pace. I felt strong and accomplished at the end. This helps a lot in further defining what I think I can do in my marathon. As of now I am shooting for a 4:15 time. Much will depend on the weather that day. We shall see!
The best part of the run was that my wife Linda was there doing the 6.55 mile Quarter Marathon as well. She is a Race Walker so I had a little time to cool down and get some food then went out to cheer her on at the finish.
If you would like to read the rest of the marathon training series you can do so by using the ‘series’ drop down menu on the right and searching for ‘marathon training’
Thanks for your support and encouragement!
My wife Linda is looking for a job. She is incredibly skilled in her profession, which is in Change Management, Business Readiness and Project Management. Her industry has been Public Utilities for over 25 years but her skills translates into many other fields. She’s been applying now for a while. What has she learned during this time? That knowing everything doesn’t matter if you don’t know anybody who can either give you a job or introduce you to someone who can give it to you.
Sly vs Shrewd
It can be frustrating to those who want to be judged solely on their qualifications and their accomplishments. But what they forget is that being social and engaged is a qualification and an accomplishment. Doing most jobs successfully means more than accomplishing a task, it means working with other people and what is that but socializing at some level. The hard part of course is doing that in a forced way. It’s not natural to just ‘like’ a stranger on LinkedIn or Facebook. It seems like you are being fake because you don’t really want to be friends with them, you want to connect with them so you can perhaps get a job. Seems a bit sly. But the truth is it’s not sly, it’s shrewd.
What is Your Goal?
The most important question is, what do you need to do to reach your goal? If you want a job in a certain company or industry, then you need to connect to people at that company and in that industry, simple as that. If you aren’t willing to make that connection, even if it is a bit awkward, then you have to accept that your chances of reaching your goal drops dramatically. It won’t be because you aren’t appreciated, it will be because you weren’t willing to connect.
Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“A wise person knows everything, a shrewd one, everybody.” – Chinese Proverb
Available as a Print, framed or unframed
This is a tough one. But as hard as it seems to be able to do, from my experience it seems essential to self understanding. I don’t believe you can have love for yourself if there is no understanding of what it is you have gone through in life. And that love is only able to blossom if you have come to understand the experience deeper than just the hated part of it.
In my own life there were alcoholic parents, terrible physical injuries, uprooting myself from more than one college for reasons beyond my control, and an excruciating divorce after 20 years of marriage. And those are just the highlights. Could I have hated all those events? In fact I did have hate for them. But I wasn’t FILLED with hate. Hate was part of what I felt. But so was hope, fear, happiness, anger, frustration, determination, love. I developed resilience, perseverance, a sense of adventure, compassion, love, and strength that led me forward through those things. And I was deliberate in looking at the value those events had in creating the positive part of who I am and what I can do.
Here’s the thing. You will not get to be old in this life without events that hurt you, scare you, destroy you. You will not get old without injury, illness, failure. Those things will exist at some point in some way. Your decision is the label you give them. Is ‘hate’ the first word, maybe the only word, you attach to that event? Then I submit you haven’t looked deep enough at it. By giving more labels to these things you aren’t giving up the right to say you hated it. You are simply saying there was more to it than just the hated part. Focus on that other part. What did you learn, how did you grow, who did you help as a result?
Don’t Love Hating
I know I have lived just one life. It’s a life that didn’t include many terrible things, things that I can’t imagine having to deal with. I can’t say I would have been successful in overcoming the hate if any number of other things had happened. But I do know there are many who have so focused on what they hate about something or someone in their past (or present) that they aren’t able or willing to see beyond it. Their identity is attached to what they hate. And I know of no people who are happy being that way.
A few years ago I posted a napkin drawing using a quote by Sarah Haines that struck me profoundly. “Don’t love hating people.” It is a variation on this same theme and I hope you will go read what I had to say about it as well.
Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“In order to love who you are you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” – Andrea Dykstra
Last week we had Labor Day on Monday. That meant I didn’t have to coach. I could have run the ‘Escape from Turkey Mountain’ trail run but call me cautious but since I am not a trail runner (yet) I didn’t think it wise to go running around rocks and roots with a bazillion other people in front and behind me.
How I imagine it
Since I didn’t have to coach and I didn’t have to race that meant I was going to run on my own, right? Nope. It meant I was a lazy bum and didn’t run at all. I didn’t run the day before either. That means TWO WHOLE DAYS not running. Of course the Saturday before that I ran 18 miles so I had a ready excuse, I was recovering. And that’s just what it was, an excuse. My wife was also gone that weekend, off in Denver visiting her sister. So I ate pizza. And Cocoa Krispies. And Burger King. Why? Because I was bacheloring it. That was my excuse. And just to make sure I didn’t mess things up I skipped my morning stretching and calisthenics workouts over the weekend as well.
Ninja wanted some too
And I learned a lesson I have learned many times all over again. It is SO EASY to be a lazy bum. It makes me believe in the law of entropy. That is the law of the universe that says, and I will try to not get to scientific on you, if you are sitting on a couch you will stay seated on the couch until something comes and kicks you off. Wait, that might be a different law, they can be so confusing. Anyway, it’s the law that took over my life for those two days. Sometimes I like that law.
I also learned something else. I am glad my job is coaching runners. That job is the one that often is the thing that kicks me off the couch and into motion across the universe (or Tulsa, whichever is closest). So, Tuesday rolled around and I had no more excuses. I had to go to work and run. I like my job.
But seriously, if you are suffering from couchitis, find a group to do something with. You may not be a runner, but you are a something. Maybe a bird watcher, or a knitter, or a photographer, or a rock climber. It doesn’t matter. Find your way to a group and join in. You will find that the activity is just a small part of the benefit. The friendships you make while doing the activity are what will really become your joy and your motivation!
We are all different, we are all the same.
The actual runs I did do last week were pretty intense though. I scheduled speedwork for Pathways on Wed and Thurs and I ran both of those. That’s a lot of speedwork. My long run was not long in distance but it was mostly at race pace so it too was a hard work out.
Up next is what might end up being close to a 50 mile week. I have a 20 mile training run and will have to once again figure out how to go about doing it. Whether to do it completely solo or combine it with other runs. The problem is this week Fleet Feet has races so there are no organized training runs, either run the races or run on your own. My question is can I combine the 20 miler with the races. I will let you know what I decide to do.
That’s it for now. If you would like to read the rest of the series, click on the ‘Series’ drop down menu on the right and scroll to ‘Marathon Training’.
See you running,
The Unknowing Muse
She is only the second knitter I have drawn. The first was in Colorado, or wait, it was in an auto shop here in town but I made mountains in the background and they looked like Colorado so I always think I drew her there. Anyway, she definitely was not in Colorado. She was in Starbucks. Which of course, could have been in Colorado, but it wasn’t. It was here.
She didn’t know I was drawing her, she was busy knitting. Most people don’t know I am drawing them, though some do, like that Flight Attendant that one time that one night (who wrote on my website 4 years after the fact to comment on the drawing I did of her). But this time she didn’t. Or at least I didn’t think she did. Sometimes people do know I am drawing them but I don’t know they know because they only look at me when I am looking down drawing and I only draw them when they are looking down doing whatever it is they are doing, which is usually reading. Sometimes they are talking to someone or on the phone. Sometimes they are knitting.
If they have headphones on they are even more unlikely to know I am drawing them since they are double pre-occupied with whatever it is they are doing and their music or podcast or audiobook. Usually they are not talking to someone while they have their headphones in. But sometimes they are talking to someone through their headphones. She was doing neither. She was just listening and knitting.
But what was she listening to is the question. Well, it’s not really THE question, but it is a question. THE question is why did Hamilton agree to duel with Burr. I mean it is THE question if you just read that book about Hamilton, which I just did. But if you didn’t it isn’t. That is a good question though, what is your THE question? Anyway, the answer to the A question is in the drawing. See, that was simple.
When I was almost completely done with the drawing I saw that she was getting ready to go so I went over to her and showed her the drawing. As is often the case, she was surprised. I mean who expects to be drawn nowadays, right? We aren’t in Paris after all. Though I have been to Paris and drawn people and they were surprised to. So much for that idea.
After we introduced ourselves Debra told me she was blessed because her mother (or mother-in-law, I forget which) had taken her daughter (or son, I forget which) for the morning so she could go out and relax. I thought that was very nice. At the time I hadn’t yet filled in the thought bubble above her head so I told her I wanted to know what she was thinking so I could fill it in. She told me something that wasn’t what she was thinking but was perfect so I said, “That’s perfect.” and it was. I told her I would probably write a short story to go along with the drawing. This isn’t exactly the type of fictional short story I had in mind when I said ‘short story’ but it is the story I am writing so it will have to do. Or maybe it is a fictional short story. How would you know anyway, right?
Debra then left and I went about finishing up the drawing. A few minutes later Debra came back in and told me she was excited to have been my muse for the morning. I thought that was cool. Not many people think about themselves that way but almost everyone I draw is a muse to me and when someone gets that, I feel connected to that person. I gave her my card and told her I would be posting the drawing and the story on my website. She said she would go take a look. That is how most conversations go when I draw someone. And then more often than not it does not go that way. They don’t go take a look and they don’t comment. I think that is sad but oh well.
By the way, what you see in this drawing is not really Debra. It’s ink. That’s a conceptual joke, get it? But aside from that, the ink is not a representation of what was really there. Debra was there yes, but I could only see part of her. The part I couldn’t see I made up. If I hadn’t made it up I would have a drawn a bench and some coffee equipment and some chairs and a table and other stuff. But I wanted to draw her and not the table, chairs, equipment and bench so I made the rest of her up. That is why it looks funny, which a friend of mine pointed out.
The friend said it as sort of a swipe because she was under the assumption I was trying to draw Debra accurately, which was not my goal. Reasonably accurate so someone looking at the drawing would know it’s of a woman, not of a cell phone tower or of a cake, yes. But absolute accuracy so it looked just like Debra? no. My real goal was to put marks on a piece of paper so the marks were interesting to look at. In that I succeeded.
But succeeded according to whom? According to me. That is the great thing about art. You get to decide your own success.
Drawing and short story © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Some of you may have heard of ‘The Blerch’. It is the ‘fat, little cherub’ that follows you when you run. You can find his story at ‘The Oatmeal‘, a hilarious comic website. He sometimes follows me too but recently I have been enveloped by ‘The Blur’ instead. The Blur is an aerosol spray can of fog that releases its contents over you during these middle weeks of training. It makes you unable to remember individual runs because it’s all just one big run. It makes you unable to talk about anything but running because there is nothing but running. It makes you into a calculating machine trying to figure out the perfect pace, perfect nutrition regimen, perfect clothing and gear. Then once you figure all that out it is the culprit behind why you forget it all and try to figure it out again.
ok, I remember this one! Pathways PW1 in Broken Arrow after the 7 Hills of Hell
I have ‘The Blur’ bad right now. I want to tell you about specific runs but I don’t remember them for the most part. I can tell you about my 18 miler, because it was 2 days ago. But before that? A big blur. All I know is I ran a LOT in August, 156.5 miles to be exact. That is up 16.5 miles from July and is the most I’ve ever run in a month. To give you some perspective and to keep me humble, elite marathoners can easily run 100 miles in a week of training. So my 150 isn’t all that much by that count. But then again my Garmin statistics say it’s more than 99% of other runners my age (60-64) so enough of being humble, I did awesome!
The 18 miler
The memorable run was my longest yet of the training season and I had a lot of anxiety about it before hand. I was torn whether to do it on Saturday when all the groups I lead were running, or whether to just run the minimum on Saturday and get the 18 miles in on Sunday. Running long miles on your own is problematic though since you have to figure out a route, figure out how to have water available or stashed along the way, and get yourself out there to do it before the heat of the day takes you out. I knew Sunday was going to be hot and sunny.
But running with my groups means breaking up the long run into segments and I don’t want to have too much downtime between those segments. Plus I will still have to run most of it solo anyway. But I would have water, electrolyte drink, bathrooms and a route all taken care of in advance. I also knew that Saturday was supposed to be overcast and cooler.
The only pic I took during my long run
Rain Rain, Don’t Go Away
The difference in conditions made me choose Saturday. And it turned out to be my perfect conditions. What are those? First, overcast. Second, temps in the 60s. Third, RAIN. Yep, I love love love running in the rain…IF it’s not too cold or too much of a downpour. This rain was perfect. Rain is exhilarating, it’s cooling, it’s fun, and it makes you feel like a badass. My favorite marathon (Dallas, 2014) was in a light rain, WITH a torrential downpour from miles 22-25. It didn’t matter, I loved it and had my best finish ever as a result.
I had to run the 18 miles in segments, but it was very short downtime between them. I have 45 minutes between when the half marathoners take off and when my 15k runners take off. So, I ran 2 miles with my H2 half marathon group then turned around and headed back to the store. One of my coaches, Susan, was on her way back as well so we ran the 2 miles back together. Pathways, the 15k program I lead, was ready to go by the time we got back. I had just enough time to take some Endurolyte tablets, a Huma energy gel and go to the bathroom and we were off. I ran 4.5 miles with them.
Then I was on my own with 10 miles to go. I had a 4+ mile route that I had already done twice so it was a no brainer to follow that a few more times. That way I would have water along the way and wouldn’t have to think about the route very much. Even with that I did make a wrong turn but it was no big deal, I knew where I was and it added some needed distance anyway. The rain lightened then stopped by about mile 15, when I hit my final water stop. I called my wife at that point because I knew she was on her way to the airport to fly to Denver to visit her sister for the long weekend. That bit of rest made me ready to push out the final 3 miles. I felt great and was able to run the final 3 at the fastest pace of the entire run. I felt like I easily could have gone another 2-3 miles.
That is it for this week. Next week will be more of the same but less mileage on my long run. 7 weeks to go!
If you would like to read more of the series, you can find it here.
If you have advice or comments please feel free to do so here or connect with me on any social media. Just look up NapkinDad and you will find me.
Original drawing available, framed or unframed. Print also available.
Anxiety and Depression
I didn’t think of Hurricane Harvey when I first picked out this quote earlier this week. I was thinking about those with anxiety and depression. I was thinking about how hard it is to balance on what seems to be such a small path with the consequences of falling off the path being so severe. Then I read a friend’s Facebook post about how she basically just has to throw up her arms and laugh when things keep going wrong in her life. In her case I think it’s about financial and family issues. She always feels like she is just one step away from disaster. Sometimes she steps off the path (or is pushed) and tumbles down into the abyss. It is very hard to climb back up, but she always does.
It was only after that, while I was finishing the drawing that I started to connect it to natural disasters like Harvey. It might be comforting to feel like that sort of disaster doesn’t happen to everyone, and it’s true, it doesn’t. But how far away from that sort of disaster are we really? We live in Tornado Alley. We get in our storm shelter about once or twice a year because storms are bearing down on us. How narrow of a ledge we stand on at that moment.
So, how to deal with this. How do we stay on the path? I don’t know if we do. I think we all fall off the path at times. And I think it feels like an endless abyss when we do, as those on the Gulf Coast feel right now. As I felt when I got divorced 18 years ago. As the addict might feel when he or she falls off the wagon once again.
As a running coach I used to teach how to get the right running form. I don’t do that anymore. Now I accept that we all have our own unique running form. And with most runners, over the course of a 26.2 mile race, there is a good chance they are going to lose that form. So now what I do is teach how to regain your form once you have lost it. And that is how I think about this path we are on. We are going to fall off the path. The question is, do we have the ability, the friends and family, the tools we need to get back up on the path?
Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is showing that in that deep of an abyss you need an entire community and nation to lift one another back up on the path. We don’t all need that level of help, but we all need some help. If you need it, ask for it, no matter how hard it is to do so. It is worth suffering feelings of failure or embarrassment to get out of your abyss.
Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“Life is like a strip of pavement over an abyss.” – Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941, English writer
The worst way to make or take a selfie is to use filters that distort your reality so much that you don’t really see your true self when you look at the picture. Almost everyone uses some level of filtering, even if they say they don’t. For example, they take #nomakeup #nofilter pics and post them. But how many pictures did they take before they got the right one? Even if they only took two that still shows they are interested in how the appear to others. They want it to be a good ‘nofilter’ picture, not a bad one, right? And that is ok if you ask me. I don’t have a problem wanting the best version of myself to be presented.
But there are people who aren’t interested in any sort of real version of themselves being shown. They want to create a myth about themselves that isn’t based in reality, but is based on their own need for adoration or acceptance. These people tend to be braggarts. They extol their supposed virtues, not because the actually have attained those virtues but because they think the rest of the world will like them if they have those virtues. These are the people who pad their resume, make up professional experiences, lie about their schooling or grades, and hide examples of their weaknesses.
Job applicants and candidates for office are often tempted to do these sorts of things. Most don’t succumb to it in any flagrant sort of way. They might stretch the truth a bit, but they are still in the realm of reality in what they say.
But the orange man is beyond any of this. He is not tethered to a reality of who he is. His creation myth of self is built on his desperate need for adoration to make up for a crippling void of character and soul. He does not have an identity apart from what others think of him so he constantly needs to be built up from outside. He is a facade created so others will think there is substance inside. But there is not.
Don’t be like the Orange Man.
Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – anonymous
Between the Charlottesville issue, family visiting and the start of a new season of Pathways, I haven’t updated my training for the marathon in the past 2 weeks. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been running. As a matter of fact I had my longest run and longest week yet.
If you saw the movie ‘Race’ last year, about Jesse Owen’s track triumphs in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, you know that there was an argument about whether he should participate or not. Don’t participate and you send a strong message that you will not contribute to the justification of the Nazi regime. Do participate and maybe prove their theory of Aryan racial supremacy false. In the end Owens, an African-American, participated and won four Gold Medals, definitively proving that theory wrong. Now it’s 80 years later and we just witnessed a gathering of people who believe in the same things Hitler believed in, that they are the superior race. It is sad and disturbing and wrong. But how do we overcome that in ourselves or in others?
I was thinking about this the other day in relation to running, how running is a great equalizer. I run with everyone; old and young, thin and wide, tall and short, male and female, black, white, brown, and more. Long haired blondes and bald, muscled macho types. People who are really quiet and people who are really talkative. Ambitious, competitive people and easy-going, mellow people. Really, really fast people and really, really slow people.
I also run with are CEOs, garbage collectors, homemakers, unemployed, retired, middle managers, entrepreneurs, burger flippers, orphans, widows and widowers, liberals and conservatives. I also run with black people and gay people and transgender people and recent immigrants (legal or otherwise) and ancestors of the Mayflower generation.
But who do I REALLY run with? I run with friends. Their identity is based on their desire to run, not the value of their pocketbook, the color of their skin or their agreement with my political ideas. I like that. It doesn’t solve the world’s problems, but it certainly helps.
The past two weeks have been pretty hot and humid, but I was still able to reach my goal of 30-40 miles each week. I have become a bit obsessed with those numbers because it’s an easy way for me to gauge my progress. I know it isn’t as important as quality workouts, but it’s easier to quantify and it’s my version of fun math. What I do is figure out day by day what my mileage is while I calculate what I will have to do the rest of the week to get to 30+. If it is a really long run on Saturday it usually isn’t a problem. Unless the long run distance will get me to 39.5 miles, which it did recently. I was supposed to do a 16 mile run but I needed 16.5 to get to 40. An arbitrary number I know, but I like saying I did 40 so I made sure I ran that extra half mile. Silly me.
The next week I had my daughter Caitlin visiting. She is just starting her training for a half marathon so her mileage was 6 miles. I did the 6 with her in one of the half marathon groups. It was very, very humid but we finished fine. I still needed to do another 6 to get my 12 miles in, which I decided I would do at home so she wouldn’t have to wait around for me. We drove home after our 6, had breakfast with her, her friend Courtney and Linda, my wife. We hung out for almost 2 hours just talking and visiting. Then I decided to go run the rest of my miles.
NOTE TO SELF: cooling down for 2 hours is not a good idea. My legs were stiff and tight and they didn’t want to run. Not only that but it was now 10:15am and the temperature, humidity and sun had all risen. I had a miserable run and got back close to my house right around the 4 mile mark. Here’s where My 30 mile goal came in handy. I was supposed to run 6 more, but really only needed 4.5 more to get to 30 for the week. So 4.5 miles it was!
Caitlin and me after a hot, sweaty run!
I have been diligent about making sure I take my electrolyte tablets before the runs and that I have my gels and tablets with me. I am using the Huma gels pretty exclusively, with a random other brand tossed in to take once in a while. I am practicing taking my nutrition at every water stop or every 45 minutes on the long runs so when I am in my race it will be trained into me to take them at the right time.
Gels on marathon program shirt
That is it for now. If you would like to read the other marathon training posts, you can find them here.
See you running,
I am not sure if this is really good advice or not. But it’s better than ‘get drunk as you can’ and ‘go kill someone’ so let’s say it’s good, ok?
The truth is, most of the time when we think we are in hot water, we aren’t, just like when we take a bath. We get in and it is HOT! But before too long it’s actually quite temperate. Bad events are often like that too. We see them as outrageous, unforgivable, irredeemable at first. Then we realize they aren’t as bad as we thought. It might take a while, weeks or months even, but eventually we find we will survive.
So, maybe the best thing to do when you are confronted with getting in trouble is to do exactly this, take a bath. Or a go for a walk, or a run. Or watch a movie. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just mellow out for a bit so you can calm down and see the situation through more reasonable eyes.
Then, if you are still in hot water, get a lawyer!
Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Quote is a Chinese proverb
This past weekend showed an utterly disgusting and dangerous side of America, that of the white nationalist and white supremacist. It’s easy to throw up your arms in outrage and frustration saying, ‘who are these people and why are they so angry and filled with hate?’ It’s a good question, especially in light of the fact that they say they are celebrating ‘heritage not hate’. So, let’s talk about this, shall we?
One of the young men who got a lot of attention was Peter Cvjetanovic, of Reno, Nevada. He is 20 years old. He is quoted as saying, “I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture.” He says he is not a racist yet he is at an obviously racist rally.
This got my attention for a number of reasons. One, I too am of European heritage. If I could choose to go anywhere on my travels, I again and again find myself wanting to go to Europe. It’s where my ancestors came from and it’s what I feel connected on a very personal level. But I don’t feel anything like what he feels. why is that? This is an exploration of why. Two, I am an old guy compared to him. I want to talk to this young man like I would talk to a son or daughter. I want to help him understand things just a little bit deeper if he will listen.
So, with that in mind here is my open letter to him.
Here are 5 ways you can love their heritage and not be a racist.
1. Learn it to Love It
Don’t be fooled by a simplistic, outdated and false narratives about your people and your culture, or any culture. You might be under the illusion that Europe did all the great things it did (and it did some pretty amazing things) because it’s people are genetically superior. This is not true. I suggest you read the book ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond for a very thorough and insightful story of how history comes about. It will open your eyes to the advantages Europe had in many areas that allowed for its development, advantages that have nothing to do with genetics or the superiority of it’s people.I would then suggest you read up on the science of race, In particular how race was defined centuries and decades ago in ways that are no longer valid, how those divisions still cloud your understanding of a separation where none actually exist. It will be eye-opening.
The point is, of course, to educate yourself. Once you do that, your love for your heritage will be more complex, tinged with sadness at the terrible atrocities committed in Europe and by Europeans elsewhere, but also tinged with pride at the many amazing, loving and positive things Europeans have done as well. If you are going to have a relationships with the past, it should be like any deep relationship, achieved by really knowing the good and the bad.
2. Be Cultured to Know Culture
If you want to take pride in a culture, you must be cultured. That means you need to know something about the art, music, architecture, philosophy, literature, food, commerce, business, languages, history and religions of that culture. You can’t take pride in something you don’t know. You are in college now, nothing is easier to learn in almost any American college than western civilization. There are likely courses dedicated to every element I mentioned above. Study those things, immerse yourself in those things. Find out about the sweep of art from the Greek sculptures to the Abstract Expressionists. Learn why Beethoven was considered such a genius. Discover the difference between Wagner and Verdi. Look into the split between Luther and the Catholic Church.
When you do these things you will be amazed. You will also be enlightened, not just by ‘The Enlightenment’ (read Voltaire, by the way) but by the profound level of hate and anger that many of these artistic, cultural and religious geniuses endured as they put forth their vision. It should teach you that courage is about love, not hate. People don’t create lasting value in their culture by hating someone or something. They create it by following an idea they love. Focus on that.
3. Go There to Know There
If you want to love your heritage, go there. Instead of spending your money to go from Reno to Charlottesville to protest, take the money and go to England or France or Italy or wherever you feel your roots are. Go with your mother, father or better yet a grandparent, and together see where you were from. See the amazing structures, fantastic discoveries, and outrageous creativity of your ancestors. That is all good. But don’t just look at what is popular. Go search out what isn’t so great. Look into the slave trade that took hold in England and the Netherlands. Look at the treatment of people from different social classes and the extreme poverty so many lived in, look at how women and children were treated during the industrial revolution. I don’t say you should do this so you will feel bad about your heritage. I say it so you will fully know your heritage.
4. See that the River Has Many Sources
My wife, daughter and I once sat on the banks of the Mississippi river in New Orleans and I remember wondering where all that water came from. Years later we were up in Colorado and we went rafting on the Arkansas River. It wasn’t wide or majestic, but raw and wild. I remember realizing how it was the same great plains river that flows no more than 3 miles from my home in Oklahoma and it was part of that huge river I sat next to in Louisiana.
Your culture is like that. It may seem to be all about Europe, but it’s sources come from all over the world. The Greeks and Romans took inspiration from the Middle East and Egypt. The beauty of so much of Spain’s architecture has its roots in the Islamic religion that prevailed for hundreds of years on the Iberian peninsula. The Impressionists created some of their most iconic compositions as a result of the influx of Japanese prints. Genghis Khan and his empire from Mongolia spread ideas about politics, trade and commerce into Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East that had never been seen before.
Next, get your DNA researched. You will be amazed at how complex and convoluted the genetic path to you really is. It could be you are mostly European like I am, but you could also have African-American heritage like I do. You could be connected to Asia or Native America in ways you never could have guessed. It will get you out of your pre-conceived notions of who you are and where you came from. Check out this wonderful spot that explains it in ways I never could.
5. Repress Judgment, Express Curiosity
I like to think of myself as an amateur ‘expert’ on the Revolutionary War era in America. What that really means is I have read a lot of books on the subject. But recently many of my ideas about the personalities of that era have been blown apart by reading ‘Alexander Hamilton’ by Ron Chernow. It goes into much more detail about Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Adams and Hamilton than any other book I have read. The information has made me reevaluate all my settled opinions of these people. I could refuse to believe Chernow’s information, accuse him of lying about these characters I like so much, and be done with it. But I didn’t do that. I was open-minded to what I might find because I focused on learning and curiosity instead of judgment.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions, but this book is a reminder that I need to hold my opinions lightly. If I really am going to be an ‘expert’ on something, then I need to be willing to learn new things about that thing and I can’t do that if I am constantly judging and proclaiming I already know everything about it. Do you want to really know your European culture? Then you have to be open-minded and curious, with as few assumptions and prejudices as possible for that to happen successfully.
Where To Go From Here
Now, look back at these ideas. Which one of these would make you a racist? None of them. None of these ideas will create hate in you for other cultures, other races, other individuals. As a matter of fact, they should lessen the fear you have and strengthen the love you have, both for your culture and for the amazing strands of ideas, art and humanity that led there. It should free you to see that yours is not the only culture deserving of interest, admiration and respect.
In the end I wish for you this realization. Your true heritage is both European and beyond that. It is Human. You can live side by side with someone who is not like you and you can learn and teach instead of fear and hate. If you do that I promise that feeling of hate will turn to love. And that is really where you want to be, right?
Well, here I am at the halfway point in my training. The funny thing about marathon training is there really often isn’t a start date in the traditional sense because people don’t start from scratch, just deciding to start running on day one of training. They’ve been running already, otherwise they really wouldn’t be able to even do the first week of training successfully. In my case there was a number of months of running increasing distances as I recovered from my surgery. The surgery was in November of 2016. in December and January went from a cast to walking. Then I started my ramp-up to training.
- Feb – 7.2 miles
- Mar – 39.6 miles
- Apr – 65.5 miles
- May – 57.6 miles
Training started in June and the mileage doubled.
- Jun – 120.8 miles
- July – 140.1 miles
August is shaping up to be 150+ miles and I expect September to be the same since all my really long runs will be during those two months. October will be less since I will be tapering the mileage as the marathon nears.
Taking the bull by the horns on a HOT day with our Broken Arrow runners!
Racing and Time Trials
One of the important things to calculate in training to race any distance is what is your sustainable pace. To do this it’s good practice to do time trials or races at various distances over the course of your training. This is what I have done recently.
- TU Track 1.5 mile time trial (July) – 11:41, a 7:45 pace. (very hot)
- Maple Ridge 5K (May) – 24:50, a 7:55 pace. (humid and hot)
- Bedlam Run 10K (Aug) – 54:37, an 8:38 pace. (good conditions)
- Tulsa Run 15K (October, before surgery) 1:29:20, a 9:31 pace (I can extrapolate from how I am running post-surgery that I would probably be able to do this race closer to a 9:00 pace)
So, the only distance I haven’t raced recently is a 1/2 marathon. I am contemplating doing one in September just to complete the time trials and get a fuller picture of what I can do. Once I do that I will calculate what looks to be a sustainable marathon pace. Right now it looks like about a 10 minute mile, but I will wait until closer to the race to make a definitive decision on what pace I will run.
After the Bedlam 10K
That is it for now. Feel free to ask any questions or give any comments you want!
In addition, those of you in Tulsa, our 15k running programs starts in less than 2 weeks. We will get you to the Tulsa Run and beyond! contact me if you are interested.
You can read the rest of the series here.
See you running,
The Dead but Alive Woman
She woke up every morning only seeing what was behind her. She sometimes would try to turn her head but could not. It was as if she was made of stone. So, she looked back. She remembered the many signs telling her not to go in that direction and how long the journey down the road had been. She cried remembering when she so terribly wanted shade and found only tree stumps. She was disgusted when she remembered going through the trash looking for something to eat and finding only rotting food, which she ate. She saw the snake and was scared all over again. She remembered the pain of the bite and the dizziness and fever she felt almost immediately afterward. She wondered if her eyes were fooling her because she didn’t remember the coyote being pink, though she did remember it howling as she fell in the hole. She didn’t want to look at the river at all, but couldn’t help it. It was where she drowned after she stumbled out of the hole.
The Woman in the Cabin
The woman in the cabin lived alone. The cabin was small but still had enough room to bring in strays that needed help. She had such a stray now. It was a dead but alive woman she had found in the river. The woman was dead but alive, a phenomenon she had seen many times before. There was no heartbeat, no breathing. She was cold but not hard. The woman in the cabin poured warm water over her and then laid a blanket of orange flowers on her naked body. She sprinkled grass on top of the blanket, then very fine pebbles on top of that. She left her alone and went to carve the rock.
The Indian with the Limp
At the edge of the plateau there lived an Indian with the limp who the woman in the cabin was friends with. She would tell him about her work carving the rock and he would sometimes help her move the broken stones to the waterfall so they could be washed away. He didn’t understand what she was carving but he enjoyed the sound of her hammering in the distance during the day. He sometimes brought her rabbit for dinner. She sometimes brought him corn for breakfast.
The indian with the limp asked her once what she was trying to do with the rock. All the woman in the cabin would say is she was working on creating a new face on the other side of it, facing the hills and mountains, similar but not exactly like the face facing the dry land. He didn’t see anything resembling a face yet but it didn’t matter, he encouraged her anyway because he liked her. She knew he didn’t see it but she didn’t mind, because she liked him.
The Indian with the limp had collected the orange flowers and the pebbles and brought them to the woman in the cabin the day before, when she had a stray coyote with a twisted tail come in. But the tail had straightened itself out with just a little burnt crepe myrtle paste put on it so the flowers and pebbles weren’t needed. The Indian was happy about this because he knew they would be helpful to the dead but alive woman from the river.
The Indian with the limp loved to gather things for the woman in the cabin. It was a chance for him to explore and have a purpose. He didn’t know what jobs were but if he did he would have called it his job and he liked his job very much. He also liked that he was helping animals and people heal. His favorite thing was to collect the little pebbles from the river. He often thought about how he helped her throw the big rocks into the river after she chiseled them off the carving, then he would bring back little pebbles that were just those big rocks having been broken down. The Indian with the limp thought that was amusing and would smile as carried them back up to the plateau.
The dead but alive woman took a long time to recover. She stayed at the woman in the cabin’s cabin for many months. She would sit in a chair and look back over the plateau to the dry land below and feel no better than the day before. The woman in the cabin saw what was happening and one morning moved the chair to the other side of the plateau. The dead but alive woman then was forced to look over the hills and mountains and to watch the woman in the cabin do her carving. She learned about the carving and would watch the woman in the cabin chisel every day as she sat in her chair. She met the Indian with the limp and thanked him for help the woman in the cabin get the supplies to make her better. When she felt strong enough she asked if she could be of any help and the woman in the cabin told her it would be helpful if she would sing for her while she carved. She she said she only knew 2 songs. The woman in the cabin told her not to worry, she would teach her many songs, which she did.
The dead but alive woman loved the new songs she learned and would sing them beautifully. The Indian with the limp started coming by each morning and would play along with a drum he had. The coyote with the no longer twisted tail would even come close once in a while and howl in harmony. The woman in the cabin was able to work faster and longer with the beautiful music being sung and soon the new carving was almost finished.
One morning, well before the sun rose, the woman in the cabin awoke the dead but alive woman and told her to get ready, she was going on a journey. The dead but alive woman asked what sort of journey. The woman in the cabin said she wasn’t able to tell her what sort of journey or how long it would last. All she said about the journey was that the Indian with the limp would help her as she got on her way.
The woman in the cabin had packed a nice backpack full of food, clothing, and supplies for the dead but alive woman. The dead but alive woman wanted to take one last look around, to remember where she had been healed. The woman in the cabin let her do that, but would not let her go to the edge of the plateau and look back at the dry land below.
The Indian with the limp was waiting at the other edge of the plateau with a lantern to help them down to the hills below in the dark. The dead but alive woman hugged the woman in the cabin and said she would see her later. The woman in the cabin said nothing, just smiled and gave her a kiss goodbye. The indian with the limp and the dead but alive woman hiked down the side of the plateau until they reached a trail going up the hills towards the mountains. They traveled over three sets of hills until mid-day. Then they took a break, sitting down for lunch. The Indian with the limp told her this was where he was going to leave her.
The Alive Woman
The dead but alive woman was about to ask why when she saw the carving in the distance. Up on the plateau, high and strong in the mid-day sun, was a beautiful face facing her. It was her face but it wasn’t. It was the face of an alive woman, not of a dead but alive woman. She forgot what she was going to ask the Indian with the limp and just stared. Then she looked in the direction the face in the rock was looking. It was looking towards the mountains.
The alive woman said goodbye to the Indian with a limp and asked him to make sure the woman in the cabin knew how grateful she was for her love. The indian with the limp said he would. Then he said his goodbye and went back towards the plateau. The alive woman hiked the backpack up onto her back and set off. As she walked she could hear the howl of the coyote with the no longer twisted tail. She started to sing along.
Drawing and story © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Is Nothing Impossible?
You want to make a popular meme? Have it say ‘Nothing is impossible’. You will get a lot of people agreeing with you. But it’s a lie, many things are impossible. You can’t grow another foot taller if you are already grown up. You can’t eat 2 tons of food at one sitting. You can’t become a young child again once you are older. You can’t run 500 miles an hour. Those things are impossible.
What that saying really means is this: things that you assume are impossible, but that are actually not impossible, can be accomplished if you set your mind to it. What or who decides it’s impossibility? You do. If you say it’s impossible, then it will be. But if you say it’s possible, then it may be.
I know this because I am a coach of long distance runners and a long distance runner myself. I started running when a new co-worker of mine turned out to be a casual runner. She would run at lunchtime and I decided to join her. At first I ran about 100 yards, then walked the rest of the way around the part of the river near where we worked. I was amazed she could run the whole 2.75 miles. It seemed impossible to me. I eventually was able to run the entire way with her, but it probably took about 6 months or so.
Making the impossible possible takes time.
My first race, a 5k in 2008
As you know I have been doing a lot of stretching, trying to get more limber and flexible. And it is working. I am able to move and stretch much farther than I ever have before. I never thought it was impossible, I just thought it was going to be difficult, and it has been. But I have stuck with it and am making progress.
Here is something that has made it more difficult than you may realize. When I was 18 years old I was burned on 70% of my body in a boat explosion. My back, the back of my arms and my legs were burned the worse, though much of my stomach and chest got it too. The reason I am telling you this is because of the scars. I have scars that travel the length of my arms all the way to the bottom of my back with no break. The resulting scars are very tight and that means my ability to stretch is limited by them. When I bend over and touch my toes (which I can do now!) it feels like I am one giant rubber band stretched to its limits and wants to snap back. Not letting it snap back can be painful. Not terribly, but painful nonetheless.
I knew I could increase my flexibility if I worked to do so. I knew my muscles could be stretched further. What I didn’t know is how far my scars would stretch. They are not like muscles or tendons. They are hard, fibrous scar tissue that does not want to stretch. How far can I stretch them? What is possible and what is impossible? There is only one way to find out, and that is to do the stretching.
Making the impossible possible is only found out in the doing.
Burn Scars – Left Arm, unstretched and stretched
I did a 14 miler this past Saturday. I did 2 miles with one of the half marathon groups, H2, and then turned around so I could be back at the store in time to lead Pathways. The fastest marathon group, M1, just happened to be passing us when I did the turn around so I joined them. Ok, I joined them for about a half a mile then I couldn’t keep up and had to slow down (they are wicked fast). But even with the slowing down I was still doing close to 9 minute miles back to the store. . At that point I still had over 10 miles to go, only 5 of which I would have company. Those 10 were at a very reasonable pace for me, but the fact I had pushed so hard at on an early mile or two really affected my abilities at the end.
What that taught me, which all runners learn again and again (because we are both a forgetful and optimistic bunch) is that going out too fast in a training run or a race will come back to bite you.
Making the impossible possible demands discipline.
As I write the temperatures have dropped 10-15º. A high of 85, though hot by some standards, feels like a cool ocean breeze when it hits Oklahoma in August. It will be interesting to see how my runs go with better temps and more overcast skies this week. We have a 10k goal race for Pathways this coming Saturday. I will be running as a coach but also as a time trial to help me gauge my racing abilities. Wish me luck!
That’s it for now. Thanks for tuning in. Here is a link to the entire series.
You can read the entire series by choosing ‘marathon training’ from the series drop down menu on the right.
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Knowing the Future
How many of you know the future? I bet you are all right now are saying, ‘of course I don’t know the future!’. But then, why do you act like you do? You are convinced you won’t find love, convinced you won’t get that job, convinced you won’t ever be happy or have money or be healthy or a million other things. Isn’t that a version of supposedly knowing the future?
I have already picked out what I want on my headstone. I want it to say ‘Life was much more unexpected…than I expected.’ It’s my favorite quote (I made it up too). Why do I like it? Because it tells the truth for almost every single human on earth. Of course, in some areas of the globe there are fewer opportunities for a life to go in an unexpected direction than in other areas, but even in the most restricted part of the world you still can’t control the future. What will your child or children be like? When will you get sick? What will you end up being really good at? None of those things are known in advance, even if you live in North Korea.
Love Can Find You
Have you ever played hide and seek so well that you weren’t ever found? That isn’t much fun, is it? The idea is to make it hard, but not TOO hard, to be found. The same is true in love. If you want love to find you, you can’t hide so well that it gives up. You have to be out in the world where it is looking. I mean, don’t go standing on the street corner in short shorts. The wrong type of love will find you if you do that. But by all means let yourself be known, be seen, be heard.
If you do that, it doesn’t matter if you are surrounded by concrete or redwoods. Love will find you, just as grass finds its way through the most inhospitable of circumstances.
Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“If grass can grow through cement, then love can find you at every time of your life.” – Cher Sarkisian, 1946 – not dead yet, American singer and actress