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