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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,
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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