Archive for December 2016
What kind of grinch would take time away from family and holiday celebrating to run yet another 5K? Well, me and 110 other grinches who showed up at the Indiana School for the Deaf on Christmas Day to chug around the campus grounds. And Santa Claus must have been around somewhere and thinking of me, because just when the girlfriend was practically rolling her eyes that I am yet again finding a way to run a race at an unexpected time, along came Robert from Naperville, Illinois, at the start line. I commented to him about the Everton FC shirt he was wearing, and came to find out he had driven from Naperville specifically for the race and was driving back directly after the race. Hohoho! That’s about eight hours out of somebody’s holiday, six of which are spent driving, and makes my quest for thirty look a little less spastic by comparison since I was already visiting family in Indianapolis and wouldn’t be taking so much time out of the day. Robert even commented that he told his wife he’d run a 5K or 10K every weekend for a year, so my present was being able to maintain some degree of normalcy in the eyes of my girlfriend since I’m “only” doing thirty 5Ks in a year.
Regardless of the degree of normalcy, it felt abnormal to run a 5K on Christmas Day, much less in the middle of the freakin’ afternoon in the thick of the celebrating. What it meant more than anything was that I needed to lay off the coma-inducing eating, stay away from the bottle of Redbreast 12 I bought my sister’s boyfriend, and maintain some sort of pre-race empty-stomach discipline well into the afternoon. I didn’t know how well I would be able to manage all that, so I had resigned myself to running at a slower pace and merely finishing, and then unleashing the Christmas consuming beast inside me.
That all lasted until I turned into a long straight-away as I closed out what felt like the first mile of the race. I had noted that I was starting rather fast for someone who hadn’t raced for three weeks and who couldn’t remember the last time he even ran outdoors. The pace was peculiar, but not so much as the feeling that it felt right and sustainable. It came to me that I had been on vacation for 8 days and was almost as well rested as I am throughout the summer. A barrier crumbled in my mind, and I found a long-lost cruise control switch in the rubble.
I maintained the pace throughout the shittily-marked course, and even managed to catch up to Robert after two and a half miles. We made it through a vague turn around (nobody seemed to know where it was, exactly), and he pulled ahead on the quarter-mile stretch to the finish line. Dude certainly looked like he had run fifty 5- or 10Ks up to this point in the year, and I was surprised to have even gotten near him. But I felt as relentless as time, and decided I was going to go for it. I caught him, and we sprinted against each other until I edged him by a nose at the finish line (a nose that is exactly .65 seconds long).
My time was recorded at 24:59.67, which made it my second fastest time in the last four years. Regardless of the crappy course markings and how exact that time is, I’ll take it. Thank you, Santa Claus! Maybe I should run a race every Christmas.
If there are such things as unicorns and long-time followers of The Seeker, the latter might remember that I’m big on the Poem-a-Day Challenge. It happens every November, and the idea is to write a poem every day for the month of November. Dude in charge gives you a prompt each day, and you take it from there. By the end of the month, you have thirty possible poems. You spend this time of year up until mid-January refining your poems and ultimately you submit a small number of them to dude in charge. He looks at your chapbook and decides a winner.
Winning isn’t the goal, though. Besides which, it’s damn near impossible. Meeting the challenge is the goal, and everything after that is gravy. I’ve written here about the sundry benefits of forcing oneself to write every day; mostly, that means shutting off the inner critic and ripping out a poem. Or at least something that could become a poem. I’ve been consistently surprised at some things I’ve churned out, and even some of the interesting trash. What’s perhaps best, though, is that the PAD Challenge gives me purpose and keeps me busy writing for two and a half months of the year without worrying about where the next idea is going to come from.
So I’m in my third year of the marathon writing and editing session, and I can’t see any good reason to not do PAD again next year. I’m working diligently on my chapbook, though to look at me you might think I’m trying to pull my own teeth instead. Feels about the same. Anyhow, I was shaping a poem yesterday and was having a lot of fun with it, even though it’s not going to go into my chapbook because it’s not a thematic fit. Seems like a shame to just let it float out there in the wherever, so I’m going to put it up here.
This one originated on November 16th. The prompt was “Play _____”. I was tasked with filling in the blank and using the expression as the title of my poem.
You’re a Model T
or a 78 SP.
A wooden leg.
Only an odd few
are still facile
the abstruse aspects
that made you you.
None of that
back in the day
better than that.
You’re not dead, so
don’t get bent
out of shape—
with your old bones.
They don’t make you
like they used to,
I’ve never run well in Racine, Wisconsin. That might partly be due to the fact that Racine is in Wisconsin. It also might partly be due to the fact that one time I ran there I was on the back end of a long-lasting injury and was out of shape; the other time it was hotter than hell. So when the idea of running in Racine comes up, I don’t quite approach it like it’s St. Mary’s of the Lake Seminary. But I figured last Saturday morning that it would be different this time. This time I was in a better place as a runner and still feeling the good vibes from a Thanksgiving run that I killed despite the rampant cheating that was apparent on the course. This time I was going to attack. This time I was going to make Wisconsin regret me instead of vice versa.
Those thoughts lasted until I spotted Jeff Weiss at the start line. Here’s what you have to know about (soon to be) Dr. Weiss: He’s a tenacious bugger who’s in great shape, he’s in a running club, and he has run marathons. But don’t let all that fool you. Much like Jason Rush, I can’t believe I’m still friends with him. Anyhow, I saw Weiss and figured I’m best off keeping him in front of me where I can monitor him. Thankfully, he runs pretty fast. That encouraged me to run pretty fast, too, in case he thought about doubling back on me and pulling some type of shenanigans. Really: Don’t be fooled by that guy!
So I chugged along the lake shore in Racine for a little over twenty-five minutes. It was plenty cold, which meant I was sporting cold weather running gear on for a race for the first time this season. No matter. I run well in bad weather. I didn’t know the course. No matter. I was occupied in keeping track of Jeff Weiss. I wasn’t sure how well I was doing at any particular point. No matter. I kept chugging along. Before I knew it, I was dashing uphill in back of Memorial Hall in downtown Racine and crossing the line in damn good time. Four days later, and I’m glad I tucked this one away. We got six inches of wet snow Sunday, and temperatures are going to be in the single digits by next week. So it looks like the racing season is over. It kills me to stop short of the halfway point and when I’m running better than I have for four years, but it’s time to pack it in.
My back just sighed in relief, and my cranky hips are writing me a thank you note.