Learning to Laugh

Running in the heat is tough. So is biking. The sun just saps my power. Throw in some humidity, and them my heart rate is through the roof.

I used to get mad at this. I’d stop running, reluctantly, and utter some stupid boyish “dammit” or “fuck” which never helped.

Now I just laugh. I’m a privileged white male who can run anywhere, even here in farm country, and I never have to worry about being shot or threatened.

It’s a fucking joke that the worst part of my day is being unable to maintain a faster pace running, or a more powerful ascent up a hill on my bike. I’m covered in sweat, my eyes are stinging, and my chest is heaving… so?

I laugh at this shit now.

It used to be “why aren’t I more fit?” Or wondering if I really “have it,” like I’m some 20 something semi-pro runner. But I’m a dude who works on a computer all day and tries to run 25 miles a week, and spend two hours on the bike.

This is something I stress to my friends that are in their late 30s and 40s who are just starting to run – it’s gonna be years until you’re finishing in the top 50 at your local 5K, or whatever. Just enjoy running with people who are 20 years older than you. Have a laugh, make jokes, encourage others around you. It’s a lot of fun, I promise.

Just enjoy it.

Early Morning Adventure

Above photo by Jesse Keenan

On the day we set the clocks ahead and lose an hour of sleep, I met my friend Jesse at around 6am and hiked to The Pinnacle. We hiked in the dark, but once we made it to the top we were rewarded with such an amazing view.

From there, we ran back to our vehicles. Running the Appalcian Trail is always rough, and it was my first “real” run since tweaking my hip-flexor a week or so ago.

It was cold, and yeah, it’s always nice sleeping in on a Sunday morning. But when adventure calls, you have to answer.

Team then Family

The distance, the scenery, the speed, the desert, racing in the streets… yeah, I love all that. But the people, right? All those people. A team, a family of people from literally all around the globe coming together to work on this one goal, one mission, one project.

To be beat down, exhausted, tired, sore, in pain, along with your teammates, and to get out there and keep moving. That’s what makes a video like this so inspiring to me. Running is such a solo activity, run your own race, sort of deal. But this sort of event, this format, it really gets me going.

Snack Time for the Soul

Between working at my local Starbucks and picking up groceries for dinner (and snacks), I stopped by this little park to spend some quality time with the Schuylkill River. A short walk, catching up with an old friend, the smell of spring in the air.

My day is not spent next to rivers, on the trails, or climbing big hills. I don’t run trails from sun-rise until noon. This photo was just a small portion of my day, a little snack time for the soul, if you will.

Fast and Loose

One thing about using a “for-real” camera, is that it’s a little easier to be daring with some shots. As you can see below, I dangled some digital point-and-shoot cameras over the years when I was biking all over the US.

I was using a Canon PowerShot SD940IS when I snapped this photo in New Orleans (same bike, above).
Loved my Canon PowerShot S95, this one in Miami, FL when I had my Brompton folding bike. This was me cruising with kids I met off the internet after I rode an Amtrak Train from NYC all the way down to Miami.
Night time cruising in Tampa, FL.
Happy biking way outside Savannah, GA.
Biking with a Tumblr friend in Charleston, SC.
Somewhere near Selma, NC.
Riding up through Williamsburg into Greenpoint, in Brooklyn.
Riding over the George Washington Bridge, from New Jersey into Manhattan.
My last crack at the NYC Century, in 2011 (below). Made it “just” 70 miles, and was pretty much my last, “on the bike, moving, and taking a photo” sort of shot.

I don’t really ride much anymore, so I’m a little slower, but pulling out my iPhone Xr – the indispensable tool that I need to perform my job and make a living – just feels too risky.

It’s cold, or I’m covered in sweat, and the smart phone is the device I rely on for GPS directions to get back home from a race (one time my phone locked me out for 40 minutes because the “raise to wake” setting wasn’t turned off). Trying to handle my iPhone like I did for any of these photos above would have gave me a heart attack, even with some heavy duty phone case.

I think I want a real camera again, for the very purpose of documenting more of my running adventures.

Time with Creeks

A walk along the creek always does me good, getting close to water. I’m not much of a swimmer, not really a beach person. Just get me next to the water, though, and I’m content.

It reminds me of 2010, when I was getting ready to leave New York City. I had time to bike around to various parks on the water front, up and down Brooklyn. I remember my heart was troubled around that time, but the rivers helped me navigate. The East River heard a bunch of drama and never judged me for it.

Today, a small creek was enough. Just a casual stroll before lunch, in the cold, but it worked. Time in nature isn’t just there for the troubling times, but for the upswings, too.

Purpose

Week three of marathon training in the books, and today was my long run, a nice 10 miles on an unseasonably warm January day.

Lots of time to think on a 10 mile run, especially when alone (the friends I met up with were doing other routes and workouts). I somehow got thinking of why? The meaning of life, what’s the purpose? All these strands of DNA, this long abandoned railroad. What the heck are we doing here?

Then I remember that nothing needs to make sense. That everything doesn’t need to be figured out, or had apparent meaning. Just being in the woods with some good people is meaning enough.