Thinking Why I Run

Why head out the door when it’s pissing rain? Why not sleep in, or maybe cozy up in a coffee shop and watch the rain come down?

I guess because I started running back in 2016 when I didn’t have much going on. It was a low point in life, career-wise. Money wise. Running was a thing I could control. It was something I could complete, and accomplish. No hiring manager, no rejection, no automated email telling me thanks, but no thanks.

I could put in the work, then sign up for a 5K, and finish it. Maybe not fast, maybe not pretty, but I showed up just like all those runners and did it.

Now I’ve run three 10 mile races. A half marathon. Then today, in NYC, I put in 10 miles over three bridges in under two hours.

Not fast, not pretty, but I was out there when the rain was coming down sideways, and the wind was pushing my ass.

I showed up for me. I made this, I planned this, I accomplished this. That’s why I keep running, even in horrible conditions, because it’s another thing I’ve accomplished.

Because I want to run a marathon someday. I want to run in Yellowstone Park. I want to run around the Grand Canyon. I want to accomplish those things someday, and I need to do this now to get there.

Actions today lead to accomplishments in the future.

Audience of One

Your “audience” starts with you. Make the thing you wanna see first. In my latest episode of LATER, I talk about how your creative endeavors need to satisfy that audience of one; YOU. No clicks, or likes, or whatever. But you have to be stoked when doing it.

I did Skull Toaster for seven years and quit it because it wasn’t serving the audience of one anymore. Never-mind that it built up a $200/mo Patreon / Memberful support network, or that 30+ people a day replied to metal trivia, and a solid nightly email newsletter that I produced and sent every night.

Wasn’t enough. The audience of one – me – wasn’t loving it anymore. Shut it down.

But also, life and work and relationships and all that – guess what? You’re still the audience, and last I checked you get to walk out of bad movies.

That doesn’t mean you just tell your boss off, or leave your family, or burn down the farm. No, it was tiny decisions made over decades that landed us where we are. Now it takes a series of tiny decisions over the next decade or two to course correct.

It’s not black and white. It doesn’t go from misery to utopia in a day.

Seek to entertain that audience of one in all that you do.

I Once Took a Lot of Buses

This post was originally written on April 10, 2012

In a recent two day stretch I spent 14 hours on a Greyhound bus. The first leg was from Cincinnati, OH to Pittsburgh, PA. Then the next day, another bus from Pittsburgh, PA to Philadelphia, PA. In the past year and a half, I’ve taken buses from Youngstown, OH to Austin, TX, and plenty of stops in between. 

In this two day span, I saw people laying on the ground, yelling at one another, kids crying, and lone parents dropping their stuff all over the place.

It’s said that “it’s not the destination, but the journey.” Let me tell you, it’s not just the journey, it’s the journey.

It’s the rush to the bus station to make sure you get your ticket at will-call in time. 

It’s standing in line with people who can’t control their kids. 

It’s riding next to people who’ve been on the bus for 18 hours. 

It’s stopping at a quick-mart, seeing two police cruisers and wondering if they’re going to search the bus.

On the bus to Pittsburgh, PA, I got talking to a kid who was heading to Connecticut. He had 19 more hours to go. And was coming from Arkansas. When I travelled down south to New Orleans, LA, I spoke with people who were riding the bus from Michigan. 

You want to talk “horror stories” from the airport?

Those of us who endure overnight bus rides are warriors. We’re woken up every 2 1/2 hours to de-board at a bus station in a small town you’ve never heard of. We get off the bus and see women in pajamas, sleeping on suitcases with crying babies in their arms. Out front is the smokers lounge, and they’re all covered with bad tattoos and missing teeth. And then there’s the people asking for money.

When does that happen at LAX?

This goes on every single night across America. This happens to the warriors who can’t afford airfare, or don’t own a car. This is America, folks. Land of the broke, home of the grave. Go buy yourself a ticket to a city five hours away and you’ll see what I’ve seen.

I don’t write this to call for change. I don’t even want this cleaned up. I don’t want more security or better customer service.

Most of these photos were taken with an iPhone 4 or a Canon PowerShot S95.

Just Try Shit

I’ve been trying some workout apps since, well, I have the upper body strength of a desk lamp. I’ve used the Nike Training Club app for awhile, mostly for the videos since I don’t know a lot of the moves, plus it’s free. There’s HIIT Workouts (from the makers of Daily Burn), which is okay, but recently got into Aaptiv.

There’s no video. You just put in your earbuds and go. You can use it for stretching, running, and there’s even “workouts” for winding down to sleep. It’s not free ($100/yr), but it sure beats trying to find stuff on YouTube, or making up my own programs. Plus, honestly, the “encouragement” from the trainers is nice.

That said – just try shit. For working out, buying a new computer, or embarking on a new adventure.

In my early 30s I left NYC on my bike with my laptop and some clothes stuffed into a messenger bag. I didn’t know a whole lot about that sort of “life style,” but wow, I figured it out. Also figured out overnight bus adventures down south, surviving while broke and still traveling, and I guess I figured out how to run a half marathon, too.

But like I said, just try shit. There are a million things to read and videos to watch and podcasts to listen to, but it’s 1000% to just wing it, fuck it up, and keep winging it.

I remember running on back to back days for the first time.

Will I be okay? Will I hurt something? Is this too much?! How will my body react?

Guess what? I lived. I took it slow, made sure I was rested and hydrated, and I did it. No research, no books, no asking my favorite runner icon on Instagram… I mean, there’s a time and place for lots of stuff to dig deeper, but live is for living, so live it up a bit.

Did I just finish the 2018 Runner’s World Half Marathon?

It’s nearly 2 1/2 years since I started running.

Since I looked at “run for five minutes straight” on my Couch to 5K app and thought, how am I gonna do this?

Since I dealt with shin splints from running too fast at the start of a 5K race.

Since I “bonked” during the Broad St. 10 Miler in Philadelphia back in May, and had to walk multiple times.

Over 2 1/2 years of lacing up the shoes, in the heat of summer, and the stinging cold of winter, of just getting out there and showing up, and I just completed my first half-marathon.

When I ran my first mile back in 2016 it took me 13 minutes. This past weekend I ran 13.1 miles.

Continue reading “Did I just finish the 2018 Runner’s World Half Marathon?”

Push Things Forward

Jessica Wayashe ran across Haiti, raising $7,500 to help “Haitian families in Menelas (get) out of poverty through good, dignified jobs.” I met Jess via the November Project in Philadelphia, and that’s how I found out about this fundraiser.

Along with 39 other runners she ran 230 miles in eight days.

Me? I can’t run that far just yet. But I can run 3.1 miles this Memorial Day, and raise money for Project Child (The Child Abuse Prevention Coalition of the Lehigh Valley).

Maybe I help raise $100, which is $100 more that didn’t exist before. And while it seems small compared to $7,500, every single dollar is energy, and movement, and momentum. Every credit card number and retweet is a karate kick to the universe, pushing something forward just one small bit.

Broad Street Run Report

It was a tough week. The previous Sunday I ran 14 miles in the woods. On Tuesday did a few laps. Wednesday was November Project. I also wasn’t eating great. I had basically been traveling for a week and a half leading up to Sunday’s Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, and my routine was shot.

After about 40 minutes of standing around to start, I had to stop and use the bathroom within the first two miles, maybe it was a mile. I felt good after that, just trotting along enjoying the DJs and cheering crowds. At mile five, which is where you’re staring up at City Hall, I felt great. Too great, because I started running faster. The crowds were bigger, the music louder. Mile six was packed, kids on the sidewalks looking for high-fives, and I couldn’t resist. It was electric!

But by mile seven I was in trouble. I was out of gas.

I had to walk several times. My head was computing how many more miles? How long would each take? I broke mentally, really. I was so stoked and excited from the crowds that I just pushed beyond my abilities and got torn down. I really think my nutrition leading up to this was part of it. I just felt drained, and it happened so quick.

Ultimately I had fun. Anytime I felt down, someone shouted something funny, or I saw a great sign, and I was able to get running again.

My goal wasn’t speed (I finished at 1:48), but rather “I want to not hurt the next day,” and the next day I was pain free. I literally was in pain for a few days after November Project. But running 10 miles? Felt great the next day, so I’d say this run was a success.

And oh yeah, we raised over $700 for Students Run Philly Style. Some kids from the program remarked about my vest (which I wore to raise an additional $200 after the initial $500 goal), and one recognized me from social media. So really, yeah… this event was an absolutely success.

Next time, though? I gotta be more on top of my nutrition. I need smoothies, brown rice and veggies and salsa and beans. Lesson learned!

Me and Brompton Bicycles in NYC

Back in 2011 I bought a Brompton on a whim and set off a bike adventure called ‘Florida to Maine by Bike and Train’ (download the PDF book I made about the trip).

One of the best stories with that Brompton: I was traveling from Portland Maine to NYC in one day. Took the train from Portland ME to Boston, MA. That train stops at North Station (I think it’s called that), and the bus I needed to catch was at South Station.

Continue reading “Me and Brompton Bicycles in NYC”

Stay Stubborn

My friend took my phone and ran to the top of this hill to take this picture. He’s faster than me.

After this we did some trail running with the Chasing Trail crew. It was rocky and hilly, and I was one of the slower people among the group.

Went to my second November Project, too, down here in Philadelphia. Sit ups? I’m the worst. Squat jumps? Oh god, make it stop. Fast feet?! Seriously, kill me now.

Though I’m not the best at any of these things, I’m stubborn. I’ll keep going if the group is up ahead. I’ll run a little faster to keep up with a friend. I’ll do more sit-ups if you’re doing them, too.

It took me running every other day since 2016 (basically) to get here. In the grand scheme of things that’s just two years time.

Where could my fitness be if I keep this up another two years? Well, I guess I just have to keep being stubborn.