(via NYTimes, ‘New Year’s Eve Around the World: Countdown to 2019, in Photos‘)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
My second race of the year, and it was a fun one, with a good lesson learned.
I didn’t know the parking situation, so I found a nearby park and jogged to the starting area. I like doing this when I can, since warming up is always a good idea. It also gave me an opportunity to take in the area again, as I’ve passed through this little town before.
I hit my $500 goal for the 2018 Blue Cross Broad Street Run. Together we raised $500 for Students Run Philly Style.
- To think that me running in 8℉ weather did this.
- Or running in rain.
- That tripping and falling the woods and staring up at the trees then laying on my back in the cold somehow mattered.
- Starting to run back in the summer of 2016 mattered at all, nearly two years later.
It’s sad that after-school programs are getting axed, and funding for schools drying up, and that we need to resort to running 10 miles in Philadelphia (or run 200+ miles across Haiti) for good things to happen in this world, but that’s the way it is.
Can it change? Well, it changes every time someone pulls out their card and donates money to these things. It’s not perfect, but it works, and we’ll keep doing it.
Most nights I fall asleep thinking about running. Since I started in July of 2016, it’s been something I’ve been trying to incorporate more of into my life. I bought a bigger bag so I could carry running gear while traveling. I’ve gone to bed earlier so I can rest my body and not get injured. I’ve done my best to run 3-4 times a week, weight train, and keep a regular stretching routine. I turn 42 this year, and I just want to run more.
Speed has never been my thing. For me, it’s always been about distance. Back in my biking days, I rode across most of NJ and PA (in sections). I’ve biked the NYC Century a few times, each time tapping out at the “just” the 70 mile mark. I like this distance thing.
But “The Speed Project” intrigues me. I love the idea of a team making their way from LA to Las Vegas. I love the relay aspect. The camaraderie. The adventure.
Well, The Speed Project happened this past weekend, and a french team won it in 35 hours, 49 minutes. I caught myself spending a bit too much time scrolling through the hashtag and keeping up, probably the first time I really did that. It wasn’t about “who won” at all. I just wanted the scenery, the grit, the pain. It’s like life, but the stakes are a bit lower.
Running is a micro-life. It’s a challenge each day, and most every day I’ve shown up. I’ve had bad-eating days, or days I don’t stretch enough, but when I take those first few steps of a run, I’m starting over. The work I’ve put in since July of 2016 got me here, but I still need to put in the work.
I don’t know – there’s just something about miles of road ahead, and that’s why I set off for some long straight roads this past weekend. The photos I took didn’t do it any justice, but it was a nice five mile run, out and back and it felt great.
Sure, maybe someday I can be fast enough to run with a Speed Project team, but for now I had this. No RV, no team, just me, putting in the work, being patient with myself, and building for whatever is next.