It’s More Fun to Run Together

Race number one of 2019 done! Finished at 1:43:55 or so. First seven miles felt great, but the last three is the real story. 

Early in the race I was following behind a gentleman in all black. I didn’t know anything else, but he was just trotting along, so I figured I’ll just follow behind him.

I’m running comfortably, and fighting the urge to look at my watch. When I look at my watch a million calculations go through my head. Pace, and speed, and time, and if I run a certain pace for the next two miles, then… yeah, having that information usually throws me for a loop.

So I looked at my watch.

And I was running a nice pace, rather comfortably! We ran up so many hills (800′ in total climbing, about the height of the MET Life building in NYC), and I stayed close behind.

After about mile five, though, I passed him. I stopped hearing his footsteps, and I felt like I was flying! Well, for like a mile or so.

But then at about mile 7 my body was like, nah. I just hadn’t trained enough for this distance, so I understood, and smiled and tried to shuffle along.

Well, that fella caught up to me, with a woman he was pulling along for a few miles. He passed me, but we made it up the final hill together (very hilly course), and all three of us did our best sprint finish together. 


Three random people, different ages and backgrounds and all that, united for one cause for that one hour and 43 minutes. We high fived, ate some chips, and now have an awesome story for life.

I’ve been able to string together four weeks in a row of running 20 miles. Tonight on the treadmill I had one of my fastest hour runs in awhile, having pushed out of my comfort zone a bit, fueled by the early afternoon burrito lunch.

Maybe it was the after effects of the run, or the post-workout beer, but tonight I signed up for a 10 mile race about 40 minutes away, this weekend.

This will be just the third time I’ve entered a 10+ mile race, with the previous two coming last year, in just 2nd year of running.

May 6, 2018 – Broad Street 10 miler in Philadelphia: 1:48:34 (10:51 pace)
Oct 21, 2018 – Runner’s World Half in Bethlehem, PA: 2:17:02 (10:25 pace)

During that Half I ran by fastest 10 miler, too, at 1:43:16. I’m not sure I’m on target for that this weekend, and I won’t really be trying, but it’d be nice to at least be in the low 1:40s, that’s for sure.

When I started running on July 7, 2016, I never thought that this would be what I do now, but here we are!

Changing Seasons

Last December I took a break from running. Not because I was tired of it, or injured, but after hitting 800 miles I knew I needed a break.

Then in January, I moved, and that was sort of hectic. I also didn’t have reliable internet for about a week and a half, so that whole time I was driving to a few different coffee shops to work, which ate up a lot of time.

It’s so weird – I remember what it felt like in early January. I was sluggish, my legs just didn’t want to go, my heart was heavy. I even felt like, what if I never get back into running?

Now here I am, in mid February. Three weeks of 20 miles a week. I got an email that I got a lottery entry for the Broad Street run in Philadelphia. I got some new running shirts coming in the mail. I ran four miles with a friend a few weekends ago, then ran three miles home on the road. I ran and saw buffalo last weekend.

Yeah, I think I’m back.

Cut it Off

Getting back into more consistent running here at the start of 2019. I joined a gym to get some steady miles, both for the effort and the safety. It’s a grind on the treadmill, but I know every 10 or 15 minute chunk out of my comfort zone is just going to make the miles easier this summer and fall.

I wish I had nice photos to accompany a post like this, but there’s nothing worth noting from the treadmill. This work, though, will lead me to empty roads and vistas, mountains and creeks. From there I’ll capture photos worth sharing. For now, this time, this work, is cut off from everyone.

Running For One Hour

In the summer of 2016 I didn’t think I’d ever be able to run for 15 minutes straight. Last fall I ran a half-marathon in two hours and 16 minutes. I’m not fast, but I’ve got stubborn legs.

After three weeks off in December (after an 800 mile year), I’m getting back into the swing of things with running. I’m taking it slow, as I don’t want to rush and hurt myself, but being able to hit one hour of running without stopping has been a major milestone for me. And I’ve done it twice in a week.

Running for that long is almost meditation. It means no social media, fretting over my to-do list, or checking emails. It’s an hour of not trying to figure things out, or get into several conversations.

One hour of running is wonderful.

Bleak Morning Runs

It was cold, wet, and dreary – perfect conditions for my second run of the year. Still being cautious, with plenty of stretching, and just taking it easy, but I made it to the top of this hill and another without stopping.

Not fast, but I didn’t stop.

I think that’s a wonderful thing about running, that you can always slow down. Like, you’re allowed to just jog, shuffle, trot along. It’s still moving, and really what counts is just being out there.

Of course I want to compare this run to another time I did this route. Am I faster, have I lost my fitness after just three weeks of rest? Will I ever hit my goal of 1000 miles in 2019?!

There were a thousand photos I wanted to take on this run. Surrounded by empty corn field, crows on power lines overhead, houses sitting silent on top of a hill, fog rolling through the valley.

If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me 
What’s the point of doing anything?

from St. Vincent’s ‘Digital Witness’

So I just remember that if I only took one photo from each run in 2018, that’d be 167 photos. At the end of this year, this month, this week, I should have enough photos from my adventures.

I Stopped Looking

Sometimes the best ideas come about when you’re not looking for the best ideas.

Sonic Cathedral, meanwhile, came about by accident after a couple of pints. Nat Cramp had been running a club night of the same name – jokingly billed as “the night that celebrates itself” – for about 18 months when he got chatting to Mark Gardener, frontman of veteran British shoegaze band Ride. “One night, after a show at the Bodega in Nottingham, I spontaneously asked if he’d let me release a 7-inch single for him and he said yes,” Cramp remembers. “I had no idea how to make that happen and I don’t remember having any particular ambitions to run a record label either. I’d just had a couple pints and thought I’d chance my arm!” Almost 15 years later, the label is still going strong.

From NME’s ‘How to run a small independent record label

I love this so much, especially these two parts:

“Came about by accident.”

“Nat Cramp had been running a club night of the same name – jokingly billed as “the night that celebrates itself” – for about 18 months.”

That “by accident” is the sort of thing we don’t hear enough. Instead it’s “I FIGURED THIS OUT” or “I FOUND A WAY.” And the fact that Cramp was doing a club night “for about 18 months.” Yeah, that’s a year and a half. Of “just” doing something.

For a long time I struggled with what I should do, or what was next? I kept strangling the universe for the answer, when actually letting go provided the answer.

And then, by chance, this video hit me square in the face tonight. Before, when asked the “so what do you do” question, I would spew a bunch of internet jargon and editorial speak, and zzzzzzz….

If I would have paid attention to work I was already doing “on the side,” and seeing that it scaled, was sustainable, and profitable, I could have started Close Mondays years ago.

For me, it just took the exhaustion of running the 10 mile Broad Street Run in May 2018 . I was fried physically, and mentally I wasn’t far behind. I had to put Skull Toaster (my baby at the time) on hold, and that’s when it hit me.

When I was a bit broken.

It didn’t come from meetings, cursing the heavens, playing around with some numbers on a note pad… it took being completely exhausted for the message to get through.

Like Cramp above, “just” doing a club night for a year and a half led to the next thing. Developing a running “practice” got me here. Because when running, I can’t scroll through social media for the answers. There’s no time for pity parties when running. There’s focus, and distraction, both at the same time.

I could focus on the running when running, and thinking about running, and planning for races. And running was also a distraction, something that pulled me away from the idea that if I just looked hard enough the answer would come.

First Run of 2019

It was about 50F on New Years Day, so I set off for the Paulinskill Valley Trail in Blairstown, NJ, a 25+ mile trail that was perfect for my first run since resting most of December (after hitting 801 miles for all of 2018).

I was up until 4am the night before, ringing in the new year with some lovely friends in NJ, and I fueled for this run with a few adult beverages, donuts, and nacho cheese deep. Perfect.

The trail was flat as a pancake, and just as spongy since it had been raining. My shoes got muddy, and my bones creaked a little, but overall this was a comfortable, easy run, just getting the body used to running again.

It was just about 30 or 40 minutes, nice and easy, out and back. Once I hit the waterfall at Paulina Lake (above), I ran back on Rt 94. I bore easily covering the same ground, and I really wanted to get a feel for running on the road again, and it felt great.

The best part was just being outside, able to trot along, and feel the legs moving again. This was certainly a nice setting to get back to that.

All in With Daily Burn

Well, I gave Aaptiv a shot, but it just wasn’t for me. I need visuals and I need people.

So it’s back to Daily Burn.

I’ve flirted with the service about a year ago, but balked at the price (it starts around $12/mo) on top of a $20/mo gym membership. But since I only really use the gym for the treadmill and rowing machine, well I cancelled the gym and all in with Daily Burn.

Every weekday morning at 9am Daily Burn has a LIVE streaming workout. Real people, all different abilities, and the trainers are absolute characters. Sure, the whole WORKOUT thing can be cheesy for folks like me, right? I’m a metal head computer nerd, right? Who are these people with bubbly personalities and corny jokes?

Well, it turns out they’re pretty great, and much more encouraging compared to canned audio saying, “you’re doing awesome!” So they can keep up with their bubbly selves, because they keep me going.

The 30 minute workouts leave me worn out, sweaty, occasionally cursing, and ready to die, so I feel like we’re off to a good start. It’s weird to pretty much feel like I’m not in shape doing these workouts when just a few weeks ago I completed a half-marathon, but, I know by doing these workouts, and movements, and cardio, and push ups (oh my god) that I’ll be a faster, stronger runner, and that’s what I want to gain from all this.

Working Out is Hard

If you ask me to run 10 miles in any direction, sure. I can do it.

Ask me to do burpees for 30 seconds and, well… I can do it, but I won’t like it.

My heart rate is just maxed, my shoulders and arms hurt, I’m probably sweating everywhere.

And I know this is why I need to do more working out stuff. Like I said, I can run comfortably for 10 miles. I can bang up some hills, even do a little speed here and there.

Push ups? Leg scissors? Squat jumps? Kill me now.

As Seth Godin recently wrote in “A note from 2030“:

“Twelve years from now, your future self is going to thank you for something you did today, for an asset you began to build, a habit you formed, a seed you planted.”

Dammit, he’s right.

I started running in 2016, and today in 2018 I am super thankful I started then! I really need to honor that note from 2030, and get doing more work out / cross training / weight lifting.