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.

New Perspectives

A friend of mine completed one of those Couch to 5K app programs. Hey, they work (it’s how I got started)! After two 5Ks, winter came, work got busy, and he stopped running. He’s getting back into it, though.

We ran last years Bethlehem Turkey Trot 5k (I ran it in 27:51). He got a treadmill recently. Now that the weather is getting a little bit nicer, and after hearing about my recent 18 mile long run, he’s starting to set off on his own adventures.

He’s gonna run that Turkey Trot 5K route himself. Just to do it. Run through downtown Bethlehm, just taking his time, walking if he needs, just out there doing it.

Because as we near our mid 40s, invitations to adventure don’t typically get tossed our way, so we have to make them ourselves. Sign up for a 5K (or a marathon), sure, but it’s getting out there when there’s no start time, or official finish line, that’s the true adventure.

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.

Another Lesson from 18 Miles

Had a great call with a friend earlier this week, and they asked “how do you run 18 miles?”

And like, sure, one mile at a time sounds cool, but that’s a lot of time to fill every mile.

I keep thinking of how my head would start doing math when I’d hit a certain distance.

“Okay, so I have three miles to go. Well, my fastest three miles was 25 minutes, so this should take me just…”

For me this wrecked my moral. It was always looking into the future, trying to plan, make way for the future discomfort that wasn’t even here yet.

So I had to fight to stay present. I sang a little song to myself (“use your butt, chest up”). I looked all around me for features that I may have missed. Every now and again I would pass a sign for a PLANET WALK, so I would make up little songs for the planets.

I chose to laugh, which made me smile.

This lesson has bled into my work now, too. So much of my work anxiety is looking ahead to what needs to get done while I’m working on something in the present. My mind is elsewhere, which means the present tasks takes even longer.

Stay in the moment, build my reports.

Stay in the moment, run a solid mile.

Good lesson to learn being as next month I’m going to run 26.6 miles.

18 Miles

It’s been a struggle of late to find space to run bigger mileage without having to resort to all rails-to-trails, or taking my chances on public roads with lots of cars. Finally found the Little Lehigh Park Path, a mix of gravel and pavement, mostly flat, and the best part – it’s a solid six mile loop, similar to the Queens Marathon I’ll be doing.

The ground was mush in a lot of parts, and muddy in others. Not ideal, but it worked. The nice part about this park is that there’s lot of interesting features (like this covered bridge above, or this mystical whatever thing below) to look forward to, which breaks up the monotony.

I stopped at my car twice to refill bottles, and get food which ate while on the trail. My pace was slow (11:30ish), but I know this isn’t a dress rehearsal for the marathon – it’s today’s training, which was to run 18 miles, and so today was a good day.

Pictures look a little different? Yeah, I picked up a GoPro Hero 8, and I have no idea what I’m doing with it yet. Pretty sure I could have gotten better photos with the iPhone, but I didn’t pull out my iPhone once on this run, and that’s what I wanted. I was able to carry the GoPro in my hand with ease, and it has voice commands, too, which is pretty great. I’ll be messing more with the photo settings, and hopefully video before too long!

Slow Enough

The day started gloomy enough. Cold. Harsh. I set out with my friend who was running a morning 5K as part of her training for a 10K in two months. I got out to test my new watch (a Garmin 235), and to make sure after this weekend’s long run of 18 miles I’d hit 30 for the week.

The nice part about having built some fitness over the past 3-ish years is that today was easy. Like, not to be all scientific, but my heart rate was low. I was just jogging, shuffling along, but it was enough to keep me warm, and to get me close to the creeks, and their noisy splashing.

Moving fast enough to keep myself warm, but slow enough to notice a chipmunk deep in the woods.

Running doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t have to be a struggle. You’re allowed to go slow, to shuffle along. There’s no rule saying you have to enter a 5K, or wear a neon green tank top.

Yep, the speed training I do can hurt. Run for nine minutes at a fast pace, then rest for a minute. Then do that three more times. Ouch.

This Sunday the plan is to run 18 miles. That won’t be entirely comfortable.

But getting out of comfort zones often enough gets us to a place where we can find comfort. The pain isn’t gone, we just learn to live with it.

Make Yourself Obsolete

Quote of the year so far, from Bobby Goodlatte:

Love that last line: You should be so much less focused on how hard you work, and so much more focused on how to automate / make yourself obsolete.

I admit I got caught in the habit of grinding. Cranking. Just apply more focus, keystroke commands, turn off Slack, roll up the sleeves and just ATTACK.

Or pay someone on Fivver $5 to do it.

Because now that 45 minutes of work I didn’t really wanna do now becomes free, and my brain gets to focus on bigger problems. Bigger challenges.

That’s what $5 buys me – the ability to use my near 20+ years of internet smarts on something that might make me $5,000.

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.

Staying on Track

I sometimes wonder why I stuck with running, and I think it’s because I didn’t just want to lose weight. Pretty sure it was because I wanted to become a runner.

James Clear talks about that a bunch in his book Atomic Habits, which I’ve referenced a bunch of times.

Instead of “I can’t eat cake,” it becomes “I don’t eat cake because I’m a runner.” I mean, I still eat cake, and mmmm, I love cookies. But my grocery shopping these days it a lot more veggies and fruit and beans than it is junk food that I used to buy just a few years ago.

So, to become a runner, I just had to run. But it’s weird to think I started that back in 2016, almost four years ago. I’m trying to apply that to other areas of my life now, too – financial, work, mental health. Running has showed me that the choices I make each day can lead to bigger things down the road.

Keep The Store Open

Had a great talk with a buddy I met through Seth Godin’s “Freelancers Workshop” today. They’re a freelancer, and they’ve been sick this past week. Too sick to really work.

When I’m too sick to work, I think too much. Fret. Worry. Think of the worst possible outcomes – missed emails, uncompleted tasks, work piling up. I’m not just bad at my job, but now I’m bad. My work is me, and I am my work. So without it… without about being able to work, what does that say?

It made me think of our how our work is like a store front, and if we’re not working, the store is closed. A sign in the window says “NOT OPEN.” People walk by and mumble under their breath about our closed business. Did they not pay their electric bill? Health code violations?!

Being so connected to work is scary, and so many of us in the freelance world are one stomach bug or flu virus away from being knocked out of commission for a week.

For the past few months I’ve been experimenting with outsourcing some of my more administrative tasks via UpWork and Fiverr. It’s virtual assistant type of work, and by paying someone else to do it, it gives me time to work on bigger projects. Though Close Mondays isn’t some automated machine just yet, it’s good knowing that a handful of my daily tasks are now taken care of by someone that’s not always me.