Saturday, April 25, 2015

All Out of Marks to Check

I have run out of boxes to check off on my calendar, which I cleverly entitled "16-Week Marathon Training Schedule for 2015 New Jersey Marathon" when I created it on my computer in late December 2014.  The Training is complete.  Tomorrow is race day.

If I understood what Gidg told me earlier this week correctly, gun time tomorrow morning is 7:30.  I like the idea of a relatively early start time.  I have a much better chance of convincing my legs to start moving if it is simply too goddamn early in the day for them to figure out what is happening.  I figure I should get at least seven or eight miles deep into the race before it hits them.  

Tomorrow morning shall mark the fourth time in my life that I have lined up at the starting line for a marathon.  I am confident - based upon how faithfully I adhered to my training schedule, which I have not always done in the past, how hard I pushed myself during my training and how well I feel, generally speaking, on the eve of the race - that this shall be the best of my four efforts.  

Enough blabbing about it.  Talk is exceedingly cheap.  If running one's mouth could carry you for 26.2 miles, then significantly more people would compete in - and complete - a marathon than actually do.  


-AK

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Gospel According To Pep...




...and Saturday cannot get here quickly enough.

-AK 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Poetry in Motion

Thursday has finally arrived in "Running on Fumes" Week.  Due to an unfortunate confluence of events at work, a number of projects have due dates that bear an eerie resemblance to one another, and none of them has one that arrives later than...well this time tomorrow.  I tend to be a bit of an early riser but for me, even, this week has been somewhat extraordinary.  My alarm has been set for 2:00 AM and I have been out the door to the office not later than 3:00 AM to ensure that I am adequately caffeinated and in "work mode" by not later than 4:00 AM.  

I must confess that by this point in the week, I am a bit tired.  Inasmuch as I am less than articulate here - far more often than not - when I am working on normal rest, under the present circumstances I have for all intents and purposes leaped off of the cliff's edge.  

Long story short (not so far I know) is that in this space there is really nothing of value to read today. If you click on this link, disappointed you shall not be.  It is a beautiful first-person account authored by a member of one of my favorite groups of people:  a "Next Gen" in the Kenny clan.  

I am biased I suppose, given who I am and who she is, but I think that a parent who is preparing to send a child off to college in the Fall of '15 (or beyond) could do worse than to spend a few minutes perusing her wise words - while encouraging your son or daughter to do likewise.   As someone whose own college days are so far behind me that I need them to be closer than they appear in my rear-view just so I could see them, I found them to be an exceptionally worthwhile read...  

...and pretty damn good advice too.

-AK 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting for Maickel

Irrespective of however long and shitty a day you might have had yesterday - and you have my sincere empathy if you did as I was right there with you as of 3:40 AM at my desk writing a brief on a matter with a ridiculously tight deadline - or however long and shitty a day might be on tap for you (or me for that matter) the story of Maickel Melamed shall make you smile.  

Maickel Melamed, thirty-nine years old, was the last-place finisher in Monday's Boston Marathon.  His time?  Well, let us just say that it took him approximately ten times as long to complete the course from Hopkinton to Boylston Street as it took the elite runners to do so.  But finish he did.  

Maickel Melamed is afflicted with Muscular Dystrophy.  It has attacked his body - as that insidious disease does - but it has not overwhelmed his mind, his spirit or his heart.  It took him until the wee small hours of Tuesday morning to reach the finish line, but reach it he did.  He completed a journey in darkness and in pouring rain a trek that had begun a morning earlier in daylight and in drizzle.  

If what he told reporters post-race turns out to be true and Boston was indeed his final marathon, then his marathon resume, a resume that includes marathons in New York City, Berlin, Tokyo, and Chicago, shall be quite an impressive one indeed.  A memorable run in Boston is one hell of a nice way to put a ribbon on one's marathon career, should this year's Boston Marathon indeed prove to be his last. 

His attitude is remarkable.  His inner strength and his fortitude are inspiring.  And somewhere, in a dimly-lit, hot swamp his running coach sits smiling, thinking of just how well to heart Maickel Melamed took his advice:  


The Force is strong in Maickel Melamed.  Very, very strong.  

-AK 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

One for the Thumb

Today is Tuesday, April 21.  Five sleeps separate me - and thousands of other runners - from the 2015 New Jersey Marathon.  Five sleeps is not very many sleeps at all.   It is more than four.  It is less than six.  

Just think, if you formally retained me as your attorney, then you would pay real American money for such astute observations.  You laugh at the thought?  I do as well sometimes.  Nevertheless, someone always steps up to the window and plunks down their cash.  It beats working for a living.  Some days not by much - to be sure - but always by at least a little. 

But I digress.

I feel better five sleeps removed from this marathon than I have felt at this time leading up to any of the three previous marathons in which I have participated.  More importantly than my physical well-being, which is good, is my mental well-being.  Sunday morning, I forced myself down into the basement dungeon for one final "medium distance" run.  I made it my goal at the beginning of this training cycle to run every mile of every training run in eight minutes or less.  Sunday, I set the treadmill to eight miles per hour and a whisker more than sixty minutes later I had completed my last eight-mile run.  The exercise's purpose has not been to create the delusion that I can run 26.2 miles at a 7:30 clip.  It has been to make my mind and my body get ever more comfortable at being uncomfortable.  So far.  So good.  

The part of this exercise that is equal parts exhilarating and nerve-wracking is that - the RU Half Marathon one week ago Sunday notwithstanding - there shall be but one chance to measure whether it has been a success.  It has been one hundred and seven sleeps since I started it.  I reckon I can hang in there for five more sleeps to see how it turns out.  

In fact, the choice is not really mine to make.  

-AK 

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Rite of Spring

Today is Boston Marathon Day.  I hope that all of those competing today, whether an elite runner or a ham and egger such as Yours truly, have an exceptional run.  Having taken to running relatively late in life, I suspect that I shall never be on of those who toes the starting line in Hopkinton.  My non-participation in the event does nothing to hamper my enthusiasm for it. 

I have no idea who shall win today.  As anyone who pays attention at all to a sport might, I do have my favorites - runners for whom I am cheering to do well.  I would love to see Meb, who won this race last year, back up his 2014 victory with one today.  I am also rooting hard for my fellow Buff, Dathan Ritzenhein, who has suffered through enough injuries in his running career to test a one-hundred-year-old man.  Ritzenhein is thirty-two. 

Most of all, I am rooting like hell for the hometown heroine, Shalane Flanagan, to capture the title that she fought so valiantly to try to attain in 2014.  She ultimately "faded" to seventh place - while running her fastest-ever marathon in a race won by Kenyan Rita "The Chemist" Jeptoo in the fastest time a woman has ever run at the Boston Marathon.  

Good luck to one and all.  May your race be swift, satisfying and safe.


-AK

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Anniversaries, Important and Otherwise

It was on this very date, in the year 2008...Damn, do I wish right now that I had a poet's soul.  For perhaps then I could have come up with a clever turn of phrase to finish that rhyme.  Get a load of this guy, will you?  "A poet's soul".  How about any soul?  One would think - based upon nothing other then the rather audacious proclamation contained in the opening line that the phrase "beggars can't be choosers" was one with which I have no familiarity.  

But I digress...

April 19, 2008 marked the creation of this little rest stop on Prince Albert's information superhighway.  I started doing this in an effort to have an outlet for the voices that rage inside my head on a daily basis.  A release valve if you will.  Whether it has effectively served its purpose I truly do not know.  I drink less than I used to as a much younger man.  I hit fewer things, which is also a positive I suppose.  I might very well be the most selfish person I have ever known, which personality trait is well-served in this forum.  The point of view expressed here is mine.  I write about things that I consider to be worth talking about, with little thought (actually none) given to whether what matters to me matters to anyone else, and perpetually stunned by the fact that anyone takes the time to read that which is written here.  I am fascinated by what pieces that have appeared here are the ones that have been read the most.  Why, for instance, this is the most-read piece that has ever appeared in this space (and the gap between it and the second-most-read is more than six hundred) eludes me.  P.S. - After buying "High Hopes" and listening to it repeatedly over the course of a period of several weeks, I was distressed to discover that it failed to exceed my admittedly low expectations.

Again, I digress...

April 19, 1995 was a terrible day.  A day that I hope stands unchallenged in the annals of history as the all-time worst day Oklahoma City, Oklahoma ever endures.  At 9:02 A.M., two cowards - in an act of domestic terrorism - detonated a truck that they had parked in front of the Alfred R. Murrah Federal Building after they had packed it full of explosives, which they did after they had rented it from Ryder - murdered 168 innocents and injured another 680.   

The people of Oklahoma City responded as we have seen the people of New York City - and more recently - the people of Boston respond to an attack upon their home, their community and their life.  They have endured.  They have endeavored to ensure that those whose lives were taken from them that day - including children - shall never be forgotten.  

Today, spare a moment to think of those who were killed on that terrible April morning twenty years ago.  If you are old enough to remember the day and where you were when you first learned what had happened, then pause perhaps to reflect upon at least some of what has transpired in your life over the course of the past twenty years.  Hopefully for you, as has been the case for me (sometimes in spite of myself), the good has outweighed the bad.  Either way, opportunities have been presented to us over the course of these past two decades that were denied to those who were murdered that morning.  It is up to us to make what we will out of them. 

Me?  I intend to take full advantage of this beautiful Spring morning by running my final eight-mile training run for next week's New Jersey Marathon.  

-AK