The sign read, “Jaegermeister and Donuts”
Well, I don’t mind if I do.
I was at mile 15. At mile 15, your mind doesn’t always make the best decisions. Maybe it was survival mode.
My brother declined. He makes better decisions than I do.
This was The Flying Pig, in Cincinnati. My first and only full marathon. Flying would be exaggerating. Stumbling Pig, would probably be more accurate.
I was with my brother and my friend Frank.
It was the same year they killed Bin Laden. I remember watching the news reports in the airport.
It’s a strange feeling to celebrate the death of someone. But that’s how we felt. It was patriotic. We felt safer.
By then, I was limping through the airport. My joints swollen and inflamed. 26 miles won’t treat you gently.
I felt old then, but man was I young.
The marathon was an experience. You run through several neighborhoods in Cincinnati. You see skyscrapers, abandoned buildings, small communities, old churches, and hills. There are a lot of hills in Cincinnati. Which normally wouldn’t matter, but when you are running 26 miles: Everything matters.
People line the street, cheer you on, and watch. They offer snacks, drinks, and words of encouragement. Bands play on the sidewalk. It’s a community event.
Nutrition is important in a long run.
At mile 20, I had a shot of beer. Now, don’t think all I did was drink during this run. It’s not all alcohol. I also had some orange slices.
At mile 23, I wanted to lay down and die. I swore I would never again do this to myself.
At mile 26, I started to smile again.
In the airport, they are talking about Bin Laden. I’m just trying to get comfortable.
I was given a book bag. It had the Flying Pig logo on it. The stewardess asked if I had run. I told her I had, but to calm down because I was happily married.
I had put my running clothes in that Flying Pig bag. I had to throw it away when I got home. Because it smelled so bad.
On the plane, I tried to sleep. I tried and succeeded.
I’m sure my brother felt as bad as I did, but he wore it better. He’s older than me, but you wouldn’t know it by looking.
My brother and I trained for this together. We ran separately during the week, but then ran our long runs together on Saturdays.
We were chased by dogs more than once. After the first time, my brother brought pepper spray. I tried to spray it once, but the wind blew and I just ended up spraying myself.
After a long run, we would make smoothies. Or peanut butter and honey toast.
One time, we ran about 10 miles to our parents house. My dad drove us home.
Those are good memories.
I could turn this post into some type of metaphor. Just keep running, I could say. It starts with the first step, I could say. Ignore the dogs. Enjoy the process. It’s the journey not the destination. Or some other nonsense.
But you would see that coming from a mile away. (or 26)
Let me tell you about my friend Frank.
He ran the first half with us. He had been dealing with a knee injury that caused pain and swelling. At times, his knee would “lock up”.
He had run 20 miles a few weeks before and his knee was causing problems again. He decided not to overdo it. So that day, he “only” ran 13 miles. (I don’t know if that’s dedication, or insanity)
Since he finished before us, he ran back to the hotel (2 miles), then back to the race (another 2 miles) to watch us finish.
Frank taught me the key to running a long distance: Eat like a horse, drink like a fish, run like a turtle.
Frank has asthma, 4 kids, and a full time job as a radiologist. He never let his time restraints stop him from his goals. He got up early in the mornings to work out or run. He spent the afternoons with the family. Sometimes they would turn family time into exercise. Walking, riding bikes, pulling his youngest in a wagon.
He’s who convinced me to run the marathon in the first place.
I always thought I didn’t have time to train.
He told me to stop making excuses.
He gave me this advice: Don’t make long term decisions based on short term problems.
He says that philosophy helped get him through medical school.
We often keep ourselves from pursuing things we want. We tell ourselves all the possible conflicts. All the reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t or maybe can’t or probably won’t. We tell ourselves it just won’t work out. We tell ourselves that it will be too difficult.
Instead, we should just go after it. And see what happens.
Every time I would start to give excuses about something, he would remind me of this.
You have to keep the Big Picture in mind.
I call this the Long View.
You figure out how to work through the problems. You make progress. And every day, you get a little bit better.
He also told me that if you eat right most of the time and exercise some of the time, then you are automatically in the top 10% of the world in terms of fitness.
I’m not sure if that statistic is accurate, but it seems right to me. The point is, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to compare yourself to elite athletes, models, body builders, ultra marathoners.
You just have to focus on YOU.
This is good advice, especially for people wanting to make changes in their life.
You don’t have to be perfect. Just remember that.
But I know what you are thinking. I haven’t actually told you why I’m never running a marathon again.
Well, you should NEVER say never. Because, you never know.
In the airplane, on the way home, I didn’t know how I was going to be able to sit for 2 hrs with my knees bent. I didn’t have a pillow. I hurt everywhere. I felt like I had the flu. I should’ve paid for 1st class. But I’m too cheap for that.
And yet, somehow I slept.
And slept well.
Maybe it was the Jaeger.
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