Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Who says Allie Kieffer isn’t thin enough?

Allie Kieffer, one of the best Americans running the New York City Marathon next Sunday, spent a lot of her life feeling as if she didn’t really fit in among the competition. She was good enough to land an athletic scholarship to college and hoped to continue running after graduating. But she wasn’t as thin as the women she raced against. Her coaches suggested she diet. She eventually gave in, and her body broke down…

After a few years, she missed running and started again — but this time was different. There were no goals, no opponents to compare herself with and no times to record. Everything was on her own terms…She began running more miles than ever, she was healthier than ever, and she was happier, too. And then something unexpected happened: She got faster. Much faster.

Last year, Kieffer ran the New York City Marathon and finished, astonishingly, in fifth place. She was the second American woman, and she logged her best time by nearly 15 minutes in one of the world’s most competitive footraces. Barely anyone knew who the unsponsored 30-year-old American with the topknot sprinting past Olympians in the final miles of Central Park was.

Suddenly, Kieffer wasn’t just trying to be one of the hundreds of elite runners in the country. She had become one of the best runners in the world…

In doing so, Kieffer has given us a powerful example of what can happen when we stop trying to force ourselves to meet preconceived notions of how to achieve success — especially unhealthy, untrue ideas — and go after our goals on our own terms. When we focus less on fixing what we consider to be inadequacies and more on reinforcing our strengths, we can realize potential we didn’t even know we had.

“Sometimes, the act of trying takes so much energy that it can prevent you from actually doing the thing you want to do,” Brad Stulberg, the author of Peak Performance, told me. “If it starts to feel like performance shackles, you’re going to want say screw it, to break out of rigid patterns and rip those shackles off. And only then are you able to really achieve what you were trying for the whole time.”

Kieffer’s story also proves that we can achieve far more when we value all women’s bodies less for how they look, and more for what they can do.

Not that being underestimated can’t serve as motivation.

“I’ve always gotten a lot of satisfaction by being the big girl everyone thought they were going to beat,” says Kieffer…

There is a growing movement telling us to embrace the bodies we’ve got — thank you — but it’s hard to drown out the other messages. Whether it’s for a race or a wedding, women are told that they are at their most valuable when their bodies are their most diminished. Resisting the impulse to feed yourself is an accomplishment we praise. You don’t have to buy into these values, but you’ll probably still be judged by them…

By conventional standards, she is doing nearly everything wrong. But she’s beating a lot of the people who are still training the “right” way, so perhaps her path shows there’s room for a more flexible definition of what the right way can be. This is probably true for more than just distance running.

~ Lindsay Crouse, excerpts from Who Says Allie Kieffer Isn’t Thin Enough to Run Marathons? Success that shows we might be able to achieve even more when we break all the rules. (The New York Times, October 27, 2018)


Inspired by:

  • Nobody is smarter than you are. And what if they are? What good is their understanding doing you?” -Terence McKenna, Nobody is Smarter Than You Are
  • I don’t think that you have to get all your inner stuff together and totally integrated before you can actually be what you’ve realized. You’re going to wait forever if you wait for that. Just start being what you know now.” ~ Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

Running. With Half Pass.

feet

Iron couplers connect railcars. One to the next, to the next. Synchronicity? Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon?

Terri Gross interviews Leonard Cohen‘s Son, Adam, on a NPR: Fresh Air podcast titled “Leonard Cohen The Poet, Writer, And Father where he talks about his Father: “He was preoccupied with the brokenness of things, the asymmetry of things, as he says forget your perfect offering…or as in his song Anthem…Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

I turn the page in Haruki Murakami’s new novel Killing Commendatore and the title of Chapter 4 flashes and sticks: “From a Distance, Most Things Look Beautiful.”

I’m running to Stamford Cove Park. Off in the distance, a man grips three leashes, two small, white dogs of the same breed on his left (Rat Terriers?), and a larger Mix (Rescue?) on the right.

I approach.

I’m drawn to Mix. All four legs move sideways and forward, a Half Pass dressage. A defect. I slow to follow the pack from a few yards back, the Terriers pull on the leashes, the mix struggles to keep up.

The Mind calls up a passage by Tom Hennen that I came across earlier in the week: “I am struck by the otherness of things rather than their sameness. That each thing on earth has its own soul, its own life, that each tree, each clod is filled with the mud of its own star.” [Read more…]

Running. With Potpourri.

I’m off. Running. 6:05 am and it’s 76° F, already. Humidity is thick, legs are heavy, body is huge, mind is resisting, all of it groaning under the pressure of NO.

Scenes of the last 3 days flicker by.

pot·pour·ri (n) a mixture of things

In a small patch of grass, with Holly Pond on its right, a guard rail on the left, and Post Road to the North, is a flock. Not of a like-kind. But 2 adult geese, 3 toddlers, a mallard and a sparrow. All quietly feeding as I approach. Mother Goose, protecting her young-uns, approaches, neck fully extended…tall and fierce with her wings spread wide…hissing. This luncheon is human-free, and I was not welcome. All these creatures, peacefully feeding, and yet we, a higher level of intelligence can’t seem to sit in a room and have a civil conversation.

I’m in the dentist chair. Not flat, but with feet higher than head. Hygienist is wearing a face mask and magnified eye goggles. Poking, scraping, suction, flossing. I’m lolling in and out of nausea and claustrophobia. Overhead lamp beams down. I’m Dustin Hoffman in the scene from Marathon Man. Blood rushes to my head. I swallow, shift my legs and grip the arms of the chair. Hygienist notices the discomfort and withdraws. Breathe DK, breathe. I regain my composure.

Feet and legs have been hurting after my runs. Time for new shoes. I’m third in line, waiting to check out at Dick’s Sporting Goods. It’s late afternoon on July 4th. I’m watching one of three check out clerks. She’s large boned, broad shouldered, and tired. I walk up and hand her the shoes – with an intense desire to see what shoes she is wearing. She’s been standing since 10 am on a statutory holiday. She places the shoe box into a plastic bag, drops in the receipt and offers an obligatory “Thank you.” I’m walking out the door. Should have tipped her. Should have. Should have. Should have. [Read more…]

Running. With Restraint. And With None of It.

What do you excel at?

A) Habitual repeating. (Professional kind)

Consistent, effective execution. Compulsive in following through on commitments. Dependable. You can count on him.

And that’s life isn’t it, the antithesis of what makes you effective at “A”, makes you a disaster a “B”.

B) Habitual repeating, in bulk. (Personal kind. Random, exculpatory list below.)

  • Thoughts. (Swirling, incessant, dark)
  • Doubts. (Many)
  • Food (Binges, sugar, fast food, anything).
  • Running ‘paths’ (Note emphasis on paths and not running, there should be zero inferences to mastery in frequency, distance or pace.)
  • Blog post ‘themes’. (Note emphasis on themes. And no mention of original work.)

How many times can you spout on about the same sh*t? Let’s see. Let’s use metaphors, not your own of course. Because that would take talent, effort. How many times? Richard Powers, “A thousand—a thousand thousand—green-tipped, splitting fingerlings.”

So here we go again. [Read more…]

Running. With Ghosts.

Friday morning weigh-in: 2 pounds up. Disgusting. Shameful.

It’s 5:25 a.m. 58º F. I’m out the door.

Memorial Day weekend.  Squirrel lays in the gutter on Post Road, its claws tucked inward, no defense against Auto.  The mind leaps to the Thursday morning commute, a large doe lies on the shoulder of I-95 S, a fresh kill – no chance against Semi. Shake it off. A few hundred feet further up, road refuse, a MacDonald’s Big Mac carton and an empty plastic soft drink cup. The mind leaps again, this time to Ben‘s comment on an older post – his boys have returned from visiting a turtle hospital in the Florida Keys where they watched the creatures suffer from ingesting plastic drinking straws. They’re quick to anger at the waiter who sets two plastic straws on the table in front of them. Boys. They get it. This world still has a chance.

My pace slows, with the mind leaping from black to blacker blacks, gulping energy, sapping strength. Shoulders and legs are heavy, they sag. I’m winded.  GPS: 1.5 miles out. It’s mental DK. It’s mental. Alter the narrative, Damn it. Alter the narrative.

I round the corner to exit Post Road to Cove Road.

My head is down. I don’t notice low tide. I don’t see 100’s of geese floating in silence. What do you think you will see looking down at the asphalt.

And here it comes. From somewhere.  Chögyam Trungpa’s inclination. “You have an inclination: In the flash of one second, you feel what needs to be done. It is not a product of your education; it is not scientific or logical; you simply pick up on the message. And then you just act: You just do it…that basic human quality of suddenly opening up is the best part of human instinct.”

I don’t look right towards the homes, the driveways, the spray from the automatic sprinkler systems in the front yards. [Read more…]

Running. With Mint Chocolate Chip.

Here we go again.

Up 10 lbs in less than 30 days. No walking, no step challenges, no running, no elliptical, no treadmill. How easy to Quit. Devilishly insidious. One day. And then a week. A Month. And counting. How fast it all comes apart.   

Laying in bed, skimming blog posts, RSS feeds, morning papers – words skittering by, wispy clouds, digesting nothing. I pull the covers up. I’ll run this afternoon. Maybe. Sure I willNo I won’t.

I’m out the door, Running.

Mile 1: Cool, 50 F. Lower back stiff. Legs heavy. Can’t see 3 miles today. Hell, not sure I can see the end of 2.

Mile 2: Lower back loosening. Legs heavy. Stomach queasy. 7:30 PM yesterday. Snack run to Palmer’s Grocery. I cut through the rows to the freezer aisle. I wipe the condensation off the glass. Eyes move from Brand to Brand to Brand. Momentary calm settles in. I grab a pint of Häagen-Dazs Mint Chip Ice Cream. And then a pint of Talenti Gelato Mediterranean Mint. And then something called Graeter’s Handcrafted French Pot Mint Chocolate Chip. And a quart of Edy’s mint Chocolate Chip. Yep, 4 containers of Mint Chocolate Chip. [Read more…]

Running. And only God knows why.

Here we go again.

“Come on Dave. Sign up.”

It’s a Step Challenge at work.  Voluntary contributions, not tied to step count, benefit a Children’s hearing and seeing charity. The Challenge is two work weeks long, ending yesterday.

Normal humans enroll, walk with colleagues, kid each other on their position in the rankings, go home, kick back and go at it again. All good fun!

Well, there just ain’t anything normal here. Fun? Participation? Bah!

You’ve seen the carrot tied to a stick leading a stubborn mule…the mule plods forward, eyes locked on the prize…dragging one hoof in front of another, puffs of dust misting behind the sorry beast.

While the myth certainly is compelling, haunting even, studies have proven that while the animal is coaxed to move, it won’t move with elongated locomotion.

Well, once again, I’m here to prove that these scientific studies are garbage. (Think Butter was bad. Think Salt was bad.) Some mules will mindlessly chase a carrot, or less.  The prize? None, but for the potential of seeing one’s name on top of a steps leader board.

It’s Friday morning. I’m at least 10,000 to 20,000 steps behind, with 10 hours to go. [Read more…]

Santa Lollapalooza

glasgow,charity,run,santa Claus

More than 8,000 people take part in Glasgow’s annual Santa Dash, a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run that raises money for charities in Scotland. (Jeff J. Mitchell, Getty Images, wsj.com Dec 10, 2017)

Running. Against Time. To Relief.

4:59 a.m.

Dark Sky reports 71° F. Cloudy for three hours. 22 minutes til sunrise. And…95% humidity.

I’m out the door.  The edge of night has turned. I’m late. Disappointment drips. Morning brings others. I’m part way through Catherine Lacey’s “The Answers” where she explains: “Some people need to be unseen, to be alone, to be unreachable. And there was nothing wrong with this…”  This felt so right, so me. Yet, I would have finished it differently…“And there is everything right with this.”

It’s not been a good week – not a single, self-inflicted act, but a culmination of events. A cumulative pile-up of sleep deficit.

  • 4 hours. (Monday)
  • 5 hours. (Tuesday)
  • 5 hours. (Wednesday)
  • 6 hours (Thursday)
  • 4 hours (Friday)
  • 6 hours (Saturday)

A cumulative deficit of 18 hours. The insomniac gets through his days, 1/2 present, 1/2 hallucinating. This Man, blessed to be migraine-free, now has intermittent lightening bolts sizzle – Warning shots – Wake-up calls.

It’s a new habit. Deep sleep for two to four hours and then UP, followed by half-a**ed attempts to get back to sleep.

The e-equipment on the night stand beckons.  Work emails. 5-6 books at various stages of completion. Early morning editions of the newspapers. Blog posts. A dozen unplayed podcasts. Music playlists.

No. Don’t reach for it. Don’t touch it. [Read more…]

Running. Around Gitche Gumee.

6:37 am, Sunday morning. Father’s Day 2017.  57º F, rain is falling. No, better depicted as the heavens opening up, c’était le déluge!

I’m running.

An eerie, fifty foot layer of fog hangs over Lake Superior. I’m looking out at the break wall at Presque Isle Park in Marquette Michigan. I’m alone on the “Island”, as it is referred to by the locals. The park is closed to car traffic.  Alone on a 323 acre island, my idyllic state.

It’s not November, but I start humming passages from Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald:

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
In the maritime sailors’ cathedral
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call ‘gitche gumee’
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

The day before, we walked this same two mile track.  Black flies were feeding on the leeward side of the island, Humans were on the breakfast menu. You don’t see a single insect on 47th and Madison in NYC with tons of auto exhaust and air conditioner coolant spilling into the atmosphere 24 x 7 – the invisible chemical mist numbing everything in its path. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: