IHOP day 16 — 3 miles

Go ahead, ask me if I care
I got the answer here
I wrote it down somewhere
I just gotta find it
— the prophet ani

I have a credo: If you’re going to share your life, share it with someone who wears old Hokas and mismatched socks. I guess you never really know till the right person comes along. I’m a lucky guy.

The 110 mambo continues to mystify me. After 15:59 pace yesterday, today was a cruise at  14:30. No idea how it could be that different in less than a day. But I just have the Garmin set up to show nothing but HR, so the pace is always a surprise after the run ends.

It was a lovely respite in a day of worrying about the future of the nation. I voted after standing in a long line of people who in now way share my values. We really, really must move soon. A little island of sanity in a sea of despair would be better than nothing. And why do they make me vote in a church? I totally respect everyone’s right to the religion of their choosing or none at all, but making people cast their ballot under a large cross on the wall seems like a bit of a home-field advantage for one team. Unless we win, in which go, team.

On the other hand, I would be OK with an autocracy if it allowed me to go 100 miles in 24 hours. It’s all about priorities, I suppose.

Mo made me go back to the track today for the first time in a while. And although I hate it, I love it even more. Mismatched socks and all.

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IHOP day 15 — 6 miles

Dear Dr. Sheehan:

Happy 100th birthday! I guess it must be bittersweet since you died in 1993, but still. You live on through your words. What more could you ask than that?

You probably don’t remember me. We met back in 1980 or so. You spoke at the Holiday Inn the night before our little 8K. I was already a huge fan, a True Believer following in your footsteps after being forever changed by “Running & Being.” I had just been running a year or so and I hadn’t quite figured things out. Your words and your belief in running as more of a philosophy than an exercise forever changed me.

I don’t remember what you talked about that day; I just recall your aura. Turtleneck, faded jeans, beat-up Tigers. I wanted to be you. I still do. I’m not an autograph kind of guy. I got yours.

“The runner need not break four minutes in the mile or four hours in the marathon. It is only necessary that he runs and runs and sometimes suffers. Then one day he will wake up and discover that somewhere along the way he has begun to see order and law and love and truth that makes him free.”

Order and law and love and Truth that makes men free. That’s when I knew that running was what I had been looking for my entire life. It stopped being my sport and became my religion. You were my prophet and “Running & Being” was my bible. It still is.

I carry a copy of it on my phone now (I’ll catch you up on this technology stuff some other time.) I think about you and your teachings almost any time I run.

I embrace the daily hour you believed in, a quiet time to solve the world’s ills and contemplate. Then I come home and write, just as you did. I even have a pseudo-Royal keyboard that connects to my phone by bluetooth (again, I’ll catch you up later.) It doesn’t matter that nobody reads it. It’s the writing that matters.

“The true runner is a very fortunate person,” you wrote. “He has found something in him that is just perfect.”

I was lucky enough to find that something, and it’s in large part because of you. I just wanted to say thanks.

“Success rests in having the courage and endurance, and above all, the will to become the person you are.” Anyhow, happy birthday and thanks for helping me become the person I am. As long as I’m around, you’ll still be going out for that daily run. See you tomorrow.

sincerely,
you fan gary

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IHOP day 14 — 5 miles

I remember quite clearly
when I got out of bed
I said oh, good morning
what a beautiful day
— the prophet taylor

The little girl is terrified. She’s exhausted. And she has no idea what’s happening. She’s in a group of people who have crossed two borders and covered more than 600 miles. She’s been in terrible heat and torrential rain. She has only the clothes she’s wearing and a stuffed animal pal. She walks. Every day, she walks.

Her group has shrunk from 7,000 people to 4,000. Some gave up, stopping in Mexico. Some got sick, some gave in to exhaustion, some gave up. They walk 25 miles a day, a series of desperate marathons with no finish line in sight.

There are 2,300 children in her group. Some in strollers, some being carried, many trudging along on their own.

It’s easy to ignore the abstract concept until you see her. That one little girl trying desperately to keep up with the pack, clinging to her stuffed mouse. Do we really need thousands of soldiers to stop her?

I go out for my daily stroll, and that image haunts me. I try to imagine what it’s like. My life is so safe, so comfortable. We use running as a hobby to create suffering. They use it in hopes of escaping the suffering. They’re not an ominous threat; they’re just people. Poor, desperate humans.

The little girl clings to her friend. She has no idea what life holds for her. She has no hope for a better future. Our nation, once a melting pot that’s now just melting down, won’t allow it. So she does the only thing she can. She walks.

I do the only thing I can as well, preparing for the most important walk of my life, to my polling place in two days.

Vote. For her. For all of us.

Photo by Rebecca Blackwell/AP

week 2: 36.1 miles; 9 hours, 7 minutes. 

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IHOP day 13 — 5.4 miles

The Old Shoes are nervous. They saw the shipping order for The New Shoes.  The youngsters arrived a while back but weren’t quite the right size, so the long boat to Vietnam and back has slowed their arrival. Still, the inevitable conclusion looms.

We go out on the hotfoot course, then the xeriscape, them the lake loop.Searching for something that isn’t even there. They watch the scenery, savoring the views of what will be one of their last journeys.

My left knee hurts. I don’t know if it’s the sidewalk or the cumulative effect or the shoes wearing out or my knees just being too damn old. I’m hoping the cavalry arrives before Little Big Horn plays out at the Chaparral Park.

Another day at 15:15ish, which seems to be what the starting point will be for 110 bpm. An interesting game. Maffetone says the pace will eventually drop as the heart rate stays the same. I’m not sure about the monkey heart, though. Experiment of One. We’ll see.

Fast-pitch women’s softball, pee-wee soccer, goose poo, heavily tattooed dog walker. It’s an odd place to hang out. But then, I suppose I’m odd. This may call for a return to the mad dog. Frisbees don’t hurt as much.

Oh, well. The trial of miles, miles of trial. The experiment continues.

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IHOP day 12 — 5.2 miles

don’t think too badly
of one who’s left holding sand
he’s just another dreamer
dreaming ’bout Everyman
— the prophet browne

There are some things you try not to think about because they’re just too damn depressing.

Asics stopped making Piranhas. The glaciers are melting and we soon will collectively be underwater. And the worst of them all, the  Brady Bunch Kids are old.

The Brady Kids were my peer group. The show began in 1969, around the time I was trying to figure out what it took to be cool in a small West Texas town. That being, of course, surfing, permed hair and vests with tassles. Greg was a year older than me, Peter a couple years younger, and Marcia (whom I secretly had a lengthy romance with although I’m not sure she ever knew) was my age.

They’re stuck in my head forever, a little time capsule of my youth. When I run across the show, I’m 13 all over again. So it’s always a shock to encounter a pack of old people purporting to be Bradys. Which is what happened today.

HGTV is filming some show in which they re-do the old Brady house, which they recently bought. I assume this will make for an endless series of blah blah Brady flashbacks and such. I’m glad they have a job. But.

How is it that they are all Old and yet I remain perpetually young? I am still at most 16 or so, illegally buying Boone’s Farm and playing Steppenwolf at excessive volumes. To see photos of them aging is to raise the possibility that I also am old, and I will have none of it.

Of course, it could explain the 15:12 pace today. But HR was averaging 108, so I’m dialed in. Unlikely anyone will answer.

After abandoning the SCC track because the teams kept taking it over, I found the softball team on the soccer field at the hotfoot loop today. Almost nailed by a foul ball. I clearly am being stalked. Although I probably shouldn’t say stalked and Marcia in the same sentence. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.

I really need to work on my theme song. Here’s the story of a crappy runner …

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IHOP day 11 — 5 miles

I’d love to save the world
but I don’t know what to do
so I’ll leave it up to you …
— the prophet alvin lee

I’m strolling on the hotfoot loop when I hear the song coming up from behind me. It’s an old Ten Years After song from 1971. At the time, I thought of it as an anthem for change, a song that stated the opposite of what he meant in an effort to light a fire under the pants of a generation that was feeling increasingly disheartened after the ’60s.

Now, it just rings true. I really WOULD love to save the world. I really DON’T know what to do. And yeah, good luck. It’s up to you now.

The music passes me. It’s a couple maybe in their 70s on big cruiser bikes. Children of the ’60s. I picture them with tie dye and flowers in their hair. Now they wear their Old People uniforms of long shorts and sensible hats. We lost.

OK, I FINALLY figured out the HR thing today. I was reading the letsrun interview with Des Linden before New York today. They asked what training advice she would give herself if she could go back in time. Simple, she said. Easy days easy, hard days hard.

That’s when I realized I’m missing on the whole HR thing. I need to be 100 to 110 to stay in the easy zone. Which I should have figured out because 120 puts me in the dreaded aerobic zone, which does you no good. So I stuck there today and it feels fine. Still came out to 15:06 miles, so maybe. We’ll see.

November already? Took the turkey trot shirt out. Your course may be nicer than mine, but mine has fancier restrooms. So there.

I’d love to change the world. Nov. 6. It’s not just a song anymore …

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IHOP day 10 — 5 miles

If he can’t go to heaven 
maybe I don’t want to go
— the prophet Taylor

The Bill Rodgers singlet is waiting. He’s watching me as I come home.

I explain that it went OK. Maffetone numbers are going to end up from 105 to 115. That works out both intuitively and within the ranges of my known max. He’s bored to tears by this. He just wants to run.

It will be a while, I explain. He understands. Maybe never, I caution. He shrugs. If so, it was fun while it lasted, he says.

It’s all about the base, I tell him. It’s all about the Tigers, he replies. He switched to Brooks, I remind him. You switched to New Balance, he retorts. But it’s all in fun. We’re on the road to somewhere. Me strolling, him hanging out. Maybe someday we’ll go out together on a run. Maybe. Till then, he’s waiting. Watching me as I come home.

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