Friday, 2 October 2009

WINDING DOWN...SHAPING UP

Oh, wait! That's me in that picture up there, three years ago this weekend, when I did my second running of the Portland Marathon. What was I thinking? Did I really think this was an image I'd want to savour to the point where I paid upwards of $30 for the print? Apparently.

Found the photo in a shoebox in the dark recesses of my closet today. I was looking back over the last seven-and-a-half years of running, as I count down (or is it up?) to the penultimate race in my 12 months/12 marathons thing. It's just over three weeks til the Dean Karnazes Silicon Valley Marathon. Number 11 in the challenge.

At the time, back in 2006, I had no clue I was so, shall we say, substantial. Portland was marathon 13. Since then I have done 16 more. I've shed somewhere around 20 -25 pounds of fat and, quite literally, found a new take on life. It's hard to even remember what I thought about before I started running. Now, it seems, marathoning touches most of what I do and love.

While the physical benefits have surely been welcome, what's most amazing to me have been the social rewards. Outside of my current band of running friends, I have somewhat of a rep as a bit of a grouch. I have learned, over the past couple of years especially, that that was mostly about me and my tainted take on things. It was not about the greater reality. Turns out, there are far more people I'd like to know than not, and I have met many of them this year. They have expressed continued interest in the 12 in 12 effort, and have been kind enough to provide much-needed inspiration, through their own efforts and achievements, along with their encouragement of mine.

I have gone on training runs with a handful of people, primarily because I do this run/walk thing and I don't like holding people back who want to run faster than me. There have been a few who've slowed themselves down to run with me and put up with my intervals. You know who you are. Thanks. I have loved every step of those runs, the conversations, and the beers in the trunk of the car at the end.

Most of the marathons I've done have been races where I knew no one else. A few of them, especially this year, have been events attended by people I've met online (Daily Mile, Twitter, Just Finish, Facebook, or through their own blogs or this one). Almost every one of those folks is faster than me, so we did not get to run together. But we did meet up before and/or after, and shared some amazing moments. You know who you are. Salut!

Now, as the 12 in 12 is nearly over, I have begun planning next year's adventures. I need to do that to fend off boredom. I will not be able to travel as often in 2010 as I did this year, but the journeys will be to more distant shores. The 12 in 12 was planned by me, based mostly, although not entirely, on what races were available in certain months and in places where airfares and hotels were, at least, almost affordable. My trip to Rochester, the noteable exception. That one was about the people. All of next year's trips will be people-driven. I am developing what I hope are life-long friendships with people in Italy, the Czech Republic and Greece. Therefore, my current schedule calls for marathon visits to Trieste, Prague and Athens. Here in California, I will be running the inaugural Oakland Marathon, where I expect to see all my Bay Area buds...at the starting line, and at the post-race celebration(s).

Lastly, but not "leastly"...I must say thanks to my family for being there during all this marathon insanity. I think every one of my family members has at least muttered to themselves, if not directly to me, that I was/am nuts. But no one's ever stood in the way or said "you won't make it".

My sweet wife has spent many a weekend alone while I've been off running somewhere, from Tucson to Scotland, from Budapest to Seattle. She's even come along, to Vancouver, Salt Lake City and Chicago, despite not being much of a traveler. Seeing her at the finish line each of those times was the best.

The same goes for my brother. He's taken time off to spend a couple marathon weekends with me. There's nothing better than that. He and his family have been there to welcome me at the CIM finish line in Sacramento twice. Amazing moments. Good times.

To my stepkids, both of whom have trained for and run a marathon with me. I knew you could do it. But that applies to almost anything you put your minds to. Thanks for coming along.

Gotta run!

13 comments:

Megan Donovan said...

Thanks for sharing this amazing story. 12 marathons in a year is awesome. I run every day, but I've never tried to run a marathon. Maybe I should give it a try in 2010?

TP said...

Michael, You have traveled an exciting journey over the years. I applaud you and your continued efforts, brother!!!!

Melissa Cunningham said...

Hey! ran across you on the DM and just want to drop you a note to let you know how truley inspiring and motivating you are!!! i have been running close to 20 years now and have never attempted an insane journey of the "12 in 12"...ive always considered myself the crazy head athlete,but wow,you would give me a run for my money...or at least provoke me to start my own 12 in 12 challenge in 2010!!! lol!
thanks for the motivation and inspiration!!! heres to many more year sand miles ahead of running!!!

Limaruss said...

Michael, Thank You! Your writings played a major part in keeping me motivated during my training for my first 26.2. It was awesome to run it with you here in Rochester as you ran your 10th in the challenge. I'm sure that somehow we will run together again. It is also nice to look back at the "substantial" pictures. Those pictures are true motivation to never stop running!

TokyoRacer said...

Looking forward to calling you "skinny" three years from now.
Also looking forward to seeing you at Santa Barbara. Let's have dinner the night before if you are free. I will be with my wife and daughter.
Bob

Michael B said...

bob - done deal. dinner the night before sb. looking forward to it.

meechellee said...

Woohoo in getting close to finishing 12/12! You are inspiring and running 12/12 is warming up with me. Keep up the great work!

Emily said...

What a great entry Michael. I'll have you know I just finished week three of two hundred sit ups challenge and have logged 12 miles a week for the last month. I'm determined to get fit and would be honored to one day run along side you for 26 miles. Love you and thanks for the continuous inspiration.

Michael B said...

OMG! EM! you bet. running with you would be awesome. you name it. wish we lived closer so we could co-train(?). congrats on the situps...i did that program, too. and 12 miles a week?...awesome. thanks.

terry said...

smiling...because i'm still so utterly impressed by this journey of yours... and also because i get what you mean about how it's touching so much of your life. it's the same with hula for me.

i applaud you!

Michael B said...

thanks, tc. i know you get it...and i'm so glad you've found yours!

Karoline Steckley said...

The caption under the picture made me LOL, and this post made me COL (the c is for CRY!). You're the best. p.s. If everyone else thinks you're a grump, you should try to only hang around runners!

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