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.