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Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Part Two

I remember when it happened.

When I "fell in love" with running, that is.

Now, I couldn't tell you the exact day or month because, well, I'm just not a detail person.  I never have been.

But, I do recall the deliciousness of the EXPERIENCE itself.

I went out for one of my first "runs" in the great outdoors.  Again, I was still new at this and as fairweather as a runner can get.  So, you can imagine how nice of a day it had to have been for me to "brave the elements".

I was alone on this particular day; that much I can tell you.  I started the run from my house.  It was a bright, sunny day with clear blue skies.  I shuffled along, taking in the scenery while enjoying the beautiful weather.  It just felt better and better as I ran.  I don't know how fast I was going or how far I went, but I do know that I felt "IT" for the first time.

The Runner's High.

Truthfully, I thought it was a myth.  You know; just a little something that OCD, Type A Personalities made up just to make you feel like crap for being a couch potato.  And, may I say, I was no stranger to endorphins as I had been exercising on a regular basis for about a decade.  But this felt...different.  Being outside gave me a sense of freedom that no indoor workout could ever provide.  I felt connected to the earth in a way I had never experienced before.  I felt like it was just me and nature...if I may say, it almost felt like I was at one with The Universe.

It felt pretty freaking good.  I'm not exaggerating even a LITTLE.

I was a believer.  

Fast forward several years and close to 100 completed road races later, six of which are marathons, I can still remember that day.

I can sit and recall that memory like it happened last week.

It's what keeps me going day after day.

Am I going to sit here and say that every run feels like that?  Absolutely not!

2009 ING Hartford Marathon DNF, anyone?

However, the memory of that first joyous fix carries me through the extreme heat, cold and lonely miles.  It gives me the strength and courage to lace 'em up and get back at it, even when I have a string of "less than stellar" runs.  It reminds me that what I am doing transcends the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other.

It's like meditation in motion.  It involves my mind, body and spirit.

I feel empowered.



And invincible.

As I write this, I'm in the midst of a break from training.  For now, it's what my body needs to stay healthy.  So, I'm honoring it.

Has it been easy?  Not really.

I've had moments of sadness, apathy, anger and frustration.  But, those emotions are indicators.  They are useful and show me what I need to do in order to feel better.  I won't ignore them.

Instead, I'm going to reach for the best feeling thought I can find.

I'm doing other things to maintain my fitness.

I'm so grateful that I CAN do other things.

I have two arms and two legs that work.

Not everyone can say that.

I can say that.

Nothing lasts forever.

This won't either.

I am excited to get back on the roads again.

I will get back on the roads again.

Yes, indeed.

Once a runner, always a runner.

That's me.

Eight years and counting.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Part One meeeeeeeeeee.

I decided to start running eight years ago this month.

On the one hand, it feels like this has always been a part of my life.  Then, there are times where I still feel like I'm brand new at this.  Perhaps that's why I love the sport so much.  On the surface, running seems to be so mindless, so mundane, so...bleeping...REPETITIVE.  But, nothing can be further from the truth, at least in my experience.

It wasn't always like this, though.

In fact, I didn't even WANT to be a runner.

So, what made me change my mind?

First, I'll tell you about where I was before I started.

I used to be a cigarette smoker.  That's right, friends.  Not only did I smoke, I HATED exercise.  I grew up in a house with a compulsive dieter (Mom) and learned to associate exercise with punishment.  In other words, if you were a few lbs. up on the scale, you had to get on the treadmill or exercise bike while drastically reducing your calories in the hopes that your body would quickly return to "normal".  There was the cabbage soup diet, Fibre Trim tablets, and, let us not forget, the grapefruit diet (I get canker sores just THINKING about that one).  I played softball and basketball in grammar school, but pretty much abandoned athletics of any kind once I started middle school.  Instead, I focused on getting straight A's (don't let the blonde hair fool you).  I even competed in spelling bees and won trophies.

Oh yeah, and started smoking cigarettes at the tender age of 12.

After about eight years of puffing away, I decided I had enough of yellow fingers and the annual case of bronchitis.  I was dating a non-smoker at the time who, surprisingly, had put no pressure on me whatsoever to quit.  I decided it was time to see if I could let this go.  I had a couple of lapses here and there, particularly in the first couple of weeks.  They say that quitting smoking is as difficult as getting off of heroin.  Since I've never shot smack, I can't confirm or deny this theory.  However, I will tell you that I missed the hell out of my cigarettes, especially when I drank coffee or drove in my car.

It was hard.  But, I did it.

Lots of people who quit smoking end up gaining weight because they use food as a substitute.  I already had a shaky relationship with food, considering my history of dieting.  I didn't have an eating disorder, per se, but I definitely engaged in disordered eating.  It became clear that I needed to find a healthy alternative to the cigarettes that was non-caloric in nature.  My friend, Heather, had a great idea.

Aerobics classes.

Ugh.  Are you kidding me?  The music...the moves...the OUTFITS.  Please don't make me go, please don't make me go, please don'

Needless to say, I went.

She took me to a low impact aerobics class at an all women's gym.  As predicted, I felt like a fish out of water.  I did my best to follow along, but I didn't really get all that much out of it.  After class, she asked what I thought.  I told her that I'm sure it was fun for some people, but I didn't think it was for me.  Then she says, "well, there is this new thing out now called "step aerobics" (...which tells you how old I REALLY am....).  We can try that next time."  I didn't feel overly confident that I would change my mind, but I figured she'd just keep at me until I said yes.  This time, she even spent a little bit of time with me beforehand showing me how to do some of the moves.  Maybe I wouldn't like this one either, but at least I had an inkling of what to expect.

I took the class.  And...I...LOVED it.

I really, really, really did.  I became a devotee of step aerobics.  And yes, I wore those goofy outfits too.  I found one or two instructors that I really liked and did my best to rearrange my schedule JUST so I could attend their classes.  Not only did I like it, I discovered something else.

I was good at it.  And people noticed, particularly the staff/management at the gym.  They recruited me to teach, telling me if I passed the certification class, they would hire me.

About a year later, I did in fact "pass the class" and became certified to teach aerobics classes.  I began working there part-time, doing one or two classes a week.  My first couple of classes certainly WEREN'T pretty, but I eventually got the hang of it and became a pretty good instructor.  Not only was I doing step aerobics, but I was getting PAID to boot!

I was really on to something, here.

At the request of the staff, I learned how to teach low impact aerobics classes too, even though I didn't enjoy them as much as step.  Turns out I had a knack for teaching people stuff.  Who knew?  I branched out a little and auditioned to teach at other gyms in the area.  This fitness thing was becoming a fun, little hobby for me, and I wanted more.  In 1994, I became a certified personal trainer in addition to being a certified fitness instructor.  Now I could teach classes AND train clients one on one.

I learned how to teach cardio kickboxing, boot camp, muscle conditioning, and spinning classes, obtaining multiple certifications along the way.  As the years passed, the fitness industry evolved.  I did my best to keep up and remain current with all the trends that came along (with the exception of "the slide"...does ANYONE still have one of those???).

In addition to teaching group fitness classes, I discovered WEIGHTS.  I added 4-5 days of strength training per week into my schedule.  I loved being a gym rat.  It was my happy place.  I felt strong, fit and healthy for the first time in my life.  Since I quit smoking and started to exercise, I lost about 30 lbs. and began to develop a healthier relationship with food.  I learned more about nutrition and energy.  I learned about metabolism and how  to fuel my body properly.  Of course I still loved wine and ice cream.  But, I made peace with the occasional indulgences, knowing there is a place for them.

I began working at a health club near my house in 2001 as a group exercise director and trainer.  I became friendly with one of the instructors/employees there.  Her name was Jenn and she was a...runner.  Jenn and I would meet up at the gym occasionally to work out together.  She mentioned the idea of running to me a couple of times, but I always scoffed at the idea, telling her that I "hated" running.  However, she was like a dog with a bone.  She wasn't pushy about it, but she certainly wasn't changing the subject either.  Every "excuse" I could come up with as to why I couldn't or shouldn't, she had a counter as to why I could or should.  She even said she would help me pick out a pair of running shoes.

I ran out of excuses.

Finally, I gave in.  Much like I did with my friend, Heather, 10 years earlier, I said yes, knowing that unless I tried it, I'd never know if I was capable or not.  If I could quit smoking, I could do this too.

I figured I'd try the treadmill first, alternating intervals of walking and running.  Remember, it was November in New England.  I wasn't about to go outside in the...cold???  To run????  What are you, CRAZY???  Who does that?  Besides, I only had indoor workout gear, so this made the most sense.  After all, no one does step aerobics in their driveway, for Pete's sake.

I did the treadmill here and there during the fall and winter months.  I was proving to myself that I could do whatever I set my mind to, which was good.  But, this running thing?  Was it for me?

I still didn't know.

And, I didn't love it.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WIDE Awake...I'm WIDE Awake...

I'm not sleeping.

This battle cry from the one and only Bono has been my mantra for the past few days.

Friday night (or was it Saturday morning???) I woke up and stared at the ceiling for a good, long while.  Saturday night was better.  Sunday was sleepless.  Completely sleepless.  I finally waved the flag at 2 a.m. and got out of bed to camp out on the couch.  I had to be at work by 6:30 a.m.  I kept doing the whole "sleep countdown" to myself:  If I fall asleep NOW, I can get 3 solid hours of sleep.  An hour later, it was:  If I fall asleep NOW and go to work in my pajamas, I can get 2.5.

On and on it went.

Why am I up?

I'll tell you why I'm NOT up.  It's certainly not because I'm an infomercial junkie.  Talk about advertising a plethora of useless stuff I couldn't possibly use or fit in my house.  There is a REASON they put those things on television between midnight and 6 a.m.  Because, with the exception of third shifters and nursing mothers, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE ASLEEP, DAMMIT!!!

Since shut-eye eluded me on Sunday, which is a school night, conventional wisdom suggested using a sick day for Monday.  First of all, Mondays are challenging enough.  Couple one of those suckers with no sleep and I don't need to tell you what that can do to a person.  So, I let my fingers do the walking and left a voice mail in my finest sexy no sleep voice, letting my boss know I'd be out.

I spent the day in my Vicki's bathrobe, wrapped up in my favorite Patriots fleece blanket, watching daytime television, thanking the Big Guy upstairs that I was gainfully employed (however, it beats the crap out of twilight infomercials selling ab belts and eye cream).  You'd think that I would have crashed and crashed hard.  Nope.  I got caught up in reruns of The Jeffersons, Amen, Marcus Welby and Quincy.

Seriously.  This is what my life has come to, ladies and gentlemen.

Right around 3 p.m., when I finally couldn't stand myself anymore, I hopped in the shower, hoping the hot water would invigorate my senses a little bit.  Then, I ventured out to the store, in search of a sleep aid.  I figured since I barely slept during my unscheduled day off, having a night of deep sleep should be a slam dunk.


I wasn't about to take any chances.

So, I went out and got the big guns:  5 mg of melatonin.

Okay, so it's not Ambien, but I figured it's a start.  I didn't think I would need that much of a push since I was going on four days of broken sleep.  After dinner, I had a red wine/melatonin cocktail, got in comfy clothes and waited for the magic to happen.  I started feeling relaxed, so, at 9 p.m., I said goodnight to my husband and got into bed.  I'm guessing it took a good 15-20 minutes, but I did drift off.


1 a.m.

Eyes.  Wide.  OPEN.

Oh, Sleep, why hast thou forsaken me???

I tossed and turned and suffered through another couple of hours of infomercials and Spanish soap operas until, at last, my eyes began to burn.  I checked the time on my BlackBerry:  3:30 a.m.

If I fall asleep now....I can get one more hour before the alarm goes off.


At this point, I think the early mornings are stressing out my subconscious.  It only takes one or two nights of waking up to plant the seed that you just might not go back to sleep again.  And, if you work the early bird shift like I do, then you start to panic if you're awake too long...because you have no margin for error.  I can't just stay in bed until I feel rested.  I have a gym to open.  I have to think, eventually, my body is going to get ticked off at my overactive brain and just shut down.  But, until then, I suppose I could help it out, by not worrying.  It is what it is.  I don't know why I have been waking up.  Furthermore, I don't think I really need to know.  Just accepting it is this way for the time being is the best thing I can do.  Make peace with what is, Cyndi Lou.

So, at 4:30, I awoke to the sweet sounds of Elvis Costello, like I normally do.  I sat up in bed, rubbed my eyes and did the most logical thing I could think of.

I hit the snooze button.

Three times.

Finally, at the blessed hour of 4:45, I was able to get myself out of that bed.  And I went to work.

And proceeded to make a GINORMOUS pot of coffee.

Wide awake.  I'm wide awake...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks

Three weeks after I ran Atlantic City, I ran my first race.

Well, not exactly.

Yes, it was a "race" and yes I "registered", but I wasn't planning to "race it".  My friend, John, was using the Larry Robinson 10 (final) miler in Andover as a base for a training run.  He has the Philadelphia Marathon on 11/21.  Last year, I ran this race as a training run and part of my taper for Philly, so when he invited me to come along, it just seemed fitting.  Total role reversal, eh?  John actually had a 16 miler on his calendar and I had 12-15 miles on mine.  Not only were we running different distances, we were also running different paces.  My Coach recommended 8:50-9:00 miles for the first 1/2 and 8:30-8:40 for the second 1/2.  He was going to be a bit speedier than me, so we opted to hang out beforehand and run the race separately.

Either I'm super early for races or I get totally lost trying to find them.  Since I did this race last year, experience was on my side.  I knew EXACTLY where I was going.  John arrived about 30 minutes after me.  Once we went to get his # and chip, we sat in his car to keep warm.  The temperature was only in the high 30's at this point and the skies were mostly cloudy.  And it was windy (what is it with me and wind, anyway????).  I decided not to "warm-up" for this race because, well, I wasn't racing.  I figured I could get myself between an 8:50-9:00 fairly easily out of the gate.  Plus the first mile is mostly downhill, so it wouldn't feel too hard.  This particular course runs a mile out into a four mile loop, which you run twice.  Then, you run that first mile back to the finish.  Double loops can be a drag, mentally, but since I wasn't racing (have I made that point abundantly clear enough yet?), it wasn't a big deal to me.

Besides, it could have been worse.  I could have been John.  He planned on running that four mile loop three times in a row.  Sorry, buddy.

We finally extricated ourselves from John's comfy, warm car, which was no easy task considering he has heated seats.  We allowed ourselves just enough time for a last bathroom stop before lining up at the start.  Thankfully, this race started and ended at Andover High School, so we had indoor plumbing.  Yes, it was a double loop course, but multiple bathrooms inside with relatively short lines is pretty awesome.  I guess we can call it a wash.

John and I waded our way through the pack and settled for somewhere in the middle because, for the gazillionth time, WE...WEREN'T...RACING.  We ended up standing next to someone in John's running club, so we chatted with her while frantically rubbing our arms and marching in place in the hopes of not freezing to death.  Some guy in front of me turned around and starts chatting me up like he knew me.  I decided to play along.  Sometimes, it's just easier that way.

Normally, when you are at races, you hear a countdown by the race director or the sound of the gun going off.  Not this time.  Not at this race.  All of a sudden, everyone just started running.  Obviously, the signal had to come from SOMEWHERE, but we never heard it.  We weren't THAT far back.  So, when in Rome...

We started running.

I wished John well and he took off.  I turned on my tunes while tuning into my GPS watch, reminding myself to keep it between 8:50-9:00, particularly for that first mile.  About five or six minutes in, I see John going by me giving the ol' thumbs up sign...which completely baffled me since he took off ahead of me.  (I would later find out that he had to keep stopping to tie his shoes, which was a comfort because I was convinced I was hallucinating).  I hit my first mile at an 8:50, which was about as textbook as you could get.  At this point, we turned right into the four mile loop, which is more uphill in the first couple miles.  However, what goes up must come down (unless you're running Mt. Washington) and I knew the reverse would be true for the last 1/2 of the loop.  I kept my pace pretty steady on my first trip (8:48, 8:48, 8:43 and 8:48).  At this point, I'd say I felt pretty comfortable.  Once I hit the five mile marker, I picked it up.  Miles 6 and 7 definitely were a challenge since I was pushing the pace on the hillier section, but I did well, running an 8:24 and a 8:25, respectively.  I had decided to push the envelope a bit more on the second half of the race ONLY if I felt good and strong enough.  It had only been three weeks since I ran the marathon, so my expectations were low.

I hit the 8th mile marker in 8:22 and I still felt strong, so I decided to push for the last two miles.  I shaved three seconds off in mile 9 and exited the loop for the final time, heading back to the finish.  This is where you pay for having a downhill first mile.  What goes down ALSO goes back up.  But, it was only a mile.  Just one more mile.

Chirp.  Lap 10 was an 8:12.  I was less than 200 meters from crossing the line and decided to sprint my way there.  I finished with an official time of 1:26:30.

Not bad for a training run.

I drank the rest of my gatorade and walked a bit before starting my cool-down.  I figured I'd go out for one or two miles easy and see how it felt.  After finishing my second mile, I ended up running into (not literally) John.  He had just finished 14 and had two miles left.  We ended up cooling down together, which was a pleasant surprise.  Neither one of us wavered from our training strategy.  We stuck to our plans and celebrated.  After the run, we high tailed it back inside the school (it hadn't warmed up much at ALL) for some food and water.  The race results were posted so, out of habit, we went over to take a look.

Not that it mattered, really.

Did I mention we weren't racing???

On my ride home, I realized I felt...good.  I felt good because not only did I stick to the plan that Coach gave me, but there were no regrets.  Both John and I talked about how we can get pretty competitive at times, which can work for or against you.  In his case, it didn't make sense to run a 10 miler at his 10 mile race pace when the ultimate goal was a PR at the Philadelphia Marathon in two weeks.  And me?  I was three weeks removed from completing my 6th marathon and wasn't prepared to be 100% at racing this distance.

And I was OKAY with it.  Really.

It felt good to be OKAY with where I was at that moment, instead of falling into the trap of comparing myself to others and whining about missed opportunities:  what ifs, maybes and if onlys.  You are who YOU are and you do what YOU can do.  We run with others, we compete, but, ultimately, it's about doing OUR best, no matter what anyone else is doing.  If you feel secure and strong enough within yourself, then you've already won.  Feeling confident and self-assured is worth more than any age group prize or PR.  Running this race the way that I did just reinforced that for me.  I didn't have anything to prove to anyone and I knew that.  Not only did I know it, I didn't care who else knew it either.  

It's good to know that.  It's good to feel that.  And it's good to believe it.

At least, that's what this old dog thinks.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Assuming, Agreeing and Asking

"When you assume, you make an "ass" out of "u" and "me"."
-- My Dad

I'm sure my father wasn't the originator of this popular phrase, but I heard it from him quite a bit growing up, so he gets all the credit.  I never really gave it much consideration; just always thought it was kind of funny.

Well, you know what?  The older I get, the smarter my parents get.

Have you noticed that too?  When you were just a young whippersnapper, wet behind the ears, I bet you thought you knew it all.  I know I did.  I often wondered, "how did I end up with such clueless parents???"

And then, one day, you wake up as an adult and you say, "wow, they were right about so many things."  Of course, I'm still not buying the whole "don't go outside with wet hair because you'll catch a cold" argument, but, for the most part, they were right on about stuff.

Case in point:  when you assume, you DO make an "ass" out of "u".

I experienced this personally last week.  I won't get into the gory details because, quite frankly, it's pretty embarrassing, now that I think of it.  But, let's just say that I constructed this elaborate scenario in my mind involving a couple of people in my personal life.  I took a little bit of what one person said, combined it with the actions of another person and mixed my own conclusion which could have been a recipe for disaster (pun intended).  In my mind, I was convinced that they were involved in something that EVERYONE knew about.  Except for me.  Because they were deliberately keeping it from me.  In other words, I was feeling left out.  Excluded.  And VERY sorry for myself.

I was so sure it was true...and that I was right!

Have you ever heard of "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz?  According to Wikipedia, "Ultimately, it is about finding one's own integrity, self-love, and peace by way of absolving oneself from responsibility for the woes of others."  The Four Agreements are:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don't Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.

Seems pretty simple, right?  And smart.

Here is an excerpt describing the third agreement:

The whole world of control between humans is about making assumptions and taking things personally. Our whole dream of hell is based on that. ... Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong. It is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption, because assumptions set us up for suffering. ...

Which pretty much sums up, in a nutshell, what happened with me last week.  I told no one of my "assumption", save my husband.  To his credit, he said nothing in response to my paranoid ramblings.  He just listened.  Once it became apparent that I had conjured up the whole convoluted scenario, I told him so.  Once again, to his credit, he admitted it took every ounce of self-control he had at the time NOT to call me crazy. 

I was afraid.
I assumed.
I believed I was 100% correct.

Perhaps, I could have alleviated my suffering by asking the questions.  Truly, all of this could have been avoided it I just ASKED.  But, I was afraid.  What was I afraid of exactly?  Well, it could have been lots of things.  Maybe I was afraid of trusting?  Of being disappointed?  The good news is, I don't have to retrace my steps, reliving my entire childhood to find out where this behavior originated.  I could deal with it in the now.

Not only are there four agreements, but there are also four questions.  Byron Katie developed a concept simply titled "The Work":

"The Work is meditation. It’s about opening to your heart, not about trying to change your thoughts. Ask the questions, then go inside and wait for the deeper answers to surface." 

In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and your turnarounds. For example, your statement might be “[Name] doesn't listen to me.” Find someone in your life about whom you have had that thought, take that statement and put it up against the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

Step 1 Is it true?

Step 2 Can you absolutely know that it's true?

Step 3 How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? 

 Who would you be without the thought?

Katie describes a turnaround as "a
n opportunity to experience the opposite of what you originally believed"  and says they "are your prescription for happiness."  She goes on to say, "As I began living my turnarounds, I noticed that I was everything I called you. You were merely my projection. Now, instead of trying to change the world around me (this didn't work, but only for 43 years), I can put the thoughts on paper, investigate them, turn them around, and find that I am the very thing I thought you were. In the moment I see you as selfish, I am selfish (deciding how you should be). In the moment I see you as unkind, am unkind. If I believe you should stop waging war, am waging war on you in my mind."

Beats the heck out of assuming, doesn't it?

I didn't follow the process above to the letter, but examining the questions did make me think quite a bit about what I had created with my thoughts.  In my case, I decided that even though I FELT like I was right, I couldn't absolutely know it was true.  Because, as you know, I

As it turns out, I didn't have to ask the people I made the assumption about whether it was true or not.  Life showed me the answer once I went a little deeper within myself.  And now I know.  Chances are, I won't make that same assumption again.  Thanks, Don Miguel Ruiz.  Thanks, Byron Katie.

Most of all, thanks, Dad.

So, next time you believe something to be true, ask.

And then, do the work.  You just might surprise yourself.


Monday, November 1, 2010

A case of pot vs. kettle

I blog, therefore...I read other blogs.

It's good to see what other "bloggers" are up to.  There is one in particular that I enjoy reading on a regular basis.  The writing style appeals to me, as does the predominant topic (running).  When I come across something that I find interesting and entertaining, I'm compelled to share it with other people, so I do my fair share of forwarding.

Which is exactly what I did with one of this person's particular blog entries.  Since I didn't ask permission, I won't share the link or the author's name.  But, I can say the subject matter was about the Boston Marathon filling up in eight short hours.  The author, with a humorous twist, compared the difference between men's and women's qualifying times and explored the possibilities of expanding the size of the field or tightening up the standards so that it wouldn't be so "easy" to qualify.

Interesting.  And entertaining.

So, I copied and pasted the link into an email message and sent it on to other runner folks.  And I'm fairly certain that all the runner folks shared my opinion of the post being interesting and entertaining.

That is, except for one.

And it was a really BIG one.

(cue the dramatic musical intro)

"The story you are about to read is true.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent."

I received an email reply (rebuttal? refusal? retort?) from an older gentleman I'm associated with on a professional level. I didn't ask for his permission either, so I'll refer to him as BM (which doesn't stand for Boston Marathon or Bowel Movement, although I was tempted to draw a parallel).  BM was a pretty good runner back in his day, running marathons in around three hours.  Pretty great, if you ask me.  He still gets out there on a daily basis, but doesn't run 26.2's anymore.  He is still very much involved in the sport, however, by volunteering at events.  I'm also fairly certain that he reads and/or subscribes to every running periodical that's out there.

Which is why I included him on the forward.  How could someone like that NOT appreciate reading about the Boston Marathon?

Well, let me just say that "not appreciating" doesn't even begin to cover it.

He started off by saying he was sorry, but he totally disagreed with the article.  That in and of itself would have been fine because, let's face it, we're all different.  He went on to state that the Boston Athletic Association had basically stripped the Boston Marathon of it's "glamor and prestige" by opening up the qualifying times and accused today's runners of not training hard and only running fast enough to qualify.  Finally, he said that these "perrier and yogurt" runners only had to be fast on the computer in order to get in, which was not fair to the "real runners" who are qualified.

I guess real runners don't know how to use a computer.

I won't even say what he suggested they do with the charity runners.  Trust me, you don't want to know.

In closing, he asserted that this was "his opinion" and that he "stood by it."

After reading his email, I must say I was quite taken aback by the angry tone.  Obviously, this was a touchy subject for him.  However, he has the right to think whatever he wants and I responded to him saying, "that is what makes life so interesting.  We are all different and have different opinions and views."

I hit "send" and I was done with it.

But, alas, he was not.

When I saw him later on that day, he immediately brought up the subject of the article.  I assured him that he didn't need to apologize for disagreeing because, first of all, I didn't write the darn thing, and secondly, I had already read his email, which told me all that I needed to know about where he stood.  But, he just kept going.  And going.  And going.  It was like verbal diarrhea.  The more he talked, the angrier he got, it seemed.

Which STILL would have been fine.

Until he singled me out.

In the middle of his tirade, he challenged me to take all of my marathon finishing times and divide them by the number I had started.  He bet me that if I did that, I would get a time that didn't come CLOSE to qualifying me for Boston.  The icing on the cake was when he said, in order to do this correctly, I had to add my DNF at the 2009 Hartford Marathon too.

I felt like someone just kicked me in the abdomen.  All I did was send him a link to a blog post and this is what I get?  How did it come to this?  In a desperate attempt to end the conversation, I basically told him that all I had to say was it wasn't my fault that the BAA changed the qualifying times, allowing me to run a 3:45 or better.  And then, I did my best to disengage.

But, the damage had already been inflicted.

The next day, he tried to initiate a discussion about something I had printed out for him regarding the NYC marathon.  He approached me with it, all marked up and highlighted, with the intention to point out more of his rightness and even more of my wrongness.  I turned to him, put my hand up in the universal "STOP" symbol, and forcefully said, "Okay!  Okay, I get it!"  He stopped mid-sentence and retreated with his tail between his legs.

It was not a pretty sight.

Needless to say, he got a whole lot of the silent treatment from me for the remainder of the day.  I was fed up with his narrow minded, critical attitude and proceeded to vent to all who would listen.  I mean, really?  How DARE he???   Just who does he think he is anyway???

This went on for a couple of days.  I kept telling the story.  I kept beating the drum.  And I felt even worse as a result.  

I mean, I was the injured party in all of this, wasn't I?  He's obviously a miserable person to have said the things that he did.  His fault, his fault, his fault.

Then why am I the one that's feeling so crappy?

There were two phrases that popped into my head around this time:

"That which offends you, weakens you" and "Being right and being happy are not the same thing".

I began to realize that I didn't HAVE to take offense to what he said.  I am in control of my own emotions and thoughts, after all.  Here I was saying, "why me?" and blaming him for the way I felt.  Talk about giving your power away!  My own insecurity was the only thing that gave his words any truth.  If I really believed the best about myself and felt 100% comfortable with my own abilities, it wouldn't matter what he said.  I could continue to take it personally or I could choose to see it for what it was, cut myself some slack in the process and, simply, let it go.

BM thought he was right.  And I, in my righteous indignation, held the same assertion.  Clearly, neither one of us were happy in our rightness.  People who are happy don't try to knock other people down just so they can be "right".  Yes, he said things that anyone could construe as hurtful and insulting.  There is no arguing that point.  I was appalled and chose to fought back in order to justify my position.

But, doesn't intolerance of intolerance make you, well, intolerant too?

Hello Pot?  Meet Kettle.

It's not my job to change his mind.  But, it's my job to get my mind right.  In other words, I needed to mind my own business and get myself in alignment with who I wanted to be.  My work here was not to be judge, jury and executioner.  Instead, it is my duty to see past the angry words and opinions and to treat him with love and compassion.  It's my responsibility to see the best in people and to believe in their inherent goodness, even if they don't always show me that side of themselves.

So, you see, this was more about me than it was about him, which is why I chose to write about it.  This was my wake up call.  The Dalai Lama said, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion."  I didn't need to agree with or understand why BM said the things he said.  I only had to be compassionate.  I can't control the uncontrollable.  He is going to be who he's going to be and that's all there is to it.  I don't need him to change in order for me to feel better.  I can either curse or bless the contrast that brought me to this understanding.  I can thank him for reminding me that I am the only one responsible for my happiness.

I will do that by forgiving, forgetting, letting go and moving on.

And taking him off of my email distribution list might help too.