I finished Sunday’s Hall of Fame 2-Mile thinking that it
was a good thing I’d had nothing more for breakfast than a slice of toast with
peanut butter and a glass of water, because if I had, I most certainly would
And it was a good feeling.
Feeling like crap for awhile after crossing the finish
line means I put everything I had into my once-a-year competitive run.
The downside was that I somehow lost about 13 seconds off
last year’s time, finishing in 15:16:60. It’s not going to win me any medals, I
know, but I was in the top fifth overall (142nd out of 823) and being a 36-year-old who’s always been better at Galaga than most any athletic activity, I’ll take it.
The tough thing for me to admit at this point is that if
I’m serious about improving my time, I guess I have to do two things: One, run
more often and quit making excuses not to. Two, be willing to push as hard as I
do in practice as I do on race day. My last run before the race I did a 17:45
on a route that’s about two and a quarter miles, and while I was winded after
the closing sprint up the street, less than 10 minutes later I was hanging out
with my brother and talking. Recovery never comes that fast on race day, not by
a long shot.
My little brother Adam (eight years younger than me, a
former football player and consistently in the top finishers of his age group)
and I have done the HOF 2-mile four
of the last five summers. One year we did the North Canton 2-mile because he was going to be out of town during the football festival run.
Every year on race day, we get up early and head down to
the HOF about 45 minutes before the
race, walk around and see people we know, do some jogging and stretching and,
every year, we talk about how nervous we are.
I don’t know why Adam gets jittery: He’s
always been the family athlete, used to competition. Me, I haven’t played a
competitive sport since about fourth grade, unless you count one casual season
of club soccer in high school, and I was never a runner.
This year, Adam and I talked a lot before and after the
race about the mental battles of the run itself. I swear that every year my
“Good God This Sucks Why Do I Do This” moment seems to come earlier. Seriously
– there are times when I full-on hate what I’m doing on that course and I just
want to effing quit because I’m so freaking miserable. Those are the stretches
of “just keep going, and you’ll be done in less than 10 minutes and then you’ll
wonder what the hell you were whining about.”
The funny thing for me is that the toughest part of the
course from a physical standpoint is where I mentally explode with energy. The
finish line is up a steep hill, and a few years ago, I adopted Adam’s strategy
of focusing enough to try and pass at least one runner during that stretch.
So this year, I come past the mile mark at just under
seven minutes (my second half has always been a bit slower – something else I
need to work on), with the subsequent half-mile stretch becoming one huge “just
keep going” battle.
I turn onto the bit of road that leads to the final hill
and try to keep close to a group in front of me, but they pull away steadily
and the hill gets closer and I think, “Screw it. I’m not gonna be able to catch
And then the bottom of the hill comes into view, it’s like they run into a brick wall. They
all seem to almost stop as they begin their climb, and my adrenaline
suddenly surges because, dammit, I’m not a runner but one day a year, and this
is the part I live for.
Only once have I half-assed it across the finish line,
and it bugged me for the whole year until the next race. Since then, I’ve made
it a point to run head-up, spit flying, gasping for breath, legs on fire to cross
the line full-tilt.
So I see those runners slow down and I start kicking, and
it’s like when you shift your bicycle from first all the way into tenth gear
and you suddenly feel that resistance and the power and speed it generates. And
I pass one runner.
And then another. And another. And another.
It registers – barely – that as I’m charging up the hill
with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Fawcett Stadium as a backdrop, the announcer calling the
race sends my name echoing over the loudspeaker.
Either that’s never happened to me before, or I’ve just never heard it, but it
was pretty cool.
And then it’s just me and one other guy who’s poured it
on, too, and though he gets past me by a couple seconds, I cross the line and
its over and I feel like barfing and collapsing and I’m dizzy and spent and it
feels absolutely great because for one more summer, I won that mental battle with myself.
It’s Tuesday afternoon, and I’m still a little sore.
But I feel like running.
Here’s my first contribution to the media blog at PopMatters – some quick thoughts on the Weekly World News bidding farewell to its print edition. (Predicted by Leonardo da Vinci, too!) Thanks to Adam, who’s been writing for PopMatters for awhile now, for encouraging me to give it a shot.
I’m a sucker for media talk, though more on the side of words than broadcast. What a great job Romenesko has, no? MediaBistro‘s a little less nuts-and-boltsy but still a daily must-check. And Jack Shafer at Slate just pounds out take after take from angle after angle. (Bonus points for making an effort to hold himself accountable, too.)
I saw the Police in concert on July 16 – something I’d been waiting to do since high school – and that spurred another essay for Field’s Edge.
My friend Ivan is an amazing amalgam of unbridled enthusiasm and goofiness who’s never been afraid, that I know of, of trying just about anything once. How many yo-yo-mastering, juggling, puppeteering, writing, WoW-playing former college radio Metal Directors who interviewed William S. Burroughs by mail do you know? Me, I know one, and that’s Ivan, occasional life-giver to Uncle Rodeo, pontificator on storm names, coffee and brushin’ yer dang teeth.
…but it can be sooooo good.
Yes, I have other stuff to write about, but for now, these thoughts
on the prime-time Emmy nominations:
I’m very excited to see “Battlestar Galactica” up for
writing and directing awards. The season opening pairing of
Occupation/Precipice, followed by Exodus parts I and II were, to use the only
appropriate term, frakking incredible, and it’s good to see the show up for
some non-technical awards in addition to the visual effects and sound editing
nods. (How the cast keeps getting the shaft in the acting nominations is beyond
me.) Moving on…
“Heroes” is up for best drama and some other stuff, but
my favorite nomination here is obvisouly for Masi Oka‘s bid for Supporting
Actor. You’re making us geeks proud, Hiro.
The demise of “Studio 60” means I’m only rooting
harder for it to win at least one Emmy. I think its best shot is in the outstanding
casting category, because it’s not going to win the directing race, in which
actually have four horses, counting it along with “Battlestar”, “Heroes” and “Lost.”
Watching NBC burn off the final “Studio 60” episodes this summer, I made my peace
with it going away, just like “Sports Night.” A short, complete story arc isn’t
necessarily a bad thing (See the original BBC “Office” series), and I can see the complete DVD set making its way into our house.
“Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed” is up for some nonfiction
awards, but looking at its competition (“Ghosts of Abu Ghraib”, “This American
Life” and “Planet Earth”),I’m not sure of its chances.
Finally, my most fervent hope: That Justin Timberlake’s song from “Saturday
Night Live” wins for outstanding original music and lyrics. How freaking
hilarious would that be? Pleasepleasepleaseplease…
Other notes – I haven’t seen the Daniel Radcliffe episode
of “Extras,” but I’ve heard it’s unbelievably funny, and it’s up for a writing
award; Conchata Ferrell as Berta quite often has the best lines on “Two and A Half Men”, but I wouldn’t bet on her winning comedy supporting actress, even though
I’d like to see it happen; glad to see Neil Patrick Harris up for his Barney
role on “How I Met Your Mother.” Nothing like an old post validated.