Sunday, April 29, 2018

Monday Morning Stories (Except on a Sunday) With Mookie - Episode 156

The Time Mookie Ran ONE MORE Marathon

Sunday morning April 29th at 6:30 AM,  I will be crossing the starting line of the 1st Annual CRANDIC Marathon.  It goes 26.2 miles from the Newbo City Market area in Cedar Rapids, IA, all the way to Kinnick Stadium on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City, IA.

Twenty six miles and two-tenths.  CR to IC. More stupid hills and elevation changes than I've ever run before in one race. Oh help me.

WHY would someone do this?
I have had many people ask me this, and I certainly have asked myself this no less than 100 times over the last four or five months. My answer to this question usually depends on the day. The answer I probably give most days is a disgusted sounding "I don't know." This is because most days I honestly hated myself for signing up for this thing.  Not only did I have to drag my ass outside of the house 4 times a week to go on a run of no less than three miles, there was also the fact that I started officially training for this thing in January.  This meant I not only had to roll my ass outside, but I also had to do it bundled up like I was going on an Antarctic expedition.  Do you like single-digit weather?  Me neither. But that's what I got.
This is what I looked like from December until about April 18th

Then there is my other answer to the question of  "WHY would someone do this?"

"Why wouldn't I?" 
There are always a million reasons not to do something, and most of the time 99.98% of them are valid.  But there is always that .02% lingering there.  Making you wonder what would happen if you DID do that thing that is just absurd. In this case, that .02% was a marathon starting in CR and finishing at Kinnick Stadium, and it had my attention.

After falling off the running wagon pretty hard several years ago, I started running again last year mainly to help alleviate the anxiety and depression that I have. It wasn't instantaneous relief or anything, but once I was able to start stretching a 3-mile run into about five miles, something happened:  I kinda felt good about myself. The anxiety and depression about things did not seem as bad, plus I was not as big of a fat ass. For clarification here: Still a fat ass...just not as big of one. So things seemed to be going well.

In December 2017, they announced the 1st Annual CRANDIC Marathon. The race was to go from the NewBo District in Cedar Rapids, all the way to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City: The hallowed ground of the Iowa Hawkeyes. When I caught wind of this race, for some reason this seemed like something I should do. Training for this would keep me running, which should help my anxiety and everything, plus the idea of finishing ON THE FIELD at Kinnick sounded AWESOME.  Plus, when would I ever possibly be in any kind of shape to do this again?. After much soul-searching and consulting with my wife about it (green light!), I entered and began my training. 

Things started out slow, but fine otherwise. Both of my kids seemed jazzed I was doing it, and often asked me how far I went a particular day and how things went. It was neat they were interested in how I was doing, especially since I don't normally do things like this. Then the weather got colder.  Then it snowed.  Then it snowed some more. Oh, and it got even colder. The novelty of it all died pretty quick. Then I also found out we wouldn't be finishing on the field, but instead OUTSIDE the stadium.  I found this to be a major bummer, but I kept plugging along anyway.  "Can't quit now" I told myself.

The wardrobe many days consisted of multiple long-sleeved shirt layers, insulated pants, ski goggles, stocking hat, face gaiter, and Yaktrax spikes for my shoes so I didn't slip and fall on the icy streets. There were a lot of days where the effort of putting on, and then taking off all of this attire seemed to take longer than the actual run. I must also add that we've had the shittiest spring ever, and only in the 10 days prior to the race have I been able to run while wearing shorts and t-shirt.  Race day is shaping up to be mid 60's by the time I finish, so I fear the warmth that will be a factor because I'm just not used to that weather.

Since I embarked on my first marathon training back in 2004, I have heard many statements regarding the marathon endeavor, the training, and the many hours it takes to do all of it.  Things like: it's a big waste of time when other things could be getting done, or it's selfish to spend three-and-a-half hours on a Sunday morning training run all by yourself, or that it is just stupid to put your body through all of that. To these statements, I say that I totally agree with all of it.  All of it. I'd be the first to say most of it.  I know it's sort of stupid. I know I am not doing anyone else any favors by spending a morning trudging down a gravel road in the snow. And yes I know I may be subjecting myself physically and mentally to irreparable harm. But yet here I am.

So how did all the training go? To make a very long whiny story short: the running mostly sucked.  Any speed I had 10 years ago has definitely left my body.  Furthermore, it has taken me awhile to mentally adjust to this fact.  While it's been frustrating, I've slowly began to make peace with it. It certainly helped contribute to my anxiety and depression when it began to rear it's ugly head.  For some reason I began to get anxious about my runs hoping they would go well, and then not sleeping because I was afraid they wouldn't go well.  Then the long runs would come and it took everything in my body force myself out the door to do it. So much so it began to get debilitating with my day-to-day activities. The saying "you can have too much of a good thing" certainly applied here. Too much running was having the total opposite effect I wanted to happen. Add in the seasonal depression due to the never-ending winter, and I found myself in not a great place. Anxiety overload about anything. Depressed about everything.  Just a shell of a human being that was dragging down everyone around him too. For the last month, I. Just. Couldn't. Even.

The thing was, I couldn't quit either.  One:  It would have destroyed me further to quit. I've never really given up on anything I've set out to do.  Two: Everyone would know I quit, and that would suck. I didn't want my kids to know their old man dropped out of something, especially when we have always tried to show them that quitting doesn't get you anywhere, and that hard work and dedication pays off in the end. What kind of lesson would I be showing there? What kind of inspiration is that? In the last few months, due to my anxiousness and depression about E-V-E-R-Y thing weighing me down, truth-be-told I ended up not being the Dad or husband I should/could be either because of all of it. So in the end I probably haven't done anyone any favors, and for that I am regretful and sorry. I'm a walking cautionary tale here. Don't be me.

That being said, after some really dark days, and some what I call "encouragement" from my wife, the sun has begun to come out (in more ways than one) and things are hopefully starting to look a little brighter these days. The light is at the end of the tunnel, and I am definitely looking forward to this race being over.

This will be the fourth full marathon that I have done, and first in almost 10 years. Because of all of the above, I can also say that this is probably my last. I say probably because you just never know what life will give you.  But for the foreseeable future...yeah this is it.  Stick a fork in me. I'm done.
I'll definitely continue to run for health and exercise, but it would take something really special for me to do a full again. Really. Special.

So as I toe the line on Sunday, it is with a very mixed heart. Some of it is quite heavy for all the things that should have happened, while some of it is very hopeful for the things to come. Even still, I have to admit there is part of me that is proud too.  Sure I can be proud of my training/marathon accomplishment, which I'm sure I'll appreciate more as time passes, but mainly I'm proud that I'm still standing here. The mind is a dark place sometimes. I'm proud of the fact that even though I make mistakes (of which there are always many), I haven't given up and am trying to still move forward.  There are lots of things in my life I can't do.  One of those things I can't do is quit.  I can't quit.  I won't quit either.

See everyone at the finish line.

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