Selfish + Selfless

The discussions I have in my head while running seem to always circle back to this “window of opportunity”, of which I’m calling this period between my last surgery and the next, where I’m currently not on chemo and the ravages of such a treatment aren’t building up and holding me back. When the fatigue of the miles build up and my motivation momentarily wanes, I keep sight of this “window of opportunity”, reminding myself why I am out here running…because I can be out here running, and likely, there will again come a time when I can’t be out here running.

And so I am compelled to make the most of this window of opportunity, to run and keep running, to continue building the most rewarding life I can manage, to build…something great. I toy with the idea of “creating heaven right now”, but that feels more an insult than a motivation. There is no heaven (or hell for that matter), just the “utopia” and “ideal” we create in our minds, taken to it’s extreme. We should instead, recognize what we have in the moment and not delay any satisfaction, not hold off any reward, not wait out our days until…something else. We don’t even need to “create heaven now”, but just recognize the good life can live within the means we’ve got…and do it. In many ways, I’m trying to do that in this window of opportunity.

But this is not just about me. From the known beginnings of human existence, we have lived amongst others, as communities, as social creatures, thriving in a variety of relationships. The parameters of those “communities” and relationships have exploded into confusing, overlapping, separating forms through civilization’s dictates, but the base desire for sharing remains. We can’t shed our survival instincts as quickly as we lost our tribalism.

When I run now, it is not just about me. When I run now, it’s not only about others either. When I run now, it’s about creating the most rewarding existence by seeking some form of community, of fostering mutual aid, of being both selfish and selfless.

We have at our fingertips, the option to live in so many ways, isolated, communal, or a mixture of the two…but what best serves our interests? And what are our interests? In Western culture it is hard to ignore that we are compelled to be “self-made individuals”, independent, and isolated. We hold high regard for those who hoard, accumulate massive riches, find themselves on the top of the hierarchy of business, politics, authority, all the while told we should be striving for the same. We are compelled towards selfishness, or at least a selfishness that has been exaggerated out of control.

I appreciate selfishness. I appreciate a life with the individual at the center, the decisions driven by survival instinct, the preservation of the self. I see no harm (or alternative) in acknowledging the survival instincts coded into our genes, but it is short-sighted to believe this is our only purpose, to survive, or that our survival is not benefitted from cooperative relationships with others.

The lives we live today should be informed by selfishness, but only to an extent that we take care of ourselves first…so we can be capable of taking care of others.  When I run, it is a selfish act. I run for my benefit, for my experience, for my reward. And the way I live my life is the same, to a point. In my younger days, I lived much more selfishly, trying to take care of myself before ever considering about the possibility of taking care of others. In maturity though, I realized that degree of selfishness left me wanting, lonely, unfulfilled.

Our other option is to live selflessly, of which we are, again, enabled to do so to such exaggerated levels. We have compulsions and institutions enabling us to not just live selflessly, but to sacrifice, to lose sight of ourselves in the interests of others. We are often told to uphold selflessness to a sacred level of attainment, something to aspire, a state that derides the ego of selfishness. Selflessness is posed as enlightenment. I disagree.

Ultimate selflessness IS sacrifice, it is deprivation, it is a denial of our base desires and survival instincts for an exaggerated sense of righteousness, but it’s not a rewarding existence. We have countless examples of individuals compelled to attain complete selflessness, in service of others, from hermit-like monks, to everyday charity workers who grow increasingly frustrated, bored, and unfulfilled as they put aside personal interest for the interest of others, chasing the promise of a selflessness that is meant to be supremely rewarding, but always remains elusive.

What if there was another way to live though, that measured the two ideals against each other, that accepted the joy of selfishness with the reward of selflessness? I think, when we accept the value of both characteristics, the examples are all around us. I think, when we really evaluate our actions, we can’t deny that all we do is for ourselves…and others at the same time. We are driven by our survival instincts, to take care of ourselves, so we can give to others, and get in return.

My running, at this point, is about this mutual exchange. I have initiated this fundraising campaign for Family Reach because I have a window of opportunity, to give to others. I have the capability to live for others, but not at the expense of my happiness. Running is my daily excitement and joy, and the idea of running down the state is selfishly rewarding. It sounds awesome, exciting, and joyful. I would never deny that. It will be hard and there will be some degree of suffering, but it will never be a sacrifice. I will enjoy it. All the same, I will be doing this to give funds to an organization that will benefit individual cancer patients, offering them a sense of calm and support. I will be doing this through the generous donations of you as individuals, along with businesses and other institutions.

And in that I’m balancing the selfish and selflessness that create the most rewarding life I can live in this window of opportunity. This is my effort though. In some way, we are all capable. We can all carve out ways to live for our own interests, first and foremost, but to then figure out how to live for others all the same. Imagine a cultural dictate that did not follow the laws of a selfish economy, that compelled the individual to live a deeply rewarding life that enabled them to pursue their interests, while simultaneously serving others. I will stop at giving examples, but our capabilities are seemingly endless.

In this moment, my desire to run benefits my health, fills each day with a dose of excitement, satisfaction and experience, but also compels me to build this fundraising campaign, to prepare for my Ultra Run in August, and to feel rewarded by knowing I’m helping to make the burdens of others significantly lessened in the process. I’m bringing friends and strangers along with me, offering the opportunity for them to help with a small contribution, a tiny moment out of their day.

But ultimately, I want to compel every friend and stranger who reads my words, hears me speak, and follows along, to find a way to build their own life in similar ways, to be selfish for the sake of selflessness, to engage with a larger community…to simply be better, to do good.

We all have a window of opportunity, whether it’s moments within our lives, or simply our lives themselves…let’s make the most of it.

http://www.stayclassy.org/becausewecanrun

The Greatest Nation

“If you want happiness for a lifetime, help other people.” – Derek

I live in Indiana and the Because We Can run will take place down the entire length of this State. You probably don’t hear much about Indiana unless something sports-ing is going on or a whole bunch of drivers are all turning left at the same time, but we were very much in the news lately…for all the wrong reasons. You probably heard more about Indiana this last week than you ever wanted to hear. So did we.

Unfortunately, some of the bigotry that comprises isolated, often rural, communities made itself known in national news. The backlash was swift, but the backlash to the backlash was even swifter. After the pizza restaurant temporarily closed their doors (probably regretting saying what they did), right wing pundit, Glenn Beck, stepped in and facilitated a donation campaign to this pizza restaurant, showing support for their bigotry and trying to convince them to re-open. This donation campaign, facilitated by selfish anger and internet enabled mass media, brought in over 842 thousand dollars in just over a week.

$842,000.

This turned out to be the second largest fundraising effort in the history of GoFundMe, accumulating more funds for this pizza shop than raised for cancer patients, victims of the bombings during the Boston Marathon, and many other causes for individuals in legitimate need. LEGITIMATE need.

I don’t want to spend too much time on the bigotry of these owners and how specific social dynamics came together to warrant this response, but rather to use this circumstance to point something out.

Many people have disposable income.

Much of this disposable income is needed for various financial responsibilities, whether immediate or in the future, but still, we often have enough to spend on recreation, impulse purchases, or emotionally charged fundraising campaigns. And that’s great…that we live in a culture of excess that affords many of us this luxury…but often this luxury is taken for granted, without consideration or appreciation.

I, for most of my life, have been no different.

I’ve almost always lived under poverty guidelines, but that didn’t mean I was struggling. I could still purchase items that I didn’t need or spend money that wasn’t necessary, without too much trouble down the line. But my current health situation really struck me as a wakeup call, not only sending me into a chasm of financial absurdity, but appreciating the support that has been offered as I’ve worked to keep my pre-cancer life intact. Many don’t have this luxury.

I was aided through various benefits held by friends after my surgery, allowing me to pay my mortgage, provide for my son, put good food in the fridge, and take care of all the financial issues that could have added additional stress to my already stressful situation. I will, unfortunately, never be able to repay the many people who contributed to my benefits, nor will I ever be able to sufficiently express how important those funds were.

What did happen, however, is that I developed not only an appreciation for the support I was given, but became inspired to return the favor as best I could. Sometimes it was through donating finances directly to the causes of my friends, while other times it was conducting my own fundraisers for important organizations. Speaking selfishly…I was caught off guard by how great it felt to be a part of this type of action. It felt good knowing that I was in a position to give a few dollars to a friend who really needed help, and it felt GREAT knowing that I could convince others to raise significant money for larger organizations that aided many, many individuals. I felt like…something deeper, more rewarding turned on in me.

I felt as if I was no longer taking my first-world financial luxury for granted (even when I have none of it), but began considering the impact I could have on others and how each dollar or each able-bodied opportunity could help.

I don’t know to explain it better than the quote I supplied by Derek at the top of this post…that helping others, directly, and tangibly, brings great happiness. Helping others passionately, has turned something on inside me, has given me a great sense of comfort and reward, and added another degree of depth and passion to my life. It has also shown me what is truly important in life, in what brings an unshakeable satisfaction with my days.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to help in the past…but it has always seem to have been momentary, on the fringes of my normal activity, and maybe, just not measurable. My sense of action has often been through activism, pushing for social change, which I still greatly admire and respect, but often left me grasping, unaware of the effect I was actually having. It was also driven by a hatred for injustice and not so much a joy and care for others….which I think is just fine. Still, this new experience I’m having with aiding others is different, maybe more mature, definitely more rewarding. It feels more central to my life than just a fleeting, feel-good action.

I don’t mean to pat myself on the back here, as if to say, “Hey! Check me out..I’m awesome!” Not at all. I just feel inspired, to not only continue this new experience, but to share and show others just how great it can be, to really step outside of yourself and engage with others in legitimate need, and aid them.

But not in the Memories Pizza kind of way. Oh hell no. That’s not about helping others…that’s about making a statement against homosexuality, about putting your money where your fear and small mindedness is.

No, I’m talking about the potential we all have, sometimes temporary and sometimes consistent, to constantly aid and support each other, whether that is directly through friends and family or on a larger, less personal scale through organizations doing the same work with more resources. And I think that is what has struck me most about what I’ve learned through my own cancer experience, that we, as capable humans, have so much potential we are wasting.

We have so much potential to be greater, but we’ve been restricted by so many behaviors and legitimate obstacles that it becomes increasingly harder to see through the blinders and change our lives. And that’s absurd…and sad…because there is so much each one of us can do to be genuinely better people, to stop being workers and bosses and abusers and users, but to become caring individuals who reward others and are rewarded in return.

Speaking financially, we have the ability to look at every dollar and figure out how to maximize it, how to stop thinking about what we WANT in the moment and start thinking about what others may NEED. But I’m not going to tell you, “Don’t buy that latte every week and give to someone else,” because I know that’s not how we are hard-wired (plus…it’s coffee), but rather to say, “If you have the ability to buy yourself a latte through the week, then you also have the ability to aid someone else as well.” Again, it could be a friend recently diagnosed with an illness. It could be someone who lost their belongings in a fire, suffered a financial blow in a car wreck, has a sick child, etc. Or it could be a cause you are drawn to and an organization that has the means to effect change for the good.

I may sound like an plea commercial here, but I’m ok with that. It’s still important to say all this. Because this isn’t just about helping others, it’s about helping ourselves individually, by feeling good about ourselves, by using our abilities to help others, and experiencing what that sort of reward is like. I know, as I have offered help in the past, and am now in the middle of this fundraiser…that it feels damn good. I simply want to share that feeling, to convince any readers of this post to be the type of people, and communities, and default behavior, that thinks of other beings to the same degree they think themselves.

It bears repeating…”If you want happiness for a lifetime, help other people.” (“people” being all sentient creatures)

www.stayclassy.org/becausewecanrun

A Moment of Identity Crisis

I was having something of an identity crisis this morning, or truthfully, I’ve been having this perceived crisis for the past month or so. In short, I just don’t know what sort of runner I want to be in this moment, or what sort of runner I CAN be in this moment.

The workout I had on my schedule was a pretty simple, mere 5 mile progression run. This is a workout I’ve done many, many times in the past and really enjoy, the relatively easy start with an increase of intensity throughout, both physical and mental, before letting loose all the way through the effort. I knew today, however, that experience wasn’t going to be so easy…or achievable at all. My running is a mess right now. As I’ve whined about in the past, I have no range with my efforts, and so trying to adhere to this prescribed workout would be next to impossible and probably have me flailing by the third mile. I won’t go into that any further. The point is, I wasn’t looking forward to the workout…and that’s no ok. Nor is that the standard. I love running and I love pushing myself and I love workouts, no matter how hard…that’s the appeal, but lately I’ve not been able to build that excitement because I haven’t been working against my psyche, but rather my body. The psyche I can fix, the body is more static. And so I would attempt each workout, but the excessive suffering, right off the bat, have left me dejected. Even when I finish the workouts, the joy of an accomplished effort remains elusive. Something has been wrong.

I dropped Laura off at work this morning and then started driving to my normal workout location, but with the dread hanging over me like a threatening rain cloud, matching the ones in the sky, I decided to head to a different location for a change of pace and bit of newness. When I arrived at the parking lot though, the excitement hadn’t built and the rain clouds opened up on me, outside and in. I debated doing the workout later in the day. I debated skipping today’s run all together, which would have been the first since November. I debated doing the workout on the treadmill…and started driving back downtown to do just that. Not a few blocks in though, I thought to myself, “Wait…what about a trail run? What about going ‘off schedule’, scrapping the workout, and just putting in a good effort in the woods?” and immediately that sounded great, but no sooner had I considered that, the other voice came into my head, “You’re going to skip the workout completely? Why? Are you scared? Are you just ducking the effort?” and I kept driving towards the treadmill.

I debated that question. Was I just ducking the effort? Was I just scared of failing? Or am I trying to be a runner I just can be at this moment? I drove another block before abruptly making a turn East and heading…to the trailhead.

It was clear to me in that moment, I needed to run the trails, without the workout. I NEEDED to do that, because that was what I was most compelled to do in the moment…not to give up, not to duck an effort, but to actually enjoy my run, because I’ve been missing that so much lately. I’ve been pushing and pushing and pushing and getting almost nowhere. And that’s a problem.

It’s a problem that my body is still so affected by the surgery/chemo/cancer that I can’t find the progressions I’m looking for, but even worse, the combinations are not allowing me to ENJOY the experience of running. That is undeniably not ok. I run and compete because I love to do so, I love the effort, I love the struggle, I love the progression, but above all else, I love the experience…physical and emotional. I seem to be lacking both right now. And it is that foundational emotional experience that lies beneath everything else on top, all the races, all the workouts, all the struggles and success. But I haven’t been feeling much of any of that lately. It’s been bugging me for quite some time, but I needed just that, time, to figure it out, to see if that would change, to see if I was just “in a moment.” Today showed me that I wasn’t just in a moment. I needed a change…have needed a different relationship with my running, for the time being, for quite some time now.

Or else you could say, I just bit off more than I could chew after this last surgery. I talked about the “window of opportunity” and making the most of it…which I’m still doing and still plan to do, but these competitive aspirations are just too much right now. I’m NOT ready for that. I’m ready to get back to where I was, to simplify, to enjoy the experience while I push for more personal goals.

But back to that identity crisis. I took the turn East and started driving to the trailhead, as if a weight had been lifted from me emotionally and physically. I was immediately excited to run, to get back to the woods where I feel most comfortable. But I wanted to be sure I wasn’t just “in the moment”. I started thinking about all the runners I COULD be or WANTED to be in the moment.

I COULD be the runner on the path struggling hard to finish the progression run. I could be that runner on the treadmill doing the same with all the comforts the gym brings. I could be the runner that scrapped everything and decided to just “do the mileage”. I could even be the runner who stayed in bed this morning and said…screw it. But in the moment, I was the runner heading to the trails. And that’s the most important dynamic to recognize, that we have all these runners inside of us each morning we get up to run. We can CHOOSE to be any of them, and there are struggles, accomplishments, concerns, and validations in every one, but ultimately, in the end….we need to decide which one will bring us the most joy, the most excitement, the most intensity. We need to decide which one will bring us the most joy in both the moment and when we reach the finish.

Today, I decided I needed to be the runner that was in the woods, working hard up the hills, letting momentum carrying downwards, twisting, turning and dancing around the snaking dirt, and just being enveloped by the forest like a womb. I knew, without a doubt, that I needed to enjoy the run and nothing would make me happier than being in the forest…being THAT runner.

And so I did…and I was right. I finished the run tired, worked, accomplished, and excited. I thought about all the other runners I could have been today, and I didn’t envy them. I didn’t feel as if I missed out on a greater experience. Quite contrary, I think they envied me.

I realized many things on the run today – that I need to shift my relationship with running at this moment, that I need to be more intuitive and self-guided with my training, that I need to incorporate more of my notions of “soul running”, that I need to give my body and mind more space between surgery and chemo before I make a complete go at competitive running – the most important being that I need to always put the joy and intensity of my running experience before my perceived ambitions. I feel, above all else, that I got back to my real running self today. And it felt great.

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With all that said, I’m not writing off entering running competitions, but only doing so when I feel ready and inspired…and I’m not writing off training, but just doing it more intuitively, self-guided, and more in concert with how my body adapts in relation to past damage (surgery/chemo/cancer), and I’m more inspired to push myself, transition and adapt, work towards my ultra run fundraiser in August…and enjoy the experience along the way.

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RUN:
1:25:00 of trails

FOOD:
Special magic oatmeal
Coffee
Granola with chocolate chips
Toast with avocado dip
Apple
It’s early…more to come

MUSIC:
Reign Supreme – All the albums…I can’t stop.

Because We Can – Breakfast Nutrition

Good GU News!

Years ago I wrote a post titled, The Great Goo Review, and it has become one of the most popular read posts on this site…probably because of SEO through clever titling, or something. At some point, however, it was brought to my attention that one of the products I reviewed was not vegan (Doh!). It turns out, one of the amino acids in the GU product was sourced from bird feathers (WHAT?! Yeah…I know). It’s always those small ingredients that don’t inherently imply animal products and can be sourced from various places, animal and synthetic, that become tricky. When I discovered this I immediately edited and prefaced the post, so readers would know to steer clear of the GU product.

Recently, however, good news has come from the GU company, and they have revamped the formulas for their product line, removing the animal products from their gels and using a natural vegan alternative instead. High fives to them! Admittedly, I have no idea if this decision was made due to consumer demand, economic sense, or something else, but I also don’t care. I’m just glad the demand for yet another unnecessary animal product has been eliminated for this recipe.

For the new formula, I would be shocked (and skeptical) if you could tell a difference due to the change. I was, however, given a sampling of the new products and have been periodically taking them on my runs to give another review, which I will break down by the categories used in the first review.

IMG_7969
Note – The packaging on the GU Brew and Tablets are not the updated versions in this photo.

OVERVIEW

GU has overhauled their entire line, adjusting some of the formulas (as just described) and creating what they call a “holistic nutritional system” based around hydration, energy and recovery, pretty much the Before, During and After components of athletic training that many companies have started to use for their product lines. The products may not be entirely ground breaking, but the cohesive marketing has been a relatively new change, along with some specific nutritional tweaks. It’s not a bad idea as many athletes have struggled to figure out the best options for the Before, During and After, often mixing and swapping products, but now it’s much easier to get a cohesive plan in place without so much guesswork.

Aside from the overall approach to making it easier for athletes to create a cohesive nutritional plan, GU has also added some new flavors to their gel lineup, notably Big Apple, Salted Watermelon, Caramel Macchiato, etc. The packaging is also updated to give you a quick breakdown of the nutritional profiles important to athletes – Amino Acids, Sodium, Calories, and Caffeine.

Finally, one other change to the GU energy gels is their quick absorbing component, where previously they recommended you ingest one 15 minutes before physical activity, that has now been cut to 5 minutes, and then following that with a gel every 45 minutes for maximum benefit.

Also note, the ENTIRE GU line is not vegan. I’m getting clarification on which products are not, and I will update with that information. It is confirmed the GU Recovery Drink Mix is NOT vegan (dairy products).

PACKAGING

I still think GU has the best packaging design in terms of size, allowing you to fit 1 – 3 into a small running shorts pocket, with a tab that is easy enough to tear off. It still takes a bit of finesse to keep the tab from flying completely off and littering the trail or road, but it’s not a deal breaker by any means. There are few other gels on the market that match GU for packaging size and the convenience is no small thing.

Additionally, the packaging itself is now a part of the TerraCycle “Performance Nutrition Brigade” program, which is outlined here, allowing you to hold on to your used packets and send them to TerraCycle for reuse instead of littering the trails, roads and landfills!

CONSISTENCY

I still feel this is their achilles heel. The GU, if not taken with water…which is the recommendation, can be too thick for my liking. Specifically, the chocolate and peanut butter GU’s are the thickest for understandable reasons, while the others aren’t so bad, but take a little longer to get to a liquid consistency. Again, I admit, I take gels most often without water (as I don’t carry water on my runs unless I’m doing a long trail run), so it’s partly my fault they aren’t as thin as I’d like.

TASTE

The first of the new GU’s I tried was the Salted Caramel, and I laughed because I took one right as I was passing our local Fairgrounds where the State Fair is held, with all it’s sugary sweet concoctions, and I could see desserts being sold at the fair which taste similar to this. And that’s not a complaint! After all, we’re dealing with simple sugars here, so I don’t mind the Fair flavors. The Salted Caramel reminded me of the Sugar Babies candy I used to eat as a kid, and I have yet to be disappointed by any of the others as well. And although I’m excited to see they have a coffee flavoring in the mix (Caramel Macchiato), I’ll still be waiting for a straight “COFFEE” flavor…that just tastes like coffee. I’ll probably be the only one that buys it…but still…I can dream. It should be noted, they do have an Espresso flavor, which I will try once I get my hands on one.

NUTRITION

The nutrition profile for GU gels changes slightly and gives you options depending upon what you would prefer to concentrate, whether that is caffeine, sodium or a combination of both. Base level gels offer 55 mg of Sodium, 100 calories, 450 mg of Amino Acids and 22 g of Carbs. Caffeine is an option in some of the flavors while others are without, but Sodium concentrate is what fluctuates the most, going from 55mg to 125 mg, making those options more suitable for hotter weather when sweating and sodium replenishment is most important.

SUMMARY

I have not engaged in a Before, During, After plan for my running nutrition (at least not with specified product), but as far as energy gels go, I’m plenty sold on sticking (pun intended!) with GU now that they changed their formula to be vegan. The flavors are fun, the nutrition profile sufficient, and the packaging perfect.

I plan on putting in a significant amount of mileage and efforts leading up to the Because We Can run, so will continue to test and utilize the GU products, but to further assure you this isn’t solicited marketing, I’m hoping to get GU to help supply my run nutrition during the Ultra Run itself this August. In the meantime, let’s at least acknowledge them for not using animals in the formula and giving us another vegan product to use without concern.

IMG_7970IMG_7971

UPDATE

I was sent a document from GU detailing the changes that took place in their energy gels, in effect removing some ingredients and adding others. Regarding the vegan ingredients, this is what the document stated:

What changed:
Vegan Status

Reason for change:
In effort to address fueling for vegan athletes, we have closely evaluated our product’s ingredients and reformulated using only vegan sources in GU Energy Gel, GU Hydration Drink, Roctane Energy Drink, and GU Tabs. (Edit: It should be noted that due to the manufacturing process of the other products, GU can only ensure the Energy Gels are 100% vegan, and once they run out of the old supply of non-vegan aminos, the chews will be transitioned to vegan sources – sometime by the end of the year. Edit: The Roctane Energy Gels are NOT vegan.)

Benefit of change:
Formulating with vegan ingredients allows GU products to reach the hands of vegan athletes, which in turn helps to make a greater impact in the athletic community.

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RUN:
6+ recovery miles

FOOD:
Special Magic Oatmeal!
Coffee
Banana w/ Peanut Butter
It’s early…

MUSIC:
Reign Supreme – Testing the Limits of Infinite

Kid Runner

I’m doing this run down the state self-supported, which means I won’t have an aid vehicle following along, carrying supplies, or offering any assistance as I make my way from city to city, so it follows that I’ll be pushing OR PULLING my supplies with me. Fortunately, I have a halfway stop in my hometown of Indianapolis, allowing me to carry only enough to get me through the first four days before having to load up for the rest.

Initially, I was planning on contacting a jogging stroller/bike trailer company and soliciting for a donation, which I would donate to a family when the run is completed, and that still might be the final plan of action, but recently another option came to my attention.

Back when I was doing a healthy dose of “Run Commuting” I had the coffee enabled idea to create a pull behind trailer for carrying my work supplies, instead of stuffing clothes, shoes, breakfast, coffee, etc., into a backpack that bounced and swung around my back, altering my gait and sometimes leaving raw, worn and bloody marks at the contact points on my back. This seemed like a no-brainer and I was confused as to why no one had made a running specific trailer yet. I couldn’t shake the idea from my head and started building a prototype of my own from PVC pipe, a backpacking waist belt, and various lengths of bendable metal tubing. When it came to attaching wheels, however, I was at a loss and the idea got shelved as life distractions took over.

It’s too bad, because I was going to call it the Rick Roll (as in Rickshaw + Rolling = Rickroll!), which has so many hilarious marketing potentials.

Recently I decided to bring my prototype back out and see what I could make of it, but no sooner than I drug it out of the corner of my basement, I came across THIS!

kidrunner

That is the Kid Runner, a pull behind trailer meant to pull a child…or anything you can fit into the carriage, without restricting your running gait or causing you to lose arm movement. I knew I couldn’t have been the only one with this idea, and it simply took someone with the right financial connections to, well, run with it! I’m glad someone did, because my idea was just a fun experiment.

Coming across this prototype and soon to launch Kickstarter campaign right when I was formulating my Because We Can ultra run was perfect synthesis. I need a trailer to run with and Kid Runner is small enough to need more exposure for this product, and runners to show what can be accomplished with a pull behind trailer. I thought I’d give it a shot and sent them an email, explaining my plans and asking if they would be interested in a collaboration. Turns out, they are!

Here’s the catch though, they only have two prototypes they are working with at this moment, the Kickstarter campaign is about to be launched, and they can’t commit to a partnership at the moment because we aren’t positive they will have extra product to offer for the Because We Can run. Regardless, they ARE interested and I would be thrilled to be able to put one of these to the test, allowing me to run easily down the state, but also have a part in showing the possibilities of this obviously valuable running product. It’s the next best thing to a Rick Roll, no?! :)

For the time being though, we are in touch, and will periodically be checking in with each other to share updates on the benefit and the possibility of having another Kid Runner to use for the run. Let’s keep our fingers and shoelaces crossed.

In the meantime, check out their site and follow the Kickstarter when it launches on April 15th.

Kid Runner
Facebook
Twitter

Oh…and speaking of the fundraiser…stay tuned for more developments in a potential pre-ultra run fundraising event….details being coordinated now.

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Run:
10 miles w/ 4 x 800/400 rec./400/400 rec.

Food:
Special Magic Oatmeal!
2 clementines, 1 banana
Rice w/ tofu, spinach, mushrooms and BBQ sauce
Big salad with variety of ingredients
Chocolate
Dinner/snacks to come

Music:
Reign Supreme – Sky Burial

Adjusting Expectations

The “cancer dates” catch me off guard now, but on this day 2 years ago I ran my last pre-surgery / pre-chemo run, which despite being nearly fatally filled with tumors and cancerous mucin, I was at almost full capacity and could run without concern. My legs remained strong and my lungs could fill completely with oxygen. I had no concerns and runs were swift, powerful…and enjoyable. No matter, that evening a pain filled my abdomen that never really subsided until about 3 weeks later when I found myself lying on my back and being wheeled into surgery. What followed has been 2 years that, at times, seems to have gone at snail’s pace, and then at other times, seems to have passed in a blink.

It has been, despite all the complications and struggles, a very rewarding and fulfilling time in my life. I’m not afraid to admit that anymore, despite the perception that I may actually WANT cancer. I don’t. But there is something to be said about making the most of a shitty situation. Still, not all is so great, despite my ambitions.

I always said, no matter what cancer takes away from me, I won’t let it take away my running if I can help it. Mostly, I’ve kept to that promise. I ran as soon as I could after the first surgery. I ran through chemo. I prepared for surgery by running. I started running very soon after the second surgery. And now I’m back to training, trying desperately to push my thresholds back to previous levels…and that’s where my trouble and apprehension begins.

Something isn’t right. I can’t tell you what it is, and I can’t point to any articles that might explain away my struggling, but I can tell you that running isn’t anywhere near what it used to be. Now, I’m not saying cancer has taken running from me. No, I’m certainly not admitting defeat that easily, but it has changed what running is at this moment. To be succinct, it’s not easy….at least not in the way it used to be or how I want it to be. And I’m struggling with this.

Right now, despite the full on training I’m carrying out with my coach, it seems as if I’ve hit a 7:00 / mile wall, that simply won’t budge. I’m used to running into a wall of abilities and incrementally pushing it forward, but this time it’s not moving. No matter how many miles I run, how many workouts I stack on top of each other, no matter how many sub 5:00 intervals I run, the 7:00 / mile threshold is not dropping. Other competitive runners might be compelled to point out training volumes and the coming taper period and all those sports science considerations, and believe me, they run through my mind as well, but I also know something else is going on. It’s just different.

I don’t want to blame cancer…or more realistically, cancer treatments, but the more I run and the more I stay at this level, it’s hard to ignore. To describe it physically, it feels like anytime I dip under 7:15/7:00 pace, my heart rate sky rockets and I can’t manage in legs or lungs. Everything just turns into a full on effort. 6:00 is no different than 6:30 is no different than 6:45, and it’s only until I get back to 7:00 or 7:15 pace that I feel I can manage any endurance. It’s quite demoralizing. I have no range and I have no speed. I just have running at 7:00 / 7:30 pace as if it’s a walk in the park…and that’s it.

So yeah, something isn’t right. And that worries me, because every physical issue always raises the concern of cancer. I can’t deny, with another CT scan on the horizon, the concern of my cancer growing has me worried. I don’t think about it often, really, but it’s never too far out of reach, and although I try not to get comfortable in my physically able state…sometimes I get a little too optimistic, or naive, or distracted.

Right now I’m running in what I keep calling “a window of opportunity”, which lies between my last surgery and this chemo-free period of time before my next surgery. I’m trying to make the most of it, hence this fundraiser and running outside of any previous limits, but I need to be careful not to get too comfortable, because I also know, with cancer, this window can come slamming shut. I’ve seen it happen to other friends and I certainly don’t want to deal with it myself.

I’m not internalizing this concern, however, or accepting it as a “fear” of cancer. I’m physically able, and the demands of this benefit run, no matter how testing they will be, I believe are within my range of possibility. I’m just more frustrated that, at this moment, running isn’t the experience it once was and I’m finding that I have to adjust to my circumstances and abilities in order to bring it back into perspective, give it longevity, and find the same value I did with progressing my competitive abilities as I did in the past…but this time in different ways.

Cancer hasn’t taken running from me yet, and I’m going to work to make sure that doesn’t happen. In the present, the treatments have taken my competitive abilities and potential to push further into faster territory, but I haven’t written off the possibilities just yet. I know the body has an incredible ability to regenerate itself, and I’m hoping I can facilitate that through continuous training. Even so, if I’m damaged enough that I can’t get faster, that I can’t maintain previous levels of intense pacing, I can still endure. I can still go and go and go, and that running experience is just as fulfilling as it is to run fast. Part of the reason I’m doing this fundraiser, to the extent that I’m running as far as I am, is because I AM confident that I have this in me, that I CAN run like this, and so it’s my responsibility to make the most of it.

Barring the window of opportunity slamming down on my aspirations, I’m going to run again and again and again, enjoying myself with each step, with each struggle, no matter that I won’t be pinning on a bib number and going for another win. For now, it’s going to be about the continuous experience and not the superhuman aspirations. I can live with cancer and I can live with that.