People are Strange, when you’re a Runner…
Runners, on a stereotypical level, do some pretty strange stuff. It’s not just going out of their way to run for enjoyment, they can do some strange things in the name of Running. Some have some good luck rituals in which they believe will help them like a nice drink of Liquid Luck, some will go out of their way to do some pretty (insane) Tough Runs and some others will use their running as a psychological release.
I am guilty of all three. I have documented some of it here on my blog. While I’m not “big” on the ritual aspects like whether I ties my shoe laces in a clockwise or a counter clockwise motion, I do like a significant challenge in my races (MONKEY! MONKEY! MONKEY!) and use my running for my psychological needs.
A few conditions are associated with running. On the positive note, there is the “Runner’s High” which is the euphoric feeling one gets from running. Not to be confused with the light headed feeling of almost passing out because running can be hard work. On the negative side, there is the “Marathon Blues” which occurs right after a marathon, when the massive accomplishment of weeks (and weeks) of training culminates into a memory at the finish line, leaving the runner asking “What’s Next?” There is even something called “Taper Madness”, a condition that starts approximately 2-3 weeks before a Marathon when the training moves into a stage called “The Taper”. This is the stage of training where the overall number of miles per week and the long run distances are reduced leading up to race day. After weeks of running lots and lots of miles, one begins to question the logic of a training program when it says they only have to run 8 miles for their long run. Madness, I tell you, Madness.
Runner’s also use their running to mourn, celebrate and even advocate. Many, MANY charities have been supported by efforts of the runner. Charities can be supported by someone wearing their shirt, running in a race sponsored by a charity, or by raising money. It’s common to see someone wearing a shirt or have something pinned to their shirt that says something to the effect of: “I’m running in memory of….” . I’ve done similar things in the past and will be doing it again.
On May 15th, Mr. James Rich passed away from a battle with a very aggressive cancer. Just his diagnosis of cancer was a huge shock this past January and his passing devastated many. He was our Taekwondo Instructor, our colleague and our friend. He just got people. I don’t know how many times I saw him bring out the best of people during Taekwondo. It was truly amazing.
When he was diagnosed with cancer and started to battle it, the mantra he used was “Warrior Mode”. His intention was to fight and beat the cancer with a warrior’s tenacity, never give up and never give in. I wear wristband that says “Team Rich, Warrior Mode” and everyone in my family has a “Team Rich Warrior Mode” t-shirt.
July 29th 2015 would have been his 51st birthday. He died too early. But while his earthly body is gone, his memory lives on. As of writing this post, I, personally have had no closure. While I was saddened to hear that he past, I was more relieved that he was no longer in pain. There was initially talk of having a celebration of life for him in Knoxville, but it didn’t happen. So with nothing formal, I’ve had not really mourned in the way I need to mourn. Jen keeps asking me if I have broken down yet and I have not, at least, not yet.
Mr. Rich was a great person. He was a lot of things, but he had his faults. I can tell you one fault of his, one thing that he was NOT… and that would be a Runner. He stuck to the “I only run if I’m chased by a bear.” I never got a chance to tell him that he was lying to me about that. He would never be chased by a bear, he would turn his head slowly at the bear, raise one eyebrow and give it the “stare”. It wouldn’t be him doing the running.
So, it is with great irony that I announce that I will be Running in memory him. It will be MY celebration of life for HIM. He was 50 years old when he passed, so I wanted to try to tie in the number 50 or some variant of it (e.g. 5 or 500 or 5,000). He also liked guns, and that got me thinking about a local race called “The Pistol”. It is a 50 kilometer race (so it ties in nicely with “50”) and what BETTER way to celebrate the life of a Non-Runner than by running an ultramarathon! So with great fanfare [trumpets blare] I’m running the Pistol 50k (31 miles) on January 2nd 2016 in memory of James Rich.
I’m not sure what I will being doing more on race day in January, crying or sweating, but I know I’ll be doing both. #WarriorMode