Today I stopped

I never set out with the thought that I might have to stop, but sometimes I just have to stop.

I never wind up doing it, but I’ve always thought it would be a good idea to write down my thoughts and ideas as they come to me so I could write an essay, or maybe even a book, titled something like “Life Imitates Running” or “Running Imitates Life” or “Never Trust a Fart While Running.”

Of course, I usually can’t write down these thoughts or ideas when they come to me because I’m usually out somewhere on a run. I don’t carry a pen and paper with me, nor do I carry a phone. So these thoughts rattle around in my head and I’m hard-pressed to remember them whenever I get home after I’m done running. Whenever I do get home from a run other things take priority over writing down my thoughts and ideas that I’ve had while I’m out there. Things like showering and shoving calories into my mouth.

This morning there was an occurrence while out on my run. Not thoughts or ideas. Today I stopped. According to my training plan, I’ve been training hard since September 5, 2022. I’ve been training for a race series that I’m hell-bent on winning. And my training for this race series overlaps with my training for the Boston Marathon on April 17th. I’m self-coached and I’ll often find myself riding this fine line of injuring myself or over-training. I’ll also very often find myself teetering on the edge of stripping away the happiness and mental health benefits that running gives to me. It’s a love and a dance that I try to hold in some modicum of infancy which, I’ve learned, has to be nurtured as such.

The girls and I were out of town this past weekend for a lacrosse tournament. After the games were over on Saturday, I walked to the hospital that was next to our hotel and I ran 1.25-mile loops around the campus. I ran those loops hard to practice running fast for my upcoming half marathon and then dialed back the pace for a few loops to practice maintaining a pace and cadence for Boston. We came back to Austin on Sunday and headed downtown to go on a long run to practice running on tired legs.

Training catches up to me. Yesterday I was tired and while I can find any excuse under the sun to go for a run, I just wasn’t feeling it yesterday. So I didn’t run. I didn’t go on my easy recovery run because I just didn’t want to. A coach once told me that “no run matters.” Those three words are very philosophical in their simplicity. Replace the word “run” with many other things and that’s why I think running imitates life.

It’s been raining and the temperatures crept to below-freezing last night. Central Texas shuts down whenever there’s ice. The schools shut down whenever there’s ice. The city of Austin is pretty much shut down right now. It was cold, dark, and quiet when I set out this morning on my tempo run. I could feel it when I was only a quarter mile from the house that this morning’s run was going to be a struggle. It’s just one of those things where when you know it, you just know it. But I kept lifting my knees and decided that I’d just see what happens.

I think it just took some time for my brain and body to warm up. And it was eerily quiet outside in the otherwise noisy suburbs in which we live. I knew what I was supposed to do on this morning’s run, so I went after it. I finally settled into a groove after a mile and I pushed myself because I’m training for something. You train so you can adapt your mind and body, become acclimated, and teach yourself to do hard things.

A little after mile three I just stopped. I stopped running. My head wasn’t where I wanted it to be. My toes hurt. My hamstrings hurt. I was cold and hot at the same time. It was hard for me to breathe. So I stopped. The first thought that invariably pops into my head whenever I stop is that I lost. I’ve always maintained this tough guy runner mantra of “you can let it slow you down, but don’t let it stop you.” That’s usually what I tell myself whenever I come upon a hill. So if I ever stop, I feel like I’ve failed. The obstacle, whatever it might be, beat me.

A running coach that I admire recently wrote that it’s okay to stop. Mid-workout. Mid-hill. Mid-tempo. Mid-long run. If you need to stop, then just stop. You don’t have to quit. It’s okay to stop. To stop during a run is to catch your breath. Let your heartbeat come to its resting state. Let your brain take a rest. Recenter yourself. And I’ve learned that it doesn’t take long at all to reset. Often times no more than 30 or 60 seconds. And then you go again. You just keep going.

And a third coach that I admire recently wrote “stop trying to make it happen and just let it happen instead.”

I stopped on a run today to reset and recenter. I’ve done it before and I’m sure I’ll do it again. I never set out with the thought that I might have to stop, but sometimes it just has to happen that way.

No run matters. It’s okay to stop. Stop trying to make it happen and just let it happen instead. Life imitates running.

The 2023 3M Half Marathon

The 3M Half Marathon has a special place in my heart. The 2015 running of it was my very first road race. I’d started running just two years prior, and I had no intentions of racing. I ran to get physically healthy, and then I really started reaping the mental health benefits.

And I blame my friend Harry for getting me into racing.

He kept tabs on my running when I started out and he put it in my head one day when he told me, “you know, you should really sign up for a race. You’re getting fast, and you’d have a lot of fun in a race.”

I shrugged him off. He nudged me about it a few more times. And then he had me tag along for a 10-mile training run as he was preparing for the Austin Half Marathon.

I thought running 10 miles was crazy. I couldn’t wrap my head around why anyone would want to run double-digit mileage in one outing. But when that first 10-miler didn’t kill me, and I actually kind of enjoyed it, I started pushing myself to run further distances.

I don’t know how or why, but I signed up for the 3M Half Marathon as my very first race. And I told Harry that I’d done so. He didn’t say, “that’s awesome!” or “congratulations!” He said, “you know, I’ll bet you could run that race in 1:30.”

Damn Harry. I had no specific plan or goal time for my first race. But he put a number in my head.

So, despite not knowing what the hell I was doing, I trained hard for my first half marathon. I was chasing 1 hour and 30 minutes. I beat that goal time.

I ran my first 3M in 1:27:31 in 2015.
I ran my second 3M in 1:28:11 in 2017.
I ran my third 3M in 1:29:47 in 2019.

Today I ran that same race in 1:19:33. PR’d the course by 7 minutes and 58 seconds. And PR’d my recently-set half marathon time by 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

I’m reeling in it now and, in a way, I think I’m lucky that I was in my late-30’s when I discovered running. I missed out on a lot of beating myself up in my teens, twenties, and early thirties.

I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I’ll start slowing down soon. I’m getting older. And I’m absolutely okay with that. As long as I can get out there and run around and have fun at whatever pace my heart and legs will take me, I’ll take that every day that I can.

A love letter to my shoes

A good friend of mine once wrote about how he had finally run a sub-3-hour marathon. And I thought, “I wonder if I could do that.” In order to do it I would need the right training, preparation, and a good pair of new marathon shoes.

And I found you, in all of your bright and loud green gorgeousness. But not without the proper preparation first. You see, you were very high class and expensive. And I needed to make sure we were a fit. I went to the local run specialty store located just below my office and I informed the merchant that I was looking for something special. A pair of shoes that would go with me far and fast on the adventure of a lifetime. But it had to be a perfect fit for both of us.

The merchant measured my feet with the latest 3D modeling technology. I learned that my previous shoes weren’t quite the right fit. My previous were always close, but not perfect. We were always a half-size off.

I knew I wanted you, but I also wanted to test the waters with others. He brought me three, of which one was you. The other two fit, but they weren’t perfect. You were.

I put you on my feet and I promise you that all the universe became silent except for the quiet and distant hum of assent as the divine smiled and nodded unto us both as if to say, “this is right.”

And it was. We experienced the rapture as the two become one. An augmentation and synthetically natural extension of my own feet. You felt like nothing while still feeling like everything to me. You were weightless and so powerful.

I took you home and we practice our dance. It was perfect and joyful from the first step. We moved and danced for a little while the first time. A little longer the next. And then we were ready.

We went to the big dance together and it was, in a word, beautiful. Just like you.

You gave it your all. And you were tired and beaten down a bit. I gave you a well-deserved rest.

We practiced our dance again before another big one. On the day of the big dance, we did our thing again. And there were cheers. And we were happy. We’d done it again. You’d done it again. You were wonderful and perfect.

But I knew you’d become very tired. It weighed heavily on my heart knowing that our dancing days were coming to an end. It was inevitable. I knew our relationship would be short-lived when I’d set out to find you. But you knew you wanted to make me happy. And you did just that. You made me smile. Big, big smiles.

We had one last big dance in New England. It was toward the end of our dance and I knew you were tiring and this would be our last big one together. You quietly whimpered, and I heard it, just like that distant hum when we knew it was right in the beginning, but you gave me what you had left. And I took it.

Recent are the realizations that our big dances are done. But I won’t put you out. Despite any rest, you’re tired and worn. We both know it.

Our run this morning was fast and powerful and beautiful. But that can’t be forever. I’ve hurt you and you will only grow to learn to hurt me.

We can still dance in the dark and in the quiet. Just you and me. We sure did make a go of it.

I love you, shoes.

Child client

Lacrosse season is starting up and the oldest child asked me to build a run training plan for her so she can get whipped into shape as lacrosse is very much a running sport.

My client has informed me that she wants to run three days a week. But it can’t be too structured. She just needs to know that she has to run three days a week, and she will do her runs as schedule and desire permits. And she hates speed training. And I can’t yell at her. And she’s not paying me.

I think this might be the first client that I fire. And we haven’t even started yet.


It’s now been 10 days since I gave up refined and added sugar. Now, I don’t know if I’ve actually been doing it right. I’ve had peanut butter and some generic Ritz crackers, and possibly some other things that have a little sugar in them, but I can tell you that I’ve reduced my sugar intake by a huge margin. And I’m feeling pretty okay. The first week was rough. I ain’t gonna lie.

And when things got rough, I powered through it. By the end of the week, I decided to treat myself. Because I got to go to the grocery store by myself. And I found myself in the candy aisle. But I was still good! I decided to purchase a variety of sugar-free candy. You know, the kind that Grammy gives you and the kind you can find next to the “durable medical equipment” at the pharmacy.

Did you know that sugar-free candy contains “sugar alcohols?” Sugar alcohols are also known as polyols. Now, the “alcohol” isn’t the ethanol that’s found in fuels and liquor, so you can’t become intoxicated. And the “sugar” is created by, what I’d have to guess, is some scientific voodoo chemical plant extraction process that creates a sweetener that has little to no calories per gram.

And did you know that if you eat upwards and, maybe a little beyond 20 grams of polyols, a human might experience things like borborygmus, flatus formation, and osmotic diarrhea?

So I’m definitely not eating sugar-free candy because, you know, I read about it on the internet and realized that it can do some really weird things and wouldn’t want that to ever happen to me. Again.

How I party on New Year’s Eve

More frequently I’ve been thinking about my sleeping patterns. As much as I’d like to get more of it, I average around 6.5 hours of sleep per night.

Over the holidays I didn’t check to see how much sleep I’d been getting. Probably because I knew I was getting more of it because I took the week off from work and I got to indulge in some naps.

I was just scrolling through my sleep data from last week and noticed what time I fell asleep on New Year’s Eve.

Proof that I like to live on the edge.

When you don’t have poop bags

I worked from home today and as 5 p.m. rolled around, I still had a lot to do but I really needed to get outside and stretch my legs. The dog, who dutifully stays in the office with me, got up and excitedly invited herself to go out for a leg stretch with me.

We walked around the block and took in the cool air and recounted our Christmas break walks we took last week in Des Moines. And then the dog took a big steaming dump in a lawn half a mile away. And I didn’t have any dog poop bags with me.

Now, I condone living by the Golden Rule, so the dog and I walked all the way home. The dog went back to her spot in the office while I got a bag and walked the half mile by myself back to the pile she’d left on a neighbor’s lawn.

After I’d bagged her poop, I started making my way back home and realized that I was now walking alone with an obvious green bag of fecal matter. I paused for a moment and realized the walk of shame that I was embarking upon. And then I just embraced it and sauntered on home. I even lifted the hand that held the bag of poop as I waved to a nice young couple who were out walking their dog. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a bit of pride in letting folks think that not only did I take a poop out in the open, in public, in broad daylight, but I also managed to get it all to land in a little green plastic bag, tied it off and was carrying it home with

I’m pretty sure that’s how the term “got it in the bag” originated.