Mental health doesn’t care from what political ideology you subscribe to, but it does affect all of us at some point. And that’s a fact. As of March of 2022 there nearly 240 anti-LGTBQ laws were passed in this country by Republican controlled states. I could also touch on how science in the past 20 years has shed more light on human sexuality and gender identification. Which it has in very concrete ways. Basically, what the Republicans are doing is using their power to suppress a group with less power, this way they can tell their base ‘look, we’re doing something.’ Don’t believe me? Look at their track record.
More broadly what they’re doing is contributing to the rising suicide rates in the LGTBQ community. As we all know, it’s hard enough growing up and coming of age. Now put yourself in the shoes of a person that’s also being marginalized while also navigating the pressures of life you’re also experiencing or have experienced.
LGTBQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempted suicide than their peers. Let that sink in… Now review your voting record. Now, consider that you have a friend or relative in this group, probably more than you ever realized. Whether you know it or not. On my recourse page I’ve updated it to now list The Trevor Project. An outstanding site that offers help to the LGTBQ community. To those in the group please know you are loved, and we have your back.
So I’ve been busy/So where to begin… I’m wrapping up 2021 on several high notes and a few injuries, but those are the clouds that will pass.
I pulled of marathon #19 on November 6th running my 6th Monumental Marathon. Everywhere I go I brag about this course and event, it’s such a great tour of Indianapolis and very well managed. I can honestly say I ran a really strong half-marathon with a few struggles starting around mile 15-23. But what can you do except slug it out. Which is what I chose to do and there is beauty in the struggle and beauty at the finish line. I missed my personal record by about 28 seconds which I set in Carmel Indiana in April.
On December 5th I was in Sacramento for the CIM, my 20th marathon and 5th for the year. Like in 2019 I made the error of trying to get into my starting wave later than what I should have and started way behind my desired pace group. But like in 2019 I just went with the flow and found zin in every step. Somehow I pulled off the strongest 18 miles of my life, the wall found me at mile 20, and I found the strength to push through. So… I ended up pulling off a personal record by about 3 minutes and moving the needle much closer to a BQ.
And I ran these worth a purpose for two missed souls. I brought back some medals for Pirate Cat and for my friend Leslie, who I still miss dearly. Just a few runs left as I nurse my injuries, but a record number of miles has already been reached.
If you're a runner, walker, biker, or just like to stroll on the Monon Trail on the Northside of Indianapolis then you've probably heard of Pirate Cat. If not then do yourself a favor and look him up on social media. He was our friend, and sadly left this world on April 6th 2020, but he set up permanent residence in our hearts.
I had the pleasure of meeting this little scamp in 2017 on a long run and was immediately befriended by him. I later learned of what a celebrity he was. Over the years I would head out on that trail and durning my 4 mile point would nearly always see Pirate Cat lounging at the Monon Trailhead soaking up the sun and attention (on his own terms). It became a happy routine for myself and others. But as we know we are not meant to live forever and while you're here you need to make it count. Live the life you desire in your heart, love others intensely, and soak up that sun and may your cup of rum runneth over.
I knew there was a permanent maker being placed on property generously donated by the United States Tennis Association. I even cleared my Sunday plans and cancelled my Ann Arbor marathon trip for this event. But on my Saturday run the day before I wasn't expecting to see it, at least not in that location. After placing a Jolly Roger in his favorite spot I hooked left up a trail, crossed the barrier of hedges, and saw the face of my friend. He stopped me in my tracks, I was motionless, and I wept openly. Once I pulled myself together I smiled and somehow said, "Hey Pirate Cat" with joy.
I could go on and on about the mental and physical positives of pet ownership, but cats are a few degrees of 'different'. Living with four I know this well. And I'm sure you know of this as well.
Once again a HUGE thanks to the United States Tennis Association/Midwest Section for the lovely spot. They stepped in and opened their hearts when others did not. Park at the 96th street Monon Trailhead and take the path on over for a visit. The town council of Carmel Indiana decided to be complete dicks and said no to a marker in his favor spot. Pirate Cat did leave them looking embarrassed quite a bit, so that theme continues. Much love always little buddy, and thank you.
Three weeks ago the Big Cottonwood marathon broke my heart, and almost my spirit... almost, it was a close one. This was supposed to be 'the one', my BQ marathon. I did nearly everything correct in prepping for this one, but sometimes even the best laid plans crumble before our eyes as they descend down a mountain side.
But that's just it, the incline really got me. This being my third downhill marathon, also turned out to be the hardest. The first 8 miles were somewhat strong, but by mile 9 my IT bands were on fire. Quads not so bad, but those tendons were screaming. At mile 13 I was stretching and even massaging my sides, this had now turned into a 'let's manage this' run. The dream of a BQ was once again gone.
The thunderstorms started at mile 19-23, and I started to have a conversation with a past Boston marathoner and she put things into perspective. We even made jokes at our casual pace while dripping wet. And I needed that for my own attitude.
The following day I woke up with one of the worst muscle tears I've ever had, which made the rest of my time in Utah a real challenge. Between the funk of defeat and the jarring pain in my leg, my outlook wasn't the best.
Even as I type this I'm perplexed by this run. On one hand I was ready to throw in the towel and declare that maybe Boston was beyond my scope, but on the other when I suffer set backs it only makes me want to keep pushing. It's like the universe asks me 'How bad to you want this.'
I'm still wounded, but I still want this really bad. So the mission continues.
It seems I'm starting 2021 on a happy note. On 4/03 I ran the Carmel marathon and somehow pulled off a PR of 3:37:16... I was not expecting that at all, in fact shocked at the finish line by the results. Then what did I do? I went to Boston for a visit and an 8.52 mile run (pic below) before heading off to New Hampshire for The Cheap Marathon on 4/11. No joke, it was only $35, and I earning a nifty ribbon!
What was great about this was I was able to run a really consistent marathon, an even pace and non-stop. So now I set my sites on all things Utah and that marathon in September. I'm finally feeling like a BQ is possible and will happen there.
Last run of the year, just 6.07 miles and ended the year at 1251 miles. A new record yes, but short of my goal. I lost about 200 miles this year to injuries with my IT band and various nerves. If I ran in a straight line from my house per the map in any direction, I'd hit the edge of the circle.
All I/we can do is keep going, which I plan to do. 2021 is mapped out and I know the weather is a struggle this time of year. But in the struggle is where true art thrives. Like so many others out there, 2020 was just tough. I lost my job in September, and then in November I lost my father... he was 73.
But I'm optimistic about 2021, the other choice is to live in a state of depression, and I can't do that. Next marathon is in April in Nevada, and that's my next chance to BQ for 2022... all chips in on that.
Marathon 15 in 4 years is in the books, and it was brutal and weird. My first virtual and I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond a really drawn out solo long run. The time isn’t ‘great’ when you compare it to the 3:34:36 I ran in CA last December. But again this was just new territory for me.
The one thing about this run was since it was virtual there was that lack of enthusiasm you get from the crowd, and that encouragement you give to others. I’m EXTREMELY grateful to have done it, but I miss the crowds and the unspoken bond with the runner next to you. I know we’ll get back to that when the time is right. Until then let's all link figuratively links arms an help each other out. Then once COVID19 is taken care of we'll still be helping each other.
And lastly I ran this for our buddy Pirate Cat. He exemplified the bond we have with other creatures roaming this globe. For some reason I think I’ll still see him at the trail head on The Monon. But I always see him in my heart, you are very missed by all of us my friend.
Only 8.45 miles at a 7:30/mile pace, just winding down for the virtual Monumental Marathon next Saturday. Sadly I have the beginnings of shin splints, but I have lots of tape and an easy week in front of me with running. I ended October with 130.86 miles and still ahead of where I was last year at this time with total mileage... not sure how, but I'll take a win. Today I received my marathon kit in the mail too, so more info on that little gift soon.
Just excited to finally get in a 26.2 run next week, my first virtual and looking forward to the challenge. It'll be an odd one, not being in a coral with people you have never met, but share this love of running with. And that makes a bond that's hard to explain. I love other runners out there, pat yourselves on the back.
Well 2020 continues to be an relentless opponent. Before I even begin with the emotional 'down' I'm experiencing, I'm still grateful. On Monday I lost my job, a job that I dearly loved with a team that I dearly loved, yesterday they made the right call and cancelled the CIM in December. I was looking forward to running in California again, but under the circumstances they made the correct decision.
So here's why I'm grateful.... I have my health and I've survived much worse. I gave myself some time to mourn the loss, and it still finds me. But I must keep going. A persons character is tied to how they behave in the face of adversity and how they treat others. Here's that I challenge myself and others with, go out and lend a hand to those that are truly in a rough place. Even if it's an ear, that's something. With the mental trauma we've been going through with the COVID19 related deaths and unemployment we all know several people that have been affected. Unfortunately suicide rates are climbing and people are feeling closed off. Just be there in anyway, shape, or form. Be a sounding board for those in need. On my 'resources' page I have listed organizations that are here to help as well in case you or someone you know is heading in the wrong direction.
And I wanted to end on a positive. For those that keep up they know I had a slew of injuries in May that took all summer to correct. I'm very happy to report that I'm functioning on more of the level I was at the beginning of the year. My long runs are back and honestly very smooth. I am looking forward to the Virtual Monumental Marathon coming up on November 7th in Indianapolis, or wherever you may live. Stay strong out there and be there for each other.
It's been a while since I've posted, a very very long time. As we all know things have been heavy to say the least. COVID19, Boston Canceling, Aubrey Ahmad, 40 million unemployed, racial riots... I could go on. On top of that I'm injured, having an IT band issue for the first time in my life, but I'll heal with some rest and treatment. I always seem to comeback stronger.
With the cancellation of Boston I can honestly say that 90% of the running community has been totally understanding and feel the BAA made the right call. For the first time in my life I'm seeing sports as a way to relax from everyday life. In the past I've kept running and sports separate and I know we can debate all day about one being an activity and the others not. Let's call it a pleasant distraction of physical display. At work ESPN is constantly running in the background and it seems they've run out of material to show. But I digress, a return to 'sports' would be nice for our collective psyche. And yes I know that sounds selfish to an extend, and yes bigger fish are to be fried and large wounds need to be healed. Entire systems of how we do things need to be dismantled and rebuilt the correct way.
This may seem out of focus and I'm shooting from the hip as I type, and if you're still reading then I thank you. One thing running does is that it erases color, gender, sexual orientation, class, and so on. When I'm shoulder to shoulder with another runner then I'm next to my brother or sister. I have their back and they have mine. The marathons are a triumph, and so are the Saturday long runs when I look another runner in the eyes and we get it. There is a humanity to this thing we do, wanting to be better than we were, or to come to a spiritual understanding. As we move forward and sporting events can become a thing, and we can run marathons. we need to strive for better than what we were before all of this. To quote the song 'These shall not be forgotten years'. And in the meantime I intend to heal up, embrace my brothers and sisters, and keep going. I have a Boston to get to, we have better people to be.
Ryan (That's me)
Runner, writer, and a survivor. It's all about living the life you want and helping each other along the way.