Today’s Run: Directions, Parkour & Homeless Happy

It’s amazing what I end up running into. Today’s run was pretty unique, and I’d like to share a few of the interesting things that went down. There’s a “lesson of the day,” as well as a bonus lesson 🙂

This run was a 6-ish mile trail run in preparation for next week’s 10k Scramble at Riverrock.

Giving Directions

About 5 minutes in, a man yelled across 4 lanes of traffic to me, asking for directions to Byrd Park. So I stopped, waiting for traffic to clear, and sprinted across the Mayo Bridge to help a brother in need. I have no idea why he was headed to Byrd Park, but on a beautiful day like today, I knew I had to do whatever I could to get him there.

Lesson #1

Even when you’re training or practicing for something in particular, you should still stop to give directions.

It’s our city. It’s beautiful. We love it here. And we should want everyone to enjoy it as much as we do. So let’s help get people where they want to go. Let’s be honest… there’s way too many cool places in this city for us to leave a man wandering.

Parkour with Ronnie

I’m about 1/3 of the way across the dry rocks, crossing the river on my way to Belle Isle. I stop to try and figure out where the actual course will be. This guy from up on a rock yells down, “You wanna race? I’ve never lost one.”

My first thought was:

“Race someone on slippery rocks, and risk biting it the week before a race? Uh, no thanks.”

My second thought was:

“Well, I could be the first guy to beat you.”

I didn’t say either of those out loud. I honestly don’t remember what I said to him, but he jumped off the rock & said, “Let’s go.” So naturally, I followed.

He was super-nice, and incredibly agile. He grew up here, and has ‘run these rocks’ a thousand times. Sure enough, he got me right to the ladder I was looking for on the other side. Without taking any rock to the face.

Homeless & Happy

As I was finishing up my run (the last 1/4 of a mile), I hear some music jammin’ from afar. At the end of the Belle Isle footbridge, there’s a grungy-looking dude with no shirt on, dancing to the beat of Pharrell’s Happy that was playing from his old school boombox. His moves were sub-par, but his energy & smile were right up there on the top of charts, alongside Pharrell’s hit single.

I thanked him & told him that was awesome, but I kept on running.

I don’t know whether or not he was homeless, but it appeared that he didn’t have much in terms of the physical possessions that you & I so often take for granted. And he was definitely the happiest one out there today.

Lesson #2

When someone is playing music & dancing in a public space, just to make people happy… JOIN THEM!

I regret not stopping for a quick dance.

Today’s Run: Storms, Frogs & Girls

In an effort to document my thoughts while I’m out running (because that’s always the big question when someone learns that you run distance), here’s how it went down today.

I began the run excited to get rained on. It’s been a while since I ran in a nice downpour, and I was looking forward to it.

Early on, I got passed by a group of about a dozen mountain bikers. I thought it was awesome they were out there, too. I’m not the only crazy one who loves the rain.

I started to notice little frogs jumping out of the way, off the trail into the brush. I’ve seen a frog or two out there before, but never this many. Maybe a dozen in my 7-mile trek. Unusual. Is it just the time of year they like to come out & play? Is it something about the weather patterns? Did they just stop using protection?

After that last thought, I realized I didn’t care enough to spend any more brain power on the topic.

I’m wondering how my feet are holding up. It sounds awfully squishy down there, and my socks are not the greatest. I don’t want to get blisters with a big hill workout tomorrow.

Then I passed two dudes walking from the parking lot of North Bank Trail, heading back into their cars. I thought about the bill that was being discussed in the Supreme Court today about same-sex marriage. I wonder if they’re gay? If they are… good for them. If they’re not… good for them.

I saw some late teen-early twenty kids walking through the parking lot. They were probably hanging out at Texas Beach… possibly up to no good, but perhaps just having a good time, like teenagers do. Who knows? And who am I to judge?

Ooooh, my favorite section of North Bank Trail. Let’s see how fast I can run it…

Dangit. Cramp. B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Relax. Get yourself together. … OK, now turn back on the jets…

I got onto Belle Isle and passed that same group of mountain bikers I saw earlier. And now that it was downpouring, I connected eyes with several of them, and we just smiled at each other, as if to silently say, “Doesn’t get any better than this!” 🙂

While at the top of Belle Isle, I reminisced about a conversation I had about myself, in regards to a previous relationship I was in. Also got me thinking about my current girl situation. No big revelations here, just a few minutes of simple contemplation.

I should probably head home. Don’t want to push it too much today. I’ve got a massage, hot yoga & a hill workout tomorrow.

Some of the water splashed down from the Lee Bridge as I ran along the pedestrian bridge. It was really warm. Wonder where exactly it traveled before reaching my face. Kinda nasty… but the heavy drops of water felt great.

A girl came down from Oregon Hill, and started running in front of me. I passed her on the flat. We exchanged pleasantries. I thought I was running past her at a pretty good pace, but sure enough, a few minutes later, she was right on my tail.

I kept my eye over my shoulder. If she was getting too close, I’d either move off to the side to let her pass… or just run faster. That kept my attention almost the entire way back.

Once returning to the parking lot, I let out a few claps & whooo’s, and a “That was awesome!”


Today’s Run: For Boston

According to my training schedule, I should’ve been swimming or biking today. But I chose a run instead.

The Boston bombings are still fresh on my mind. I don’t have answers or explanations; mostly, just more questions. But my brain can’t help but to go into overdrive when something like this happens. A run was just what I needed.

Today's Run for the Boston Marathon bombing victims

Today’s run was dedicated to…

  • all those who were injured or killed in the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • More than that, all the friends & family who can no longer see & hear stories about their friends running.
  • Even more than that, all those who now need to find new running buddies for the 6am, 8-mile, Starbucks running group.

The events in Boston were certainly tragic, but there are others all over the world whom, for a multitude of reasons, cannot physically run. Birth defects, accidents, illnesses, you name it. Thousands of people whom will never experience the feeling of running even a mile.

Today, I run for them.

And while I realize this doesn’t even come close to providing them the experience of a run, I’m reminded of all the other amazing things these people can do, will do & are already doing that enrich their lives each and every day.

Today’s Run: Little League Baseball

There’s a Little League baseball complex less than a mile from my house. When I left for my run this evening, 2 games were being played: One by the real youngsters, just big enough to start pitching to themselves. The other kids were a few years older, just starting to realize the excitement of hitting their first ball into the gap in left-center.

I paused my iPod. Then stopped along the fence in right field to take it in. Two things came to mind.

1. For that brief moment, I missed baseball.

  • I missed putting my uniform on.
  • Rubbing a new ball with dirt.
  • Taking swings into the fence.
  • Chugging the Gatorade after each inning coming off the mound.
  • Taking a lead off first.
  • Meeting my teammates at home plate after they hit their first dinger of the season.
  • Team huddles on the mound during late-inning suspense.
  • The pressure of getting the last out.
  • The 0-2 pitch… and the 3-2 pitch.
  • The family & friends watching from the stands… with expectations.
  • My dad, and coaches, teaching me how to be aggressive.
  • My mom, delivering the ice cold towel in the middle of the summer heat.
  • The 10-run rule… and the extra-inning thrillers.
  • The umpire with the tight strike zone. Thanks for making me better.
  • The hustle plays. Headfirst slides. All-out sprints. Plays at the plate.

2. I looked forward to coaching my son one day.

We’re quite a few years away from this one, but I’ve always been a futuristic thinker.

I looked around at all the parents. I heard the third-base coach — whom I’m sure was a player’s dad — cheering his players on. And I thought, “I would really like to be that cool dad when I grow up.”

Thank you, run, for a wonderful trip down memory lane, and an equally as promising glimpse into the future.

Today’s Run: Friends, Dogs & Family

This is the first post in a new series I’m calling “today’s run.” My mind is often at its most active when I’m out on a run. And I’d like to share some of those thoughts with the world.

Today’s run took longer to develop than it should have. Between work, and my relentless insistence on shoving food down my throat, I managed to put it off until 4pm.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter when you run. It just matters that you ran. Today was one of those days.

I set out for an 8-mile trail run in my backyard, the JRPS trails. Buttermilk, Northbank, Belle Isle… all the usuals. And although I originally set out alone, I found myself sharing the trails with many different faces: some familiar faces, some strangers and some hairy ones with long tongues and real sloppy kisses.

I bumped into my buddy Nate who I haven’t seen in a while. Nate’s training for one of those crazy ultras I used to be so gung-ho about. Good for you, buddy. It was great catching up.

Then a few canine friends stopped to say hello. Some just gave me the quick snif’n’go (which I totally understand when Mom’s got you on a short leash). Others stopped for a legit petting from head to rear. And you better believe I gave them every last bit of what they were looking for.

But this one sweet pup… He was off his leash. Mom was pretty laid back. So he decided he’d run with me for a few hundred feet. I’m awful with naming dog breeds, but just trust me, this guy had sweet puppy face written all over him. I ran the rest of my run with his dirty paw prints on my shirt.

And then I saw a few moms… with strollers… and little ones inside. I don’t have a kid of my own, but I still smile at almost every little kid I see.

Then I saw my buddy Tyler at the end of my run. He just finished up a mountain bike ride. He’s going through some career stuff, just moved into a new apartment… the cycle of life. Stuff we all deal with at some point or another, but it was nice to hear his personal story.

All of these encounters got me thinking about family. A wife. A kid or two. A dog. A decent-sized house in a friendly neighborhood. The ups & downs of parenting…

I want all of that stuff. Not the same way I want to complete an Ironman, or I want a new computer. But that’s where I see myself in the future. Near future? Distant future? Who knows? But I want that.

As some of you know from my Facebook status updates, I watch The Bachelor on ABC. It’s an awful show on so many levels, and I know it’s 100% entertainment, heavily staged, yada yada yada. I get it. But it’s one of my few guilty pleasures, and I find it extremely entertaining. So bear with me for a sec.

In thinking about all this family stuff, I’m going to cite a line that I’ve heard many times on The Bachelor.

That’s always been my number 1 goal in life… to have a family.

I always thought that was just a line. Something they said for the camera, or to convince the guy to pick them. Who knows if they really meant it or not—or what it even means to them. But after today, I started to think if there might be some truth in that.

I’ve been guilty for almost my entire adult life of putting work ahead of my social life (which includes relationships). I’ve set many goals over the past 10 years, and I’ve accomplished almost every one I’ve set. I’ve done some really awesome things.

Maybe I should think of a relationship—and eventually, a family—in more of the way I think of the other goals I set for myself. I don’t want to force something that’s not there. And I don’t want to put a deadline on it (because that could force me into something I’m not ready for).

Over the past 3 years, I’ve tried to make a relationship more of a priority. And the fact that I’m single right now doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t done that. There could be any number of other reasons why I’m still single, none of which are bad, or anyone’s fault. It’s just how it is.

This is really just a reminder for myself. A reminder that I do want a family, a dog, a house & some kids. And that just like all the other goals I have in life, they won’t just appear before my eyes. They take dedication, timing, sacrifice, money, and a host of other things.