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Archive for September, 2011

Freedom

[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

33.

No, not the mysterious number that appears on bottles of Rolling Rock beer; I’m talking seconds.

Yes, 33 seconds.  Yesterday I was informed by the BAA that my BQ time of 3:19:19 was 33 seconds short (long?) of what became the actual Boston Marathon cut off.  Maybe they should have changed 3:20:59 from BQ to BAQ (Boston Application Qualifier).  It turned out that based on the body of runners who applied to get in, the cut off time for my age group was 3:18:46.

33 seconds.  1.26 seconds per mile.  Three extra step per mile.

Bummer.

That’s life though, right?  Sometimes you’re in, and sometimes you’re out.  I am out…this time.

I could be bitter.

I could be upset.

And if I am going to be absolutely honest with myself, maybe I am a little bit of both – but just a little.

The truth is, after last year’s registration debacle, the BAA had to do something.  I feel like the new system may be brutal, but it is probably the fairest way of doing things.  It gives those who are most deserving a spot at the big dance.  Those of us left off the roster are left to wonder: what could I have done? From now on, being a bubble qualifier will most likely not be good enough.  One is going to have to train not to barely qualify, but rather to qualify “with authority”.

Sadly it gets more brutal next year when BQ times drop 5:59 across the board.  No longer will people be granted the 59 second grace period.  I will have to run a 3:15:00 marathon or better if I hope to qualify (BAQ?) for 2013.

***

So yeah, I’m a little bitter about it.  But I am also choosing to see this as an opportunity.  Not running Boston this Spring opens up the calendar to some new opportunities.  There are two marathons in particular that I have had my eye on for the last couple of years, but have not been options, in part because I was training for or toward Boston.

I would love to run Hyannis in February.  It was the race that got this whole running thing started for me.  Unfortunately, I never did end up running it.  It’s a long story…

The other, more intriguing race for me is the Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine.  It is considered one of the fastest marathons in the country with the last 16 miles supposedly downhill.  Now the thought of doing anything downhill makes my legs hurt right now (I promise I’m trying to put together my Vermont 50 recap), but taking a step back from this weekend, I have to say it is really appealing.  In addition, I lived in the Sugarloaf area for a few years back in the mid-90’s – it would be fun to go back and see how and if things have changed.  PLUS, maybe I could get my buddy Brendan (aka – @mainerunnah – my Smuttynose running partner) to come run it with me.  I’m betting that together we could both hit 3:13 or better.

Thoughts…just thoughts as I react to getting shutout of Boston.

Strangely enough though, I feel unexpectedly free…

…and freedom, I think, is a good thing.

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I Will Not Be Racing Tomorrow

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…got your attention, didn’t I?

It’s true.  Tomorrow is the Vermont 50 – that huge, scary race that has been sitting on my horizon for the last month or so.  The race that I have done almost no training for save maybe 10 miles on a local trail here in town.  It is finally here.

No, I will not be racing the Vermont 50 tomorrow.

***

Don’t panic Doug.

Just so I don’t give my buddy Doug (who will be my running partner) to much of a scare, I will be there tomorrow; I will run the Vermont 50 with him tomorrow.

***

For the first time ever, I plan on NOT racing a race.  True, my last 6.2 miles of Boston this year was all about enjoying the crowd, but that was forced upon me by my powerbonk.  The Vermont 50 will be different.  My plan from the start will be different.

To me, there is a difference between running and racing a race.  When you are racing, the needle is red-lined almost the entire way.  The sole focus is the finish and getting to that finish in the quickest time you physically are able.

I don’t plan on doing that tomorrow.

Tomorrow I plan on enjoying the journey as much as possible – stopping to take pictures, pausing to tweet how we’re doing, taking a breather to rest weary legs and lungs, taking my time to ingest a sandwich or two at the aid stations.

If you are bored or just need a diversion tomorrow, check me out on twitter (@luau).  I hear coverage is spotty up there, but when I do get a signal, I’ll be broadcasting the fun.

Have a great Sunday people.  I know I will.

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Dear Friends,

As you know, last year I ran the New York City Marathon, wearing the Autism Speaks logo on my chest.  YOU got me there by helping me raise well over $3,500 before the race.  This year I have chosen to skip the marathon and focus solely on the Boston Walk for Autism.  There are several reasons for this (one being I can only run so many marathons before my legs give out), but suffice it to say that sometimes one must walk to be able to run again.

So why am I walking for Autism Speaks? Why am I asking you once again to help us meet our goals?  I could link you to a dozen blog posts both Jess and I have written about the scientific research that shows incredible promise, or how Autism Speaks continues to do incredible work in their Raising Awareness campaign, or I could tell you about a friend who was surprised at just how many people in her new school community didn’t know what autism was right here in our town, telling me that there is still a long way to go…

But for me, it always comes down to this ..

(and now I’m stealing my wife’s much more eloquent words)

To make a difference.

To ease the path for my girl and so many like her who struggle with autism’s challenges.

To help find answers.

To change lives.

That’s what I’m asking for today.

*

Because every child deserves the chance to push past the limits of his or her potential.

Because we ALL deserve a world in which these amazing people are full participants.

Because we still have so many more questions than answers. 

Because the answers change lives. 

Because given the right tools, there is nothing – NOTHING – that my baby can’t do. 

Because for the first time in my life, I have no choice but to ask for your help. 

Because we can’t do this alone. 

Please give what you can. 

Because every dollar makes a difference in the lives of children like mine. 

From the bottom of my heart,

Thank you.


I know these are tough times economically, so I ask you to give what you can, and if you can’t, and are so inclined, please pass this along.  The link below will take you to Jess’ fund raising page.  I’m asking you to donate to HER page and not mine because every dollar she raises will be matched by her company – EVERY DOLLAR! So for every dollar you donate to her, you are essentially helping us raise double that!

http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=467486&supid=331351221

If, for whatever reason, the link takes you to the Walk’s splash page and asks you to look up a walker, please enter:

FIRST NAME: Jess

LAST NAME: diaryofamom

The link can be a little wonky.

Finally, as added incentive, if we can hit her goal by Walk Day (October 2nd), I will do this for my next marathon (to me, not the dog – Dear PETA, this picture is photoshopped.  I did not dye my dog for real).

Thank you for your continuing support.  I am already in your debt.

-Luau

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The Journey

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Time flies quickly.

As we get older, unlike our legs, Time seems to pick up the pace.  On the inside I am much like the 18-year old boy I was some 23 years ago.  Where have those 23 years gone?  What have I done with those 23 years?  and why did I waste so much time?

At nearly 42, I can’t help but wonder, what have I done?  where is my mark?  will anybody remember Luau?

This, I think is typical for a man my age.  As we realize we have passed the midway point of our marathon of life, wondering if we have run the way we should have; knowing that even as we head for that ultimate finish line, there will be a Heartbreak Hill  or two we have to overcome along the way.

Growing up I always thought that I would be famous.  I had no idea what for.  I just knew it was coming…at some point.  The problem was just that though, I knew – and as any Sci-Fi fan will tell you, knowing what will happen in the future inevitably changes it.  That knowledge made me lazy, complacent.  Sure I studied my ass off in high school, but the truth is, after that, I simply waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Where did I fall off the path?  It was near the end of my senior year in high school.  I had been accepted into an Ivy League school, I was a lock as the Valedictorian of my high school, I was a member of every social group, from the nerds, to the jocks, from the burn outs to the BP’s – they all claimed me as their own; life was good.

I took my foot off of the accelerator and flipped on the proverbial cruise switch.

Looking back, I wonder if I ever turned the switch off.  To be sure, there were times when I took control of my world.  Most recently was just over a year ago when I decided that I had to qualify for Boston.  I spent the summer focused, running mile after mile with a singular purpose.

3 months later, I achieved my goal.  Needing a 3:20:59 to qualify for Boston 2011, I ran a 3:19:19.

Boston Qualifier – I felt like I had achieved something…something not a whole lot of people can claim.

But there was a problem.  I had thought that qualifying for Boston would somehow mystically change me, alter me, better me…but I was still just plain, old me.  I was still Luau, just 3 months older, a few pounds lighter.  On the inside I was still Luau the 18-year old kid, waiting for fame to shine its light upon me.

I know now that it’s not coming…at least, not until I grab it by the horns and wrestle it down.

***

These last few months have been difficult for me as a runner.  My motivation has come and gone like the breeze pushing fallen leaves on a cool autumn day.  With only days until the Vermont 50, I will admit that I have done almost no training – zippo, zilch, nada!  I jokingly said to someone recently that I had been tapering since Boston – I was only half-joking.  This journey is going to be a test of mental toughness, of determination, of focus.  I am both scared and not scared simultaneously.  There is a part of me the simply knows I have it within me to cover 50 miles in 12 hours. Simple math tells me that as long as I keep moving, I will be fine.  And for the first time in my short racing life, I don’t care about where or how fast I finish (other than not to get physically removed off of the course by the sweepers).

But part of me is terrified.  What if I am mentally weak? 

Am I?

What if my mind gives up before my body does? 

Will it?

What if I discover that I peaked at the age of 18? 

Did I?

***

This “race” on Sunday will be interesting to say the least.  My hope is that I can prove to myself once again, that I am strong, I am determined, but mostly, that I can be disciplined.  Maybe I can rediscover who I was.  Then, it will be a matter of bringing those traits back into my every day life and then hopefully, full circle back to my running.

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This morning at 10AM I did what as many as 10,000 other marathoners did or will do this week.  Along with all of the other Boston Qualifiers that qualified with less than a 5 minute cushion, I submitted my registration application to the B.A.A. for the 2012 Boston Marathon.  With a cushion of a mere 1-minute 40-seconds, I don’t particularly like my chances.  There is much speculation online as to how many spots the B.A.A. will hand out for the 2012 marathon.  I’ve read numbers ranging from 18,000, to 21,000 (not counting those running for charity).  As of Saturday night, approximately 15,000 spots had been assigned to runners who had run 5, 10, and 20 minutes faster than their required qualifying times.  Even with the most generous of estimations, that leaves less than 6,000 spots left for 10,000 hopefuls.  My best guess is that the cut off for getting into Boston is going to be a BQ-2…leaving me 20 seconds short.

And so I wait and see.

As my friend Doug said earlier this morning – hopefully the running gods will smile upon me.  We shall see.

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So, Martin “#2” Kessman is suing White Castle for discriminating against his 290-pound frame, claiming that, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, he is having his civil rights violated.  I haven’t seen one word yet about WHAT his disability is.  If Mr. Kessman is claiming that his sole disability is his weight and the accompanying morbid obesity, then I shake my head in utter disappointment.  In a world where people must deal with real disabilities, whether they be physical, mental or processing difficulties, how can a man who has chosen to eat his way into his condition have the nerve to claim a civil rights violation.

Kessman claims, “The Americans with Disabilities Act is applicable – not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people. I just want to sit down like a normal person.”

Did he really compare himself, a man that as far as we know is simply overweight, to a pregnant woman or to handicapped people?  Really? (and Marty?  are you saying that handicapped people aren’t normal?  Careful Buddy.)

He says that he doesn’t like that he can’t fit into the booths of the White Castle he used to go to (more on that in a second).  He went on to say that not being able to sit in the booths was “extremely embarrassing [especially] to have to experience in front of a restaurant full of customers.”  He continues by saying that when he did try to squeeze into a larger seating area, he slammed his knee into one of the metal posts under the table and hurt himself.

Now, this is a man who has been eating White Castle burgers for over 50 years.  Supposedly he has been eating at the same White Castle since 1959.  I would imagine that back then, as a young man, he probably fit just fine into the booth style seating.  Wasn’t there some point in his life when he realized that maybe, just maybe the booths were getting a little tight?

But I want to get back to this quote from the New York Post, “I just want to sit down like a normal person.”

This quote, or rather the intention of this quote is what is wrong with America right now.  When noticing that he was pushing beyond the maximum capacity of the booths, he could have taken different steps to remedy the situation.  Asking White Castle to remodel their restaurant is NOT one of them.  Anybody who reads this blog knows what Marty could have done.  But instead of taking responsibility for his lifetime of poor eating habits, he decided that White Caste had to accommodate him.  I don’t buy it for a minute that he was concerned for pregnant women or those with true handicaps.

I am a firm,FIRM believer that society as a whole should make an effort to accommodate those members that truly are disabled.  It is our way of showing that we value life, all life.  But when jackasses like Marty make a mockery of that compassion because they are lazy, I really get upset.  It cheapens the compassion shown to my baby girl; compassion that I am so grateful for.

My daughter Brooke works extremely hard to fit herself into the world around her.  To quote an amazing parent, she is a hair dryer kid in a toaster brained world (READ IT, IT WILL GIVE YOU INSIGHT).  It’s not easy for Brooke…ever.  Society though makes an effort to include her in their world, to accommodate her, and for that I am extremely grateful.  But my point is that we work very hard to make sure that she is returning the favor of accommodation by trying to do the same.

What accommodation has Marty made?  What has he done on his part to make things easier for the situation?

Marty loves his White Castle.  He just can’t say no.  In fact, despite boycotting going into the White Castle, he now send his wife  to  pick up the burgers and fries for him. He says his traditional meal is No. 2, which offers a little less bun and a lot more cheese. It includes two double cheeseburgers, medium fries and a small drink.
Good effort Marty.  Good effort.
This lawsuit, to me, is just as ridiculous as the mom who sued McDonald’s because she just couldn’t say “no” to her kids when they asked for a Happy Meal.
Both Monet (the mom suing McD’s) and Marty should try a little self-discipline.
Oh, and Marty?  Maybe along with cutting down on the number of times per week you have the #2, how about you try a little walk in the evening and adding some color to your meals (that’s vegetable NOT condiments).

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The Rings of 9/11

I went out this morning for a run.  I set out to run 9.11 miles in memory of those who will never run again.  As my run developed, I decided to stop at every mile for a brief moment of silence to think of those that lost their lives and to slow my overall pace down to 9:11 per mile.  It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky – much like that fateful day 10 years ago.

In the end, I hit it right on the nose, 9.11 miles, 1:23:43 for an overall pace of 9:11.

***

During one of my moments of silence, I thought of the City of New York, the people that live, work, and love there.

I thought of my sister.  She is one of those people that has worked and lived in New York for almost half of her life.  As I thought of her, I remember something she described to me not too long after that horrific day.  She described what she called the Rings of 9/11 – the layers of people who were affected by the acts of those evil men.

We all know of the 3,000 lives that were lost that day.  But what of the rest of us?  Everybody in this country was affected by the events of 9/11, but the truth is, the closer one was to Ground Zero, she believed, the more traumatic the event was.  There are exceptions to be sure, but for the most part, I have to agree with her.

***

So today, as we honor those that lost their lives 10 years ago, each in our own way, maybe we should all take a moment to check in on those whom we love and were not too far from the epicenter.  I will be thinking of all of my friends who still live there, but today, I think I will call my sister.

Who will you call or reach out to?

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