Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Boston Marathon Reprise

It is a beautiful crisp white day. It is also minus ten - get this -10! Not very cold in the great scheme of things, but too cold for the Wet Coast.

Had an e-mail asking me if I had any shots on the Blog of me in the Boston Marathon, and oddly enough given my propensity for whoring myself out as a media slut, I couldn't find any...

So here is little (and not so little) Vince Hemingson running the 2006 Boston Marathon...

Even six months on, I can remember the towns... Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton (gasp!), Brookline, and finally Boston.

Going through my photos brought back a flood of memories in a fulgent flash (thanks Justin).



At 19 miles, just cresting the Newton Hills. Muscle cramps in all the rest of the way to the finish.


Crossing the Finish Line. One of the great experiences of my life. In many ways, this marathon was the culmination of five years of running and training and being beguiled by the magical distance of 26.2 miles. A journey of discovery and not a little wonderment. Best remembered by the friends made along the way. Not my fastest marathon (by 59 seconds!), but I will always consider it my best race. And I re-qualified for Boston with a 3:30:38.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

White Out

After heading for the wettest November in Vancouver's history, Mother Nature has thrown a curve ball and now we're looking at the whitest in recent memory. Thanks to an Arctic cold front, all the moisture courtesy of the Pineapple Express by way of Hawaii has been transformed into a blanket of white.

For my father, all this snow is both a blesssing and a curse. The view out his hospital room window has certainly become more picturesque, but it has complicated his treatment. His recent angiogram revealed perilously obstructed arteries and a couple of heart valves on their last legs. He is scheduled to have immediate open-heart surgery - no waiting around - to put in some stents (they already harvested the veins in his legs for his last bypass surgery)and replace his valves. But with so much snow on the ground, transportation in Vancouver has ground to a halt and many members of the nursing staff are having trouble geting to work. Being understaffed has put a number of procedures on temporary hold. So my father waits. We wait.

My father has now spent twenty-one days in either the CCU or the Cardiology Ward. That is a long time to be stuck in a hospital bed, wired for sound. It's a long time to reflect back on your life. I have lost track of the times I have visited, or the hours I have spent by his bed. It is both too many, and not enough. The passage of time does not make it any easier. For either of us.

So he continues on a drastically calorie-restricted diet and a fluid restriction that only allows him 1.2 litres of fluid per day. Buying time for his kidneys and his liver to bounce back. So that in theory at least, he'll be strong enough to withstand going under the knife. Surgery offers the only way out of his current dilemna. A sobering thought, that in order to get better, they have to split you open. And split is not too graphic a term or an image. Open-heart surgery requires that they take a saw to your sternum and that they split you wide open to get access to your heart. And afterwards, they have to wire you shut. Recovery will not be pleasant. It will hurt. A lot.

Makes that old saw about diet and exercise as the keys to a long life positively sing...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Sound of Laughter...

Men make plans and the Gods laugh...

I had an enormous retail space to paint sometime this weekend and what with trying to squeeze my Father and regular visits to the hospital in with my running and the rain and work and some semblance of a personal life, I elected to paint the place all of Saturday night and early Sunday morning (very early), so that in lieu of running the Seattle Marathon today, I could squeeze in a long run.


Last night it started to snow as the sun was setting.

Nine hours later I left the job with the streets covered with a thin blanket of the white stuff and no sign of it letting up. But it was beautiful, with enormous soft flakes drifting through the light shed by the street lamps. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I woke up four hours later determined to run, but at a little past seven this morning I decided that sometimes, the best laid plans have to be put back on the shelf.

So I am settled back with a cup of steaming hot coffee, sitting at my computer and looking out the window at a world transformed. By this afternoon, much of the snow will have melted away, but for the time being I have surrendered to the elements.

Sometimes you just have to take what the universe yields up, sit back and laugh with the Gods.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pain in the Neck

Dear God, please strike me down where I stand... At this moment I would give anything to be able to swap the pain in my neck for some good old-fashioned sciatica back pain. THAT, I can deal with. Having suffered chronic back pain for years, Christ it is now nearly two decades, I would love to be able to embrace pain that is so familiar it is like an old friend - well, maybe more like an annoying neighbor that you learn to tolerate. And vaguely miss if you don't see them for a while.

Hobbling around on a cane would be a welcome relief from the misery I have found myself in for the past three days. I don't mind the pain itself so much, but the accompanying headaches, sensitivity to light and rather bizarre nausea are a bit much. After all, what on earth does this old muscle damage in my shoulder and neck have to do with wanting to throw up unexpectedly I ask?

Driving a car is the absolute worst. Because I am brain-damaged and slightly retarded, I always forget that I am just a small sudden movement away from excruciating agony when I drive. And despite driving like a little old lady, I find myself still shoulder checking when I change lanes. Shoulder checking for those of you don't know how to drive properly - and let's face it, it is most of you - go on, look in the mirror - is when you turn your head to check over your shoulders before your turn because just checking your mirrors leaves you vulnerable to vehicles in your blind spots. I turn my head, scream a little - like an old lady - and then want to vomit. Fun stuff in a moving vehicle...

I went for a 10K run this morning and after a few kilometres said 'F**k it" and went home. I think I am going through some kind of psychosomatic reaction to withdrawing from the Seattle Marathon this weekend. I had not really thought that I was that excited about doing the race, but now that I am not doing it, it is sort of pissing me off. I find now, after I had decided NOT to go, that I really WANT to be there. Of course this may just be an infantile and assuredly Vince-like immature response to not getting what I want. I wonder at times if there is any correlation between the 'terrible twos' and the 'miserable mid-forties'.

What a pain in the neck...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Barometer Bones

Woke up this morning with a blinding headache and an almost complete inability to turn my head. And no, there was no alcohol involved... I went to bed at a normal hour, feeling fine at the time and woke up in agony. Ahhh, you have to love old whiplash injuries. I must have slept in a funny position and now I have a funky little nerve sending SOS messages up through my left shoulder and neck, right into my brain. Such as it is... It actually makes my left eye squint and twitch as if I am a B Grade character actor in a bad Clint Eastwood western shot in Spain.

Dragged myself out of bed and washed down some aspirin with some extra-strength caffeine. Braved the rain and the wind and ran a hard 10K. Running is the one thing I seem to be in control of these days. No one else on the trails this morning. Just me and the puddles. Coming down off the curb to hit the asphalt with my heel was an interesting experience. Ran the shower hot enough to peel skin and climbed out ten minutes later, bright red and feeling a little better.

My father had an angiogram was night and now it's off to the hospital.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What the Heart Sees

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince)

Each of us intuits the world in our own way. We interpret the world through the lens of personal experience, a lifetime of impressions, interactions, predjudices, successes and failures. Often what we feel in our hearts seems more relevant and real than what we can see with our eyes. But if you can't always believe what you see, can you always believe what you feel?

For the two weeks that my father has grappled with an array of life-threatening ailments, I have struggled to reconcile what I see with what I feel. From a heart attack, to acute renal failure, to arrythmia, to this and to that my father's body has been assaulted and assailed. The opponent he engages with is not foreign, not outside himself, it is himself. His Empire is not threatened by forces beyond his borders but with an internal struggle, the outcome of which is uncertain. But in the end, all Empires fall.

I know from personal experience that most of my wounds are self-inflicted ones. I am my own worst enemy. It is on the tip of my tongue to say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, that I am my father's son, a chip off the old block, but I can't. With free will comes freedom of choice. For better or for worse. Who am I to say that someone's choices are right or wrong for them? What is wrong for me may well be the best choice for them. And what is right for me may not work for someone else.

I am rarely a casual observer of life. I am a critical, judgemental son of a bitch. I have an opinion about nearly everything, and if I don't, give me five minutes and I'll give you one. And while I want intellectually to say that my father finds himself in his current predicament because of his own actions and his own actions alone, I feel in my heart that it isn't quite that easy. In life we often conspire against ourselves and our own best interests. We don't always do the right thing, make the smart choice, take the right path.

To paraphrase Frank Sinatra and Paul Anka, you have to do it your way, regrets and all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In the Shadow of the Divine Goddess

Goddess energy.

The divine feminine.

In the past five weeks I have worked for five different women. Not really that unusual if you paint.

Women rule the nest.

Women redecorate.

What was unusual was that the last two women were eight and a half months pregnant and nine months pregnant (actually overdue but I'll get to that later). And all five women were accomplished professionals, successful and self-assured.

I feel as if I have been swimming in a sea of estrogen. Each of the jobs started out with a very specific quote and a list of things to be done. Every job began to expand exponentially once I was started, each wall or room I finished seeming to lead inexorably to a new one. This is not a bad thing. But it is interesting to experience as it unfolds.

A personal space or a home is clearly different for a woman that a man. Shelter is shelter. But a woman needs to 'own' the colours she is surrounded with. Many men like colour, and have an opinion about colour in their home, but women tend, on average, to be much more passionate about the subject.

I find colours and the palettes that people choose to surround themselves with endlessly fascinating. I think the colours of a home - if the individuals in the home actually chose them - can reveal a huge amount about who lives there. I like people who like colour. Of course on one level, it feeds me and helps to pay my bills. But people who like colour can be said to be colourful.

Women make great bosses. If you show up on a construction site I can assure you that you will not be offered coffee, or cookies, or snacks or be asked at Noon if you would like a sandwhich or a bowl of soup. It will not happen. It happened on every single job where my boss had breasts.

If you show up on a construction site you will either be given a can of paint to put on the wall or a list of colours that need to be purchased. More often that not, a woman will show you a colour chart and then ask you what you think. Your opinion is not only sought after but expected. And you had better have an answer ready that is more involved than, "I think it looks great". Because that will promptly be followed up with a "Why?". Generally speaking I am loathe to inject myself into the decision over what colour to paint someone else's home because it is such a personal decision. And if the colour doesn't 'work' in the space I don't want anyone pointing a finger at me. I try to limit my comments to what I have seen work and not work in the past. As in, on the West Coast it can be pretty bleak and grey on occasion from November to March so you might want to consider that when you choose a dark colour...

I couldn't get over the feeling that with these women clients that it was important that there be a 'relationship' of some sort with the painter. And these women were married and it was all very professional of course, but being in someone's home was such an intrusion of personal space that it was clearly important that we be sympatico on some level.

I must confess I felt a strange twinge every time I finished a job and moved on. It was the damnest thing. I felt like I was losing a friend.

And spending two weeks in a row around two exceedingly pregnant women was practically a life altering experience. It was as if the air I was breathing was redolent with hormones. These women were like hyper achetypes of femininity. I felt surrounded by uber-females. I am gushing here like a school-girl but the power of a pregnant woman is something to behold. Husbands, family members and friends just kind of got out of the way of the estrogen juggernaut. They reminded me of the fertility figures so prominent in many early primitive cultures with their exagerated pendulous breasts and great bellies bursting with life. Icons of life.

These women were brimming over with energy and life and creativity and one of the ways it was expressed was in ensuring that the 'nest' be ready for the imminent arrival of the next generation. I just tried not to get in the way. And being a man of a certain vintage myself, of having my own ticking biological clock, it was hard not to fall madly for these paragons of ripeness. It makes you think, when confronted face to belly, with the cycle of life... Especially when my last job ended with the client not being present on the last day because she busy giving birth!

It is good for the ego because you have to confront the knowledge that life is not really about you. Life doesn't begin with you or end with you. There were those before you and there will be many after you. Your time is fleeting. Make the best of it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rainy Day People

Yesterday I fully intended to run 25 kilometers. But such is the road to Hell...

After 20 K in the rain, the last five of it torrential and cold and driven by an icy wind and with water running in frost-laden rivulets down the back of my neck and ice-water squishing up between my toes, and dripping off the brim of my hat I had had enough. Nothing was to be gained by sticking it out for another half an hour or more. Only more suffering.

So our group of hard-core, never-say-die, run in any weather stalwarts headed for the barn, a change of clothes and a hot breakfast. Having worn shorts and with bright red legs, I spiked my coffee with a little Bailey's Irish Cream. To fun off the germs, you see.

All morning I was humming a tune I couldn't quite place, just hum-hum-hum and the words, 'Rainy Day Lovers' repeated in my head like a mantra...

Finally I realized I was channeling a Gordon Lightfoot song, Rainy Day People. It seemed appropriate under the conditions.

Rainy day people always seem to know when its time to call
Rainy day people don't talk, they just listen till they've heard it all
Rainy day lovers don't lie when they tell ya they've been down like you
Rainy day people don't mind if you're cryin' a tear or two
If you get lonely, all you really need is that rainy day love
Rainy day people all know there's no sorrow they cant rise above
Rainy day lovers don't love any others, that would not be kind
Rainy day people all know how it hangs on a piece of mind

Rainy day lovers don't lie when they tell you, they've been down there too
Rainy day people don't mind if you're cryin' a tear or two.

Rainy day people always seem to know when you're feeling blue
High stepping strutters who land in the gutters sometimes need one too
Take it or leave it, or try to believe it
If you've been down too long

Rainy day lovers don't hide love inside they just pass it on
Rainy day lovers don't hide love inside they just pass it on

Let's hear it for rainy day love...

After my run I headed to the hospital to visit my father.

I can't quite place my finger on the exact reasons why, but going to the hospital is becoming increasingly difficult for me. It is not that I don't want to see my father. Rather it is the horrible feeling and palpable sense of dread engendered in my gut by entering the edifice that is St. Paul's. My nose begins to curl up at the smell when I am within a hundred yards of the place. The hairs actually begin to rise on the back of my neck as I approach. All of the doorways and the courtyards and the nooks and crannies that can shelter people from the rain on the outside of the hospital will be filled with patients and staff who will be smoking.

There is something profoundly disturbing about seeing someone in a hospital gown and bathrobe, attached to an intravenous stand with wheels, tubes running to the needle in their arms, shivering in the rain as they suck on a cigarette drawing smoke into their lungs as deep as their strength will still allow. Old habits die hard. Some of these patients are painfully thin, grey and wraith-like as the hang onto the IV stand for support like a great chrome cane. They cough and hack and spit up phelegm and it makes my skin crawl.

Once inside it feels like your nostrils are assailed by too many smells you just don't want to know the origin of... The place is filled with unhappy people, patients and family members, who would of course rather be somewhere else. They wear looks of confusion and pain and the same sense of dread that I am carrying with me.

I haven't always felt this way about hospitals. I have been admitted to an Emergency Room more than a few times in my life, received treatment, gone under a surgeon's scalpel and received a collective of many months of physical therapy, both painful and otherwise, in such surroundings. This time around I have no sense of being in a centre for 'healing'. It feels like a particularly unpleasant office building. Too many rain clouds these past few weeks, I wonder?

And the people I see are mostly old. Not aged or elderly, but old. Life has been hard on these people that I see. Or maybe it is the first time I see this. Or that I see it through different eyes. It is hard not for me to imagine that I am going to be one of these people myself one day not too far down the road. And this is the feeling that I have come to dread. Once again the odd dichotomy of confronting emotionally what until recently has only been strangely and unnaturally intellectual. Knowing and feeling are two vastly different experiences.

Almost makes me want to go running in the run...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Heart of the Matter

It is Saturday afternoon.

It is raining.

It is grey and clouded and dark outside, overcast even in mid afternoon.

In otherwords, it is miserable outside.

Yesterday, after agreeing to be transferred by ambulance, my father insisted that I personally drive him north from Mount Vernon to Vancouver. Through torrential downpours and long weekend traffic. Through the border. Twice. It was exhausting. And that was just the traffic part...

For a week now I have been arranging and rearranging my schedule in order to visit my father and address some of his needs. It has cost me a week's worth of work, but what else would a good son do?

What is a good son?

I don't know...

After admitting my father at almost eight in the evening at St. Paul's I returned the next morning to visit.

In the relatively short span of fourteen hours my father is already being referred to by the nursing staff on the fifth floor of the St. Paul's Cardiac unit as "Mr. Angry".

I laugh, but not without a little self-aknowledgement. Once, while working as a Sales Manager with a large crew of salespeople under me, I was referred to by the sales staff behind my back as "Mr. Angry". I had no compunctions about yelling at people who weren't meeting their quotas or doing their job. I had no trouble firing the bottom performers. In fact, I had no trouble firing people on the spot if I thought they didn't give a damn about their job or their performance. By the same token, if they did care, I would carry a slow-starter for months until I thought I had squeezed every ounce of potential out of them. I myself have been carried a few times in my life over some of the rough patches...

My father? I am not sure he is carrying any of the people who are trying to help him. He is angry and scared and not sure what is going to happen next. But with congestive heart failure and diabetes and high blood sugar and kidney failure and liver failure it is not too hard to draw a few conclusions. With every question the doctors ask him, my father equivocates and shades his answers. He is not bullshitting anyone anymore. Least of all, himself. Or the medical staff. Neither he nor they are stupid. The truth of course is that every decision and choice he has made over the past two deacdes after his first heart atack have led him irrevocably to this place. He is in the current position he finds himself in because he chose to be here. That is a tough fucking nut to swallow.

He ate too much and drank too much and didn't exercise enough and didn't lose enough weight. He is fat and out of shape. He didn't manage his diabetes. He slowly and surely drove himself to this point.

Now it is his "Come to Jesus" moment.

Every time he comes up with some feeble excuse, I feel like screaming at him, "What the fuck are you talking about!? You brought this on yourself!"

My father reminds me of the marathon runners who do clinic after after clinic after clinic and wonder why they don't get any faster in their marathons. Initially I offered endless encouragement. At this stage I feel cruel and heartless.

Want to get faster in the marathon?

Lose weight, tubby...

Train harder on the hills, you pussy...

Run more every week, you lazy seducer-of-the-canine....

(Stop fucking the dog).

Step up to the plate during the marathon, nancy-boy and accept that a negative-split and the last ten kilometres are going to hurt like Hell...

In other words, take responsibility for your life!

Stop being in denial!

But of course, I never actually say these things. I try to be as diplomatic as possible and offer the kindest form of tough love I know how.

But for my father I fear it is too late. I am not sure he has too many more marathons or recoverys left in him.

He has no time left for denials.

He only has time left for the cold hard facts.

The truth, as it is, such as it is, the way it is.

And who ever wants the cold hard facts?

Or the cold hard truth?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pangs of the Heart

I got a call earlier this week telling me that my Father was in the hospital.

Brought in by an ambulance after collapsing.


Actually, make that, 'Yet again'...

A hurriedly arranged trip two hundred miles south to Washington State confirmed he'd had another heart attack. And numerous complications. Diabetes. Kidney failure. Liver failure. He was on his way north to Canada from Phoenix to visit me and other stuff. With my father there is always other stuff. It runs in the family.

My father was asleep when I was admitted to the CCU. I can never remember, does that mean critical care or cardiac care unit? And does that mean that critical care is worse than intensive care? And before I let him know I was there, I watched him for nearly half an hour. Then his eyes opened. As if he knew I was there. And as soon as he saw my face, despite all the drgs and medication, he smiled. "How's my baby boy?" Because I think that is how my father still really sees me. His first-born son. Albeit forty-six years after the fact. How can you not smile at that?

I am not a big fan of hospitals, but then who is? I do feel however, that you have an obligation to whichever poor bastard you know who is in there, to suck it up and put in an appearance and put on your happy face. After all, once you're in the hospital, who's kidding who? None of it is good. But at least you walked in of your own free will. Not everybody does. Certainly not my old man.

The staff at the Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon are absolutely tops. The best of the best. Amazing care-givers who give the impression that they really actually honest-to-God care. And this is the fourth such time I have visited my father under similar circumstances. On a fifth occasion I sat by a phone for twenty-four hours waiting to find out if a). he was going to make it through the night (it was a toss-up according to the doctors) and b). whether or not I was going to have to fly across the country for a bedside vigil. In the end my Father, as he is wont to do, made a semi-miraculous recovery. He has the constition of a bull. He is also, on occasion, as smart as an ox. It runs in the family.

As I stand on the brink of running my twentieth marathon in the past six years it is hard not to draw comparisons with my father. I am now just a few months past the time when he had his first heart attack some twenty-odd years ago. And I was the one who drove him to the Emergency Room. I was twenty-four and my father was forty-six. We argued all the way to the Hospital. In the end, the only reason - at least on the surface - that he went was that I refused to embark on a weekend sailing trip unless he got a clean bill of health. And I was First Mate. In other words, the only one who could be counted on to navigate sober while Captain and crew and guests were inebriated. For me it was a no-brainer. While loading provisions aboard his sailboat he nearly dropped a case of wine into the drink - saltchuck that is. Knowing my father as I do, he was clearly a man with a serious medical condition.

I knew intellectually that there was something not quite right with my father. The burning pain in his gut and his chest, his shortness of breath, his pallor, the sweat beaded on his forehead and the pain down his right arm. It was so obvious to me I couldn't understand why he refused to aknowledge a problem. It runs in the family.

I understand it perfectly well now. You can get a little emotional about these things.

It runs in the family.

Growing up, my father loomed in my life as a giant. A physically, emotionally and intellectually imposing man who really is larger than life in nearly every way. At just over six feet tall and always somewhere in the vicinity of two hundred pounds, I think of myself as 'small' because my father is so large. He has almost always physically dwarfed me and most of the other people in a room. He fills doorways. Literally. The same height as me, he has often outweighed me by a hundred pounds. In his prime he wore up to a 56 Tall sports jacket. He had massive shoulders and a barrel chest and at one time a nineteen inch neck. I once saw him single-handedly lift a 45 gallon drum of diesel fuel from a loading dock into the back of a pick-up truck because he was too impatient to wait for a fork-lift.

He is charming and funny, witty and eloquent and cursed with an explosive temper. He is, and often at the same time, capable of being both brilliant and cruel. At one stage in our relationship, we did not speak for eight years. You have to really love and hate someone to carry that kind of torch for that long with that degree of intensity. He has four children, does my father. Three sons and a daughter. He doesn't speak with the other three. At least that I know of. He gets it and doesn't get it, if that makes sense. It pains him, his relationships or lack thereof with his children. He has regrets. Sometimes, when we have been drinking, a lot. He always asks after them. I answer as best as can, passing along information gleaned from my mother. I don't talk much to the other three either. It runs in the family.

And in the end, for each of us, there is probably no other who better understands what makes us tick. Neither he nor I gets under each others skin like he and I. Over the past quarter of a century we have worked together, fought together, and (once he had divorced my Mother) chased women together (disturbingly, often after the same women), and on a few memorable occasions, brawled together.

So now, two decades on, my father is in his late sixties. He has outlived his own father, the father who died of a heart attack, by more than a decade. Like his father and like me, he has outsize appetites, for food, for alcohol - he white wine, me red, for, well, you know the other stuff... His shoulders are still wide and broad, but his clothes hang on him like sails waiting to be filled by a full breeze. The flesh, the bulk, the very heft that was once my father has withered and disappaited and melted away. His hair and his beard are more white than silver, although silver sounds better and is more flattering. Once giant thighs and huge calves are withered away, sticks really, and slashed with scars where they harvested veins for his bypass. His chest is split and rent with the same bypass scar. The heart that would have once have powered King Kong is weak and scarred and mush. He has congestive heart failure, his valves barely able to squeeze out more blood than they let flow backwards. His heart is a pussy as hearts go. A weak sister. Where once there was one falty valve, now there are three. He is diminished now, the father of my youth. He himself would cry out, "I am a mere shadow of my former magnificence". And it would be a cry.

I run, I run marathons because I do not want to be like my father. I run, not for any noble reasons, but because of fear and vanity and because I have a pretty good idea of what my future holds if I don't run. I am foolish, but not quite yet stupid. I am indolent but not quite yet too lazy not to be motivated by fear.

And in the hospital I watch my father's vital signs on the heart monitor like a hawk. Not that far a stretch from my own Polar Heart rtae Monitor over which I obsess. I see his heart race, nearly a hundred beats per minute until they administer betablockers which cut it in half. When his heart is beating at fifty beats a minute, I think he is cheating. He didn't run a hundred miles a week to get it there! They gave him a pill! His blood pressure is 140 over 100 until medication brings it down, too far down at one point, until the medical staff struggles to get it higher than 70 over 40. His heart is my heart. How many more times can he do this I wonder? Push himself, and let himself get run down and ignore his diabetes and his heart and his treatment and end up in a hospital and then recover. How many times can you go back to the well, before the bucket comes up empty?

And I know he is going to continue to do exactly what he wants. He would like to do what is best, but in the end he is going to do exactly what he wants. He can't help himself, not really.

It runs in the family.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sunday Sermons

I tried to cojole two or three people last week into running twenty miles with me on Sunday. To my astonishment eight people initially said they were going to run between sixteen and twenty miles (I added a little extra mileage loop at the end to make the extra distance optional as per my usual custom)and I was amazed when six showed up. My cup runneth over! So Seven of us went out and had a great long Sunday run, those who had finished recent marathons peeling off at 16 miles and heading for the restaurant. In the end, three of us hung on for the full twenty mile full meal deal...

And this made me feel immensely better.

In Under Three Hours, Lance Armstrong Learns Anew About Pain and Racing - New York Times


This was famed seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong’s first marathon, and he said that running the 26.2-mile distance, particularly the final eight miles, was the “hardest physical thing” he had ever done.

Exhausted and nearly walking, Armstrong crossed the finish line in 2 hours 59 minutes 36 seconds. He was 869th, with a pace of 6:51 a mile.

“I can tell you, 20 years of pro sports, endurance sports, from triathlons to cycling, all of the Tours — even the worst days on the Tours — nothing was as hard as that, and nothing left me feeling the way I feel now, in terms of just sheer fatigue and soreness,” he said, looking spent, at a news conference.

At the marathon, he was more recognizable than the top runners who stepped to the starting line. Armstrong said that was when he became nervous. He saw that the other runners’ legs were as thin as pencils. His are much more muscular. He was about 160 pounds when he raced in the Tour de France; he is now 180. He dreaded the pounding ahead, he said.

“I wasn’t kidding when I said that I’ve never felt this bad, ever,” he said. “My legs are killing me. My back doesn’t feel that great, either. I’m really suffering.”