So yeah, Susan just sent me this video, First Person To Run A Marathon Without Talking About It.
Lol, I mean, you get the gist of it just from the title.
And it’s so true!
I often joke to Sean, like, dude, if you didn’t record your run on Strava, you basically didn’t run, bro.
And, of course, I jest, I josh.
Because in a pseudo-philosophical ideal world, you do things for the purity of the thing or whatever. You know, you do it to do it. You do it for yourself.
And the personal satisfaction of knowing that you did it for yourself and for the right reasons, well that should be enough.
And I’m equally sure that on the other end of the spectrum, there are people out there who do whatever they do for purely narcissistic reasons. For the vanity. For the likes.
Rather than the live just to live, they wanna create some sort of facade for the world because that’s what gets them going.
Personally, I’ll swing back and forth between the two, depending on my mood, I guess.
Because sometimes you just need to do you.
But sometimes, IDK, it’s nice to show off a little, lol.
Hopefully it all balances out in the end.
But you know, intent is important. Authenticity is important.
And I also think it’s important to celebrate life’s little victories and to be able to share those tiny baby step wins with the people you care about.
One thing that I’ve noticed in sharing my own stuff like my running journey is that there’s like this network effect.
Like for some people, maybe they never thought about running or whatever and it tickled their fancy.
Or maybe other people who had already thought about it deeply already and were ready to go and it gave them that little extra boost to get started.
Then there’s the ones who’ve already been doing it!
The kewl ones who were doing it before it was kewl.
(As my friend Myron noted the other day on his birthday—hipsters ruin everything! [In context to our old fav lunch date spot, Spicy Village. Mmmm… pepper chicken with rice.])
And of course there are always the haters.
But yeah IDK like, as more of my friends started doing it, or the more I connected with friends already doing it, it just further energized it for myself.
I’m a pretty competitive person.
If I see someone I respect doing something that I think is kewl, then I’m like, YO WTF I NEED.
And honestly there is nothing more satisfying than a collective stepping up of our games.
OH WALTER, YOU HAVE A TATTOO? YOU THINK UR KEWL? BAHAHAHHAH JOKE’S ON YOU. I HAVE A TATTOO, TOO NOW.
(Disclaimer: This is not life advice. But I do have a tattoo ;D)
(So does Walter, BTW. He got his first tho ;x)
So I went for a run on Sunday, lol.
You know, just a chill 13.8 miles.
And I had actually been thinking about doing it like the whole week.
I actually started on Friday, but as is typically the case, I overestimated how fast I was. Or, probably more accurately, I underestimated how slow I was, lol. And had the cut the run short at 8 miles cuz I had to drive my mom to the hospital that afternoon. (No worries, just routine stuff.)
I mean, I wanted to do it for a couple of reasons.
So one, it was my last weekend before my trip to LA. And so I just wanted to maximize my vibes for my trip, you know.
Like whenever I complete like a really long, hard, challenging run, I just get vibes for days.
Just this incredible feeling of accomplishment. You’re just buzzing. Like, damn, you did it! YOU! LITTLE OL’ YOU!
And like those vibes just ripple across the rest of your life. Into work, into play, into whatever, like.
Before the run, you’re sending really ordinary, practical emails.
After the run, your emails are just oozing with the fantastic.
I can’t explain it, really.
And like, this trip to LA for me is kind of like, symbolic, too. It’s my first real trip that I’m taking in a sense since getting back from SF.
So it feels like I’ve been working toward this trip for the past two years.
So I just wanted that little bit of an extra boost.
But I also had this other big reason.
Like this huge source of motivation for doing it.
And that was just like.
I just couldn’t WAIT TO SHOVE IT SAMMY’S FACE LOOOOOOOOOL.
LIKE HEYOOOOO. Just ran my 2nd half marathon. So like, how many have you run again? Oh yeah, 0 😀 😀 😀 😀
(WATCH: Sammy bonks)
IDK, that’s just kind of terrible person I am I guess.
Like the satisfaction I get from trolling my friends, man.
It’s so deep and primal.
Actually, that’s one of the things that I love about Sammy because I mean, he’s obviously a good sport.
But he’s also the kind of guy who will counterpunch when you least expect it.
Right on the jaw, leaving you frazzled but dazzled.
It’s how we push each other.
But it sort of worked out, not being able to finish on Friday.
I mean it was mentally exhausting having to cut short and then starting all over again on Sunday.
Like the hardest part of doing ANYTHING remotely challenging is sort of like the pre-doing mental taxation and anxiety.
Like, oh man, I have to do something hard, ugh.
It just weighs on you.
And getting over that hump is just so hard. It takes like every fiber and ounce of mojo you’ve got to like take that first step.
But once you get going, it’s kind of easy. Cuz once you get going, you know you can’t quit. You’re out of options. Before you start, you can always procrastinate. You have a million ways to excuse yourself from the impending pain.
But once you go, it’s over. There’s no turning back.
Once you’re there, it’s easy.
But showing up is so damn hard.
But that’s kind of like what life is like anyway like. Things usually work out even if they don’t go as expected. Like for my run on friday, I was just running in my hood. And I mean, you could track every mile of every possible path in my neighborhood and I think the total would be 7 or so miles.
So to get to 13 I was getting really creative, like I was doing laps around my high school, then laps around the soccer field.
I was doing laps around the track.
So one of the things that I do when I’m running is that I’ll think about stuff to write and I’ll sort of start writing stuff in my head.
So I was actually thinking about writing this piece while doing laps around the track.
And I was thinking like, yeah running is kewl man. Running, just like my family, just like my friends, just like my community, like, running keeps me grounded.
No matter how far or how high or how powerful my stride, I always come back to earth.
And it’s spring now so they had all these hurdles set up because I guess it’s track season now. And so I’m thinking that as I run past these hurdles, and I’m just like MAN, those things are so tall, thinking of powerful strides and all. It’s seriously mind-boggling that these kids can jump these things at full tilt.
Like they can probably run hurdles faster than I can run.
Human beings man, what a magnificent beast.
Oh yeah, later in my run, I also ran past this Poland Spring bottle that was definitely full of urine.
Like, WTF man, we live in a quiet neighborhood.
Lol, it was like 800 feet probably from Pawan’s house actually.
So yeah, Friday was just this like messy, convoluted, helter-skelter run that I had to cut short. I took a rest day Saturday just to let my body recharge a bit.
And so Sunday rolls around and I’m just like, man. I’m so over running, lol.
Friday was beautiful, the sun was out. It was like 70 degrees. You know, I got a little tan. It was great.
Now it’s Sunday and it’s freezing again, which has been typical of the bipolar weather we’ve been getting this year. Freezing with a chance of rain. Totally overcast and windy.
I had woken up early to watch the Arsenal game, too (guess what my only tattoo is), so hadn’t gotten my normal 7-ish hours despite it being the weekend.
And they lost in just like, totally stupid, uninspiring fashion.
So my vibes were just horrible.
And now I had to do this run that I didn’t even have to do, you know. Like no one was telling me to do it. There was no like explicit payoff or anything.
Besides the fact that I had already decided that I would.
On the bright side, it was Sunday now so I had some time so I decided to drive over the Dutchess Rail Trail. At least my run would be chill and scenic.
And so I get there and I’m freezing. And I’m also like, very low energy cuz I’ve been on like a caloric deficit for the last 4 months. Everything is just bad. My right knee is aching. My right knee always aches these days. Ever since I injured it a few years ago playing soccer.
The first quarter of a mile is always the easiest though. Like I could run a quarter of a mile and not break a sweat, not even breath heavy, and physically just feel great.
But no matter how fit I’ve gotten, no matter how many miles I’ve got under my belt, no matter how much I’ve trained and stretched, as soon as I pass a quarter of a mile, everything starts to suck.
I’m just tired and achy and groggy and tired and just like really tired.
That’s like one thing I just hate about running.
No matter what you do, it always sucks.
In my more naive days before I started running, I figured that I would reach this like pinnacle of fitness where running would be easy. Where running would just feel free and amazing and light. And I would be able to run like it was nothing. Like because I had run so much, running would be as easy as walking.
But IDK, apparently that’s not how it works. Apparently it never gets less sucky.
It’s kind of like life, too, like. When you’re a kid, you’re like, oh man, once I get past all this crappy high school-ness, then life will be soooo good. I just gotta grind it out and everything will be so ez. I’ll go to college and meet kewl likeminded people and get a great job and like life is just gonna be soooooo good and soooo ez.
But yeah, if you’re reading this and you’re and high school, well, I hate to break it to you kid. Life sucks and it just keeps on sucking.
In fact, it gets way suckier.
There’s this thing that Arnold Schwarzenegger said at one point. I forget where or when, maybe a documentary about the making of Pumping Iron or something.
I don’t remember verbatim the quote. But he was basically like, yeah, his pivotal moment in terms of his personal maturation was the realization that life only gets harder. We just get better equipped at dealing with harder and harder things.
And that’s pretty much what running is like. OK, you’re more fit now, but you have to run faster and longer. So actually, you end up feeling even crappier than you did before when you didn’t run cuz you’re pushing so much harder.
But hey, you can run faster and longer, I guess.
When running longer distances, there are always these like sort of milestones you keep track of inside your head that have a huge impact on your emotions and psychology, which in turn have a huge impact on your physical performance, at least for me.
The halfway mark is always super key. I always noticed this when I was young whenever we had to take trips anywhere. Like going there seemed to take forever, but coming back would just fly by. Time is such a weird and relative and psychological thing.
It’s just like that with running for me. Up until the halfway mark, it’s a total grind. Like from .25 miles to around 6 miles, it’s just this crazy grind. Especially for longer distances that I don’t run regularly. Like for distances you don’t have total ownership of, you know, cuz you haven’t run them that often. You just don’t have that confidence.
It’s like, man, I don’t wanna run too fast, cuz you’re just not sure you have enough to make it all the way. You always do, but it’s always something you think about and for me it’s always something that holds me back before the halfway point.
Because it’s like, before the halfway point, every step you take is like a double step. Cuz it’s one step further away from home. So every step you take you’re paying on credit. You’re going to have to pay that off on the way back. There are no free steps before the halfway point.
But when the halfway point is near, you start to feel that anxiety lift. You start to feel stronger and lighter. It’s like you’re almost there.
On this run, the halfway point was the Hudson River.
And so actually, exactly one year ago, I had run this same trail with Walter when he had come up to Poughkeepsie to hang (and also drop off his book, which he had just published).
(You should check out the book, it’s incredibly well written ;D)
And these days, whenever a friend visits me in Poughkeepsie, they have to pay a tax and that tax is basically that they have to run with me.
(Look, it’s lonely up here, running by your lonesome, OK?)
So the year before, we ran this trail, and we had never really ran it before. I looked up the map, and sort of eyeballed it and was like, yeah it’s probably like 4-5 miles or so to the river. And at the time, 4-5 miles was already a lot.
It ended up being 7 miles!
And yeah, we were just such newbz at the time. Like, we finally make it to the bridge, but we’re so beat at that point, I had to call my dad so that he could come pick us up, lol.
There was no way we were running all the way back to the car.
And so I’m thinking about this moment as I arrive at the bridge, one year later, and I’m like damn, I have to run all the way back now.
And so I stop for a second to report back to Walter and the boys about these various thoughts going through my head.
And also to take one of these energy gels that Sammy gave me. Normally, I don’t carry my phone and I definitely don’t carry around energy gels, but this was a long run and I was kinda scared, honestly. Just in case, you know.
Like who knows how long it would take for someone to find me in case I bonked or whatever.
And apparently, bonking is a thing.
So I guzzle down this espresso flavored energy gel. Sean and Sammy had both complained about the flavor, but frankly, it tickled my fancy just right.
And so now I start the long journey home.
Going back is always easier. IDK, the feeling of running back versus running away.
Every step you take gets you closer to your destination.
There’s something so invigorating about that.
About a mile later, something crazy happens like, I can feel the energy gel kicking in, and honestly, I wasn’t expecting that at all.
I’m such a skeptic of all these fancy like hipster things like sweat-wicking pantalons and isotonic electrolytes and what have you.
I trolled Sammy so hard after he got these.
BUT THEN IT WORKED.
I couldn’t believe it.
Just this surge of energy. My legs felt so light, so powerful. I was going uphill but it felt like I was sprinting.
And it’s crazy like, if you look on my run at Strava, you can basically see exactly when I took the gel. My pace literally improved by like 1-2 min./mile, which is insane!
And what’s crazy is like it just kept going. I kept thinking, man, this is going to wear off at any second, I’m gonna crash.
But it just kept going and going.
Man I was flying. What a rush. What a feeling.
The energy combined with the vibes of being past halfway, I was unstoppable.
With about a mile and a half left, my watch beeped.
And guys, you cannot imagine the instant sense of panic and helplessness I felt in that moment.
I mean I had just put it all out there for 2 hours, you know. And now in the last 20 minutes, IT WOULD ALL BE FOR NAUGHT.
IF MY BATTERY DIED AND I DIDN’T UPLOAD TO STRAVA, THEN IT’S LIKE I BASICALLY DIDN’T RUN.
And so I basically just bolted man, full steam ahead lol.
After 12 miles of running, I was now basically sprinting with reckless abandon.
Sprinting out of pure, guttural fear.
THIS IS NOT HAPPENING, I kept thinking, huffing away, lol.
Dude man, it sounds so dumb right now, but in the moment it was soooo serious. I was running for my life.
There was no way all that hard work would be in vain. Not again. Not after Friday.
Because I mean.
If a tree falls in the woods and all of that.
Well if you didn’t upload to Strava, did the tree actually fall?!?! WELL DID IT?!?!
Anyway, you can also see on my run like the exact time my battery life warning flashed LOL cuz I put up an insane mile time (for me). Close to 9 minutes, which, objectively is slow, but for me, that’s like faster than my usual 3 mile run time, lol.
But yeah, I made it.
Got to the car, chugged three waters.
Then texted my dad, and was like, all cheeky and such.
“Didn’t need you to pick me up this time.”
Then I went to Pizza Hut.
Top photo: So I get home, and it’s just my dad, chilling on the computer. And he’s like, you really ran yourself to death today, didn’t you. (In Shanghainese, of course.) And I’m like yeah. I got some some Pizza. And he doesn’t react. He always plays it super kewl. Like he hates pizza because he only eats healthy food and stuff even though he loves pizza. I go and pee and as I’m walking back I see him standing over the two boxes of pizza (they had a deal), and he just looks at me, and he’s like. Why’d you get Pizza Hut? And I’m like, IDK, I was thinking about it. And he doesn’t really react, but you can tell by his demeanor that he’s kind of disgusted with my choice of pizza. Or at least that’s what he wants you to think. That he’s disgusted. That he HATES Pizza Hut. That it hardly qualifies as food. Anyway, I go upstairs to take a quick shower and when I get back downstairs, this was how much pizza was left LOL.