I think I’m finding my voice again

BobbyTBD running in the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon.
BobbyTBD running in the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon.

I’m a little nervous about writing this, but I can’t help but feel positive changes are being made in my life.  No longer am I making choices and doing things based on emotions.  Instead of letting pain and sorry drive me I am letting passion take control.

While my life has been on an upward trajectory ever since I met my fiance, it is no secret to anyone that I have had a lot of personal emotional battles over the past couple of years. To respond to these emotions and in an effort to combat them I have tried to make lifestyle choices to help my mood and mental state.

Me and a team member prepping for my 12 mile night run during the April 2014 SoCal Ragnar Relay.
Me and a team member prepping for my 12 mile night run during the April 2014 SoCal Ragnar Relay.

I have forced myself to run a half marathon, full marathon and Ragnar Relay race.  The training was excruciating because I was running because I had to in order to feel slightly better as oppose to running because I wanted to.  The same thing goes for my writing.  I felt stuck for the longest time because I felt like a broken record with nothing to write about besides wanting to feel better and shake off my past.

Somewhat consciously and somewhat unconsciously I have started to shift from emotions directing my activities to my passion which couldn’t feel better.  I’m starting to feel like I am running because I genuinely have a passion for hitting the pavement like I use to.  I also feel like I am starting to find my voice again when it comes to writing.

My mother, father, aunt and me at the end of the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon and 1/2 Marathon. All are proud finishers
My mother, father, aunt and me at the end of the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon and 1/2 Marathon. All are proud finishers

When I was younger and still in my college political science major mindset I use to write passionately about all sorts of local, state, national and international issues.  Those issues seemed less important when I was focused on my emotions, but I am back to realizing that there is an entire world out there beyond my personal world of emotions.

Maybe I am wrong, but I feel optimistic. It feels like I am finally starting to determine who I am, what makes me happy and how I want my life to be. I guess you can consider this a Bobby TBD progress report.

Here I am running the 2013 Santa Monica 1/2 Marathon and 15k Turkey Trot.
Here I am running my first leg of the 2014 SoCal Ragnar Relay.

After lunch guilt

After lunch guilt

For the past two months I have been constantly on the go.  Every second has been focused on work, friends, family and travels.  It has felt almost impossible to exercise due to the packed schedule I’ve been living with mixed with a need to rest every once-in-a-while.  Now come September 9th I find myself a bit weighed down, but this time not by my schedule.  Physically weighed down is how I feel.  I feel as if I am putting on weight and that just won’t do for me.

Admittedly I am a bit hard on myself, but I can’t help but feel every ounce of food I have consumed the past few weeks sitting on my stomach, face, legs, arms and everywhere else on my body.  With that feeling consuming me I turned to my running monitor system, Nike Plus (I highly recommend checking the Nike Plus products out if you are a runner).  According to my Nike Plus account I last ran on August 24th.  In fact, according to my Nike Plus account, I ran on the 18th, 20th, 23rd and 24th of August and covered a combined total of 17 miles.  That’s just two weeks ago.  Yet, I feel like I am slothenly now.  This feeling has been amplified due to the fact that I ate a full lunch today, which is sitting heavily in the base of my stomach right this very moment, coupled with the feeling of exhaustion that consumes me due to a night of insomnia leaving me with a desire to go home straight from work and sleep.  Woah, I may not be running, but apparently I am writing in run-on sentences today…

Tonight is my first night in months without a single plan.  I am ignoring chores, not packing up my old apartment to prepare for my move, not meeting friends or anything else.  Once the clock strikes 5:00 pm I will be packing up my purse (okay, my man purse.  Call it what you want.) and heading straight to the apartment.  For the past week I have had every intention of climbing back on the horse and running today, but now the exhaustion is consuming me (reference my night of insomnia blog from 1:00 am last night).

Now step back a moment.  The need to run isn’t just that I have this strange obsession with my weight and feeling fat.  If you follow bobbytbd.com you will know that I am training for the Richmond Marathon which takes place on November 11th.  That is rapidly approaching and I only have a 17 mile a week base from two weeks ago under my belt.  Honestly, I am pretty sure I am screwed when it comes to this race.  For starters I am mentally not into the training.  Today, two months away from the race, I don’t care if I get out and train.  The only reason I am trying to motivate myself into running after work is so that I can burn off the food I have been eating lately.  The race is an after thought.

The original intent behind the race was to run with my friend Robbie from college.  I thought it would be a fun way to get to see each other and get some exercise along the way.  Additionally, I saw the marathon as a vehicle for distraction.  The first time I ran a marathon it took so much of my mind, body and spirit.  I trained rigorously for 16 weeks straight.  I assumed going into this summer, which I knew would be stressful, I could use the marathon training as an escape. This has not been the case this time around.

Now, September 6, 2012 I sit at my desk feeling full, nasty and frumpy after having finished my lunch.  Now I have to ask myself:

Should I be like the majority of Americans and throw in the towel when it comes to running today?  I could easily let my booty inflate after carbo-loading and following it up with no exercise whatsoever;

or

Should I run tonight.  Even when tired, push past the exhaustion and force myself to cover some distance no matter how feeble or little that distance ends up being.

Really though, I should try to get some rest and focus my energy on why I am so obsessed with my weight.  I thought this was an obsession I left behind myself in my high school years.  Can I blame the obsession on societal and social pressures or should I just admit the only person judging me for my food intake is me?

I know the answer, but it doesn’t make it easy.  Instead of addressing any of these questions and making a decision right now I instead will listen to some Destiny’s Child.  I just feel like a Bootylicious moment after taking a moment to very briefly touch on my thoughts about eating, weight and running.

Why a marathon and not a 5k?

Why a marathon and not a 5k?

Why run a marathon?  People ask me why I feel the need to run a marathon all the time.  They follow that question up with comments like, “why not run a 5k or 10k?”  A lot of people see the sheer distance of a marathon as ridiculous and many view them as unhealthy in the end.  That much running can cause joint issues or damage to your knees.

Yes, I have heard all this, but what the people who say these things don’t take into account are the positive things training and running a marathon can do for an individual.  Running is a lifestyle for some people, not just an exercise.

I grew up in a running family.  Before I could walk I was in a stroller going along on group runs with the Hash House Harriers.  The Hash is an international running group that mixes exercising and socializing into one event.  Even though the Hash is probably not the most appropriate group for children to hang around with, in large part because it is a group that circles around drinking and crude humor, it is a great experience that I highly recommend to all.  The group, and every hash is a bit different, is a game really.  One person, the hare, sets out before the group and marks a trail as s/he goes.  At points along the trail the hare will make misleading markings on the trail to send the runners, or hounds, in the wrong direction.  The point is for the runners to find the end by following the hare’s trail and not falling for the misleading markings that might be found.  The end of the run is always at a bar or pub of some sort.  Running to most of the people in these groups is both fun and a lifestyle.  They integrate running into their socializing.  This was my first lesson in living life as a runner.

With this being my first introduction to running you might be able to see why running is a part of who I am today and a part of what makes running a part of my lifestyle.  If that weren’t enough then you should know that my parents weren’t just hashers as I grew up, nope, they were racers.  I can’t tell you how many marathons, including the Boston Marathon, my mom and dad ran because they ran in so many!  To top it off they also have both run 50 mile races and Ultra Marathons (which is a 100 mile race).  I can’t close my eyes and remember a time when my family wasn’t running.  It became a part of me and is in my blood.

With that explained you probably are asking, what does running a marathon do for me personally in a positive way?  You get that running in general is a part of me at this point, but why not a 5k or a shorter race?  Well for me running a marathon, as oppose to a shorter race, gives me a long-term goal to focus on.  I can run a 5k in my sleep with no preparation.  A marathon though, that’s a challenge.  I live for challenges.  A marathon takes 16 – 18 weeks of dedicated training.  It’s a test of determination, organization and dedication.  Running a marathon is not about just going out for runs until you are ready for race day. Marathons take strictly calculated running calendars to be successful.  You can’t allow yourself to over sleep or go to happy hour instead of train.  You must train.

This need to keep on track keeps me from getting off track in life.  It proves to me that I can accomplish my goals.  Completing a marathon shows me that I can do anything I want to do in life.  It may sound crazy, but I do need to prove to myself from time to time that I am more than a gay guy drinking on the scene every night of the week, not that I have been accused of that or anything, but it gives me a personal goal outside of work and the bar scene.

On a different level, training for a marathon allows me to connect with my mother who lives hundreds of miles away.  If we were running a 5K we would sign up for it and not talk about it again until race day.  With a marathon we track our progress together, we motivate each other, we support each other and then we run the race together.  It gives me a way to feel like, even while living far away from home, home is still a part of me.

Basically running makes me feel free.  Work disappears for a moment.  Family and friend drama melts away.  Bills take a side step.  Life, for the moment, is nothing but my feet hitting the ground and carrying me forward.  Running is a lifestyle and huge part of me.

Ready to Run by the Dixie Chicks

Running for Life

Running for Life

What a different type of day!  I’m sitting at home after a long exhausting day of having a bit too much enjoyment.

My legs!

As you many know, if you read my earlier posting, I woke up and decided to approach my day a bit differently than I have in the past few weeks.  Today I decided I would try to function and live.

I did just that once I chugged down my unsweetened iced coffee.  Caffeinated and awake I began to function.  For starters I shaved my legs, that is not at all important for telling the story of my day, but it does explain the first picture I posted on Instagram.  Some may have wondered why I felt possessed to post a picture of my legs and now they know.

From there I put my Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ SportsBand on my left wrist, grabbed my iPhone and Nike+ headphones and headed toward Central Park.  This was my first run in Central Park since moving to the Upper West Side.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve run in Central Park 100s of times over the past four years, but this is the first time starting on the north end.  Prior to moving up here I always started at the Columbus Circle entrance.

Let me tell you, it is a world different starting at the north side of the park.  Why?  A heck of a lot less tourist.  I

know, this city would be nothing if it weren’t for tourist so we really should, as residents, learn to embrace them.  With that in mind, sometimes you just want to enjoy a relaxing run through the park where you don’t have to jump all around tons and tons of people.

Picture from today’s run in Central Park

That is exactly what happened this time.  No jumping or dodging of tourist.  I hit the trails and headed straight toward the reservoir.  I ran at a full clip for four straight miles.  The sun was beating down on me draining every ounce of energy I had.  I knew very quickly that I had lived up to my mornings commitment to myself.  I was functioning. Albeit the sun started to wear me down toward the end.  I always approach running as if it is a race to the death.  I push myself as fast as I can go for as far as I can go… Something I know people like my mother would suggest I be a little smarter about.  I was always told growing up, “you don’t have to be the fastest, you don’t have to run the farthest, you just have to run forward.”

For the first time in at least a month, I felt alive.  From there the rest of my day was sunshine.  So much so that I decided to pay tribute and honor to this new approach to dealing with this stress, this stress and anxiety that I know won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, and go shopping.  I got myself some sassy yellow pants.

Yellow pants like sunshine from H&M

They made my day.  I feel like they are helping me to take a fresh look at life.  I have said for weeks I wanted to change myself.  Now I am.  I even went out for a drink with a friend.  I left the apartment.  It’s a step.

I don’t expect anything to be perfect or any of my problems to wash away or be pushed under the rug, but I do expect myself to do more than sit on the couch 24 hours a day 7 days a week (okay, I don’t expect myself to sit on the couch when I am not at work).

Tomorrow is a new day yet again. I will take everyday one day at a time.  My problems will still be here but I will work on them everyday.  I will learn from them everyday.  I will address them everyday. I will apologize for them everyday.  I know I am not perfect and never will be, but I can be happy again.  It’s funny when I think about it, but I can kind of apply the running mantra spoken about earlier to life, “I don’t have to be the fastest (or the best), I don’t have to go the farthest (I won’t be able to change over night), I just have to move forward.”

Running along the Hudson River

Running along the Hudson River

Hudson River running and bike path around 110th Street

Today’s run was less about adventure and more about relaxation and burning out the stress of life.  I decided to run the lower path of Riverside Park running north from my apartment on the section that stretches out right against the water.  The sun was shinning and glaring down on me pounding my shoulders as I ran along in the 79 degree temperature.

I decided to pick a song that could help motivate me to charge along so I picked Dog Days Are Over by Florence & the Machine.  I’ve let my running lax over the past month and this weekend I have run two days back to back, so really the running dark days are over for me.  At least they are if I keep up this running throughout the next week.

To access this path it is best to enter the park right at 97th Street (or 95th).  If you are not in the area you can take the 1, 2, or 3 train to the 96th Street stop and walk west until you hit the river.  From there just walk north.

After about 2 miles you will get to a great place to rest.  The West Harlem Piers.  If you are walking with friends this is a great place for a picnic.

West Harlem Piers (not the best shot, but I was running)

Once I passed the West Harlem Piers I decided to run a bit farther to explore a new area.  I took a sharp turn to find myself under the West Side Highway.  The contrast between running along the Hudson River to running surrounded by metal and concrete was the exact reason I love New York.  The city has everything to offer, every scene you could want and around every corner is a new experience.

Under the Westside Highway

The only frustrating part of the run was the bikers.  I don’t get bikers in New York City.  They expect cars to share the road with them but a majority of them refuse to share it with pedestrians or runners.  This path has a clearly labeled green line with one side clearly labeled with pictures and text saying bikes to one side and pedestrians only on the other. 

If you run on the bike side of the path you will get screamed at by 3 out of every 5 bikers that pass.  But bikers will ride in the path clearly marked pedestrians only without a second thought.  If you can’t tell I can’t stand bikers.

Biker on the pedestrian only side of the path