Back in the early 90’s when I was training and running marathons, I discovered the writings of Dr. George Sheehan. Sheehan was a cardiologist, runner, author, and a philosopher. His books were more than just books about running. When he wrote, he painted a picture describing the meaning of life, and he used running as his paintbrush. Through his books and articles, he introduced me to the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. This eventually lead to my visit to Concord Massachusetts and Walden Pond many years later.
Sheehan wrote nine books. He also was a writer for Runners World magazine. When I read non-fiction books (which is pretty much all I read), I always underline anything that I feel is important. While reading his books, I would end up underlining almost every sentence. He provided so many golden nuggets of wisdom. A constant theme in his books and articles was the importance of individuals finding their play. Whatever that may be.
In 1992, George Sheehan was the keynote speaker the night before the Marine Corps Marathon. This was a year before he past away from prostate cancer. I’m glad I had a chance to see my role model.
By 1994, I had run five marathons and tons of smaller races. I stopped running the next year, and didn’t start back until 2011. I walked two marathons a few years earlier, but in 2012, I ran the Hatfield McCoy Marathon. This was my first marathon since 1994. Eighteen years later! During those eighteen years, I would occasionally read Dr Sheehan’s books. Months before the Hatfield McCoy Marathon, I re-read one of his books. It was like he was speaking to me. I think he was…
I found this TED TALK video by his son Tim Sheehan. The title is “Get Into Your Play-Wisdom From George Sheehan”—It’s all play…
This post has absolutely nothing to do with our Health or Fitness, but it just may help confirm that I’m insane.
It all started innocently enough. It was our Friday trip to Walmart to do a little shopping. I was doing the typical guy thing of walking around and passing gas! This drives Adamy crazy.
After spending several minutes annoying Adamy, I headed to the bathroom. (Wherever we are, I always feel like I have to go to the bathroom.) While standing at the urinal doing my thing, I felt the urge to let a little gas seep out. Well, somewhere between standing with Adamy and going to the bathroom, I developed the runs. I might also add that I was wearing boxers under my shorts. So the moment I passed gas, I felt a warm, wet feeling around my ankle area. Immediately, I got in the bathroom stall while trying to figure out what action I should take.
Yes, I had pooped in my pants and down my leg!
I began to clean up the best I could while silently freaking out. I washed the best I could at the bathroom sink, and then I hit the hot air thingy and raised my leg so that I could dry my shorts! While I’m doing this, somebody walked in. Here I am raising my leg looking like an idiot! Even for a Walmart, this was extreme.
Once I finished cleaning up, I headed toward Adamy so we could continue shopping. My intent was to not say a thing. Well, as soon as I walked up to her, she said with a loud voice, “what the hell is that smell?” I then knew I would have to explain to her what I had done, and I would have to hear Adamy say “I warned you,” the rest of my life! After I tried to explain that it was an accident, she sent me outside to air out!
As I lowered my head and walked away, I could hear her mumbling something in Spanish. I think she may have been saying “there goes my sexy man”. Then again, I was walking and pulling my boxers out of my butt, so I may be wrong.
And yes I know, this is TMI. But as Adamy would say, “that’s just Don being Don”…
It’s 7:00 am and I’m sitting on the sofa sipping coffee at my parents condo at Topsail Beach, NC. This is our usual trip at the end of every year. It is also the time when we review our accomplishments and set our goals for the upcoming year. Two of the main goals for 2015 are to better document our lifestyle change journey and to complete 2,015 miles running and walking (plus biking or elliptical training where 10 minutes = 1 mile) by the end of the year.
Soon, Adamy and I will be going out to mail our applications and checks for the Hinson Lake 24hr ultra. This race usually fills up in 2 or 3 days. We completed this event back in September and fell in love with everything about it. Even the immense pain of completing 54 miles somehow felt good. If we get in, my goal will be 70 miles.
Why? Why do this to my 56 year old body? Why can’t I just run marathons and half marathons and leave these crazy races to runners that don’t crawl at a turtles pace? I’m really not sure. I know it probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve never been much of an athlete. Growing up, I was usually the kid that was picked last when sides were chosen for a game. I was that kid that was the weakest and usually the slowest. I never had the experience of playing ball in high school. I just don’t know what it was like.
As I’ve aged, I’ve been more passionate about my health and fitness level. These extreme races bring play to what I’m doing. Yes, I’m still very slow. When I ran my first ultra in October 2013, there were only 11 runners and I came in last. When I finished, the only people left were the race director, two people helping clean up, and Adamy cheering me on!! All the other runners were finished and gone. Yet, I felt like I had just scored a winning touchdown! (actually, I felt like I had just been beaten with a stick)
Yes, I still look at faster runners and wish that I could maybe do what they do. But in the end, I do the best I can. I learn so much about myself when I push my body to its limit. I find joy when I get to spend long hours on the weekends training with Adamy. I enjoy the people that I’ve met in the running community.
I really think I’ve finally found my play. I guess this is why I do what I do…
It’s all play.
The music of a marathon is a powerful strain, one of those tunes of glory. It asks us to forsake pleasures, to discipline the body, to find courage, to renew faith and to become one’s own person, utterly and completely.