Leading up to Dec. 1 and my 5-year anniversary of trading Kools for Asics and becoming a runner, I am posting entries about things I have learned as a marathoner. I hope it might be helpful to others getting into running. Here is Part 3.
As I sit here typing this, I am two weeks away from the big anniversary. It is a big deal to me. My lease was up that Dec. 1, 2006, and I was about to stumble across destiny. I would move into Manhattan, into a fresh Upper West Side apt. on 73rd Street, a block from Central Park. I would meet the couple moving out of the unit, telling me about their New York Road Runners membership and how much they liked running and biking the park. An idea was beginning to form. On that Dec. 1, I would move in, and then at the intersection outside I would break a full box of KOOLS in half and buy a box of ASICS that day. I would join NYRR. I would make it my goal to run a marathon, then more. I would run an ultra. I would be a runner for life. . . .
This post is about Thanks as we approach Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for.
Thanks to my Dad. Kurt Newman meant everything to me. I lost him to multiple myeloma on March 3, 2006. When I started running, I knew that one reason I was running was because of Dad. I just felt like running, and not stopping. When I finished my first marathon, 2007 NYC, I re-entered Central Park at Columbus Circle for the final quarter-mile and I cried and looked up at the sky that entire final stretch. The photo on top of this blog is what I saw, that sign and sky. I had no idea what I was doing. Dad was pulling me home.
Thanks to my super wife Lismo. She actually ran the final loop around Central Park with me, in the dark, as I completed the 2008 Knickerbocker 60K ultra, nine loops, in 9:52. I proposed to her at the finish line of the 2009 NJ Marathon and she said Yes. She is always encouraging me. Now I have Lismo running some NYRR races as well.
Thanks to my awesome sons, Matt, Ben and Josh. I run to live a long life and be there for them to cheer and support them through anything. They have been there for me. I am so proud of my guys.
Thanks to the Big Cats. When I started running, Myspace still ruled. I found a running club of people like me, scattered everywhere, and we all came up with Big Cat nicknames and then got membership. I blogged, they commented. They blogged, I commented. I learned so much then, and mostly I learned that you need the support of other runners. We are still there, broken up a bit on Facebook but still pulling for and pushing each other.
Thanks to Steve Jobs. The iPod meant so much at the outset, I even created a Myspace group back then called Athletes & iPods, where we all exchanged playlists. I still run with music. It is so funny now to think how paranoid many race organizers were back then about iPods.
Thanks to Body Glide. I remember the 2007 Oklahoma City Half-Marathon and chafing that led to a bloody nipple as I wore a new white running shirt.
Thanks to my awesome stepdaughter Rachmo, who better be at the Miami finish line this time. Rach is my nutrition guru especially and keeps me on the right track mostly.
Thanks to Mary Wittenberg and the New York Road Runners. I have run some 60 races. For me, there is no better training than signing up for the ongoing events on their race calendar. It makes me run full-tilt and go anerobic, whereas when I run alone I can lapse into run-walk. I have run 9 NYRR races + 1 volunteer assignment in 2011, so I am guaranteed in the 2012 NYC Marathon field again.
Thanks to all of my Twitter followers and those I follow there. Thanks to all of my Facebook friends and family. It is wonderful to have around-the-clock conversation about running, and knowing how many others identify with my life.
Thanks to you guys who comment on this blog, and who blog so powerfully yourselves. I am sorry I am not better at keeping up with everyone else's words, especially in peak MLB times.
Thanks to oatmeal, especially 1-minute Quaker Oats. And berries.
Thanks to my Mom. Sometimes it means the world to know you are blowing her away with something she can't imagine you doing and supports so much. While in Brooklyn during my first marathon, I stopped at a pay phone booth just to call her collect and tell her what I was doing. How many times did I call her after a long race in freezing weather while I was soaking in a tub to tell her what I just did? Everyone, please call your Mom if you have her around. Bless Mom.
Thanks to Central Park. I know virtually every nook and cranny. I know virtually every tree and am saddened that out of 26,000 trees it just lost about a thousand. It is the most perfect running course in history and it has runners galore like me.
Thanks to Accelerade. I have used that for five straight years, always going to bikenashbar.com or to GNC for a new cannister. It helps me hydrate faster. Thanks to GU and to salt packets, the latter of which helped me eliminate any race cramping.
Thanks to the woman at Fleet Feet in St. Louis back in 2008, because she was the first one to simply do the finger test and see that I had high arches. Thus she put me into a pair of neutral Brooks, and after a first year of many nagging injuries including plantar fasciitis and shin splints, I never have had an issue. It is all about the right shoe. I have run in neutrals ever since. The biggest thing I have learned is substance over style, DO NOT MESS WITH SHOE SUCCESS.
Thanks to my brother Tim for encouraging me. My co-workers, too.
Thanks to Beijing. My running went to another level when I experienced the thrill of wanderlust running as I worked the 2008 Summer Olympics for MLB. Thanks to the two cheerful Chinese military guards who watched over me curiously as I ran about 50 laps around a warning track on one of two official Olympic baseball fields, totaling a half-marathon: In a scorching 2 hours. Thanks to Chinese citizens I met as I ran through downtown Beijing, proving everyone wrong who complained about the "black air" (it was great). Thanks to the peasants who built the Great Wall of China on their backs centuries ago, for making each step so deep that it made an amazing workout to try to run it like stairs.
Thanks to Breathe-Right for your strips. I always use them, and right away I found that they make me about 30 to 40 percent faster due to increased energy. I do wish they would abandon the new butterfly format and revert to the normal style, which stuck on better.
Thanks to Dean Karnazes for these words: "Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up." That prevailing mindset was important.
Thanks to marathonguide.com. One of the most important things for any marathoner is to always have a big, horribly intimidating goal out there in front of you to scare your ass off so that you respect the distance and really train. So you have something to keep you going. Year-round, I am looking over that site's calendar for races and for the runner reviews.
Thanks to Brooks, Asics, Nike, Saucony, Sugoi, Reebok, Adidas, Mizuno, Zensah, Nathan, Lin Socks and anyone else I am leaving out. Thanks to Paragon Sports on Broadway and 17th near Union Square. One of the first things I did in December 2006 was go on a shopping spree there, stocking up on cold-weather gear. I have taken care of it and still wear it faithfully.
Thanks to hill repeats, speedwork, water and hand-held water bottles (thanks runlikeacoyote for giving me this one as a prize!).
Thanks to Matt's girlfriend Amanda - you were there at the finish line at the 2008 St. Louis Marathon, too! Thanks for anyone who has rang cowbells, shouted support and tracked me. Thanks for all the Likes.
Thanks to English Bulldogs. I got another one after always stopping to pet them at marathons. King Bingley is not helping my training because he always wants to go on walks and he wants attention, but thanks to him anyway.
Thanks to my lungs for not holding it against me. We are one.
Thanks to that couple who assured me I could be a runner as they prepared to move out of their apartment and hand it over to me. They knew something I didn't.