Thursday, April 26, 2012

On Taking Shots (and a book mini excerpt #1)

The April heat hasn't abandoned us and the bare-shoulders on the street are probably indicative that we're knocking on summer's door. There's more plastic and less styrofoam in trashcans and lining the street, which has more bikes by the week. With the amount of time the marathon took up, I had to put several projects off until the summer. Project 1 is prioritizing how I'm going to attack them. At the moment I'd rank them:
1- Writing- One night per week I'm going to post up in a cafe to write a blog and chip away at editing ze book. Let me know if you want to read the first chapter or two. I need some fresh-eyed feedback. Also I'll start putting context-free book samples in each blog post (see the bottom of this post for #1)
2- Poker- I was considering writing an entire blog about poker. That post will come at some point. A few things for now: I am shocked that in the year since Black Friday, the US hasn't been able to regulate and institute a taxable system of online poker. It's been a lot of bad news and false hope for people with money tied up on Full Tilt. The latest is that Pokerstars might be paying the Full Tilt players back. In any case, I'd have to run crazy-super-freaky hot to hit my 2012 poker goal, but I'm hoping that I can make a May run at it.
3- Exploring (metaphorically and geographically)- As an apartment, we should hit at least 75% on the Davis Sq bucket list. There are still a hand full of worthwhile daytrips from my 2011 to-do list that I want to cross off.
4- Yoga
5- Reflection and Thinking- At some point sooner rather than later I'll have to figure out what happens after the summer. The future? Gulp.
6- Guitar. I've conceded that I'll probably never be any good at playing guitar.

Last week I stumbled across this article about regrets of the dying. It led me to think about self-sabotage and the appropriate amount of shot taking and risk exposure that should take up one's young life.
Being comfortable is probably a good place to be in the short term, but the life of a twenty-something(who doesn't have too much at stake) should be full of small failures. If you haven't failed at anything in the past 6 months, why not? Without constantly trying new things and sometimes coming up short, we won't evolve. It sucks to set your mind to do something and then come up short, but the process of failure is the only way to bridge the gap between who we are and who we eventually want to be. Maybe part of our resistance to new is that we don't want to lose the things we like about ourselves-but something that makes you happy is worthwhile, it isn't going anywhere.
I've made a lot of conservative choices this year rather than interesting ones. Work and money are convenient excuses, but saying "I haven't done XYZ because I'm too busy" is a thin viel over bullshit. This summer I'll do better/more.
Quick quote from a president: “We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter’s evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.” Woodrow Wilson

Rock on. Don't make your Spring too easy.

Context Free Book Excerpt #1:

Lying across the couch, the ribbed shoulder of Heather’s red tank top is twisted. She wears a but-what-if smile like everygirl knows her life won't carry out like movie starlet’s. It wasn’t a weekend away from the city, but a night on Will’s boat nontheless belongs in the mostly vacant win column of Heather’s rapidly disappearing summer with Sam. She constantly slides a draping unfairness back to the side. It had the majority of her teenage years for this summer to turn into something that inevitably would fail. She needed to get out of New Jersey and he wanted to be the king of Atlantic City. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Trip Report: Marathon '12

6:45 AM- Everyone at Park St Station has an orange bag. Runners are being led to the two station exists and then redistributed to queues where we wait for individual buses. The yellow school buses leave Tremont a dozen at a time every few minutes. 
7:15 AM- My bus buddy is Mandy from Cincinatti. She is wildly anxious so I regale her with a few stories and thoughts on how the existence of Chinatown affects social integration. It takes her mind off the race, so I think I was helpful. If nothing else she now knows that Gourmet Dumpling House is worth the wait. 
8 AM- Athletes village is a block party of hyper-athletic people. Our bus arrives early and I find a shaded spot to lie on the grass with a magazine (hopefully this will be a regular occurrence this summer.)Two hours of conversations with overhyped runners, a peanutbutter/nutella/banna sandwich, and several applications of sunblock carry me to race time. 

10AM- The elite race begins. They will be halfway done before I start running. The third wave of runners is led out of athletes village to drop our bags. I get to say “hi” to Alex Hubbard’s very sweet (and very enthusiastic) mom. 
While we slowly inch the half mile to the starting line I talk to one of the runners in a cheeseburger costume. The longest he has run in the sandwich suit is 1 mile. Good luck bro.
11AM- When we got off the buses, the weather was perfect for a short Springtime run. The temp has gone up a degree by the quarter hour since then, I’m sweating from the walk to the start line. Gulp.
11:30AM- I pat myself on the back for not starting out too fast. It’s not so hot, maybe I’ll still run 3:45!

11:45 AM- I see a motionless young woman lying by the side of the course. Her eyes are closed and her face is expressionless and pale. The Medical staff is checking her pulse. I completely dismiss the thought of running 3:45. 

Noon- I develop a system for dealing with the heat. When someone offers you ice- take it  and rub it on forearms/neck. At each mile drink half cup of gatorade, half cup of water, dump the rest of the water over head. Each time I soaked myself I was dry again within 10 minutes. This holds the heat off well enough for most of the race.  
12:30 PM- I can see the 15k mark up ahead. It’s a huge emotional lift to know that my friends will receive a text that I’ve made it this far. 
After half an hour of listening to music I decide to turn off my ipod: I’m relaxed, deep in thought, and don’t want to miss any cheers or hollers. 
Anytime I need a pick me up I try to spot a small boy who no one is high-fiving. I run up and yell “my man!” as I slap his palm. The parents usually go nuts and say “did you hear that? you’re his man.” It feels good and fuzzy, I probably gave 10 or 15 my man’s.  
1PM- Wellesley college comes just before the halfway point. I had read that Wellesley girls all go nuts and scream at the runners all day. I had not realized they also all make signs with reasons they should be kissed. At first this seems like a joke but when I see some old guys getting loved I start to look at the signs more seriously. 
-Kiss me I’m from Vermont- whatever
-Kiss me I’m a dancer- lame
-Kiss me I’m a jedi- “You” I yell and point. I barely stop running and she lays one on my cheek. I feel like a total nerdpimp.
1:15 - Easy half marathon, hard mile 14. The course- downhill so far- levels out and starts to climb. My quads show the first signs of wear and tense up. I take 15-16 slowly to save some energy for the Newton hills.
In Needham I run past a bank where we used to keep my Bar Mitzvah money. Every mile or so early in the race I saw a restaurant or a store I’ve been in.  As the course gets more urban I can spot 3 or 5 places each block where I’ve hung out. I feel like a local- Boston is homey.
1:30- I get an A+ “Jesse Plate” from the Springer Family and stop to give them a hug. It probably wasn't as good for them as it was for me, but it was great for me so it still might be pretty ok for them.
The second Newton hill is a pain in the ass, especially when I get to the top and realize it wasn’t Heartbreak hill. I grab some orange slices and tell myself I’m not going to walk during Heartbreak.
2pm- The thought of seeing from my friends gives me a pile of energy. Unfortunately, the ensuing emotional burst is more than my body can handle. In front of all the raucous BC Superfans I get a wild hamstring spasm. I stop at the side of the road and stretch. I start to walk and it spasms again. I have my fourth and final gel of the race and stretch it for a minute. Good to go...ish.
2:05- I hit Cleveland circle and start looking for team Greenstorm. To my surprise, right outside of Craig and Alex’s building I see my dad and give him a big hug. 
I wish I had taken more time in Cleveland circle. I took in everyone’s awesome support for a moment that I only really appreciated hours later. Oh well- my brain was melting. 
My friends are awesome- seriously, the best. Their signs were full of inside jokes and back in the day references (if you still have them I want all the signs!)
I pick up some running companions to get me into Boston and bump into some more friends along the route. Thank you Jon and Josh for company during an ugly few miles.
Mile 23 I get a calf cramp- not surprising since I haven’t run this far or in this heat in a few years. Mile 24.5 my hamstring locks up again. My foot feels stuck to the ground- I can’t move it. I start stretching and see my friend Erin. I try to be eloquent, and Instead yell “I has ze cramps” or something unflattering and probably not really in english. 
After a minute I’m on my way again. When the finish line comes into sight I grab some hi-5’s, soak it in,  and hear a “Jesse!” from Dick W. After the half hour it takes to come back to life, I get some more congrats after the race from everyone involved with Medicines for Humanity.
Given the heat I think I ran as well as I was possibly going to, so I’ll be proud of this one for a long time. I’m hurting something pretty awful today, but nothing that won’t heal over the next few weeks.
The Boston marathon has awesome fans. Orange slices/pretzels are readily available along the entire route. There was a ridiculous party in Ashland- good for you Ashland, it looked heavy. 
My experience must have been much different than almost everyone in the race’s. On top of excitement and newness, the start line was a flood of nostalgia: hanging out with friends during track meets at Hopkington high, going to watch football games. The 25 year old Jesse hadn’t been here before, but the 15 year old had many times. 
Thanks again everyone for the support, the donations, and most importantly your love and friendship.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Boston Marathon Thank You: My Peoples Are Awesome

If you've donated to MFH, watch this video. If not, go donate here.


I've been MIA from blogging but starting next week there will be weekly posts and rant. Click "follow" on the right!

Thanks again, you guys are the best.