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Settling In.

8 February 2017

Three days later, the decision to suspend marathon training and concentrate on the half is sitting very well. I just don’t have the mental stamina to muster for the runs in the long teens and low twenty miles. It beats me up physically and mentally, and I’m happy to be sitting back, doing my weekly 22-25 miles, and getting fit to run 13.1. I’m happy about the decision and feel a lot of relief.

Could I have done the marathon? Yes. But I don’t need to prove that to myself anymore. I’ve done it. I’ve done two and I’ve done them both honorably. I’m proud of those accomplishments. But I need to remember my alcoholic brain: more is not always better. I don’t always need to go as far as I can. Or as fast. It’s perfectly acceptable and even a positive to chose a distance I truly enjoy and concentrate on doing that.

I don’t need to go faster. I don’t need to set records. I simply need to keep doing what I’m doing that works for me. That’s how sobriety works. I don’t set records in sobriety. I don’t go faster or further. I simply keep doing what works for me. And that’s how it’s been nearly nine years and I’m still sober. So, I’m going to keep going at the pace and distance I enjoy. 13.1 miles is a great race.

And that’s what is going to have to be my philosophy with this political administration. I can’t do a million things today to bring it down. It’s going to take steady, daily pressure. Thoughtful actions. Lots of losses and few, occasional wins. And that’s what I’m going to have to do. Settle in. Work daily, and move forward.

Race Decisions.

6 February 2017

I decided to take the April marathon off of my calendar. There just wasn’t enough time to get into the training, and getting enough midweek miles in to make the weekend long runs feel good and not like a miserable slog of a chore wasn’t working. I’m not done running marathons, but I won’t be running this one. We’re going to shift back to the half-marathon which is a much more manageable.

Training for a marathon can take me up to eight hours a week of running, on the big weeks, and getting in some 40 miles. That takes a big toll on the body, and on the clock. Especially when the Saturday long runs stretch into 17+ miles and take three and a half hours or more. After one of those, I can’t really do much the rest of the day. I did that all during the fall. Now it’s just a little too soon to mentally get up for it again.

But the half marathon I can train for in about three and a half hours a week. That will give me additional time to do things on the weekends – a ten mile long run doesn’t wipe me out. And it lets me invest a little more energy in my strength and crosstraining. And I’m hopeful that it will help me drop a few pounds again – marathon training makes me so hungry all the time that I make bad food decisions.

So. Half-marathons, triathlons, and maybe a few shorter fun races like 10ks and 5ks, to round things out. I like the challenge of the marathon. The discipline it requires. The willingness to endure pain and injury. The fight against self and landscape. But it’s a fight that leaves me broken and beaten-up. I’m too slow to train for it in a reasonable amount of time. So I’m going to let it go for a while. Maybe the fall. Maybe next year. We’ll see.

The half-marathon though: that I enjoy. It’s a great distance and a fun challenge. It takes about two hours and then I get pancakes and I’m done. It doesn’t break my body. It doesn’t take huge amounts of planning or equipment. It’s just a show-up-and-run kind of a challenge. I like that. It’s what I feel like I have mental space for right now.

Giving.

2 February 2017

One conservative argument I am susceptible to is that the government pays for too much stuff that really is the responsibility of individuals and charities to handle. While I think the right goes far too far and donates too much to organizations that don’t actually provide for the social welfare (like evangelical mega-churches), I do agree that the average American ought to do much more to contribute. Volunteering, donations, and other such things that promote social cohesion and collective prosperity.

Among the religious right, a large portion even of the very poor give 10% of their income to the church. The left argues this is some kind of usury, but I don’t buy that – that argument feels a lot like religious intolerance to me. If someone feels that their money is well-spent that way, then I’m in no position to tell them they shouldn’t give it.

I don’t give close to 10% of my income to charities of any kind. But I do give away some (probably 3-4% per year, maybe?). I’m going to start doing more. I’m going to start giving to organizations that support people the government is in the process of abandoning. So while this year I’ve given to the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center and to classrooms through DonorsChoose.org, I am going to start spreading around my contributions.

So I am going to contribute to my local public radio station, and to local charities that promote equality, justice, and which work to address poverty and disparities. I’m going to do this because it’s right. Because it’s necessary. And because I do not believe (please prove me wrong) that those on the right will be stepping up to support those whom they are stripping of federal and state benefits.

Attempts at Normalcy.

30 January 2017

This weekend I ran. Eleven miles, just under two hours. It got tougher toward the end, as it was a long out and back that is downhill all the way out, and so uphill all the way back. I’ve run 86 miles in January, and have about 4 more tonight to finish off the month. February will be longer, with the lengthening out of the long runs for April’s marathon. I’m going to try hard to average about 100 miles a month this year, in order to stay fit through the summer and be heat-trained for the long triathlon.

I took the X-wing out for a ride for the first time in a long time as well, and felt good. My pace during the triathlon last summer was about 18 mph, and I’m feeling 14.5 as pretty tough right now. I need to do 15-16 minimum in order to make the time-limit at the half-Ironman in September, so I’ve got a long way to go there.

Politics has me low. Fearful for the country and our way of life. We’ll simply have to see what happens in the future. Practicing the program: accepting the things I cannot change. But changing the things I can. Through protest, donations, etc.. The ACLU had a good weekend. There are many places to send money that defend liberty from tyrants. Do that if you can.

But personally, ignoring the tectonic schisms in the geopolitical world, things are good. I’ve been excited by work, satisfied and happy in my relationship, and pleased with my health and fitness. My sobriety is on solid ground. Life goes on and fatigue in the face of atrocity is real. It’s ok to recharge and come back stronger. I still have hope for the country. We will have to see what happens.

Take care of yourselves. I’m weary from all this. But I’m standing. I will probably be writing less simply because I can’t focus on everything at once. But I am well.

The Words to Use are “Primary Challenge.”

26 January 2017

Everyone who understands the fascist threat of the new administration needs to be calling their elected representatives. It’s important to call if you have GOP legislators, because they need to hear people in their districts opposed to the White House. They won’t stand against the executive branch unless there’s personal incentive to do so. But I hear many people saying, “I have Democrat representation. They already are opposed. There’s no point in me calling.” Yes there is.

Democrats suck at fighting. At least, the current crop in congress does. We need to either make them fight, or replace them with people who will. Democrats seem to think that good politics requires them to “find common ground.” They think they need to negotiate and partner and maintain access and credibility. The GOP exploited that and continues to.

So, if you live in areas with Democrats representing you, call them. Tell them to be public, obstructive. Tell them to filibuster. Tell them to raise hell, and stop negotiating with the GOP and the would-be tyrants in the administration. And tell them – use these words – that if they are not willing to fight as hard as they can, they can expect a primary challenge from someone who will.

If the ridiculous, doomed candidacy of Bernie Sanders taught us anything it’s that the left in America is tired of fucking wimps representing them. We want fighters. We didn’t know we’d need them so soon. But we do. We need to take back congress in 2018, for the sake of freedom in the world. For the sake of human rights. For the sake of democracy and for our republic.

Trump is a unique danger to the Constitution, to the United States, and supporting him now, knowing what he has said he will do, in tantamount to treason. It is openly abrogating the US Constitution and both the words and spirit of the founders. To any democratic legislators – at any level – listening: you will fight or we will find legislators who will.

The Challenge of Honesty.

11 January 2017

I sympathize with Donald Trump. I really do. In one respect. Donald Trump is a constant, unrepentant liar. And until I entered sobriety, so was I. As I’ve written many times, honesty is the first casualty of alcoholism, and I lied unremittingly in order to get what I wanted. But honesty really and truly comes in many flavors.

I thought of myself as an honest person, even though I lied all the time. How? Alcoholics in recovery talk about “cash register honesty”. I was cash-register honest. You could leave me alone in a room of uncounted $100 bills, tell me no one was watching, and no one will ever know, but please don’t take any. And I wouldn’t. I thought that made me an honest person.

And while I lied about my drinking – well documented on this blog – that’s not the kind of lying I sympathize with Donald Trump about. I’m talking about a different kind of core-self dishonesty. The kind of lying we do to be accepted by others. I think this kind of dishonesty explains all kinds of toxic behaviors that people rationalize to themselves. I did.

The kind of lies that I sympathize with Donald Trump about are not the ones he tells reporters to gain power. They’re the ones he tells his rallies. The ones he tells his close associates. They’re the same lies I told. The ones my mother tells. That impulse to take a great story you hear and make it about your own family so that you seem more interesting.

The impulse to say you agree with whomever is currently being adulated so that you’ll be reflected in the glow, part of the group. Even if you don’t. The impulse to go along with a crowd that’s wrong – to participate in a mob. The lies you tell when you take the pulse of a room and determine what you need to say to be popular. To be accepted. To be seen as valuable.

These impulses – this need to be accepted and promoted, to receive attention and praise – are the sourcewaters of lies told reasonlessly. Told off the cuff. Unremembered because to us they are unremarkable. The truth value was never what was important about them. They were just tools to wedge me into an open space in the crowd that wasn’t quite me-shaped. I lie to reform myself into something that I think you’ll value more.

Not because I’ll get something from you. Because you valuing me is what I get from you.

They are lies told from fear and isolation. They are the reason I have a story to top yours. They are the reason I have an experience that matches the situation you’re describing. They are why I’m always talking. Because I need you to see value in me. I need you to think of me as someone with something to contribute.

This need is why I understand plagiarists and other imposters- we all have our own mediums of lies, but the purpose is the same. Consider James Frey – why would he make up the book and call it a memoir? Consider Jonah Lehrer – why would he fabulate all those quotes? Consider Julie Miller – why would she cut corners in races with no prize money? People assume it was financial fraud of some kind – glory.

I don’t think so. I think it’s a need to be accepted into a society we feel like we cannot truly be a part of. Because we know we have rotten souls. We are insufficient. I’m not talking about impostor syndrome. I’m talking about being actual impostors. We are not as good. Not as smart. Not as capable. We know this. But we desperately want to be part of the group that is.

So I understand Donald Trump. He’s a lot like me. Not as swift, not as talented, not as successful as the peer group he wants to be in – political and industrial captains. So he lies and pretends and cheats and probably makes deals with Russia to advance his position. And now I have to live in this nightmare – someone who is like me will be our president.

I still feel every impulse to lie and cheat and inveigle myself into groups that are more august than I’ve earned a place in. I know because I prove it when I am admitted, when I see the regret and chagrin of the people who’ve invited me to join them in rarefied places. But in sobriety I’ve found a way to stop the lies, at least. Even if I cannot yet accept the truth about who I am with grace and dignity.

First Long Run of the Season.

9 January 2017

Saturday morning I went out for my first long run of the new marathon training season. Only nine miles. My total mileage for the week was about 21.5. It was a tough run, with the temperature hovering about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and snow falling hard for the last four or five miles. My hands were numb for the first forty minutes.

I didn’t have enough water onboard, and didn’t bring any on the run. And I only had 100 calories during it. I went out too fast to stay warm, and then had run through my breakfast and the little Larabar bite I had with me wasn’t enough, and was hard to choke down with no water. So I ended up with a big positive split.

But I finished it and my knee feels ok (not great, but ok). My heart rate is not really cooperating, but it will as I get back into condition. It’s depressing that taking about 5 weeks off is enough to repeal four months of work. But I am still fit for a 9 mile run at 10 minutes per mile, which is encouraging. To say the least.

BB and I are going to Seattle Friday for a long weekend, and I’m looking forward to seeing family. But I will need to get several training runs in, including a 10 miler Saturday morning. We’ll have to do it early. I’m hoping to get ten miles in and then have brunch with the family. After that it’ll be who knows.

I’m looking forward to going home but always apprehensive about being there. Family is difficult – for everyone I think. But it’s been a long time since I’ve been in the Pacific Northwest and I’m looking forward to showing BB around.