Adventures In Running


Personal Responsibility

Written By: The Hornet - Feb• 25•13

I would like to begin by making a point that may border on political. This is something I prefer to avoid,  but it has become necessary to address this topic.  While there are times in life that the very unfortunate need help, the vast majority of us are bound by a little concept called personal responsibility.  With our culture changing, many people have chosen to abandon this notion.  The reason I bring this up is because of an article I wrote last year during the frenzy of heat related race cancellations. (read here) Apparently Sean Ryan, the race director of the Green Bay Marathon, has put me on his radar and launched a couple inarticulate, personal attacks.  I continue to stand by my article and merely pointed out his obvious condescension toward runners.  He has opted to take the low road via name calling both in an email and also posting on my Adventures In Running Facebook page a short, sophomoric attack on a completely unrelated article.  He chooses his words as poorly as he makes decisions in my opinion.  This is the email (which I actually found somewhat amusing) EXACTLY as it was written:

Here’s a thought: Why don’t we have every self-absorbed distance runner whno maintains their own blog and brags or humble-brags about their achievements set aside ONE YEAR, yes just one year, to enter the race directing field? Then they could actually blog would an informed perspective on what it takes to put on a race and what’s involved in caring “not just for your own PR and personal survival” but the safe delivery to the finish line of thousands of participants.
How about that Dave, you self absorbed loser?
Sean Ryan
Race Director
Responsible for More Meaningful Runner Finishes Each Year
Than Dave can hope to Accumulate in a Lifetime


Personal responsibility.  Either you believe in it or you don’t.  With the exception of the aforementioned extremely unfortunate in our society, I contend there are no gray areas here.  It’s like having a strong character, either you think it’s important or you don’t.   I have to ask you the reader, is this the temperament of a man you want in charge of anything in your life?  It seems Mr. Ryan is a walking, talking teachable moment to illustrate my point.  If you are the type of person who refuses to take responsibility for your own missteps, you likely think others are incapable of making responsible decisions on their own.  Even if you disagree with my past article you must agree that Mr. Ryan is an obvious total failure in the public relations department.  What’s more, he is completely inaccurate in his assessment of my character.  I challenge Mr. Ryan to find instances where I brag about my accomplishments rather than lift others up. It would seem he is the self-absorbed party here, judging by his closing statement.

There are possible solutions to mid-race cancellations such as capping with fewer participants or changing the venue/date, but this is not what I am here to discuss today.  We can forever debate those ideas and ultimately agree to disagree, but I ask you to consider this:  If I were to build someone a house and alter the homeowners floor plan without consent because I thought they were making a bad move, that would be wrong.  The customer would have paid for something that they did not receive.  I would not then double down on my error and tell them that they should be a carpenter for a year so they can speak from a position of experience.  If Sean Ryan’s philosophy held true, none of us would be allowed to comment on politics, war, bad behavior, etc. because we have not actively been in that person’s position.  So, for the sake of making my point, I would ask Sean Ryan, “How many races did you participate in during 2012?”  Nowhere near the amount I have, so according to his logic, he is not allowed to make judgments on what an experienced racer wants or needs when weather conditions turn unfavorable.  Unfortunately for Mr. Ryan little things like common sense and personal responsibility still exist where most of us come from.





Then and Now

Written By: The Hornet - Jan• 25•13

I was reminiscing a few days ago about a strange, yet enlightening race I participated in a little more than a year ago.  It was summertime on a hot and sunny day with a course that was not exactly spectacular.  Half marathons are usually exciting for me and despite the heat, I was looking forward to having a good run.  So off we went and within a mile I picked up a “shadow”.  A thin man about my age decided to run alongside me and I was happy for the company.  Soon he began to carry on a conversation about racing and general running topics.  If you know me, you would understand that I like short sentences followed by long periods of silence.  Still, it’s nice running with someone to keep you motivated.  By mile 3 his incessant jabbering was beginning to annoy me but I decided it was too hot and too early in the race to pick up my pace in an attempt to get away.  In the distance I spied a water station and the talkative runner decided to move a little faster and leave me behind.  “Thank God!” I thought.  Unfortunately my relief was short-lived when I realized he was walking through the aid station and looking back as if waiting for me to catch up.  As I grabbed my water and kept moving he jumped in alongside me once more.  My patience was wearing thin.

Turn after turn he stayed right with me doing the same thing at each water stop. To make the situation worse, he never seemed to sweat as he waved cheerfully at passerby’s and enthusiastically thanked every volunteer working the race.  I started to lose my cool with his overly pleasant demeanor combined with a scorching and insipid course. My complaints about the lack of scenery, water stations and the temperature were starting to slip out.  Ten miles into the race I finally turned to him after he thanked yet another volunteer and snapped, “Stop being so damn cheerful!  It’s f@*c%n& hot out here!”  That’s when he laughed and asked me if I had ever suffered a running injury.  I replied, “Nothing serious.”  He then began to tell me a story about how he had experienced a terrible injury that sidelined him for quite some time.  He explained he was just happy to be out there running again. Needless to say, this made me feel about 3 inches tall as well as aggravate me that he had made an exceptionally valid point.

The next couple miles we ran in silence.  Approaching mile 13, I kept my shadow in view as he decided to run ahead.  The final water station appeared over a hill and I watched as he began to walk.  This was my opportunity to run wide with some other runners and skip the break in an effort to elude him once and for all.  He looked around but didn’t spot me.  My memory of the last mile gets a little blurry for me due to the heat and exhaustion.  I do recall runners struggling to finish and to be honest, I lost track of my upbeat sidekick.  Across the finish line I staggered and received my finish medal.  Looking back, he was nowhere to be seen.

The “after” party was spectacular and it wasn’t long before the results were posted. Scanning the age groups, I found my name. 4th place by a few seconds???!!!!  Right above me in third was my shadow who, as it turned out, was exactly my age.  Needless to say, this infuriated me!  Still, I had not learned my lesson and blamed the guy with an unusual last name for throwing me out of my zone.  I was acting like a poor sport for the first time and made no attempts to hide it.  After 20 minutes of childish pouting they re-posted the results which somehow reversed our positions and gave me third place by 2 1/2 seconds.  For a moment I was elated, but within seconds a feeling of embarrassment crashed over me like a wave and I knew that receiving my medal would feel undeserved and hollow. I never saw “the shadow” after the race or ever again.  A search online for his name turned up absolutely nothing in the way of past results.  Strange.

The moral of the story is this:  Conditions may be adverse at times, life will treat you unfairly and your future may appear bleak, but our lives are made up of choices.  We can choose to be happy in the face over overwhelming hardship or choose to surrender and be miserable.  Sometimes we forget this lesson and it takes an outside hand to place an exceptional person in our path who helps us understand our shortcomings and challenges us to be better people if we stop resisting and pay attention.

Run for fun but race to place everyone!