The Countdown For Change

So, not really sure if you get the emails for this site any longer….therefore, not sure you’ll see this but just wanted to let you know that I just registered for the Army Ten Miler.   That was the race that I think was the impetus behind this site two years ago.   I think we started it to track our training runs as we prepared for the race.

It’s funny, or maybe not so funny…but reading over some of the entries I kinda got a lump in my throat for many reasons…mostly because is it’s hard to read some of the entries where we clearly were so close and deeply in love…it was as if nothing could have come between us…but then, reading between the lines…I can sorta see where things might have gotten mixed up.   I read you entry on New Year’s Eve….I don’t think the first time you posted that entry,  I really read what you wrote…or maybe I did, but didn’t internalize it enough.   I truly love the person you are and the person you are aspiring to be…and it inspires me to see how passionate you are in getting there.

These past two months or so have not been easy by any stretch of the imagination….in fact, they are been some of the most difficult times in my life….but deep inside of me, i’m glad for what has happened.  Even just reading over these blog entries, I could see how we were becoming distracted from the people we wanted to be…I guess it was so easy to do when something so pleasurable was right there and so easy to grasp on to…it was clear we lost focus on so many things other than us…

But just like everything else in life…easy is not always the best way.   When things are easy, you forget why they are so important…you take things for granted and lose interest in the very thing you treasured….kinda makes me think of the kid who gets a new Mercedes for their 16th birthday…yeah, they love that they got the car but their connection to is superficial and they couldn’t possibly cherish it in a way that the kid who worked summers raising their own money to get that 1981 Ford Mustang.  Working for things gives you a deeper love and understanding …and for that kid with the Mustang….there is such pride in knowing how hard they worked to get what they wanted.

Like, I know not all things have always been easy for us…we had a difficult start…and continued to have added pressures from external influences…probably part of why we drew so closely to each other…we searched for safety with each other in a time where we both were facing so much change….ironically though…that very act kept us from truly experiencing the change we needed to go through…

so here we are now….at a crossroads trying to figure out what next…well, I’ve decided for me…right here..right now is my time for change…to face what I set out to accomplish two years ago…to become strong…and independent and to learn face the challenges in life with a quiet confidence and a personal resolve…so to that end…i’m gonna finish what I failed to do two years ago and that’s is to run this race…hopefully,  it will be with you by my side…(okay, maybe you’ll be a little faster), but either with or without you…I know it’s something I gotta finish….

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The 2014 AOR


markandbengy For the past five years, Sweet Pea has been asking me to run the American Odyssey Relay (AOR) with him. He first asked me like 2 days before the race…I was like, really???? Last year when he asked me, I seriously considered doing it…was trying to work out logistics but in the long run it just wasn’t meant to be…

This year…after a weird series of events and many emotional challenges, Sweet Pea and I find ourselves hopeless committed to each other and so running the AOR was a given. When I first committed to running this race with him back in January, I had no idea what kind of impact it would have on me….really…no idea.

In the months..and more specifically the weeks leading up to the race, I was a nervous wreck. This winter was so brutal. The weather, combined with all the crazy life events (divorce, kids moving, etc.), made training less than a priority (not like it ever really is…but this time I had an excuse) so as the days got closer, the more nervous I became and I started to wonder if I was gonna have to drop out at the last moment. Actually, dropping out crossed my mind more than once or twice but I knew if I did, I’d never hear the end of it so I just decided to do it…..and, if I needed to bow out during the race, so be it. Just to be clear, that decision did not in any way remove any of my anxieties away…yeah, truth be told…I was a nervous wreck but I was committed…or about to be committed.

So, the Thursday night before the race started, we, meaning the 12 people most of whom I did not know and with whom I was about to spend the next 30 plus hours in a van… all met up at tommy Engler’s house to get ready to drive up to Gettysburg. It was at that time that the reality of what I was about to do really kicked in and my stress level was through the roof. I knew I wasn’t in shape to do what I was about to but yet I kept moving forward. I was thinking to myself…maybe I’ll just not show up..i’ll just go home…no one will notice, right?
Well, needless to say, I didn’t go home. I showed up, got in the van and headed up to PA to start this crazy shit show of an adventure. As soon as I got to Tommy’s house, I knew this was gonna be nizz-uts. Everyone was downstairs getting juiced up for the ride up north. By the time we all got in the vans and we were ready to go (like herding cats), I’d say the majority of the folks were 3 – 4 beers in. We caravanned up ….in our respective vans…drinking the whole way mine you. Sweet Pea and I were in van 1…which by the way, is the van to be in but I‘ll talk about that more later on. The second I got in the van I knew I was in for it…there were only 4 and it smelled like hot sick dirty ass…..WE HADNT even started to run and the van smelled horrendous!!!! Come to find out, it was just one shitty asshole who didn’t mind offending the rest of us under the justification that he was only gonna get stinkier. Fuck man, take a shower!!!! Were you raised in a barn??? We shoulda tossed his ass to the curb…or at least made him run behind the van.

We got up to PA just in time for Bengy to get us all checked in. We got our shirts, packet, etc and we were ready to move. So at this point, most normal people would pack it in and start getting ready for bed…you know, cuz we were about to run 200 miles over the next day and a half. But NOOOOOOOOOO, not us…we all went out to dinner and to drink… After we finish dinner, we headed into town to really get our drink on … We closed down one bar (I say that as if there an abundance to choose from…I think there are three total in all of Gettysburg) but that was not enough…we had to go find another bar to drink some more. At this point, it’s about midnight and most of the folks had been drinking since 5. We go into this dive bar and immediately get in a fight with the little townie tool box bar tender who obviously was bitter cuz of his dead end life living in Gettysburg, PA. We asked for an Irish car bomb and his response was…..”we don’t serve those on account that they are raciest.” Okay hold up sparky….i get and actually respect the fact that ya don’t serve them on account of being offensive and insensitive….but raciest?????? That doesn’t even make sense…so I was all like “dude..can you please explain to me how that is ‘racist’?!?” Then, the little bitter wanna be hipster got all uppity with me and was all like “then I just won’t serve you.” Nice attitude wonder why you’re in a dead end fucking job in a dead in town….but away…I digress. So, we stayed in this little shit hole long enough to allow Liam Neeson (aka Carl Ginsler) to puke up his Ruby Tuesday salad bar ham chunks all over the floor…..take that you salty ass shithead of a bartender; you mess with the bull, you get the horns.

Well, after that mishap, we were tossed outta the bar and finally everyone was ready to pack it in for the night….we headed back to the hotel and turned in.
6:00 am Friday morning!!!! Rise and shine…sweet Pea and I were a little worse for the ware from the night before but we gathered ourselves up….got dressed, packed up our shit and headed downstairs to embark on our adventure.

Since we were van 1 our runners started off the morning….we met up with Yobel….she is the girlfriend of Yankowski (known from this point forward as Forrest Gump). Yobel was the first runner to go…gawd bless her. She took the challenge on without a blink of the eye, smiling the whole time. We got to the start line just on time…missing a few member of the team who were still sleeping off their hangover from the night before….here is a photo of the motley crew as we started.

The first couple of transitions went pretty smoothly (despite the fact that Yobel got lost and ended up running 7 instead of 5 miles). It was a beautiful morning….cool but clear; perfect running weather. The dynamics in the van were a little off at first…after Forrest was showing his true rainman colors, I was thinking between this tard and the smelly bastard in the front I was never gonna make it…but after a while, Forrest started to grow on me and at one point had me laughing so hard I was almost pissing myself. He is one strange-ass cat. “…so Mark…do you remember that time when you yelled at me…that was a funny time wasn’t mark….” Cool story bro…and did you find five dollars in the suburban while mark was yelling at you? Every time Forrest opened his mouth I was convinced he was fucking with me…no one is that clueless, right?? Turns out, …he is. And the whole dynamic with his girlfriend left the rest of us in the van in a constant state of “WTF???” She was cute, in good shape, intelligent, personable….just made no sense…I guess she was just the Jenny to Yank’s Forest. Who know…and who am I to judge, right??? Oh yeah…so forgot to mention the background story of those two…this in and of itself could be a book but I’ll try to keep it short…like when we were trying to figure out room situation; meaing how many and who was sleeping in what room, Bengy mentioned that these two cats, jenny and forrest, have been dating for like 3 years and still have not consummated their relationship…good for them..right? But here’s the thing…Forrest has been married..and to some crazy Lebanese bitch who apparently shot his gun through the car windshield while they were in the car together….and home boy’s response was, “you sholdn’t shoot the gun in the car….” That is just the tip of the iceberg of the crazy that is forrest…” anyway…the first 4 transitions went well….everyone did extremely well…then, there was me. I think, as I was taking the baton, we might have been in 2nd place. I made sure that wasn’t the case for long. Stinky Mother Fucker (SMF) ran right before me and was expecting me to transition like I was gonna run some 7 min mile. Sorry honey…that was most surely NOT gonna happen. I was sooo psyching myself out …I just needed to calm myself and remember to breathe. I grabbed the wrist band and took off down the road. My first leg was only like 4.5 miles but it was my hardest leg; I knew that going into it. What I didn’t know was that the first .9 miles of that leg were all uphill….dude…I was tired, hung-over, and out of shape….there was no way I was gonna be able to master this….I started to come unglued….i felt so horrible physically, but I felt even more horrible because I thought I was letting everyone down. I started to cry and just felt like shit…just then, I saw van 2 parked on the side of the first I was all like NOOOOOOO, I don’t want anyone to see me like this but then, I saw Bengy get out of the van and come over to meet me…he totally talked me off the ledge…it honestly meant a lot to me…more than I think he knew…he gave me the encouragement that I needed to keep on going…”thanks Bengy!” After that, I was able to calm down and didn’t even truly mind that I was passed by two people….the first one passed and I was like geeze..where did you come from…then the second one passed and I was for chrissake….what the hell???!!! Am I THAT slow???? Yeah, the answer to that question is YES…yes I am. Oh…yeah and as I was running I came on this farm house and a goat who had gotten out of his pen decided he was gonna play chicken with me….When I saw him cruise out into the street I was all like….oh shit, here we go…I’m gonna get wrecked by a goat on my first let…but as I got closer I guess I got more intimidating and he eventually took off….Yeah!! Take that goat!!!

Sweet Pea was the next transition so as I was finishing, he was starting his first leg which happened to be one of the hardest legs of the whole relay. He asked for that torture, man!!!! That’s why were in Van 1 with all the serious runners. So we, in van 1 followed along beside my Sweet Pea to make sure he had whatever he needed; water, encouragement, etc…. He did so well, I was soooo frigg’n proud of him…he closed the gap that I created during my leg and he kicked that massive hill’s ass!!! See below for photo of him…people were cheering him on…it was truly impressive and it made me super-hot for him.
After sweet pea finished, Van 1 was done for the next several hours. I felt so good…the first of three was over and now we had time to chill. Just as we finished though…the sky started to open up and the weather got UGLY!!!! It started to rain and the wind picked up and the temperature dropped like at least 10 degrees. Poor Liam had the worst of it..7.5 miles in the hardest rain (at one point hail), and strong winds all on top his ham chuck purge episode from the night before. He totally musta been hurting.
I really don’t remember much of the second set of legs we ran…I remember at one point we ended up at Boonsboro High School and we were able to take showers after our runs. I had never been so happy to get a shower in all my life!!! It felt so good…it’s funny how the little things can mean soooooo much. We (van 1) finished our 2nd legs around 11:00 at night…After everyone showered (even the SMF got one, thank gawd) and got something to eat, we headed to our next transition site (Bavarian inn parking lot) to rest while van 2 finished their legs. At this point, I was starting to become delirious and I don’t remember too much …but there were two things that I do remember…one was how frigg’n surreal the whole thing seemed to me at that point. It was like 2 am and there were a sea of vans with 100s of runners all in different states of consciousness; some sleeping, some talking, some doing whatever…but it was nothing but a collection of folks who decided to take on a challenge that the average joe would never even dream of doing…it was really cool to be a part of that…but the second thing I remember was lying in Sweet Pea’s arms in the van, just feeling so at peace. I was soooooo happy that I had the opportunity to do this…and to do this more importantly, with him. Gawd I love him!
Finally…3:30 am came it was our turn to run again…I was starting to freak out again cuz my leg was coming up soon and I was exhausted…it was cold, dark, my knee was starting hurt and I had to run my last let on the canal by myself with no way of getting any kind of support…it was only 3.2 miles but man I was FREAK’n. Sweet pea walked down to the transition site with me and stood with me waiting for Yobe to come in…he opened up his jacket and held me close to keep me warm…it was awesome and very reassuring. Soon, I was all geared up with reflectors and my head lamp and I was on my way…the trail was flat but fuck if I wasn’t freak’n dark. The head lamp was too big for my head so it kept falling down to the bridge of my nose making it so my field of vision was limited to just below my feet. UGH!!! Wait a pain in the ass but I pressed on…seemed like the longest 3 miles of my life but I did it..I finished and after that I was DONE!!!! It felt sooooo frigg’n awesome!!! What a great moment! It was a feeling that you just can’t explain unless you’ve done it and I loved that I got that!!!
Sweet pea ran the last leg for our van …that leg seemed like it was just as hard as his first…it was straight up hill and this time it was starting to get hot. His legs (actual legs) looked like they were starting to cramp but man he was kick’n ass and take’n names. I always knew he was a competitor but I never really got to see how much until this race. I was so truly amazed by his tenacity …he did so well and I was so proud!!!!

After Sweet Pea was done…we were done with the race!!!!! What an awesome feeling and this leads me to why Van 1 is where it’s at. We wrapped things up…dropped everyone off…went home to take showers (even had time for some nookie), headed down to the finish line and still had enough time to down two margaritas before we joined the rest of our team to help cheer in the last runner!!!
We finished just over 30 hours and overall did really well despite my effort to bring the team down…but how we placed was not the important thing in my mind….as we were all standing…remembering the events of the past two days…it was the camaraderie that was formed among us all that made this event something I will never forget!!!! I loved every minute of it and I look forward to many more AORs with my baby!!!! Thank you Sweet Pea for asking me to do this with you…it will always be a very special memory of us..for me.

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Teddy Roosevelt Island

This was great short run!  Loved the bridge going to the island.  As close as it is to DC, there were very few people on the island during our run.


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Cherry Bloosms!!!

So it has been forever since we have posted on our blog… enough is enough…. Lets get to it!!!! So it would be unfair to try to recount the last few months since the last posts since we have run several times but not as much as we both should have since the weather was so horrible over the winter.  What’s in the past shall remain there…. So on to the run from yesterday and today.  Although we got a late start, I was so happy that we were able to run and do a run that was new to us both.  The Teddy Rosevelt Island was pretty cool and new.  Like you, I had never been there before.  My favorite part  the run was when we got done and we were just standing/holding eachother on the bridge… Very special for me.  I would love to do that run again perhaps add some of the path along the river to it to make it longer if need be.

So today, 4/10/14, I ran the mall and around the tidal basiin… pretty awesome all the way around.  I felt pretty good during the run and the sights of the Cherry Bloosms in full bloom was awesome.  The only bad part of the run and it really was not that bad was that about a gazzillion other peole from all corners of the world thought it would be cool to see the Cherry Bloosms as well!!  I love that the weather is changing and running out side is more of an option.  I can’t wai to run with you next time… either tonight or this weekend. 


Ugggg can’t figure out how to turn the pic.  You get the picture…

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New Years…..

So after reading your post last year Sunshine, I figured this might be a good place to post my resolutions for this coming year. If I were to be honest, my analysis of this past year is still a work in progress… too much has occurred and transpired to tie it up in a neat package… yet anyway. What I can say is that this year has been filled with extreme highs and extreme lows… each part having a significant impact on who I am today and certainly who I am moving forward in life. I truly believe, as I suggested in previous post on your blog, that life is filled with many coincidences… it is what one chooses to do about these coincidences that makes the biggest difference. Several coincidences occurred in both person and professional life for me that impacted this past year… some of these transcended the personal and professional life in a profound way. Certainly there were some coincidences that occurred this past year that brought “us” to where we are today…meaning coincidences occurred and our choices have placed us where we are at as an “us”. For me these coincidences transcended personal and professional life and impacted them both in unique ways… thus creating extreme highs and lows of which I am still trying to make complete sense out of… Regardless however, what I do know is that I am so very happy and feel very blessed (not to sound to corny) to have you in my life and the love and caring you have offered and demonstrate tome on a daily basis.

Sooooo… the year coming up… what is it that I want to resolve to do? The list is abundant and in some respected complicated. But here is what I know for sure… not in a specific order…

1. I want to learn to be me again…live by myself and be able to provide a solid home for my boys in this situation that can be volatile and scary for them … and for me for that matter. Find the things that have provided me energy and excitement outside of work such as outdoor activities, hiking, biking, running.
2. I want to write… I want to creatively put much of my passion as it relates to government leadership down in articles and/or a potential book.
3. I want to be the best father I can be.
4. I want to learn something new that I have no knowledge of…. I think I have started on this and I hope to continue this with Sunshine’s help… an appreciation for music…not just listening to the music but hearing the music.
5. I want to learn “us” …Sunshine and I have started on a path of which I hope to continue to build a solid, stable foundation to grow from.
6. I want to simplify my life in a manner that allows me to focus on the most important aspects of who I am and minimize the distractions to these important aspects.

There is no doubt that this is an ambitious list of “resolutions”… but I firmly believe to be successful you need to set your goals high and work hard to achieve them … even if you don’t achieve them all, you will get more done then anyone could expect.

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You Are My Everything….

Sooooo, the race is over and SP finished like a champ. I’m so sorry because one, I missed being able to run with him but two, because I was not there to see him cross the finish line. I so desperately wanted to be there to show him I supported him..and let him know how proud of him I am.
But now that the race is over, what will happen to this site? Well SP, I think I’m gonna just keep on writing to you on this blog because you truly are pretty much my very most favorite of all time in the history of forever and eternity….
In fact, I’ve determined that you are who I want to see looking back at me over the dinner table when you’re 80 and I’m 87.
You are the one who I want to be holding my hand through the next phase of my life…
You are the one I want to be there for…to take care of…to support….to respect…because you deserve it not because you demand it.
You are insanely special to me and I can’t express in any words what it means to me when you are standing there willing and able to be my man. You really are my everything and I love you with all my heart.
So maybe we might need to change the “about this” page because I want to always have a way to tell you just how much you really do mean to me…..

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Better late then never—It has been a while–But two runs to report

So it has been some time since I have posted. A lot has been going in the last few weeks that has caused a lack of posting and sadly a lack of working out. With Gov’t shut down, a major case I have been working hitting the news and more time with my Sunshine…. things just have not kept up on the workout front. But Today is a new day….
So in the last twice weeks, I have only run and really worked out twice. Both runs were really great and memorible. The first run was from Sunshine’s house. I ran for about 70mins up the C&O/4mile trail. The weather was perfect and it was a great run.I felt outstanding during the run even having to go up the huge hill near Sunshine’s Casa. However, as I ended the run this is the first time since my ankle surgery that I had major pain in my foot/ankle. Almost so much I was unable to walk. I am not sure what casued it, but one a reason to scale back on the miles (obviously that was not hard since I did very little after this run).
The next run was with some work buddies down on the mall in DC. We ran about 6.6miles in and around the mall. Although the run was great, it was honestly one of the gloomier runs I have ever done. The main reason was because the Gov’t was shut down and all the monuments were closed to the public due to lack of Gov’t staff. What a sad day in American history…. really all because of the elected Congress in this country can’t get their shit together and do their job. The shut down will impact so many peoples lives and Congress seems to be very cavalier about getting a budget past. As I mentioned to Sunshine and others, I think all incumbent Congress men and women should be voted out of office….. They have simply failed to do their job. In any case, I hope this run will be a set in the right direction to getting back on my Army 10miler training. The race is literally only 2 weeks away… actually less.

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