On the Edge (Make a Plan)

I watched On the Edge after reading the Runner’s World article on Bruce Dern, http://www.runnersworld.com/celebrity-runners/a-running-conversation-with-bruce-dern. The first paragraph includes this “Between auditions and bit roles, [Bruce Dern would] run the California missions, which are spaced about 30 miles apart, or tackle Lake Tahoe’s 72-mile perimeter.” This immediately won my admiration, because I want to run across the country stopping at Subways. (They are spaced about 30 miles apart!) I just haven’t gotten around to it, yet. And I’m wondering if I could stay at Drury Inns and eat baked potatoes every night for dinner. That’s living!

In the movie, Bruce portrays Wes Holman. Wes is seeking acceptance of himself, approval of his father, recognition from his fellow runners, and legitimization by the governing body of running. It gave me a few things to think about. This is an “impact on my life and training” post – not a review.

Here’s a link to the trailer if you want to get a feel for the movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHr4XtxViOY You will notice that the music is synthesized and very 70s. I think that is the worst thing about the movie. (I recently watched the 2012 Olympic Trials on YouTube. And the soundtrack is much better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIgq4S6oAT4) There are no “beautiful” runners in this movie. There were a lot of people running with their hearts on their sleeves, though. And I really liked watching them run.

As I watched Wes training, I got the distinct feeling that Bruce Dern could have actually completed the training and run the race competitively. I always think of this lyric, “All the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players, performers and portrayers. Each another’s audience outside the gilded cage.” [Rush, Limelight], when I think about actors portraying a character that is very much like themselves or when I find a character who is very much like me.

I am 43 as of January, and Wes is 43 in the movie. Wes has a tenuous relationship with his father, because he was running “while the country was going to the dogs.” And I do have my own troubled relationship with my parents. I have come to appreciate them more, and I think they have started to make peace with me and my life choices – like being a liberal, mainline Presbyterian and a (mostly) Democrat. But it also may just be something about turning 43.

And Was has not been able to make a living doing the thing he loves to do: run. I haven’t made a living from running, but mostly that’s because I’m not that good at it. I have been able to make a living as an IT professional, but it takes me away from my family (and my life) easily as much as any other professional career would. Fortunately, it pays pretty well.

The movie opens with Wes hitch hiking home to watch the Cielo-Sea race. He is asked, “Are you Wes Holman? You were banned, weren’t you?” (Like a book? Like a drug?) People would ask him how long ago it was that he had run a certain race. One person asked, “What was that? Six? Seven years ago?” And Wes said, “Twenty.” At 43, he has a heightened sense of time. He is getting ready to relive the past and bring the past to life. He was getting ready to make a statement and to stage a protest.

Part of that preparation is making a training plan. Wes puts his on a poster size sheet of paper that he tapes to the wall. And one of my favorite parts of the season is sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and counting off the weeks until a big race. Right now, I know that the week of July 4th is the 16th week before the Kansas City Half Marathon on Oct 18, 2014 (at 7:05 AM). By then, I will need a training plan. The next step is creating a grid with all the days laid out, where the months flow into each other without any bothersome flipping of pages. Then put in the big events like birthdays, holidays, and vacations. Then try to figure out which day of the week is going to be the best for a long run this season, pencil it in, and start executing the plan.

And I find myself thinking about time like this, too. I am very aware of how old I am, and that I am about to turn 45 and get an extra 10 minutes to Boston Qualify! But that gift of 10 minutes makes me all too aware that I need them. There are only so many more years (less than a literal handful) that I can expect to have an outright PR. I wonder, when will the pendulum swing? When will I crest this mountain? Still, my high school running accomplishments are a hazy memory. I know I can find my best 5K time as a “kid,” but that number has very little importance to me. Much less importance than my max heart rate or my marathon and half PRs.

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