Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm 'Howard Beale':

                                                     " ... get up out of your chairs, open out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

     I have finally hit it. the bottom. The abyss. The reflection of myself that speaks back to me, "HYPOCRISY".
     As a runner, I have run marathons, including a BQ. I have run one mile under four and a half minutes. I have run up the entire access road of Mt. Washington, and I generally earned a reputation among my peers of a tough, but amicable competitor. Perhaps you could beat me, but you would sweat to do it. As a running advisor, I have given prudent advice to hundreds of people, maybe more, and most of them have achieved  remarkable heights in fulfilling personal goals. I have been proud to have helped their running progress a little more prepared for having lent my proverbial two cents to them.

     Never wanting to live my running dreams vicariously through others achievements, I have always deflected credit given to me towards the runners themselves that I worked with. They did the work, and so, they deserved the credit. I was most proud of runners who were able to hit personal goals without me after spending some time with me. If I helped them to achieve self-sufficient running, then I felt I had been a good teacher. Truly, advising in an arena of shared passion left me feeling good about having given back just a little to a sport I so love.

     Yet, something was amiss.

     The ironic paradigm that follows is one that I am not rejecting, but rather, one that I am proud of. Nonetheless,my approach is in need of a tuneup.

     For the past several years, I have kept busy. No more busy than most of you, I imagine, but, suffice to say, my time has seldom been idle.  I work as a Deputy Sheriff in Boston, which in this context accurately implies a wealth of accumulated stress wrapped in a blanket of forced overtime made from the fabric of care and custody of thousands of lost souls. My wife and son are blessings beyond compare, but I would be typing less than honestly if I were to suggest that I never brought the byproducts of my profession through the radiations of my furrowed brow onto the dinner table. Stress, in fact, has been the mostly senseless jailer separating my spirit from my being over recent times. I work responsibly. I am, I think, a very attentive husband and daddy. I am generally proud of my contributions to my community and to my family. However, I am losing my fight with stress.

     It has been over three years since I have posted an original blog entry. I have not run a race of any accomplishment or satisfaction since 2010. Moreover, the number of miles I have run over the past year totals approximately the amount of miles I used to run per week when I was running competitively. As I write, I am exactly 70 pounds heavier than I was when I last ran the Boston Marathon in 2005. Of more grave concern, in that time of weight gain, I have been diagnosed with cardiac disease to the extent that a stent was placed in my LAD "widowmaker" artery in 2009 as I was, according to my doctor, "one cheeseburger away from a heart attack."

     Yet, I have gained weight since that procedure.

     Am I crazy? I have helped people to greater fitness and health, but I am watching my lethargy towards running ... RUNNING(!) assist in essentially shortening my lifespan. I love to run. I really do. Yet, for the past few years, I have all but ignored it. "What is (my) major malfunction?"

      Overtime .... overeat ... overwhelmed .... over! I have been chained to a couch of'something else to DO', but I have had the key all along! I have something I need to do: to run! I'm pain free, gym boss buttressed, and praying that this moment of catharsis doesn't dissipate upon the first time I have a new conflict of interest. After allowing myself to believe in any number of pitiful excuses as to my premature retirement from my own well being, I am at the point of this realization: if my life is to continue, if my life is to be authentic, if I am to reclaim my life from being defined ONLY by the responsibilities to others that I keep, I must manage my time. I am not going to stop keeping my responsibilities.I love my family and that will always be my first priority. However, if I am dead in five years, as my doctor has suggested to me that I could be on this path, then how much good will I be to anyone then?

     I have allowed myself to believe that my stress was unique, that no one, not even my wife, could understand my pressures. Stress is poison, but having recently extracted my head from a pile of self pity, I know that you, yes, YOU, likely have just as much daily stress my yours truly. Maybe more! Yet you are running, reacting to the stress instead of surrendering to it. The author, Danzae Pace said, "Stress is the trash of modern life - we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life." There are a plethora of healthy ways to take out the stress, as it were, but for me, I have always enjoyed the soul cleaning satisfaction of coming home after a good, sweaty run. have you ever felt worse after a run? Yeah, me neither.

     So I have arrived at this point of declaration. I, hear by, am taking on the most challenging person that I have ever advised in running ... myself. I have started recently. I am running up to 8 miles at a time, but utilizing the Galloway run/walk method. I am humbly but happily running at a 2:1 ratio for the next few weeks, when I will evaluate my fitness with a "magic mile." Some days I will run less than others, but I will try to run more days than I do not run.

     But wait! There's more!

     I also want to commit, at this time, to this blog. I hope that it will motivate me to continue when I am less motivated, and I also want to pro-actively re-enter this community with you, because I have missed speaking with you all, and I hope this blog can serve to help you invigorate your running as much as I hope it serves my own running. So if you have a chance, sometime hopefully in less than three years, write me a quick note here and let me know how you are doing, okay?

I'll see you back here soon .... because I am sick of acting as mad as hell, and I am not going to take any excuses anymore.

John E.


  1. This is a GREAT post John!! Keep 'em coming!!

    1. Will do! Thank you most sincerely, Steve!

  2. I admire you so, and especially now. I am on your team, John Ellis! Keep 'em coming!

  3. John, I only know you through Steve's podcast over the past few years, but I always enjoyed hearing your words of encouragement and advice through the podcast.
    I understand exactly what you are going through. My schedule between working nights as a floor supervisor at a casino, and then turning around and doing work sometimes 5 days a week for the Army Honor Guard(i'm in the national guard), often results in me making excuses not to run when I very well could just fit a couple of miles. Sometimes I just need a nap in between because I was only able to sleep for 4 hours...
    I have gotten into the mentality that it's not worth my time to get out and do anything less than 4 or 5 miles, and consequently my mileage totals have gone way down.
    So, like you, I am trying to break out a rut, and de-stress my mind. I got a 3 mile run last night. Short, sweet, but oh so mind clearing and relaxing.
    I wish you the best. I welcome you back to the sweat, and dust, and good feelings associated with running, and look forward to reading more blog posts and hearing any sage advice and wisdom you have to offer

  4. Thank you RinLV,

    The wisdom now is your wisdom! Just getting out there and being consistent - if we all were more consistent, we would al be better off! Thank you for your service, sir!