Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tell your doctor if you've ever had Guillain-Barré syndrome


Monday, September 18, 2017

Race report: 2017 New York City Marathon Tuneup.(NSFW)

I've always said that the New York City Marathon tuneup is one of the most important training pieces for the New York City Marathon. If you can take this race at marathon pace you can feel confident that you can run that marathon at that pace. It might be 8 miles less than the New York City Marathon but it's hillier, it's probably going to be warmer and it's not the thing you've been training for. You're not gonna go to work the next day wearing a metal because you completed the Tuneup. But it's important. Very important. If you can finish this race feeling okay, you'd know that you can finish the marathon feeling less than okay.

Yeah, three loops of Central Park on a day that the calendar still calls summer.. My plan was to run 90 seconds and walked 60 seconds. And I knew this, like all plans get scrapped when you get punched in the face. And those Central Park hills are a punch in the face. I was just going to walk the hills. Anyway, my running pace is only slightly than my walking pace. I wasn't anticipating being much faster than 20 minutes per mile. But, walking is really hard on my feet. I land really flat-footed. However, while running is better on the lower body because I can roll my feet a little, heel-to-toe, it's a little more exhausting. It takes a lot of work to lift those legs.

The plan was working great. When I was finishing my second loop I stayed silent as so many people cheered for me. I know, "You're almost there!!" Did not apply to me yet. But after I ascended the Harlem Hill for the third time I got a puzzled look from a Roadrunners club staffer. I don't blame him. I had 5 miles to go and everybody else was finished with their 18 miles. He got out of his truck and told me that because of the heat they had closeed the course. And he wanted me to walk over to the finish line. I hope I was nice to him, but I told him I was okay I knew where the water fountains were and that I intended to finish the whole race. I didn't need anyone to hang around and wait for me. He wrote down my bib number. And I continued with my plan,

But my plan was not working out so well. At mile 15 I felt like I had 2 to many cups of water in my gut. I asked Nicholas to reset the run walk timer so I can sit for 90 seconds. As soon as the thing beeped I got up and continued with the plan. But that only worked for less than another mile. Just north of Tavern on the Green I sat down again. This time I thought it was for good. I just wanted to drink a gallon of water and then throw up. I found a shady spot and made that my new plan. I apologize to Larry and let him go home to his girlfriend. Then I started talking to Nicholas about how to get on with the second part of his day. I was gonna head home by myself. But he wanted to get to the finish line before moving on with his day. He said that he did wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning to not finish. I gave him a handshake and wish them well.

I wasn't sure how time moved after that. But after sometime between two or 20 minutes I stood up and started walking out of the parking lot at Tavern on the Green. I started thinking about which subway I was gonna take home. I felt sad, knowing I was gonna go home without getting over this important hurdle in training for the New York City Marathon. But then I realize something crazy. If I am well enough to wonder what subway I'm gonna take home I'm well enough to get to that finish line... I didn't wake my son up at 5 o'clock in the morning so I wouldn't finish the race. And then out of my mouth in front of all those tourists and in the voice of Samuel L Jackson.....

"Get back on that motherfucking course! You have a motherfucking bib on your chest and you can't think about doing anything but getting to that motherfucking finish line!"

So I did. Without a soul left from the roadrunners club I walked in the last 3 miles. No, I walked in the last 2.95 miles. I got back on my heels and toes and ran that last half a 10th of a mile. I dug out my cell phone and saw that it was 2:51 PM. So I figure the race started about five minutes late and I know it took me 9 1/2 minutes to get to the starting line. So on the report to the roadrunners club that it took me 7 hours and 35 minutes to finish. 

I was glad there was no one at the finish line waiting for me. I used organize races like this and the finish line doesn't have to be for the 0.0001%. I was able to stand up tall and walked back to Fifth Avenue. I sat on a shady bench and made this somewhat deranged Facebook video. (By the way, when I got to the subway I found a Metro card with one day left on it.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I am so damn proud of my kids

School Work
Art2Art Afterschool Program
First, let me tell you about my daughter. This
past summer she got a job at a day camp. They liked her so much when they hired her they gave her three weeks off so she can attend an intensive drawing class at Cooper Union. Below, are the terrible cell phone pictures we took at the art show they threw for her at the end of the program. To the right and left are things she made during the school year.
From Cooper Union Summer Drawing Program

Then there's my son. He continued volunteering at the Prospect Park Zoo, and then he got a real job working for the City Parks Foundation in Hallets Cove.  Yes, I typed in Howlett's Cove instead of Long Island City because he often was in the East River

Thats him, behind the pole. I know it's him because he's wearing the yellow hat I gave him. It's a SpongeBob hat that was swag from the New York City Marathon about 10 years ago

I more than just proud of my kids. I am happy for them. I am excited to them. As they are entering the last year of high school I can definitely say that their education was so much better than mine. They might complain, but their curriculum helped them learn more about the world than mine ever did. Their teachers collaborated on subjects that were current. They were never forced to memorize useless information. They are leaving high school understanding how the world works.

My summer job opportunities were in fast food. Where I learned to hate people. They volunteered at zoos and soup kitchens and learned that helping other people was better than making minimum wage.

When I left Stony Brook after earning my BA, my MSW, half a PhD and having been a full-time employee there I remember saying to myself that I would never send one of my kids there or to any other giant university. But it wound up on top of my son's list of schools because of its marine biology program. It only took the speech from the admissions person to convince me that Stony Brook has changed for the better. I know that if one of my kids go there or to another giant school they can have a much better experience than I did. Not just academically, but socially.

So the economists are saying that for the first time in American history the current generation might not be living as well as the past generation. But my background is in sociology. I can say for certain that my children are going to have a better life than I did......  as long as they avoid Red States

Monday, September 11, 2017

Don't worry, I won't forget. That's my left elbow in the picture

I had the impossible job of trying to keep my students calm. I gave up, and just helped them try to figure out how to get home.

The drug store on the corner quickly sold out of disposable cameras.

I found this photo on my desk in the middle of September 2001.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Shit people say to someone who has recently suffered a life changing illness (Updated September 2017) (NSFW)

September 2017...

I had to see a new doctor that was totally unrelated to my neuropathy, , And optometrist. He was recommended by the same doctor who saved my life so I thought it would be a good thing. Anyway, I didn't want to go to back to a place that sells eyeglasses to see if I needed new eyeglasses.

The doctor was cool, and he made the standard smalltalk while he was examining me... "What you do for a living?" I told him that a long time ago I was a school administrator but more recently I used to help organize running races. But I can't do that anymore, I mostly sitting home collecting disability. Then I made sure he noticed my hands, all crooked from the nerve damaged and thinned from atrophy. He said, "Oh, I noticed your hands. But, I saw you in the waiting room you able to use your phone. You get a job picking away at a computer keyboard somewhere."

It wasn't until I saw the video below that I realized what a fucking ass that doctor. was.  By the way, it was exactly 3 years and four months ago that I walked into my doctor's office.

Update, May 2017

"Where there is a will there is a way"

This irks me in so many ways. In the context in which it was sent to me the person didn't even understand that I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to even do the thing we were talking about. I wasn't sure it was worth any effort, not to mention this infinite effort implied by this overused phrase.

But when someone says, "where there's a will there's a way" to someone with a disability that they may or may not understand it just shows a complete lack of sensitivity to what a disabled person may or may not be able to do. Just because you saw a video of a guy with no arms and legs pulling a locomotive across Tasmania doesn't mean that a guy who has nerve damage in his hands should be able to operate a motor vehicle on public roadways. Or if you read about a woman who can't see, hear or speak but routinely saves lives at her job as a lifeguard doesn't mean I should go back to work on loading a truck.Anyway, these people are circus acts. And really, just because someone ran a marathon in 2:10 minutes doesn't mean that anyone could do that if they just tried harder.

So please think before you open your mouth. If you tell a disabled person "where there's a will there's a way" what they're hearing is "You are a loser if you don't achieve my definition of success for you". 

Update April, 2017

So it's been almost 3 years and I've accepted the fact that my gate is less than perfect. I walk funny. A little like Frankenstein or a zombie. My arms don't swing the way yours do, but the big problem is I don't really lift my toe as my foot is hitting the ground. I don't land on my heel, my whole foot hits the ground at once. You don't have to announce to the world that you can hear me coming. Everybody knows that, ass hole.

Update November 2016 

Okay, I really have to vent here. Because I mostly kept my mouth shut. But this doesn't really have anything to do with how to treat people whose lives were changed because of illness. This is about how to act in front of someone who's disabled, specifically using a wheelchair.  For now, and just for longer trips I'm using my wheelchair  again because I broke my foot.

It's hard to be in a wheelchair, especially if you thought that part of your life was permanently behind you. So I'm trying desperately to hold on to the little pieces of my life that I have regained since getting out of a wheelchair.... My running club organizes an easy run of the last 10 miles of the New York City Marathon course one week before the race. I was on my way to participating in this race when my foot broke, so for me the glory of the marathon will come next year. But I realized that I can still help out my club by using my wheelchair to go behind all the runners and make sure everyone finds their way from the 16 mile mark to Tavern on the Green and Central Park.

Emotionally, it wasn't very easy for me to decide to do this in a wheelchair but I put my big boy pants on and showed up. And then it wasn't too bad I was able to keep the wheelchair going at a steady pace and keep up with the back of the pack. I felt like I was doing a good thing and I know next year I'll be back on my feet. After a couple miles up First Avenue we had to detour a little bit around a construction site. A construction worker looked at me and said " That's cheating," and I heard another one say, "Ccan I write on your lap?." I replied, and they heard me, "that's not even a little bit funny."

But here's what I wanted to say.

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you! Can you fucking imagine how every molecule of my body would rather be running?! Who are you, fucking Donald Trump?
Now go up to the third floor of that building you should be building and jump off the fuckin' ledge. Break your back so you children have to change your fucking diaper.
I feel little better now

Update October 2016

This isn't the worst thing, and I get it from people who really care about me. It's been two years and five months since I was completely paralyzed, and I've gotten a lot better. But I have come to grips with the fact that I'm never gonna be the guy who can hold his fork with just three fingers. In fact, I have accepted the fact that I will always need to use some special contraption in order to pick up a fork or spoon. I actually find it easier to rest a sandwich on the top of my right hand and hold it stable with a finger from my left hand as I aim it towards my mouth. So if we go out to lunch together be prepared for a little bit of a mess. It's okay, when I'm home alone and want something to eat it's a lot messier.

Yeah, I can deal with the fact that my hands will never work like yours. But it's a little distracting to sit across the table from someone who looks at me like it's the end of the world to them .

Update June 2006

A couple weeks ago I finished the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I'm getting a lot of congratulations from people who know me and even strangers. They ask what's next and I told him I plan on completing the New York City Marathon. Some people don't know what a marathon really is, so I tell them. Then they look at me kind of crazy and say something like, "Oh, have you done that before?" I respond, "yeah, before this crap happen to me I was preparing for my 30th marathon and this will be my 20th New York City Marathon. Ironically, the last New York City Marathon that I ran I was a pace team leader, and held up a sign that said 'five hours run with me'. This year, I'll be competing as an Achilles Athlete, that means I will have guides assigned to help me."

Then they look at me and tell me that I will run a five hour marathon again or I will be a pacer again. I smile and say something like, yeah... One step at a time. But what the fuck, do they have any idea of the difference between walking the marathon distance in 10 hours and training to run it in five hours or less. NO! Or, do they know something my doctors don't. I don't get it when people just open their mouths and tell me what I will do it again. Do these people know that I can't use a porta-a-potty without help? It doesn't make me feel better when people just open their mouths and say what they think is nice. The doctors, the best doctors in the world, don't know how much more healing is in me. It doesn't make me feel better to fantasize about what I might do. If you want to make me feel better, just acknowledge how far I've come.

The lawyers make us say certain things to protect stupid people from themselves. "Past performance does not guarantee future results." Unless you really know something that my doctors don't you should keep your mouth shut.

Update April 2016

If you are the person who spent their entire life minimizing the time you spend off the couch and now you can barely do your daily activities because your knees won't hold up your excessive weight, don't tell me to rest.

I spent four months in the hospital where I couldn't even roll over in bed, I rested enough. For another year people applauded me because I can stand up, I rested enough.

Now when people tell me the rest it just makes me want to run further.

Don't tell me to rest

Update March 2016

I haven't used a wheelchair in many months nor a cane in a few weeks. Sometimes I see strangers on a bus or in the park using the same kind of equipment I used to have or in a similar wheelchair. It's hard to figure out what to say. At one of the races I helped organize, a husband pushed his wife around Prospect Park, in the type of wheelchair I used to hate, one that was uncomfortable even for sitting and torturous while being pushed over bumps. I 'ran' over to her and told her that I used to be pushed around one of those and now look at me. "I can walk". She said "no my condition is different I'm never getting out of this chair...."   I met well, really. But I realized the most supportive kind of statement isn't always that supportive. It might just remind people of things they just don't want to think about all the time.

I also should mention I have joined the Achilles Running club for a lot of their runs. I've had the pleasure of meeting lots of people with disparate disabilities. I consciously did not say "see you later" as a way of saying goodbye to blind people. But I listened to them and realized that they were saying "see you later" to people all the time. I also learned that people who I just are blind  are not always totally blind. There are many degrees of visual impairment. After one of our runs we took a breather in a playground where my kids used to play. The guide who was helping my new visually impaired friend helped her walk around all of the playground equipment so she can touch it and know what I was talking about. Then she took out her phone and started taking pictures of the slides and ramps. She said she was going to go home upload them to our large screen so she could see what we were talking about. I had no idea....

Yesterday, I attended a big family function where I saw a lot of people who haven't seen me in a long time. They were really happy to see how far I've come. Some of them hadn't seen me since I've been sick and only heard that I was paralyzed. The question I wasasked me was, "Are you going to fully recover?" Or "How long will it be until you're fully recovered". I know, I know they really ment well. They saw how far I came and were excited about my recovery. My answer was vague, "If I can recover as much in the next 20 months as I did in the last 20 months I'll be very happy." But deep in the pit of my stomach, I really didn't like being reminded that I'm never going to be the same again.

Update January 2016

Included in the doctor's letters that they wrote for my disability insurance includes the statement, "the patient does not suffer from any psychological or cognitive impairments." The following two statements come under that category.

  • A friend asked me if I needed any help getting out of the car. I said, "No I'm fine." When I was getting out of the car his hands are all over me. Dude, you asked me a question and I answered it. Why did you ask it, if you're not gonna follow my instructions
  • another person thought it would be a good idea if I went to a certain meeting. Then he called me back and said it wasn't that important because of my condition. My condition does not stop me from making that decision for myself.
Here's the big picture. If I need help, I'll ask for it. Please don't make a big deal out of what you think I can and can't do. I don't know what I can and can't do so what makes you think you know?

Update December 2015

I just realized the same crap came out of this one person's mouth in just one week.

  • He said he didn't know where to sit in the car because he had to figure out where the "cripple" would sit.
  • He was surprised that I walked to a party that was a mile from my house. He said, "Did it take you three hours to get here."
  • I don't have enough strength in my hands to hold onto a pencil. He reached out to shake my hand and when I shook as he said, " Ack, you should shake like a man."
BTW, this was a grown man.

Update August 16, 2015

In one breath someone called me a gimp, and the next breath he said I might be too drunk to drive you can come with me you couldn't get any more fucked up. If I thought he was too drunk to drive I would've gotten the car, and I would've forgotten he said that.

Update July 29, 2015

Don't make jokes that you wish you had a wheelchair. Don't fain envy. Don't tell me you want to sit on my lap. Not remotely funny! And I have to clamp a thing onto my hands so I can hold a fork. Don't look at it and say I wish I had one. No you fuckin don't!

Update May 23, 2015

Last night I was reminded that Tom Cruise is a good actor.  He played Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July.  That scene where he came home from the VA hospital in wheelchair His face as everyone told him he looked good. I cried inside.

Update, May 3, 2015

This is something that's been done by a lot of people who I really care for.  Just because of sitting in a wheelchair and my back is to you and I don't know you're there doesn't mean you could tap me on the head.  I hear fine if you say my name turnaround.

Update, March 16, 2015: 

The worst thing you can do if you see someone you think you know and suddenly in a wheelchair is  to look away.  Yeah, I'm the guy who helped to you unload a truck at the food co-op, or I might be the guy you ran all of the Park with, or I might be the guy who just cheered for you when you ran a race. I am still the same guy!!! You can say hello!!!

I know a lot of you people might be shocked to see me in a wheelchair.  But please engage the brain before you open your mouth
- Well, this might not have happened to you if you didn't push yourself so hard with all that running
Actually I probably would have been a lot worse off or even dead if I wasn't fit when this happen to me.

- Is disability temporary or permanent?
It depends how long I live and go fuck yourself.

- I know someone who has something like what you have.
No you don't, you don't even know what I have.

- I just remembered another one. When I was in the hospital and couldn't get out of bed people asked me if the nurses who bathed were hot.
I honestly didn't think of that until people asked. But it did make me wonder if their moms were hot. 

Okay, The crap above represent shit that came out of peoples mouths who knew me. Below is the shit people say to be to a stranger
I'll pray for you
Really, which God?  The God that put me in this chair or the God that you gonna pray to that will take me out.  I think it's pathetic that these believers assume I'm one of them but I've learned to just say thank you.

Everything happens for a reason
I don't even know if this can possibly mean. And my being punished? Am I suffering because of the fact that someone else got lucky?  Do they think that they has to be some sort of balance in the world and I need to be on the bottom put them on the top? So I just roll my eyes and ask someone to push me away from that person.

I'll add more as people say more shit to me.  Or you could leave your stupid shit n the comments.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

2017 Summer Streets II and III: with Larry and Nicholas and Larry

Please click on the links below and look through Larry Sillen's pictures. He spent the first half of two days with me as we walked/ran from grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to Central Park. He took a gazillion pictures and edited them down to a billion. I chose a few for my blog, but you should just look through them to experience our mornings

Summer Streets August 12

Album 1 of Summer Streets August 19

Album 2 of Summer Streets August 19

For three Saturdays in a row every August New York City shuts down enhances the streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park. Cars can cross at major intersections but Park Row, Lafayette, Park Ave South and Park Avenue are turned into places for pedestrians and cyclists instead of the car users. Before my immune system malfunction I made a point of participating in as many as I could. Sometimes running them as they open, sometimes running a round trip and other times cycling with my kids.

This year I participated in Summer Streets twice. The second and third one on August 12 and 19th 2017. Both times, I started with my teammates from the Prospect Park Track Club at 8 AM at grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. Both times, I set a timer so I would run for 90 seconds and walk for a minute. On August 19 I was accompanied by my son. But what this is about is the fact that both times I did this with my friend Larry Sillen, who took a gazillion pictures. You can see the entire albums by clicking on the links above. Just click through these albums and you'll know what those mornings will like, as we walked from grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to The Boathouse in Central Park. Below are some highlights.

My Son figured out how to use my interval timer. 90 seconds running, 60 seconds walking

We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and met old friends

They cleaned up pretty good after Loki tried to destroy New York

We met many friends

We did not look at our watches but we had a good time
A Perfect Ending

Friday, August 25, 2017

Required reading!

I'm trying to ease back into the workforce. I have resumed my work slot at the Park Slope Food Co-op (more on that later, but I'm honestly waiting for something interesting to write about and that might take a while.). But, I started the process of becoming a poll worker and the first step was taking a training class. The best thing about the class was that it was only four hours long and the only thing I learned was that I won't be having to figure out anything by myself on election day.

But there was one thing: We started the class by taking turns reading out loud from the manual. We read pages five and six (I was so afraid we will get a read the next 95 pages) Please read them. If you can't read the pictures I took scroll downand read the words. If you're not gonna read all the words here are the few you should read. I've have edited them for every day use.

Never assume that a voter human requires assistance. If you think a voter needs assistance, ask how you can be helpful. Listen to and respect the voter's human’s answers. If a voter human asks for your assistance, listen to or ask for instructions as to how best to assist. Relax. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are unsure of what to do. If a voter human is assisted by an aide, make eye contact and speak directly to the voter, not the aide or anyone else. Be patient.

Disability Awareness

Never assume that a voter requires assistance.

If you think a voter needs assistance, ask how you can be helpful. Listen to and respect the voter’s answers.

General Guidelines

If a voter asks for your assistance, listen to or ask for instructions as to how best to assist.

Relax. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are unsure of what to do.

If a voter is assisted by an aide, make eye contact and speak directly to the voter, not the aide or anyone else.

Be patient. Take as much time as is necessary.

Voters who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

If you do not understand something, do not pretend that you did.

Make eye contact and speak directly to the voter (not his/her companion), speak clearly and use short, simple sentences. Don’t shout. Ask the voter to repeat and then repeat it back to make sure you understand correctly.

Rephrase; don’t repeat your statements. Sometimes different words are heard and understood better than others.

Have a pad of paper and pen handy for written communication.

Keep your hands and other objects away from your mouth and do not chew gum.

Voters with Speech Disabilities

If you do not understand something, do not pretend that you did. Ask the voter to repeat and then repeat it back to be sure you understand correctly. Ask questions that require a short answer or nod of the head.

Do your best to understand the voter but if you continue to have difficulty, ask if the voter can suggest another option for communicating. The voter may offer to write the question but do not assume this is what the voter should do. Do not become impatient or finish sentences for the voter.

Voters with Limited Mobility

Try to place yourself at eye level . Do not hover over the voter. Do not lean on a wheelchair or other assistive device – these objects are considered personal space.

Do not assume a voter in a wheelchair wants to be pushed. Poll Workers are not to push wheelchairs or physically help voters.

Keep the Poll Site free of clutter or barriers in the path of voters.

Voters with Visual Impairments

Identify yourself to the voter (e.g. your name, role, and how you can assist the voter). Verbalize what you are doing: e.g. “I am locating your name on the Voter List.”

Let the voter locate you by the sound of your voice; do not touch the voter unless asked.

Offer all instructions and assistance verbally. Tell the voter of any obstacles in his or her path. For example, “The voting booths are located ten feet to your right.”

Notify the voter when you are leaving him/her alone.

Voters who are Deaf-Blind

You may touch the voter through their safe zones e.g.: shoulders and elbows.

Do not grab their hands.

Do not shout.

Anticipate the excessive touching, it’s how they communicate with you (tactile).

Allow sighted support provider to assist Deaf-Blind.

Do not move around too quickly, allow them to follow you (tracking).

Gesturing in small spaces may be a good way to communicate.

Voters with Cognitive Disabilities

Mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, or reasoning.

Be patient, flexible, and supportive. Take time to understand the voter and make sure the voter understands you.

Do not try to finish the voter’s sentences.

Try to limit distractions and keep things simple – take one task at a time.

Offer assistance completing forms or understanding written instructions and provide extra time for decision­making.

Service Animals

Many people use service animals for reasons that may not be visible or apparent. Dogs are permitted to serve as service animals in New York State.

Service animals are NOT required to “wear” identification such as a vest or bandana. If a voter says an animal is a service animal, it is permitted into the polling place. Do not touch or interact with any service animal.

Friday, August 18, 2017

If it was about heritage and history....

So fuck you  Donald Trump supporters.

These statues of Confederate leaders are just there to remind African-Americans what their place was and what the people who like the statues think it should be.

If it were about history and heritage we would be honoring the victims.

Better yet, here's a statue of a real 19th Century American hero who actually helped free slaves. 

Henry Beecher, a conductor on the Underground Rail Road.  My favorite chaperoning assignment was to his church

Friday, August 11, 2017

Originally published in the blog of the Prospect Park Track Club

Race Report: Michael Ring’s Club Team Championship

I always used to find a way to run this race. I never tried to run my fastest because my fastest cannot ever help the team. Sometimes I ran the men’s race and then the women’s race just to get in the extra miles. A few times I ran all the way to the start because recently it began coinciding with the first day of the Summer Streets program.  Whenever possible, I scheduled my family vacations around this race.
But in May of 2014, I lost control of the ability to schedule vacations and races. I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome; my immune system malfunctioned and started treating the myelin sheets of my motor nerves as enemies. I went from marathon-ready to paralyzed in a few days. (Eventually, I was re-diagnosed with a rare variant of this rare disease. I have acute motor axonal neuropathy. That means my immune system attacked the motor axons themselves.) It was a no-brainer to ask for a medical deferral in the marathon I was going to run the end of that month. But it never occurred to me that I wasn’t going to be able to show up for a 5-mile race in August.
Between May and July I moved from one hospital to another five or six times. Most of them happened with a strange sense of bureaucratic emergency. Doctors and social workers worked together to find me a bed and then with hardly any notice at all, I was transported to a different hospital. But my wife and I had some say in where I was going for the last hospital. At that point I needed to be transferred to a long-term subacute medical facility, known to most people as a nursing home. My wife visited these places and let me know that they would all suck and that there was a facility that had the best physical therapy, and the worst food, but was in Chinatown. The place they came in second on her list was on Fifth Avenue around E 100 Street. Looking back, it was probably selfish of me but I really wanted to be uptown, near Central Park. I had this fantasy that I could get a day pass from rehab and get to Central Park to see the Club Team Championship Race. I wanted to see the race and I wanted to be seen.
On August 2, 2014 I put on my happy face when a few of my teammates ran south on Summer Streets to visit me in Chinatown after the race. After they left I went to my happy place; I reviewed all the times I ran to the start of this race. Running over the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun was rising, running up Lafayette and Park Avenues. I remembered what it was like to run from Brooklyn to the northern end of Central Park arriving just 90 seconds before the race was to start. I also remembered what it was like to run through the Park Avenue Tunnel at 34th St. because the police weren’t looking. Although this disease was able to temporarily take away my bodily functions, it couldn’t touch my memories. But the memory I replayed countless times was what it was like to run that last mile in a race that ends at the 102nd St Transverse – with the hill behind me and that long straightaway past Engineers Gate, then a slight left turn and the sounds of cheering teammates.
In 2015 I got a ride to the race. I had just graduated from using a walker to a forearm crutch to get around. I don’t think anyone knew how challenging (frightening) it was for me that day. My balance was terrible. Well, it wasn’t really a balance issue, I was still suffering from a lack of proprioception in my legs. That meant that while I had the nerve function hold up my body weight and walk, I couldn’t always tell where my legs were. It was weird. I don’t think anyone noticed my tears of joy when I got up to the top of that big rock so I could see everyone run by. I remember looking back at Mount Sinai Hospital to the east of Central Park thinking that symbolically that’s where I was last year and looking forward to Park Drive and knowing that was where I would be next year.
And yes, in 2016 I ran the race. Running isn’t really the word I should use. The New York Road Runners Club allowed me to start behind the women in their race so I could finish among the slowest men. I walked. My body wasn’t ready to run yet.
But this past Sunday, I was able to live the dream that I had three years
ago. And Holy Moly, I was incredibly happy with myself because this was a race. I just went to the New York Road Runners Club race results website to see if I met my goal of sub-20 minute miles. Not only did I do that, but I beat someone. I did not come in last!
Okay, back to talking about race strategy. My plan for this race was to alternate running and walking every minute. I actually installed a boxing match timer on my phone for one minute rounds and one minute rest periods. (The Galloway apps that make audible alerts cost money. WTF).  The race started with a little problem. I couldn’t get the app to work and I didn’t want to stand at the starting line fiddling with it. So I decided to just count my steps – 50 walking steps and then 60 running steps. I did that for the first couple of miles but I was beginning to lose my mind. Luckily, I noticed how evenly the cones were put out by the New York Road Runners. So I’d run for three cones and walk for two cones.

It’s Tuesday morning and I’m just about to send this off to the Communications Committee. There is something I need to add. At last night’s membership meeting I had intended to stand up and tell my story when Tom asked about recent races. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t do that. I started to choke up as I raised my hand. I’m saving the water works for November’s meeting.But then there was the last quarter-mile. That quarter-mile that I ran so many times in my head. I started to think about how glorious it was to be living that this dream. This quarter-mile was better than I remembered it. It wasn’t just the Prospect Park Track Club slammed into me tapped me on the shoulder.
Thanks Linda Chan
cheering for me. It started with the cheers zone from North Brooklyn. I saw someone I didn’t even know pointed me and screamed, “Look it’s Michael Ring and he’s running!”  So, I had to clear my head because I had to do two things; I had to run the rest of the way and more importantly I had to not fall down. The not falling down part became a big challenge when one of my favorite teammates


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

This is not me

This is not me
Not me.

Blog Archive