Merry Christmas, and God bless us, everyone!

Well, this has certainly been a very different and disappointing year for most of us, to say the least. Unless you were living under a rock,  you know that COVID-19 (or as I like to call it, The Snowflake Flu) struck mid-March shutting down most of the world for months, cancelling plans and pretty much ruining people’s lives.  The whole year flew by in the wink of an eye. Today is Christmas Day. It’s 30°F and there are occasional snow flurries here in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

Merry Christmas and  Happy New Year! In 7 days it will be 2021. Decades ago, television station WPIX 11 in NYC began the fun NYE tradition of running a Twilight Zone marathon. 2020 was not my favorite year, and I think many people will second that. I felt like I was living in The Twilight Zone, my only fun was running, and I ran my first marathon.  I found a virtual race for New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day that had a Twilight Zone theme that just fit this entire sorry excuse of a year. Add-ons included a Christmas ornament which was the very last one which I places on my tree, next to a door and a blue ball. The blue ball was from the first real Christmas tree that I had in my apartment. If you recall the intro to the Twilight Zone, (depending on which of the 5 seasons ) These is an eyeball, a door, or a spinning black and white cone. I think I captured the look.

Two weeks ago, our evil tyrant, state Governor  Tom Wolf shut down PA for the rest of 2020, forcing more closures, cancellations, and misery.

Last night was the 1st time in 20 years that I didn’t go to Christmas Eve service.  Stupid shut down and mask rules. So I worked 13 hours.  Today I slept in and did my virtual Kris Kringle 5K race. My last 3 December races were postponed to January,  or in the case of the Kris Kringle 5K went virtual.

Now you’re probably wondering what happened this summer as I was training for a (cancelled) marathon, and getting ready for a vacation at the shore. Suddenly without warning my weekly blog went silent without warning. I apologize for that. If you were worried about my health, I did get injured a couple of times, but nothing serious.  Also, my day job is considered essential, and because of COVID-19 we have been severely short-handed. I have been working mandatory 12 hour days six days a week, and training or racing on Sundays. Over the last 3 years, I have taught you everything I know about how to succeed. There is nothing new that I have to share about health, wealth, politics, religion, or attitude which I can explain to you. From this point on, your success is up to you. I have given you all the tools you need. If my advice has fallen upon deaf ears, there is nothing I can do.  Starting in 2021, InstantCoffeeWisdom.com will no longer be posting weekly. There WILL BE new blog posts, at least once or maybe twice per month, and the focus during the coming year will be on running. Hopefully my longtime readers will enjoy the new focus and format.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year and there is always something to be thankful about  if you pause a moment and think. Maybe 2020 was a very bad year for you and you are one of those people who blames the year for your misfortune.  Find things in your life to be thankful about and shift your focus there. Attitude is more important than what is happening in this crazy world we are living in. Seize control of the things that you have the power to change and be the architect of your future success and happiness. One week from today you will have a whole new year. You can continue to wallow in self-pity, or you can choose to do something about it! Right now, I am home all alone on Christmas Day. What am I doing about it? I did a virtual race, I took pictures of Christmas trees, I looked at beautiful displays. I am posting a blog, one last time for 2020 to show you that happiness is a choice you have to make for yourself.  To show you that success is possible if you choose to pursue it. To prove to you that you can do ANYTHING if you are serious and do the work required.

So what happened with my running and the marathon plans?

The USA re-opened in July and REAL races returned by the beginning of summer. I signed up for every race available. I was still doing my Hal Higdon marathon training, and I was attempting to run my first 30K Trail Run in August when I fell at mile number 5 during the Double Trouble 15K/30K. The impact knocked the wind out of me, and severely slowed me down. As a result, I could only complete the first lap, 15K.  My bruises on my thigh took 4 weeks to heal.

I went to the beach for Jeep Week through Labor Day down in Ocean City Maryland, and ran 5 miles on the boardwalk in the early morning  several  times during my vacation. By September I was fully recovered, and on September 20th, I ran a solo 20-mile run completing my marathon training. As the Phily Marathon was cancelled, I was determined to keep training and stay in marathon shape until the time came. I ran a half-marathon every Sunday in October. Life happens.  I never gave up! Quitters never win and winners never quit! This IS attitude! This IS Determination! This IS how you succeed in the face of adversity! YOU DON’T QUIT!

I signed up for the LABOR PAIN 10 ENDURANCE TRAIL RUN being held on November 22nd . (This race normally is 12 hrs, and was postponed from its NORMAL Labor Day Weekend Sunday, as well as being re-located to French Creek State Park, all due to COVID-19 restrictions ) By shear co-incidence, this was now scheduled the EXACT SAME DAY as the Philly Marathon was supposed to have been held. I ONLY INTENDED to run 24 miles, that was my INITIAL GOAL. I figured, trail runs have dangerous and uneven footing in spots, so a slow nice 2.4 mile pace for 10 hours= 24 miles, and it would be good training for the future marathon, whenever it eventually happens. First thing Ron Horn (the world’s greatest race director!) asked me was “what’s your goal today Michael?”. When I said 24 miles , he replied “24? If you do that you’ve GOT to go for the marathon!” I just said “we’ll see”. 7 hours and 56 minutes later, I finished my 6th 4-mile lap. 24 miles, with 2hrs. 4 minutes to go on the clock.

THEN I GOT THIS WILD IDEA! If I can JUST run another 7 miles, I can pull off a 50K! I almost have enough time if I really haul ass, I thought to myself.  I could ULTRA before I marathon!  I only needed 1 more full lap, plus 1 out-and-back to the 50K turnaround sign. I took off at break-neck speed as I began lap 7 with darkness approaching. 1.22 miles into the lap, maybe 50 yards past the Marathon out-and-back turnaround sign, I tripped and slammed full force into the rocky ground! I hit so hard my Garmin Forerunner 945 ended my run to send off an emergency distress beacon! This ‘special feature’ sent out a text message to all my emergency contacts alerting them that I had an accident. It gave GPS co-ordinates and a live tracking map of where I was, just in case I am immobilized or unconscious.  I cancelled the alert, texted and phoned my emergency contacts that I was ‘alive and mobile, sort of’. Then I took a step, and my leg informed me that I was NOT finishing this lap, nor beginning an 8th. So I limped in pain back 1.1 miles in the growing darkness. It took me ONE HOUR to go ONE MILE. I had bruises on both knees, right thigh, stomach, scratches on my left calf, plus I injured my left iliotibial band which let me know with every painful step.  I finished my endurance run at 9 hours 21 minutes 43 seconds having completed 26.2 miles. I had not intended to run a marathon, but I had ‘accidently’ done so. I had pushed myself to new personal records for both time and distance.  My awesome running friends (all of whom ran 40 to 48 miles each) grabbed my gear and helped me to my car after we paused for our team photo.

I could not walk for the first 2 days after the race, and it took weeks to fully recover. If you want to avoid sports injuries, don’t do sports.  They go with the territory and whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Pain is just weakness leaving the body. By  December 6th I was back at French Creek in Elverson PA  in time to do the Dirty Bird 15K trail run.  

My body heals much faster from injuries now that I am in the best physical shape on my life.

When 2020 began, I had planned to run just 25 races. By the time 2020 was almost over, I had run more than 50 races instead. When you push yourself to new and greater heights, nothing is impossible!

The way I see it, you have two choices in life. You can sit on the couch and become a mountain, or you can run up a mountain and become a MAN! I choose to be a MAN! Your health is your wealth, and you should spend every day of your life working on some form of self-improvement. If you think you’re perfect, you’re perfectly wrong. There is always something you can improve upon. I made a decision to do something about my weight three years ago when I began the odyssey of diet, exercise, and self-discovery which got me from couch potato to marathon man.   I did my research, I asked questions of expert runners, and I changed my entire lifestyle. I ate healthier, exercised more often, and got more sleep.  As a result I feel great and I am in better shape now than I was at 25.

Your life IS YOUR LIFE. You are responsible for you own wealth, health, success, and happiness. The world owes you NOTHING. It is your job to pursue your own personal path to success. It is out there. Opportunity abounds and the possibilities are endless.  You yourself have to do the work! No one is going to do it for you, and even if they did, could you truly appreciate it? There is pride in personal achievement.

 If you refuse to set an example and inspire others, then you become a cautionary tale. There are people watching you every day that you aren’t ever aware of.  Countless people I have met during my runs have told me I’m amazing and called me an inspiration. It is a humbling experience to be held in such regard. Everything that I have done to make my life better, you can also accomplish as long as you have the courage to make the necessary changes and the determination to tough it out to the finish line.

The caterpillar cries that the world is ending while the butterfly shouts the adventure is just beginning! You can fly too, but you MUST leave your cocoon behind. So as we leave 2020 behind, make the powerful and wonderful decision to take the steps needed to live your life to the fullest!  Choose to be the best YOU that you can possibly be. Don’t repeat the same year over and over and call it a life. Fly into 2021 with a renewed sense of purpose and the determination to soar to new heights! You are not alone! God is with you always, and with God all things are possible! I wish you all the happiness and success that God has planned for you in 2021!