The Juxtaposition of 2017

“What a Week!” Those are the words that often kick off the beginning of Pod Save America, the not-so-new political podcast from Crooked Team (Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett and Dan Pfeiffer). And yet week after week, the phrase is repeated… and more times than not this past week’s political news was even more insane than the preceding one. This year has me shaking my head more often than I’d like, questioning the direction of our country, and having me answer questions from my kids about what they are hearing or seeing on the news.

As much as I am a political news junkie, there is certainly more to the world than politics and I wanted to capture some of my thoughts on that.

Flashback to December 31st — New Years Eve Party. My family and I were having a great time with some good friends, but throughout the night, I had a voice in my head saying “I am still devastated about the election… I’m eating too much, drinking too often and its gotta stop.”

The Good Old New Years Resolution. So cliched, so trite.

But as January began — I decided to stop drinking for a few weeks, to watch what I eat and start running again. I joined a Biggest Loser Weight Challenge at work and within 2 weeks, my mental health was vastly improved and my physical health also was getting better.

Within 2 months, I had lost 15 pounds and I was out running consistently (and was back to having alcohol, in moderation).

My family and I went to Disney — we had an amazing trip, but I stayed away from the typical gluttony that vacations often are for me. I even ran while at Disney, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.

In March, a friend encouraged me to run a local 15k race (9 miles). I hadn’t trained to run that far, but I figured — why not? So I braved the single-digit windchill and trudged along through the race — and completed it.

After the 15k, I thought to myself, if I could run 9 miles without real training for it- maybe I should focus on training for a Half-Marathon. I ran the Long Island Half-Marathon back in 2014 — and while my time was generally pretty good, I didn’t have a great experience. I went out way too fast — and was generally exhausted before the 5th mile. I was totally inconsistent, mentally battled myself throughout, ran some miles, walked others — and while I was proud of the achievement, I wasn't happy with the race itself.

As I trained for this year’s Half, I tried to focus as much on staying mentally calm, as I did focus on the running itself. I knew physically I could do the Half-Marathon — but I wanted to be smarter about the race itself. My friend Matt helped craft a Race Plan for me, and also encouraged me to focus on hydration (both water and energy packs).

On Race Day, Matt and I met up at the start line and we talked about the pace we were aiming for and he reminded me of my mishaps back in 2014: I felt confident that I was mentally and physically ready for the challenge. The weather was generally very good — a little cold when the sun was behind the clouds, but nothing crazy.

When the race began, I was excited but didn't let the adrenaline psych me out. 1 mile down, passing around Nassau Coliseum, then 2nd mile marker, then the 3rd. When the sun came out, it actually felt warm so the clouds were helpful. Our early pace was a little faster than what we had agreed-upon, but nothing crazy. A couple of times I chose to slow it down a little, just for the mental control. With each passing mile, I felt better, more confident that things were going the right way.

At this point in the race, I was actually listening to “Lovett or Leave it”, another Crooked Media podcast hosted by Jon Lovett focusing on politics and comedy. I know it seems weird, but it was a great distraction from the race and I actually laughed out loud several times while running.

As I approached about the half-way point, I knew my wife and kids were going to be at one of the spectator areas — so as I rounded a turn and I saw them on a hill, I was super excited. I quickly said hi and then met back up with Matt. Around that point, he asked how I was doing — I replied that I was feeling great. He said ok good and said he was feeling good too.

He basically said, you’re running well, your pace is good. Keep going — I’ll hang back — see you at the finish. At this point, the podcast ended, so I switched to a playlist which was basically Watch the Throne by Jay-Z & Kanye, the Hamilton Mixtape and some other randoms. The upbeat music made me feel even better as the race progressed onto the Wantagh State Parkway.

As I passed the 10 and 11 mile mark, I was confident that the whole race would end up as a positive experience and barring a random injury, I would hit my goal time.

With one mile to go, I felt like I could run another 5 — so I as I ran through the final mile in Eisenhower Park, I was able to push it and finish strong.

I beat my 2014 time by more than 6 minutes and ended with a smile. I was very happy to have a new PR (personal record) for a half.

(Matt also hit his goal time, as well!)

I also found out that weekend, that I won the Weightloss Challenge at work, too! So I lost weight, kept it off, lost some more and even won some money, too!

What a week, indeed.

So now what? Well, the craziness of the Trump Presidency certainly shows no signs of dissipating.

I do not have any plans on what my next race will be, but I expect sooner or later, I will register for something.

I am done with the weight loss but now perhaps the even harder job of maintaining begins.

And so, for me, the Juxtaposition of 2017 has been the perennial frustration and dismay regarding actions of the Trump Administration, but also some more focus on myself and being healthier.