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Friday, April 22, 2011

Fare Thee Well, Marvin

Disaster strikes.

At least, it was an emotional disaster for me. Though it may not be what others would consider disastrous, for me it was a strong emotional blow. During my four-mile run on Wednesday, I lost my Marvin the Martian shoe charm.

When I was in high school, my father got into the habit of getting me little good luck ritual things. For cross country races, I got a box of strawberry Nutri-Grain bars. For swimming, it was a bag of Pixi-Stix. When track season came around, it was a big bag of M&Ms. But for any sport, whenever he would find something, Dad would give me something with Marvin the Martian on it. My favorite cartoon character of all time, I have, to this day, a pretty good collection of Marvin memorabilia, because any time my father came across anything, he'd get it to me.

In fact, before the Austin marathon, I received a care package from my parents including a new Marvin t-shirt.

One CC race my sophomore year, my dad got me a little shoe charm, which I immediately affixed to my spikes. That charm has been on my shoes for every race since then. For those keeping score, that's over 11 years of races and training that I've had the little thing with me.

When I got back from my run on Wednesday, I saw that my shoelaces had broken (in the middle of the shoe), and the charm was gone. I had been listening to music, so I didn't hear it fall, and I never noticed any lack of pressure on my foot, so I didn't realize that anything was wrong until I went to take my shoes off. It was still on my old shoes, and I had thought about changing it over, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.

The loss of this charm was surprisingly devastating. I went out immediately and headed about .75 miles down my path to look for it, but I had to work, and being hourly, I couldn't really afford to miss any of my hours.

So, on Thursday, I bumped my seven mile run up a day and headed out at first light in an effort to track it down. Still, when running, there's only so much you can see, and I didn't come across it. I have to face the fact that it either fell into a location I cannot access (drain, creek), or someone else picked it up. At my wife's urging, I choose to believe it was found by a child who had never heard of the Looney Tunes. Maybe he's had a lot of issues fitting in with other kids, and his parents are at their wits end. He grabbed it because he thought it was money, but upon seeing the other side, he asked his mother what it was. It happens that she's a huge fan and has some of the cartoons on tape, and now they go home and watch them together. Realizing just how wonderful his mother actually is, the young man makes more of an effort to spend time with her, turning his life around and eventually excelling in all aspects of his life, and that charm will be in his pocket when he's sworn in as President of the United States.

Or so I'm telling myself.

But what's really interesting about the whole thing was what happened to me on the seven mile search-and-rescue run. For the first two miles, while I scanned the ground frantically, I didn't notice any pain or discomfort. As I passed Wednesday's turn-around point and headed up the 1st Street hill, I started to get a little tired and sore, and then a garbage truck turned onto the hill. The driver caught my eye and smiled, and I raced him up the hill. I won.

Then it was almost time to turn around, and then I was back down the hill again. Before I knew it, I was back in those first two miles again, searching the other side of the sidewalk. I had some exhaustion in my hip in the last mile, but overall, I didn't notice my legs because I wasn't thinking about them. I was so concerned with finding that charm that I barely felt the seven miles, a distance that made me very nervous before I headed out the door.

See, coming back from injury, I knew I could make my first run, and my second run wasn't a problem, because it was a shorter distance, but here I was, third run in a row, and it was longer. Mentally, this could have been a very difficult run to get through, but by focusing on the charm, I got through the entire distance with no issues and very little discomfort. And what's more, the search forced me to slow down, like I should have been doing all this time.

That Marvin charm gave me one last gift - a run that said I was recovered. I haven't completely given up hope, and I'll probably look for the thing as long as I run that route, but if it's gone, I'll miss it dearly. It's given me 11+ years of luck, and I hope it brings the next person as much joy. It's silly to be so sentimental with a little piece of metal, but it represents so much more than that. It's where I came from. It's my family's love and support. It's every run I've done since I was 16.

And it's something I'll never forget.

Thursday's Run:
81 Degrees / Cloudy
7.08 Miles
56 Minutes, 41 Seconds


  1. Marvin was my favorite, too, dude. I am sorry for your loss.

  2. fine. make me cry. happy new home Marvin.