Area Man Stops Running for a Week and There’s Nothing Physically Wrong with Him or Anything

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Early Monday, Matt Morgan’s absence from the streets of Northbrook raised little concern among the parents driving their kids to school and the people rushing to catch the Metra train downtown.

By Tuesday morning, with no sign of the man in his moisture-wicking T-shirt and awkwardly short nylon shorts, rumors began to fly.

“I thought he had the flu or got hit by a bus or something,” one woman told us on condition of anonymity. “Just about every morning, I can count on him darting out in front of my car through the red ‘do not cross’ sign at Pfingsten. I mean, he thinks he can hold up his hand at me like ‘sorry’ and that makes it any less dangerous to run all willy-nilly into oncoming traffic. When I didn’t see him at all by the end of the week, I knew something was wrong.”

It turns out he is not sick or injured. He’s simply chosen not to run. In fact, it’s been a full week since Morgan has jogged anything more than a mile.

He did run a little bit on Wednesday, but only to participate in Global Running Day, which is an annual holiday made up by runners to congratulate themselves on running, and really, he only ran that day for the purpose of posting a running selfie on social media.

Members of the I Worked At Northbrook DQ Facebook group, who first reported him missing from the neighborhood sidewalks, wondered what could be the cause. If he were injured, they surely would have heard about it, because runners who are hurt will constantly tell you they are hurt as an explanation for why they aren’t running and post pictures of themselves doing things they normally don’t have time to do when they are running so much.

Aside from the isolated, shameless selfie self-promotion on that made-up running holiday this past week, Morgan hasn’t told many people about his running hiatus aside from his co-workers and church friends, who have heard him go on about it multiple times a day.

“I needed a break. I’ve run like six days a week for about a year. I mean, running a hundred miles a month takes a toll,” Morgan said, seemingly unaware of his intense humblebragging.

He went on for a few minutes, using words like “splits” and “VO2 max,” but nobody wants to read about that stuff.

What does a man who runs nearly every day do when he’s chosen not to run anymore? It defies logic.

“I’ve been staying up till like 9:30 at night, reading and sewing on buttons that fell off a couple shirts,” Morgan said. He declined to comment further.

One Last Run on the Streets Where I Live

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I figure I’ve logged more than 2,000 miles on the roads and trails around my neighborhood over the last three years. Hundreds of runs begun from the same corner down the street from my house. It’s boring, but I love it. It’s comfortable, like a favorite pair of running shoes.

That corner is the spot where at times I really didn’t want to start a run, and it’s the spot where at others I really didn’t want to stop. I’ve struggled for so many of those miles, and yet I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I sorted out a lot of things, just me and my thoughts. I’ve notched more PRs than I can count. It’s on these streets where I truly fell in love with running.

Today, as my stuff is being boxed up and we’re preparing to leave this place, I ran my last loop through the streets where I live. It’s time to find a new route.

 

9 Lessons Learned at Ragnar Del Sol

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Ragnar Del Sol 2015 was a challenge of a lifetime. A voluntary testing of physical limits and mental toughness shared with thousands of like-minded people. Basically, a unique blend of crazy that I brought on myself.

That much I knew going in. What surprised me was how much I would learn about myself my others.

After running Ragnar Del Sol, I know …

Runners are good people. We get to the first exchange point under total darkness. Then, with runner 1 in and runner 2 out, we hop in the van to head to exchange 2. Turn the ignition and nothing. Click-click-click. Our battery died an hour into the race. Two teams came to our rescue, one to lend us a cable and one to give us a jump. In a time when I normally would have been losing it, there was a sort of calm. Somehow, I knew my fellow Ragnarians would hook us up. And they did.

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Arizona scenery can be gorgeous and boring as hell. We’re having our van jumped at exchange 1. The sun is coming up, finally. Runners from all over have their cameras out, taking pictures of the spectacular sunrise. I’ve lived here almost 20 years, and Mother Nature’s daily fireworks display still gives me goosebumps. Fast-forward an hour to my first leg, a 7-mile straight stretch of Vulture Mine Road in Wickenburg, and I can’t get away from the mind-numbing monotony. Hardly a car on the road to make it interesting. Give and get.

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Our bodies can do amazing things. Ragnar conditions can be harsh. And running was the easy part! Harsh is running 7 miles and then hopping right into a van so you can jump ahead to cheer on your teammate during his leg, leaving your sweaty self to cool down and collect thoughts on the way. Harsh is running 9 miles, or any miles, on two hours of half-sleep.

With the right mind-set, it’s possible to turn a bad run into a great one. My second leg ventured off the streets of Peoria and into the sandy, rocky, godforsaken Agua Fria riverbed. The conditions were treacherous—with my headlamp insufficient to show the way and no street lights in sight, I literally had no idea what I would encounter with each stride. I tweaked my ankle twice and stubbed my toe once. Not surprisingly, my attitude went south. Finally, out of the wash and back onto sidewalk, I had a choice: I could either continue to grumble and gripe or I could ditch my negative thoughts and focus on the 5 miles ahead. I chose the latter. I regained my footing, steadied my pace, focused my breathing, boosted my confidence and finished my leg strong.

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Headlamps are not for show. Ragnar requires a head light for night running, and for good reason. They want you to see and be seen by drivers on the open streets. I prefer hat clips over headlamps, because I’m already used to running with a visor but otherwise hate having things on my head. Turns out my meager two-LED hat clip works well in the familiar confines of my neighborhood but not in the pitch black of the Agua Fria riverbed. If you know of a bright clip light, hit me up.

There is no camaraderie quite like 2 a.m. camaraderie. With runner 6 on the course, our van was nearly finished for the night, so the six of us could finally break and (try to) get some sleep. We’re at Anthem Community Park. It’s so late, and it’s so freakin’ cold. But I’m there, and my teammates are there, to support our runners in the exchange. Runners from both vans getting together, swapping war stories. These are the moments I’ll remember.

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When people tell you to dress warmly, you need to dress warmly. Ragnar was all like, “Bring a blanket” and “Bring a sleeping bag,” and I was all like, “Pssh, it’s cold but not THAT cold. I’m from Arizona. I know better.” I did not know better. What Ragnar knew that I didn’t was the amount of time I would spend in the dark and cold not running—waiting for my teammates and cheering them on.

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Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night to function properly. The operative word here is properly. I edit healthcare publications for a living, so I’m well aware of the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations. At Ragnar, I did not heed them. Trying to curl my 6-foot-4 frame on the middle seat of a 10-passenger van, I couldn’t. If Ragnar had been one day longer, I would have been in real trouble. Thankfully, I lived to sleep another day.

Ragnar is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you’re going to want to do it again. I figured going in that I would enjoy myself. I had no idea what kind of hold it would have on me. A week removed from the finish line, I can’t get my mind off Ragnaring.

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What’s Next?

Ragnar Relay has a sister series, Ragnar Trail, and there is a trail race in McDowell Mountain. It’s in my backyard, and if that weren’t tempting enough, Ragnar is offering a double medal for anyone who finishes the Phoenix-area Relay and Trail in the same year. I’m so doing this.