Friday, January 1, 2021

Arbitrary Lines

I don't race to beat other people. I race with other people. I enjoy the sport and I enjoy the community. Running keeps me fit and I keep fit that so I could run. Homo sapiens are animals that live in herds, Running together. Running to escape predators and running together to hunt. I run better and faster when I'm with other people because I can be part of a herd. I finished my first marathon in 1993 in 4 hours and 11 minutes. To this day I tell people that the first marathons the easiest because your only goal is to really finish and you don't know remember how much it hurts. After I finished,I read somewhere that for hours divides the survivors from the runners. 


On March 26th 2000, I finished a marathon on a flat as a pancake course that was 26 loops around some soccer fields on Randall's Island in 3 hours and 58 minutes. The internet was still a baby and I wrote this


Mar 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM
In 1979 I ran my first NYC Marathon, I was a 17 year old high school
senior (now you have to be 18 to run the race) and collapsed on the
59Th St. Bridge. My entire training philosophy consisted of one simple
statement: If I can walk away from a 13 mile training run, I can run a
marathon and drop dead at the end. I did not know you were supposed to
take liquids or any thing about pacing. I stopped running.
In November of 1991 I was driving to my fiancées apt in Park Slope and
got stuck in a huge traffic jam. I could not cross 4Th Ave. I was
crazed, not because I could not get to where I wanted to go, but
because, suddenly I realized there was something I needed to finish -
The New York City Marathon. I decided that I would get back in shape
and DO IT. After I moved in with my wife, I joined the Prospect Park
Track Club, and started running.
The first race I entered was the Sheraton Bagel 10K, in January of
1993. When I got home, I got a phone call from a person I had not yet
met - The Vice President of The Prospect Park Track Club,(now I am Vice
President). This blew my mind, this guys not even related to me and he
cares HOW I DID?! I knew then that I had found a niche for myself in
the running community of Prospect Park.
In November of 1993, I got on the bus in front of Raintrees and tried
it again. This time I DID IT. I finished the NYC Marathon. Once I
got to Central Park I ran on will power alone. I decided that as long
as I was conscience I would run. I crossed the finish line if front of
Tavern on the Green and collapsed. I was in heaven. My father said
that all possible emotions were visible in my face on the finish line
photo. (He should know; he was the one who picked me up at the medical
station at the foot of the 59Th St. Bridge.)
Then I read something that really pissed me off. It said that 4 hours
divides the marathon runners from the marathon survivors. And here is
me with the greatest athletic accomplishment of my live, a 4:48
Marathon. I was livid. How could any body say that I did not just do
the greatest thing that could be done? I finished a marathon.
Well, I turned that rage into a goal. (A goal so great, that I was once
referred to as Mike “sub 4 or else” Ring) I will break 4. In the
next 7 years I ran 12 marathons, I finished 7 of them, as for the other
5, they landed me in the medical tent or an ambulance. I went to speed
workouts. I ran so many long runs, that it became silly. I read
books. I learned how my body works. That all helped me a little.
So today I reported the following race result to the Prospect Park
Track Club. “On Sunday morning, March 26, 2000, Michael "sub 4 or else”
Ring achieved his goal of 8 years, a personal best, in finishing 4th in
his age group (under 50) and completed the Sri Chinmoy Marathon on
Randals Island in 3:58:04.” It can be noted that I never would have
done this without the support and encouragement of my wife, Stephanie
and the members Prospect Park Track Club.
As I type this The Academy Awards is on TV. I used to look at the
faces of the winners and say “Wow, wouldn’t that be neat”, now I can
say, “I know how they feel”.
Michael Ring

I've done a lot of running since 2000. I also got involved in organizing running races. It's pretty much boilerplate policy that race course is to stay open until the last runner who crossed the starting line passes at a 15 minute per mile pace. I'm not saying I approve of this but it is the way it is. Water stations get broken down, Finish Line clocks get put on the floor. People want to go home. People who are going slower than a 15 minute per mile pace are considered walking. Since recovering from Guillain-Barre syndrome I finished races in 20 or 22 minutes per mile and people told me I walked a good race. I hated hearing it but I couldn't argue with them. My achilles guides were walking.

A little over a year ago I saw a my hand surgeon for the last time. I had five little surgeries to improve the function in my hands. That was done. He asked me what was next and I told him now I want to start to run faster. He told me he knew the guy who can do that. Who would assemble the team to make that happen. I went to see one of the top sports doctors at New York University Hospital. He got me into ankle-foot Orthotics that keep me from tripping over my own toes and referred me to the Sports Performance Center at the Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation. I got to see a physical therapist who didn't treat me like I was frail. I told them that I finished the New York City marathon in 2017 and 9 hours and 45 minutes and that my goal was to bring that time down to 6 hours so I can qualify for Boston as a Mobility impaired athlete. They told me I should put more weight on the bars when I work out and challenged me to run faster. 

I also realized that getting rid of my excess weight was becoming an eminently important activity. I was gaining weight before I got GBS, but I had gotten huge as a result of my time in the hospital and then my extended time of inactivity. I couldn't run cuz I was too fat and I got fat because I wasn't running. So, I saw a weight loss specialist doctor. I was put on teeny doses of some medications but I think it was becoming self-aware of my eating habits actually help me lose over 60 pounds. I honestly didn't think that I couldn't eat 3 Bagels at a time. I'm putting this here because this morning I had my first bagel in about a year. It was really good. Worth the wait! In other words Bagels and pancakes and half a box of cereal every evening we're not worth the weight. I've been running and doing all my walking in these fancy ankle-foot Orthotics. I can put more effort into moving forward and not worry about tripping over my toes.

On November 1st I ran the virtual New York City marathon in 8 and 1/2 hours and I plan on shaving an hour of that time this spring. This morning I had an ambitious plan. I wanted to run around the 3.33 mile Loop of Prospect Park in 50 minutes or less. The fastest I ran a 5k was 53 minutes back in the early fall.

This morning race was supposed to be virtual. But not so much. A few of us clumped up and ran together. so, yeah, Conditions were pretty good, I was in a small herd, the weather was perfect and I wasn't really under any pressure. Strava says I ran 3.39 miles in 48 minutes and 40 seconds. That's a 14:19 minute per mile pace. But I don't trust Strava. Look at how it mangled my run yesterday. and THIS My Timex said I ran 48:53 and I know it's 3.33 miles. So that's still sub 15 minutes mile.
Photo description:  my stopwatch showing a time of 48:53
Photo description: 
my stopwatch showing a time of 48:53

So a few things you should know......
  • I am completely prepared to prepare for a goal that is for now beyond the horizon
  • If this race wasn't virtual no one would have been thinking of taking that finish line down before I got there.
  • If you refer to me as a walker I am now going to correct you
  • I am crying now.


  1. I defined myself as a runner despite having CIDP and closing in on being 200lbs. It was part of who I am.

    Started IVIg in January 2020, and despite a slow start, began to feel better, lost weight, and began to lift my feet off the ground a bit more. I cracked 30 minutes for 5k recently for the first time in maybe 12 years, and can start to dream of long trail runs once again. Never lose hope!

  2. I defined myself as a runner despite having CIDP and closing in on being 200lbs. It was part of who I am.

    Started IVIg in January 2020, and despite a slow start, began to feel better, lost weight, and began to lift my feet off the ground a bit more. I cracked 30 minutes for 5k recently for the first time in maybe 12 years, and can start to dream of long trail runs once again. Never lose hope!


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