This is My Hand…

I have good blood circulation. Serves me well in distance running. Note how my wrist is out of proportion with my large hand.

I broke this wrist once while lifting a soup pot in a soup kitchen in Melbourne, Florida.

Broke this wrist once skateboarding on a quarter pipe ramp in Llyod Harbor, Long Island. That hurt like a bastard. I nearly passed out.

I may very well have the smallest wrists in America. And I don’t mean only United States “America.” I mean ALL of the Americas. Believe me: they’re even smaller in person.

This is my ankle. I just started thinking recently how ankle size must correlate with wrist size (yes, these are the types of things I think about daily). For some reason, G-d chose for me to have small ankles. Thankfully, I have not broken these–although I have suffered some nasty sprains through the years. One time, a sprain was worse than a break and purple bruising spread all the way up my calf. My foot was so swollen it would not fit into a shoe.

Last August I was running here…

…pretty much exactly right here, actually. A man stopped, stared right at me and shouted: “You don’t need to run, you need to eat something!”

In the past few years, I’ve begun getting such comments regarding my weight. Sometimes from certain family members, sometimes a coach, other times a strange man who stares at me as I run by him. I’ve noticed with regularity folks looking down at my thinner than average legs.

Am I skinny? Of course! I’ve always been skinny. Virtually all of my male relatives were also skinny; although, perhaps, I may take the eggless cake with skinniness. Interestingly, as my peer demographic of 38 year old men grow beer bellies, I actually weigh about 7-10 pounds less than I did while running for Wabash College. Of course, Coach Johnson did tell me after a trainer assessed each runner’s body fat, c.1999, “Hall, you still got some baby fat.”

That was in an era before marathon training, including a steady diet of 80+ mile weeks. Before 2000, I also used to eat a bunch of fried crap and cheesy, heart clogging junk. But the comments about my size really began in earnest about three years ago.

In 2010, while training with Kenyans in Iten, I was honored as they told me, ” you look like us.”

Hmmmm….maybe I was born this way for a reason. But I did not always look quite like this. I mean, my wrists always did but my legs were slightly larger.

Does being vegan mean I am starving myself? Lord, G-D no! I dare say I eat more-better-healthier than the vast majority.

Did my thyroid cancer in ’02 lead to this state of wispiness? Well, true that I no longer own a thyroid–full stop. However, there’s still an approximate 7 year gap between radiation therapy and my first marathon (NYC).

Why am I a slender fellow? I concluded recently that it relates mostly to my bone structure. Through a steady diet of high mileage and intense training, I shed a good 7 pounds or so that I had on me when I moved to NYC in 2005. This cut off anything that I did not need, allowing me to run the lifetime and post-collegiate PR’s (personal records) of the 2013-2016 era. Believe me, the last thing you want in the 25th mile of a marathon is an extra five pounds.

Meanwhile, I eat like a monster, day in and day out. But I consume all that helps me, the animals, the planet. No heavy grease, animal breast milks, or bloody flesh. I have never had anemia and my B12 count is higher than average. Glory to G-D, I’ve been in remission from the cancer since 2002, although I take medicine daily to compensate for the missing thyroid.

I also do core work/lift weights twice a week on average, in tandem with my running workouts.

So, what’s a boy to do?

I have concluded that I will push my buck forty-five body forward with the confidence instilled from years of racing; trusting that I have been born to run. Yes, many runners look pretty–or handsome, as it were–and run well. I have been born to just run long, hard, well. I’ve come to terms with the non-pretty part. Heck, my running form’s never been pretty, anyhow.

In the end this is what it really boils down to: We live once. As T Swift has sung so well, “haters gonna hate…” But I will train and race as hard and fast as I can, appreciating every.single.solitary.moment.

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