Mulligan Moments of 2016- Daughters Edition

Lots of talk this year about protecting our daughters from threats, both domestic and foreign.  I think about these quite frequently, as I have three daughters (and a tiny little granddaughter) in my own family.  I do have strong opinions about the poison that I believe is leaking into the way we relate to each other, but rather than amplify the horrifying rhetoric that divides us, I want to offer a few anecdotes of antidote.    Here are some Mulligan Moments of 2016 offered by friends of mine who have seen their daughters rise to the challenges they faced in their own lives — and who responded with grit and good old fashioned girl power.

We do need to protect our girls.  Not because they are helpless, but rather so that they can lead us.

Carry On  When an earthquake hit New Zealand a couple weeks ago, a National Outdoor Leadership School group was kayaking along the Clarence River, which soon started to fill with debris from rockslides.    The  group acted quickly to get themselves to higher ground and reduce the chances of being swept away by avalanches or the river itself, which ultimately did break through the dam holding it back.  The group of college students had to be air lifted out by helicopter.   In and of itself, that’s a great story with a  happy ending.   But here’s my favorite part: each student was given the option of cutting the rest of the outing short and returning home without penalty.  Keep in mind they’ve already been out on this expedition for about 2 months without as much as a call home.  Every single one stayed on and are now completing the trip as planned.  Among them is Paige Shetty, daughter of Lisa and Baba Shetty, who became dear friends of mine during graduate school at the University of Rochester.  Paige and her NOLS friends could have let the trauma of that experience, or the fear of the next potential calamity in the wilderness, force them into giving up on this adventure of a lifetime.  But they put aside both the brush with death and the future threats– and showed us how to make use of a Mulligan Moment.

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Build Up  Resolve is required, but it is not enough by itself.  When you are trying to overcome an injury, physical or emotional, it takes more than just wanting to be healthy and whole.  You have to want to do what it takes to become healthy and whole.   Like when you tear your ACL the day before you realize your dream of playing in your first college basketball game, like Meagan Eripret did last year.  But, according to her father Marc Eripret, Meagan did whatever it took to heal and build up her strength– day in and day out.  And now she’s off to a solid start with her Lehigh teammates in this year’s season.  Resolve plus hard work equals a Mulligan Moment.   I am sure she learned this when I coached Meagan (alongside Marc and her mom, Bridget Eripret) for many seasons of youth league basketball and soccer.  So now I can see her (#13 below) and say I coached a Division I player. I take complete and unwarranted credit for all her athletic accomplishments.

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Breathe Fire   Never underestimate the power of a teenage girl who is ready to fight.   Olivia Maniace showed us why this year, when she put together this video look at what she endures and overcomes in dealing with lungs compromised by cystic fibrosis.  I thank Lucy Sheelar-Gomez for bringing Olivia’s fight to my attention. And I thank Olivia for this Mulligan Moment and the reminder of what fighting the good fight really means.  My favorite part of the video is when she calls a piece of vital hospital equipment “annoying”.   This is a word my daughters use constantly.  Girls will be girls.   And thank God for that.

Mulligan Moments of 2016 – The End Is Near Edition

The key to a useful mulligan is leaving behind the circumstances that got you wherever you are. Whatever has passed may be important, but it is also no longer relevant. Neither is the impending doom that appears to be threatening you. Again, it may be important to know that’s out there, but it’s even more important to forget that it is — and act with bravery. For in that bravery, it is that amnesia that allows us to succeed in life as it happens.

Even when the end is near. Especially when the end is near. Here are a some well-known folks who faced the end and delivered the successes of a lifetime.  They are now forever enshrined among the Mulligan Moments of 2016.

David Bowie and Leonard Cohen Each of these music innovators recorded and released brilliant albums in the days leading up to their death.  Each had shared their lives with millions of us who followed their long, prodigious musical careers.  They each could have rested on their laurels and let the final days of their lives fill, and justifiably so, with looking back or obsessing about what lay ahead for them.  Instead, they gave us compelling witness to what it means to keep living, keep creating, keep making every shot count.   There was nothing the least bit wrong with what had gotten them to that point in their lives– it wasn’t that kind of mulligan they took.  It was the kind that simply and beautifully said, “That was then, This is now.  And now is all we have to give.”

 

 

 

Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Cubs  Both teams were down 3 games to 1 in their respective championship series.  Both could feel the breath slipping away on the dreams that have haunted their respective fans for ages. The Cavaliers had never won a NBA title and the Cubs hadn’t won a World Series in over 100 years.  Yet they both found out (as did their opponents) that the games that came before mattered– and yet they didn’t matter.   It mattered that they were only one loss from elimination, but it was also irrelevant to the next game.  Just go out and play . And win.  And they did. And did. And did.   They took care of what was in front of them, and the rest took care of itself.

 

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Mulligan Moments of the Year recognize the achievements (large and small), observations (grand and flippant) and contributions (tangible and ephemeral) of people, (famous, infamous, and unknown), that demonstrated the resolve, awareness, good intention and blind luck that occurs when you run like there’s no tomorrow and live like there’s no yesterday.  In short, someone who took a second chance and made it count.   Nominations are still being accepted via all my social media platforms, as follows:

I’m hiding in plain sight on:

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook Group

Mulligan Moments of 2016: Olympic Edition

The Rio Olympics, the biggest stage in sports, is also the first scene of this year’s top Mulligan Moments of 2016.

These are athletes who made their mulligan count when no one was watching– in the immense work and drive it took for them to earn their way to Rio.

The Olympic Refugee Team Composed of 10 athletes who had to flee their native countries because of war and political turmoil, they epitomized what can happen when you stay focused on competing and getting better, rather than dwelling on life’s injustices.   Leading the contingent was Tegla Loroupe,  a former world class runner from Kenya.  According to Ollie Williams of CNN, Loroupe’s foundation held tryouts in Kenya’s Kakuma camp, near the border with Uganda and South Sudan, where five Olympians were identified, all of whom had been at the refugee camp for between 10 and 15 years.   They included Yiech Pur Biel (800m), James Chiengjiek, who fled South Sudan to avoid becoming a child soldier (400m), Paulo Lokoro (1,500m), Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, who came to Kakuma at the age of six and began running at one of the refugee camp’s schools (1,500m), and Rose Lokonyen (800m).

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Paul Amotun Lokoro and Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, orginally from South Sudan, took a mulligan on their hardships and turned it into a ticket to Rio to compete in track and field. (Photo: IOC)

 

The other Olympic Mulligan Moments were brought to our attention by Antoinette Muller of Daily Maverick.

Zahra Nemati A former black belt taekwondo competitor who was paralyzed in a car accident in 2003. Three years later she decided to take up archery and not only won gold medals in the Paralympics, but qualified for the 2016 Summer Games, where she competed for Iran.

Chris Mears, was given a five percent chance to live in 2009 after he ruptured his spleen, lost five pints of blood and was told it was unlikely he would ever dive again. He would later suffer a seven hour seizure and a three day coma. What did he do with his mulligan at the 2016 Games?  Win a gold medal in men’s synchronized 3m springboard for Great Britain.

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Need a mulligan? Take a jillion. Or at least two, like US Womens’ Rugby Sevens hero Jillion Potter, who overcame a broken neck and cancer to make it to Rio.

Jillion Potter proved that one mulligan isn’t always enough. When she was just 19, Potter broke her neck playing rugby.  Seven years later, she was won her way onto the Rugby Sevens World Cup team, then discovered a growth under her jaw that proved to be a soft tissue cancer.  Her grit and love of the game fueled her recovery and she used her mulligan to earn a spot on the U.S. Rugy Sevens team in Rio.

William Fox-Pitt competed in four other Olympics prior to Rio as an equestrian rider for Great Britain.  But he needed his mulligan this year most of all.  Ten months prior to the Games, he lay in a coma after a mishap in a cross-country horse race.  He came back to not only win a spot on the 2016 team, but actually lead the competition after the dressage portion of his event.

You can find Muller’s entire article here, including more on the refugee team.

Mulligan Moments of the Year recognize the achievements (large and small), observations (grand and flippant) and contributions (tangible and ephemeral) of people, (famous, infamous, and unknown), that demonstrated the resolve, awareness, good intention and blind luck that occurs when you run like there’s no tomorrow and live like there’s no yesterday.  In short, someone who took a second chance and made it count.   Nominations are still being accepted via all my social media platforms, as follows:

I’m hiding in plain sight on:

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook Group

Submit Your Nomination for Mulligan Moments of 2016

Within the next few weeks, Taking Mulligans will be accepting nominations for  Mulligan Moments of the Year.  When you make a nomination, you become eligible for one of the grand prizes of priceless value:  a lousy poem from me written personally for you.

Running’s Mulligan Moments of the Year recognize the achievements (large and small), observations (grand and flippant) and contributions (tangible and ephemeral) of runners, (famous, infamous, and unknown), that demonstrated the resolve, awareness, good intention and blind luck that occurs when you run like there’s no tomorrow and live like there’s no yesterday.

In short, someone who took a second chance and made it count.  Let us know if you have someone in mind.

Maybe you know a runner who’s overcome some serious obstacle in her life this.   Let us know.  It could be someone who barely runs. Or someone who is obsessed with running.

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Who helped you appreciate the power of running this year?

 

Maybe you were inspired by an athlete who achieved a goal, rose to a challenge, put distractions aside or simply showed up and did his job when called upon.  Let us know. Maybe it was an Olympian, a weekend runner, or someone on your kid’s cross country team.

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What stood out as a moment of redemption?

Maybe you saw a movie, a race, a show, an election, where someone ran with dignity, grace and the power that comes from putting the past aside and making the best of situation, or making life better or simply more vivid.  Let us know.

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What movie, song, show, lousy poem, or other creative piece made you stop and pay attention to what’s good about life?

Just let us know a little bit about who you are nominating and why– via a direct message, email, tweet, retweet, blog comment, FB comment or Instagram post.  Skywriting and tracings in the sand will be considered for featuring, but not eligible for prizes.

 

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Who deserves our attention?

I’ll be posting some of my own ideas and would love to hear some of yours.  All featured entries will be awarded with a personal epic poem dedicated to you, badly written by yours truly, based on your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram feed.   Deadline for entries is December 19, unless you are a member of the electoral college.  Then, by all means, take another day.

I’m hiding in plain sight on:

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Turkey Trots v. Marathons: The David and Goliath of Running

“David’s victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time,” according to Malcolm Gladwell in a gobsmacking brilliant New Yorker piece and his New York Times best-seller David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.  Gladwell (my fellow Fifth Avenue miler and from this picture, apparently my new best friend) goes on to explain the secret to David’s success, the secret that is employed by a remarkable range of combatants in his work, a from a middle school girls basketball team to Lawrence of Arabia.  It’s playing by your rules, not the rules of Goliath.

A couple weekends ago, I was at the Goliath of running:  The New York City Marathon. It’s a massive, sprawling love fest of pageantry and logistics on a scale that is almost inconceivable: about 50,000 runners set out across the Verrazano Bridge to take part in a sport that is essentially something you learn by the time you are two years old: running and not falling down.

And in exchange for all the spectacle of running with 49,999 of your closest friends, you receive a credit card bill like the ones being sent to Kerry Close of Money magazine. She added up up how much it cost her to run NYC this year: $1,057.50– and that’s with only $10 in transportation costs and no hotel costs, since she lives right in the metro NY area. Imagine if you had to add a flight and a couple nights of hotel and cab rides to that total.

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Silly Paddington. You don’t need to run New York to participate in running’s biggest weekend.

 

Which brings us to realization that even that Goliath marathon, broadcast on national television and covered by every major sports network reaching billions of people across the world, can’t beat David.  And David is a turkey.

For the single biggest running day of the year isn’t the New York Marathon, or Chicago or Boston.  It’s not the Peachtree.  All those races have the expos, the promotion, the goodie bags, the headlines and the elite runners.  But the biggest event of all is the humble Turkey Trot that is  probably taking place in your zip code next weekend.  That turkey trot is bigger because it plays by its own rules– local, dedicated and much simpler than a big city marathon.  Run and don’t fall down.  And yes, if you have to wear a pilgrim’s hat, by all means be Miles Standish proud, congratulate me.

Thanksgiving weekend is now the single largest racing weekend of the calendar year.  RunningUSA reports that 901,753 of you finished a Thanksgiving race last year.   (Can the Million Mashed Potato March be far off?).   Simple, close to home, boiled down to the essence of why many of us run: to enjoy our bodies, the fresh air and the company of others.   And perhaps to work up an appetite– or burn off a little of that appetite’s side effects.

RunningInTheUSA.com lists 1,459 Thanksgiving-themed races this month.  Find one near you by clicking here.

Runner’s World highlights some of the better known ones here, including the nation’s longest consecutively run Thanksgiving race in Buffalo, NY,  started in 1896.  That will be held not far from where I’m guessing that alumni and friends of my beloved Notre Dame High School of Batavia, NY will gather for their completely informal, off the beaten path tailgate and turkey trot on Thanksgiving morning this year (see photo below), as always.

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Wherever two or more are gathered, there is reason to run. Feel free to photoshop out the Santa hats and insert turkey headdress. This was from last year’s Jingle Bell Jog.

Of course, the popularity of the turkey trot has not escaped race organizers, and now there are as many as 13 races that have more than 7,000 finishers, according to RunningUSA.  But no worries, even if a Goliath or two emerges from this field, David will always win.

So get out there and run.

Your felt roasted turkey hat is your smooth stone, and your running shoes are your slingshot.  Gobble one up.

 

Neighborhood Watch

I wasn’t able to run in this year’s Runner’s World Half & Festival.  But since I can see the race from my front door in Historic Bethlehem, PA, I had almost as much fun taking in the scene.   As you can see from my photos, it’s a fun and fabulous race filled with just the right amount of crazies.   Hope to be running in it with you next year!  For more race photos, go to the official RW Half website.

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Clear skies, early autumn colors and Bethlehem’s Finest.

 

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The trampoline peanut gallery.
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Don’t tread on me.

 

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There is the church, there is the steeple. Look at the course and see all the people.

 

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Why do pacers smile so much? I’d be worried sick.
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Everyone’s Budd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Liberty band gives a boost to the Sub 30 Club, a merry band of runners.
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My phone died 3 minutes after taking this one. No joke.
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No. Just. No.
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Alert the authorities.
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Sunday morning.