If there is anyone out there still following me, I’m moving to a new blog and have new plans for blogging!
Find me at http://follownopath.com
Hope to see you there!
Goals for 2012 coming soon. In the mean time . . .
Go get it!
Wow, has it really been two months since I posted last? That’s unacceptable! Of course, who knows if anyone still reads this, but we’ll go under the assumption that someone somewhere still does 🙂
While the last couple of months have been pretty eventful (not the least of which includes the last year of school, a new relationship, and the premature end of my 2011 race season), something happened on Saturday that will never happen again in my life: I turned 30.
I am an introspective man in general, but turning 30 has definitely had me thinking a lot about the past 10 years of my life. It has been a crazy decade on many levels, and I gain a greater understanding of what I’ve gone through and what it means every day. As an attempt to process that a little more, and share a little more of me with y’all, I am going to post over the next few days the top 30 things I’ve learned and 30 things I’ve done/gone through over the past 10 years (maybe at some point I’ll go a little further back and do this for my life 0-10 and 10-20. Today, we’ll start with the top 30 things I’ve learned.
(DISCLAIMER: these are what I’ve learned, not what I think you should know/learn – please see no. 1)
(DISCLAIMER 2: If I am ripping these off from other places, it’s not intentional and I apologize. It’s because you/they said it and it stuck with me. I’d give credit if I remembered where I read it.)
30. Everyone should live overseas for at least a year.
29. Scuba diving is one of the most humbling experiences.
28. Life really does speed up the older you get (seriously, am I really 30 already?!)
27. Letting yourself get out of shape is a horrible, horrible idea.
26. Getting back in shape is really tough, but gives you a sense of accomplishment like few other things will.
25. Don’t go looking for trouble. Enough of it is going to find you without your help.
24. A couple drinks can be fun, but don’t use them as a way to ignore what’s going on in your life.
23. Embrace absurdity and awkwardness. Everyone is weird. Denying it is just foolishness.
22. Raise a dog or two. Man, there is nothing like a dog smiling at you and wagging her tail to make the worst day better.
21. You, good music, and a motorcycle can make for some of the greatest mornings.
20. Find hidden activities and events in every city in which you find yourself. You really learn the personality of the city through them.
19. Find something so beautiful you can’t breathe. Whether it’s a Jordanian sunset, a Texas snow, or someone you love, be amazed and thankful you got to see.
18. Be loud and passionate sometimes. It’s fun 🙂
17. Do a triathlon once. The distance doesn’t matter. It will change your life.
16. The same is true for Crossfit. It will change your life.
15. When a family member is ill, move back immediately. Don’t think twice. Better to be there and nothing be wrong than to not be there and miss out.
14. Don’t over plan. Things have a way of changing in an instant (and some over time that we just don’t see). Adapt with those changes.
13. Sometimes people you don’t know and have only interacted with online can be as much of a community for you as those you’ve known your whole life.
12. Read a book that makes you cry at least once a year.
11. There are fears and there are FEARS. From little ones like heights to big ones like rejection, they should be confronted and overcome. It’s an ongoing process.
10. Go big. Even if you don’t hit the mark you can get some great stories.
9. It’s okay to be weak. No one is strong all the time, and weakness can be the best opportunity to see grace.
8. Don’t be afraid to fail. That fear can throttle your future.
7. From the worst times of life, something beautiful can be born. They say some things have to fall apart so better things can fall together, and they are right.
6. Life can be tough, but it’s relative. Isolation just makes it worse.
5. Be thankful. Really. It’s changes everything.
4. You won’t be able to accept forgiveness unless you forgive yourself.
3. The same is true for love.
2. Family isn’t just blood, and trusting, while not easy, is one of the most rewarding experiences of your life (it is frightening though).
1. I am mostly full of crap. If you get anything from this, it’s divine providence, not because of me 🙂
I grew up loving mythology. My favorite stories were of the Greek gods, goddesses, and heroes. I loved learning about the belief systems of the ancients of all cultures. One of the stories that I particularly loved, and still do, was the story of the phoenix. You are probably familiar with this story if for no other reason than there was a phoenix in one of the Harry Potter movies. The phoenix was a bird who lived for a certain life cycle (either 500 or 1000 years) and then, at the end of its life, would burst into flames and be reduced to ash before being reborn from the ashes to live a new life.
I’ve been thinking a lot about hope lately. Hope for me is that belief that things can be better, that redemption, that resurrection can happen. Hope is that even when I’m reduced to ashes, something beautiful can be formed from those ashes.
Life is going well for me (with the occasional hiccup – see last week’s Portland race recap) 🙂 In the words of One Republic, “what’s there to complain about?” One of the quiet realizations that I’ve had over the past 8 months is that I am kind of an optimist. I wouldn’t have guessed that given the rather fatalistic environment from which I came, but surprisingly enough, I find myself believing the best and hoping for the best. I was shocked 🙂
I came across a Latin proverb the other day, “dum spiro, spero.” It means “while I breathe, I hope.” I really connected with that. It’s that idea that hope is something so integral to me that it’s like breathing. I don’t stop breathing, even when I have a bad breath. I don’t stop hoping, even if hope seems lost, even if the world looks like ashes around me. And hoping isn’t to say that I sit on my hands and hope for something to happen. Hope is the fuel that makes me bolder. It’s the engine that drives my dreams and goals.
It’s a hard thing sometimes. I think it’s a simple thing, but not an easy thing. Hope by definition can’t see the end. It’s the belief that what you can’t see isn’t going to defeat you or overwhelm you. It’s the belief that even from the ashes, something amazing, beautiful, profound, and life changing can arise. It’s a stubborn thing too. Hope keeps on even when everything else says to just give up. It can be a little annoying at times, especially for a pragmatist like me. My head says to find another course, that the path is blocked, but my heart and my hope won’t let me. I guess maybe that’s part of why I didn’t quit on my race last weekend. Maybe there was that fundamental hope and faith that the next mile would be better than the last. I can look out now from where I am in my life and know that the next chapter can be great. It will be great. I know it like I know the sun will rise. Again, that’s not to say I’m not happy with where I am, but I know that what comes next will be even better.
I can relate to the pain that the phoenix must feel when it’s reduced to ash. I’ve made no secret of the pain I’ve gone through over the past year or so (and extending beyond that). That is the past. The ashes, the pain, the mistakes I’ve made don’t define me. They aren’t who I am. The hope is that there is something amazing coming (and in part already here). From those ashes, anything is possible.
What will come? I don’t know. I know it will be beautiful. I have high hopes 🙂
. . . or having the race you deserve.
Two days ago, on Sunday, I raced my second Rev3 race, this time in Portland, OR. For those of you that know me a little more, Portland is number one on my list of places to move after law school is done in May, so this race doubled as a reconnaissance mission for me to see whether I could see myself living there. There was little chance I wasn’t going to love it, and, as the weekend was going to show in more ways than one, it was something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I loved it. I loved the forests, the mountains, the people, and the weather (and yes, the weather was beautiful which I know is not necessarily the norm for the city). I had a conversation with a friend that Portland feels like Austin but with better weather (i.e. not 150 degrees in the summer). All that to say Rev3 picked a fantastic venue for the race. Portland is awesome. As for the race itself, Rev3 puts on amazing race experiences from the expo to the kid’s race to the personalized transition to the race itself. While I didn’t put up a race report about Rev3 Knoxville, both of these races are absolutely my favorites as far as overall experience.
Now as for how my race went, that’s a whole other story, so here we go.
I have had some trouble this season really getting my mind right for my races. I have struggled with really being mentally there in the days leading up to the race. Once I get started, I’m usually alright, but I haven’t had that bit of urgency that usually precedes a race for me. That’s not to say that I don’t love racing, but my mind just hasn’t been switching into “race mode” as readily as it has in the past. This race was no different. While I loved exploring Portland Friday and Saturday, I just didn’t feel like I was there for a race. I was pretty blasé about the whole thing regardless how I tried to get my mind right. This was going to bite me in the a** before Sunday was over.
Sunday morning I woke up at 5 (not a huge deal since for me it was 7 . . . kind of nice racing west of me) and went about my pre-race routines. I listened to some music, showered, ate, and headed to the race site. Now the venue was changed not too long before the race, which caused some amount of furor in the interwebs. I will say that the aplomb with which the organization handled the nay-sayers made me proud to be a part of Team Trakkers and the Rev3 series and that if this was the “B” site, as beautiful as it was, then the “A” site might have been unraceable for me because I’d have been too distracted by the beauty. I got to the race site at about 6:30, when transition opened. My wave didn’t go off until 8:35 so I had more than enough time to get my area set up, relax, talk to some of my Trakkers teammates (which is always my favorite part of a race), and mosey my way to see the pros start at 8:00.
The swim was a beach start. Like I said, my wave (under 40s and Clydesdales) started at 8:35, which was behind all the pros and the women. It was kind of nice starting that late because we got to see the first pro men and women come out of the water, which I can’t say I’ve ever seen. Promptly at 8:35 (another thing I love about Rev3 is that the race goes when they say it will) we went off. I knew I was not going to be at the front of the back and I didn’t want to get plowed over by the fast guys, so I let the barracudas go in front of me and got into my rhythm. The water was warm but not insanely hot (not like the Playtri race here in Las Colinas). Being in a wetsuit made it a little warmer, but when you get used to 100s, anything less than that doesn’t seem too bad.
Here’s the thing I’ve realized about my swim, I just don’t know how to maintain a consistent fast pace. It’s not that I can’t swim faster, I just let my mind wander while I’m swimming and my pace slows way down. It’s pretty aggravating. I’m moderately certain that if I could focus a little better on the swim I could be under 40 minutes, which for me is a big deal. As it was, I found myself wandering on the swim both physically and metaphysically. Other than the frustrations of that, the swim was relatively uneventful. I got kicked a couple times including a glancing blow to the jaw, but nothing worse than I’ve had in other races.
The interesting thing about T1, and the reason why my time was 3 minutes slower than T2, was that you had almost a half mile run from the swim exit to the transition area. The question became, for most athletes, was whether or not to have a bag with your shoes waiting for you at the swim exit so you could run that 4/10 of a mile to T1. Being the tough (read idiotic) dude that I am, I forewent shoes for my ever dependable bare feet. I was a little worried that I might hurt myself, but the truth was it wasn’t too bad. I don’t even remember feeling any rocks or anything else that would have hurt my feet.
This was where the wheels started to come off for me (no pun intended). As I said, my mind wasn’t really right going in to the race, and I kept fighting a somewhat losing battle against negative thoughts and reasons why I shouldn’t have been racing in the first place. This continued through the swim (thoughts like “why aren’t you swimming faster? you are going to be last out of the water” and “you’re tired anyway. you didn’t sleep well. just volunteer and watch the race.”) and on to the bike. More on that in a minute. I liked the bike course on the whole. It was flat as a board and there really wasn’t much wind. This was a PR dream of a course and the conditions were ripe for many records to fall. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what was in store for me.
I made a decision earlier in the week to race without any watch. This wasn’t only in regards to my Timex, but any watch at all. I raced Lonestar that way in April and loved it, but that was simply because I left it at the house where I stayed. This was a conscious decision. Looking back I wouldn’t do it that way again. I didn’t know how far I’d come or how fast I was going and once again I found my mind wandering in an uncharacteristic way for me (at least on the bike). I felt like for as flat a course as I was riding, I should have felt faster. Once again this opened the door for negative self talk, a door which the pessimistic side of me was all too happy to walk through. This made the rest of me pretty pissed, and on raged the internal battle between the fighter and quitter inside me. While this battle continued, I kept on rolling. There wasn’t much else to do. I took in the Columbia river and Mt. Hood in the distance. It really was an amazing thing to view while racing. Then two incidents happened within the span of 15 minutes that almost ended my race.
The first happened somewhere between mile 35 and mile 40. I was rolling along and had mostly quashed the negative thoughts and was determined to finish the race strong. There was a maroon SUV sitting on the side of the road ahead of me. I have always hugged the right side of the road to the extreme while racing (and riding in general), which has led to issues in the past (namely, me actually riding off the road in my first 70.3). I didn’t think much of the vehicle and made an adjustment to go around it as usual. Just as I passed the rear bumper, the driver’s side door opened. I hadn’t even seen anyone in the driver’s seat and was fortunately able to miss the door by inches. This shook me a little bit, as expected, but I just kept going.
Not even three miles later I had once again let my mind wander, but noticed two manhole covers coming up, and I moved to avoid them. Suddenly I hit what I can only assume was a pothole and found myself veering all the way across the road while having my left knee literally inches from the ground. How I managed to avoid laying the bike down and being done right then (or worse, ruining my front wheel) I’ll never know. It was the closest I’ve come to a real accident and I was shaking (and cussing a little bit) for the next few miles. From there the battle really was on to finish the race. For the rest of the bike I argued myself into just doing the aquabike (i.e. DNFing on the half). I told myself that my left knee was hurting and I was beat up. I had actually convinced myself to quit as I rolled in to T2.
As I rolled in, I didn’t even plan on putting my run shoes on. I had made up my mind that I was done. As I ran my bike in (or hobbled anyway), I saw that I was right at 4 hours on the race clock. This wasn’t too bad but for a course like that it was pretty slow. I decided to go ahead and put on my run shoes since they were more comfortable than my flip flops. As I started walking toward the tent to turn in my chip, I found myself unable to walk further. I physically couldn’t make myself quit. I don’t know why. It wasn’t pride, Louisville and the last of 2010 scrubbed me clean of that. It wasn’t to prove anything. I still have no idea, but I looked once more at the tent, told myself in no uncertain terms to HTFU, and began the trek out to finish the race.
The run, as the bike, was flat. We ran along the same route as the bike, so I knew what to expect. I actually started out pretty strong and felt good all things considered. My left leg was still throbbing, but I was able to find a pace that didn’t cause too much pain. I had decided when I chose to continue that I would walk the aid stations, which ended up being a huge help. After about mile 5, I began having some pretty serious pain above my left knee, and walking the aid stations helped alleviate that. This continued until the final turn around between miles 8 and 9. At that point, all the little pains in my left leg congealed into one nice big pain. This decided to team up with my latent frustration and built up negativity (which to that point on the run I had kept mostly in check) and use my heart as a punching bag. At the mile 10 aid station Carole and Charlie drove by and asked how I was and I was almost too frustrated to answer. I tried to make light of the situation, but I’m sure I failed miserably. They were great and gave me a shot of positivity that I needed. They had to stop to answer a volunteer’s question, but I was able to keep going. As I slowly ambled into the finisher’s chute, I let some of that frustration go.
Total Time: 6:22:46
It wasn’t the race I really wanted, but it was the one I set myself up for. I can’t find any fault in the venue or the execution of the race. I absolutely love Rev3 races and Portland will most likely be my home before too long. I went in with my head out of sorts and it got me. I wasn’t mentally prepared and thought I could just fake it through. I guess in some way I did, or maybe I just gutted up, but it reminds me that mental preparation is, as always, at least as important as physical preparation. While I will not complain about finishing a 70.3 nor will I diminish that feat (as many can’t or won’t ever do one), I will say I was disappointed with my performance and humbled by the experience. As I have now had a couple days to reflect, the truth is that it was just a race and I wasn’t going to win, but for me it’s about testing myself and pushing myself to see how far I can go. In some ways I failed that test on Sunday, but I guess maybe in not quitting I showed myself something new.
I’ll see you next year, Rev3 Portland, and who knows, maybe it will be my first hometown race in my new hometown 🙂
I visited you today. It’s been so hard to go see you. It’s a beautiful day outside. You’d love it. It’s a “go to a Rangers game” sort of day. A day pregnant with potential. I told Chad that today is one of those days where you feel like anything is possible. It belies the sadness that I can’t help but feel inside because it was three years ago that you heard me say “I love you” for the last time. It was three years ago that my life changed because you were no longer in it.
I don’t know how to say everything I want to say to you. I have been truly grieving your loss for the first time since you’ve been gone. That was why it took me so long to go to your grave side. I haven’t been angry and I don’t blame anyone – not you, not God, not even life – I just want so badly for it to be different.
Life has been so different from what I thought it would be since you’ve gone. I lost my way for a while and have been fighting with everything in me to find my way again. I have asked myself so many times if you would be proud of me or ashamed. I know the answer even before the question because I know you loved me unconditionally, but the lurking fear that in failing in my marriage I failed you still comes out from time to time. I just can’t help but wonder what would be different if you were still around.
You were the most important man in my life. You never tried to be my father, you just loved me and helped me grow. I loved sitting and watching baseball, basketball, football, golf, bowling . . . watching anything with you. I loved going to opening day with you every year and sitting at IHOP and talking. I still smile when I think of you at every baseball game cheering me on and yelling “one time now!” I hate that the Rangers finally got their act together after you were gone, but smile when I think of how excited you’d have been.
And I know that’s why you aren’t really gone. I know that the things you taught me and how you loved me are the reasons why even through the hardest time in my life I am finding more strength than I thought I had.
I want to be a man that would make you proud.
I want to be a man like you were.
I know it’s life and it’s the way it works. I firmly believe that death isn’t the end. It’s just not the same without you here.
I miss you so much.
This isn’t enough. Words are too small to encompass what you mean to me. But they are what I have. The good in me is because of you. The pain of losing you is hard, but the strength you helped develop is why the losses I’ve suffered won’t beat me.
I worked the OKC Memorial Marathon Expo for the past couple days, and something kept happening that I can’t help but write about. And fair warning, this is a bit of a rant with some completely unveiled threats, so if that’s a problem, you probably want to skip this post and come back next week when I’m not quite so aggravated.
I tweeted yesterday “seriously people, you aren’t ‘just’ running a half marathon! You are running an effing half marathon! Own it and be proud!” There seems to be this underlying current in the running community where you have to justify the distance you are doing, especially if it is less than 26.2 miles. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of Friday and Saturday where people told me they were “just” running the half marathon. My response each time was, “are you kidding me, you are running 13 miles! There’s no ‘just’ about it!” Seriously, it really kind of pisses me off that people feel like they are less of a runner because they aren’t running 26.2. The same goes for 5ks, 10ks, running a mile, or even running to the end of the block! You are running! You are making a choice that a good majority of our culture says is crazy, stupid, or bad for your knees! You are deciding to live a healthier life! Don’t feel like you are less because you don’t run a marathon (or run at a slower pace or run/walk)!
I’m serious here. If you feel like that, come here to Dallas and I’ll buy you a beer and then hit you for thinking you are less! 🙂
Now alternatively if you are one of those runners who makes people feel like their distance/pace/strategy isn’t worthy of the label “runner,” come on in here to Dallas and I will punch you as well, but you won’t get a beer. Seriously, if you are one of those d-bags who belittles others for making the choice to put one foot in front of the other for any distance, I will punch you in the throat and probably won’t buy you a beer (although let’s be honest, I’ll probably pick you up off the floor and get you a drink anyway – that’s just who I am)
There are so many people who throw obstacles in front of us in our journeys, we don’t need judgment/approbation from those with whom we share this amazing bond too. Be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t settle and get complacent. Keep pushing yourself. But be proud of what you’ve done, of the choices you’ve made to live healthier and taking on the challenge of running. You ran ____ effing miles! You are a badass in my book!
Rant over. (but some throat punches forthcoming) 🙂