Saturday, January 28, 2017

Finding Myself

The past few weeks, months, days(not in that order), have been a struggle finding my rhythm. Plagued with inconsistency and trouble finding zen. I've found myself making excuses more often than not. It feels as if I'm blaming work, but I wonder if that's what it is. The more I think about it, the more I realize my mind has won this battle. How do I overcome?

Truth is, I'm not too sure. I feel stuck in the valley, climbing a never ending mountain. The top seems so far away, and I've been here before. Let me just say, I'm not in a bad spot, but I'm not where I want to be. Running means so much to me and is crucial to my well being. It's therapeutic, it is very spiritual and quite frankly, it's fun. Those who run, no matter the distance, push their minds and bodies through painful situations and consistently return over and over again.

I want to experience the high, the zen, the complete peaceful mindset. In order to reach any sort of spiritual transformation, I have to travel through the valley, up the hill and that in its own right is going to hurt. Pain needs to be embraced and respected. Understanding that the journey is going to have mountains and valleys is going to help propel me to the top. Move forward, but don't forget to stop and enjoy the sights, listen to the flowing water of the river. All the answers are right there for the taking, I just need to dig deep and find the strength within. I can, and I will find myself. I know where I want to be, I know my true potential, I know it's going to be hard work, but one foot in front of the other and I will overcome.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Listen

Everything happens for a reason. There's a plan for all of this, everything going on in your life at any given moment. As confusing as it can be, things happen and maybe it's time we stop trying to decipher the reason.

A revelation of sorts happened yesterday.

For a while, I've struggled with maintaining consistency when it came to my craft, the run. I'll run on my days off, and perhaps jog early in the morning after sending the kids off to school. There hasn't been much running outside that. And the runs I do on my day off are way below my capability, but I struggle to complete them. The only thing I can think of is my level of commitment to my craft.

With running, comes sacrifice both physical and emotional. There are some things I refuse to sacrifice and other things that come easy. Also, I find some things to be a bit of a struggle. There must be a sense of balance and I believe I've found the answer.

First off, family time is one thing I will never sacrifice as that time I get to spend with the wife and kids is something special. I hope that the kids will grow up with pleasant memories of me being around instead of running which could be construed in a negative way by those who don't understand what running does to me. Luckily, I have full support from my wife who not only supports me running, but also encourages me to do it by helping push me.

Part of my struggle has been why Why do I run? Well, I feel I have explained that in depth many times over, but maybe I'm looking at why in the wrong way. Let us look at my accomplishments. I've attempted many ultras and finished only a handful of them. In failing to reach the finish line in some of those, I have still been able to cover quite a bit of distance. Distances that others cringe at, viewing this activity as a sadistic way to torture myself. Those distances, maybe I look at them in a hey I've already done them so I don't have to do it againsort of way. Maybe, since I'm no longer chasing the 100k distance, I feel I don't need to try. What about the 100 mile? What about Badwater 135? All are undeniably hard accomplishments that take a dedication to another level, but maybe I need to look at the deeper meaning here.

I'm not chasing the trophy. The accomplishment is enough of a trophy, medal or belt buckle. But maybe I need a race or two so that I can truly enter those levels of mental fatigue that comes with the sacrifice of training. A goal of sorts, an end game.

Running has and always will be a struggle to maintain balance and consistency. To continue to run even after experiencing lows that come with self doubt, discouragement that is the result of failing to reach your potential, is a feat that can not be explained. Why do I continue to do something so painful? I don't think there's a solid answer to that. To be honest, I think it's a search, a journey, an adventure of self discover and to find meaning in life. Running has been and always will be a spiritual thing, but I'm starting to understand why others race.

Everything happens for a reason and it's time I stop trying to figure out the meaning behind every little thing. I believe it's God's way of communicating to me and it's not up to me to know why this is happening, but to entrust God to take care of me. I need to give blind faith that those little annoying things that happen have a reason behind them and that reason isn't for me to know at this given moment. Looking back at those little things that have happened to me(not receiving my ATM card has sent me to new levels of frustrated), I realize or perhaps have connected them to not running enough. I have faith that since I haven't been outside as much as I should be that I'm in a way starting to lose touch with God. The trails are my church, running in a way is my religion. And I need to get back to my spiritual ways and really give my life to what I believe. This doesn't mean ignoring things that happen in life, but it does mean to take care of myself.

Running gives me peace, serenity, gives me a sense of purpose. Running helps me make sense of life and helps me be a more compassionate person towards all living things. I am thankful for experiencing everything life throws at me and though I am weakened spiritually when I am not running, I know that God will always be there for me. It's time that I stop giving in to the temptations and run with my heart and soul. My buddy Ben once posted "If you're tired of starting over, stop quitting."

My posts are often going to sound redundant. I may repeat myself over the course of several posts, but I think they're just reminders to myself why I run. This blog I run is more of a journal, but also serves as a way to communicate to others that may share the same feelings or thoughts as myself.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Why do I run?

Why do I run? Why do I constantly push my body to its breaking point? Why do I insist on doing an activity that causes my knees to hurt, my feet to swell and my mind to question my own existence? Why do log in countless miles across seemingly dangerous terrain? Why do I bring my stomach to points of wrenching agony? 

"To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering." Friedrich Nietzsche

I find life amongst the constant suffering when running. Running brings not just joy, but it also continually brings out newly discovered personality traits about myself. The views are stunning and beautiful. I've seen places, wildlife, climbed mountains and trekked through areas people don't normally get to experience. I run because it helps me feel free, helps me feel like I'm living. It gives me a healthy reminder why I am here on this earth for such a brief time in our worlds history. I run because it helps me breath new life into my lungs and it helps me battle self doubt. Running isn't a way to prove anything to anyone, but it is a way to prove me wrong because I know I can. I know I can be so much more than I am right this second. I know I am capable of greatness and running has given me the knowledge, the power, the self confidence, the tools to succeed in my dreams and aspirations. Running has given me purpose, it has helped me reach forward when I didn't feel I could. This strenuous sport has given me peace and has helped achieve a level of clarity that I never knew was possible. I feel zen when I am running, like the world and all existence seemingly stops for a brief moment. My lungs will take in more air and instead of just breathing, I feel thankful for each breath. I can actually feel the air fill my lungs like new life entering my body. 

So I ask the question again, why do I run? I run to live. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Nodules

The first thing that comes to mind when a nurse comes in and says "I'm sorry to bother you, but I have something to tell you regarding one of your ct scans," is that something is fucked up. My curiosity is at an all time high and my heart rate boosts to levels you only have while running. To make matters worse, the nurse says "we found a nodule in your lung." I'm not one to pretend I know what she was talking about, and by no means am I an accomplished english scholar, but within the context I was able to decipher what she meant. "What's a nodule?" I asked myself.

The nurse had this way about delivering the news to me that made me feel as if this kind of news wasn't generally welcomed by the receiving side. In this moment, my brain was forced to absorb possible life threatening information and seeing someone nervous about delivering not the best news in the world. Again, my thoughts were truly bouncing around the walls of my head. "Cool," was my response. Yes, "cool." What else am I supposed to say? There's not much I can do at the given moment so there's no sense in stressing over something that's not within your control. She delivered the news the best she could and I felt though she's done this several times over, but I am different.

I'm able to take news, whether bad or good, and maintain a positive outlook towards things. There's always a silver lining to what's going on. Sometimes, it's hidden in plain sight. I chose to take the high road and move forward, no sense in dwelling on the "nodule." I asked, "how does this affect the kidney donor process?" Which led to the possibility of more tests, including another CT scan. I'll talk about that in a bit. She was a little shocked that I took the "news" so easily. "There's no sense in stressing over something that I have little to no control over. Life happens and I have good faith that god will take care of me and has a plan for me. I have no doubt this nodule is benign and is nothing to worry about."

See, this is so easy to grasp, this philosophy that I have in life. You put negative energy out in the world, you get negative energy in return. The same is true for positive energy. You must maintain a positive outlook and eventually you'll get positive results in life. I could have easily focused on the fact that I had no knowledge of what a nodule was and freaked out, but what good would that do? None. This process is a very nerve racking journey with a lot of waiting and the unknown. There's no room at all for unwanted stress that could, now that I think about it, cause my heart rate tests to jump, spike and mess up test results. Heck, my blood pressure was skewed when the doctor and I were talking about the possibility of having more kids. Not going to happen!

There's a song by the band Good Clean Fun "You Gotta Stay Positive" that really is the embodiment of my philosophy in life. No matter what life throws at me, I try my hardest to remain positive. It doesn't always work out that way, but I try my hardest and that's all anyone could ever ask of me.

A few more tests were needed so that the donor team would be able to present my information to the surgery board. Along the way, we would need a lung specialist to look at my scans and determine the next course of action. Standing in the room while looking at my images, he says "we could do a PET scan, or a biopsy on the nodule. But first we need to have another CT of your chest to ensure there aren't anymore nodules within your lungs or anywhere else." The first scan was only focused on my abdomen so it makes sense. Luckily I wasn't required to do the contrast in my veins again, not that it would have mattered, but who wants crap injected in their body? I don't, that's for sure.

We would have to wait until the results were examined to determine the next course of action. The idea of a needle in my chest, possibly puncturing my lung, was lingering in my thoughts, but again, the bigger picture was/is the possibility of helping provide a better quality of life for someone. The reward is worth the risk(s). The results came back with enough evidence saying that the nodule was benign. That's a sigh of relief.

Look, this roller coaster is no different than every day life. There are highs and lows. Sure, sometimes the lows seem like a constant downward spiral of emotion leading to depths of despair that you never thought were humanly possible.

A wise man once said, "the good feeling won't last long, the bad feeling won't last long. Get comfortable being uncomfortable." I believe that once you've mastered the fact that life won't always go as planned, you will be able to overcome so much adversity. There's no telling what you'll be able to achieve. This goes back to a simple rhetorical question, "how bad do you want it?" Never give up, never give in. GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I Eat Plants

It took Scott Jurek 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes to travel the length of the Appalachian trail which is 2189 miles! Most people would never even fathom doing that trail in on solid go in the amount of time he did and most people didn't think he'd be able to do so with a diet consisting of plants. Someone even was quoted in saying that he would need some real food. Since when was a banana not considered real food? Think about that for a second because it's not uncommon for people who consume the standard american diet to look at unprocessed, raw vegetables as faux food.

My thought process on the matter is people argue what they are afraid or unsure of. They feed into what the media and government tells them they should eat and go with it. Most of the time, they pick on people who live a plant based diet proclaiming "you need more protein." It appears that people automatically become a self proclaimed expert on the subject of nutrition without fully understanding what they're talking about, belittling compassionate living in the process. For as long as I've lived even a vegetarian lifestyle, I've heard every joke, wise crack known to man, rehashed in so many ways, that when someone starts talking to me after learning how I choose to eat, I have almost a 6th sense and know what they're going to say. Sure it gets old, but I pick my battles and roll with the punches so to speak.

In the not to distant past, I embarked on a life changing journey, not just for my own physical life, but someone else's. A short version of the story is, I'm donating or in the process of donating my kidney to someone. The reason I bring that up is, that I'm learning more about myself, physically, than I would have ever imagined. My labs (my blood is being drawn with each visit) come back almost laughable in that they're so "perfect." My cholesterol is beyond low, and I wish I knew what the rest of the numbers meant. Going back to the process of donating my kidney. Part of my many many many appointments was to meet with a Mayo Clinic Nutritionist. She looked at my labs and laughed saying, "You're easy," in regards to my test results. Apparently it's more common for them to have to coach someone on ways to eat properly stating "you need to eat more vegetables and fruit, grains and nuts." Well, that's the basis of my diet. She asked what I eat on a daily basis. "Yesterday I had 4 bananas with chia seeds, and a bag of frozen fruit, blended in a smoothie with water. Lunch, I had half a watermelon. Dinner we had BBQ bean burritos with grilled peach salsa and avocado." I also added in how much water I consumed. She said, "well that's why your blood work is so good." By eating unprocessed foods, I believe and I have the backing from a doctor, that is the direct cause of having healthy kidneys, organs, blood, body and mind. My body doesn't have to fight to break down highly processed "foods."

Now, I'm not perfect, but I do my best to maintain a healthy body. I see sick people every day, complaining about their weight, their health and so on. I look at their food and shake my head. It's like a pack of cigarettes with a warning label on the side of the pack stating how horrible they are for you. What if you could eat food that cures you of ailments? What if food was your medicine? What would a world be without the need of medicines that "are poison to us, but we use for their side affects?" Seriously, the meat, dairy and pharmaceutical corporations would have a shit fit. There are so many signs pointing fingers at them stating how they're hiring lobbyist to cover up any true facts regarding healthy living. Pharmaceutical businesses want us to be sick, if we weren't they'd be up shit creek. It's truly frustrating to me how sick our country is and yet the solution is so simple. Eat clean(er) and life will get much more enjoyable and healthy.

Why people choose to eat like garbage is either they don't know any better and are poorly educated on health and nutrition or they just frankly don't care and or don't want to know what's going into their body. People tend to enjoy being plugged into the matrix. Why would someone eat something they can't pronounce?! Raw food eliminates having to read the labels because lettuce is just lettuce, tomatoes are just tomatoes, watermelon is just watermelon. You get the picture and I hope you can understand my frustration here. Again, I'm not holier than thou, and I am not the cleanest or healthiest person in the world. I'm not the poster child for healthy living, but I truly believe a healthy diet coupled with consistent exercise could possibly lead to a peaceful mind and body.

Please, for the love of god, educate yourself on what you're putting in your body before you are pushing up daisies. When I have doctors telling me they wished more people had labs similar to mine, it leads me to believe more people should wake up and eat with a piece of mind. Educate yourself! Eat like you give a fuck!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"Training" Diary: 6/9/2016

Workout Summary:

5 minute sprints

12 flutter kicks with medicine ball

5 pull-ups

12 box jumps

12 medicine ball slams

12 kettle bell swings

Repeat 3x

5 minute cool down run, easy pace

I'm a firm believer in allowing life to happen organically. Life will present itself for those willing to let go and stop trying to force everything. By the way, my ADHD has been terrible as of late so bare with me here as I just start typing nonsense. Speaking of typing nonsense, I was coached by a close friend of mine, years ago, on how to write. There was a moment that my "writer's block" was intense and I couldn't get anything out of my head that I felt was worth posting. That's when I was told to "just start typing and words will follow." Let me tell you, that's very true!

See, I have a lot on my mind as of late with huge life changing events on the horizon. However, all this "stuff" on my mind is seriously starting to build up. About the only time I feel I'm able to expel any of these thoughts and clear up some room for more is when I'm running, or "training" at the gym.

I miss working out with coach Frank. Especially when we were doing strength and conditioning. He would put us through these grueling vomit inducing workouts that would make the toughest person whimper. Frank was so focused on strengthening not only our bodies, but our minds so that when we faced adversity during a race we would be able to pull through and find that extra gear. Here's the thing, these sessions weren't only race related. What we went through made us stronger in every day life as well. That's one of the many things I love about Frank. He encouraged us to push and to push and to push, but he truly made us better people. He's such a giving person and he has inspired me to be the best possible version of me that I could ever be. I'm confident I will be the best husband I could ever be, the best dad my kids would ever want and need, the best man, the best friend, the best person as a whole. It's not just Frank being himself, but giving us confidence in who we are.

You've heard me many times over talk about quitting. Yes, I've been there more times than I'd like to admit. I think it's because I haven't really committed myself to where I am headed or because I was taking the journey seriously. Not sure really, but quitting is always an option and a very real option at that. Those who say, "quitting is not an option," don't understand or are trying to trick people into thinking that they have to continue no matter what. Ok, running can be painful, but...here me out on this, if you're able to reach past that barrier and then feel like quitting only to reach even further, trust me when I say this, you'll finish your run and look back at what you did. Now I'm not the best at articulating my thoughts as I've said before, but I find the feeling of accomplishment is one of the best "highs" one could ever be on. Doing something you never thought you'd be able to do makes you feel as if you could do anything. I don't know how else to explain it, but it's such a wonderful feeling.

Look, I don't have the miracle cure all answer to life, but I do know that running has the potential to help you enjoy what life has to offer.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Donate Life

"My true compassion is for all living things and not just the ones who are cute so I do what I can. I wanna save lives and I've got a plan." Gorilla Biscuits

Figuring out what you've been put on this earth to do can take a life time. When it hits you, it's as if the clouds have been lifted and you're seeing the sky as clear as can be for the first time. There's no telling when or where you figure out God's plan for you, but you must have blind faith that you're on the right path.

Talking with Bonnie today, I mentioned that I felt as if I was TOO compassionate, that I cared TOO much. The truth is, I often do put others before myself. My argument with myself when I realize I need to take care of myself before I'm able to look after anyone else is that seeing anyone, man or beast, suffer destroys me from the inside out. I feel horrible knowing someone hurts or is sad. Nothing brings me more joy than helping in any way I can. I've written about something as simple as smiling at someone can brighten their day so when I was approached to donate an organ to someone, I didn't have to think twice, YES!

Now there are a lot of hoops we together must jump through(tests, insurance companies, planning and so on) before we are able to set forth a date and harvest this kidney out of me. Wow, I'm in the process of being a living donor. That's intense really, and sure there's some lingering fear of the unknown, but still, I would do anything anything anything to help out family, friends and so on. So far, my blood is compatible and I hope that me taking care of my body aids in this process and making me a suitable candidate.

I knew a while back what my purpose was/is in life. Go back through my posts, I've written about it. There have been many things in life that I was/am good at, but I've never been great at any one thing. Running gives me purpose and is my chance at greatness. Through running, I feel that there's possibilities to help those in need. I feel this is my path, this is what I am meant to do. I just know it, not sure how to explain it, I just do. The journey is far from over, but I have faith I'm on the right path.