Growing up, I was involved in a lot of sports. Mainly soccer, baseball and pick up games of football which we played on asphalt. Yes tackling each other. The joys of growing up in a lower income area, we had to make do with what we had. When I wasn't pretending I was Cal Ripken Jr or any random soccer star, we were the typical kids, playing in the creek throwing rocks, playing guns we fashioned out of sticks. Times were different back then and we had a blast using our imaginations.
Eventually, I would discover skateboarding and punk culture. This would change my whole outlook on sports. My interests in organized team sports would fade and my focus would be geared towards skating and listening to loud angry music. I was a teenager, so of course I was misunderstood and frustrated with not being noticed by anyone or everyone.
For years, the only "sport" I was interested in was skateboarding, but for those who skate, it's more of a lifestyle than it is a sport. In fact, competition was, for the most part, frowned upon. Music and skating went hand in hand. If we were skating street, doing lines(not drugs), I would flow listening to Digable Planets, but when we were killing a mini or skating a pool something like Slayer or Cro Mags were the go to sounds to drive us to go big or go home. Mind you, most of my time was spent skating street. And let me tell you, there's nothign that's going to replace the memories of skating the spots in SF that are now something of an urban legend to those up and coming skaters. The Gonz, Hubba Hideout, China Banks, EMB....I could go on, but you get the idea. I think China Banks is still there.
Milwaukee was a monumental place in my personal history. This is where I found my love for coffee, would eventually get married(and have my daughter), and started to enjoy watching sports all over again. I would also be active in local bands, toured with one group a couple of times and got arrested for skateboarding(4 cop cars, 6 cops, guns drawn). I learned a lot living there and Wisconsin still holds a huge part of my heart. I made some of the best friends there(Stevsie, miss you buddy, Jamie..though you're on the east coast now, John Grant...)
Somehow, through sheer luck or however you want to explain it, I end up in Arizona. My life would take some sharp turns and in my head I would be totally alone with no family around me aside from my children. Something had to be done. I looked deep within and made a promise to myself that I wouldn't let depression consume me, though it felt like it would. So I picked up running, and the rest is history.
Surviving my battle with depression, I was able to find out who I was and who I wanted to be. And through the run, I was introduced to some of my closest friends I have ever met. People I care deeply about, family. They have been a huge inspiration and motivation for my self discovery, constantly pushing me to continue on and to never ever ever give up. I love you all.
So ten years ago, had you met me then, you would have never thought or pictured me to be the person I am today, confident in my self worth, content with who I am, open to spirituality and determined to succeed and reach my goals. My dreams are right there for the taking, I just have to put in the hard work to grab them. And I will, I can do it.
Triathlon, running, and now my desire to do ultras are ways I cope with whatever mental struggles I am dealing with at that given moment. They are tools that I use to challenge myself both physically and mentally, using my new found "never say die" mentality. When I'm out there on a trail, I lose myself in thought and forget, basically, what is bothering me. I am able to just live. Hard to explain unless you've experienced the same feeling. It's something I need, I want, I do. Before, and I still feel this way, music saved me in my younger years. Had it not been for the punk and hardcore scene(s), I would be dead. I need running like life needs air to breath. It drives me to succeed at life, gives me tools that I can use in every day life. I feel at peace, healthy, happy with who I am.
What have I become? Well, it's simple really. I have become me. This is who I am, this is who I will be. I will only improve who I am, but I will never ever change me. I am a loving dad of two wonderful children. I run, I swim, I bike.