Monthly Archives: October 2012

The dream, the goal, the book review

I had a dream last night. Several things jump out at me. First, I not only had a dream, I remembered the dream. Second, the dream was very much related to things going on in my mind and in my life.

That almost never happens.

So let me tell you about the dream. It’s a great story. And I’m not making up the dream to prove a point. Just one of the weirdnesses of being me.

I was running. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dream about running, but there I was. Running. Not just running. I was in a race. There were people on the street cheering. And this is where it gets weird. There was no one in front of me. I wasn’t in my usual spot in the middle of the pack. I was in front. Then it gets even weirder. Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano were running on either side of me.

I went to high school with Adam Goucher. In my previous posts I’ve mentioned high school cross country. We were on the “same” team. I use quotes there for a reason. Adam ran varsity, set state records, won national championships, and was the top recruited high school senior. I was the fat guy trying real hard not to finish last. We had the same uniform, the same coach, and often the same course, but we were running two very different races. To put things in perspective, I think Adam’s fastest 3.1 mile (5k) race that year was finished in about the same time I finished the first mile of my first training run. Adam at least acts like he remembered me when I saw him at the finish of the Bolder Boulder this past spring. But he’s an honorable dude like that.

I met Tim for about 45 seconds at the Bolder Boulder. He doesn’t remember me, and that’s OK. I was just one of many faces he saw that day. Honestly, I’m shocked that he was in the dream.

If you don’t know the names, Tim and Adam are kind of a big deal. Adam did some olympic caliber running. Tim and Adam were on the same cross country team at University of Colorado. They wrote a book together, have a blog, and are really making waves in the running world. But we’ll get to that.

So there we are running. Me, Adam, and Tim, shoulder to shoulder. Adam and Tim peel off to sigh autographs, you know, because they’re all famous. And I just keep running and they catch up to me, you know, because they are the “real” runners. And we’re just going. At the finish line I start to kick hard. Adam and Tim kick with me, then suddenly peel off to sign autographs allowing me to finish first. (Eat that fame!)

And then it gets really weird. We’re at the post-race party. It’s at a bar. A nice place. Well, newer anyway. And there are beers. And I’m speaking with a waitress. And we’re talking about beers. And I see something behind the bar. Someone is disconnecting the keg. And that keg. And that cask of wine.

THE WAIT STAFF IS STEALING THE BOOZE!

But it’s not a big deal. I have my drink. And the waitress pours me another before she disconnects the last keg. And I keep quiet as I watch them roll the barrels out the side door. As the last cask of wine (real wood casks dude. Must have been good stuff.) gets rolled to the door my alarm goes off and I wake up.

And I smile.

I was an accomplice of sorts in a great booze heist. And I ran a race with Adam and Tim. And I finished first.

And oddly enough, I wasn’t surprised by any of this. Well, I was a little shocked at the booze heist. But it was a dream and dreams are weird.

I finished reading Adam and Tim’s book a couple days ago. Like most good ideas, it needs to rattle around in my brain for a bit before I convince myself it’s a good idea. The book is “Run the Edge” available at their blog http://www.runtheedge.com/, amazon (With kindle version), and probably a few other places.

The book is sort of a self-help for runners book. It’s also a good insight to some of the things that can make and break a career. Any career, really, as long as you are willing to make the connections. I tend to read a lot of self-help type books, and I tend to turn a lot of books into self-help type books. I should probably apologize to Edward Abby and Jack Kerouac for that at some point.

This one is different. Most the self help books are all focused on one area – money, food, weight loss, jobs, whatever. At first blush Run The Edge sits kind of the same way. But then you get into and realize this book is about two guys doing something that I’ve been trying to do for a long time: Translate lessons learned in sports into lessons learned in real life in a language that anyone can understand.

And the lives of these two guys are full of lessons. That part hits you somewhere in the first chapter. And the lessons keep coming through the various stages of careers, life, and just challenging friends to try new things. Sure, runners and other athletes will get into the book more than others. But I think people without that background will be able to appreciate the book and the lessons.

While all books of this nature are a call for action, Run The Edge is a call for action RIGHT NOW. The authors suggest reading the book with a notebook and pencil by your side and provide exercises to better engage the reader and to drive examples home. I am guilty that I did not participate fully. I intend to read the book a second time and do all the exercises in the right order. But I got to a point where I just really wanted to see where the book was heading.

If you are familiar with other books of this nature, you will be familiar with the concept of goals. Well, it should be no surprise that a couple of top athletes believe in the power of goals as well. Part of goals is telling people about the goals. I’m still working on the details. The remaining issue is timing. I know I’m going to need a good set of running shoes, a timed race, and the details of my fastest outing in high school. 19 years after graduation, I’m thinking I just might be able to run 5k faster now than I did then. As long as I set attainable goals, and allow myself to Run The Edge. My first step is to get back to being actively involved in managing my weight and nutrition. I will continue to run. I will get a training program and I will follow it. I will pick several races to help gauge my improvement. I will pick a final race where I will lay it all on the line.

And most importantly, I will do all of this without having a negative impact on the other important aspects of my life.

And if Adam and Tim feel like joining me for a little run, I’ll make sure to get beverages from the wait staff before they all get stolen.

Until next time, don’t let the fat man catch you!

Patience

Lately I have not had the time, energy or inspiration to provide much original content.  One of the Blogs I follow published something a few weeks back that really got my brain thinking.  It was about patience.

(Dr. Kelly’s work that inspired this is here:  http://drkellyflanagan.com/2012/09/14/patience-is-not-a-virtue-its-a-by-product/ )

I have studied patience.  No, really, like in school.  I have a BA degree in religion.  As part of my studies I took several classes on Buddhism. I’ll spare the semester of study, but patience is sort of central to Buddhist thinking.  Dr. Kelly’s post got me going.  When was the last time I really experienced patience?  No, really.  The kind that hits you up-side the head so hard you think you might be injured.  And a couple things came to mind that might be worth sharing.

The Climber

Far too long ago I was rock climbing with some friends.  We were at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.  If you’ve never been, it’s a beautiful place.  I was climbing Cowboy Boot Crack.  The climb rating was well within my ability.  The protection, however, was beyond my skill limit.  I made a couple solid placements, and then a couple not so solid placements.  As I moved upward the gear I had just placed pulled free and I watched it spiral down the rope until it came to a momentary rest on the piece below it.  Then they both spun to the piece below that.  And just like that I was 20 feet above my last piece of gear with a rack that simply didn’t have any more pieces the right size to fit in the crack.  And I had about another 20 feet to get to the anchor.

All of that math happened really quickly.  I know it only took a moment for the first piece to slide down the rope and dislodge the second piece.  And that’s how long it took for me to look down, calculate distance, look up, calculate distance, and then panic.

My partner mentioned something about gear coming loose.  I know I responded.  I know I didn’t say anything polite, and I didn’t use a polite tone.  As I sat there, big toes wedged in the little crack, fingers getting greasy in the afternoon sun my heart rate started to climb. 

I was frozen.

I couldn’t go up.  I couldn’t go down.  I knew better than to fall.  All I could hear was my heart pounding and my breath getting ragged in my chest.  While the climb was on the easy side, sitting there thinking about “what if” and feeling the rising panic made it nearly impossible to hang on.

And then it got quiet – patience.  The sweat cleared from my eyes.  I could see.  The sun glinted off the silver of the anchor bolts.  No joke.  Just like a fairy tale.  In the quiet I looked down again, then up.  I managed to take a deep breath.  A calm breath.  And I knew I was going for it.  A 20 foot vertical sprint to the anchor.  In the quiet I could hear myself.  Patience.  The climb was well within my ability.  I could do this.  Just go surely with solid foot placement and the rest would just happen.

And I moved.  Upward.  One small foot step.  Another.  One hand.  The next.  Each movement was bigger than the next.  Faster. The quiet remained.  I could no longer hear the tourists below.  I could no longer hear the hawks above.  I could no longer hear my pulse as my heart tried to rip through my chest.  I could not hear my partners voice.

Patience.

I could hear the sandstone under my climbing shoes.  The mild crunch as I twisted my toes into the crack.  I could hear the skin on my fingers rasping on the rock.  Each sound was the sound of solidarity. Confidence.  Not slowing or stopping to attempt to place more poor fitting protection made the upward movement happen quickly.  I’m sure the climbing was only a couple seconds.  The last painfully loud sound was the click of aluminum as I latched the carabiner on my harness to the anchor.  The click as the gate swung shut echoed through my bones. 

And then it all flooded back in.  Looking back, the thing that amazed me the most was the color of the rock.  I had never seen it quite that red before.  And then the adrenaline kicked in and I became a twitching, quivering mess up there 80 feet above my friends.  But the memory of that patience sticks with me today.

Now and again I can catch glimpses of that patience.  Sometimes it hits when I’m running.  Sometimes when I’m playing hockey.  And those tend to be really good runs and really good games.

Sometimes, on really good days, I get to feel that when playing with my kids.

Since Dr. Kelly’s post I have been thinking about this a lot.  It struck a chord if you will.  Buddhism, adrenaline, peaceful playing, all have something in common.  Patience.  I’m working to find more of that.

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