Thursday, October 10, 2013

Filming the Wrong Guy

When they were filming the race at Duke, while I came in second, it was my fastest and the one I'd raised the most money for Brain Cancer research for, there was a spectator who realized that the camera was following me instead of the guy in the lead. He shouted at the camera guys "You're filming the wrong guy." It was part of several filming but if their intent had been only about the guy who wins the race then they were absolutely filming the wrong guy. If that's the only goal of any of the athletic events that have invited me... it's always the wrong focus. The guy who beat me at Duke was a stranger at the time. But since then he is a friend, also a brain cancer patient with plenty of spunk and speed and good skills at parenting. He's had to slow down some and get driving restrictions due to his treatment but I have full hope that any race we do together, his back side will be the best view I get of him.

But while that filming hasn't aired, today  my favorite video yet came out (if you want to skip this blog and watch that instead, you have my full permission). It's not my favorite because of what I say (honestly on that end I sound a little preachy to me but you can decide that for yourself) but because this is the one that the camera chose to skip the trophies and the races and just talk about the day to running with my daughter Kiana. This if course not complete because there are and always will be races and I have always been a competitive guy and likely always will be. But the biggest win of my life will not be a race against other runners, against the clock, against cancer, it will be that I won the perspective that for me, catching and sharing life is more meaningful than all of those combined. (And while I'm sounding preachy, let me make clear, I'm not saying everyone should go have kids and spend all their time on them. Because of not having appropriately taken care of my marriage, I have a built in free time on every other weekend and evening visitations. Good healthy relationships usually have some time where it's one on one. All I am trying to say is I don't know anyone who is happy and healthy without significant healthy relationships in their life).

I appreciate the kindness about the running and the compliments but I focus on that because one leg in front of the other still works fully. I work on the mental skills as much but those are far more frustrating and while I've made some ridiculously small steps towards opening up my heart to being less George Clooney like (or more George Clooney like? one friend pointed out that George Clooney at least has actual girlfriends), running gets praise because it's an outlet, a hobby. It is the means that gets me through the day to day. I have full respect and admiration for those who give time, discipline, and effort, hours to shave off some minutes and seconds off PR's. I am one of them but it's to share and hope for more time above ground with Kiana not just to take time off race.  Sometimes it's doing things she likes to do with her, sometimes it's just watching her at the playground, sometimes it's letting her share in some of my activities like running or teaching her to do it (she recently started marathon kids and on her first track workout did 2 miles of running. There were water breaks and pauses but no walking. I was impressed. We went opposite directions on the track, high fiving every time). And the honest truth is that it's not even at the cost of friends either; I think the reason it's gone well is because of friends. One of the magazines that is featuring me said out of all the runners they've ever profiled she thought she'd never met one for whom running was less about "me-time" than me. I stopped running after college cause I was no longer part of the cross country team (that's the jersey in the video) and I didn't start running again until I found this great running group I'm part of, the Ship of Fools who while we train together, we also have breakfast, and happy hours and heckle each other. And no one cheers louder or claps harder than we do on weekends like this last one where tons of friends got PR's in 5k's, 10k's, finished marathons, qualified for Boston for the first time, broke a 2:40 marathon, broke a 3:00 hour one. Because our group successes are individual ones and our individual ones are group successes. Synergy in running, in relationships is inspiring to me. I know some introverted runners that have gotten better by running more alone or more where less people are on the track but... I'd rather hang out with this crowd of friends because those are far better times than just to get my best time in a race. And it turns out, at least for me and lots of people at Tuesday's work out, that the two are completely mutually inclusive.

Most people contribute in some way or another in their job. I do miss my job so these days my "job" is to volunteer perhaps for no other reason than seeking meaning during the day while Kiana is in school. So I give my time in the day not to training harder on my own but to volunteering in things like the math tutoring that just restarted for this school school yesterday. These junior high kids struggled reading clocks more than fractions. They had to turn their cell phones off while Miley Cyrus played in the background on Pandora. They loved the Mohawk. Some things change, some stay the same. And speaking of the Mohawk, I am not nearly as good at braiding as the people who give the Hawktober mohawks ( so I took Kiana to get her braided feaux hawk. I accepted that I couldn't top last year's Livestrong color mohawk so I passed it on to the next generation. And like everything else she one upped me.

And if you check my facebook profile pics... or banner pages... the ways we choose to self identify and self portray, people have tried to get me to make it race wins or jumping over fire in spartan races. Those things are awesome but right now they are of me dancing at the Spartan Charity Win knowing I'd shared some of my good fortune with others and of me hugging Kiana, knowing that fathering that little girl is by far the best thing in my life. It isn't that I don't understand how impressive race wins and jumping through fire are greatand I have full respect and occasional jealousy for people who do those things better than me; that's just not my primary focus or self identification. There are people who can do that and do great at both. I didn't turn out so good at that balance so I've tried to prioritize correctly.  And my main goal is just to pass things better to my daughter than I had them in every way can, in every way I know how. Because if everything goes right and that's what I tried to accomplish or if everything goes wrong and that's what I died trying to accomplish, there is no bigger win/win that I could possibly imagine. And if I do that all right and have to find a new identity if I am still standing when she realizes I'm a dork, and says go away dad, I will never cry happier tears and will find another day to day identity.

 I know that there are some people that the wins are their main story. It's not mine, mine is simply parenting while exercising. It's relatively easy as a parent of young kid to exercise because just attending the school picnic last friday I got a workout by trying to keep up watching Kiana. I'd be in better shape than most people who don't have children whether or not I worked out just by trying to keep track of her. I've passed up races that wouldn't let me do it with a stroller on weekends she's with me. And even though she's gotten heavier we just signed up for a 10 mile run in Austin that is by far the hilliest run we've done because we aren't done yet. And while I'll never stop exercising if there ever comes a day where running in a stroller is no longer fun for Kiana, that's the day I retire from those races with apologies to no one. And if all I get to do for exercise is walk her to school or run up and down the sidelines of her events, sign me up, every time.

Lance Armstrong's initiation of Livestrong just passed by a few days ago, more quietly than last year and some people "virtually" acknowledged it while others did their shouting at him. I recently watched a video where he said he likes winning but he hates losing because losing is death or worse than death. I am a competitive guy and so is he but I don't even take things like protein powders trying to do off just basic foods because I'm not trying to compete on an international level or even serious race level. I just want to see what I can do naturally (if you watched the video, my most common breakfast is smoothies so it was cool that made the cut). Plus if you start taking substances where the right line is has been debated... and for Armstrong well we know how that story is playing out with him. But with that said, I still say thank you to him for starting Livestrong and I am still raising money for them because like each of us is somehow both connected and separate from our parents, Livestrong has made great choices both because and despite of the ones their founder made. For me, to quote a wise man, "Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant." So I still support Livestrong despite some Lance Armstrong's less than admirable choices. If you want to make a donation to my 100 mile ride And if you notice the video the band is still on my wrist and those bands for people to wear are still at my house.

Still I am going to a 5k time trial tonight and I'll be trying to be the fastest one in the group. And I've got the 100 mile century bike ride in two weeks and I'll be trying to do it faster than last year. And I've got a 10 mile hilly run the weekend after that. I'll give those all I got like I have with the treatment and academics trying to beat both me and other. And while all of those things have been filmed... if they think that's my main or only focus, then they are filming the wrong guy. Because for me, my favorite part of life has been when i'm behind my iphone camera catching and sharing a little bit of Kiana's life.  But between those athletic events, I will make Kiana some pancakes (this weekend she'll share it with several of those running buddies as we have a pancake off... and if you think i'm not competitive, you're invited to come try Kiana's favorite breakfast and even there i'm trying to win). But in quiet days, I'll also hug her before going to bed and run with her to or from school. And even when no one is filming, that's the right guy.

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