Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Year of Being Awesome: An Introduction

A warm welcome to all of you who may be starting out with me here. (…crickets chirping…)  It’s been a while now since I’ve contemplated starting a blog, wondering if it would have any value in and of itself, but after corresponding with several blogger friends and reading some advice on various other blogs, I’ve come to the conclusion that for me it’s just one more step in becoming awesome at life.  The advice I received, by the by, is to do it if you love it, and for no other reason.  Thus, I’m not as concerned with who and how many read it; writing helps me formulate and firm up ideas that will hopefully lead to an improved and kickass life.  It would be an added bonus, however, if any of you find it interesting and/or enlightening.

Every now and again people have epiphanies (or complete breakdowns) in their lives that cause them to re-evaluate their situation in life.  For me, they come somewhat regularly, as I tend to be a whimsical and contemplative person, constantly reflecting and evaluating my life, and the greatest of these moments are when I’m inspired by someone or something amazing that they do.  I’m blessed to be surrounded by amazing people, and I’m forced to take pause in my thoughts almost everyday by one thing or other.  I gotta say, it’s a good way to live, because a life without inspiration is simply not a life.  On to the actual point here.

Last June, I had the honor and pleasure to crew for my good friend Joe when he ran the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race in California.  He had started with ultrarunning earlier in the year and was picking up steam. After poking around the WS website, I decided that I had to be part of it, so I emailed him and asked if I could be of any assistance.  As it so happened, I ended up as crew chief, organizing a group of 13 people consisting of friends and family who would crew, pace, and cheer Joe on in this momentous occasion.  To say that this experience had an impact on me is an understatement.  To watch Joe begin in Squaw Valley at 5am, meet him at various points throughout the day on the course, and then see him finish 20 hours later just after 1am the next morning in Auburn, 100 miles away, was something I could barely grasp, but knew it would resonate with me in a huge way for a very long time.  Thus begins my own journey.  What I experienced there was not only the amazing possibility of human potential, but also the wonderful community that ultrarunners have.  I have always been drawn to vibrant communities of people, and this one seemed uniquely energized and positive.  I guess I’ve always known that runners are, on the whole, a peaceful and fun-loving sort.  This might just be where I fit in, despite the fact that I’ve never really loved running, mostly because I had been viewing it in completely the wrong way for so many years.  That, however, has changed.

Barefoot/Minimalist Running

About the same time that Joe was getting into ultras, I was intrigued with the notion of barefoot-style running – an approach to improve form, overcome and prevent injury, and rekindle the joy of the sport.  I bought a pair of Vibram KSO’s and started experimenting with them, having a blast, but trashing my calves every time I ran.  I knew it was going to be a long process, but it was a fulfilling one, mainly because every other injury and problem I’ve had as a runner over the years melted away, especially the sesamoiditis under the ball of my left foot, which seemed totally counter-intuitive, since I had no padding at all under the problem area (read the treatments on the website and see what I mean about it being counter-intuitive).  Combine this new-found fun with the experience I had at Western States and something completely exciting, challenging, and beneficial had begun, which fits my personality perfectly.  I love to exercise in unique ways outdoors, I love to learn, and I love a good challenge.  Voila – instant passion!  Not only was I determined to get better at barefoot running, but I also knew that an ultra must be in my future, even if **only** a 50-miler.  Whether or not I will officially become an ultrarunner is yet to be seen.

As often happens when I’m inspired by a new passion, I research the hell out of it.  I started reading everything I could find on the interwebs, watched YouTube videos, scoured race reports and performance studies, and I’ve come across some awesome stuff.  One particular blog that I’ve been following that has ramped up my passion is Jason Robillard’s Barefoot Running University.  Not only is he a solid writer with wit and humor, but he is extremely informative, like-minded, and motivational.  He has viewed his barefoot running and ultrarunning as one more piece in leading an awesome life of meaning, on which I will be writing more later.  In any case, his blog, along with my interactions with Joe since that momentous day last June, have inspired me to make 2012 The Year of Being Awesome!  I want to take life by the horns and truly make some positive changes in my life – ones that will lead to greater improvement of my person, not only physically, but mentally, spiritually, relationally and any other –ally that applies.  This is the reason for this blog.  I hope that it can be my head check to keep me on track, not so much like homework that I must do, but a place to voice my thoughts and track my progress in a fun way.  It will include race reports, more “scientific” stuff on exercise and the body, general pontification and dumbassery, perhaps some footwear and gear reviews, and any other topic I find noteworthy and relevant.  It seems to me, however, that every blog should have some sort of theme, so that it doesn’t start out talking about ultrarunning and end up discussing the benefits of breeding yaks and cows together (otherwise known as yattle).  Thus it has been decided…

In Search of Badass

After a bit of contemplation and consideration, it seemed to me that all of the athletic endeavors I embark upon, along with the goals I have to lead an awesome and meaningful life, can be summed up as the quest to become a total badass.  Now then, there are any number of definitions to be found on in regard to the word “badass,” but I think the following will suffice for now, summarized in three points;

1. Intelligent
2. Technically proficient
3. Driven by challenge
   ex. Performs cutting-edge heart surgery while listening to 
              Widespread Panic

Now I can’t say much in regard to Widespread Panic except for a few tracks I have on a mixed tape and seeing them by chance at a music festival in Germany when I was in college, but I think the three statements above are quite accurate for what I’m trying to achieve here, and I'll elaborate more on the topic later.  Whether it deals with me personally or relates to someone who is already badass or has done something badass, it’s all fair game.  It should be noted that although I may have done some badass things in my life, I do not feel that I am near the qualification of being a badass yet.  It may be a long and arduous process, perhaps never yielding full results, but it’s gonna be damn fun along the way!  Won’t you join me for some badassery? 

Coming soon…
- More on inspiration
- Badass in-depth
- Bacon?

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