Monday, May 16, 2005

Destination or Journey?

Yesterday was the Bay to Breakers 7.5 mile race, 100,000 people racing, running or parading in various stages of inebriation from the Bay Bridge to Ocean Beach. I did it my first year in San Francisco, arriving at the starting line 90 minutes before the horn to make sure I could get a place near the start so I could actually run. I am glad I did the race once but would not do it again; it was too crowded and crazy for my taste and I wasn’t down with the whole pre-race tortilla throwing bit. Instead, I ran 11 miles alone yesterday morning before the madness.

This attitude of avoiding racing, coupled with my DNF at Wildflower makes me wonder (yes, this does read like the beginning of a Sex in the City episode) whether it is ultimately more satisfying to be competitive or judge yourself versus other people or your own expectations. Is it more heroic to push yourself up Lincoln Rd. at 7:00 am with no one watching or to fight through the pain against other fit people with hundreds of people watching you?


This does not just apply to individual timed sports, in which you are competing as much against a clock (and prior performances) as your expectations and other competitors. At work, I tend to judge myself against my own expectations or desires, which are not always consistent. Working a 12-hour day can give me satisfaction and make me accomplish a lot professionally, but then I feel like I am losing the battle in other categories such as friendship, fitness, parent, MTV reality show viewer, etc.

Some have written that it is not what you do or accomplish in life but who you do it with that matters. I think this is a great philosophy but how does that apply to time spent alone. What ultimately matters when you are alone?


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Greatest Inning in Baseball History

To combat the impending affects of aging on performance, I have officially begun to experience athletics through the lives of Ben and Sam, my awesome 11 and 9 year sons. Last weekend was opening day for their little league team, the Woodstock Mets.

Ben starts at shortstop, Sam at third base, which is incredible to begin with. We all worship Derek Jeter. Ben naturally sees himself as Jeter's replacement in eight years; Sam loves Arod, and expects that Arod will tutor him when he is called up from Columbus in 2016. Of course I argue he has to first graduate from Cal with a degree in economics. However I digress. My life plan for them is a topic for another day.

Back to the game and the top of the fourth, what will now forever be referred to as the greatest inning in baseball history. Pitching for the Woodstok Yankees was Chris Pollo, allegedly a 12 year old, but the Justice Department is investgating him for both age fraud and as part of the Balco investigation. Think Roger Clemens at 15. With one out, Ben hits a line drive into center field for a single. One out later, with Ben on second, Sam smacks a double down the left field line, scoring Ben. Talk about a wild range of emotions. Shock, ecstasy, pride, hope, etc. I barely contained myself from crying in front of 20 baseball moms - I do have to maintain my street cred as the mysterious San Francisco guy.

It did not even matter to them that the Mets lost 3-2. They also knew that we had experienced our own Field of Dreams moment.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Wildflower Incident

As I sit awaiting my America Worst flight to Austin, I continue to ponder the meaning of my Wildflower Half Ironman fiasco from last weekend.

The summary- good swim, OK bike on killer course was punctuated/punctured by a flat at 52 miles. 20 anger-filled minutes later, I fixed the flat and chugged to T2. Half a mile into the run I started cramping and quit. Stopped. Ejected.

Why did I do this? Aren't I the man who gets up at 4:00 am and runs 8 miles, no matter how I feel? Haven't I tied a lot of my identity to my fitness persona? I mean, getting Dean Karnazes to sign my copy of Ultramarathon Man was almost like a visit to Mecca.

My attempts at explanation have included:

I already did a half ironman - this was nothing new.
I didn't train enough, particularly on the bike.
I haven't faced adversity in a race in years, so did not know how to react.
I am weak mentally and faded at the first sign of stress.

Bottom line is I think I need to stop investing so much in these race quests. My love of exercise is for the solo workout, the daily addiction to endorphins, not the gathering of 2,000 like minded people. I do think there is a marathon and ironman in my life soon but I need to also focus on the other important things in life. Like MTV's Inferno.

All I know is I just did situps and pushups in the airport and don't care what anyone thought.

America Worst flight is late - what a shocker.