I’m in a Funk

It’s not a running funk. Or an eating funk. Not an age funk (otherwise often inaccurately labeled a “midlife crisis”). Not even a career funk, otherwise known as the dreaded “What am I doing with my life?” self-doubt questions that happen to all of us at one point or another.

Just a life funk.

Truth be told, today felt like the beginning of the end. But to be honest, I’m not trying to rush through it.

I debated over whether or not to publish this to the world.

“My funk is none of your funking business!”

However, not unlike everything else that I say/do/experience… I thought about my funk. A lot. And while no two funks are the same, I felt the urge to share my experience with you, in hopes that you might take something away from it.

If you’re looking for all the funky details, sorry, but you won’t find them here. I’m not talking about the specifics of my funk.

And if you’re worried about me, please don’t be. I’m fine. Really. But I do love hugs & smiley face emojis, so feel free to send either (or both) my way 🙂

Now that all that’s outta the way…

Funks Happen

Too often, we try to avoid any feelings of negativity, discomfort, fear, sadness, etc. (We’ll refer to these feelings as “a funk” from here on out). It makes sense because it sucks to be down in the dumps. Who wouldn’t rather be happy?

But I think these funks could be useful, and perhaps, even a natural part of life. We can only learn from them if we embrace them. Allow them to happen. Not rush through them. And reflect on the experience as it’s happening.

My Funk

Without going into specifics, I believe my recent funk was caused by a number of different things, all converging on me at the same time. I’ll never know the true cause(s), so I didn’t spend much time thinking about that. Instead, I thought about…

How do you get out of your funk?

I have no idea. Depends on you, and the type of funk you’re in. And sometimes you might just want to let it play out on its own.

One important thing that my funk got me to do…

Break your routine.

Your funk could be caused by any number of different things, or some crazy combination of many things. You might never know exactly what caused it. This makes it difficult to predict what will help you break out of it. Soooo… just try something different.

Take a cold shower. Pick up a basketball & shoot some free throws. Look through your high school yearbook. Call your Grandma. Sign up for a new class. Take a day off from work. Go climb a mountain. Write a recap of your day before you go to bed. Try a new food. … you get the idea.

Maybe your funk is telling you it’s time to change it up.

Get something off your chest.

I’m pretty sure my funk had something to do with some feelings that I kept playing over and over again in my head. I wasn’t talking about them with anyone else. There were no changes or new developments with those feelings, so I kept playing out scenarios in my head. Not healthy.

Tell someone about it. And if there’s another person involved (a close friend, a family member, a romantic interest), tell them. If you can’t talk to them or see them (or perhaps just don’t want to), write it out.

Sometimes you want someone to know how you feel so badly that it can start eating away at you inside. You gotta let it out, man. Worry about the consequences later. And have confidence that the immediate consequence you’ll experience is, “Ahhhh. I’m so glad I got that off my chest.”

Maybe it’s natural to feel what you’re feeling.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) associates 5 elements with different seasons throughout the year. It also uses the Yin/Yang relationship as a guide to explaining inward & outward energy in the world.

Check out the chart below. And before you jump to any conclusions, read on to hear me out.

5 Elements of Nature
5 Elements of Nature. Image courtesy of Chiball.com

Late Summer is associated with worry. It is also associated with transformation & ripening.

Autumn is associated with grief, as well as crying, harvest & collection.

(this chart lists out all the associations)

I reference these two seasons because my funk spanned across both of them. And sure enough, I was filled with worry & grief.

Even more specifically, the grief just hit two days ago. I’ve felt worried over the past few weeks, but just starting this weekend, I was sad all day Saturday & Sunday. When did Autumn officially start? Sunday.

Transformation. Hey, that sounds a lot like change. Yup. Remember that “Break your routine” thing we just talked about?

So what does all this Yin/Yang stuff mean?

That, you’ll have to figure out for yourself. But here’s what it could mean for me.

Late Summer is preparing me for Autumn. I’m going through some changes now, in preparation for some harvest & collection in the Fall. Do I have 3 months of grief coming my way? Perhaps some sad things will occur in-and-around my life, but I can still choose how I respond. Sad things might happen, but because of my recent transformation & ripening, I’ll be better prepared to deal with them.

But this I know for sure, and I mean this with 100% of my being:

It’s OK to worry. There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad. And sometimes crying is the best funk[ing] medicine on the planet.

Perfect Dave

Let’s clear the air right from the get-go. I’m not perfect. I don’t think I’m perfect. I would never consider myself as such.

Others, however… sometimes, I feel like that’s a different story.

Where’d this all come from?

Some background

Some friends of an ex-girlfriend of mine actually created an initialism. WWDD -or- What would Dave do? Whenever they needed help making a decision, they’d ask themselves, “What would Dave do?”… as if I made all the right decisions, and picked the greatest, nicest, most awesome way to handle every situation.

While I have my moments of greatest; I am a pretty nice guy; and I think I have a good bit of awesome in me… by no means should you always do what I do.

More recently, I’ve had a couple friends (2 women) label me as Perfect Dave. “You’re the perfect guy to date, on paper. You’re good at everything. You’re super-nice. You wouldn’t hurt a soul. You get along with everyone…”

What a great compliment, right? Well, in many respects, yes, that’s a compliment. But it’s one I could definitely go without. See if you can follow this logic:

I’m starting to think perfection doesn’t exist. And if I’m perfect, than I can’t exist. I must not be real. And if there’s only one quality I could use to describe myself to someone, it would be real/genuine/authentic. So clearly, “Perfect Dave” causes a dilemma.

Eliminating perfect from our vocabulary

In college, I remember attending a speaker who was discussing terrorism, it’s impact on society, how it’s perceived by different groups, and it’s impact on our society. I remember few details about the talk, but the one thing I took away was a challenge he presented us with:

Eliminate the word “hate” from our vocabulary.

I took him up on it, and have stopped using that word, in both written & verbal communication (with a few slip-ups, of course).

Now I’m considering giving up on the word “perfect.” Or at least in the context of human beings. It seems appropriate, as none of us are, or ever will be, perfect, so long as we’re human. And even those who choose to use the word as a descriptor, it’s so incredibly subjective that it describes something different for each person who hears it.

I can’t build a perfect website. Picasso can’t paint a perfect picture. Beethoven can’t arrange a perfect symphony.

I wrote a poem in high school English class called “Flawless.” It was about a fictional girl, whom existed only in my young, ignorant mind. It also happened to be one of the most embarrassing pieces of work I’ve ever performed in front of a group (A flawed version of “Flawless”?).

But everyone has flaws. Every painting, every symphony, every work of art, website, poem, design, presentation. All of these things, just like people, can be good. And some of them, great. But none are perfect.

Dating Perfect Dave

Is it possible? Is it… well… perfect?

I’ve had a few people tell me I can be intimidating. I didn’t spend too much time analyzing why, but I assumed it was mostly due to my confidence (which I didn’t always have, by the way. Got picked on and bullied in elementary & middle school.)

Very recently, I’m concerned that someone else is intimidated by me. At least that’s what she told me. She also told me she feels really comfortable around me, and has proven that through her actions, and how she has opened up to me. So if someone’s really comfortable with you, can she be really intimidated by you, too?

When you feel intimidated around someone, you often don’t act like yourself. You’re afraid to be who you are, say what you feel, and do what you really want to do. You second guess yourself. You hide. You take the easier way out.

And that’s EXACTLY the OPPOSITE way I want to see anyone live their life. Every interaction I have with someone, I hope that they can be themselves, and I encourage them to do so. I want them to feel comfortable around me, not intimidated by me. But how can you be comfortable when you’re talking to perfection?

Let’s talk about my mistakes. Let’s talk about the things that I’m NOT good at. Believe me, there are plenty. For starters, I’m an awful singer, and I just posted a karaoke video to prove it. And I found a karaoke track because another thing I can’t do (and I tried, took lessons even) is play an instrument. Any instrument.

Anyone can be decent at anything. There are things that some of us will never be an EXPERT at. But we can all learn new things. And with the right level of interest, practice & focus, you can become good at it.

I think people don’t give themselves enough credit. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence. A lack of positive reinforcement from their peers. Or maybe a stricter stance on humility (or fear of being labeled arrogant or pretentious).

Please Stop

I’m hypothesizing here, but I had a friend (one of those 2 women who coined me “Perfect Dave”) tell me what she thinks is going on. She explained it really well because she felt the same way about someone else who wanted to date her. And her explanation resonated with me.

People (and in my situation right now… women) think that because I’m a really nice guy, good at a lot of things, etc., that I have such high expectations that they won’t be able to meet. And heaven forbid something should ever happen where it doesn’t work out between us, they’ll feel guilty because “Perfect Dave” would never hurt a soul, so it must be something they did.

I really hope that’s not it because it couldn’t be farther from the truth. And I have no idea whether any woman I’ve tried to date has thought that, or whether it has anything to do with my current situation.

But regardless…

  • Please stop calling me “Perfect Dave.”
  • Please stop assuming I’m some exceptional human being that lives according to an unattainable set of standards.
  • Please stop thinking that I hold others to unachievable expectations.

I never want to be perfect.

With all that being said, I shouldn’t even need to point this out, but it seems like a good way to wrap up. I never want to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist in the real world that we live in. Maybe in movies, videos games & virtual reality, but not in this life. Not in the here & now.

And if I’ve gotten a small glimpse of what it’s like to be perfect, trust me, no one wants to be that. It’s lonely. The conversation is superfluous. The interactions are a façade. Everything happens on the surface. And you’ll never experience anything real.

Dare: Sing a song (karaoke), by yourself, and publish it to the world

A good friend of mine recently published a book called One White Face. As part of her promotion for the book, she publishes a weekly dare to her subscribers, challenging them to step outside of their comfort zone.

A few weeks ago, I accepted her dare to stand on a street corner for 1 hour holding a cardboard sign. My sign said, “Just saying hi. Create a great day! :-)”

This time, another dare surfaced at a local coffee shop with friends. It was open mic night at the Carytown Bistro, and we were talking about how we love to sing (even though we aren’t that good).

It started as a friendly, “Yeah, you should try it…”, and then of course, I ended up doing it 3 days later.

Me singing Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather”

Warning: It’s awful, and the sound doesn’t line up with the video (not sure what happened). But neither of those things really matter. It was about the experience.

Read on below the video for what I learned, and what I would do differently. And then go create your own, and please share in the comments.

What I Learned

  • I picked a song with VERY LITTLE music to it. This, in my opinion, makes it MUCH HARDER to sing.
  • The karaoke version I chose (the only one I could find), didn’t sing the song the way Zac sings it. And thus, some of the harmonies were difficult because of differences in style. Try to find a good karaoke version.
  • I tried to play around with my voice too much. I also tried to keep my voice low because my roommate was home, and I didn’t want him to hear me. He also happens to be a great singer… and musician… and music teacher… and a cappella singer. It’s amazing how intimidated we get when others are around.

Next Time…

  • I will choose a more upbeat song. I think this will play to my strength (whatever little strength I have in the area of music).
  • I will choose a song with more music to it.
  • I will belt it out at the tops of my lungs, and not hold anything back.
  • If I could figure out how to play it in my car (perhaps, just not driving, but sitting in a parking lot), I might try that. I’m soooo much more comfortable in my car than upstairs in my room.

So, what are you waiting for? I know you have a jam that you rock out to ALL the time. Get to it, and please share in the comments.

Proliferation of Profanity

I’m looking at you, Mariah Carey & Miguel Pimentel. More generally, the entire music industry.

To be clear, there are many others, aside from the music industry, that are contributing to this ridiculousness, but seeing as how the music industry reaches hundreds of millions of people all around the world, and the artists choose to:

  1. Sell their music to millions of people
  2. Perform their music to live audiences of thousands of people

The music industry has an enormous influence on all of our every day lives. And every artist in the industry is a role model, whether you want to be or not. (“choosing” to be a role model is a whole ‘nother discussion)

So… the profanity

In Mariah’s new song, “Beautiful,” there’s absolutely no need for the adjective, f***ing.

…your mind is f***ing beautiful?!

And

…good lord, you’re f***ing beautiful?!

You could put over a dozen other adjectives in its place, and you’d have the same song, with the same meaning, same record sales & same popularity on the charts. Not to mention we wouldn’t have to explain to the kids why they skipped a word in the song on the radio.

Or you could just leave it out completely. You know, maybe, focus on the beautiful part.

More Than Music

It’s not just the music industry that adds to this awful proliferation of profanity. It happens in sports (locker rooms, on the court/field, etc.), movies, stand-up comedy, backyard bbqs & basic storytelling between friends.

It’s getting used way too much, way too easily, in way too many situations where it does nothing but make stuff worse. There’s nothing positive that comes from using unnecessary curse words. In fact, is a curse word ever “necessary?”

Unofficial Profanity

We’ve done such an awful job of letting other words spread throughout our culture, and get misused on the daily. “That’s gay,” and “You’re retarded” are only two examples of all the negative words we throw around without thinking twice about it.

Think about what you’re saying, people! Think about who it might be affecting. Think about who is around you when you’re saying it. Ask yourself if it adds anything to the actual content of your story/joke/song/etc.

I got news for you, Mariah. There’s absolutely nothing beautiful about dropping an f-bomb before the word beautiful. I don’t care how beautiful you are on the outside, that word is deep-rooted with ugliness.

Somewhat related: See Taylor Mali (spoken-word poet) show us all how to “Speak with Conviction”.

2012 Richmond Marathon: A Different Kind of Race

Today was one of those days that caught me by surprise. It was a day where my race got flipped upside down, totally unexpected. Lucky for me… I love surprises. And this one turned out to be pretty special.

This past year, I’ve changed my approach to running. I abandoned my Garmin years ago because I was done obsessing over my time. I still carry a stopwatch, but half the time I don’t use that either. I have made an effort to replace numbers with people.

Marathon Training Team (MTT)

I signed up for the Marathon Training Team (MTT) because it guaranteed I’d be running with people. And all summer I met running buddies, friends and really cool, interesting people. I wasn’t concerned with how long it took me to run 5, 10 or even 20 miles. I just wanted to have fun doing it.

MTT > Fun

“Fun” is an understatement. MTT is so much more than that. My fellow (Wo)Mangos & I formed a team. We ran together. We tripped over sidewalks together. We shared stories & wore funny costumes together. We got injured (and recovered) together. We ran red lights, ate gummy bears, climbed hills & ran circles around the track.

Some of us still didn’t officially meet each other until the day of the race… but we shared so many of the same experiences. The greatest of which was running the Richmond Marathon… together.

A race goal that doesn’t involve numbers

The first half of the summer with MTT, I didn’t have a time goal. My goal was to meet some new people, and enjoy running with our group. As I started to get faster, naturally, I wondered what I could run Richmond in, if I really went for it. I realize this went against my new approach to running (all about fun, ignoring the numbers), but…

It feels good to PR

Doesn’t it? It makes us feel good about ourselves. And no matter how selfless we are, it’s human nature to feel a sense of accomplishment & self-worth.

I love to push my limits. Workout hard. See how much I can improve. Give it all I got & see what I’m made of. But you know what?

Some days you find out that your legs are made of Jello. And I’m OK with that. Not just because I love Jello (um, who doesn’t?). But because it’s OK not to hit your goal.

If we knew we’d hit every goal we set for ourselves, that’d make for a really boring journey, wouldn’t it?

There’s more to running than the numbers

When I think back to yesterday’s race… and how my legs crapped out at mile 10… and all the walking, stopping & pain that ensued for the next 2 hours… in a way, I got what I asked for.

For the past year, my approach to running was not about the numbers. And my legs reminded me – less than halfway into the race – that today wasn’t going to be about the numbers either. It was about the people. The experience. The community.

In the grand scheme of life, does 10, 20 or even 30 minutes difference in your marathon time really matter? 30 years from now, are we going to remember our fastest time or the funniest sign? Are we going to remember running solo to a new PR, or crossing the finish line with your friend by your side?

My point is this:

The experience is worth more than any combination of hours, minutes & seconds.

People made this race what it was. And it was the people that made the 2012 Richmond Marathon one of the most memorable races I have ever run.

I posted a separate write-up of all the amazing people who were a part of my journey.

The end of an era. Taking the “ultra” out of running.

My ultrarunning journey has come to an end. At least, for now. A single moment in the Finger Lakes Forest in up-state New York.

There are so many other things I can be ultra with. I don’t need to be an ultra-runner right now.

It’s OK just to be a runner. To run for 10 minutes. Run for an hour.

It’s OK to say no to GPS, and just wear a simple Timex. And it’s also OK not to use it—or run naked, as we call it.

I’ve always loved running for its simplicity, yet there has never been anything simple about running an ultramarathon.

  • you have to plan for everything, and pack tons of stuff just in case
  • figuring out how to stay hydrated has always been a nightmare for me
  • blisters on my feet
  • nipple chafing
  • expensive race fees
  • navigational challenges

The race that changed things

The Finger Lakes 50 in up-state NY changed the way I thought about ultrarunning.

I was running with my new friend, Jeff, from Niagara Falls, NY for a good portion of the 1st loop, and the beginning of the 2nd loop. It was when we separated 2/3 of the way through the 2nd loop where things started running through my head.

See, when you’re running with friends, you get caught in conversation. You concentrate on the topic at hand. In other words, you are distracted from the main activity you are doing — running. Just like being on the phone while driving.

But there isn’t always someone to talk to. And if all you’re looking for is engaging conversation, there are 6.5 billion people in the world & hundreds of thousands of Starbucks. You certainly don’t need 50+ miles to form, or improve upon, a friendship. (It does, however, make the story a bit more interesting)

The nagging question

So once again, I found myself alone, in the middle of the woods, legs burning, sweat dripping down my face, hopelessly swatting gnats, with a slight headache from dehydration. Nothing groundbreaking. This is standard for just about every ultramarathon out there. And once again I found myself asking the same question.

Why am I doing this?

I’ve never had a perfectly scripted, eloquently delivered answer to this question. Usually it was along the lines of, “because I love the experience” or “to see if I can do it” or “to test my limits & inspire others to do the same.”

I still can’t tell you exactly why I’ve been running ultras for the past few years, but I came to a life-changing realization out in the middle of the forest this weekend.

Tunnel vision

I’ve had tunnel vision with this goal to complete a 100 mile race. Somehow I convinced myself that it’s the only goal that matters. That until I complete it, I can’t move on with the next chapter of my life.

It’s like the 9-yr-old boy who wants to be Justin Bieber before he realizes all the stuff that comes with it. That’s his idol. He caught Bieber Fever, and nothing is going to stop him from living that lifestyle. Until…

…the fever breaks. (and yes, even Bieber Fever will eventually break)

Losing sight of goals

That’s pretty much what happened to me—with ultrarunning. I looked up to these guys completing insane acts of endurance, and I set out to achieve nothing short of the same. In fact, my over-achieving, perfectionist attitude had me believing I could one-up these guys. That I could do things even they couldn’t do.

But again… why?

I don’t have anything to prove – to myself, or anyone else. I don’t have to run 100 miles in order to say that I’ve accomplished something. I’ve already run more than twice as far as I ever thought I could. And I’ve even done that on 3 separate occasions.

The other stuff

This stubborn ignorance had me ignoring the other great parts of my life that are happening right now. I run my own successful business, and have for almost 2 years now. I just hired my first employee. I want to travel & explore the world. I’m moving downtown to begin creating the lifestyle that I’ve been aimlessly avoiding for the past 4 years.

I can be ultra in all of these areas. So I can leave the ultra out of running for now.

My future with ultrarunning

It was a little difficult when I first came to the decision to give it up. Anything you pour that much time & effort into, is naturally tough to walk away from. But in less than a week, I’ve come to terms with it.

I don’t know if I’ll do another ultra again. But right now, I’m just not thinking about it. I want to go back to the simplest, most pure form of running. Enjoy each run without worrying about hitting a certain mark or training for an upcoming race.

I can assure you, I still have an enormous amount of respect for the ultrarunning community. It’s an amazing group of people, with a ridiculously high level of determination & grit. Lots of interesting stories. Truly genuine folks.

I’ll still support my friends who run them. I might even run with them—for part of the race 😉

Happiness is

I sat down next to my parents after I quit the 50-miler 2/3 of the way through, and I’ll never forget what I said.

I’ve never been more excited to quit something in my entire life.

There were always bits & pieces of ultrarunning that made me happy. Little things that I enjoyed. But with something as demanding as an ultramarathon, there should be more than just a little. Ultimately, I wasn’t enjoying this enough for it to justify all the things it was depriving me from, not to mention the pain it put me through (each and every time, without fail).

I think I’ll be a happier person without ultrarunning. There will always be things I miss, but if I did everything that had some appeal to me… well… I’d need so many hours in a day you’d have to stop the Earth from rotating for a few years.

Here’s to the next chapter…

The Problem With Radio

Every radio station markets themselves the same way. I’m sick of it. I’d like to see something different.

Actually, there are several problems.

Most of the issues with radio stations is that they’re going through the motions. They all do the same things. Nothing remarkable.

Every radio station is the #1 station.

I learned how to count to 10 when I was 3 year old. While that may have been as high as I could go, I never counted 1 more than once. 1 was always followed by 2.

You can only have one #1.

Every radio station is a new station.

Actually, every station is THE. NEW. #1. station for whatever. How long can you claim to be new? 6 months? 1 year? Seriously, once everyone knows about you, you are no longer new.

Every radio station plays 52 minutes of new music every hour.

They might all break it up a little differently, but 52 minutes of music is 52 minutes of music. There’s nothing special about that. Every radio station is doing the exact same thing. If that’s what you’re selling, I have no reason to buy it.

Can we try something different, please?

I don’t have the answers, but this is my call to radio stations everywhere to do something different. Please. Or at least stop marketing yourselves as NEW. #1. Or 52 minutes of music every hour. It’s just not cool anymore.

2010 Old Dominion 100 – Race Report

I set out to run 100 miles… and I didn’t even come close. This race marked my first ever DNF. I under-estimated the course & over-estimated my ability. I got completely dominated today. It was a humbling experience, and I gained an enormous about of respect for all the finishers.

If you’re interested in my pre-race interview, you can view it here.

Today I set out to run 100 miles… and I didn’t even come close. This race marked my first ever DNF.

I under-estimated the course & over-estimated my ability. I got completely dominated. It was a humbling experience, and I gained an enormous amount of respect for all the finishers.

Old Dominion Video Recap

Old Dominion Pictures

Update: Ryan finished in 22 hours, 20 minutes, and I waited until 2:30am to see him cross the finish line. Another buddy, Abe Moore, finally got a buckle in his third attempt, finishing in just over 20 hours. He was 4th overall. Great job guys.