31 Years & Counting…

I’m writing this almost a month after my birthday, but the words on this card are too important to just recycle it and move on.

My parents have a way with cards for special occasions, and they always nail it on my birthday. Sometimes I wonder if they wrote the words themselves; they’re just that personal.

I’d like to hold on to this one, as it’s another example of the unconditional love that I’m so fortunate to have in my life.

Continue reading “31 Years & Counting…”

Carytown Farmer’s Market – A Dollar Well Spent

I was at the Carytown Farmer’s Market yesterday—which was awesome, by the way. Tons of vegetables, more vendors than the past few weeks, a great variety to choose from, and really nice people behind the tables, per usual.

I bought $4 worth of cucumber & squash from this nice woman. I handed her a 5, and she gave me $2 back.

I looked at the money in my hand… paused for a second… then looked back up at her.

“Ma’am, I got $4 worth of stuff. You gave me an extra dollar back. This one is yours.”

And I handed her back $1. She smiled, almost chuckled, and let out a very appreciative, “Thank you.”

The Moral of the Story

I’m not telling this story because I did anything special. Many of you would have done the same thing.

I’m not telling this story because $1 is a life-changing amount of money. Giving that dollar back will have almost zero financial impact on that woman’s life.

My decision to give that dollar back was made up WAY BEFORE she ever handed me the money.

The action I took was pre-determined. I didn’t decide right there in front of her, that giving the dollar back was the right thing to do. I already knew it was the right move to make. I knew that if I kept that dollar, I would’ve walked around for the rest of the day with a guilty conscience. And if I saw her again next week at the market, I’d feel even worse.

Be Who You Are

I’m very fortunate to have 2 amazing parents who raised me, and many more incredible role-models growing up. Family friends, sports coaches, high school teachers, college professors, and even today, business associates, clients & friends (because when you’re all grown-up, your role models are sometimes even younger than you are).

These people have helped shape me into who I am. And I’m 100% comfortable with who I’ve become. I am the guy who gives the dollar back because it’s the right thing to do. I am the guy who gives the dollar back because all of my role models would have done the exact same thing.

On Making Decisions

I’m the kind of person who likes to think long and hard about every decision, especially the ones I deem very important. But today’s lesson reminded me that sometimes the right decision has already been made, and it’s best not to over-think it. It feels right because it is right. And sometimes the right feeling is all you need to base your decision on.

Photo courtesy of Carytown Farmer’s Market Facebook Page.

The Space Between Conviction & Action Is…

…procrastination.

For the first time in 10 years, and probably only the 3rd time EVER… I went to church today.

They’re a non-denominational church called Area10, and actually brand themselves as a “Faith Community,” which I think is pretty cool. They hold their Sunday service at an historic Richmond landmark (and $2 movie theatre) called the Byrd Theatre.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I went into it with a slightly-skeptical, but open, mind. I wanted to at least enjoy a part (or parts) of the service, and possibly walk out of there with something to ponder. My wish was granted, and here’s how it all went down.

About Baptism (or you could call it… commitment)

The pastor, Chris, focused his talk around Baptism: what it means & how it should be done. Before today, this topic meant very little to me. While I do have a better understanding of it now, I still can’t really relate. But Chris used a few examples that opened my eyes to an important concept.

A significant event to solidify a commitment

I’ve never been one to celebrate. Little victories, big accomplishments, anything really. I often saw the celebration as just a formality. It didn’t make the journey I took to get there any sweeter. And I didn’t need a celebration to validate what I had done.

I used to have a similar feeling towards various commitments. I’ve mocked New Year’s Resolutions in the past. I’ve never been a huge fan of putting labels on a relationship at various stages. And on and on with many other things.

Chris used getting married as an analogy for getting baptized. “Many people ask me this question, and I hate it when they do. They say, ‘I was already baptized as a child. So do I really have to [get baptized]?’

Chris’ answer was,

“Well, no, you don’t have to do anything. But if you want to give your life to Christ, than yes, you have to.”

Marriage is the same way

Do you really have to get married if you already know you both love each other? If you’re already living together? What’s the point? Isn’t it just a formality?

No. It’s more than just a formality. It’s a significant event that you can look back on to remind yourself of your commitment. When we don’t have these events to look back on, guess what happens? We break the commitment.

How many times has a doctor, or dentist, or nutritionist, or trainer, or psychiatrist, told you that in order to achieve your goal, you had to make this change? Did you make it? Yeah, of course you did… for a little while. A few days, a few weeks, maybe a year or two. But without a significant event, or some type of symbolism that we carry with us, we eventually revert back to our old habits… even when we know deep down that it’s not the best thing for us.

“You don’t have to wear a wedding ring. I know I love my wife here [pointing to heart] and here [pointing to head]. But having that ring on my finger reminds me that I’m taking her with me wherever I go. And every time I see it I am reminded of our commitment.”

Appreciation & Selflessness

During one of the final songs, since I wasn’t able to connect with the lyrics… I bowed my head, closed my eyes & reflected on the past 60 minutes I had just experienced. My mind took me to a place of kindness & selflessness. It was clear I had 3 groups of people to thank for my experience.

James, Jennifer & Jennifer’s parents… for their invitation, open-minded approach & welcoming attitude. They helped me feel comfortable in what could have been an uncomfortable situation.

The pastor, Chris… for sharing not only his thoughts on spirituality, but his life experiences. And for being incredibly humble, occasionally funny & an engaging speaker.

The musicians & singers… for giving their time to create wonderful music, and exuding a great deal of passion for what they were singing about. In my mind, passion is, and always will be contagious, regardless what it’s for.

“What Are You Waiting For?”

The pastor, Chris, kept repeating this question at the end of his talk. Even though his question was in relation to getting Baptized—and that’s not happening for me in the immediate future—I was still able to take something away from this.

I’m notorious for starting things but never seeing them through. I’m also really good at coming up with ideas. Unfortunately, more than half of them never see the light of day. I have extremely strong conviction, but only act on a small percentage of it. Looks like I’m a procrastinator after all.

So that question he kept repeating, “What are you waiting for?” Regardless of what it’s in relation to, it’s a great question. And it’s one in which most of us don’t have any good answers for. And if you can’t answer it, than it’s time to start taking action.

Huge Thanks

I want to say “Thank You” to James, Jennifer & Jennifer’s family for sharing the experience with me. And to James & Jennifer for their invitations to join them at church. I enjoyed myself, and would definitely not have gone without the invitation or the company.

Give It A Try

Regardless of your faith, I would encourage you all to consider attending church. Perhaps you’re selective with exactly which church you attend, as I realize they are not all the same. In fact, I do believe there are a number of churches I could’ve chosen to attend this morning that would have scared the bejesus out of me (pun intended). So choose wisely. But if you have awesome friends, whose opinions you respect & value, take them up on their offer.

Take from it what you want. And leave what you don’t.

You don’t have to take the pastor’s word as literal truth. You don’t have to participate in communion, or anything else that you aren’t comfortable with (or just don’t see the meaning in). I walked up to the communion table, and just bowed my head, said a few words of thanks under my breath, and moved on. No bread. No wine. No problem.

Think about what’s being said in your own way. Apply it to your own life, and your own beliefs.

If the music moves you, let it in. If you feel positive energy, smile, and give it back to those around you. If you relate to something, nod your head in acknowledgement. And remember… just because you don’t agree, it doesn’t mean you don’t belong.

2012 Richmond Marathon: A Day of Thanks

Today I ran the Richmond Marathon for the first time. I’ve run a few marathons, but never any like this one. As a matter of fact, nothing even close.

Today’s race was an interesting one. Started great. Ended great. And all in-between, my legs didn’t work. <– kind of a big deal when you’re running a marathon.

But what made the race today so memorable was all that time in-between.

I walked. I flat out stopped on numerous occasions. I thought about calling it quits, more than once. I drank flat cola (which I never do). I popped pills (which I do even less than the cola thing). I tried everything I could think of to get my legs to start working again. And none of it worked.

But today’s race wasn’t about what I tried to do. It was about what others did for me (and the thousands of others out there).

(Read more about the race here.)

With that said, I’d like to give some thanks.

First and foremost, I’m thankful for being born healthy, and fully capable of even attempting the things that I do.

And I’m thankful for living in a country that allows not only myself, but any human being who wants to, participate in a race. After hearing Bart Yasso tell stories about countries that still don’t let blacks and/or women run, I’m grateful to be allowed to toe the starting line.

I’m thankful for having parents who raised me healthy. Especially my mom for forcing me to eat my vegetables. And my dad for coaching me through all those baseball & basketball games. And signing me up for as many leagues as I could possibly fit on my schedule (assuming they’d give me a ride to the game, of course, haha). I wouldn’t be where I am today if they hadn’t promoted an active, healthy lifestyle.

How can I not be thankful for the Marathon Training Team (MTT). This program is unlike any other in the country, and you have to experience it to understand. Now I know why over 50% of the participants are returners.

My MTT Coaches, Jake, Erin, Cathy & Suzanne. The word “coach” doesn’t do them justice. These guys are amazing individuals. All the motivation, advice, funny stories, safety reminders, salt, ibuprofen & inspiration anyone could ask for… and then some. I would not have finished my race today without you guys (dead serious). You just let me know when you need a friend, running buddy or help with anything… and I’ll be there in a heartbeat.

All the MTT Coaches. I had a few other MTT coaches help me push through today. And honestly, seeing them all out there, knowing what they were doing for their respective teams… that’s motivation in and of itself. These guys are truly selfless, and the only thing they care about is getting their team across that finish line. And they have a pretty darn good record of doing it.

My friends that ran or rode with me. James, Brian, Ola, Marcos (and anyone I’m forgetting). You guys are good friends, and you helped take my mind off of things that it had no reason to be thinking about. Y’all kept me going out there.

The spectators’ creativity. I saw some hilarious signs today. A few even had me laughing out loud. Here are some of my favorite:

“Beat Sarah Palin”, “Beat P. Diddy”, “Beat Oprah”, and especially the “Beat Paul Ryan… imaginery 2:50-something – actual 4:01”

Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.

Sorry, but there’s not an app for this. You’ll have to just keep running.

Nipple chafing turns me on. (I know this one’s old, but it gets me every time)

RVA loves NYC

The awesome spectator support, sign or no sign. The little kids giving free high fives… and they’re “it-goes-without-saying” awesome parents. The students from VCU, the fraternities & sororities, the cheerleading squads.

The really hot girl wearing super-tight (but classy) black pants, shakin’ what her momma gave her at mile 20-something. I don’t know where I was at that point, but I know what I saw, and I… liked it.

The woman outside some fastfood joint who handed me fresh-squeezed lemonade. She obviously knows what to do when life hands her lemons.

The 3:35 pace group leader, who tried to pick me up when he could obviously tell I was on the verge of collapse. You lifted my spirits, if only for a brief minute. I wish I could’ve kept up. You seemed like a really awesome dude.

The gospel choir outside of Virginia Union. Those women were throwin’ it down, and it was pickin’ me up.

The mother-daughter pair with the homemade cookies. Those things were moist. Well done, ladies.

The 1,000+ volunteers who… well, let’s be honest, volunteers run almost every aspect of a race on race day, so basically… thanks for… everything.

And thank you, Richmond, for being a great place to call home. None of us today could have done this without you.

I’m sure I missed a bunch of others, but you know who you are. You’re great friends. Great people. And the world loves you for being so awesome.

I will change your life.

And you did. In only 4 dates.

And you did.

4 days. 33 hours. 2 states. 3 parks. 2 dogs. 1 headstand contest. 6 new Pandora stations. 1 hammock. 2, maybe 3, incredible iTunes playlists ;-). Phone chemistry. Glow bracelets. A late night truck stop. The insect attack of the century. A bottle of champagne that we never opened. My least favorite breakfast spot in the South.

And 1 really. difficult. conversation.

You said it more than once. “I will change your life.” It wasn’t a dead serious, groundbreaking kind of changing your life. More of an I’m-kind-of-joking-but-not-really, semi-serious, you-might-not-realize-it-now-but-it’s-true kind of way.

It was often accompanied by a playful smile, almost a smirk, as if to keep me wondering, “Is this girl for real?”.

We spent time together on 4 separate occasions. 4 dates, if that’s what you’d prefer to call them. And how much can someone honestly change your life in 4 days? It’s a valid question, for sure. One that I asked myself several times on the car ride back from Gaston.

Well, day 2 was the best conversation I can remember having in a long time. And as far as dating goes, maybe the best ever for a 2nd date.

Day 3 we set a world record for longest 3rd date. 7+ hours. We also did it with no agenda, no plans, no bug spray (huge oversight), and for the last 3 hours, no light (it gets pretty dark in the woods). And all of this on a work/school night.

Day 4 we spent nearly 20 hours together. No break from each other, other than a few hours of sleep. I met her dogs, her students, her colleagues, and the sweet Italian woman at the only Italian restaurant in her town.

I could go on and on about all the things we crammed into 4 dates. It’s an impressive list. But the more impressive thing is that in 4 days, she really did change my life.

Those who know me know that I am a bit of a perfectionist. Those who know me even better know when it comes to girls, I can be very selective. And the crazy thing about this girl is…

The only thing wrong with her is that she can’t keep her tube of toothpaste clean.

Yeah. I think I can get over that.

Yesterday, we said goodbye. Not goodbye for good, but goodbye for now. A little thing called timing got in the way of a great opportunity.

Although I might have made that last conversation seem easy, believe me, it wasn’t. You know how Murph & Kota looked when they thought you were leaving them? The same thing was going on inside my head (I just don’t have Murph’s puppy face to illustrate my feelings).

And if timing can so easily, and so quickly, break something apart, I’m really hoping it can put it back together again. (Humpty Dumpty, we need ya, bro.)

Here’s to our next adventure…

My 27th birthday isn’t about me at all

Dear Friends, Family & Human Beings in all walks of life,

Today I turned 27 years old. But that’s the last thing on my mind.

Thanks to a good friend, Danielle Durst, I decided to make my birth day actually mean something this year. It’s not about me turning a day older than I was yesterday. That’s irrelevant. And a “Happy Birthday Dave” on my Facebook wall does nothing to better the world.

Danielle inspired me to ask for donations for my birthday, instead of tangible items for myself. When I saw her campaign to raise money for clean water, I decided to see how much I could raise. What happened next was truly inspiring.

In only 48 hours, 52 people have donated on my behalf, raising $1,032 to help bring clean water to those in need. My original goal was $200, and I was only asking for $2 from each one of my friends. Almost all of them gave more than that, many of whom gave $27, one for each year I’ve been alive.

Beyond obviously thanking all those who donated, it’s important to recognize (and thank) the other things that made this all possible.

Mom & Dad

I think it goes without saying, without mom & dad, none of us would even be here. What is worth mentioning, however, is the amazing job they’ve done for 26 years — and continue to do every day. (Special shoutout to Mom for the extra 9 months… I don’t know how you guys do it.)

Thanks for the card, by the way. You guys are, and have always been, the most influential people in my life.

mycharity: water

They created a platform with one simple goal. And they’ve made it super-easy to donate, as well as share people’s efforts. Thanks to private donors, all transaction fees are covered so 100% of all donations goes directly to the cause.

Facebook

Love it or hate, we have only scratched the surface of the power of social media. I ran this entire campaign using nothing but Facebook. Without their platform, sharing tools, tagging abilities, etc., I would have been lucky to raise 50 bucks.

A Simple Thank You, Facebook Style

I took a minute to thank each & every person individually, but I did so in a way that all their friends could see what they contributed. Fact: People love to give. Fact: People love to be recognized for their gifts.

Let’s talk about etiquette for a second

One would think public vs. private is common knowledge. So did I, until today. But oh, on the contrary.

These 5 things all happened to me today while running 3 simple errands. But it’s not all negative ranting. I ended it with a smile.

Public vs. Private

One would think public vs. private is common knowledge – common sense, if you will.

It’s taught to us by our parents, right alongside the difference between yes & no, left & right, right & wrong.

Yeah, so did I. Until today.

I went out to run a few errands – out in public, where most errands are run – and it was one thing after another. I love human beings. Being human is what makes this world so amazing to live in each day. But sometimes,

human beings lack common sense.

When you’re in a public place (especially a business setting), turn your cell phone ringer off. Or turn it down. Change it to vibrate.

Or at least change the ringtone so it’s not that annoying techno beat DJ Underground mixed in the basement of The Tobacco Company.

When you’re at home, it can flash lights, wave streamers & set off fireworks for all I care. But when in public, respect those around you.

What’s that about the grocery store

While the cell phone etiquette applies to all public settings, including the grocery store, here is one more I witnessed today.

When you’re finished with your cart, return it to it’s proper area. Either leave it in the store or put it in the cart return. Don’t leave it in a parking space.

First off, it’s not even your cart. It belongs to the store.

Secondly, I don’t ride over to your house and leave my bike in the middle of your driveway, do I?

And in that example, I’m only disrespecting you. By leaving your cart in the space, you’re disrespecting the grocery store AND everyone else who shops there. Don’t you remember when you were a kid and Mom said, “Put your toys away.”? You should have listened.

All about the benjamins? I don’t think so. Look behind you.

When you’re at the ATM machine, and the line is several cars deep, let’s just finish the transaction and move along.

Balance your check books & file your paperwork 100 ft in front of you… in that empty parking space right there.

The friendly wave

When driving, if someone goes out of their way to stop and let you go, please acknowledge. A wave. A smile. Something that lets us know you are human and have feelings.

Your blank stare says, “I don’t care”… and it makes me want to smash my head on the dashboard.

Show me a sign of life. Please.

End it with a smile

On a much more positive note – because we should end everything with a smile – I helped a man while I was out running errands. In the grocery store, a man in a motorized cart needed some tea on the top shelf. He couldn’t reach it so he kindly asked if I could grab it for him. A helping hand & one big smile later, he got his tea.

And the best part… get this. He said thank you. 🙂

Why I love the ultrarunning community

Here’s a list of 8 reasons why I love the ultrarunning community. I was reminded of just how awesome ultrarunners are when a fellow runner, whom I’ve never met, gave 90 minutes of his time to help me through an injury, and give me advice on how to complete my first 100-miler.

I’m still relatively new to the ultrarunning world (~2 years), but I’ve already noticed the unique appeal of the ultrarunning community.

My hat goes off to David Snipes (aka, Sniper). This guy has been running ultramarathons for years. He’s probably finished every ultra in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, DC & North Carolina… more than once. We were both at Old Dominion 2 weeks ago, although we didn’t say a word to each other. A few days after the race, he friends me on Facebook. I realize we both live in Richmond, VA.

Long story short, he knew I was having an issue with my hamstring, so he gives me his cell number and offers to help. We talk for an hour and a half on the phone. It started with him asking questions, and ended with him giving advice. Not only for how to rehab my hamstring, but how to complete my first 100-mile run.

He called me back tonight, after he talked to his PT friend about my hamstring injury, to give me a test to diagnose it, as well as several exercises to heal it.

… and I don’t even know the guy!

Here’s to Sniper, who reminded me of the many reasons why I love the ultrarunning community.

This is why I love the ultrarunning community

  • Ultrarunners help strangers
  • Ultrarunners don’t run for prize money
  • An ultrarunner’s crew doesn’t always understand why we do it, but they support us anyway
  • Runners, crews, pacers, volunteers & RDs alike… we all respect each other
  • Ultrarunners share stuff (food, drink, headlamps, crazy stories, pain, triumph)
  • Ultrarunners walk-the-walk. We travel many miles to support fellow runners (sometimes even people we’ve never met)
  • We don’t always count the miles. Sometimes we run for time. Or just for the experience.
  • We get beat up. We fail. We succeed. Regardless, we always come back for more.

There are many reasons I’m sure I left out. I’d love to hear why you love the ultrarunning community in the comments.