Who are you rooting for?

I don’t have “a team,” but I often root for the underdog. I don’t root for the American just because I live in the U.S., or the guy from Richmond, VA because that’s where I call home. There is more to life than the city where you grew up, the country where you live and the jersey on your back. It’s what’s inside all of that that really matters.

As I sat and watched John Isner & Nicolas Mahut do battle yesterday at Wimbledon (and the day before, and the day before that), I found myself rooting for Mahut.

I know. I’m American, so clearly I should be pulling for Isner, right? It seemed like every American was pulling for Isner. And when the match ended, most people congratulated Isner on his victory, but failed to mention Mahut.

I guess I just see things differently. When it comes to international sports, I don’t care what country you are from. If it’s American sports, I don’t care what city you play in. I grew up just outside of Philly, and used to follow all the Philly teams: Sixers, Phillies, Flyers, Eagles. But all that has changed.

Sure, in the World Cup, I would like to see the U.S. do well. And I do root for them. But if a scrappy, underdog, third-world nation, cindarella story comes out of nowhere, I’d love to see them pull off the upset.

Isner is seeded #23. Mahut unseeded. Isner served first in the final set. Mahut had to serve 60+ times just to stay in the match. Isner leads the tour in aces. Who knows where Mahut ranks in that department?

But Mahut is in phenomenal shape. The guy could play for days without getting tired. His heart, passion, persistence, will to survive, relentless effort… it’s admirable. It also happens to be really fun to watch.

Who’s “my team?” I don’t have one.

I don’t have a team… or a favorite player, favorite city or favorite country. I don’t pick sides based on geography or nationality. As far as I’m concerned, we all live on planet Earth, and we are all human beings.

I root for the passionate. The underdog. The hard-worker fighting the uphill battle. The guy who sacrifices his body. The relentless. The one with an unparalleled love for her sport, and respect for the game. The first one to arrive. And the last one to leave.

At the end of the day

Because at the end of the day, there is so much more to life than the city where you grew up, the country where you live and the jersey on your back. It’s what’s inside all of that that really matters.

A few thoughts on the World Cup

I don’t watch much soccer, but I’ve gotten into the World Cup recently. And I must say, some of the things I’ve seen really interest me. The vuvuzela, the nil-nil draw, offsides, immature celebration and a whole lot of whining and complaining. Honestly, some of it is just ridiculous.

Let me preface this by stating I am not a soccer player. I played competitively when I was 9 and indoor intramural a few times in my 20s. However, I do not understand all the rules nor do I follow the sport regularly (or even at all). However, I have been watching a lot of World Cup.

Vuvuzela

While I do think it’s rather stupid to blow a horn for an entire 90 minute soccer game, I do not think they should be banned because they bother some spectators. If the athletes have an issue with them, then maybe I’d consider it.

Draw/Tie

This just shouldn’t be allowed in sport. And the World Cup takes it a step further and even awards 1 point to each team. Neither team succeeds in what they set out to do (win), and yet both teams are rewarded? If you do not pass go, you should not collect $200.

Flopping, whining & grimacing

This isn’t the only sport where it happens. Some NBA stars are notorious for it too. But I have zero respect for players who fall down, pretend to get tripped, roll on the ground grimacing in pain from a wimpy tackle and stop playing because they swore that guy was offsides.

If you want to be a cry baby, I heard Huggies has a new denin diaper with your name on the back.

Offsides

I’m pretty sure I understand the rule. I’m just not sure why the rule was created. If you do it in basketball, you still get the points. You might be labeled a cherry-picker, but the basket counts.

When you have you same number of players on your team, shouldn’t you be rewarded if you escape your defender? If the defense forgets to guard you, who cares if you are behind them or not. I call that a “good job,” and I would reward it with a goal that counts.

Celebration

Again, not the only sport where this takes place. However, I think many soccer players take it to the extreme.

I know there aren’t many goals scored in the average soccer game, but come on guys. Act like you’ve been there before. It’s like they immediately turn into a 5-year-old at Chuck E. Cheese as soon as the ball hits the net. Shirts come off. Arms turn into airplane wings. Grown men aimlessly fly from one side of the field to the other, only to be tackled by their teammates.

Be excited. Be happy. Pump up the crowd. Regain the momentum. But please keep the airplanes in the hangar.

Pushing & shoving on free kicks

I saw so much pushing & shoving on every free kick near the net in the last game I watched. If it continues to happen like that, it’s only a matter of time before someone pushes off, scores the winning goal, and everyone starts talking about instant replay.

The long, pointless goal kick

When your team is down, and time is running out, why give up possession by kicking the ball 3/4 of the way down the field, creating a jump ball situation? Wouldn’t you be much better off keeping possession? This might work every now and then, but I’ve probably seen 80-90% of them end up in possession for the opposing team.

If you have any others, or disagree with anything I’ve said, I’d love to open up the discussion.

Soreness vs. Pain

A few thoughts that surfaced after my recent DNF at Old Dominion. I quit because I experienced what I believed to be pain in my hamstring. I got to thinking about the difference between pain & soreness.

A few thoughts that surfaced after my recent DNF at Old Dominion. I experienced what I believed was pain in my hamstring. I got to thinking about the difference between pain & soreness.

Where it hurts

You feel soreness all over. It covers a general area. Pain is more specific. It usually originates in a single, specific location.

Feels good vs. causes injury

For athletes, soreness feels good. It reminds you you’re working hard. You know good things are coming out of being sore. Pain causes injury. Injury can sideline you for weeks, even months. We can all agree, nothing good comes from injury.

Worse over time

Once soreness sets in, it doesn’t get much worse. You just remain sore. Pain gets worse. The longer you go, the more it hurts.

Applying pressure

You feel soreness constantly. You’re sore when you run, when you stand, when you sit, and when you lay down. Pain increases with impact. It hurts more when pressure is applied.

The bottom line

Push through soreness. That’s called perseverance. It’s necessary to go the distance.

It’s usually not a good idea to push through pain.

When you fight soreness and win, you feel great about your decision. When you fight pain, you never win… and the next day you’ll probably realize you made a big mistake.

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.

Lesson learned from changing a lightbulb

My kitchen lightbulb went out today, and when the maintenance guy came to change it, I learned an important lesson about perspective – and keeping an open mind.

My kitchen lightbulb was flickering so I called maintenance to come take a look. The guy says, condescendingly, “Oh, it’s probably these green tips.” When I asked what he meant by that, he said, “The green tip bulbs are more environmentally friendly, but they aren’t compatible with our light fixtures.”

He has no idea how much I love the environment.

The Lesson

He could just as easily have said, “Our light fixtures are not compatible with the green tip bulbs.” He choose to place blame on the bulbs for not being compatible. I would argue it’s the light fixture causing the issue.

If you love the environment, or even remotely care about our future, you probably agree with me. But that’s not the point.

There are two perspectives to almost every situation. Neither is right. Neither is wrong. Understanding this will help you keep an open mind, and leave the door open for possibility.

That’s crazy

Ultrarunners are often told that what they do is crazy. I’m telling you, only you can define crazy. No one else has any say in the matter. Crazy is just a roadmap that guides your journey.

Ultrarunners get this a lot. Whenever we tell someone about our training or a race we have coming up, the response is often “that’s crazy” or “you’re crazy.” I used to respond, “Yes, I know, I’m aware I’m a little crazy.” But I don’t believe that anymore.

It was all crazy at one point

Driving a car

When you were 14, driving a car was crazy. There was no way you (and especially your parents) could see you operating a piece of machinery at 70mph, navigating through 3 lanes of traffic. That was just crazy. Today you drive your car everyday, multiple times per day, thousands of miles each year, without a second thought.

Roller-coasters

When you were 8 you’d go to the theme park with your family. The super-twisty-flipper-coaster, you know, the one that had 6 loops, 2 corkscrews and all the warnings about people with heart conditions? That was crazy. Now you’ve rode one, you’ve rode them all.

Crazy is just a roadmap

I used to think a marathon was crazy, until I ran one. Same thing with a 50-miler. But crazy is just a roadmap. It guides you through life, helps carve a path and define a journey. And the coolest part: you are the one who determines whether something is “crazy” or not. No one else has any say.

I recently decided to train for a 100 mile race this coming June. I’ve had several friends tell me that’s nuts. But really, it’s just a passion I’ve been hiding for the past few years. Now that I’m living out that passion, people are noticing. And it’s the recognition from others that validates what I’m doing. We all have things that make us appear a little crazy. If you haven’t had someone tell you “that’s nuts” lately, maybe it’s time you start pursuing your passion.

Between a Rock & a Hard Place – Book Review

A very brief book review of “Between a Rock & a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston.

This is a very early attempt at writing book reviews. It’s still a work in progress.

Aron is very descriptive of the landscape. He describes every single detail of the trails, rocks, cliffs, mountains and scenery. I recommend reading the definition part of the appendix before beginning the book. This will give you a better understanding of the terminology that he uses throughout the book.

After he introduces his accident, he goes into flashback mode and talks about his childhood. He does an OK job of building his character. You understand the kind of person he is, and the thoughts that go through his head during his life-threatening situation start to make sense.

Birthdays when you get older

My 26-year-old opinion on how you should spend birthdays as you get older. Quit complaining about getting old, and celebrate your birthday for all the great things each year has added to your life… and all the great things that the upcoming year will bring.

When you’re young, you celebrate the act of getting older. It’s exciting. You look forward to it.

At 13, you become a teenager. You officially have an obligation to disobey everything your parents tell you.

At 16, you have a huge party and get your driver’s license. Every parent’s nightmare. Every kid’s dream.

At 18, you’re officially an adult. With 21 comes the alcohol. And maybe the last milestone is the car rental privilege at 25.

After that, you dread adding another year to your age. Instead of looking forward to your next birthday, you do everything you can to prevent it from happening. And when you realize it can’t be prevented, you deny it.

The Alternative

Here’s what you should do instead. Celebrate your youth. At 40 years old, you’re not old. You’re mature, you’re experienced. But for many of you, you’re just getting started. Celebrate the relationships you’ve built, and the many fun years ahead. Celebrate your health, and the great shape you’ve kept your body in. Celebrate your mind, what you’ve taught yourself, and how you’ve learned and grown. Celebrate your spouse, your kids, your grandkids.

And maybe the most important thing to celebrate is what you have not yet achieved. Set a goal (or two or three) that feeds your passion. You’ll start looking forward to that extra candle on your cake each year because it will, once again, have meaning.