December 17, 2014

Inspiring Enough To...

One thing I like to say and is no secret to anyone is that performance does not inspire me. People do. And these two people inspired me to write about them…

(Writers Note: Have a funny feeling this wont be the last "Inspiring Enough To..." blog)

Over the past couple days each of them has come up to me and told me about different yet similar moments in their lives where they realized CrossFit is panning out for them. One is more mental and the other more physical…and both are perfect examples of what happens when you not just CrossFit but when you do anything hard for an extended period of time.  

First is Hillary. Hillary recently applied for an advanced position at her job against many others whom are older and potentially more experienced. She looks at herself as a long shot but that’s not the point. The realization that a short time ago she would have hesitated at just the thought of applying for this job is the point. She views this to be a direct result of the work she puts in at Brazen and is beginning to understand the idea behind how this crazy crap you do legitimately translate to “real” life. When she told me I could tell she was genuinely proud of herself and that’s inspiring. 

Inspiring enough to write about her.

To some it sounds corny or cliché but the fact remains that it’s true. I’m a living example of it. Hill’ is a living example of it. Others are living examples of it. Walls become easier to overcome the more you overcome them. I get it. I get the realization. I get the eureka moment. This shit is hard and we’re all overcoming the hard together. We should all get it. And if you don’t get it now be patient and you’ll get it soon.

Got it?

The other is Jeffrey. Jeff's eureka moment came the other day after hammering through heavy back squats at, oh, just about 100lbs more than he was doing this time last year. We’ve all been there. That time when you think back and remember what you once thought. “There is no way I’ll ever be able to lift that much weight. If only.” The idea of getting stronger and stronger seems so far-fetched to most and it should. Things you don’t do and never imagined being able to do are always that way. But good things happen when you work towards them. He was jacked up about it and for good reason. The proof is in his journal...and posterior chain. It was awesome to see the smile on his face when he showed me. Big smile from a great guy. His smile was inspiring.

Inspiring enough to write about him. 

The moral of the story is that CrossFit is a combination of mental and physical progression but it's not about how much weight you can snatch. It’s about attempting to snatch in the first place. In Hillary's case it's about applying for the position. Not about whether or not she gets offered the position. In Jeff's case it's the fact he's been going that hard for that long to even see the increase in plate'age. (made that word up). 

Just be a good person and work hard. That’s what counts...and that is what's inspiring. 

August 18, 2014

Constantly Learning

 “…I’m a continuous battle with excuses. I’m a guy swatting the devil off my shoulder only to have him return with a pitchfork and that same toothy grin.

I’m a guy who “couldn’t” compete in a triathlon because he wasn’t mentally ready and needed a year to prepare. As if it were battlefield deployment I was embarking on as opposed to a pristine lake in the mountains.

I guess the veteran with no arms or legs that swam a half mile spent the year mentally preparing. I suppose the blind man that joined him and swam tied off to a friend spent the last year strategizing just as well.

Wipe that toothy grin off your face, Hades…” – Who Am I, August 20, 2013

Fast forward one year and one West Point Triathlon under my, ahem, race belt and I’m no longer writing about my “battle with excuses”. Yesterday I faced my ultimate fear unaware of what the definition of “ultimate fear” really was. 24 hours later I’m still not sure if that’s something you can define but I do know we came eye to eye to with one another somewhere around minute three of my two hour campaign.

Yesterday was a rollercoaster of emotions for me. This whole week was. I’m nothing if not a very emotional guy. Emotionally intense at times. Some may even call me sensitive. (note the sarcasm) I take competing very seriously. I always have. I love competing…in anything. But it also messes with my head. In last year’s blog I also wrote…

“…Many people say I’m too hard on myself. I say I’m too easy. Those who know me know a person who doesn’t necessarily hate losing as much as he loves winning…”

Facing a half mile swim, a 13.5 mile bike ride up a seemingly endless hill followed up by a 5k run up nearby Bear Mountain's twin sister peak, I didn’t win yesterday. Or did I? That’s what I have to figure out. Better yet, I don’t have to figure anything out. I know the answer. I just have to embrace it.

I’m wrong. I did win. I just won a different game. A more important game. I defeated doubt. I defeated the cloaked-in-fear-devil on my shoulder. I defeated the lazy athlete of my younger days. I defeated the play-to-your-strengths athlete. I defeated the omnipresent inner voice extolling, “This isn’t your game. Step aside.”  

Deep down inside that’s why I was so emotional yesterday. That’s why when I was by myself I had tears in my eyes. That’s why after the post triathlon double grilled cheese diner session I got choked up seconds into my attempted speech. But it’s not the whole reason...

One of my favorite quotes is by Jon Krakauer when he wrote, “Happiness is only real when it’s shared.” No truer words.

Having been able to train alongside Andy Quinn and Brian Bogush for months and months and building a closer friendship as a result has meant the world to me. Two guys who are only a few years into my life but have felt like a few decades. If it weren’t for these two I would not have had yesterday.

A particular thank you to Andy. Someone I admired from the day I met him. His dedication, background, morals, values and overall attitude towards life are all attributes I envy. Had it not been for him encouraging me to sign up in the first place and convincing me I have the ability to do it today’s post would have a drastically different tone. It’s more than just verbally supporting someone though. He was by my side from the get go and played an active role in helping me get to this day.

Andy encouraged me and then committed himself to getting me where I needed to be. He lead me to the finish line not just physically but metaphorically as well. For that I owe thanks.

I learned something about myself yesterday. I’ve learned a lot over the past few years. We all do. We’re all constantly learning. I learned the phrase “I’m not an endurance athlete” may not apply to me anymore.

…of course the word “endurance” is a relative term. (see how I still can’t fully commit)

After telling my father how challenging the event was I used that phrase and he responded…

”I don’t agree with that at all. I’d for damn sure say you’re an endurance athlete. Who gives a crap what your time was not to mention you did that with people who do those things all the time. The fact you finished that, in that environment, under those conditions, is unbelievably impressive…”

Ok fine. Noted. I accept. As uncomfortable as that may be for me. I give in. I suppose he (and everyone else who said that to me) is right. It’s hard for me to give myself credit but like I said, we’re all constantly learning…