I’m not faster because of YOUR reasons

Lately, a few of my friends in my running club have made either envious or annoyed comments about my improvements with running, especially after having performed so well during my first full marathon (post on that to come). The predominant complaint is that they don’t understand why I am getting to be faster than them when they have been running for a year or two or five longer than me.

In some way’s it’s sort of flattery.  And I’ll take that. I’m proud of what I have accomplished.  But it’s also clear that there are some actual hurt feelings about the state of my abilities, and it’s not just idle chat or backhanded praise.

Since I get to write whatever I want on here, I’m going to write what was going through my head last night during my training brick:

“Why am I getting faster and you aren’t?  Because your commitment to your goals exemplifies what everyone hates about millennials… You think your entitled to being faster.  You think you’re entitled to the gains.  You think it’s a matter of just showing up at least some of the time.

It’s not, and you aren’t entitled to shit.

You’re not getting faster because you’re either just not committed to the process, or you’re lazy. Either way, you need to accept that and quit bitching.  It’s fine to be satisfied with what you have accomplished and where you are, but don’t be butthurt because you think it’s unfair that I’m making it further.

Why am I faster?

I’m faster because, right now, I’m on my bike doing hill repeats, in the pouring rain, and afterwards, I’m going to run, still in the rain.  I’m faster because tomorrow I’m going to get up and run in the morning, again.  I’m faster because I’m not making excuses.  I’m faster because I don’t just train when I want to, I train as much as I NEED to to BE faster. I’m faster because I’m doing the things I don’t want to do.  I’m faster because I put in the work.

I’m faster because when there are opportunities for cross training, I take them, and you don’t.  I’m faster because when I’m able, I push myself harder, and you say ‘I don’t want to’.  I’m faster because when I get home from a hard day at work, I don’t say ‘Today was a hard day, I’ll take it easy tonight,’ I’m saying “Today was a hard day, and it’s not over.”  I’m faster because I don’t have 100 reasons why I don’t do the core workouts and the extra miles, and the extra intervals, and the extra work.

You want to know why I’m faster?  I’m faster because right now, something is oozing out of my foot, my back hurts and I kinda feel like I’m going to puke, but I’m not stopping.  I’m faster because while you’re laying in bed “soo tired”, I’m rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and lacing up my shoes and setting my playlist.  I’m faster because when you go to the gym, you do the exercises you enjoy, rather than the ones that will help you get faster, because you don’t like those.  I’m faster because while you were at a basketball game, I was pounding out miles.  I’m faster because when you were waffling over paint colors for the 4th time in a room you won’t even use, I was crushing hills.  I’m faster because when you were going on your 3rd different date of the week, I was out riding, pushing my limits, and then stretching, rolling, and preparing for my next workout.  I’m faster because when you say “no one cares” about doing an easy yoga class on Sunday morning, I go.  I’m faster because while you were having one more, and one more, and one more, till you were hugging the toilet, I went home and took some vitamins, drank a bunch of water, and got ready for tomorrow.  I’m faster because when you turned around, I ran the extra miles.  I’m faster because when you were too hung over, I sweated it out.

  • I’m not faster because you “have so much going on in your life”.  I’m faster because despite everything I have going on in my life, I put in the work.
  • I’m not faster because you “just have a different body type than me”.  I’m faster because despite being a short white dude with a repaired knee and history of other injuries, I put in the work.
  • I’m not faster because ‘it was just so hot today’.  I’m faster because even though I’m carrying 20 extra pounds of insulating fat and I sweat more than anyone I have ever met, I can manage and tolerate the heat because I put in the work.
  • I’m not faster because you have kids and a spouse.  I’m faster because although I have no help with cooking, cleaning, errands or other chores, I take my bike or run to the store, rather than drive. I do lunges from one room to the next while cleaning. I do 50 crunches in the 2 minutes before I shower. I put in the work.
  • I’m not faster because you have to take your kids to soccer and help them with homework. I’m faster because after I’m done helping my 69 year old parents get where THEY need to go, cut down trees, repair termite damage and generally maintain their 120 year old house, I stop by the pool to make sure my muscles stay limber and put in 45 minutes of the work.
  • No, I’m not faster because I don’t have responsibilities, I’m faster because I DON’T use my responsibilities as EXCUSES to NOT go put in the work.
  • I’m not faster because your “job is so stressful”.  I’m faster because despite being sued by 3 government entities, not really knowing how to do anything in my new roll, and being in charge of $6 million in projects which were 2 years behind schedule when I got them, I go before work and at lunch and after I finish at the office to put in the work.
  • I’m not faster because “your knees just can’t take it”.  I’m faster because when my knees couldn’t take it, I made them stronger by putting in the work.
  • I’m not faster because you have a sprained ankle. I’m faster because when I sprained my ankle, I taped it up really well, wore a brace and kept doing work.
  • I’m not faster because I’m a “natural runner”.  I’m not even going to dignify that with a response.
I’m not faster because of all YOUR reasons… I’m faster because of all MY reasons.

You want to know why I’m faster?  I’m faster because you don’t care enough to work to be faster.  I’m not faster because I’m better.  I’m faster because I didn’t JUST show up MOST of the time… I showed up on my OWN time.  I’m faster because of ME.

You wanna be fast? Either put up, like me, or shut up.  I don’t have time to be slow and I definitely don’t have time for excuses.”

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Grass (by RunningDoctor)

Grass.  WALKING ON GRASS.  That’s the memory I found while slogging through a training run and asking myself why I was doing this.

This is the start of my come back story that began nearly 15 years ago after surgery.  Well, let’s start the day before surgery.  Dad asked me what I wanted to do.  I wanted to water ski.  He was skeptical.  “Dad, what’s the worst that can happen? I break my leg more?  They are fixing it tomorrow.”  He was an engineer.  There were not many times I could out logic him.  He thought about it, he didn’t like it, but he shrugged with acceptance.  It was late summer, after all, there may not be many good boating days left.

Out on the water, I taped and braced an ankle that hadn’t been functional for two months.  I shoved both legs in separate skis and eased into the water.  I tried, but I couldn’t stay up.  I couldn’t bear weight on that leg.  “Bear, that’s enough,” Dad said motioning me to throw him the skis after 6 attempts.  I tossed one ski towards the boat.  He leaned over and grabbed it and waited for the other.  “Give me one more chance. Maybe two,” I said.  “You want to slalom?”  “I want to try.”  Dad was not a man of faith but he nodded and swung the boat around.

With slalom skiing you were dependent on your dominant leg.  The problem was my dominant leg was shattered.  My non-dominant one had to man-up and fast. I fished the blue line out of the water and held tight to the yellow handle.  I was leaning to the left and right trying to find the balance point as the boat pulled ahead.  “Ready?”  He yelled.  I threw my right hand in the air and the boat increased speed.  I fought the water, pulling hard but couldn’t quite right myself.  I fell over before I started.  The tape was wet and loosening.  The brace was rubbing.  I had one hand in the air in a typical skier down fashion.  The other hand was wiping the fresh water from my face.  “Gun it this time,” I said.  “Last time,” he responded. Engineers always need control.  One last time, I found the blue rope, followed it to the end and grabbed onto the yellow handle. This was harder than learning to ski.  I knew everything I was supposed to do and just wasn’t able to do it.  “Ready?”  I threw my right hand up quickly and then grabbed back at the handle.  The boat pulled hard and I leaned back.  I could hear dad screaming before I was even sure I was staying up.  He was cheering me on as much as he could while trying to keep the boat at a steady speed. I couldn’t stay up long.  I couldn’t jump the wake.  I couldn’t even wave at other boats.  Pain was radiating up my right leg.

But, I’ll never forget coming out of that water on that busted leg and feeling like I was flying.  Feeling the water cascade off me in the wind. Breathing in and smelling nothing but water and earth and limitlessness.  Screaming as loud as I could only for the sound to be muffled by the boat engine.  If only for a moment, that moment was infinite happiness.

I stayed up as long as I thought I could and then just a few seconds longer, then I raised my hand in the skier down motion, let the yellow handle go and sunk back into the warm lake water while the boat swung back around.  All the while, smiling until it hurt.

The next few months were hell.  It started with 8 weeks non-weightbearing. My arms have never looked so bad ass. Then months of rehab learning how to walk on an underwater treadmill, then trying to run on one, then attempting to convert all that to the land.  Every check-up hearing how I would probably never play soccer again and how even WALKING on grass might be a challenge.  FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.  I felt sorry for myself.  I lost track of people.  I was intentionally mean, like 21 isn’t hard enough.

One day I was so mad at myself and the world that I hobbled outside.  It was spring again.  The grass was starting to turn from brown to green in places.  I was off crutches but still dragging my right leg behind me, especially when I was tired.  I stood at the edge of the driveway and before I could think, I swung that right leg so hard forward that I thought I might have over done it, that I might have shattered it again.  I closed my eyes and winced as it came crashing down on the grass.  It landed with a thud.  I gulped and opened my eyes.  Okay, now take a step with the other leg.  I was frozen in time between the pavement and the grass.  For fuck’s sake, kid.  Soccer is played on grass. Life is lived on grass.  Take a step.  The left leg moved forward, shifting weight onto the right.  I was terrified it was going to give out.  There was pain as the leg tried to take the weight on the uneven surface.  The ankle waivered.  It was not stable, but it held.  And then the left foot was down.  I splayed my arms like a toddler and took short, shuffling, tentative steps across the grass.  THE GRASS.  False confidence fighting fear with every step.  And then I was in the neighbor’s driveway.  I had walked all the way across the rented lawn.  I might as well have crossed the Sahara Desert or English Channel.  I spun awkwardly around and walked haphazardly back across the lawn.  Then I collapsed on the porch step and smiled.  Probably the first time since I went skiing. 

This training?  I’m doing this for grass and for myself, even on bad days.  Because you don’t know how far you can go until you try.  You don’t know how strong you are until you cross whatever proverbial finish line is out there.  And you surely don’t know how much you can handle if you never step off the curb.

The next check-up they still told me that grass would be a challenge and soccer was out of the question.  “I’m going to play again,” I said. They didn’t fight it.  How many punk ass kids come in and tell doctors what they are going to do?  Enough.  Enough not to believe me. 

Everyone has a comeback story.  That’s where mine started, almost half a life time ago.  It’s been so long that sometimes I forget.  Sometimes I assume its always supposed to be easy.  Sometimes I take everything for granted and I want to quit.

But, I can’t quit.  Not now. They said I would never walk on grass again. They said I would never run again.  What they forgot to tell me is that sometimes you don’t have to run. Sometimes you just ride the smooth water between the wakes and hope the boat pulls hard enough that you fly.

This Winter Is Like The Ex Who Can’t Take The Hint

I don’t mind the cold. I don’t mind snow. I don’t mind winter generally…

But, look, Winter, we have already talked about this a few times over the last month and I tried to be nice… You coming around uninvited like this, just over,

and over,

and over…

It’s completely unacceptable. And you know it! Don’t stand there and act like you fucking don’t… Like somehow I am the weird one.

STAY IN YOUR FUCKING PLACE, WINTER!
You’re being THAT person… you’re clingy. You’re desperate. You’re getting sloppy and… just gross… It’s not cute. We had a nice run together, we shared some special times. The way you snowed on me so softly was sweet, and the way your nights were long and solemn was moving and beautiful. But really, we need a clean break. Face it, we both knew from the start that it was a relationship that wasn’t going to last.

YOU KNEW THIS, WINTER…. YOU FUCKING KNEW! WE BOTH DID!

And now you just won’t leave me the fuck alone. You disappear for a day or two, then it’s just your same bullshit all over again. Stop being a dick.
I have bike rides to go on. I need to improve my leg tan lines. I need to do some open water swimming. You’re screwing it up.

Winter… IT’S OVER!
I NEED YOU TO GIVE ME SOME SPACE.

I Started Riding

When I started riding, it was mostly because I needed some exercise and it was too damn hot to run in Texas. Plus, I never liked running, anyway. I’m short, and have always been stocky. So I started riding to try and get a little fitness and generate my own breeze while I did it.

I didn’t really get that into it at first. I started out doing a lot of social rides, and eventually got a mountain bike. There was a big Friday social ride once a month, a mass ride, that I often went to. Most people there would be drinking and laughing and just having a good time. No one hammered out any kind of a pace; strictly casual. I met a few of my good friends in Houston and the guys I rode trails with on those mass rides. The mountain bike and trail riding was the next big step. That’s the first time I “wanted to get better” at riding a bike. By that time I was also obsessed with the technical aspects of bikes. I was rebuilding old bikes in the evenings to sell and learning about components, gear ratios, frame geometry….

I started riding more then, but it took a crappy break up before I really fell into it hard. I’d dated LexLiar for close to 2 years when the cheating and deception started, or, at least when I started figuring it out. That’s a story for a different day, though. Just before that happend, though, she’d found a bike on Craigslist that she thought she might like and asked me to go check it out for her. It was way too big for her 5′ tall stature. It was pretty much perfect for me, though. The first time I got on it, in the home depot parking lot where I’d met up with the seller, it immediately felt natural and fluid. I loved it. I gave the guy $185 and took home The Miyata. A month or so later is when shit hit the fan with LexLiar.

The next half a year or so was a dark, brutal time in my life, and I put a lot of my anger, depression, and the rest of my troubles into those pedals. Most of what didn’t go into the pedals probably went into my liver. But I started riding a lot more. I began going to group rides as a way to rebuild some kind of a social life. It required me to get up, show up, get some sunshine, and talk to people; to do something other than surrender to the darkness. Sometimes depression doesn’t care, though, and follows you on the bike. So when I would melt down, group rides also required me to hammer harder than I thought was possible for me… If you need some alone time, you have to go hard off the front, because if you sag, someone will sag back with you and see you cry. I learned my first, and still the best self-constructed way to cope with depression on that bike. I also relearned that there’s a lot to life.

I rode that bike a lot, and I still do. There’s something about it that just feels right. I’d compare it to a favorite pair of jeans or fitting like a glove, but it’s not really quite the same… It’s more like the chair you sat on for meals growing up… it’s familiar, it feels… just… the way a chair should feel. It’s not an over-stuffed recliner or a fancy massaging chair with butt coolers and shiatsu rollers… it’s a chair… it’s THE chair… That chair established the foundation of what your mind and body now think a chair ought to feel like. The Miyata is THE bike. I didn’t grow up with it, but somehow when I ride it, I instinctively know it’s exactly what a bike ought to feel like. Despite the fact that I have half a dozen other bikes now, most of which are “better”; made from carbon, with newer technology, and lighter weight, I still choose to ride The Miyata the most. It’s an un-pretentious, but high quality steel road bike from the late ’80s. It’s red and pearlescent white, and over the years I have rebuilt or replaced every part of it except the frame and fork, and the stem. To me, it’s incredibly beautiful. If people ask me when I really started riding, I say it was when I got The Miyata.

I often tell people that riding is always my favorite thing to do, and that I pretty much never DON’T want to ride. That’s partly true and partly a lie. There’s nothing I love the way I love riding and it IS rare that I would ever turn down a ride. Riding has brought me together with some of my closest friends, and I love that. It was my gateway drug for triathlon. Cycling has given me identity. But there are definitely times when I don’t want to ride, and times on rides when I wish I was doing anything other than that. I’ve crashed and gotten hurt. I’m never quite happy with my fitness. Some memories of bike rides bring me down (think: rides with women I was dating and things didn’t work out). Riding isn’t all rainbows and unicorn farts, even for me.

A lot of my personal life is pretty rocky right now. I still haven’t recovered from the realization last August that triathlon can’t cure my depression. Now I’m dealing with a disease that makes me kindof disgusted with myself, but also disgusted with how judgmental society is about it. I’m struggling with my feelings about some of the people I’m close to… I don’t know how to deal with romantic sentiments I think I might be having, both because I don’t think the feelings are mutual, and because I’m just confused by the entire idea of post-diagnosis relationships now. And to that point, I’m trying to adjust to the idea that my future likely won’t be the family life I always thought it would eventually be. Life can get rough. Cycling is not a cure-all.

In the end, though, I don’t really know where I would be now without the sport of cycling. It’s my safe place. It’s my sanctuary. It’s my church, my therapist’s couch, my scapegoat, and my mistress. When it’s all too much, cycling is the one place I can go where I know exactly what my purpose is:

Just pedal.

This is life, not fucking Burger King

Ridiculoussunglasses: “Princess and the Pea won’t be able to use basketball as her excuse for missing everything now.”
RunningDoctor: “Oh, because they choked.”

[…..]
Ridiculoussunglasses: “Of course Princess and the Pea has a new excuse… her job.”
RunningDoctor: “Is Princess and the Pea mad at work because she hasn’t been on another vacation in like the past two weeks?”
Ridiculoussunglasses: “She has to go to some production facility somewhere. All first class expenses paid, of course. I told her everyone has choices. Obviously it immediately went to ‘So I should just lose my job?’ since we all know that asking off of one project, once, means you’re definitely fired right away.”
RunningDoctor: “Or maybe don’t be pissed about traveling for the job YOU took… I mean are they sending you to a 3rd world country without power for 8 weeks?”
Ridiculoussunglasses: “Right?! You already know she’s got excuses for everything, though.”

The drama queens have excuses for literally everything, too. So does Smoke’n’date. And The Youths. It doesn’t make them bad people usually, or mean I value them less as friends.

What happened to accountability?
What happened to owning your choices?
What happened to accepting the negative implications of decisions along with the positive, and not acting victimized because of them?
And how did we collectively start accepting that bullshit?
When did we become so soft that a single person, mid 20s, 6 figure income, no debt, no drama and no actual ongoing life tragedies still gets coddled?
What happened to saying “yes, I made this choice and there are undesirable consequences, but I’m okay with them.”?
Since when is having to go without or deal with things you don’t like NOT a normal part of life?
What happened to realizing you don’t get to have everything completely your way?

This is life, not motherfucking Burger King.

I only got 16 of my planned 40 miles on the bike in yesterday, but that’s not the external world’s fault. Its just what happened. My job doesn’t allow me to do certain things, but no one should feel sorry for me because of it. I picked this job. If a course is extra hilly or I don’t make my times, I’m not claiming to be a victim of my circumstances. This is just how things are.

It’s completely fine to be bummed that you can’t make a race or an event because of work or because you got tickets to a concert or a game. It’s okay to wish you had done better at a certain event. It’s even okay to briefly lament the side effects of otherwise positive opportunities.

It’s not okay to act like your life is messed up because your team is out of the ncaa tournament. Or because you have to travel for the job you chose, which you knew involved travel. It’s not okay to harp on about the course and that being why you didn’t set a new personal record. It’s not okay to make a decision and then whine about the opportunity cost of that decision. If you don’t like the reasonably foreseeable consequences of your decisions, then make fucking different decisions. And at the very least, don’t expect sympathy.

I’ve decided I’m having chili for lunch and I don’t expect any sympathy.

Go F*K Yourself

I wrote this back on February 22 but never did any editing. I can’t say for sure what the original intent was, but I still think the ideas have merit, and I don’t have to run any of my shit by an approval committee.

Originally titled: “Online Dating Sucks. So do Millennials”

I realize I do… or at least used to do online dating, and I’m a millennial.

But they both still suck.

It seems a lot like online dating has reduced most people to what I call “well, I mean…”- behavior, which millennials have turned into an art form…

“Well, I mean… we weren’t actually officially dating because we never talked specifically about that so technically I didn’t really cheat on you.” Okay, if you want to assuage your guilt over having acted like you were completely invested when you weren’t, so that you could get what you wanted, that’s fine. Factually, you’re right. But you’re still a shitty-ass person. You knew you were doing something wrong. Go fuck yourself.

“Well, I mean…. If different guys want to take me out to dinner every night of the week, that’s their decision. I’m not forcing them to buy me dinner.” Right, again, I can’t argue with the facts here, but is it really equitable to treat many random guys as a meal ticket? Way to be a shitbag to the dudes who aren’t worthless. Also, if you want to create more equity in society, maybe don’t propagate this particular type of INequity? You know you’re being selfish and taking advantage of people. Go fuck yourself.

“Well, I mean…. I told her that I’d go out with her again, but I didn’t really want to so I just ghosted. I guess that’s not the best but it happens all the time.” Okay, now you’re literally admitting that you’re doing something shitty but justifying it by saying other people do it all the time. You know it’s shitty. Go fuck yourself.

“Well, I mean… You didn’t ask me if I was planning a trip with someone else or about my relationship with that person.” Okay, Do you honestly think that information would NOT have been relevant to someone you have been seeing for a while? Again, if you’re doing gymnastics to relieve yourself of responsibility… Go fuck yourself.

The advent of online dating has made people even worse. Sure, to some degree, it CAN be whatever you make of it, but most people seem to make it a “what’s in it for me” thing, or a “maybe I can do better” thing, rather than a “get to know a person for real” kind of thing. That sort of screws it up for anyone who isn’t a shitbag. Millennials, your short fucking attention spans, and the fact that the internet enables you to avoid consequences of impulse dating is not an excuse for being a shitty person. Go fuck yourself.

People… Seriously, just don’t do shit that you wouldn’t want someone to do to you. That’s it. Ask yourself if you would feel okay with things if the roles were reversed. It’s really not that hard to be decent to one another so why are we stooping to the lowest possible level? Just because being a dick to someone carries less consequence than it used to and it’s easy to replace someone with just a swipe doesn’t make it more acceptable. Just be honest. Just be real. Or go fuck yourself.

If you’re not sure how involved you want to get, don’t fuck someone. And if you aren’t sure but you still want to fuck, say that. Having the decency to actually speak up is the ONLY hard part about saying something like “Hey, I’m attracted to you and I’d like to keep this spark going, but also, I’m not sure if I see it fanning into a flame just yet.” or “Hey, I like what we have going on and want to continue, but just want you to know that I’m also still seeing other people.” or “Hey, sorry, but you just aren’t my person.” At least give someone a chance to make an informed decision for themselves. Some people DO actually do that. If you’re not adult enough to be able to, go fuck yourself.

In summary: If you lie or play games with the truth, go fuck yourself. If you take advantage of people, go fuck yourself. If you ghost people, go fuck yourself. If you are insincere with dating, go fuck yourself. If you do things to other people that you wouldn’t want to have done to you, go fuck yourself. And finally, if you’re not adult enough to be up front with others… GO FUCK YOURSELF

Also, millennials who hang out in the lap lanes at a gym pool and socialize like your at the beach? Get the fuck out of my way. I come here to do work. Go Fuck Yourselves.

You know that feeling? Yeah. Neither do I.

You know when you have cycled through everything in your head too many times already and you know it’s not going to be any different going over it all again? Because of course you know it’s not one problem, it’s a thousand problems, but any one of them can wreck you in a heartbeat because a single piece of straw really CAN break a camel’s back? And somehow, conversely, years of self-work haven’t fixed a single one? And you stop even noticing when you’re injured or wounded because you lost track of if there even are any parts of you that are still somewhat intact? And you just don’t have any more energy left to have these feelings, but your fucking brain and body won’t comply so then you end up finding yourself doing things that you know are counter-productive and even destructive but you do them anyway, almost just to spite yourself? Or maybe because the only thing you can control is to destroy various parts of your own life, but hey… at least that’s SOME kind of control… And then you have to confront the facts that, 1. You’re so fucking tired of hearing your own thoughts that they make you sick, and 2. That it’s you who is currently and always has been fucking it all up for yourself? And the solution seems clearly to be to go very far away, forever, or become very very small, and disappear, but in reality, neither of those are actual options….?

And all you want to do is sleep?

But that’s the only thing you can’t do, no matter how much you need it or how fucking hard you try…?

You know that feeling? Yeah. Neither do I.