Tuesday, October 28, 2008


the past couple of days i've finally started feeling somewhat normal again...at least enough so that i'm actually able to think about food without getting queasy, and able to think about workouts without wondering if i'm going to collapse.

boooooooooo, food poisoning (or whatever it was)! remind me not to get it again.

i decided to get myself back into training this morning. i'm not quite 100% (if you asked for a number, i'd peg around 80), but i can see the fat accumulating and the love handles returning, and i'm just feeling disgusted with myself. that, and i've only managed 1 workout in the past 2 weeks, which is not good.

things actually weren't so bad today. 50 minutes on the treadmill, and i was shocked at how decent i felt--i'd expected a really really really painful 40 minutes, but was feeling good enough that i ventured on for another 10. the post-run workout wasn't that bad either, with me able to do most of the usual lower-body and core training. all that, and my digestive system didn't give me any issues. i'm actually feeling better now than i did before.

one thing that kept me going today was daydreaming about myself being a kenyan runner....not so much kenyan, but more runner. with the effortless, graceful, silky smooth, supremely beautiful stride and superbly built lean physique of someone attuned in all phases of their existence with the pure act of moving forward at speed. it's a daydream summed up in a picture i found of several kenyan runners at an unknown race, caught in profile, each one framed in perfect form, with the ease and flow that can only be displayed by someone with supreme mastery of their skills, so that it becomes more than science, but rises to art, and at its best becomes a reflection of the majesty that is life.

i daydreamed this. i held this picture in my mind. and i believed in me being the image. motion caught without a time. and i thought of no tension, no tightness, no laboring, no weakness, no hurting, no suffering, no fear, no anxiety, no tentativeness, no anguish, no sorrow...no pain.

just easy. just smooth. just graceful. just beautiful. just supreme.

yeah, i know. it may have been just a dream. and i may have been anything but.

but guess what?

1 workout down.

and i can handle infinite to go.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


yeah, i haven't written a post in a while.

but i've been really sick this past week, and in a way that goes beyond most anything i've experienced.

it was either food poisoning or this weird virus that's been going around school (norovirus). i can't figure out which, since the symptoms are roughly identical for both, and i exhibited them in high degree.

i woke up wednesday with severe nausea, indigestion, and abdominal cramping. i almost threw up just getting out of bed. i realized it was really severe when i blacked out in the shower and woke up to find myself on the bathtub floor with the water running over me--apparently i collapsed and became unconscious while soaping myself. i found myself so weak i couldn't even get my clothes on. it took me forever to get to class, and i don't think i was really safe to drive.

thursday the cramping subsided, but was replaced by a high fever and chills. things got a little better on friday, with the fever going away, and this morning i'm starting to feel okay--at least, well enough to consider getting back to work. but my abdomen is still distended and i'm so far beyond bloated that i look like a tanned Swedish-Asian version of the proverbial beer belly redneck.

needless to say, i didn't get in any workouts at all. and i pretty much just went through the motions with work. and i spent most of my time at home curled up in bed and sleeping. i found things seemed to get better if i consumed acidic nutrition, particularly since i found myself craving sodas (i'm guessing my brain was giving me signals of thumbs-up for the carboxylic acid) and sour foods (as in sauerkraut...yes, sauerkraut)--these did wonders for my nausea. although, i should note, i really have not appettite for anything right now, with the thought of food just not being very pleasing.

like i said, i can't figure out if it was food poisoning or norovirus.

at first i thought maybe it was the norovirus that's been going around USC (it infected more than 400 students at last count...officially they said 330, but then an email from the university put it at over 400, reference: USC Daily Trojan Norovirus), particularly since i've been in contact with so many people in the past few weeks (training and also waltz lessons with the Ballroom Dance Club...i know, so cheezy, but i've always wanted to learn, and unfortunately it means mandatory multiple dance partners during the class, and so put me in close contact with 8-10 different partners).

but now i'm thinking it may be food poisoning. Trader Joe's tilapia citrone, to be specific. the main reason i said this was that i was feeling fine until i ate this tuesday evening before i went to bed...just a few hours before waking up wednesday in this situation. and i notice the smell of it induces a return of the nausea i was feeling, making me think my mind is giving me a signal that this is the culprit. i took a bite of it last night to be sure, and it seemed like the gastric discomfort and abdominal distension relapsed again, doubly confirming my suspicions. but this is all weird, since i've eaten this a lot before and never had this problem. maybe it's just a bad box.

whatever. all i can say is that right now i still don't feel 100%. i still don't feel like working out. and i still feel weak, dizzy, and bloated. especially bloated. like there's something in me that has a life of its own and just won't leave. as in the movie(s) Alien(s).


this sucks.

i'm guessing you all have similar stories to mine? then you know how i feel.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

spreading the message of Ironman

it's funny how people respond when they find out i do Ironmans.

some know quite a bit about it, and have either followed it, known people who did it, or are themselves aspiring to do it. the discussions i have in these situations trend to a personal nature, with questions about why i do it, how i trained for it, and how i found the experience.

some know nothing at all about it, or the sport of triathlon, or any of the individual events of swimming, cycling, or running. in which case, these conversations lean towards a more descriptive tone, discussing the distances, the locations where races are held, the origins of the sport, and how widespread it is.

in either case, however, i notice that there's always an undercurrent of incredulity, sometimes bordering on disbelief. frequently it's overt, with comments or exclamations of amazement. often it's subtle, with non-verbal signals of wonder. invariably, it's accompanied by sentiments of incomprehension, impossibility, inconceivability, or even outright deniability. in all cases, it comes down to the simple phrase: i don't believe it.

i find it funny because of 2 different reasons on 2 different levels.

first, and this deals with the word "funny" in its literal facetious tone: the subtext always reminds me of the conversation between Luke Skywalker and Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. it's almost literally out of the movie. Luke says the exact same thing. i don't believe it. Yoda's answer is classic, and also so very true: and that is why you fail.

second, and this deals with the "funny" in its figurative serious side: having been through an Ironman--several so far to date, and hopefully many more to come, i don't see it as being strange, or bizarre, or incredible, or incomprehensible, or impossible, or inconceivable. and certainly not deniable. in fact, i see the exact opposite.

because you see, Ironman isn't something done by superhumans or freaks of nature. it's not something accomplished through chance or by luck. it's not something undertaken by the insane or the delusional.

instead, Ironman is something done by average, ordinary people with average, ordinary minds guided by average, ordinary spirits inside average, ordinary bodies who one day wake up--in all senses of those words--and decide to take a journey--in all senses of that word--to become something more than who they were and what they are, and to look for what will come, and in so doing find just who they were meant to be.

yes, the journey is extraordinary. very. very. very. extraordinary. and those who do it become so themselves.

but that's the point. the journey may produce the extraordinary, may be extraordinary, but it begins with the ordinary. it begins with us.

and that's why i spread the message: anyone can do an Ironman.


you just have to wake up--in all senses of those words--and decide to take a journey--in all senses of that word. even though you may be ordinary. especially if you're ordinary. and look for, find, believe in the extraordinary.

and then never stop.

because anything is possible.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


you know that many things will happen on race day.

the starting gun will go off, the crowd will surge en masse, and you'll be struggling through a seething mass of bodies all lunging for space to move. once you've done that, you'll be buffeted by waves, a random assortment of arms and legs, the glare of the sun, and the throbbing whistling bubbling hissing of the water, all acting to make you lose your sense of direction. you'll swallow water, choke, and also flail.

once out of the water, you'll be staggering to regain equilibrium, just to get balanced on the bike, and even then, there's going to be potholes, and cracked pavement, and glass and rocks and chips and stones and nails and random collateral debris, with the refuse of bottles and wrappers and drinks and food of other competitors, all serving to make an obstacle course of miles. you'll have flats, you'll lose tires, you'll even crash.

and when you get to the run, things will hurt. the shoes won't fit. the clothes will chafe. the ground will feel like a sledgehammer. and your digestive system will be looking to give you payback for everything you've done today. and things will just go on and on and on and on, all adding to make for a very long time exposed outdoors. you'll slow, you'll walk, you'll stop, you'll even vomit.

and none of this includes the other things that will happen. the course the elements the people the day. hot and cold, wind and rain, sun and fog. and everything feeling like it's uphill and many mountains to go.

but for all this, in spite of all this, you also know something else: that you will go on.

you'll swallow water, thrash in the waves, but you'll get your bearings and find your way. even if it means stopping to look every other stroke.

you'll get a flat, crash onto the road, but you'll collect yourself and get back in the saddle. even if it means you're riding on rims packed with dirt and leaves.

you'll slow you'll walk you'll even stop, but you'll catch your breath and start again. even if it means you're taking it just one step at a time.

you'll face everything, but you won't quit. even if it means you're on hands and knees and gasping and tired and sore and weak and in tears, and doing nothing more than an agonizing imperceptible crawl.

because you also know one other thing, and it's one of the few things that makes any difference in this world--or any other--and it's one of the great truths of life:

there is only one finish, and it is ahead, and there is only one way to get there.

and it is forward.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

i know who i am

we meet so many kinds of people in this world. kind ones, nice ones, mean ones, cruel ones. innocent and sinister. gentle and harsh. benign and malevolent. honest and false. noble and vile. in so many degrees and so many guises. so many looks and so many manners. so many that it's hard for us to tell one from the other, and we soon begin to see them as all the same, leaving us in a state of our own mass confusion, surrounded by the chaos of other people's insanity.

and it doesn't help that some do not approach us with the best of intentions: some will help you more than others, but some seek only to ensnare you in their treachery.

and the worst of it is that sometimes they do so even though they promise otherwise, and sometimes they do so even though they desire otherwise. they hurt us, not because they intended to, but because they have to...it's in their nature, and they just can't help themselves.

and yet we cannot know one from the other. cannot distinguish the true from the false. the benevolent from the sinister. the dangerous from the innocent. the good from the evil. leaving us to the mercy of this world. and in our confusion, we are at risk of becoming lost, in surrender to the insanity around us.

but there is one thing that provides an answer to our confusion. and it's as simple as the complexity of a koan, framed as an answer to the question that leads to the answer:

i know who i am.

we can't control the world around us. we can't control the others who surround us. and we cannot even know them nor understand them nor believe them. especially since they can't even do so for themselves.

we can, however, control ourselves. and what we do. and what we think. and what we believe. and through this, know who we are, and thereby come to understand what we are, and through this begin to believe in ourselves.

all we have to do is to realize just one thing:

i know who i am.

you see, when we manage this, it doesn't matter what anyone else does to us. it doesn't matter what they do, or what they think, or what they believe. nor does it matter what they want, or what they intend, or what they say, or that they may be trying to help us, or hurt us, or know or don't know either way.

it doesn't matter.

because whatever they do, it cannot change us.

because whatever they want, it cannot hurt us.

because whatever may happen, the chaos of other people's insanity can no longer confuse us.

because we can never be lost again.

because we know this:

i know who i am.

so as our race winds its long course through the chaos that is humanity and leads us even deeper into the supreme chaos that is our reality, we should know that nothing--not the miles, nor the conditions, nor the path, nor the people, nor for that matter anything in this godforsaken misbegotten misplaced world at all--can ever truly serve to stop us.

even as the utter insanity of those around us falls as nothing more than a mote in the infinite insanity of the universe that surrounds us, there should be no confusion, and hence no cause to ever be irrevocably lost.

because of this:

i know who i am.

and with that, we will always find our way back.

and with that, we will always find our way to the finish.

and with that, we will always find our way to what we were always meant to find: ourselves.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

playlist: a cadence bittersweet

"take away love, and our earth is a tomb"
--robert browning

sometimes you wake up, and you want a different cadence.

sometimes you wake up, and you don't want to go for 180 bpm, or 90 strides per minute.

sometimes you wake up, and you don't want to count out the footstrikes, or turnover, or heart rate.

sometimes you wake up, and it's 5am, and before the alarm, and the clouds are low, and the air is still, and the world is quiet, and all you can do is to lie in bed and think and crawl into your clothes and wonder and fumble with your shoes and remember and stumble stumble stumble out your front door and then reflect.

and it's not on cadence.

it's on something else.

kina grannis: sukiyaki (kyu sakamoto cover)

and so you're running, thinking about the something everything nothing that's on your mind, and it takes over. first your arms and then your legs and then your hands and then your feet and then your breathing and then your heart...especially your heart.

and that's when it leads you down a different rhythm, following a different count, on another cadence, on miles beyond the miles that you are treading.

and there are so many.

david choi: apologize (one republic cover)

you don't know where you're going. and you don't care.

you're just on a path. going wherever paths always invariably ultimately were meant to go.

one memory after another. one step upon another. one mile after another.

and there are so many.

every avenue: where were you

too many to understand it all. too many to make sense at all. just a jumble, just a blur.

all just mixed together.

one after another.

amber pacific: fall back into my life

you go through them one by one.

from the beginning to the end.

all just mixed together.

patty griffin: rain

it's not that you want to live it all over. it's not that you have sorrow or regret. it's not that you were hurt.

it's that you need to understand.

from the beginning to the end.

patty griffin: forgiveness

the memories.

the thoughts.

the feelings.

they come and go.

wherever and whenever and however they must go.

so that you can understand.

patty griffin: you are not alone

and the emotions.

the emotions come and go.

wherever and whenever and however they must go.

so that you can understand.

james blunt: you're beautiful

there is no exhaustion. there is no anguish. there is no sorrow. there is no pain. those limits were passed long ago.

all that's left are memories and miles.

so that you can understand.

bill withers: ain't no sunshine

things happen the way they happen. people are the way they are. hearts feel the way they feel. it's just life.

this is just life...the treading of footsteps on a path. wherever paths always invariably ultimately were meant to go. to places that you cannot understand.

and all you know is that all you can know and all that you will know and all you were meant to know are the memories and miles and memories and miles and memories and miles and memories and miles so many as many as one after another one step after another running running running beneath the passing of your feet and the feelings of your heart and the rhythms that it beats.

and you realize then, in a cadence that is most bittersweet, that the only thing to understand is that there is nothing to understand.

u2: all i want is you

sometimes you wake up, and it's 5am, and before the alarm, and the clouds are low, and the air is still, and the world is quiet, and all you can do is to lie in bed and think and crawl into your clothes and wonder and fumble with your shoes and remember and stumble stumble stumble out your front door and then reflect.

on memories and miles.

on memories and miles.

on memories and miles.

and nothing else.

shaenon: time after time (cyndi lauper cover)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

choices in friends

we make certain choices in friends. choices in who we want to be associated with, choices in who we want to be with, choices in who we like.

the tendency is to make these choices with the same attitude we would like to approach everything else in our lives: in complete freedom, without limits, without constraints. consistent with our visions of clear horizons and infinite opportunities, with new paths lying everywhere waiting for us to explore, with every path a promise of something better than everything we've known before.

but we have to be careful in choosing which way we go; the consequences of our choices can be high.

choose the right kind of friend--a good friend, a real friend--and you'll have an ally who'll be a constant support and source of truth given in the deepest sincerity of your best interest, a companion who'll serve to ease your burdens and heal your hurts and calm your nerves, a partner who'll help you reach your goals and fulfill your hopes and realize your dreams and, if necessary, carry you to them on their own. choose the right kind of friend, and you'll have someone who makes you a better person...the person you were meant to be.

choose the wrong kind of friend--a bad friend, one not even deserving of the word--and you'll have an insidious parasite who'll only seduce you with lies and half-truths to serve their own self-interest, a poison who'll add to your suffering and magnify your pain and spread chaos in your life, a malevolence who'll pull you away from your goals and evaporate your hopes and divert your dreams and, when you least expect it, replace them all with nightmares. choose the wrong kind of friend, and you'll have someone who'll dominate you and make you nothing more than their personal slave.

our choices make a difference, particularly in the great race that is our life.

the right kind of friend will pull you through rough conditions and bad weather, they'll lift your spirit when things get tough, and when you need them most, they'll stay with you to whatever ends and see to it that you are all right, no matter the sacrifice they must make, even if it means giving you their very last drop of water, their very last morsel of food, their very last tube, or their very last bit of energy. so that you may rise again.

the wrong kind of friend will do none of the above. they'll stick around long enough to get what they want, and when things get rough and you no longer meet their desires, they'll betray you, and leave you, and in the process make sure to hurt you. for no other reason than it gives them pleasure. and they'll drink your water, and eat your food, and steal your tube, and destroy your energy. so that you may be crushed into oblivion.

our choices must be careful. especially when it comes to friends. especially in what it means to our race. especially in what it means in how we finish.