Saturday, October 31, 2009

a kick in the nuts

you meet some interesting characters in endurance sports, particularly for ultra-endurance events like Ironman. they are without a doubt very unique personalities--you have to be one, or you have to become one, in order to get through the transformative experience of long-distance races--and they are the kind that tend to stick with you in your mind.

and i mean this in a good way: the people i've met are some of the best human beings i've ever met, and among the best exemplars of human nature i've ever seen. i consider myself lucky to have met them, and consider myself lucky to continue meeting them. each one has an indelible story to give, with their own slate of lessons learned.

one comes from a former member of my school's triathlon program (a certain Southern California university located in Los Angeles: go Trojans!). i found out that this particular person, apart from being an MBA student and Ironman triathlete, was incidentally also a former U.S. Navy SEAL instructor. i won't give his name, since i suspect he's loathe to give out that kind of personal information about himself, and i won't mention how i met him (that's a story, and quite an entertaining one, for another time).

at some point during the course of our time in the program, we got into a conversation about the requisite character attributes necessary to do ultra-endurance races. in particular, we were talking about our responses to the question people always ask: how do you prepare yourself for an Ironman?

after swapping stories and talking theories, my acquaintance looked at me and smiled and said that in response to the question he usually went back to his SEAL training, and that one of the things that was told to him (and that he subsequently passed on to recruits as an instructor) was the associated question: how do you prepare yourself for a kick in the nuts?

the idea, essentially, is that an experience like Ironman is invariably (indelibly? inevitably? perpetually?) unpleasant. there are some who might beg to differ. but put it this way: which would you associate as being more pleasurable, sex or Ironman? personally, i would hope it would be sex with an Ironman (preferably me, but again, that's a different story). anways, you get the idea.

no matter how you look at it, Ironman is not going to be easy. it's going to be a challenge. it's going to be hard. it's going to be painful. that, in part, is why it is the experience that it is. and that is why you're going to have to deal with it no matter how you perceive it...hopefully with a response that is constructive and conducive to you achieving your goals.

and how you respond to it determines how you finish it--or if you finish it at all.

so to answer the original question, i go back to my acquaintance, who concluded his comments with a shrug and a smile that can only be described as strangely enigmatic, paradoxically mystical, laconically humorous, and supremely dry:

how do you prepare yourself for an Ironman?

how do you prepare yourself for a kick in the nuts?

the answer is you don't.

you just take it.

and move on.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

the going sure is nice

there are days when you wake up, and everything is right. the air is clear, the wind is crisp, the light is soft, the land is still, and time is more than time and space is more than space and the world is more than the world and

you want to go
everywhere; everywhere
is the murmuring of whispers deep in the mist with the message
that calls you forth to venture beyond your mind
to places you do not know and that you cannot find but which
you most assuredly were meant to understand as clear as the meaning of this sacred morning.

and on these days, you arise in the bliss
that comes with the certainty
that lies in the calm
that holds the secret
that is the beyond

wherever; wherever
the water is harsh the wind is sharp the terrain is steep the body is afire
but does not can not will not reach you

you are a solitary single soul upon golden glowing tree-lined shaded sheltered streets lying in the light of foothills rising in the silence to the majesty of god's great mountains and the realization that you are reaching one step closer to the face of heaven and the sanctity that is the sacred that is the stillness that is eternity
breathing; breathing
guiding seeking aspiring following wandering journeying
in the rhythm that goes as deep and as strong and as certain as the symphony of the song of the sublime sung by the holy of the story of the truths that are the most divine
out there

you do not know
you do not know
you do not know
the going sure is nice.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

rappstar's IMAZ 2009 charity event

this is positively brilliant. so brilliant, in fact, that i feel compelled to pass the word:
some of you may have seen the announcement for this already on Slowtwitch:
yes, i know. i just did a social-cause post, and some of you may already be feeling some compassion fatigue. but this caught my eye because it connects Ironman to underdeveloped communities, and i think any attempt to do something like that--especially logically coherent ones like this--deserves to be lauded.

essentially, pro Ironman triathlete Jordan Rapp is using Ironman Arizona 2009 as a vehicle for generating financial support for his efforts to supply bicycles to secondary school children in Zambia. these children frequently travel long distances to reach school, and the idea is that bicycles would alleviate this problem and thereby eliminate at least one of the many myriad challenges facing their education.

the concept is this: Jordan Rapp has created a raffle, with the cost of each raffle ticket being $134. $134 is the cost of 1 bicycle in Zambia, which means that each raffle ticket is going to donate 1 bicycle to a school kid in Zambia. the raffle prizes are given in the Slowtwitch announcement. raffle prizes will be awarded on-line following IMAZ. in addition, Jordan will donate a portion of his prize money, should he get any, towards purchase of the bikes.

so for any of you triathletes, Ironman or otherwise, who have desires to relate your sport to social causes, this is an opportunity. feel free to check it out, and if it meets your wishes, feel free to donate.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

blog action day 2009: climate change

social conscience, social consciousness, and sports are not often associated with one another. for whatever reason (and i admit, there are many), people just don't generally associate athletes and athleticism with concerns for the larger world.

which i think is unfortunate, and one that i think should be dispelled.

as part of this, i am writing this post. some of you may have noticed the presence of the following badge on this blog:

this is the badge for Blog Action Day, an international effort to coordinate blogs from around the world on behalf of various causes, with blogs being asked to raise awareness by posting entries on October 15 of every year on specific themes. for 2009, the theme is climate change, with the goal of helping educate internet users on the issues of climate change. you can learn more at their website (, and also check out their video on Youtube:

i've been remiss about Blog Action Day. i participated in it in 2007 (reference: Blog Action Day 2007), but missed it in 2008 (no excuses, i just let it slip, and it was entirely my own fault).

this year's theme is close to my heart. the bulk of my research and classes relate to international environmental and human rights issues. i deal with climate change--and its political and legal ramifications--quite extensively.

i'm not going to be so conceited as to bore you with details of what i've found in my work, but i will support the cause by providing everyone with information about climate change that i think they can stand to learn, particularly in terms of athletics.

believe it or not, there's been a fair amount of stuff written about the connection between sports and climate change, with articles and reports in the mainstream media, private sources, and even governments. i've selected an assortment of the more comprehensive ones that discuss how sports contributes to climate change and climate change impacts sports:
there's also been efforts by athletes to support climate change as a cause, and i've found some pretty notable examples of Olympic and professional athletes calling for more awareness of climate change:
and of course, if you want to familiarize yourself with the current efforts to deal with climate change, i offer links that i use on a regular basis:
hope that helps. if you have any questions, feel free to write. otherwise, contribute to the cause!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

what if

we make choices in life. choices we don't like. choices difficult. choices uncertain. choices with consequences that reverberate throughout our lives with the whispers of what we did, and leave us to wonder forever what if.

what if we had thought what should have been thought?

what if we had said what should have been said?

what if we had done what should have been done?

what if we had taken

the different direction
the other way
the separate path
and gone

what if we had opened that door and proceeded outside and breathed a deep breath and stepped the first step of the only journey that ever really mattered

but we didn't. for lack of knowledge, for lack of diligence, for lack of effort, for lack of resolve, for lack of courage. for whatever myriad reasons that never really matter other than that they remind us of what we missed and call to us of what we lost and tell us that it was ourselves and then leave us to wonder what if

and nothing more.

which is dangerous. it's not good. it's not right. it's not healthy.

because, you see, the danger with what if is that it often means we spend so much of our now looking at our past that we miss the arrival of our future...and its departure with the rest of our lives.

wondering about what might have been means forgetting about what might be--and leaving it forever as exactly that:


ought could should would

of unrealized dreams
of unmet expectations
of unfulfilled hopes
of unlived lives of

ought could should would


when it must need have will


of dreams made real
of expectations exceeded
of hopes surpassed
of lives lived


there's nothing that we can do about what we did. nothing that we can do to change our choices. nothing that we can do about the consequences. what is what was now history.

we can't control the past. all we can do is to endeavor to see it not become our future. and that means we proceed with our now.

and that means we take whatever knowledge diligence effort resolve courage myriad reasons that gives us ourselves and open that door and proceed outside and breathe a deep breath and step the first step of the only journey that ever really matters and


and make of it our life beyond any imagination.