Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Something really struck a chord with me today when I read Gordo's blog last week. Gordo (father of a brand new baby boy!) is a great role model of mine, and someone who I hope to get to know better (he lives right down the road, but I have not really seen much of him since I arrived in Boulder. I frequently read his articles, and I would say he sometimes uses his writing as a form of self-examination, and a tool to make sense of and reflect on certain feelings, thoughts, and experiences. I like to use writing to achieve the same objective, but I rarely take the time to organize it in a coherent manner, and I share it even more infrequently. So then, why today? I have not blogged since January. Plus, it takes me a long time to write anything, due to my ADD (I wrote some beastly papers in college, and they took FOREVER. I was never a bang-out-a-paper-in-one-night type of guy). Well, apparently Gordo's self-examination, inspired by another's self-examination (upon reading Macca's new book), further inspired yet another self-examination, namely my own. It was Gordo's discussion of fear that set off the light bulb in my head. There is a lot that I am fearful of right now. Perhaps writing about my fears will illuminate them and maybe even help put me on the path toward squashing them.

Fear of being alone. I sit here, 12.5 months post University graduation, 1600 miles away, 5000 ft higher, a year older, and still feeling the more-common-than-you-might-think emptiness that follows college for a lot of kids. I definitely did not make this so easy on myself but taking off and moving to a place where I essentially knew nobody, had no job lined up, etc. I threw myself in the deep end and had no idea when I would reach the shore. I'm still floating here, but it's been wavy.
Why did I do this? It took a lot of courage to leave in the first place, considering the utter failure I experienced during the only other attempt at an extended departure from Rochester. My friends and family brought me back from the doldrums and made the last two years of college unforgettable and amazing. So obviously, packing up and leaving was going to be hard. I am and have always been fully aware of just how lucky I am to have such strong bonds with my loved ones, and I realize that this is not something everybody has. The attempt to build a support system here in Colorado is likely to take a while, and the fact that I am a very shy person does not help. There are certain situations that can bring out a very outgoing side of my personality, but the more time I spend alone, the more my shyness exhibits itself.
I moved to Colorado to pursue athletic dreams. Boulder has some of the best training opportunities in the USA. I could have chosen a number of other places, and to be honest the specific place was not the imperative deciding factor in leaving home. As far as I see it, in order to achieve or surpass my potential as an athlete, I need to be in an atmosphere where I can truly give 100% effort to chasing the dream. Part of that is avoiding temptations. Although I did a ton of racing and a lot of training in college, I did allow myself to have a "normal" college experience, complete with partying, etc. I wanted to leave that behind, and go somewhere that I could be free of such things. Even though I largely have freed myself of negative influences, I have also lost one of the most important contributing factors of my past successes: close proximity to a fully developed support system. Essentially, I've found very difficult to have my best friend, or my Dad be just the voice on the other side of the phone line. Sometimes you just need a hug. As I continue to drive forward, we will really get to see if I can do this without them. My flirtations with "depression" this year have not been due to some sort of mental illness or neuro-chemical imbalance. They've been because I miss the people I love.
Some of my closest friends are eyeing Boulder as a possible home for the next few years, and I really hope that they decide to come out. Chuckie and Ang will be back for the summer. A couple of buddies will be here to visit over the next couple of months. I do continue to meet people and make friends, but I have to realize it will take more than 9 months to develop what it took 10-20 years to build in NY. I think that things will continue to get better.

Fear of failure. Getting to the elite level is not an easy thing to do. Unless you're a mega-talent, it takes a lot of work to do. Everybody feels that they are not doing enough. I've focused on my run over the past few months, allowing my swimming to drop way off focus. Now the alarm bells are going off. It's difficult to maintain perspective. I am a working man (at a low paying job), and work is a stress. Too much stress and the body cannot grow. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Jack Daniels speak twice when I went to OTC camp back in high school, and both times he talked about happiness and a lack of stress being an essential part of training progression (he talks a little bit about it here, albeit indirectly). For now, the best thing I can do is focus on doing things to put myself in a position to achieve more quality training farther down the road (consistent running is the most important thing I can do). Really, patience is key. But as a twenty-something year old, patience is one of the most difficult virtues to exude. Things go wrong, and, as Chuck says, we have to be able to adapt and make the best out of the situation. I am trying to do that. One of my favorite university professors says of myself and my co-eds, "we are doomed to success." However, there is always fear of coming up short.

Fear of the unknown
I can use the sea-faring voyage for this one. I've set off on a ship, and I have an idea of where I want to go. I do not know what sort of storms I will encounter along the way, or if/when I reach my destination, it will be the one I had in mind. I guess we will see. Some career moves are in the works which I am excited about, but there is of course the fear that it will not be the right move, or that I may not achieve my desired amount of success. All I can do is keep moving forward, and working hard.

In an uncontrollable world, the only thing you can control is yourself. You choose how you present yourself to the world and respond to adversity and challenge. You cannot grab things by the scruff of the neck and make them work in your favor. However, if you make sure you do everything in your power to put yourself in a position where good things can happen for you. That is what I am trying to do.

For those of you who have helped me through thus far, thank you so much. I love you. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I am going to have a hard time being without you.

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