Thursday, July 28, 2011

Racing Beyond Self...

In Chris McCormack's excellent book, I'm Here to Win, Macca has a chapter titled "Racing for My Mother." In it, he talks about losing his mom to cancer in a scant six weeks; the misery of trying to move forward, being lost, and then realizing the rest of the world is passing him by. Instead of wallowing in sadness, Macca instead battles forward, racing in her honor (putting the number of days she lived, 19455, on his singlet), and establishing the MaccaNOW Foundation.

The chapter reflects a fair bit of my own racing, and why I got into the sport. There is something to be said for racing for something greater than yourself. But at the same time, I don't necessarily race for something greater than myself; those people are part of who I am.

With that in mind, every race I go forward with, I'll have my Garmin on, my RoadID, a race ID bracelet if required, and then one with the following initials, in honor of the people who have helped make me who I am today.

PTB--Peter Booty: my father-in-law, whose story lines up with the chapter in I'm Here to Win that I had to put the book down for a good hour while I finished bawling. His work ethic, dedication to family, and love of the outdoors inspires me every day. It is also for him that I wear the frog green and black of The Sustainable Athlete team kits, and why my bike is named Kermit.

DCT--Dale Thompson: my uncle, who I lost quite recently. His battle with addiction, and personal demons, and the fact that he held on as long as he did, motivate me. I can't think of how hard things were for him, and it puts every little thing I deal with in perspective for me.

THx2--Terry and Tom Heisler: my parents. Both bust their asses, every day, for everything. They've always put my best interests to heart. Although I'd never tell them that, face to face. They are my parents, after all, so it's my job to be a pain in their respective behinds. But without them, I wouldn't know what hard work is. I wouldn't know pushing through things, no matter how hard they may be. They've taught me the benefit of working to your end goal. It makes it so much more worth it.

HBH--Hannah Booty Heisler: my loving wife, who I have the pleasure of waking up to every day. She is an absolute treasure, and I am incredibly lucky to have her presence in my life.

Of course, there's hundreds of others that I could include, like my siblings; in-laws; extended family; friends; co-workers; etc. But there's not enough room! (After all, we have to be aero while wearing this, too.) But when the going gets tough, I can simply remind myself of who helped me get to where I am now, and where I plan to go.

Programming Note: You may have noticed an inherent lack of product reviews here on CTB. That's because I've been busy hosting Maine Running Company's Tech Talk, a video product review series. Check it out there for some reviews of the Nike GPS Sportwatch, the Nineteen and Orca wetsuit lines, the New Balance 890, and running hydration options.

Upcoming posts here on Crashing the Boards will feature the long-awaited Orca Sonar review, the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly III cycling shoe review, and a talk about my expected path to becoming a USAT-certified coach.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Smallest Oceans Still Get Big, Big Waves...

Post title stolen from Pearl Jam's "Tremor Christ."

I'm not one to often dwell on with life, wondering why things keep happening to me.

This is one of those times.

It's been a rough year. As of this writing, I've now lost three family members and a good friend. And it keeps feeling like when things start looking up, we keep getting kicked back down.

That said, it's time to soldier onward. I race for the memory of these people. I train for these people. And I will kick some serious tail.

Why? Because it is that "why" that comes out when I've got to grind out miles on the bike. Sometimes, riding or running angry is good for the soul. It's my therapy.

So, if you see me (I mean, come on, I am pretty fricking obvious out on the road), just give me a wave, or make sure I'm riding like hell.

Crashing the Boards will return next week with regular blog postings, including a review of the Orca Sonar wetsuit.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Simple Question, Complex Answer

You went to law school. And you're not a lawyer?



Well, kids, now time for the fun part of the story.

I'll start off by stating the obvious: I didn't go into law school thinking that, at the end of it, I'd be left wanting to do something else. I was positive that this would result in me practicing, and enjoying myself while doing it. I had such a wonderful experience learning about law, going through the mechanics of all had an aura.

Of course, that's not how it really works.

Law, when you really boil it down, is nothing more than a set of very simple items that have been overcomplicated for the simple fact that you can charge more for technobabble than you can for simple words. The Philadelphia Lawyer has written pretty extensively on the topic, and he and I have been back and forth on Twitter more than a few times. Law need not be so complicated, nor an expensive venture. But it is, for the sake of the Almighty Dollar.

Couple that with my actual experience in the legal world (as I manage to get a guy guilty as sin off for murder based simply on a pre-trial motion to exclude testimony), and you come to a very sad realization:

Our justice system is not about fairness, or equality, but simply: who made the best argument. And often times, this will only mean: whoever was lucky enough to hire the better lawyer comes out on top.

That's not fairness. That's not helping people. That, instead, is high crime across the board.

In other words: it made me physically sick to do that. I mean, not just the "oh, I hated it" bit. No, I mean full bore attacks of nausea, nightmares, anxiety attacks, the whole shebang. My left eye didn't stop twitching for a month. Yet here I was, attempting to struggle through, because I had invested so much money into this venture, until I came to a rational conclusion:

If I am making myself sick doing this, why the hell are you doing it?

Was it what I loved? No.
Was it what I wanted? No.
Was I helping people the way I wanted? No.
Did I have viable career alternatives? Yes.
Then what the hell is stopping you?

Fear. The knowledge that you must jump and take the plunge that so few talk about, but so many dream of. I can't honestly say that I would be so willing to get out of law had I, say, not made this discovery a year into the field after making 65-70K in that first year. But because I never had it, I don't need to chase it.

Instead, I've made phenomenal discoveries about myself: I'm not a Monday through Friday, punch the same hours kind of guy. I like to work random hours. I've had amazing experiences, talking with thousands of people as I've fit people for shoes. Hell, I've been fitting people for shoes over the Internet now. (And receiving Trappist ale in the process. Thanks again, David!)

If it weren't for what I do, I wouldn't have met folks like Ton with Sports Bistro. I wouldn't know great coaches like Kurt (PBM Coaching) and the Sustainable Athlete crew. I'm forever grateful to JR and Maggie for taking me on at Maine Running when I was supremely burnt out of the field, and giving me the sense of community within sport and city.

So, what is it I want to do when I grow up?

First and foremost, I'm going to keep working in the running/multisport field. Whether that's in retail, or on the vendor side, who knows. But I also want to coach athletes. I want to help others achieve their best. I want to help unlock other's potential, just as others have helped unlock mine. It is what I feel I can best do. At 25 going on 72, I've had a hell of a journey so far. And I want to help share mine, and hope it can lead somebody else down a path to success.

Conventional wisdom, be damned.