Monday, August 21, 2017

East Bound and Down

  "East bound and down, loaded up and truckin'
   We're gonna do what they say can't be done
   We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there
   I'm east bound, just watch ol' Bandit run"

For many years, one of my running goals has been to cross the USA on foot. At some point, I don't remember when, I thought I'd like to try to break the world record (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) for fastest crossing of the country on foot, held since 1980 by Frank Giannino in a time of 46 days, 8 hours and 36 minutes. I thought the time to try would be in 2018, the year I turn 50.

So along comes Pete Kostelnick, a young 30-year-old, who breaks Frank's record last year by four days, in an astonishing time of 42 days, 6 hours and 30 minutes! I was fortunate enough to meet Pete and run with him on his last day through the streets of New York City. He's a super guy, very cool, very nice, a fellow (former) Nebraskan, and he didn't seem too beat up at all for having run roughly 3000 miles.

But then what am I supposed to do, give up on the record just because it's tougher and seemingly unbreakable? I don't think so. Even though I'll be 50 years old, 20 years older than Pete, I plan to make my world-record attempt at crossing the USA, from San Francisco to New York, starting Tuesday, August 21, 2018, one year from today at 5:00 a.m. PDT. I will then have to finish before 2:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, October 2. That will require running 70+ miles per day, depending on the route and actual mileage. This is something I am confident that I am capable of doing, keeping in mind that it will take nearly everything to go right for it to happen.

It will also take a lot of support both from crew and from sponsors, as it won't come cheap. I will have to do heavy sponsor searching and fundraising, so anyone reading who would like to help, please feel free to contact me.

It's a lot of work ahead, both in physical training and in planning and coordinating. I've told a number of people of my plan, but now I'm making it public, and it scares the hell out of me in a way, but it is the Year of Courage after all, and the excitement is already taking hold. I'd like to thank Pete for encouraging me in my attempt (I think you encouraged me, didn't you?) as well as another man I'm proud to call my friend, Marshall Ulrich, who made his own cross-country run in 2008. I plan to study both of their runs closely to determine the best approach for me.

So there you have it, step one! I will set up a facebook page and a web site for this soon, so I hope you will all follow along. Till then, I've got other races to run, I'll see you all out there somewhere I hope!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

King of Fear/Year of Courage

I consider myself the King of Fear. At one time or another in my life, I’ve been afraid of just about everything. When I was four, I was afraid of thunder and lightning. Now I love a good thunderstorm. At five I was terrified of street cleaners. If I saw one, I’d immediately run screaming and crying home before I got run over and chopped into a million pieces. I’m happy to say that I’ve overcome those fears, and many others. I’m still not too crazy about being in the water, and high places manage to give me the heebie-jeebies, although I did successfully jump 14,000 feet out of a plane last year. So, at the beginning of this year, I declared 2017, for myself at least, to be the year of courage. It will be the year to push myself out of my comfort zone to discard as many of my fears as possible.

Honestly, having always been a very shy person, my greatest fears have always been certain types of personal interaction, especially if they required me to initiate the interaction, or if it involved any sort of confrontation. And there have been what I call milestones of fear that I've had to face that really just made me shake. There was the terrifying moment the first time I asked a girl out on a date (and got shot down - you know who you are!). Then years later there was the exponentially more terrifying moment the first time I asked a guy out on a date (shot down again!). There were the times I had to be harsh with people when required. But certainly living in New York City for over 22 years has been very beneficial, absolutely requiring so many types of interaction on a daily basis, forcing me to overcome many of my fears.

One type of confrontation I've always been afraid to engage in is political arguments. Over the course of 30 years as an adult voter, I've seen and heard a lot of things that I haven't liked or agreed with, some things even that were downright indefensible. But I held my tongue to avoid confrontation. It's so much easier to get along that way. In that time, many of my views, political and social, have changed, many have not, and society's norms have changed as well. I've usually been able to roll with it all.

But what will happen in just a couple days puts another fear in me that will require me to stop holding my tongue, to speak honestly for the months and years ahead. I don't fear for myself, really. I'm an American-born, white Christian male with a job, good health, and health insurance. I'll be fine. I worry for those who are not white, Christian, employed, healthy, insured men, because everyone outside of that bubble is in danger of losing their opportunity, their money, their voice, their freedom, or potentially more. What I see from this individual we have elected to lead our nation is nothing good, but only judgement and immature insults and condemnation, and the appeal not to our courage, but to our fears. I also see way too much of it from our other government leaders. I also see it from those who support this man. I also see it from those who oppose this man. So stop it. Stop the stupid fear.

Remember, I'm the king of fear, I've been there, I've experienced it, I've lived it. I know what it looks like, I know what it sounds like, I know what it smells like. You have it. I have it. Recognize when it is unwarranted. If you are claustrophobic, don't start ripping the walls apart, because they are not actually closing in on you. There are definitely some situations and actions and words that must be condemned, that are indefensible. But the larger the group of people you condemn, the less likely they are to deserve it. Solving the problems in our world requires the abandonment of this fear, it requires that we not fear and condemn, for example, undocumented workers, or Muslims, or those who live in violent neighborhoods, but rather look at the complex economic, political, social and historical issues that bring about problems in the areas where the problems exist. It's the same way in which solving the problems in our own personal lives requires that we lose our personal fears as well.

So I will call on everyone to make this their year of courage, to overcome your fears to find solutions to problems. This is required of all of us as citizens, and it takes a conscious effort. This doesn't mean the courage to shout louder than anyone else, that requires no courage at all. Have the courage to learn (that damn "L" word again!) - this means everyone! Have the courage to own and admit your mistakes. Have the courage to step outside your bubble. Have the courage to listen, respectfully. Have the courage to speak and express, respectfully and responsibly. Have the courage to write your own words, perhaps even in the form of complete sentences and paragraphs, instead of reposting a meme, even at the risk of public criticism, which might even be deserved. At the risk of failure, try. Be better than our leaders, because you are. Aim higher. But stay away from street cleaners. Happy 2017!