Sunday, November 9, 2014

Some Explanation is Warranted

I have gone back and forth, back and forth about killing this blog. Truth is: not many people read it. If you look at the little green icon at the very bottom right of this blog, you'll see the Sitemeter icon. That widget sends me stats every day via e-mail about hits. I'm no mommy-blogger with thousands upon thousands of followers on their blog and Instagram, I don't attend conferences on blogging, and who knows how I'm really supposed to get my blog out there. Before I even do that, I should ask myself "why?" Well, I don't have an answer and it's really not that important to me but it does make me question why I even write. The simple truth for why I began this blog is that 1) I wanted to help people, inspire them, and just be real. I have always said that if only one person was helped, it's worth it. Well, there have been MANY! The second truth is that I communicate best in writing. Even if there is something really important I need to tell my wife from my heart, I do it best with a pen and paper. So there you have it...the reason you haven't seen or read much from me lately...but there is one other thing.

Back in September, I was cruising along well in my world of running. Through the first 9 months of the year, I was killing it. I was averaging over 200 miles per month (a record in 17 years of running), had set PRs at the 50K distance and 40 mile distance, and was one ultra away from hitting a combined 60 marathons/ultra marathons. I was also over 100 days into a running streak with zero rest days. Everything was going awesome. Then one day just before the Akron Half Marathon, I felt "it" and told NO ONE. Back in 2009 when I did my three 100-milers, I got a stress fracture. In my 20 of my 3rd 100-miler that year, I showed it's ugly head and I ate Motrin for the next 80 miles...but I finished. Several months later and several misdiagnosis, I got a MRI and there was the stress fracture in my hip. Tons of rest that spanned months and I came back stronger than ever. Well, those symptoms I felt back then reappeared but on the opposite side. That scared the poo right out of me in September so I backed way off on the mileage but kept the streak going. Many days, I only ran a mile after October 1st to keep the streak alive. Eventually on October 19th, I pulled the plug at 122 days and a cumulative 833.4 miles. No streak was worth this. Since then, it's been a 5 miler here, a 6 miler there. Nothing much. However, I began to go stir crazy and was feeling better. Those symptoms I felt were going away. Confidence was building again. "What was I feeling?", I thought quite often. "Am I making this up in my head?" On October 26th, I was signed up for the Run with Scissors Double Marathon. I'm not a person who doesn't show up for a race I signed up for, known as a DNS (did not start). However, after praying about it and really spending time digging inward, every fiber in me said to stay home. It ended up being a picture-perfect Fall day for the race and I watched it from social media as runners posted about it all day. Sad...but no regrets.

About a week ago, I talked with friends of ours who go to a local Crossfit gym...or "box" as they're known. They go together but of course, work out and compete against themselves. I asked a million questions and listened to their advice. One thing that stood out was their reference to family at this particular gym. I am extremely against a place that is nothing more than a bunch of showboating, grunting, and pompous displays of "I'm all that." In the past, I haven't been a fan of Crossfit, based on only what I thought I knew by people posting online. If I'm being totally honest, I kinda turned my nose up at it. It seemed like a cult or something. I never considered it and figured I didn't have time for it as running was my main "love". I also didn't know of a local box to go to...but really, the aforementioned reason is the real reason I didn't consider it.

Regarding the "cult" following I mentioned above, here are my thoughts: I have often looked at things such as Crossfit, Yoga, Zumba, triathlons, etc. as "cults". I, however, being a long distance runner for the past 17 years never considered my own running a "cult" at all. I just looked at other things and thought of "them" as the cult...not me. After eating my thoughts last week and showing up to a Crossfit class for the first time, the tables were turned on me. Crossfit and those other things are no more "cult"-like than running is. Like-minded individuals doing a particular thing or sport. That's it, isn't it?! So whether it's basket-weaving, yoga class, running, mountain climbing, or CROSSFIT, don't they all fit the bill?! We all hear the term "cult following" with regards to many things. Even in the world of craft beer and northeast Ohio, most will not disagree with saying that Great Lakes Brewing Company has a cult following of their Christmas Ale. Only sold for two months, it represents more revenue than any other brew in their arsenal on an annual basis. That's cult-like, right?! So I looked up Merriam-Webster's definition. It's not exactly what I thought it was:
  1. formal religious veneration :  worship
  2. a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also :  its body of adherents
  3. a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also :  its body of adherents
  4. a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
  5. great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book)
I have always thought of "cult" as a bad thing...like "Waco, TX" bad. Per the definition above...specifically #5, I propose that it's bad IF we make it bad. I'd also say that all of the mentioned activities above are "cults"...per this definition. So there! I guess I've been in a running cult for 17+ years! But I digress...

This morning
So we began last Tuesday and went each day after that. Like I told Lisa, one of the trainers on day one, "I can run for 6 hours no problem, but you destroyed me in under 10 minutes." True! My wife and I have started it together and go together. It really has been like family so far and the trainers are hugely focused on safety, form, and proper execution of the "movements." Is it hard? HECK YEA, it's hard!!! Dang, I have felt like a puddle of mud on more than one occasion in the past 5 days. But I'm going to stick it out and see where it leads. I hope to become fitter through this and still go out and conquer ultra marathons next year. For now, though, I'm going to run a few times a week and hit the box 5 days a week. Today, actually, I got in a beautiful 10 miler through the country. 40F, some color still left out there, and quiet. I needed it...and I felt no pain or "symptoms" to speak of. When I got home, I stretched. So rare but now something I've been shown how to do and what to do. I am SO not flexible! It's going to be something I'll have to focus on every single day because being a runner for so many years has done that to me. However, I need that flexibility in Crossfit so I'll work hard to get there.

Have a great week, friends!

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