Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mental Breathing

"It is what it is"
I hate this phrase. To me, (in corporate American culture) this means give up, don't try to change or improve "IT". This is also NOT how I am wired. I have always lived pulling myself up from my own bootstraps; which isn't easy - especially recently. I still refuse to quit trying. I believe that if you aren't trying to improve you are regressing. Much like a shark who must swim to force water over their gills to breathe, humans must mentally always swim to allow their brain to breathe. I truly don't understand how people "settle" for spouses, salaries, homes, cars, fitness, education - name it - because they don't believe in themselves enough to soar higher. Perhaps this is my largest asset in triathlon. I keep trying and believe in myself (most of the time).
This is a completely unrelated picture but it comes from Disney World where "dreams come true".

My first triathlon coach used to kick dirt on my feeling that I could race as a pro one day if I had enough time to train. He always came back to one statement, "Well Bob, some people just have more talent." OK, I'll give you that. Some (many) people are more talented than I am. One part of talent is believing you can do whatever it is you set out to do. My greatest assets are my work ethic, belief in myself, and ability to ignore pain for L-O-N-G periods of time. One of the reasons I said sayonara to that coach was his inability to understand that I believe in me and that is really all that maters. An astute business person would have recognized this and at least went along with it. I think the best "shocker" for him was seeing me only two miles behind him at Ironman in Kona in the Energy Lab. Reader's note: This is only a few minutes before my mile 19 experience with hyper-sodium evacuation (read: super diarrhea blasts from taking too many salt tablets for my body). For one shining moment he actually looked at his watch in an "Oh sh*t" moment of understanding that I was right there and closing the gap on other pros and him very quickly in my first Ironman and first marathon. (Great time for a first marathon, eh?) We'll never know what may have happened with a bit more experience or better nutritional advice going into Kona 2000. This is what drives me to get back. I believe I can hang -even at 38. Picture is of a port-a-let at mile 19 in the Energy Lab- I spent about 50 minutes in there in 2000.
"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible." - Arthur C. Clarke

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you."
- Henry Ward Beecher

There is a small group of people locally who are very talented age group racers who mock me within their training circles. I know about them and I don't care. Some work at a bike shop, others a running store, some have talked to me directly, but most in this small group haven't directly approached me. The key missing to their discussion about me is that I don't care about their approval of my ability or effort. My friends will always back me no matter what. I race because I have been blessed with strong enough health (mental and physical) to be at the race. Go ahead and dismiss my genuine enthusiasm for helping others discover triathlon. I actually feel sorry for you. If you fear me and my motivation - your life must not be very focused on improving yourself at all. When I race, I hope everyone has a great day. That is the essence of this sport. You see it every year in the Kona broadcast. The person beaten down by the race - still fighting to get to the line. Julie Moss, Jon "Blazeman" Blais, Bob McKeague (at 81!), Sister Madonna Buder (at 76!), Bob Scott (at 76!), Sara Reinertsen, Major David Rozelle, and this year in Kona Rudy Garcia. Getting involved in raising money for ALS research, Cancer research, Challenged Athletes - helping others reach their potential - this is the joy of life and those folks are missing it in their self absorbed, mentally weak lives. My friend Kim had a similar situation in her life. Those around her didn't understand her genuine enthusiasm for life, so I'm not the only one facing this situation. I believe in Kim, Tim, Liz, John, Jerome, Jen, Jay, Don, Caryn, Dean and many others because they believe in themselves.My friends Bob & Maryann McKeague two days before he became the oldest finisher in Ironman Hawaii history.

I will continue to swim forward like the shark with genuine enthusiasm. I will dance like nobody is watching. I will sing loudly as if nobody is listening. I hear the music. Do you hear your own?

John Wooden's Seven-Point Creed:
"Making the Most of Oneself"
  1. Be true to yourself
  2. Make each day your masterpiece
  3. Help others
  4. Drink deeply from good books
  5. Make friendship a fine art
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day
  7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

- John Wooden


  1. Bob,
    this was your best post so far!! It is SOOO true and to really REALLY succeed one must remove themselves from all the nay-sayers and negative energy. There will always be that. Rise above it all and create your own life and success, just like you are.
    :) Happy to know you. Jen H.

  2. Great post, Bob. LOVE the picture of the porta-potty in Kona. We've ALL been there. Mine may not have been at mile 19 - but it was out there somewhere....