The Burden

•November 10, 2016 • Leave a Comment

It’s been almost ten years since I graduated from college. I remember my last year. It was a really uncertain time. I remember feeling nervous, scared even about what was coming next. Up until that point my life had kind of been planned out for me from year to year. After grade school I would go to Junior High, after that I would go to Highschool, and then College, and then……I didn’t know. As scary as each of those transitions were for me at the time, at least I knew where I was going and what to expect and prepare for. Coming to the end of my academic life was terrifying because I really had no idea what would come next, or what to prepare for. So much was in flux, I found myself worrying about my future. Am I going to make it? Am I going to have to move back in with my parents? 

It’s around that time that I found running, or maybe running found me. Running offered me some consistency. It gave me confidence and i saw progress that was easily measured. It calmed my fears and gave me a positive optimistic outlook on life. Around that same time I started writing and blogging. I found it to be therapeutic.  

I woke up today feeling much like I did 10 years ago; uncertain, nervous, and scared. So here I am, once again writing and running. As far as the running is concerned, I am giving it one last go. Over the years I have had a number of injuries that have plagued me and compounded over the years. Recently I’ve sought out some new treatment and it has given me a renewed sense of hope in my potential. I’m banking on running once again coming to my rescue. 

So now, where do we go from here? I did not think this was possible. I do understand that people are sick and tired of the same old same old when it comes to our political system. I get that dramatic change is desired….but electing Trump as the person to bring it about? I know a lot of people are devastated, and worried. I think that holds particularly true for blacks, hispanics, muslims, and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.  I’ve never felt like this before. I’ve disagreed with past candidates, I’ve had concerns about legislation they were trying to pass but I’ve never genuinely worried about being driven off of a cliff. 

So now, where do we go from here? We need help, and I think the only people in a position to offer that help is everyone who supported and voted from Trump. It’s to them that I address right now:

Congratulations. Your work of getting Trump elected is over, your work of bringing people together under one banner now begins. If we can agree on one thing is that we all want prosperity and peace and the freedom to live our lives as we so desire. We have different ideas of how to achieve that. The burden is now on you to show us a better way. Yes, you. This doesn’t fall to Trump alone. You have just as much a responsibility as he does. There are a lot of people who are genuinely and, given what has been said, done and proposed, understandably frightened. Show us why we shouldn’t be. Quell our fears. You have the presidency and both houses. You will have the Supreme Court. You have an enormous opportunity here. Show us a better way. Take some time to revel in your victory but then put aside the vitriol of the past 2 years and get to work. Show us a better way. I stand ready and open to your ideas for the country to the extent that they do not infringe on basic human rights, and equality or drag us into international quagmire conflict. Do not abuse this power. We live in a democracy, you still need a coalition to get things done. Do not simply brush aside those who did not support your candidate and push forward with your agendas. You won the electoral college decisively, but he mindful that you do not have the popular vote. It’s about 50/50 with Clinton having a slight lead and millions more having supported a third party candidate or no one at all. This is not a mandate. 

We are as divided as we have ever been. No president in the past couple of decades has been able to bridge the divide. With the election over we owe you and the new President Elect the opportunity to show us how you plan to be different. 

But first some of our most severe fears need to be quelled first for our minds to be even open to that possibility. They are, in no particular order:

  • That gender equality is going to be undermined
  • Gary rights and gay marriage laws reversed
  • Trade wars that will eventually lead to military wars 
  • The fall of NATO and our eastern and western allies relationships destroyed
  • A full on war in the Middle East with American men and women on the ground
  • The potential for a shoot first and negotiate later approach in our international affairs
  • Any progress we’ve made with racial equality being undone with things like stop and frisk being reimplemented 
  • The fact that though not every Trump supporter embraces hateful, racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic ideology, there is a large portion that does and with his election, it validates those feelings and says it’s ok. It is not. 

So if those concerns are put to rest and Trump is serious about trade deals, and economic policies, perhaps there is room.  

Honestly this just hurts. To see people gloat and revel, waving rebel flags celebrating…..I don’t really have words for it. I can only hope that Trump really means what he said in his acceptance speech and that all of that horrible rhetoric was only used to garnish support amongst people he cleverly knew he needed in order to win, and maybe he will walk back on the wall, banning muslims, climate change being a hoax……god that’s a lot of walking. The burden is on you. Show us a better way. 

For now, all I can do is hope, and run. 

Up in Arms

•December 22, 2012 • 2 Comments

We are living in a very unique period in history. Ever since this country was formed we have had disagreements on just about everything. Politics, religion, economics, civil rights, The stones or the Beatles? I believe our founding fathers expected division on issues, even welcomed it and envisioned a future where two or more parties would bring forth ideas and propositions, debate on them, compromise, and at the end of the day reach an agreement and act in the best interest of the general population. They must be rolling in their collective graves at this point.

Today, after a week of silence, the NRA held a press conference. The gun control debate has been a hot button issue for many years now, but with this most recent tragedy at Sandy Hook in Newtown Connecticut, it seems to have reached something of a tipping point. Last Friday 20 beautiful, innocent children and 6 brave, selfless adults lost their lives when a man armed with several weapons, including a semi automatic assault rifle, forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary and fired off over a hundred rounds. As per usual, and it’s sad and unacceptable that I am able to phrase it like that, when one of these tragedies strikes, the NRA lies low. Initially people are up in arms, no pun intended, and we see an outcry for stricter gun regulation. This lasts for a couple of weeks, and then we settle back into some sense of normalcy and the issue fades away. This time feels different though, and based off of the press conference, the NRA most certainly senses that. In the past the NRA was adamantly defended the right to bear arms, often to extreme levels and lengths. I had high hopes that perhaps today would be different, but that was not the case.

Before I go any further I want to take a moment to make my position on this inescapably clear. The closest thing I own to a weapon is my extensive collection of super-soakers and light sabers. I have the right to own a gun, I just choose not to exercise that right. Though I’m not a gun owner, I am absolutely in no way opposed to people owning them. Whatever your position is on this issue I think we can all agree that there are many legitimate and even rationale reasons for civilians owning a firearm. Some use them for hunting, or target shooting. Some own them for personal protection, both for themselves and for their families, and still some are just collectors who admire the craftsmanship in a firearm. I imagine that many owners probably fit into all of those categories.

My point is I am not one of those out there screaming for a ban on guns. That’s completely unrealistic, and I don’t think that would solve the gun violence problem anyhow. There are many sound minded and responsible people out there who own guns. I think we can also all agree that we would prefer firearms to be in the hands of those types of people. So the question is, how can we go about achieving that? What laws/regulations can we put into place to help make that happen? That’s what I’m all about. So do not mistake anything I say for the extreme rhetoric from some whom oppose guns altogether. Now something I do believe is that we absolutely do not need to have semi automatic assault weapons in the hands of any civilian. Unless deer start wearing body armor, we certainly don’t need them for hunting. I understand that some owners of these weapons just enjoy collecting and shooting them at the range, and that we would be in essence allowing the actions of some to infringe on owners’ hobbies and personal enjoyment. I’m sorry. Really I am. It sucks. But look, there are many times in our lives where we have to sacrifice something for the greater good or the good of someone else. If I was an owner of one these weapons and a piece of legislation was being proposed to prohibit my ownership of them in an effort to reduce violent crimes, I would hope that I would be alright with that. I’m sure I would be upset and even a little conflicted about it, but if this meant that there was even a chance of preventing tragedies like what happened last Friday from happening again, I would hope that I, and others, would get on board. I just don’t think that style of weapon with high-capacity clips are necessary. That’s what we should ask ourselves. What is necessary? Do we need an assault weapon capable of firing off hundreds of rounds for hunting, or self-protection? I think there are other options that work just fine.

Now if we were to ban assault weapons that would not mean that violence, or even mass shootings, would end all together and everything would be sweetness and light. I fully believe that those out there intending to do harm, will find a way. But guns are an easy way to do it. They’re super accessible, and don’t exactly take a rocket scientist to operate. And not everyone who commits these kinds of atrocities are plotting and scheming for months or years on how they’re going to do it. Many have mental issues that play a role in their eventual break from reality. When that break happens guns make for an extremely easy way for them to act on their fragmented and delusional state of mind. I firmly believe that if these weapons were not so readily available that we would see a drop in these types of shootings. And yes you can point to some statistics that show an increase in violent crimes coinciding with stricter gun laws, but if you look at the data on the majority of those statistics you will see that violent crimes were already rising before laws were put into place. So, I don’t think that’s really a strong or even valid point to make. The fact is we are far stricter and have more regulations around owning and operating a vehicle than we do a gun.

And yes more people are killed per year from vehicles, than guns. The difference though is that a car is not designed to take life away, where as that is a gun’s primary purpose. Whether that life be a human or an animal, that is why it exists. I know it can be part of a collection, or used for target practice, but you’re not practicing shooting targets just to get better at shooting targets (save for those who really are competitive shooters). You’re improving your skill with a weapon in the event that one day you might have to use it for what it is primarily designed to do. Take life away. I’m 29 and my driver’s license expires in 2016. I will be 32, and I will have to go to the DMV to be issued a new license if I wish to continue driving a car. Would it not then be reasonable to have similar regulation for firearms? Many times you don’t even need a license to own a gun. Surely, we can make some improvements.

So to sum up in general my position on this issue, I’m all for the 2nd amendment, I don’t believe we need assault weapons, and I think we need to seriously revise our current policies and regulations on gun ownership.

Now back to the NRA. As I said, I was not surprised by their response. (And I’m going continue to use the word “they” as the men who spoke, spoke on behalf of the millions of the NRA’s members, and if you’re a member and you weren’t happy with the way you were being represented, I suggest and encourage you to speak out) They took a hard-lined aggressive stance and immediately went on the defense, playing the victim. THEY ARE NOT THE VICTIM HERE. The VICTIMS are being buried this weekend. The NRA had an opportunity. They are a group that holds a great deal of political and social power. For better or worse, they are very influential. But instead of showing even the slightest hint of a willingness to compromise and cooperate, they went rogue. They immediately started pointing fingers at everyone except themselves. Anytime that a person or organization absolves themselves of all responsibility, you can be sure that they actually have a great deal of responsibility and know it, and know that they are vulnerable and in fact fear their own vulnerability. It’s this very fear that continues to hinder the NRA and prevents them from being part of a meaningful and productive debate on the issue of gun control. This is a time for self-reflection. It’s a time for each and every one of us to examine our lives, and what we are doing (good and bad), and ask our selves “Are we satisfied?” “Can we do better?” Apparently this memo didn’t hit the desks at the NRA headquarters. Feeling like scapegoats, they immediately went to their own go-to scapegoats, the media, movies, music and video games.

Now, I work in TV and Film and I will be the first one to agree that it plays a role. Films and TV shows glorify and even romanticize violence, and they do have a big impact on young minds. I can testify to this personally as I still catch my self from time to time waving my hand at red traffic lights in a futile attempt to turn them to green with “the force”. I also enjoy “violent” video games. Halo 4 is consuming my life light now. In playing this game I get medals and awards that have names like “Killing Spree” and “Killtacular”. The difference with me is that I have not yet caught my self going on real rampages. I can separate fantasy from reality. There are some who cannot, or at least not as easily, and I’m certain that these types of media would have a bigger impact on those types of people.

I also agree that the news media plays a role. Our 24 hour news networks give too much attention to the perpetrators of these atrocities. I read an article on CNN that said that the tragedy at Sandy Hook will “rank” as the 2nd worst school shooting in the United States.”Rank?” Is this some sort of competition? We showcase these people and I believe the level attention we give them has the capability to “inspire” another disturbed person out there to commit their own act of chaos. Not to mention what it does for spawning direct copy cats. I think it’s important to report the news, but we should be focused more on the victims and not their killers.

Now you see this is how I and the NRA differ. I fully admit that everything that they pointed out does indeed play a role. But the NRA weren’t even willing to entertain the notion that they may play a part in tragedies like this just as much as all of the other things that they were so quick to point out. This shows that they are very narrow-minded and tend to only see things from their point of view. It’s very difficult to have a productive conversation with anyone who refuses to see things from any point of view other than their own. In addition to their unwillingness to work together, they directly contradicted their own points. About midway through the conference they said that there was only one way to achieve safety in our schools, and that was to have armed guards in every single school in America. Then towards the end of the conference they said that they realize there is not a “one size fits all” solution. Am I missing something?

Now first of all, there are about 250,00 schools in America. That’s including early education, grade schools, high schools, day cares, tech schools, colleges and other learning institutions. I assume by armed guards the NRA is not referring to mall security cops with flashlights and mace. The type of guard(s) needed to stand against someone with semi auto weapons are the armed to the teeth variety. The guards with semi auto or full auto weapons themselves, body armor and so on. And one guard isn’t going to be enough. Realistically there would need to be at least or two or three guards present to provide actual security. Maybe even more for larger schools. In actuality many schools already have guards, and even their own police. Virginia Tech is a good example. There are many armed officers there, and yet tragedy still occurred. So I don’t think having “good guys with guns” as they put it, in every school is a viable solution. I do think having armed officers and security personnel at higher risk and larger institutions can certainly be part of the equation though. Now schools aren’t the only place where we and our kids go. What about movie theaters? Shopping malls? Gas stations? Grocery stores? We all go to them, and they are every bit as vulnerable to an attack. Shall we then have armed guards there too? Should we just live in a militarized state with Martial Law? The NRA is so concerned with protecting freedoms, and yet it seems to me that the policies that they would enact would make us far less free, not to mention less safe. Do we really want “good guys with guns” every where we go? There are other solutions, but they are so blinded by their fear that they can’t see them. What’s more, it is an irrational fear, and irrational people with guns scare me. These guys are clearly intelligent so I just don’t see how they can genuinely believe that their way of life is really being threatened and that government men are going to come knocking on their doors and take their guns away. That’s not going to happen, and they know it’s not going to happen.

Those who defend the NRA may argue that I am singling them out. That’s completely untrue. I’ve agreed that gun violence is a puzzle with many pieces, but being an organization with a significant amount of members and power, they are one of the larger pieces. They are influential, and for better or worse, they hold a great deal of sway. It begs the question then, if they are so powerful, why are they so fearful? Or is their whole organization built around and created out of fear? I know I’m generalizing. Just like any organization out there, not everyone thinks as their leaders do. Plenty of NRA members have spoken in out in favor of reviewing and improving gun control measures. I wish those types of people were running the NRA.

So where do we go from here? I don’t have an answer. I do know that as long as both sides of this debate continue to be unwilling to listen and cooperate, we will remain in gridlock. It’s going to take an uprising of logical, rationale, cooperative and fed up people to make things change. We can’t just have a regular ole uprising to get this done. Nothing will be achieved with an “us VS them” mentality. We have to listen, empathize, and compromise. Until we do that, I don’t think we will see any progress on this, or many other issues. Still, we must try. We must do something. We cannot let the lives lost in Newtown and countless other communities across the country be in vain any longer. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, we only control how we play the hand. This tragedy can be a catalyst for good. I believe that, and I will be doing what I can to make it so.

The NRA said that we waited a week to speak, out of respect for the families affected by this tragedy. That’s very nice, but I can almost certainly guarantee that if you were to ask any of the families if they feel respected after yesterday, they would probably say no. If you really want to show respect, lay aside the rhetoric and the obtuse accusations. Be receptive, honest, and rationale. We all agree that less dead kids would be a good thing. We have different ideas of how to go about achieving that. So lets come together, share those ideas, debate them vigorously, but let’s not vilify each other and resort to sensationalism and tired rhetoric. Let’s get something done. We can’t stop it all together, but that does justify standing idly by and doing nothing. Are we satisfied? Can we do better?

Or maybe we can just bring God and Jesus back into our schools and they can fix everything up.

Is now a good time?

•December 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Why? How? Why, why why the hell why????? It’s 2am and I can’t sleep. It’s all I can think about. Why? These questions must be weighing heavily upon those impacted by the events that unfolded in Newton today. They weigh heavily upon me, though I cannot even begin to fathom what the those who were effected must be going through right now. Before I go any further with this, I want to be clear, I’m undeterred in my belief that people are good. There will always be those that will cause me to question that belief, but I’m holding steadfast to it. That said, things have gone too far. Enough is enough. This can’t go on. The response I have been hearing from many people is that we all need to offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, that we need to come together as a nation and support them through this terrible time. What we really need to do is come together as nation to enact real meaningful change when it comes to gun control. Now do not mistake this for naiveté. I am not so ignorant to believe that tragedies like that of today can be avoided simply by keeping guns out of the hands of those who are unbalanced and dangerous. It’s far more complex than that. There are many issues that need addressed, such as the role  society, parenting, and media plays. And also how we deal with mental illness. But nonetheless gun control IS ABSOLUTELY A BIG PART OF THE EQUATION. And it is probably the part that is most easily addressable RIGHT NOW. I’m not saying we do away with the second amendment, but we definitely need to revise and tighten our process for obtaining firearms and WE ABSOLUTELY DO NOT NEED SEMI AUTOMATIC RIFLES in the hands of civilians. Our answer to providing safety and security for our selves and our nation can’t continue to be “have a bigger stick than the other guy”. Violence begets violence. It’s not working, and it’s not going to.

Every time one of these tragedies occurs (and there have been far too many over the years) I hear the same thing, that now is not the time to talk about gun control. When is then? You know, when the planes hit the twin towers, I don’t recall there being much of a waiting period for open discussions about how to deal with terrorism. We acted immediately. But when unspeakable violence happens from in our small towns and communities we can’t talk about the role gun control plays curtailing these acts?

This shit has got to stop. And we can do something about it. I’m aware that we can’t eradicate gun violence in this country. And I’m also sadly aware that another community will most likely have to endure the pain that the community of Newton is going through right now. But just because we know we can’t prevent it all does not mean that we should resign to apathy and stand idly by and do nothing. As a famous king once said.

And may I remind you that although they thought they were riding to an unwinnable fight…..they did win.

It is time to have a real honest and open discussion about weapons in this country. I have to ask myself, why doesn’t this sort of thing happen on the scale and frequency that it does here as it does in other countries such as England, Japan, and Australia. Again, I know it’s more complex than having easy access to big guns that shoot bullets quickly, but tell me that this doesn’t play a role? Whether it actually would or not remains to be seen, but could it hurt? Though, I suspect that people would still obtain them by illegal means which will put additional stress on our already over taxed law enforcement and legal agencies to enforce anti gun laws. But maybe we can divert our resources from the truly ridiculous war on drugs to the ban on assault weapons?

Whatever path we pursue, it is clearly time to get off of the one we are on. As I said, I still believe in humanity. For every heinous act that is committed there are thousands of acts of kindness, inspiration, and love that stand against it. We can do something about this. We can have an impact and have change. In the coming days, weeks, and months I hope that this tragedy can be a catalyst for good, and that the lives lost would not have been in vain. I hope that we can show them and their families and the countless other families around this country who’ve endured this kind of pain that it wasn’t for not, and that the deaths of their loved ones meant something.

In the spirit of middle earth, I will leave you with these words.

The shadow is upon us, but it does not hold sway yet. Not over you, and not over me.

Lets do right by these people. Please. Lighting candles and writing letters just isn’t enough.

Did nothing fatal

•October 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

DNF. There’s three letters I never thought I’d see in succession. This weekend in Akron Ohio I was dealt my first DNF. DNF of course stands for “did not finish”. In five years of running I’ve never not finished a race. I was attempting to break the four-hour barrier for the first time with this one, and fell short. Of course it just had to happen at one of the biggest races, and in front of loads of friends and family. I can tell you that taking off that race number and walking…..hobbling onto the transport bus was the harder to do than any race I’ve ever run.

Anyone who knows me knows that I really do think that I change traffic lights with the force, and that I don’t give up easily. With running though, there can come a point when you have to recognize when you’re doing more damage than good. And yes, I’m very guilty of not recognizing, or more like full on ignoring this in the past.

For some marathoners, crossing the line in under four hours is nothing monumental. Indeed, it wouldn’t even make me close to competitive. But running for me has never been about winning or competition. I run because I simply love to run. But I want to be able to say that I’ve come in under 4 at least once in my life.

I’ve been training as much as work will allow since April. I gotta admit, I really haven’t enjoyed it. I love running, but I hate training. Training feels like work, and running for me is the antithesis of work. Still, I was doing pretty well until about 7 weeks before the race when I got on a series of jobs and then full on threw my back out. From that point on I just focused on recovering and spent more time on the bike then I did in my running shoes. I still felt relatively good though on the morning of the race.

But of course without fail, something always goes wrong. I should mention that I ran this race with my cousin who was running his first marathon. He finished in 4:08, which is a phenomenal time for a first go.

We both started the race at solid 8:30 pace. At about mile 4 my left foot started to give me trouble though. Oddly enough, it wasn’t my ankle which is surprising because it’s always the first to go. The top of my foot was absolutely on fire though, and it stayed like that for the rest of the race. If I have one advantage as a runner, it’s that I have a high pain tolerance and generally don’t mind hurting. At about half way through the race there was a severe downhill. I hate hills. I can climb them all day long but I cannot descend to save my life, be it on foot or on the bike. When I finally made it to the bottom my foot felt awful, but I kept on, and I was still on target. Apart from throwing my back out 7 weeks out from the race, I was pretty much following my plan. I was staying on pace and topped off with fluids and my energy levels were good. My knees felt good, back was holding up, hell, even my ankle was doing great, but foot was screaming, and then my calves and IT bands started to tighten. As the miles ticked by those muscles became tighter and tighter. By mile 18 they and my foot were absolutely and screaming and by mile 22 they were full on locked up. I dragged my self in a sort of zombie shuffle nearly another full mile to the next aid station. It was miserable. I just kept looking down at my watch watching the seconds tick by and my average pace drop. When I finally shuffled up to the aid tent I was in really rough shape. I begged the volunteers there (who were all fantastic) to do anything they could to get me up and running again. They stretched me out, iced me down, and covered my legs in bio freeze. But it was to no avail. It was like trying to drive a car with no oil. I could have dragged myself the last couple of miles and probably finished in around 5 hours, but I’ve done that before. I’ve literally finished races in crutches. Dumb. I’m still paying for it. The goal here was to finish in under four hours. And when the four hour pacer ran by the tent I knew it was over, and that I had to live to run another day.

I wanted to finish. I wanted to nothing more than to keep going, but instead I did something much harder and stopped.  So, I “did not finish”, but as a very wise runner once said, I also “did nothing fatal”.

Suffice it say, I’m pissed. Really pissed. This is my new view in the morning.

I’m already registered for next year and I’m super motivated. I left my race jacket behind with my folks in Ohio. I’ll be back in a year to get it after I earn it. And when I cross that line next year in under four hours I’m going to have that race bib with me and I’m going to tare it in half and set in on fire right on there on the line.

Now, concerning my foot, it’s basically one of three things; a subluxed bone, a stress or hairline fracture…………..or another dreaded bone spur which would mean more surgery. I’ve never wanted a subluxed bone so badly. Whatever the cause is though, I will work through it.

As far as leg lockjaw goes, I think I need to reexamine my training and nutrition. That should never have happened. Conveniently enough, I’ve had a new roommate move in who happens to be an athletic trainer. Last night he hooked me up to a compex eletro therapy unit. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It feels weird as hell but after thirty minutes of being shocked, I noticed an immediate difference and when I woke up the next morning I felt refreshed like I had rested for days.

I’m already sold on this. Fortunately you don’t have to be Ryan Hall to get one. You just have to part with $700. It’s something I’m seriously going to look into if I continue to see results like this.

So, if any of you out there have been in a race that you couldn’t quite get done, know that there is no shame in calling it quits sometimes. Give it everything you have, but ya know, there are times to push, and there times when it’s better not to, and if you’re anything like me it’s much harder to throw in the towel, then it is to keep going. But, Ultimately you have to listen to your body. Don’t be stupid like I was in previous years and risk making an injury worse, or even permanent. Trust me on this. Live to run another day.

359 days until revenge……

What are you on?

•September 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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Ever since his comeback from cancer, Lance has been one the most prolific riders of the pro circuit. He’s accomplished things, both on and off the bike, that no other human being ever has, and possibly ever will. Unfortunately, he’s also been dogged with relentless allegations of cheating via performance enhancing drugs. I think with that level success those accusations are almost to be expected. For some reason people just can’t believe that a human is capable of such things, but it’s now reached the ultimate point of absurdity, and the man has finally said that’s enough. Armstrong has beaten 3 types of cancer, and some of the world’s greatest athletes but even has had enough of fighting against USADA’s relentless and ridiculous witch hunt. I’m sure there will be those out there that will take this as an admission of guilt. If you are one of those I ask you to consider the following. Imagine bouncing back from a death sentence to accomplish monumental athletic feats, all while complying with over 500 drug control tests only to have your abilities called into question as being authentic for over ten years. At some point you would have enough as well.

Whatever USADA’s goal was here, the only thing they’ve really accomplished is hurting the sport of cycling. Look even if Lance did take some form of performance enhancing drug, you can’t as Phil Ligget said, “turn a donkey into a racehorse with EPO”. Pro cyclists are supreme examples of human fitness. Change your blood, pop some pills, it still isn’t going to make you a world-class athlete. These guys are have dedicated their lives to making themselves as fit as possible. They’re obsessive over every aspect of their training and to be at that level you had to be. If taking drugs could make you superman we wouldn’t continually be in awe every time a record is broken or a new height is reached. We would just simply point to the drugs and say, “big deal”.

I got into a lengthy debate with a co worker on the last film I was on this very subject. He too claimed that all the pro cyclists were doping and that it’s clearly the only way they’re able to do what they do. He cited his experience as bike courier in DC and New York as proof of understanding what it takes.

A few things.
One: I don’t think you give the human body its due credit. I’m sorry that you got a little tired riding around town, but just because you delivered mail on your fixie five days a week does not mean you understand what is necessary to ride over 3,00 kilometers over the course of six weeks over mountains in excess of 9,000 ft at average gradients of 8+ percent.

Two: Pro cyclists are riding on the most lightweight, efficient, and powerful machines ever built and are backed up by some of the best support in the world from the many people who comprise their teams including doctors, nutritionists, coaches, managers and their teammates. These guys know how to conserve and recover their energy over a three-week race.

Three: People have been racing bicycles for a very long time. In fact, next year will be the 100th anniversary of the Tour De France. So what of all the early riders of this race then? They didn’t have access to the drugs of today, and yet they still were able to cross the finish line. What’s more they were doing it without the advantage of modern technology and they were riding on far inferior machines when compared with today’s modern bikes.

And then there are the Johnny Hoogerlands of cycling. Guys who get hit by cars and thrown into barbed wire fences and then get back on their bikes to finish the race. That takes an extremely special type or person and drugs don’t do it.

So, where is the evidence? If Armstrong was involved a career long doping program shouldn’t there be a pile of evidence at this point? Or maybe even at least one or two positive tests. After over 12 years and hundreds of tests there has been little brought forward. A couple of disgraced former teammates have come spoken out against Lance saying that they witnessed him taking drugs. Personally, I think a couple of disgruntled athletes who got their hands caught in the cookie jar hardly constitutes evidence. And I’m not alone in this line of thought. The Federal Government had been pursuing a case against lance since 2010 when former teammates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton came forward to claim that they had witnessed Lance participate in doping. But then just a few months ago, and after millions of dollars and countless man hours, they dropped their case citing insufficient evidence. Basically chalking it up to two a personal petty vendetta.

But then USADA picked the case back up saying that they had clear evidence from samples from 2010 and also from testing stored frozen samples from nearly a decade ago that were consistent with EPO usage. So now we’re going back ten years after the fact to prove someone’s guilt? What happened to the statute of limitations?

Look, I’m biased, I admit it. I’m a big fan of Armstrong. He’s been an inspiration in my life and I personally attribute his successes to dedication, and well, a bigger desire to win. As a man who battled back from the edge of death, I think he wanted it more. All that said, even if USADA was able to prove that he doped at some point in some way, they accomplish nothing for themselves of the sport. Whatever the USADA were to present chances are that you have already made up your mind about Lance and there is probably nothing that could be presented to sway you either way. The USADA decision does not change what happened 13 years ago. It doesn’t help clean up cycling. It does little more than show that they are capable of making an example out of someone.

Ironically enough, Lance Armstrong has done more for the sport of cycling then USADA ever will. All they have done is tainted the reputation of a hero and an icon.

 

 

 

For the love of God

•August 3, 2012 • 1 Comment

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, in which case you probably have more “pressing” matters to attend to, you’ve heard the Gay Fil-A debate that is currently underway. I’ve largely been staying out of the matter, but after a couple of weeks of hearing the back and forth from both sides of this issue I’m going to ahead and through my two nuggets in.

For the most part, I steer clear of fast food altogether and I strongly encourage you to do the same. There’s something unsettling and wrong about the fact that I can have an entire meal prepared and handed over to me ready to eat inside of two minutes. This is not how we were meant to or designed to eat.

But on the rare occasion where I’ve been on the road or busy with work or as second meal on set, I have partaken. For what it’s worth Chik-Fil-A is probably the Role’s Royce of fast food. The service is fast and every employee is so damn polite and friendly, almost to the point of being indoctrinated brainwashed robots. But nonetheless they’re seemingly the most friendly robots you’ll ever meet in your life. Even at 5:30 in the morning it’s still their pleasure to serve me a piece of fried chicken sandwiched between a buttery biscuit.

Now Chik-Fil-A is well-known to be a Christian based business. Thus it should come as no surprise to anyone that they are not in support of same-sex marriage kind of by default. But with the very public comments that their owner recently made, they’ve brought themselves squarely onto the social media cross hairs. Paraphrasing, he basically said that they support the traditional family unit and biblical definition of marriage.

As you might expect, Chik-Fil-A got into some hot grease with those comments. What you might not expect is that they have ironically at the same time been experiencing record profits. Those who are in line with Chik-Fil-A’s founders’ views have been eating more chikin in droves, after Governor Mike Huckabee declared August 1st to be national Chik-Fil-A appreciation day. The other side of this debate is boycotting the restaurant altogether, though I think today is supposed to be same-sex kiss day. Homosexual couples are being encouraged to go to a Chik-Fil-A and kiss and snap a photo and post it online. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to do exactly. I mean if the goal is to simply enrage the other side, mission accomplished. But if the goal is to move forward on this debate and secure equal rights and treatment for everyone in this country then I don’t think swapping spit and nuggets is going to get it done.

Now, I fully support gay marriage. In fact I don’t even look at is “gay” marriage. It’ just a union between two people. What difference does it make what gender they both are? Well, the difference comes from a little collection of texts written over thousands of years thrown together in a book known as the bible, and this where things get really crazy.

Look, everyone is entitled to their faith. You can believe whatever you want to. And I’m not against it. What I am against is taking a belief and turning into a law. It’s fundamentally wrong. I’m not against you believing what you want. Personally, I don’t think religion has done the world much good, but that’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it, much like anyone is entitled to believe whatever they want. What a person is not entitled to is using their belief system to stand in the way of someone’s rights! Whatever religious implications marriage has is irrelevant. Marriage is a legal matter. You can get married in a courthouse. You get a marriage LICENSE. You are joined LEGALLY. Somehow a belief has permeated our legal system and that is insane and dangerous.

A belief can’t be law. It’s called a belief. It’s not a known fact. No one absolutely knows if God exists. It can’t be proven. And if you read scripture God deliberately offers humanity no proof of existence and asks us to take it on faith.

By the way that whole notion is crazy too. I make the analogy of going to a used car dealer and buying the first car the dealer shows you because he says it’s a good car without so much as doing a test drive. Who would do that? Yet a large group of people will commit themselves entirely to a belief system without one shred of physical proof.

Anyhow, the point is no one knows for certain. Some people claim to know, but they’re flat-out wrong. You can’t believe enough to suddenly one day KNOW. You may believe in it very strongly and you’re free to do so but what you’re not free to do is damn someone else and tell them they’re wrong especially what you can’t prove it.

Furthermore, if you’re going to inject a faith into our legal system, then you need to do so for the whole thing, and not just not the convenient bits and pieces of it that allow you to justify your fears and bigotry. If you are going to say that you support the biblical definition of family and marriage then you better support all of it.

I can go through and easily site some crazy things in the old testament when it comes to defining marriage, and also the treatment of women. I imagine a few people would immediately come out against me saying that most of that stuff is null and void due to the new testament. Alright, point taken, but then you can’t site old testament for making your point about gay marriage if you’re not going follow the rest of the crazy stuff. IE stoning a woman who is an adulterer or marrying someone who rapes you.

On the point of rape I got into a rather lengthy debate on Facebook about this subject on a friend’s wall. This friend is not in support of same-sex marriage.

Speaking as someone who has had to deal with rape indirectly, I can tell you that a rapist is not the same as all of my gay friends. The act that person committed is just a bit more egregious than two people of the same gender lying in the same bed.

So, if you’re going to stand up for “Biblical principles” then go ahead, stand up for them. All of them. But don’t use the bible as a feel good way of saying your homophobic. Don’t present an interpretation of the bible that conveniently suits you. It really cheapens your religion and disrespects your god to do so. But then again there is a problem. The bible is so a vague and open to interpretation that whose to say what it really means at times. There’s so much in fighting within Christianity itself anyhow. You’ve got Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Presbyterian, and the list goes on and on. Each have their own views that starkly contrast with each other. There is a serious lack of unity.

Chik-Fil-A says that they strive to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender”. Many other people parrot those same words, but by not being in support of love between two people of the same gender, you are inherently not treating people with any of those things. And that’s the real double standard. This harkens back to the days of separate but equal. We tried that before and it didn’t really work. The current generation, my generation, looks back on that time in history in disbelief and disgust. I have a sneaking suspicion that the next generation will likely look back on these times with those same feelings.

Homosexuality isn’t a fad. It isn’t going anywhere. It’s been here since the dawn of time. And it’s just not just limited to the human race. It can be found in all manner of animals. Are they sinners as well? With that said, I have to ask those who stand against same-sex marriage, What’s your goal? If it’s to eradicate homosexuality, IT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN. Therefore pretty much the only thing you can accomplish is making people unhappy. Eventually the whole country will legalize same-sex marriage. Make no mistake, this is going to happen and all you are doing right now is helping to write another shameful period in the pages of American history and personally I don’t want to be an author.

I welcome any and all comments. I’m open to them. And yeah, I do believe those in support of gay marriage go to far at times. By villainizing every single person out there who does not believe as they do doesn’t do their side any good. Some take it to the point of you either support gay marriage or you’re the scum of the earth and you’re going to be treated as such. That’s going too far. I mean, what about the all of the homosexuals throughout the Arab world and in Iran who are being executed for being gay? There seems to be a lack of consistency in the outrage.

Look, I have plenty of great friends who don’t support gay marriage but are still good people doing good things. I can’t just blanket label them as scum bag bigots. Also, Government officials, like the mayors of Boston and Chicago coming out and saying that Chik-fil-A isn’t welcome and even going so far as to say that they are going to block them from opening new stores is crazy stupid. You can’t stop a business from opening because they have views that are in contradiction with your own. We have an amendment that sort of protects against that.

The mayor of Chicago has said “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values,” So if you’re going to attempt to block a business because of their , do you intend to block these too?

I’m pretty sure there are way more churches in Chicago then there are Chik-Fil-A’s. In summation, there is hypocrisy on both sides. I think it’s an important issue, but it is rather difficult to have a productive debate on something when neither side is really willing to see things from any point of view other than their own.

Akron

•June 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Six months in between postings. So either nothings been going to write about, or too much has been going to have the time to write about it. Fortunately it is not the latter. In the way of everything, 2012 has been much better than the past few years, not that the past few years have been all that bad. In actuality in being completely honest if anything has been wrong in the past few years it’s been my prospective. At the end of 2011 I resigned to make the next year better, and wouldn’t ya know, it’s been pretty bang on. I’ve been staying super busy with work but not so busy that I haven’t been able to keep up with my training.

Ever since February I’ve been able to roll from one show to the next. Suffice it to say that it is a very good time to be in the business in North Carolina right now. At any given moment there has been at least a half-dozen shows going on. Actually I think the current count right now is somewhere around 10. Just about everyone I know is working, which is rather unbelievable and fantastic.

I currently find myself in my old stomping ground, of Winston-Salem for the second time this year. I did a show for Hallmark a few months ago and now I’m back doing a feature called You Are Here. This show actually took over the exact same office space that we were using for the Hallmark show. I’ve been very grateful to have been lining up so much work. This is my first full year away from being in the trenches on Army Wives. It’s a very different world when you have to continually hunt down work as opposed to being on one show for 8 months or more at a time. Still, I’m glad that I’ve returned to NC and clearly I made the move at just the right time.

You Are Here is going quite well. Actually that would be a bit of understatement. Now I know I’m kind of prone to grandiose and somewhat exaggerated language sometimes, but seriously this is the greatest show ever and will go down as one of the best work experiences of my life…….  Really, the show is great. Everyone gets along well and my immediate boss and the rest of the higher-ups have all been great people to work with. It’s a decent sized show and we’ve got a ton going on, but no one is crazy. I keep waiting for the shit to really hit the fan and for people to start losing their minds like what happens on the majority of shows but this one seems to be the exception because it’s just not happening and we’re over a month into it at this point. Truly, I’m getting spoiled rotten on this one and I know it and I’m grateful for it. We’ve been keeping to 12 hour or less days routinely. Some might wince at that but in the world of film and TV, that’s a pretty short day.

So that said, I need to get between 6-8 hours of sleep to have a level of function beyond that of a zombie so that leaves me with 4 whole hours to do with as a I please. Those precious few hours are mostly spent training. And hey, knock on wood, I’ve been injury free through three months of training now and I’m feeling pretty good. Just yesterday I had a 75 mile bike race that took me up and down a few mountains. By far, it was the toughest race I’ve ever done and for the first time I was really doubting whether I could actually get it done. The third mountain climb really got me and I had to stop 3/4 of the way up and catch my breath, but in the end I made it across the line alive and on this one, that was good enough for me.

The view from the top

The scary thing is that this race is just a warm up for Blood Sweat in gears on June 23rd.

http://www.bloodsweatandgears.org/

BSG is 25 miles longer and 2,000 ft higher. I honestly don’t know if I can do it. 75 miles is now the furthest that I’ve been on a bicycle and 9,000ft elevation gain is my current ceiling. I’ll blow by that if I’m able to drag myself and blumoly across the line. I have more than a few people ask me, the question “Why? Why are you doing this?” “Did you lose a bet?”. There are many reasons why I run and bike but I’ve managed to narrow it down to 2 primary reasons.

One: Because I can

Two: Because I don’t know if I can.

I’m gonna do this thing. I’m excited, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also really nervous. Nobody wants to bail out of a race, but this one might humble me to that point.

In any event all of this training is towards one big goal. Akron. I’ve got my eyes set on a sub 4 hour marathon and I’m hoping to pull it off at the 10th running of the Akron Marathon on September 29th. This will be a special race for me. If i’m able to do it will be my first sub 4 hour marathon and it will happen in my birth town and where my grandmother is. I’m really aiming for something special here. I don’t want to just squeak in at 3:59. I want to really kill it. It will be the first time my grandma and a lot my family will see me do my thing. And not to be morbid, but none of them are getting any younger. I’m grateful to have had only lost one grandparent thus far. But unfortunately the medical and science community hasn’t really locked down the whole death thing just yet. It’s really something that needs more focus and funding because it affects a lot of people.

I’m not known for my speed so this is quite a challenge for me. So far all is well though. It’s nice to be training around Winston-Salem again where it all started for me. I have a lot of great memories here. More than a few times I’ve been running down a road and a memory will pop into my head and I’ll go “Oh yeah, I totally remember throwing by that building”. Speaking of throwing up my current temp roommate in Winston is running the Beat the Heat 5k. That was the first race I ever ran back in 2007 and yes, I threw up in the end. 6 months later I was a running my first 50k and the rest, as they say, is history.

Well that’s about all the time I’ve got. I’ll try to keep this thing a little more regular in the months leading up to Akron. No promises though, as with most things in my life, running comes first.

Oh and a couple months ago I ran the Palmetto 200 for the second year in a row. It was even better than last year and here is the proof!

http://www.facebook.com/v/560187239787