Friday, August 28, 2009

Follow Friday

There is a little premise in the "Twitterverse" where on Fridays one lists those followers for the week who have stood out to you, or were of note for the week or something. If you new to Twitter, or Facebook or social networking in general this can seem somewhat odd. Some of my friends and family don't really "get" Twitter and Facebook and voice concern over why someone would care that another is "drinking coffee and waiting for the day to be over" (a not untypical posting). If that all that one does on a social networking site they are missing an incredible opportunity.
And, while I certainly see my fill of somewhat nonsensical postings on Twitter or odd little quizzes on Facebook I have become amazed at the breadth and reach of my new friends and their impact on my own world.

I joined Facebook ostensibly to see and share running related pics with my running community and Twitter as a networking tool during a foray into perhaps landing a job in the running and fitness world. A huge amount of my "followers" and those I follow on Twitter are in the running, fitness or multi-sport world in someway, yet we exchange info on those topics only part of the time. My Facebook friends now far exceed those only related to running and I have connected to friends from the past including prior jobs, high school and family. Even my college daughter has decided that its not such a bad thing to let dad see what a good time she is having enjoying the college experience.

All of these new found, or reconnected friends have enriched my life of late and contributed to an increased understanding and connection to the world around me that just isn't possible via traditional communication. I have been able to experience the joys and trepidation of many friends sending their youngest off to school for the first time, marriages, deaths of loved ones and even a friend from the UK as she experienced a vacation through Wyoming and Montana. I have a local friend wrestling with divorce and a far flung friend wrestling with supporting a sister going through the same thing. Through their sharing of their experience I hope I was able to lend a supportive ear to both. I was virtually able to attend my 30th high school reunion and connect with those who I was close to then, and people who I became close to via the months leading up to it and almost feel I was right there.

A great number of these amazing people I have never met or even spoken to over the phone and quite likely we never will. But almost every day I hear some great story, learn something new, make a new friend from as far away as the UK and Singapore, and as close as Toronto, Annapolis and right here in Chico. They have supported me in really tough times, and rejoiced for me in good ones. I can only hope I have been as good a friend as they have been to me. I have read amazing blogs, learned new recipes and had my faith in the human spirit renewed during the tough economic and political times over the last few months. And yes, there has been the running.

I can't possibly list the myriad of people in the constraints of 140 characters in Twitter or a pithy Facebook status update. So this is my "Follow Friday"...
thanks to each of you for enriching and contributing so positively to my experience, I hope you can say the same about "a13pt1runner"
Tight Laces

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

That Which Inspires Us

One of my favorite quotes comes from one of my favorite runners, Deena Kastor. In the opening scenes of “Spirit of the Marathon” we hear Deena opine that “sometimes it’s the moments that challenge us the most , that define us.” I have used that thought as a mantra to get through really tough times and as inspiration to get back to that place where my life and my running are on track.

Those words took on new meaning this last weekend as I watched some amazing people race in this years “Summer Sizzler 10K” many of them running that distance for the very first time. There were standout athletes from Chico State University that as my friend Pat says were “stupid fast!” As impressive as they are, the stand out runners for me, were the local Fleet Feet training group completing their graduation run. The 10K is a tough distance. Just about anyone, with a modicum of effort, can get through 5K as a recreational runner. Getting through 6.2 miles requires that you recognize the challenge, prepare for it, and spend some time getting to that starting line. These runners took that challenge some 12 weeks ago and got themselves out of bed early on Saturday mornings and did the quick change on Tuesdays after work so that come that bright Sunday morning in August they could don their bright red and pink Fleet Feet Training Team shirts and run in the footsteps of some of the finest middle distance runners in northern California. Everyone ran their race and met their challenge and everyone came across the finish line. No one dropped out or couldn’t finish which is both a testament to their drive and desire and, in no small measure, the strength of the coaching and preparation they got from Fleet Feet Chico’s coaches David Mosier and Susan Zepernick. I am continually inspired by these beginning runners who work so hard at a sport that let’s face it, is the very definition of tough love sometimes.

Among the first time 10K’rs this weekend was one woman who 7 months ago was knee deep in finishing her Bachelors degree and couldn’t run a full minute without stopping much less a whole mile. Juggling a full time job and finals she somehow found the desire and determination to take on yet another challenge and got to each of the training sessions for both a 5K and the 10K program. I don’t know at what moment this woman decided, or why, to undertake becoming a runner with that full plate. It seems though that it was one of those moments Deena Kastor speaks of; the challenges, that define us the most. It’s evident because two weeks ago this woman received her college diploma, the first one in her family to do so. On Sunday she ran her first 10K race and knocked two minutes off her previous best time trial for that distance. I am not sure what label applies to that kind of accomplishment but if it doesn’t say something about the person I don’t know what does. {Now in the interest of full disclosure I do have to admit to a certain bias towards this particular runner, she is my wife Teri and in addition to everything else she has certainly had the challenge of dealing with my amazing breadth for flexibility, understanding and consistency ;-)}

This fall I am helping coach a marathon group preparing for the fall season and at last nights first meeting there were fresh, expectant, and yes hesitant faces...Sometimes those challenges that define you, are what inspires those around you the most. Congratulations Teri and the Fleet Feet Chico Summer 10K program runners for inspiring all of us this weekend.

Tight laces,