Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Unless you are either a fan of Christian trivia or went to Catholic school, you may not know the true meaning of "the 12 days of Christmas". It, of course, refers to the 12 day period of time between Christmas (day Jesus was allegedly born) to the time the 3 Wise Men arrived at his crib (allegedly). This day is known as the Epiphany, and it happens to be today, January 6th.

But epiphany has another meaning, too.

According to, epiphany is a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely or commonplace occurrence or experience.

As a 49er may have shouted, Eureka!

I had my epiphany today, although I'm probably not adhering to the strict definition of it. I realized that a big part of my problem lately is that I've lost the faith. Probably didn't help that I saw Up in the Air over the weekend. Great film, but the premise is kind of "what's the point?"

It has me asking myself, what IS the point of all this?

Why do we do anything we do? I just happened to read Alex's recent blog post and I find parts of it applicable.

Recently I've felt like I'm just a passenger on this merry-go-round, trying to get off the ride but afraid to jump. It's difficult to really talk about it with, well, anyone, because not many people really understand what I'm really going through. It's like I've got too much time to think, but it's the same thoughts that are constantly running through my head.

I wanted to write a small recap of 2009 but figured, what's the point? Anyone who reads this blog likely knows all the high (or low) lights.

I wanted to write up some goals for 2010 but figured, what's the point? Any goal I have is going to sound absurd, and at this point I just don't even know what I'll be capable of. Can I honestly write "sub 20 minute 5k" at this point in my life? Certainly I can't have goals of "run a marathon, do an Ironman or qualify for Hawaii" this year.

I used to never use the word "can't" as it pertained to believing whether I could physically do something. I thrived on challenges. Embraced them. Now I use can't every day - as in "I can't run 7 miles right now" or "I can't go ride 100". It's tough.

I went to the doctor yesterday. I believe he was rather surprised to hear that I've been able to run 4.5 miles at 6:50 pace. He was also surprised to see that my knee refuses to completely straighten out. This is a big problem. Also, I'm only at 127 degrees of bending, and that's with help (122 on my own). At about 1 degree per week, I'm still 3 months from 140.

I guess the question is, why do all this right now? Why put myself through the wringer just to get my hopes dashed when I can't race this year anyway?

To answer that question I have to ask myself what I think the point of all this is in the first place. Should I be happy/content that I can "do more than most people can" even after a reconstructive knee surgery? It's not my nature to be happy or content so I guess that answers itself.

While the movie ended in a marginally depressing fashion, I believe the point is that we're stuck on this object in space and time, for whatever reason, and are supposed to do whatever it is that makes us happy. That was taken from me this year, and it fucking sucks. Some people have suggested I find something else to do, but again I ask "what's the point?" Not that I'm too old to do something new, I just don't want to. I've been reasonably good at everything I've ever done, and have enjoyed those things. Just never as much as this sport. This sport, as I've said before, has never been kind to me. It neither respects nor appreciates the effort I've put in for it. It's like in another one of my favorite movies, Brown Sugar, where one of the main themes is the main characters' shared love for hip-hop. The characters reminisce about when they remember the moment they fell in love with hip-hop. I do that all the time with triathlon. I can remember every significant moment in the past decade relating to my life in the sport, and can remember the exact moment I fell in love with it.

I've got to try and get out of the quicksand I've been stuck in, and need to remember why I'm doing what I'm doing - because I love competing. I find no point in working hard if I can't have something to show for it. And I'm not talking about showing off to others, I really don't care what other people think about me or my sport. I do it because I enjoy it.

One of the songs I do at karaoke from time to time is Eminem's "8 Mile Road" - the lyrics resonate hauntingly for me right now:

Sometimes I just feel like
Quitting I still might
Why do I put up this fight
Why do I still write
Sometimes it's hard enough just dealing with real life
Sometimes I wanna jump on stage and just kill mics
And show these people what my level of skill's like
But I'm still white
Sometimes I just hate life

Pretty dark, I know, but the song progresses to show him committed to not being pigeonholed by where he came from.

In the end I have some goals. I want to get back to normal. I want to remember what it's like to not wake up in the morning and trip out of bed because your knee doesn't bend, or jog up a flight of stairs or be able to bend my knee enough to stretch it. I want pain to go away but I want hurt to come back. Because when you're hurting, you're living.

I'll do some races this year and I bet by the summer I'll be able to run a normal amount of miles per week. I don't believe that it will allow me to be in the requisite shape to do anything longer than a half marathon this year and I've got to accept that. I've got to accept that I won't have the financial resources to acquire a new bike for a while, and as a result triathlons may not happen.

I also am doing away with words like "probably", "think" and "hope" because they're bullshit. I am not going to hope to run 5 miles tonight - I'm going to do it. And if I don't do it then I'll do it on Friday. I'm not going to think I'll run the 5k in Miami at the end of the month - I'm going to do it. People are wishy-washy enough without vague concepts like probably think and hope. I've never used those words and I don't intend to start now.

I also will decide whether I'll write more or not after I contemplate the direction I'd have to take. Obviously it would be less training-oriented and more life thoughts. That I will be vague on right now. Ha.


Kristie said...

Thought provoking read as always.

I don't believe anyone should every be completely content. I can guarantee I never will be, but can manage knowing it. I'm sure as hell going to push for what I feel I can get. Otherwise, there is no point as you mentioned. We always need to be aiming for something regardless of how mediocre the goal or end result may seem to be.

KLIM said...

Note to self - don't drink heavily then read RM's blog posts

RM said...

Ha, Jake, it might be a good idea to lock up the guns and also put away the knives as well. Also unplug toasters that are near your bathtub. Sorry for the downer post. Just recording some thoughts.

fbg said...

My dad used to worry that I was too focused on running. I guess he was afraid that I would miss out on a lot of other stuff. When I got mono and spent the second half of my college career running at 80-90% of my potential, he noticed that I was talking about and doing stuff other than running.

He said, "I've noticed you're not so focused on running any more, which is probably a good thing."

I said, "I haven't changed my focus. I'm just biding my time until I can come back."

I know you're like I was in that you're still obsessed, but the obsession is on the back burner. There are other things you like, though, and those have their chance now. I'm still waiting on your screenplay.

Andy G said...

I just read this post.

I wish I could say that I know exactly what you are talking about. Truth is I can't. I have had a fairly similar experience, but I didn't have the passion that is so evident in your love of the sport.

However, I did face something that at times seemed devastating. You were a big reason, hell, maybe the only reason I was able to run in Boston. For that I am forever grateful.

So here it is... The first "can't" that needs to be eliminated is your own. Fuck what they say (it don't mean shit now). Seriously though, turn all the cannots into musts. My doctors thought I wouldn't be able to race the Balitmore Marathon. That became more motivation than anything. Well, that and the one "can" I heard from you.

I know there seems like there are an ton of things that won't happen this year, but focus on the fact that it is this year. Apply that determination and work ethic to getting healthy. I know modifying goals can seem akin to failing, but the easy thing to do is let this get the best of you.

I know you well enough to know that the easy road is not your style. I wouldn't think you would want it any other way. I'm sure you weren't looking for a road this tough, but the one thing I have found is that fighting through adversity can teach you a lot about human will. Also, it makes achievement that much sweeter...

And if this sounded like a whole bunch of bullshit, just remember that when life hands you lemons, PAINT THAT SHIT GOLD!

fbg said...

You should probably put a spam-stopper on the ol' comment form, Ryan. As interesting as these comments are, I feel they're not contributing to greater knowledge.

Anonymous said...

i truly adore your writing way, very attractive.
don't quit and also keep posting due to the fact it simply just well worth to look through it,
impatient to browse through way more of your stories, cheers ;)