Thankful and Grateful

thankful and gratefulLast week I was back in Silicon Valley and on Tuesday at 10pm my daughter Zoe convinced me to stop at McDonalds.

As I’m sitting there with a Dr. Pepper, fries, and a cheeseburger I said somewhat playfully, and somewhat seriously, “Hey Zoe, why are we eating this crap?” (her response: “Dad, these fries are bomb…what do you mean why are we eating this???”).

I look up and notice a middle aged man a few tables away. He was dressed nicely in what was clearly an inexpensive grey suit with white shirt and blue tie, like one of those thin ones that used to be in style in the 80’s that you’d pick up in a secondhand store. Across the table was his wife and young daughter, who oh so adorably and cheerfully chatted it up with an older guy sitting by himself a few tables away. It looked like he’d just gotten off work and was taking his family out to dinner.

Then, within seconds, I see him put his hands together and he starts praying over the meal. I nudged Zoe gently and I could see her look at me like “Oh no, here comes another ‘life lesson’ from Dad!”

But it hit me heavy…

In my five years of living in Silicon Valley, and this is no exaggeration, not ONCE have I seen anyone give thanks over their meal. Yet here was this guy, at a McDonalds of all places, giving thanks and gratitude for whatever meal was before him..literally seconds after I was essentially cursing mine.

So many times, and for so many years, I have only expressed gratitude when it was the food I wanted, prepared the way I wanted, and when I wanted it…But last week, such a simple epiphany from a random man, made me realize I’ve been doing it wrong.

In that moment I decided that, whatever food is before me, I’ll be thankful and grateful.

~Raz

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My Fifth and Final Marathon (at least for a while)

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A week ago was the one-year anniversary of my first ever marathon, and my fifth completed in the past year. The Sacramento marathon will always be a bit of a turning point for me, I felt like if I could run it last year–then run a few more during the year–and then run Sac again one year later, then I’d have hit some significant milestone. Though, now that it’s done, I’m not sure I feel that way. You’d think your 5th marathon would be your easiest, but last Sunday’s race was really tough for me–and nearly an hour slower than I’d run the Chicago marathon just six weeks before. Super humbling, though I had a few physical issues going on that contributed to making this one a bit more difficult. But, here goes.

Following are a few things I learned about myself over the past five marathons, more general tips than practical ones I’ve written about before, or other running stories about how I never thought I could do it, then I said screw it I’m doing it, and a few in between and one more here:

1. I hate the cold. I’m now a California weather wimp, and I now know I can get very Wangry. Do know the definition of angry ? Perfect. Now, know the term “hangry”? That’s anger induced by hunger. Therefore, “wangry”, is anger induced by cold weather. After this last weeks run (was 20’s during most of it) I never want to run long distances in cold weather again.

20's in the 2013 Sacramento CIM Marathon. Way. Too. Cold.
20’s in the 2013 Sacramento CIM Marathon. Way. Too. Cold.

2. If you want to run a marathon…Just put some steps forward and make it happen. Pick a race (like, literally this week–pick a race for sometime late Spring or early Summer). Sign up. Develop a training plan. Start running. Just. Get. Going.

3. Training is part of the gift. It’s also a pain because it’s so time consuming. If you don’t train, and this is pretty straightforward,  you will be in a lot of pain during your marathon. Like you might find yourself in a port-a-pottie at mile 23 crying from the pain. Hypothetically. And you run the risk of not finishing. Plus, while you learn a lot about yourself from the run itself, you also learn a lot throughout training.

4. Pick a marathon song. A soulful one. I have a song for every marathon. And it’s not a “power song” like in a Nike-sense where you need something to amp  you up. It’s more significant than that. It’s, well, soulful…and I can’t really explain it further. Every marathon of mine has a different one, which is usually scattered several times throughout my marathon playlist. Of course it gets plenty of use during my training runs as well. And whilst blogging. This past race’s song was “Pieces” by Andrew Belle. It’s pretty amazing.

5. Stretch your ass off. Especially if you’re over 30. If you don’t stretch pre and post running,you’re a ticking time bomb. Especially if you have accumulated injuries from previous sports or, maybe, you’re just getting old(er). An Ortho once told me those with greatest risk of ligament and tendon tears are guys in mid 30’s who forego stretching and still do the weekend warrior thing and then…Stretching stinks. I hate it. But you have to do it.

6. Only listen to half of what your doctors tell you. Years back a doc told me I shouldn’t run. So I quit. Then I started running anyways. I’ve kept doc advice about running to pretty much zero ever since. But seven days before this past marathon I had to ask my doc about a little medical thing going on (fixed now, and I do not mean that literally) and I asked her whether I could run the marathon to which she basically said “Ummmm, no. This is probably a bad idea.” Days later I decided to ignore her advice, because I realized  she translated my question as “do you think this is a good idea?” rather than “could something really really bad happen?” Don’t let other people talk you out of something you really want. If I had, I wouldn’t have started running, nor completed last weeks race.

7. Keep your head up. The most epic line I heard from a spectator this past race will forever be burned in my memory. As I’m at mile 24 there were still stretches with very few spectators. At this point I’d taken my headphones off and I’m just trying to run one step at a time while looking right in front of me.

Suddenly, I hear a lady standing around the 2 o’clock position on the sidelines yell out to me in a booming voice “GET YOUR HEAD UP HONEY! AIN’T NO DOLLAR BILLS DOWN THERE! NOW GET YOUR HEAD UP AND LOOK TO THE FINISH LINE!” I kept my head up the final 2.2. miles.

8. And keep your eyes open.

Joyce's First Marathon! Great job!
Joyce’s First Marathon! Great job!

Because you’ll be inspired. And this is what I love most about marathon running.

Watching my friend Joyce finish Chicago–her first marathon–was inspiring to me. So was the guy I saw at the same marathon running WITH brain cancer, who was having serious brain surgery the following day. That story is here,. And then there was the guy with muscular dystrophy, in the same race, who 17 hours later crossed the finish line. Or, simply, during this last Sacramento marathon, when I saw this guy cross the finish line completing his first marathon–and when his eyes met his girlfriend they were both crying. That stuff’s inspiring to me.

I LOVE watching people finish things they thought might be out of their reach. It’s a milestone towards their destiny. And it’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve received from running five marathons this past year, though completing them have also given me a bit of confidence moving forward.

But, despite all the fun I had, I’m not doing five again next year. Most people suggest two is the optimal number, so that’s what I’m sticking with.

Probably.

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Why You Should Run a Marathon (seriously)

The San Francisco Marathon Start
The San Francisco Marathon Start

I have become one of those annoying “hey-I-ran-a-marathon-so-should-you” types.

If you’ve never had an inkling to run a marathon, if the thought of it bores you to no end, or makes you nauseous. then read no further. But if you’ve ever had even the slightest thought of it, let me give a quick rundown on why I think you should sign up. Now.

I signed up for the San Francisco Wipro marathon five months ago, when I was in better running shape. And, I’ve kinda lost that over the last three months: work–and particularly travel–crushed my running schedule. So going into the weekend I decided to step down to the half marathon…until I checked in where I decided to do the full. There were lots of mistakes with this last marathon, including going out way too strong, and the last 11 miles were a serious struggle–I have a lessons learned on this one coming soon.

Yet, one of the gifts of the last 11 miles was that it caused me to think about why I even love marathons–despite being so frustrated and “uncomfortable” on this last one.

Not an all inclusive list, here’s what went through my mind during those last 11 miles as to why I love marathons. And you will (might) too.

1. Check in is a blast.

Adrenaline. All these runners with the anticipation and energy of the next-day race. Check in is a great experience, it’s a blast because you’re still a day away from pain. This is the fun part, anticipation, carb loading, butterflies, all that stuff! Really great energy. Check in is totally underrated.

SF Marathon Check In
SF Marathon Check In

2. Training shapes you.

Years ago, I started playing the guitar. “Playing” is probably gracious. Strumming? Plucking? Screeching? I could play a few songs. And sing along. Horribly. Truly, I am horrible horrible singer. And the last time I touched that guitar was three start-ups ago…But when I was playing a lot I swear it changed my thought process–as if playing music started mapping my brain differently. Yes, there is probably data on this. No, I do not want to google it. I just want to write. Leave me alone. 🙂

I think running does something similar, though not through the same mechanism. Running will map you differently, perhaps less because of how sound and dexterity maps your brain and more because you’re going to have time to think. And if you’re doing the proper training, a lot of it. So get your miles in! It’s part of what shapes you, the discipline of training. And your mind will be open to thoughts and ideas that never have time to germinate in quite the same way otherwise.

3. You get to break limits. Your own limits. 

Especially if you don’t think you can run a marathon, but you kind of want to, you should do it. Because it’s a breakable limit. When you break it, your perspective will change. About yourself. You will be less boxed in, less risk averse, and less timid on the next challenge. Which might not have anything to do with running–that’s cool. But do it once and I think it’ll change your mindset on your limits.

It's You vs. You
It’s You vs. You

4. You’ll be inspired during the race.

Perhaps by watching someone that you never thought would run a marathon run alongside of you. Maybe by some guy carrying the American flag whilst playing country music out of his iPhone. Perhaps by a father and son combination, shirtless and running in front of you.

It might even be the playing of the National Anthem at the beginning of the race. Or magical scenery throughout the run.

I promise, you’ll be inspired. Somewhere along the way. In a big way. By someone. Something. Or even yourself.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

5. You’ll fall in love with new music. 

Since you need to have tunes. A lot of them. Some swear by not listening to music in a marathon. I, on the other hand, have to listen to music. This latest playlist included Jeff Bridges (frequent favorite), Kaskade (newer all time favorite–especially after hearing him perform live in LA), The Civil Wars (hoping they stay together!), and a pretty eclectic smattering of other artists.

And, of course, every marathon has to have a “song” that’s basically your Power Song. And every marathon has a different one (these are just my rules, if you’re running then you get to create your own). I just learned of these guys from Pandora (have I told anybody how much I LOVE Pandora? Did you buy your ad-free version yet?), and here’s my SF Marathon power song.


6. You’ll get healthier in the process.

You’ll eat better, you’ll learn more about your body, you might even fall in love with the Nutribullet (does ANYBODY know how much I love this thing? Kale as the base…always Kale as the base then fruit after it’s half full). Your metabolism will increase, bodyfat will decrease. But, still, you have to watch what you eat–weight is 70% managed in the kitchen. You’ll feel better.

I LOVE the Nutribullet
I LOVE the Nutribullet

7. You might replace one affliction with another one.

Pretty self explanatory. Some people think runners are obsessive, or caution about the ills of finding a new addiction. Generally, this is probably a good thing and better than the alternative. I wish I were more obsessive about running, but I’m getting closer. For the most part, I don’t have much of a dial–it’s more of an on/off switch.

In the process of training, you might find yourself with a new affliction.

8. You’ll see some clothing that nobody should be wearing. And that will amuse you. 

And, if you do wear long pants that show every crevice of your booty body, especially if you are a guy, please make sure you’re running close to a three hour marathon rather than a four. I mean, really… 🙂 But, I guess, you know, if you’re running your marathon, each to their own…

#tryingtoforgetisawthis
#tryingtoforgetisawthis

 9. Nothing beats crossing the finish line.

And it doesn’t matter who is there, if anyone at all, to greet you. Or even your time, especially if it’s your first. Yes, for sure it’s awesome to get a personal record, or have friends or family there–two of the three marathons have had my wife and RoZo waiting for me, which was great. But one of them I was in Phoenix, by myself, and in some ways it was just as gratifying. Because there’s something internal about running one of these. If you don’t know whether you’ll have anyone at the finish line, sign up anyways. And tell me you’re running it. You can call me after the marathon and I’ll be someone that gives you a virtual hug and high five. But you won’t need it.

~Raz

Finally finished...
Finally finished…

 

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.