Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rodeo Run

This was my third race and my first 10K. The other two being the Astros Run and the Run for the Rose. This run was definitely alot more crowded. An estimated crowd of around 10,000 participated and it was very difficult coming out of the gate. As always there are a few individuals who start above their pace and fall back. This creates a congested first mile and a half. For the first time I had headphones and I'm really glad I brought them. It gives you something to do and the faster paced music definitely keeps you aware of your steps.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the course. As the rodeo parade was occurring later in the day part of our track went through the parade crowd. They were great and cheered us along and children wanted to give us high fives. It definitely energizes you. Along most of the track as well there was music playing. I had not seen that at my other races. I was really impressed. Once the 10K and 5k crowd split the course was much more manageable and everyone had alot more room. I definitely paced well as I was within 30 seconds of my final pace (approx 9 minutes give or take). As I didn't train I was probably more lackadaisical then my brother. At one point we passed a sewage plant and my "OMG you just farted" joke was only met with a half cracked smile... he was in the zone.

Going into the finish I tried to just gun for it but I was gassed and only slightly able to increase my pace. The snack area was large, but with so many people hard to navigate. Though I must compliment the volunteers for doing so well managing everyone.

Overall this was my favorite race I have run and I would definitely do it again. For anyone who hasn't tried a competitive race you should definitely go for it. You tend to run slightly faster than your training times and the atmosphere is always enjoyable.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


See pics.

As I stated earlier I recently came to a point in my life where I decided that fear was no longer going to dictate how I lived my life. Skydiving is something I would have never done even 2 years ago. It was time. I looked up the website and planned the event. One way or the other it was going down.

I chose Saturday the 21st due to the 10% of rain on the day and the fact that Sunday I usually reserve for cycling with my Dad. As the day approached I got more nervous and anxious. Wednesday night I remember sitting there in bed and thinking about it as my feet and palms began to sweat. Could I go through it? Those thoughts lasted only a night as I had already been dead set on accomplishing this mission for better or worse the die was cast and it was in fates hand now.

As Saturday rolled around my brothers and me met up and decided to head out to the drop zone. The sky was overcast and deep down we knew that it was probably going to be a rained out day as drops sprinkled down on us. Once we got there we filled out the necessary paperwork and watched the video (aka a random as hell dude with a 5ft long beard telling us we may die as ambulances race across the screen). Once we got done it quickly became evident that our options were wait for four hours or come back tomorrow. We chose the latter.

Going into Sunday I really didn't feel that nervous. I had gone through the motions already so I felt good and ready. Though as we got closer and closer we started to make out specks of people plummeting down to the earth below. My stomach informed me almost immediately that this was the craziest thing he's done. As butterflys erupted in my stomach I couldn't help, but think about the upcoming endeavor. Upon arriving at the jump location the site of individuals meticulously packing their chutes eased some of the tension. And I have to say that the average jumper is very different from the average individual. They look the same, but when you talk to them they are alive, excited, and jovial. These feelings are something I have felt over the last few weeks as I continue my journey and it was pleasant to be in the company of such positivity.

Over the loud speaker I hear "Kevin flight 9 with K-love". My heart skips a beat and I now know that I am 40 minutes away from a 13000 foot descent. My instructor is cool and laid back. His name is Kevin so I know he's got to be a cool dude. We are told to ask questions so I get straight to the point:
"So how many jumps have you done"
"Well probably somewhere around 12000"
Sweet day this dude has to be safe
"So how many times have you had to pull the reserve chute?"
"I would say about 24 times"
He is going to the plane for his first jump and turns around,
"Only 14 of those though were tandem"
I like my odds, I like this guy, if I had to choose a dude to spoon me for 13000 feet he would at least in the top 10.

Now fully geared up we head to the drop zone outside to watch the plane before us take off. I'm now extra nervous and contemplate if I should try and get every last drop of piss out to prevent myself from peeing my pants. I decide that I don't want to even begin to mess with the harness that is securing my life at this moment. It seems like seconds before we are waiting on the loading dock.

I see Kevin land and he runs over to quickly get ready for our flight. This point is the scariest moment because in my mind it's the last minute that I can quit. He brings me some gloves and goggles, I'm ready to go now. As we get on the plane I'm thinking 2 things:
1) OMG it's happening and I'm now in God's hands
2) Why aren't I strapped to my instructor yet. I hope he does this right.

We load first meaning I will be one of the last ones to leave. The airplane isn't a state of the art piece of machinery and I am glad I am jumping out of it now as it reminds me of the plane in the Indiana Jones movie. We start our ascent and my brothers instructor is talking intently to the pilots and then turns to us and says "Alright since we are all tandem here, we're going to have to man up and ride with the door open." David is near the door and he gets a white knuckle kung fu grip on the bench as he now is sitting next to an opening on an airplane without any sort of parachute or instructor strapped to him. I gleefully laugh on the inside, thankful it's not me. All the instructors pound it out and then before we know it we are ready.

David is going first and he looks scared as hell. We are told not to hold on to the bar at the exit point but David is gripping it with the strength of ten men. Eventually he crosses his arms as instructed and is gone. Adam is next and looks less nervous and is gone before I know it. I'm focused on walking down the corridor with a dude strapped to my back.

As I get to the opening I'm really not nervous at this point. My time to quit was at the plane. I decided on my fate and there was no turning back. I hear the countdown and we're out of there. It's really loud like you are in a wind tunnel. My instructor spins us around and you are coming down so fast and yet everything seems to stand still. Almost immediately he seems to pull the chute. We fall a little farther and kind of do some spins then the chute opens. I excitedly want to control the parachute now. He says we are too low. I'm confused because he said I would get 2 or 3 minutes to do this. He then explains:

"Ya dude it's kind of funny you talked about the reserve. We were spiraling for awhile there and I almost had to let our main go. I was going to give us 1000 more feet or so before I pulled."

Well then that's crazy as hell. I sit there and contemplate the fact that of all people I almost became number 25 on the had to pull the reserve chute list. The weird thing is I didn't even know something happened. We land perfectly and then it's done. The weeks of anticipation over in 25 seconds. I land shortly after David (who went out of the plane a good 3 or 4 minutes before I did if not longer) and way ahead of Adam (Who went out 2 minutes ahead of me). That means I freefalled about a few thousand feet more then they did. I start processing this. Wow that was intense.

It was an awesome experience and I now contemplate doing it again or getting certified. Who knows. All I can say is that today I left alot of my fears and my restraints about life on that airplane. Man I'm glad I went... what's next?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What are You Afraid Of

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are you afraid of? I sat there and asked myself that question. I recently read a great article that I highly recommend titled the Courage to Live Consciously by Steve Pavlina, and it inspired me. What do I fear, is this fear reasonable, and would I benefit from breaking it. A lot of things came to mind; the first thing that caught my attention was skydiving. I have always been deftly afraid of the idea. I always want to be in control and I fear trusting others. Including someone else who has essentially packed my life in a small backpack. Is this a legitimate fear? Not really. People don’t die from this all the time. In fact, I would imagine there is a similar percentage of fatal car accidents.

So I’m doing it on the 21st. I’ve already signed up and made the reservation. I want to start peeling the layers off my fears until I realize that the fear was created by me. Things that I thought weren’t possible were due to my mind limiting myself. I’ve got my next big thing in mind already, but I’ll get there in another post. Until then bombs away.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Shack: My Thoughts

I’ve heard it often said that the greatest evidence against Christianity is Christians. Is that not true? Too often Christians try to associate rules and regulations with a relationship. When really God is about forgiveness, God is about redemption, God is good, God is love. We show people the adoration of Christ by condemning them? I’m confused and this very mentality is what strayed me away from church during my highschool years. The cliques just muddled the message. Where did this higher than though attitude come from?

I think the book gives such a great illustration during the garden scene, when Sarayu (the Holy Spirit) and Mack (the protagonist) are working in the garden. Mack learns that the garden is his soul shortly after commenting on how messy it was and Sarayu reiterates how beautiful it is. How together they will shape the garden into something grand. Is this not a great picture of redeeming love? Loving in spite of wrongs and loving in spite of faults. Notice too how the work Mack and the Holy Spirit do is on himself and not others.

Another powerful scene is the talk with Jesus and Mack must go into the cave to see Wisdom. He is commanded to judge humanity by choosing to save 2 of his children and send 3 to hell. Mack can’t because he loves his children too much. Even though I don’t have children of my own I connected with this. To think that God must let people out of his presence for eternity must be difficult, painful, and heart wrenching. Judgment is merely giving humanity God’s greatest gift, the true choice to be 100% totally independent of God.

The reconciliation of Mack to his father is one that helped me see the burdens that all of us carry. How can we understand the pain, the environment or the challenges that others face. We can’t. There is no way that any of us will ever become a better expert on someone else than God. In fact, the only person we are an expert on is ourselves.

So what is the Christian’s mission? I believe we are to be lanterns that luminate a pathway to the heart of God. We should be able to show others the love of Christ in how we treat them. To roughly quote the book “God isn’t about religion, God is about a relationship.”

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Three Positives from a Negative

I've been working alot for the past 6 weeks. See 70+ hours. Unfortunately this has limited my blogging. I am almost done reading two books and I will post book reviews/thoughts for the time being here is the results from the my little weekly project.

I heard an idea that I have tried this week. Whenever you perceive something as negative, you name three positives that have come out of it. It's actually a really good idea and something I recommend. Here's an example:

Negative: Working 70+ hours
1) I have gained a greater appreciation of free time. It has helped me realize how precious my time is and not to waste it.
2) I really enjoy working with/motivating others. As people become burned out I have been able to take the opportunity to encourage those around me.
3) I've really learned alot and grown from pushing myself this hard. I'm being refined for the better and this experience will/is making me a better person.

Try it for yourself, and you'll be surprised of the affect it has on your attitude.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The end of the month long experiment one: No Drinking

Let me preface this first with what the actual bet was. I completely gave up social drinking and any other drinking not specifically paired with a meal. I had red wine twice with tenderloin because it enhances the flavor of the meat and used a bourbon glaze in cooking one of my dishes. The purpose of the experience was to see if I could enjoy social functions more or less without drinking.

I didn’t drink until I was 22. I had never really been interested in it or felt that I missed out on something. I thought it would be such a big deal the first day that I drank, but it honestly really wasn’t. I woke up, felt fine, and didn’t find myself a completely different person. I think it is like that for many of our big firsts. We get this urge that we will change completely and then the next day we’re still just us. Since that point I have drank in most social situations by choice.

The Experiment:
Due to my work schedule I only attended social events where I would have normally drank on 4 or 5 nights. At first it felt semi-awkward not drinking, but after the first event or so it really wasn’t that much different. In fact, there were many benefits that I found from not drinking. I was able to focus more on what another person was saying to me and in a lot of ways developed a better connection with people. I essentially stayed in the moment more so then I would have while drinking. I also noticed for me that I tend to lose some of my wit the more that I drink and I was able to retain during this experiment. Additionally, the biggest benefit was that I was able to do things the next morning. When I drink I tend to inhibit myself from being able to work out the next morning and waste the early part of my day rehydrating. It’s made me not go out in the past. When I go out and don’t drink I am able to get up and start my day out well.
The cons were mostly that occasionally I couldn’t raise myself to the energy level of the group. Often times alcohol can help in this and make you more care free. In one particular instance we were in a dance club and I just couldn’t get into the mood. That is something that I could have changed, and if I was drinking I would have definitely been in the mood. Is this better or worse? I’m not sure.

What will I do now? I haven’t fully decided. One thing I know for sure is that I am going to significantly curve my social drinking, and in many instances will not do it at all. I love going to bars and clubs still because they are just fun awesome environments, and I don’t think it’s wrong to drink. It’s just something that for me has less benefit then I originally thought. I’m now involved in month 2 of my give up something for a month project (video/computer games).