Sunday, September 2, 2012

Running For My Life

First things first -- An email I wrote over ten years ago, when my first son, Max was barely 3 months old:

Sent: Thursday, 7 February 2002
Subject: I am so fit...I mean fat 

Just Do It.

I often wondered what the hell Nike was talking about.  Just do what?  Just go spend $110 on those ugly-ass shoes with tiger stripes and the airbags?  I've never been mistaken for someone with much motivation when it came to physical fitness, but today I figured out what this timeless slogan really means.

Today, I fought off all the excuses I've been using for about 3 years.  I laced up the running shoes (yep, Nike) and used them for, drum roll please...running!  Now, I HATE RUNNING.  I have not voluntarily run for 15 years.  Wait, that wasn't voluntary either, my Dad forced me to join the cross-country team and mercifully let me quit 2 months into the season.
Since then it has been basketball (mostly 1/2 court) played at a medium pace.  The rest of my fitness routine has consisted of a strict regimen designed to slowly and methodically put on pounds with special emphasis on the midsection and the chin.  This increase in mass is also specially designed to avoid nasty side effects, like strength and agility.  Despite my stellar physique, I have finally concluded that I need to start running.  Why you ask?  Mostly because my silhouette is starting to resemble a pear perched on two toothpicks.  It is heading in that direction, and that is just too damn gross to deny anymore.

So today at lunchtime, two of my co-workers and I embarked on the journey to "Just Do It".  I fought it hard.  I fought it very hard.  But we took off and went for a whopping 25 minutes.  And we only stopped to walk twice.  Now before you laugh too hard, know that it was on a HILL!  The way out was downhill, the way back was all UPHILL.  I never realized this, but my lower back has a voice.  That voice was saying, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"  Damn it hurt.  My glutes (those are ass cheeks for you non-runners) were on fire.  I can only imagine what I'm going to feel like on Friday.  To celebrate our conquest, the guys and I treated ourselves to Carl's Jr. for lunch.  Gimme a break now, I just ran!  Baby steps now, baby steps.

So you're probably wondering why the heck I am writing this to you all.  Well, for one thing, I was sort of proud of myself.  But that is really just a tiny piece of it.  After all, I ran for 25 stupid minutes, BFD.  The real reason I write you today is so that I am held accountable.  By sharing with you that I have committed to this, it will make it much harder to let myself flake and take the easy way out.

Mark, I have no idea how you and all your buddies do it, but hopefully I'll figure it out sometime soon.  I think you Ironman-running, track-meet-having, 40-oz-chugging bastards are freaks, but I respect the fact that you guys get your asses out there. All I know is I really don't want to do it again. But I'm going to.

Nike was on to something there.


Yeah, I kept up with that for maybe a month before reverting back to my true self. Fast-forward ten yesterday morning.

It is 6 a.m. Max is at my bedside shaking me awake, and try as I might I cannot find a snooze button anywhere on him. I'm often told how much Max and I are alike. But when it comes to mornings, we are polar opposites. The kid has always been an early riser. I on the other hand, love me some sleepy time. Among the favorite possessions in my house, my plasma and iPad are just a hair above the blackout shades in our room. I'm not proud of it, but I've always been a night owl who routinely stays up well past midnight. It is something I have struggled with, and for a significant chunk of my life I have wished that I could reel that in. Primarily so that I could not feel so tired during the day, but also because "morning people" just seem to have their shit together more than I do. Notice I said "wished" there instead of "tried", because even though I have known the solution to the problem (just go to bed, dumbass) I frequently ignore that solution in favor of doing things like watching old DVDs of "The White Shadow" with the director's commentary. But about a week ago I came up with a genius plan to solve three problems in one fell swoop.

Max just finished his Junior Lifeguard program a couple of weeks ago and was still pretty gung-ho about keeping up with the exercises he learned there. So I asked him if he would like to head down to Mission Bay 3 times a week in the mornings to do his exercises. I knew he would jump at the chance. With this plan I knew I'd be forced to go to bed and get up earlier. Max would hold me to it and I couldn't let him down. Second, I'd be getting in shape. I still play hoops, but despite that I am the heaviest I have ever been. Finally, I create an opportunity to spend some quality 1-on-1 time with my oldest boy. Soon enough he is going to be too "cool" for that.  Win-win-win. Plus I figured this just might turn me into one of those morning people who are all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. You know, kickstart my day and get me charged up with endorphins and all that good shit.

Wednesday was our first day at it. We got up at 6 and cruised down to Mission Bay. We picked out a spot and got to work. We started with something called "8-count Body Builders" which I am pretty sure were designed to kill me. Those were followed by standard push-ups and then some front and side planks. I was breaking a sweat, but still maintaining. After that it was time for the run. We decided we'd just start with one mile. One. One silly little mile. Holy shit. Seven minutes and 15 seconds later, I was gasping, heaving, and sweating like Patrick Ewing. By the time we got back home, I felt like I might puke. Um, where were my endorphins? Where was the feeling of accomplishment? How am I going to do this again on Friday? Max loved it.

After taking Thursday off, we were back at it at 6 on Friday morning. I was ready, making sure I had my phone in my pocket in case Max needed to call 911 quickly for some reason. The exercises were actually ok though except for those 8-count bastards. I was seriously dreading the mile though. But as we got into it, I realized that settling into a nice pace allows you to focus on the beauty of the bay, and lets your mind wander and really think about things. You know, things like, "Running is stupid…This sucks…What the hell am I doing?"  That sort of thing. At the end of that 2nd session, I felt something akin to a hangover. But while it took me until about lunchtime on Wednesday to start feeling human again, on Friday I did recover more quickly. And we both shaved 20 seconds off our mile time (Max - 6:54, Dad 6:55).

Unlike 10 years ago, I think I am going to stick with it this time. Even though a big part of me still wants to blow it off and sleep in, I've got my little alarm clock to hold me accountable now. Let's face it -- A little pain and fatigue is a small price to pay for what I am getting in return with my son. These are precious times. Father-Son moments where life lessons are taught about sticking with something, working hard, and not quitting even though you might want to. Who knows, I might even be able to teach him a few things too.

Monday, August 27, 2012


My daughter was both a superhero and a "inja" today. I accomplished very little by comparison.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Kid Thinks I Am Such a Tool

Luke made a postcard at school and had it sent home for me for Father's Day. Clearly their assignment was to think of a metaphor of what their Dads are like and of course Luke nailed it.

He asked me after I read it what was so funny. I just told him I was smiling because I liked it so much. I can't complain too much. For Mother's Day he said H was like an oven. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Prodigy

'Tis a rare thing for someone to find their true calling by age seven. But with Luke I think we may have a real prodigy on our hands. We've all seen children with a penchant for mathematics or that can spell every word in the dictionary. For other kids it might be a musical gift like the piano or violin. Luke is taking it in another direction.

As I was filming the video below, a scene from one of my favorite movies immediately came to mind. In Searching for Bobby Fischer, Josh's Dad (played by Joe Montegna) has a scene where he lays into Josh's teacher pretty good for not fully appreciating his son's blossoming chess ability. 

"You want to know how good he is? I'll tell you how good he is. He is better at this than I have ever been at anything in my life. He is better at this than you'll ever be at anything. My son has a gift. He has a gift, and once you acknowledge that, then maybe...we'll have something to talk about."

Yeah, what he said.

Hard to believe it was just a few short years ago that I introduced him to this. And he has already far surpassed my meager skills. With a bit more practice, patience and maybe some lessons I think we could be looking at a 2020 Olympic champion. It's pretty much a lock that this will be an official Olympic sport by then. We are all Witnesses.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thinking Outside the [Batter's] Box

We're wrapping up our sixth year of youth baseball with Max and Luke. There have been a lot of highs and lows in those six years, but one thing has remained constant: When the kids are on the field, the grown men around that diamond tend to lose their minds. A few games ago, I found myself chuckling at the lunacy of all the coaches, dads, grandpas, uncles and fans each shouting their own flavor of "encouragement" at each little guy in the batter's box.

If you've ever golfed, you know the madness of trying to maintain the perfect swing to hit that stupid little ball.
"Head down. Knees flexed. Easy backswing. Front elbow straight. Head down. Squared club-face. Turn the wrists over. HEAD DOWN! Impact. Follow through."
Yeah, you still sliced it.

And that describes a ball struck in relative silence that isn't even moving! Now imagine trying to hit a ball flying at you while at least eight men scream various tips at you. And you're seven.
Why do we expect a kid to be able to pick up the sign from 3rd base when he can't even pick up his socks off the floor? Why do we think he is going to be able to "keep his hands back, get his hips through the zone and finish high" every time when he just wiped his nose on his jersey? I believe deep down within our manly brains we do realize the absurdity of it all. Yet our mouths invariably ignore the brain and continue to pepper the players with advice. Usually while someone on the other side of the field yells the opposite. I'd like to pretend I've always been above this, but I have been very much a participant over the years. The best part is watching the deer-in-headlights batter nod in "understanding" before promptly doing the exact same thing on the very next pitch. It is truly priceless (at least in hindsight it is)!
Below is a "short" list of easy-to-follow tips regularly heard yelled at young players (simultaneously) from their coaches, dads and fans. Starting with tips at the feet moving all the way up to the head. On the right is a list of what I imagine is going on in the kid's mind as these instructions are flying at him:

And just think, in a couple more years that column on the right is going to include girls too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bee Free

Inspiration comes in many shapes and sizes. Today I was absolutely amazed by a bee. As I got in my car this morning to head to work, I noticed the little guy on my windshield and thought, "How cute. Get ready to fly off, dude."

I backed out of the driveway, headed down my street and noticed he was still hanging tough. Impressive. I hit Balboa Ave. and picked up some speed. Mr. Bee is still chilling there like this is a pony ride in the park. Slightly agitated now, I accelerate. I'm thinking, "Alright, you've had your fun. Run along now little fella."

Highway time. I jump on 805 North just knowing this is the end of the line for my passenger. Wrong. I take it up to 70mph and cannot shake him. He's just staring at me through the windshield and then things get weird. I swear the little shit winked at me.

Just when I think I've lost this battle of wills, the clouds darken and it begins to drizzle. Checkmate, you little bastard. No way you are holding on at highway speed on wet glass. This is pretty much the point where the bee made me his bitch. He proceeds to methodically turn around step-by-step and face the oncoming wind and water.

Not only does he now have his ass in my face, but I am fairly certain I heard him unleash a William Wallace-like cry of "FREEDOM!!" as we sped down the 805.

I'm really annoyed by this point. Does this bee think he's better than me? It's not enough to be blessed with the gift of flight, now he's gotta have a chauffer? Whatever, bee!

As we reach my exit a few minutes later, I am a beaten man. I start to gain a begrudging respect for this little winged wonder. Maybe the guy just wanted to cruise over to UTC to pick up a pollen slow cooker at Crate & Barrel or something.

I pull into my parking lot with the realization that I'd been looking at this all wrong. Rather than be annoyed, I should really be impressed by the tenacity of this little powerhouse who held on against impossible odds.

I got out of the car feeling inspired. When I left the house, I was dreading another boring day at work, but now I was ready to attack my day with similar gusto as that of my tiny companion. How ironic that just a few minutes before I had thought the wind was going to send that bee flying, but I ended up being the one who was blown away.

I got my things from the back of the car, locked it up and checked the windshield. Sure enough, my boy was still sitting there like a little champion.

It was kind of heartbreaking to squish him with that magazine.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Disney...Zealand

Maya wanted to say hi to Uncle Mark and Aunt Michaela and let them know she learned where they were staying.  We had her script all "mapped" out (get it?) but the execution didn't go exactly as planned.