Track & Field Will Always Be My Passion. Everything Else For Fun, Though!

It was 0630 when I arrived at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, for my first Spartan Race of 2016. In honesty, it’s probably going to be the only one too.
Daylight had just begun to break across the sky and, with it, the chill in the air began to lift as I navigated the usual hustle and bustle that is the registration tents for Spartan events. With only 4 hours sleep behind me, and a metabolism that had barely begun to work on the calories I had thrown down my throat on the drive to the stadium, my thoughts steadily began to move from, “D, you need to work on your preparation for these races. Training, sleep, food, hydration, timekeeping…” to, quite simply, “Is this really where my passion lies?” A brief conversation with Joey Patrolia, at the end of the race, put things into a great perspective for me. Joey doesn’t necessarily train for these events, per se. He JUST DOES THEM. Like a lot of conversations I have, these words that carried a lot of relevance to me, filtered very slowly through my communication intake channels. As though my mind wanted to sap them of every possible mental nutrient on offer!

The race itself was cool. I made the mistake of getting caught at the back of the starting pack but these are things we just learn from. I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to make any real impact and just focused on getting through without stopping. My only failure was on the Hercules Hoist. I’m pretty sure there was a problem with the pulley but I took the burpees penalty on the chin and jumped out my 30, with perfect form, in sets of 10. The last thing I wanted was to be caught on a phone not doing the burpees properly and have the Spartans of the North East Facebook group complaining about it for a week! LOL!

As you do, I pondered over my race. The winner, Brakken Kraker, had run the race in 23 minutes and some change. I had run it in 37 minutes. The difference was massively down to people in front of me walking, especially where we ran in the seated area of the stadium. Plus the Jerry Can Carry and Sandbag Carry, where there were numerous stoppages in front of me. However, I know how I felt in that race and it wasn’t a feeling that would have put me that much closer to the winner, if I’m honest. During the entire race, in retrospect, my only drive was competition. The event could have been croquet, for crying out loud. There was just a part of me that didn’t feel like I belonged there.
This is no reflection on Spartan Race, OCR as a sport or even the competitors that slowed me. I have all respect for athletes of all abilities and backgrounds. The simple fact is this. My passion is channeled in Track & Field. This isn’t to say that I don’t want to do anything else but it IS to say that I don’t want to dedicate to anything else. I have goals and achievements lying ahead, that involve running, cycling, swimming, climbing, OCR competitions but Track & Field still courses my veins and, as long as it does, as Joey Patrolia put it, I’ll just do them.
The level of fitness I attain, putting in work for the 400m Hurdles, is ample for getting through OCR events, triathlons and other boundary-pushing achievements. I just cannot get motivated when it comes to preparing for them. This means that I may not necessarily be fighting for podium positions when doing them but that’s cool with me. It’s taken some time to sink in but I feel that I’ve made peace with myself, regarding that issue.

I remember when I ran my personal best over the 400m Hurdles, in Belgium, 2005. I had an incessant surge of butterflies. I had maybe 4 or 5 hours sleep and could just about eat that morning. I was forced to sip tea and choke down on a croissant!
Warming up for the race, I remember my legs feeling like jelly and I had my ‘don’t talk to me’ game face firmly affixed. I could feel the competitive atmosphere surging through me. I knew how hard I’d worked to get there, following an injury, but anyone beating me that day was going to have to run their heart out.
When the gun went, I remember throwing myself out of the blocks and fighting this thought in my mind that wanted me to not attack the race so hard but I knew that this was what I’d worked for. The cold nights on dark running tracks. The early morning runs, done while others were still sleeping. Frankly, I knew I was worth my salt and I’d be damned if I weren’t going to push the envelope!
Hurdles 1, 2 and 3 were a blur. The only thing I could tell you about them is that I landed so sweetly, coming off them, it was like I never left the ground in the first place. It wasn’t until hurdle 5 that I realized I was in first place, barely. The American athlete outside me was coming off his hurdle just after me but I was closing. When I nailed hurdle 6, where I began to alternate my lead leg, I knew I was on to something good and, even though I clipped hurdle 9, I knew I just had to nail hurdle 10 to win. I didn’t panic, I didn’t break stride. I just hit the last 3 strides, hard, and drove my knee at the hurdle. I came off it smoothly and sprinted through the line with everything I had left in the tank.

Sadly, I can’t recall my Spartan Race with the same memory or passion. I can remember how tired I was and I can remember most of the race but the fire and rush of adrenaline just aren’t present, unfortunately. Which leads me to a real big decision…

It’s time to take it back to the track, somehow.
Training facilities aren’t plenteous in Central New Jersey but there are some make-do spots that I can utilize. Most importantly, I’m smiling thinking about being on a dark track, running through cold winds, as I churn out 400m repetitions. A smile that just hasn’t been there for a while now.

I’ll still be taking part in other sports and events but I’ll just be doing them. It’ll be competitive fun, something out of the norm. Something that’s a little different. But Track. Track is Life!

Everything just isn’t for everybody.

Celebrate Every Day! A Thought From A Friend.

This got me thinking the other day. In a few days time it will be my “Birthday”. By the Solar (gregorian) calendar that will be 34 years old. If I were to use another calendar though, I would theoretically be a different age completely…..wouldn’t I. Now I have not invested the time or effort to […]

via How Old Am I Really……. — armouryofthought

Dear Humanity. Sincerely, Cancer

You blame me for entering the home that you invite me in to and that’s wrong.

Dear Humanity,

You blame me for entering the home that you invite me in to and that’s wrong.

I am a relative of Death but Death and I are not the same. Just as Cause is the relative of Effect but yet they remain different. So why do you invite me in and treat me with the disdain attributed to Death? It hurts and confuses me.

You invite me, out of the rain, into the clubs and house parties, as you binge drink alcohol. We laugh together as I caress your liver and kidneys while you pass out and seek to do it all again the next day. I thought we were close. I even stayed anonymous while your friends watched our relationship grow, seemingly unawares.

I stood by you and had your back while you defended your right to smoke cigarettes and weed. I held your lungs tight and kissed your throat in support. I waved my fists in rage as you pointed out that Death lurks at every corner anyway and I cursed with you as you reminded those that would have seen us separate, there are so many sins worse than smoking.

While you loaded your body with the fatty proteins from excess meat and processed food from cheap restaurant chains, I thought you were happy for our bond to grow. When you stayed away from eating starches, grains, fruits and vegetables because you couldn’t be bothered to cook, I moved closer to you on the couch because I thought you were compromising in order for our friendship to develop. You know that those fatty proteins form part of my survival. That’s why so many of my friends are here in places like yours. Western culture is so appealing to me. I want so much more than friendship. I want you. Death wants to meet you and you seem happy to meet him. Can’t you see? We ALL benefit.

You surround yourself with my siblings, Anger, Worry, Unforgiveness. Their acidity feeds the proteins I need but when I feed, grow and introduce aquaintances to Death, there is the disdain again!
I don’t understand how there is a System in place that creates people willing to have me introduce them to Death but, when I do, the protest is against me and not the System.
I see ribbons worn by people still smoking, still hating, still eating the food I love and that’s just confusing to me. Can you not see what you are doing?! It hurts!
It hurts that the system creates me, perpetuates me, convinces you to keep me around and then says that you must turn away from me, without offering alternative direction. I feel like a cheap whore, attracted to the love I’m shown but never reaping benefit from those that made me or those that paid me.

Dear Humanity, the half-way house lifestyle hurts. Make a decision.

Sincerely, Cancer

I Wish I Could Cry: Removing My Joker Face.

Growing up in working class east London, a melting pot of races, cultures and backgrounds, as a young boy, there was a heavy requirement to not cry.

Growing up in working class east London, a melting pot of races, cultures and backgrounds, as a young boy, there was a heavy requirement to not cry. It wasn’t pride. The idea of the ‘stiff upper lip’, prevalent in the British Commonwealth, played no part in this. This was survival. The result is scary. There are many men like me who just can’t cry.

I’ve come to see myself as having a Joker Face. It’s somewhat different from a Poker Face, where there is a deliberate attempt to hide intent. A Joker Face can only be described as the calm smile on a peaceful face that conceals an empty vessel, filled with tears never set free. Tears of happiness, tears of frustration, tears of laughter, tears of sadness, tears of hurt.
The tears eat away at this vessel, I’m sure they do. But the mechanisms set in place, from the earliest of ages, just prevent the success of any erosive activity. Bottled emotion, a.k.a the ticking time bomb. This is why the result of our learned survival instincts is so scary. We are surrounded by, I am a part of, an ever-growing group of emotional time bombs. As men, the explosions usually result in outbursts of rage. Verbal, sometimes physical. But rage all the same. Sadly, there are very few of us trying to free ourselves from this disease. However, suffering from this disease myself allows a high level of empathy for those that can’t choose to escape. You see, the only escape from this flaw is to be broken but this is where the problems lie. When you choose to allow yourself to break, what breaks you will make you.

I’m doing what I can to allow myself to be broken by Love. I’m trying to build a relationship with Christ because that is the standard I have chosen to be judged by. I can’t lie, though. It’s hard to let go. Control of myself and my environment has been paramount for so long, it’s just not easy, man. It’s just not easy.
Some may question my chosen ‘escape route’ but that’s debate for another day. In the meantime, men just like me are choosing to channel their emotion through drugs, alcohol and other seemingly non-beneficial channels and the sad thing is, as is the norm in western society, the method of help is usually limited to a jail cell or labelling with a medical condition, in order for us to pretend that problems are never caused by society. The blame is always on the individual.

In honesty, I hate that I can’t cry. I hate that it is so hard to let anyone in. I have more trust in panty elastic, over an open fire, than I do in the intentions of people and so I’m seen as aloof, cold and often zoned out. Totally separate from whatever emotion is round about me. This causes me to be frustrated with myself. Somewhat of an island, I wish I could love myself as much as I love others. You may never see it but, believe me, that’s how it is. I would love to hit the reset button on my emotions.

I think the beginning of my problem is more than likely the same as many others like me. “What happens in this house stays in this house.” One of the most heavily enforced rules of many working class homes provided a level of security, integrity and pride but the lock-down on expression, I feel, has been the cause of creating millions of social islands. An entire demographic unable to express emotion. In my own experience, I also feel that incorrect Christian doctrine was also a cause.
One thing that I greatly appreciate about my church is that there is a forum to express one’s self, within reason. My Pastor is approachable and understanding. However, that cannot be said of all churches and Pastors. Growing up, we were taught not to question and whatever came from behind the pulpit was expected to be accepted as truth and you were considered a renegade and a rebel. There were many occasions when I felt that I was trying to express myself to a tall, dense brick wall. Eventually, it leads to giving up. In my favour, I never lost my love of reading and I never lost my love of reading and studying my Bible, regardless of how my lifestyle was at the time. Others haven’t been so lucky.

The brain learns by repetitive exposure. By the time I was a teenager, as much as I questioned and as much as I bubbled with ‘rebellion’ inside, I was well-versed in the art of Non-emotion. This was now bolstered by peer pressure. I mean, no one cries in front of the man dem, do they?! Helped along by the social systems in place, fear of expression and a spirit of rebellion began to bolstered in place by pride. A sprinkling of desensitization by some violent social experiences almost made me the stereotypical working class, black teenager. I honestly believe it was my love for reading my Bible that kept me from tipping over the cusp and kept me a tongue-in-cheek rebel. However, the part of me that was never allowed to have questions answered left me with a very cold and sometimes very dark side. Pretty much, I became the brick wall I often tried to express myself to. Herein, I believe, lies my inability to cry. Incompletion, almost having it, seeing it but unable to get it. Those things became the norm. Interestingly, those that are actually IN my life, unguarded, have all been there from before the wall grew so tall. Very few others have been able to join them. If I’m honest, it gave me a way with women that I’m not proud of. A blog for another day – perhaps.

Going through my 20s and early 30s, the Pride-bolstered fear of expression and semi-controlled rebellion was then cemented with time in the military. “Keep calm and carry on.” Also known as “Forget yourself and keep your focus on what needs to be done.” As a result, I’ve become an extremely task-oriented character, often unable to experience the emotion of the moment at hand. Quite frankly, I was in a position where I was unable to deal with my past because there was always something I saw as more important in the future. It made me a high-speed train, hurtling through life and through people, at times, in order to get somewhere I didn’t know of. When I look back, it’s probably one of the weirdest times of my life, as much as it is one of the best. The positives of spending time in the military, I feel, have far outweighed the negatives, in terms of basic life experiences.

Finally, I migrated from home to the States. All the chickens of my past came home to roost at this point. Who I am, what I am and how I can be. It was in November 2013 that I took a good look in the mirror and decided that I needed to undo 33 years of poor character and make way for a character founded on Love. I decided to start by looking for forgiveness from anyone I had ever hurt. A humbling experience that would require an entire blog of its own but an experience that has allowed a lot of growth and a lot of undoing.
The process of removing the Joker Face, though, is long, patient and I’m discovering that, in today’s must have it now society, a lot of people don’t have the patience to wait for it to be removed. I’ve found myself dealing, heavily, with people coming and going as I struggle to let down the trust barriers. I’m still hurt easily and close right down quickly at times. I’ve noticed that I’m very selective with what people know about me and I’m quick to spot ill intention of people around me. The downfall of that is, I’m quick to emotionally cut anyone off for certain things. Inconsistency and lying being the key protagonists.
In a nutshell, people that choose to remove the Joker Face become like individuals transitioning to being sober, after being alcoholics. Suddenly, I have become exposed to emotions and feelings that I need to deal with from a loving base, as opposed to the tall, dense wall. The journey is tough but progress is being made – but I still can’t cry.

The journey has been hard and I wish it would just be done. It’s uncomfortable and the experiences aren’t all a bed of roses, unless you want to include the stems.
Walls coming down isn’t the great hooray that people might think. I just want to be able to cry.

So much more to say…;

It’s Not Always Straightforward Being Mixed Race.

I found this to be an interesting article. It’s interesting to see how the non-working classes struggle to understand, and even fathom, the idea of racial mixing. See the article here.
I’ve deduced the class based on the situations mentioned, having an understanding of British classes. My opinion is open to debate and question.

It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I started to see society’s different perceptions of mixed race people. I noticed that, generally, I was mixed race to the working classes of the UK but considered black by the middle and upper classes. Seeing that it is the middle and upper classes that effect our social systems, I learned that the system had to be approached and addressed differently, depending on the situation at hand.

Mixed Race people are the social gymnasts of this era!

Zika Virus Thoughts…

I read an article, on the BBC News website, talking of how millions of honeybees were killed as pesticide treatments for the Zika virus were deployed down in North Carolina. Such an important species, to all humanity, they say mankind would die out in 4 years if there were no honeybees. To lose millions just like that is pretty tragic. But then I asked myself if it were by design.

Call me a conspiracy theorist but I couldn’t help thinking that there were no cases of the Zika virus reported among the thousands of athletes during the Rio Olympics. Thousands of people in a single living space for around 4 weeks. Does this virus pick and choose its victims? Are we entering an era where viruses are now becoming intelligent? Or is there something else going on here? Hmmmmm…..

Colin Kaepernick: A Stand-Up Guy

I’m tired of hearing Colin Kaepernick railed on. I see the reaction to his protest in the same light I see the reactions to the shootings of individuals such as Alton Sterling.

I’m tired of hearing Colin Kaepernick railed on. I see the reaction to his protest in the same light I see the reactions to the shootings of individuals such as Alton Sterling. It’s almost as though the knee-jerk reaction to facing up to our own flaws has us quickly needing to find diversion so we can bury our heads in the sand and pretend that it doesn’t exist. “Our society has no flaws. How dare you, Colin Kaepernick!”

My standpoint is this. If Colin Kaepernick is so wrong why has nobody addressed his point? I mean, if his point regarding disparity and, specifically, police brutality is incorrect, we could fairly and firmly close this situation down and return to the journey to the Super Bowl. Or does he have a fair point that we just don’t want to address?

I made a comment on Facebook, pointing out that Donald Trump has also said that America has failed. Yet, those that listen in debate whether he should be the next President of the United States or not. Why? Because it is decided that his content requires attention. If two people make the same statement what would cause us to afford time to one and not the other? It HAS to be the content. Put simply, it is more important for us to address which Mexicans and Muslims are allowed to stay among us, while we make drastic preparations to withstand attacks from countries thousands of miles away, than it is to ask why, to date of this blog, 730 people have died at the hands of our police force this year and why it is your chances of being killed by a police officer are higher, depending on the colour of your skin. Further, Colin asked why we don’t increase the time we spend training our police officers. The only response I’ve seen from senior police officials debates Colin Kaepernick sitting down during the National Anthem with nothing said about WHY he chose to sit it out.

Answering the question of ‘Why?’ gives closure to situations. It helps to put everything into perspective, in order for us to adjudicate fairly and to the correct measure. We did this when Ted Bundy murdered multiple women and we did this when Timothy McVeigh blew up a building in Oklahoma City. We did it when Dylan Rooff shot 9 innocent people in North Carolina and we did it when Christina Grimmie was shot by a stalker in Florida. There HAD to be a reason for such drastic action and we HAD to find out what that reason was. Had the individuals, listed, not had their reasoning addressed there would have been questions constantly asked and pondered over so, in order to retain the peace and as is custom, the ‘why’ was hashed out and dealt with. But not for Colin Kaepernick. There is suddenly this focus on the drastic action but no consideration has been given to the ‘why’. A NFL star sits down during the National Anthem and, even though he gave his reason for drastic action, it’s as if his reason was never spoken. Hmmmmm… Is there some reason why his reason isn’t valid for address? I mean, it’s not like he said something that was a lie. His reason has a solid foundation and the idea of police brutality is extremely concerning. Or is there a reason for it not to be?

In refusing to address the ‘why’ of Colin Kaepernick’s protest, we have allowed ourselves the ability to spin the story to any level we want. His actions are disgrace to the military members out there, dying for our freedom. Yet I haven’t seen anyone give much air time to Colin’s comments regarding servicemen. Let me help you with that.
Colin pointed out that the freedom being fought and sacrificed for was being abused by those allowed to allot it to certain individuals but not others. It is the system that is making a mockery of the sacrifice of our servicemen and women. Not the footballer trying to point out the discrepancy. Then they mentioned Colin Kaepernick’s income in comparison to that of a soldier, as though everything that can be done to bring the messenger into disrepute will bring an end to his message. Some mentioned that he doesn’t share his money. Diversion.
What does Colin Kaepernick’s income have to do with police brutality? If he spent millions building new schools and creating a warm fuzzy existence for black people, does that make police brutality go away? Does that bring back the 730 that are dead? Money doesn’t even have a value and the system knows this. The system knows, all too well, how to divide and conquer, though, and here we are. Arguing and debating drastic action. Scared to argue and debate the basis of it. Almost as if we are scared of the unity and closure it would bring about. Or is it the system that realizes it can only thrive if there is division?

Colin Kaepernick has put his livelihood at risk by observing a standard that isn’t his own. How many people do we see doing that this day and age? How many other men and women out there put their livelihoods on the line in order to see that society is equal and just? Not many.

In a society that chooses to sit down and pretend not to notice inequality and abuse of power, watching their fellow man suffer, a man willing to put his livelihood on the line to see wrongs corrected is a very stand-up guy. I only hope he remains consistent and gains support. Colin Kaepernick, salute.