Monday, January 7, 2013

The Namesake: Going for Goofy

And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh. - Friedrich Nietzsche

In 2006, two month after graduating college, I moved from the East Coast (Connecticut by way of Philadelphia) to Los Angeles. I had no family on the West Coast. I knew no one. All I had was a graduate school admission and a desire to work in film.

For the next two years, life was was rough. During the first few months, I called my parents ever day. And I'd hang up the phone after a 20-minute conversation and be really upset that I "couldn't" call them again until tomorrow. I didn't understand this world - it's traffic, it's segregation, it's sprawling culture. When you are surrounded by change, you gravitate toward the familiar, the comfortable.

I held fast to one thing - running. Oh, the irony.

I was not a runner in college by any stretch of the brain. I played volleyball (setter) and threw the javelin for the track team. But running? Hell no...And then, hell the spring of '06. After wrapping up team sports, I knew I had to find a way to stay active. Walking seemed easy. Running, a bit harder but okay so long as I could go at my own speed.

When I stepped onto the treadie the first time in January of 2006 ... meaning, the first time I ran without the threat of drills/sprints/measurement from my coaches... I walked for 1 minute, ran for 28 minutes, and walked for one minute. That was all I could coax myself to do.

We all start somewhere.

I did it every day. Without fail. A college senior in the "senior spring" of life, I set my alarm for 6:30am and got my 3 miles in daily. No excuses. Just determination to overcome something I hated but knew could transform me.

So when I moved to LA five months later, I took that habit with me. And I decided to train for a half marathon. Given that I did not love running - but, rather, enjoyed the challenge of doing something new and painful - I figured Walt Disney World was a great place to test my endurance. I signed up for the Disney World Half Marathon in January '07.

I trained on my LA apartment complex treadmill, out at the Santa Monica boardwalk, and through the neighborhoods of Mid-City LA. Many of these runs I was upset and thinking of my friends who were so far away. The first time I ran six miles along the Santa Monica/Venice beach boardwalk, I cried buckets. Not after the run, but during. I was moving in and out of a sea of people along Venice Beach. I felt very alone, but also very determined.

#Champstrong. This moment would change me. I kept stepping left and right, left and right. That day would come only a few months later: In Jan '07 - I did it. My first half marathon. Rag-tag and messy, but I met my goal - completed it, and do so at a sub-10 min/mile.

13.1 miles of grit. Done.

I was bitten by the bug. Did I think I could do a full? No. Did I sign up for one anyway? Yes. Less than 3 weeks later I committed to the San Diego Marathon with Team in Training ... Seven years later ... here I am, a life-time warrior for the program and for this sport.

I left-right-left'd my way through that half marathon, and then through 20-some-odd races to come. I have logged marathons, ultra-marathons, and an Ironman since the first time I stepped on the treadie. I have learned from it, your future will not be what you imagine it to be. In some lucky cases, it will be even better.

My twitter name @goingforgoofy was inspired by my sign up for the WDW Goofy Challenge in 2008. It is the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon at Sunday. Both a big part of WDW Marathon weekend, and I always looked up to the folks who donned the Goofy bracelets. They were inspirational. So inspirational that I have returned year after year to WDW for the Goofy Challenge. For me, it is the origin of boundary-pushing.

My Mom completed her first half marathon at age (cough)56(cough). For me, the first half of the '09 Goofy Challenge

My buddy Robert and I during the '12 Goofy Challenge with our West Side TNT Marathon Team

It's been years since I tackled my first Goofy Challenge, and I've often thought of changing my twitter handle. But the cool thing for me is, that over five or so years, that name has shaped my personality.

Goofy is the name of the race, sure. But 'goingforgoofy' to me is now a way of living. I'm going for, as in aiming for, a little goofiness. Life is serious, and heavy and tiresome. Many times we get caught up in the weight of it all. I like to think I'm always, a little bit, trying to go for goofiness - break up the seriousness and add a little humor.

On Wednesday night I will head to FL for my fourth Goofy Challenge. I have a feeling this may be my last one in the immediate future. Previous recaps of my races are here, and here and here. I don't plan on bringing any time or pace goals with me. If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is better when you are laughing. So during the 5K, half marathon and marathon that my feet will traverse this weekend, I only hope to find plenty of opportunities to laugh, cheer and celebrate we will / Because life is short but sweet for certain." -Dave Matthews Band

Many rounds of good luck to all those going Donald, Mickey and Goofy this weekend. And even to those of us going Dopey. Happy trekking, and I hope you go for your own goofiness.

1 comment:

abbi said...

Have a wonderful time! I love this story. For some reason the Goofy challenge has spoken to me since day 1...I have no idea why because Disney stuff isn't really me but I really want to do it some day. Can't wait to hear about your next Goofy adventure!