Friday, February 11, 2011

Always Be Positive and Positive Attracts the Negative

WARNING: this blog is gonna get real

My high school swimming records are 24 years old this week.  That is more of a statement of the park district and private club talent going into the school than the "speed" of my records.  I would have just been one of the state qualifiers at Fremd, Schaumburg, Barrington or Palatine high school; but at Hoffman Estates - the record has lasted longer than two decades.  How long ago did I set those records?  Ronald Reagan was U.S. President.  Gas was "outrageous" at $1.25/gallon.  Get the picture?  Time to see them go.  I think one will go for sure.  The other one has a shot at making it one more year.  Both of the kids - I say kids because I am old enough to be their dad - are good kids.  Good students.  Courteous.  Have a sense of school team history and respect.  Exceptional.  I am truly hoping they break the records and go to the state championship.

Spring of my freshman year of high school - one day after earning a varsity swimming letter - the cross country and track coach told me, "You'll never be a good athlete." After I told him that I had decided to focus on swimming and would not be running in the fall.  Ironically, he was the first person I ran into when my wife and I landed back in Chicago following finishing in Kona.  The stunned silence and dumbfounded look on his face said it all when I showed him the very large silver medal I got in Kona at the Ironman World Championship.

Over this Christmas break I stopped in to see my old high school swimming coach.  I always do.  He did help me pay for college after all.  He introduced me to the kids and asked me if I'd work with them on some of the "tricks of the trade" in order to make them faster.  I did.  They listened.  What I taught them were the exact same things that he taught them - but I'm a different face.  The guy with the yellowing name on the record board.  A guy with six NCAA Division I varsity letters and a lot of other honors; paid for in blood, sweat and tears - literally.  It helped make a difference for them.

Recently I have gotten back on the horse as far as training goes.  An injury here and there.  Some "deceleration poisoning" (read: bike crash).   Rest.  Recover.  Eat right.  Gain weight anyway. (I can eat one piece of lettuce a day and gain weight.  Up yours skinny people.  Let's go ride a course requiring power.)  Get a little lazy.  Get RIF'd and MUST spend time searching for work.  Get "out of work" when the company goes belly up and MUST spend time searching for work... or start a business in your passion.  Coaching, and business is good great.  I have awesome athletes and good people to work with.


That was me when cleared as "healthy" enough in order to "train enough so I can train again".  (I'm leaving out some of the personal struggles Lorrie and I went through aka: cancer(s), deaths and that which will rename nameless because if I put it in here you just wouldn't believe the emotional beat down we've had.)  I was taught that when you get knocked on your ass you get up and start again.  You make your own luck and opportunity.  Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

While we have had things we've had to manage through together we did have one thing - each other.  The darker things got - the harder we seemed to laugh together.  That's how you know you have the right spouse.  While we've been down on our luck we've still always considered ourselves blessed and fortunate.  We pick up the "hard hat and lunch pail" and go right back to work on our dreams.  This is life, not some dress rehearsal.  If you want to live well you have to earn it.

Everyone who blogs has had mean and negative people send you messages and email.  Recently, I've had people I once called friends and even a cousin I grew up with remind me how negative some folks around me are.

When I was a kid I was a really good baseball player.  I was a very good hitter.  I didn't hit many out of the park.  I just wasn't naturally strong.   I needed to get stronger for baseball.  Swimming - upper body workouts, fitness.  Why not?

I started winning.  A lot.  A few of the guys and I started to gel as a group.  We started winning more.  Pushing each other harder.  Now our team was winning championships and setting records.  Every time my family got together with certain people some were positive toward my results; they were pretty great.  Some people I swam with from day one never gave me credit for the hard work the guys on my team and I put in.  They weren't happy in there own skin.  Never good enough and they will put that on you if you let them.  I never did.  It always has pissed me off and made me feel sorry for them.  Not only do they "not get it" but I'm a close friend.  You always give your close friends the truth, but help them improve with encouragement.  I offered - many times - to help them train.  No interest.  So, I went to the weight room alone through the summer nights of high school while others played.  (Some of those guys are still great friends.  Scott, Junaid, Keith, Nate, Brock, and Greg)  These negative people recently wrote me a message last week reminding me that, "I rarely support what you do..."  Yeah, no shit.  I was there.  I remember.

Stay positive and keep getting up off the floor.  No matter how many times you get kicked in the face and spit on.

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