Blogs tagged with "athlete"

I'm a proud fan girl.

This morning, the day after the Cubs won the 2016 World Series, I wake up a Cleveland Indians fan. And not only a fan, but a season ticket-holder who attended every home playoff game of the 2016 post-season. In person, I watched my team battle against the odds and the injuries and win its first two series only to lose after leading three games to one, in an epic battle in Game 7 of the World Series - a game that will go down in history as one of the greatest game sevens ever.

It was devastating and heartbreaking and frustrating and all of those things at once. But it got me to thinking. Who am I most heartbroken for? Myself? Not really. I'm still a fan. Do I feel sorry for Cleveland? Kind of. We all have to get up this morning feeling like "we" came THIS CLOSE to greatness but ended up back in Cleveland, often called the "mistake on the lake." Do I feel sorry for the players?

Absolutely.

And I know that they probably all get on airplanes and go back to their homes and families in different parts of the country and don't have to live here with the disappointment of another failed championship. They get their huge paychecks and forget about it, right?

Except, based on everything I've witnessed and read and heard, I don't think that's really the case with this team. They are much more than working professionals collecting a paycheck. They're a TEAM.

And I empathize with them because I've been a competitive athlete my whole life. I grew up in a competitive athletic family, and I know what sports disappointments are all about. I know that football losses ruin Thanksgiving dinners. I know that injuries ruin track seasons. I've cried over many of these things, not only for myself, but for my high school teams and my college teams. And I know the heart of an athlete. I know what our Cleveland Indians players are feeling right now. And I know that they will take this with them into next season and it will haunt them.

It will haunt them because of HOW CLOSE it was. I think a blow-out would have been easier to handle. I know this because I, too, came THIS close to a championship and it still haunts me to this day. When I was a senior in high school on the swim team, I lost a state championship by one-tenth of a second. I always wondered what my life would be like had I won. Would people have treated me different? Would I have liked myself better?

I will never know. But I do know that my feelings for the Cleveland Indians have not changed.

And it makes me realize that, as athletes, we do what we do because we love it. We come back the next year and try again. It took a long time for me to get back to the sport I truly love, but I swim now and I keep pushing my limits.

And it also makes me realize that we should never, as I have done in the past, let our sports performances define us or tell us whether we are worthy or not. And I will not judge professional athletes on whether they win championships or not. They can be heroes to us for so many more reasons. For making us realize the human potential. For taking us back to the kid inside us. And for their charitable contributions and actions. Those are the important things they give us.

And those are the things we should recognize in ourselves.

Several months ago, after making a comment about blogging graphs and diagrams, I was challenged by one of my good friends to come up with a Venn diagram and use it in a blog. Until yesterday, I had forgotten that promise - but, as all great friends are obligated to do, she called me out on Facebook yesterday: "Once upon a time, you promised me a Venn Diagram. Oh why hath thou art forsaken such an attribute." Now, she may kill me for putting her (nick)name in the title, but, afterall, she IS the reason I obsessed for several hours yesterday to come up with a good enough Venn in hopes of impressing her (or, at the very least, not looking like an idiot).

Most good ideas usually start with research, so I went to "The Google Image Search" and typed in "Venn diagram." I was instantly bombarded with hundreds of circles and colors and the first thing that came to mind was that commercial for the Bing search engine where people are spouting off random facts about everything under the sun.

After clicking on the ones that looked interesting or funny, what I found were the unfortunate truths:

  • all the really clever Venn diagrams are already taken
  • Venn diagrams can be anything from two joined circles to some unbelievable combination of circles, ellipses and any other shapes that have rounded corners

Here are some of my favorites:

The Social Media Venn Diagram
from PicoCool
The "Things that are Bad" Venn diagram from Burning Door
(many of my friends will ROTFL at this, or at least find it mildly amusing)
The Venn Diagram about Venn Diagrams
This accompanies one of the most hilarious articles I read about Venn diagrams,
from Miss Cellania at Mental Floss

The Charles Dickens Venn Diagram
from GraphJam

Something I've always been dying to know (having been called several of these),
"The Difference between Nerd, Dork, and Geek Explained by a Venn Diagram"
from Great White Snark 
For Letty Lulu and the rest of my English friends,
there's even a "Great British Venn Diagram"
for the people who don't get it.
I set out to define a Venn diagram for myself that would explain something about my life or my personality and be somewhat comedic. Note that defining my personality in amusing terms is easy for other people but never for me. Although I DO laugh about it.
I gave it some serious thought. I wanted three circles. Three circles seems reasonable and do-able in a short amount of time. And it's a little more challenging and creative than two circles (besides, I didn't want the narrowness of two circles to explain me). More than three circles hurts to think about (see above, or do what I did and type "Venn diagram" into Google).
Having decided on the all-powerful three circle mode of Venn-diagramming, I answered the question "what are some of the trichotomies in my life?" (is trichotomy even a word?):
  • Duh! Swim, Bike, Run - this one is just BORING and I'm sure it's been done 50 billion times before
  • Home, Sports, Work - hmmmm, this one has potential, but lately, I've been determined to keep any of those things from overlapping
  • The J-Team (Julie, Jim, Jeanne) - more potential there because Jim and Julie share many characteristics as do Julie and me and Jim and me... 
  • Jim, Jeanne, Hopper (our cat) - determining the overlap characteristics was fun, but not "funny" in the comedic sense
I pulled up Adobe Illustrator and drew three circles. I thought about the geeky Venn diagrams I had seen. I thought about my personality. I recalled something my friend and orthopedic doctor, Sam Patterson, once said: "I wouldn't believe this could be, but you have both compulsive and impulsive characteristics." I though about the things I do for a living and in my free time.

I wrote "Athlete" in one circle. I wrote "Artist" in another circle (because I do, afterall, have one of my college degrees in that). I struggled to come up with what to write in the third circle. It has to be something to do with work. I wrote "Web Developer." Too narrow. I decided on "Geek" - something I've often been called at work. And at play. (and my other college degree is a B.S. in engineering - and that has to count for something, right?) In retrospect, I probably should have written "Mad Scientist" from my blog title.

So, there it was, I accomplished first step to the Disaster Magnet Venn Diagram - the three circles. Next I had to determine what goes in the overlapping areas. I looked to the personality traits I bring to those three things. The centerpiece, then, would be what I think is my true personality disorder, the one thing I take with me everywhere.
And I was done. And here it is:
The Disaster Magnet Personality Disorder Venn Diagram.

Well, it was SUPPOSED to be funny.

Several months ago, after making a comment about blogging graphs and diagrams, I was challenged by one of my good friends to come up with a Venn diagram and use it in a blog.

My morning run today gave me the idea for this blog. While I was pounding the pavement, I saw lightning in the sky and wondered to myself: was it stupid for me to run today knowing that there was a storm rolling in? It made me think of all the risks we athletes take on a daily basis, sometimes by choice and sometimes by accident, and how some of mine may be the very things responsible for making me the Disaster Magnet. Although, lack of common sense and not paying attention do not constitute risk-taking but also may be responsible for some of my disasters.

Some risks are merely the result of an overeager attitude (one of my fundamental personality traits). Some of these risks result in disasters. Some don't. One such risk was the one I took when I was a 14-year-old freshman on my high school track team. I didn't realize I was taking a risk that day when I ran an all-out quarter mile at my track coach's request. Everyone had to do it - no one asked why. This was back in the days when we ran "quarters" and not 400 meters, high school tracks were made out of something called "cinders," and anyone stupid enough to run an all-out lap would end up running that all-out lap in the first track meet of the year. How was I supposed to know that 70 seconds would seal my fate for the next four years? And it wasn't really a disaster -- not until I won that first all-out lap at that first track meet of the year. My "finish line lean" -- yet another risk taken -- threw me onto one of those cinder tracks in one of the most painful -- and most jubilant -- moments of my life. Disaster number one? Perhaps. A risk worth taking? Definitely.

I've learned it may be hard to assess the results of risks taken in the name of overeagerness. For instance, blowing up at the end of a half-marathon or marathon when you think you had your pace under control but went out too fast. A disaster? Sure. A risk worth taking? Yes if you look at the race as a learning experience. No if it's your goal race of the season. Then you should know better. The same goes for nutritional risk-taking in races. It's the reason why practice and B- and C-races are so important. There is no place for risky behavior in your most important event, so get it out of the way beforehand and learn what you're capable of by taking those risks when you have nothing to lose.

And then, some athletic risks are ones we take because we're just being stupid or obsessive. You all know what I'm talking about. Tell me, again, why you're running with that injury? Or why you're not taking the day off when you have a cold or fever? (You have pneumonia now? UM, how did THAT happen?) The problem is that we don't see the risk we take by running through an injury but instead see the risk of taking a few days off. Is there any other group for which pain is not seen as a warning signal from the body? Risking injury by ignoring pain was my disaster M.O. for years -- my marathon running was plagued by five tibial stress fractures in less than 10 years.

Which brings me to today's run. I took a risk. I took three days off from running after my race on Sunday. Will it affect me in Clearwater in November? The rational me says: probably not. The rational me says it was a risk worth taking because I'm burned out. Then I took another risk today. I checked the weather before I left the house and saw that there was a line of thunderstorms just about to hit. I ran anyway. The whole time I was out, I kept thinking "I can run in thunder and lightning, what could possibly happen?" And this is precisely why I may continue to be the Disaster Magnet. I see the potential for disaster -- I live in a neighborhood with a LOT of old trees in a town that has endured severe flooding. But I took the risk anyway. Was there a disaster? No. But that doesn't mean there won't be one next time. And you can be sure that I will blog about it.

When it comes to training and racing, I've always been self-motivated, but now in my mid-40s, the flame doesn't burn as bright for all 365 days of the year. I never needed a training group to help with my motivation, and when I did run with a group, it was more about the camaraderie and social activities. After I was hit by a car in 2003, group training ceased altogether for me. There were many reasons, the biggest of which was that the near-death experience made me wake up and smell the coffee (literally, by sleeping in on Saturdays). My OCD running behavior took a vacation, and the group-running habit no longer served a purpose. I was still motivated to run, bike and swim, but not to get up at 5 a.m. on Saturdays and drive 30 minutes to run someone else's workout. Or sprint out of work and drive like a maniac while changing into my running clothes in rush-hour traffic.

For several years, the only time I talked to athletes was at races, and even then, I tended to shy away because I always felt (and still feel) like the poor stepchild riding the beater bike and wearing hand-me-downs. I know my training could use a push from faster athletes now and again and I still find ways to challenge myself as often as possible even though I train mostly alone.
But things are changing in this connected world we live in. Social networks have made my world a smaller and brighter place where I can find people like myself and not feel so alone. For me, social networks Facebook and Twitter are not places to tell everyone what I ate for lunch or where I am at every minute, but they are places where I can share experiences and read other people's stories and feel connected. As an athlete, I am continuously blown away by people who contact me, share with me, or are even interested in what I do. And I love reading about their trials and tribulations. It has re-energized me to work harder in hopes of having my own stories to tell or wisdom to impart as a way to thank them.
Making connections with athletes in social media circles is still new to me, but some of my online resources are the following (this is a personal list, it's NOT comprehensive -- I welcome others' resources in the comments):
Some coaches' and athletes' blogs I follow are on the right and there are many triathlon groups and pages on Facebook, which is still the place I spend most of my time.

When it comes to training and racing, I've always been self-motivated, but now in my mid-40s, the flame doesn't burn as bright for all 365 days of the year.

We are reminded of our mortality when famous people die. This week, we saw the passing of three of the biggest icons of their time -- Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Arguably, they appealed to three separate generations. But all three were well known among members of most generations. Ed McMahon lived a relatively long life and because of this, his passing was not as tragic as the other two. Their deaths created some trials for me as general "aging" human.

When I was an uber-impressionable 13-year-old, Farrah Fawcett was the girl we all wanted to look like. At the hair salon, the stylist would ask: "Farrah Fawcett or Toni Tenille?" (Who even remembers Toni?) Farrah was the blonde Angel. Yes, we geeks argued for the attributes of Kate Jackson. And poor Jaqueline Smith seemed to have fallen through the cracks, being the "undesirable" brunette (or so it seemed).  You either had a poster of all three Charlie's Angels or THAT poster of Farrah. So, on Thursday, it was the passing of the household-name pin-up girl of my youth. Not someone still at the forefront. Yes, she was "young" -- only 62 -- but her household-name status had long-since expired, and I find myself mourning for my own youth in her passing.
But Michael Jackson was a different story. Michael Jackson was 50. Arguably "middle" age. His cross-generational appeal transcended that of Farrah Fawcett. He represented the youth of MANY generations. My generation. People in their 50s. People in their 30s. People in their 20s. So, when one of my 30-something colleagues at work said: "Michael Jackson dying makes me feel OLD," I couldn't help but be alarmed. I tried not to be insulted. If he thought MJ was old, what does he think of ME? I'm only six years younger.
I don't think of myself as "older." Both mentally and physically. I've always been more interested in music and technology of a younger generation. I once read that a company's web developers or designers should be under 30. Why? Is it bad that I'm over 40? I never thought so, but once in a while I worry that I can't keep up. I do yield to computer expertise of the younger generation, but I keep plugging away using their technology. I hope I'm not delusional. But physically, I may actually BE "younger." Every day, I watch younger people repeatedly indulge in fast food and engage in other unhealthy behaviors. They make me laugh when they shake their heads if I get injured doing these "ironman things," -- as though I am the one destroying my health.
I guess it's all in how you look at it. You don't have to act like a child to be "young." I suspect we "aging" athletes will have stories to tell for a very long time. I only hope we continue to have people to tell them to.

We are reminded of our mortality when famous people die. This week, we saw the passing of three of the biggest icons of their time -- Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Arguably, they appealed to three separate generations.

Tags: 
aging, athlete
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