Monday, December 26, 2011


I spent the morning of Christmas eve escorting my friend, Ryan, through his first 18 mile run.  Ryan also happens to be the first athlete I am coaching one-on-one.  As I am learning, 1-1 coaching is quite a different experience than group coaching.  As Saturday morning wore on, and Ryan's legs started to say goodnight, I re-experienced the moments of TBF (total body failure) from the position of an outside observer.  I did my best to explain to Ryan how special that moment is, when the body disconnects from the mind, but he was withdrawn (which for Ryan is an unusual experience) and well into survival mode.

Rewinding a bit, Friday night was a bit atypical.  I wound up having far too much fun at a friend's birthday gathering.  Knowing that I had to be at the designated start for Ryan's run, along with one of my other friends and coaching victims, Vince, and yet realizing I was in no condition to drive, 3 friends and I hatched a plan.  The plan wound up with me asleep on the world's smallest couch, in a friend's apartment, without my phone but with my running shoes.  Interestingly enough, while this abode has many devices capable of indicating the time of day, none of them wanted to agree on what time it actually was.  So, I wound up waking up 10 minutes late, hungover, and had to bum a ride to the run start where I managed to flag down Ryan and Vince.

Now, the inspirational part of Saturday wound up being how watching Ryan do battle with his first really long run wound up kicking my own butt into gear.  I ended up at the Point Loma Core Power on Saturday evening where Tabu removed any shred of composure I may have entered with.  At about 2/3 of the way through that class, after multiple unsuccessful attempts at forearm stand, I collapsed into a heap on top of a puddle of my own sweat and gasped until we were granted freedom.  It took me 2 hours to make my way home, after multiple stops for fluids and fuel and large blocks of time where I felt unable to drive.

TBF is an acquired taste, and it's not something everyone really enjoys.  In fact, I've actually received a few direct and/or indirect challenges to my love of this feeling.  Within the yoga studio, I've had others ask me with sincere concern, "are you ok?"  And I've also been told on multiple occasions that pain is not yoga.  While I accept everyone's angle on life, yoga, sport, etc, I also think it's OK for me to give myself space to experience moments however I want to experience them.  Or, perhaps less politely, I might phrase this as "let me be".  If I decide I want to push myself through substantial pain and reach beyond my failure points, then I accept that the rest of the world may not appreciate or share the joy I feel while doing so.  The feeling of nakedness that exists once I've slipped over my edge and I'm in the midst of a physical and emotional freefall is unlike any other experience I have had in my life.  More importantly, consistently reaching beyond failure helps me dial in my breaking points so that when it matters, in a race or elsewhere, I know my own limits and how close I can get to them before falling apart.

Ryan is feeling better today and I have recovered as well.  The sun is out and it's beautiful in San Diego, a wonderful day-after-Christmas waiting for me to dive in.

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