My legacy

While I was competing as a Lumberjack for the NAU Cross Country team I worked hard. I had big goals coming into college, and after a few years, it became clear that some of those goals were just too lofty for me. I kept my head down and plugged away, putting my heart and soul into every race, workout, and run out on the trails. Each year I got stronger, faster and ended up with what I consider a pretty successful career. With the help of Coach Heins, I felt like I did everything I could to reach my potential. And that was enough for me. I was always a team player, but deep down inside I did all this for me. I put in all the hard work so my future self could look back at it all with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. In the words of Quenton Cassidy’s, “I discovered early on that the truly great advantage of going all-out every time is that later you don???t have to waste a single instant second-guessing yourself.” It really is a great way to live.

Then my girlfriend Mo showed me this article, a Q&A with Tim Freriks in the Lumberjack newspaper:

LJ: From an athlete???s standpoint, there have been a lot of teammates, mentors and coaches that have influenced you as a player. Out of all of them in the past or present, who has influenced you the most in your career, or as a person?

TF: There are two big ones. One of which was my high school coach. He really influenced the mentality that I have now, working hard and grinding through it. And also Jason Pedersen; he???s a graduate assistant coach for us now. His mentality and work ethic is like second to none. He was running 110 miles a week, he ate right, slept well, [and was a] straight-A student in mechanical engineering, so it was a template I wanted to follow. He did it right and it paid off, so I want to do the same thing.

Suddenly I feel a new feeling. After reading those words from Tim, I no longer just feel satisfied of my running career at NAU. My efforts, my daily sacrifices, my commitment to myself meant something to someone else. And more than that, it has left an impression. If I had more accolades to my name I would call it a legacy, but my victories weren’t the kind that you could hang on the mantel. It means so much to me that someone else recognizes that.

Am I wrong?

In 2010, professional triathlete Jordan Rapp was on a bike ride in Oxnard when a car pulled out in front of him. Jordan didn’t have time to react to the car and ended up smashing into the windshield, cutting his throat, and nearly bleeding to death. The car fled the scene, and was later found to be owned by an illegal immigrant. Basically a cyclists worst nightmare.

Fast forward to last week. I’m riding some hill intervals on Santa Susana Pass. As I crest the top of the hill heading back toward Simi Valley, huffing and puffing from the effort, a jeep turns right in front of me. I wasn’t going too quick, maybe 15 mph or so, and I was able to brake/swerve out of the way. Unbelievable. Scary.

“Thanks Asshole!” I yell at the driver. I look back at the jeep in disgust, and astonishingly, it has stopped and began to make a u-turn. What could this jerk possibly have to say to me? He cut ME off!

The jeep catches up to me on the descent and rolls down the window. He looks to be in his mid 30s, blond and had a surfboard in the car. “Hey I just wanted to apologize for cutting you off back there.” Huh, I guess he just didn’t see me. Nice of him to apologize. But then he continued, “But could you apologize to my daughter for the profanity?” You have got to be kidding me! What a backhanded apology.

“Yeah. Sorry. Just watch out for bikers.”

I had some inner conflict. If I hadn’t said anything he probably never would have seen me. I guess a little girl doesn’t need to hear bad language, but is “asshole” really such a bad word? I was upset. My word choice could have been a lot worse.

Am I wrong here? Has anyone had a similar situation?

After thinking about who was right and who was wrong, I started to wonder what could have been done to avoid the situation. This little altercation was a bit eye opening for me — I was on a wide road with fairly light traffic and I was still almost hit. Drivers clearly do not look out for cyclists. So what can we do besides wearing a helmet and being aware of what is going on around us?

Jordan found himself in a similar predicament once his wounds had healed…

Before getting back on the road, I thought about what options I had to make myself more visible. Neon helmets, jerseys, etc. all crossed my mine. But ultimately, I wanted something that dramatically caught the eye, and the obvious thought was a flashing light. On cars, the presence of daytime running lights contributes to a greatly reduced risk of a head-on collision. Add in a flash, and I figured that drivers would pay even greater attention.

The above excerpt is from a series Jordan began writing for Slowtwitch called “Stay Safe. Be Seen.” He has reviewed several different lights intended for daytime use so that cyclists can be seen and stay safe. I intend to go through the reviews and purchase a set of lights so I can try to avoid an accident like Jordan had, or another awkward apology for my “profanity.” I will post which one I decide to go with, hopefully in the coming weeks.

Thanks for your help, Jordan.

FTC: For The Chubs

You may have heard of the acronym FTW before, which of course means For The Win, not Fuck The World. Generally this term is used in competition, as in you are going “for the win,” or to say something is the best. Like “BlackBerry Messenger FTW.” The corollary to FTW is FTL (For The Loss). Obviously no one actually goes “for the loss” in competition, so this one is more often associated with things that suck (e.g. “Storm FTL”). Several other versions have been made up, including FTC (For The Chubs).

FTC Crew: Me, Andrew Belus & Tim Freriks

I can’t take credit for FTC. First person I heard it from was Michael Cybulski, who has been known to come up with a good line or two. Like many of the figures of speech my Simi Valley friends come up with, I shared FTC with the Flagstaff crew. At first it was fairly funny, as it started to come up after cross country season was over when several of us were putting on a few (9 lb in a week for yours truly). But then something strange happened: some of us began to embrace it — especially Tim Freriks, Andrew Belus and myself.

Just so we are clear, we aren’t just letting loose and eating cheeseburgers all day. It is really a realization, which I came to accept a while ago, that I’m a little bigger than a lot of my competitors. Look at the very best distance runners in the world and most are pretty thin. Now there are a few exceptions, and they are the ones that give us hope. Leading the charge is Chris Solinsky. The guy broke 27:00 and 13:00 last year, giving hope to white FTC guys like me. When we saw him run 3:54 at University of Washington a couple weeks ago, the three of us couldn’t help but shout “FTC!” every now and again. Chris, if you’re listening, don’t take it the wrong way. It is a sign of respect.

Our leader, Chris Solinsky

Tonight and tomorrow the FTC crew will be setting fire to Idaho State’s wooden track at the Big Sky Conference Championships. We will be running 120 laps between the three of us, as we are all doubling in the 5k and 3k. I like to think of the FTC crew as work horses for the team. . . outlasting our competition with our slow-burning fat stores.

So if you are in attendance, shout “FTC” to us. We won’t be offended, we know exactly what it means.