seoul 2013 (p.1); a new chance

Movies on planes always make me think more. Not necessarily thinking about the movie itself, or the whitewashed, hackneyed philosophical undercurrents of hollywood, but just think. I think about my life. Where i'm going, where i'm coming from. Stuff that people think about every day. Stuff that you can easily think about when you aren't stuck on a 13 hour flight b-lining it from Detroit to Seoul through the Arctic Circle.

Thinking on a plane always feels different, though. On a plane you have nowhere to go, and very little to do. You can't run away from your thoughts, which leads to more thinking. You also can't act on your thoughts. So you come to a mind-blowing epiphany at 30,000 ft., big deal, what can you do about it? Write it down in the hopes that you will remember or read what you've written later? I'm a big fan of self-reflection, but I don't believe I have ever had the discipline or desire to go back and read some mumbo jumbo I've scribbled in a notebook while stuck on some sort of transport vehicle.

This, however, makes thinking on a plane completely safe. It doesn't matter what you think about because you don't have the means in the immediate present future (yes, i just made that time-frame up) to act on anything that you are thinking about. Your mind can run wild (and hurrah to the reader reading a blog spewing from a mind allowed to run wild).

The past couple of weeks have been a bit wild. I've been to Boston, Baltimore/Northern VA, London, Chicago, Milwaukee, back home to Champaign, and am now on my way to Seoul. I ran two marathons, one half-marathon, witnessed one travesty of humanity, witnessed many triumphs of humanity, caught up with a couple amazing friends from the other side of the planet, spent one day with my family (minus my sister), gave one talk at a Shriner's fundraiser, and had seven sales meetings for IntelliWheels. I realized I hadn't talked to my parents since returning to the US from London while I was in Detroit waiting to board a flight back out of the country.

This is what I live for. There is a beauty to being busy, especially for an athlete, and especially after a couple of bad races.

Neither the Boston nor London marathons went well for me. They are both challenging courses for me; Boston with its extreme downhill start and London with its make or make feature three miles in. The details are not really part of the story, so we will leave them out. The story is in the response.

I have been racing for 21 years, since I was eight. 21 years! That is a long time, especially considering I am still on the younger side of all the guys I race against. After such a long period of time, a time that has included three Paralympics and one World Championships, it is easy question what it is that keeps me going. Why to I still race?

The answer is easy when I win. Winning offers this momentary feeling of elation that cannot be found in too many places. On days that I begin by winning a race the sky is bluer, the sun is warmer and the milkshake is extra chocolatey. Oddly enough, however, the answer to the question "why" is actually even easier to answer after weekends like I just experienced in Boston and London. Elation was definitely not the emotion that I felt after either of those races, but I was filled with emotion. I was upset, I was frustrated, I was energized to race again. I didn't (and still don't) feel that my performances in either of those races was a realistic representation of my ability and where I am as a racer right now. Especially after London, the thought that kept flickering in my brain, drawing me in like a fly, was that I could not wait to race again and get another chance to perform to my fullest ability. I was left with an itch to race, a frustrating itch that I just couldn't reach yet. I had to wait.

That is how I know why I keep doing what I'm doing. My desire is has not faltered. I'm not ok with just being, or just racing. I want to be great at both on a deeper emotional level that keeps me coming back time and time again.

And here is the beauty of being busy. While just last week I was left trying to contort my body like a Chinese gymnast to try and scratch an utterly frustrating itch, I am now on my way to Seoul to buy a back scratcher.