Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

5 Things About Myself

Its Friday, work is winding down so how 'bout 5 things Rob:

1) I actually enjoyed swimming last night's 3K workout during master's practice. To top it off there were a bunch of drills. I took a week off after my November challenge of 75K yards (um-um later revised down to a much more realistic 50K). I ended up w/ 52K. I felt really good in the water. I'm still the slowest one there, but I'm optimistic for improvement.
2) My Dad is one of my heroes. Dude is pretty cool. He turns 80 this coming April, and isn't slowing down a bit. He golfs w/ his partners 2x/week and they get at it. He usually always scores in the mid 80's to mid 90's. Plus he's a helluva dresser. He'll pimp out a brim and a suit and show up real fly. Him and his girlfriend vacationed in Spain last Sept, and they went to Austrialia/New Zealand the year before. He's looking at going to Africa next year. Then he really has a good heart and cares for people. I hope I'm doing that good at 79.

3) As you can guess, I enjoy working out. Especially w/ a big goal like Ironman to motivate me. I've been running for a bunch of years. I was one of those one marathon a year types and then did smaller races throughout the year. I got into this triathlon Ironman thing a few years ago, and I'm feeling it. I've got to give a shout out to my kick-ass coach John Hirsch for helping get to an 11:45 IM Wisconsin (I'm still on a cloud about that race). Plus dude lives in Harlem World, so he gets extra props.

4) I'm one of those athletes that typically finishes in the top 25-30% of most of the races I enter. At IM Wisconsin I was 494/2209 (22%) overall and 81/346 (23%) in my age-group. Every now and then at a small race I'll place in my age-group. Its only happened a couple of times in a road race and once in a tri, but I'm hoping for a couple more this coming season. I move up to a new age-group, males 45-49 so the competition will hopefully be a little bit more on my level.

5) And the best for last, I'm married to a super support crew, Lisa. Much props to you. It really goes w/o saying, but I couldn't have done all this Ironman stuff w/o that support. This thing costs! Some of those funds I know that could've been used for us (another vacation, fixing the master bathroom, I could go on...) went to selfish tri stuff (my Calfee tri bike, my new DeSoto wetsuit, my Seven road bike - which got pimped out w/ new Dura Ace 10 spd components, my fixed gear conversion project, and so on...) to support this mid-life adventure I've been on.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Makes Me Wanna Holler

"Make me wanna holler,
The way they do my life,
This ain't livin',
This ain't livin'

No, no baby, this ain't livin'

Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler), Marvin Gaye

I don't know if its because its Monday, or just so much is going on in the news these days, or maybe I was thinking about Sean Taylor's death, but I was thinking about this song for a minute this morning. Bro. Marvin was so talented and insightful. This song of his was on my mind.

I swim at one of the local community centers here in Durham. The price is right, its only $2 for swimming, they have 8 lanes, and its convenient because its so close to home. I only have to drive, maybe 5 minutes to get there. The staff is real friendly. There's a bunch of programs for youth, seniors, and sometimes its fun to watch the fellas get down on the ball court. And to top it off the best master's swim team, Durham Area Master's Association (DAMA) has their practices there (I'm a member, so I'll confess I'm biased).

While 99.9% of the time its all good, there are some times when it "Makes Me Wanna Holler". A week ago, last Monday night to be exact, a gentleman was an armed robbery victim in the parking lot. This happened, like 5 minutes, before I was heading to the parking lot myself after swimming. Two punk-ass thugs stuck a pistol in his back and took his money.

Then about 2 weeks ago, one of the team members' had his locker broken into while he was swimming and another punk-ass went through the parking lot and stole his car. Again, makes me wanna holler.

I like the pool I go to. Its in a struggling community, but its a community where the folks care and take pride in their neighborhood. Its a place where seniors, youth, ballers and come and add to the quality of their life. They keep the prices more than reasonable, hell you can even use the weight-room for free. I think hoops is free too, and its a nice indoor court.

But, this predatory element of society is taking away the peace and joy that the place brings. I know when I was a kid, I did some stupid stuff, but to stick a pistol in somebody's back. Ah come on. I bet the dude didn't even have $20 in his wallet. Hell I rarely carry more than $20 myself.

I'm just thinking back to Jay Chapman, who I grew up with. Who lived around the corner. We used to ride our BMX bikes together, and play ball all-day long. Sometimes all the fellas in the neighborhood would go on long rides. I remember riding to the airport once, when we were kids and it was over 10 miles one way, on BMX bikes. A while back Jay was shot to death like 3 blocks from our neighborhood. I still don't even know why somebody killed him. I think it was over an argument.

Then I think about my cousin Nate, who did 9 years of a 12 year bid on a 2nd degree murder charge. Nate grew up in the projects and just fell out of the family. I used to go by and see him, infrequently, but he just got further and further out of the mainstream. The Grape Street Watts Crips, became his family. But where was GSWC when he got released? He ended up living w/ me and Lisa for a minute (which was not a smart thing to do, I must say). Sadly Nate died a couple years ago, from an overdose.

I know there's systemic things that hold back poor black people. I mean the days are pretty much over when you could come out of high school and get a good factory job. Those jobs are pretty much all dried up w/ outsourcing to China, India, and everywhere else. I know it can be discouraging, but black folk can't keep going around robbing and killing each other. I know its tough these days, but my moms grew up in a foster home, cause my grandmother couldn't afford to keep all her siblings. I definitely didn't grow up w/ a silver spoon in my mouth, but my parents stressed getting an education. My dad would buy extra math workbooks for me to complete on top of my regular homework. Summer school wasn't an option it was a requirement. We had to go to summer school.

I don't know the answers. Maybe its education, I don't know. I just know we need a change. A person should be able to go swimming or go to a karate class at the community center and not worry about having a pistol stuck in your face. I used to volunteer at the local jail here w/ my church on Saturday mornings. We'd talk w/ the inmates and have a little bible study. I haven't been in a long time. Honestly, I got sick of going and I'd much rather head out for a trail run w/ my friends or get in a group ride. I also used to mentor a couple of youth at my church that had a tough upbringing. I have to admit, I could of done a better job with that. I could've spent more time w/ them and try to show them the right way to navigate growing up. They moved back to California. Their dad was (maybe still is) in the penitentiary. I hope and pray the time I (Lisa helped too) did spend w/ them keeps them on a path for success.

I need to think about how I can give back. Sometimes I volunteer at our local races and that's all good, but I need to really think about how can I give back to my community. Maybe I can touch one young man and he may even turn out going to college, get into endurance athletics and becoming an Ironman some day.