Monday, February 21, 2011

how I live or die

Once every few months I wake up in the middle of the night and I can't get back to sleep. It's been one of those nights (well, it's almost 5:00 a.m., so I guess it's been one of those mornings). Usually, I'll wake up and then worry that I won't be able to fall back asleep -- and ironically, said worrying will keep me from sleeping. But tonight (this morning) there are three thoughts that are occupying my attention and keeping me from sleep -- only two of which are worth worrying about but probably not worth losing sleep over -- but alas, here I am unable to sleep. But this post is about none of those things.

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I wasn't born in Arizona but I proudly claim it as my home. The way I feel about Arizona is similar to how Texans feel about Texas. What others say about my state -- be it positive or negative -- I take personally.

This weekend some distant friends from my college days (I say that like they were so long ago) were in town visiting. It warmed my heart to hear them speak positively about this state I love so much.

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There's a saying in the church I belong to -- said mostly in jest -- that a single man aged 25 or older is a menace to society. The following is a tale of how six young men gave evidence to that theory.

A couple months ago -- I'm fairly sure it was back in October -- a few friends and I decided to take up a new hobby: model rocketry. At the time, I wasn't terribly close to any these guys. I had known most of them for a couple years but hadn't had the opportunity to bond with any of them on a deeper level. On this particular night we ended up launching rockets at one of the baseball fields at Mountain View High School.

After a good hour or two -- it had to be around 10:30 p.m. at this point -- we got a little bored with traditional rocket launching. We started launching off rocket engines by themselves, sans rocket. At one point, we duct taped two engines to a glow stick and attempted to ignite both engines simultaneously. We laughed in hearty delight at the result.

At this point we decided it was as good a time as any to call it a night (and we had just launched off our last rocket engine). As we were packing up and responsibly cleaning up our trash, we heard the rattle and clang of a chain link fence about a hundred yards away. I assumed it was another party who wanted to use the field for their own mischievous means and who was I to deny them so I ignored the noise and went back to my cleaning.

Seconds later we saw a dark figure approaching us at a run. The figure yelled, "Mesa Police! Get on the ground!"

If I could roll my eyes with my whole body, it was with that attitude that I took a seat on the grass. For the next hour four or five police officers (they all had nothing better to do) explained to us the nature of our wrongdoings. How model rocketry, while not expressly illegal, was nevertheless an unsavory hobby. How the school could press charges for our having apparently trespassed. How we as 'adults' should be ashamed of ourselves.

The school didn't press charges though I don't think I would've minded if they had -- you can't put a price on friendship and any fine I would've had to pay would've made the bond I formed that night with those guys that much deeper.

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It's hard to explain group dynamics and friendship. I've always been blessed with great friends (I'd like to cite the previous story as evidence). It's funny because as I kid I was more content to stay at home and play legos and watch cartoons on TV. Now I feel like I can't do anything alone.

It's strange how group dynamics change. You get close to people -- collectively and individually -- and then suddenly things are different. So-and-so starts dating someone and they don't come around as much. Someone gets a new job so they hang out less. Circumstances change and you just don't see a valued friend that much anymore. For the individual, these changes are usually for the better and I certainly don't begrudge the changes or the individual.

I feel like I live or die by my friends, be they far away or close by. It might seem weak to rely on other people so much. It's not that I don't believe in myself (though to be honest, I have my doubts more often that I'd like to admit). I guess the older I get the more I believe in mutual strength -- that strength comes from reaching out -- not from looking in. I'm trying really hard to act on that belief.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

halvies, an encore

I ran a half marathon this weekend. Training for this one was tough. I injured my foot just over a year ago, and it took far too long to recover from that. Not long after the injury I got new orthotics and it's taken forever to get them properly adjusted (and they're still a little bit off). I was so scared of over-training (the cause of said injury) that I under-trained for this race.

caloric replenishment
Ice cream is hardly the best post-race recovery food, but after running 13.1 miles I felt justified in indulging.

I usually don't do races with friends -- not because I'm anti-social (OK, maybe I'm a tad anti-social), but because most of my friends don't run. For this race though, seven of us drove up to Sedona for the weekend; four of us did the Sedona Half Marathon, and three did the 10-K.

This was easily the hardest race I've done (which isn't saying much, I haven't done too many, and this was only my second half marathon). The race was mostly uphill or downhill, and having trained in Mesa, I definitely was not used to the hills -- especially going up. My time was 2:36:41, about half an hour slower than my first time -- I look forward to beating both times my next half marathon.