5,000 feet, 48 ounces, 9.5 minutes and the destiny that awaits on the other side

Close your eyes. No wait, that isn’t going to work…

Imagine looking out over the ocean at sunrise. You’re the only person on the beach, and in front of you, the darkness begins to shift from black to grey, slowly morphing into deep shades of purple and orange. The waves roll slowly toward you, but are as quiet as the absence of sea gulls that are still sleeping off last night’s storm. The air is cool but comfortable, and you squint your eyes ever so slightly as the first hint of sun peaks above the horizon and bleeds out over the sky.

Are you there?

I am standing 5,000 feet away from that moment and a year’s worth of sweat and grit say that I will have it again…soon.

#BeerMile2017

Of course, I am talking about running a mile, drinking four beers, and doing it in less than nine minutes and twenty-six seconds. #BeerMile2017

Completing the beer mile is one of those moments in life that take your breath away and remind you what it is to feel. It is to be both everywhere and nowhere and I can only imagine it being equaled by climbing Everest or stepping foot on the moon.

Last year, in Destin, FL, I successfully ran my first beer mile (#BeerMile2016). But, like most dreams realized, my desire for bigger, better, faster consumed me and I could hardly eat that next year, my mind racing at the thought of chasing that dragon again.

As it was then will be again. I did not discover this dream alone. My cousin, Chris, also ran the inaugural beer mile with me, and my brother Tyler was there to document the action. Expect the documentary to debut at Sundance in the next year or two.

To recap — to successfully complete the beer mile, you begin by drinking one 12 oz. beer, and then run a 1/4 mile. You repeat this activity three more times. The goal is to complete all required “activity” in the least amount of time possible, all the while doing your best to keep all that goes in you…in you (if you catch my drift).

On a crisp Spring morning, we found ourselves on the battlefield that was the jogging path that ran past Pompano Joe’s, parallel to the Gulf. It was a field fit for kings. Nine and a half minutes is what I posted last year. Chris, despite a few “reversals of fortune” along the way, finished somewhere in the 20+ minute range.

I do believe that Chris and I both will be more ready for this year’s quest, which will take place in Siesta Key, FL, in just over a week. I can close my eyes and picture the sun rising, but until I am staring down that mile, I can’t feel the stillness or hear the vacuum of that moment.

Tyler will again be there and will again document the activity. Due to the overwhelming curiosity and commotion around last year’s beer mile, I do expect a 200-400% increase in spectators this year.

OK, pretend to close your eyes again…

Find that beach again. Now the sun has risen and people are beginning to crowd around you on the beach. The seagulls are prattling above and the waves cascade and recoil back from the busy beach.

Deep breath.

As the memory of the ocean settles into the sands of your mind, remember how it felt to own a moment all to yourself before the world stepped in. That is where I’ll be, running the wake of a dream, 5,000 feet and 9.5 minutes from eternity.

#BeerMile2017

 

Trumpelstiltskin

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named America who had a beautiful complexion, long flowing hair, and was always willing to lend a hand to those less fortunate than her. She was known around her friends as someone who would take in strangers who might be in trouble, and even gave money to any of her friends who needed it.

But over time, America became confused. She wasn’t sure who she’d become and had some internal struggles (like many people her age deal with). Sometimes, she would look in the mirror and didn’t even recognize who she’d become.

Eventually, America came to a breaking point, and she was locked up in a giant white house and was that there would be severe consequences unless she make herself great again. She cried and cried because she didn’t know how she could ever make America great again.

Then, one night, a man snuck into the white house and promised America he could make her great again.

“My name is Trumpelstiltskin,” said the man, “and I know exactly how to make America great again.”

America was so emotional that she didn’t think what this might mean, but all she knew was that she wanted to be great and didn’t consider the costs. In return, all she had to do was tell Trumpelstiltskin that what he wanted to do was great. America agreed that if Trumpelstiltskin would make her great again, she would look the other way on anything he said or did.

And so Trumpelstiltskin left, and the next day America saw him on the news. He said all sorts of crazy things, was rude to people America once considered friends. She wanted to call her friends and tell them she really wasn’t like that, but since she made a promise to Trumpelstiltskin, she had to go along with the things she said. America hear rumors that her friends didn’t like her as much, but since she believed that this was the only way she might ever become great again, she didn’t say anything.

While she was in the big white house, America had become sick. She used to be healthy and full of life, but recently, some diseases had taken over and made America very ill. Her doctor told her that she had some preexisting conditions that made some of her cells work against her.

“Your cells are like terrorists,” the doctor said. “You’ve always had them, but because you’ve neglected them for so long, they are not fighting against you. There have also been some foreign diseases that have terrorized your body. I think that both your internal cells, as well as the foreign diseases, are keeping you sick.”

The doctor left and America became very sad. How could her own cells fight against her, and why wasn’t her body figuring out why they were fighting against her and adjust so that she could become healthy again? She thought the best way to get healthy was to fix her internal issues, then she could figure out a way to combat those foreign diseases that might be troubling her. She fell asleep without a solution.

In the middle of the night, Trumpelstiltskin returned. She told him how sick she’d become, and how she hasn’t felt like herself in a long time. She used to be so happy and healthy, but then her body began to turn against her. Once again, Trumpelstiltskin promised he had the answer, and he’d fix her in exchange for not questioning his methods. Reluctantly, America agreed.

“Your problem,” Trumpelstiltskin explained, “isn’t that your cells are working against you. Most of your cells are great. The problem is those foreign diseases have been terrorizing you for years. Your cells and body are totally fine. The charts that doctor showed you were fake charts. And the results were fake results. The real issue is those foreign diseases.”

America shrugged, because if everything all of her doctors were ever showing her were fake charts with fake results, maybe it was the foreign diseases that were accounting for all of her issues. America looked out the window, and the gate around the big white house that used to have open doors and open gates, all of a sudden were closed. And on top of that, Trumpelstiltskin was building a huge wall around the gate so that no one else could come in.

“This will protect you,” Trumpelstiltskin said to America.

America wasn’t sure because she thought, surely someone can figure out a way to get around a wall if they really wanted to hurt her, but then she remembered she couldn’t question his methods and she also had to look the other way on anything he said or did. America was very confused and began questioning Trumpelstiltskin, but since she wasn’t able to think of any better solutions, she let him go about building his wall. After all, she couldn’t prove that the charts and tests weren’t fake charts and tests, so maybe Trumpelstiltskin was telling her the truth?

A few weeks had passed, and America was still sick and still didn’t feel great. She began wondering if she should have listened to Trumpelstiltskin in the first place. She liked the things he said to her a long time ago, but as soon as she agreed to let him make America great again, she couldn’t help but question just about everything he was doing. America began to get angry, both at herself and at Trumpelstiltskin. She knew that she had good inside of her, and that the only way she would fix herself and make herself great again was by her own actions, not the actions of someone who made promises but didn’t show any follow through. As her rage grew, Trumpelstiltskin appeared one last time.

“I know how you feel,” Trumpelstiltskin told America. “My whole life, people questioned the things I did, said, and tweeted. Then, I figured out that if you just keep saying things, whether they’re real or not, people will believe you. You just have to put down anyone who…”

As Trumpelstiltskin continued talking, America looked over his shoulder at the TV that showed some of her old friends crying because they couldn’t come and see her anymore. She saw the wall from her room in the big white house that was supposed to keep her safe, but she still felt sick and broken. She looked down at Trumpelstiltskin, who seemed much smaller than he did the first time he came to see her.

“…which is why you just need to give it time. You just have to believe me that we are making you great again and fixing all your problems.”

“I’ve always had issues,” America snapped. “I’ve always been a little broken, but the things that make me sick sometimes are also the things that give me the most strength. I might not be the best I’ve ever been, but the one thing I won’t do is change who I am because of it. I am at my best when I am supported by those who appreciate me for what I am and aren’t trying to change me to fit their idea of what I should be. I am America, and I will be great again, but not because you make me great. I will be great again because I have the strength to make it through times that appear to difficult to overcome. I will be great again because, at my core, I am passionate, driven, and willing to endure hardships because of my beliefs. It might not happen today or tomorrow, but I will be great again, and I don’t need you to show me how to do it.”

Trumpelstiltskin stood there and didn’t know how to react. Everything that he’d been telling America that seemed to have been working no longer worked. He screamed and pounded his fists and demanded that America listen to him, but it was too late. America had decided that she would be better off without Trumpelstiltskin after all, and the future seemed much brighter for her.

The end.

 

 

Fill in the Blank: 2017 – The Year of ___

So my wife and I have been doing something fun each of the past two years, and if you read this blog, you know that 2015 was the year of concerts and 2016 was the year of Travel/Yes. We have kind of joked about 2017 being the year of “yes, continued,” but that kind of feels like cheating.

Here’s how the “Year of” works… Basically, anything you want to do within the general parameters of the word or phrase, you get to do without any (too much) fight from the other person.

Example:

Kelly: “What do you think about going up to Pittsburgh for a night, then doing a race there the next day?

Ryan: “OK. Then do you want to go up to Canada the next week for a different race?”

K: “Seems far, but sure! #YoY right?”

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I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how that conversation went down. 2016 ended up being probably the most fun year of my life. We traveled to Grand Cayman, Destin, Ireland, Pittsburgh, and Canada. Toss in a few trips up to Cleveland to see the family and probably one other weekend trip I’m forgetting about.

So 2017 has to be good. I don’t know if it will be able to top 2016, but so far, every year has been better than the one before. I know Kelly and I want to do some more races, and no less than one of us has some big plans for some house updates and projects, but we are otherwise fairly open.

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Maybe 2017 will be the year of business? Kelly and I have committed to refocusing our brands (Sweat Local Columbus, Local Anywhere) to figure out what the best way is to make those two things as successful as possible. We have had some high’s and low’s on both of those fronts, but I think we’re starting to figure out what does and doesn’t work and will attack both of those next year with more passion and purpose.

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Or maybe 2017 will be the year of fitness. I think having had a taste of what the OCR world can offer, I love the idea of (broken record word of the day) focusing my training so that I can be a better racer. I think Kelly and I are both learning a few things about better ways to eat and train so that we can be the best and healthiest versions of ourselves.

Side conversation – the other day, we had some siding coming off the side of our house. I fixed a piece of it with a ladder, but another piece was up near the top of the house and was too high for me to reach with the ladder. So I went through the bedroom window to the first level of our roof, and was able to Irish Table my way up on to the second level of our roof. I know this level of fitness doesn’t mean a whole lot, like, being able to get up on top of my roof isn’t a reason to get fit, but it makes me feel good knowing that I can. I feel like there is very little I can’t do, which in itself makes me extremely happy.

Or, maybe 2017 will be the year of something much more significant. Whatever the case, I’m open to suggestions and really hope that whatever we decide to do with this upcoming year, it’s as exciting and brings us as much joy as the year of concerts and the year of travel/yes.

What’s New

So, I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like (in fact, the last time I had written just one post in a month was August 2015….until last month), but there has been a lot going on in the life….so what better way to catch the world up on little old me than with a post titled “what’s new?” It’s very clever in that, “I’m going to name my band The Dave Matthews Band” kind of way.

Actually, it might sound more official if I call it, “The Declaration of What’s New.”

Nope. Changing it back…

OK, so as you might (or might not) know, Kelly and I just put on Sweat Local Columbus, and it was a big hit! See below:

While the event is still fresh, we want to begin growing the SLC brand by doing monthly meet-up type of events around the city. We’ll be hosting different studios, trainers, and groups to have unique, one-of-a-kind workouts in unique locations that will also feature some kind of “extra vendor,” either a pop-up shop from one of Columbus’ local workout gear vendor or even local restaurants or breweries (we don’t discriminate… there is room for alcohol in healthy lifestyles!).

So that’s new in the life…

Kelly and I are also doing crossfit. I won’t get too deep into it because I feel like there is a negative stereotype with people who do crossfit only wanting to talk about their workouts. While I could go on, I’ll leave it at this to debunk that stereotype and just leave it at this…

I assume that sooner or later, the sore I feel will turn into strong…

As I’ve mentioned 100x on this blog, 2016 is both “The Year of Yes” and “The Year of Travel.” There’s been a hole lot of “yes” going on up until this point, and the travel half of 2016 is about to get going.

Vegas in two weeks…

Ireland in a month…

Pittsburgh in two months…

Canada in two and a half months…

It’s getting real, and it’s no longer something that we’re looking forward to, rather something that we have to actually start putting some things in motion so we have all our bases covered. With only having a dog and knowing how much work it is to make sure he’s taken care of, I can only imagine what it might be like to try to juggle any sort of traveling with a human puppy.

Not necessarily newsworthy, but aside from my blog game slacking, so too has my social media game. Since SLC, I haven’t really done much in the world of Instagram or Snapchat. I’m hoping with all these adventures coming up, I’ll get back on track and refocus on the things (you know, snaps with my Bitmoji’s) that are really important.

If these next three months go anywhere near what I think they will, there’s going to be a lot of exciting things coming out of the various “Ryn8985” accounts!

I’d also be excited to hear what everyone else has planned for the back-half of 2016!

 

Most of what we learn, we learn indirectly

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The title of this post is a quote from Randy Pausch’s final lecture titled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams at Carnegie Mellon University. In August 2007, he was given 3-6 months to live (pancreatic cancer) and he gave his final lecture in September 2007.

After the lecture, he received such a positive response that he uploaded the 140 page slide and allowed anyone to use it (so long as they don’t stand to profit monetarily from it) however they want. I also think there is a video of the 76 minute lecture online, but I haven’t listened to it (yet).

Randy died in January 2008.

I’m not going to get too deep into what I took away from looking through the slides, but there were a few things that choked me up and a few things I found to be really insightful (yadda yadda yadda, blogworthy).

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The first thing that really spoke to me was the line”most of what we learn, we learn indirectly.” I think today, people try to absorb as much information as they can by watching videos, reading blogs, and pouring over discussion boards on a certain topic.

Last year, I wrote a weekly column for a fantasy football site. The way I got my information wasn’t organic; I mostly tried to force information into my column (square peg, round hole style). I know it wasn’t as good as a lot of the other writers who would watch the games, discuss football with their peers, and have a solid understanding of what might be in store for a particular player the next week.

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The “head fake” is Pausch’s analogy to learning indirectly. In football, the head fake is a way to beat your opponent, but the only way to truly master this move isn’t by studying it, but rather by having played so much football that the move becomes natural.

So when chasing your dreams, the best way to go about it isn’t by reading a thousand books on how to become an entrepreneur, but by putting yourself out in the world and doing it (ie- trial and error ie- thrown into the fire).

If you want to do something, go do it. Fail at it. Get laughed at. Make a mistake, it’s OK. The point is, you have to take a chance. No one that’s ever chased their dream ever regretted fumbling over something along the way. They might regret a choice they made somewhere between there and here, but I bet you 100% of those people are glad they gave themselves the opportunity to make that choice instead of playing it safe and letting someone else take whatever it is they want.

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Another slide that spoke to me had a few bullets, but the first two really stood out. “Be good at something: it makes you valuable” and “Work hard… ‘what’s your secret?'”

“Valuable” is a term that is rarely applied to a person, unless in the sense of one’s place in a company (which I guess applies, but I digress). I really like the idea of being valuable, not to a business, but to your friends, to society, and to your place in terms of reaching your goals. There is an expression that says (paraphrasing), “figure out what you want to do and go do it.” That might be an Avett Brothers lyric….not sure. I would take this a step further and say, “Figure out what you want to do and go do it…and be good at it.” (I’ll streamline that before I make T-shirts, I promise).

The second bullet, “Work hard… ‘what’s your secret?’,” to me speaks to perseverance. (Grammar people, was that secret?’,” the right way to do that. I can’t imagine it is, but to me, it logically makes sense…)

Get back on topic.

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So finding your secret is kind of that magic thing that keeps you going. I think it means working hard…at the right thing.

For example: I have been writing for Sports Monte (other blog) for about a year and a half with the intention of becoming a big time fantasy sports writer and influences. I worked hard writing and researching every week, but I spent very little time learning what things make the great writers in that industry stand out. I was headstrong and believed that as long as I work hard, good things would follow.

While this works in some cases, it doesn’t work in most cases. You need direction when you work hard and a support system of people who aren’t afraid to critique what it is you’re doing. Working hard without direction is like digging a hole without having the foresight to know you need a rope in the hole with you to climb out.

Pausch died and left an unbelievable legacy. I would encourage anyone who is feeling in a rut to at least look up his slides (easy enough to find online). Maybe I’ll follow up with this once I listen to the lecture, and hopefully I’m not too far off base with how I interpreted his presentation. The long and short of it all, boys and girls, is that if you are going to catch a dream, whether you’re six or sixty, start making the right moves that will get you on the right path to achieving that dream.

 

 

How to overcome lacking creativity

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Yesterday, I was supposed to write a little doo-dad about Sweat Local Columbus, my wife and I’s (<– grammatically correct BTW) fitness journey, and a little more about ourselves for the blog, Columbus Families. The day before, my wife asked me to write it because, well, writing is kind of my thing. This was supposed to be a short piece (not exactly my forte, but not something I should struggled with) and something that would hit home with some of the readers.

So I wrote the piece.

I wrote the piece and it read like a high school essay.

“My name is Ryan Rauch and today I would like to tell you about why I think health is important. Health is important because it gives me the energy I need to accomplish my goals. I also like nutrition. Nutrition, according to wikopedia.com, is the….”

That wasn’t really what I wrote, but it may as well have been. I talked to Kelly on the way home and she told me it was boring and that she’d have to edit it and rewrite it.

It felt like she was spotting me at the gym.

“Here, babe, let me help you pick up that big heavy weight. You just got get a towel and a big drink of water…”

I couldn’t argue with her; I knew it was bad and I know I could do better.

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So I started working through my head as to why I couldn’t come up with anything better than some generic B-copy version of something that, of all things, I really do like and care about. I think it all starts with lacking creativity.

I think most writers probably deal with this on a regular basis. I think that overcoming a lack of creativity has to start with self critiquing oneself (call it soul searching if you want, but don’t allow yourself to excuse anything). It’s basically problem solving, right? The big difference is that I’m not really looking for a solution. Creativity isn’t like math, it’s like science: the solution can always be improved upon and can always be made better.

If I’m honest with myself as a writer, my strength isn’t writing straight forward content. I think the things I like most and I believe that people enjoy about my writing is my ability to write like I think, and to allow my personality to come through in my work. When I try to do something that doesn’t sound like me, it won’t read well to anyone that sees it.

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So here’s my plan.

Step one: write this blog. (Check)

Step two: rewrite the piece for Columbus Families, even if it’s already published (who cares if it doesn’t get published, I am going to write it the way I should have written it the first time)

Step three: celebrate because it’s Friday and I am pouring beer for my favorite brewery at Powell Fest tonight. (because if all else fails, I’ll find a little creativity at the bottom of a double IPA or two)

 

Cleveland fans don’t really want to win

Cleveland Cavaliers Fans Gather To Watch Game 6 Of NBA Finals Against The Golden State Warriors
Image courtesy of http://www.cheatsheet.com

I’ll preface this by saying I am not a Cleveland sports fan. My wife’s family is, for the most part, Cleveland sports fans, and living in Columbus allows me to have a pretty good understanding of the Cleveland sports fan’s psyche. I, being a huge Detroit Lions fan, have always said that Cleveland and Detroit fans have always been cut from the same cloth since we all understand how to root for a team whose culture is predicated on losing.

Tonight, the Cleveland Cavs will try to avoid going down 0-3 against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. While losing tonight wouldn’t officially eliminate the Cavs, their chances of coming back and winning four games would fall somewhere between my chances of winning a golf medal in the Olympics and zero.

For reference, Cleveland is the only city that has at least three professional sports teams (Indians, Cavs, Browns) that hasn’t won a championship in the last half century. In fact, the last time Cleveland did win a professional sports championship (1964), Lieutenant Dan still had legs and the average home cost less that what most used cars cost today.

Ask any Cavs fan, and they’ll tell you they want to win tonight. They will tell you how starved the city is for a championship and how LeBron winning tonight would validate all sorts of pain and misery the city has gone through over the last 50 years.

But the truth is, deep down, Cleveland fans love the fact that they’re losers (in terms of professional sports teams only). Cleveland loves saying things like “that’s just like the Cavs/Indians/Browns” to do something or other, whether it’s get to the World Series and lose when you had victory in sight, or throw quarterback after quarterback on the field and watch them fail just like the guy before.

Cleveland fans wouldn’t know what to do if the Cavs came back and won the NBA Finals somehow. They’d no longer be able to say their fans deserve a ring, or pity themselves when the Browns lose again because, hey, at least the Cavs won a ring.

I don’t mean to write this as an attack on the city and I hope it isn’t coming across that way. As a Detroit Lions fan, I too can say I identify with a culture of losing. Lions fans love sharing in each other’s misery. And while I’d love a Super Bowl title in Motown, I wouldn’t know what to do once we start losing again.

Basically, Cleveland is the “drunk girl at a party crying about her ex-boyfriend” of the sports world. As soon as that girl finds a stable relationship, she doesn’t seem as interesting.

Cleveland fans love their city, love other Cleveland fans, and love the fact that they can tell other cities fans that “hey, at least you’re not us.” They love celebrating the fact that they can’t win for whatever reason, and I believe they wouldn’t know how to adjust if they ever break the curse.

That said, still rooting for the Cavs tonight!