Saturday, June 11, 2016

I Found Flow

I found flow!  Not the obnoxiously chipper Flo of the Progressive Insurance commercials, but the hyper-focused state that drives athletes to their best, and ordinary people to extraordinary levels.  I thought that I’d been there before, but this was markedly different.  In past runs and races, particularly on technical downhills, I’ve felt the laser focus and smooth breathing.  But today I drew back further from all of that, felt removed from myself (think third-person video game view), saw a brightened landscape and enhanced color, noticed my gaze moving further down the path in front of me, and overall just felt euphoric  - all while flying along on a technical trail that should have required my constant attention to each step.  Even as I write this down, it sounds pretty out there or sensational, and I know I’ll risk over-simplifying or pigeonholing it, but it was worth sharing.

I was at a familiar trail with an employee and friend of mine.  He’s a mountain biker, and I’ve always wondered how I would pace along with him as a trail runner; I figured he’d fly ahead on the straightaways and downhills, while I’d catch him on the uphills and more technical sections.  I was wrong, mainly because I underestimated how good of a mountain biker he is (kudos to you Will).  Flying at a 7 minute pace on trails is more-or-less an endurance sprint, and I was cashed after 2 miles, also having crashed to the ground for the first time in at least two years.  We split ways so he could do a bit more distance, in hopes that we’d meet up at roughly the same time at the cars.  I cut my pace, and not a minute later nearly ran into a deer, coming within a few feet.  With my heart racing I brought the pace back up, shortened and quickened my steps, and felt light.  My focus drew out, down the trail, and the light and colors in the woods sharpened.  Breathing was easy, and I felt amazingly calm, almost euphoric.  It was unreal and completely out-of-body, while being 100% present and in the moment. 

A few minutes later I turned a sharp corner into a series of small hills and it faded away quietly.  How’d I get there?  Adrenaline from mild fall and deer   +  clean body / system (no alcohol, and extremely healthy eating last 10 days)  +  pushing pace heavily and then backing away = Flow?  I know it’s too easy to simplify it like that, but I keep trying; it feels like I got a brief taste of the best dish of my life and now I can’t figure out how it was made!  Guess I’ll just keep running! 

P.S.  For an exciting, scientific look into the state of flow, check out Steven Kotler's The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance.  Game changer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Check out my sister's writing

For the past couple years, my middle sister has been writing letters to our niece, Hadley, to be read in the future - they are extraordinarily insightful, beautiful, and emotional.  They look at a variety of important topics, and have relevance for any person, young or old.  Take some time and read a few (or you may find yourself binge-reading them all!) - as starters I'd recommend "Beauty", "Thinking", and "Risks".

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fiverr - for easy graphics (and other fun stuff), on the cheap

A past business partner clued me in to when we were just starting our new business.  While figuring out a logo for it, he mentioned he'd get it done for $5 and I laughed at him.  A few days later he had a few drafts to choose from, and then we were delivered our logo in four different formats.  I was blown away - the quality was great and it was only $5!

Fiverr is an online vendor marketplace where you can post requests, and various users will submit offers - most of the requests are $5, though you can also choose $10 or more.  I've only ever listed at $5, and have never been lacking offers.  Most users will give multiple revisions, and everyone I've worked with has been extremely accommodating.  I've only used it for graphic work, but there are a variety of services that you can see on the homepage - for a good laugh, read through the "Fun and Bizarre" section on the far right.

With plans to cheer on some friends at a marathon, I recently asked for a caricature of Trump with the text "If Trump Can Run, So Can You!".  Though I waited too long and had to create a make-shift version for the race, the result (for only $5) was pretty great.  I'll definitely be printing it on poster board for a future marathon, and if anyone else wants to use the graphic, feel free! - check it out.