Showing all posts by gregpaskal
One Sock Runner

It was a cold December morning in Dallas yet one we had been anticipating for months. Downtown streets were filled with cars, inching their way, hoping to find a parking spot. The 2015 Dallas Marathon was less than an hour from starting time and my wife Cindy along with thousands of other runners were making their way to various staging areas, many wearing garbage bags as makeshift rain coats to keep dry before the race started.

Along with the runners were endless spectators, most here to cheer on friends and loved ones along the racecourse. A chain-link fence separated spectators and anxious runners ready to get the race started and shake of the pre-race jitters. We eventually found Cindy, meeting up at the chain-link fence. As we talked and encouraged her, another runner, someone I had never met before, approached us. “Are you running?” were the words he directed towards me. I wondered if I had somehow over stepped an imaginary boundary, maybe I was busted for trying to give my wife a kiss through the squares of the chain-link fence? “No, I’m not running, my wife is running” were my words back to him. “I’ll give you five dollars for one of your socks” were his next words. What a strange thing to ask, why would anyone want to buy a single sock I thought. “I lost one of my socks this morning, on the way to the race, can spare a sock?” said the man.

GP-One_Sock_02-v04As I looked down, a plain as day was one foot with a sock and shoe on it and the other with no sock and a shoe. I thought, how is this guy going to run a marathon like this? “Of course you can have one of my socks, maybe you want both of them” I told him but he insisted he only needed one. So I took off my shoe and gave him a single sock, no charge of course. As I passed it through the chain-link fence he thanked me and put it on his sockless foot and headed back to get ready for the race to begin.

We met Cindy along the Half Marathon course at various locations. By the time she had crossed the finish line, I had developed a blister on my sockless foot and realized how we often go through life like that runner who might have tried to run the race with only one sock. While he likely could have completed that twenty-six mile journey handicapped with only one foot equipped for the job ahead, he instead humbled himself enough to recognize a weakness that could be overcome by simply asking someone for a bit of assistance, in this case, a simple sock.

My professional career has spanned over thirty years with many more to come I hope. I’ve come to realize that no single person really has everything together; we each have areas where we lack expertise or skills to be exceptional. Many of us hide these deficiencies for fear of being seen as weak yet real strength comes by knowing what our natural talents are and where we have deficiencies. A wise person, knowing these intricacies of their life will consider how to overcome challenges and be willing to ask others for assistance. For that one-sock runner, he decided not to try to run the race with a deficiency but asked for a little help to allow him to run the race well.

As you approach the week ahead, ask yourself, “What areas could I use some help?” Could there be co-workers, family, friends or even a spectator that could help you to go from good to great?

See you at the starting line, I’ll be the one wearing socks.

Greg

Reasons We Run

Run from, run to, run with, run for, run against, run because, run, run run.

I was speaking with a good friend the other day about our morning run. We both had decent runs that day; mine coving seven miles and his coving twenty-two. We soon got onto the topic of why we run and that got me pondering this topic the rest of the day.

When I consider why I initially started running I realize that reason has changed over time. I initially started as a form of weight loss. Soon I was preparing for my first 5k and learned that there was much more to running than simply burning calories, I loved it for the mental part of exercise. My mind just felt clearer after a run and I really enjoyed the people I was getting to meet along the way. As my runs increased and my distances got longer, I found running provided goals for me to accomplish such as completing my first half-marathon in 2013. Then there was the adventurous side of running. Anyone who knows me knows I love adventure. Over the many decades of my life, my adventurous spirit has lead me to backpacking, BMX racing, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and running. I love the adventure of running, seeing new places, exploring all sorts of things while moving along at a steady pace. I was recently introduced to trail running and found my first trail run leading me through thirteen miles of beautiful Northern California wilderness.

So why do you run?

Are you driven to beat your previous time, always pushing the boundaries of personal records? Maybe you’re trying to see just how far your body will take you under it’s own power. I’m still amazed at the distances people are capable of running. Many run for a cause, turning their running ability into a challenge to raise awareness for those afflicted with life threatening illnesses. Some run from something in their life, stress, a hectic home life or the realities of a dead end job. There are those that run to something; to fitness, to a better body, to a personal goal. Many run with something; with a group, with a program, with a spouse.

As runners, it’s important to come to an understanding that people run for may reasons yet we are still runners. Runners have a way of cheering on the guy completing his first full mile in the same way they celebrate the individual who just completed their first full-marathon. I love this about the running community, it seems to breakdown many barriers in our culture because we all started the same way, we began to run.

So what’s your story, why do you run?

Why do I run?

  • I run to train for races
  • I run for the challenge
  • I run to be part of a team
  • I run to get medals
  • I run to collect t-shirts
  • I run for the fashionable clothing
  • I run for fun
  • I run to drink beer
  • I run so I can eat more
  • I run to be out in nature
  • I run to experience the seasons
  • I run because I can do it anywhere
  • I run to experience theme parks differently
  • I run to stay fit
  • I run to live longer
  • I run to lose weigh
  • I run to sleep better
  • I run to feel young again
  • I run to for a healthy heart
  • I run to improve my mind
  • I run to improve my memory
  • I run because my doctor told me to
  • I run to exercise the dog
  • I run to keep a clear mind
  • I run to commune with God
  • I run to for perspective in life
  • I run to forget the cares of the day
  • I run to for personal space and time
  • I run to listen to music
  • I run to blow off steam
  • I run to listen to audio books
  • I run to ponder the day ahead
  • I run to escape troubles in life
  • I run for my family
  • I run to find romance
  • I run to bring sexy back
  • I run for the social aspects
  • I run to meet my significant other
  • I run for the adventure
  • I run for the runners high
  • I run to travel to new places
  • I run to improve my self-esteem
  • I run to prove to others I am all that
  • I run because someone said I couldn’t

Have you shared this with your fellow runners, why you show up week after week putting in the miles? Maybe it’s a good thing to be able to share that story? You may find you’re not alone in your unique perspective as a runner.

I’d love to hear your story.

See you on the trail,
Greg

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Of Running Shoes and Superheroes

As a kid, I remember how important is was to pick out just the right pair of shoes. It would be that pair you would wear for the entire school year and you wanted them to be “Cool” and you wanted them to be “Fast”. Wearing those shoes the first day of a new school year came with a right of passage, to see who had become the fastest over summer break. We would dart around the playground, jet-powered shoes fully engaged, to prove we had gained some sort of superpowers over the past three months, that we were the fastest, that we were the best.

Funny how after fourty-plus years, that desire to wear “Cool” shoes that make me run “Faster” is still alive and well. Entering my fourth season of running, I’ve purchased and worn quite a few pairs of shoes and recently decided it was time to try a new brand and style. These shoes were lighter, cooler and felt great while running up and down the little rubber street in the running shoe store. As I left with my new shoes in hand, I was excited, I mean really excited to try them out and discover just what Superpowers my new shoes would give me.

lots_of_shoesShortly I was suited up, it was time to give my “magic shoes” their inaugural run. I could tell right away, things felt different. Different from the running store and different from the shoes I had been wearing for the past few seasons. Right around the one mile mark It happened, what seemed to be the feeling of twisting an ankle. I must have run over an acorn or something because my new shoes couldn’t be at fault, I was sure of that? I walked it off for about a half mile and finished the run at a slower than normal pace.

A few days later I was out for another short run, this time around the neighborhood and just a quarter mile down the road, that same shooting pain around my ankle. Something was up. Had I really sprained an ankle or was this new pain being introduced by my new running shoes? I decided to switch to my old shoes for the next few weeks and then decide what to do. After speaking with a few running friends, I discovered that the new brand of shoe I had recently purchase was known for being lighter but also provided less support and that the twisting of the ankle feeling was likely the result of less support in my shoe. Granted, there were runners seeking such a shoe but I was still learning the art of this sport and a shoe with more stability was probably a smarter choice in this season of my running adventure.

I wound up returning the shoes and going with the latest version of the shoe model I had been running in for a while. I chocked this up as a lesson learned when it comes to purchasing running shoes. My feet are one of my most valuable assets as a runner, taking the best care of them I can is a smart thing to do. Getting advice in selecting the right shoe for me as I started to run, got me into the right shoe to begin with. Continuing to ask for advice by seasoned runners in staying with the right shoe had kept me running. When I ventured into the world of Superheroes and “Cooler”, “Faster” shoes on my own guidance, it led me away from smart running to experimental running and almost led to injury.

My advice to fellow runners, be sure to get sound advice from experienced runners who can guide you on what shoe is right for your feet and running maturity. Let go of the need to wear the coolest looking of newest shoe unless you can afford potential injury.

Run well, take care of those feet and listen to your body.

Greg Paskal
Lead Adventurer

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Life’s Not About A Race, It’s About The Race

Months of training with just weeks to go, you’ve been pushing hard. Through cold winter days, getting up at the crack of dawn, you strive to get that mileage in. Then the moment every runner fears, at first you’re in denial, “I just need to stretch” you think, but stretching doesn’t help. That feeling is more than a sore muscle; you know you’ve injured something and just weeks before the big race. No amount of denial or running through it is going to make any difference, this injury threatens months of preparation. Frustrated, you reach out to your running buddies, many of which have been in this exact place themselves, wondering if its going to heal soon enough for race day.

Disappointment is part of life but it doesn’t need to take you to the point of despair if you start to consider things from a broader perspective. Times of trial can actually be some of the greatest growing opportunities in our lives. Here’s a few things to consider when disappointment comes knocking.

  • Refine Your Discipline – A wise person takes into account the information at hand and the advice of those they trust and applies that to actions. A foolish one, on the other hand, knows the right thing to do yet ignores that altogether and does the opposite or and pays dearly for it in the long run. Discipline as we run our race gives us a tactical advantage often overlooked by our competition. Be smart enough, even brave enough to do what you know to be the right thing.
  • Others Centered – One reoccurring area I greatly enjoy about the running community is their ability to encourage one another. Coming to a point of realizing you’ll miss a race you’ve been training for gives you a chance to model exceptional sportsmanship. How rare in today’s sporting community to see this characteristic come out yet once you see it, you’ll never forget it. Take a moment of injury and turn it on its head as an opportunity to encourage and support others in your running community. These actions will speak louder than any words from the winner’s podium.
  • Press On – The ability to pick up the pieces and continue moving forward is a great attribute of ones character. Moments like these tend to be times you’ll reflect on later in life and use as examples to help others down the road. Life is always about more than a single race; it’s about the ability to press on through trials towards the greater things of life.

greg_paskal_inspireConsider this moment in time, you may be overcoming an injury, some type of disappointment or setback so what will you make of this time? Consider turning it into an incredible opportunity to grow and model maturity to others in your sphere of influence. Nothing is by chance and making the most of what could be considered a misfortune might just yield the greatest moment of satisfaction in your life and be a point of inspiration for others.

Run the Race…

Greg Paskal
Lead Adventurer

Running with Safety in Mind

I’m an optimist by nature and when you blend that with my passion as an adventure it can lead to some exciting experiences. Yet I am not naive and realize that unplanned events happen and as a runner, it’s not hard to imagine a person out for a run possibly needing some help someday.

One of the first pieces of gear I added to my running tech was a form of identification. I initially ran with contact information tucked in my running belt but soon realized if an emergency happened, I wanted certain information known by First Responders to ensure I would get the proper medical care. For some, that might be basic contact information of a family member but in my case, I needed to include specific information regarding medication allergies. Either way, I believe it’s important for all runners to carry some type of identification to assist others that may need to care for them in the event of a real emergency.

There are a number of products that can be excellent choices in meeting this need; the one I chose is called Road ID (www.RoadID.com). The general concept behind Road ID is a runner wears a wristband that contains basic contact information (Name, Address, Contact Information). Additionally, Road ID provides a website to record other contact and medical details including primary physician, any allergies you might have to medications, foods, etc. You can also record additional people to be contacted incase your primary contact is not available. Optionally located on the Road ID wristbands is a phone number and website specifically for emergency purposes. A First Responder would simply call this number or go to the website and enter the serial number and PIN located on your Road ID wristband and be provide details that could save your life.

road_id_exampleThe Road ID wristbands come in a variety of colors and materials. I chose the Wrist ID Elite for $29.99 because of the material it’s made from would be good, rain or shine, mud or dry conditions. All Road ID wristbands can be purchased two ways, Original or Interactive. The main difference is the Interactive option comes with access to Road ID’s website, where you store additional details that can be accessed by a First Responder in an emergency via a phone call or website. For $10 per year, this additional, Interactive feature is money well spent from my perspective.

Road ID comes in a variety of colors with a host of add-ons such as badges, etc. I highly recommend this product to my running friends as a smart piece of tech to begin running with right away.

Learn more about Road ID at the following website…
www.RoadID.com

Run Safely…

Greg Paskal
Lead Adventurer

Teen with MS Becomes Running Star

An amazing story about a teen with MS who becomes a running star.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21134540/vp/54583819#54583819

Dad battles cancer, runs marathon with daughter

A father with a brain tumor takes up running with his six-year-old daughter. It’s a tale of triumph. NBC’s Lester Holt reports.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/53576124/#53576124

 

Dinner With The Old Man

“What should we do for dinner” were the words that started the whole thing. After a long workweek, Friday was finally here and it just seemed fitting to go out for a nice meal. My daughter wanted Mexican food, my wife craved Italian but I was the driver and after changing our minds a half dozen times I decided to take my girls for the treat of a life time, the Chinese Super Buffet in neighboring Frisco, TX. I had eaten at this place a number of years ago and remembered the food was pretty good. They had all the classics, Orange Chicken, Hot and Sour soup, fried rice and other yummy goodness.

You know, the thing about a buffet is you’re going to pay an arm and a leg to eat but you eat to your hearts content. This was exactly what was going through my mind as my stomach grumbled on the drive over to the Super Buffet.

We were shown our seat and pointed in the direction of heat lamps and mountains of tasty food. Minutes later my daughter returned with a plate full of California Rolls, extra points noted, this buffet had a sushi bar. My wife had an assortment of tasty goodness and my selection, well I think this is where I started to reconsider if this was such a good idea after all. I initially went right to a huge mound of pot stickers and spareribs but then I thought, well Greg, you might start with a simple salad. I diverted my course to a serving area containing all things salad bar. The few of us circling this area all seemed to have a similar look on our face. My mind was thinking, hey have a little salad before you embark upon the Ho Chi Minh trail of Asian cuisine. As I ate my salad, I was thinking ok, let’s get this over so you can get on with the good stuff. Two minutes later I had eaten the salad and was heading back towards the heat lamps and Asian delights.

chinese_buffetLike a hawk, spotting its pray from afar, I knew I had those tasty fried wontons on my radar along with spare ribs, chicken and some sort of spicy beef thing, it all looked good and I was anticipating trying it all. Finishing off that plate, I was just starting to get into the rhythm of this feast and a number of more plates quickly followed. Finally I was done, licking the spoon as to not waste one morsel of the ice cream, it was finished.

My God, I am really full I told my wife Cindy. I think we had all stuffed ourselves, making sure that we each got our $12.95 worth of food out of this place. As we shuffled back to the car, I started to consider when the last time I had been so full, when had I last pigged out like this? I couldn’t exactly remember but I knew it had been quite a long time ago, well before I had started Weight Watchers a few years back. Oh my gosh, had I fallen off the food wagon so to speak. It had dawned on me that I had learned to really cut my eating portions down as a part of what I had learned in my weight loss program. How easily I allowed the “Old Man” to come out for a visit to the local Chinese Buffet and eat to his heart content.

The next morning came early as I started to get suited up for my 7am running program at the local Luke’s Locker. The scale had said it all, just up over three pounds in a single week, no help from the Chinese feast the night before. I had let my guard down and now I had to pay the piper in the hill work I was about to participate in with my running group.

The years of hard work and transition had been lost for a fleeting moment and honestly not worth obsessing over with the exception to reflect how easily it can be to let ones guard down and revert to habits that don’t add much value to life. It had taken decades to get to the place I had arrived a number of years ago until I came to the realization that I needed to get things under control. Life is full of bumps in the road; they lead us back to places better left in the past. The “Old Man” (or Woman if that is your case) at times can blind us too much hard work and discipline it took to better ourselves.

So take a second look out the peephole when that knock comes to the door and tries to lead you back to a place you once had been. Have family and friends that you genuinely trust help you move in the right direction and encourage you when temptation comes knocking. When you stumble, get up and continue down the narrow road to a better life for yourself and those you love.

Run well…

Greg Paskal
Lead Adventurer

A Day at the Races

As a kid, our family would often go to Hollywood Park in Inglewood California to spend the day at the horseraces. You might think this would be a pretty boring place for a kid to spend a full day but actually it was very exciting. Of course there were the horseraces themselves, lasting just minutes each, providing a rhythm to the day, but a day at the races was so much more. There was the excitement of choosing a horse you though might win. There was the fun of having family with us, tuning the event into more of a picnic than a sporting event. Lastly, there was the adventure of the place, people of all types, excitement and disappointment in the air. For a kid, a day at the races was really something to be remembered.

Today I participated in a race called the Trinity River Levee Run (http://www.runthetrinity.com) in the heart of Dallas. It too was “A Day at the Races” and much like I discovered as a kid, it was so much more than just the race itself that made it memorable. One of the things I have come to love about the sport of running are those things that surround an event such as todays race. Months of planning go into a day like today, picking out the race course, getting details worked out with the city, bringing in vendors, etc. Todays race had those things as well as many other unique aspects that could easily have gone unnoticed yet they added much to the enjoyment and memory of the event. Here are a few things I encountered today and hope you will recognize in your future running events.

  • Great Music – Nothing gets people more pumped up than great music. The event organizers for the Trinity River Levee Run had music going from the moment we showed up until the time we headed home. There was an incredible singing of the National Anthem a well as a live band, which played during and after the run was over. I’m grateful the coordinators knew the power of music and its ability to add richness to a day like today.
  • Crowd Participation – There’s no denying it, most “Running-Types” are a pretty outgoing bunch. Forty-Five minutes before race time they had a woman warming the group up with stretches and other activities. It was a sea of bending knees, reaching to the sky and waving arms and it was really fun. You have to love the running crowd; they could care less what someone else thinks as they bounce around to an early morning aerobic workout.
  • Cheering Section – I must admit, I love an enthusiastic cheering section and the folks that came out to cheer us on at todays race did an A+ job. This had to be one of the most organized cheering groups I have encountered at any race to date. They were from all types of organization, each with color coordinated shirts and signs encouraging us along the way. You’ve got to give a big Thank You to groups like this that come out to cheer on and encourage complete strangers.

As someone new to the sport of running, I really enjoy the opportunity to encourage others. In the few years I’ve run, I’ve completed a number of 5k’s, a couple longer races and one half-marathon. It took a lot of work to get this far but it took even more encouragement from others to help me stick with it. I’m currently participating in a program sponsored by Luke’s Locker in Allen, Texas called The Beat Goes On (https://www.lukeslocker.com/BGO2014) which is helping me to become better as a runner. My coaches encourage me and provide invaluable instruction to improve my running.

Running_The_RaceAs I finished my run today, hitting a new personal record for my 5k time, I got to head back to the finish line area and cheer on those also heading to the finish line. Friends from my running group gathered there as well, each just completing the race yet excited to cheer on other runners as they finished their races. For over an hour we watch as all sorts of people crest the Trinity Bridge and complet the last quarter of a mile towards the finish line. How enjoyable to cheer those folks on, some running with friends, some pushing strollers, many giving it everything they had to finish the race well. We clapped and cheered, “Great job”, “Keep it going”, “You’re doing great” as they ran by. Remembering how much it had meant to me to have that cheering section root me on, making eye contact, speaking words of encouragement to finish the race well. I loved this part of todays race, it might have been better than running itself because investing in others never returns void, it more often multiplies into something greater than we could ever anticipate.

A day at the races can be so much more than something focused entirely on us. It can be a time to be grateful for the hard work of others and an opportunity to invest in those around us.

Race On…

Greg Paskal
Lead Adventurer

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