I was pretty grounded until my junior year of high school. I played football and baseball and was pretty good at both because I was determined to be good at them. I went to camps and practiced on my own. Then, that summer I discovered college parties, I looked older than I was so it wasnt difficult to blend in with a sea of drunk college freshmen in the basement of some huge campus house. Bye bye sports, I found my new passion... college parties. Two years of this, every weekend, my last two years of high school were a college party. This was great! I needed to get into college so I could do this all the time. I was determined to get in. I made the grades my last two years of high school balancing school, college parties, and gambling. The casinos in Wisconsin were I grew up were not to strict about age, if you looked 18 they let you in. I was determined to win. I read every book I could find on blackjack and learned some basic counting techniques and was winning regularly.
When I received my acceptance letter from the UW Whitewater it was time to coast. I changed my high school schedule so I would have study hall first hour.. which meant I didnt have to be there. I was determined to win money. I remember playing blackjack with some of my teachers late at night at the casinos. There was a mutual feeling of you dont tell and I wont tell. I was basically untouchable when it came to being late for school. I wasnt arrogant about it. I remember quietly walking into class late many mornings with $500 of winnings. It got to a point where class would stop because people couldnt wait to ask me how much I won. I wasnt doing homework anymore so I had a lot of free time. I started to lift weights which I dove into full of determination. I learned everything I could about it. I lifted everyday. I took supplements that guys would tell me to take at the gym. Half the time I didnt even know what I was taking, but the weight training was paying off. I was getting pretty muscular. Life was good for me I thought, but I was on a slippery slope. Life in the fast lane and I was only 17. Walking around looking good, a pocket full of money I wish I would have saved and partying with college girls.
What does this have to do with running??? A lot, most people are determined and can accomplish anything, you just need to focus that energy towards positive actions. I, like many others, focused my energy on material things. Try channeling some of that energy to your health. You will really feel good about yourself
High school was over and I went away to college. A little dose of reality soon set in. I was going to so many parties that I literally went to 6 classes the whole time I was at school. No lie. Six classes total. Six hours of college. straight F's. 0.0 gpa. I really didnt like school at all. Im not sure why. Nice going Joe. I did manage to live in college housing the entire year even though by not attending classes at all and not taking any second semester I was technically not a student. Which meant I was a trespasser and could have been arrested.
The campus police couldnt prove that I lived there. I had a roommate and roommates were allowed to have visitors. So thats what I was. A visitor. The campus police finally gave up on me the day they came to try and scare me out of the dorms. They told me they were there to confiscate my belonging because they had reason to believe I lived there and was not a visitor. They asked which things were mine... that was a mistake.. I said, "none of it, I'm just visiting." It was the truth, i only slept there. my stereos and tvs were in a house across campus. i was letting my friends borrow that stuff. they were over me, and i was over them. I wasnt being disruptive and had paid in advance for housing so they didnt bother me anymore. Time to really party and really hit the gym. My parents would soon find out what I was doing and I would have to pay them back tuition they fronted me so I might as well live it up now.
I was determined to stretch this party out as long as I could and that carries over into my running today. I want to run as far as possible on my long runs and as fast as I can at my races so I eat right and train right. I listen to my body. I find healthy food that tastes good and there is a lot of it just do some reading. I educate myself the same way I did about gambling and weight lifting. All the info is out there and its not hard to find. Use facebook to ask questions. Use online forums. Ask questions, people who are passionate about running will be happy to share knowledge. I love helping people as much as i can. There are a lot of runners that know more than me and can better than me, but I love helping other runners if I can. Someone helped me and Im greatful for that so Im paying it forward. I do belong to one running forum that a friend of mine started. time for a cheap plug... its called www.runnersrule.com there are tons of people there that help me and i try to give advice there when i can.
I thought leaving college and getting job would calm me down. I got a job in construction and worked my butt off. I really liked it. I was getting paid to work out. I started out as a laborer for a masonry company. The money was good but I wanted to be bricklayer, not a laborer, I was determined. I worked fast to get ahead so I would have a little time to watch the bricklayers. I would work with some of them on side jobs after work, for free, as long as they would teach me how lay block and brick. Before I knew it I was the youngest mason at a big company making $25 an hour. I made a lot of great friends. Two of which kept me grounded and out of jail when I would start to get out of control. Talk about adding fuel to the fire. Now I have tons of cash. I laid off on gambling because I had income. I rented a nice house with 5 other workers so my rent was minimal. We worked 8 hours a day at our regular jobs and made mad money doing side work. The really great workers were sent to do work for the state which was higher pay. I saw plenty of state work. It was awesome. I have always gotten along with everyone just by being positive and practicing a couple simple rules... Do unto others, which i live by and dont listen to or engage in gossip which can be difficult. Judge a person on how they treat you, not what you have heard about them. You dont know the whole story unless you were there so dont listen to second hand information when it comes judging someones character.
Whats a free spirit with money in his pocket to do... Time to hit the college bars.. every weekend... for the next five years... Everybody knew me, I was the guy would buy 50 shots and just set them on the bar for everyone to take. I have no idea how much money I spent. A lot.. did I mention that I hadnt even turned 21 yet. A lot of the guys I worked construction with during the week were bouncers at the bars on the weekends so that worked out good. I was determined to be the life of the party. I lived for it. It is not a healthy lifestyle, when it comes down to it, it was a waste of my life. 5 years gone. all a blur. it had to be hard on my body. Do I regret it.. no... would i do it again.. No way, never! Was I good at it.. I was the best. I think I should have been a club promoter sometimes.
My next blog will be more running based but I will always try to tie in a few stories from my past, its fair to say Ive lead an interesting life. I've flown first class to Las Vegas for free and had everything comped at the casino and the very next week had to pick up co-workers from crack houses becasue they were on 7 day binge and out of money. Stay tuned.