Monday, April 28, 2014
War and Peace
I was watching Jon Stewart the other day - he had on an author who wrote a biography about Gandhi's early life in South Africa. He mentioned how Gandhi had been influenced by Tolstoy - who also influenced Martin Luther King Jr.. Being in need of a project before I start taking classes again in June - I decided that I'm going to read Tolstoy's "War and Peace." Of course starting "War and Peace" is very different than finishing "War and Peace" - but so far I like it.
It is set in Russia - in the early 19th century - when Napoleon was taking over Europe. Like all good literature - from Shakespeare to Seinfeld - it is mainly about morality. What is "good" behavior vs. "bad" behavior? Context is everything. The title of the book is probably also the best example of how morality is judged mostly on the context. Behavior that would be condemned in peace time is celebrated in war.
I also watched "The Armstrong Lie" this last weekend. It's a documentary about Lance Armstrong. It was originally about his comeback in 2009. The documentarian was very pro-Lance originally - but his downfall happened before the movie was finished - including his interview with Oprah. I've been very anti-Lance on this blog for a long time. Remembering his downfall and starting to read "War and Peace" made me think about what exactly his greatest sins were.
He was known by his admirers for his dogged determination. First - for overcoming cancer and then for winning seven Tour de France titles. His main failing seems to be that he saw everyone as either a foe to be overcome or a pawn to be used. There was no bonds with others that were strong enough to displace his goal of "winning" - however he defined that. He was at perpetual "war" with the world.
Sometimes I feel the need to apologize for the fact that I still love to compete. It seems childish in some way. But again - I guess it's all about context. With racing I'm able to express that part of me that likes winning - but I would call all of my rivalries - "friendly" rivalries.
Next week I run the Lincoln Half Marathon. With so much time on my hands I've actually been training quite a lot. Some of my key workouts point to me running somewhere around 1:14 - which would be the fastest I've run in about five years for that distance. The nice thing about running in a big race is that ultimately you are running against yourself. You are running to beat a goal time - rather than another person. The best way to accomplish your goal is to think of people around you as friendly adversaries. My hope is that there is a decent sized group (4-5 guys) trying to run around my pace. In order to run my best there will be a time in the race where I'll need to compete against them - but afterwards it will be all smiles and telling each other "nice job."
I've found that even in professional life it's good to think of others a friendly adversaries. You can't be afraid of confrontation or competition - but you have to know when the competition is over - and how to smile and shake your adversary's hand. Because many times our greatest competitors in life become our best allies. It's all about context.
Here are my last two weeks of training.
Monday - 3000y swim (1 hour) & 4 mi run (30 min)
Tuesday - 47 mile bike (2.5 hours)
Wednesday - Morning: 3000y swim (1 hour) Afternoon: 6 mile run (45 min)
Thursday - 12 miles 4X2 mi w/ 2 min rest (11:20;11:01; 10:58; 10:50) (1.5 hours)
Friday - 3000y swim (1 hour)
Saturday - 47 mile bike ride (2.5 hours) followed by 4 mile run (30 min)
Sunday - 17 mile run (2 hours)
Total - Swim: 3 hours Bike: 5 hours Run: 4.75 hours (12.75 hours)
Monday - 3000y swim (1 hour)
Tuesday - 36 mile bike (2 hours)
Wednesday - Morning: 3000y swim (1 hour) Afternoon: 8.5 mile run (1 hour)
Thursday - 50 mile bike (2.75 hours) 6 mile run (45 min)
Friday - 2250y swim (45 min) 6 mile run (45 min)
Saturday - 4 mile run (30 min)
Sunday - 36 mile bike (2 hours) 8.5 mile run (1 hour)
Total - Swim: 2.75 hours Bike: 6.75 hours Run: 4.5 hours (14 hours)