Day at the Office

Day at the Office
All Terrain Vehicle
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Phillppians 3:14

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weathering the Seasons of Life...

Endurance…the time when pressing on is a test of one’s will…it requires mental toughness….sometimes pure stubbornness…and most of all….desire. Through the seasons of life there are times when the fall turns to the brutal winds of winter and the day to day grind becomes an endurance event. I began running December 2008….and through those years I have completed numerous ultramarathons. In fact, I went from the couch to my first 50 mile trail ultra marathon in 14 months. One big training cycle…from race to race…from ultra to 100 mile bike ride…marathons with 45 lb backpacks…5:00 AM workouts…all night runs.

On Friday night my wife asked, “Aren’t you excited to race tomorrow?” I look over and calmly replied, “No.” I didn’t even pack my race bag till the morning of the Rockledge Rumble 50K race. My meticulous nature of checking and rechecking was absent…I didn’t even charge my Garmin 405…and when I went to bed, I set my alarm and thought…”The only reason I am running the Rumble tomorrow was the commitment I made to do it.” Even though the Saturday race day was absolutely perfect fall weather, my heart and soul was weathering the frigid chill of a Blue Northerner.

An out and back 22 miler … I come into the aid station cooked. My body felt fine…at least like it would after 22 miles on a trail…my desire…gone…completely…I didn’t want to be out there….I didn’t want to be racing….and I sure as hell didn’t want to go back out for another 10 miles. My friend, Buddy Teaster, looked at me and said…you look fine…and I said…I am…but I don’t care. Buddy responds, “I don’t have anything on the aid station table to fix that…you have to want it…and you definitely do not have anything to prove.” Five minutes later I was in my 4 Runner and on my way home. I am not proud of that…but I simply didn’t care. .. that, my friend, is a dangerous place to be. Only 2 months previously had I ridden my best century on the hottest race day of record for the 30 year old Hotter N Hell bicycle ride. The “highs” of that accomplishment were absent to only be replaced by the doldrums of life.

The abyss of apathy indicates a time to step away for a time from the endurance realm….not permanently….but for now. I have something planned for April…a weeklong event that I will detail later…but for now…I don’t have an ultra planned for a year. That is on purpose. Fitness is still a priority…just not the 6 hours runs…the back to back long days….the 3:00 AM wake up calls.

Wide is the path that leads to destruction…but the rocky, narrow trail is where life is lived on the edge…and when the sun begins the decent over the horizon….and darkness engulfs you….you press on…a paradox...running the very narrow path of ultramarathons was placing me on a 6 lane expressway …Stepping away from running races that sometimes take you 10 plus hours…to reignite the burning fires of enjoying life again…to reevaluate my purpose and goals. Challenges in life buffet you…and God uses these incidences as heavenly sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges. This year has not been short of a little 60 grit…a refining of who I am as a person…to my family….to my friends. Bren, my wife, has been more supportive than I could have ever asked…and I watched her closely when I responded to her inquiry about me being excited to race on that November Saturday. Her eyes showed the grave concern of a coach whose team was in trouble. A week ago I went over my plans with her for what I intended to do on the endurance front…and she responds, “Any way I can help, let me know.” And that is how we roll. 2011’s refining fire has not been pleasant…but the dross is being removed. Bren and I have seen growth in our family…being pushed out of our comfort zone tends to do that. The night is long…and winter longer….but dawn is nigh….the the spring of life will renew…for these times are not near as sweet until compared to the depths of the wintery night….and so we press on.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Penn State...and Protecting Your Kid from Predators

I have a very simple question. Why is it that only after 2 weeks of game 7 of the World Series, did we hear Texas Ranger manager, Ron Washington’s pregame speech; when it took 12 FREAKING years to learn what went on at Penn State????

That’s right…it took less than 14 days to have the sacred boundary of what is between a manager and his team encroached. I listened to all 7 plus minutes of the recording. Sure…there is some foul language…but Ron’s speech loosened the team up, motivated them and even made me laugh….but there was nothing in there that broke the law. Ron did talk about that if Carp, the MF’er, threw the ball across the plate that they were to knock the s%@! out of it. I was upset when I heard that Wash’s pregame speech was leaked to the public…you see I still think that what is said in the board room, the clubhouse…locker room…squad bay of a Marine Corps Unit should stay there.

Ok…most of the time what happens there should stay there…unless the law is broken or if there is the most abhorred acts of sexual deviance to a minor that have occurred. I have read the entire indictment passed down from the Grand Jury on the Penn State and the Sandusky case. Reading that alone was enough to turn one’s stomach….but you do not even have to read between the lines of 40 accounts from 8 victims to wonder why anyone would allow a monster like Sandusky go free. It is unforgivable.

A second question to follow the first question is “How did so many people stay quiet on the matter?” Oh…people knew.

Let’s start from the beginning. Jerry Sandusky coached for Penn State for 32 years and was Defensive Coordinator for 23 of those years. In 1977, started a foundation called “The Second Mile” that served as a foster home for troubled boys and evolved to help children that came from dysfunctional and troubled homes. Victim 7, for the Grand Jury Indictment, gives details of deviant sexual behavior from Sandusky directed to him….behavior occurring in the mid 1990’s. The accounts from the 8 victims, all between the ages of 8 to 11, go on…in detail…about being forced to take showers with Sandusky…some are less intrusive…some accounts are of sodomizing rape…all sickening.

In March 1, 2002, a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary who was 28 years old then, entered a locker room and witnessed an act so heinous between Victim 2 and Sandusky, that he ran out of the room and called his dad. McQueary stated that he was in shock…distraught….and his dad told him to promptly report what he saw to Head Coach Joe Paterno. This was followed by meetings with Tim Curley, Penn State Athletic Director and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Shultz. The result? Curley, a couple of weeks later informed McQueary that Sandusky’s keys to the locker room were taken away and the incident reported to the The Second Mile. The incident was not reported to the police or child protective services, in what the Grand Jury termed a contravention of Pennsylvania law. Curley testified that the conduct was merely horseplay. Ok…my second home growing up was in a locker room. I know what horseplay is…and never at one time did I feel like I needed to call my dad because I was so distraught by “horseplay.” The grand jury didn’t buy it either. This just showed the tip of the ice berg of cover up…statements show that Sandusky was paid nearly $500,000 over 8 years by The Second Mile…over 10 years after the reports to officials surfaced of his sexual abuse of 10 year old boys.

In 1998, the year after Sandusky was named NCAA Assistant Football coach of the year, he was asked to step down. He retired…not to be picked up again by any other college. Penn State still allowed Sandusky use of facilities. This was apparently after allegations of taking showers with underage boys in the locker room facilities….he even admitted to it with the young boy’s mom via a wire tap.

The accounts go on and begin to read like a script of an episode of SVU – Law and Order….and the questions abound.

Why didn’t the 28 year graduate stop the sodomizing? Why weren’t the police called? Why didn’t any other colleges in the nation want to hire Sandusky in his coaching prime upon retirement and being named Assistant coach of the year? Why didn’t Paterno do more…or for that matter the AD…the President? Is climbing the food chain of college coaching more important than stopping the rape of a 10 year old boy? Is the money a top tier football program generates worth more…so they sweep scathing allegations under the rug and continue to allow the perpetrator access to the Penn State Facilities?

All of the above questions are rhetorical of course.

Although statistics are difficult to obtain in regards to child sexual abuse, it is thought that 1 in 6 boys and girls are abused sexually. The average age for the first abuse is just under 10 years old and Abuse typically occurs within a long-term, on-going relationship between the offender and victim, escalates over time and lasts an average of four years. 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker, 34.2% of attackers were family members and 58.7% were acquaintances and only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim. The affects are long term for the victim…

The experience of sexual abuse for a child distorts her or his self-concept, orientation to the world and affective capabilities.

High rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, dissociative disorders, interpersonal dysfunction, sexual problems and suicidal ideation have all been identified to varying degrees among men and women who survive child sexual abuse.
Child sexual assault victims are 4.7 times more likely to be the subsequent victim of a sex crime.

So the question is, as parents, what we can do to prevent our own children of becoming victims of sexual abuse. As stated previously, most offenders are NOT strangers to the child.

At a very young 3, begin talking with your kids about not letting anyone touch them where their bathing suits covered…even if you knew that person. Our pediatrician always reinforced this concept with each clinic visit. One must understand that the offender begins to manipulate the child and typically preys on a child with insecurities and a derivative of a dysfunctional environment. This is not always the case… but the perpetrator will generally not go after a kid who has an air of confidence, whose parents are involved in their life. Let me restate…THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE…but by raising a confident kid lessens the probability of him or her being a potential target of a child molester as he will prey on a child that is easy to manipulate. We have taught our kids to run and tell someone if anyone tries to touch them…or ask them to undress. The foundation of our training is to instill in your child a since of security, well being…that they are confident in who they are…and by all means…stay active in your kids life….begin to look for personality changes and withdrawal from life of a preadolescent child.

One of my closest friends was brutally sexually molested when he was 7 years old. He is now 46 years old and over the last few years began the healing process of the abuse. The effects ran deep…and the denial even deeper. Runks Runkles is now open about what has happened. He has a ministry speaking to youth across America about his testimony. I talked to Runks…as he is known by…about the Penn State Mess. He responded, ” I'd like to have 5 minutes with Sandusky…bat in hand….as much as the next guy but more than that I want time with the victims…I know what they are going through and I want them to know the hope, peace, and freedom from the hell of sexual abuse that I have found.”

You can visit Runks’ site at: Here