Musings

Just A Little More

We’re all busy these days. Swiping, typing and hyping ourselves. We have work and super-duper important stuff to fill the hours. We are taking on more gigs, contract work and side jobs. Even our fitness is organized into perfectly origami shaped segments. One hour. 15 minutes tread. 15 minutes floor. 15 minutes tread. 15 minutes floor. This is fun right? I mean I have to create something to post, swipe and type about. Left, right, left, right, left. It’s all about boot camp busy life and we keep taking on just a little more.

Actual view of this week’s busy.

Actual view of this week’s busy.

Last summer I didn’t want to take on anymore. I was plenty “busy” and I like to surf and I even like to read books that have covers and I actually like to garden and yes I realize that I just turned into my father in one sentence. The point is I thought I had a full plate. A healthy diet of cool projects, annual events, everyday struggles, and all of it amounted to a subtle foundation of bubbling anxiety. It’s a proven fact that if you own your own company and that company produces events and you’re not anxious…you’re probably not in business. I don’t care how much Headspace meditation you do…if you’re not freaking out inside then you’re not doing it right.

Long story short, I didn’t want anymore. I was busy.

But, last summer I also heard a story. I have an amazing human of a friend named Heidi Boynton. Heidi is the Founder of the Mini Mermaid Running Club and she engaged me with a tale of her recent trip to Uganda. Heidi told me about a 5k in a refugee camp. Immediately I was all ears. 5k run/walk…different place. I’m intrigued. She talked about the excitement of the refugees running from their homes to the starting line. She spoke of their energy to run, dance and laugh on the day. It was World Refugee Day and one of the supporters of the camp, the American Refugee Committee was hosting their annual World Refugee Day 5k in the settlement. Over 1000 refugees and visitors would join together for the event.

Let’s Go.

Let’s Go.

One of the coolest parts is the entry fee. Every participant has to provide a “changemaker” idea for the camp. Provide an idea and you get an entry. It could be anything. Maybe it was a way to raise money for your camp basketball team. Propose a new art mural on a community wall. Build a better pedestrian bridge over a dangerous trench. Propose anything that would improve life in the settlement and then you get to run. Free t-shirt and everything. Then 365 of those ideas are chosen to be put into action by the ARC over the next year. Come on, that’s freaking cool. Like one of the coolest things ever. You want to run and celebrate? Then make your community a better place. We run together, we live together.  

The day sounded beautiful. Young, old, men and women. Fast and slow. Dancing and warming up before the race. Just a simple and modest event, but everyone was fired up. You have to understand that one of the biggest struggles of a refugee (beyond the obvious basic needs of food and water) is that there is little to do. There is little to look forward to and few opportunities to celebrate. These events mean a lot. It means change.

Let’s bring it back.

Let’s bring it back.

That’s when Heidi told me that the ARC was considering cancelling the 2019 World Refugee Day 5k. It costs significant money for transportation, security, shirts, messaging, staff time, and just a lot of things that we take for granted in our first world society. While there was never a question posed to me… my answer was no. Heidi said what do you mean, I said they can’t. They can’t cancel this. This is what we do. We provide opportunities for people to run. To move, to laugh, train, be inspired, something to look forward to and if we do it right then we can create something to look fondly back on.  This is what we do and it’s what we’re going to do, but this time we’re going to do it in Africa. And we’re going to do it for free.

I’m busy, but I can do a little more. You’re busy, but you can also do a little more. We all can.

Many of my values are based on our companies“run local” philosophy. Supporting my region and trying to inflect my influence on my community has always resonated with me. I believed that if we all took care of our community then the world would be fine. Focus here and on the achievable. I now believe that ethos derives from my personal love of “home.”  I love coming home from a trip or just from work. It feels good. Maybe my parents made it feel safe or maybe it relieves some of the previously mentioned bubbling anxiety. The point is that I truly value the power of home. I think that is why the struggle of the refugee hits me so deep to my core. They literally don’t have a home. They were forced to leave. They didn’t choose to leave. They would love to be home. Borders are closing faster and harder than ever before. The world seems less welcoming than ever. Maybe it’s the news media, but earth feels less just.  And I just I want to help those humans. So this is what we’re going to do…we’re all just going to do a little more.

We’re going to produce a global event. Yes, WE.

On June 20th 2019 we’re honoring World Refugee Day. I’m headed to Uganda to support 1000 refugees in the production of their 5k. You’re either going to run virtually or join a shadow run. If you’re one of my friends that directs races or you always wanted to put on a small fun run, then you’re going to host a shadow run in your town. We’re doing this. We need to keep this event alive and we need to blow past that finish line. We need to support refugees everywhere and non-profits like the ARC that support refugees. We’re going to create home. Let’s make this planet a better place. Let’s go world. Let’s go team humans. Let’s give just a little more.

(Authors note: And you get a free hat. So that’s chill)

Donate to my personal fundraising campaign page Here: https://raceroster.com/events/2019/23485/world-refugee-day-5k-virtual-run/pledge/participant/6065255

Register for the World Refugee Day 5k Here:

https://raceroster.com/events/2019/23485/world-refugee-day-5k-virtual-run

Sign up to host your own World Refugee Day 5k Shadow Run Here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdi6HAQqOTz7-ZtJT9rDxsieYRcRIuYj0ag38gM-w9YSDOW1g/viewform?usp=sf_link

Learn more here (but what else do you really need to know?): Ok, fine here: https://www.worldrefugeeday5k.com/


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Target Veterans

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Veterans of war are an easy target. Everyone loves to say they support the troops. It’s a can’t lose message. I’d argue it’s the lowest common denominator in terms of something most American’s can agree on. The men and women within our armed services do our dirty work. They also do our best work in terms of taking our countries most valued principles and valiantly spread them throughout the world. Insert democracy here.

But do vets really get the respect they deserve? Politicians pull praise like it’s coming out of the back of a clown car like a never ending stream.. Imagine that, politicians and clowns in the same sentence. The stroking is so often exchanged and tapped that it starts to feel like a country song cliché. A thin veil of stunted recognition. Maybe it’s the NFL forcing coaches to wear military looking sweatshirts. Super cool right?!? And we will also make sure that 2% of all sales goes to Wounded Warriors if purchased from NFL.com. Gotta check that box. Maybe it’s our President flying in and out of IRAQ for 28 minutes. I’ve spent more time agonizing over the Whole Foods hot bar than Trump spent with the troops. Check the box my friend, and make sure you take credit, too. Maybe it’s all of our elected representatives deciding that our coast guard can go unpaid while they fight over their preferred type of border security. It’s a wall, no, it’s a barrier, no what we really need are some illegal immigrant drones. No sir, we need to get paid.

Then there are actual bad ass groups that rip that veil off the faceless soldier and ask our vets “what do you need?” The Pat Tillman Foundation is one of those organizations. Pat was one of those “give us your best” type of soldiers that was heavily celebrated by all. He actually checked that box. Patriot, check. And hundreds of thousands of men and women do that every day. Those are the people that the Pat Tillman Foundation continues to support through Pat’s legacy.

I’ve been thinking a ton about veterans this week. First, our San Jose 408k “Race to the Row” is coming up this Sunday. It benefits the aforementioned Tillman Foundation and specifically their military scholar’s program. It is our 8th Annual event this year and we’re closing in on $100,000 donated to the organization. Straight up, we’re proud of that. Pat was from San Jose and in his honor, we’ll have a Memorial Mile on the course. We invite local veterans to line the street and exchange enthusiasm with the runners and walkers.  For us it’s about showing the veterans our true appreciation. No more just checking the box.  

I’d also like to recognize my family members that have served. First off, my grandpa Pete Armstrong served in the Pacific Theater on an aircraft carrier. He was an airplane mechanic. He could fix anything. I still want to be like him.  My other grandfather, Bruce Service earned a Bronze Star in Europe in the Army infantry. This California kid gets himself into the Battle of the Bulge, then kills and captures a bunch of Nazis. I’m pretty sure the whole experience changed him forever. How could it not? His war never ended. Then there is my cousin Stephan Fernandez. We are separated by just a few months in age and grew up in lock step. After high school Steph followed in our grandfather’s footsteps and enlisted in the Army. He rose to Staff Sergeant, a proven leader, serving one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. Last week I visited him in Columbus, GA and he was gracious to share real war stories. He definitely saw some shit, earned his Purple Heart, never wanted to leave his crew and recently honorably rejoined civilian life. Total dedication to his country and his crew, checked that box.

So yes, our vets are an easy target. They’re an easy target because they put themselves in harms way. We too often check the box and thank them in political notations. I’m guilty of this and for years took this service as something that was for others to worry about. Yah, yah, but they get paid, Yah, they signed up for it. World War II was different. Thats why I don’t have to enlist. Was it though? True evil is still around us. As I get older I can see the field a bit clearer. I want to make every thank you count. Make it really mean something. This Sunday we’re just running an 8k for San Jose. Part of that day is about memorializing and raising money to support veterans. Big check, big check mark, look them in the eye, listen, smile, thank them, and mean it. They did.

To learn more and participate in the Memorial Mile please visit: www.run408k.com/memorial-mile

To run or walk in the 8th Annual San Jose 408k Brought to you by Amazon please register at www.run408k.com

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RUN LOCAL - Yes, we have an apparel brand.

We trademarked Run Local a few years ago and now we produce hoodies, shirties, tankies, and totes'ies under that brand. It's fun. Visit www.runlocalshop.com to get yours. 

Beauty and Tradition in San Francisco

Beauty and tradition still exist in San Francisco. Of course they do. They always will. Yes, it will change and people will complain and people will come and people will go. But beauty and tradition will always exist in San Francisco. Whether it’s a heated race between a half dozen mayoral candidates or a costumed frenzied trot amongst 40,000 at the Bay to Breakers; beauty and tradition are San Francisco. Beauty and freaking tradition ya’ll.

 

And come on, this has been going on around here for centuries. You have to believe that in the 1850’s just after those Wild Bill 49ers started to rough up San Francisco, there was a group of locals just like you complaining about all the hullaballoo going around town.  In their mind, San Francisco had changed for the worse and it would never be the same. Levi Strauss was hawking denim and the railroaders couldn’t spend it fast enough. Or maybe it was 1967 and new locals were hippi-shaming the flower children and their irresponsible everything’s. Stupid hippies, right? I mean am I right?  Who’s next?  I’ve only been around San Francisco since 2006 and half the time I hide in Santa Cruz. During that time, I’ve denounced just about every change that San Francisco has to offer. From the tech nerds to the rental market and now the motorized-everything’s. One-wheels, boosted skate nerds, and scooter bumpkins that just came off a boat from Chicago. Every generation fights the change. BUT…even the crustiest dongle from the Avenues knows that there is something sweet about the tradition of change in San Francisco.

Beauty and tradition. Three years ago my band of Bay Area misfits acquired the opportunity to produce the Across the Bay 12k (formerly Houlihans to Houlihans formerly Emerald Nuts 12k and now technically we call it the Across the Bay 12k & 415k. Technically.). We got this gem of a running race from one of the original local race directors- a legend named Mr. Dave Rhody.  I think Dave and his band of Bay Area misfits had been producing the event for 31 years at the time and decided they would prefer to see another crew suffer through the next 31.  I reckon that’s about where we came in.

It’s just a simple 12k from Sausalito across the old Golden Gater out to Hopper’s Hands and over to Aquatic Park.  

Point A: That is a freaking gorgeous route. I own the event and there is nowhere else I’d rather run.

Point B: There is the tradition of an eclectic after-party.  Few may know that Mr. Joe Montana made an appearance at the first after party in 1983.  He had a few beers and handed out the awards. Impressive? Yes. And while Cool Joe won’t be joining us next week, maybe we’ll invite Jimmy G.  One thing we have confirmed is a partnership with the new Ghirardelli Square Festival for a guaranteed, good ol’ time. I’m talkin’ music, beer gardens and craft coffee kinda good ol’ time.

 

One of San Francisco’s most storied traditions is innovation. From the Castro to SoMa. From the gold rush to the crypto.  From Rhody Co. to Represent Running.  Yes, we’ve added new elements to the Across the Bay 12k. Yes, you can now run just a 5k or even participate virtually. But at the heart of the event we’ve kept the beauty…just like San Francisco. Just like those dirty hippies in 60’s and that nerd falling on his electric skateboard in the middle of Market St. In SF, some things don’t change. 

JT Service to Be Keynote at AC Road Summit

JT Service to Be Keynote at AC Road Summit

J.T. Service founded Soul Focus Sports in 2011. Prior to that Service was a 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier, is still a member of the California Bar, a USATF Authorized athlete’s agent, and the creator of the SF Bay Area based Represent Running Series featuring 15,000+ athletes annually.

The 2017 edition of the Athletics Canada Race Director’s Summit will be held in Ottawa as part of Race Weekend and Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations!

Give Love, Get Love

Give Love, Get Love

Define Love. If we are to give it, first we must define it. It’s everything. It’s yes and it’s also no. It is affection and it is resistance. It is god for some and simply faith in the good of humanity for others. For me, work on this subject began after the results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Most attention was focused on the incredible divide between so many people across America. This division felt greatly out of our control, on both sides. My focus returned to the question, “What can I do?” My answer was that I can control how I treat others.

Cut the Cord(s)

On New Year’s Eve I came home to a disturbance. Apparently the dogs had lost their minds while I was away. The main culprit was my dog Roscoe aka the singing dog aka @roscoe_champion aka my squish and finally aka my boo. Roscoe has developed a healthy fear of fireworks. I am aware of this fear and thus I locked the dogs in the house upon my departure.