A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Individuality and How it Meshes with the Running Club - My Philosophical View of Things

The past few years alone I have been discovering my true self and why choose to do certain things over others. There are quite a few revelations that I've discovered that put all aspects of my life together, from the political spectrum, to the races I do.

Part of it is freedom and individuality. I empower myself. Through hard work, I earn my successes, and conversely, I am accountable for my mistakes.

This empowerment also comes from the fact that I am able to choose what I do in order to best achieve the desired results.

When I joined the Staten Island Athletic Club two years ago, it was to find a club where I can identify with other runners, meet up with them for some weekend runs, and share advice with each other.

I am more of a trail runner, and a significant part of the club were road runners. That was fine, as long as I respected their views and they respected mine.

Ever since then, I'm please to see that SIAC is a great club with great people from all walks of life. I'm glad that I joined the club and I've never regretted it since.

President Mark Vogt and the SIAC Board must have seen some potential in me, since I did act a bit differently after all (maybe it was my quirks? ;-) but I was definitely surprised that he and the Board offered me a chair position overseeing a new branch of SIAC called SIAC Xtreme (siXac). For goals, siXac would cover trail running, obstacle racing, multisport races, and ultramarathons.

I will admit that I had some strong reservations in accepting the position. Having a strong individuality, I was fearing that I would have to give up something significant in order to be part of the captaincy. Being a past president of another club (RVRR is still a great club in NJ), I also didn't want to get tied down to pointless politicking either. After all, I did have my own agenda, and it was very different than the mainstream goals of the club (centered on road running and the Triple Crown races). And I was not about to sacrifice any of it as part of the conditions of being in SIAC.

But Mark and the Board gave me the freedom to do what I want with siXac and I have to thank all of them for it. We've grown so much since then, and I have to hand it to my core group of trail runners that stuck with me the first couple of years. You know who you are!

Yet there are individual elements in the club that insist that members have to do certain club things as a condition of being part of the club, and that reporting to their respective captains is necessary as part of being a member of the club.

I find that abominable.

Captains don't have the power to compel people into doing the activities they want them to do. They are not some higher order of noble commanding the serfs what to do. I am not General Zod demanding that everyone kneel before him and do what he says.


I am also a captain of the club, but I don't want to be treated at a level higher than the average member. I want to be on the same level as the members so that they are comfortable in giving me advice as I would give advice to them. To share ideas that I would not even think of. I want people to embrace the siXac division of SIAC with feeling pressured to go on the trails every week.

As captain, I will encourage members to get on the trails and into triathlons. That is the general purpose of the job. But I want to make sure that they WANT to come down. There's no pressure on them to come, but they come anyway because they enjoy being on the trails.

That's a lot different than pressuring someone to come to a club function, right? I think so.

And if they chose something different, then I wish them all the luck in the world pursuing their own goals. They don't sacrifice their individuality either way.

Although I add that we will still be here if they decide to come back. ;-)

And most of them do, fortunately.

Well, enough with this philosophical BS. Let's run!!!

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