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December 15, 2014

Mr. Beast Mode and Sherman

I have been a fan of the Seattle Seahawks ever since I was old enough to watch, and comprehend, the game of football on a television screen -- that would be back in the day when Jim Zorn and Steve Largent ruled the Kingdome. Needless to say, I was thrilled about the rebuilding that took place in the years leading up to last year's Super Bowl victory.

Two key pieces of that rebuilding puzzle were Marshawn Lynch, a strong, punishing running back who has dubbed himself "Beast Mode"; and Richard Sherman, a confident, outspoken corner back who backs up his talk with league-leading performance. Both individuals came from similar situations in different inner cities, yet there were some very distinct differences between their childhoods -- bigger than one being from Oakland and the other from Compton.

While watching Beast Mode highlight videos on YouTube today, I stumbled upon two very interesting interviews with these two players -- both produced by ESPN's E:60 show.

The often camera-shy Marshawn was the first interview that I watched:

You can watch a player run right through 250-lb. linebackers week in and week out and never have a clue about the individual behind the Darth Vader mask. I was struck by Lynch's response when asked if he considered himself to be a "thug". We can judge the off-the-field actions of professional athletes from an 'armchair' perspective, but we really should be asking how we might respond going from being very poor, to being able to buy anything we could possibly want. I'm not sure I would have done any better than Marshawn.

And then there's the man who is never camera-shy, Richard Sherman:

You can see some of the same themes in Sherman's story as you can in Lynch's. The key difference I noticed was that Richard had a father actively involved in his life, where Marshawn did not. Despite the fact that both players seem to have arrived at the same field of dreams, Marshawn's continued difficulty trusting others appears to stem directly from childhood hurts that have not healed. Maybe that's a part of what spurs on the Beast Mode on-field persona, and maybe that's why it's so hard for him to tell the rest of us what "Beast Mode" means.

As was mentioned in Sherman's video, he was under a lot of public scrutiny after his on-air comments that followed the NFC Championship win over the 49ers. My initial response when I watch on live TV was of shock over what had just happened, but there was also a sense of true, raw, unbridled emotion that one would expect from an athlete of that level who had just sealed his teams entrance into the Super Bowl. To me, it was a breath of fresh air compared to the stale, canned responses of "we took our game to 'em and did the best we could".

For his comments, Sherman was called a thug, among other things; and he had to go out and show that he was not just some uneducated kid off the street running his mouth -- this was an intelligent, Stanford-educated individual with a degree in communications. He should have been a top talent coming out of college, yet somehow he slipped to the 5th round. I guess you could say he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and he let the world know about it. The best corner in the game can do that, as far as I'm concerned.

Who knows if either player will be a Seahawk by the time the 2015 season rolls around, but after watching these interviews, I have a new respect for each person. The interviews only give me a glimpse of what they went through to get where they are today, but it's a better perspective than what I had before I watched them.

December 6, 2014

Post-Thanksgiving Update

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, without a doubt. It isn't as commercialized as a lot of the other holidays, and it isn't about getting something (if you don't count Black Friday), but giving something instead -- that would be giving thanks for what you already have. It's about reconnecting with friends and family, and getting together to share in the delicious bounty that this earth provides. This year, my in-laws were in town, which meant two meals with turkey and all the trimmings -- and both my wife and mother-in-law come from a line of talented cooks!

So, how does one handle two Thanksgiving feasts while trying live Glutton Free? Run, Forrest, Run!

The kids' school was hosting a very casual "Turkey Trot" 5K (3.1 mi.) run/walk the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, so our family decided to participate. I was able to make better time than what I normally run for a 5 mi. trek, thanks to one of the teachers setting a good pace just ahead of me. The pace was fast enough that I was actually sore the next day, and I've been running twice a week for 7 months now.

We had our first feast Wednesday evening, and was it ever a good one -- I was able to limit myself to a reasonable dinner portion, but I especially enjoyed the two pieces of chocolate cream pie that I had. So, that just meant I was out the door at around 9:00 Thanksgiving morning for a 5.2 mile run at record pace (9:24 per mile) before we headed out to feast number two. Once again, I was able to limit myself to just one delicious plate, then there was pie. Key Lime Pie. Yeah, I had two pieces of that one, too.

Saturday morning was my next opportunity to run, and I was able to keep a pace very close to my Thursday run. It felt good to be able to run my usual route at a faster pace than before.

The Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, I decided it was time to face the music and see what the damage was, so I stepped on the scale. I had weighed in just over 181-lbs. two weeks prior, and was fully prepared to see a few pounds added back. But all that running must have worked, because I was down slightly!

I was only able to run one time in the week since then, and I added a steep hill to my run for the first time (I had always walked it before). When I weighed in this morning, the scale showed 178-lbs.! Not since sometime in 1992 have I weighed that little. Okay, I guess it's time to figure out how to figure out this "maintenance" thing, because this is about as far as I really want to go. 

I ran my numbers through the caloric intake calculator once again this morning, since my weight is considerably lower than when I first started, and realized that I had never changed my exercise level to "intense" instead of "light", since I had been running instead of walking. The recommended caloric intake level the calculator spit out was a full 350 calories per day higher than the goal I was shooting for. Or I can just keep doing what I'm doing and not worry about all the Christmas goodies that are starting to show up around the office... :-)

I'll make it a New Year's resolution to eat more calories... maybe.