Monday, April 28, 2014

Fake it til you make it

Packing your funeral dress for a potential funeral is a weird feeling. Am I being pessimistic? Am I doubting my dad? Needless to say, I buried it way deep in the suitcase in its own pocket so I wouldn’t have a visual reminder of the situation.

My dad has been struggling with G.I issues for a few months now.  The doctors don’t know why it flares up. I have a theory that it is stress related.

The issue is stress triggers G.I issues. G.I issues cause stress. Thus my dad was stuck in an endless stress loop cycle.

I flew home immediately. When I got to him, he was ridiculously close to death and ridiculously refusing to go to the hospital.

It’s like all his energy was focused on ending the pain, and the hopelessness was directing him to the path of least resistance: death. He kept saying, “I just can’t live like this.” I would reply, “You definitely can’t. Which is why you have to get healthy. Death is not the only option here.”

I am good at running because I can focus with such intensity that I feel like I am actively willing the future. I get this from my dad.
This can be great if your mind is fixated on running 1.57.
This can be a death sentence if your mind is fixated on dying.

I felt helpless, but decided the best thing I could do was to get him to focus on healing instead of dying.
Game plan:
1.     Get dad to quit saying “I want to die.”
2.     Make him laugh
3.     Help him believe he will get better.
This is when I came up with the idea (mostly for my own peace of mind) of making him say, “I will get healthy” every hour.
The conversation went a little something like this:
Hey, Dad, I think you should say “I will get healthy” every hour. It sounds stupid, I know. Look, I’ll do it with you. I’ll say, “I will run 1.57.”

Hey, Phe, that’s stupid. Do you not see how much pain I’m in? Your voice is making my stomach hurt. If I say it, will you shut up?


Victory was mine!

The first few times my dad was not the least bit enthusiastic.
(eye roll) yes, I’ll get healthy. ..if  I don’t die first.
I immediately made him correct it to “yes I’ll get better”
His tone was still crappy.
I said, “I will run 1.57” confidently.

I literally called him or visited him every hour and made him say it on the top of the hour. Every hour. “I will get healthy” 
“Good! and I will run 1.57” I said.

He was snarky McSnark pants for the first 2 days.
Every time I saw him I was sure to point out why he looks better. I think deep down, he really appreciated it.
“Dad! You totally don’t look like a zombie after that blood transfusion!”
“Dad! Your mood is way better!”
“Dad! Your test came back not-worse! That’s so good! You’ve halted it!”

The morning of day 3 in the hospital something amazing happened. He called me just to talk and be normal. At the end of the conversation:
 “I will get healthy”
 “Yep. And I will run 1.57”

He finally got to the point to where my voice didn’t make his stomach hurt, and he became aware of other lesser problems! Which is totally a step in the right direction!

 “Phe. My body is withering away. I was doing that stair stepper all the time, and my butt was so firm, you could bounce a quarter off it. I’ve been looking at my butt in the mirror for the past hour and it’s not there! I have an oldman no butt”

“Phe, I think I look good thin. I’m going to keep the weight off but get all lean and muscley.”

“Phe, I think I’m addicted to milk. I think about it all the time. I crave it. I want it. I would drink 2 gallons a day if I could. I think this is what heroin addicts feel like. And I have to give up milk because I think it could be the cause of this disease.”

On day 5 of the “I will get healthy” experiment, he saw significant improvement! He is talking about the game plan as to how he will stay healthy. His main concern is mostly about how talking about digestion issues is really killing his game with the hot nurses.

Day 6, I fly back to Seattle. He has had a minor set back. I think it’s because he snuck and ate that package of Oreos. Like myself, he cannot be left unsupervised around food.

So today, he is doing OK. Not 100%  but definitely toward improvement. I continue to call him daily.

If you want to join in the fake-it-til-you-make-it experiment, feel free to feel stupid and state your goals out loud with my dad and me at the top of the hour. I’ll totally believe in you--even if you temporarily don’t believe in yourself, because it works.  

I will run 1.57. 

Side note Thank You:

Hospitals create Picky eaters! And Picky bars came to the rescue with some nom noms! Thank you for that Picky care package. Life savors, literally.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Is That Code for "Unemployed"?

Professional runners,

I know that being a profesh runner is hard, and I respect you for working your butt off and having loads of self-discipline and whatnot. Unfortunately, the employers of the big girl jobs do not. They think that “professional runner” is code for “unemployed.”

Employer: Oh. So you run? Like for a living? What do you train for? The Olympics? And you can do that?
Me: Yes. Yes. Races. Yes. Yes.
Employer: Huh. (This is when the employer envisions a life of a professional runner that lives at home in their parents basement who gets up and runs for fun every morning. Maybe a local Turkey Trot winner with some far fetched dream of the Olympics.)

Here’s how I put a spin on the 4 years I have been “unemployed”:

I am Phoebe Wright. I am a small business owner in sports marketing. My biggest client is Nike. I also work for Garden of Life and USATF.  Our target demographic is the running community.

The mission of my company is to connect with running communities to inspire healthy habits via exercise and diet. I want to inform and inspire people to train hard and reap health benefits. The more people get invested in themselves, the more they will invest in products that help themselves. Plus running gear is pretty cool. And I like shoes.

My main revenue comes from advertising space at national and international track events. This space is a 2 inch x 1 inch square located on the left shoulder of my skimpy racing singlet.

 My employees and myself determine the specific events at which we advertise. We take into account the cost, risk and reward of each said event.  

          For example:
          USATF Indoor Championships
          Travel expenses: $1,500
          Prize money:
             1st- $5,000
             2nd- $3500
             3rd- $1250
        Pessimistic Projected finish: 3-5 with a chance of DQ
        Conclusion: Go for the experience.  

My employees:
Consultant (Coach Danny Mackey)
Physical Therapist (Real Rehab)
Massage Therapist (In Health)
Secretary/Financial Consultant (Agent Ray Flynn)

I also work with other sports marketers (my training partners) in a mutually beneficial relationship. We exchange ideas. We share travel expenses. We pull our resources together to advertise to a wider number of people. Plus, I wouldn’t talk to many people on a daily basis without them.

I get the business game. I know how to budget. I know how to assemble a team with a common goal. I know how to assess risk and reward. I know how to invest and predict how the investments will pay off. For example: weekly massages always pay off.

I get the marketing game.
The days of disgenuine-appeal-to-the-masses advertising is becoming obsolete. People are attracted to personality. Personality is polarizing. Some people will love you, some will hate you, but either way you are getting noticed.

I get the health industry.
Having a business centered around fitness and health, I have amassed a large knowledge base in exercise physiology, human psychology (coaching), biomechanics, nutrition, and massage. My advertising space is determined by my performance. Therefore I know what factors affect performance.

I get the international game.
I know how to travel. I can improvise when travel plans go awry. And they ALWAYS go awry.  I know how to interact with people from different cultures, meaning, if Charades were a sport, I’d be World Champ. I am literally a pro in finding the cheapest route from one place to the next.

I have to take sole responsibility for the company. At the end of every year, I run statistical analysis on the progress on my company and make any necessary changes to make sure I am getting the maximal amount of results. (I look back at race results and decide what worked and what didn’t).

Like most small businesses, job security is rare. Even if I do my absolute best, I still may lose my clientele. 

So employer of big-girl jobs, I have been very employed (168 hour weeks) over the past 4 years.