Thank you, Marine Corps, and the “Consequences of Same-Sex Marriage”

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First, thank you to the Marine Corps for being the gift that keeps on giving. Sure, back in the day, the Corps gave me discipline and confidence and the chance to be a bad-ass and look good doing it. But the Marine Corps also gave me the greatest friends a man could ever have. And that gift keeps on giving.

Exhibit A:

Today on Facebook, my friend, Eric, posted this photo and included this commentary:

It’s funny, but I already know the three consequences. Two dudes fall in love, less dudes competing for the available chicks out there. Two chicks fall in love, more dream hook-up fodder for every dude out there. Gay couple moves in next door to me, my wife and I have trusted neighbors who understand the importance of love and we either have two dudes who can decorate the shit out of my house or two chicks who can hunt. Hey… this is Oregon. Thanks for the letter- fuckers

See how cool my friends are? And I have the Marine Corps to thank for bringing them into my lives. Semper Fi, indeed.


Another Look at the Tough Mudder

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Here’s a quick recap of the Tough Mudder, courtesy of the amazing Ryan Southwell Films. My former Ragnar Relay buddies (Ryan and Mark) are featured, along with the uber-cool Kelly Southwell. Enjoy!

Tough Mudder – Snow Valley 2011 from Ryan Southwell on Vimeo.

Safari Park Half Marathon Report

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Alright, folks, here is your race report. Be ready for some long reading, because this post has it all.

First, a little background. I’ve never run a half marathon before. I’ve run 5Ks and 10Ks, and I’ve even run an eight-mile obstacle race. But a half marathon? Nope. And 13.1 miles can seem pretty intimidating. But I knew it was the next step in my development as a runner, so it was only a matter of time. That time was today.

The event was the Safari Park Half Marathon at the Wild Animal Park in San Diego. The course went out the front of the park, around a few miles, back through the park, around another few miles, then finished inside the park. When I signed up, the course indicated only one big hill. But thanks to mudslides and a washed out road, the modified route included two big hills and a lot more inclines.

It was the first time for this event, so I expected a logistical nightmare. It started at 7am, so me being the over-achiever, I left my house at 4:30am. Traffic was light and the signage was screwed up at the park, so I ended up driving the wrong route in. They sent me around a weird way to get to parking, which ended up much better for me.

Here’s the start line… and that is my green jeep immediately to the right.

The best part about parking there? No need for gear check and I got to sit in my heated car and wait for the race to start.

Here I am taking a quick pic of me with the start line.

While I had time to kill, I decided to wander up to the check-in area and see what was going on. Anyone else surprised at the difference in the lines for the men’s and women’s rooms?

Heading back to my car, I noticed this sign. Perhaps next year a “Race For Literacy” is in order.

My best friend and long-suffering running buddy, Jerry, was on hand to make sure I got through the run.

And thank you my friends, Andrea, Gwen and Christine, who were also there to cheer us on. It was great to have a little personal cheering section ready to go!

Now, the race report. Just a couple of borrowed photos from others here, because I was focused on running. Jerry had his Garmin Forerunner watch, so it was up to him to watch our pace.

We started on a bit of a downhill, so we felt strong and fast right from the beginning. The weather was cool but not cold, no wind, and just enough cloud cover to keep it pleasant.

The first couple of miles felt great, even with the inclines. But the hill up to the 4th mile was wicked. (I thought it was just me, but experienced runners are now describing the entire run as “hilltastic.”)

After mile 4, we made our way into the park. It wasn’t a long stretch, but it was nice to see some of the animals and hear the roar of the way supportive crowd. After mile 5, it was back out of the park and onto the highway again. A quick turn-around and we were back through the park, retracing our path through the crowds and by the animals. Mile 8 was back on the highway and running back over the earlier miles. (Yep, there was a lot of doublebacks.) We didn’t hit the inside of the park again until after mile 12, and the last bit of the run was smack in the heart of the park.

There were so many highlights. First, of course, were the fantastic voice mails everyone left for me. They kept popping up in my iPod shuffle, and each time, they made me smile and laugh and feel totally recharged. I asked for help and my Spark Buddies showered it on me. There are no words to explain how motivating you all were for me while I ran.

Several of you gave me the same advice: “Don’t get so focused on the ground below you that you miss the wonder of the race itself. See what is all around you and remember every moment.”

So I did. I saw the mist across the hills of Escondido. I saw the smiles on the faces of the amazing volunteers and spectators. I heard the cowbells and the applause and cheers. I laughed at the other runners in costumes and I whooped and celebrated every single mile marker.

And when I came into the park for the last stretch, I looked to my left and saw the rhinos watching me back. It was surreal, running through the Wild Animal Park with these amazing creatures all around us. It was a fantastic location for my first half marathon.

My finish line moment was great, right out of a movie. As I crossed, I lifted both of my arms and shouted, “yes! yes! yes!” But my real emotional moment came back earlier in the race. At mile 11, it hit me. I was going to finish. Until that moment, I had been carrying a fear deep in my mind that I wasn’t going to do it. Something was going to happen. I was going to be too slow and get swept, or hurt myself while running, or worse, just not have the speed and endurance to make it all the way.

I had been holding on to old fears and feelings of inadequacy. Until that very moment, I hadn’t truly believed I could do it. But I crossed the mile marker and instantly, the tears came. I was smiling and crying at the same time, more than a little surprised by the flood of emotion I was experiencing. I tried to explain to Jerry, and I think he understood. He said, “John, I knew from mile 5 that I was going to be just fine, and I knew from the start that you were going to finish.”

Yep, that’s why he’s my best friend. He sees the best in me even when I don’t. And here we are, after the race, all smiles and happiness and finisher’s medals.

Before I left the park, Jerry reminded me that I had one more thing I needed to do. I have earned the title “half marathoner” and I want the world to know. Now, at least, anyone following me on the highway will know.

And now, the results. Even with all the inclines and the two serious hills, we were able to maintain a steady pace and finish with a respectable 2:09:48. My goal was to finish, and we did. But the strong time for me absolutely made this day even greater.

If you think a half marathon is out of your reach, perhaps you are setting your sights too low. Because a year ago, I couldn’t imagine doing what I did today. Heck, a year ago, running a 5K was more than I could do. But I have worked and trained and kept myself focused, and I have gone from the guy on the left to the guy on the right.

And today, I proved that I am capable. I am strong. I am a runner. And I am truly just beginning.

A Simple Request – I need your help.

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It’s free. It’s quick. It’s easy. And it’s a big deal to me.

I am running my first half marathon on Sunday. I’m completely confident I can do this, and I’ll cross that finish line even if I have to crawl. But, 13.1 miles is still a long way to run. And somewhere along the way, I expect my motivation will begin to falter. This is where you come in.

I am asking my friends to call my Google Voice number (619.630.4328) between now and Saturday morning and leave me a brief message cheering me on. On Saturday afternoon, I will download all the messages and add them to my iPod Shuffle so they will play randomly between my running songs during the race. One minute I’ll be rocking out to Pink or Disturbed, the next minute I’ll hear your voice encouraging me to get after it!

Oh, and one more thing. When I am running the event, I will have my music at a low volume so I am still able to hear the traffic and runner sounds around me. Please start your message by telling me who you are and speak slowly and clearly. You can say whatever you want, as long as it isn’t a ten minute message extolling the virtues of sleeping in, walking, or lounging around. *laughing*

Thanks, everyone. You’ll all be with me as I complete this milestone.



Happy 235th Birthday, Marines.


Today is the 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

Today, I honor those who came before me, for they created and built the Marine Corps that I joined.

I honor those I served with, for they were the very life and breath of me while I was on Active Duty.

I honor those who served after me and those who serve even now, for they ensure the very future of our Marine Corps and our nation.

And I honor those “absent companions,” those Marines who live now only in our hearts. May their service and dedication always inspire us to greatness.

Semper Fidelis, my Marine Corps Brothers and Sisters.

The wonderful love of a beautiful maid, the love of a staunch true man,
The love of a baby, unafraid, have existed since time began.
But the greatest of loves, the quintessence of loves,
Even greater than that of a mother,
Is the tender, passionate, infinite love, of one drunken Marine for another.

John and the Rocky Horror Picture Show

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Here I am in Denver, being part of the entertainment before the start of the show.

Gif Created on Make A Gif

Yep. If there’s a good time to be had, count me in!

The Consequences You Sow

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As often happens for me, leading a charmed life and all, words and messages come to me just as I need them. Apparently, today is to be no exception.

I’ve just enjoyed a fantastic few days with my extended Marine Corps family, and this morning I discover this in my email courtesy of the Daily OM:

June 15, 2010
The Consequences You Sow
Action And Effect

Every action you take has a cause and effect. The influence we wield is infinite.

All motive and action affects the cosmos in some way. The principle of cause and effect is the truth that allows us to change ourselves and the world around us for the better. However, this same universal law is also at work when change is not at the forefront of our minds. Our intentions flow forever outward in the form of energy, affecting both the people closest to us and billions of individuals we will likely never meet. For this reason, we should strive always to speak, think, and behave with great thoughtfulness and compassion. The virtues we choose to embody can inspire joy and integrity in the lives of countless people, whether we touch their existence directly or not.

The influence we wield is infinite. In an effort to internalize our conscious understanding of the nature of cause and effect, we can never truly know how our thoughts, emotions, words, or actions will manifest themselves on the larger universal stage because it is likely that the furthest-reaching effects will fall outside the range of our perception. We can only look to the guidance of our conscience, which will help us determine whether each of our choices is contributing to humanity’s illumination or setting the stage for unintended troubles. When we are in doubt, we need only remember that the cultivation of altruism inevitably leads to a harvest of goodwill and grace. Motivated by a sincere desire to spread goodness, we will be naturally drawn to those choices that will help us express our commitment to universal well-being.

Nothing you do, however minor or mundane, is ever exempt from the rules of cause and effect. From the moment of your birth, you have served as an agent of change, setting forces beyond your comprehension into motion across the surface of the earth and beyond. You can exert conscious control over this transformative energy simply by examining your intentions and endeavoring always to promote peace, positive energy, and passion in your ideas and actions. While you may never fully comprehend the extent of your purposefully heartfelt influence, you can rest assured that it will be universally felt.

Clearly, in another time and place, I must have done something amazing. And whatever those actions were, they still echo through my life and return as the wonderful people I still call friends today. And I will strive to remember that my actions have consequences, my choices impact others, and I have the power to influence others. Knowing all of that, I will make every effort to only use my powers for good. Because ultimately, all of that good returns to me many times over.

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