Monday, January 17, 2011

Starting to Get the Hang of This

I spent the better part of Friday at one of my favorite hangouts – The Bicycle Club – here in L.A. Now – don’t go get all excited. I’m not going the triathlete route. In fact, despite the picture that the name may paint, The Bicycle Club (or “The Bike” as it is referred to by the regulars) is the second largest poker casino in Southern California. A few hours at a poker table last Friday helped me realize a couple of things:

First: Patience is a virtue.

Second:  I’m getting older. This is an inescapable fact of life. Things just don’t work like they used to. Everything takes a little longer to recover.

So – you may be asking at this point (if you’re still reading) – “Glenn. How does poker make you think about running?” Well, let me explain….

In real life, poker is not like what you see on TV. The TV sessions are edited for brevity and excitement. In fact, poker and laundry are very similar. You spend your time folding. And folding. And folding. Then, just like finding the occasional dollar bill in a pocket, every now and then you look at your cards and find a hand worth gambling on. Friday was a day that was like that to an extreme. I literally spent eight hours at a table and only played three hands.

But oh boy. When I got those hands and got my money in the middle of the table, the profits that were received made the wait worth while. In the meantime, all those people who weren’t so patient were dipping into their wallets. Some of them had won small pots and got to taste the glory of the short term win. But now, those hours of work on their part was being pushed in my direction.

The bad poker player sees a pair of Kings or a pair of Aces and jumps at the pot. He becomes results oriented. He puts the blinders on and ignores the other tell tale signs that someone is about to remove a day’s salary from his wallet. Likewise, many of us jump at every race we can. We see that BQ or PR and get all results oriented. We focus on the short term end result. In the meantime, all those folks who are more patient – who are training for a real reason – continue to pass us. We get those short term PRs, but we still end up behind in the long run (raising hand). We watch those who started at the same time that we did continue improving and progressing. In the meantime, we spent thousands of dollars in race fees, never hit that elusive BQ, and eventually sit around, injured and burned out on the sidelines.

Which brings me to part two of this post. While sitting around trying to stay awake and alert on Friday, I couldn’t help but notice the grey hair, walkers, and oxygen tanks that were spread around the poker room during the day. Many of these folks are older than my parents. And I just turned 54. But the one thing is that most of these folks are sharp as tacks. Heaven help that you get into a tricky situation on a poker table with some of them. They may not have the physical ability they once did. They can’t stare us young’uns down and physically intimidate us – but they can use their brains and experience to trump us nonetheless.

I think you can see where this is going. As we age, we just normally can’t do the things we used to. I’ve spent the last year getting all pouty because my paces and PRs are going the wrong direction. But, just like the blue hairs in the casino, maybe it is time for me to adapt. To understand that success can be measured in many different ways. It doesn't have to be PRs. Or BQs. Maybe it’s just the satisfaction of hours on my feet. Of more miles at slower paces. Of being outside and enjoying the sights and sounds of the world around me. Yes. After three years I think I’m starting to get the hang of this….

On tap this week:

  • Monday: 3 easy miles
  • Tuesday: 4 easy miles
  • Wednesday: 1 mile warm up, 4 hill repeats, 1 mile warm down for 4 miles
  • Thursday: 3 easy miles
  • Friday: Scheduled rest.
  • Saturday: 6 easy miles
  • Sunday: 35 minute tempo run
  • Total: Somewhere around 23-24 miles.


  1. Hah! Interesting analogy. I'm definitely one of those people who sees everything going well for me and is tempted to throw everything into increasing my "results." I'm trying to be more cautious this time. =)

  2. Poor Glenn, you have the disadvantage of being male, so it took until you had some adversity (age) to learn this.

    As a female, I had to learn young how to compete against men. On my bike riding as a late teen with adult men, I just had to go as strong as I could, not give up. Playing raquetball in college I had to learn how to aim the ball right into the corner, play smart, because I didn't have the physical strength of my male opponents.

    Women in the work world (at least women our age, but probably still women your daughter's age) also have to work harder and work smarter, because it's still a man's world.

    Good luck and remember to have fun!!

  3. I just left a very lengthy comment on a blog which stated pretty much what you summed up: that we need to reflect on what we are capable of and adjust our attitudes accordingly. Stop living in the past and throw yourself out into the now. It's hard, we know what we were once capable of, but there's nothing wrong with a new direction! Glad things are looking up, Glenn! :)

  4. Love the comparison. So true. BUT, I still think you should cross train on the bike.

  5. Nice week of running. And yes, I totally was thinking...hanging out in a bicycle club?! Last year, I realized I had to make my own goals...not necessarily the ones often spoken about (PRs, BQ-ing, etc.) and that has helped me a lot. Life is too short not to. Glad you're getting the hang of it!

  6. What good is a BQ if you're injured when Boston rolls around? Or, dare I say it, something more appealing than running with 40 billion people crammed onto tiny streets comes along? I like where your thinking is headed Glenn - enjoy the run!!!

  7. Amen Glenn! Amen!

    Now about those winnings.... are you sharing?

  8. Looks like a good week to me!

  9. I like this message!
    I do think patience is the key. We can do more than we did and more than we're doing but it takes time and we definitely need to enjoy the whole process.
    It looks like you're on your way!

  10. "Poker is like laundry.. folding and folding and folding.." heehee. I like that! I totally think you are right on with this analogy. I think when you focus on what you are able to do and enjoy yourself things go so much smoother anyway. Rock on man!!

    Nice miles this week!! :)

  11. "Maybe it’s just the satisfaction of hours on my feet. Of more miles at slower paces. Of being outside and enjoying the sights and sounds of the world around me. Yes. After three years I think I’m starting to get the hang of this..."

    Loved this quote, Glenn! I think that is a fantastic attitude and approach, and I can totally agree. Keep it up!