Monday, June 9, 2008


"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." — Joan Didion

I'm a virtual writer. I've been a virtual writer for years. It started when I started cycling. I'd get bored on long rides, even with all the beautiful scenery, and I'd write stories in my head while I was pedaling along. Some of my stories were sure-fire best-sellers. Others were nonsense. Some were hilarious and some were real heartbreakers. But none ever made it to paper (or computer). They are forever wandering in my mind. Occasionally, they resurface while I'm biking or running and we have a rewrite session.

I've tried once or twice to pen my virtual stories, but they live deep in my mind and only surface when my heart rate is in zone 3 and my lungs are in that deep rhythmic breathing state, and the wind is rushing past my ears and all I hear is white noise. As someone once said, "If I'm trying to sleep, the ideas won't stop. If I'm trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness." For me, the stories come only when my heart is pumping at over 160 and my legs are going 90-plus rpm. Not when I sit down in front of my computer.

Since I started blogging, that's how it is as well. Every day I train, whether I'm swimming, riding or running, I'm constantly composing what I'm going to write in my blog that night. Some days it's a play-by-play of my ride, race or run. Other days it may be something I've learned while training. Oh how the sentences sing, and the adjectives flow. The insight is deep and sometimes very poignant and I can't wait to get to my computer.

Some days I'll spend the entire training session on a single subject. Virtual writing and rewriting my blog until it is perfect. Then, once I turn on my computer ... blankness! A barren nothingness. Sure, a few times I've managed to scrape up something from my training sessions, but it never comes close to my virtual prose.

But maybe it doesn't have to. Maybe that's the point. The fact that we take the time to write on our blogs, to attempt to put down what we are feeling, thinking or doing. Our fears, hopes and challenges. That's what is important. Maybe it's our therapy, our stress relief. My virtual blogging serves as a distraction from pain when I run, from boredom and discomfort on the bike and some days it keeps me from giving up. It gives me a reason to go that extra mile per hour or run that extra mile, just so I can write about it.

Even while participating at Honu I was composing my blog. During the swim I was mentally writing about how the morning sun glinted off the water, "like moonlight off broken glass." How I was blindly following the feet in front of me, hoping they were leading me in the shortest route to the swim finish. How elbows and feet were flying everywhere. Water churning. The pushing, shoving, jostling for position that was laughable and at the same time frightening. A full-contact sport. But none of that made it to my blog. Out of frustration in failing to "recompose" my virtual story, I decided to just forgo much description.

Triathlon is leading me on a road to self-discovery. It is teaching me what I can handle physically and mentally. What I can expect at my age, what I can exceed in spite of my age. Blogging provides an outlet for me to explain to myself and to those who read it what I'm going through. What I dream of and what I succeed and even fail at. It's a place to vent frustration. Even to brag occasionally.

Most of my entries are public. A few I write only for me. Sometimes I'll publish something very personal. Sometimes I water it down just enough. But most of the personal ones I just delete when I'm finished writing them. I write thousands of words almost daily about what I am going through. What I am feeling while I'm training. But most of the time it gets deleted either because I can't compose it like I did while I was running or biking. Or because it is too personal. Like the post I wrote on why I listen to sad, heartbreaking music when I run, but fast upbeat music when I bike. It was a very long post, but I deleted it as soon as I was finished with it. That was a day of discovery for me. What was left over from that post was the one titled "The Wall." One of my favorite days of training and one of my favorite posts.

So, when you are reading someone's blog, I encourage you to take the time to leave a comment. Some of the writers pour their hearts and souls into the brief words on your computer screen and it's nice to know what others think, or at least that it is read. I also encourage you to start a blog if you haven't yet. It's a great way to express what you are going through. I've never kept a diary, but I imagine keeping a diary and keeping a blog are pretty similar. Blogs are a bit more public so you may want to keep the personal stuff in your diary. Blogging also is a great way to keep track of your training. It's also not a bad way to fuel your imagination.

So if you want to hear stories about treachery, or facing monsters, or love gone wrong, catch me when I'm in zone 3 on my bike along Queen K or running up Hualalai sometime. If I'm not composing my next blog I'll tell you a virtual tale.


Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) said...

Very good. I am also thinking a lot each day about what I am going to write, although I decided to skip writing yesterday. In a sense actually doing the training is more important than the write up, and I don't always have something of significant note to write about. Maybe I will write more comments on other people's blogs, as I can see a lot of people appreciate them, although it can have its pitfalls as we may feel inclined to comment on someone's swim attire, which might not be the way we would act in a non-virtual world. However, we all make mistakes, so nothing bad intended.
I think of things a lot most of the day as my work involves a lot of thinking, and my train of thought often drifts from the immediate task at hand. In addition, I write as my fingers move, and the faster I move my fingers, the faster the words pour out. It is a skill or an art that I have acquired over the years. Even in Chinese it is not that hard to do, only a lot slower by comparison. I enjoy reading your blog, and I certainly don't feel I might be looking in a no-no land there.

Backofpack said...

Hey Randy! I just stumbled across your comment on one of my posts from a couple weeks ago - thanks for stopping by. It's funny how we compose posts while running and forget all about them by the time we hit the computer. I must admit though, sometimes my mind is a blank while I'm running - it's all about sensory input and nothing about thinking.

Hope you do make it back to the NW for some runs - it's a gorgeous place to live!

BreeWee said...

Randy your posts are always full of thought... I so enjoy them, especially the funny ones about crazy women asking for photos and stealing your HONU hat!

Cricket said...

Hi Randy- found your post through a comment on Bree's friend (Leanne) I loved your thoughts to her so thought I'd ne nosey. Love how you write books while biking and running- My husband Paul does the same thing! You sound a lot like him, I'll be sure to tell him to read yours.
Thanks for The good reading.
Cricket (I'm Bree's aunt in Florida)

doodlebug said...

Randy, you were always such a creative kid, I am not surprised that you are constantly thinking and writing stories all the time. You have a wonderful way of seeing the world. You capture and relay your version so that everyone who shares your thoughts sees it as you do. Thats incredible. Thank you for letting us all visit your very lucid moments. It is really fun. Love ya deb, :)


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