Hardcore

Posted on September 15, 2009

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“Hardcore,” in the circles in which I grew up, was a compliment. It was something to aspire to. In retrospect, I certainly wasn’t. I wanted to be, which was kind of pathetic, but I never achieved it.

As I grew up, and went on active duty as an Army officer, I realized that hardcore was relative. As a tanker, I was hardcore compared to some people. Compared to veterans, and guys who’d had extensive additional training, I was still a pathetic wannabe. I confess that I even chose my circles of friends to make myself look tougher than I was, and that’s even more pathetic. The first Gulf War really threw that into harsh relief for me. I wasn’t the hardcore, John Wayne, GI Joe hero that I set out to be. I got a Bronze Star for sticking my tank in a ditch. I knew a guy who got a Silver Star for getting his platoon surrounded.

After I left the Army, I just wanted to be normal. I wanted the stress out of my life. I wanted the paranoia to go away. I wanted to sleep through the night. I wanted a regular job and romantic relationships. “Hardcore” was something that kids wanted to be. It was an illusion, and of course awesome American punk rock music (see American Hardcore).

Strangely enough, goal-setting really works. The more I lived my civilian life, the clearer my ideas about what I wanted became. I got a job, in gaming, with a company that became my home and family for thirteen years. I met a woman there who I dated for four years. We’ve been married just over eleven. I got what I wanted. I never thought about my running as being “hardcore,” even when people were surprised by how much and how far I can run.

Then last weekend came along. I went to an all-weekend gaming party at some friends’ house. Friday night I didn’t get home until around 11:00 PM. I got up at 5:00 so I could walk my dogs before being at work at 6:30 AM on Saturday. I drove South around 2:30 PM that afternoon because I’d stayed organized and finished a bit early. I wanted to get home so I could eat lunch, let my dogs out, and then get back over to my friends; house for more gaming. I was tired, and I still had a 5K race to run the next day. As I drove, I thought, This is hardcore. When did I become hardcore?

I became hardcore when I became passionate about things that matter to me. I became hardcore when I stopped doing, and started being. The things I’m passionate about aren’t things that I do, they’re part of who I am. So now, two days after my 5K race, I’m going running again. I want to be ready for the 8K race this weekend in NW Trek.

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