There are the obvious health benefits of running, increased stamina, muscle gain, weight managment and then there is a list full of less touted additional benefits, better sleep, better sex life, stronger joints, greater daily euphoria and, if you run with Rob Reed, a feeling of at least solving some of the worlds problems.
Rob joined Team Lucca in 2009. At the time he was between deployments to Northern Iraq.
Rob Reed is the guy who walks into a room and charges the atmosphere. He is full of life, contagious in his positive energy and unique in the sense that he makes those around him bigger, better, come to life. He is so fun to be around.
I had a chance to sit down with Rob over breakfast recently to talk about running and life.
After a childhood of frequent military relocations reaching as far as England, Rob's family eventually settled in Northern California. Like many guys, football became a big part of his high school experience, beginning in his sophomore year. Rob refers to running at this time in his life as horrible, comparing his running to Phoebe of the TV show Friends.
Through the encouragement of his coach he continued running, and the beginning of a theme that would continue to grow and become highly relevant took hold. Rob embraced it fully in all aspects: the philosophical, practical, physical and mental advantages of being part of a team.
The team experience continued at seventeen when Rob joined the military in pursuit of becoming part of the Air Force Pararescue, an elite specialty comparable to the Navy Seals or Army's Special Forces.
Running now began in earnest with training building to 12 mile long runs while running in full gear - helmet, rucksack, gas mask, vest and boots.
When I asked Rob if there were any memorable moments regarding running during his training course or his tour of duty, he said not so much moments as just an over all feeling.
The runs were always exhausting and pushed one through the barriers of what would normally be reliable during long runs. Water supplies ran out, daylight subsided the stressfulness of the situation would amplify and the lack of runner-required nutrients would throw one into a state where focus was sharpened on the smallest detail. The idea of the team as one single unit would become critical to the outcome of the day. Surviving together came down to a huge reliance on taking turns to boost the morale, to carry the burden, to lead the team. Humor was part of it all and things that would just be silly now became vastly funnier then. All in an attempt to throw off the intensity of the endeavor at hand.
Rob on occasion stayed in contact with the team while in Iraq during his runs with the Nike + running app and the Team ran the Shamrockin Half Marathon here in Sacramento in honor of Rob in 2010.
What Rob enjoys most about Team Lucca is the community of running. He has an appreciation for how running with the team keeps him in check. How great it is to represent something. How much he enjoys the leadership part of it.
So naturally Rob's favorite race of the year was the "Tough Mudder" held this last September near Incline Village in Squaw Valley. This race is based on the training program of the British Special Forces and has plenty of incredibly challenging obstacles like swimming under ice, dodging electrical currents through a shock field an scaling crazy high walls. Every obstacle reliant on teamwork for the most successful outcome.
I went to Tahoe to watch our team finish. While waiting I spoke to a group of Marines and asked them how they thought it all went. In their collective opinion the course was realistically quite tough. They said they finished in four hours. Our guys finished in four hours and twenty minutes and of course it was Rob , pushing, encouraging, waiting, prodding and providing the humor along the way.
Running solo is highly conducive to meditation. Once your stride becomes comfortable and the breathing falls in line a natural contemplative and/or philosophical process begins.
The same thing happens when running with a friend. Nothing like forgetting about the effort while working out the worlds problems small and large.
During the times I have run with Rob the act of running becomes so less relevant, as our conversations verge on the ethics of raising cattle to the meaning of this country's time spent in Iraq and Afganistan. During a recent conversation I liked the way Rob put how we surmise our opinions when he said, "so much of what we know about controversial issues is based on assumptions and our own owning of limited facts. The truth is often so much more complex than most single minds can process and understand at one time. Perhaps it is best that we educate and are educated in small bursts toward a truthful understanding"
In understanding our recent military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rob suggested a book he still loves, all controversy aside "Three cups of Tea" and the documentary film Restrepo by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, which chronicles the deployment of a U.S. Platoon in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. Rob also suggested watching the Discovery Channel documentary "Surviving the Cut" to learn more about training for the military's Special Forces.
It is so much fun and such an honor to have you as part of the team Rob Reed.
TEAM LUCCA: Next Race is a fun one!
Super Bowl Sunday
Feb 5th, 9:00 Am