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"Dark Optimism"

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Written by Pat Curran

Posted on 17 January 2018

Last Updated 17 January 2018




I can’t stand to fly. I’m not that naïve.

I’m just out to find, the better part of me


I’m more than a bird. I’m more than a plane

I’m more than some pretty face beside a train


It’s not easy to be me…



Five for Fighting, singing “It’s Not Easy”

To watch music video, click here


To start, I want to warn readers that something is changing within me. I have entered a state “dark optimism.” What you will experience is a very honest account of my weaknesses, disappointments, and even a down right negative attitude toward my training. However, you will also see a transformation where boundaries within the mind are broken and a stronger, more powerful person emerges.


The “dark” typically comes from growing fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the path I’m on to race day. Right now, I am imagining 3 different profiles of myself: The person I am, the person I thought I would be at this point, and the person I need to be to reach my goal. I wish I could get away with ignoring the gaps and tell everyone how great things are going. I just can’t. Instead, resentment builds where I begin to blame the training, past injuries, and any other excuse I can cling on to. If I am not careful, this resentment can start to blend into other parts of my life, impacting how I interact with family, friends, and co-workers.


So, where’s the optimism? Well, it lies in the fundamental belief that the answers I need are deep down inside of me. All that it takes is the courage to continue searching, no matter how hard it gets. The challenging goal applies the pressure to take the journey. Then, at certain points, the journey requires leaps of faith from within to get to the next stage. All of this “training” brings out undiscovered gifts that are applied to other aspects of my life.


Dark optimism is meant to be a temporary state of being when times are incredibly tough. It’s that spark from within that helps us rise to the occasion, meet the challenge, and endure. While everything seems to spin out of control all around you, there is something at the core of your being that keeps you anchored, confident, and optimistic. At your worst moments, you say to yourself through the pain and tears, “This is awful… Now, what must I do next to get through the moment?” Sometimes it’s nothing.   But, by committing yourself to preparing for the next move, you are ready to seize any unexpected opportunities as they arise.


This is just the surface of what “dark optimism” is all about for me. I’ll write more over the next few weeks. For now, keep the faith and search for those special things inside of you that will help you press on.


Until next week...


God Bless,





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Letters From Your Father –

Belief # 8: Pursue Your Happiness


Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something, not even me. You got a dream?   You got to protect it! People who can’t do something for themselves want to tell you, you can’t do it.


If want something… Go get it. Period!



Will Smith playing Chris Gardner in the movie, “Pursuit of Happyness”

To view video, click here

To hear Will Smith describe “What it is to be a man,” click here


Dear Girls:


It’s March of 2006. Since departing the military in the summer of 2002, I’ve been hit with constant changes at work. At Pfizer, I started in midnight shift in Brooklyn manufacturing, next went into Human Resources as a Technical Trainer, then finally moved into 2 different roles at the Parsippany Logistics Center as a Distribution Team Leader. News of the plant closure has been around for months. Personally, I am tired from all of the changes, but convince myself that I have the responsibility to find a way to make it all work. As a matter of financial survival for us as a family, I need to reinvent myself and apply to roles outside of my comfort zone.


A few weeks later, I receive a call for an interview at the Pfizer Headquarters in Manhattan. I become both excited and nervous at the same time. It is the first call back I receive but I cannot imagine myself being in a white-collar, office job in the heart of New York City. It’s just not something anyone in my family has ever done. Nevertheless, I need to go for it. Being a West Point grad certainly gives me the credibility and confidence to compete. The concerns I have come from a lack of familiarity with “city life.”


To get into the city, I decide to take the Metro North train out of Westchester to Grand Central Station. I’m unfamiliar with Manhattan and want to arrive at Pfizer Headquarters with plenty of time to spare. After parking my car, I make my way inside the terminal to look at the schedule and purchase my 2-way ticket for the day. My nervousness seems to come through a bit. Standing there in my suit and carrying my planner, I look around to measure how much I “fit in” as compared to other commuters.


Next, I leave for the train platform, but for some reason, I decide to take the elevator rather than the stairs. Now inside the elevator, I hit the button to go up and experience a strange feeling of anxiety. “Holy sh*t… I was here!” Looking down through the floor, I once again exclaim, “I was here!”

In high school, I decided to try to earn some money as a laborer during the summer when caddying was slow and football practice had not yet started. That was when I was last here, working in this elevator shaft. I blocked this day from my memories for good reason. But now, I am back there.


After spending the morning shoveling, Clarence, the site foreman, gives me the job of cleaning out one of the elevator shafts. “Seems harmless,” I think to myself. But after walking to the elevator shaft, I quickly realize why I am getting the job. I look over the edge into the pit and see the dark water. There is a very strong smell of feces and urine rising from the floor. Clarence hands me a rope and bucket and tells me to get to work. As a kid, I feel I have no other choice than to do it.


While working, I could hear all of the other laborers laughing at me while in the elevator shaft. It takes me about two hours to remove the water. Now, comes the worse part. I can see the sludge on the floor that I have to remove. No shovel. No gloves. No one offering to help. No hope of anyone stepping in to say, “Hey, the joke has gone far enough!” Nope, none of that at all. All I can hear is laughter.


At this point, I am picking up a mixture of dirt, glass, and feces with my bare hands. It’s awful because there’s lots of it (At least 3 buckets full if I remember correctly). I am extremely angry because I have enough “street sense” to know why they are doing this to me. But, then I hear my Mom’s voice calmly telling me, “Patrick, let it go. We don’t pray for revenge. We pray for justice.” I do exactly what she taught me and finish the task emotionless.


Now, nearly 18 years later and standing in this same elevator shaft, I experience a great sense of pride. It’s important for you to know that I didn’t get the job that day. That happened for me later because I did not stop searching. But, what I did receive was a message: Remember… Don’t pursue your anger. Don’t pursue your hate. That’s how you get stuck. Pursue your happiness and give the rest to God. Just keep moving forward!


I really needed to experience that message in 2006. And now, I’m passing it on to you!


Hope you keep reading…


Love You Forever,





This Week in Training:


On Tuesday last week, I injured my left calf. It happened after a 90 min bike and about 35 minutes into an hour long run. The “pop” happened suddenly and unexpectedly while on the treadmill.


The good news is that I’ve been here before, and I have learned from past mistakes. Typically, I become anxious and jump back within 1-2 days, trying to go full speed as soon as possible. If I felt pain, I would simply tell myself, “suck it up.” That may have worked 20 years ago, but over the past few years it’s caused more damage than good. What I decided to do this year was to take this as an opportunity to rest for 4 days and start ramping up again yesterday with an easy swim, bike, run routine to evaluate where I am.


Below is this week’s workout plan. These are targets for where I am supposed to be at this point in the training plan. I’m going to wake up approximately 30 minutes earlier for a long stretch and then complete as much as I can without re-injury. Also, instead of going all out each workout, I am going to save a little bit for the next day.


Monday: Swim 10 x 100m; Run 45min; Long Stretch

Tuesday: Bike 60 min, Run 30 min, 10 Chin-ups/100 Push-ups

Wednesday: Swim 2500m; Bike 1.25 hrs

Thursday: Pilates Stretch, Core Strength Training

Friday: Bear Mountain Intervals (Timed) - Bike 2 hrs.

Saturday: Run 60 min (Hilly Terrain)

Sunday: Stretch (Triathlon Training w/Girls)


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