Ultraman World Champs: The Rich Roll, GOLD MEDAL MINUTE, interview
Rich Roll could not be properly covered in a mere 6 minutes. He's a renaissance man. Aside from being a super-endurance athlete and a high-powered Hollywood attorney, he's a writer, film maker and producer. Rich rubs shoulders with the entertainment industry elite.
I met Rich via Facebook (as I have with so many interesting new friends). While we moved in the same circles and competed at the same time in the late 1980s, we somehow missed each other. It was clearly my loss. Rich is the kind of guy you want to know; supremely compassionate while pursuing his own, often lonely, personal goals...
Our interview went long, and I made a lot of mistakes, but Rich was patient and encouraging. (He has been since I started social-networking with swimmers and Olympic-fans). There was a section of the interview I could not cut-down into a bite-sized clip for the web. Rich talked eloquently about his Ultraman journey, an almost tribal feeling that enveloped him as he progressed through the 320 mile competition. While Rich, a 42 year old man, was the 3rd fastest American, he didn't go into any detail about his place. It wasn't about that. It was, I gathered, as close to a spiritual journey as anyone could ever experience. He said, "When you're in it, the competition, you want everyone to finish..."
I've known endurance-athletes my whole life, and they all seem to have the same provocative similarities. They live life on the absolute edge, in their work, their personal lives, and when they party.
I always hung with the distance swimmers when I swam. After a 60 mile week of grinding it out, they uncorked and released the pressure valve. Many have gone on to become highly regarded in their respected fields of work or fabulously wealthy. Some have almost made it, or they've flame-out. A few have crumbled into extreme addictions and even gone to jail. Rarely has there been a middle-ground.
You might think I'm reaching on this subject, making a gross generality, or maybe you've seen this for yourself--but I know how these athletes are wired. They must be the absolute best they can be, or they feel they've failed miserably. I've dealt a little with this problem (in marriage, as a father, as an athlete, and in work). I trained with distance athletes, and won Olympic gold, and owe my success to their persistent presence, pushing me year after year in the water...but, in many ways, I knew I wasn't as disciplined as them. I knew they had a psychological make-up that I'd never fully understand.
If you want success, I do NOT THINK YOU WILL GET IT FROM A LIFE COACH; the Tony Robbins of the world, hawking feel-good buzz-lines for life. Watch endurance-athletes. Study their discipline. Investigate their psychology. I don't think everyone should do exactly what endurance athletes do. I don't think life should be so dire, but I do know you will learn a lot. And I'm sure you will always be inspired.
If you read Rich Roll's blog, you'll get a low-key, humble inside perspective of what it takes to do the unbelievable. I'm a reader, and I have a sneaking suspicion, Rich has battled a few demons. He relays the information in a way, though, that lets you know he's bigger than anything life throws at him. For me, personally, endurance-athletes are heroes. (I know I'm not alone in my thinking. At swimming meets--World Champs, the Olympics--watch the Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochtes or Jason Lezaks of the world. They stand up and watch every minute of the mile. They know and respect the most disciplined of us all.)