November 21, 2018

Endurance Chronicles: At Some Point, It’s All Mental


The Endurance Chronicles are guest posts and interviews from readers and interesting people that have endured hardships and struggles on their road to success. I’ll post them periodically so that we can all be inspired. If you have an endurance chronicle you would like to share, please send it on to jarie at enduranceleader dot com.

This Endurance Chronicle is an interview with Tony “Endorphin Dude” Nguyen. Tony is a Titanium ultra-marathon athlete who completed 52 marathons in 52 weeks. His story of endurance and how he cured his type two diabetes is truly inspiring.

The transcript of the interview is below the video and audio.

Video: The Endurance Chronicles Interview with Tony Nguyen

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Audio: The Endurance Chronicles Interview with Tony “Endorphin Dude” Nguyen

Edited Interview Transcripts

Jarie Bolander: This is the Endurance Chronicles, I’m Jarie Bolander the host. Tonights guest is someone that I have known for a couple of years now, met through Facebook, which is always an interesting story in the human endeavor. I have been really impressed by his shear determination to get done what he wants to get done and there are some things that he has done that I can’t even logistically fathom how he did it but we will talk about that later.

So I would like to welcome Tony “Endorphin Dude” Nguyen to the Endurance Chronicles. Please give Tony a around of applause.

JB: So Tony, how did you get started doing all the marathons, half-marathons and endurance events? What was sort of the inspiration?

Tony Nguyen: Well I. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Endorphin Dude. I’m the guy that runs in a cape at marathons.

It was one of those things that I came home from work one day and thought I was having a heart attack.

Yeah, I was about 70 pounds heavier. I was on a lot of different meds. I was on heart pressure, blood pressure medication, cholesterol and I was on insulin. I was a type two diabetic and one day I came home from work and thought I was having a heart attack and that was kinda a wake up call.

So I took my dog for a walk around the block and it felt great.

And the next day, I took another walk, around another block and before I knew it I was taking these long urban hikes all throughout San Francisco and loving it.

And to make a real long story short, weeks had passed, months had passed and my clothes starting fitting better and one day a buddy of mine says I’m running the San Francisco Marathon and I said to him, not knowing anything about running

“Oh Wow, that’s awesome, what’s that like 10 miles?”

I did not know what a marathon was. I thought a 5k was something like an extension to your tax forms. You know like your 401k.

I knew nothing about running.

So I went out and cheered on my buddy and when he crossed the finish line, I felt what I like to call, all those second hand endorphins. You know that second hand runners high.

Everyone was so excited. So I turned to a random stranger and said

“I’m going to do it!” I’m going to run the marathon next year.

And so I just needed to say that out loud so it would force me to do it.

And then I started training. And then I ran my first marathon in 2010, the San Francisco Marathon.

Let me remind you that was supposed to be my “one and done” bucket list item.

I just wanted to say I ran a marathon but I kinda got bitten by that bug and started running a few more.

That’s my story.

JB: Wow. So one leads to 52. I mean one of the things when we talked the first time I sat down and did an interview with him, I think it was in 2011, if I’m not mistaken, it was right in the middle of, what we will talk about next, which was the Titanium challenge — which is 52 marathons in 52 weeks. Which when you told me you were going to do this, I was like are you going to sleep.

How the heck do you logistically even do that?

So, take us from one and done to 52 in 52. I mean so, how does that happen?

TN: So, that was supposed to be a one and done bucket list item.

I met this women on the shuttle in New Orleans a few months before and she was telling me about this club called Marathons Maniacs and it’s a club for extreme marathoners. These are people who run every weekend and she said to me “Oh yeah, I’m going for the World Record, I’m going to complete 120 marathons in one calendar year.”

And I thought to myself, this women is high on something, give me some of that!

You know, this is ridiculous. I did not believe a word this women was telling me.

And sure enough, I did not even get home yet and when I got to the airport for my layover flight, I jumped on the Internet to check this out and she was legit.

There is a club called Marathon Maniacs and it’s extreme.

To qualify, you have to run three marathons in 90 days.

And I’m just like, I have not even run my first marathon, but I was like,

“OK, I can do this”

My one and done bucket list item became a three and done bucket list item so I can get the jersey.

You know. Do you remember in High School? You had the jocks that wore the varsity jacket with the letter on it. You know.

I was not the jock in high school so I wanted my Marathon Maniacs jersey was kinda like my varsity jacket with the letter you know.

So I was like, OK, three and done.

Well, I got caught up. Well, because in Marathon Maniacs, that’s the first level to get in. Three marathons in 90 days and you just keep going up in levels. One star, two star, three stars and the levels are named by metals: gold, silver, platinum, palladium, all the way to titanium and to achieve titanium status, you have to complete 52 marathons in 52 weeks and I wanted it.

I really wanted it.

You know, I said to myself

“I just ran three marathons in 90 days, who is to say I can’t do 52 in 52.”

You know, because, I was probably biting more off than I could chew.

JB: A lot more

TN: So that’s how it all started.

It was just something I wanted to do just to prove to myself that I could do it.

So, that’s how that started.

JB: So, Okay, so, 3 and done goes to 52 in 52.

So, what’s the logistics of that. I mean, I don’t know how many marathons there are run in a year but I got to believe there is not 52 marathons in the state of California in a year. I don’t know that for a fact but logistically, how do you get that done.

I mean the physical stuff we will talk about in a bit.

Logistically, how do you plan your life? I mean, you have a job right?

TN: Yes, Yes. At the time, I had a job and basically, logistically, the marathons are out there because there are a lot of race directors out there who cater to the world record holder and people trying to achieve mass marathons in a year.

So, there are a lot of very small, local race directors out there who cater to this kind of stuff but I did have to do a lot of traveling.

I mean I probably hit about 7 states during my titanium quest which in hindsight was probably not the smartest thing to do financially but hey, you know, ok, I’ll just admit it.

I’m a bling whore!

I mean if you wave a metal in front of me, I’ll register for the race if you just wave the metal in front of your face so I.

JB: Yeah, shinny objects

TN: That shinny object, so that’s how I base which races I did based on what the metals looked like but I spent a lot of time driving back and forth to Southern California since that’s where most of the races were.

So, logistically, it was very doable.

As ridiculous as this is going to sound, running the marathon was the easy part. It’s only 26.2 miles.

It’s the logistics of getting from point A to point B. Driving 6 hours. Taking a nap in your car at a gas station. Things like that.

Towards the end. Not even towards the end. Towards the middle

I could not afford the motel 6 anymore. I had to sleep in my car and I drive a Mini Cooper so you can just image how.

It was like sleeping like this.

So logistically, it was very doable but it just required a lot of sacrifice.

JB: So, how did Endorphin Dude come about. I mean, tell us that story. Because, like everyone knows you now.

I mean, you go to a race and people will be like

“Endorphin Dude, Endorphin Dude”

So, how did that come about?

TN: Endorphin dude came about because I.

Training is not easy for me.

How many runners do we have in the audience?

Okay, so running for me. I was never a runner. I was never the athletic guy.

I wasn’t. I was the fat kid who always got picked last in PE.

So I had to learn how to run.

When I say learn how to run I’m talking I had to learn how to breath, learn how to stretch, I had to learn what to eat and what not to eat, what shoes to wear. I had to like learn all this stuff and when I trained for my half marathon, that was a pretty big deal. I mean 13.1 miles for me at that time was just “oh my God”. That’s just like “Whoa”.

Once I conquered the half-marathon distance and knew that I needed to get to 26.2 I needed to train and training was not easy for me. Getting up to mile 18, 19, 20 was very difficult. So I have to play mind games. I created a character. It was like a video game to me. Every time I would hit the next mile marker, it would be like an energy pellet, you know, it would give me that energy, that surge to get to the next mile and then the next one.

So I became “Endorphin Dude”. I was the marathon caped crusader out to save the world one couch potato at a time. That’s how all that started.

JB: So, your first incarnation of it did not have a cape or did it. What’s the cape story? That’s the one that’s the interesting one. So go ahead.

TN: I think some of these people where here. Diane, I think you were there at that race when I wore my first incarnation. It was my local running club, Dolphin South End Runners. We have races every weekend ranging from 5k to 1/2 marathons.

My first race with them was the Halloween 4 mile along Ocean Beach and people came in costumes and I thought to myself “I’m going to do the whole endorphin dude thing and tie a beach towel around my neck”.

I had a makeshift bib that had Endorphin Dude on it and I’m running down Ocean Beach, in October, mind you. Running down, feeling good, a nice ocean breeze and then it started to rain. And it started to rain harder.

Have you ever. I mean beach towels and rain water it makes it really heavy.

JB: Yeah, towels absorb water

TN: Yeah, towels absorb water and I’m dragging my butt to the finish line butt that was my first incarnation of the Endorphin Dude Cape. That did not work out well.

JB: Yeah, so then you graduated to other capes.

TN: I did

JB: And you brought one which I would like to show everyone. I think you should tell the story about how you came about with this particular type of cape and what is special about it.

TN: Okay. So the deal-e-o is that I’m only 5 foot 5 and so um I needed a cape to run in and the problem is my lack of height, all of the adult capes were just way too long for me. I did not want to trip over it so I needed a child’s cape.

Image how creepy it is if you are calling a seamstress and saying

“Hi, I’m a grown man and I need a child’s cape so I can run it in. In a marathon.

JB: Just a cape in general people would be like “What?, A cape”. Although people wear them.

TN: So I had to explain my situation was.

My name is Tony, I’m Endorphin Dude. I’m running 52 marathons in 52 weeks. This is my persona.

So basically this company, I believe they are out of Texas. This company. It’s a small company of four women who make capes for birthday parties for kids. They make all sorts of super hero birthday party capes.

So I explain my situation and they made me a cape. It went really well when I wore that cape and I told them I need another one since it was a themed race the next one I had.

I did a race in Ohio. Cincinnati, which was called the flying pigs. So I needed a cape that had a pig theme to it. So, they made me a big pink cape with a pig on it.

So, um, after that, they started to get inquires from people saying

“Hey, I saw this guy running marathon and he told us about you.”

So, they contacted me and said

“Hey, how about we make a bunch of capes for you. We’ll give you 10 free capes. All you have to do is blog about us, name drop us and we’ll give you free capes. We’ll sponsor you”

I was like, “Alright!”

So I’m like I’m a sponsored athlete. Sweet!

JB: That’s pretty cool. So the Titanium Dude Cape.

TN: I had this one especially made after I hit Titanium. This is, it says, if I could find it.

So this is my Titanium cape. It’s very Batman like.

I can’t wear this in a race because it’s an adult cape so I’ll trip over it but all my capes are kids capes. They only kinda go up to my waist.

JB: Sponsored endurance athlete from a cape company. I think that’s the first time in history that’s ever happened.

So when you are running these races, what goes through your head. What are some of the things you use to endure that next mile. I know you talked about the pellet thing. Is there a mantra or saying? Do you listen to music? What are some of the tricks?

I know that in 52 in 52, some of those were back to back. There might have even been one that were three in a row.

TN: Right

JB: How do you get through that? What’s the process?

TN: It really depends on what race it is and I mean it’s one big formula. If you are running a trail race. If you are running something with a real strict cut off time. If you are running something as a double or a triple. Meaning a third day.

What happened to me last year when I did this quest was I was hit by a major injury. I was hit by Sciatica. So I don’t know if anyone has had Sciatica, but my L4 lumbar got dislodged and was pushing against my Sciatic nerve, causing havoc to my left leg.

So my left leg was like constantly shaking and it was very painful. So, I was knocked out of the game for like 10 weeks, which meant I lost 10 marathons and when you are on a tight schedule.

I mean I was on track to hit 52 in 52, one every weekend. So when you loose ten marathons, you have to make them up at the end.

I had to throw in a double and a triple. Another triple and another triple. So I had to do three in a row. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

So to answer your question, I have a real life example, the Tahoe Triple I had to do. Three marathons in three days at elevation like 7,000 feet.

Um, you do what it takes to get your mind off of the blisters, off the pain, off the cramping.

I listen to a lot of music. My song choices are a little unconventional. It really depends on what mile I’m at cus. I mean a lot of people play hardcore jams you know.

There are times when I listen to classical music, you know because classic music just soothes my soul, you know, and it just relaxes me.

So, I’ll listen to Vovaladi when I’m at mile 20 just because I would know that it would relax me and keep me calm because when I’m stressing out about cut off times and stuff like that, I tend to run faster and then collapse.

So, you have to pace yourself for all these races. It does not matter that you are running a 5k or 100 miler, you pace yourself.

So I listen to music and I just kinda visualize. I think what really gets me through is that I never, never, never want to see another needle again because I had to inject insulin for about 5 years of my life and it sucks.

You know, it sucks to take insulin because it wipes you out creativity and physically.

And my mine set at the time was “I don’t need to exercise because modern medicine will save me. I can just take this pill or take this shot.”

Well, obviously, that was stupid of me to think that and so when I’m running, I think back to those days when I had to inject that insulin and remember back to how painful and awful it was to be in the condition I was and that’s my mantra.

That’s what gets me to that finish line every time.

JB: So, it’s the being overweight in the past and the insulin and the pills and just like “I never want to go back to there again.”

TN: Right

JB: Wow, OK, so this year, you did 52 in 52. What’s on tap for this year?

TN: for 2013 or 2012

JB: 2013. Let’s talk 2013

TN: Ok, so when I did 52 in 52 in 2011 I never thought that anything could top that.

Well, my 2012 season did. It just topped it even more because after conquering 52 in 52. I wanted to nail my 1st 100 miler and so that’s what I did in 2012. I nailed my 1st 100 miler on my 2nd try.

On my 1st try, I got to mile 88. I had 3 hours left on the clock and my body just collapsed.

JB: That was Nanny Goat right?

TN: Yeah, that was Nanny Goat. When I tell you the course you are going to just roll your eyes. It was a one mile loop around a barn. 100 miles.

JB: One hundred miles around a barn. I’m sure all of you are going to sign up for that one. Coming up but there is actually a video of.

There is the infamous Nanny Goat Affair where there is actually a video of Tony completely melting down. It’s pretty. I have never seen anyone so raw and so like “I am so done with this” that I need to collapse and then he collapses in a hay thing. It’s literally like. I’ll put it in the write up so you guys can see it.

That’s true like, I am in it to win it kinda of thing but you finally did win or get Nanny Goat the next year.

TN: Yeah, Nanny Goat was such a. To me it was failure to get to mile 88.

I mean as absurd as that may sound to you, 88 miles, that’s good.

JB: That’s impressive

TN: But to me, it was failure because I did not get my belt buckle. For those who don’t know or are not in the ultra scene. Typically if you run a 1/2 marathon or a marathon you get a medal. If you run a 100 miler, you get a belt buckle.

JB: Sounds like a gip to me man. 100 miles and you get belt buckle. 200 miles you get a pin. I don’t know.

TN: So after my Nanny Goat meltdown and it was pretty epic that melt down.

I mean I just collapsed and. He was not kidding. I did collapse into a barrel or I don’t remember what it was. I just remember seeing hay but that was a turnaround for me. That was very important to me because something clicked up here and I was like no, I was very capable of getting the 100 miler.

I still had 3 hours on the clock. I learned from all my rookie mistakes at Nanny Goat. Changed everything around. Changed my whole diet. I just eliminated meat and became a plant based eater. Upped my cross training, increased my cardio and ten weeks later I nailed that 100 miler. I did it locally at a race called run-de-vu, which by the way was another loop but a two mile loop around a, I’m not sure what it was but it was a two mile loop around a forrest. At least I had trees to look at.

JB: Yeah, there is that New Years Eve/Day 24 hour race. It’s basically a one mile loop around Chrissy Field.

TN: Yeah, I have done that one too. I like loops. The reason I like the loops is because I know I won’t get lost. I have a tendency to get lost.

JB: Oh, OK, OK.

TN: That Nanny Goat Loop was ridiculous because you are running a one mile loop around a barn. Yeah, I mean I have seen that goat like 100 times now.

JB: So, does anyone have any questions for Tony? Anything you might want to ah. Go ahead

Question 1: So, are you back to eating meat or are you still plant based?

TN: No, I, um, I don’t miss meat. That’s the thing. Do have to say I am a part time Pescetarian. I’ll sometimes have fish but I don’t miss the meat and I actually feel better physically, with my training and my runs. So it has worked for me.

Different things work for different people and I’m not one of those people that is doing this for political reasons or religious reasons.

I went to lunch with someone the other day and this person that is sitting next to me and said “Would you be offended if I eat bacon?” I’m not one of those people you know.

I do it strictly for health reasons and it’s worked for me.

JB: Great. Any other questions for Tony?

Question 2: Do you still have to take your medications?

TN: No, I’m completely off all meds. I reversed that type 2 diabetes. No longer have the cholesterol problem. No more meds!

JB: Wow, that’s great! That’s excellent. That’s a pretty big component of good health to be in shape. You don’t have to do 52 marathons in 52 weeks or anything like that

TN: The only drug I take is the NyQuil.

JB: Nice. Ok. Any other questions for Tony?

Question 3: What is your next challenge?

TN: So, I conquered the 52 in 52. I conquered my 100 miler. So I looked at everything I had done and seeing where I can challenge myself further because unless you win the Olympic gold medal and even then I’m sure a lot of Olympic gold medalist want to do more to challenge themselves.

There is always something out there to challenge yourself.

I never rest on what I just done.

So, 2013 is all about scaling back. So, I’m not going for quantity this year, I’m going for quality. I want to improve my finish times.

I want to get fitter and I want to get faster. I want to.

I have four 100 miler’s planned for this year and I’ll be honest with you, this is going to sound really ridiculous but my favorite distances are half-marathon, 13.1 that’s a great distance, you get your runners high by mile 10 and then your done. I like the half-marathon distance and the 100 miler.

The thing about the 100 miler is that you are out there, challenging yourself. Your mind goes to a whole new level. When you get your 100 mile finish it feels so good because your body is so messed up and your like this is the belt buckle. It’s dinky but this belt buckle for my 100 miler.

My San Francisco Marathon medal is bigger than that.

But this belt buckle is the one I hold so close to me because I worked my butt off for this.

I looped for 100 miles around a 2 mile dirt path loop for 30 hours with no sleep. So, see that’s what I like. I like that challenge.

JB: 30 hours, wow that’s a lot.

TN: So my plan is to hit 4 of these 100 milers this year and one of which is a qualifier for Western States.

Which of those of you who don’t know what Western States is um, in the Marathon world, the Boston Marathon is the holy grail of marathons. If you can qualify for the Boston Marathon and run it then you are at the top of your game.

Western States is the trail version. The trail ultra version of the Boston Marathon.

It’s a 100 mile race up in the Sacramento area. It’s a very intense race and you have to qualify for it and if you qualify, you have to be in the lottery for it.

I want to qualify for Western States. Because I tell everyone, “I’m not fast. I’m not a fast runner. I run a 5 hour marathon. Which is not fast but if you put me out there for 28,29,30 hours. I can get the 100 miler done.

I know what I need to do to finish 100 miles. I can just keep going and going and going because I tell people all the time that doing 100 milers, ultra-marathons and stuff, it’s not really about athletic ability. It’s all up here because there were guys that would pass me up. There were guys that were 20 miles ahead of me at that race and they all dropped out at the 100k mark, which is 62 miles.

They all dropped out because they went out too fast and I just kept looping and looping and looping and I got the job done.

So, that’s my plan for 2013. I want to get fitter, faster. I want to qualify for Western States. I want to nail more 100 milers.

JB: Wow. Well Tony, Good luck. Thanks for the interview.

Tony Nguyen “Endorphin Dude” Everyone!

Endurance Chronicles: Let’s Just Play

Larry, Jarie and Mike at the launch of #ENDURANCE tweet

The Endurance Chronicles are guest post and interviews from readers and interesting people that have endured hardships and struggles on their road to success. I’ll post them periodically so that we can all be inspired. If you have an endurance chronicle you would like to share, please send it on to jarie at enduranceleader dot com.

This Endurance Chronicles is an interview with San Francisco 49er Larry Grant who I sat down with at the Berlinetta Lounge during the launch of my new book #ENDURANCE tweet — A Little Nudge to Keep You Going

Special Thanks to Mike Yam of Pac-12 for being the emcee for the evening.

The transcript of the interview is below the video and audio.

Video: The Endurance Chronicles Interview with Larry Grant

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio: The Endurance Chronicles Interview with Larry Grant

Edited Interview Transcripts

Jarie Bolander: I wanted to do a little bit of a Q&A with San Francisco 49er Larry Grant. Not only is he a San Francisco 49er which is pretty cool but he’s a local boy. You grew up here in San Francisco?

Larry Grant: Yes sir. A local boy right here in San Francisco.

JB: So you grew up in the in the Hunters Point?

LG: Yeah, I lived some of my life in the inner Hunters Point?

JB: When did you start to play football?

LG: Well, I have always been a child of the game. I grew up watching it and playing in the streets with family and friends. I did not really get to play organized football until I was in high school.

JB: Why was that?

LG: Being that we did not have the means of getting the money because being a little guy in Pop Warner football it costs a certain amount of money to play and we were not able to raise the money so I had to play flag football.

JB: So like pickup football

LG: Yeah, pickup football in the street with a whole bunch of friends and other kids that were not able.

JB: When you first got drafted, it was with the niners. Was that a dream come true?

LG: Definitely. Growing up in the Hunters Point you can see the top of Candle Stick but you can’t see inside. Me and my friends would alway say that one day we would play in that stadium. On that day, being pick 214 of the draft for the San Francisco 49ers it was a true blessing to me and my family.

JB: Great. Great. And then you got transferred to the Rams.

LG: I got picked up from the 49ers somewhat close to the end of that season to St. Louis. It was actually a good and a bad thing. I got to play against the 49ers twice a year, that was good but now I’m just happy to be back.

JB: You guys just played them last week and tied right.

LG: Unfortunately we did tie.

JB: Yeah, but you were part of that play, turnaround, that fumble, that turned the momentum around.

I mean, I was like you know, that was a good job. I mean, my mom is in the audience. Which I won’t say what kind of swear words she says at the TV when you guys don’t do well. It was pretty impressive.

LG: I took advantage of that opportunity. It wasn’t just only me. There was others that was apart of that play, and it shifted the moment of the game and brought us back in the position to win. It didn’t come out the way it wanted to, but we still only have three in the losing column.

JB: So why don’t you tell me a little bit about how you prepare for playing in the game. It’s gotta be a lot of endurance to play football. Can you take us through a little bit about how you endure that?

LG: During the offseason, we have a certain amount of hours to prepare for the regular season. I don’t know if anyone knows about a training camp in the National Football League. I don’t know if there are too many things harder than that.

JB: A GORUCK probably? Sorry about that.

LG: When we wake up, we wake up about 6:30 or 7 am. And we don’t get home until 10 o’clock at night. And it’s a full day of football practice and honestly the most draining part of the day is sitting in the meeting room that is dark with no light and watching the TV screen and having to stay awake for almost 7 hours in the day. But you know, all that training and hard work, it just proves the endurance and the level of commitments we have to put in the game that we play today.

JB: Yeah, yeah you can clap for that.

So, you kinda have the reputation of being a loose, real easy-going guy. Where does that come from? How does Larry become loose Larry? Sorry mom, I didn’t mean it that way.

LG: Dealing with some of the things I’ve been through, I wasn’t always this guy. I was sometimes one of the rowdy guys, one of the talkative guys. Let’s get out there and be one of the rah rah guys. After my rookie season after I got cut, it brought a new vision to me. I don’t have to be this guy that everyone thinks that I am. Rah Rah this, and rah rah that. I just have to sit back and relax and do my job, and make sure that everything that I do I gotta be able to put my best forth out there. So everyone can see, I don’t have to say too much, I just have to do it.

JB: Did that come from your childhood?

LG: Yeah, you know, with my childhood, I’ve been through so many things. When it comes from moving around and having to do other things just to get what I want. I really just don’t stress anymore. Being that my childhood with my family was what it was. But as much stuff that happens nowadays, it really doesn’t bother me now, as I’ve been through before now. I’m able to get through anything, any troubles that I have now.

JB: That’s great. That’s great.

So, uh, what are some of the mantras and sayings that you use to pump yourself up? Do you have some of those that you repeat in your head?

LG: You know, I have two. One that comes from the Bible.

I can do all things through Christ that can strengthens me. — Philippians 4:13

That is Philippians 4:13. And that is from the bible for those of you that don’t know. And another saying that I’ve grown with for the last couple years of my life.

There ain’t nothing gonna come without hard work and sacrifice. — Larry Grant

And if I live by that and just believe that, that I can do that and nothing that I want. If I want it that bad, it’s gonna take a lot of hard work and sacrifice, for doing things that make you uncomfortable that makes you comfortable.

JB: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true.

So what’s the process like on game day. I mean, that’s just gotta be a lot of anxiety. I mean, I know anytime that I do an event, the five minutes before, I’m a mess, so how do you get through that? What are some of the things that you sorta do to endure that?

LG: Well on game day, like you said. You get really anxious on game day. But for some reason, I wake up every morning, every day. First thing, I get on my knees and pray and give him the thanks that I can. And I put my music on, and I just relax. And the beginning of the day, I don’t put rap music on. I put on some nice soul music, just to keep me calm. But for some reason, as soon as I step into the stadium. All the calmness in my body just goes away, for just a slight minute or two, until I get on the field. But you know I just listen to music. It kinda relaxes me. It keeps me from being uptight. You know, I’m a pretty relaxed and cool person, and I don’t get too anxious, but once I get on the field, my mood is good. I’ve done all my preparation. I’m relaxed. I know what I’m doing. It’s just time to go play.

JB: Great, great.

So, um, how about the guys around you? We’d talked a little bit before hand, that some are isolated. Some of them are rah rah. I mean, what’s the dynamic like? I mean, there’s just gotta be so much testosterone in the room. I mean, like oh my God, we just gotta get going. I know when you guys are doing the punt, you guys are doing this dance, trying to get loose. I don’t know if that’s just intimidation or you’re just trying to get things done. Kick the ball, just kick the ball.

LG: Everyone has a different way to prepare. Like some people just like in the locker room are laying down asleep before the game with a towel on their head. That’s just their way of focusing. But then there are other people who are up rapping. And whatever they have going on, singing or whatever. Music in their headphones, but everyone’s just got their different ways of preparing. But you can see their level of anxiety on their face, as you walk around the locker room. And shake hands and tell everyone good luck. You can just see the difference in everyone’s attitudes towards the game. Of course, uh the dance that you asked about. That’s the kick-off team. Our way of getting loose, having fun, getting pumped. Instead of being so tight. And just ready to go. We like to go up and have fun.

> The best way to play is to play with fun. — Larry Grant

JB: That’s actually a really good thing to know. It does sorta seem like it’s a business. It’s really serious. But in order to just get out and have fun. I mean, I think what you talked about, a little bit, about let’s just go play. It just seems like a great attitude to have.

You know, so outside of football, I mean, any words of wisdom, for how you just sorta endure fame. Obviously, since you’re a famous guy. How’s the dynamic of that coming from where you’ve come from? It’s a huge change, and it’s a great story, and I know you have a nonprofit that you’re working on. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the nonprofit, and what you guys are trying to do?

LG: Well me and my older brother LaSean. We’re working on an organization called A Better Hand Foundation. We just don’t want to work in one area personally. We want to go down in many areas.

My brother personal area is working with teenagers that getting out of Juvenile Hall. And me personally being that I was a foster care child, and I did do group homes as well. I want to work with less fortunate kids, and kids in foster care, and just show them that there is a difference that you can make, just being in group homes. And that these steps are just a process of your life. And if you just continue to say that you want to do something, and you know believe in what you believe in. At the end of the day, if you work hard, and you can get where you want to get.

JB: Yeah, because you uh, you used to go to the Willie Mays Boys and Girls Club, that was just rebuilt a couple years ago. I know you were interested in giving back to them, specifically. Because they did a lot for you.

LG: Growing up in Hunter’s Point, I was one of the kids of one of the old Willie Mays. And they just rebuilt the new one Willie Mays, down the street. Up on Kiska, in the Hunter’s Point, and I’m actually going back down there on Tuesday. I’m doing some things with the kids. I’m gonna read books; I’m gonna speak wise words to the kids, and I’m just happy to give back from where I came from.

JB: That’s really good. So does uh, anyone have any questions for Larry. We can talk a couple of questions. Don’t be shy. Okay, there’s one of the back.

QA 1: What’s the difference in building schools and in educating children to endure? What’s the difference between talent, and you clearly have natural talent, and endurance? How have you separated the two?

LG: You know, uh, there are a lot of talented people in the world. I didn’t make it to where I came from on talent alone. You know, hard work, and school and all those good things you have to put them together along with your talent, to be able to make it in this world today. And you know there is a big difference. There is guys in the business that I play in now. There are guys that are way less talented than a lot of guys that I played with in the past, but they made it to this position because of the hard work they put in. You know, even though they are not as talented as others, their hardworking and drive and endurance that they have had has brought them to this position today.

JB: Any other questions? Wow, you did great.

QA 2: Who’s gonna win the Super Bowl?

JB: So yeah, uh you guys are favored to be in the Super Bowl? Yeah, we were.

LG: Yeah we probably still are, I hope.

JB: You know, that pressure is somewhat on, since the Giants won. We would love to have the dual crown, kinda thing. No pressure though, no pressure. That would be historic.

LG: We’ll talk about the Super Bowl in February. Now we gotta worry about Chicago.

JB: Yeah, Chicago is Monday Night. That will be great. One game at a time. Another question?

QA 3: Yeah so um, you know, none of us can get there alone. In Jarie’s book he talks about having a group of people around you to achieve your goals. It’s about being surrounded by the right people and the right team. You know when you were growing up, was there one person or a couple people that really helped you get through, some of the tough times?

LG: Definitely. I have a brother, who, I moved in with him in 7th grade, going into the 8th grade. His name is Jimmy Escalante. When I lived in Sacramento, CA. Being around him. Let me start from here.

One thing that my mom always told me is that your guilty by association, so make sure you be careful who you hang around with, and so, being that I got around my brother Jimmy Escalante. He helped me put my focus into so many right areas, when I wanted to go left. But having him on my side, and my older brother LaSean, when I moved with him all the way over to Atlanta, to take me under his wings and helped me become a man, from the little boy that I was, in the three years that I was with him. And I thank him for that, and they helped me turn my life around and become a better person. It definitely takes a team.

JB: For sure, definitely. Larry, thank you so much. Good luck getting to the Super Bowl. Larry Grant, everyone.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Larry Grant for taking the time to be interviewed and our sponsors which include: JSY Public Relations, Sports Basement, Players Sports Grill, Salt and Honey Catering, Massage Envy, Berlinetta Lounge and Zico.

I’m also thankful to Goruck and Clif Bar — two products that I use almost everyday.


Endurance Chronicles: The Power of Devastation

Endurance Chronicles are guest posts from readers that have endured hardships and struggles on their road to success. I’ll post them periodically so that we can all be inspired. If you have an endurance chronicle you would like to share, please send it on to jarie at enduranceleader dot com.

This endurance chronicle is by Stacy Hess of positivePR.

Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory. ~ William Barclay

Before I decided to go into business with my two partners, I asked myself, “What’s the worst possible thing that could happen?” Never did I imagine that the answer to that question would come to fruition.

But it did.

On a breezy LA night, I had a gut feeling that I should go to the office and when my friend and I arrived, we found that everything was in boxes and my two business partners were headed out.

The moment was surreal. I felt dizzy and nauseous. My head spun, my heart raced and everything happened in slow motion.

I had put everything I had, financially and emotionally, into the business. I felt my world crashing down around me – all stability gone. My friend took me home where I sat with my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands in utter fear and disbelief. Eventually, she put me to bed and I sobbed until, mercifully, I fell into a troubled sleep.

Against my will, morning came. I pulled the covers over my head and pressed my body as far down into the mattress as I could, hoping it would swallow me. I couldn’t even imagine getting out of bed as the events of the previous night came flooding back into my brain and my heart once again raced. I thought that if I could just go back to sleep, if I could just sink back into the bliss of unconsciousness, possibly for eternity, somehow things would be better.

But I have a dog. And dogs have to go outside to pee regardless of how utterly devastated their human may be. So I credit Oliver with forcing me to get out of bed that first day. I credit Oliver with forcing me to take the first crucial step.

That day, and every day for several months to come, I simply began with getting out of bed and taking Oliver outside. Next, I fed him. Then I made coffee. That got me through the first 30 minutes of the day and the way I saw it, I only had another 14 or 15 hours to go – 28 or 30 half hours to get through one at a time with each one being an accomplishment that encouraged me to make it through the next one.

I was no stranger to endurance, having competed in triathlons and 100-mile bike races for the past several years. Every triathlon was just a quick swim, a nice bike ride and a little run – no big deal. Every 100-mile bike race was just five 20-mile training rides in a row. My athletic endeavors had taught me to break seemingly insurmountable activities into bite-sized pieces that felt manageable rather than intimidating. Instinctively, I fell into this pattern with getting through each day, and it worked.

When it all began, I had no idea where I was going to get money to pay my rent or to buy food. So I went to a friend’s restaurant and offered to do their PR for them in exchange for meals. I called my parents and told them what happened. They began to send me care packages of powdered mashed potatoes and Kraft macaroni and cheese every week. Food problem solved!

But I had to find work because I had to be able to pay my rent, so I called up a filmmaker I’d met at Sundance earlier that month. When we met, he told me he only had $500, which was nowhere near the firm’s standard monthly fee, so we amicably parted ways. But now, $500 was a whole lot closer to keeping a roof over my head (and Oliver’s head) than I presently was, so I rang him up and he became my first client. We met the next day, and with checkbook in hand, he said, “What’s your company’s name? To whom shall I make out the check?”

I stared at him blankly because I didn’t actually HAVE a company, much less a company name.

Uh…” I began.

How about Positive PR?” he asked. “I think that is the perfect name for your firm because you are such a positive person and it’s reflected in the PR work you do.”

And that is how positivePR came to be, nearly four years ago – exactly one week after I walked in on my business partners walking out on me.

Since then, my company has worked on award-winning films, grown to be a team of six amazing people, and turns a profit. It hasn’t been easy. And it was a test of endurance and a testament to the strength of the human spirit every step of the way.

I’m really proud of what we’ve built at positivePR and I shall be eternally grateful to those business partners of mine for thrusting me unexpectedly into what was the most awful experience of my life because it led me to find the courage to endure and ultimately create something amazing and rewarding.

If it weren’t for my world crashing down around me, I never would have known my own mettle and I certainly wouldn’t be doing work today that has the power to help others endure and change the world in their own way.