A married father of two riding his way through the crazy life of parenthood, trying to balance family, work and training for an upcoming marathon and Half Ironman triathlon. It's a process. It's a gift. It's life. LIVE IT!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Tagged", I'm It

Tripp at Crosstrains "tagged" me...so here it goes.

1. Describe a memory from your first triathlon ever.
There was nothing like walking --in the dark-- to the transition area. The quiet anticipation and nervousness of that morning is something I'll never forget. As I made that walk...and it was a long walk over a bridge, up a hill and down a road....I remember feeling bit overwhelmed. I had just had emergency surgery to remove my appendix 2 weeks earlier, but didn't want that to deter me from finishing what I had started. I knew I wasn't going to get the time I'd hoped for, but I was going to cross the line. And I did.

2. Describe a memory from your most recent triathlon.
My most recent triathlon was re-doing the first tri I ever completed. I was excited to be doing it with a guy that I'd trained with. Seeing him a few times on the course was great. I loved the excitement of cheering for someone who, I knew, worked hard to make it happen.

On a personal note, it was also a time when I really was able to prove someone wrong. There was a guy in a triathlon group I'm a part of who stood up at one of our meetings and talked about how competition should come before inclusion. It's a point I disagreed with and he made overatures that I was only disagreeing because I couldn't hang with the people being competitive. Mind you, I'm not blazing a trail out there but my competition comes from within. Instead of discussing the virtues about including others in our sport, I left it alone...but it always nagged at me. I saw this same guy before the race but didn't say anything to him. I then found out he was in my age group and we were both Clydes. On the bike, I took great solace blowing past him. On the loop run course, I took even greater pride of saying hi to him — 10 minutes ahead of him on the loop. I didn't say anything to rub it in... I get the feeling I didn't need to.

3. What's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you in a tri?
I was sucking wind in the run and concentrating on passing the woman in front of me. As I pulled even with her, she struck up a conversation. After telling her I didn't have much gas in the tank but I welcomed her pulling me along...she said no worries, you should have no problem sticking with me until the end, I'm 3 months pregnant. I thought, what???!!!@@@ And if you must know... I was chicked by a pregnant woman that day - by 10 seconds.

4. What's the most thrilling thing that's happened to you in a tri?
I am a horrible swimmer...so getting out of the water — every time — without drowning has to rank pretty high for me.

5. What is something you discovered about yourself by doing triathlons?
I've learned I can do whatever it takes to accomplish a goal I've set for myself. It has given me an outlet at being held accountable for a healthier lifestyle. It's taught me to embrace failure as a building block to do better. It's allowed me to gain confidence. It's given me a chance to explore closer friendships. I've also learned how incredibly supportive people can be in helping you achieve those goals. Whether it's been friends who have driven four hours to surprise me at the finish line of races or my wife who doesn't complain when I leave the house for a long run or ride...I am continually amazed at the support people give so freely.

6. What is The Big Goal that you're working towards?
Half-Ironman. I haven't taken the big plunge in commiting to an upcoming October half ironman, yet, but I'm more than halfway there. When I started running I made the comment to my wife that I only wanted to run so I could finish one of those 5k things. I remember thinking of how "in shape" those people must be to do a 5k. Now training for my second marathon, I laugh at those comments but it all is really about perception. I don't know that I am willing to spend the kind of time away from family that a full Ironman would require...so the Half may be my next Big Goal. (I'm also really wanting to do a Century ride.) But the biggest goal of all would be to find balance in anything I work towards...and that, my friends, will always be a challenge worth mastering.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Going Long

The thought of doing any strenuous activity for ANY length of time was a foreign, painful prospect to me just a few years ago. So why would anyone want to willingly put their body through the rigors of 3+ hours of trauma and not even be doing it for a race or reward? Good question. It's one we all try to answer every time we ramp up our training for a specific goal.

After getting iced out of my previous 20 miler (I opted for treadmill and couldn't bring myself to hang on for the full 20) I was anxious to get on the road and meet the challenge head on. Work took me out of town for most of last week so staying on track nutritionally and sleepwise was a bit of a challenge, but I managed to keep it all between the lines. Saturday morning I treated as a full on dress rehearsal for the Austin Marathon coming up February 18th. Did everything according to plan, except start time. I needed to crank out the run before heading to a family commitment at 10am. That meant a 5.40am start time.

It seemed like I was running in the dark forever before I saw the sun starting to peek out from below the horizon. The weather was great (almost balmy at 51 degrees.) I paid particular attention to pacing. This is something that led to a long, long 26.2 miles in my first attempt at a marathon. I went out a little brisk and paid dearly for it. While I've been staying close to 9.30 pace during my 15 mile runs, I knew the extra 5 Saturday morning would require better strategy. I started out at 9.40 for the first four miles and tried to slow a bit to alleviate any challenge that may have come my way. At mile 5 I tucked in behind a training group of about 30 people out doing their long run. It was a welcome respite to running solo through the darkness. After a few miles with them I was forced to veer off their route to meet up with Spence.

At 7.15am on the dot Spence met me in mid stride. He was gearing up for 9 miles and provided a great distraction from the minutes that turned to hours. As we neared a time crossroads --2 hours 15 minutes -- that has always been what can best be described as a "wall" for me, I was mindful to keep hydrating and keep taking in some calories. I once thought my 2 hour 15 minute wall was merely a mental taunt my body would give me...only recently have I come around to think, maybe there is more to it than just a mental hurdle. This time around 2:15 came and went and while I did feel a bit of a negative pull on my body, I was overcoming the adversity that had sought deep refuge in my running. I was feeling good.

Spence is training for his first half marathon and has been doing great. We spent the morning talking about family, about work, and about strategy come race day. I will be excited to share in his success. As the final miles ticked away I was struck at how non-eventful this long run had been. I was grateful that I wouldn't have any material to write about in terms of demons coming into my thoughts, my body betraying me, or mother nature scoffing at the idea of me cranking out 20 miles. In the end, it was pretty run-of-the-mill....which made me appreciate...there is a BIG reward for getting in these long runs. There are no aid stations along the way, medals or post-run parties, nor any cheering at the finishing line. And that makes these long 20 mile runs even sweeter. And even a little bit enjoyable.

Workout stats:
20 miles
10.04 avg pace
3,598 calories burned

Monday, January 22, 2007


Setting priorities in life is a funny thing. They can often times teach you a lot about yourself and what needs to change. Sometimes reevaluating them makes you a bit proud of what you already see. By the lack of blog updates you may have noticed that I've been a bit predisposed in other areas of my life. No, there are no major changes, just minor adjustments that come with any season of growth. In a way, this latest prioritization had nothing to do with me and more to do with surroundings. You see, in many ways the last three and a half years of my "life" in Austin has been the most blessed time of my life. New challenging job, the birth of two great kids, a supportive marriage to a woman who gets me, and a growing spiritual life. All of that and I am taking control of my health and feeding my competitive hunger through fitness, running and triathlons. Things are great right? Short answer is yes... but sometimes it isn't enough.

A change at work has forced me to reevaluate many things. I am now forced to deal with outside forces tugging at my need for efficiency, effectiveness and success at work. I am forced to realize that, sometimes, things are out of my control. It's not a great feeling knowing the process will suffer, but it is reality. I have spent the last month or so trying to make sure the work situation doesn't affect my marriage, my family and our happiness. All of that effort has forced other things to fall below the radar on importance. However, I am proud that we have juggled the increased stress as well as we have.

I am continuing my training for an upcoming marathon and things have been going well. This weekend brings me to my last 20 miler in preparation for the AT&T Austin Marathon February 18th. This will be my second marathon and a chance to atone for last years discouraging finish. Don't get me wrong, last year I was happy to cross the finish line, but I have always had a deep rooted desire to prove I can do better. I will! More on that in the days and weeks to come.

Thanks to all of you who have sent comments asking what was going on in my absence and for those of you who sought me out privately via email....thank you for your concern. Funny how this universe of friends becomes such a network of support. I am great, my family is great...that's what matters....and I already knew that.