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!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Honest Effort

The rush of seeing so many cyclists sharing the road on what is a weekly ride through Austin is always a rush. My ride this morning intersected with theirs and it is always quite a sight to see 150 riders (triathletes and roadies all getting along) challenging one another on the Austin Tri Cyclist ride. It's the biggest weekly ride in Texas and one of the most intense with top-tier riders including the likes of Desiree Ficker, Cat 1,2, 3 and 4 riders and several teams. It is a goal of mine to feel confident enough this season to suit up and join in -- hoping to hang on to the back of the "B" group for at least most of the ride. After the last few rides I am building the speed and confidence to feel like that may be reality this season.

Our ride this morning included Spence and one of his friends who joined us for the first time. JC is getting ready for his first tri and it was great to be out on the road this morning with the two of them. We hit it early because we all had kid commitments later in the day and man I am glad we went when we did. The crisp morning air was perfect. Overcast enough to keep the sun from heating things up, and a perfect morning to challenge ourselves and our fitness. We decided on upping the challenge factor and taking a route that included some pretty good hills.

It is absolutely one of my favorite rides and gets me fired up every time. The first five miles we settled in and before long I realized it was getting quiet. I'd lost the voices and sounds of other bikes around me. I looked back to see something that was foreign -- I had put some distance on Spence. It was validation that the weight loss, honest effort exerted and hard work was paying off in many areas. I was also stoked to feel my jersey flailing in the wind. It may not be the most aerodynamic but it was great to see that there was less of me in it.

Climbing the hills, enjoying the speed of the downhills and, of course, soaking in the morning with friends...it was about as perfect as it could have been. When I pulled in the garage at the end I checked our average speed and was happy to see an 18.1 mph avg (17.3 was a previous best for the route.) It included a few times of pulling up and regrouping and probably could have been faster, but on this morning it couldn't have been any better. I'm looking forward to seeing JC catch the bug and watching Spence and I continue our improvement. These are the mornings that drive us when we wonder why we're doing what we're doing. These are the mornings when honest effort is rewarded -- GREATLY.

Workout stats:
Bike SW Pkway/BeeCaves Loop
33 miles
18.1 average

Friday, April 27, 2007

Limiting Limits

Limits are a part of life. We limit ourselves in our thoughts, in our actions, in our relationships, in our decisions. Those 'limits' can hang like concrete blocks on our shoulders as we battle adversity. But those limits are made to evolve with the hope they will be stripped away by confidence and performance. It's the unleashing of those limits that is truly the goal — in sport, in life.

A slave to numbers is something we can all agree on in our workouts. We obsess over the speed at which we can maintain proper mechanics, the pace at which our legs will or will not move us, the numbers on the scale, the grams of the components on our bike, the price tag of the gear we seek. Yesterday and today I saw numbers that brought confidence.

An incredible day in Austin yesterday meant I had no other choice but to get out and put in an honest effort. Cementing a ride/run brick with Spence and the evening was shaping up. Meeting up for a two loop, 20 mile effort through the rolling hills of southwest Austin, we dialed in and hit the accelerator. Knowing we were planning a 5K run off at the end, I tried to limit some of the impact on my legs, but the weather and 'the moment' pushed us on. Loop 2 was done faster than the first for a total average of 18.6.

To the run we were both stuggling with getting our legs underneath, but settled into a nice pace. When I looked down at the my Garmin I was pleasantly surprised to see an 8.50 minute first mile. For those of you who don't know my history, anyting sub 9 is celebrated. Knowing we had two more left I tried to let off the gas, but Spence was having none of that talk. He pushed me on and we kept moving. Through 2 we held our sub 9 pace. At that point, survival kicked in and we weren't about to slow down. Despite a 20 mile hammer ride and 3 mile run, my legs were doing something they had never done. I was hitting new territory and I couldn't have been happier. Final mile 8:20...average for the 5K 8:38. It was one of those moments of resolve when you realize all of the work is paying off.

Feeling confident, I wanted more of a test and decided to follow up the nighttime brick with an early morning run. To my surprise, the legs were good, the pace was fast — strike that — even FASTER than the night before. I finished a four mile run with a double take -- 8:20 average pace. Best ever. Realizing some of the limits had been shed away was a welcome burden to cast off. I'm not naive to think that thoughts of those limits won't reappear — they will — but at least now I've got the numbers to fight it and success to build upon.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Grateful for the Fear of Failure

The training gods were not with me this morning. A late wake up meant rushing to meet up for an early morning run. Thoughts of bagging the run, altogether, came on strong. But alas, that fear of failure...fear of letting someone down, fear of not giving it a "true" effort meant I couldn't give in — I had to make it happen.

What was an iron clad training schedule for the marathon has turned into more of a free-form effort of making sure I get in at least 4 strong workouts or more per week. The combination of swimming, running, lifting, spinning and riding has given me some much needed variation on the workout, but it has also left me feeling a little "too relaxed." The success of a killer crank ride with Spence a few weeks ago was enough to light a fire, a breakthrough swim workout complete with time trial stoked the engine, this morning it was the battling of adversity which I'm hoping goes even further towards righting this ship.

An unusual weekday run with Spence was just what was needed. After battling the adversity and thought of throwing in the towel this morning we met early. Headed out for what turned out to be a burner of a workout. Ever since Spence ran the half marathon he has been pushing for more speed on his runs, while I have been content to simply put in the miles. A challenging burst a few times a week has been the extent of my speed work. This morning I was met with the improvement that can be attained in a few short months — Spence's improvement. He was pushing the pace the entire time and even though I was feeling the pain, I was also feeling the sense of accomplishment (made even sweeter because I hadn't given in to the adversity of making it happen.) Three of the miles were done sub- 9 minute miles and we wrapped up with an average of right at 9:00/mile.

On another note...has it really been a full month since I've posted last? Thanks to all who have emailed wondering if I had dropped off the face of the earth. In some sense, I have. Work environment has been challenging, time-consuming and has meant an extra busy travel schedule. But I am great, family is great, more to come!

Workout stats:
4 miles
9:03/mile pace