Sunday, October 19, 2014

I began this journey, I thought, to become an athlete again. And I've made strides:

  • I've been running regularly since January.
  • I ran two 10Ks this summer (two weeks apart)
  • I'm training for my first half-marathon
  • I'm finally feeling like returning to the pool and bike
But while on vacation this summer I realized that the goal of becoming an athlete was limiting. We hiked on Mount Rainier while in the Pacific Northwest to visit family. I chose poorly and we ended up hiking straight down the mountain for 3 miles and had to turn around and hike straight back up. As we neared the end of our descent, we hit a flat spot and I just started running. I ran as the terrain allowed for maybe 1/4 mile. Then on the way back up I ran maybe another 1/4 mile. And I finished the hike all the way to the top without ever needing a break.

While on San Juan Island we took an amazing kayaking tour around the islands that lasted 3 hours. We cruised into the docks and I was ready for more. Then later that week I did a couple miles of trail running while out on a hike.

And while waiting at the parking lot for my family it hit me!

I don't just want to be athletic. I want to live. I mean really live! Like I never have before. When an adventure presents itself, I want to be able to strap on some gear and go for it. Not in a spectator/tourist sense; as a bad-ass, going-for-it participant.

And that's what I'm finally going to do. I'm going to participate in my own life for the first time in... maybe ever.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fight the good fight.

I'm trying.  I mean, I'm really trying.  At least that's what I tell myself when I step on the scale or in those moments of fantasy when I forget what I've actually eaten that day.  There are days when I can pull through, force myself through the tiredness, and get in a good workout or run.  I only sleep through the night about 1 out of every 10 nights so some days it is really tough.  But missing exercise has only been a small part of how I'm failing.

When I'm tired I am so weak to the temptations of food.  I get incredible cravings for bad food and I make lame excuses and slide back into old habits.  And what pisses me off the most about this is the way I rationalize my behavior:

"I'm so tired"
"This is the last time"
"I lifted/ran yesterday"

One excuse after another and it just crushes my psyche; one display of a weak personality after another.

Every time I've written in this blog about some sea-change in my life I've really meant it.  I feel it in my gut that I've finally had that moment of clarity that has changed my life.

Maybe that's part of my problem.  Maybe I need to quit waiting for that magical "Biggest Loser" moment when something clicks in my brain and I never struggle with food again.  Because I don't really believe those exist.  I may some day discover why I sabotage myself with food but I'll still have bad days when I will be tempted to comfort myself with a Big Mac.

New plan:

  1. Write more.  It hadn't occurred to me I was waiting for an epiphany to change my feelings about food until I started writing this today.  I hide from my feelings a lot.  I have ADHD and it's hard for me to think deeply about anything without putting it in print.
  2. Understand every day that I'm going to get hungry and crave something bad for me.  For the rest of my life.  Every day I'm going to have my priorities challenged.  It's going to be a long fight.  Triathlon won't fix that.  There is no magic.
  3. Meditate.  I've said this before.  It's supposed to be very good for people with focus issues and I don't take enough time every day to just stop, turn everything off and be quiet.  I find exercise meditative (long swims are the closest to Zen I ever get) but on long days I don't get in a quality workout I need to make time to calm my brain and just breathe.
  4. Sign up for a race.  My wife and I have decided the Cincinnati Rat Race 10K will be a great sprint event to aim for.  I have time to get the distance and I need the motivation.
It's time to quit waiting for it all to come together and just start fighting.  I think I can do it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I saw where people on Facebook were posting something they were thankful for every day of November (I think.  Maybe it's just until Thanksgiving... which makes me kinda sad that people can only come up with 23 things to be thankful for).  Well, typically, I didn't remember to post something any day this month so (because this seems to be the way it's done) I'll just catch them all up here.

  • 11/1 -- I was thankful for something about the weather... or maybe the leaves.  Something outside.
  • 11/2 -- I was thankful for a full belly.  (This one is kind of a cheat.  I'm always thankful for a full belly and I'm lucky enough to have one quite often).
  • 11/3 -- Mirinda Carfrae (Wut, Wut!)
  • 11/4-11/7 -- My daughter's birthday was in there and I'm usually pretty thankful for her.  I was also thankful she was only turning 15 and for her cake.
  • Every day -- LOCK LACES 
Okay, that's enough.  We all know what we're thankful for and telling you guys doesn't make me more grateful for what I have in my life.

Suffice to say, we athletes (yes, I can call myself that again with a straight face) have more to enjoy and be grateful for every day.  Let's not blow that particular gift.  It makes all the others stand out in full technicolor glory to be enjoyed to their fullest.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Delayed Onset Puberty

Since my race I've been thinking long and hard about my life (always dangerous).  I want to do many more races and I want to get my family involved in racing and do all kinds of active things together with them before my daughter leaves the nest.

Last summer I trained for 15 weeks and lost a grand total of 10 lbs.  I probably lost that same 10 lbs. 3 times over the summer.  If I'm going to continue racing things has to change.  After much introspection I realized I only need to change one thing:  I need to become an adult.

Ever since I left home after high school a large part of my life has remained firmly in the realm of college-age moron.  When I start drinking I tend to keep drinking like a stupid frat boy.  I still let my food cravings govern my food intake.  "Mmm... a cheeseburger sounds good.  I'd better buy two because I can't decide which kind to get so I'll just get one of each."  Really stupid, embarrassing, childish stuff.

So, I've decided to finally exit my post-pubescent stage and join the adult world.  My first goal is to change what I put in my body.  I'm cutting way back on meat and switching to a nutrient-rich diet (diet as in "what I eat" not as in "restricting calories").

I'm hoping that taking charge of another part of my life will lead to even more changes for the better (I keep house like I live in a dorm room unfortunately for my poor, sainted wife).  I keep reading that to change habits you need to pick them off one at a time.  Diet is where I'm drawing this particular line.

One thing I refuse to do is quit having fun.  Once you do that you've gone beyond adulthood to geezerhood.  I'm too young for that.  Maybe that's why I've fought "growing up" for so long.  I like having fun.  I like being goofy and making people laugh and I intend to continue doing that.  I'm just not going to try and kill myself with crappy food while I do it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


While I was waiting for code to compile I was going through my RSS feeds and stumbled upon this article about meditation and it really struck home.  I mean, the reason I saw it was my lack of focus.  All day long, any time I am waiting on something I have a bad habit of checking in on something else going on in my life.  No telling how much more I could get done in multiple aspects of my life if I could be completely involved in what I'm working on.

So, tomorrow I'm going to set my watch for 5 minutes, turn off my monitors and just concentrate on my breathing and nothing else for that time.  I'm very lucky in that right now I don't share an office with someone full time so I can close my door and be completely by myself.

This is something I've been meaning to do forever.  My brain is constantly running full speed; especially when I lay down to go to sleep.  I've been wanting like crazy to try and teach myself to ignore all the little distractions that pull me out of deep concentration but I haven't had any luck so far.

Oddly enough, the time I spend in triathlon training is the one time I don't need distraction.  Most of the people I pass on the running trails wear ear buds while they run.  I don't see it too much on the bike but I've seen people listening to music while they swim, too.  For me, though, even long bike rides or swims don't seem to need music to make the time pass.

When I'm running, I feel the need to hear my feet hitting the ground and hear my breath.  Most of the time I can tell my form has gotten sloppy by the sound of my feet hitting the ground, or that my pace is too fast by the sound of my breathing.  I don't know why I never long for music on long bike rides.  Probably just mortal fear of not hearing danger while buzzing around on two wheels.

And when I'm in the pool I'm concentrating so hard on form I don't think I could handle any distraction.  Plus, I love the quiet, ambient noise of the water flowing past me.

Crap!  I just hit the end of that paragraph and swapped over to check my email.  Okay, tomorrow I'm going to try meditation at work...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The last few weeks have been pretty miserable training-wise.  My plan has been to switch into a winter fitness-building mode which means getting up early so I can make spinning class and coached masters' swimming sessions.  The only problem?  I can't freaking sleep!

I was never sleeping all that well all summer but all my training was in the afternoons so, after I got off work, I'd suck it up and hit my workout.  Now that I'm trying to get up earlier and I'm doing less training, my sleep issues have gotten worse.

I typically go to bed around 9:30, read until around 10 and then turn out the lights.  Some nights I get right to sleep, wake up at 2am and then I'm awake until 3:30-4:30.  I need to wake up around 4:45 to get to the gym in time.  Just stay awake?  I've tried that and sitting at a computer for 8 hours on 4 hours sleep is impossible for me.  Plus, when I'm that tired I eat all kinds of junk to try and stay awake.  No willpower at all.

Other nights I just lay awake for an hour in bed, then I get up and lay awake for another 1-2 hours before finally falling asleep.

Sometimes it's my brain that keeps me awake, other times my body is all wound up.

I've tried staying awake later to try to be more tired and stay asleep longer.  That hasn't worked.  I hate taking sleeping pills every night.  I don't want to get dependent on them.

This week, however, I'm hitting the meds.  I'm hoping if I can get through a couple nights where I sleep at least 6 hours and get up and work out I'll start being tired enough at night to sleep all the way through.

Kind of a downer of a post but I'm sick for about the 3rd time in 4 weeks, tired and only able to get in my runs which brings me down even more.

Hopefully I'll have something more fun to report on next week.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Atomic Sprint Triathlon

My support crew.

Dawn broke over Melton Hill Recreation cloudy and humid.  The atmosphere was thick with tension and


Just kidding.  I'm pretentious but I'm not going to make people slog through that.

Sick, too, poor thing.

I woke up race day morning still harboring some evil virus I'd picked up a few days earlier.  I'd gotten no sleep the last week before the race.  I think it was a combination of taper and a medication snafu but I spent most nights last week in paralyzing anxiety attacks.  It was some kind of awesome.

Swim started hanging from that yellow boom.

However, thanks to some benadryl, I slept pretty well the night before the race and woke up feeling better than I thought I would.  I'm pretty sure I cheated myself on breakfast: half a bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  I just couldn't get any more down and I'm pretty sure I paid for that mistake in spades.

Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck.  I was sure I was going to forget something important or not bring something that anyone who's done one before would know to bring.  Like a bike pump!  I didn't bring one because the info on the race said a bike shop was going to be there for adjustments.  What they didn't say is the bike shop would be there on Sunday for the Half, not on Saturday for the Sprint.  I did have a little emergency pump that I had bought and never used and promptly used it to deflate my rear tire about 25%.  I spent the entire half mile walk to transition with my bike looking for someone bringing a pump with them.  No luck.

When I made it to transition I hung my bike up in a fairly empty spot next to one other bike.  By the time I started setting up my spot, the owner of the other bike was there turning his bike around because both of ours were facing in the same direction.  At first I thought he was being a jerk but he ended up being a very cool guy and introduced himself as Dave.  Dave gave me all kinds of good advice (like putting my timing chip on my left leg... duh) and a pretty good pep talk as I started to sweat over the swim.

Me and (Super Nice) Dave
Then as I was trying to kill time and nerves I found a guy, not even racing, who had a pump.  Day saved!

The swim started at the beach on the lake.  Well, near the beach.  We started our waves hanging on to the boom protecting the beach from boats.  You had to either crawl over or swim under the boom when your wave started.  I didn't really like hanging there in the cold water but it allowed me to get away from other swimmers and swim by myself for almost the whole first 100 yards.

Waiting to start.

The swim was the one part of the race I was worried about but it went off without a hitch.  I sighted well, kept a good pace and had a good strong swim throughout.  Apparently I was a little excited because I kicked more than usual and my legs were a little more tired than usual when I hit the beach but I was elated to get 500m done in about 16 minutes.

I'm the one leaving the wake.

I started the bike way too fast (contrary to Dave's instructions).

Not going way too fast, yet.  Reminder, make sure bike is in gear and ready to go before hanging it up.

I had seen the elevation chart but, stupid engineer, I had never bothered to appreciate the scale of the chart.  It struck me as I started up the first long hill... the long hill in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains (never occurred to me, either).  By the time I had gotten to the top my legs were toast.

Now, I hadn't paid much attention to nutrition for this race.  I figured it was fairly short so I wouldn't need to worry about it.  But as I said, I hadn't had much for breakfast and as I was coasting down the other side of the hill, my tank was feeling empty.  And I still had 15 miles to go.  I had brought one packet of GU and some pieces of a Power Bar.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the Power Bar for during exercise so I used the meal replacement one I had.  I know, stupid.  First race, remember?

By the time I got back to the hill on the return trip I had nothing left.  I actually had to get off the bike twice to push it to the tops of the hills.  I flew down the other side knowing I was getting close.  As I reached the bottom and began the last climb back into the park, my bike started feeling weird.  I looked down and sure enough, my rear tire was flat.  I made an executive decision and rode the flat the last two miles to transition.

I hit transition with nothing left but a packet of GU.  I sucked it down put my bike and helmet away and headed out for the run.

Bookin' it, no?

The run starts downhill so I did pretty well until I hit bottom.  Then it was a struggle until I got to around the end of mile one.  Then it felt like the GU kicked in and the run/walk wasn't too bad from there.

One of the best parts of the race happened during the last mile of the run.  A young lady whom I found out later made the podium in her age group (I think it was 25-29) was cooling down on her bike and rode passed me and said, "You're almost there."

"Yeah, I think I'm going to make it," I said.

She smiled and said, "You want me to ride with you?"

I politely declined but that question right there is a big reason why I'm doing more of these.  The people that compete in this sport are awesome.  Most of them are doing it entirely for themselves, not to win.  And they understand that everyone else is there for the same thing.

Later on, as the awards ceremony was coming to a close, two young ladies that barely finished the swim came in on their bikes.  Everyone... everyone... stopped what they were doing to applaud them and encourage them keep going; to finish.  It brought goosebumps.

So I finished.  It took me 2:28:18 and I only beat 5 people but I finished.  I actually finished strong.

Which is why I think I just bonked and needed to think about nutrition more.  I had the energy to sprint across the finish line once my GU was flowing through my bloodstream.

I had no pain, no soreness.  I was tired as hell but I haven't felt so good in years.

I can't wait to find a race for the spring.  And I will volunteer every time I get a chance next year just to be around these amazing people.  Amazing people like me.