Inspiration

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The start of another year... (half way through anyways)


I all but abandoned this page. Purposely… My original intent when I started this blog was to simply chronicle my first year doing tri’s and run races, so when the year was over, I was done. I didn’t want to put in the time and effort at writing about my limited experiences, or offer weak and often misguided advice to the few of you who may have stumbled across this page… so when the year came and went, so did my visits to this page… so for the past 1.5 years, zero entries. So why take the time now? Why resurrect this bit of narcissism? I guess because I hit the big 4-0 and I have big plans for this year. Well, I’m planning to make it a big year anyways… But the deep seeded reason why I feel so compelled to keep track of this year? The truth? It stems from my father’s passing in December of 2012 coupled with me signing up for my first full Ironman a week before hearing that dreadful news of my father’s cancer…

My father was an amazing man. I remember him for everything wonderful that I saw in him as a father. He was joyfully faithful, generously gracious, courageously humble, and above all else… lovingly affectionate. He taught me that strength comes not from words, but action… that a true leader serves more than is served… and that it takes courage to have faith… but what I never got to see a glimpse of, was what my father was like outside of the world of our family. He worked, went to church, and spent time at home. I didn’t know him to have any pleasures or joys outside of this comfort triad. So when I watched him lay in that hospital bed in late November, as the cancer lay waste to his once strong body, I couldn’t help but wonder… did my father live the life he wanted? Did he ever experience personal triumph or pleasure so great that the glory of a moment hung in his memory like a thick fog, blurring the contrast of reality? I don’t know… and I’ll never know, because all I ever saw of my father was one of servitude to us… to his church… to God. Maybe in his own way, he experienced those glories through his service… not sure… all I know is I want to live a glorious year and finishing an Ironman is part of it… and I want to remember it, every detail of it… and I want my wife and kids to remember this slice of my life, in which I dedicated time and energy to a pursuit that doesn’t make complete sense. I know a single year will not make me, because the life journey God’s laid out for me has more to do with a greater pursuit, but maybe this year… the entire experience of it may change not only the trajectory of my own life, but the trajectory of my dear family… but my want is that when I’m gone, my kids will not have to wonder about me… whether or not I had done something for myself.

So this year… my 40th year will be dedicated to the pursuit of living up to a personal standard… to the glory of a wonderful God who’s granted me this time… these moments of wonderful ability to pursue my own dream of personal satisfaction by training and hopefully finishing an Ironman… and maybe, in the smallest and most obscure of gestures a way to remember a life of a father that taught a son that action is sometimes so much more meaningful than words… In this way, this short recorded journey, maybe I can pass along more than thoughtful words… more than an inheritance of wisdom… maybe I can pass along a glimpse of my life at a time when everything seems so amazing… so that maybe, when I’m gone, they’ll remember me as a father that enjoyed life enough to participate in its pleasures, if not just for a moment…

So this week marks the official start to my training for Ironman Arizona… my pursuit which will culminate to 140.6 miles on November 17th, 2013… and come midnight that evening, I’ll know if I can call myself an Ironman or not… we will see… but it’s really the journey I’m looking forward to the most… and record it right here…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Journey (Orangeman 70.3)

I traveled non-stop for 70.3 miles only to end up exactly where I started… just a lot more tired and in a lot more pain… but I loved it. I can’t put into words exactly why I loved it so much, especially because I know I forgo all logic in knowingly putting myself through the grueling physical, mental and emotional demands just for the pleasure of finishing… But I will try and explain why I and maybe so many of my dear friends are so passionate about all things swimming, biking and running… I will try…

It starts with the possibility… the maybe… some call it a dream or the dare to hope, but it typically starts with the thought, “I wonder if I can?” to “Sign me up!” to “I can’t believe I just did that!” Completing a triathlon or any endurance event for that matter requires not only sweat, but more often than not, tears. I’m exaggerating a little here… but just a little… and yes, I’ve shed a couple of tears of my own along the way. Why? Because we don’t really expect to be moved during exercise... and that’s exactly what this is in the most simplest of terms… exercise. We go into it knowing we’ll work… that we’ll sweat, but what we discover about ourselves along the way is what draws us in to truly love the journey as much as the destination. And it’s not only in the training sessions… it could be during the actual race…

A lot goes through your head when you are moving for as long as I was (not a good thing by the way). 70.3 miles swimming, biking and running leaves a lot of room for thoughts and emotions to run wild…. It was something like this;

1.2 mile swim:
Nervous… Anxious… Nauseous… Anxious… Calm… Angry… Exhilarated… Relaxed… Relieved…

58 mile bike:
Hopeful… Nervous… Impatient… Relieved… Happy… Anxious… Fearful… Drained… Joyful… Frustrated… Embarrassed… Relieved… Anxious…

13.1 mile run:
Dread… Dread… Dread… Hopeful?... Dread… Dread… Embarrassed… Pure Elation… Thankful… Overjoyed… Proud!

It was exactly in that order. It was painful and difficult and I didn’t do as well as I had hoped… the first few hours was easier than the last 2, but I’m okay with it. Why? Because only a few months ago I was the one thinking; “I wonder if I can?” Today I know the answer to that… “wondering” if I can has been replaced with “knowing” I can regardless of how I did.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you do… a 5K or a marathon… a sprint distance triathlon to a half or full Ironman, none of that matters… it’s the journey in faith in finding the person God made you to be and proving it… and proving it to yourself is where the real reward is…

Oh, and maybe there’s some reward in having your own personal cheering section…

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oh, the pain!

I’ve been tinkering with my running form. I‘m making the transition from being  a mid-foot runner to a forefoot runner... which some experts call “natural running”. It’s been a couple of months now, and I feel as though I may have it down… almost. Admittedly, I still need some work…  and what I mean by “some” is “a lot”. Why the change? For every reason the pro-natural running community touts… easier on the body, running longevity, efficient bio-mechanics… but the most important reason for me… speed. For a slow runner like myself, speed is the goal.

I started picking up bits and pieces on “natural running” in different articles. The articles mostly talked about the barefoot strike and the inherently natural inclination for the foot to want to strike on the forefoot and not the heel. … coupled with a brief meeting with Crossfit Endurance Co-Founder Doug Katona several weeks back who preaches that the best runners are forefoot runners, I started to wonder, sometimes aloud, “Can natural running improve my efficiency and speed?” So I made the change to find out.

The changes have been slow and painful, which my calves can attest to. But I’m not certain I could blame the running form entirely as I also changed my shoes to a natural movement shoe… which for me was a pair of Nike Frees...



These shoes are a just a hair more shoe than the Vibram 5 Fingers, which I don’t think I can ever wear…  but these Nike Frees are light, airy, and offer almost no support… perfect for natural running.

Most of my runs were short runs of 4-6 miles. The first few times out, my form would degrade and I would catch myself landing with a thump. I wasn’t getting it. It wasn’t until I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougal did I start to understand how un-technical running could be and just how much easier it is to “run easy”. The books is about a hidden tribe of Indians deep in the Copper Canyons of Mexico that possess an ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury and a great race between them and some ultra-marathoners from the U.S. But the underlying point to the entire book is that we were inherently made to run. He calls it evolution… I call it God’s wonderful design… but I’m trying to prove that out a little by putting his knowledge to practice.

I can honestly say I see some improvement. I ran a 5K over Labor Day at a 7:55/mile pace. Not a blistering pace, but fast for me and a vast improvement over my 8:15/mile pace I had put up just a couple of months before. It was enough of an improvement to me that I figured I had it down… speed and efficiency was in my grasp. Fast forward a couple of weeks to the present and all I can do is wish that I could walk without a limp. Yes, an injury while using my new running technique has put my upcoming half iron distance race in jeopardy…

It happened at the Pacific Coast Tri this past weekend from my bike to run transition. I think I may have been a little over zealous in taking the run course on. Instead of a light easy stride off the bike, my pace was pounding and furious out of the gate… but close to mile 1 I felt a sharp pain in my Achilles. The pain soon took hold and my sub-23 minute hopes for the 3 mile run became a pedestrian 24:26.

So I’ve had time to reflect… time to regret a little as well… I don't think it was the form, but the practitioner... I don't blame the shoes, but I do blame the runner... but regret aside, all I can do is hope and pray that I’ll be ready to take on the 1.2 mile swim, 58 mile bike and 13.1 mile come September 25th… lesson for me this time? Ease into anything new… from new running form to running shoes… even from the bike to run transition… ease into it… after all, those few minutes I think I’m gaining really mean nothing when I’m  injured and laid up wishing I could lace up my shoes… and man, am I wishing I could go out for a run right now.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Too much water can be bad for you?

Did you know you can actually drink too much water? I guess I had actually known that as well, but didn’t understand why. I remember a few years ago a local radio station was holding a contest for, if my foggy memory can recall, a Wii gaming system. This was back when the Wii was hard to get and actual fights were erupting in stores for them, and people were actually selling their kids for them… or something like that. Anyways, the fall of civilization aside, this particular radio station came up with what seemed like a benign, safe contest to hold as a radio gimmick… they picked several people out of a crowd and held a water drinking contest. That’s safe right? It’s just water… heck, we’re made up of water… no way drinking too much water can be bad for you, right? Unfortunately not a single one of those people putting on the contest asked whether or not it was safe to consume gallons of water in a single sitting… so for one contestant, it turned into an awful morning… the worst kind of awful…  she died. Died of drinking too much water!
It’s called Hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is a metabolic condition in which there is not enough sodium (salt) in the body fluids outside the cells. When the amount of sodium in fluids outside cells drops, water moves into the cells to balance the levels. This causes the cells to swell with too much water. Although most cells can handle this swelling, brain cells cannot, because the skull bones confine them. Brain swelling causes most of the symptoms of hyponatremia.
I only bring any of this up because I think I suffered from a mild case of hyponatremia yesterday after my brick workout. I had gone on a 46 mile bike ride through Santiago Canyon and followed that up with a 6 mile hill run. Because I forgot my Gatorade at home, all I had with me was a 24 oz bottle of water… I didn’t think it was a big deal, because I downed a liter of water right before starting the bike ride. Unfortunately by mile 28 of my bike, I had no water left. My buddy Brad had handed me one of his Gatorade bottles before we started the ride, but before I could get a drink of it, it had popped out of the bottle holder when I hit a rough patch and spilled out onto the road…that totally sucked! I knew my sodium levels were depleting though, because the amount of sweat dripping from my body was unholy and I was constantly wiping the eye burning, stinging sweat away from my eyes just to be able to see the road. During the loop back, I knew I couldn’t go much further without something to drink, so we stopped for a Gatorade at a convenience store. The confusion and irrational behavior must have really affected me I only bought one… no water either… so dumb! I drank it down in what seemed like a single gulp… and I was still thirsty. But it helped and got me through the bike. After the bike, we started our run… a painful run through hills that I barely survived, fighting through some cramping, and mental fatigue. After the workout was finished, I grabbed my emergency bottle of water that was in the car… nearly swallowed the entire liter of water within 10 minutes but I still felt thirsty… I just couldn’t hold any more liquid… So during my drive home, I felt nauseous… a little dizzy. I arrived home and drank more water thinking I was dehydrated. After a quick shower and a quick bite to eat, I started working on cleaning out the garage with Elijah… still sweating and still so thirsty, I grabbed more water and a diet coke… a big mistake… I grew more and more nauseous… I felt this way for hours yesterday. It wasn’t until I had some salty food did I even start to feel better… to feel whole again…
Lesson here? Don’t let your wife talk you into doing chores around the house after a long workout! I kid, I kid… (sort of). Actual lesson here is simple… Gatorade is your friend… sodium is your friend… chores, not so much…

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Training... sort of...

When I first started biking I was told there were a few things I absolutely needed to come to expect in my first few months of riding… The first being that I would at some point fall over on my bike because having your feet clipped into pedals is forgettable. (You can only hope that it’s not while riding with a friend on a busy path around Newport’s Backbay with other bikers, runners and walkers in clear view with the sounds of “oohh!” as you slowly fall over in slow motion… embarrassing.) The second is that every biker should learn to change a flat and prepare for getting one, because everyone gets one. I didn’t give much thought to either one of these truths… and sadly, as of this past weekend both have come to pass…

I had gone out the other week to buy a spare inner tube, a CO2 canister with adapter and a small tool that’s used for changing flats. I didn’t think I’d actually need them, so I didn’t bother buying a bag to actually carry the little “just in case” kit around. Instead, I left them in their original packaging in the garage right next to my bike with very little expectation of needing them. So when I woke up Saturday morning with grand plans to get a near 50 mile bike ride in through the hills of South Orange County, I didn’t give much thought to the flat kit I assembled that was sitting very literally next to my bike as I prepped for the morning. You can see where this is going…

Suffice it to say, I didn’t get my 50 miles in… a rear tire flat made quick work of any notion I had in getting in a long ride;


Instead, I got in an 8 mile ride… a 1.5 mile shoeless walk and a 15 minute curb sitting session. I wasn’t alone in this by the way… sadly, my wife was dragged out of bed at 6:15am to a pathetic phone call of “Can you come pick me up?” She was good enough to get herself and our 4 year old son out of bed to come get my sorry, unprepared butt without complaint.

It wasn’t all for not though… what was expected to be a smooth but challenging ride became a valuable lesson on being prepared for all eventualities…I went out that morning and bought a pack that is now strapped to my bike with all of the “just in case” essentials.


I also learned how to change the flat and in fact, practiced a couple of times just to make certain I had it down… so I guess I still got in some training… although not exactly what I had planned for that morning, it was still a lesson worth learning... so it wasn't a total loss... and spending a Saturday morning having breakfast with the family was pretty nice too…

Friday, July 1, 2011

My weekend...

A co-worker asked what my plans were for the weekend… I didn’t give it much thought when I responded, “BBQ with the family… fireworks… relaxing…” and left it at that because that seemed to sum up the coming events of the weekend. But he asked, “No working out this weekend?” I thought for a second and replied, “Yeah, I’ll be doing some training…” and I laid it out matter-of-factly…

Saturday;
6:00am – 10:00am = Bike 30 miles, run 7 miles, swim for an hour
3:00pm – 4:30pm = Cross Fit Session

Sunday;
6:00am = 1800 meter swim in Long Beach

Monday;
7:30am = Lake Forest 5K with the family

“Yeah, that’s nothing… man, thanks for making me feel like a lazy human being…”

Obviously he was joking… but it hit me… “All of this training and I still manage to look like a sausage when I wear spandex!” I kid… I kid… sort of… (I know, bad visual) But I am working out a lot... and the true beauty is none of it seems like working out to me. In fact, it’s become more play time for me than it is training… and every weekend has some play time built in. It’s expected by my kids, by my wife… I’ll be gone every Saturday morning from before they wake to about mid-morning when chores and errands have to be done… and I’m right there with them. This weekend is a bit of an exception as I typically wouldn’t have a session in the afternoon… but everything else is normal… a standard part of my life. But why? Not certain… I haven’t put a lot of thought into it… but I love waking up with the sun… I love the cool mornings… I love my running shoes… I love my bike… I love meeting up with my fellow comrades in spandex to go for a ride or a run. Doesn’t matter to me if we stick together or not, we’re still in it together. I love that I burn several hundred calories before my day even gets started… I love the taste of cold water when I’m sweaty, tired and my body feels like it’s on fire… I love the feeling of finishing a long swim session… I love races and the atmosphere that comes along with it… I love the gear and the toys… I love the feeling of cool sheets against the skin of my freshly shaved legs (yes, I shave my legs now)… I could seriously go on and on, but I’ll spare you… because really what I’m trying to convey is simple… I love running, biking and swimming… so none of it is work or a chore… I guess that could change with time, but right now… I can’t get enough…

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beautifully courageous...

I love watching people run. People of all shapes and sizes out moving in the most natural way is beauty to me. I may not have always thought this… but I think it now. I truly appreciate how wonderful it is to get out and run... and I appreciate just how courageous a person has to be to take those first steps. After all for some it’s more than just the heavy breathing or the sweat dripping from their faces or the humbling affects of age… it’s overcoming the self consciousness of not feeling your best… of feeling out of your element… feeling old… of maybe carrying around that extra weight that snuck up on you after years of neglect, but getting out there anyways… courageous… and I see them. I see people running on occasion that do not fit the typical runners mold and if I didn’t think I would get smacked or be misunderstood, I would want to encourage them… I want to yell “You  look awesome! Keep it up!”… but no matter how sincere my intentions, I doubt it would be taken well… so I don’t say a word. How do I know some people feel a little self conscious or intimidated to go out and run? Maybe I’m not entirely certain… but I suspect it because that’s exactly how I felt when I started running… out of shape and out of my element. I’ve also had conversations that reveal a lot… with friends… with co-workers… and with strangers… this past weekend was a good example.
 I spent a few hours this past Sunday morning helping Team World Vision get ready for the upcoming running season by manning a table at my church. My roll was to answer questions and get people interested in signing up to be part of the running team that would run the LA Half and Full marathon to raise money for clean water in Africa. I wasn’t alone though… I had a few friends with me, so it turned into a pretty good time. But we each did our part… answered questions… encouraged people to sign up and get more info, but not surprisingly we heard a lot of reasons why they couldn’t or didn’t want to run… none of it being lack of desire mind you. The reasons ranged from bad knees to lack of time, but most of the reasons stemmed from some form of self consciousness. The “I’m a terrible runner” came up a few times… “I can’t run” was another popular one… but surprisingly, the most common one was “I’m not a runner”. What does that mean? I think our group may have looked intimidating to some… not certain. But they were willing to come up to take a look, just not commit. What I actually heard in those responses was… “I’m not fit “looking” and I think people will laugh and stare at me if I run and I’m afraid to be the worst one so I won’t even try”… Maybe I’m not entirely accurate, but I bet I’m close.
 There were a few though that signed up… a few people that weren’t so sure when they walked up, but was lent enough encouragement to take that first step… none of them runners… but willing to run… courageous I say… and I will be proud to have helped them in a small way… the beautifully courageous…
 Anyone want to go running with me?