Sunday, October 21, 2012

Focus, Boredom or Tedium??

Okay, so today was an exercise in mental focus. Anyone who has spent much time around a pool knows that these lines can cause you to go into a "zombie-like state".  I tend to have a hard time keeping count of my laps even on short sessions.  Well, my last long swim before Ironman Florida and the beginning of my taper for that race was today.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get in an open water swim over at my friend's house on the lake this weekend, so I had to swim 4625 yards in the pool -- following that lane line for almost a full 90 minutes.
Sometimes, life is a lot like swimming in the pool and following the lane line.  You can go into a zone, you can just keep plugging along and you don't notice anything around you.  That isn't always bad, especially if you never really unplug from life.  However, I think we have to be careful to unplug too much.  We need to stay engaged in our lives with the people who matter most, within our chosen communities that we surround ourselves, and to look for ways to connect with others.  Isn't life all about connecting and establishing community?  Otherwise, all we will do is follow the lane line and miss out on everything that is going on around us, and that can be boring and tedious.
How do you connect?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lost Opportunity

Sometimes you don't realize the opportunities you have right in front of you until they are gone.  Today I realized two things.

I was riding today and was focused on all that I had to accomplish during this ride.  This was an important brick (a ride combined with a run immediately following), since my race is in two weeks. This would be a dress rehearsal of sorts.  I had to ride for three and a half hours and then run for an hour.  My wife was out of town and I had both my girls with me.  The youngest had a soccer tournament at 8:15 in the morning and my oldest had practice at 10:00.  Then we had a planned father- daughter dinner and pumpkin party at church at 6:00 and finally another tournament game at 7:45 tonight.  So I was desperately trying to squeeze my workout in that short window in the afternoon. I wanted to get about 70 miles in on the bike and at least a 7 mile run.  I wanted to practice nutrition and really feel comfortable with pace and effort and heart rate.  So at about 2 and a half hours into the ride I come up on another rider, who is a little slower, I pass him and am about to go on.  Of course, I am cordial as I do this, and say "hello" and "how are you?" but I fully expect that to be it.  He takes the initiative to ask me where I am going.  I didn't have a good answer for the "where" so I told him about 30 miles left.  I slow down a bit, and I ask him about his ride (because I certainly don't want to be rude).  He tells me he is riding to Memphis and then to Mobile, AL and then to New Orleans and so on....  I ask him why and he tells me "It's just one of those bucket list things".  I ask him where he started from and he started in Santa Barbara, CA.  He is riding across the country.  His wife is following behind him and he has a support vehicle (neither of which did I see at any point on the ride).  I tell him how cool that I thought that was and that was about it.  He could tell I was focused on "going fast" and accomplishing my task, so he said "I don't want to slow you down" and with that I told him to be safe and have a great ride and I was gone.

It was several miles down the road, when I realized that I missed a real opportunity to talk to someone who was living out a really good story.  I was so focused on my task that I didn't take the time to share in this guy's story and to make a friend.  Now don't get me wrong, I mean I was strapped for time.  I did get my miles in.  I did get the run.  I felt more confident after this session. But that really isn't the point.  Somehow the big picture eluded me.  I am regretting that now.  Most things in life are not that important.  My commitments are not that firm, that I shouldn't have extended a little more time to just talk and listen to another human being.
Here were my lessons learned: 1) We should all take time to experience life and share it with others. 2) We should never be satisfied with looking in the rear view mirror of our lives.  Having a "bucket list" means that the best of our lives are still ahead of us. 
Isn't this the way we were meant to live life?  What is on your bucket list?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Long time, No see...

I have a confession to make: I am a terrible blogger.  I disappear for months at a time. I am pretty sure that my last blog post was in February of this year.  I am still trying to get the hang of this and living life at the same time. This is not an easy task.  Especially if you are really trying to live life well and to the fullest extent possible.  Do I try to have something funny, pithy and witty to say every post?  Do I try to give you a chronological account of my actual life or what goes on in my head? What exactly am I supposed to write?  Does it need to be a long drawn out post or can it be a quick update to what is going on in a day's time; or a quick thought?

You may ask "Where have you been?"

Well, let's see: Physical Therapy at The Smith Clinic - Michael Smith's crew did a great job of getting me back on my feet as did Dr. Laura Lendermon at Lendermon Sports Medicine so I've recovered from the calf injury. A men's conference at Re: Fuel Memphis - where we explored living our life in faith and taking risks instead of "playing it safe". My youngest daughter graduated from elementary school and has started middle school.  My oldest is in her last year of middle school and has become a teenager.  Mother's Day, Father's Day, Birthday's (all of my family is in the summer or early fall - I call it birthday palooza.  Tri season started and has actually ended for most everyone else.  I got my USAT Coaching Certification.  I have been chasing my kids from soccer tournament to soccer tournament to church camp to weekend retreats, etc.... My grandfather died this summer (a whole post by itself - what a great man!).  I started placing on the podium on the tri scene.   In August I placed 17th overall in the local sprint in Memphis at Showman Shooter Long Course (not Sharp Shooter) and finished 2nd place in my age group.  Second Place overall in the Toad Suck Triathlon in Conway, AR in September.  I placed 1st in my age group in the Goosepond Half Distance Triathlon in October in Scottsboro, AL.  I am actually quite overwhelmed with the success I have seen.  To come from just a few short years ago at close to 100 pounds heavier to this place has been a big jump.  In short, I have been training like a mad man for Ironman Florida!   I have been living life as best I can and haven't had too much time to write.


Don't get me wrong, I have lots of things to say, just not enough energy to say them.  I have several post subjects and titles that may get fleshed out over the fall and the winter.  For now I have 14 days until Ironman Florida.  To say that I am excited would be an understatement.  Consumed, is more appropriate.  I dream about it, I obsess over it. I plan for it, I calculate time and splits constantly. I am ready for it to be here.  I have trained and sacrificed. My family has been great and they have put up with me and let me do my thing.  I can never thank them enough.  My wife has been super supportive.  She just showed me the "Team Chris" shirts she had made for the race for our family and friends.  She just bought me race wheels and surprised me with them.  She has been an invaluable support during this journey.

So much to say and so much I know that I have left out.  I will try to catch everyone up as I can over the last eight months of life. 

In the meantime, I will do my best to chronicle the last 14 days of this journey to become an Ironman.  If all goes well, I will try to post some quick thoughts each day leading up to November 3rd.  Until then, to quote a line from my teenager's "newest favorite movie of all time" (for now) - "May the odds be ever in your favor!". 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Training Interupted

This is what a torn calf muscle looks like. I know it looks bad.  It doesn't feel so hot either.  I'm in a boot for probably four weeks.  On the bright side, I can swim and I can cycle, as long as I have no pain.  I went and had this little gem of a picture taken by the Sports Medicine doctor (Dr. Laura Lendermon at Lendermon Sports Medicine) on Friday, and proceeded to feel sorry for myself all weekend. Now it's time to make the best of it and heal as quickly as I can.  Maybe I can get a little extra swim time in.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living

So I have been reading this book with a group of guys and discussing the themes and topics within the pages.  Don't pick this up if you don't want to look inward and you don't want to reflect on the past, or to create a new future. Miller talks about life is like living within our own story.  We can write the story or we can let the story come to us and be written for us.

One quote that struck me was this: "I've wondered, though, if one of the reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don't want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgement.  We don't want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage.  And if life isn't remarkable, then we don't have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants."

So my thought is: isn't this one of the reasons I compete in triathlons? Isn't this one of the reasons I go to Colorado to climb and hike mountains?  Isn't this why I want my kids to be their best?  I think it is.  I think it is because I want a better story for my life and I want my kids to have a better story for their lives.

Monday, February 13, 2012

OK, Let the Frustration & Panic Begin

As I have mentioned before I am doing Ironman Florida in November. I am very excited and would like to do well.  I have no illusions about winning, or getting on the podium, or even qualifying for Kona.  I just want to do the best that I can and let's face it, I am competitive and I want to fair well against some other people that I know are going to be doing the race.

Here are my problems: 1) I haven't lost the weight that I intended to lose, so that by March I can begin training at a lower and more ideal weight. 2) My training has been very inconsistent over the fall and winter to this point, so I haven't addressed the need to ramp up my running mileage, or swimming technique deficiencies, that I know exist. 3) And the biggest, I am now dealing with an injury.  A couple of weeks ago I felt an explosion in my calf. I am not injury prone.  I immediately started icing it every thirty minutes, put a compression sleeve on it, and kept it elevated. I even did some cold laser therapy for the purpose of speeding up the healing process. And of course, I basically did nothing in the way of training for the last two weeks (except swim a couple of times). An now, over the weekend, I felt the "pop" in my calf again.

This is getting to be a little too much.  I only have 38 weeks from this past Saturday to get all of this done.  It is truly "GO Time".  I don't have time for injuries, I don't have any other margin for error for lack of training or lack of commitment.

Let's see where this lands us.  Until next time....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Inconsistent Workouts, But Fun Times

Well, so far this off season, I haven't blogged in two months and although I have worked out, there has been no consistency.  I am going to start doing better at both. I did get a chance to run in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky with my wife over Christmas.

And I also got to run in Central Park in NYC twice on a recent guys trip.

More on both trips and the off season later.  Have a great Monday.