Thursday, December 16, 2010

Up Tempo

Man, two weeks since my last post goes fast. I cannot believe how fast time is moving in the last month. Unbelievable. Living a life I never expected right now and will end far to soon. So I rejoice in the moment.

My master plan of training with more frequency was immediately derailed by two days of stomach flu and two more days of recovery. That really, really sucked. However in the last week I have put  together eight  good workouts. I am finally in the last few days starting to have two-a-days and here is what I have found. 

I am good for one solid, hard workout per day or two easy to moderate training sessions per day. When I do any training over 90 minutes at one time I am done for the day. Sometimes I am in that bonkie, sort of not there realm for the rest of the day or my legs simply have not recovered. When I do two easy to moderate workouts separated by several hours I can typical recover just fine. So in the interest of burning calories am logging longer distances to build base, I am going for two workouts a day when I can. 

As with most people, regardless of training, I am partaking in the 'sweet' benefits of the holiday season and kicking myself for it each time I get on the scale. I have drawn my line in the sand and reversing that trend today. I am not going to deny myself the enjoyment of celebratory drinks and foods while with my friends but I certainly will when I am by myself. It is not what I do the three hours I am at a party, its what I do the other 21 hours that defines my strategy for fitness. And every 24 hour period after that till the next time. 

Gotta be safe, be strong, be consistent and be vigilant. But have fun while doing, otherwise why do it. Right?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Taking the (COLD) plunge

The more I read about it, the more I am convinced that I hamper my day to day recovery from endurance pursuits because of my love for my hot tub. I will easily spend 20-40 minutes every couple days soaking in a 104* hot tub, sweat pouring off my face, a good book or magazine article helping me unwind from the day. 

An unfortunate consequence of my current quest for quicker recovery is leading me to sacrifice my beloved hot tub by cutting my immersion by 50-75% a week. In fact I am going to go in the exact opposite direction and begin taking cold showers and using my pool as a cold plunge especially as a post workout recovery. 

You see it is not so much that the additional heat  from my soaks is harming my recovery as it is the lack of ice baths, cold plunges and the like that actually have verifiable restorative property's post activity. Rather than put myself in a position to have the hot tub suck more vital metabolic energy from me when I need it most, in recovery, and potentially increasing muscle fiber tear down I will be instead constricting blood flow, halting tissue breakdown and decreasing swelling. If this cyrotherapy does as it should, it would halt muscle fiber breakdown which lessens my naturally occurring Rhabdo and therefore help my blood recover and clear itself faster through my kidneys.

Not looking forward to adding cold showers to my routine. Not sure I can do it daily. I do believe that after all home based training I can cold plunge in my pool. I know this is not going to be easy. In fact for all my nuances for gear and my Shiny Things, I expect the next few months to be a very Spartan, hardcore living style.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Testing the battery

After two and half years of recovery, I realize that while I am miraculously still alive, I have limitations that I must abide by in order to maintain a balance of health and endurance. I purposely chose those words as my polar opposites as it is quite clear the more I increase my endurance workload the more stress I place on my body, specifically those formally failed internal organs. The best analogy I can provide today to describe my life is that I can still reach levels beyond mere exercise yet it takes significantly longer for my body to recover and part of that is my kidneys clearing out the Rhabdo blood. A very novice way of stating a complicated process. 

There are benefits and consequences to everything but I have decided, and have the luxury right now, of taking a significant amount of time from work. I have cleared my schedule for the next two months at least and plan to invest that time in my relationship with my family and my relationship with my body. Physically and mentally. 

My plan, despite all applicable Murphy Laws to the contrary, is to start ramping up my running, cycling and strength workouts using accelerated periodization to maintain a level of continual growth in speed and distance without pushing into exhaustion and over training. This is over course very touchy ground for me as I tend to train harder, not smarter. 

I already accept that what used to be an eight to twelve hour recovery from a moderate to intense training session is now twenty-four to thirty-six hours.  Meaning that any training in recovery has had to be active rest at most. To change this process will apply stress to me physically which I must monitor in order for me to build into two or three a day sessions once more. 

My hypothesis is that by steady, consistent, focused application of physical stress (aka being in The Zone), along with proper physical, mental and emotional recovery with little distraction, I can make significant recovery gains. I can retrain my body to recovery closer to my pre-injury form. I wish it was the same as throwing out the bad batteries and inserting new ones and if anyone can figure that out, you'll be a gozillioniare, but alas our human bodies run on rechargables and mine have just been drained to zero too many times and are slow to recharge. 

Swimming will take a part in this plan as recovery option only, for now. I don't have a pool and I can swim in the lake but it will be a mighty chilly option. Plus I will need a partner with lake swims which may not be all that inviting an offer. I am honest enough to appreciate Master's swim programs but I have no illusions of ever getting out of the slow lane and holding those people up with me there.

The next couple months will be interesting to say the least. My sole focus is family and fitness. Lets see what happens. A little work to stay sharp.

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Playing Hard with Luck

Sometimes I wonder if this blog is just an external medical journal. I seem to have more physical ailments to discuss than training profile. Today while crossing an crosswalk I was hit by a car. The car was doing a California stop and it me at less than five miles per hour. Just to keep this straight in my head, this is what happen. 

A small black SUV was at a stoplight. A pedestrian was waiting for the walk signal and I was about 40 yards from the intersection when the light changed in our favor. I jogged to the crosswalk and watched the walker and the driver do a little dance to see who would pass first. The driver after a few seconds let the pedestrian cross first, which was the legal thing to do. As a runner, I have come to this same intersection maneuver thousands of times and much prefer to run behind a vehicle than in front. So I began waving the SUV through and he started to crawl into the turn. I slowed to let him pass in front of me and he stopped a few feet into the crosswalk long enough for me to question if he was letting me go first. Also having been in this situation thousands of times before, a runner should never try to cut directly in front of a car, moving or not, so I tracked a yard in front of the SUV towards the far side of the crosswalk and kept my eyes on the driver. Thats when he decided to drive through me. I always expect this to happen but it is a .001% reality. So when his bumper struck my quad, I was already performing a ballistic lateral jump away and my hands out ready to push off his hood. Which they hit quite hard. He was young, wearing a white ball cap and large squarish sunglassses. His hands came up, one from the wheel the other holding his female passengers hand. She screamed out in shock. I screamed out as well, a colorful explicative laced paragraph describing his driving skill, what I imagine he does to farm animals and what he could do with himself. I was pretty keyed up at this point so I kept moving. I'd been hit harder. 

So the question that I mulled over on the way back to the hotel was, "Am I a lightening rod for injury or do I somehow have the luck to not get the worst of something that normally is quite bad?"  It is not phrased very well but we all know well stories of people in the same situation described above and they suffer horrible knee or leg injury. The fracture in my foot last month could have been tremendously more severe and yet I was off crutches in ten days. A fractured tibia a few years ago should have kept me in a cast for six weeks and light duty for another six but was running in four. It goes without saying that doctors do not consider lighty telling a family their loved one will not live to see the morning and yet my wife was given that diagnosis and here I am. 

I somehow eek out the low percentage shot when the chips are against me physically. So again I wonder, is it a problem that I am in that situation more often than most or is it Favor or blessing or luck or preparedness or proper mindset and determination that allow me to overcome these injurious obstacles. After tonight I tend to want to believe I am luckier than I deserve but don't dwell on the negative. 

Being positive and lucky work together. For a long time now, I have used a sign off that says, "It is not enough to exist, I am going to live."  I don't create any particular blog post or personal position with this statement in mind but realize afterwards that its fitting as I just keep trying to move forward. To get past a hardship and continue my legacy. 

This is one of those philosophical debates that can never truly be answered. Every persons answer is based on their own perception of their luck and injury, hardship and belief of it being ordained or ordinary. While it is now somewhat self serving to end with the usual salutation mentioned above, I will simply say...

...I thankful for my health and ability to overcome adversity. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Want to lose weight? Use Ink.

When I think back to the thousands of people that I have helped lose weight or my own accomplishments in this area; it is easy to acknowledge the greatest tool in this endeavor is not sets, reps, compound exercises, functional training, late night infomercials or one of the ten thousand diets out there. It is so old school that it is completely overlooked..  It's a pen. 

Yes, that's correct. You can punish your body for five hours a day but you will lose more weight by simply writing down the calories you take in and the calories you burn.  

The act of writing down with pen or paper, or if you're tech savvy a digital substitute, what you put in your mouth will give you an immediate pause to if you really, really need to put something in your mouth. Especially later in the day when our mental energy's are low, our willpower siphoned off from dozens of interactions at work and circular nonsensical conversations with kids or the adult equivalent. Based on unconscious habit, we often don't even realize we are eating or overeating. The process of being accountable to those eating actions will eventually cause you reconsider your habits. You ask yourself, "Do I really need to eat all that,"  "Do I really need to this candy/ice cream/bar/drink."

Conversely if you have the ability to track the calories you expend either in daily metabolic rationing or through exercise using a heart rate monitor or pedometer, you can list those expenditures as an asset and subtract them from your daily intake. Thankfully technology creates a multitude of gadgets to do this in your daily life at an affordable price. When you write down the exercise(s) you perform your more apt to stick to a plan. It may be more comfortable to sit on the couch for thirty minutes but in that amount of time, the viewing of a sitcom, you could run two miles or more and done far more good for yourself. 

Furthermore, you can be as high tech or low tech as you see fit. Portability is the key.  For twenty years I have used food journals either bought or self made, paper and digital based, with all kinds of line items and boxes for plugging in specific information for portion size, calories, and percentages of protein, carbohydrate or fat. None have really kept me as engaged as a small notepad that I can write what I want and how I want it. I couldn't tell you how many times at the end of the day I pulled scraps of paper from my pocket to enter into a spreadsheet or larger binder and it just felt tedious. 

So I keep it easy; energy in, energy out. What is my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) for the day, or calories burned if I basically schlep through the day and don't gain or lose any weight. This is a constant. Then I start adding the calories that I eat and if I exercise I subtract the calories I burn. The goal is to be at or under my BMR at the end of the day. To lose weight a person would factor a number of calories to be less than at the end of the day. For example to lose one pound per week you would want to be deficit 500 calories each day for seven days which equals 3,500 calories or 1 pound. 

If you are truly interested in losing weight, pick up a pen before a dumbbell. It is the most consistently productive way to lose weight quickly. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Our mind is powerful tool. It becomes easily fixated on one thing and although we go through thousands of calculations and thoughts per day, it drifts back to that want, or need, or think we need.  Even, dare I say especially, when we try to block those thoughts from our mind knowing that to give in to that desire is only a momentary satisfaction. A self serving action of greed that gives way to equal desire once we overtake that conquest.

Like a perfect key our mind convinces us to give in, like that key going into a well oiled lock. It slides right in. It never sticks or snags. It turns smoothly and unlocks that door in our head that when opened, out cascades a spark that became a raging, burning desire. 

The same is not true when we attempt to eliminate desire from our life. Desire is not only a positive gesture affirming life. It is also filled with death, perhaps the father of the Seven Sins themselves. To much desire, too much demand on something leads to all sorts of misbehavior that thwarts our proper vision of our life. 

When we eliminate something, even something as simple as a single food item like ice cream or our favorite foodie vice, before we go to bed, the perfect key no longer wants to fit smoothly. It is a old key going into an old lock that is not set right. We learn that there is a pattern of moving the key or applying pressure in a certain direction that finally budges the lock shut. 

Try to take a comfort away from your life and see how this rings true. Wake up an hour early each morning to exercise your mind, body or soul. For your Prime time channel surfing snack, eat only the apples you bought the day before and not the left over Halloween candy you still have out of sight though not of mind.

It takes quite a lot of mental energy to finally flip that switch in your mind to make the right choice. We fail far more than we succeed in the beginning of new habits. Stay the course and consistent mental behavior of positive affirmation will oil the rusty, old lock and the key will turn it open. Inside is who you want to be.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fractured Foot Update

Two weeks ago I fractured the top of my right foot. I don't know if it was from Tough Mudder and just lingered as some fractures do or if it came from trail or pavement running I have done since. 

Repeative use injury's are the nature of the game in endurance pursuits. I try to find the positive in all things so I am grateful that this is not a knee injury or other truly lifestyle debilitating injury. 

I used crutches for a week as any pressure was very difficult.  That numb, pain in the bone feeling, the sometimes cold sensation at the end of an extremity all persisted that first week. By the end my legs were a wreck of poor bio mechanics and tightness. After a full weekend on by back using RICE strategy's, I walked or should say limped into the of this week of work without the crutches. 

This week has been mostly free of pain, though I admittedly over stretched my toes and my foot one night and paid a step price on the pain threshold. 

To loosen my legs up I started doing some very easy bike work on my trainer, staying in the same gear for 30-40 minutes. Mistress asked why I didn't just ride on the street as the weather is so nice, but I felt that the extra twisting of the cleats and pulling up on even slight inclines would cause discomfort or delay healing. It has worked well. 

Tonight is a party a Mighty Mo's elementary school. Mistress and Mo are going to at the start to run a booth for the 1st grade class and I decided I am going to walk there with Mae in her stroller. Its one mile away. I am hoping that this goes well, I've not walked so far at once since the fracture. I will lay low on Saturday and if things go well, I will try some treadmill or short run Sunday. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why not remember the good?

Isn't it funny how we vividly remember certain things or people?  An endurance friend related a funny story involving his running buddy while they ran a recent half marathon. When I heard the name of his friend I immediately wondered if this was the same person who ten years ago at a then popular running store sold me a pair Saucony Grid Triumphs that destroyed my feet. I don't use the word often but I hated those shoes. To this day I despise Saucony.

I don't hate the employee, not at all. Yet for some reason, I remember this guys name from our only interaction on a pair of shoes I cannot bemoan enough. Conversely, I have been going to Road Runners Sports for the last year and have bought two great pairs of shoes from a very knowledgeable employee and I couldn't tell you his name to save my life.

I decided to think about the last couple of items I bought that I 'wanted' or really liked. Trust me I don't have to go back far in my memory for that. Less than a week. Can't remember a single persons name that assisted me. Yet I know off the top of my head that when Jim calls me from the auto shop, he is going to tell me I need to pay $300 to fix the car. But he'll ultimately charge me $400 and somehow kick me in the nuts without me seeing it happen.

Do people tend to remember the traumatic instances in their life more clearly than the happy, joyous events. I don't remember my wedding very well, but I know my new bride almost killed me when I shoved cake in her face. My parents still recall the look of death she gave me.

Maybe I suffer that old American truism of loving the underdog. After all my races, I tend to remember the ones that were hard over the ones that were easy. The ones were I had bloody nipples or twisted my ankle. I recall the Ironman that I didn't finish over the ones that I did. I have watched every Superbowl for 20 years yet the one I remember the absolute clearest is when that a referee stole the game from the Seahawks and handed it to the Steeleers.

So I ask, do people forget good memories and recall bad memories because we are masochistic or there is a sense of being incomplete or unfulfilled that trumps happiness. I don't know about all that but I know I will never, ever, ever where Saucony's again. Man I hated that shoe.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fractured foot. All things considered....

Is it surprising that I am fairly ambivalent regarding a stress fracture to my right foot?  Ever the optimist, at least it is not a knee injury. Those suck. 

As far as injuries go, as far as fractures go, it is more of a nuisance to me than a limitation. The pain is not intense, it is that numb, pain in the bone hurt that never seems to leave. Not really painful but it never really leaves. The fracture I had on my tibia a few years ago hurt more. As long as I stay off the foot the swelling and pain stay down for most of the day. As the day goes, if I don't get it up and iced it will start to hurt more but if I have been down for a bit, like I was over the weekend or when I wake up, it doesn't really hurt much. I've already stopped babying my foot and moving my toes around to stretch out the area to get that 'hurt so good feeling.'

I am on crutches for a few days.  I am rocking leopard print padding for my arm pits and hand grips. I can pull it off. And its funny. C'mon. It is. I am not really upset that this happened. Injuries happen. Especially repetitive use injuries like this. Its not like I fell off a roof or gave myself a(nother) concussion. I'll work around it. 

Call it the survivor in me. Call it a good disposition. But I am not in a cast. I am not in a hospital. I can reasonably move around. I still have time to sort out a winter training plan. A marathon in January is probably out of the question. Some of my longer races and hikes are currently on hold. I don't think I can turn this around that fast but it doesn't mean I can't look for ways to keep moving forward. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Superman had a phone booth but he was fast

I love afternoon runs around the town lake but seldom do so from my office which is just down the street. Of course I could do so, I am not precluded from lunch time runs, however I like to keep my reasons for coming and going places somewhat private.

To take it one step further, when I drive to the lake to run I make sure I stop somewhere else first to change into my running clothes. That way when I park I can pretty much grab my pack, lock my door and head out. I consider changing at the park or loitering around my car before running invites people an opportunity to break into my car.

I don't even know how many car break-INS happen there. I'm simply over various regarding my comings and goings. Perhaps I am being overly secrative or cautious. It's a fair critisicism. But the lake is a transient area and I'd had to return to car with thing taken, especially as I have all my items in the trunk.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Are there caveat's to a Personal Record (PR)

I ran my fastest marathon twenty years ago. There is not much of a chance that I will ever be that fast for that long again. I ran my fastest half marathon over twenty years ago. A few years back I gave it a serious challenge but was still over a full minute slower per mile than my PR. The same could be said for almost every race distance I have done. Although at Pat's Run, I did set a PR of 29:52 at the 4.2 mile race (7:06) simply because I had never raced that specific distance before. 

That's the rub, isn't it. After hundreds of races at distances from 1 mile to 140.6 miles, the only PR I can claim today can come from a distance I haven't done under the clock already. Although I suppose I could beat my 8k race time of 40 minutes because I have only done that event distance once a long time ago.

Do I have to live in the shadow of my twenty year old self? Couldn't I, or can I, start telling people I PR'd because I aged up, or I came back from a 'never race again' injury? It would certainly make my race reports more interesting. We live in a bite sized, sound bite world now. I could write a thousand words on the what, when, where and how I did at a race but nothing is as sensational or would receive as much response as writing, "I got a PR at X event this weekend". 

There is some sense to making the claim that I PR'd a distance based on my age and not over my lifetime. I might not be as fast as I was two decades ago, but if I regularly run half marathons or 10ks over the course of my 30's, I can show a PR based on that decade. 

I think most of use us this way of thinking already. If I during my 30's, a course of ten years and two age groups, I raced fifty 10k runs and can show that my fastest time at the distance was when I was 38, can't I say I had a PR for 10ks while I was in that age group, or for that decade in my life. I'd like to think so. 

Till then I will live in the glory of my youth or the advantage of a ridiculously easily race course. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's on your race card counts

Prior to my long distance racing being sidelined by injury, I planned my races on a 18 month cycles. Thats a lot of commitment to training and racing. A lot of conversations and sacrifices with the family regarding time for vacations and bake sales, obligations for chores, and communication to keep relationships moving together. 

Now that I race so infrequently I pick and choose my events almost at will. I train and recover as hard as I can yet always have this medically induced and matrimonially enforced limit to what is considered normal and what could be considered suicidal. Mistress does a great job at keeping my feet on the ground. The mere mention of an event of any significance triggers a litany of questions probing my reasons and intentions. 

As all men do, I think of myself as I used to be. We laughed at Al Bundy's oft mentioned four touchdowns in the championship game of Polk High because Al really believed he was still that good, or lucky.  And yet like Al, if I were to work out at the same level today, I would be grasping my back and crying, "Peggy!". 

This doesn't mean that I couldn't go out run a half marathon or ride fifty miles or swim a mile or two this weekend. I can. Heck, I did Tough Mudder a week ago, so my current level of fitness is not totally in question. What has to be questioned now is what will I do if my body decides to fail me because we know that increased distances and increased effort equal increased rhabo and kidney issues for me.

In the last year since being able really get into post injury training, I have good record of completing hard events like the Grand Canyon, a 50 mile run, a marathon, Tough Mudder, Pat's Run, Flat Iron hike and now want to take the real race events more seriously. 

The word is out and people take me more seriously again as a competitor, which is cool. Well at least they are not seeing me as a potential liability. Once per week now I am being invited to participate in some race or event as a teammate. I of course have some of my own ideas on what I want to do.  Around the beginning of November I will be able to figure out the amount of time I can devote to training and racing at least for the next few months and could possibly put together a great winter of endurance pursuits. 

What is on your race card is very important but more important is your commitment to yourself, your family, your friends and your team.  My race card has been a bit light for a reason lately, but I think it could get full fast. I consider the requests humbling. The events are certainly worthy if not epic.

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live.   

Friday, October 15, 2010

Manly gift for a manly man. Pocket Knife.

A man really is a simple creature in terms of receiving a gift. It is classified as Classic or Technological Accelerator. I have decided to devote a few posts a month for shoppers to buy gifts for men based on the two aforementioned categories. Today I will discuss the most classic of gifts, the pocket knife. 

A knife is a timeless gift. Men have been creating bladed tools for almost three million years. Large or small, even today a knife will immediately invoke a shared and implied ancestral history where life and death was defined by such a simple object. However it is within the last two hundred years that the pocket knife has become less a backup survival weapon and more a utilitarian tool of urbania.  

A pocket knife or if you prefer a gentlemen's knife or clasp knife is generally one or two blades set into a handle and swivel out. Blades vary from two inches to six inches though I would suggest staying under a three inch blade as this will meet almost all laws concerning concealed weapons and as a smaller, lighter item more likely to be carried in the pocket.  In a classical pocket knife like a Barlow or Peanut (made by Case), the blade(s) rest on a spring when opened, this is termed a 'non-locking' blade. More contemporary knives are of similar design but use a locking mechanism that must be deployed in order to close the blade. 

Here is a list of knifes that any man would appreciate receiving as a gift. 

Case Knives. W.R. Case began producing knives like the Peanut and Sodbuster (shown left) over a century ago. A true pocket knife brand as identifiable in the American psyche as denim jeans and Cowboy hats. Grandpa probably carried a Case knife in the Big One, World War 2. Small, simple and easy to carry. Why would any man want to suffer the indignity of opening a box with a car key when a Case can be deployed? The nostalgia alone makes a simple looking blade like the Sodbuster an immediate family heirloom. 

To state you own a Buck, is enough in most manly circles. While Buck knives is well represented with their fixed blade line, their Cadet and Canoe lines are traditional masterpieces. Buck pocket knife tend to have two or three blades which can add weight and width to a pocket knife. Do not let this deter this item as a gift. The difference in blades while subtle are significant to a true appreciator of the this line. 

Long before Apple created products designed with a beautiful streamlined seamlessness, Kershaw gave us the Plain Pocket knife. An all stainless handle and matching blade create a unique and classic look. 

For those that prefer a multi use knife set, Victorinox and Wenger have been making Swiss Army knives for generations. Every man, and woman, should own a Classic or Esquire, respectively. These micro knife sets include pen blade, file, scissors and generally a toothpick and the best tweezers on the market.   These are also great for fishing kits and purses. For the larger size pocket knife the Swiss Champ is a do-it-all. 

There is never a wrong time to present a man a traditional pocket knife. Its a oft overlooked or over analyzed item. There are certainly pocket knives with bells and whistles but the best is always the one in his pocket and is a light, simple and dare I say elegant for the rugged individual. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Race Report 2010: Tough Mudder NoCal

Described as Ironman meets Burning Man, Tough Mudder is an event series quickly becoming a destination event amongst endurance athletes and thrill seekers. A dramatic twist on the usual  race, Tough Mudder does not use a clock and is very transparent in proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project. This firmly places the focus of the participants on enjoying the course and helping others in a spirit of cooperation. Looking for a different experience for my 2010 races I participated in the inaugural Bear Valley, northern California event. 

Each Tough Mudder event has a different course based on the location of the event.  Bear Valley was a 7 mile route up, down and around a popular ski resort. Along this route are 18 obstacles of varying difficulty from required assistance to required gut check.  This event was touted as having many snow or ice obstacles and while the weather did not cooperate, it was actually quite warm, it did not detract from the difficulty of the course and the water obstacles were shockingly cold enough to remind you that winter is right around the corner. 

The obstacles are too many to discuss individually, a previous post describes them point by point. Instead I will give my personal report. 

Simply standing in the parking lot oxygen deprived at 7,500 feet and taking in the view, one realizes the course will not so much be an aerobic process or an anaerobic process. I dubbed this course a hypoxic run sure to have road runners gasping for air and crying for momma. Not only was I correct, it happened far earlier than I imagined. 

The race begins with each wave reciting the Tough Mudder pledge, listening to the national anthem and finally a bagpiper, then running down a 45 degree hill, making a sharp turn and running up an access road only to crawl under low strung barb wire. This is where I began a process of bruising my knees into crippled, bloody submission. From there Mudders run down a 1,000 feet and then up 2,000 feet of freshly bushwhacked single track. This is within the first two miles of the course. It was at the beginning of the 2,000 foot climb, with no switchbacks, that I witnessed the first person crying and ready to quit. 

Along the way to the top, Mudders had to stop and complete more obstacles than just breathing, footing and elevation. Recalling correctly the only obstacle that required a queue was called Dragon Teeth, climbing over large construction spools. For most, the first spool was impossible to do alone or with a running start. My own attempt less resembled a high jumper than Wile E. Coyote running right into a wall at full speed. The laughter from those watching was not as loud as my own and certainly not mean, but illustrative of the shared misery we were paying for. Reaching the top of the 2,000 foot climb, though not the highest point of the course, required a plunge into freezing mud, being sprayed by high pressure hoses and climbing a sixty degree slope, which had the weather cooperated would have been a glacier. 

Along the ridge line, Mudders found the mud pit from which most pictures are taken and the obstacles that involved true cooperation and assistance to complete. Of course, more climbing.  My legs at this point were tired but I was passing people fairly easily. I have thousands of miles of hiking and trail running under my feet and while I am not fast, my body understands off road movement. Road runners and Cross Fit teams (of which there were several) suffered from the lack of balance, foot placement and pacing required to tackle some of those climbs without serious struggle. 

Perhaps the funnest part of the course was the swim portion. Crawling, falling, rappelling down a steep slope into 45* water, then walking a 150 yards across. An obstacle in the middle of the crossing had Mudders submerging underwater to get past barrels. The coldness sucked the air from the lungs. A rope climb out of the pit, then a freezing water assisted slip and slide back in. Like many I chose to go head first. Then a swim around a buoy and another climb out.  By far the icy water area was my favorite portion of the course. 

The remainder of the course headed downhill, though not easily and the obstacles were more muscular than aerobic. 

Keeping the streak alive, I am known amongst my training partners as being able to find a free beer somewhere along a training route or race course.  Just before the finish line I passed a spectator with a cold one and asked if he had an extra. A moment later I was continuing my downhill run to the finish enjoying a cold beer and slurping the escaping suds from my wrist. 

Throughout the race and the weekend, I spoke with Leadville and Western State 100 finishers, ironman finishers, triathletes, road runners, Cross Fit's and gym rats. All agreed that the course was above average in it's challenge and worth the investment. I agree. This race was a significant investment of money (as any destination race is), and travel time, (24 hours round trip driving), but those two considerations would not deter me from doing another Tough Mudder venue. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Putting your fitness to the test

When was the last time you tangibly used your fitness to help you or someone else in a tough spot? 

I was able to use mine when the car I am driving developed a gas leak on the way into the office.  I was able to rearrange my schedule so I could drop off the car a trusted auto shop near my house, loaded up a stack of documents and my netbook, crossed my fingers and drove off. I called up my wife to see if she could pick me up and while more than willing to do so, baby Mae was going down for a nap. The baby had a rough night and need a good nap so I told Mistress I would just run home. As I hung up the shop foreman said, 'No don't do that, let one of my guys drive you home." I when I declined that as well, I got the 'weirdo' look. 
We are told to exercise because it helps our heart, keeps us near our ideal weight and even relieves stress. We measure the time it takes to run a distance, we log our sets, reps and weight amounts looking for that one rep max or personal best set. We weigh ourselves and say silent prayers into the mirror as we put on our goal pants. And yet, when can you point to any of that investment giving you a dividend?
Here I am, a grown man in comfortable clothes, the same I wore to work, cinching up a rather thick 20 lb day pack and lowering my sunglasses over my eyes, prepared to run home. It looks like the most natural thing in the world to those around me. And off I run.

Fitness is not just a chore or a release or a means to a good race. Sometimes, hopefully when it counts, it allows you to do things that help others. Like letting my daughter get the sleep she needed and my wife not have to drop her work to rescue her husband. 

So I ask you again, when was the last time you tangibly used your fitness to help you or someone else in a tough spot? 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Upcoming Race: Tough Mudder

Next week I travel to northern California for a race called Tough Mudder. It is actually an event with proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project. It is a 8 mile run at a ski resort with 18 obstacles placed throughout the course. A track of uphill, downhill, over, under, wet, snowy, muddy fun. 

I chose this event for a few reasons. First, destination races are very cool to experience. Then, it does not have a clock for time. As the course is very challenging, and the proceeds to the charity that at its heart of the race is about teamwork, the Race Directors would rather competitors help each other with the obstacles than try to muscle people out of the way. I can respect that. It also keeps me doing fun things without mentally losing it trying to kill myself on the clock. I also get to do this with a few of the managers that I have, which makes it a nice road trip. 

As stated the route is 8 miles up, down and around a ski resort. The obstacles that will be presented on the course are in order:
1. mass Start with Braveheart style war cry.
2. mud crawl under 8" high barb wire.
3. run up a red grade ski run
4. crawl through tire tunnel
5. climb over/under 3 giant spools lined up. 
6. run up the snow boarder half pipe getting high pressure hosed.
7. scramble up a black grade ski run. 
8, climb 100' glacier
9. knee high mud run
10. climb over a series of 8' high hurdles
11. climb over and jump off a school bus. 
12. climb over a series of 12' walls. 
13. down hill slide into mud
14. walk through freezing water, ducking under obstacles on the surface.
15. up and down a ski slope carrying a block of wood.
16. crawl through cargo netting
17. up and over a 8' fence, 4x
18. Mystery obstacle. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Geocaching Treasure

As young boys we universally dream of finding buried treasure. We dream of finding One-Eyed Willie's pirate ship full of booby booty, thats what I said.  Traipsing through the forest finding DB Coopers stolen cash. Finding the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Hiking in the desert and finding the Lost Dutchman's gold. These flights of fancy dissipate as we get older but in the back of our minds we still always wish we could have one good adventure where we find something that has been hidden to others. 

Geocaching is an adult version of hide and seek and a way to recapture those feelings of searchings and finding. A geocache is a container ranging from very small to quite large that has been hidden. The person who hid the cache logs it on the website with a clever title, short description and GPS coordinates. The person who Seeks that cache downloads the information to a GPS enabled device or smartphone and later comes back to the webpage to let the Hider know if they found the cache or not and if they took something or not. 

Oh yeah, the containers usually contain items you can take. These vary from rare coins to mundane items you would find in your junk drawer. The difference is you had to find that container and you earned a piece of the treasure inside. The rule of thumb is that if you take something your put something in.  

I started last year when I bought a new hiking GPS that had a geocache function. I decided my first find would be a cache that I had run past hundreds of times, located at Tempe Town Lake on the Ironman Arizona run course. I could not believe it was hidden in plain site just feet away. I recently purchased the websites iPhone app which takes your current location and shows the closest geocaches. Last night while watching Mighty Mo's football practice I opened the phone app and found a cache less than 200 feet away. It took a few minutes to find, I signed the logbook but decided I would let my son look for it after practice and could pick the item he wanted to trade. 

Mighty Mo is at the age where finding buried treasure is still a reality in his mind.  We go looking together and he gets a kick finding a container tucked into a tree or under a bush or camouflaged in a clever way. It amazes him that you can just walk up and find things like this. Last night when I  picked through the cache I thought he would take a small rubber snake. He found a Star Wars toy from McDonalds that completes a collection of his. Treasure indeed. 

Geocaching is a world wide phenomenon, yet you don't need to go further than a few miles from your house to get started. If you have an older GPS it costs you nothing to get started. You print out the cache page and manually enter the coordinates into the unit. New GPS units may have a geocache function that downloads the page information into the unit and leads you there then you can uploads your results later. has a $9.99 iTunes app. that is amazingly simple. It's a great way to spend a few hours as a family discovering new facets to your neighborhood. Or a nice diversion on a lunch break. It has given a new dimension to my running and now plan routes in new areas so I can find new caches. 

To quote Calvin and Hobbes: There's treasure everywhere.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Shiny Thing: Nathans HPL 020 running vest

I have been looking at Nathans HPL hydration running vest for quite some time but never saw the need with all the other options I had at hand. It finally came to pass that I had to replace a pack and I jumped on the chance to finally fulfill my want. 

Made by runners for runners this is a very light pack made to feel natural on your body. The bulk of the material is a soft mesh liner that allows air flow to and from your body. The front is a very short vest that reaches just below the pectoral muscles. Aside from the vest flaps which hold the pockets the vest has a chest strap with fastek connectors. The left side connector, the female end, also has a built in clip to hold the hydration hose. Two loops, one on each shoulder, round out the decorations on the vest. It is mostly for holding the drinking tube in place but you can be surprised at what else could be attached here. 

The vest has three pockets; on the right side is a mesh pocket with a drawstring with cord lock. It can hold between 3-5 gel packs depending on your brand. It could also hold anything else of approximate size like food or  hard items as a SPOT gps messenger or camera.The left side has a zippered nylon pocket with a mesh pocket on the outside. The zippered pocket is for securing more sensitive items. I have used mine to hold my iPhone to play the Oo Tunes or Endurance Planet podcasts while running. The mesh pocket on the outside of the zippered pocket has no securing so I have not used it for anything other than used gel packages or something light I could safety pin or dummy cord through the mesh. I may in the future add a velcro tab or my own drawstring with cord lock. The positioning of the pockets is low on vest and occassionally my arm would run it as I moved but it never impaired my form or felt uncomfortable. 

The rear pack made of nylon is designed for the hydration bladder and minimal gear storage. It has a main zippered compartment for the bladder, a smaller zippered gear pocket on top and marginal but effective stretch cord to hold a light rain shell or hat. There is no outside stash pockets as this is the function of the vest in front. 

Utilitarian in design, the gear pocket that is on top of the pack is quite small, with enough room for only items like energy bars, sunglasses, gloves, extra socks, a beanie or those small necessity's any runner might need such as chap-stick, TP, cash or sunscreen.There is a inner mesh pocket to hold the smallest items and a plastic d-ring for keys.

The main pack is big enough for the 2 liter hydration bladder. It is made of very light material and reviews online have discussed this can leak. I have not had this problem thus far. The top is a fold over flap that you slide a plastic clip over. I have seen this on my my other drinking systems and prefer it to screw caps. Everyone has an opinion on bite valves, mine is that this is as good as any and I actually drank better from this than other so called, 'big flow' valves.  At the top of the main bag is loop to hang the reservoir from so it doesn't collapse to the bottom of the bag as it empties. When the bladder is filled with 2 liter of water I have only been able to fit a long sleeve technical shirt in the same compartment. 

Nathans touts this item having a 3 Way Propulsion system. This is a fancy way of saying the pack doesn't bounce around on your back. On the bottom of the main pack is a plastic tab. The side straps that control how tight you wear the vest weave through this tab. After a short run with the vest cinched tight like a backpack I had the dreaded runners-rub-rash under my armpits.  After loosening the straps I no longer had this happen and while I felt like the vest was too loose to my liking, it actually feels better to wear and there was still no bounce in the pack.  So the system does as designed as far as I could tell. 

At $85, cheaper if you look online, this is not an item you buy on impulse. If however you are a runner and you use a pack to hold water, I strongly advise you to try one on before you buy something else made for mountain biking or intended to hold more than 2 liters of water. At less than 6oz empty a runner will be hard pressed to find anything lighter or more comfortable for the road or trail. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For the love of Peanut Butter

How can you be an endurance athlete and NOT love peanut butter?  When you need something to stick to your ribs for a long run or ride, when you need to satisfy a sweet tooth at 10pm and your choice is 400 calories of crap or a 100 calorie spoonful of peanut butter, there are worse options. 

There are not many foods that come in so many varieties. You can have sugar-laden or sugar free. Totally processed or made with just a bag of peanuts and your own food processor. Organic.  Natural. Creamy. Chunky. Extra-Chunky. Peanut, almond, cashew, In a jar, a tube or a cup. Most need no refrigeration. It goes good on crackers, bread, fruit and vegetables. Oh, yeah I hear its good with chocolate too. 

I have tried them all and it was not until just recently that I found my new favorite, "creamy peanut butter" from Fresh & Easy. Easily the stickiest, most peanut tasting peanut butter I have tasted in years. Not a lot of ingredients and I know them all. A little oily but lots of flavor. I am normally a chunky style guy, but recently been digging the creamy as it doesn't distract from a consistent flavor or change the texture of what I am putting the substance on.

Now, now, I understand that peanut butter is playing with fire when someone is monitoring food intake. The taste and energy come at a price and towards the end of the day the price of any one calorie is pretty high. Especially if you have a date with a scale the next morning.  However, I would caution you to not dismiss this tasty, dare I say sinful, food. Paired with candy, not good. Paired with apples or celery, pretty good. Added to ice cream, not good. Measured with jelly between two pieces of bread, perfect food. Can you deny the PB&J as a Top 5 pre-race / pre-sunrise-out-the-door workout food?

If you prefer a specialty store organic almond butter with sunflower oil or making your own with just  ground peanuts with no oil or salt, or a jar of a national brand off any shelf in the country, you can have it your way. And you should.

What is your favorite peanut butter by brand or type?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bring on the Pumpkin Pie Pop Tart

While I do not eat pop tarts daily, I consider them a near perfect food item. They come in a space age foil wrapper, they have more than enough flavors to satisfy any desire, they do no melt in the heat, they can be consumed toasted or raw. And finally they have enough calories to kick start a long training morning and just enough to satisfy a late night sweet tooth without busting the calorie bank. I mostly grab them on the way to a morning workout or on the trail in my backpack. You also would have seen them in my special needs bags in ironman races.

I was very excited this week to see they came out with a limited edition pumpkin Pie flavor. It was one of those 'aha' moments when I wondered why they had not done that before. In order to make sure that I was ahead of the fad curve I bought boxes of the new flavor. That will easily last me through the next few months until the holiday season gives me pumpkin.

I personally like my pop tarts raw, I generally find the flavor stronger for me that way. In order to find which configuration I would enjoy this new flavor the most, I opened a foil package and toasted one tart and left the other on my plate. I preferred the raw version finding the frosting a bit overpowering though they both tasted just like pumpkin pie. Couple this with a cup of coffee and you have got a great fall treat going here.

I don't cook but love to share new tastes with the family so I offered my wife and son each a raw tart and they agreed that it tasted very much like pumpkin. Thankfully we are all spoiled by DW (Dear Wifes) legitimately awesome homemade pumpkin pie, so these will not need to be hidden in the pantry.  My only fear is that I jump from occasional eater to 'need to eat'. These could easily do that. Thank goodness their a limited run.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Can you take a Pre-vacation?

Today is the first vacation day I have taken all year. I started feeling the 'want' of vacation in June but couldn't take the time off. Same in July. In August the want was becoming a 'need'. I was getting run down and tired, going to bed earlier and waking up later. Irritations became frustrations became angry overr little things. I penciled in this time off several weeks ago and solified my plan by purchasing a plane ticket to see to wonderful friends in Tampa. Of course a triathlon is involved for one of them. 

As the days ticked down towards my departure of course my business stress didn't just tick up, it skyrocketed. Usually for me, I skate out easy but  return to all sorts of mess actual and perceived. This time it seems the stress was all front loaded, like when your climbing up a steep grade on your bike and right when you reach the top and think your done you see that road actually turns and climbs more steeply for several hundred more yards. 

As I sat at the terminal I debated on going home. Bagging the trip to finish work.  Then I recalled all those stories I heard from other military vets about how hard it was to go on R&R when their friends were staying on the front line trying to survive. I even had a fleeting thought of having them turn the plane around as we taxied. But I just had to give it up. I need the break.

The first day of vacation is almost over now. I'm sitting in a yogurt bar drinking French press coffee after driving around most of Tampa's outskirts eating some great food, enjoying on again, off again rain and a whole lot of coffees. But it doesn't feel like vacation yet, it feels like I am running errands in a different part of town. 

It will still take me probably another day or so to get the stress out of my blood, a few days longer than had I gone on vacation earlier in the year. It makes me wish that people got pre-vacation days to decompress from work stress before actually going on vacation. It sucks that I have to feel guilty for time off that I have earned. And man have I earned it. 

So next week I will go back to a pile of stress and more work. But today, tomorrow, the next few days, I have to find that place that centers me. It will not come all at once. It will come from finishing a good relaxing lunch instead of eating home cooked leftovers or Subway in the car between locations. It will come from enjoying a hand rolled cigar, something I could never get in my town. It will come from looking into the smiles of friends that are not the friends I see everyday but talk to more often than those people. It will be recognized in random sighs of contentment that will surprise me. 

I really have to remember, "It is not enough to exist. I am going to live."   

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wasted time

I think of all the time I've wasted thinking about worthless crap. All the mental energy I expended in imaginary arguments with people that never happened, shouldn't have happened, ended up being a miscommunication after all. All the vindictiveness I spewed at my windshield after feeling that something had not gone my way and it was the only place I could be alone to just scream my head off. 

For a person who has spent thousands of hours in prayer, mediation, affirmation and study's of self-improvement, I still think I spent as much time being angry and emotionally violent on stuff that really, seriously, didn't matter. For someone known for being so even keeled, they never saw me five minutes after I drove away. 

It doesn't matter if the conversation was regarding politics or semantics. 90% of the time we are not going to change someone else's position no matter how passionate we are with our own. And vice versa by the way. Its enough to just get the point across and leave it at that. I think half the reason I have wasted time on a subject is because I have allowed myself to be led down someone else's path. They prove their point by trying to discredit mine. Don't like my side of the conversation, my empirical evidence. Fair enough. I've made my point, either in a professional sense or personal sense. 

Oh, we all do it don't we?  Waste time in pointless mental rehashing so we can feel better about ourselves. Some people tamp it down and then have horrific physical and psychological releases, massive temper tantrums a couple times a year. Some people react immediately and verbally with emotional outbursts that have nothing to do with the situation.  I think most people do what I do, review the entire conversation and then replay it with what could have been said and then verbalize it loudly all alone in the car. Maybe not.  

Ultimately, I think I just wasted time thinking about things that didn't need anymore thought put into it. I may be on a path of throwing away a ton of emotional baggage. Forgiving people that have no idea I have a grudge with them. Stop thinking and over analyzing situations that are long sense over. Stop the personal admonishments and guilt I have over how I treated someone or situation. The funny thing is, I will most likely try to fight myself all the way. Whether consciously or subconsciously we do not like change. We fear change. And to throw mental garbage away instead of hoarding it, is very difficult because we think that this stuff we hold onto is who we are. It's not. I am what I want to be and the stuff I have wasted my time thinking about is usually when someone is trying to change that opinion. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting serious

On a early morning last week I remarked to Mistress, "I'm tired of training by myself. Enough! I start training with the team again this weekend."  Not long afterward I got a flurry of meet ups in my inbox and the schedule was set.  

Boy did it feel good to train with my friends again. On a 50 mile ride Saturday morning I enjoyed some great fellowship and ran into more than a few people that knew me and were doing their own thing out there. What a wonderful feeling. I am blessed to know so many great people. 

Man it was hot out there. If not the heat, the humidity. Either way, after a couple hours of getting heated up there is no getting away from that weight on you. It is in those moments you try to forget that you agreed to brick a run. (For my non-triathlon friends- a brick is a second workout immediately following the first. In this case, "I did a bike/run brick." )  However, the genie was out of the bottle and when the question comes out like a dare, "You're still running after, right?" you have to HTFU and get out there. A brick run in this environment is the crucible that creates endurance success.  But it hurts.

In the end I got through that run which ended my total brick workout at exactly 4 hours.  It felt good to be out there with everyone but more importantly it felt good to be ready for bed at 8pm.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mr. Bonky Bonk McBonkers

It truly is frustrating to have to take a rest day when I don't want one. However I have to now realize that my long term success in endurance pursuits with any fitness consistency is to listen to my body. I melted, melted I tell you, on a lunchtime run Tuesday. Air temp around 108*, road temp around !55*, dew point around 60*. I patted myself on the back for just cutting the run short by 20% to get back inside. 

Jump forward to Wednesday night, 38 hours later and my legs are still dragging ass. I was going to get on the treadmill but my legs were mush. I went to bed instead and couldn't sleep because of the jimmy legs. Suck. Mistress even threw the Rhabdo at me wondering if she should be concerned about damaged muscle fiber floating around my blood stream and screwing up my kidneys. Oh what pillow talk we have. Today, Thursday, they finally feel good enough to train on. 

I have mentioned before that if I end up getting close to a bonk, or actually bonk, on a workout that my recovery is anywhere from 36-48 hours. And this keeps that theory alive. Too bad the empirical evidence is a sacrifice to my training. Man do I remember 8 hour recovery from monster workouts. So jealous. It makes it hard to train with my team right now, because they are all training for Ironman distance races and thats getting a bit to close to the metaphorical third rail. I would probably go too long or go too hard. Either way, tough sell to Mistress when I put myself on the couch for the rest of the weekend. 

Its just reality. Hey, at least I can do what I can do and I think every month I my speed is picking up and and distance is going further. I'll take it. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

It begins again...again.

I honestly don't have a 'thing' about Mondays. Maybe its because I love what I do for a living. Maybe it is because I have a nutrition, exercise, work and life routine that is not based on a weekly circadian. I map out my day, my week, my month or my year in variety of ways and once that jives, I could care less if its a Monday morning or Friday night, I'm doing whats on the schedule. I think most triathletes or endurance pursuers can relate to this especially with fitting in training. 

My conference ended last Friday and during that gathering I ate some really high end and low end food, stuff my body is certainly not used to. On Saturday we went into the small nearby town and had a big ole' biscuits and gravy breakfast. At SeaTac Airport later that day, I had to dine at Anthony's. I got home late and had a salad. BAM, right back on the plan. 

Sunday, I did not get a chance to hit any of the big four (swim, bike, run, strength) but had enough of a list of GTD (Getting Things Done) that I did not want for activity. Normally I food journal throughout the day to stay on track, but couldn't get to it until after dinner. But my nutrition was spot on.

To make sure my body detoxes well and get the latent sugar and fat desires out of me I use a fairly spartan week when I get back from trips get back back on schedule. A sort of forced compliance. Rices, yams, grilled chicken and fish, broccoli, colored peppers for lunch and dinners. Oatmeal, protein pancakes or drinks for breakfast. I constantly try to get more veggies and fruit in my day but honestly I don't do well unless Mistress puts it in front of me. 

Training takes a larger priority this week. I actually did well last week but the hour running in the morning and whatever expenditure you attribute me to golf (for someone who doesn't normally golf) I don't feel my overall activities reached my usual standards. Even though I did actually swim, bike and lift weights as well. Nothing monster this week, consistent exercise is more important than intensity and distance. At the end of the week it will all add up to where I want to be. 

Reading this post for edit, this week sounds so mundane and I suppose thats the point. Even with highly energetic athletes in their daily life, training and nutrition is not something to get emotional about. It is what you do. It is who you are. Do you get excited about brushing your teeth every day?  No. But you do it and you do it well or you suffer at the dentist. In this analogy, you respect your exercise and nutrition or you suffer on the race course. 

So I raise a fork of rice, veggies and grilled chicken to you. Eat up. Then get out and train. It might be Monday, but everyday is a great day to add quality and quantity to your life.  

Saturday, August 14, 2010

'Working' Recap

Today I fly back home from the resort I've been staying at all week in Washington State. It's been hard but  I've been staying in a $2.5 million, 4,000 square foot 'cabin' that is surrounded by woods and PGA level golf courses. It's been one heck of a week of work, working out, being on the golf course and bonding with the key people that my partners and I hope will take our company to the next level. Bonding with my partners as well. A group of people that are as dear and close to me as family. 

I have easily eaten more calories this week than in the last month. Good Grief. But what food it has been. My usually routine and modest eating habits have been replaced by things like Polenta ( I remarked the mashed potatoes were a bit dry) and all other sorts of creamy, cheesey, bready, boozy, sugary constructs. I see a serious food detox coming next week. 

The one hour of running I do in the woods each morning before sunrise hasn't help keep the calories off me but its nurtured my mind in ways I desperately needed. Growing up in the Pacific NorthWest I became a runner in this woodsy environment and it is as much a homecoming and emotional attachment to my youth as I will ever have. The fitness center has seen me swimming and cycling as well but lets face it, thats my office all year long so I have only got in /got out based on peers going there. 

I'm not a golfer but many of the people I'm with are, so I couldn't help but play on the resorts private PGA level course, especially when my $150 fee for 9 holes is free. If I didn't play, I caddied or benefited from the liberal pours at the clubhouse. My goal was not to work on my short game but to connect and dig deeper relationships with people that we will take the will of the partners and move us forward. We can duplicate people but we need these people to duplicate themselves in our image as well. 

A productive week but I miss routine. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

A working vacation

This week I am going on my first vacation/not a vacation of the year.  My boss/partner/mentor is hosting all our partners and key executives at his million dollar cabin in a private golf resort in Cle Elum, Washington. Going there from the 110* Arizona summer will be a welcome change of pace. 

Wednesday through Friday we will be meeting until about 1pm for vision and strategy sessions. I found out today that my contribution to this team building, vision. purpose, direction retreat is about 45 minutes of speaking on two subjects that I am very passionate and informed about. I can do it do it off the top of my head but I am a professional and have already put several hours into the presentations. Other than that I will probably scribe some meeting notes, run a few visuals for others and ask great questions of our key executives on their topics. 

As these are only half working days, the rest of the time is for team building like golf, working out, running, playing cards, watching inspirational movies, eating and finding other ways to engage and grow relationships away from the battlefield. I plan on spending some time in the woods alone, under the trees and sorting some things out in my head.

The only downside is that Cle Elum is just to far away to travel to the Seattle area and see all my great friends there and get back to the resort for the scheduled events each night.  Plus I don't have transportation, there is only two SUV's for 15 of us. I am hoping, that somehow, someway I can convince a group to climb Mt. Si one afternoon. If I get enough people then appropriating the SUV won't be a problem. 

Regardless, I need some time away from Arizona. Honestly I need some time away from my wife and kids. Some people think that is ridiculous but Mistress and I believe it is healthy for our marriage to vacation apart and we trust each other implicitly.

I will probably have some internet access so will be posting on here what I can. I will have cell access so social media updates and maybe some photos are to be expected there. 

Time to live a little folks. Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On the Clock

What if you had a condition that didn't allow you feel any pain?  You could cut your finger or burn your arm and feel nothing. After bleeding all over the place a few times, wouldn't you be pretty concerned about how you moved or what you touched?  If for no other reason, than to not make a spectacle of yourself. Have you ever known someone who was on blood thinners?  The smallest nick from shaving could bleed uncontrollably and become life threatening. Wouldn't you try to be extra vigilant going about your daily tasks?

For all intents and purposes I can live a healthy and long life IF I never participate in an endurance race again. Depending on the distance, my exertion, the weather, terrain, and a myriad of other factors, I have and can finish timed races, but I feel like its a flip of the coin on how it will end. My last 'real' event, Ironman, didn't end very well and when I look back, the writing was on the wall for the whole season of racing I did before it. I kept ratcheting the tension on myself until I broke apart. Spectacularly. 

Ever wonder why it feels like you have a broken rib while riding a bike only to find out it was from trying to breath while your rib muscles were cramped?  Ever raced so hard that you make your heart and lungs seize and the hospital thinks you've had a massive heart attack? Ever feel dehydrated and keep going until you have liver and kidney failure? Then keep going for a few more hours. 

While I am pretty much physically recovered from all that, oh yeah that was me, I know now that all that would have been avoided if I could just stop thinking about the clock.  My real problem is that on the clock, I can shut off all biofeedback loops and ignore pain. I feel it. I just ignore it. The very few races I have done since I have had outside controls to hold me back (friends pacing me) or so short that I couldn't do that kind of harm to myself. 

I still feel that under the race clock that I will cut loose from reality and just run myself off the road again. So I am trying to avoid it. I am doing things that keep me active but not necessarily timed. The Grand Canyon hikes, self supported 50 mile run, my upcoming Tough Mudder race.  I feel so much more mentally liberated when I don't worry about cut off times, finishing times and all that. I don't care if I finish a race middle of the pack or dead last. I just know that if there is a clock, I am racing to beat it. 

I am hoping that with my current path of endurance pursuits, that don't have a time constraint, I can find that happy place that when I get back into competition it allows me to fully commit myself and listen to my body. Otherwise I can really used to sleeping in on the weekends. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Aging Up

One nice thing about turning 40 is that I am in a new age group for racing. Which means statically I am competing with more people older than me than younger. Now I just need to start doing races that have timing clocks. I'll save that conversation for another post. 

I weighed myself on my birthday. I've lost well over 40 pounds and kept it off for what most would consider an acceptable amount of time. Meaning I didn't have bounce back. My wife, aka Mistress, thinks I am now too thin, the leanest she has ever seen me, and fattened me up for the birthday weekend with delicious home cooked foods. Most people are either good cooks (meals) or good bakers (deserts, sweets), Mistress is adept at both. 

One meal was highlighted with a brine soaked chicken breast that was fresh herb stuffed and BBQ'd. The next morning for my birthday was made from scratch cinnamon rolls and frosting. It took three hours to get the stuff to rise correctly and bake. It was so sugary rich we had to have bacon on the side. And the way she bakes her bacon, (yes you read correctly) you'll never fry it again. Birthday dinner was lasagna and lots of sides, one needing a fondue pot. I'm a lucky guy. Before you wonder how I stay lean with this kind of cooking, I must state that Mistress normally uses her superpowers for good and our usual eating fare is quite nutritious and flavorful without the extra calories. 

That was her gift to me, not some frivolous book or knife between spouses, but her time making me food that I love. And I love her for it. Its too bad that in our society today people would rather receive a gift card purchased in the check out aisle of the grocery store than get a gift someone spent hours making by hand. 

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to live with regrets? live your life.

I wish I could come up with some pithy title for this post. Alas, whatever appears at the top will be developed en route to the end of my thoughts. I am not going to lie, its been a rough summer. The last several weeks have been awaiting the inevitable passing of a family member. Thats never cool. I can't stand hospitals of any type. My hell will certainly involve a hospital room. Too much personal pain there. To much wishing I could take someones pain from them. 

Instead of rending my clothes and gnashing my teeth with social media, I just suck it up and hope I have the capacity to make it through the week without another crisis. Trying to stick to a routine of work and workouts that gives me sanity. I feel fine. Sure, I bury emotions deep down and let them bubble up so I can meditate on their implications over days, weeks, months rather then letting that emotion scar me or cause an irrational schism with my normal life. Oh sure, I will scream and rant and rave like the best of them, but these explosions are best left for personal time and not in front of the family or business. Only in front of myself. 

And for some things, it doesn't matter how pissed off you are, it changes nothing so why stew over it anyway. Let it go. Death doesn't seem to bother me much, hospitals another story.  We all go to soon, with things left unsaid and undone. It's always a shame. 

This wasn't to be a post on mortality. 

If anything I am an Optimist, so I count my blessings first. If things do not fall apart, more than usual right (?), I can end this year pretty well. Mae is super healthy, off the chart tall. Mighty Mo is not so great but right now its good. He starts public school next month and I can only imagine how his life will change for the better. Mistress is my rock. I am healthy. Thats saying a lot. That I would actually give a crap about my personal safety before I decided a course of action, shocks my family.  Shocks me. 

It is usually at this point that the writer has pulled all his ideas into a cohesive summary. At least a hard ending. I don't think I am accomplishing this today. Oh well. 1,800 posts and they can't all be wrapped up in a perfect little bow. Lots to think about, lots to do. Regrets of course. I wouldn't be living if I didn't. Huh, I think I got my title. 

It is not enough to exist, I am going to Live.