Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Big Break

The good thing about accidents: You don't plan on having them. When they happen, you either freak out and fight against the reality of the situation, or you look the sumbitch in the eye and say, "That sucked, but you are not going to stop me. Not now. Not ever."

While biking on the night of June 28th, 2017, my own accident unfolded suddenly and most unexpectedly. An unfamiliar course. A tight pack. Zipping hellafast down wet roads. Focusing on the tire in front of me and not the brightly labeled bump in the road. Traction disappeared. The bike is wobbling like an angry jackhammer. And there's a decision to make: bail, or slam into a railing. The idea of a "dead stop" with an unforgiving rail was the less appealing option.

So the plan was to go down on my right shoulder. Started to do that. Then hit another bump and my right hand shot out, reflexively. And things went the way things went from there.

Warning: If you are squeamish, please do not click through to the rest of the tale. There is no blood, but you might not like the x-rays of the result of the accident. Spoiler: It ends with plates and screws!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

The Ryanman 2017 - Week Three

Increased the volume even more this week: 4 runs, 3 days of  weights, 2 swims, and 2 bikes. Still dialing in the HR zone training but my stats are improving. Mid-Zone 3 ride on Saturday and held 18.4MPH pace without any significant effort at all. (Not many years ago 18MPH was gut busting.) Mid-Zone 3 run had me just above a 10:00/mile pace. Swim pace is coming down to about 1:50/100.

Resumed HRV monitoring this week. So far, it has been surprisingly good. Perhaps it is the zone training, by my HRV scores have been 6-8, despite the increased volume. Hoping to get on the final schedule this week (4 gym sessions, 3 bikes, 3 runs, and 2 swims) and see how that affects the scores. If such a schedule can be maintained, the improvements will be very noticable.

Resumed breath-training this week. Started wearing the dreaded Training Mask during my warm-ups at the gym. One day it was 200m x 6, wearing the mask. Then 50 single-unders x 6, wearing the mask. After each interval it was like drowning. But it is manageable. For now.

Overall, super happy with the progress, and we're still a couple of weeks out from actually starting the program! Just need to make sure to bring the sunscreen, next Saturday!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Ryanman 2017 - Week Two

Increasing my volume of training again this week: 3 runs, 2 swims, 1 bike, two gym sessions. Sleeping a bit better and dialing in the nutrition, too. Need to work on mobility, HRV, and breath work, soon. Yesterday's "long" ride was brutal due to humidity and wind but otherwise everything is off to a good start.  Bit short on details this week, but this is just a "building" phase, several weeks before the official program starts. More, next week.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The RyanMan 2017 - Week One

One of my long races this year will be the RyanMan 70.3 triathlon, Oct 8th, in Jackson, MS. Working on a new plan this time, including elements of strength & condition, an increased recovery focus, and even better nutrition.

Ryan was the son of a local triathlete. By the age of three he was on his second battle with cancer. Everyone came together and created this race to support Ryan. Unfortunately, he lost his battle. But the race and the memories continue.

As an interesting self experiment, here are some of my stats that will be tracked over the next 24 weeks:

  • Body Weight - 184lbs
  • Percent Body Fat - 12%
  • Percent Body Water - 64%
  • Percent Skeletal Muscle Mass - 74lbs
  • Bone Mass - 13lbs
  • Swim  Pace - 1:55/100 (no snorkel!)
  • Bike Pace - 18.8 MPH (in Zone 3)
  • Run Pace - 10:45/mile (in Zone 3)
Obviously the goal is to improve all of those. Specific goals would be:
  • Lower body fat a couple of percentage points to 9% ideally
  • Increase muscle mass by a few pounds to improve power production
  • Increase cardiovascular capacity so HR zones stay the same but pace improves
  • Have fun!
So there's RyanMan, a couple of Spartans, HeatWave, RideYellow, and Southern Magnolia. Should be a fun season. We'll see!

Monday, February 06, 2017

SPARTA!!! in 2017

My plans usually involve things that scare me. If only a little. And the training this year is scary. So much. So intense. Trying to raise the bar in 2017. Trying to get more serious. More dedicated. Immersed. Today's training included: back squats, stiff-legged deadlifts, V-Ups, and 200m sprints with THIS sixty pound bastard across my shoulders. And we're only getting started!

The plan is to do a Spartan Trifecta. Three races a Sprint (3-4 miles,)  a Super (6-7 miles,) and a Super (12+ miles.) All in this year. The road trip will go through Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. And Liam will be joining me for the first one, if not ALL, of them!

So Spartan, here we come. March 18th: the Scottish Thunder will be brought!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Road To Tradition 2017 - Bike Maintenance

Duncan from Tri Hard Sports came by the training camp today. Walked everyone through changing their first time. Went over lubing the chain. Talked about the importance of cleaning off all the gear after a long ride. Great to have Duncan's advice as he brings a wealth of experience, a focus on customer service, and an amazing talent for breaking complex problems into simple solutions for folks who have no idea where to start tackling things like blown tires and funky chains. If you're ever in need of bike support, Duncan's the right resource!

Meanwhile, one of my Clydesdales, Luke, and Onnie brought the thunder to Rock & Roll NOLA this morning. Couldn't join them due to obligations and complications (no surprise there) but they did great and made us all proud. Alvie. especially. He messaged me at one point and said: "WALL!" But having trained with him so many times my response was: 
Walk. Breathe. Shake it out.
Get on your long, fast walking pace. Seen you WALK almost 13min/mile.
Get on that pace and you got sub 3hrs. Keep moving. Keep breathing. You've got long legs. Use em.

Less than an hour later he wrote:
Under 3, my legs are rubber

BOOM! That happened. Take your dreams, work hard, make them a reality. Need proof? Check out Alvie. He earned his medal today! 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rescued By RockTape

Mike Tyson infamously said, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth," We were half a mile into an eight mile hike on the Black Creek Trail, when an unexpected punch arrived and did its best to disrupt my plans. The second major voyage of the Southern Trail Hiking Club. We met just outside of Wiggins, MS. Slightly overcast. Slightly cold. Everyone full of energy and smiles. No sign of any trouble looming on the horizon. But it was there, coyly hiding just out of sight. Waiting for an opportunity to pounce. And then... it happened.

First the left boot. Felt like it was dragging. Then flopping. And... yeah... the sole of the boot apparently dry-rotted after too many blazing summers in the garage... and on the trail, the more solid rubber began to detach from leather underside. That boot wasn't going to last very long. And... yeah... the LEFT boot was also dry rotted.... and while crossing HW49, an odd step felt completely uncushioned, because the entire left sole had detached and was sitting in the road, cold and lonely.

Fortunately, my newly provisioned medical pouch contained a secret ingredient. Lo and behold, the boots ended up being rescued by... RockTape! A couple of strips over the top. A strip over the toe. A strip over the heel. On BOTH boots. And they proceeded to hold for 7.5 miles. Almost 20,000 steps through mud, rocks, sand, and straw covered hills, that RockTape held those rotten soles in place and helped me get back to the car without going full blown Flintstone.

So, yes, the punch hurt. But it didn't ruin my plans. And we all had a great time together on the Black Creek Trail.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Frosted Fanny 2016

Slightly cold. Slightly overcast. 45 degrees and cloud. But my Clydesdales Crew rocked the Frost Fanny for 2016. Two mile run + 10 mile bike + 2 mile run. And they all finished strong. Very proud of each of them all the time and dedication they've put in this year. They stuck to their plans, paced well, and performed well. Afterward, they all recovered quickly and were smiling ear to ear.

A good way to start the year. The highlight of my month. And a lot more to come!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bikes, instead of politics.

A funny reaction to the rapidly degrading atmosphere on Facebook today. One of my fitness friends decided to post a picture of bikes, instead of politics. Then tagged others of us, and suggested we do the same. Within hours, it was burning its way across all our feeds.

A welcomed change. Wouldn't it be great if we all posted something about ourselves, instead of about politics?

But... isn't that what Facebook is SUPPOSED to be about in the first place? Hrm....

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Like This.

Wake @ 0500.
Coach CrossFit @ 0600
Take Meg to school @ 0745
Work starts @ 0800
Work continues until 1930
Go home, eat, sit back down.
Work finally ends at @ 2200.

No training.
No playing. 
No time with the family.
Endless stress.
 ...days like this.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Started, Again

There are never enough hours in my day. Never. Pressures from the day job. Pressures from personal projects. And personal plans. Training several athletes. Training myself. Wife of 20yrs. Daughter of nearly 15yrs. And the son of approaching 18yrs needs to start looking at (gasp) colleges, soon. Non-stop adventures for Your Humble Narrator.

What gets cast aside? Reading. (My stack of books has to be two dozen deep.) Television. (Not a big loss, there.) Movies. Dates. Drinking (should feel like less of a loss but MAN those drinks were calming.) And catching up with friends & family. Not to mention the sacrifices for work and wounds from 2016. Those scars are still healing. Inside, and out.

Trying to get started, again: Train better. Compete more often. Coach better. Live, love, and father better. Make up for lost time, and missed opportunities.

So wish me luck. Whichever way it goes, you'll know first.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Gaps In The Deluge

The storms from last night continued through most of today. Sometimes the rain appeared to be going sideways as great gusts of wind caught it.

Escaped our confinement briefly to walk around the neighborhood with Cindy. (Was supposed to run. That didn't pan out!)

During another gap in the deluge, Glenda & Tolar stopped by mid-day. To wake The Edgy Teens and touch base. Happy New Years and tales about growing up in the balmy depths of South Mississippi.

And during a final lapse in the waves of rain, we went to see Star Wars: Nobody Bathes, Interesting flick. Bit predictable. Bit of a divergence from the norm. Better writing. Better acting. Stellar effects. Much enjoyment by everyone involved.

Afterwards, bit of the ol' Guitar Hero for my Edgy Teens. Apparently the position of the mouth is critical to their success. Meg did well. Liam played on a level so difficult that my brain couldn't process the action. And yet they both earned nearly perfect scores. Breath taking to watch these kids in action. "Blessed," is the phrase we use most often. And we continue to enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Peter Anderson Festival - 2016

Took Cindy to The Peter Anderson Art Festival, in Ocean Springs, this morning. From nearly zero steps on Tuesday to three miles of art festival on Sunday! Over 500 exhibitors. All manner of arts and crafts and tattoos and food and Daisy Dukes and a beautiful parade of slow eclectic Southerns strolling the streets of one of the most laid back towns on The Gulf Coast.

Saw art that reminded us of The Girl. Saw art that reminded us The Boy. Art that reminded us of our parents. Our friends. Shakespeare. Each other. Even... the dog!

Then lunch at Woody's. Bison for He. California Burger for She. Nearly 6800 steps, today. And all is right in the universe. For now.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Stepping Up

First weekend of increased mobility in the wake of The Procedure. Have been increasing my volume of steps each day since ditching The Blue Crutches.

  • Wednesday: 1703 steps
  • Thursday: 2430 steps
  • Friday: 5740 steps
  • Saturday: 6383 steps
Very happy with the direct of my recovery. And overall progress. Very little pain. Most of my non-fitness activities have returned to their norms. And once the stitches are removed (on Wednesday) there should be an opportunity to introduce some mobility work and maybe some light training. In the meanwhile, it is just one day at a time.

Covered all the steps today by visiting the Long Beach Farmer's Market, then went to hang out with my parents for a while, and finally had lunch with RPG. Enjoyed catching up with everyone and getting out of the house for several hours. 

Wrapped up the day with a walk through the neighborhood, some MMA on television, and a marathon round of Clean Up Jon's Bookmarks (six years worth!) 

Great day! Looking forward to many more in the future.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Leaving Wells Fargo - Part II - Kids Accounts

The second stage of abandoning Wells Fargo. This time we're opening accounts for The Kids. Somewhat easier because they're young and don't actually have a legal say in the matter. Nor are they legally required to be involved. Slightly complicated by trying to get Navigator to match the exact same setup we' are currently using.  Nothing to difficult or unusual. Each kid has their own account. We're their owners. That sort of thing. But two kids means twice the work. 

How did it go? Good and Bad. 

Good: It was easy. The service person did all the complicate mumbo jumbo. Lots of clickity clackity on the keyboard mostly. Some scanning. Some online entries. We only had to sign on an electronic signature pad. About a dozen times. Per kid! Amount of actual effort required by us? Bring in ID for everyone, sign two dozen times. Done. 

Bad news: It took significantly longer than planned. About half an hour per account. So an hour all together. Based on my initial opening of the count, we budgeted thirty minutes, total. 

What should we have done differently? We should have dropped off copies of the kid's ID, gone to lunch, then come back when all the paperwork was done and spent <5min dance.="" div="" doing="" signature="" the="">

Next step? Setup direct deposits at work. The spice must flow! But we do not know if the funds will flip in two weeks, four weeks, or more. Have to check out the exact timing, then plan accordingly.

Verdict so far? Very easy!  Navigator is modern, quick, friendly, provide superior customer service, and they're all about maximizing value to its members, not maximizing profit for their shareholders at the expense of their customers.

Stay tuned for more. And if you want to help fix the problems with our economy, start looking for a Credit Union in your neck of the woods. We'll get it done, together!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Won't Be Missed

Progress continues at a steady pace. Still fairly pain free. (Aside from the occasional pinch of stitches pulled too tight too quickly . . .) Haven't needed even the first bit of medicinal relief, even on the day of the procedure. Just a slight hint of blood appearing on the bandage after a day of walking on it. No crutches for the second day in a row. And my gait is improving!

So, with little fanfare but much respect, it is time to say goodbye to my friends: the blue crutches. You served me well and faithfully until the end.  Your aid was greatly appreciated. But you won't be missed.

And Your Humble Narrator shuffles of to his next slow milestone. But looking forward to future adventures and opportunities to excel.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

On My Feet

My journey to recovery continues, at full speed, and today brought several "Firsts:"

  • First day back to The Office since having surgery. It went well as everyone was supportive and eager to help when needed. Lunch took longer than usual. Breaks did, too. But one of my favorite projects came closer to fruition and we're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. 
  • First shower in a week. Been taking an awkward bath, instead. The Wound was sealed inside a Ziplock Bag and my whole leg was propped up, high and dry, on the side of the tub. Not an ideal solution, but it kept things clean and healthy. 
  • First unaided steps! Spoke to the doctor today she said that some exploratory steps were permissible. As long as it didn't hurt (too much) and it did not cause any damage to the exposed portion of The Wound. So that happened. And the crutches have gone unused since we all came back home. 
Feels good to be fully upright and on my own legs again. Six days of half-hopping everywhere was definitely twisting up my back. Hopefully recovery continues at this pace,the wound keeps closing, and there are races and coaching and more in my future. For now, it is a victory just to be on my feet. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Chicks Dig Scars

The irony is not lost on me. The first 35+ years of my life were idly spent without any sincere form of fitness. While there was a definitely a good degree of happiness involved in many of those years, most of my 30s consisted of a slow spiral of deterioration mixed with a hybrid dose of depression plus personal disappointment.

Flat forward to today. And my mood apparently sours after just five days without some form of fitness. (Aided by the soreness of crutches rubbing against uncushioned ribs, the Good Leg cramping from beating the burden of the Bad Leg, and the constantly uncertainty of when any form of serious activity is even possible again.)

Yes, yes. A large glass of White Whine. Remember the good news:
Still have the foot. Clean bill of health. Road to recovery. This too shall pass.
Got it. Cheering up. As we speak. Much better now. Thanks!

Fortunately, the weekend hasn't been a total loss. Spent a great deal of time catching up on digital projects. Watched several entertaining movies based on Marvel graphic novels. Had plenty of time with the family. The house is the cleanest it has been in many moons. And almost the whole week of meals has been prep'ed. So whilst depression has been looming on the horizon, productivity has been rampant.

For the gluttons out there, a SMALL photo from today's "Airing of the Wound" has been attached. Not my intention to disturb anyone, but several folks have expressed interest. The main concern right now is keeping everything sealed and letting the minor gap in the middle of the excised area to close. Each day has shown an improvement.

The current thinking is: continue to keep everything immaculately clean, continue to avoid any weight-bearing activities by using the crutches, and hope the "boot" arrives soon. In the meanwhile, IronNerd is hopping around (poorly) resisting the urge to complain.

Skin graft? No. Physical therapy? Probably not. Scar? Probably so. But, to borrow from my old friend Evel Knievel: Bones heal, and chicks dig scars.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Wounded Or Not

Wounded or not, IronNerd's work is never done. Today's adventures included: hoisting a DHCP service to replacing those lost by a dying router, swapping a UPS that didn't need to be swapped, ordering a 220v outlet at the last possible hour, and scrounging for nearly a dozen network ports on switches that had no holes to fill. The project comes to fruition on Monday. If it goes well, there will be more of them along the same line. If it doesn't go well... ...let's agree that it will go well.

Rest this weekend. Visit The Parents. Prep meals for the coming week. Hopefully heal. And then back in the saddle on Monday. One way or another.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Liam At The Crossroads

Liam visited the Crossroads today. Rosedale, Mississippi. Where Robert Johnson sold his soul to The Devil. Exchanged it briefly for musical genius.

 Man sitting off to the side of the road on a log at the crossroads says, “You’re late, Robert Johnson.” Robert Johnson drops to his knees and says, “Maybe not.”

Whirlwind tour for Liam & The Blue Notes: Rosedale, Tunica, Memphis. Cotton fields. A juke joint. Grave sites. Historic grocery stores. Lonely back roads. All too present in the thick social airs of Mississippi. Some things never change. Not down here. Time doesn't touch us in certain places.

Liam's goup passed a sign commemorating the site where 14yr old Emmett Till's body was pulled from the river. The sign was riddled with bullet holes. And never repaired. Sadness and hate in a long embrace. 21st century and this is how we show our respect. How we come together as a culture and try to overcome stereotypes. Or do we just wear these scars a little too proudly? Some things never change. And we wonder why The Aliens won't talk to us?

But hopefully Liam and his generation can leave behind such petty differences. Learn from the mistakes of all our previous generations. Start new, productive conversations. And maybe he strike one up with a higher intelligence, one my generation was willing, or able, to meet.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Procedure Du Jour

Yes, yes. The Procedure Du Jour. But you must suffer through my telling of it!

 0530 - Up with with two women (My Bride & The Girl) who did not wish to be up at 0530 and dealing with the woes of Your Humble Narrator.

0600 - The Girl is deposited at Her Grandmother's House, where she ponders the universe from a 14yr old's perspective, and waits to be dropped off at High School while My Bride continue to drive the two of us to Memorial for The Procedure.

0700 - Admitted to Pre-Op Whereupon a scrub-festooned army of different nurses randomly visit for the next two hours. Your Humble Narrator figured it was to argue over who was to do the sponging, later. But it turned out to be formalities such as: Do you have any dentures or piercings? When is the last time you ate? (Which was asked at least five times!) Are you allergic to anything? (Just pain...) Who will make medical decisions for you in the event that you are not able to? And can I get you a blanket, or anything? (Since they are apparently required to keep the Surgical Unit at the precise temperature that begins to slow your heartbeat, without throwing you into full blown hypothermia!) Oh yeah, at some point, one of the Inquisitors came through and decided their lovely veins on my arm were not as lovely as the veins on the back of my hand and put the IV in there.

0900 - Wheeled into OR4. Slid me onto a separate, much colder bed, removed my glasses and placed an antiseptic-smelling mask over my face in one very ninja-like movement, and plunged me into darkness after only twice saying, "Smooth deep breaths." The rest was silence.

1000 - Or thereabouts - The high tides retreat and Your Humble Narrator's brain comes up for its own air. Felt decidedly hung over for the first few minutes as Arthur ("Call me Art") asks "How are you doing?" and takes my vital signs every 74 seconds. After the fifth rotation of questions and vitals, my eyes are able to stay open as the dizziness from the Anesthesia  Hangover has subsided and my answers likely become more coherent and less pseudo vulgar.For the next hour, the excitement continues to mount. First one of my neighbors goes into anaphylactic shock and  is hit with multiple unsuccessful syringes of epinephrine before they re-sedate her and wheel her off to the ICU.Then a new neighbor is brought in, after receiving "back surgery." As his brain wakes up, it decides that combat is called for. Immediate combat! His body responds by kicking off the sheets, to the shock and awe of his nurse (Bart (Yes, that was his name!)) And when The Combatant decides to start at the various lines and tubes cleverly plugged into him, my nurse ("Call me Art") leaps into action to support the embattled Nurse Bart. Being the most lucid patient on the unit certainly had its advantages and thankfully no additional aid was required for me. Because none was available. But the free entertainment helped pass the time.

1100 - Back to the Pre-Op, where My Bride awaited.......patiently. (*rimshot*) My doctor had already left instructions for future care. An impressively strong prescription was ordered. Additional wraps put in place as soon my first attempt at standing resulted in a trickle of blood being released from the initial wraps. The Mandatory Itchy & Flimsy Gown was removed, to replaced by Nerd Approved street clothes. And then the long Wheel Chair Ride of Shame back to our car.

1200 - Stopped to be measured for a "brace" that won't arrive for 7 - 10 days later.

1300 - Home again. Without a skin graft. And surprisingly NOT in any form of pain or discomfort. But quite hungry, having not eaten all day.

And that, My Friends, concludes The Procedure Du Jour. Further updates will be provided as they become available. Including unfiltered commentary about the lack of fitness which will follow...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Last Supper

Stupid procedure tomorrow. 0630. Broad excision around Ye Ol Aberration on the left ankle. Should be a lot of fun. Including the anesthesia. Nothing quite like another human taking full responsibility for your breathing while another take a knife to you! There's always a risk of complications with THAT process, by itself. (Flashback to my Grandfather's botched anesthesia!)

So Cindy took me to The 27th Avenue Burger Bar, for a last supper. Just in case. Your Humble Narrator ordered The Woodsman, which is a venison burger topped with foie gras, caramelized onions, local salt-cured bacon strips, and a fried egg. Along with a side of Parmesan fries. My Bride partook of the Crabby Patty & Chips.

Washed it down with a couple of Not Your Father's Rootbeers. Discussed the Rap/Gospel fusion as well as random hookers that plagued me at the Roach Motel during my early months in Atlanta as well and the Legendary Ghost Pimp.Great food and a great time with The Beloved. If tomorrow is my last day, tonight was a good night for A Last Supper.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Before Bed

Whatever you do, DO NOT experiment with your Training Mask before you go to bed!!! There won't be much sleep involved! And stray thoughts will be bouncing off the inside of your skull like Ricochet Rabbit! Prescription for insomnia right there. Trust me. Here there be monsters. Definitely not one of my smarter moves and it won't be repeated in the future.

(But the mask is an interesting tool, if you use it correctly (and during the proper time!))

Monday, September 05, 2016

River Roux Training - Week 2

A poor training week by anyone's standards. Missed several workouts, flats during a ride, an unexpected request, missed mobility often, and briefly fought off a cold. But the highlights did include: an amazing ride and an interesting run.

Rested, completely, today. (Even had a great night's sleep!) Liam carpooled back to MSMS. Prep'ed my food for the week. And went to see Hell Or High Water with Cindy. (Great movie with an exceptional sound track.)

Hoping to get back on schedule, tomorrow. Swim, bike, mobility, and steps.  Or at least some combination of those. Who knows what tomorrow brings for Your Humble Narrator.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Did well enough

Nothing like a little 47 mile bike ride to start your morning. Luke, Jack & Onnie, Jen & Chris, and IronNerd.

The usual route around Robinwood, then over to the Traditions course, up to 67, to Loraine Cowan, and back again.

You can imagine how it went: long, hot, sweaty, and ultimately boring. Worst of all, it only burned 1300 calories!

Happy with the outcome. Did well enough. Hopefully it continues to improve.

We shall see.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Teachers & Anniversaries

August 20th marks Parents' Day at The MS School of Math & Science. Wake up early, more meetings, more reassurances that our students are in good hands, and ample appreciation that we were willing to send our offspring "off to school" two years early. One kid has already gone home. A couple more are on the watch list. But Liam is doing well and he is settling into his new schedule with surprising ease. Hoping Meg sees the value, gets past her inherent fear of the unknown, and she could be the second McDougal to land here, in a couple of year.

After the formalities, we went from class to class and met each of Liam's teachers. Each one of them was amazing. It's pretty much a guided tour through college for Juniors & Seniors in High School. So many opportunities and challenges. Projects and expectations. Most (if not all?) of the instructors have post-graduate degrees. And many of them have their doctoral degrees. If things work out, Liam will have several high-value projects under his belt, lots of official research experience from internships at MSU, and a ton of college credits from two years of AP classes. We were excited about his possibilities before today, but we're even more excited now.

August 20th also marks an interesting anniversary: Jon Met Cindy in 1994. Eight thousand, thirty six days ago. Or, is slightly harder to believe terms: twenty two years. A hot August night. Her last one before nursing school. My first one after finishing Spring Semester at the University of South Alabama. We quoted Shakespeare and had too many drinks and a nearly vulgar amount of kissing. And more than two decades later: here we are: sitting the classroom of our oldest kid, thinking it may be the future for our youngest kid.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Happy To Be Reunited

Four hours to Columbus. Side quest: install a new firewall and smart power at a certain local donut maker. (Double dark donuts, mmmmmm!) Main quest: Visit with Liam for the first time in three weeks!

The work went well, despite doing most of it while precariously balanced atop a step ladder, having to one-handedly cut through a dozen zip ties, and being bombarded by a Divatastic cacophony of mutated pseudo-English from angry, unseen employees. Couple of brief scares while the cable modem slowly awoke from its digital slumber. But otherwise, mission accomplished!

Afterwards, Cindy parked half away to Georgia and BOOM Liam surprised me by walking in alone! All lanky and relaxed, like his Old Man, rapidly approaching six feet tall, and (hopefully) happy to see me. 
Our first official meal together was at our favorite Columbus dive: Little Dooey! Spectacularly flavorfull. Surprisingly lowbrow. You order at the register and then they "holler it" to the kitchen. Twenty minutes of killing flies along the window sill later, the deliciousness arrives. Wraps and shrimp and pulled pork, oh my! Really scary how good it is versus the quality of the facility. But we're not going to ruin the secret by telling anyone, other than you.

Afterwards, we were tired from the drive. And Liam was tired from a tough week at school. Unpacked at the hotel, management rolled in a giant coffin-like bed, for Meg, and we proceeded to work from our digital addictions to sleep at our own pace. Happy to be reunited, for however long it will last.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back To The River

This triathlon season hasn't gone as expected. An unexpected change of jobs, the closure of my primary training facility,  supporting Liam's transition to MSMS, and all the extra associated stress have severely degraded my training to the point where competing in the short term is just a waste of time and money. My biking is good but my run is poor and a swim session hasn't happened in weeks. So several races (Possum Town, Cultivation Nation, and Ryanman)  are no longer in my future, for 2016. 

The New Plan is to restart a 12 Week Training Program, and compete at River Roux on Saturday, November 12th. (Along with several running events  between then and now.) Resume my custom strength & conditioning. Resume my mobility. And resume my modified swimming drills.

So, it's back to The River for 2016. Stick along for the ride! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Big Pitch

Second visit to a big client today. Lots of new notes. Reports and admonitions. All the Sales and Partners and the CIO and IronNerd, together to present The Big Pitch. Selling ourselves and our vision for their digital future. Get them to come on board. In some form or another. They'd be a huge addition to our roster. With plenty of nummy technology to wade through. Lots and lots of it. One of our biggest assimilations to date. And another step towards achieving our goals as a small, local business.

Work. Work. Work. That's all you'd see of me recently. High end projects from a high energy guy. But something has to change, soon. This time last year, Your Humble Narrator was returning from a training camp in Chattanooga. Pretty much in top shape and ready to race. These days? See above! Work. Work. Work. And my shape is threatening to become: round.

At least we're done with The Big Pitch. Now on to other adventures.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In Da Mouf

My disappearances are never planned. They grow from a seed of discontent and blossom into mighty growths of Sloth & Lethargy. One day gets past me. Then one week. Ad nausea. For a while, there was significant volumes of training consuming my cycles. Like 2-4 workouts per day!  But recently my absence has been due to a boringly mundane reason: work.  My day job. That Which Pays The Bills.

After a coworker left, the main bulk of complex projects (and a full time schedule!)  fell very unexpectedly onto my shoulders. We forecast that it would be 6 months before they could generate 40hrs per week of work for me. We didn't make it 6 weeks! These days, it is non-stop at the office. And many nights my thoughts are fixated on projects: what's next, what needs to be done, what's behind schedule, what's going where.

It has negatively affected my mood and personal productivity. My fuse is short. My energy is gone. My time is completely gone. And nothing feels good any more. It is like slowly chewing through a buffet moments after major oral surgery. Nothing but numbness and disinterest in anything other than uninterrupted silence for as long as possible.

Trying to get back on track, though. Resume proper training. Reschedule mobility and recovery. Get in my steps. Get back to serious training of myself and others. Just try to shrug off the negativity of my nerdly ways during the day. And refocus on improving the situation while planning for a better tomorrow. One day at a time.That's the plan, at least. But, as Mike Tyson warned us: Everybody has a plan until they get punched in da mouf!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Humidity & Burnt Ends

Eldest Brother Kimmer ventured through the heat to get some PT for his new FrankenKnee. (Four weeks old, today!) Almost an hour on the recumbent bike for him. A mile in the pool for me, then a couple of miles on the recumbent. Both of us working on improving our form and waging the continual war against aging. Just over a decade (or was it a century?) ago, we would hit the gym together, in Atlanta. His stack of weights went anywhere from 200 - 400 pounds. My stack would rarely break 100 pounds. His pecs were bigger than my head. And on "leg day," he'd bring the whole gym to a screeching halt as we loaded more than 1400lbs onto the leg press sled and he'd do dozens of reps. Sometimes having me stand on top, when he wanted a real challenge. These days, he's a cancer survivor. slowly replacing bits and pieces of himself that have worn out, and working on the range of motion instead of his one rep max.

After the gym, we stopped by one of my favorite local joints: Murky Waters for an unrivaled dose of humidity & burnt ends & blues in the Deep South. We both ended up rocking a plate of 'ends. Mine showed up with fried okra. (When onion rings were ordered.) But they ended up being consumed along with multiple beers and anything else that landed on the bar in front of us.

Believe it or not, but we usually talk on a daily basis. Even though we're hundreds of miles apart. (The same with Uncle Ron, btw!) Thank you, Mister Internet. So on occasions like these, when we get together in person, we catch up quickly and rapidly get down to business: complaining about our age, the state of the union, and the ever-increasing-impossibility of actually retiring one day.  We relive some of the glory days. Compare notes on missing comrades. And eventually drag back to our kids and wives and the routine drag of our new normal.

We'll see what the rest of his trip holds. Hopefully more training and more nights on the town. Everything in moderation. And everything enjoyed while it lasts.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Monday Night Jams

Aside from the new-normal late start, the ad hoc band was in rare form, tonight. (As opposed to last Monday, which was canceled!) The first song was a crazy wild jam that originated in some odd guitar modulations from Diggs. Then they moved into some blues. And some old familiar tunes followed. All along the way, the spirit had clearly descended upon Liam and he was cranking out funktastic bass licks with brisk authority. The realization of what is happening never ceases to amaze me. The guitarists are mostly just strumming, but Liam doesn't have that luxury. He's not only constantly providing the rhythm,  improvising as he finds openings, often unexpectedly changing the tempo, and watching for subtle queues to end the song or extend the song, or lower his volume for somebody's solo. Anyone up there doing this would earn my respect. But it helps that he's my son. And the kid is just 16!

Six more weeks, though. Then he is off to Columbus. Will happen before we know it. Far before we're actually ready for it. So we're enjoying every performance, while they last.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

The Hall Mob Returns

Kim & Nenna came down for their annual pilgrimage to South Hell. Much more difficult this year, though. Complications include: three kids, two dogs, and one artificial joint. (Poor Nenna!) Last year, Kimmer was recovering from cancer. This year, he's brought a four week old, bionic knee! (He does nothing lightly.) He's doing very well, though. The scar is beginning to fade. He's barely using a cane to walk. And the pain diminishes on a regular basis.  Then, on top of their own challenges, just as they arrive, the first hurricane of the season enters the Gulf. (Though it will eventually take a very hard right turn and sputter out over central Florida.) Ominous foreshadowing?

We grab some lunch at the Cajun Crawfish Hut and meet the new addition to his family. It shocks all of us to consider that Liam (my oldest) could actually have a child Mark's age (Kim's youngest!) Making me eligible to be a grandfather? Once upon a time, Kimmer played Santa Claus for my children, at Christmas. These days, my kids could babysit his. Man oh man oh man, time flies quickly. Too damn quickly....

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Grandman 2016

The storms began around 1am. The sky cracked in half and debris crashed outside my too-thin window until seconds before my alarm rang at 4am. Right then and there, going home seemed like an infinitely more enjoyable option than racing. But quitting isn't in my blood. And too many people expected to see me at the finish line. Couldn't let them, or myself, down by not at least trying to race. So, protein shake, pack, and hit the still-dark road by 5am. And get to transition as the sun peeks above the horizon at 5:30am.

Thankfully there was no rain in store for us. Transition setup was uneventful. And a practice swim revealed that we could easily stand-up just past the half-way point of the course. While not particularly worried about drowning, it was soothing to know the water wasn't particularly deep.

Being #360 had some interesting consequences. Waiting to start the swim took forever. And any "warm-up" was gone by the time my turn came. The water felt just right. The crowd wasn't very thick, even near the turn. And there wasn't much wrestling this year. (As opposed to last year when it was almost a slobberknocker at times!) Swam up very close to shore. Hit the ground running. And finished with an average of 1:35/100. Unfortunately too many zig zags resulted in nearly 100 extra meters of swimming and my total swim time was 11:59. Well beyond my plans...

Hit the bike, conquered our favorite hill, and settled into aero for the duration. Starting in the middle of the line-up resulted in passing lots and lots of folks during the ride. A bit surprised at how many people had to be admonished for riding in the middle, or even the left side of the road. But passing folks helps me pass the time and strokes the agressive part of my Lizard Brain. So it was go go go for Your Humble Narrator.

To the best of my recollection, only two people came around me during the bike ride. Felt good about that. Slowed a bit during the last mile. Had trouble getting the Velcro undone on my shoes, which ruined my attempt at a quick dismount. But otherwise it went well and my moving average turned out to be 20.3MPH, which is a new personal record!

Then came the run. (sigh) Way way way off my pace. Couldn't settle into a comfortable position and kept stressing about my stomach. Maybe it was too much water. Maybe not enough water. Maybe it was the heat. Or the long uphill climb. But by the second mile, it was a struggle not to completely stop and the final water station did result in 30 seconds (or more) of walking to collect my breath. Run time: 33:42.

Total race time: 1:42:17. Last year was in the 1:38:XX. Swim was actually better than last year. Bike was better than last year. Run clobbered me. But it is what it is, not too terribly bad, and still early in the season. There's plenty of time to focus on the run.

Afterwards, stayed to watch several of my friends and team members finish. Very proud of all of them, but a big shoutout to my favorite Athena: Wendy! She struggles with the voices of her lizard telling her that she can't do it and she's not good enough to finish. She pushed through all that though and finished without puking, crying, or dying. So we'll mark that up as a victory and keep working towards a sub-2hr finish.

And then there is Mi Amigos Locos: Charlie & Alvi. Two big Clydesdales with families and full time jobs and additional struggles of their own. Alvi's knee was TOAST and Charlie's been too busy running a business instead of running on the road. But they also crossed the line without any ill effects. And we're all smiling because it is over with!

Hopefully the rest of the season goes a little better. Only one way to find out.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Grandman Pre-Race Party

Long day of work. Pack pack pack. Long drive to the Eastern Shore Motel. Traffic in the tunnel. Hot and humid the whole way. Pick up the race packet. #360 for Your Humble Narrator. Scope the course. Fight off the hunger long enough be one of the first people to the Pre-Race Party. Rotolo's. Pizza shop with lots of personality. Mimosa cider! Buffalo chicken wrap. Thirty minute wait to get our checks. End up getting back to the motel late. Discover my room is nearly adjacent to the heavily-trafficked highway. But the attendant won't allow me to change rooms. Joy. The bed is made of bricks. The pillows are thinner than most pot-holders. And the AC barely keeps the room cool, let alone cold. Prediction? Tonight will suck.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

CrossFit Coaching

My first OFFICIAL class, today. Mondays and Wednesdays will be on my schedule. 0600. (Ouch!) Four athletes this morning. Bergener Warmup. Squat Snatch. And lots of wallballs, box jumps, and power snatches. Nobody died, puked, or cried. A minor victory, in my book.

Trying to convey the importance of form and constancy. And the difference between strength training and metabolic conditioning. Make a difference in somebody's life. Even a small change to improve their abilities or perception of fitness.

Hoping to do much more. Give a seminar about fueling and recovery. Create a running program to prepare folks for the marathon we'll have along the beach in December. Endurance-related programs. Help folks manage their weight. And body composition. Just a matter of finding the time. And patience. But it all started today, with one small class, and my first foray into CrossFit coaching.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Start Of Hurricane Season

June 1st leaves a sour stomach taste in my mouth. From now until November, a constant background noise behind our thoughts: tick tick tick. We have to pretend the heat doesn't make us miserable. The sweat on everything. Mosquitoes and gnats and squirrels and road kill littering our lives. And all this is just a backdrop for what we're fearing the most: another hurricane entering the Gulf of Mexico, with its crosshairs on South Mississippi. Is this year? We all just have to wait and see...

On a good note, today Liam received The Call. His first paying music gig! One of the guys from the Monday night jam sessions needs a bassist. And Kidd Maestro goes up to bat in a couple of weeks. Every parent dreams that one day their children will do better than the parents did. And our kids are making our dreams a reality on a regular basis. At sixteen, my son is going to be paid to bring the thunder! How damn cool is that?? We're all proud of his progress and numerous accomplishments.

On an unexpected note, my Mo-In-Law had been fighting her way through an issue with her digestive track. Minutes from spinning down my day and heading to bed (since the alarm will ring @ 0500!) a message hits my phone. It's Cindy: Mom's going into surgery. Can you come be with me? Apparently there was a severe blockage and nothing could go past. And it was not going to get any better. So they made the decision to remove the problem, immediately. Which means Your Humble Narrator goes from thoughts of bed to dashing to the hospital in the span of a few minutes...

The surgery took about an hour. Closing up took about half an hour. Ten people (family, friends, doctors, pastors, children, and grand children!) waiting on the inevitable phone call. But it was all good news in the end. No cancer. Only a small section needed to be removed. Everything else still looks very healthy. And Cindy's Mom will be with us many many years to come.

And, my friends, was June 1st, 2016.... on to the rest of Hurricane Season!