Monday, September 29, 2014

The Previously Unimaginable

If you do not have any sort of background in physical fitness, doing even the shortest triathlon (a Sprint) is a major undertaking. When you're standing at the beginning of that race, it is most likely the single biggest physical challenge of your life. In the back of your head, you know there are bigger races, other distances. But such things are unicorns to you. You may never find them. And at that movement, the thought of finishing a full Ironman event borders on inconceivable.

Four years after starting my first Sprint triathlon, the previously unimaginable has become a reality: Your Humble Narrator is registered for the 2015 Ironman Chattanooga. Full distance event. One year away.

As previously noted, 2014 was a wash for triathlons. But 2015 will see new goals and new training methods. The current plans include:

  • Returning to the 50K training that went TOO well last year.
  • Continuing to stretch very aggressively, including daily exercises and yoga multiple times per week. 
  • Continuing to rehab sore muscles with sauna and cold bath therapy.
  • And focusing on improved running form, most likely adopting the pose method
A year will go by quickly. Thankfully, my base isn't bad. Just need to enhance the good stuff and make positive adjustments to the bad stuff. Eat right. Sleep right. Train right. And get the job in 364 days!

Simple as that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

10Q - Day Two

For the second question, on Day Two, 10Q asked:
Is there something you wish you had done differently this past year?
My answer:
Tough to narrow down the selection! But one of my frequent challenges is waking up early At the house, things do not get done as easily when the family is awake. So my productive time is when they're asleep. But that often isn't until 10P. And on the weekends, even later. If my schedule shifted to the morning, things like running and Crossfit would work better. But hitting that snooze alarm is sooo easy. As turning off the alarm all together. Changing my sleeping to maximize my productivity is high on the priority list. But equally high in difficult. So it keeps getting pushed back. Year after year.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

10Q - Day One

10Q started their second year of questions this week. The sight was inspired by the traditional 10 days of reflection that occur between the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a period of time that’s long been considered an opportunity to look at where you're at, where you've come from, and where you're heading.

Their first question was:
Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?
After giving it some thought, my answer was:
2014 started with new inspirations and a new, untested training program. Having been a poor runner all my life, the program focused on improving my weaknesses. Halfway into it, a long run was scheduled. 15K. Just over 9 miles. For the first time in (literally) decades, a sense of strength and certainty overcame me. My legs felt powerful. My chest wasn’t struggling for air. And there was no slowing me down. It turned into my fastest training 5K ever (though there were faster ones at official races) but it was also my fastest recorded 10K and my fastest 15K. Everything was glorious and magical and things were going to change for the better! 
Until the next morning. My knees were shot. Especially the left. It felt as if somebody were sliding a knife under my kneecap with each step. Walking was difficult, at best. Training was impossible. And the disappointments were just beginning.   
The new training program had to be canceled. My first triathlon of the season resulted in a significantly slower time than the previous year. My first half Ironman had to be canceled. And every race after that was either canceled, or slower. 2014 turned out to be my worst season since starting. A total disaster. 
The end result was less time with my friends. More feelings of doubt and uncertainty. And a renewed sense of depression that hadn’t been felt in years. It was a huge personal and emotional step backwards. 
The experience was less about physical pain and more about personal disappointment. But perhaps it taught me a lesson about pacing myself. And instilled a new sense of caution. In this world there are different types of mistakes. Good ones that we learn from. And bad ones that we repeat over and over without ever realizing the error of our ways. Hopefully this was a good one. Only time, and next year's racing season, will tell.
One down. Nine more to go. Thank you, 10Q for the adventure. Perhaps a few of my friends will take up your gauntlet, too!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


"We all make choices, but in the end, our choices make us."
-Andrew Ryan, Bioshock

Driving her to school this morning, Meg asks: Do you believe in destiny, Daddy?

My answer ran something along the lines of:  I believe in choices, BabyBear. I don't think we should ever accept to be victims of circumstances. We should work to be products of our decisions. I believe that between what happens to us and what happens next is our choice. The trouble is that good decisions  come from experience while experience often comes from bad decisions. But we shouldn't let fear or anyone else decide our destiny for us. I think we make our own destiny. And where we are now, good or bad, is the result of all our previous choices.

Probably more than a twelve year old needs to hear before 8AM. Blaming the coffee. And reading too much Shakespeare. And being a long-winded nerd.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Disappointing 2014 Triathlon Season

From the highs of finishing Augusta to this. My season is officially over. Total for 2014: one race. Traditions. And didn't improve over last year's pace.

Plenty of training. Plenty of conditioning. Some of the new changes (like cold pool & sauna therapy) appear to have helped. My biking feels stronger. My swimming feels stronger. But after that faithful, record breaking run in February, my knee was never the same. And it is hard to complete a triathlon without running.

New plan? Get back to strength and conditioning. Get back on the 14 week training program. Focus on my running. Do some half marathons. Consider a full marathon. Then train with Jack & Luke for IMKY in 2015.

That's the plan. For now. And we all know how well my plans go...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Maybe Next Year

Beach2Battleship is a no go, this year. Maybe next year. Not comfortable with The Knee Situation While everything is seemingly normal, there's no definitive explanation for the most recent bit of woe. Inflammation? Repetitive stress injury? Bad case of O-L-D? (shrug)

Luke told me, "You've never given your knee a chance to REALLY heal." And looking back, he's right. So pushing through 12 weeks of Half Iron Training would not be a Good Thing (tm.)

So, one more Almost Race in the books for Your Humble Narrator. If they gave medals for Good Intentions, there would be boxes of them in the garage.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ten Books/Authors That Have Inspired Me

My world-wandering friend Alexandria Murray challenged me to list Ten Books that inspired me. Friends and family know books are an addiction of mine. Rarely does a night go by without at least a few pages of reading. Some nights, it is hours of reading. There's a strong chance that Your Humble Narrator suffered from undiagnosed depression when he was a Late Teen, and reading was the only thing that helped him get through those dark, dark days. So this challenge must be taken up!

Unfortunately, picking only ten is impossible. So my list is actually going to be:

Top Ten Books/Authors That Have Inspired Me
  1. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlosser - McDonald's hasn't received a single dime from me in almost 10yrs because of this book. Not only does it expose the seedy practices of the fast food industry but it elaborates on the war that corporations wage against consumers, wherein our health is sacrificed for corporate profits and their biggest advantage is our ignorance of their profit-driven practices. This changed everything about nutrition and eating for me.
  2. A People's History of the United States - Howard Zinn - Mind blowing. This one started me on my path to uncover other deceptions. So many of our beliefs are founded on myths and the truth is often strangers than fiction and usually difficult to swallow after being fooled so effectively for so many years.
  3. You Are Being Lied To - Russ Kick - A collection of world shattering essays that shed light on soooo many dark places. Dozens of articles and each a gift to curious minds. Where as Zinn discusses our past, Russ Kick deals with the modern world. And the Pandora's Box he opens has scarred me for life.
  4. Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl - This helped me understand the curse of materialism and the value of creating and maintaining happiness between each of us. 
  5. Getting Things Done - David Allen - Brought structure to my chaos and helped me understand the value of structured, orderly approaches to dealing with most situations.
  6. The Dreams in the Witch House - H.P. Lovecraft - As far as fiction goes, this was the first story from the first author that completely absorbed my attention. Have read every story from Lovecraft and his style of writing continues to have an effect on my own.
  7. *Anything by the "modern poets" - TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, ee cummings.* - These guys write the way my thoughts naturally unfurl. Reading them is akin to hearing my own voice. For 30 years their works have been behind most of my thoughts. And there's this wild idea haunting me of making a short, black & white movie based on Elliot's The Wasteland.
  8. *Anything by James Howard Kunstler* - Kunstler is an author / speaker  that never ceases to amaze me with his keen insight, equal-opportunity-acidity and ability to cut through the non-stop illusions being played for us by various corporate / political entities.If only this guy would run for POTUS...
  9. *Anything by Leo Babauta* - As close to traditional spiritually as it gets for me, Leo writes articles on dealing with modern issues in this modern dystopia we're navigating. Like Kunstler, Babauta is weekly reading for me and his writing helps reshape Your Humble Narrator on a regular basis.
  10. *Anything by William Gibson* - Back on the topic of actual fiction, Gibson is one of the few (if only) authors that are required in my opinion. His writing style lines up nicely with the Modern Poets and his subject matter (usually dealing with some form of technology) is near and dear to me. Not sure if Gibson ever tours, but meeting him and getting a personal autograph is on my To Do List.
And now to challenge some friends to list their favorites...

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Biggest Draw

Back at the house. Instead of driving most of the day. Started by dropping the kids off. Meg at the old familiar Middle School. Liam at the High School. Then, despite being off, waded through recently accumulated work-email. (Feel guilty, otherwise.) 

After a bit of that, it was off to Long Beach,  Molly in tow. For the dog: a visit with her friends at Dad's house. For me: lunch with Mom,  G'Ma, and Aunt Susan. Chinese buffet: Chopsticks. Good to catch up with the ladies who raised me. Mom always upbeat. G'Ma stick physically active. Aunt Susan, the original red head, rapidly recovering from ankle surgery, marrying off her daughter (Dana,) and starting her son (Dakota) in college. All of us busy and happy and glad to have each other's company. Back at the house,  Dad gets a call about a new position at work: back to engineering!  So big changes and much happiness for him,  too! The biggest draw of Mississippi: my family.