Category Archives: cycliing

2013 Season Ending Review…. Come and Get It 50!

2013medals

Looking back on 2013 I feel really pleased with the way it all went; there were highs and lows, but certainly more highs than lows. It was a great year of progress and learning too; some things gracefully and some things not so gracefully. It was a year with three pinnacle events and milestones; experiences that deserve a story all to their own. I wanted to finish out this year before my 50th birthday living life as fully as I possibly could and I have.

When I attended the Redman Triathlon in September of 2012, I left wishing I was on that line and doing that race. I knew that 2012 was a year of progress, but while I was satisfied I knew I had more in the tank to give and more progress to make. I remember coming home last fall and registering for the Ironman Lonestar 70.3 and knowing that this was a “stretch event” for me physically, emotionally, and mentally, but somewhere in my mind was that old saying of “if you can think it or dream it, you can do it”. As many of you knew, swimming was a bigtime issue and had been for my entire life. Getting to the point of being able to even visualize swimming 1.2 miles was probably the biggest hurdle of the year, the second biggest was actually doing it. I was fortunate to get the chance to do some work with Amanda Stevens, who was to become my coach for the year. She worked with me at workshops and a few private lessons then helped me to stretch out my distances and eventually get to my goal. While swimming had its own unique set of challenges for me, so did running. When I started out the year I had never done anything beyond a 5k, and that wasn’t what you could even begin to call a great base to begin with. Over the course of the season I was able to finish four Half-Marathons and eventually my first Full Marathon in Chicago. That was the perfect end to a full season!

When I first started cycling four years ago none of this could have ever even been on my “radar of possibility”. After finishing the first Hotter Than Hell Hundred in 2010, it left me really high with a feeling that the sky was the limit! True, but what I learned about that sky was it wasn’t going to be as easy a trip as that beginning enthusiasm made me think it would be. There was to be much hard work along the way. Sometimes the progress has seemed so slow too, but it always came if I kept to the work. Endurance sport is so honest; what I mean by that is that there are no short cuts to take. The work you put in determines the outcome you get; and when the work is short-changed, the outcome is too. That was a humbling lesson I learned this year. I am proud of finishing the two Ironman 70.3’s but, I also know that I had the ability to do more physically if I had done a more consistent job of training. The cool thing about that, I know that next year has the potential to be another year of progress for me. I know that I will gain more strength and physical ability this next year, but I also know that will be as much about changes in mental toughness maybe more than my physical changes.

So looking back on the 2013 Season there were three pinnacle events for me: Ironman Lonestar 70.3, Ironman Buffalo Springs 70.3, and the Chicago Marathon. Each event was special for different reasons. The Lonestar 70.3 was an awesome experience of accomplishment for me; it pushed me on all levels of my being. Right from the very first jump into Galveston Bay, it was an endurance fight for me. Being able to gut out the swim and make it onto the bike was huge for me. I know that when that was over that was the biggest physical challenge I had even met, it was an unbelievable experience. The Buffalo Springs 70.3 was a different event, my coach encouraged me to go when I wasn’t sure I could. Again, I didn’t get the follow through that I wish I could claim in preparing for the race but Amanda encouraged me to just do it! So I did, my swim was much improved over my Lonestar effort! That was a huge deal. Then there was the bike, wow. This course had some climbs that were tougher than any climbs I had ever done to that date. Driving the course I told my wife “I’m not sure I can make those climbs”, so when I made it through the bike portion I was really feeling satisfied in what I had done. The run was pretty damn tough too, but I knew I could gut through that with run/walks and get to the finish line. The final pinnacle event was the Chicago Marathon. It was probably the most enjoyable event of the year, just an awesome feeling doing something with over 44,000 other people. It was the perfect way to top off the year.

I can tell you this for sure too; none of this is possible all on my own. First and foremost without the Spiritual life that has been spoon fed to me throughout my life and my coming to find God in a way that is special to me, this never happens. Frankly the last 25 years of life wouldn’t even have happened and those that have known me throughout my life know that is truth being told. Right behind my relationship with God is my family; my wife and daughter are always an inspiration to me. How can you not be inspired by watching someone come out of a battle with cancer to do her very first marathon 14 years ago and in Chicago of this year qualify for the Boston Marathon. If that’s not enough inspiration, how about this: she is also a polio survivor too! My daughter Cynthia is always the most encouraging and sweetest young lady that I know; she and her mother will have accomplished doing 12 marathons in 12 months! I believe they call that true Marathon Maniacs. My Spiritual support community, my training friends and my coach were all a big part in this too. No great achievement is ever done truly alone. On the starting line of all these events was my grandfather Cunningham whose last words to me were encouraging me to stop smoking, as he said ” the damn things got me Mark”. So every race I started with him and took him with me.

So it was a great season. Farewell 2013 Season, you were a good friend to me. You have taught me some valuable lessons along the way this year. You will always have a special place in my heart, you helped me put a perfect crescendo on this year leading to my 50th birthday. When I look back on the year I see the places for improvement but, I am proud and satisfied beyond what I could have ever dreamed even a few years ago. I hope all of you get the chance to experience a year like I have. Thanks everyone, I love ya all !!!

Hmmmmm…. and a tune to end…. wouldn’t wanna short change ya!

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Body, Mind, and Soul

Quote-439-300x300When I first started this blog several years ago the original title of the blog was “Body, Mind, and Soul”, so today I am going to go back to that pattern for this post. There are lessons that I am learning along this Road To Glaveston;  some new, some old with renewed strength. So with this being my first post in over a week, I feel somewhat refreshed and not nearly as over-whelmed in writing this morning. I like the tri-concept of body, mind, and soul; it seems to weave a really beautiful tapestry of life.

Body- Physically last week I was to have a recovery week in my workout routine. If recovery was the goal, I acheived that. I had two scheduled days of rest and ended up with 3 rest days. There were three workouts that were my highlights, each for different reasons. My swim workout was awesome this week, I really enjoy getting into the pool. I wouldn’t have ever thought that swimming would become so enjoyable. For me to come full-circle in swimming is a big deal! My favorite run this week was Saturday’s Fridgid Five in Edmond. We did this event with my brother in law. He wanted to do a run to celebrate his 70th birthday, so we had a nice dinner out with them on Friday and met them for the run on Saturday.  Jim has been a lifelong runner and has done the Boston Marathon a couple of times too. I know my wife felt good about doing that with him too. She feels like her mom would have been proud to see them running together. The bike ride on Sunday at the lake was really relaxing, it was to be 90 minutes of riding just for enjoyment. I put in my headphones and did lake laps. It was refreshing too, helped me to get my head clear.  Hopefully with the recovery week I will be able to hit this week  in full gear. We will cap the coming week off with a good trip to Austin for the Livestrong Marathon.

Mind-  My mind is in pretty good shape this week. Mentally I feel pretty positive about where I am with the Road To Galveston. There are times that I wonder “are you friggin nuts?” but those are usually fleeting and I don’t feed them with second thoughts. But more importantly there are times that I think “what else can we do?”, the opening up of a wide range of possibilities is so refreshing to me.  I don’t just mean what other exercise goals, not just the thought of another physical challenge like maybe a 140.6 or maybe something like a Leadville 100 bike challenge; I have some other challenges that are teasing me too. The ability to put my mind in better focus towards goals is opening up some other new possibilities that I have thought were maybe lost to my age.  So stay tuned this year, there just might be some other journeys on the horizon.

Soul- Spiritually this last week was really good. I had the opportunity to spend some time with another man listening to his life story; the good, the bad, the ugly. I love getting to do that, it is a real honor and priveledge. If you have never had the chance to sit down and tell someone your entire life story, warts and all, not withholding anything, give it some thought. Maybe it might be something you would consider for Lent this season. Richard Foster talks a little about this in his book Celebration of Discipline, and I believe that it captures the spirit of two verses in particular in the Christian faith James 5:16 ” Confess your sins one to another that ye may be healed.” and Matthew 18:20 “Wherever two or three gather in my name, I am with them.” When I get the opportunity to listen to someone like this, it reminds me of how we are all just human, trying our best and at times our ‘not so best’, and really I have never felt anything but a real sense of love and care that I know comes from our best “Spirit”. It also helps me to loosen some of that hyper-criticalness I have toward myself too. Looking forward this week towards Lent, I know that I have one commitment that I want to be diligent with, that is daily meditation. As far as something that I might sacrifice, I still am not sure what that will be. I am looking forward to this season though, it is one of my favorite times of the Christian faith.

So there you go! That’s the recap from last week. Hope you find something useful in my ramblings today.

Don’t you just LOVE THE GRAMMYs? Today’s tune is from Ed Sheeran and Elton John singing A Team. Elton John was a true ‘elderstatesman’ last night, what a great man he has become.

Have a blessed week.

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The Road To Galveston Via Fort Lauderdale !

Ft-Lauderdale-Beach-South-Florida-007I am so pumped up! We are going to go to Fort Lauderdale in February and I will get a chance to do some open water ocean swimming! It was one of my concerns for a few reasons. I don’t have any real experience in a wetsuit, so this will let me do some wetsuit work. Swimming in open water is something that I need to get a chance to do. So just to add a nice twist to the wetsuit open water swimming, my triathlon is in the ocean too. Getting to do this in late February was a perfect opportunity.

How did it all come together? Well we had a couple of tickets from Southwest that were about to expire, there were just a few times or places that we could go to with our schedules and the airlines availibility. We have been doing these tripa on the west coast, but unfortunately there weren’t any availible flighta open. So we eventually found some open flights to Florida. We have talked about going to Florida for a while but, it was just hard to “not go” to Del Mar. We have had some great times there over the last several years. Becky also has a pretty good chunk of hotel points too, so we were able to book our room using those! So it will be a relatively inexpensive trip. We are both really looking forward to it.

So when we go, I suspect that swimming will be my focus while we are there! Getting the chance to do some open water swimming will be so good for me. Hopefully it will help me feel a little more at ease in Galveston. The bonus of getting to do a little open water ocean swimming is really cool too. I was checking the weather online and the water temperature should be roughly the same as Galveston in April. Seems the stars are still aligning!

Today was a double workout day, one run and one bike. I am doing them both in the evening, one before dinner and one after. My run was 45 minutes of running anyway I wanted BUT, I was to leave the Garmin and heart rate monitor off. My coach wanted me to just enjoy running. I. can get to “thinking” way to much sometimes and I was probably mind screwing myself to much with the data. It was pretty cold outside so I did the run on the treadmill. I even covered up the distance and pace data so it wasn’t like using the Garmin.

After the run I told Becky I would cook dinner tonight. I made salmon, brocolli, asparagus, and sweet potato. I am not a cooking guy normally, but it was pretty good!

My bike workout was a 1:20 hr trainer ride, doing a few drills. It felt pretty good too. I was used to doing 1hr training rides so this one was stretching me out an extra 20 minutes. I love riding the bike, no doubt it is my total favorite of the swim/bike/run deal! Tonight I jammed out to a little Foo Fighters while riding. I was having fun doing the work too. I work up a great sweat on trainer rides! Well thats enough for today.

It was Foo Fighters on the trainer, but I am going with David Gray’s Babylon.

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Good Country Ride

jonestrainToday I did a 2:45 hour ride from my house out to the Jones/Choctaw area. After about 5 miles you are out in a rural area on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City metro area is relatively flat, but this area does have a few hills to work on. This was the first time since probably September that I have ridden out that direction. I like to have a riding buddy when I go out there, we have had a few cycling/car fatalities in the last couple of years out there. So today I had my buddies Big Brian and Jason out with me. We did a little over 40 miles.

My favorite part of the ride is along a stretch of XXX Road that travels north-south. It is farmland, really peaceful; plus we are usually turning back north and get to let the south wind push us for awhile. We did have a little bit of an issue with a road crew that was putting up guard rails, they had put up “road closed” signs but it looked to me like we could easily get through. The first person with the heavy equipment waived us through, his supervisor wasn’t as “accommodating” as the other guys. So we took a little brow beating from the fat redneck and went on. This is part of the route for one of the bigger bike rides of the year in Oklahoma City, The Redbud. I will miss it this year because we will be in Galveston for the Lonestar 70.3.

We did stop at a quickstop in Jones to get some Gatorade. All I had for liquids was water, I should have done one water and one Gatorade. So after that break it was the last stretch back into Oklahoma City/Edmond. To me it was pretty uneventful, just a good afternoon ride. The weather was unseasonably warm, around 65 or so, but the wind was Oklahoma strong, 15-25 constant out of the southwest with occasionally higher gusts. The 65 degrees made the wind a good trade off. If you want to ride bike in Oklahoma, you just gotta know there will be plenty of windy days. While we don’t have big mountains, we do have wind!

All in all it was a good ride. A good first effort out on some hillier routes. I do think I want to do a lot more training out that way rather than at the flat lake too. So I am looking foreward to getting out that way more often. At the end of the ride I did feel like I probably should have pushed it a little more than I did. My heart rate was in the middle of my Zone 2 on average. I could have done a little more I think. But for a first Jones ride of the year, I will call it a good ride.

One thing I do like is the fact that my starting point this year is much better than last year. I am about 30 pounds lighter than my wieght at this time last January so that is a really good thing. Aerobically I think I am probably in a better place too, thanks to the running and swimming. So if this is the starting point this year, it should be fun seeing where it takes me in August and September of this year!

Back CameraNow it is reward time! Becky and I will be heading out to our new favorite pizza place in Oklahoma City, Upper Crust Pizza ! Last week was our first time to Upper Crust and it was awesome, can’t wait to go back tonight. Just saw thier web-site, wouldn’t you know it’s another Hal Smith Group establishment. They have to be about the top operators in our city.

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Inspired And Inspire

inspired
I don’t know if any of you ever follow and read what some of the professional triathletes are doing in there training, but I enjoy seeing their posts on Twitter. I have enjoyed watching them begin thier season in camps and getting ready for the new year. It is kinda cool to pick a few and follow them. I used to follow the cyclers more, but this last year it has shifted over to triathletes. On Twitter someone had posted and article about Sir Lindley, who was a World Champion triathlete and is now one of the top coaches. It was a cool read getting the feel for how positive a peron she is. She was one of the triathletes that I have followed on Twitter and she is pretty active too. One thing that I notice about the people that she works with, they all seem so excited to be working with her. Another thing that I found really cool to was that she is the coach of my coach, Dr. Amanda Stevens. I her excitement and positive way of working with people is passed along well too. Amanda has that same positive spirit when she talks to me or when we did our swim lessons. So until someone tells me I shouldn’t do this, I think I will claim Siri Lindley as my “grand-coach”! Hey they say if you want to do great things, extraordinary things; you need an extraordinary team supporting you. For the last 10-15 years I have had such a great group of mentors and teachers!

Today I had two workouts: a “hills” run and a “build” bike ride.

This afternoon after work I was able to squeeze in a nice 45 minute run at Mitch Park. The Landrunner’s, an Oklahoma City running club, uses this park to do their hills training when they are thier marathon training runs. So I loaded up and went out there for my run. It was a really good run too. The weather was really nice, just a little cool but not quiet jacket cool. There was a good gentle breeze too, but not “Oklahoma windy”. One thing that I noticed on this run was the smell of all the cedar trees, it kind of reminded me of the time I was doing the motorcycle tour through Colorado and noticing the scent of all the pines. It just had that strong a presence today. Now about the running, it went pretty good too. I was to stay in Zone 1-3, and I did a pretty good job of doing that. Occasionally I would get a little out Zone 3 on some of the hills, but I stayed pretty true to the plan. I still hope to get faster, but it wasn’t getting in my head in a negative way like the other day. I just keep reminding myself “trust the plan, trust the process, and trust your coach”.

I did my bike workout on the trainer this evening. I waited until about 8:30 or so to do it. This workout was and hour long, I did two sets of “build” drills. It went well too. I just got into the tunes and worked at keeping tunes would have been straight off the Ellen showbetween 150-155 bpm on my heart rate for the “build” portion of the workout. I love listening to tunes while I do my bike trainer work. Tonight I ended up with Rick James Radio on Pandora, I got to laughing at myself thinking about how I swear the tunes sounded like something the DJ Tony from Ellen Show would have played. So Ellen, if you are out there, you could have Tony do my tunes mix for my workouts on my “Road To Galveston”! The ride itself went pretty well, towards the end of the ride, I wanted to get that one more mile finished. It’s that slow thing again. I know, I know; stop that stuff right? Maybe it isn’t a bad thing though, maybe it is that burr in my ass that will keep me going to get better.

Attitude, attitude attitude; actually it was pretty good today. Now the dissatisfaction deal, I was reading one of my favorite authors the other day, Thich Nhat Hahn, and he talked about just smiling and saying “hello negative feelings, I hear you.” Just acknowledge them instead of trying to make them go away. It is like so many things in my life; the harder I go against them, the stronger they get. One thing that makes all the difference in the world is getting good quality meditation time too. I promise, it makes a major difference in my attitude. Hey, if I’m this crazy with meditation, do you really want to see me without it? 🙂

Tomorrow is going to be another good day too. I am switching my Sunday bike ride and my Friday swim to take advantage of the weather.I took the day off work to go on a 3 hour ride with Brian and Jason. We will head out for a good ride to the Jones/Choctaw area. I did hear that the wind might be a little stout but that will be better than a mid 30’s ride on Sunday.

Think I will throw a little Freak Power out today. They make me smile, sometimes a little music to make ya smi

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The Road Is Longer Than It Might Appear

sbr At the first of the year I suspect we all set goals or have ideas of where we want to try to go, not only in our fitness life but other areas too. As a person that was never very athletic and didn’t get any physical exercise for many years I have really been blown away by how it has affected me. To me, it did so much more than just improve my physical fitness, it affected every area of life, life became more vibrant. So after I had completed my first 100 mile event, I felt like I was on top of the world and could do anything! This summer will mark my 3rd year of cycling, and while I do have some real lofty goals this year, I also have had to take a little humility on the road. Below I will tell you of just a few experiences that have been some of the growing steps and some of the more humbling ways I have had to come to grips with just where my starting point actually was.

After finishing my first Hotter N Hell Hundred, one afternoon my wife who is a marathon runner was going to go out for a quick run. Feeling all pumped up about my accomplishment, I said “hey, why don’t I come with you ?” She gave me a somewhat quirky look, but I think she felt like it was kind of sweet that I was willing to go along with her. So that seemed to trump the “doubt in my ability” skeptism that she had. I had no clue that cycling ability did not translate into running abilty. After jogging out the front door and maybe 30 yards down the street, I was done! I learned real quick that I was just a beginer in this fitness thing. I had “baby steps” to endure if I was to start running and eventually swimming too.

Getting an understanding of my true fitness level was one lesson I had to learn, and then in May of 2011, we came home to a house filled with smoke. It was the most surreal experience in my life, you never think that is going to happen to you. We hustled to get all of our pets out of the house while the fire department came. We were fortunate that we caught the fire in an early stage. So what does that have to do with my 2011 fitness goals? Life happens and some things just take precedence over my own plans and family needs had to be the focus. We were living in a motel for 3 months and it was a full 6 months before all of the construction was finished. What happened was all of those New Years plans just couldn’t happen.

Having made it through a chaotic 2011, I was ready to get going! In 2012 I wanted to do a triathlon! So I set out to do it with an organization that helped you with your training; great people and an organization with a wonderful cause too. So what was the catch? Well they met for swimming on Monday nights, a night that I had a previous commitment. This particular commitment was with a group of people who absolutely have saved my life. It is something that if I didn’t have it in my life, there would be no other goals. These people gave me life and helped me find a relationship with God in a way that changed me forever. I tried to justify not going for a short period until my event was over, but in my heart of hearts I knew where my priorities needed to be. This is the place that God gave me life, and it is the place where I get to be most effective in helping others have that same experience too.

My new fitness life is amazing, it has affected my entire life from the inside emotionally and spiritually and also physically too; but it hasn’t been an overnight event. I have had to take and am still taking many baby steps along the way. While my fitness goals do have a high priority level, they are not the most important priority; God and family have to be in the proper order too. It takes time to find that balance. It is more about finding a new lifestyle that can be balanced in all areas.

Best of luck with your fitness goals in 2013!

Todays workout was a 2-1/2 hour bike ride followed by a one mile run. It was work, but good work! I even did a pretty good job of following my coaches directions for the workout today!

Tonight let’s go with a little FUN.!

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Scattered Day….But Still On The Road

whirlwindI guess there are days of focus and days like today! When I put the beans in the coffee pot and forgot to put the filter back in, that was the begining of a scattered start of a day. Don’t know if you have ever done this but I can tell you the result; coffee and coffee gounds all over the place running down the cabinets and into the floor. So from was the scattered start of an afternoon. I thought that I would recover after getting around to do my workout, but not so much. So I am just going to chalk it up to “one of those days”.

There are two stories that stick out in my mind today. The first was told by a man that really lived a very modest life, he had been through some real tough times in life. Materially I can tell you that he has much less than many of us. He lives alone and I suspect will probably always live a life with out some of the relationships that I enjoy. One day when he was having a really bad day he came home to find that the puppy that he had got had torn up a bunch of stuff in his apartment and had done its “business” all over the place too. It was a frustrating day, but later on that day he was talking to a woman that was telling him about the heart ache of loosing her children. He said “I knew right then I didn’t have any real problems. I only had puppy problems”. I have heard him tell that story many times, and I never forget it either. All I really had today were puppy problems.

The other story I remembered was while I was out running. Today I had a 30 minute bike ride followed by a 1:56 hr run. When I was running I thought about this old man I met from California that today runs a homeless shelter, much like one that he used to live in. One morning, not like many mornings, after parking his car he was walking down the side walk to go into the facility to work. As he was walking down the sidewalk he had to go around a man that was passed out drunk. He said he paused to think, “that man is me”. But then he also thought “why is it that I made it out of that miserable life and some just never make it”? He said that the only reason he could think was simply this “he had become willing to do some things that he was told to do, that he didn’t want to do”. And as the result of letting someone that knew a way out of where he had been guide him into a new way of living. His life was forever changed. He had to do the work, but it was allowing someone to show him the road. That was the story and energy that I took with me on my run.

Now I say that, but I didn’t do the greatest job of following the directions today. My scatter-brain continued with me on the running path too. I am still pleased with the work and effort, even if it wasn’t really as it was outlined for me to do. At least I put in the time and effort, I even did the extra brick bike ride before hand too. So for the effort I get an “A”: for the follows directions well I give that a “C-“.

So that’s the day.

Tunes? hmmmmmmmmmmm Let’s go local. We were downtown tonight and saw the building that The Flaming Lips owns and it is really cool. Always stands out!
So tonight it is “Do You Realize”.

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