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!
Filed under Amanda Stevens, Attitude, Austin Half Marathon, body, Buddhism, Chicago Marathon, Christianity, cycliing, Cycling, Determination, discipline, Edmond, Fitness, Good Life, Gratitude, Half Marathon, Herman Memorial 70.3, Hotter Than Hell Hundred, Ironman Buffalo Springs 70.3, John Lennon, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, mindfullness, Now, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon, Recovery, Redman Triathlon, training, triathlete, Triathlon
It seems almost odd to be looking forward to heading to the YMCA for a swim, but that is exactly how swimming has become. Today I had two workouts on my schedule, one was a 45-60 minute trainer ride and the other was actually an optional 1000yrd swim. Doing the trainer ride was good, but the swim was the workout I was looking forward to most.
After the swim test earlier in the week where the 500 yard distances didn’t go as well as expected, I set my eyes on this workout. It was 1000 yards, to be done anyway I wanted consisting of 25,50,75, or 100s. So technically I followed my directions, here is the workout:
8 x 25 x 10r odd swim even catchups
2 x 100 x 30r swim
1 x 500 swim or to keep to the directions uh, 5×100 x 0r 😉
4 x 25 x 20r 2catchup 2swim
I really wanted to get back in there and do the 500 better and not freak the f(*& out this time. So that’s what I did. Ever since the test the other day I have planned on doing that, especially after doing the really good 200 as a cool down at the end of the test that went so well. It felt good to get a good one in, just to prove to myself it was all good.
I did a one hour easy spin on the bike that went just fine too. Mostly I wanted to get it in before we went out to dinner tonight, so that we could come home without something left to do.
Earlier today I got a call from Bill, the owner of Papa Dios, telling me that he was having the special meatloaf tonight! I love food, especially really good food! Their food is always excellent, but the meatloaf is something special that they only make occasionally. When they make it he has me on his “meatloaf” call list. So tonight we ate at Papa’s. That was good for Becky too because she got some good pasta carbs for her Sunday marathon in Waco. I am officially fat, happy, and full now!
Tonight I want a little Five for Fighting’s 100 Years.
Hope you have a great weekend.
Filed under Abundance, Attitude, bad coffee, body, Buddhism, Cervelo, Christianity, CycleOps, Cycling, Determination, discipline, Dreams, Edmond, Five For Fighting, Good Life, Gratitude, Herman Memorial 70.3, Life, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, mindfullness, Music, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Papa Dios, Swimming, training, triathlete, Triathlon, Tyr
I have to say, right now, I am just on fire inside! I just finished my first swim test since starting to work with my new coach. I wanted to say that right off the bat to set the context for how I feel about where I am. I struggled BIG TIME doing the first of two 500’s for my test. I finished with a cool down of 200 that was beautiful, maybe the most relaxed swim ever. So today I set a benchmark for the next time we test. It could have been easy to get really overwhelmed with the struggle of the test, but not when it is in it’s proper context.
So this was the first time I have ever done a swimming time test. I started off with 500 yrds of warm-up 25’s. They felt fine, nothing out of ordinary. Just the same drills from the last month. I felt pretty comfortable, my breathing was ok. When I did the fast laps, they felt really great. Then after doing the warm-up it was time to do my first 500 yrd time test. I jumped out the on the first 25 really fast and probably by 50 I was really struggling. I don’t really know why but I was worried I wouldn’t be able to even get to 200. My instructions were to not worry about it if I couldn’t do the straight through 500, just pause catch breath and start back. So I had to do that several times after about 150-200. I was really having a hard time not struggling with the water. Occasionally towards the end I would relax for a 25; but it was kinda ugly, I’m not gonna lie about it. After the first 500 swim I was to rest for a minute and put on my fins for a 500 with fins. That went much better, of course. But besides the help of the fins, somewhere after about 50 with the fins I settled down inside. I didn’t fight it so much. It never felt so good to have my buddy that was timing me say, “that’s it”. I was damn glad to get it done!
After the test I was to do a 200 cool down. My first thought was “shit, I just struggled my ass off to do that first 500. How am I gonna do 200.” Then I pushed off the end and it was the best damn 200 I have ever put together. I was totally relaxed, felt like I was cutting through the water down the lane. My breathing was in perfect stride too. Unbelievable. The only comparison
would be playing a round of double bogey golf and finishing 18 with a sweet drive 30 yards from the green and chipping in for an eagle. Was a great way to finish. Hopefully next time I will relax into the timed part like that too.
So what was the take away? I have a benchmark for comparison, I have my first time test under my belt, I know I will get much better, and I feel great about the thought of just how far I have actually come in the last 2 months. Seriously, until the first of November I couldn’t even swim with my head under water so this is great! I have no doubts that the distance will get there now. It was a great feeling this morning when I finished. You can’t even imagine how it feels to be on the otherside of something that had dominated me for over 45 years! The days of Tarzan Swimming are over! And the Road To Galveston looks a little bit brighter today!
Musically today I want to use a clip from one of my favorite moviesAugust Rush. So here is a clip of Jonathan Rhys Meyes doing This Time. This movie always makes me smile.
Filed under Abundance, Attitude, August Rush, bad coffee, Buddhism, Christianity, Determination, discipline, Edmond, Good Life, Gratitude, Herman Memorial 70.3, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, mindfullness, Music, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Road To Galveston, Swimming, training, TrainingPeaks, triathlete, Triathlon
This was a really good week of work. Looking back at all of the workouts, I am pretty pleased. The main thing is the effort was there and all of the workouts were completed, the best I could. As I mentioned a few days ago, I even had fun while doing it too! That’s what its all about; having fun with the process, enjoying the road. I just rounded out my week with a nice call with my coach. So all is well; I am chilling out watching a little football now and tomorrow we will start a new week.
Today I capped off the week with a 2 hour morning run on the Oklahoma Christian University trails. My wife, my daughter, and my friend Lunz all met up at our house to head out on the run. Becky and Cynthia went on ahead and Lunz lagged back with me for the majority of the run. My legs were a little sore from the day before, but that went away after the first 1/2 mile or so. I wanted to really work on following the directions today. The last time Amanda gave me a run workout like todays, I totally spaced out on the directions. So today I wanted to get my head out and do it right. 🙂 It went pretty well too. I was satisfied with how it went. I think one thing that kind of chilled me out was seeing my “threshold pace” go down 50 seconds this last week. It made me feel good about the process and progress.
Speaking of measuring progress, today talking to my coach we over this weeks workouts. We will be doing some testing on all three disciplines. I really like that too. I think it will be good to compare it a few weeks down the road to see how it is going. We will be testing for heart rate and power for the bike, and heart rate and maybe pace on the run, and then cover a couple of 500 times on the swim. Probably will get Lunz to come count laps and time for me on the swim test, just to make sure I get it right. Another thing we will be adding is stregth training this week, it’s gonna be a fun week!
I was visiting with a cycling friend today and we were talking about this early January training and how we were both excited to see where it takes us in the summer months. I know that I am getting a big jump on where I was this time last year, and the extra work ought to really pay off in August and September.
I really can’t say enough how grateful I am to be able to do this. I know that I am fortunate to get to enjoy the life I have. No doubt.
U2’s Beautiful Day will be tonights tune.
Have a great week.
Filed under Abundance, Attitude, bad coffee, body, Buddhism, Cervelo, Christianity, couch to 5K, Cycling, Determination, discipline, Dreams, Edmond, Fitness, Good Life, Gratitude, Happy, Herman Memorial 70.3, Life, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, mindfullness, Music, Newton Running, Now, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Recovery, Road To Galveston, Running, Slow Fat Triathlete, Swimming, training, TrainingPeaks, triathlete, Triathlon, U2
Today I rode with my buddy Lunz. We met up at Lake Hefner at noon and headed out to do the Redman Triathlon bike route. This was the first time that I had ever been on this route. Today I decicded it was time to get some saddle time on my tri-bike Ike, this would be the longest ride I have had on Ike. My workout for the day was to ride 2:45-3:00 hr without a Garmin or Heart Rate monitor, just have a fun day on the bike ! Then I was to follow it with a 20 minute run. That should make for a good workout!
Lunz and I have been riding together for about a year or so now. We have a bunch of mutual friends and when he got his bike last year he started riding with Big Brian and I. He really has picked up the bike fast. He was already a really good long distance runner, so he was in pretty good shape to begin with. He is also a running coach for Team In Training too(check that out if you want to do the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon). He started the bike deal to pursue triathlon. He did his first 70.3 at the Redman in Oklahoma City last fall. I really have a good time doing stuff with him and he has a super-supportive and sweet wife too, Jeri. That is another great thing about endurance sport, the positive people that you meet and become friends with. So Lunz and I are going to be doing the Lonestar 70.3 together. I had to laugh a little bit there, we are training together and might start together, but he will finish much sooner than I will. Having said that I did kick his much younger ass at the Hotter N Hell Hundred this year. 😉 (I do reserve the right to brag about that until next year!)
Today was my longest ride on my new tri-bike too. I bought Ike in late September and have done several rides at Lake Hefner on the trails, but today was the first time to get out on the open road with him. Ike is a Cervelo P4 with Sram Red components, a dream bike for a guy like me. Every time I ride that bike I am amazed at how smooth it really is. The only reason I haven’t done more long rides was because I wanted to get a little more accustomed to the handling of the bike. Today was a good 50 mile test too. It was really great. There were some stretches that I rode out of the areo-bars maybe more than I should have, but that was because I wanted too. Remember, my workout instructions were to have fun and enjoy the ride!
So the ride really was pretty enjoyable. I love riding out in the country-side. I really love being out in areas where there is farmland and I certainly feel right at home to see a pumping unit on and oilwell, home sweet home!!! The ride out north to Waterloo road was at times kinda tough, due to the in city traffic, but after getting north a ways it thinned out nice. There was one stretch going west on Waterloo Road that was fairly hilly and it was also straight into a pretty good wind. It seemed like it went on forever too. I started getting a little bit of an attitude about it, then thought about my directions again. Have fun, lighten up, enjoy the ride; it’s called endurance sport for a reason. So that westward stretch took us about 45 minute into the wind, but going back it was just a 30 minute ride with the wind at our back! The traffic going south back into town got a little hairy in spots, but we made it fine. I only shouted at a few cars. 😉
After we finished the bike ride we did a 20′ minute run around the east side of Lake Hefner. I was surprised at how well that went too. That was the longest distance I had done on the bike and then followed with a run. Of course my legs felt a little rubbery at first but I actually kept a pretty fair pace, almost as good as my normal pace. So I was plesantly surprised there.
I will chalk this ride up as a success! This is going to be a fun Road To Galveston.
Tonights music will be Jimmy Fallon’s new Armstrong tune! Have a great week-end!!!
Filed under Abundance, Attitude, bad coffee, body, Buddhism, Cervelo, Christianity, CycleOps, Cycling, Determination, discipline, Dreams, Edmond, Fitness, Good Life, Gratitude, Herman Memorial 70.3, Jimmy Fallon, Lake Hefner, Life, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, mindfullness, Newton Running, Now, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Recovery, Running, Team In Training, training, triathlete, Triathlon
Apply, Apply, Apply; trust the process, trust the process, trust the process; have fun, have fun, have fun; I feel really good tonight. There are a lot of workouts now that I just go do my work and enjoy ever bit of it, even when its hard or I struggle with something I am just learning. I feel invigorated; when I finish my workouts I just think of how good it is going to feel getting into that water and being a part of the Lonestar 70.3. I’m not even sure I know how to explain it.
Apply; do the work. Follow the plan. Put in the sweat. Those nights when you get home and you know that you still lack that 1 hour bike ride, but you do it because you know you are going to grow. You know you are going to gain strength. You know that somewhere down the line you are going to get to apply everything that you used in your training to accomplish something you have never done before. How can you not get charged up about that? I have lived a bland life, I know what that is like. But I have also tasted a new life the last three years too; one that has pushed me into new ventures, stretched me in ways I wouldn’t have ever thought possible, and given me the chance to be in awe of the experiences that I am getting to have! How do you not love that?
I never knew what training was about until I trained for my first 100 mile bike ride, the Hotter N Hell Hundred. When I bought that first bike and looked at that schedule to build endurance to 100 miles, I never would have dreamed of what it would be like to be among 14,000 people to do something beyond normal. The feeling of doing something for the first time, the feeling of accomplishment; frankly being a person that has all to often settled for “just enough” in life I don’t know that I had ever really experienced the benefits of a long term process that prepared me for something so big. I know that might sound mellow-dramatic for some of you who have expereinced living with that kind of purpose, but for someone who just found got my first taste of enjoying the fruits of my labor; this was awesome. So I do trust the process in my training for this triathlon. I even expect a great outcome too.
Who would do it if it wasn’t fun? Think about it, you ever see a kid in a pool swimming that isn’t having fun? You ever see a kid hauling ass down a big hill that isn’t laughing? You ever see a kid out chasing his friends running that isn’t smiling? Hell no! It just can’t get any better than that. So why did we ever stop? Who knows, but I sure am going to hang on to this life as long as I have enough health to do it. I think someone told me it was a part of being a good steward with the gift of health that God, or how ever you express that power that is bigger than us individually, has given us.
So today was a swim. I did 2000 yards today. It went pretty well, I continue to build length and get better at my technique. I am so glad that in November I made myself stop and learn how to swim right! I think back to last January and I am so thankful for the progress that I have enjoyed. There were some tough times; some times that I thought of pitching it all in but I am so glad I didn’t stop. I left the pool today with a smile, another since of accomplishment. I just feel like everytime I hammer out one more workout, I am adding another brick to the wall. I know that I am building an experience that will be amazing!
A little fired up? Damn right! And here is the kicker; if I can do this, so can you!
Can’t think of a better tune that this one tonight! Billy Joel I Go To Extremes!!!
Filed under Abundance, and soul, Attitude, bad coffee, Billy Joel, Buddhism, Christianity, Cycling, Determination, Dreams, Edmond, Fitness, Good Life, Gratitude, Happy, Herman Memorial 70.3, Life, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, mindfullness, Now, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Road To Galveston, Running, Swimming, training, TrainingPeaks, triathlete, Triathlon
It was really nice outside this evening when I went for my running workout, about 50 degrees and a slight breeze. Not to bad for the winter! I went on my “home course” the new running trails at Oklahoma Christian University, I was surprised there weren’t more people out. I suspect that some of them were like me and thought it was colder than it actually was. I over dressed in compression pants, shorts, long sleeve compression shirt, light gloves, beanie, and my Asics Jacket. It didn’t take long to start sheading stuff off!
The run was a series of hard runs with minute easy runs between them, 3 sets of 10 minutes each. After the first set I was pretty winded and on my rest minutes I was doing half light jog and half walk. Not sure that was right to do it that way, but I did. I was trying to stay to the theme of “just running” and not getting all heady thinking about “zones this and zones that” but I did kind of set a bare minimum of where my heart rate was for my hard efforts up above Zone 4. Kinda makes me think my Zones do need to be tweaked, hmmmm. Another thought might be, let the coach coach and let the athlete follow the expereince of someone that understands what training is about. After looking at the Garmin file, I was pretty pleased when I saw other similar distances and durations in the past 6 months. TrainingPeaks also sent me an e-mail notification that my “threshold pace” had improved my 54 seconds. There is progress, no doubt! I will say this too, I have a really high level of confidence in my training. I think my confidence in being able to do the Lonestar 70.3 is growing all the time too.
I did my one our bike trainer ride after watching Oprah and Lance. The ride felt good. I just got into trying to do the exercise the best I could. It was a “strength endurance” exercise, doing some lower cadence bigger drills. I use a CycleOps SuperMagneto Pro trainer and it has 4 different setting to work. I have been using the “Interval Setting”, but think that I will switch it on up to “Mountain Setting” the next time I do a trainer ride. I did feel good about the session, I just keep feeling that I am building success!
On another note, since starting to work with my coach on December 27th I have done a weekly thurday weigh-in. It started at the high post Holiday weight of 217 pounds. Once again this morning I have shown another weekly loss in weight, I am now at 209 pounds. Keep in mind, weight loss is not the goal, it is just a bi-product. Lsat year at this time of the year I started at 239 pounds, so a sustained 30 pound loss isn’t to bad for one year. I really will not be shocked if I am at 190 pounds or so in the summer time.
Tunes? hmmmmmmmm Dave Mathews Band and American Baby.
Filed under Abundance, Attitude, bad coffee, Buddhism, Cervelo, Christianity, CycleOps, Cycling, Determination, discipline, Dreams, Edmond, Fitness, Good Life, Gratitude, Happy, Herman Memorial 70.3, Life, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, mindfullness, Music, Newton Running, Now, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Running, training, TrainingPeaks, triathlete, Triathlon