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
This morning it was COLD outside at 7am ! I was so tempted to roll over and go back to sleep and wait until later in the day to do my run. When we do Landrunners Becky usually leaves before me to pick up Cynthia, they usually do a little more than I do, and then I leave a little afterwards. It was so tempting to just get back under the warm covers when she left, but I didn’t. Now that it is 3:30 in the afternoon I am glad I didn’t do that, but it was so tempting.
My running workout today was to be a 90′ run, mostly in Zones 2 and 3. I stayed pretty true to the plan, there were a few times that I would get out of Zone, but for the most part I held myself within Zone 3. My top heart rate in Zone 3 is 160 bpm. I did notice after the run I had downloaded the data off my Garmin that my pace within those Zones has improved, so that’s a good thing. I got a little down about my slowness a few weeks back. I think the testing last week and then some of the intervals made me see that I can and will improve, it just isn’t an over-night deal. One thing I am reminded of is the fact that “fast changes” in life rarely translate into sustainable longterm change. So what it takes is just what it takes! I did notice that my legs felt pretty shot afterwards. I think some of that might have been the night befores bike workout that I didnt finish until 10pm, I did that workout “out of order”. I was actually suposed to have down a 200o yd swim yesterday, but I wasn’t sure I could get it in on Friday with work so I switched it with the bike. Amanda sent us (her clients) an email and it talked about keeping workouts in the order because they were designed that way for a reason, I’ll do better next week. 🙂
I also added stregth training this week. I am to do two workouts per week. Today I did the one that I needed the weight machines, it went just fine. It was a set of 6 or so workouts to be done in 3×10 set, actually 2×10 and 1x 15 this week. I thought of doing the other set at the same time, but I held back and saved that set for tomorrow. I can do those execises at home, so I will knock that one out in the morning before the afternoon ride.
My attitude is doing better today. I still need to get better at doing a setting meditation EVERY day, it just makes such a difference. Getting that time to let things “settle”, even when it doesn’t “feel” like it is doing anything at the time, always makes my days go by better. A little time with the Creator goes a long way. Ya know, how can you have a relationship with someone if you don’t spend time with them? Or like one of my mentors used to say, “how you going to know what God’s will is in your life if ya never spend anytime with God asking him?” Good point, huh?
Right now I am reading three books; Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg, Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Naht Hahn, and Body Mind Mastery by Dan Millman. I have really enjoyed all the books by Thich Nhat Hahn, they helped me find some new tools for life and some new perspectives that in some ways I had never had, but in some ways I had always had. The Borg book is kind of challenging for me, actually it feels kind of like my struggle with learning to swim. I am going to just push thru it and see what happens with it. The Millman book was a gift from my daughter for Christmas, Phil Jackson is a big supporter of this book, that endorsement alone makes it worth giving a read.
Well I am going to cut out, it’s 4pm and I am thinking its about dinner time. 😉
Just found this song today, Caught By The River by Doves. Really like it too, reminds me of spending time at the park watching the ducks and squirells when I was going through some tough times. 🙂
Filed under Abundance, Amanda Stevens, Attitude, bad coffee, body, Buddhism, Christianity, couch to 5K, Dan Millman, Determination, discipline, Doves, Dreams, Edmond, Fitness, Good Life, Gratitude, Happy, Landrunner's, Life, Marcus Borg, Meditation, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, mindfullness, Music, Newton Running, Now, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Running, spirituality, Thich Nhat Hahn, training, TrainingPeaks, triathlete, Triathlon
With the day being so unseasonably warm; it was almost a shame to not be outside running or riding a bike, but I managed. Today was a rest day, so rest I did. The highlight for my training was getting a nice evening visit with my coach. We went over my test results from last week and just had a good visit about how I felt about my progress. I like that she re-enforced looking at how far I have come the last 3 months and even for more of a measurement where I was one year ago. I really like how thourough she covers my workouts and looks at my progress. This will be our last “regular” call, we will be using Skype while she is in Australia competing. So join me in rooting on Dr. Amanda Stevens, my coach and fellow Oklahoman, as she leaves for Down Under to start her 2013 Ironman season! Go get your dreams too Amanda!
Tonight I am pretty much speechless. So for music I will go with an Enid, Oklahoma artist that we lost way to soon; Micheal Hedges and Follow Through.
Filed under Abundance, Amanda Stevens, Attitude, bad coffee, Buddhism, Christianity, content, Determination, discipline, Edmond, Fitness, Good Life, Gratitude, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, Michael Hedges, mindfullness, Music, Now, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, training, TrainingPeaks, triathlete, Triathlon
There was much to be happy about fitness in the year of 2012. In looking back over the year I will tell you about some of my favorites. From the OCCC SuperSprint Triathlon, Hotter N Hell Hundred, new bike, swimming, and doing a couple half-marathons. It was a full year with ups and down, detours unexpected, even frustrations to overcome. But looking back and taking the year as whole, it was very satisfying. If you put it on a 10 year plot, it is off the chart of posibility. So here are a few highlights.
The big goal starting off the year was the OCCC SuperSprint Triathlon. Starting off the year I was not able to run or jog at all, not even 50 yards. And if my running was at zero, then my swimming was a -100. So it was a challenge. I had inteneded to train with Team In Training, but didn’t really get a good understanding of when they trained before I signed up. That was a problem beacuse the swim training was on Monday nights and I have another commitment on Monday that kept me from being able to swim train with them. I had started raising money, so I had an obligation to do it. I wanted to keep that commitment. I never did get where I could swim with my head in the water, I just did the ‘tarzan swim’ for the 500 meter swim. I hadn’t progressed enough to even jog the entire 5K either, I had to just do a jog/walk. The only thing that I really was ready to do was the bike, and that went fine. I did this event with my two friends Jeri and Jason Lundsford. We had a good time too. At the end of the day it was a start of something that I would have never believed possible. I was a little surprised by how out of shape I was and didn’t realise how much work it was going to be, but at the end it felt good to complete the event and it was fun doing it with the Lundsfords.
Life is about relationships and shared experiences with friends and family. So there was nothing better than training and doing the Hotter N Hell Hundred this year with our daughter Cynthia. It was fun getting out on the bikes with Cynthia. We got to spend some good times working out hard and visiting together too. We road a many miles from our house out to Jones/Choctaw and back. She even got to witness my Rottweiler crash and burn too. It was a great feeling to be on the starting line with her and 13,000 of our best cycling friends. I also had a good time also riding with my friends Brian Johnston and Jason Lundsford too. I will refrain from saying what order the three of us finished. 😉 Humble, I am. haha As fun as it was starting with Cynthia, it was really cool getting to take our picture together at the finish line too. It was an awesome weekend.
Have you ever seen a kid not smile when he gets a new bike? Hell no and you can bet this big kid was smiling too when I went to get my new tri-bike, “Ike”! Ike is a Cervelo P-4 decked out with Sram Red, Zipp 404s, and a CycleOps power meter. I am a gear nut. The picture is Marty and Steve at Schlegel Bicycles getting it all rigged up, they even stayed late to get me hooked up and fit. It was a great time! I promise you one thing, my parents are glad we didn’t have a Schlegel Bicycles in Seminole when I was growing up, that place is my adult equivalent of a “candy store” !
Notice that in this picture I am at the pool and almost smiling! Yes swimming makes my list of 2012 highlights. After struggling all year long something finally happened in November and I started swimming freestyle with my head down in the water! Sounds simple enough, right? Well for most it would be, but with my water-phobia this was a big damn deal for me. After starting to get that down I eventually went to a swim clinic that Amanda Stevens did at The Lighthouse Fitness Center in Oklahoma City, that was a blast too. Now I have had a few extra lessons with her and she is coaching me for my triathlon training this year too. Getting that swim deal down was huge though. It opens up a whole new realm of posibilities for the coming year and beyond, starting with the Lonestar 70.3 !
Probably the biggest highlight was the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon and Half Marathon. It was the perfect combination of family and achievement. My wife and daughter did the full and I did my first half-marathon! As I wrote previously, getting to actually go to the starting line with them as a fellow participant was so cool. I have taken them to many marathons and wished them well as a supporter and spectator, but who would have ever thought that I would be lining up with them? It was an awesome day, I enjoyed ever minute and ever step and stride of the run. I took it all in like you should always do, I soaked up the whole experience! Then getting to take the picture with the girls at the finish line was a proud moment for us all! I suspect there will be many more in the future too!
So to say I have had a full fitness life this last year would be an understatement! Who would have ever thought when I bought that bicycle three years ago and went out to ride that first 10 mile loop around Lake Hefner that eventually I would be doing all of this stuff? Not me, and I bet non one else that knew me! No way, no how. So thank you all my family, friends, and supporters for a truely blessed 2012.
Close out tune for the year will be Michael Franti’s Say Hey (I Love You) ! Happy New Year my friends!
Filed under 2012, Abundance, Amanda Stevens, Attitude, bad coffee, body, Buddhism, Century Ride, Cervelo, Christianity, CycleOps, Cycling, cyclist, Determination, Dreams, Edmond, Fitness, Gratitude, Half Marathon, Hotter N Hell Hundred, Life, Lighthouse, Lonestar 70.3, marathon, Michael Franti, mind, mindfullness, Music, Now, OCCC SuperSprint, OCCC SuperSprint Triathlon, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Route 66 Marathon, Running, Schlegel Bicycles, spirituality, Sram, Swimming, training, triathlete, Triathlon, Your First Triathlon, Zipp