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
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
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.!
Filed under Abundance, and soul, Attitude, bad coffee, body, Buddhism, Century Ride, Cervelo, Christianity, couch to 10k, couch to 5K, CycleOps, cycliing, Cycling, Determination, discipline, Dreams, Edmond, Fitness, Good Life, Gratitude, Herman Memorial 70.3, Hotter N Hell Hundred, Lake Hefner, Life, Lonestar 70.3, mindfullness, Music, Newton Running, Now, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Running, Slow Fat Triathlete, spirituality, Swimming, 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