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
Time, Time, Time, Priority, Priority, Priority, Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Adjustment, Adjustment, Adjustment, Commitment, Commitment, Commitment….To me that sums up what The Road To Galveston has made me continually re-evaluate. So how do I feel about where I am in this journey? Just as positive, challenged, and invigorated as I was the night after Redman when I clicked on the link to enter the Lonestar 70.3. To me it is the most amazing journey that I have ever been on. To say that it has been cathartic, would be an absolute understatement. While it might look like a physical feat on the outside, I swear that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is so much more than the physical. While I have found a coach to help me with some of the technical-physical parts of the challenge, I suspect the mental/emotional/spiritual will eventually play just as big a part of the journey. In many ways, I feel like Dean Karnazes getting up off the bar stool and running for 30 miles on the eve of his 30th birthday, except I waited 20 years longer than he and could only get to the end of the block! So there are changes and adjustments that will have to be made, but what an abundance of life this gives me.
I was reading a blog by Chrissie Wellington about her retirement this last year and she said “My passion for the sport hasn’t waned, but my passion for new experiences and new challenges is what is now burning the most brightly.” New challenges and new frontiers, that’s where I have always found life! The focus and excitement of a new frontier, that’s good stuff. Good stuff, but not without challenges. This is pushing me in ways I never would have dreamed. Physically, I don’t see my limiter as any one part. My limiter is my overall fitness, but the cool thing about such a ‘base’ limiter is that as my general fitness rises, so will my performance in all three sports!
I am blessed in my life, I have had the chance to meet some of the most incredibly inspirational people. I have named a few in the last several weeks, some were realtives, some were mentors, and some were people that I have met on this journey. This week while at my swim lesson, my inspiration to keep working came from a high school classmate in Seminole named Greg Powers. Greg was a guy that to me had a work ethic and determination to succeed that was just a step beyond what others had. He was a guy that fell in love with playing tennis and probably worked harder than any of our school mates to excel. He was a guy that had athletic ability, but he wasn’t the ‘most’ athletic. The thing about Greg was he had a determination and work ethic that pushed him to be his best. I suspect that Greg probably was closer to achieving his maximum ability than anyone else at our school. When I was struggling with the swim exercise I thought of the example that Greg was, to bad I didn’t learn those lessons from him 35 years ago!
So this will probably be my last post this year. I look forward to a new start with my new coach, Amanda Stevens. I love her attitude and the energy that she has brought to our swim lessons and can’t wait to get started with her next week in all of the disciplines. We set a start date of December 27th; which, as I mentioned last week, is special date in my life. It is a date of change, no doubt! This year I can’t wait to see where this journey is going to take me, already it has been awesome! I am so grateful for the life I have today.
So I wish you all a Happy Holiday season!
Filed under Abundance, Attitude, bad coffee, Bruce Springsteen, Buddhism, Christianity, Cycling, Determination, Dreams, Edmond, Fitness, Gratitude, Greg Powers, Life, Lonestar 70.3, Meditation, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, Now, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Running, Seminole, Swimming
As part of the plan that I have downloaded from Joe Friel, today was to be a testing day on my bike. When I was looking at how I was to do that I realised that, I needed to get a good LTHR to set up my zones the way they set them up in The Triathletes Training Bible.So instead of doing the workout in the plan I did a workout to get my LTHR so I can set up my zones in the same fashion that they call to use them. It was interesting to see the differences in the zones when doing it this way. There wasn’t alot of higher end differences, but zone 2 gave me a wider and higher range for my heart rate. Becky helped my by recording my times and heart rate at each half mile as I increased my mph on each ‘lap’. So my LTHR turned out to be 169, a one point lowering than last year. After finishing the testing part I finished out the hour in a zone 2 finish.
I really want a CylceOps G3 power meter hub, but they just are so damned expensive! I had an idea of how to shuffle a few funds $$$ around to do it, but I am just not so sure I should. What I need to do is sell this damn set of D.W. drums and use that money! If ya know anyone that is looking for a good deal on a great drum kit, let me know. Hey Steve Schlegel, you ought to take up the drums dude! I got a deal for ya!!!!!
Gotta go with the all time greatest drum solo!
Filed under CycleOps, Cycling, cyclist, D.W. Drums, Drums, Edmond, Fitness, Galveston, Iron Butterfly, Joe Friel, Life, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Schlegel Bicycles, Slow Fat Triathlete, TrainingPeaks, triathlete, Triathlon
What a week! This week my schedule consisted of: swim 3, bike 2, run 4 and strength 2. It was a rocky week at times. i got off to a bad start when I didn’t get my weight workout done on Monday and had to play “catch up” all week-long. I had thought that Friday was going to be an easy day to shuffle in the lost workout but I had not noticed that this week there were 11 workouts instead of 10 like last week. That made the “catch up” a little tricky. Then if starting off in the hole wasn’t enough, it rained almost all day Saturday. I had to shuffle around my Saturday and Sunday workouts and ended up doing my long run on Sunday morning and my long ride on Sunday afternoon. Fortunately it all came together, with a little prodding and encouragement by my wife!
Swimming was pretty good this week. On my two shorter distance swims during the week I made some good progress in my technique. I was about to put some fairly good distances together with my head down and breathing the way I need to. It was a first to get the lengths that I did. So that was a big positive on the week! I am still looking into getting a swimming coach, just having trouble finding one in Oklahoma City that fits with what I need to do. There are people who are great swim coaches for “real” swimmers and triathletes, but that’s not what I am. I need some remedial help. I still struggle with the whole water issue. My friends and family all know that I was a guy that didn’t even learn to dive until I was in my mid 20’s and that the earliest memory I have was sinking to the bottom of the pool at 3 years old. My Saturday swim was the longest that I have ever done, 2149 meters. I was in a bad mood and I didn’t even try to worry about form or anything, I just wanted to get it the done. So get it done I did. So all in all, I was pleased with the swim week.
Biking was fun this week! There were only two workouts: one on the trainers doing “isolated leg exercises” and the other a nice 1-1/2 hour zone1-2 ride that I did at Lake Hefner on Sunday. The trainer exercises are kinda tedious, but it reminds me of doing hills. So I figure somewhere down the line it will help me build some strength. Now the Sunday ride was awesome, the weather was the best possible. Nice sunny day in the 70’s with a good breeze out of the north. You just couldn’t have asked for a better day to be at the lake on the bike. The atmosphere was excellent too, all kinds of people out getting exercise on the trails. People in nature getting exercise are just a happier people than most. They smile more! One thing that really made the ride enjoyable was staying focused on “enjoying this ride” doing my best to block out any “goals” or stuff like that. When my mind started to wonder I would just say a little prayer and try to focus back on the ride at hand.
Running this week came around too. I had started to build up some descent distances towards the end of August but then when I had to get a problem on my foot looked at, I slacked off and didn’t run for a good 3-4 weeks. I really lost some of my momentum, as far as distance goes. One benefit from the rest is my knees seemed to get some needed re-coup time. They were pretty tender from jumping up the distance a to aggressively. So while I am having to back track a little on distance, I am doing it with a pretty fresh feeling pair of knee’s now. I did a 1:20(hour and twenty-minute) run today. On my last two “distance” runs I have gotten back into that “sweet spot” at about 2 miles where my breathing cadence gets into a good rhythm. So that’s really encouraging. I am still a little nervous about being ready for the Route 66 run in November, but I will just gut it out and make it happen.
Strength workouts were probably the easiest to do. The time flexibility to do these workouts is just so much easier than any of the other workouts. I was pretty pleased with my progress too. I am doing the “AA” workout from Joe Friel‘s The Triathlete’s Training Bible. The particular workout is made up of 8 workouts done in a circuit. They are not heavy loaded in weight, but you do 30 reps of each exercise then repeat the exercise 3-4 times. This week I went up a little in my weights on each of the exercises. I felt pretty good about it too. I have never done any weight training before now, so this is a total new deal for me.
This week was a good solid week. My attitude at the end of the week is really strong and positive. My main goal for next week is to get the exercises done! I want to keep up my search for a swim coach and I have been thinking a little more about “power training” for the bike too.
I have a great life and I appreciate that more every day.
Music for this week is a little Outkast doing The Way You Move. Enjoy!!!!
Only 174 Day 2 Hours 52 Minutes to go!!!!!
Filed under Attitude, bad coffee, body, Buddhism, Cervelo, CycleOps, Cycling, cyclist, Determination, Edmond, fall, Fitness, Galveston, Gratitude, Half Marathon, Happy, Joe Friel, Lake Hefner, Life, Lonestar 70.3, Meditation, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, mindfullness, Newton Running, Now, Oakley, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Outkast, Route 66 Marathon, Running, Sidi, Slow Fat Triathlete, Sram, Swimming, TrainingPeaks, triathlete, Triathlon
This weekend we had a great time at the Redman Triathlon in Oklahoma City. The day was started at the ‘start line” wishing my friends a great race! It was awesome to be there to cheer on Jeri and Jason L ! Jeri had been fighting sickness all week-long and had to pull out in the bike portion, I sure admired her drive and determination to gut it out. Jason finished in a little under 6 hours! Awesome job my friends, so proud of you both!
I watched the swim portion and then some of the transitioning to bike portion. It was pretty cool getting to see all the bikes lined up and watch the competitors work to get going on the bikes. Later in the day Becky, Cynthia, and I worked the Landrunners water stop. This was really cool too. Getting to be there to support all the competitors. It was also good to get to spend that time with the girls too!
So what was the ‘take-away’ from this great event? As excited as I was for Jeri and Jason, I sure was wishing I was standing “with” them getting ready to jump in that water, instead of standing there as a “supporter”. I really want to do this. So what’s the old saying? “Put your Money where your mouth is.” I went ahead and pulled the trigger and entered the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas! It will be April 7th, 2013 at Galveston Island, Texas. I have 6 months to get ready! This ought to be an awesome adventure for the next 6 months.
So today for musical inspiration let’s go with a little Glen Campbell singing “Galveston“.
Filed under cycliing, Cycling, cyclist, Gratitude, Life, Lonestar 70.3, Memorial Hermann 70.3 Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Redman Triathlon, Running, Swimming, TrainingPeaks, triathlete, Triathlon