Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Oreos, Socks and Parenthood

I don't quite remember how and when I met Jim Short. I believe, however, that it was back when I started riding my bike a few years back. But it seems and it feels like we've been friends forever.

Jim taught me a lot about bikes, and about life. We didn't ride as much together as he did with many of his other friends, but the few times we did, we made the most of it.

As the years went by and our friendship grew, we learned that we had much more in common that was apparent on the surface. We both loved, and I mean LOVED Oreo cookies. We both had the same affinity for crazy, happy, weird and out of the ordinary dress socks. His wit and humor made for some very special and out of the ordinary conversations. I will miss these.

A day not too long ago, we shared an Oreo Lasagna recipe. I didn't know which one of us was drooling more. I think he was; he called me and said he had something for me. We met and he delivered a half way eaten Oreo Lasagna in a pan. He had shared a portion of it with his mother and his "little britches." The rest, he said, was for me and my family. I think I gained 15 lbs, but it didn't matter much.

During the early days of February 2017, I posted a photo of my socks on Instagram and Facebook. Jim posted right back. Next thing you know, we're in the middle of the #HappySock Challenge, which lasted the entire month.

"All right Mauricio, the weekend is over. Back to SERIOUS business! #happysocks #keepitgoing#gameon #funsocks #makeFacebookfunagain"

But it wasn't just about Oreos and Socks. We talked often about parenthood. As far as I'm concerned he was one of the best dads I have ever met. His "Little Britches" was his world. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to learn his outlook and view on parenthood. He happily shared. I absorbed as much as I could because after all, you're never too old to learn.

I told him one time how proud I was of him, of the daddy he was. I told him that he would be rewarded later with the awesome grown man his Logan would grow up to be. I am sad that he will not get to see this, but we will get to see a bit on Jim in Logan... maybe a lot of Jim.

Today we will say our final goodbyes; we will ride one more mile with him. It is a sad day. We will all miss Jim. R.I.P. my friend.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Love My Tribe

I read a lot. A whole lot. I'm a fervent user of social media as well. Not only do I post often, but I read here a lot as well. My use of different social media platforms has changed through the years, and I expect that as I continue to grow, these needs and purposes will change as well. Social content, in my case, is driven by what it's important to me at the moment. This is why you have seen my content evolved. A lot.

Through the years I have shared my passion for personal growth (physical, mental, intellectual and emotional) with those that cared to follow. Thank you for that. I am sure that many have been turned off, but politely, they have just either ignored me or just went away. I thank you for that as well.

I went from an overweight couch potato to an Ironman Finisher and 18 time Marathon Finisher. All this in a matter of 11 years. I have shared just about every step of the way with you. You have supported me. Encouraged me. Laughed with me. Cried with me. You have pushed me in ways you cannot imagine. My tribe is indeed my strength.

As my goals grew, so did your support. Not once, not ever... ever, did I hear anyone of you say that "I couldn't do what I wanted to do." At least, not to my face. For this I thank you. On the contrary, with each new adventure, I received more support, more encouragement. Even today, as I pursue a new goal, I find that your support is unwavering. Again, my tribe is amazing.

So this leaves me wondering...

For years I have read posts from others. Posts which claim that they have been told: "they couldn't do what they set out to do". Some posts claim that people told them that they were "crazy" and "fools", that they didn't have what it takes. Many such posts claim much of the same.

These posts also claim that these conversations are the "motivators" behind their drive. I get it. Find motivation wherever you can. Find motivation from negative thoughts, comments, ideas, perceptions. I get all that.

These posts have claimed that family and friends are not, and have not been supportive. Some claim, that they're fighting this battle alone. I don't get it. How would this conversation go?

Me: "My next goal is to finish an Ironman triathlon"
Non-Supportive Family or Friend: "What? you're nuts, crazy, loco. You can't do that! It won't happen. You don't have what it takes. You're wasting your time. Give up now. Don't start what you can't finish." etc, etc. etc.

Do conversations like this really take place? I cannot imagine.

But, in case they do, all I have to say, and I'll say it again: "I have an awesome tribe!"

Love y'all

Monday, April 24, 2017

Carmel Marathon In A Nutshell.. Kind'a

I haven't written much lately. Well, truth be told, I have written a lot lately, but not much on this blog. There's a perfectly good reason for that. I'm sure there is. When I figure it out, I'll write about it.

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, three days ago, I ran what is to be, God willing, the first of three marathons in 2017, this would be Marathon No.18 and it took place in Carmel, IN. After my first marathon in 2009, I concluded that there would be no more marathons. Yeah, that worked out well.

As predicted by me and secretly, I did not sleep well the night before the race; this I have grown to accept. No matter the distance, no matter the race, the night before is always short, very short. After some tossing and turning and more tossing and more turning, I got out of bed some 15 minutes before the 4:40 AM alarm would go off. I have my race day rituals, that's why I always get up so early.

After some quick research, I decided on Carmel mostly because of its size, its a small(er) race; this year it boasted 655 marathoners. I registered for this race on November 2, 2016. Three days after the chaotic Marine Corps Marathon 2016, there were some 30K+ runners in this race.

We arrived in Carmel on Thursday. On Friday, we would take it easy. I would do a small, easy 4-mile run and we would go pick up my race bid and stuff.

Quite possibly the best surprise ever, came with the assignment of my race number: 1406. I am not sure what forces came to play here, but this is awesome. If any of you eight people reading this blog, don't realize why this is so big, there are 140.6 miles in an Iron Distance Triathlon. Boom! Some have said that the Ironman is calling me back.

Immediately upon getting out of bed, the first thing I have learned to do is to take an inventory; Toes... check. Heels... check. Ankles... check. Calves... check. Hammies, Quads... check. Back... check. Shoulders... check. It all seemed and felt normal; they all hurt and were all tight. So, I walked gingerly to the shower and took a hot one. Time to get the day started.

I have always been open and transparent in my training and with my goals. All six of you reading this blog know that. And if you have followed me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Strava, etc, etc, etc. you know this. I tell all. This time around, I have chosen a more subdued, quieter approach. This was done with a specific purpose. More on that someday.

After some discussion with my coach and my nutritionist, I came to the conclusion that I would fly solo. Cut the cord if you will, and let things fall where they may. I am, after all, old enough to know better, although some may question that statement, and I have been around the block a few times, so I just knew I had what I needed to do this on my own.

I tend to overdress. I hate cold weather. I had followed the weather report, although I have also learned not to bank on it, all week long. Midweek the prediction was for 100% rain and 20 - 25 mph winds. Greeeeat! I was hopeful, however, because I knew the chances of them being wrong was 90-95%. The weather in the morning showed no rain, low ~ very low 40's and windy. Lots and lots of wind.

I have a personal benchmark that I follow for running weather. Anything under 45ยบ and the long pants goes on. As the long sleeve first layer shirt and the long sleeve tee. I had a windbreaker I planned to wear pre-race. I would toss it to my wife at the start. Nothing doing, It did not go off. Did I mention, I hate cold weather?

During the training cycle, I took up yoga. Yoga helped me decompress, destress and helped my mood and my overall state of mind. I now practice at least three times per week. It's come to be "my" time. I follow the practice with at least 10-15 minutes of meditation. Oh, my!

I had my race day plan written down. The first thing I would do is eat breakfast two hours before race start. That would make it at 5:30 am. I had spoken with the fine folks at the hotel the day before and they had breakfast for me ready 30 minutes earlier than normal. Boom! Belgian waffle with peanut butter, honey, and fruit and a large cup of coffee. Thank you very much.

One hour before race start, I would take two O2Gold and three Muscle Strength, both by Advocare. Note: this is not an endorsement, but dang... these work great. Consult with your local distributor to see if these are right for you.

Training for this race went well. Except of course if you don't count the incident on Monday, March 20th, when my back went out. Totally out. The bulge on my disc decided that it was time to make an appearance. I could not walk, literally could not walk for two days. That Thursday, March 23rd, I would leave with my team to run Ragnar Relay Tennessee. We had lost a teammate earlier, which luckily we replaced immediately; I was not about to let the team down. So, I stretched, stretched, and stretched some more until the disc was back where it needed to be.

I ran Ragnar, the Oak Barrel Half Marathon, and the Purity Moosic City 10K also in preparation for Carmel. I am happy to say that all without any pain. But the thought lingered in my mind; at any time the bulge could reappear. This was my biggest fear. However, it did not.

Fifteen minutes before the start I took my first gel. I would take four more during the race. Well, actually three, because somewhere before mile five, I lost one. Greeeeat! I would be sipping water all morning long. A bottle's worth before race started. I had my 22 oz of Infinit mixed in my bottle and another baggie with more Infinit to refill when the first was gone. The volunteer that helped me refill my bottle with water so I could mix my Infinit was very curious about the content of my baggie.I'm thinking the officer at the other end of the table was too.

I took my long run training to the streets of Nashville, to the parks and the greenways of Davidson County. Most all, if not all these Saturdays, the roads would be filled with runners, of all sizes, shapes, and speeds. Most were training for the St Jude RNR Nashville Marathon and Half Marathon. I discovered during this time that in fact, running trails could be fun and a great option for me. We'll see.

As the ceremonies commenced, I took inventory again: Toes... check. Heels... check. Ankles... check. Calves... check. Hammies, Quads... check. Back... check. Shoulders... check. This time, however, all the discomfort had disappeared, and it would remain a non-issue throughout the race. Opening prayer, National Anthem, and the runners were off. I was in corral "C". It only took about 3-5 minutes to get past the starting mat.

Probably the biggest change I've made on my racing strategy is that I now run with music. I found that my mind lingered with negative thoughts throughout the race(s), mostly about the physical pain and mental anguish I was going through. On one of my long runs, I thought I would give this music thing a try. It worked! I also found that my music choice helped keep the pace up. Good news all around. And what type of music did I listen to? Click here to see my playlist. I tried Amazon Music's Upbeat Running Channel... it gave me a headache!

The race went pretty much as planned. The course had some rollers, nothing of big consequence. It was also not crowded at all, except for the first mile. The wind, however, was brutal. I'm not good at guestimating wind speeds but I would venture to say anywhere between 20 and 600 mph! The course runs through three parks where the trees protect you from said wind, but the city's open roads, oh goodness. The wind.

I could go into mile-by-mile detail of how the race went but I'm sure the four of you reading this would appreciate me not doing so. So, I will not.

I've run 15 marathons and I've raced 3. Although they have all been fun, this by far has been my best and most productive. I went in hoping for a strong showing; a PR would be awesome and a strong PR would validate decisions I've made.

My previous best Marathon time was in the NYC Marathon 2013. My time then was 4:51:27. On this day, Carmel netted me a time of 4:27:42. A PR by 23:45. Not quite the 26 minutes I had first thought, but heck, I'll still take this!!!

It's going to be a great summer. I will take it easy for a couple of weeks, recover some, let the back heal completely and get back to the gym some. Then comes May 15th. That's the day training commences again for my first fall marathon. Added bonus: This one I will be training, and racing, with my daughter. God help me!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

In Memoriam ~ Charlie Taylor

"Time Flies, suns rise and shadows fall.
Let time go by. Love is forever over all."

We all knew Charlie. We knew his spirit, his grit and his will to do better. We knew Charlie as a giver; a giver of encouragement, of love and support. We all knew Charlie as a runner, an over the top runner. But above all, and beyond his running, we knew Charlie as a dedicated family man, a son, a brother, a husband, a father, and grandfather. We all knew Charlie as a friend.

Today, we will celebrate Charlie's life. Although we will all miss him tremendously, we are all comforted by the fact that each one of our lives was touched in a positive way, just because we knew Charlie.

"It is time for us to let you go, but we won't say goodbye;
We will look for you in the rainbow, way up in the sky.
When the sun rises in the morning when the world is new,
We will look for Charlie, way up in the sky.

It is time for us to let you go, but we won't say goodbye;
We will look for you in the rainbow, way up in the sky.
When the sun sets, when the day is all through,
We will look for Charlie, way up in the sky.

Time for us to part now, Charlie, but we won't say goodbye;
We will look for you in the rainbow, shining in the sky.
Every waking moment,  we will think of you.
We will look for Charlie, way up in the sky."

We love you Charlie Taylor.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Long Run Executed To Perfection... Almost

Saturdays are my long run days. Have always been. Unless there's a reason not to, this is what I do.

Today's plan called for a 9 mile run; 1 mile in Z1, 7.5 miles in Z2 and .5 mile in Z1.

"Z1" "Z2" are Heart Rate Zones. These have been predetermined. They have been programmed into my Garmin and with the use of a Heart Rate monitor, they're easy to navigate.

I have always had a difficult time keeping to those zones; always want to push it past those limits. I have worked long and hard on this. I have understood that there's a method to this madness.

At this point in my training, a Z2 equates to about a 9:20 mile. Today's blessing came in that I ran with three friends, Alison, Max and Lisa.They were all looking for the same pace.

When it was all said and done, the total mileage was 9.1, the average pace was 9:22. Average heart Rate according to Garmin was 1 bpm into Z3. I think I have to work on this!

Tomorrow's plan calls for an easy recovery 6 mile run. Let's see what "easy" brings.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Day Off ~ Hot Yoga ~ A Few Things I've Already Learned

Here are a few things I've already learned during my two rounds of  Hot Yoga...

1). I learned that I will never be accidentally mistaken for Gumby. Yes, I know...Never say "never". In that case, it'll be a long time before I can proudly wear the nickname "Gumby". A. Very. Long. Time.

2). I learned that during "shavasana" (for you non-yogis, that's the time at the end of the class where you lay on your mat and chill)... and are you impressed yet? I learned what "shavasana" is! Anyhow, during "shavasana" you're really supposed to stay awake yet completely relaxed... this is hard to do. Time to take a quick nap!

3). I learned that the fact is that "yes" you can and will sweat a bucket!

4). I learned that trying to follow the instructor's lead is a dangerous proposition. Really! Who can twist like that?!

5). I learned that Lululemon is the brand of choice for the ladies and the guys are just happy with a pair of shorts from the deep discount rack at the local store.

6). I learned that if you get there early enough you can get an out of the way spot in the back of the studio. Near the side door. In case you need a quick escape.

7). I learned how long 60 minutes really are. Time does fly.

8). I learned that the "chair" pose is not really as easy as it looks.

9). I learned that you really need to be in a beginners mind when trying things for the first time. Do not compare yourself to others.

10). I learned that perfection should not be the goal, but effort and progression should be.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

MCM Training Day No.11 ~ Intervals

For the record and before I go on... I hate intervals. I do 'em, because I understand their purpose. But I hate 'em. I'd rather run hills, all day long. Well, maybe not all day long.

With that being said, I made it to the high school track, in between severe weather warnings, for tonight's interval session. First a warm up: 5 min Z1, 5 min Z2. And then the fun: 6 X 1 min Z4 ~ 2 min Z1 and a 5 min Z1 cool down.

Somehow I ended with 7 intervals. Losing count is part of the deal.

Tomorrow I have a "rest" day but I'm considering Hot Yoga in the morning, This could be considered "rest", right?