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?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

MCM Training Day No.10 ~ Cross Train ~ Swim

On my cross training days, I have the option to bike or swim, today I chose to swim. First time back in the pool after surgery. As usual, but without regret, my swim was pitiful if not painful. Plan called for 40 minutes. Did manage to get in 1475 yds, give or take. I say this because I have come to realize that the Garmin Forerunner 920XT is not as reliable a "lap counter" as they make it out to be. Total swim time recorded; 46:53.

Swimming will help build and keep endurance, without the painful impact on the ol' joints. To do this, I have to make sure the heart is racing. Today it was!

Tomorrow will be a "pain" day: Intervals! After warm ups, 6 x 1 min in Z4 / 2 min Z1! Stat Tuned!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Race

Successful methods of motivation and the behavior that it inspires are as varied as the personalities we all possess. But there are some lessons that seem to have a universal inspirational affect.

Of all the stories I've read, and I've real a lot, "The Race" by D.H. Groberg, has made an indelible impact. It teaches us one of life's greatest lessons.

They all lined up so full of hope,
each thought to win the race,
Or tie for first, or if not that,
at least take second place.

And fathers watched from off the side,
each cheering for his son;
And each boy hoped to show his dad
that he would be the one.

The whistle blew, and off they went,
young hearts and hopes afire,
To win, to be the hero there
was each young boy's desire.

And one boy in particular
whose dad was in the crowd,
Was running in the lead and thought,
my dad will be so proud.

But as they sped down the field
across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win,
lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself,
his hands flew out in brace,
and mid the laughter of the crowd,
he fell flat on his face.

So down he fell and with him hope,
he couldn't win, not now;
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished
to disappear somehow.

But as he fell his dad stood up,
and showed his anxious face;
Which to the boy so clearly said;
get up and win the race.

He quickly rose, no damage done,
behind a bit, that's all;
And ran with all his might and mind
to make up for his fall.

So anxious to restore himself,
to catch up, to win.
His mind went faster than his legs,
he slipped and fell again.

He wished then he had quit before,
with only one disgrace;
I'm hopeless as a runner now,
I shouldn't try to race.

But in the laughing crowd he searched,
and found his father's face,
That steady look that said again,
get up and win the race.

So up he jumped to try again,
ten yards behind the last;
If I'm going to gain those yards
I've gotta move real fast.

Exerting everything he had,
he regained eight or ten;
But trying so hard to catch the lead
he slipped and fell again.

Defeat; he lay there silently,
a tear dropped from his eye;
There's no sense in running anymore
three strikes I'm out, why try.

The will to rise had disappeared
all hope had fled away;
So far behind, so error prone
I'll never go all the way.

I've lost - so what's the use he thought,
I'll live with my disgrace;
But then he thought about his dad
who soon he'd have to face.

Get up - an echo sounded low,
get up and take your place;
you were not meant for failure here,
get up and win the race.

With borrowed will, get up, it said,
you haven't lost at all;
For winning is no more than this,
to rise each time you fall.

So up he rose to run once more,
and new commit;
He resolved that win or lose the race,
at least he wouldn't quit.

Three times he'd fallen, stumbling,
three times he rose again;
Now he gave it all he had,
and ran as though to win.

They cheered the winning runner
as he crossed the finish line first place;
Head high and proud and happy,
no failing, no falling, no disgrace.

But when the fallen youngster
crossed the line last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer,
for finishing the race.

And even though he came in last
with head bowed low unproud,
You would have thought he won the race
to listen to the crowd.

And to his dad, he sadly said,
I didn't do so well;
To me you won, his father said,
for you rose each time you fell.

And now when things seem dark
and hard and different to face,
the memory of that little boy
helps me in my race.

For all of life is like that race
with ups and downs and all,
And all you have to do to win,
Is rise each time you fall.

So, each time you trip and fall,
"Get Up and Win That Race"

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

About Motivation And A Bit Of Inspiration

Since the beginning of my blog a few years back, it has been my motivation to share and help others reach their own individual goals, through examples of what can be accomplished if you just manage to stay focused, all the while reaching my own and learning through the process.

I have pushed myself, physically and mentally, far beyond any limits I thought I had, I have worked through it all in ways I never thought I was capable of. And no, I have no intentions of stopping any time soon. The process has required a lot of digging down and pushing myself way beyond a perceived comfort zone.

What is motivation? The process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. In other words, how we do what we do.

From personal experience, I have defined fifteen ways to stay motivated. I'd like to share that with you...

1. Set a Goal. You have to know what you want, you have to know where you're going. Without this information, you cannot plot your course. As Lewis Carroll said: "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

2. Make sure your goal is a SMART goal. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Specific). Much has been written about this, for a reason. This is a must. your goal must be as Specific as possible. "I will run a Half Marathon in December 2016". You have to be able to measure, not only your final accomplishment, but your progress along the way. Break down the goal in small bites you can wrap your arms around. "I will run a 5k by September 2016. I will run a 10k by October 2016. I will run a 15k by November 2016". Is this goal of yours something you can see yourself "really" Achieving? or this is this more of the "it sure would be nice if I could do this" type of thing? And along those lines, is what you're asking yourself to do, Realistic? Do you have the time required to train for such a goal? Can you run the miles needed to train your body to reach this goal? Would it be better for you to change the Time to a more realistic future time? I use the example of running a half marathon but this can be adapted to any and all goals. Always state your goal in a "I will" format.

3. This goal has to be YOUR OWN goal, and you have to have a clear and concise (brief but comprehensive) reason as to "why" you're doing this. While in the process of working towards your goal, you will need to remember your "why". This will help you push through those tough times when you need a little extra motivation. If you chose a goal because it's something that someone else has either convinced you to do, or something someone else expects you to do, it will not work.

4. Hang Around Friends with Similar Goals. Most people love encouragement. You will find this in large quantities if you hang around a circle of friends that share a similar vision and goals as you do. You will encourage each other, you will push each other through tough times and you will totally enjoy the journey together. Find a pal. Or two. Be warned, however... Your goals and that of your pals may change as you go along. You may find that your mission is now different than that of those around you. Don't be afraid to find new pals. I'm not telling you to dump the old ones, just telling you to adapt.

5. Follow Blogs that Relate to your Goals. The blogsphere is full of folks willing to share their experiences. If you need advise as to the process, there's plenty. If you need help with motivation, there's lots out there. Whatever you're looking for, there's someone out there writing about it. Better yet, start your own blog as my friend Alison did, "runningmama2016". A couple of others I would recommend are written by good friends as well... Scott's "Running, Rants and Randomness" and Alan's "Alan's Training Blog". You cannot help but get inspired and motivated by any or all of these three.

6. Follow a Plan. But be very flexible. An airplane leaving from New York en-route to Los Angeles does have a course heading that it follows, but on the average, said airplane will actually be off course 95% of its flight. The success of the flight hinges on the ability of the pilot and the airplane's computers to get back on course each and every time its deviates.

7. Keep Journals and Track Progress. What gets measured gets improved. If you don't keep track of how you're doing, you will not know how you're doing. Pretty simple but point is so missed by many. I love to write. What I post on my blog is less than 20% of what I write. I not only journal my training and racing progress (public), but I journal my mental progress as well (private). This has also been tremendously helpful in my professional life. I journal lots.

8. Take Compliments and used them for Inspiration. And learn to be complimentary as well. When someone, anyone, notices your progress and takes the time to mention it, be thankful. I have found one of my biggest motivators is to be very complimentary. But your compliments must be sincere. Don't compliment just to compliment and in hopes to get a compliment back. These are meaningless and soon they will lose all value. Compliments from the heart are priceless.

9. Accept that 90% of your success depends on your mindset. "If your mind can conceive it and your heart can believe it, then you can achieve it." No one succeeds by accident. You first have to believe; believe in yourself, believe in your mission, believe in your "why".

10. Feed your mind with Inspiration and Motivation Daily. Every motivational guru tells you this: "You are, or you will become, what goes into your mind." It doesn't take much. Again, change your habits. What do you listen to while in the car? I for one, listen to books on Audible. No, not all the time, but most of the time. I also have Sirius XM and refuse to listen to "talk radio" or "News Channels" or any station that has any kind of "commentary". 100% music, and as my grandson likes to say: "Papa has music from last century in his car" or "how come your music doesn't have any words?"

11. Remove all (or as much as possible) negativity from your world. Impossible! you say. This WILL require a lot of work and perseverance, but it IS possible. Identify those issues that seem to steer you down the wrong path. This includes negative people; they will suck the living daylight out of you.  I have very little tolerance for negativity. I have no use for it. I will give someone a very short leash. Very, very short. The pity train does not come through here. Brutal and Harsh? Maybe. But Oh so very effective.

13. Never Compare Your Goals to that of Others.Everyone is traveling a different journey. Sure, some of you may have similar goals as your peer, but everyone's path to success is different. One of the great motivation killers is to compare your progress to that of others. You have no idea where they are, where they've been or where they're going. Stay on point with your progress, encourage others to work on theirs and be inspired but not deflated by what others do, or don't do. My goals are not any bigger, any loftier or any more impressive than yours. My goals are mine for where I am. Yours are yours for where you are.

13. Tell Yourself every single day that "you got this". Once again and at the risk of being redundant and repetitive... You will not get what you want if you don't honestly believe you can. If in doubt, repeat after me: "I got this."

14. Work Hard Everyday. Do at least ONE thing that will get you closer to your goal. Wake up tomorrow and ask yourself: "What can I do today to get me ONE step closer to my goal?". A young man was asked to move a mountain from one location to another. Not overwhelmed by the size of the task he started moving rocks. Each day he moved just one. Slowly he began to see progress. The original mountain was becoming smaller, the new mountain was becoming bigger. Before he knew it, his task was complete. So, what can you do today to get you closer to your goal?

15. Never, Never, Never, EVER Give Up. Most of our goals are not reached because we quit. Often we quit right before we reach our goal. You never know how close you are.

Please realize that nothing you do, no steps you take, no plans or goals you aspire to achieve, will ever have a chance unless you first accept full responsibility for yourself and for everything that happens to you. There's no magic pill, no knight in shining armor. No one will come to your rescue. Only those that work hard will be rewarded. There are issues and challenges in everyone's life, and here's some more brutal honesty: There are excuses and there are results. Which one are you working on?

So, what do you do to keep yourself motivated and on track? Do you have any simple tricks that perhaps you'd like to share? Please leave them in the comments below.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Longest Mile

I came into Saturday's race with very high expectations, yet I was expecting nothing. I had five goals in place, but I know this is a very tough course, so these goals were set just to have goals, because as you know, you have to have goals.

I am a creature of habits, I have routines and I deviate little from them. Especially on race days.

Woke up at 4:01 am. This is also a habit. Spent some quiet, alone time while getting dressed, just to start processing the upcoming half marathon.

Along with my wife Monica, who was also running this race, we were off at 4:41am. It would be about a two hour drive. We arrived at 6:48.

The Oak Barrel Half Marathon in Lynchburg, TN in my estimate, is one of the toughest half marathons around, it boasts, again in my opinion, the longest mile of any race in our neck of the woods. This would be my fourth year. Apparently I have very short pain memory. Last year my time was 2:01:26. My first goal this year would be to beat this time.

I have not kept count of how many half marathons I've ran. Too many to remember. A sub-2 hour finish time has been achieved only a handful of times; twice, maybe three times. My second goal was to run sub-2. On this course, it would be a stretch.

I'm in the 60-64 age group. This race draws its lion's share of fast old guys. Last year I came in 9th out of 20. Middle of the pack, average for me. Goal number three was to improve in this.

I would go in holding a personal best, a PR if you will, of 1:57:51. Goal number four would be the biggest one of all. A new PR.

Each of the last three years, regardless of how much "hill" training I had done, I found myself walking up some of "whiskey hill". Goal five would be the toughest, I thought. To make it all the way without walking. This one worried me the most.

The day was a bit chilly but sunny. Perfect running weather. A field of 1293 (finishers) stepped up to the line and at gun time, the temperature had just reached 50ºF. There was no wind. There were no clouds.

I staged myself at the back side of the 9:00/mile group. Not sure why, but that's where I landed. As it turned out, it was perfect, well... almost. The first couple of miles I found myself weaving through the crowd. My pace was faster than I wanted it to be, but since I warmed up before the race, I knew I would be okay. Once we approached mile 3, this is where the field began to thin out. This is where the road begins to rise, en-route to mile 4 and the infamous "Whiskey Hill".

At the top of the hill I remember thinking how grateful and blessed I am for having a strong heart, or rather how I was glad it didn't fail me half way up. It didn't take long for my heart rate to get back to a normal (because 180 is not normal) and for me to re-find my happy pace.

The rest of the race was smooth. I kept a very constant pace, something I have been working on very diligently lately. It paid off big time.

Goal No. 1 ~ Finish Time: 1:54:24 is 7:02 faster than last year. Check.
Goal No. 2 ~ Finish sub-2 hrs. Check.
Goal No. 3 ~ 6th out of 29 in Age Group. Two place improvement in a field 30% larger. Check.
Goal No. 4 ~ Finish time equals new PR. Check
Goal No. 5 ~ Conquered "Whiskey Hill" (no walking). Check.

Next on my schedule is the ADPi triathlon. It is a short distance, sprint triathlon. It will be my first tri in over 18 months. The expectation builds. After that I have a date with Ragnar Tennessee and the the Hillbilly Half Marathon (formerly The Franklin Half). There are a couple of other races on my radar, but nothing has been cemented yet. Well, except of course The Marine Corps Marathon.

Biggest challenge facing me going forward is to remain true to my training. I cannot allow progress to be hindered by wide eyes and unnecessary pushing.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Endure Your Way To Success

I am often asked why I spend so much time training. Perhaps you are one of those that look at my various updates and wonder, wonder why. It is almost impossible for me to explain, but as the saying goes: "if you can't explain it, you don't understand it". I will try to explain.

Honestly, the reasons are many. But this is a vague response and not really an answer. So, I'd like to discuss at this time, why I do it. Why I get up at 4:00 am to exercise. Why I put my body and mind through the rigorous routine (although there's nothing routine about it) that is a marathon or Ironman training.

I do this simply put, because in this I find success. Such that in other arenas I may not be so apt to achieve.  While I may not gain the sort of victory as defined by others' idea of what it should look like, in my mind I find my own kind of triumph.

I started running some ten years ago and shortly thereafter I became a triathlete which brought me to the world of long distance, endurance events. I have completed 14 full marathons, an unimaginable number of half marathons, two 140.6 distance triathlons (one of which had a bonus 4 miles to boot), eight 70.3 distance triathlons and umpteen shorter distance events combined. Therefore I can say with certainty that swimming, cycling and running, does in fact yield a certain level of personal achievement.

Some folks may think or have been lead to believe that this is not reachable to them. They are wrong. Through the sport(s) I have met folks from all walks of life; doctors, lawyers, CEOs, CFOs, Bankers, Managers, Entrepreneurs, Parents, Preachers and Teachers, etc. The level of prosperity that these sports bring is not limited to profession or vocation. Its available for each and everyone, as long as they're willing to go work for it. It will not be handed to you, it will require effort, commitment, perseverance, grit and lots of determination.

This life style gives you purpose and meaning, some sort of happiness and contentment that goes far beyond financial and professional boundaries.

And more importantly, as endurance athletes, we bring this kind of success to our personal and professional life. Let me share with you some ways in which this can happen:

For the purpose of this post, I define an "Endurance Athlete" as a runner, cyclist, swimmer, duathlete or triathlete.

1). Endurance Athletes UNDERSTAND the importance of GOAL SETTING.  Nothing significant is ever achieved without first setting a goal. We set goals all the time. Our workouts are goal oriented; swim this far at this pace, ride this long at this speed, run this distance in this time, etc. Races are based on time goals.

2). Endurance Athletes MEASURE progress. We are obsessed with gadgets. Why? Because they measure stuff, mostly our performance and our progress.

3). Endurance Athletes VALUE time. Ever wonder why we show up to a race on time? Because we can't miss the gun. Some longer distance events have cut-off times. Can you imagine missing the cut-off because you showed up late? Yeah, me neither. I have been trying to turn several business associates of mine into runners, if for nothing else, but for this.

One second can shatter your dreams. One second. Imagine if you will, crossing the finish line at an Ironman distance and the clock reading 17:00:01

4). Endurance Athletes are highly DISCIPLINED. Training for a long distance event requires discipline. Some longer events require months upon months of consistency, sacrifice and effort. All of these hinge upon one characteristic; self-discipline.

5). Endurance Athletes know how to OVERCOME obstacles. Through the years, we have learned, sometimes the hard way, that we will have obstacles we must overcome; injuries and illness, fatigue ~ mental and physical, etc. Through the course of races, we will be faced with many obstacles, we must be and more often than not, are ready to overcome these in order to reach our goal.

6). Endurance Athletes are PATIENT. We value the process. We understand that in order to make things happen we must be patient. Training is a progression of hundreds of events all put together to take us to the finish line. There are no, nor can there be, any shortcuts. Patience is non-negotiable.

7). Endurance Athletes, for the most part, know that competing with others is NOT the most important thing. Competition is healthy and fun. But we must keep it in perspective. Competition cannot be the most important thing. We mostly compete with ourselves. We try to beat our "best" time. We understand that unhealthy competition can lead to jealousy and this can be disastrous for this will eventually divert our efforts and make us do what we otherwise know we shouldn't do. But please don't get me wrong, once the starting gun goes off, it's game time.

8). Endurance Athletes BUILD networks. Look around an endurance athlete and you will find a network of friends. We swim, ride and run together. For miles and hours at a time. Through this interaction, we build relationships, relationships necessary to achieve success.

9). Endurance Athletes know how to BUDGET. We know how to budget our time, our races and our finances. With so many options, we learn to make sure we get the biggest bang for our buck.

10). Endurance Athletes understand the power of LEVERAGE. We truly understand and learn to use the power of teamwork. Very few people can claim that the cross the finish line by themselves. Its almost impossible.

11). Endurance Athletes view failure DIFFERENTLY. We understand that failure is temporary and that in order to succeed, sometimes come up short, and we treat it as such. Of all the races I have done, getting close to 100 of them, I failed to finish once. Although I was devastated at the time, I learned plenty from this experience, lessons that would have gone to the wayside had this not happened to me.

In my professional life, I coach businesses in the art of leadership. I teach skills that relate to most, if not all of the above mentioned characteristics. I teach clients how to apply these to the workplace. Recently I was discussing with one of my clients his interviewing and hiring process and retention strategies, specifically for management positions.

I encouraged him (and this is what prompted me to write this post) to add to the qualification requirements of future candidates that of an "athlete", specifically if possible, an endurance athlete.

Can you imagine having someone in your team that already possesses all the above qualities? Yeah, how amazing would that be?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Age Has Its Advantages

"Competition or No Competition
I'm still busting my butt everyday"

I have never been very competitive. Against others. But that may be changing. I am learning that crossing that finish line in record time has a sweet taste. I have always been competitive against myself. The person I was yesterday with the person I aim to be today, and the person I aspire to be tomorrow.

I have not been known for being a fast runner. Oh heck, I have not been known to be a fast anything. Middle of the pack on my best days, dead last (a few times) on my worst.

But with age come certain advantages. One of them, and the most obvious is that of "experience". Experience of lessons learned. Experience of knowing that if something didn't work, you'd best figure out something different; if you want different, do different.

I have a bucket-full of experience. I have taken a beating at times, and as well as many others I have been knocked down a time or two. But due to resilience or maybe ignorance, I shake if off and try it again, a different way.

For the last three months I have taken a different approach. I have decided to go solo in my training. I will fly without a coach, for the first time in over 8 years, I will not have someone by my side.

Why am I doing this? Not sure, to be totally honest. Will it pay off. Not sure, to be equally honest. It's just something that I have to figure out on my own. Perhaps, halfway through this journey, I will cry uncle and call him back, but this I will have to learn on my own.

I have been feeling awfully good lately. I've had some pretty incredible runs. Some training sessions have been out of this world. More than I had ever expected. When I fell to injury last year, I thought my world came crashing down. Well, it didn't.

On Sunday, March 20, 2016 I set out to run a 10k. Not a big deal (for me) for I have run this distance many a time. Not a big deal, at least not on the surface. But deep down inside I knew what I had to do.

I wanted to test my injury and how much progress I had made. I took the risk of taking a step back. I was willing to do that. I decided upon arriving at the venue, that I would go all out. I would push harder than I had ever pushed. I would see what I had, come hell or high-water, I had to find out.

And I did. I ran that distance faster than I ever had before. I beat my previous best (a PR) by 1:46! My pace per mile was a blistering 8:03. Blistering for me!

And the best news of all... no side effects from the injury. No pain. Still as of this writing, there's no pain.

There's another benefit in our world, that of getting old(er), that of entering into new "age group". The field is somewhat reduced. I say this with tongue in cheek. I guess there comes a time when common sense kicks in and most folks decide that this running thing is no longer for them. As for now, I am not one fo those folks.

For the second time in less than a year, I earned a State Championship as a Senior Grand Master. Last year, it was on the Half Marathon distance, Sunday it was on the 10K distance.

And what are my plans for the foreseeable future? Keep Moving Forward. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time, one more mile, one more lap, one more workout, one more road, one more race. One. More. Time.

"I may walk slowly
But I never walk backward"
 ~ Abraham Lincoln

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Friday, March 18, 2016

The Fire In The Belly

"Only do what's in your heart, 
but do it with ALL your heart"

When I toe the starting line of a race, any race, be it a 5K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Olympic Distance Triathlon or the Ironman Triathlon (or any race in between) I can't expect to race with "heart" and finish strong, unless I have trained with "heart", unless I have trained my "heart". A very important part of this training includes a constant reminder, and a periodic gut check, as to the real reasons why I do what I do.

This has served me well in every aspect of my life; family, business, personal fitness, etc.

And this is a simple thing to do if you really think about it. You can't fool your heart for your heart knows your true intentions. Toughest part is being honest with yourself.

So, ask yourself this very important question: "WHY do I do what you do?"

And what is this "heart" thing I'm talking about?

It's the Passion; the fire in the belly. It's doing what you do and never feel bored, stagnant or stuck. Doing what you do and constantly feeling excited and inspired.

To keep your fire burning or to rekindle your fire, revisit your goals, your dreams. Constantly, in order to keep them in sight. Write down your vision so you can plainly see the direction you are traveling. Write it down and keep it in plain sight. Review it, update it, improve on it and move towards it. Constantly move towards it.

I have a specific race related goal. I have it written down. I look at it every day. There has been obstacles, but I have worked through them. I realize that there may be more to come, but by keeping my goal in sight (literally in sight) I remain focused and by remaining focused, my belly aches, for you see, my belly is on fire.

I get excited each and every time I get to spend time chasing my dream, my goal. This process has allowed me to live my life with purpose, now pursuing this calling has become as natural to me as, well... breathing.

Is the fire in your belly burning?

Living your life with heart fuels your passion,
 allowing your mission to stay sharp and in focus.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Keep Moving Forward

"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity" 

It hasn't been easy. As a matter of fact, it's been anything but. Over the past few years, nine and change to be exact, I have felt somewhat invincible. But as it turns out, I am anything but.

For the first time in a long time, I found myself in unfamiliar territory having to deal with issues in a way I was, again, unfamiliar with.

Let me turn the clock back a bit to help make sense out of this.

I lived my life having to constantly deal with issues I had no answers for. More often than not, back in the day, I would just ignore said issues; let them work out by themselves, and then sulk over unfavorable consequences of such an approach. This seemed to be my modus operandi, I had lived in total complacency, believing that this was my destiny, the way things were supposed to be.

Fast forward to early 2007.

Unbeknownst to me at the moment, events of those days and times took me down a new path. One which I have traveled willingly and enthusiastically since then.

I have previously documented my entrance and participation into the endurance sports arena. I have become a marathoner and a 2X Ironman Triathlon finisher.

Up until late last summer, I had enjoyed my training and racing relatively injury free, other than normal and minor aches and pains that come with the territory, specifically the territory of added years and long training hours and miles, I had never been sidelined for any length of time. This is where the feeling invincible reference comes into play.

Every goal I had set for myself during this time, I met. Many of them scary as heck (who in their right mind swims 2.4 miles in a river?), most seemed unreachable and they were not easy to reach by any means. They required commitment, dedication and perseverance. The loftier the goal, the harder they were, as they should have been.

There's only one more race (still) left in my "must do" list for the time being. So following suit, I began perusing this goal. I set my sights on that finish line and planed for the journey ahead.

The days, weeks, months and miles passed as planned. Until the unthinkable, the one element I never planned for, because after all, I never had to. This one Saturday things didn't feel right, by Sunday I couldn't walk, by Wednesday I was laying on the MRI table and by Friday I had a diagnosis.

My plans were suddenly put on hold, things would not work out, as they had in the past, this time. I went ahead with my scheduled races, all three of them, but failing to accomplish my ultimate goal. This was tough; a hard pill to swallow.

Being the very transparent person that I am, it was also hard for me to keep this to myself. Except for those few friends that inquired, the subject was not discussed. For the most part, I did not want to make excuses for my short comings, I chose to address the issue in private and move on.

After a short thirty day hyatus from running, which allowed the injury to (almost) heal, I have resumed training. I will take a new approach this time. With the help of a very wise wife and daughters, as well as some very caring friends, I have come to realize that I may be an Ironman, but of Iron I'm not made.

I'm not sure where this particular leg of the journey will take me or how long it'll take me to get there. I do know however, that at least for the time being, I must Keep Moving Forward.

"Grandfather says this: In life
there is sadness as well as joy
losing as well as winning,
falling as well as standing,
hungers as well as plenty,
bad as well as good. I do not
say this to make you dispair, but
to teach you that life is a journey
sometimes walked in light and sometimes
walked in shadow.

Grandfather says this: Keep Going!"

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