Making adjustments when life happens

My absence from writing is keeping in context with the tag line of this blog, the real life of a triathlete. I have had no time over the past month to even contemplate writing.  This season has been jammed packed with more racing than I have ever done in a single year.  Following the NYC Triathlon, I had no solid plans for racing outside of Ragnar Washington D.C. in October.  And good thing.  A week after returning home from NYC, my wife and I were blessed with two new arrivals in our home.  Yes, two new, beautiful, and unexpected children.   A little over a year ago, my wife and I were approved and certified as foster/adoptive parents.  Since then, our life has been a never ending stream of life changing events.  In a matter of 4 months we went from having on 8 year old to 4 children ages 8, 3, 4 months and 4 days.  Despite the concerns of caution from family and friends and the constant “you are bat crap crazy” looks, we have never been more happy.  But with this happiness comes a period of transition.  We practically have twins and had no time to prepare ourselves emotionally or mentally.  Much less not having the typical 10 months to prepare for the arrival of a newborn.  So yes, a transition period of sorts was necessary.  For me, that meant very limited to no training.  Since I didn’t have any races in the very near future, some time off was necessary, especially when only getting a couple hours of sleep a night.

Triathletes tend to be type A personalities with attention to detail and a little obsessive.  (Eh, “a little obsessive” may be a gross understatement.)  With that said, many of us struggle with listening to our bodies rather than following a strict training plan. And I am certainly guilty of continuing to train when life piles on the crap, which only impedes progress and increases burnout in the end.  I’d like to think I have learned my lesson, for I have certainly changed my view the relationships between my life and training.

Now, instead of getting up at 4 am and heading to the gym or jumping on the trainer, I sleep until 7 am after being up multiple times during the course of the night.  After work training sessions are completely out of the question with dinner, baths, homework, and quality time with the kids.  So recently, my only option has been training after the kids are down for the night. It has certainly been a shift.  And it also involves being a little creative at times.

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Trainer Ride/Pacifier Duty                                      Jogging with the boys

It is a constant struggle to find the time and without a supportive wife and beautiful children to be a role model for, it would not be possible!

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Driven for Success

Successful people are not gifted; they just work hard, then succeed on purpose.

– G.K. Nielson

One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell.  He is a unique man with an afro that wrote several great books, including Outliers, an intriguing look into success and how some of the most famous humans have achieved greatness.  Surprisingly through, he does not speak about the accomplishments of the individual outliers such as The Beatles and Bill Gates, but rather to HOW they became successful.  Their accomplisments we not solely due to talent or genetic gifts, but opportunity, environment, resources, and sheer time spent engaged in their craft. I often think about the power of opportunity and resources in my own life. I am a working mother of three kids, two of which are foster kids. (This adds a whole other aspect to the responsibilities of parenting that I never imagined).  We have limited financial resources and often struggle to keep afloat.  My wife and I both have hobbies that are not cheap, but they bring us great joy and help us be healthy models for our children.  I have a wonderful life!

But one thing that stands out about Gladwell’s stories is that the individuals in the book have an unyielding amount of drive and passion.  One does not spend 10,000 practicing the piano, programming computers, or writing stories because they want to get better.  It is because they do not feel alive without that one thing.  Now, I’m not saying I have one thing in my life that I live for….but I do have passion for triathlon…otherwise 4 am would not seem so exciting. I also understand that I do not have the time to train like a professional nor do I have the resources.  I support a family of 5 and that will always take priority.  But that does not mean that I do not continue to set reachable goals and work towards my own successes, as small or great as they may be.  When I do accomplish goals, it is because I have set my mind and worked hard.  I am not gifted, I am driven.

TRI FAST for Stroke and Returning to NYC

Each year, I like to designate a race for fundraising and charity. Last year, I participated in the NYC Triathlon as a member of the Autism Speaks Team.  I raised over $2,300 and as a whole, the 11 member team raised over $26,000!  I documented the race journey in a video, you can watch here:  https://vimeo.com/102575538 .  The experience was phenomenal and something I hoped to repeat in the near future.

With that hope in mind, I began searching for a new fundraising opportunity.  I began to brainstorm on organizations that impacted my life and those around me the most.  I ran through a laundry list of diseases and problems in the world. None seemed personal enough.

Until…

A bike ride (all good ideas come during a bike session…something about the cyclic motion of the legs that my mind seems to mimic like a hamster on a wheel) I came up with a brilliant idea.

There are people in the world that work to make a difference, not just in their own lives, but for the greater good of the human race.  They give so much of their lives that we often forget about their sacrifice and hardships.  For me, this person is one of my closest friends, Victoria.  The label “friend” is not an accurate descriptor, she is family or as she calls it, “framily”  Last year, she and her wife, Christy, took on the state of Virginia in a class action lawsuit, fighting for equal rights of same-sex couples and the right to marry. Nearly a year of their lives were dedicated to this effort.  Press conferences, phone calls, interviews, more press conferences, court date after court date after court date.   Not to exclude lovely bouts of hate mail. All their efforts and sacrifices resulted in a victory that changed the lives of so many couples in many states….their fight changed my life.  Because of them, I am legally married in my home state and with that, I am equal to my neighbors.  I cannot thank them enough.

So during this bike ride, I decided to dedicate my charity race this year to Victoria, who in the past couple years, suffered a near fatal stroke.  Had this disaster resulted in an unimaginable fatality, I’m not sure where the state of same-sex marriage would be for the state of Virginia and West Virginia.  Furthermore, I’m not sure my life would be as interesting, nor would I be so inspired be a positive impact on this world.

So I’m proud to announce that this year, I will be teaming up with my inspirational friend, Victoria, to raise funds for the National Stoke Association. And as luck my have it, I will return to NYC on July 19th to participate in the NYC Triathlon once again, but this time, racing for the National Stroke Association team and spreading knowledge about stoke, symptoms, and prevention!

national-stroke-awareness

A Photo Training Update

I can’t believe it has been more than three weeks since my last update.  Illness and the holidays can really take a toll on your body and well being.  So instead of writing a lot of hullabaloo, here is the past few weeks in pictures 🙂

IMG_8752Spent nearly a week on the road for work.  This little hotel gym really made me miss home.

IMG_8806For Thanksgiving, we traveled to Holden Beach, NC.  Came down with a vicious chest cold and lost my voice, but it seemed less bothersome when I could look out a window and see this.

IMG_8845A little trot on Turkey day with the family.IMG_8853Followed by an overindulgence of whipped cream.

IMG_8864Tried to go for a swim in the cold ocean still with a hint of a chest cold = FAIL

IMG_8873Road my bike instead and stopped at the grocery store for some laundry soap.  The brought on some odd looks as my shoes click clacked through the store.IMG_8863 Post ride meal –> awful stomach ache –> I will not eat avocado again. 😦

IMG_8889Got plenty of rest

IMG_8799And enjoyed some much needed time with the little man.IMG_8917Had a running analysis completed and discovered there are tons of problems with my form stemming from underlying weaknesses. I now run with a metronome. IMG_8937Enjoyed a 90 minute ride and am finally feeling back to 100%.  Woot Woot!

Achieving a Goal

When I was 25 years old and was bitten by the tri bug, I set a goal to complete a Half Ironman before I turned 30 years old.  Three months ago I turned 29.  Therefore, it is crunch time!

My uncle lives in St. Croix and my wife has been dying to visit.  I’ve also been dying to conquer The Beast.  It all fell into place! So in May, my wife and I will be traveling to St. Croix to visit family, celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary, and she will watch me defeat The Beast (while she drinks on the beach) and support me in accomplishing the goal she witnessed me make 5 years ago.

w97315 So every climb in training  from here until May, becomes The Beast in my mind. I can hardly contain my excitement.

Team effort or fail!

Triathlon is generally an individual sport…however…for me and a lot of full time parents and employees, it is very much a team effort to make everything work. Without the support of my amazing wife, I would be worthless. Whether she is watching the kids, lugging kids and snacks while navigating confusing race courses, suffering through another conversation about training, or plugging her nose from the stench of sweat, she is a saint and pushes me to reach the goals I have set for myself.

I saw this picture today and it immediately reminded me of the daily comments about how much dirty clothes I produce on a weekly basis.

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Yes my wife is amazing and supportive…that doesn’t mean she loves all the unfortunate side effects of being married to a triathlete.

I also can’t wait to see the look on her face when attempt to pack our little hybrid car for thanksgiving vacation with three kids, luggage, stroller, and all my gear. I may be riding on the roof of the car for the 9 hour drive…

Regardless, marriage is a team effort,
and for me, triathlon is a team effort. I would never make it to the finish line without my wife. She is my biggest fan and I could never express my gratitude enough.

Week 2 Summary

Week 2 started off strong.
It panned out like this:

Monday: 1 hour Bike session (spin class) focusing on strength

Tuesday:  1 hour strength swim session (see earlier post for actual workout)- This was awesome and I could have kept going, but work beckoned!

Wednesday: Strength Training and Bike session (Spin class) focusing on endurance

Thursday: 40 minute run focusing on endurance.  It was cold and dark…I loved every second.  I started the run listening to music and it quickly became irritating.  I ripped the headphones out and enjoyed the simplicity of my feet hitting the ground and my breathe in the cold night air.

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Friday: Sinus Pressure and Congestion….Nooooooooooo

Saturday: More Sinus Pressure and Congestion….so I head to the gym and tried to work it out with a 1 hour bike/run brick workout.  For the bike I used a Sufferfest video (which held true to it’s name) followed by a quick 15 minute treadmill run. The plan was to run 30 minutes, but I quickly lost energy and still wasn’t feeling well.  So in an effort to listen to my body, I opted for some strength work.

Sunday: Down for the count….working through the cold did not help.  Its time to rest!

Week 1 Summary

We are off. The first full week of official training is complete. The plan was to begin the preparation period with 7 total hours of training for week 1, including strength work. Let’s just say that adjusting to training with a 4 month old requiring nightly feedings…is just as difficult as I imagined. I managed a measly 5 hours, but it felt great! 2 spin classes, two short runs, one swim clinic, and one strength training session. There was plenty of rest, which was needed; however, I need to capitalize on the times when I feel well rested. I think I’m quickly learning that I can make a detailed schedule, but the 4 month old will not follow said schedule. Flexibility will be my friend I feel.

“It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” (Kudos if you can name that movie)