A vacation or a workout?

Family travel is meant to be a time of connecting, resetting and just getting back to the person you were made to be.  We have been planning this trip to Hawaii for more than a year, and those recipes were and are a part of our formula for a vacation.

However, those items are not the end all for this family. We are all exercising with earnest.

I am running a lot, and who wouldn’t, with these views?

Views of the Big Island
Views of the Big Island

I am up before the rest of the condo is moving and have set expectations about distance, course, pace and even nutrition before and during the event.  We are at the halfway point of the trip, and I already have three runs in.  I even competed in and won a race the first full day we got here.

In addition, both of the boys have found gyms and have gone to work out.  They are dressed the part, as they look like gym rats, and will have stories to tell of the gym on the real other side of the country.

My wife has found yoga and Pilates classes that she is doing, and she is doing a lot of walking as we visit remote places.

This fitness mentality changes what your eyes see as you view the island.  Most families see volcanos, sea turtles, whales and sunsets.  Those are all beautiful, but incomplete in their ability to make good extended memories for this bunch.  I see a community addicted to cycling and a community where long distance running is as common as Key Lime Pie is in the Keys.

“Ahhh, I could live here!” my wife says.  Our condo has no AC unit, and it doesn’t really need one, either.  She loves pineapples, fresh fish and the laid back life.

I see the pineapple, but I see the bike lanes everywhere.  I see all the long climbs and crazy descents available to me in the middle of the island.  I see the ability to run with a group of people, my age, with similar drives.

Before deep sea fishing, yesterday AM, I did a run on Alii drive, home of the final run of the famous Ironman race.  I am not a swimmer, and my desire to get into swimming is near zero, but lots of folks who ARE preparing for the Ironman are visible up and down that road.

The kids see snorkeling and ice cream on one side of the road.  I see beautiful trail runs on the other to go along with their sightings.

For souvenirs for the kids, I buy Alex a running singlet that says, “Run.  Big.”  It references this location’s fame as the Big Island.  We are all taking pictures and throwing them up on Facebook, like the social family we are.  We are all on the phone with friends, talking about the trip and enjoying our time here.

Just look at what I see, as I type this!

View of a meal, out of our Lanai, on the Big Island
View of a meal, out of our Lanai, on the Big Island

Beautiful, even if you don’t include the scenery!

Jeff Gaura, Alex Gaura and Mike Larsson Skiing in Telluride, CO

The Redneck within

The term “redneck” is defined by Wikipedia as a poor white person from the Southern US.  It has evolved to mean, “a bigoted and conventional person, a loutish ultra-conservative.”

Swimming Pool
Swimming Pool

I see it more in the world of exercise and nutrition than perhaps anywhere.  And, Redneck-ism, if that is even a word, has some Biblical roots.

During my teenage years in South Carolina, I got introduced to my share of Rednecks.  My example, my Uncle Harold had to vote straight Republican, since his father did.  And once my Redneck (Capital R on purpose) friends got introduced to Ford Trucks, there was no other choice, even when Chevy had a more reliable and durable truck at the same price.

It doesn’t stop with beliefs about political views, vehicles, guns and the like.  It is a state of mind when we fraudulently conclude that we need not assess our assumptions.  We think that since we were right once, then we must be right most all of the time, if not all of the time.

I tell my kids, “don’t be a redneck,” when they are offered something to eat that they have never had.  I tell them “don’t be a redneck” when it is time to travel to a new place, and they don’t want to go with me.  In our house, they know what it means. It is a derogatory word that means you are being intellectually lazy and it is showing up.

A Redneck has a predictable response to an opportunity to experience something new.    Do you immediately discard the idea, because you already have an answer that works for you?  If yes, you might be a redneck.

The question, “Let’s try someplace new to eat?” often exposes a redneck.  So does the question, “What is missing?”  People don’t know, because they never thought it a good use of time to ask the question.

My friend Randall described an Uncle from Georgia whom he had nicknamed “95.”  He got that name because he thought that he was right, 95% of the time.

That Uncle has made it to the exercise community.  And, I see people like 95 in the gym, literally daily.  How is he or she spotted? 95 does the same exercises, with the same bad form, with no interest in getting feedback about how to improve.  Many of them don’t think they need to improve.  Yet, if you ask them, “do you want to get better than you are today?” I have yet to meet anyone who responds with, “No, I am sure that I am at the very top of my game. Thanks for asking, though.”

God teaches us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).”  Everyone wants to get better.  However, that 95 in all of us gets in the way.  We think that we know the answer and we just have to try harder to achieve our results.  We hear from a teacher about how to do things, and we never challenge their assumptions. We don’t renew our mind.  We stick with 95.

Weight loss as well as greater strength, speed, and flexibility all require discarding the Redneck within and renewing our minds.

To get better, I must stop assuming that I know it all.  Last year, I learned Yoga and the importance of stretching.  This morning, I did some Pilates on the mats at the gym, to strengthen my core.  Last month, I read a book about how to be the best athlete I can be after age 50, and the author laid out the research findings that are already out there to point out what has been found to be most effective, for most mature athletes.

For me to agree with that author’s findings, I had to admit I was wrong and put 95 back in the basement.  I had to change my behavior and not just confess that he was right with my lips.  Even though it has only been a month since I started using his recommendations, I am hitting personal bests.  I can squat and bench press more than I ever have, and my running speed is nearly at the same level as college.  Yesterday, a normally 70 minute bike ride took only 64 minutes.

Had I just kept trying to doing things the old way and implement a “try harder” strategy, I would still be below my goals. Instead, I am above some of them.

95 will come back…he always does.  Hopefully, when he shows up again, someone can call me out on it.  Maybe, I will listen, too!

Sort out where you are a redneck…we all are in some places of our lives.  But, are you a redneck in an area where you really want to get stronger?

If yes, it is time to be wrong and put your 95 in the basement.  Go find your author, teacher, life coach or health coach. Talk to God and ask Him to put your next teacher in your life.  Ask Him to renew your mind and take 95 off of your shoulders for a while.

And tell everyone when it happens.  Maybe you will help them make their 95 go to the basement…even if only for a while.

It is OK to fail. It is not OK to give up.

Only 2 weeks until the National Championship. One would think that my focus would be on preparing for that event. Why am I in California with my son, in the middle of a semester? Where is the lesson?
Last year, before I even thought about doing a competitive Duathlon, my son and I had a failed attempt on Mt Whitney, in CA. We agreed to try it again in a year. That year was up, and I had scheduled a business trip to CA, giving us a great chance to finish what we started.
One of this blog’s readers, Yan, has shown an interest in mountaineering, and I suggested that he prepare himself and join my 12 year old and me as we attempt to climb a 14,500 mountain in the middle of the desert. He ran twice a week to prepare himself, and his history as a college football player give both of us confidence that the part of climbing that he could control, he would control.
The day of the trip came, and the weather forecasts predicted 1-2 inches of snow accumulation at high camp, with temperatures as low as 24 degrees F. We planned our trip around these conditions, and my coach changed my training schedule to include some running while I was out in CA, as opposed to the typical blend of running and cycling.
With all arrangements in order, we drove to Whitney Portal, expecting to park our car and cover the 22 miles, round trip, with two overnight stays. Even as we were preparing to drive up, I questioned the decision to even be here, knowing that my competition was going to be focusing on their trade while I was mountaineering.
The weather report was wrong. At high camp, there was 16” of snow, and the lows on our last night were -12 degrees C (that is 1 degree F), according to the Canadians we met and camped with. During the last night, we found ourselves crammed in a small space, at 12,000 feet, shivering and questioning our decision.
Somewhere in the middle of the night, I was awakened when Yan came back inside after going outside to vomit. He was experiencing Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), an ailment that cannot be prepared for and can only be consistently addressed by taking the victim to lower elevation as fast as possible…therefore the name, “Mountain Sickness.” Having lead these sorts of expeditions before, I knew that the only real decision was to abandon the effort and take Yan down to safety. The Canadians were quick to admit that they were intimidated by the conditions outside, and one of them went so far as to say, “This is the coldest that I have ever camped outside, and I am a Canadian!” That means something.
As we went outside in the morning and we saw Yan’s proverbial fingerprint all over the ground, we all saw his sluggishness. He felt guilty that I made the decision to take us down, he was the first one to say, “I think we can do this. It is only 3 miles up and 3 miles back down to right here. We can do it.” He didn’t want to feel that the trip was going to be a failure, because of him.
That is when I got it….I knew why we were here, right now, doing this event and embracing our circumstances. Yan did nothing wrong. In fact, he was better prepared than the Canadian guys. I found myself looking at him and telling him, “the team comes before the individual. If we continue down this path, you could get much worse and even die.” He heard me but disagreed, thinking he could push through a summit bid. I would have none of it. We left before the sun hit the campsite. And, within an hour or two, his color came back, and resumed his talkativeness and actively participated in the group’s tasks.
It wasn’t only us. No one had reached the summit since the snows came-we met people from Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and the US, all with dreams and hopes….all of them dashed.
Before we left camp, Alex looked up into the ceiling of the tent and remarked, “Well Dad, third time is a charm,” admitting the need to come back to CA for a 3rd time, to try to climb Mt. Whitney. Our flights had cost us $30 each, as there was a glitch in the Dividend Miles system that allowed us to purchase a round trip ticket for only 12.500 miles. Yan picked us up and the airport, and we were staying at my sister’s house in Thousand Oaks, so I didn’t have any rental car or hotel fees. I compared my costs to that of the Canadians and Europeans, and it was negligible.
And, I graciously and humbly embraced that it is OK to come back and try again, without placing the blame on anything and attach a negative feeling to it.
We are coming back next September, and we have already invited Yan to join us again.
It is OK to fail. It is not OK to give up.

Author and his son, on the trail up Mt Whitney, after a snow storm.
Author and his son, on the trail up Mt Whitney, after a snow storm.

Putting your soul in order

As we age, our bodies changes. We watch our friends and acquaintances succumb to age, weight gain, bad luck and bad decisions….interestingly, it takes most of us way too long time to conclude that most of these outcomes are really bad decisions, not bad luck.  There is a temptation to play the denial card. “this is just part of life…everyone goes through it a some point,” bounces through our mind like a game of pong. The truth is, we KNOW that there is a chance that we are wrong….dead wrong.  Seeing that your most production years are either in progress or behind you creates a flood of emotion that we don’t know how to express…especially as men. The regrets show up, along side the guilt.  They look like this.

You see a wealthy businessman and mumble, “dang,I wish I had made the sacrifices he did. My family’s world would be a lot differently if I had money now for…..”

You watch a documentary on someone’s life and you yearn for their courage to dump what was their equivalent of the status quo and go out on a crazy limb to do what ended up making their way into the space between your ears.  And, even if you never tell anyone, you are jealous.  I am jealous of John Muir.

Our early years prepare us for adulthood. Adulthood prepares us for the more rigorous work of getting our soul in order.  These folks who trigger feelings in us have learned how to live life and get their souls in order.

During my latest workout on Saturday am, I turned off the music and rode my bike on a relatively deserted road for 2 hours.  Questions put on their Sunday best and showed up in my mind, like uninvited guests.  “Is your soul in order, or do you have moments of unadultered envy?”  Sure, getting my body ready to race like there is no tomorrow is what all this training is all about, but why do it if my soul isn’t in order?  If our soul is in order, envy and jealousy don’t exist.

Hours later, I watched my oldest son display “earnings envy,” during a car ride to a football game a few hours after my long bike ride. He heard how much money one of his peers was making, and he was jealous. Pretty normal behavior for a 20 something. I tried to encourage him, but he wasn’t up for it. Reminders to him that he has no debt, college paid for, in full, a girl who is ready to marry him and more money in his savings account and brokerage accounts than he knows what to do with.  He was a decorated and adored athlete in college, and graduated with honors and distinction.  Oh, most certainly, he has a great world that others envy, but he doesn’t see that. He only sees what he doesn’t have.  I decided to be honest with him.

“Why don’t you quit your job, move to NYC with Lauren. She can be a dancer and you can get a job in sales up there,” I said.  The next sentence was the one that was more important, and it was the heart of my message.

“Michael, you will never regret it quitting your job and moving to New York City, nor will you forget it.”  He knows that I did it when I was his age, and I talk fondly of what I learned from dumping all that I knew and jumping into the melting pot called NYC.

No comment.  He said nothing at all.  Nada.

I wanted to share more, give him reasons to go.  But they were my reasons, not his.  Game over.  I hate parenting 20 somethings…

It takes risk to get your soul in order. You have to take risks that are non-incidental. In his case, it would mean moving to a place where he knew no one and spending a lot of money before he gets his first paycheck. It is too much for him.  When he rejects my ideas, I can’t help but look into a mirror and wonder why he won’t “listen” to my wisdom. Why won’t he follow my lead? Did I fail somewhere as a parent?

“Why don’t you want to go off with Lauren to NYC?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” he says, without emotion of any sort.  He just doesn’t think about that as a choice.

“Jeff!” my wife says, in a way only she can.   When she says it that way, it means, “You are now ordered to cease and desist this line of questioning!” Every woman has a way of saying this. Hers is a single word that just so happens to double as my name.  It is also the same sound she uses when she needs me to kill a spider in the bathtub and the sound she whispers when I bring home flowers, unannounced, preferably when I am trying to get lucky.

I give up on this one, for now.  I cannot get his soul in order.  Instead, I lean back and try to take a nap. Over the next hour, He asks my wife question after question about getting his first mortgage, and before the day is done, we are comparing amortization schedules on mortgage products.  She was a banking hot shot for many years, so asking her does make sense.

He isn’t ready for the sort of thinking that asks questions that eventually connect back to getting your soul in order.

Mine came from an email telling me I was ready for the National Championship.  OK, it didn’t say that, but it is what I heard.

When I got the notification that I had qualified for this race, magic occurred.  I got motivated and began doing things with earnest that I used to do only half ass.  I got a coach…a real person that costs money, and I abandoned trying to do things myself.  I began scheduling my exercise publicly, right in the middle of my work calendar for all my employees and business partners to see.  I have even shared with a customer that I couldn’t meet at that time, as I have a scheduled Pilates appointment with Heather…..all the while hoping that they didn’t know what Pilates was.  Of course, the customer didn’t was clueless and perhaps just thought I as going to see a therapist or something.  I now have a recurring appointment for Power Yoga on my calendar, in addition to running, cycling and Pilates.  I feel like I am doing ballerina stuff while trying to smoke cigars.

Magic doesn’t always take the form it is expected to take, either.  I went pants shopping with my wife, based on her claims that mine don’t fit anymore.  She made me try on 10,546 different pair of pants before we got what she wanted me to wear….I am a weenie, right?  The magic was that they were 2 sizes smaller in the waist than any of my other pants, and they were still loose.  My son gave me back a belt he borrowed a few months ago, and I needed to use the last hole in it to hold up my new pants.  How many 47 year old men find a 32 inch waist to be “loose fitting?”  I always knew that I could be this lean, but I didn’t have a reason to proceed to that level.  My soul wasn’t in order.

My thoughts drifted back to the bike ride earlier today, when I took off head phones and heard my spirit speak.   When I was done with the ride, I got off and did a practice transition….I started counting the second after I hopped off my bike.  I counted out loud.  I put my bike in the back of my pickup truck, took off my helmet, put on my running shoes and dropped my gloves.  I ran left out of my driveway and looked at my watch.

18 seconds.  Last year’s national champion did it in 20 seconds.

I pushed my new Garmin 910 watch’s button to switch from Bike road to run mode, and I took off down our country road.  I ran for a quarter mile then turned around to come back.  I decided to kick it the entire way back to the truck.  When I hit the Garmin’s stop button, I had achieved a flat 6:00 minute per mile rate….this is after cycling for 40 miles.  Last year’s national champion average 6:20 after a 22 mile bike ride.

I teared up.  I did it.  Competitive events, back to back, in a classy fashion.  Faulty medial rotation, lack of flexibility and too much fat around my midsection distracted me.  I may not win, but I am now a winner.

It was confidence that was missing.  I could have done this last year, or in the last decade.  It took an email from the USAT telling me that I qualified for the National Championship before I took myself seriously, deserving of a priority.  My soul wasn’t in order.

I daydream.  I think about taking a group of men through this spiritual and emotional process….some of it is even physical.  I am thinking about doing an Iron-man.  No, no, no.  I am thinking about taking a group of men through this process that I am not done with, and ending it with an iron-man.  Call us “Legacy.”  I want to attract men who want to leave a legacy to their family that doesn’t include the status quo….

My wife has always wanted to go to Hawaii…maybe she will say, “Jeff!” in a nicer way when I suggest coming with me to Kona Hawaii for an Iron-man.

Three is a crowd

The injection of “new” into the human experience is best handled in increments.  What does that mean?  Try learning to be a pitcher and a catcher at the same time or learn how to tie trout flies and maneuver a sail boat in the same session, and tell me how that goes….

For whatever stupid reason, I discarded this logic on Wednesday as was lucky to get away with it.  But, there were two great lessons that came from it.

That morning started with a bike ride into Monroe, NC, our local town, and I achieved a personal best for average speed.  The trip I timed was a 13 mile route on smooth roads, each way, with lots and lots of rolling hills.  Yesterday, it took 32 minutes.  Boom!  I pedaled in the time trial position at nearly maximum effort, and I was spent at the end of the ride.  I was sweating and had already consumed all of my water.  I had no intention of trying to achieve a personal best that day, and it was awesome to look down on my GPS app on my phone and see the results.  I got off my bike, put it on my shoulder and walked up stairs to Core Studios for some pre-scheduled classes.  To say that I was feeling good is an understatement.  I knew that I had just achieved a speed on the bike fast enough to get on the podium.  Now, all that was lacking was an opportunity to put fast biking with fast running together and see if it could grow.  My conviction that Yoga and Pilates has helped was strong.

First unknown of the day….Power Yoga.  My wife told me more than once over the preceding days to reconsider taking this class, but I didn’t heed her advice. That said, it did create a little bit of anxiety for me.  Practicing Yoga has done a great job at addressing weaknesses in stretching and restoring muscles back to their full range of motion that are a result of Duathlon training, and I look forward to the classes that I have been taking with Anne.  They give me a safe place to address my weaknesses.  Modern men lack public places where it is OK to expose weaknesses without ridicule.

Shona consistently teaches the Wednesday Power Yoga class, and she is trusted and well-liked.  Shona is one-in-a-thousand about taking her students, where they are, and helping them progress.  I always hold my teachers in highest regard, as they pass on their gifts and passion was to us.  Shona had already assured me that this class was doable, and I had no reason to believe she was leading me astray.  She knows about what I am trying to do, and wishes only the best.

Truth is, I felt like a 5 year old, needing some coaxing to jump from the edge of the swimming pool into the water for the first time….without any swimmies on!

The other three students were women that I knew.  All were (and are) friends of my wife and super-fit ladies, and there was nothing to prove or not prove that day.  I grabbed a space on the floor with a loaner matt, a little exhausted but excited to begin.

I had not yet cooled down from the ride before class started.  I had a cup of water nearby, and my previous yoga experiences never included profusely sweating or wanting for strength.  In fact, I usually feel rested at the end of what I considered Yoga.  Holy crap, was I about to be wrong.

My legs were twitching from the overexertion before we started, and we immediately started into the asanas.  During class, Shona instructs us to go from pose to pose, with soothing phrases during the poses.  They are unique to Yoga compared to any other exercise I am familiar with.  “Do what feels right,” and “release what is pent up in your mind,” all came out while attempting to do the equivalent of playing the party game Twister, all by yourself.  Way too many instances of “WTF” came and left my mind during that hour.

I knew the root of asana was the word was sit, but there were derivations that could also mean “hope,” so I looked up what it really meant as I started typing this blog.  Wikipedia defines it as “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed for extended, or timeless periods.”

It means, “just hope that you can make your sorry ass stay in this position long enough to get back to down dog!”

Timeless?  Really?  There were some of those asanas that I couldn’t wait to end.  Granted, I am sure that I wasn’t alone.  Timeless handstands?  Timeless chattarangas?  No flippin way!

“If you want to take a vinyasa, go right ahead,” came out every couple of minutes.

Take it from where?  Whose vinyasa am I taking?  Do they know that they are about to be down one vinyasa?

At one point, Shona referenced me by name and said the next thing to do was splits.  At that point, I was too sweaty and spent to come up with a cute remark.  I was tired, and my focus on quality was beginning to fade.  The next asana required turning around and looking towards the back of the room.  I looked around and saw things that normally are not in eyes of a middle aged man.  I noticed that everyone was color coordinated and matching.  Their clothing fit, too!  They were all breathing steadily, and no one appeared distressed at all.  I counted the windows in the room.  I had moved from tired to giddy-like-a-college-all-nighter giddy.

Lesson-don’t bike like a banshee, only to follow it with Power Yoga a few minutes later.

I think I was the only one swearing under my breath that day.  The Nepali language offers some great ways to vent using small clusters that sound just like you are sucking your teeth.  T, CH and M with vowels sprinkled in the middle indicate I am saying something horrible.

One the flip side, the class went quickly, and it was a great, whole body workout.  At one point, I looked up at the clock, and we’d already been going an hour.  In that same glance, I saw that both of the women behind me, Jill and Amanda, were looking strong-they are both fitness rock stars and had been to this class repeatedly.   Heather, next to me, was no different.  In that moment, they inspired me to keep going.  I knew in that moment that I was coming back to this class.

Thanks, ladies.

I had a conference call immediately before the relaxation portion of the class started.  Alas, I missed the last and best 5 minutes.  After the call and before leaving and to meet my wife, I made it a point to thank Shona for the class and that I would be back.

I had a one-hour break in between the next class and the next new event of the day.  Linda picked me up and we ran an errand or two before getting a small bite to eat and going back to the studio.  At this point, it was noon, and my docket of to do items still included another hour of exercise before heading home and working for 4 to 6 hours.

This was a Pilate’s matt class.  Certainly, I have done one on one classes and machine classes using the Pilates method, but not a group class on a matt.  My wife was in the class, and she had a broken foot.  I quickly concluded that this must be a low impact sort of class.  What I wasn’t expecting was chaos.

Jill obviously had a unique relationship with every single person in the room, and they were all familiar with her style of group instruction.  I wasn’t.  Maybe it was being tired, but I could not follow all that was going on in class.  There was music playing and lots of cross talk between students.  To complicate learning, I could never find a consistent way to confirm what we were doing.  In a group class, it is not always possible to have a view of what the teacher is doing. Unlike Yoga, where each asana has a name and associated position, sometimes, I would hear, “ now I want you to do one of these.”

One of what?

I would look to the guy on my right for guidance and the girl on my left, and often, they were each doing different things.

I concluded “one of these” meant, “just go for whatever.”

Sure.  Why not?  Sit ups with my feet up in the air three different ways?

It was a lot of fun and not nearly as tiring as the Power Yoga class, or the bike ride.  And, to be fair, I probably could have made it a priority to follow what was going on, if I wasn’t already tired.

Later, Linda came out to see me after I jumped in our swimming pool and shared phrases that everyone likes to hear..

“Let me show you what you were doing wrong in that class.  First of all you were…..feet………up……………………………………..blah blah blah……………….table top is this way, not that!”

“And you just need to do this right next time, OK…………………………..”

Her point that my form fell apart when I got tired is a good one.  Hate it when she is right….

Lesson 2.  You can have children with your wife, but you can’t take a Pilate’s matt class with her.


The Force has provided me a Yoda….

Yoda (Photo credit: Rhubarble)

Progress takes many forms-this last week, it took the form of a person who reminds me of a female version of Yoda.

God only knows that I don’t know what I am doing.  I knew that I needed a guide/mentor/coach.  On a recent visit to the needler, I asked some people in the nearby bike shop for any referrals for duathlon/triathlon coaches.  From this, I met Sharon.

Enter Yoda into battle.  Yoda walks in with a cane or a limp, and he speaks softly.  Then, he takes out his light saber and makes meat loaf out of whatever is in his way.

My coach is a she-what is up with all these women in my exercise life?  She’s 70 years old, and has been doing triathlons since I was a junior in high school.  To ground people, that means before the Internet, cell phones, bar code scanners, CDs and the like.  That is right-she ran triathlons when I was listening to 8 track tapes and dreaming of pretty girls with real big hair.  She has competed in and won races like the one I have been training for and has been to World’s even.

She gave me some quick insight-miles matter most, now.  She wants me to do some 50 mile rides and give her my logs to review and create plans for me.  She is working with a guy who is 77 years old and preparing to do his 6th iron-man competition.  Makes all our efforts seem small.

She got immediate Respect, with a capital R.

Doing my first group bike ride tomorrow night.

This may be my last entry for a while.  Even before I qualified for Nationals, I committed to being a dad.  I am taking my son on a trip to MN and back, and I will be out of technology for 15 days.  What a good thing!  Facebook, may happen.  Blogging-probably not.

When I return it will be hardcore preparation. I am going to add Power Yoga to the mix and commit to 120 miles a week of cycling.  That is what I am worst at and it needs attention to improve.

How Michelle Kwan influenced my attitude

I was reading how Michelle Kwan  left figure skating.  An article in a news rag documented that she now does yoga, rollerblading, swimming and running, it made me ponder what that was like and how she came to peace with it.  The pictures of her show her happy and engaged in life.  She displayed no sense of loss when asked about skating now.  She was literally one of the best, ever, and in her story, she says that she only skates once a month, now.    More specifically, she showed no resentment that she wasn’t skating, anymore.

That makes me jealous.  How can she feel such great comfort in her fall from success?

Whoops….I have formally read her wrong.  “How is it that she finds no sense of distress from falling?” is the original question that I asked.  However, my starting assumption is that she feels like she fell.  Does she even really think she fell, or is it just change and the injection of variety into her life?

About 10 days ago or so, I re-injured my plantar on my right foot.  I knew that it meant my exercise regimen would have to change while I healed.  Thanks to the Michelle Kwan story, it has been very OK to do other things.  Variety and change are the spices of life.  My attempts to run left me either in pain or running with an awkward gait.  While down, though, I have continued to do TRX and Pilates, and in both of those areas, I have experienced gain.  Those two suspended straps on the ceiling of our basement create more of a challenge than cycling uphill with a nose cold.  Each night, I have been stretching to the point of sweating, as I lengthen the muscles that drive my outdoors addiction.  My wife and I are doing TRX together now, and even my youngest son is into it.

More importantly, I have returned to doing the exercises that keep my foot strong and injury free.  Honestly, I had slacked off on doing maintenance, and the exercise that caused my relapse was only the tip of the iceberg and not the root cause.  I thought 95% better meant that I was healed….it didn’t occur to me that I needed to work till I was back at 100%.  I compare it to the approach we take when taking a prescription medicine for a ailment.  We stop once we feel better and have taken, say, 3 days worth of an antibiotic for which we have a 7 day prescription.  We take our current state as the most important data point when deciding how to handle our condition.  Mistake here is mine.

I’ve updated my playlists, too.

I got some upgrades done to my bike to distribute the pressure on the bottom of my foot.

And, I continue my weight loss.  I really only need to lose 2 pounds more to get to race weight.

Sure, those things might still have happened if I hadn’t gotten hurt, but getting hurt put me in a spot when I could take the old ways or take the Michelle Kwan way.

Next time I get a prescription filled, I will follow the directions.  All of them.