Jeff Gaura, before the 2014 Long Distance National Championship, in Transition

Suffering-the choice we all make

Suffering is a constant.

Take visiting the dentist, as an example.  If you go, you will suffer.  Shots, fillings, x-rays, cleanings, etc…none of them feel good.  Choose not to go, and you suffer.  Skip your cleanings and inspections and your teeth can rot.   Skip your checkups and potential cavities don’t get addressed, and then real damage can happen.  Either way, go or don’t go, and you suffer.

Jeff Gaura, racing against Europeans at the Powerman World Championships
The final run in Zofingen, against my peers from Europe.

Same goes with your athletic health.  If a cyclist skips riding for 4 weeks because of, say, weather, he/she suffers when they return.  Ask a runner who hasn’t ran in a few months what it is like to head back out…they can tell you stories.  They suffer.

Avoiding suffering creates a different dynamic.  Human nature convinces us that pleasure is good and pain is bad, and we decided to make that is a black and white issue. We have lots of negative self-talk about suffering and we associate with others who empathize with our desire to avoid suffering.  The different is that this avoidance policy yields zero benefits.  We don’t want to hurt, so we skip that which makes us hurt.  Later, we discover that we actually hurt more, care of our avoidance policy.  Too often, we are convinced that the day will come and we will “get around to it,” but we never do.  In retrospect it is stupid behavior we know not be true all the time, but we act like it is.

These next two weeks, I will suffer.  This am, I completed a 14 mile run.  It was humid and hot, and I changed shirts twice, as each one got soaked.  I even had to change my running shorts at the 10 mile spot, as they were so heavy with sweat that they were causing chafing.  My shoes were soaked with sweat and required a change out, as well.  The only items that I didn’t change were my hat and sunglasses!  The effort hurt, but it didn’t hurt as much as not being ready for Zofingen in three weeks.

Jeff Gaura, before the 2014 Long Distance National Championship, in Transition
Pre-race transition setup.  

This evening, I am scheduled to do a 30-mile bike ride.  Following up later in the week, I have a time-trial effort on the bike.  Saturday is a 75+ mile ride with a lot of climbing through the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Next week is an 18 mile run.  Scattered throughout these next two weeks are items like speed work, frequency runs, max strength/weightlifting and the like.  All of them have a “suffering” component to them.

If I don’t do them, I will certainly suffer mid-race.  Everyone who races Zofingen knows that there is a good chance (not just a slight chance) that circumstance/bad luck will cause even the fittest athlete to get a DNF.  The bike course is hilly and 90+ miles long. The run immediately following is hilly and contains sections of running on grass, gravel, trail and paved road.  I have talked to folks whom have raced it 5 times, only to finish once.

The only honest choice to consider is “which suffering” do I prefer.  I prefer the one that I control.  I prefer to have an alarm wake me up before sunrise to head out before the heat is overwhelming.  I prefer to get up early and Saturday and ride to the mountains so I can get stronger instead of sleeping in, wondering when I will get the moxy to “get around to it.”

Makes me wonder…when was the last time I saw the dentist?  I also need to get a colonoscopy scheduled.

Time to “get around to it.”

Jeff Gaura preparing for Powerman Zofingen

A Day in the Life of a Zofingen Preparer

The Basement, a happy place for both of my sons and me, as we train to be the best that we can!

Worlds are about 4 weeks away, and working out consumes me.  This race is a 10k run, 150k bike and a 30k run, all taking place in central Switzerland. Preparation takes more out of me than anything else I do these days.

Here is a summary of what the last 5 days have looked like.

Day 1: On Saturday, I did a 5 K run before getting on my road bike and embarking on a 105k bike ride in Central NC.  It should only have been a 100k ride, but I got a bit lost…. oh well.  Once the ride was over, I put my running shoes back on and ran another 5k.  After that 2nd run, I sat down and ate a meal with the other riders.  Once I got back home 45 minutes later, I jumped in our pool in lieu of taking a shower, and followed that up with a nap.  All in all, I worked out in aerobic or better zones for over 4 hours.

Day 2: Sunday was recovery.  That means extra rest and lots of food preparation for the upcoming week.  My wife and I cooked a lot of veggies in coconut oil, as well as meat kabobs and quinoa.  We put the meals in individual serving containers that we can quickly reheat.  After a long workout, I need to get nutrition of the highest quality, as soon as I can.  Having meals pre-made, readily available, is a key part of success.

Jeff Gaura doing chin ups as he prepares for the ITU World Championships in Long Course Duathlon
Chin ups make me feel like a Cross Fit person, without all the injury issues!

Day 3: Monday started with an 8k run that ended with 8 sets of 200 meter sprints.  Once done, I headed into the basement to perform some heavy lifting on 6 basic exercises:  dead lift, bench press, squats, chin ups, press ups and planks.  I followed this up with a recovery shake and a 2 hour sales conference call before finding a cool place to take a nap.  Then, back to work-proposals, emails, conference calls, etc.

Day 4: Tuesday happened too quickly. I woke up before 5 am and headed to the US National Whitewater Center to run a half marathon on the trails.  The paths were more difficult than usual, as the trails were muddy from rain the night before, and the humidity was high.  My Garmin didn’t track my distance correctly, making me feel like I was running like a grandma.  I had to change my shirt in the middle of the run when I made it back to the car, as it was soaked and my nipples were starting to bleed…yuck!  Before 8:30, I had already consumed 5 liters of water.  Right from the Whitewater Center, I headed to our local Pilates studio to do work on the reformer with Heather for about 50 minutes.  Then, off to work before heading to a local church for a men’s meeting than evening.  I was in bed before 9.

Jeff Gaura riding his bike in stationary mode.
Riding the bike in stationary mode.

Day 5: Today started with a 4-hour bike ride on my trainer.  The goal of this ride was to spend lots of time at a high cadence to engage and strengthen my fast twitch muscles.  Once done, I had a 3 egg omelet with lots of veggies in it (no meat), and a huge blueberry pancake covered in apples slices and Greek yogurt.  Then, I took a nap before heading to work.  I am part time company president these days, at best.

Tomorrow is supposed to be more Pilates and a run in the evening.  This weekend is a Gran Fondo in Boone, NC.  This race is part of the National Championship Series, and it will take me on a 170k bike ride that includes 4 timed uphill climbs.  Fortunately, the forecast calls for cooler temperatures than what we are used to getting in Central, NC, these days!

I try to close each night with time with my family.  With our youngest son doing physical therapy weekly and running cross country daily, my wife and I share (she does way more than I do!) the task of shuttling him around, as we still have another few months before he can drive alone.

Photo bomb of Goldilocks, the chicken

Lastly, family time includes chickens!

Thank God for flat tires.

After the first three events of the year, I am convinced more than ever that bad luck can lead to good things.

At the first event of the year, the Albany Half Marathon, I got 34th out of 728 competitors.  That is a top 5% finish.  The second event, I got 33rd out of 74 competitors, putting me somewhere in the middle.  In the third event, I got first place in my age group and 24th out of 280+ entrants. 20160326_113014

In college, our teachers graded us on a curve.  They claimed it best represented how the real world would judge us once we left the ivory towers.  Grading on a curve means there is no set number that equals excellence.  Your grade comes from how well you did in comparison to everyone else.  The class average is deemed a C+ or B-.  If you do better than the average, you get a better grade than the average.  On some exams, a grade of 70 might earn you a mark of A, whereas on other days, that same score might be a grade of D.  Throughout my brief athletic career, I have very much adopted that same style of grading my results.  Once I cross the finish line, the first grade I seek is my position in regards to everyone else…not what my times were.

Applying that method to these first three races would mean a grade of A for race one and three and a grade of B- for the middle event.  Indeed, in the last event, I was barely in the top half.

I am most proud of my efforts in the 2nd race.  This crazy sort of claim deserves some explanation.

The first event was a half-marathon.  I most certainly didn’t push myself to the limit, and I was able to talk with others after finishing and was driving home after the event within an hour.

Two weeks later, I entered the Hagan Stone duathlon.  I finished in the middle of the crowd and can’t be prouder.


The unexpected reset my thinking.  During the bike portion of the event, my front tire went flat.  Before the race, I decided not to carry a spare tube with me…I decided that two 8-mile loops didn’t warrant a spare tire.  I equated carrying a spare tube for that short of an event like taking 4 pairs of underwear for an overnight sleepover when you are already constipated.

UCD Jeff dismounting
Off the bike, running in socks.

Dumb thinking…I am good at this.

Once I noticed that the front was flat, I gave up racing.  I pulled over and paused for a few moments to ponder my bad luck.  Throughout the race, there were only a handful of people in front of me.  After I stopped and putting my feet on the ground,  I watched those who were behind me proceed ahead.  Nearly all held grimacing looks on their face as the powered up a hill that was biting into their legs.  As the athletes passed, one by one, I shook my head and bummed out.  After a few moments of this, I got up off my pity potty, and pedaled back to the start of the race, about a mile and a half away.  I turned the bike around and went as slowly as I could back to the transition area.  I most certainly didn’t want to damage my wheels, and riding on the road with uninflated tires can ruin a carbon wheel in a heartbeat.  I tried to convince myself that this wasn’t a big deal, as this was intended to be a training event for the big races coming up later in the year…that is what I was telling myself.

The new plan was to push the bike into transition, put on my shoes and do the final run, for the training effect.  This new plan lasted exactly 12 minutes.  Once I got back to the race start, Rich, the race director saw my predicament and ran towards me offering the wheel off of his bike.  I felt like the prodigal son returning home with the father running down the road, offering me a fattened calf that I did not deserve.  Within literally a few seconds of saying, “OK,” his wheel was on my bike and I was heading back onto the course.

“Thank you, God,” was all I could come up with to express my gratitude for the assistance.  Moments earlier, I was all but resigned to stop trying.  In the next moment, I found myself riding literally at 100+% for my 2nd lap.   Mid lap, it dawned on me that I haven’t gone 100+% since the start of the year.  I most certainly wasn’t at 100+% during the first half-marathon, nor have I trained at 100+% for more than a handful of minutes all year.

It took a flat tire for me to recognize that I wasn’t really trying to get better in the off season.  I had gotten complacent, blaming my “take it easy” approach to a lack of daylight, colder outside temperatures and who knows what else.

During the 2nd bike loop, I got to overtake many of the people that passed me when I down and out.  Many of those that I didn’t catch on the bike I caught on the run.  After the race was over, I was sore.  This pain was a good pain.  It came from pushing hard, and it felt distant, as it had been a while since I had given World Championship-level effort.

For the next few weeks, I decided that complacency was over.  I have since upped my effort on my stationary bike workouts – I can now sustain 30 more watts than I last year…and I probably have been able to do it all year, but never had tried and didn’t know.  I took this “try harder” thinking to the weight room.  I have added plates and reps across all machines.  A few months ago, I could only do 4 chin-ups before starting to fatigue.  This week, I did 10 chin ups, twice in a 90-second window.  I don’t think I have ever been able to do that.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I ran a half marathon trail race and came in 1st place.  During the final mile, I knew I had 10 minutes on the next guy in my group.  My response was to push hard at the end of the trail race, and I achieved a sub 6-minute mile.  That speed for one mile, on a road, would normally make anyone proud, as the half marathon is considered a distance event that includes pacing and strategy.  A sub 6-minute mile, after running 12 miles, on a trail…well, of course I was sore!

And to think it took a flat tire, deflated confidence and unanticipated help to get to me try hard again. flat_bicycle_tire_950x425

Thank God for flat tires.


12 Tips and Tricks for a successful Duathlon

Truth be told, there are no “tricks” in duathlon.  Indeed, there is no substitute for practicing and mastering the three disciplines that make or break world-class duathletes:  running, cycling and nutrition.  Great habits in those three disciplines are more important than what is listed below.  That said, I have found that doing these 12 learning make a world of difference.

  • Check out your gear the night before. No marine goes into battle without going over his gear, piece by piece, and confirming that it is working, at specifications, before using it in a combat situation. Steal from the Marine’s discipline and go over all parts of your gear and plan.  Confirm all your bike screws and tight and that your shoes, socks and racing kit are laid out, ready to go in the morning.  Have spares.  Don’t wake up wondering where your stuff is or if it is ready for the big event.
  • Vet your nutrition plan with someone else. I ask Susan Kitchen to review my nutrition plan for all long course events to make sure I have the right formula of energy, hydration, and salt to sustain the distance about to be raced.  More often than not, my plan is wrong on at least one of those three items…if not all of them!
  • Tape nutrition to the frame. I race with gels or pineapple chunks.  71n2ftEither way, I want the food where I want it, and most certainly, I don’t want to deal with packaging.  I saw a woman tape a cliff bar, no packaging, directly to her frame.  Grab, pull and eat.  No ripping or tearing of a package required.  If I could get it injected into my arms on the aero bars via an IV, I would.
  • Race with a different pair of running shoes on each run. When I get off the bike in transition 2, my first pair of shoes may be ready to put right back on, or they might not.  I have found my shoes knocked  into other people’s bike rack space.  I have even found a bike on top of my shoes.  The value of having a 2nd pair of shoes, right where you left them at the start of the race, laces how and where you want them, assures that my time in transition is as short as possible.   I do the first run in Hoka One One’s and I do the second run, based on conditions (trail shoes or racing flats).
  • Put your spare tube and tools in a tennis ball case. Tennis ball caseThe case fits perfectly in your spare water bottle slot on your frame. The little pouches that sit under the seat don’t really lend themselves to easy in and out use.  A tennis ball case is large and in an easy to get to place.  It is aerodynamic enough to justify the placement location.  There is no zipper to deal with, and stuffing the old tube back in after your procedure is faster than the little behind-the-seat pouch.
  • Eat a normal breakfast in the am. Race morning is the wrong time to be trying that new beet juice your heard about that might increase endurance.  Your training plan is testing on race day, not intercepted and altered.
  • Run in and out transition efficiently. No one is effective at running in bike shoes.  They aren’t meant for that.  Yet, at every race, someone is clopping along slower than an opossum crossing the road.  We can, though, run in socks, if the ground conditions allow for it.  I use rubber bands to hold my cycling shoes in position so they don’t scrape on the ground as I push my bike through transition.  When I leave transition, I hop on my bike, put my foot in my shoe and pedal half a turn, until I can comfortably put on my other shoe.  Keep in mind, this is not a natural effort.  To be good at this function requires practice.  For those who comment that this is not for them, I wonder how much they have practiced, if any.
  • Practice transition. Take some time at either the start or the end of one of your outdoor training events to practice going quickly and smoothly from bike to run to bike.  Note what muscles you are engaging, and spend some time working them out.  I quickly discovered that it was my core that made the difference between a 30-seconds and a 1-minute transition.  My practice of Pilates helps me feel confident switching between disciplines.
  • Use the mechanic, if it is provided. He really does want you to do the best you can.  I do lots of my own maintenance and upgrade work, with no help.  That said, I overlook things.  Having the mechanic do a once over can help expose loose spokes, loose screws, and make sure that the tire pressure is correct, for conditions.  TeamUSA provides mechanics, and I use them!  It hurts no one to give them a tip for their time, too.
  • Dress and race as if it was 10 degrees warmer than perceived temps. During long course nationals a few years ago, I put on a base layer, as I was cold before race start.  Before the end of run 1, I had taken off my uniform and base layer and put back on my uniform.  I ran the last 2 miles carrying my base layer in my hands.  Not efficient nor smart.  Now, I wear arm warmers that I can slide down, as I warm up.  In addition, as the day rolls by, the outdoor temperatures increase while you heat up.  Stand around at the start a little bit cold…it will be OK once the race starts.
  • Interact with others before the race to assist. Isolating before a race is selfish on a couple of fronts.  There may be a chance for you to encourage someone else who is really nervous.  You miss that chance by separating from everyone else, claiming it is part of your race prep.  God calls us sheep and not goats for a reason-we need others to be healthy.   We marry and pair up to do everything of importance.  Extend our genetically social tendency to race day.  Talking with or listening to others can help you and others.  I spend time in prayer, and I pray for others.
  • Celebrate everyone’s success. Clap for everyone at awards ceremony, even if they are from another country.  Verbally approach those who beat you and tell them, “good effort,” even if they don’t speak English.   I have sadly watched more than one great athlete fail to enjoy an event that they prepared for and did well at because they hadn’t practiced or learned how to celebrate.  Happiness is in what you give, not what you get.  Tell first timers to keep coming back.  At worlds, I stop to let kids take pictures.  At local events, I talk to volunteers and thank them for their sacrifice.  Life is a beautiful thing.  Race day is a unique celebration to be shared.
Alex Gaura Running at the University City Duathlon

Visualizing Success

Visualizing success is a part of success.  Thinking you will fail is a pre-cursor to failing.  What do you do when there are good opportunities to practice both, in the same moment?

I had one of those moments.  I picked the path of visualizing success.  Let me explain.

Visualizing Success
Visualizing Success

A week ago, Alex and I had scheduled a 5k/35k/5k Duathlon on Lake James, NC…about a two-hour drive from the house. During the week leading up to the event, I hurt my right calf.  Later, I learned it was a grade 1 strain, but, for that weekend, it was too risky to race on it and potentially make it worse.  So, I committed to driving Alex up and back from the race and let him compete.

We packed both bikes for the event, not just his bike.  I decided that while Alex raced, I would ride the course, as hard as my calf would let me.  So, about 5 minutes after Alex left from the starting line, I went to the car and took the bike down, donned my clothing and pedaled the course the competitors would be on literally a few minutes later.

The first mile was warmup, and I enjoyed the cool mountain air and the scenery.  Coming out of the park, the volunteers greeted me, cheering and tell me to turn right.  Little did they know that I was not a participant!  Instead, they thought I was rider #1.  I decided to let their energy feed me, and, in the moment, I asked the question, “what if I really was rider #1?”  Certainly, I have never finished run 1 in first place, and started the bike in first…but what if I did?

Instead of heading up the hill at Sunday stroll pace, I decided to go as hard as my calf and lungs would let me.  Within moments, my power meter was at 350 watts, and I kept it there, all the way till the top of the hill.  My body was not yet warmed up, but I cycled as if it was.  I couldn’t go at 100%, but I went as hard as I could, no holding back.  I visualized the hills of all the upcoming events:  Minnesota, France, and Switzerland, and imagined what would be required to ascend and descend those hills, with gusto.

quotes-about-losers-for-successI imagined riders coming from the back.  So often, slower cyclists get passed by stronger ones and the slower ones slow down more.  I was not about to let that happen!  All in!

Each turn that had volunteers directing traffic for cyclists energized me. For all of them, I was their first sign of a competitor.  Their enthusiasm was also at a high level.   I would look back, knowing I only had a 5 or 6 minute or so start on the fastest of runners.  With my calf at sub optimal, there was a chance that a flyer would catch me, as the course was really hilly!

As I rounded the final turn to return to the park, I realized that I downed 2 liters of water over 35K – a very fast drinking rate.  As I made the final turn into the park, the original volunteers greeted me with a “welcome back!”  I very much started soft pedaling and letting my body cool down for the last mile of cycling back to transition.  When I got within 200 yards of transition and all the spectators and loved ones started cheering as I neared the area where all them had been waiting.  I got off my bike and began walking my bike to the car and I yelled out, “thanks, but I am not competing in this race, today.”

“Oh man,” one disappointed woman said.  As I reached the car and loaded it up, it hit me.  I could have chosen to setup a lawn chair, just like most of them had and sit there, waiting and watching…and it would have made me miserable knowing that I could be out there.  I could have chosen to view the lack of 100% participation as a form of failure to live up to standards.  Instead, I did what I could do, and visualized being successful at it, and I am better off for it.

Over the next hour, I watched Alex come in, transition out and finish a good race.  He got a 1st place medal for his efforts as tops in the 19-and-under category…even though he is only 14.  We talked about his bike efforts and the people in the way on the trail.

It was a successful day for both of us.

Alex Gaura Running at the University City Duathlon

What makes a good day?

What makes a good day?  Today, I figured out that it s a good day when your “better luck next time” turns into a good next time.  However, this was not the case for my posse.

Running through transition in toe socks.  Dutch uniform!
Running through transition in toe socks. Dutch uniform!

Today was the University City Duathlon, and all of the people that I work with had this day on the schedules as our only local race of the year.  We had high expectations of a great day, a great race and positive outcomes.

Each of the three people that I work with had a showing today that included unexpected events, unexpected emotion, and a unique response to the craziness that ensued.

My son found himself on the bike course only to discover that his front brakes were sticking.  He was slow.  A course that should have taken him 35-40 minutes took him nearly an hour.  Sticky brakes sounds like an irritant, but sticky brakes often create an emotional response in the rider, they are when the brakes wont disengage.  Folks who ride bikes in races expect their bikes to work, and even if something happens, like a flat tire, they realize quickly that it wasn’t their fault.  Sticky brakes, though, can be prevented.  He didn’t know how to fix the problem, and he got upset.

Many people would have quit.  He didn’t.  He finished the ride and started on the run with gusto.   I was more than impressed with his perseverance.  At the duathlon’s end, we realized that if his brakes hadn’t stuck, he would have won his age group.  Maybe next time.

The ladies of today's race:  Paul, Ursula and Danielle
The ladies of today’s race: Paul, Ursula and Danielle

Each of the two women that I work with had their day of unique circumstances.  One to them still wears wearing a walking boot, due to an injury.  She can’t run, but she can still ride the bike.  She remembers me telling her that this race is easier than the Grandover race we did a month ago.  I claimed it to be easier, since it was shorter and it uses far less calories than the Grandover.  She was rightfully lit up that today’s course had lots of hills and required more effort, per mile, than the previous race.  To her, shorter meant easier.  I didn’t tell her about the hills.  Her emotional chains got yanked, and she had no problems at all sharing her opinion about it.

Good for her.  It is great to get mad at the course, the coach, the bike and yourself.  The loaded question is what are you going to do about it, next time?  The more we race, the more we are able to handle the uncertainties that seem to show their heads only on race day.  Maybe next time, this won’t be a problem.

The last story, though, involves the most drama.  The other woman whom I work with got into an accident on the bike as she didn’t see an object in the road.  The object happened to be another person, and in her efforts to avoid big impact, she wrecked her bike.  Her chain came off, and one of the race volunteers suggested that she see the race medic immediately and abandon the race.  She was very comfortable with the feelings that go with a fast heart rate and high epinephrine levels.  However, she also added a big dose of adrenaline and fight or flight response took over.  She wasn’t about to bail out on the race and quit.  Indeed, she squashed those feelings and responded with the opposite choice.  She put her chain on and got back on her bike to finish the race.

Ursula Paula and Jeff
Me and the relay team of Paula and Ursula

When she made her way back to transition, she acted just as if she was ready to go, minus the effects of the adrenaline surge.  She started out of Transition 2 and chose to do the run, using the bike course.  She did a 10k run to close out the race.  The rest of us, some 250 strong, did a 3k run back to the finish line.

When we saw her at the end of the race, we didn’t have time to get in a single, “what happened?” before she started a commentary on her bad luck for the day.  She had some non-incidental road rash and some bloody skin on her arms, legs and torso.  I felt pain looking at her.  As she migrated her story to what happened after the wreck, I wasn’t shocked. Her strength is the running side of Duathlon, and when the going got tough, she ran and ran and ran.  Better luck next time!

All three of them had some bad things happen to them today.  Yet, all I could see was a good day.  We had great weather.  We had group times.  We have powerful memories, none of which any of us will forget, and we have a bunch of races coming up that will help us forget all of these things.  Had any of us been seriously injured, or if we had no chances the rest of the year to make up for today’s bad luck, perhaps it would have been a bad day.  Maybe next time.

Alex cloud care less about sticky brakes now...
Alex could not care less about sticky brakes now…

Is the glass half full or half empty?  My son had a dance this afternoon, after today’s race.  I had help back at the house to help me cut down 5 trees and cut them up into firewood as soon as we got home.  The help I got after the race saved me and my family a couple of days of work!  The woman in the boot had recruited a girlfriend to do the run for her, so she could enjoy the bike ride.  The woman who wrecked still had a functioning bike and appeared to have no broken bones.  That would have been bad, as she is going with us to the National Championship in a month.

I have empathy.  I have lost chains during a race.  I have competed while injured.  And, I am not just still hanging around, but I am passing on my passion to others.  Today is my next time.

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!