(this is my annual Birthday letter to our kiddo, Levi, who passed away a few hours after birth due to prematurity coupled with sepsis. I started this a few years after he was born and decided to write one every year–up until his 18th Birthday)
This is my second to last Birthday letter to you.
Some of these have been simple, others playful, and a few mournful.
Though never during one of the days over these last 17 years have I not felt a deep sense of peace about your passing. If I could change anything, well, I wouldn’t. Not because I don’t desire it (deeply) but I’ve always felt at peace that this was part of The Great Plan–even if, at a lot of times, I resisted it, felt incredible despair, or simply didn’t understand it.
But I’m going to come back to The Great Plan in a bit. ūüėČ
Royce is finishing her Sophomore year at Colorado Christian University. She’s studying to be a nurse, which is PERFECT because soon, instead of googling my hypochondria tendencies, I’m going to have someone in the family that I can text or call 24-7.
I love going to the campus to visit her, even though every time I’m there I want to take photos together and there are all sorts of guidelines I have to follow, like “Dad, you can’t ask those kids to take our photo…and not those over there…not those kids either…but you can go ask the policeman to take our photo.” I keep trying to tell her, “Hey look Royce, I am sure all these kids will think I am a cool dad and I’m not going to say anything embarrassing and…okay I’ll ask the cop to take our photo…” I am so super proud of her.
Zoe is in her senior year of high school and is also doing great, she got a job at Trader Joe’s so ¬†now I will spend time literally looking for something–ANYTHING–that we need in the kitchen so I can conjure up an excuse to stop by her work, pick up an item, and check in on her.
I go so often and am, apparently, so eagerly talkative to all the staff when I visit, that I’ve also got guidelines from Zoe that I need to “slow your roll, Dad!” including “Dad, you can’t just be introducing yourself to all the people that work at Trader Joe’s telling them you’re my dad and asking them all these questions and telling them how much you love Trader Joe’s and asking about me.”😂
Once you become a Dad, and I don’t know how to explain this, but it’s like some genetic code gets turned on and it’s with great resistance that one must try to throttle some of these idiosyncrasies.
Dad jokes are the most obvious example. But, apparently, so is walking around Trader Joe’s “shaking hands and kissing babies” being insanely proud of your kid that works there or walking around your kids college campus being equally insanely proud of your kid who goes to school there.
As a parent, one of the greatest things you get to experience is watching your kids grow and develop to become their own person. It’s also one of the toughest, because the decisions they make aren’t always (often) the ones you’d make as a parent. Sometimes they’re way better. Sometimes they’re not.
And that’s life.
It’s a great gift to be able to see someone develop their independence and grow into their greatness and purpose. And, always, that includes difficulty, disappointment, and struggle along the way.
That’s also part of The Great Plan.
On your Birthday, it’s often mixed with a lot of different emotions. As time passes contexts changes, too. And every year I feel more and more convinced that this, everything, all of it, is part of The Plan.
We’d all love The Plan to be a heroic journey with an amazing outcome that’s free of pain, friction, despair, and struggle and, instead, we would far rather achieve this outcome of a perfect life, full of abundance and riches, vibrant health, easy and idyllic relationships free of pain and suffering.
What I’ve learned this year, more than any other year, is that if left to our own plan we would end up in a disastrous state. It’s contrarian to much of today’s hyperbolic narrative–especially but not limited to my San Francisco backyard–where it’s often a story of pursuing your happiness and pleasure is paramount to pursuing a life of purpose.
Sometimes, maybe often, the two are at odds.¬†The Great Plan is a life of purpose.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
And this includes all of the things: heartbreak, travesty, despair, disappointment, and brokenness. Sometimes the consequences of our own (terrible) decisions and actions. Other times, through supernatural events that are inexplicable and–seemingly unconscionable–but are a part of The Great Plan and directed by a sovereign Hand under which we have no control but only submission.
Among others, there are three truths in life:
1. God is Good; 2. God is Sovereign; 3. Bad things happen (there is evil).
How these three reconcile is still a mystery to me.
The only way this comes together to make any sense to me is through faith and understanding the fact that there remain many things that we will NOT understand, at least until the ¬†afterlife and that as part of the journey we have to learn to accept and believe that “…all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
Even when it feels like a shitty outcome or that we’re dealt a bad hand.¬†Maybe, especially, when it feels that way. And, it’s possible that often, what we see as good may not be good for us, and vice versa.
This is the reconciliation that I’ve come upon for your birth and death. That this was not due to some mistake, a lack of prayer or faith (over the years, some have implied this–for which I carry no resentment, but it’s a deeply flawed conviction that’s not backed up by anything scriptural), the fault of a medical doctor, traveling the week before you were born, or any number of interventions done or undone…but instead, this was just part of life’s journey, which includes heartache and heartbreak and the outcome of which can build within us a humility, seeking, and dependence on something that’s more powerful and meaningful than the “god within us” and, instead, a powerful “God above us” who has created for us a Great Plan that is incredibly more meaningful and purposeful than one we’d ever create on our own.
Buddy, I can tell you would’ve been a great kid. I have had many moments of joy thinking about what life would have been like with you over the years, and there have become many moments of really deep revelation and meaning watching other Dad’s with their sons. Often, this is as simple as stopping to watch from a distance as they play catch in the park, or are biking by, running errands….so many moments I’ve stopped in my tracks to take 60 seconds to live vicariously as an outside observer watching a Dad and his son, reflecting on just how epic it would be to have had a moment like that with you. Though it may sound sad, these small moments have given me great joy and peace.
Life is tough. And life is amazing.
All of it is a gift, and in the pain there is a great opportunity for us to get to move one inch closer to our purpose.¬†I’m grateful for the gift of your birth, and am at peace with your passing as well, because however this has worked out because I know it’s part of The Great Plan.
By the way, as you know, our dog Ruby died this year. This was a far more emotional and deeply sad experience for me than I ever expected–and probably for reasons that extend beyond just Ruby’s passing, but every day I get this great comfort and sense that (in a way that I’m not sure is very rational or logical) there is now up in heaven a really adorable dog playing and hanging out with a really adorable kid. In some way, I think we’ve been able to release a part of us to be up with a part of you. Give Ruby a hug for us.
Happy 16th Birthday–what a fun one this would’ve been!
We’d have gone to get your license this morning. You’d have your wheels (kind of–at least temp’s) and a newfound sense of freedom.
Instead of me driving to our weekend getaway, we’d have you at the wheel. And you’d have me, Royce, and Zoe “backseat driving you” ever mile. For every car ride I get about ten “WATCH OUT DAD!” warnings from Zoe, all of which sound incredibly dire and imminent…and in each instance every drive (thank God, literally) has yielded zero accidents. And at this point I’d like to say “Hey Zoe, I think you can chill out here and just let me drive–I got this.” Yet I already know Zoe’s response will be “Hey Dad, do you know how many accidents I help you avoid by barking out warnings?!?!?!?” So anyways, she’d be the most vocal.
I’d be posting something Dad-cringey on Insta (or probably FB, more Gen-X), saying something like “Hey folks, stay off the streets–this kid now has his license!” Then,¬†I’d sit on the couch and “rest my eyes” a bit before catching myself, slapping my hands together and belting out “Okay guys, let’s rock and roll outta here!”
But, first, to stop and (re)show how to check the oil and fluids in your car–which I did just this afternoon with Royce and Zoe.¬†Coincidentally, was met with loud exclaims of “C’mon Dad, WE KNOW HOW TO DO THIS…YOU DON’T NEED TO SHOW US AGAIN!”¬†Ummmmm, yes I do. I’m your Dad.¬†Also, ya’ll had a lot of trouble finding the hood release today which still concerns me, lol. ūüėČ
Today we took off this afternoon to head up to the Mountains and spend the weekend celebrating your Birthday.
This Birthday would’ve been really epic with you here–and maybe a little hard to explain, but this year it’s just different. Lunch today with your sisters was one of these super simple–and fleeting far too quickly–events, watching them interact and hearing Royce share with me her clinical perspective of Keto and Intermittent Fasting, listening to them both laugh, and hearing/seeing them as adults (but still kinda always the Dad-lense, but it changes over time). They’re both doing amazing–I think the best they’ve been in years.¬†There’s an ease and enjoyment in our relationship, and maybe it’s a new level of confidence or just comfort–and maybe a lot humility among us and Whatever it is, it’s really nice. You’ve got two amazing sisters here.
Here’s a few pics from us on your Birthday from over the years.¬†We all say hi and “Love it…No Matter What!” Have a great Birthday, buddy!
I’m in a totally different space than I’ve been in years past. More reflective and more content with certain outcomes in my life–even if they didn’t happen like I wanted.
For so many years I’ve thought about what life would be like with you here. Though today, I really felt at peace of my life without you here.
No longer do I feel like time was stolen from you.¬†Instead, I feel like what you gave me was this gift of a radical and transformational experience. One that I’m starting to understand. And one that I’ll never fully understand.¬†
Oftentimes the shittiest (yeah, you’re 14 now–you can handle my New-York City English) experiences turn into that–but sometimes it takes years to end up seeing the movie roll through, because much of the time is more like seeing a point-in-time photograph. I’ve had a hard time remembering that during tough time, in general, but most specifically with you.
One of my virtues–and vices–is that I’m pretty high octane and haven’t done ¬†a great job of throttling it in life. There’s a strange juxtaposition that the thing that can make you good at *insert whatever* is often the thing that hinders you too if left imbalanced.
Last week I was at a market and I was buying charcuterie because I was having friends over (yeah, I’m about to tell a story about charcuterie for your birthday, Levi ;-)).
As I’m trying to haul ass move briskly through the grocery story I approach the deli counter and a 60-something woman wearing work overalls happens to be two steps in front of me.
“No biggie, this is going to be fast…I’m going to get all this stuff done on time” I said to myself.
10 minutes later, and no foolsies, this woman is still sampling cheeses like a maitre fromager.
I’m visibly sweating with palpitations.
The slowness of her cheese sampling, the consideration given with each bite…the inefficiency of what’s happening during my need-for-speed-to-get-out-that-door-and-on-with-my-life-PEOPLE-WHAT-ARE-WE-DOING-HERE-LETS-PICK-A-CHEESE-ALREADY.
I’m getting angina every time she asks a question.
I walked away a few steps to head to the aisle with Niacin¬† to be certain not to show my angst. But when I looked back at her from a distance I saw a totally different scenario unfolding before me. Before, I was standing so close to her buried in the annoyance of what was mudrucking my schedule, that I couldn’t see what was really happening.
For 30 seconds I started observing.
She’s laughing, asking questions, contemplating, relaxing, and, well, she’s having fun. I’m not–but she’s having a flipping blast.
So I walk back to the counter and decide to engage with her.
Starting with a friendly hello (I had to work extra hard at that point), and then by asking¬†her favorite cheeses of the 117 she’d sampled so far, which led to recommendations AND OH MY GOODNESS THE UNENDING RECOMMENDATIONS…
But then this led to¬†her talking about her job…sheet metal working as a union employee. And¬†me talking about my grandfather pressing suits for a lifetime in Chicago having, as a Lithuanian immigrant, never proceeding past 2nd grade. Which, of course, led the discussion to: Detroit. Water. More sheet metal stories. The homogenization of San Francisco. And, well, more cheese recommendations and how why oh why Saint Peter aren’t there more cheese deli’s in the Bay like they had 40-years ago?
(I don’t know…we just don’t know, there are some unanswerable questions in life and this, apparently, is one of them–and believe me, we talked about this for awhile and racked our brains)
We talked for 30 minutes. When I was walking out I almost went back to hug it out with her.¬†As I was driving off here’s what I realized:¬†When I was standing right next to her I couldn’t see.
And it wasn’t until I stepped back, and engaging with her, until I could REALLY see what was happening.¬†That night at the market, I was trying to get in and out so I could get to my Friday night. Every deviation was an obstacle to my plans.
But, for her, that WAS her Friday night out.
And, getting to know her, well, it was a gift to me as well–and ended up being one of the highlights of my week, too, however small and inconsequential.
As I was driving away I thought of you.
And perspective. Which, sometimes you don’t get until you step away or reset.
Occasionally it’s simple stuff. Apparently, like my experience with the cheese lady.
And other times it’s a lot more complicated stuff that can leave someone with years of unyielding despair, like my experience with you.
And often times, what you really just need, is more perspective.
Today, I’m grateful for you.
As you came. And as you left. For giving me a great gift of perspective. Even if it took me a lot of years to finally get there.¬†Love you–no matter what.
Happy Birthday, Buddy!
*This is my annual birthday post for Levi. The prior years posts are all here
Wow. Today, you would be 13–a big year. And an official teenager!
For the last few weeks I planned (again) on writing you some more “fatherly advice.” You know, wisdom things I would’ve passed onto you if you were here.
Something that would be insightful and possibly profound.
It would’ve included mistakes (so many) that I’ve made that I’d want you to avoid. And a few things I learned along the way.
In my mind, at the end of the letter I was going to reference a few well known people that I thought would be good role models as some reference points. You know, famous people with some quippy quotes and a notable epiphany.
Someone I could point to and say “Yes, son, grow up and be like THEM!”
No doubt, were you here and I shared these with you, I’d imagine at some point you’d be rolling your eyes exhaling “Daaaaaaaaad I KNOW! I’m 13 now…I KNOWWWWWWW these things!”
And, well, of course you would, because, congratulations, you’re a teenager now! You’d know everything, just like I did. ūüėČ
Then, about a week ago, I thought I’d write to you about how I felt after seeing the movie “I Can Only Imagine,” that is until I saw it.
In addition to being the song that has been my musical association to you for years, it’s also an epic movie about the story of redemption and restoration of a relationship between a father and son.
But after seeing it I KNEW I couldn’t write about that, given that when I saw the movie with Royce and Zoe I basically cried for two hours straight.
So I kept thinking about what I’d write, and usually I don’t even really know what it’s going to be until I sit down to type.
Then this weekend something happened that radically changed my letter to you, and as usual I didn’t figure it out until I sat down to write it tonight.
When I went off to college, my freshman year I remember talking to Jim King who was the Dean of Student affairs and also created the roommate assignments for all incoming 1st year students.
Over the years, I talked to him a lot, yet I have no recollection of any one of our conversations–except this very one.
“Raz,” he told me on the phone “I have the PERFECT roommate for you.”
I showed up to the first day of college, which is still a little bit like the enthusiasm below from Finding Nemo (my favorite kids movie ever!), just without your Dad there…imagine a version of the below for an 18-year old, because yes you’d be that excited for your first day of college as well.
That day I met a guy named Thom Hoyman who would end up being my roommate for four years, and a lifelong friend.
He was, in many ways, the opposite of me. Creative art student, I was a business major. He played Rugby, I played football. He was quiet, thoughtful, a great listener, and well I was loud, boisterous, and ehhhh, my listening skills needed some work.
Yet we also loved some of the same things.
We loved listened to Yanni during the day to study, and at night we’d fall asleep listening to Metallica, the Black Album (arguably one of the best albums to ever be released in the 90’s!). We shared the same sense of humor, often to the dismay of those around us. We spent endless hours together in those dorm rooms, sometimes doing Bible Study, and sometimes undoing the work we were supposed to be learning and applying from those Bible Studies.
And for most of college, we were always together hanging out.
So back to this last weekend.
Last Friday night it was approaching midnight, and I was finishing up some work. ¬†And I was really discouraged. With so much still to do I decided to cancel my Boarding trip to the mountains, though when I called to cancel the hotel it was too late without penalty.
Not wanting to lose the night I’d paid for, instead, I decided to wake up early and crank out four hours of work, make it to a mountain to get a few runs in, and crash at my already-paid-for hotel with laptop in tow to finish out my work Saturday night.
As I’m driving west on I-70 I was undecided where to ski, as my hotel was about 30 minutes from four different ski resorts. For whatever reason, I drove west to the farthest ski resort away in Beaver Creek. I got there at 1pm and boarded for three hours. At 4pm I’m sitting at the bottom of the mountain by myself listening to a band play while sipping coffee.
And within a few minutes I run into Thom at the bottom of the mountain, who¬†was there with his family. I hadn’t seen him in over 12-months, and probably only a handful of times over the past ten years.
When¬†I¬†saw him he said “Dude,¬†you’re¬†hanging with us tonight! My family is here, and so are my parents who would love to see you. You’re family, you’re coming to dinner.”¬†
And over the next three hours I saw the most awesome thing unfold.
Because Saturday night was the first time I no longer saw my college roommate.
I didn’t see the guy who was with me to encourage me when I went through tough breakups. Or the guy who would go to Denny’s with me to study, or socialize, at 2am no matter how tired he was. Or the guy who was the first to stand up for me if anything ever got sideways between me and anyone else. Or the guy who would willingly go along with any of my pranks, including co-conspiring to “hide” and raise a pig in our room for two months.
Or even the guy who gave me, to this day, what is one of my most valued possessions–a sculpture he made that reflected the way he saw what I felt in my life, which encompassed a symbolic person in the form of a sphere with a big wave cresting over it.
Instead, I saw…
A dad to two young sons, who was playful, encouraging, and loving.
A husband to his wife, that was attentive, compassionate, gentle and strong.
A son who loved his parents, with both playfulness and a deep reverence.
A man who loved God, with gratitude, humility, and obedience.
And a best friend, who somehow and someway ran into me at a time when I needed him the most.
Levi, if you were here today, I’d skip all the stories, quips, quotes, and anecdotes of all these modern-day heroes.
And instead, this time, I’d point to you and tell you, “Son, see that guy right there named Thom? When you grow up be THAT kind of man.”
Happy 13th Birthday Buddy.¬†I love you, no matter what.
*This is my annual birthday post for Levi. The prior years posts are all here
Today I was working while listening to my “Chill Vibes” Pandora station, and one of my favorite songs came on.
While I love the piece, what I love more are the memories.
I’ve heard this dozens of times over the years, but today was different. As soon as I heard it I decided to write about it tonight. Ironically, on my Dad’s birthday. Ironic because, well, I’d decided to write about it well before I realized today was the 13th (his birthday).
I remember sitting in our dining room in Columbus Ohio.¬†We had this old beige-colored wooden piano, which I later was gifted, and years later I gifted to someone else. I’m pretty sure it came from my mom’s side of the family, and was her mothers.¬†There was this matching bench with a swing-top lid stuffed with sheet music, a few pages of which were always spilling out.
Some evenings, after dinner, ¬†we would sit around the dining room table while my Dad sat at the piano. Our dining room table was a “table on a table” which makes me laugh as I remember it. Growing up we had this small table that all seven of us would crowd around for dinners (or “supper” as my Mom called it).
One day my dad saw a much bigger tabletop; either someone was throwing it away curbside or we bought it at this old used furniture store downtown called “Gene’s Used Furniture.” I loved going to that store, it smelled of old oiled wood furniture and metal file cabinets. ¬†The guy Gene was this super salt-of-the-earth dude, of which there are many people like that in Ohio. One of the many things I love–and miss–about home.
Out of prudence–and frugality–rather than buy a base and legs for the newfound table, instead our Dad just glued the much larger table onto the top of our existing table. Voila! We had a new table!
My Dad would be on the piano bench, and he’d start playing a few notes. One sister was usually sitting in front of the heater duct against the wall, and another would often be wrapped up with a blanker petting our Golden Retriever named Schroeder, whose tail would keep thumping the ground as she laid there signaling her happiness. And the rest of us were seated around the “table on the table.”
And after a few warm up notes, suddenly, it was magic. My dad would start playing Claire de Lune. There would be a few missed notes along the way, and a couple of do-overs, but to me it was like we were in this symphonic concert hall from this big device that I couldn’t get to do or play anything that suddenly was handled in a way that enveloped the room in this lovely soothing drip of serenity–which was a rarity in a house with five kids.
And, wow, as I write this it’s amazingly emotional to me. About how much I loved those moments. How simple it was. How much I valued my family growing up, though hardly in ways that any of my sisters or family would probably ever realize at the time (or perhaps, even since).
Then, at the end, my mom would usually come over and place her hand on the back of my dad and rub his shoulder and give him a hug and say something like “Richard, that was so beautiful! You are so talented!” Which is another memory that I love, seeing my mom as such an encourager and always so positive. Having reflected on it, I think that’s one of the best gifts a wife can give her husband–encouragement and respect. She gave a lot of both.
And then, as quickly as it began, it was over.
And the noise would start. I’d probably be heckling and teasing my sisters and everyone would start stirring while the chaos of a family of seven people would resume.
But I don’t remember that as much.
No, what I remember is sitting in serenity in an old house in Columbus Ohio, with an amazing (yet very imperfect) family and the magic of Claire de Lune filling the air with an imperfect family. ¬†And every single time I hear this song, it’s like this incredible transport¬†back 30 years to a moment I’ll always adore.
Well, you are 12 today. But you’d be here and with me and 12, rather than up there and 12. ūüėČ¬†Either way, I can’t even believe it. I’ve got two stories for you today on your birthday.¬†Sometimes I have a hard time getting your sisters to get chatty with me; if you were still here you’d be watching me in the sometimes-struggle to engage with them you’d probably just look at me and shrug your shoulders and say “Girls…”
But between those moments, I still get more than my fair share of magic with them. On New Year’s Day I took Royce and Zoe to a coffeeshop in a small mountain town in Colorado. When we sat down I had them put down their bad weapons (phones) and I pulled out my good weapons (pen and paper) and gave each of them about 20-minutes to write down some of their goals and objectives for the year.
After we were done we all shared with each other. Without too much detail, one of the goals Royce shared with me was that she was hopeful and prayerful that she could minister to people that she doesn’t know, and to develop a relationship with them. More specifically, in her words, to share God’s love with them in an environment that doesn’t really encourage it (high school in general, but add to that Silicon Valley…).
As she was sharing with me so animatedly and expressively, with such a heart for people, I felt this surreal displacement. I’m listening to this amazing kid share with me a love and compassion so deep that I was just overwhelmed, to the point that I kept pulling my baseball hat down lower over my eyes.
Overwhelmed enough, that finally Zoe blurted out “DAD, ARE YOU CRYING AGAIN?!?!?” ūüėČ
(I rarely cry, other than with things related to the three of you…and movies…)
Later that week Zoe and I were talking while lying at opposite ends of the couch. I was watching the gorgeous blue Colorado sky with huge, billowing cottony clouds drifting by and enjoying the gift of hearing her talk away, where she went on to share with me an issue at middle school where she got into a pretty heated fight–when I asked her why it came down to an incident where someone was bullying a mentally disabled student, who she befriended and defended.
And, yeah, a few minutes into the story she blurted out “DAD, you gotta get a hold of yourself!” ūüėČ
You have two really amazing sisters, they would’ve been the BEST big sisters to you. And while I’m forever sad you’re not here, I also feel like I get little glimpses of you–and who you’d be–in the magic moments that I still have with Royce and Zoe, like during those two stories above.
This year I felt a huge wave of peace come over me regarding you, which doesn’t make me miss you any less. But it does mean I have healed a lot more. I still think about you all the time.¬†Happy Birthday Buddy, I hope this years was the best yet.
In my mid 20’s I was in Manhattan working for my first VC-backed¬†start-up and we were going through a quagmire after the crash in¬†March ‚Äô00, which was¬†really gnarly for¬†equity backed start-ups. Our CEO initiated a series of strategy sessions among the Exec‚Äôs debating a little topic¬†called, ehhhhh, basically¬†how do we survive?¬†
After hours of heated discussion and what we felt was resolution with an immediately actionable¬†plan that could springboard us, a few Exec‚Äôs were unrelenting with whether to take any immediate action¬†because of these nebulous potential long-term implications (really, they were just stuck).
After an already too-long diversion,¬†our CEO barked out ‚ÄúHey guys, there is no f**k**g long term without a short-term.”
This is why I am so obsessed with¬†micro goals. Sometimes it‚Äôs easy to get so mired into long-term mental gymnastics that it‚Äôs paralyzing in the short-term¬†(that said, sometimes the solution is upending or adjusting the long-term strategy–but that’s not this post).
Sometimes the process feels like hell. But as Winston Churchill said, ‚ÄúWhen you‚Äôre going through hell, just keep going.‚ÄĚ That‚Äôs what a micro-goal does: focuses on the very next thing that needs to be done to achieve the overarching strategy
I‚Äôll use my own personal goal failure of writing a book as an example. I‚Äôve got my vision for it, considered the cover, title ideas,¬†acknowledgments; how it might get published, and¬†blah, blah, blah.
The last time I touched it was 10-months ago, and I‚Äôve been working on it for five years.¬†At this point further book pontificating about it makes me want to throw up.
Literally, I want to throw up right now. That‚Äôs how much I hate missing goals and feeling stuck.
There are lots of reasons excuses why I‚Äôve not written it: workload, travel schedule, don‚Äôt feel like writing, hate¬†my writing when I do finally write, not inspired to write,¬†need to check Facebook because maybe someone else will have posted some quippy quote¬†that will inspire me to write…
But what do I REALLY need to do?¬†
Write 200 words tonight.
My micro goal.
For 180-days. And then I‚Äôll have my book done. Which is exactly what I‚Äôm going to do next.
P.S. Our start-up I referenced at the beginning figured out both the long and short-term and ended up a happy story (albeit brutal process), largely and mostly in part to the CEO that ran it who was both amazing and unrelenting.
Last week I was back in Silicon Valley and on Tuesday at 10pm my daughter Zoe convinced me to stop at McDonalds.
As I’m sitting there with a Dr. Pepper, fries, and a cheeseburger I said somewhat playfully, and somewhat seriously, “Hey Zoe, why are we eating this crap?” (her response: “Dad, these fries are bomb…what do you mean why are we eating this???”).
I look up and notice a middle aged man a few tables away. He was dressed nicely in what was clearly an inexpensive grey suit with white shirt and blue tie, like one of those thin ones that used to be in style in the 80’s that you’d pick up in a secondhand store. Across the table was his wife and young daughter, who oh so adorably and cheerfully chatted it up with an older guy sitting by himself a few tables away. It looked like he’d just gotten off work and was taking his family out to dinner.
Then, within seconds, I see him put his hands together and he starts praying over the meal.¬†I nudged Zoe gently and I could see her look at me like “Oh no, here comes another ‘life lesson’ from Dad!”
But it hit me heavy…
In my five years of living in Silicon Valley, and this is no exaggeration, not ONCE have I seen anyone give thanks over their meal. Yet here was this guy, at a McDonalds of all places, giving thanks and gratitude for whatever meal was before him..literally seconds after I was essentially cursing mine.
So many times, and for so many years, I have only expressed gratitude when it was the food I wanted, prepared the way I wanted, and when I wanted it…But last week, such a simple epiphany from a random man, made me realize I’ve been doing it wrong.
In that moment I decided that, whatever food is before me, I’ll be thankful and grateful.
No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all date. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, itís doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.
I have always loved, and been inspired by, the “Common Man” (and Woman).
When I was 25 years old at my first start-up company in Manhattan I had literally one thing hanging from my office wall (other than 587 sticky notes and whiteboards, both I have had various obsessions with over the years).
It was a photo I’d torn out of the Wall Street Journal of two older Chinese men doing backbreaking work in a remote village for what was an incomprehensibly low wage with brutally long hours.
Frequently, a group of us would be at the office past 2am. On occasion, I would feel myself ¬†get into a “EFFFF! Man, this is SO HARD” mental loop.
But then I would look at the picture and remind myself.
“No…You know what’s hard? Working 14 hours a day in rice fields at the age of 71 doing mundane and incredibly physically demanding manual labor to earn a barely livable wage. That’s hard.”
Over 15-years later I still have that same photo, which I still look at periodically to remind myself of the same thing.
Inspirational speakers don’t often inspire me.
I find my greatest inspiration in “Ordinary People…Doing ‘Extra-Ordinary’ things” (a quote I’ve always loved from a great college football coach of mine, Joe Williams).
Last week I drove from San Francisco to Sedona over the holidays to celebrate the wedding of an amazing friend. En route at 4am after having driven 12-hours I was tempted to sleep at a rest area, but since I had the kids I found a roadside motel instead.
The place was a total dive, some roadside hatch in the middle of nowhere Arizona for $46 a night.
I pull up my car to the crappy entrance¬†“guest reception” to check in.¬†My expectations of the front desk employee falls in one of two tranches: low and lower.
Instead, I am met with the most amazing woman who is working the front desk.
Graying hair in her early 60’s with imperfect teeth and a glowing personality, she was one of the most enthusiastic, positive, professional, warm, and cheerful people I’d met in months.
In five minutes of checking in I fell in love with her. If I’d had a job for her I would’ve hired her on the spot (which I’ve essentially done before–in fact, one of my first FloWater employees was my waiter at a restaurant where I basically did just that).
People like her? Now that inspires me.
In a land (esp Silicon Valley, though I’m not knocking it–but there’s a reality check we can all use) of companies that offer free food, decompression parties, meditation rooms, unlimited vacation policies, culture workshops, and on and on (all designed to recruit and retain the greatest talent and provide an atmosphere where they can do their best work), what REALLY inspires me are people like this.
Working at a ratty hotel. In the middle of nowhere. At 4am. Earning minimum wage.
And blowing my mind with an amazing customer experience and an incredibly friendly and generous personality.¬†
Props, tonight, to all the real people.
That do real work.
That often goes unnoticed.
You inspire me.
No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, itís doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.
1. Miss a box jump at CrossFit. Grind my shin with full bodyweight.
2. I think it’s almost to the bone. Fist sized swelling. “Just walk it off.”
3. Hydrogen peroxide vs. stitches. I choose peroxide.¬†
Four days later
4. Pain and redness…more pain. Visit doctor.¬†
5. “OH MY GOD! VHAT DID YOU DO? Take this veeery good antibiotic. It get worse you go to zee hospital.”
Two days later
6. Los Angeles. Serious pain and redness. Call doctor.
7. “Describe for me zee symptoms you arrrre having?” (blah blah blah symptoms).
8. “OH MY GOD! GO TO ZEE HOSPITAL NOW!”¬†
Two weeks, two hospitals, and a¬†LOT of Vanco later¬†
9. “Hey doc, I’m having XYZ symptoms…”¬†
10. “OH MY GOD! THIS IS ZEE NIGHTMARE. GO TO NEW HOSPITAL. ZIS IS SERIOUS!” (now I’m worried).
11. While lying in a hospital bed I’m getting reflective. Super-all-nostalgically-reflective-like-life-flashing-in-front-of-you.¬†
12. Dad emails me a picture of an old VW Bus we had growing up. More nostalgia. My kids should have these types of memories.¬†
13. I NEED a VW Bus. So long as I don’t lose my leg, which would be problematic clutching. I promise myself I’m going to be fine. And buy a Bus. Make memories with the kids.¬†
14. On eBay I find a VW Bus. I text the ad to four friends asking advice.¬†
15. Three text back with “this is a stupid idea.” I decide they are not true friends.¬†
16. One doesn’t respond. This is a good friend. I take non-response as tacit endorsement.¬†
17. I text one more friend, a legit hippie from the 60’s.
18. He texts me back “This is a wise decision.” This is the kind of friendship I need in my life.¬†
19. I buy the Bus (sight unseen) on eBay.
One month later
20. En route to meet my guy selling the Bus at his bank in Seattle.
21. Test drive. Multiple stalls. “This bus is a piece of shit!” I say to him.
22. “No, no” he says to me. “You just have to give her some love.”
23. Test drive some more.
24. I am transported back to 12-years old, riding in the back of a Bus with my family.
25. I love this Bus. Exchange cash for title.¬†
26. Start 900 mile drive back to SF Friday night.¬†
27. Stop in Olympia for dinner with friends. Bessie won’t re-start.
28. This bus is a piece of shit.
29. I give her some love. And she loves me back.
30. I love this Bus again.¬†
31. It’s 40 degrees and midnight. Bessie has no heat. I drive faster and attempt to hit 65 MPH. We. Are. Making. Progress.¬†
32. I am so cold my teeth are chattering.
33. It’s 2am and I am exhausted. But I am not as tired as I am cold. Sleep would be impossible.¬†
34. It’s 4am, and now I am more tired than cold. This is the type of cold struggle I envision on a Mt. Everest attempt.¬†
35. I pull over at a rest stop. I am freezing. I wish I had a sleeping bag to snuggle with. Or a Sherpa. Both would be amazing right now.¬†
36. It’s 5am and I wake up to use the bathroom to pee. The bus door won’t open from the inside. I’m too tired to figure this out.
37. I see a cup. This will do. But it’s a small cup. I pee. Stop. Empty it. Repeat. Five times.¬†I think I’ve irreparably damaged my prostate.¬†
The next morning
38. It’s 7am. It’s too cold to keep sleeping. I get up and start fiddling with the door.
39. Some guy pulls up next to me and blurts out “Good morning! Whatcha doing?!?!?!?!”
He’s chipper like had a full night sleep, oh and heat in his car and yes he is driving a Volvo.
40. “I’M GIVING HER SOME LOVE MAN, CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT I’M DOING?!?!?!”¬†
41. I think Bessie is making me testy.¬†
42. Questioning the Bus buying decision at this moment.
43. Actually, questioning all of my life decisions.
44. It’s 7:30am and I’m on the highway. Shivering.
45. Guys with chubby cheeks should not wear beanies. I have chubby cheeks.
46. I put on my beanie. That’s how cold I am.
47. I need coffee. Someone get me coffee.
48. I don’t deserve Starbucks. You are an idiot. You only get gas station coffee.
49. My right blinker stopped working. I figure out how to love her to get it to work. By using my arm out the window.
50. My new relationship with Bessie is best described as “complicated.”¬†
51. The sun is out, it’s now 48 degrees. I am warm. Actually, my teeth has simply stopped chattering. Warm is relative.¬†
52. The sky is clear. Bessie is purring like a kitten. We’re cruising down route 5 through Oregon.
53. Man, I love Oregon. This is AMAZING. There’s nowhere I would rather be than I-5 in Oregon with Bessie at this moment.¬†
54. Someone drives by me and gives me the peace sign. I flash it back.
55. I love this Bus. Good decision confirmed.¬†
56. My kids are going to LOVE me. I am the COOLEST dad ever.
57. Bessie starts smoking. I pull over. More love. And lots of oil.
58. My kids are going to HATE me.¬†
59. It’s down to 38 degrees. I am cold again. But not as cold as I am bored.
60. I stop at McDonalds to warm up.¬†I sit inside without ordering anything.
61. I go to the bathroom, but only to run my hands under warm water for five minutes.
62. Am. I. Homeless?¬†
63. Reconsidering all my life’s decisions again.
64. Getting into the Bus, I see a van full of kids cheering and giving me the thumbs up and peace signs.
65. My kids are definitely going to love me.
66. I have decided to let my hair grow long.¬†
67. Getting onto the highway I almost get rear ended and two drivers share their feelings symbolically.¬†Not the peace sign.
68. My kids might also have a complicated love for me and Bessie.¬†
69. My back is torqued from these seats and 800 miles. I need a chiropractor.
70. Or traction. Yes, I need someone to put me in traction. My back is killing me.¬†Or a coma. Someone get me a Sherpa and a coma.
71. With a dead iPhone, I hopelessly turn on AM radio. There’s only talk radio on.¬†
72. I am getting smarter by the minute.¬†This bus was a great investment.
73. Two hours from SF, and I contemplate the small pee cup so I can just get home. But instead pull off at a rest stop.¬†
74. Within 30-seconds another Bus pulls up next to me.
75. Peter, a German man who hasn’t bathed in 32 days, jumps out enthusiastically.¬†
76. “HEY MAN! How long you staying for???” He asks, as he flashes the peace sign.¬†
77. “Uhhhh, not sure. Pretty much here to take a leak. 30-seconds maybe…”
78. Before I finish he shouts “I’ve been told we can only stay here for EIGHT HOURS MAN! THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!”¬†
79. I realize he thinks I am (also) here to camp. Or maybe considers it to be the possibility of more.¬†Like two birds that meet on a mountaintop whose paths never again depart.
80. My path is departing, in about 90-seconds. I start planning my escape.¬†
81. I share with Peter my outrage re. the eight hour limit, imposed upon us “by an overly restrictive government with ulterior motives and that this is an abomination against all of us as Bus owners, adventurers, and free spirits which are destroying our liberties and YES-WE-SHALL-FIGHT-FOR-OUR-RIGHT-TO-PARK-OUR-BUSES-WHEREVER-WE-WANT-HOWEVER-LONG-WE-WANT-PETER-ARE-YOU-WITH-ME?!?!?!”¬†
82. Peter seems pleased and comforted by my response–perhaps even a tad bit afraid–so he lets me get on my way when I explain I have kids waiting for me at home. After we talk for another hour. And open up our engine bays. And lament oil leaks.¬†
83. We hug goodbye. We will be friends for life. He gives me his email. Then he asks where he can camp and shower for free in San Francisco. I consider asking for my email back.¬†
Late that night
84. I approach the Bay Bridge. While in the toll/bridge line, Bessie starts smoking profusely.
85. This is SF, Bessie. You can’t do that here. Please. Stop. Bessie, stop. You know not the jungle we are entering for smoking engines.
86. Prius drivers are looking at me in horror. Several express their sentiments by showing me the non-peace sign.
87. As I’m pulling off the freeway to my house I see some young kids in the back of their parents car flash me the thumbs up sign.
88. I shoot back a big smile and a vibrant, confident peace sign. I’m fully comfortable in my new role now.¬†
89. My kids are gonna love me.
Three months later
90. I get the Bus back from my mechanic and¬†take Royce and Zoe for their first ride. Within two miles Bessie breaks down¬†on the highway during rush hour.
91. There are tears (them). Uncontrollable laughter (me). I MIGHT have a propensity to laugh in uncomfortable moments.¬†
92. The kids hate me (at the moment). The Bus gets towed on a flat bed back to my mechanic.
93. There’s not enough room in the cab of the tow truck for me. So I have to sit in the Bus. On top of the flat bed. Whilst being towed for 30-mins in rush hour.
94. My kids are pointing at me from the cab of the tow truck laughing hysterically at me. Apparently, now THIS is fun.¬†
Nine months later
95. For sale. 1976 VW Bus.
96. One last (and really first) road trip with Royce and Zoe. I decide to take them for a Saturday drive down Pacific Coast Highway.¬†
97. We hang at the beach, flash peace signs to everyone, eat Gorilla BBQ (Pacifica) out the side door overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
98. We go to another beach, drive to Pescadero, eat blueberry cobbler, buy old Marvin Gaye LP albums at a retro coffee shop, and slowly putter our way back. The kids have more fun and I hear more cackling laughter than I can remember in any recent month.¬†
99. The kids love me. They might even love Bessie. The day ends with “Dad, that was REALLY fun!!!”
The next day
100. One year and 1,000 miles later, Bessie heads to her next owner.
The most ridiculous, and somehow rewarding, money I’ve spent in a long time.¬†
No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, itís doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.
When I was 22 I got introduced to a guy in his 50’s named Bob. Big Italian guy with a commanding presence and booming voice of a southern baptist preacher. He was also a terrific salesman and all around person. He mentored me for years.
Bob had this crazy and radical transformation from an early and deep darkness in a mafia life through a relationship with Christ where he RADICALLY changed. Too long a set of differences to list. If you’re cynical about the “radical transformation” stuff I get it, I really do. But, let me carry on…
One thing he deeply held onto was his “Life Verse” from Joel 2:25, from the Old Testament.¬†One of the last times I met with Bob he shouted to me (which was really his way of talking) in a loving but impassioned voice with expressive Italian arms waving “RICHARD, you should have a Life Verse! It’ll give you direction and something to meditate on. What’s it going to be RICHARD? Think about it, and get back to me! THIS IS IMPORTANT, DO NOT DILLY DALLY!”
But I never did it.¬†Too much time went by, and I let life get in the way.
One day I got a call that he’d suddenly passed. At his funeral I thought about my Life Verse, but shortly after forgot about it until two months ago, and after thinking I’d narrowed it down to three verses.
This week in Denver I was with my parents at dinner. They’re both amazing. My mom is so caring, considerate, patient, and kind; my dad is so smart, wise and disciplined.
We walked into this trendy Italian restaurant with music blaring overhead and my mom said to me “Your dad is not going to like this music one bit…” (thank God, literally, she didn’t know what song was playing!).
The gracious hostess overheard and changed the music, but even still when we all sat down my dad says something hilarious about “You Hipsters and your music.” (I resisted an explanation that Hipsters were dudes who wore skinny jeans rolled up with outlandish beards whereas I identified more with Hippies who have long hair and the prolific usage of the word ‘dude’).
Late into the evening my dad quoted this verse out of the Bible, which hit me squarely since it was the same verse I’d been thinking about as my Life Verse the past few months.
Over 30-years I’d heard my dad quote lots of verses, but never this one.¬†(sidebar: Bob’s having a conniption in heaven shouting at me “RICHARD, C’MON JUST MAKE A DECISION HERE!”). ūüėČ
After quoting it, my dad says “I think that’s Jeremiah 33…” and I quickly interject “29:11…It’s Jeremiah 29:11.”
At which point I knew it was my life verse.
One, because I’d been thinking about this and hearing him say it was confirmation. Two, because my dad is one of the most prolific students of scripture and never have I ever (and I mean EVER) corrected a reference with him in decades of discussions.
Plus, well, I love this verse for all its meaning and it speaks to me.
So, Bob, 15-years later, here it is. My Life Verse. Unfortunately I dilly dallied and got distracted along the way, but I finally got it done.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11:
No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, itís doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.
There’s something both totally lousy and amazingly self-inspiring about starting over.
Yesterday someone asked me “When’s your next marathon?”
Which was depressing as hell¬†¬†funny to me, because I haven’t run one in 18 months. I don’t even see myself as a runner anymore, and certainly not a marathoner.
Heck, I don’t even qualify as a jogger. I’m a moderately-expressive-speed-walker, perhaps (okay, maybe not so much hyperbole…but it’s not fast).
Some know that over the past five years I went from fairly-perpetual-fat-kid-post-college-who-tried-100x-to-get-in-shape to that of…a fat kid FINALLY getting in shape and pretty leaned out over three years ago.
Then, I got fat and out of shape AGAIN.
Yes, AGAIN. I swore I’d never let that happen.
That’s the “present tense” part that people don’t as often see. Instead people still see the fitter dude from years ago…even though I’m not.¬†I think we most often see and evaluate ourselves, and also others, not as we are today, but as who we were several years ago. For better or worse. Probably worse. And in many ways more than simply the physical.
Shortly after my last marathon 18-months ago (at which point I was in pretty terrific shape and had outlandish goals to try to qualify for Boston in ’16) I was doing box jumps and massively sliced open my shin. It didn’t properly get treated I refused to go to the ER and get stitches and instead sprayed some Windex on it, no not really regarding the Windex…¬† By the time I got to the doctor, oral antibiotics wouldn’t touch it and it progressed rapidly into a nasty drug resistant (MRSA) staph infection that resulted in three hospitalizations + nearly a month of IV antibiotics every six hours…and a slow recovery.
At one point it was getting serious and scary enough I thought it was inevitable I would lose my leg. But, to be fair, every time I have a headache WebMD also convinces me I have brain cancer. But this was a pretty precarious situation for a while.
After I recovered I took out my frustration with food, to the point that six months ago I was within several pounds of my “fat kid journey” STARTING WEIGHT from four years ago. At this point, I’m saying to myself, WTF? (Why The Face? Literally, why is my face getting so chubby?).
That was REALLY depressing (self-inflicted).¬†So I did the responsible thing to try to solve it…I ate lots of ice cream and Oreos. Shazam, I love Oreos. And Donuts. I love those too. Ben and Jerry’s should make a Donut Ice Cream.
But I digress…
Finally, after getting back on the nutritional wagon back in January I’m getting pretty close to my target weight (I’m only about 15 lbs away, which I should be able to get to in 90-days).
But, shazam am I out of shape from a cardio/endurance perspective.¬†Since my infection I’ve run maybe a total of six times.
And in about six months I’m running the Marine Corp Marathon, so tonight was my first very short training run as part of my 20-week calendar. It was shorter than anything I would’ve even bothered to run two years ago. To add to the frustration, my pace tonight was SLOWER than most of my marathon paces (uh yeah, average mile pace for the whole marathon).
And all that means is…I’m starting over.¬†
Which, on one hand, can feel really lousy. Like, how did I end up here again?
But tonight on my run (ehhh, jog) I had another realization.
It was a radically different one.¬†
Which is that this can also be self-inspiration for me. During my run I remembered that my biggest gains (not physically, but emotionally) happened when I went through the struggle of trying to get in good shape in the first place.
It was the battle (you perpetually skinny-and-fit-kids won’t understand this!¬†ūüėČ¬†) of fighting the urge not to work out, or to grab the ice cream, or all the little things that are the difference between being fit or fat.
And the humility that you gain from understanding just how weak and broken you are…
So tonight I had this simple epiphany. And it’s randomness that I’m sharing it, though in small part it’s with some belief that other people must struggle with the same things.
The win for me is that if I can just break free of my frustration for why I’m here, and simply commit to go my “there”, and in the process learn a whole new set of lessons along the way, then I’m going to be okay…
Plus, along the way I’m getting another healthy dose of humility (pretty damn good thing for me), so the next time I get in great shape I’ll realize I’m just “Gods grace and one box jump away” from being sidelined.
No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, itís doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.
Yesterday, when I landed in San Francisco to frantic voicemails that I had to return home immediately.
Yesterday, when I rushed into the UC hospital labor/delivery room where our high risk OB doc sat us down and so gently and lovingly explained that you were going to be born that day and there was nothing left he could do.
And that you would be alive.
But that you wouldn’t live.
That the odds of you living were so impossibly low they weren’t even going to have a neonatal intensive care unit on hand.
It feels like Yesterday, where I called the head of the NICU unit at his home and begged, with sobbing and pleading, that he would send us a NICU team in the remote chance a miracle could happen.¬†That the 22 week estimate of gestation were off by a week, and that 23 weeks could provide us a chance and MY GOD I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES AND HE SHOULD TOO AND I DO NOT GIVE AN EFF WHAT THE STATISTICS SAY, and that maybe the infection wasn’t actually septic. Maybe they were wrong.
Or that BY GOD and PLEASE GOD AND I AM BEGGING YOU HERE AND DOC YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO HELP ME SAVE HIM DO NOT ABANDON ME that there is some chance for a miracle. To which he finally said “Okay, there’s an impossibly small chance–I’ll be there with my best team, but if I tell you it’s over, then it’s over. Can you agree to that?”
Yesterday, when we were in the delivery room with 10 nurses and doctors in the room–one team for delivery, and another post-delivery neonatal, with equipment and an isolette wheeled in and electronics that I’d never before seen and were certainly not part of a normal delivery room. I was on my knees on the side of the bed with your mom, holding her hand. She was so strong, brave, and focused.
But I couldn’t quit crying, and begging and pleading and sobbing, and I whispered repeated prayers in a silent room where only a doctor was talking with your mom giving instruction, and at one point I was crying so hard I felt a nurse put her hand on my back to try to comfort me, and I was begging and pleading and calling out for God to rescue you and to intervene, PLEASE GOD WHY WON’T YOU INTERVENE AND WHY IS THIS HAPPENING…
Felt like Yesterday, watching the obstetrics team within seconds of delivering you immediately hand you off to what must’ve been a half dozen on the NICU team. Watching, as tears rolled down our cheeks hearing the doctor read off low Apgar scars–with more tears as more scores were read, and silence in the room of 12 people, half of whom were watching the scene unfold with the other half furiously assessing whether any lifesaving heroic measure could change the outcome, but GOD THE SILENCE and the somber quietness and WHY THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING AND WHERE ARE YOU GOD and I am begging here for ANYTHING AND ANYONE, with rhythmic beats of electronics and a pulse ox monitor and eery silence with just one NICU doctors quiet and steady voice and a team of a dozen others, all of whom are afraid to look at me, and then after ten minutes there is a nurse starting to wrap you up in a swaddle and I felt like screaming NO DO NOT HAND HIM TO US SAVE HIM I NEED YOU SAVE HIM, YOU HAVE TO SAVE HIM…
Yesterday, it feels like we were just holding you and feeling your heartbeat while you laid on us for two hours, just you, me and mom…the chaos of over a dozen people in the room eviscerated, and it was just the three of us, in complete silence. No more monitors, no more beeping, no more whirring, just us and silence and GOD I DO NOT WANT THIS MOMENT TO END PLEASE YOU CAN INTERVENE THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO INTERVENE AND SAVE US I CAN’T BEAR THIS LOSS, and watching you lay on your mothers chest with her smelling your little newborn head and tiny patches of hair and rub your tiny arms and hands and feet. You smelled just like a newborn and you had all the features of a normal kid but wow you were so tiny so so tiny but so close, we were so close and WHY THE FUCK IS THIS HAPPENING SOMEONE HELP ME SOMEONE STOP THIS…
Yesterday, when two hours later at 2:10am where your heart stopped beating. And I was devastated…I walked downstairs as a mess to get outside, and found a guy sitting outside the hospital where I took a cigarette from him and with tears still pouring down my cheeks I inhaled deeply with devastation.
It feels like Yesterday, when we had a final few hours with you and passed you back to the nurse for the last time we would see you, and I can feel you right now swaddled and me holding you and my passing you back to mom one last time and WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING…MY GOD I AM STILL BEGGING YOU TO REACH DOWN AND SAVE HIM and hand you to your mom for one last visit, and then to the nurse to never see you again.
Yeah, it still feels like it was Yesterday. 12 years later. And I am still so raw. Broken. Angry. Sad. Hopeless.¬†Somehow I’m also at peace. Content. Understanding. Trusting.
And I can’t explain it. I want to change it, I want you back and I want you back and…
Yet I still wouldn’t change it.
At moments it didn’t feel like God was there. But I know He was, and it happened as designed. I really believe that. Then, and now. Even though there are still times when it feels otherwise.
A few months after we lost you I was speaking with a guy who also lost a child shortly after birth. As we were talking at a certain point his voice trailed off, and as he was looking in the distance he said quietly “I lost my kid over ten years ago and people say it gets easier…but it never does.”
Today feels more like yesterday than yesterday ever did.
Happy Birthday buddy. I miss you so much. You have no idea. We all do.
No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, itís doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.
This one is late by about ten days, for reasons you already know. Sorry. ūüôĀ
We celebrated with a quick dinner out on March 26th. Said a prayer for you. Thought about you. A lot. Talked about what you’d be like if you were here, and what we might be like. Better. The answer is better.
Another year goes by, and this one felt like two years. Maybe three. Over the last 12-months I felt like I lost¬†a lot of your sisters, Royce & Zoe. Something flipped. Partly it was me, and some distance I probably created. A lot of it was work and some of the ridiculousness required in running a start-up. Some of it was selfishness. And, finally, the remainder of it was likely them and the reality of life, and getting older as girls had something to do with it. It’s just not the same when I used to be able to walk around with both of them latched onto my arms.
Especially because of this bridge from Tweens to Teens, you are, by far, my littlest dude now. And if you were here I’d have only another year or two left before the same thing would happen to you. This year would’ve been a really nice year to have you around.
Though, any year would’ve been nice to have you around. Or any day…any moment.
Three months ago I spoke at an event on a topic related to “Lessons Learned in Running Start-Ups”, it was totally unrelated to any personal stuff–or specifically you. But after the event some guy comes up to me and says to me in this great Spanish accent with perfect English, “My friend, you know, I have this feeling that you have this story, and you’re supposed to tell it…and I do not know what it is, but I can just tell. I am supposed to be here, to tell you to tell your story. Maybe you know what this is about, I do not, but you shouldn’t wait. You should not wait to tell this story.” And that was it. He walked away.
This happens to me every three or four months. And has for years. I’ve written about it before, including to you. Someone comes up to me, oftentimes someone I don’t know, and they tell me that I’m supposed to write this book, but they don’t know about what. When this happens, I feel like I can see and hear God.¬†So, I keep working on your book. Not for anyone else, as I can’t even imagine anyone else reading it (save for perhaps a few of my sisters and parents). But I have this feeling I’m supposed to write it for you and me. And, likely, that’s it.
Anyways, I don’t want you to think I’ve forgotten–I haven’t, I’m still plugging away and updated a few chapters in the last month. I just need more time. Give me a little more time, little dude.
There’s a gift you’ve given me that I enjoy throughout every year, if it weren’t for you I’d never enjoy it like I do, and in some way it’s as if it’s the moments where I get to experience you vicariously.
When I go running, one of the things I dislike most is to interrupt it with a walk. Usually, I see it as a failure in my run.
However, there’s one time I almost always do it without hesitation–and I enjoy every minute.
It’s when I see a dad playing catch with his son, often off in the distance when I’m running by a park–or around a track. Usually it’s a baseball or football they’re throwing. Sometimes they’re playing hoops.¬†And when I see this from a distance, my running pace turns to a jog, and then a slow walk…and I slow further my steps until I’m still. Turn off my Pandora. Pull the earphones out. Then, I crouch down, hands on my knees, take a deep breath in of the smell of eucalyptus with the dry California air blowing over my sweat. And through the stillness of the air I listen to the two of them in the distance, the dad playing with his son. Sometimes they’re talking smack to each other, in a playful way. Other times the dad is ¬†encouraging his son, or giving coaching. And when I observe the son, he’s usually working hard to please his dad. And he’s enjoying his time, I can tell. I can feel the vibe, and it’s really really cool. I’m envious. And happy.
I sit there for sixty seconds, and I just watch. Nobody else is around, nothing is distracting me, I just lose myself in the moment of watching some guy and his son play ball from a distance.
And, as soon as I came upon it I’m off again. It’s like a sixty second time lapse. I’m always grateful for the experience. Sometimes a little saddened. But usually happy, and gives me a moment of contentment amidst missing you.¬†Wish we could play catch, right now, for five minutes. I’d take five minutes. And wouldn’t even ask for more.
Happy Birthday Buddy.¬†Ten years later…I love you, no matter what.
Still miss you all the time.
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The longer I wait at this point, the more I’ll forget. So I wanted to write down a hit list of all the things I learned throughout my process of training for an Ironman triathlon. This includes a list of things I learned in preparation for, and during, the event. It is ALL jumbled together. Good luck sorting it out.
1). My knowledge is limited. If you haven’t done an Ironman, I still might not have more knowledge than you. So go get your own info and test this stuff out. I am NOT an expert. I am an average dude who two years ago was 50 lbs overweight and had never even run a marathon. I completed Ironman Coeur d’Alene with VERY limited time to work out, and a VERY full time gig. I you’re debating whether you can do it, you probably can. The fat kid in me is cheering you on. I hope a few things in here I learned along the way help you out.
2. I have no idea from where I am puling this info at this point, b/c I read so much and asked questions of many along the way–and received great advice. So I am quite sure little of the below is original thought, it is stuff I either learned through personal experience, or more likely what I learned from others.
Here’s my list. In no particular order:
1. If you’re debating doing a triathlon, sign up and do it. Do not wait for some magical moment. Pick one reasonably far out, but not too far out. And just get going. Most shit doesn’t get done because people don’t ever really commit. The other reason shit doesn’t get done is that people commit and then fail to execute.¬†So, it’s really this simple. 1. Commit. 2. Execute.¬†Sorry, I really wish I could complicate it some more. But I can’t.
2. If you can get a coach, get one. (I didn’t). If not, be prepared to read, research, and do some trial and error. Learn what works with your body. Yes, my eyes rolled too when I hear people say that. But it’s true.
3. There are some great triathlon books, one I skimmed was something something triathlon something Bible. By someone. Or something like that. Just check out Amazon reviews and googling for great books. I did a ton of very rapid fire reading across the Inter-web, grabbed the stuff that made sense and passed on the rest.
4. Ditch some advice that doesn’t sit right along the way. If I’d listened to all the “experts”, I wouldn’t have made it through my training (got really sick w/ flu and couldn’t work out for three weeks about 12 weeks prior to IM, and several experts said if you miss more than a week of training altogether you should bail). Obviously, I didn’t listen to that portion of advice.
5. But generally heed advice of experts. I got way more good advice than bad. And ask a lot of IM’ers questions. Not just experts, even people that only did a few Ironman events–because sometimes their learnings and advice was markedly different, and in some ways equally as helpful, as the “experts.”
6. Nutrition is super killer key on race day. Begin prepping for this using your long training day and mimic what you’ll eat on race day–from when you wake up until the end of the day. Start this months prior to your Ironman.
7. My typical “long training” Saturday food consisted of: egg-banana-yam-baked-stuff (more below) around 5am…Getting your early calories in on IM day is CRITICAL, b/c when you’re out you’re largely out. Body can only process about 300 calories (incoming) an hour on the bike, and about 100 kCals (incoming) on the run. And that day you’re going to burn about 15-20k calories. So you’d better have a lot stored up. But don’t also overeat, esp prior to the swim. That can suck.
8. My Ironman breakfast thingy is this recipe: one can coconut milk, 12 eggs, 3 bananas, 1-2 (already baked) garnet yams, honey to taste + some splenda, and 1/2 cup to 1 cup coconut flakes all blended together and then baked into a loaf, meh 375-ish for 60-mins ish? It’s a great loading dose of protein, carbs, and fats. Super high calorie. NOTE, I didn’t eat ALL of this on training day. I’d make a loaf of it for the week and eat slices in the morning. I love this recipe. I might not have all the measurements right above, I pretty much just eyeball things and adjust to taste/consistency. You can opt out of the yams and it’s still great, but I like garnet yams.
9. Carbo-Pro + Cytomax were beverage staples of mine on the long bike ride (supplements to my water bottles). Other items: Honey Stinger waffles (not Paleo), dried fruit, almond butter and jelly sandwich on gluten-free bread (one before and midpoint on ride), bananas, and bonk breakers are the single best source of kCals I found for the bike.
10. Get a bento box for your bike. I didn’t even know what this WAS or that they even EXISTED up until 12 days before my Ironman. I learned it from a local expert (who REALLY IS an expert and amazing Ironman competitor).
11. Get fitted for your bike. It should be less than $100. Do this before you do all your training, or a lot of it. Do it even if you’re a month out. But don’t wait until you’re a month out.
12. Learn fundamentals and form for all three sports, particularly swimming. Join a Masters Swim program, but much better than that is to take a Total Immersion course. I would NEVER have finished the 2.4 mile swim without Total Immersion. Game changer for me. Two beat kick. If you don’t know what this is, it will CHANGE YOUR SWIM dramatically. And for the better. Google it.
12.5. (yes, I just did a 12.5) Join an Ironman Facebook group. Ideally, there is a group of people in a closed forum on Facebook for the event you’re participating in. I made some virtual friends that have turned into enduring ones, and learned a TON of great stuff along the way. And it was encouraging.
13. Check out Chi Running, 26.2 is a long time on your legs–esp after being in the water and bike for 8-12 hours (for us slow ones). It’s the training that wears your body out–so focus on form, and it’ll serve you on the day of the big event too.
14. The hardest part really isn’t finishing the Ironman, it’s finishing the consistent training required to get you to a level of fitness to do an Ironman. Yeah, the Ironman is a long day. And I am NOT at all undermining how hard it is to finish, there are probably a lot of Ironman finishers who would be pissed to think I’m suggesting otherwise. But, the Ironman is just one day. And it’s backed up, largely, by your training. Yes, IM day is a hard day. And amazing. And cathartic. But months of training are really what carry you. Though there’s a fair amount of mental mojo required on IM day too.
15. Create a checklist for Ironman day, and start working on it and putting stuff together a solid month out. You do NOT want to show up to your destination and have to figure stuff out or buy more things. I found checklists online. Look at a few of them then create your own or use one that looks solid. On that checklist, you should add one thing that will not be on any other checklists: do not get Gorilla Glue on your front brakes the night before Ironman (yeah, that happened).
16. If your IM swim is in cold water, you REALLY SHOULD do some cold water swimming beforehand. Your CNS, when cold water hits your forehead, will start to go into a state of shock. It’s very difficult to pull yourself out of this, your heart rate rises and you naturally start hyperventilating…this happened to me the 1st time I swam in the SF Bay (my first open water swim ever, four weeks prior to the IM). The temperature, open murky water, waves, along with a vigorous swim just creates a tough environment. I assumed this would happen to me, because I’d read about it. But I also believed that I would be able to talk myself through it. Which proved difficult to do. The only way I got adjusted was to get my body used to cold water swimming through frequency, and eventually my body got used to it. Plus, training in 52-55 degree murky SF saltwater was WAY tougher than a 62 degree lake swim (though the swim was in rough waters that day, wasn’t prepped for that).
17. Paleo. I’m a huge fan of Paleo. When I’m on the Paleo wagon, I feel as strong as a….Caveman (see what I did there?). But you’ll have to supplement, you need SOME carbs. I added white rice and white potatoes to my diet, and garnet yams–I eat those with almond butter all the time. And Taro bubble tea…because, well, Taro is a root, and somehow this is in someway tied to Paleo. And I love it. There, I said it. I love bubble tea.
Also–get your body fat down. Not too low, you need enough storage of kCals. But anything in excess is a serious penalty for your time, joints, etc. I was at about 9% body fat, maybe 9.5% on Ironman day, which was fine. In retrospect I wish I’d worked harder to drive down to about 7-8%, but I got as close as I could.
18. Do a triathlon or two before your Ironman. For me, the Ironman was my first ever triathlon. This is not the best idea, but apparently I am full of “not the best idea” ideas, and this was the way I wanted to do it.
19. Schedule everything. And I mean everything. And I got off schedule, of course. But having a schedule ensured I was more on than off. And kept me focused. When I got off schedule I simply revised my schedule. And I did nothing social for most of my training. I worked. A lot. I worked out. Some. I slept. Some.
20. Quit drinking. Yes, really. You don’t have to. But I felt like I ran a lot cleaner free of alcohol, and a big part of my training focus was maximization of efficiency. Drinking is overrated anyways.
21. When doing swim training, watch some Mandy McDougal videos on YouTube. Especially the one on breathing. You actually WANT to keep some air in your lungs, it’s what keeps you buoyant.
22. Wear two caps if you’re swimming in cold water. Ideally a neoprene one underneath your other cap.
23. Don’t add anything new 2-3 weeks prior to your IM. NOTHING. No new shoes, cap, wetsuit, bike, socks. Nada.
24. Get your bricks in, one a week. I don’t think you need to do more.
25. You can’t win on the swim. But you can lose on it. Make sure you get enough yardage in so that you can finish the swim comfortably.
26. BUT, after you’ve trained enough on the swim to know you can finish comfortably, spend as much time as you can on your bike. That bike is one long ass ride. Speaking of asses, yours will be in some serious pain at the end of the ride.
People asked me “so what’s it like to be starting a MARATHON after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles?” You know what the honest answer is? Ummmm, flipping AWESOME. Yeah. Awesome. To be able to run–even if you have to run a marathon–after being on a bike generating this condition called “raw butt” for 6-10 hours is simply unbeatable. After 112 on the bike, you will be THAT PSYCHED to be starting your run.
Not because you love running. But because at that point, you hate biking. Hate.
27. Supplement long rides with spin classes. I went to spin once or twice a week. And I did one long ride on weekends. That was the extent of my biking prep for most part. Could never get out of work in time to do a decent road ride during week. And I never did enough biking. This was my weakness.
28. Be prepared to wake early. I did a lot of my workouts from 5:00-7:00am. Did I mention you’ll have no personal life during your training time?
29. Pack a fresh change of clothes in your Bike to Run transition bag. Remember, I told you this list was going to be a combination of training tips AND in-race tips, and it’s totally mashed together? Sorry.
30. Use salt tabs on the bike ride, the ones without caffeine. Caffeine has a useful life of only about 4-6 hours. For energy and recovery I used a product I love called LifeShotz (note, I am one of their Advisors…also note, I do not care whether you use it or not).
31. Drop the glow sticks at the finish if you’re finishing at night on IM day, it’ll mess up your picture. ūüôā
32. Start slow on race day. It is easy to burn through your glycogen fast and early. It’s a super long day, save it.
33. However, if you get to be a decent swimmer, do not start too slow. I thought it would be better for me to try to pace with the 1:15-1:30 group for the swim. Huge mistake. Because I am a bad swimmer? No. Because you will be situated with 1,000 other bad swimmers. Plus yourself. I could’ve swam a 1:10 pace, I should’ve swam with the 1:00-1:15 crowd. The 1:15-1:30 swimming crowd is like a bar fight at an irish pub.
34. Hydrate enough. But don’t over hydrate. But hydrate enough. ūüôā
35. Yeah, it’s okay to pee in your wetsuit. When it is cold out, it also feels good. #truth
36. They also say it’s okay to pee on your bike. In my mind, this is only okay if you are attempting to do a sub-12 Ironman. #thatisalsomytruth There is something wrong about someone who is biking very slowly on the Ironman, to simply take a leak on said bike to save 30-seconds from stopping.
37. You can pee on the run in your shorts. But same applies above. Though, I will say that for my first marathon ever I missed a sub 4 by 33 seconds due to a last min bathroom stop. I still wish I’d peed in my shorts. But I can’t quite get the hang of this, plus I’m too vain.
38. Don’t overtrain. Seriously, two weeks out start tapering. And if you overtrain to point of injury then you’re in trouble. So train. Hard. Don’t overtrain. #seriouslydonotovertrain
39. CrossFit. I did this 2-3x/week as part of my training. I’m a fan. Not everybody is, but it’s changed my life. If you do CrossFit, though, do lighter weights and higher reps. And stop CrossFitting 1-2 weeks prior to your event, or if you go within days of the event use REALLY light weights and do not push yourself to the max.
40. Bodyglide for the wetsuit where you will chafe. If you forget body glide, you will pay the price around your neck that week.
41. Take a dramamine before your long swims, do it race day too.
42. Know how to change your bike tire. And make sure you carry at least two spares on race day, and one in your half way bag.
43. You need a day of rest. Pick a day and take it. Mine was a “floating” rest day during week. Not the best thing to do, but I needed to do it that way out of necessity. Better to pick a Monday and rest that day after a hard training weekend, or only do light active recovery stuff.
44. Get enough sleep. Nutrition and sleep are really vital throughout this entire process. You are taxing your body to high levels, you need to get reasonable sleep.
45. GU w/ amino’s for the run…I carry five with me for a marathon, one before it starts then one every 45-mins thereafter. And I alternate water and Gatorade at each of the stops.
46. On the bike, use higher gears and maintain a high cadence–about 90 RPM. Lower gears burn your leg muscles faster.
47. You will likely feel really bad during the Ironman. Expect this. And keep going. Or pull over to regroup. Just don’t stop permanently.
48. Did I mention yet that nutrition on race day is super critical? I wrote out my meal plan for training days and IM days MONTHS before the event.
49. Incorporate a protein drink into your daily workout life…I generally used whey at least once a day after tough workouts (SFH and GNC brands), but I also used a LifeShotz product called LS Vibe for recovery and overnight muscle repair.
50. During your Ironman, thank people. And say hi. I must’ve talked to 50 people during the event, and said hi to 500. Especially the volunteers. It motivated me, but also keep in mind these volunteers are just that–so extend some authentic appreciation. They’re giving up their entire day (plus days prep beforehand) so you can have your day. Thank them. I was really inspired by all the people there.
51. Carry ibuprofen. At mile 15 on the run, you will wish it were T3. Or even morphine. But, ibuprofen will do if you find yourself in a jam.
52. Remember, swimming is largely technique. Learn technique first, then you can limit your swim sessions. And focus on the bike.
53. Bank time on the bike (intentionally repeating myself). Get an indoor trainer to use if needed. The swim you can nail with good technique and limited hours in the pool. Biking time and performance and training also translates and carries over to the run. Running doesn’t help nearly as much with the bike. So if in doubt, train the bike.
54. Do a few Century rides prior to your IM. Note, I didn’t. The most I did in advance were a few 80-90 milers. If I had the time, and could do it again, I’d do about five 120 mile rides prior to the event. But if you can’t log that kind of time, no sweat. You’ll be fine. At least one Century would benefit you. There’s a big difference between miles 90 and 112.
55. Don’t get sick in training (again, sleep). DEFINITELY do whatever you can to avoid getting sick the week of your Ironman. I drank copious amount of elderberry syrup the week before the Couer d’Alene Ironman. And I stayed away from anyone that looked anything short of super healthy.
56. You’re going to hate it.
57. You’re going to love it.
58. Once you finish, you won’t be the same.
Enjoy the journey.
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It’s part advice for first-timers, part experience sharing, and part closure.¬†A few caveats:
1. This will be riddled with some profanity, which I try to keep to a minimum. But for this posting I’m not going to dilute it–I’m going to share it like it happened, or as I/others said it, or as I thought it.
2. I’ll write a separate race report that’s more about the technical aspects of beginner training, what worked what didn’t, nutrition, scheduling, resources, etc. The one below is more along the softer side of my experience, versus the metrics, scheduling, structure, etc.
3. This isn’t a “hey aren’t I great” post, and man do I REALLY hope it doesn’t come off that way. There’s a lot I’m not good at, and a lot of mistakes I’ve made–both in the last 4-6 months with my Ironman training–and also in life. In fact, I feel like as time goes on I realize how fallible I am. Which is very. Thank God for grace. Literally.
If you check out ONE thing in this post, check out this video below. It’s THE VERY LAST finisher RIGHT BEFORE midnight–the cutoff at 17:00 hours. The chills I got from watching THIS GUY finish were way more than my own finish. Can’t even tell you ¬†how many times I’ve watched this–way more than I watched my own video clip.
So. Flipping. Insane.
Many know two years ago in June I was fat and out of shape. 100 times I tried to lose weight. And 101 times I failed (see what I did there?). Finally, I decided to get my ass in shape. What did it for me? A few things, but one in particular was seeing a ton of before/after photos of people who lost weight. I finally thought “Okay, if THEY can do this…” Long story short, two years ago in June I started running with the plan to do my first marathon that year. I started at just two miles at a time.¬†Months later I started eating a strict Paleo regimen along with CrossFit 3x/week. Below is a picture of me as a fat kid, not too long ago.
In December of that year I ran my first marathon (Sacramento CIM Marathon), nearly 50lbs lighter and missed a sub four by 33 seconds. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, because it served as the start for shedding the fat kid in me. For years I thought I would never be able to run a marathon or lose weight. I had finally completed both. Skinny people, and lifelong runners, probably look at this, shrug and say “meh, big deal.” I get that. But for me, it was.
That night, after my first marathon, I came home and wondered “is it EVEN POSSIBLE that I could do an Ironman?”
Months later, I signed up for two half Ironman triathlons (I’ve never told anyone this until a week ago). I skipped them both. Partly due to work conflicts. But it was mostly that I never started training–I couldn’t do the swim. I mean, you could throw me in a pool or a lake and I’d be fine, and you would think I could swim–but not with any distance. Undoubtedly I would’ve failed on a 1.2 mile swim (half Ironman). And I was really pissed at myself for failing at this.
And then one day I had moment.
In the start-up tech world there is a well known expression: Fuck it. Ship it.
What it really means is you should get your product launched because good enough sooner is better than perfect later. So I finally had that moment personally, and I said to myself, well, you know…So a year ago in June of 2013, I signed up for the Coeur d’Alene Ironman–my first ever triathlon. As I mentioned, I’ll do a separate post on training, but here are a few top level things I’d suggest if you’re considering an Ironman (or any triathlon):
1. Get a tight training plan and stick with it.¬†From a book, online, or a coach. I didn’t have a coach–most of what I learned was from rapid fire searches and scanning articles, collecting the stuff that I liked and dumping other stuff, and talking to others–one of whom gave me a good training plan. I’m an 80% solution guy, and find that just jumping in and figuring out stuff as you go is a better course. Then, after you make some progress, tweak and dial stuff in.
2. Join Masters Swim and take a Total Immersion Course¬†(unless that’s already your strength, but for most it’s not). 120-days ago I couldn’t swim more than 50 yards without taking a break. For some context,¬†a 2.4 mile Ironman swim is 4,224 yards.¬†You can see how four months out I was really stressed. Swimming is largely technique, and the best advice I received was to nail that first. I found great freedom in attending¬†Masters Swim classes¬†and introducing myself to each coach with a consistent “Hey, I suck at swimming and need to be able to swim 2.4 miles in four months. I’ll do anything you tell me to, and don’t go easy on me.”
One of my first, and more memorable swim lessons, the coach started yelling at me mid-class saying “Raz! What is the problem? Why are you fighting the water? Do the fish fight the water? Raz! Are you angry with the water? Raz! Do you need to make peace with the water?”
Welcome to California.
I also took a Total Immersion course with Mandy McDougal. Total Immersion was, without question, the best thing that happened to me. She’s great, and I can’t stress enough the benefit you’ll derive from a two-day¬†Total Immersion course.¬†Mandy also has some great YouTube videos on swimming technique, check them out¬†here.
3. Schedule everything.¬†It requires a lot of training. And a ton of discipline. In the six months prior to my Ironman, I think I went out twice with friends, and family time was pretty limited. And by saying “going out” it wasn’t exactly riveting–equating to two dinners from 7-9:30pm on a Friday night and I was in bed by 10:30pm. Most, but of course not all, of my life for the last six months fell in a few buckets:¬†a) I worked (a lot);¬†b) I worked out;¬†c) I did meal prep;¬†d) I slept
4. Supplement your swim/bike/run with¬†CrossFit.¬†I had to focus on most bang/buck, and in a future post I’ll explain more about my schedule and what worked (or didn’t). I read one person’s CDA race report six months ago and she suggested that you must train ~25 hours a week. Ummmmm, total bullshit. And frankly that’s impossible for many (most?) people who have these little nagging things called… jobs.
When I read stuff like that I just ignore it (though she had some really great insights in her race report too). Because 25¬†training¬†hours is more like 40¬†actual¬†hours (prep, cool down, stretching, icing, driving, etc). When someone hears a statement like that it implicitly tells him or her that training for an Ironman is impossible for someone with normal circumstances. Or even difficult circumstances.¬†Just. Not. True.
I’m the CEO of a start-up company, and not one week did I ever work fewer than 60-hours. Likely it averaged much closer to 80-hour weeks–and some weeks were more, and all while training for an Ironman. I also got very, very sick with the flu for weeks–the worst sickness I have had in my life–and it killed my training schedule where I didn’t work out for three weeks, and this happened about three months in advance of the Ironman event. I read online one coach who said if you miss 2-3 weeks of training within your four month Ironman window you should bail. Meh, that’s lame. Life happens, deal with it, work around it and make it happen.
But you do have to be really disciplined and selective with your training, and I did a LOT of my workouts very early in the morning, or a couple days a week in the late evening.
CrossFit helped tremendously, but next time (purely a¬†HYPOTHETICAL¬†“next time”) I would only do CrossFit 2x/week and trade that extra session for two hours on the bike. And I’d only swim 3x/week, now that I have the fundamentals down and instead would spend extra time–ding ding ding–yes, on the bike (and doing some interval work for running, which I did for my marathons but not this). I would, however, go really light on CrossFit 2-3 weeks pre-Ironman–I torqued a nerve in my back with ten days to go by lifting too heavy. All ended up being well but could’ve been a disaster.
5. Nutrition is killer key.¬†You really have to dial in your nutrition, and it took me months to figure out what was worked. In a nutshell, here’s what I did: fairly strict Paleo, with the addition of gluten-free bread, rice, potatoes, and tons of water. I’ll drink anything¬†other than bottled water (which¬†contains tons of toxic chemicals and destroys the environment), but I used to regularly fill up bottles with¬†FloWater¬†at work (disclosure: I’m the CEO and an Investor of FloWater and I am massively biased to the amazing, hydrating, refreshing performance of coconut-filtered, oxygenated, and remineralized FloWater :)) and bring it home for hydration in the evening and weekends.
I also consumed high quality protein supplements immediately post workout and for recovery, I used¬†SFH grass fed whey¬†immediately after workouts, and¬†LS Vibe for afternoon/evening recovery¬†(disclosure: I’m on the Advisory Board for LifeShotz). I also consumed copious amount of fish oil which is like WD-40 for my joints, also from¬†SFH, and consumed¬†LifeShotz–and took some massive loading (3-4/day) doses of this for three days prior to the Ironman, LifeShotz it’s like rocket fuel for my body (another disclosure: I don’t personally like the taste of either the fish oil OR LifeShotz, but they’re two staples of mine–they just are that good). I also regularly loaded up on Black Elderberry syrup which is a strong immune booster, and I think the brand from¬†Gaia is most potent–plus it tastes great. Finally, I took a¬†MegaFood vitamin¬†twice daily.
So, onto the trip…
I left Wednesday¬†after work with the kids to drive to CDA (Erica had to work and flew in Thursday night), and we arrived that Thursday AM after a loooong all nighter driving through with a total of 60-minutes of sleep between 5-6am (not best thing to do Ironman week). During that 16-hour drive I became a pretty big fan of¬†Oprah Chai, I lost count after a while. But I really am convinced Oprah saw the surge in donations to her charity last week–because I’m pretty sure that was me…That was me, right…Oprah?
Road trips with kids are the best way to get to really know them–this one was no exception. I listened to more Taylor Swift than I care to admit, but they also tolerated my music (and calls). When I asked the kids if they liked my musical tastes (Hardwell, Kaskade, Deadmou5, Blackmill) Zoe replied “Dad, I really don’t even think it’s music. I like music that has pleasant sounds and actual words.” I seem to remember my parents saying this to me when I was growing up, too. On the way Royce asked me 101 hypothetical questions, which I loved–she’s so darned curious.
Zoe woke up at 2am worried about me driving through the night, and stayed up until 4am talking with me to keep me awake. She retold me what I find is a hilarious story, and added some details that she previously omitted.¬†A week ago Zoe came into our bedroom and says “Dad, I gotta tell you something…Yesterday I was hanging with my friends and one of these dude lifeguards was saying ‘hey, isn’t your dad the guy who is running all around the neighborhood wearing a spandex onesie???'” Then she pauses and looks and me and says with a dead serious face “Dad, you gotta stop doing that…”
Bwahahaha, I can only imagine the mortification for a 10-year old kid hearing that about her dad! Also, for the record, it’s not a one-piece–it’s two ūüėČ
So tonight on the drive she says to me “Dad, there’s more to that story…” I pause, and glance over and say “Okay, really? Go on…” So she continues “Yeah, well this guy continued asking What other outfits does your dad have?'” (hahaha, like this is some kind of weird clothing fetish–they’re called Tri suits boys and girls…). Zoe continued “I went on to tell him you have this one piece outfit with some straps that goes over your neck.” LOL, well those are biking shorts for the record, and I promised Zoe I’ll start running in the other section of the neighborhood. She went back to sleep shortly after getting that off her mind.
We arrived Thursday morning¬†into CDA and the kids hung out and did various activities while I worked, with the exception of check-in during lunch. Energy walking in was both pensive and electric. It wasn’t like marathon check in. It was calm. Of course, it was also days before the event. I got my bag, and asked people 100 questions like “Okay, what happens in transition–’cause all I know is what I’ve seen on YouTube.” I was nervous. And excited.
That evening I did my first swim in the lake, water temp was about 62 degrees–it felt awesome, and the water is relatively clear and clean, so much better than SF Bay’s salty murky 54 degrees. There was this energizing feeling being with other triathletes who were also warming up and trying to get a few last minute workouts in. After the swim, I went and ran a quick five miles and was done for the evening.
Evening rolled around, and we had a great dinner with friends but I was exhausted–a trip to the airport to pick up Erica didn’t get me into bed until 1am and I was up at 6:15am the next day. Crappy sleep continued.
Friday I took a vacation day–the first one in 18+-months, and attended an¬†Advisory Board meeting for a company¬†I’ve really grown to love that’s coincidentally headquartered in CDA. Around lunchtime our meeting broke, and it was time to swim 800 yards in the lake followed by an hour on the bike. Felt good. That was the day, the first day, where I had some solitude to myself that evening and I thought to myself “You know what? You’re going to do this. And you’re not leaving the course until it’s done.” Until then I’d been having doubts. But I knew it’d come together mentally a day or two before the event–that’s just how I’m wired.
That evening I knew I HAD to get a good night of sleep in. My Sunday morning wake-up was at 3am and at best I’d only get five hours. And combined Wednesday and Thursday night I had a total of ~6 hours–so I was intent to be in bed by 10pm and was going to sleep until 8am to catch up.
This is where the shit got crazy.
The next day was gear check, it’s where you put all your gear in every transition bag together and you turn in your bike–so they set everything up for Sunday morning. So I’m hustling trying to get everything ready, last check to make sure I’ve got the right running shoes in the T2 bag, tape, change of socks, nutrition and hydration, salt tabs, LifeShotz, Cytomax, etc.
Zoe noticed on my bike earlier that day that the padding on my tri-bar forearm rests were coming off, likely due to the 1,000 mile drive with lots of wind and a fair amount of rain. So I picked up Gorilla Glue that afternoon, and at 10pm I realized I hadn’t fixed it yet.
No problemo. I. Am. An. Expert. Gluer. (also super fluent in Spanish–can you tell, no?)
“Apply liberally” I thought to myself. “You don’t want these bad boys coming off during your race” I said repeatedly. “When it comes to glue and duct tape, you can never really use enough” I thought quietly. So I applied the glue to my pads and leaned the bike up against the garage and said goodnight to her.
Couldn’t sleep. Was 10x checking my bag, logistics, thinking through transitions, what I might be missing and whatnot. At midnight I go to check on my bike. Open the garage door, and guess what? Gorilla Glue FOAMS like crazy. It erupted like a little volcano and dripped ALL OVER my front brakes. Yes, JUST the brakes. Not one drop on the floor. Panicked, I furiously tried to scrape it off with a screwdriver but it had cured–damage was done. Then I’m furiously rummaging through my guests garage after midnight trying to find a solvent–any solvent, someone just get me a solvent–and I find WD-40, and spray it like a crazy man, but nada. I found some gas stabilizer.Didn’t help. At this point I’m pretty much grappling for anything that has a label that says “this is poison and can kill you if ingested.” I’m scraping with my nails, screwdriver, furiously scraping, swearing, scraping some more–but the glue is in every crevice of my brake. I google and google and google solutions, then found some naturalist wrote that a combination of sea salt and olive oil would do the trick. Nothing. I didn’t go to bed until 1:30am totally in a panic and woke up at 6:30. umulative sleep over three nights now totaled about 11-hours and I was really worried I was screwed with my bike brakes–let alone my lack of sleep.
Below are the pics of my Gorilla-glued bike, my 1st attempt at a brake biopsy, and then getting her all repaired up Saturday at Vertical (thanks again guys!).
Saturday,¬†I checked into a bike store and Vertical Sports fixed me up by noon (LOVE those guys). ¬†I was at bike check by 12:30, at the Ironman athlete briefing at 2pm then hanging with my great friend from college, Jon Lewis, by 4pm.
I got home to the house we were staying in that evening around 6pm. Everyone was gone, and I had solitude until past 8pm where I just prepped, contemplated, and listened to my music.¬†Had dinner with friends and family that night from 8:30-9:30, popped a few Melatonin from¬†Source Naturals¬†and was out by 10pm.
Sunday,¬†I awoke at 2:20am and read in bed until my alarm went off at 3am, then started the process of getting ready. Left the house at 4am and arrived into Ironman camp at 4:30am. Checked the bike, filled it up with nutrition and liquids then checked on my transition bags–added a few last minute items, and then hung out under a pine tree with more than a breeze whipping about (winds were up to 25 MPH that day) and looked out over the VERY choppy lake–still worrying about the swim. If I could just finish the swim I felt I could at least finish the Ironman. But I wasn’t sure I could finish the swim, or how I would do with thousands of people swimming with me in cold choppy water. My first open water swim was just three weeks before, and it didn’t go well (interpretation: hyperventilation; I just couldn’t deal with the cold water and panicked).
At 6am I threw on the wetsuit and made my way to the beach along with everyone else. Did a warm up swim to get used to the water, and then waited 40 long minutes until our heat departed. A mistake I made, not knowing how I would do in the swim, was going in the 1:15-1:30 heat, which was bad primarily b/c I slotted myself at the back of it and what I learned is that all the other bad swimmers were with me! ūüôā And it just made it, for me, too difficult to pass anyone. In retrospect I should’ve jumped in the 1:00-1:15 pack.
This was the 2nd year (I believe) of the tiered start, vs. a mass start where everyone swarms the water at once. I’m sure it’s much improved, but I’d still describe the swim as “chaos” and “scary as shit” when you finally realize that there are flapping bodies, arms, and legs kicking everywhere. Truly, though, I don’t think it would’ve been that bad had the waters not been so rough–I swallowed a lot of water with headwinds from 10-25MPH on the way out (two loops). 100 yards in I said to myself exactly the following: “There is no fucking way I can do this for 2.4 miles, I’m going to drown.”
But I also knew in advance I was going to have this feeling, everyone warned me about it. So I was fully expecting it, and planned on grabbing the first buoy for 20-seconds to reset and basically said to myself what I’d said 50 times before the race when I knew this was going to happen: “Okay, calm yourself down. You’ve done plenty of swimming the last few months, just make it to each 100 yard marker and take breaks if you have to.” Another guy grabbed onto this 1st buoy as well, and I shouted over to him “Hey, you doing okay?” And he replied, “No, I’m really not…not so good.” Ummm, I paused…I wasn’t prepared to give any advice. I expected everyone to say “Yeah I’m great–this is AWESOME!” I thought quickly about any suggestions, so I yelled out “Look man, you’re going to be fine–just take a few deep breaths, make it to the next marker and take a break” and then I pushed off. I think I said that as much for me as I did him, we were in the same boat.
From there on, I only stopped at the 2-mile mark and only that because I had to pee (yes, you just go in your wetsuit and I couldn’t do it while swimming).¬†At 1:33 I came out of the swim and was into transition, on the way from the beach I found my friend Jon cheering from the sidelines and we happened to spot each other. Seeing Jon was such an awesome boost of encouragement. Plus, the volunteers and crowd were simply INSANE. My appreciation for the town, and people/community, of Coeur d’Alene grew throughout the event. The people were amazing. Huge gratitude to all of them.
What I learned about the swim is that it’s way easier than I expected (of course, the wetsuit helps), and it’s mostly a mind game–especially if you’re a lousy swimmer or not accustomed to open water swims–especially on days with rough waves and lots of wind. The most mind-bothersome thing about the swim is the realization that when you get out there if you get in trouble–then you’re in trouble. Meaning, while there are buoys every 100 yards and people on Kayaks, if you really get in trouble and start to panic you’d better be able to pull yourself out–because it’s unlikely anyone else is going to do so for you. On the run, or bike, if you keel over and collapse you’re probably going to make it. On the swim, not so much.
At T1, I have never been more excited to get on a bike.¬†The swim was done, and I was so relieved. My transition time was a pretty long 15-minutes, again I’d never done a tri before–or transition for that matter–so it took me a few minutes longer just to figure everything out. But I poured nutrition down my throat, threw my tri-suit and shoes on, took a bathroom break, grabbed my bike and was on my way.
My bike training had been limited, and largely consisted of two spin classes a week and one long ride on the weekend–a function of limited time, and I really didn’t do enough long rides. The longest I’d ever done up to this point was about 90-miles, and midway through that one I found a Starbucks and fell asleep for 30-minutes. ūüôā What an amazing athlete I am, huh? In retrospect, I should’ve skipped Saturday morning swims for a much longer ride, and I would’ve been well served to do a half dozen 100+ milers along with some interval and hill work at least once during the week. Next time. (again,¬†hypothetically).
Headwinds on the course were brutal, partly because they were on the two stretches with some seriously long, long hills. My average speed was about 15MPH, pretty slow and it took me about 7:40 to finish the bike session.
Finally, the run…
people ask “what’s it like to have to be STARTING your marathon in the afternoon after all of that?” And really the answer is that I was so ready to be done with the bike that I was totally PSYCHED to be running. It wasn’t until mile 15 that I started to really crash, and that’s also where I killed my run time. In fact, this was where I had my best epiphany.
I remember someone telling me that during their IM they got to the point where they just started telling their body what to do. My pace up to mile 14 was about a 10-minute mile (and I started out running 8’s unknowingly–way too fast for me). At 14 I was just in screaming pain. My tendonitis was flaring, and every muscle in my leg was on fire. I did a lot of walk/running from miles 14-22.
Then, three things happened:
1. A guy was walking with me, and we’d talked before ten miles back. He looked me dead in the eye and yelled out to me in the booming voice of a football coach “Raz, you are kicking some fucking ass for your first Ironman!!! Go get it in gear and get your ass over the fucking finish line while it’s still light out!!!” I wasn’t kicking ass for my first Ironman, but I didn’t know that at the time.
But sometimes you need someone just to push you. And apparently, at times, it can help when they drop an F-bomb in the process.
2. Right then, another guy ran by as I walked, and he tapped me on the shoulder. “Let’s go” he said “I’m running five minutes and walking three minutes–let’s get going.” I started running, then told him thanks for the boost and that I was going to run the rest in.
Sometimes you need someone to give you a tap on the shoulder and pull you along.
3. Then, I remembered an article I’d read the night before on top performing athletes, and how much of endurance work is a mind game (side note: it’s also about fueling, when you’re out of gas then you’re done–so you have to be smart about nutrition on an Ironman, and that part I did right). One of the guys in the article said he talked to himself, and essentially told his body what to do. I thought it sounded silly the night before. But I was in so much pain, I decided to give it a shot. So I kept telling myself “Body, you’re going to run these last four in 8:00/mile–and I don’t care how shitty you feel, this is happening.”
I didn’t have a GPS on me so I couldn’t track my speed, but later in looking at the splits it looked like I kept a 7:57 pace those last four miles. There’s a point when you’re out of gas and you’re just out–but there’s also a point where you’re just in pain, and you have to keep going and you can do more than you thought. Miles 14-22 I let my body win (plus the finish line is a long ways away). Miles 22-26, I made my mind win.
It was a really great reminder about how much the mind controls, or can, the body. And how weak the body is. I remember I used to go running with my dad when I was young, and you used to tell me that for the first few miles “your body lies to you–it’s lying to you and says it doesn’t want to go, and don’t believe it, get past the first few miles.”
At mile 13 I saw my friend Jon again, and also Erica and the girls–another super fun boost, and first time I’d seen my family. At mile 26 we were in the city of Coeur d’Alene and the crowd lined the streets. One more pass by Jon, then 20 yards later Erica, Royce, and Zoe. I could see the tunnel, and hear Mike Reilly belting out names as they crossed the finish line “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”
For a year I’ve been thinking about crossing that finish line.
The energy of the thousands of people was really something else–and at 150 yards out I saw the tunnel…50 yards in and I’m fiving people as I’m closing in and feeling so excited–and happy–to get to this magical experience. All the while, incidentally, I’m having a blast. I really did through the entire race, there is no event I’ve ever done where I genuinely smiled more, and had more fun.
So as I’m coming to the finish line I’m waiting for this magical moment of catharsis.
I crossed the finish line…
…and nothing happened.
I can’t explain it. For sure¬†I was thrilled, ¬†and it felt great. But it was almost the opposite of my first marathon–where I was really emotional and had a moment of “I can’t believe I did this!”
If I had to put into words what I felt it would probably be as simple as this:
“You know, you can let go of your inner fat kid now. You’re not that guy anymore.”
A few things I really learned or benefitted from during this process:
1. I pretty much quit drinking altogether. I didn’t miss it–at all. (Mom, I know you are doing cartwheels right now! :))
I did resume drinking beer the night of the event (cartwheels have stopped).
And the following week.
But now I’m back on the wagon. Pretty much no more drinking (cartwheels resume).
2. I learned more about the discipline of three functional sports;
3. I dialed in my sleep, and while I never felt like I got enough–and I still had to pull some really late nights, and a few pretty much all nighters for work during training, but I made a conscious effort to sleep–up until the week of the race, ironically enough;
4. I became more disciplined; I had little free time so I scheduled almost everything–and I mean almost EVERYTHING. From exactly when I would wake up, to when and what I would eat, to the timing of my nighttime protein, to my swim/bike/run/crossfit sessions. Of ¬†course I got off schedule, but having it scheduled helped ensure I was more on than off;
5. I learned I am way more capable of things than I previously realized; two years ago I was quite fat and couldn’t run more than a few miles at a time. Four months ago I couldn’t swim more than 50-yards in a stretch without resting. So much of our life is dictated not by our talents or G0d-given attributes, but our drive, tenacity, and confidence.
5. Finally, I was inspired.
Inspired by a few people who told me that I couldn’t do it, and even more people that told me I could do it.
Inspired by people who shared with me how to do it, or offered me a boost of confidence and encouragement along the way.
Inspired by the energy of the event itself, the attendees, and all the amazing volunteers (I must’ve said “thank you” 300 times during my bike ride and run, but a thousand more thanks to all the volunteers–you guys were AMAZING!).
Finally, I was inspired by watching 3,000 other people–each with their own story and struggle–go out and do something pretty unusual on any given Sunday.
A thousand thanks to everyone who helped encourage and support me along the way. Whatever “win” in this there was for me, I genuinely hope you take a piece of it as your own.
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June of 2012 was a super magical month for me, it was when I finally decided to get my fat self in shape. I’d always wanted to run a marathon, and for years it evaded me due to lots of things that turned out just to be mostly excuses. But I was set on giving it another go; that month a friend sent me a marathon training plan, and I took my nearly 250 pounds of Lithuanian awesome¬†and started running. Initially, just a few V-E-R-Y ¬†S-L-O-W ¬†miles at a time, gradually working my way up. Months later I got involved in CrossFit and started eating strict Paleo. That December I finished the Sacramento International Marathon (and missed a sub 4-hour by 33 seconds, ahhh that last bathroom stop!).
That night I remember thinking to myself “could it even be possible to complete an Ironman someday?”¬†Two years later I’m making my first–and last–Ironman attempt at the Coeur d’Alene Ironman on June 29th.
My goal is really simple: to finish in 17-hours.
A close friend asked me “So what’s the deal–why are you doing this?” The answer is pretty simple: because I have to prove something to myself.
Some of it I can’t fully explain, but part of it has to do with having been out of shape for so many years and proving to myself that I can stay in shape, and part of it has to do with setting a goal that for years I never dreamed doable and accomplishing it.
Two weeks out and here’s how I feel:
1. Nervous about the swim. Four months ago I really just started my swimming, and in retrospect that was way too late–I just procrastinated on this one because I was so bad. Really bad. I hadn’t swam laps since I was probably 10 years old. The best advice I got from others was to join a Master’s Swim class and also do a Total Immersion program, both of which I’ve done along with regular swimming and some open water swims. I’m still terrible. Like, imagine Charles Barkley and how he says “Turrible” That’s how bad I am. However, I have gotten better and have done some decent mileage and think I’m ready to finish this portion–and I’m eager for my feet to hit the sand after completing the 1st leg of the event and get to the bike. Because I’m nervous about that, too. Oh, and the run.
2. Partly wishing I’d done at least one other triathlon prior to this. Just to get a sense of what I’m doing, how hard the accumulative effort is, how to transition, fueling throughout the race, etc. But I’m partly psyched this is my first one as well. Also, I’ve watched a few YouTube videos. That’s pretty much like having done a few tri’s, right?
3. Feeling undertrained–yet ready. I read one persons blog post after her Ironman race report saying “if you can’t dedicate 20-25 hours a week to training, then you shouldn’t be doing this.” Ummmm, I run a start-up company and work pretty brutal hours–so that’s not happening. But I talked to others who worked Ironman training into their calendar with a very disciplined training and intensive workouts. That’s what I’ve tried to do, and I made a commitment going into this not to cut into work priorities–so I’ve either missed workouts or simply taken the time from sleep or personal time to get training done. And for most of my life, the busier I have been (within reason) the better I’ve performed. It forces me to be hyper-disciplined and eliminate distractions. All that being said, I have worked out a lot–this isn’t something I’m just trying on a whim and hoping for the best, but I definitely had limitations on my time.
4. Lusting after some epic bike gear. Like an Aero helmet, and a full carbon tri bike. However, here’s the reality: when you have stuff like that, it’s better to be good at riding. There are few things more humbling than doing one of your practice rides in your full tri gear on your decent-enough road bike and there you are pedaling away at a good clip–and then a guy 20-years older than passes by wearing parachute pants and birkentstocks whilst riding a beach cruiser and whistling “Sunshine on my Shoulders” by John Denver. Yes, there’s some hyperbole in there–but I’ve had a few things happen like that not too far off. ūüôā
5. Grateful. Regardless the outcome, I’m deeply grateful. I am thankful to a God who has given me the physical ability to get in shape and enjoy the privilege of working out–it really is a gift, and I wish I hadn’t squandered it for so long. I am thankful to my family who has tolerated not seeing me much during this training period (in addition to start-up life), and also a lot of friends who I owe an overdue catch-up. Finally, I’m thankful for the many people who have provided advice and encouragement along the way. If (when) I finish, I hope those people realize that they had a significant hand in helping me with this accomplishment, and for that I am genuinely grateful.
Finally, if you’re interested there will be a live race report the day of the event starting at 7am PT on the Ironman website that you can watch by clicking here:
Bottom of page there’s a “Live Race Report” that will be active on Sunday, June 29th with a link you follow and enter in my IM number which is 1973, coincidentally also the year of my birth.¬†Yes, I’m 40. And yes, perhaps that also had something to do with this. ūüôā
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In the past couple of years I’ve finally started to get in better shape. On a body fat basis, I went from ~30% to ~10%, and of course the changes eclipsed the scale and extended to CrossFit workouts, running, and have included more recently some biking and swimming.
And for this entire time, it’s been easy NOT to see the ceiling. Because I was in such bad shape at my starting point two years ago, it just felt like making gains would be easily attainable for an indefinite period of time. I mean, I KNEW in my mind that my physical potential at 22 was still beyond what it would be at 42 (though, my goal is still to be in better shape at 42 than I was at peak at 22, though if I can that won’t say much for how well I tapped out my physical potential when I was younger).
When you’re SO FAR away from your ceiling it’s both kind of discouraging (“I’m THIS out of shape?!?!?!?”) and also really motivating (“If I can keep making gains like this I can become Superman!!!”).
But this week I¬†saw and felt the ceiling after a few workouts this weekend (which happened to be some of my best workouts of the year over the past two days).
And I hated seeing the ceiling.
Particularly frustrating because I am still so far away from being in really good shape, but this afternoon after I was driving home from my swim/run (pictures of the most epic day ever to workout in the Bay are below from today’s excursion) I realized that I was staring the ceiling right in my face–and it happened way earlier than expected, and I still feel like I’m so far away from where I wanted to be at this point. It’s the ceiling that said things like “You’ll never be able to do >insert your dream of choice here<.”
So I’m going to change it.
I haven’t figured it out yet, and I know I can’t cheat human physiology–but there must be a pretty good way of bending it.
What I’ve learned in the last few years is that so much of fitness and wellness is pretty specific to the individual. So I don’t listen to any one particular scribe, however, I’ve not tried to recreate too much either. I’ve taken a few solid perspectives without trying to recreate the wheel, applied it relentlessly, and it got me to a certain point at the end of year one.
Then, for year two, I made modifications, did more reading, metric’d more stuff with my body, and made adjustments. But mostly oriented around a few common theories from a few particular individuals in the fitness space–and I did this with limited reading, research, and study; I just worked on applying, applying, and applying.
Now I have to break it.
(though not until August)
For someone that doesn’t know a whole heck of a lot about fitness, nutrition, CrossFit, human anatomy and physiology, it’s probably a bit risky for me to be willing to walk away the very stuff that’s gotten me to where I am, which isn’t amazing but it’s a huge improvement. But if I want to really make bigger gains, then I think it’s riskier for me to stay where I am and just keep trudging along–though trudging is precisely what got me to where I am today, and I knew that would be the case which is why I subscribed to it: a few simple philosophies and relentless execution.
But continual trudging is why, in the business world, so many CEO’s (and Exec’s and employees for that matter) fail to be successful in different business cycles. Meaning, even some of the most successful CEO’s can only run through one or two parts of the business cycles (pre-start up, or 0-10M or 50-100M or 500M+, etc). Sometimes I think that’s a limitation of breadth of skills (and there’s something totally legit to be said for very deep skills in one of those particular cycles), but I think that also in many cases the stuff that gets you to where you are is the very stuff that keeps you from where you want to go next, and it’s really hard to break free of that thinking.
My strategy is to comb through as much stuff as I possibly can, measure as much as is reasonable, trial/error with how I feel and perform, and try to really figure this out at the next level, and to do this with as little time applied possible. I’ve got a pretty busy life outside fitness, but this is an important part of my life and I have some serious progress I’d like to make over the next few years.
The best part? It’s on me and nobody else to do it.¬†
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I really suck at swimming, though I didn’t fully realize it until I started trying to swim laps about 4-5 months ago. At the urging of some fitness friends, who knew I had a specific goal in mind, I decided to sign up for a Master’s Swim class about ten weeks ago.¬†Master’s Swim is a group of people who regularly train together with a coach. In the last few years, I can think of no other thing that I have been absolutely worse at for which I’ve tried to improve, and I’ve actually loved the experience of this. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
1. If you’re lousy at something and you really care most about improving, you might as well get that out in the open…
During the last ten weeks I’ve had four different coaches. The way I’ve introduced myself to them was nearly identical: “Hey, my name is Raz. This is my goal of XYZ. I absolutely suck at swimming, I’m fully aware of it. I need your help, so whatever you tell me to do, I’ll do. And I don’t want you to go easy on me or hold anything back.” I found this to be so freeing, I could bypass everything and get right to the baseline. The result was that I generally receive a disproportionate share of coaching, a) because I needed it, and b) because I practically begged for it from the get go.
2. You might have drunk people (okay, fine–person, singular) in your swim class…
I hardly think this is normative, but it’s so bizarre to me I can hardly not mention it. And it’s not really a learning, more of an amusing anecdote. I usually swim very early in the morning before work, but about once a week I’ll go to the class that starts in the evening. Last week, two minutes into jumping in the pool, I basically smelled a beer hall. I look over and a guy a lane over, whom I’ll call Oktoberfest, had consumed more than a beer or two. It was confirmed midway through the class when Oktoberfest yelled out “Hey guys, don’t worry about me over here–just burning off some alcohol!”
Incidentally, he pretty much kicked my ass during the entire class. Drinking and swimming is a bad idea, obviously. But it’ll go down as one of my more memorable classes.
3. Uncoachable people with a bitter edge are an absolute drag to¬†the group and set their own rate limiter…
A woman jumped into our class one week and she was a prior swimmer who had taken time off and for some reason lost her swimming mojo. I don’t even really know what that means, and also didn’t ¬†understand whatever dynamics she was dealing with (I was dealing with my own hot mess), but net net what happened is that she destroyed the dynamics of the class in about seven minutes. She said she wanted coaching, she became irritated with instruction, she kevetched and moaned about how frustrated she was, and towards the end of the class each time she spoke it was nails on a chalkboard. And the coach quit giving her instruction. She left before the session even ended in a huff. People like that are vibe killers. And they often top out very prematurely, regardless their natural talent.
4. There’s this thing called the two-beat kick…
And I’m not even going to try to explain it, but when you learn it then it’s magic. By “magic” I don’t mean I’m even a marginal swimmer at this point. But it’ll change how you swim, your breathing, the stroke rate, comfort. The net net on this is that fundamentals matter. Hugely. The first six weeks I felt like I kept going backwards, but what I was doing was unlearning how I’d always swam, and was trying to apply proper technique and fundamentals. Which is more important when there’s more friction. Water is 1,000 times more resistant than air. I’ve never taken a running lesson, and perhaps I should. But I knew the fundamentals in swimming play a more important role (for me) than running. Friction is one of the underlying reasons. For me I think there’s a lot of life application here. You can’t get better at everything. So when isolating and prioritizing, often it helps to take those items you want to improve in that also carry the greatest amount of friction. It’s not the only variable to evaluate, but it’s a big one.
5. You will run into A-holes, but DO NOT let that throw you off…
There are hidden “cliques” (there are other words I could use) everywhere. In the last two years as I have gotten in better shape, I have noticed a strange phenomenon where in gyms (not CrossFit, but in my “regular” unnamed gym) people are much friendlier to me then when I was the fat kid trying to get in shape. Even outside of the gym, when I go on long runs to Woodside I’ll probably have 10-15 bikers or serious runners go by and give me the thumbs up as I’m running. That never happened when I was fat. For the most part, only fat people acknowledged me. So here’s I’m in somewhat the reverse in this Master’s Swim program. At one point a few weeks ago a woman yelled at me during training, because she felt I made some type of “illegal takeover maneuver” as she was gabbing at the wall during a set.
Long story short, she pretty much needlessly unloaded on me in front of a lot of people. It was unjustified since I had a basis to pass, but honestly I didn’t even care. Emotionally, as that happened, it torqued me for a moment. I can see in a different place in my life if I weren’t so committed to this goal I would’ve been tempted to say “forget this” and throw in the towel–literally. But, I refused to let it bother me for more than two seconds, because any energy spent towards that just diluted my efforts, and I wasn’t about to let her screw up my plan.
It was a powerful reminder to me: don’t let people who can’t control their actions and emotions deter you from your goal, and there will be A-holes along the way that do this. It’s also a reminder to those who are on the “inside” of the swimming club, runners group, marathon, gym, or whatever to be more than aware of the people around you who are trying to get better. Especially the beginners.
It’s why I always try to say hi to the fat person running by. Because I’m also that same person. And I respect their determination.
6. ¬†“Be the ball, Danny. Be the ball.”¬†
My second class the coach yelled out to me in the middle of a 50 and said “Raz! What’s going on? Are you comfortable in the water? Do you like the water? Raz! Are you fighting the water? Do the fish fight the water? Raz! Do you need to make peace with the water?!?!?!” I was looking around thinking to myself “Ahhhh, yeah man, I dig the water. I’m good with it. What are we talking about? Where am I? Why did I sign up for this? And why did I move to California?”
It sounded hippy dippy, but I said from the get go I was going to listen to all the instruction and really absorb it. Even if I didn’t get it. Well, surprise surprise, there IS something to being one with the water. ¬†I started floating in the water and really consciously thinking about swimming with the water, rather than, well, slapping it. And fighting it.
Be the ball, Danny. Be the ball.
No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, itís doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.