July 31, 2011

Camp Volume...

Been a big week of training. I understand fully what an opportunity it is to race in the World Championships for the 70.3 and full Ironman distance this fall, in September and October, in Vegas and Kona, and am absolutely taking advantage of it. Anything less would be disrespectful to the world — that’s the way I see it. If I’ve been dropping the names Vegas and Kona a lot, and continue to, it means I still haven’t gotten over it. I don’t plan to anytime soon. They are beautiful, awaiting monsters and need to be treated as such.

The big week led to an even bigger weekend. Now, let me state as a disclaimer that my training is my own. I’m not big on coaches or theory - I went through a lifetime of it in my first life when I had the makings of a million dollar pitching arm, and felt it slowly and painfully fall apart. I read every book, trained every muscle, listened to every theory and came away from it all with this perception that nobody knows anything. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t follow the pros, and people I admire, and their coaches, and that doesn’t mean I still don’t immerse myself with an open mind — I guess what I’m saying is that I self prescribe training based on what my head and body tell me I need. Vegas is about 40 days away, Kona is about 30 days after that. To me, that means the bulk of my Kona training needs to happen now - at least distance wise. Starting this weekend and for the next 2 weeks, I need to battle through some heavy volume work. This weekend, volume meant 100 miles on the brutally windy PCH on Saturday followed by 17 miles running through the city on Sunday. A TYR bungee swim came before the Saturday ride and I went hard teaching spin classes before and after the Sunday run. I feel good. Been spending a lot of time in compression pants lately to try and give something back, and I think I’m sold - or at least sold on the potential that something is helping take care of my body without having to think about it.

Next weekend I was going to peak out on distance before coming back down to get back into speed before Vegas. I was thinking 120 on the bike, extra 10 up, extra 10 back, but think I’m going to call in a compromise - because I believe when you decide to beat up a body to chase an endeavor such as this, you must also listen to inspiration when it comes. The picture above is a sand dune at or around Point Mugu on the PCH - it’s at about the 40 mile point from my door, and inspiration says I need to trade those extra 40 miles on the bike for a couple runs up and down the dune’s softest face. Because that sounds fair, and beautiful, and inspired. Then run my 21 on Sunday.

Oh, California. What a portrait you paint. Such a darling.

July 22, 2011

A man a plan a canal panama...

When I Start Thinking About How I Can Make Things Happen, they usually do. I’m starting to think about how much this will cost and who I can convince to sponsor me for 2012…or scrape it together. Or hope a certain movie is moving towards a certain production. Sounds a long ways away, Panama City - Panama. I ain’t talking Florida. But the non-stop is 600, and considering I paid 180 to rent a car, and another 150 on gas to get up and back from Vineman, it’s really not that much of a stretch. Plus, it’s South America (or practically), and will certainly serve to temporarily burn off my constant and aggressive need to commit wanderlust.

February 11th, 2012. Have a feeling I’ll be there, looking to win the motherfucker.

July 19, 2011

We Were Driving Together, Somewhere Near The Beginning...

And talking about this and she didn't understand, saying things like but why would you write there, and put words out there if you don't actually want people to read them. I said she was inaccurate, that I didn't care if people read them or not, that the last thing I ever wanted was to engage anyone or convey a reach out, or make anyone ever believe they could reach back. I explained that the act itself served a purpose, for me, to move me along, or to simply write about the things that mattered to me, or affected me. At some point she mentioned how disappointed she would be if I ever wrote anything about her here, how disappointing it would be that I couldn't just say it myself. I understood that. I only come here when there's nothing left to say.

Friday, I left her and there was a voice telling me to end it. Because it was comfortable, and good. Because it was really good. Because I could see no end in sight. Because I've trained and triggered myself to behave in such a manner to be capable of loving something one day and then walk away from it the next. I didn't love her. But I could have. I would have eventually. Maybe that's why I didn't listen to the voice - there was a part of me that was ready for that. Maybe. When knowing friends asked me about her, this Girl, I would tell them I thought we would go a distance, that the irrational darting madness that often occupies me was stifled, and clearly accepting of her. They would smile and pet my head or shoulder.

It's Tuesday now. I feel like I got what I wanted, and that it's not at all what I wanted. She called last night to hit the brakes, and I got out. She hit the brakes. I do this thing in rare, anticipatory moments when something of feeling is coming at me, where I stand to meet it, to witness the full force of it. Last night, there was a turn in the conversation that stood me on my feet, the morbid excitement of never knowing what's really coming until it comes. No matter how much grace or trained composure I presume to have over the situation, I know a great force will always take me apart, and that it will be ultimately cold-blooded and fucking remorseless. When the time comes, my say is an illusion, and I know this. That's why as I stood to meet it, fists balled, I knew I was getting ready for a hopeless showdown.

I hung up and couldn't sleep, naturally. Around 3 AM, in a haze, I turned over to check my phone to see she had written. The e-mail was short and very dramatic and at first glance, I was actually insulted by it, not angry, but insulted by the frailty of everything that had happened between us - that in the end, we were as fleeting as anything. I was convinced we weren't. This morning I see the letter as something different, more of a gift - someone taking the time to let me know, in words and tones tailored for me to understand, that I was good. Hopefully, that will be enough.

July 12, 2011

There Are Good Things Happening In The World...

And good people behind them. The barrel scene...I almost fell out of my chair.

July 11, 2011

Race Week - Vineman 70.3/Racine 70.3…

This is a special one. Back in November of 2010, when I made the trip down to Cozumel for my first Ironman, my dad met me. Apparently, something happened to him there, because as I’m leaving on Friday to go to Sonoma for the Vineman 70.3, he’s going to be getting ready for his very own 70.3 in Racine, his first triathlon. He’s run a good handful of marathons - I have early, early memories of watching him run Lake County as a kid, probably about the age I was in this picture, when the seed for all of this was probably first planted.

I remember the bags of questions I was asking before my first, and all the nerves I felt going in. They probably sent me to the internet, looking for tips I could devour on how to survive and survive well out there. Now that I have some races under my belt, I thought it might be time to give a little back, in honor of my old man and all first time or contemplating triathletes, here’s my own personal walk through, based on experience, for your enjoyment or confusion…

1. The alarm goes off and it’s early and you’re wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. That’s fear. If you don’t feel it, you should. If you still don’t, I don’t know who you think you are - you’re about to race a 70.3. Fear is good. Fear accompanies the bold, and it will help you through.

2. You’ll arrive at transition. You’ll top off tires and lay out your gear and likely start a nervous conversation about what’s about to go down with someone stationed next to you. This usually helps, though be careful who you engage. The triathlon community has its share of lunatics and you don’t want Tom from Sheboygan attached to your hip for the rest of the morning. Or maybe you do?

3. Stop being so judgmental. I promise you’re a lunatic to someone else.

4. The sun will be coming up and the next thing you know, the race will have started. You’ll know this because people will be kicking at you and climbing over you and tearing at your goggles and forcing you to swallow water. But you will have imagined all of these things to happen well before race day. So whether they happen, or not, you will be ready. You’ll find a rhythm eventually, and some space, and realize you’re doing it, actually doing it. Beautiful feelings ensue. Allow them to. Be strong from here on.

5. Appreciate the land when you get there. Your body will wobble and feel unsteady. Know this, prepare for it so whether it happens, or not, you will be ready. Note repetitive themes in my prose. Prepare.

6. Take calories as soon as possible. I’m not going to touch nutrition because you should know. Take in a constant, gentle flow of calories. If you don’t do this, your body will eventually think you’re trying to kill it and will make you miserable. If you eat right, nothing about your day should be miserable. If things get miserable, slow a little, eat a little more. Allow the body to balance and recover, then press on.

7. The second leg of the race covers a long distance. That’s why you brought a bike. Ride the thing. Stop being afraid of the course. You’ve trained. Enjoy and push. Watch for ejected bottles and debris on the road and especially at aid stations. Once you cross halfway, push a little harder. You’ll know if you can. You can. Start to see the run in your mind. Crave it. Look forward to it. You’ve been running your whole life.

8. Get off that bike and move your legs. Turn them over and over. They will be heavy and sore, but they’ll adjust. Handle your shit and keep moving. Realize all you have is pavement in front of you - no more wetsuits, or bikes, or transitions. Remember 13.1 miles is a long way, but at least it’s not 26.2. Let the thought of brevity be propelling. Finish, and finish well.

9. Learn to believe in magic.

July 04, 2011

Been Dealing With This All Day...

500 Days Of Summer is a very good movie. Special movie. I remember going to see it in the theater and leaving with the feeling that a train had run through me. Then I saw it again a couple days later. Same feeling happened. It came on last night and all I remembered was that I loved it, that I thought it was maybe the best movie that came out during its year, I think 09. So I watched, among other things, computer in lap. Then this scene started and I stopped everything I was doing...

Sometimes, art speaks to you so perfectly. You can't always explain it to yourself, but you can try. I do. I used to leave at night in high school after I got my license, drive loops around the streets because I couldn't sit still in my home. This has never changed. There was a girl like no other, and I was in love with her beyond anything I would ever be in love with, 16 years old and convinced there was nothing worth seeing outside of my north shore Chicago town of 20,000. I had her and then lost her, because she scared the hell out of me, and was in the process of fighting with all of my might and life to get her back. We'd talk on the phone and see each other in the halls and in class and every minute to me was magic and to her...

Her house was just off McKinley. Sometimes I'd turn down her street and drive past just to feel it, the energy of something I couldn't and can't explain. I don't know exactly where we were in the world when the day came that I'm about to falsely describe, but I felt close to her, closer than ever, and to getting my chance again. I want to say there was snow on the streets, and ice, and cold, and snow falling from the sky, maybe even a fucking blizzard when I drove past her house to see his car, and parked, and felt myself shatter from the inside. I drove another lap, maybe 12 miles, maybe crying most of the way before I drove past again, then again, first to confirm, then to feel it over and over. In the following weeks, the laps remained the same. Many of the nights held the same outcome. Eventually, I stopped crying. Eventually, it only hurt morbidly.

There were others, a couple others, but I think this one is all hers. Only absolute truth can grab hold of something like that, and shake and straighten 12 years later, something so protected as my winters back there, in Lake Forest. Only truth.

What They Said...

July 03, 2011

Why Does This Make Me Root For Them To Lose??

Oh that's right, because it's classless. And gross. Go USA!