Let us catch up (#lettuceketchup) – Dealing with Disappointment

This past weekend was my first OCR race of the season. My goal was to qualify for the OCRWC (Obstacle Course Racing World Championships) at the Ohio Spartan Race. The course was muddy, but otherwise a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I did not qualify despite having a pretty good overall race (I failed four obstacles because my grip strength needs improvement and I fell on mostly grip-intensive obstacles).

So after realizing that my time wasn’t good enough for OCRWC, I got a little down on myself. I keep going over what I could have done differently with my training — had I spent more time working on my grip strength would I have completed those obstacles? Could I have run harder in some spots and improved my time? The answer is probably “yes” to both of those things if I am honest.

Dealing with disappointment is a difficult thing. Sometimes you do your best and are told that it’s still not good enough. I want to be angry at OCRWC for making it more difficult to qualify this year. I want to blame the rain or my starting time and use those as excuses for why my time suffered. Part of me wants to blame Spartan Race for not policing their obstacles because someone could have cheated and that cost me a place in my goal race.

I think that times like this it’s important to look inward and not outward, and instead of assigning blame to why you didn’t accomplish your goal, come to terms with it and decide how you will find a new path. Instead of me looking at everything that went wrong, I should instead look at everything I gained from not qualifying this past weekend.

  • This was the first race of the year — I’ll have more races to qualify
  • I understand my weaknesses better, and know what I need to work on for upcoming races
  • My nutrition plan worked really well and I had plenty of energy throughout the whole race, so that is one less thing to worry about for future events.
  • I didn’t get injured and I had a ton of fun racing!

There are really more things that could have gone wrong that didn’t, and I am happy that I was able to compete and see how hard everyone worked out there when the weather was “less than ideal.” Kelly raced along with me and she did really well too and felt great.

In the end, dealing with disappointment is all a matter of perspective. Especially in OCR, sometimes you run a good race and still come out on the short side of where you want to be. I might not have accomplished my goal this past weekend, but I still had a lot of fun and learned a lot about how I can improve. And, I get another chance in two weeks to put what I learned to the test.

 

5,000 feet, 48 ounces, 9.5 minutes and the destiny that awaits on the other side

Close your eyes. No wait, that isn’t going to work…

Imagine looking out over the ocean at sunrise. You’re the only person on the beach, and in front of you, the darkness begins to shift from black to grey, slowly morphing into deep shades of purple and orange. The waves roll slowly toward you, but are as quiet as the absence of sea gulls that are still sleeping off last night’s storm. The air is cool but comfortable, and you squint your eyes ever so slightly as the first hint of sun peaks above the horizon and bleeds out over the sky.

Are you there?

I am standing 5,000 feet away from that moment and a year’s worth of sweat and grit say that I will have it again…soon.

#BeerMile2017

Of course, I am talking about running a mile, drinking four beers, and doing it in less than nine minutes and twenty-six seconds. #BeerMile2017

Completing the beer mile is one of those moments in life that take your breath away and remind you what it is to feel. It is to be both everywhere and nowhere and I can only imagine it being equaled by climbing Everest or stepping foot on the moon.

Last year, in Destin, FL, I successfully ran my first beer mile (#BeerMile2016). But, like most dreams realized, my desire for bigger, better, faster consumed me and I could hardly eat that next year, my mind racing at the thought of chasing that dragon again.

As it was then will be again. I did not discover this dream alone. My cousin, Chris, also ran the inaugural beer mile with me, and my brother Tyler was there to document the action. Expect the documentary to debut at Sundance in the next year or two.

To recap — to successfully complete the beer mile, you begin by drinking one 12 oz. beer, and then run a 1/4 mile. You repeat this activity three more times. The goal is to complete all required “activity” in the least amount of time possible, all the while doing your best to keep all that goes in you…in you (if you catch my drift).

On a crisp Spring morning, we found ourselves on the battlefield that was the jogging path that ran past Pompano Joe’s, parallel to the Gulf. It was a field fit for kings. Nine and a half minutes is what I posted last year. Chris, despite a few “reversals of fortune” along the way, finished somewhere in the 20+ minute range.

I do believe that Chris and I both will be more ready for this year’s quest, which will take place in Siesta Key, FL, in just over a week. I can close my eyes and picture the sun rising, but until I am staring down that mile, I can’t feel the stillness or hear the vacuum of that moment.

Tyler will again be there and will again document the activity. Due to the overwhelming curiosity and commotion around last year’s beer mile, I do expect a 200-400% increase in spectators this year.

OK, pretend to close your eyes again…

Find that beach again. Now the sun has risen and people are beginning to crowd around you on the beach. The seagulls are prattling above and the waves cascade and recoil back from the busy beach.

Deep breath.

As the memory of the ocean settles into the sands of your mind, remember how it felt to own a moment all to yourself before the world stepped in. That is where I’ll be, running the wake of a dream, 5,000 feet and 9.5 minutes from eternity.

#BeerMile2017

 

Why I’ll be more Mindful in 2017

First of all, hi! How are you? It’s been almost two months since we’ve last spoke and we should catch up! Is that thing you were working on last year still going OK? Is your pet/sibling still sick/crazy/asking you for money? How’s that rash you couldn’t get rid of?

deathtostock_meticulous-03

Anyway, feel free to stop reading if this becomes too “New Years Resolution-y.” It’s only been five days since the new year, but I am already over it so if this comes across like I am making fake promises, feel free to refresh your newsfeed or see if anyone has posted something new on Instagram (they have).

Last night, my wife and I watched a Netflix documentary about minimizing the amount of stuff you have in order to get the most out of relationships and the things you choose to keep. It was one of those documentaries where you might decide it’s time to up and move to a tiny home, whereas I might think I should turn my phone off sometimes — I’m not sure if this was the filmmakers intention but it was thought provoking.

deathtostock_meticulous-09

There was one scene where some secondary interviewee character was talking about how us being so connected to our phones keeps us from every being able to go on thought-tangents (not sure if that was his phrase or if I just made that up, but I like it). He said even when our phones are on silent or vibrate, we could be thinking and as soon as our phones buzz or screens light up, it breaks our concentration, if only for a split second, but that break in thought keeps us from really being able to have deep thoughts on things. The same way CNN has to flash 147 graphics on the screen at one time, our brains have been conditioned to check email, Instagram, Facebook, refresh 7x, check email again, Snapchat, etc. etc. etc. I’m guilty of it too, but it makes me want to be more mindful of my thoughts, my actions, and my ambitions.

deathtostock_meticulous-02

I have to credit my wife because she kind of began this discussion. We were right in the middle of the documentary and kind of had this passing discussion before getting back to the show (she kind of phrased it funny, which I’ll spare her because the idea she had inspired this post). I do really think it’s true though. I think people are far less mindful today than ever before. The things we consume on a daily basis is cheap and doesn’t add any value to our lives. We should be better intentioned about the things we want to do and how we will go about doing them. Too often, we are content with just refreshing our newsfeeds every week and running in place while we dream about moving forward.

So, my goal (not resolution) is to do things with purpose this year (and every year thereafter). I want to read with the intention of learning something. I want to write with the intention of improving. I want to think without distraction and act with purpose. I want to work toward goals instead of adjust expectations as another month goes by and nothing has changed.

I think we all want to be the best versions of ourselves, and to be more mindful of the things we’re after in life is the only way to turn dreams into goals and goals into expectations.

 

Eat Better, Move More, Live Longer

I get it, self-sabotage, talking yourself into a bad habit or out of a good decision, having one more piece, not feeling it today, starting on Monday because you want to enjoy this weekend or in January after the holidays. You’re stressed, upset, tired, too this-or-that to take the time to make the right choice. I get it. I’ve said all of these things to someone at some point and I’ve told myself all of these things when I am accountable only to myself. I used to smoke cigarettes, dip, literally lock the door to my bedroom and eat entire large pizzas, after which I’d wait until the middle of the night to take the pizza box out to the garbage so no one would see that it was gone.

I used to buy pants that were way too tight at the waist because I didn’t want to accept that my waist was bigger than 36″. I used to buy all my jeans from American Eagle because their sizes ran big, and I convinced myself that I wasn’t getting any bigger so long as the number on the inside of my pants didn’t go up.

I tried Adkins diets, fat burning pills, any kind of supplement that promised to build muscle and get rid of unwanted belly fat; I would tell people that I didn’t want to workout because I wanted to slim down first before I worked out because I was afraid of looking too bulky. I was my own biggest cheerleader while at the same being my own biggest road block to transition toward a healthy and active life.

I don’t remember having any kind of “a-ha” moment where I threw away all the junk food from my cabinet or wrote a goal weight number on my wall. I do remember being fed up with flirting with being this close (thumb-index fingers nearly touching) to 5’10” and this close to 200 pounds when I graduated college. I recently read that males peak physically at 25 years old, and I laugh at the thought of me when I graduated college being at my athletic apex. Soon after I graduated, I did sign up for a half-marathon and gave a mediocre effort at “training” and changing my diet. I finished the race, but hardly made any real changes to better myself afterward.

death_to_stock_communicate_hands_9

Then something changed. Instead of wanting to lose weight to be more attractive or date attractive people, or even to get away from all of the negative things I saw when I looked at myself in the mirror, I decided I wanted to be able to do things when I got older. I decided that I wanted to be able to play basketball with a son, daughter, or grandchild. I didn’t want to be the 50 year old guy who sits at a desk, then goes home and sits in a chair waiting for a weekend that was full of more TV. I wanted to experience everything I could in this world and not through a lens or a screen.

I think the biggest issue with weight loss is that people want to do it for the wrong reasons. People want to lose weight only when a doctor says it’s killing them or when they can’t afford blood pressure medication. There is NOTHING more important than your health, period. Your family, friends, loved ones, anyone close to you is impacted directly by the choices you make in (or more often out of) the kitchen.

I think it’s critical for anyone who is trying to lose weight or change unhealthy habits to make a decision. Either you are going to accept yourself the way you are and be OK with increased risks of heart disease, bone and joint problems, cancer, and even little things like body odor, bad breath, general fatigue, poor range of motion and lack of motor skills, OR you can decide to make changes to improve each and every single one of those things.

Being healthy is about so much more than looking good naked, but because we are so obsessed with how we look, we often times think that’s what matters and tell ourselves that life is about more than what is on the outside that counts. While that’s true, what’s on the inside is also directly effected by those choices you make regarding your body. Tell me that you can’t be equally happy, or charitable, or kind, or good natured if you felt better physically. Tell me you wouldn’t have more energy to get out and do the things that already make you a good person if you could breathe easier, stand up or sit down without any pain, or know that you’re doing everything you can to make whatever time you have left in this world better.

If you truly want to become healthier, the only things you need to do are eat better and move more. That’s it. Cut out any excuses you have. You don’t have to go from couch to marathon in 12 weeks, just move more and eat better. You’re not going to lose 20 pounds in a week like Biggest Loser contestants do when they start working out (and if you do lose that much weight, great!). Be realistic and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to lose X pounds or fit into a size whatever by a certain date. Lose weight because you want to be healthy and you will lose the weight. The biggest change you need to make is your outlook on life, and I promise with just a little bit of effort, you will meet and exceed your goals.

DeathtoStock_SWEAT-4.jpg

 

 

One Month Fitness Challenge: Day 22

Sorry to those of you who are hoping for anything different than last week’s progress report (progrep for short….not really I just made that up). Let’s just get into it, shall we?

It’s been three weeks and to recap, these were my goals for September:

  1. Run 75 miles in month of September
  2. Do 30 burpees each day (or do 900 in month in case of missed day or two)
  3. Attend no less than 2 Crossfit classes each week (exception Ireland week)
  4. Lose 5-7 pounds (though, I’d be OK if I didn’t reach this goal until race day 10/15)

So, progress check.

Running:

So I’m not exactly jumping over the moon about my progress, but I’m not super down on myself either. I’ve logged 15.5 miles since last Thursday. I’m finding it’s difficult to get in two days of crossfit and really get a lot of miles in without exercising every day of the week. I did run a 9.5 mile this past Sunday (pace around 8:00 or 8:15 per mile, which is about where I want to be for longer runs). My biggest challenge is getting up in the mornings to run. I wish I had better will power to just force myself to get up and get out there, but I am really good about waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and deciding THEN that I am going to sleep in, so I change my alarm to my normal wake up time. Wuddaya gonna do, ya’know?

I’ll say this: I don’t think I will achieve 75 by the end of this month, but I think it’s possible to get 75 miles before Canada on 10/15.

Burpees

Hey look over there! See that thing? Focus on that and let’s move on to the next section!

Crossfit

Crossfit going well.Have been solid about going twice per week and I’ve noticed some gains in my overall strength. I’m nowhere near where I want to be strength-wise, but I believe I’m getting there. There are little things thought that excite me for my two races next month.

My grip strength has improved. I’ve probably mentioned my biggest takeaway from my first Spartan Race was that I needed to work on my grip strength. I feel much more confident now than I did a month ago thanks to crossfit and some at home exercises Kelly and I do that my grip strength is close to where I’d like it to be.

I also like to play around and climb on the rig after we do crossfit. I feel when my energy is low, I like to get a sense of how well I am pull myself up and around, and I feel very confident that I’ll be able to pass the monkey bar obstacles that I might face. It’s kind of funny, but when Kelly and I were in Cork, Ireland a few weeks ago, we were sitting outside of this bar, and I was looking at this wall and thinking how, if I needed to (b/c you know, sooner or later I might need to), I could scale the wall by hanging from and pulling myself up and over by using pipes, AC units, signage, and whatever else was between me and the roof. Just saying, might need to do that one day…

Lose 5-7 lbs.

So, I am down 2.5 pounds as of this morning from where I was three weeks ago. I’ll make a bigger push the week before the OCRWC to really cut weight, so I think I am on a good path. My focus as far as losing weight has been upping my cardio and just eating a little cleaner (little less drinking, little more discipline when it comes to diet). No major changes planned until race week, where I’ll probably cut way back on bread and cut out alcohol and focus 75% of my diet on vegetables, fruit, and protein.

Current Weight: 170.0 lbs.

Self-Assessed Fitness Level: 8/10

Days run this month: 8 (out of 21)

Miles run this month: 36

Crossfit classes attended past week: 2

Biggest Challenge Past Week: Motivation to get my ass out of bed and run!

One Month Fitness Challenge: Day Fifteen

So I didn’t update the blog last week because I was in Ireland and I decided that the blog wasn’t the most important thing to do that week (I did write most of a blog for Sweat Local, though, so kudos to me…kidding, my wife worked way more than I did on SL and deserves way more kudos for getting our first Sweat Sesh going last this month…) ANYWAY…

It’s been two weeks and to recap, these were my goals for September:

  1. Run 75 miles in month of September
  2. Do 30 burpees each day (or do 900 in month in case of missed day or two)
  3. Attend no less than 2 Crossfit classes each week (exception Ireland week)
  4. Lose 5-7 pounds (though, I’d be OK if I didn’t reach this goal until race day 10/15)

So, progress check.

Running:

I’ve logged just over 20 miles, so obviously I’m not hitting my goal (should be at 37.5 by now). I made a excel sheet that allows me to track where I am at and what my daily average needs to be in order to complete the 75 miles by 9/30. Basically, I need to run 3.4 miles every day in order to get there. Not saying won’t happen, but I’m worried. I do plan to run a lot this weekend (10-15 miles) so hopefully I can start chipping away at that 75.

I did have a nice 5 mile run in Ireland, which is something I always like to do once when I travel. Great way to explore a city and get a feel for the culture.

Burpees

For the most part, I (and Kelly who is doing 30 a day with me) am doing pretty good with this. I’ll admit, there were a few days in Ireland that we missed, then tried to make up on the back end, but if I’m honest, I’m probably short of my (15 x 30) burpee target arc.

Crossfit

This is something I’ve kept up on. Kelly and I went to Crossfit Perpetua in Dublin twice on our vacation (mixed review btw — people were great, but front desk girl (accent unknown) couldn’t make left or right of us dropping in AND wanting to buy a t-shirt…I mean how many curve balls can you throw at someone at one time?!?). I’ve already gone once this week and plan to go again on Saturday.

I do feel like my strength has greatly improved, which is what I needed after my last OCRs. My worry is that my endurance won’t be as good as it was when I was doing Orange Theory, but it’s kind of a “pick your poison” kind of scenario, right? I do think that, between endurance and strength, I’d rather be strong enough for the obstacles and fight through fatigue than have energy at each obstacle, but not enough upper body and grip strength to complete obstacles.

Lose 5-7 lbs.

Not too concerned with this one. I was up a bit of weight after Ireland, but am back down (as of this morning) to 171.8, which is just a fraction less than what I was when this month began. I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble dropping another 5 pounds or so to get to around 165 by race day.

Current Weight: 171.8 lbs.

Self-Assessed Fitness Level: 7/10

Days run this month: 4

Miles run this month: 20.5

Crossfit classes attended past week: 2

Biggest Challenge Past Week: logging miles!

Most of what we learn, we learn indirectly

screenshot.2016-07-08

The title of this post is a quote from Randy Pausch’s final lecture titled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams at Carnegie Mellon University. In August 2007, he was given 3-6 months to live (pancreatic cancer) and he gave his final lecture in September 2007.

After the lecture, he received such a positive response that he uploaded the 140 page slide and allowed anyone to use it (so long as they don’t stand to profit monetarily from it) however they want. I also think there is a video of the 76 minute lecture online, but I haven’t listened to it (yet).

Randy died in January 2008.

I’m not going to get too deep into what I took away from looking through the slides, but there were a few things that choked me up and a few things I found to be really insightful (yadda yadda yadda, blogworthy).

screenshot.2016-07-08 (1)

The first thing that really spoke to me was the line”most of what we learn, we learn indirectly.” I think today, people try to absorb as much information as they can by watching videos, reading blogs, and pouring over discussion boards on a certain topic.

Last year, I wrote a weekly column for a fantasy football site. The way I got my information wasn’t organic; I mostly tried to force information into my column (square peg, round hole style). I know it wasn’t as good as a lot of the other writers who would watch the games, discuss football with their peers, and have a solid understanding of what might be in store for a particular player the next week.

screenshot.2016-07-08 (2)

The “head fake” is Pausch’s analogy to learning indirectly. In football, the head fake is a way to beat your opponent, but the only way to truly master this move isn’t by studying it, but rather by having played so much football that the move becomes natural.

So when chasing your dreams, the best way to go about it isn’t by reading a thousand books on how to become an entrepreneur, but by putting yourself out in the world and doing it (ie- trial and error ie- thrown into the fire).

If you want to do something, go do it. Fail at it. Get laughed at. Make a mistake, it’s OK. The point is, you have to take a chance. No one that’s ever chased their dream ever regretted fumbling over something along the way. They might regret a choice they made somewhere between there and here, but I bet you 100% of those people are glad they gave themselves the opportunity to make that choice instead of playing it safe and letting someone else take whatever it is they want.

screenshot.2016-07-08 (3)

Another slide that spoke to me had a few bullets, but the first two really stood out. “Be good at something: it makes you valuable” and “Work hard… ‘what’s your secret?'”

“Valuable” is a term that is rarely applied to a person, unless in the sense of one’s place in a company (which I guess applies, but I digress). I really like the idea of being valuable, not to a business, but to your friends, to society, and to your place in terms of reaching your goals. There is an expression that says (paraphrasing), “figure out what you want to do and go do it.” That might be an Avett Brothers lyric….not sure. I would take this a step further and say, “Figure out what you want to do and go do it…and be good at it.” (I’ll streamline that before I make T-shirts, I promise).

The second bullet, “Work hard… ‘what’s your secret?’,” to me speaks to perseverance. (Grammar people, was that secret?’,” the right way to do that. I can’t imagine it is, but to me, it logically makes sense…)

Get back on topic.

Death_to_stock_photography_wild_1.jpg

 

So finding your secret is kind of that magic thing that keeps you going. I think it means working hard…at the right thing.

For example: I have been writing for Sports Monte (other blog) for about a year and a half with the intention of becoming a big time fantasy sports writer and influences. I worked hard writing and researching every week, but I spent very little time learning what things make the great writers in that industry stand out. I was headstrong and believed that as long as I work hard, good things would follow.

While this works in some cases, it doesn’t work in most cases. You need direction when you work hard and a support system of people who aren’t afraid to critique what it is you’re doing. Working hard without direction is like digging a hole without having the foresight to know you need a rope in the hole with you to climb out.

Pausch died and left an unbelievable legacy. I would encourage anyone who is feeling in a rut to at least look up his slides (easy enough to find online). Maybe I’ll follow up with this once I listen to the lecture, and hopefully I’m not too far off base with how I interpreted his presentation. The long and short of it all, boys and girls, is that if you are going to catch a dream, whether you’re six or sixty, start making the right moves that will get you on the right path to achieving that dream.