I’m going to be a Dad

I’m going to be a dad. I don’t know if that’s sunk in yet or not. I see my wife getting bigger (sorry, babe, but it was bound to happen sooner or later — she still looks great by the way), but I don’t know if the fact that all the planning and talking about it has really sunk in yet. Kelly and I used to look at our dog and say, “isn’t it crazy we are responsible for this living thing?” Then we’d pet him on the head and turn on some music for him and go out to dinner for a few hours. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m pretty sure there’s a chapter about not being able to put some baby food in a bowl and assuring yourself that when baby gets hungry enough, he’ll eat.

I’m excited for everything about being a dad, and I think I need to tell my wife that more. Sometimes, this blog is my way of telling her things that I’m not good at telling her in the moment; something I need to work on (and solid piece of advice for baby R when he gets a little older). But I am excited for sleepless nights, diapers, jogging with baby R in the stroller and talking to him about the Lions or my last race, or his next race (Baby Spartan Race — is that a thing yet?). I don’t think it’s going to be easy, but I think Kelly and I are equipped to handle it.

I’m excited about what being a dad will mean to my marriage. I think you hear a lot about people that aren’t in a good place, get pregnant, and hope that it “fixes” whatever is broken in their marriage. Being able to bring a baby into a home that is solid will amplify the good things we already have going for us — mostly involving making each other laugh by doing dog (and soon to be baby) voices about the comings and goings of day-to-day living. I am excited about bringing a child into our family because I think our family rocks. I am excited about making myself into the kind of dad I want my son growing up and looking up to. I’m excited about being seen as a dad by other people. I don’t know if that is a vanity play or not, but I’m really proud that I’m going to be a dad.

Being a dad makes me proud of myself.

I’m also excited about being a dad at different stages of Baby R’s life. I love that I will get to teach him things I really don’t know a lot about, but he’ll believe that I do because I’m his dad (lost Kelly a long time ago on this matter). I’m excited to teach him things I do know, and learn new things about myself. I’m excited to figure out the most important things and make sure Baby R grows up knowing that. I’m excited to be a coach, to golf with him someday, and to beat him at every sport for at least 12 years.

So, bring on the dadbod, sleepless nights, coordinating outfits, bottle bags, and trying to get a run in when Baby R is sleeping. Bring on the next chapter and here’s to it being the best one yet!

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32 Things I’ve Learned in 32 Years

First of all, I should have written this post yesterday (on my birthday), but the fact that I didn’t takes me right into one of the most important things I’ve learned in 32 years…

(1) don’t procrastinate

It’s easy to put things off, start something difficult after the weekend, or wait to really dive in until you’ve solidified a plan of action, but the truth is, it’s best to start something now and figure it out along the way. Speaking of starting now and not waiting,

(2) eat healthy NOW, (3) make exercise a priority, (4) find a hobby that keeps you fit, (5) go to bed early and get good sleep

I think this is something I figured out closer to my 30’s and I wish I would have put more effort toward it in my teens and 20’s. I put a lot of stock into the present when I was younger, but as I got older I began to see the value in banking good habits for my future.

(6) money is important, (7) money is not as important as happiness

I have friends that place very little value on money, which I can’t fully get behind. However, they do seem very happy, which is more important than money. While money sets a floor for what you can do and where you can go in life, don’t let it be the driver for what it is you do in life.

(8) dogs are awesome

They just are. You get to give them voices and nick names and personalities and watch them chase birds and steal your girl’s heart and steal your heart.

(9) dogs are ass holes

You also get to see them lick their butt, let your girl tell you, “you’d do it too if you could,” have a discussion about how you wouldn’t even if you could, secretly question if you believe that or not, and have to see your bathroom trash get eaten every time you forget to shut the door.

(10) babies are scary

Get back with me in a year and I’ll confirm this, but between money and caring for a human life, which rumor has it is more difficult that caring for a dog’s life, it can be scary.

(11) Sports fandom is weird

The Lions will never win the Super Bowl… and I question if they will win another playoff game in my lifetime. It’s so stupid that a sports team can upset me so much or make me so happy, but it does.

(12) find your person

I think I’ve maybe said this before on this blog, but before I met Kelly, I thought that I had to be the absolute best version of myself before I could find my person. I had to have the job and be in 10/10 shape and then I would be able to find my person. The truth is, when I accepted that I was OK with myself and allowed myself to find my person, I stated becoming the person I wanted to be. Finding your person has a profound way of improving you and bringing out the best version of yourself.

(13) do what you love

And I don’t mean for a living, although that is a great bonus if you can do that. But, do things you enjoy and that make you smile. For me, I love writing, running, this crazy sport called obstacle course racing… I think there is a fear associated with all those things that when you start, you won’t be good enough or no one cares what you have to say. But, I don’t do those things because I want to impress anyone other than myself (and my wife just a little).

(14) care a little more (15) care a little less

Appearance, health, body odor, showing up on time, replying to texts/emails … care a little more.

Whether or not people like you, whether you look funny trying something new, impressing others, being perfect, looking cool… care a little less.

(16) go places

Literally. Spend a little money and go somewhere new. It will be worth it. Move to Minnesota if you feel like it. Travel to Ireland if you’ve always wanted to go. In 32 years, there has never been a dollar I’ve regretted spending traveling.

(17) go places

Figuratively. Read if that takes your mind off of something stressful. Smoke pot if that relaxes you (as long as you don’t make that the focus…. kids, stay in school). Watch movies, play music, dance, do what you have to do to make the most out of the places you spend the most time.

(18) be nice to people

Being nice is better than being cool, and the sooner you start practicing that, the better off you’ll be.

(19) love your family

There’s a Kacey Musgraves song about family is family whether in church or in prison… it’s the truth. Those people are where you came from and shaped who you are. A big part of loving yourself is loving, or at least accepting, your family (FYI since half of everyone who reads this blog, and 90% of the people who have read this far on this post ARE my family, I love all of you).

(20) enjoy others’ hobbies

This one might sound strange, but take part in your friends’ and family’s hobbies. Let someone else be the expert and feel like they’re teaching you something and they will appreciate you that much more.

(21) audiobooks, man. Audiobooks

You can still say you read the book if you listened to it in the car on the way to vaca.

(22) get a real email

It’s 2017, if you still have an AOL or WOWway email address, you’re not doing it right.

(23) have good shoes

It all starts in your feet people. Bad shoes lead to bad posture, sore knees and ankles, a bad back. It also leads to sloppy appearance. Invest in a good pair of everyday shoes, athletic shoes, work shoes, and going out shoes.

(24) take a look around

Don’t be so focused on your phone. It’s OK to be bored sometimes and not refresh Instagram 26x an hour.

(25) pay attention

I’m kind of listing things as I go, so these aren’t in any sort of order, but this one is important. Pay attention. Pay attention to people, to your body… listen to the wind blowing or some distant train engine and remember how incredible this world is. Batman paid attention, and he turned out pretty good.

(26) be a good example

Someone looks up to you, whether you know it or not. It’s not just your family either. Be the person someone else points to and says, “now that is someone who has it figured out (event if you really don’t).

(27) experiment

I think this word has a negative connotation because if there was a top four list on Family Feud, and Steve said “tell me something you’ve experimented with,” chances are they’d be drug or sex related. That’s not what I mean. Experiment with things to see what you like. Experiment with foods, sports, games, places to live, places to travel, etc.

(28) learn

Learn by reading, listening, watching, feeling, doing, using logic, failing, trying, falling, succeeding.

(29) take things seriously (30) but not too seriously

There is a time and a place for everything. Take the things you care about seriously, but make sure you don’t have just one perspective on anything. Joke with your wife, but follow through on the things she wants.

(31) remember where you came from

Hold on to your memories. Remember your wedding, your grandma’s funeral, your dad’s heart attack. Remember the home run you hit when you were nine years old and watched your dad flying down the left foul line going after it. Remember as much as you can and tell the people you love about it when they need to hear it. Memories make for the best stories and the best ways to make a point.

(32) look ahead

Bringing it full circle, now. Everything kind of leads to this, right? The reason we eat right and exercise, the reason we listen and learn, and the reason we put effort toward the important things is because we need to always be looking ahead. After 32 years, it’s easy to get caught up in being “old as shit (ah-hem…),” but the truth is there is always so much to look ahead and prepare yourself.

I wish I had some big “lesson learned” message to pass on, but the truth is that I have just as much to learn going forward. I guess the best thing I can say is to not get caught up in numbers, and just take every day as it comes and be present.

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.

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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

 

Golden advice from a dental assistant that changed my life

Sometimes people give you advice that is meant to get out of a rut in life. “Keep your chin up,” “persistence pays off,” or “when life hands you lemons…” This kind of advice is solid, but it is more of an overarching, catchall-type thing you say to someone when you don’t have any specific advice for a specific problem they have.

Such was not the case in regards to the advice I unexpectedly got from the woman who gets in there before the dentist and does most of the grunt work (ie – the real hero in the dental office [even though she was going HAM on my teeth with the scraper thing, but I digress]).

After the plaque-scraping-around-my-gums fun was over, she began to polish my teeth, and began to tell me that I had “two internal fractures” in one of my front teeth. She gave me a mirror and pointed them out. Sure enough, two little horizontal lines were streaking across my front tooth like tiny rivers on a little white map.

My first thought was “how am I going to fix this? Do I need a tooth cast? Will my tooth just break off when I am eating breakfast?” But then, my 50-something dental assistant began giving me some of the best advice I would never have thought to ask for.

Keep in mind, there was no joking around when she gave me this advice — in her mind, this was info I might not have otherwise thought of, and should take seriously to protect my fractured tooth.

She told me that I should try to avoid getting hit in the face, specifically in the mouth. She told me that if I were ice skating and should fall on the ice, that I should NOT allow myself to fall without bracing myself and landing directly on my face. I should instead put my hands up, or better yet, put my hands up and turn my head so that I would not absorb the impact directly on my mouth.

While she’s telling me this, she is polishing, spraying water in my mouth and using the little water vacuum to pull it right back out, rendering me unable to ask any follow up questions regarding a potential ice skating incident that may or may not be in my short term future. Before I could say anything, she thought the need to elaborate on other situations where I might be in danger, and without a plan to protect my tooth.

She cautioned me to be wary of, and I am going to throw this one in quotes because you’d think I were exaggerating otherwise, “parties where people are swinging around beer bottles and you might get hit in the face.”

This woman is cautioning me about not being at parties where people opening swing beer bottles around at face-level. Parties where everyone is playing whack your neighbor in the hip with your beer bottle, sure we’ve all been there, but I can’t imagine a party where you need to be worried about getting hit in the face with a beer bottle! I mean, I’m glad I canceled my Pete Townshend themed Edward 40-Hands birthday party this year, right?

And she was dead serious. Mind you, I went to the dentist at 11:20 on a Wednesday. It wasn’t like I got the 6:00 a.m. on Saturday and I came straight from the rav. I was wearing slacks and a collar shirt. Granted, I’m sure there are some white collar workers who like to turn it up on the weekends, but the advice still felt a little out there.

She did go on in regards to the swinging beer bottle parties I might attend… Like the ice rink, if I were to see someone swinging a bottle that was going to hit me in the face, I should (and I swear to god this happened, she stopping cleaning my teeth to demonstrate this) I should turn my head (she did this) and put my hands up to block that beer bottle (she did this).

So here I sat, mouth full of fluoride and spit, watching this 50-something woman turn and block an invisible beer bottle with cleaning tools in her hands. This was, needless to say, not the last piece of advice I thought I would get as I finished up at the dentist. Let’s handicap this — before I went in yesterday, if someone gave me 1,000,000:1 odds that the last piece of advice I’d get before leaving wouldn’t be “floss more” or “make sure you wear your night guard,” but instead “protect your face from swinging beer bottles,” I would not have given you the dollar that would have won me a million.

People say you learn something new everyday — that’s one of those blanket-phrase pieces of advice that you take with a grain of salt and forget about as soon as you hear it. However, yesterday, from the unlikeliest of sources, I learned one of the most valuable lessons I don’t know that I’ll ever forget.

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Fill in the Blank: 2017 – The Year of ___

So my wife and I have been doing something fun each of the past two years, and if you read this blog, you know that 2015 was the year of concerts and 2016 was the year of Travel/Yes. We have kind of joked about 2017 being the year of “yes, continued,” but that kind of feels like cheating.

Here’s how the “Year of” works… Basically, anything you want to do within the general parameters of the word or phrase, you get to do without any (too much) fight from the other person.

Example:

Kelly: “What do you think about going up to Pittsburgh for a night, then doing a race there the next day?

Ryan: “OK. Then do you want to go up to Canada the next week for a different race?”

K: “Seems far, but sure! #YoY right?”

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I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how that conversation went down. 2016 ended up being probably the most fun year of my life. We traveled to Grand Cayman, Destin, Ireland, Pittsburgh, and Canada. Toss in a few trips up to Cleveland to see the family and probably one other weekend trip I’m forgetting about.

So 2017 has to be good. I don’t know if it will be able to top 2016, but so far, every year has been better than the one before. I know Kelly and I want to do some more races, and no less than one of us has some big plans for some house updates and projects, but we are otherwise fairly open.

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Maybe 2017 will be the year of business? Kelly and I have committed to refocusing our brands (Sweat Local Columbus, Local Anywhere) to figure out what the best way is to make those two things as successful as possible. We have had some high’s and low’s on both of those fronts, but I think we’re starting to figure out what does and doesn’t work and will attack both of those next year with more passion and purpose.

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Or maybe 2017 will be the year of fitness. I think having had a taste of what the OCR world can offer, I love the idea of (broken record word of the day) focusing my training so that I can be a better racer. I think Kelly and I are both learning a few things about better ways to eat and train so that we can be the best and healthiest versions of ourselves.

Side conversation – the other day, we had some siding coming off the side of our house. I fixed a piece of it with a ladder, but another piece was up near the top of the house and was too high for me to reach with the ladder. So I went through the bedroom window to the first level of our roof, and was able to Irish Table my way up on to the second level of our roof. I know this level of fitness doesn’t mean a whole lot, like, being able to get up on top of my roof isn’t a reason to get fit, but it makes me feel good knowing that I can. I feel like there is very little I can’t do, which in itself makes me extremely happy.

Or, maybe 2017 will be the year of something much more significant. Whatever the case, I’m open to suggestions and really hope that whatever we decide to do with this upcoming year, it’s as exciting and brings us as much joy as the year of concerts and the year of travel/yes.

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.

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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.

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