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

 

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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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!

What’s New

So, I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like (in fact, the last time I had written just one post in a month was August 2015….until last month), but there has been a lot going on in the life….so what better way to catch the world up on little old me than with a post titled “what’s new?” It’s very clever in that, “I’m going to name my band The Dave Matthews Band” kind of way.

Actually, it might sound more official if I call it, “The Declaration of What’s New.”

Nope. Changing it back…

OK, so as you might (or might not) know, Kelly and I just put on Sweat Local Columbus, and it was a big hit! See below:

While the event is still fresh, we want to begin growing the SLC brand by doing monthly meet-up type of events around the city. We’ll be hosting different studios, trainers, and groups to have unique, one-of-a-kind workouts in unique locations that will also feature some kind of “extra vendor,” either a pop-up shop from one of Columbus’ local workout gear vendor or even local restaurants or breweries (we don’t discriminate… there is room for alcohol in healthy lifestyles!).

So that’s new in the life…

Kelly and I are also doing crossfit. I won’t get too deep into it because I feel like there is a negative stereotype with people who do crossfit only wanting to talk about their workouts. While I could go on, I’ll leave it at this to debunk that stereotype and just leave it at this…

I assume that sooner or later, the sore I feel will turn into strong…

As I’ve mentioned 100x on this blog, 2016 is both “The Year of Yes” and “The Year of Travel.” There’s been a hole lot of “yes” going on up until this point, and the travel half of 2016 is about to get going.

Vegas in two weeks…

Ireland in a month…

Pittsburgh in two months…

Canada in two and a half months…

It’s getting real, and it’s no longer something that we’re looking forward to, rather something that we have to actually start putting some things in motion so we have all our bases covered. With only having a dog and knowing how much work it is to make sure he’s taken care of, I can only imagine what it might be like to try to juggle any sort of traveling with a human puppy.

Not necessarily newsworthy, but aside from my blog game slacking, so too has my social media game. Since SLC, I haven’t really done much in the world of Instagram or Snapchat. I’m hoping with all these adventures coming up, I’ll get back on track and refocus on the things (you know, snaps with my Bitmoji’s) that are really important.

If these next three months go anywhere near what I think they will, there’s going to be a lot of exciting things coming out of the various “Ryn8985” accounts!

I’d also be excited to hear what everyone else has planned for the back-half of 2016!