Saturday, December 7, 2013

Disneyland with the Mickey Ears

"A Kind Rhyme For Friends"

A man, living west on the coast,
Asked himself, what matters most?
Is it money or fame,
Or outlandish claims,
That to others just sound like a boast?

None of all that matters much.
They're no more than nonsense and such.
At the end of the day,
They all go away,
And fade at the slightest of touch.

So what is it, when push comes to shove,
Gentle but strong, like a velvet glove?
It's simple but true,
The power in you,
To hope and to help and to love.

All of this I know firsthand.
It's something that I understand.
My family and friends
Give me love without end
And I wear their strength like a brand.

So thank you to those in my life.
Stronger than hurt, pain or strife.
And to those who'd hurt you,
A warning or two,
Bitch, I'll straight up cut you with my knife.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

30-60-90 Challenge

It's been a fun couple of months, sure, but it's time for me to refocus on my fitness and health goals. I've been active in big running events, but my training routine has suffered. Worse, my eating has become less about nutrition and moderation and more about speed and convenience.

Not surprisingly, my weight reflects my lack of fitness and my abundance of calories. And I am not okay with that. It isn't that I've gained pounds, because I'm not obsessed with weighing any particular number. It's that no longer feel fit. I have lost speed and stamina in my running and my core strength is noticeably weaker than it was even one year ago.

What do I do when I notice a problem? I jump full-on into a challenge that, hopefully, will help get me back on track. And this time is no exception.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my 30-60-90 Challenge.

For the next 30 days, I will complete the following:
  1. Run 3 miles, 3 times per week
  2. 30 crunches each day
  3. 30 pushups each day
  4. Eat within my calorie range 30% (2 days) of the week
For the next 30 days, I will complete the following:
  1. Run 6 miles, 3 times per week
  2. 60 crunches each day
  3. 60 pushups each day
  4. Eat within my calorie range 60% (4 days) of the week
For the next 30 days, I will complete the following:
  1. Run 9 miles, 3 times per week
  2. 90 crunches each day
  3. 90 pushups each day
  4. Eat within my calorie range 90% (6 days) of the week
I will likely find some other physical activities to do, especially during the first thirty days, and I will not overindulge on food on the non-tracking days just because I can. But I am easing myself back into a routine and think this progressive plan will be a challenge but also doable.

My challenge ends on February 15th, and I will celebrate that milestone with the California 10/20 Race, a ten mile coastal run here in North County San Diego. It will be fun to run in an organized event again feeling more physically fit and mentally ready.

So, here we go with my 30-60-90 Challenge!

Big Events Do Not Equal Great Training

It's been a crazy two months of running, including the Capital to Coast Relay, two separate Ragnar Relays, and the Marine Corps Marathon. It was a lot of big event types of things, and I loved (nearly) every minute of it.

But, here's the thing about events like that. They have a negative impact on my overall training.
Instead of a good week of training, I might only have a single training run during the week. Other days, I'm busy with travel, company, expos, sightseeing, etc.

Running the Marine Corps Marathon, for example, is way more than just one day's activity. It's a travel day there and a travel day back. It's an afternoon at check-in and the expo. It's dinners with friends and drinks after. It's a day to explore the city and play tourist. All and all, it was five days away from San Diego and my normal routine.

Now, multiply that type of weekend by the last eight weeks, and you get a better idea of how my training has fallen by the wayside. Sure, I ran from Austin to Corpus Christi one weekend. But I only ran 16 or so miles of it. And I was away from San Diego from Thursday through Sunday again. Another week, another several days of not working out at all.

I don't regret any of the events. I have had an amazing couple of months. From September 19th through November 9th, I have been coast to coast!

San Francisco to Napa, Ragnar Relay
MCRD San Diego, Boot Camp Challenge
Denver, Steampunk Wedding
San Diego, playing host 
Austin to Corpus Christi, Capital to Coast Relay
DC, Marine Corps Marathon
Hollywood, Hard Rock 5k
Las Vegas, Ragnar Relay

For now, though, my steady-travel days are on hold. And I have a plan to get myself back into my training routine. But that's for another blog.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ragnar Vegas - Live Blogging?

Okay, this was a bad idea. I'm just gonna do updates on Facebook and I'll blog later.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ragnar Vegas - Hello, Sin City!

And we're here!

Ragnar Vegas - Fun with markers

Stop at Target for window markers.  Check!  Have fun with said markers.  Check!

Begin 80s dance party in the car.

CHECK!!!  It. Is. ON!!!

Ragnar Vegas - Lunch!

Of course, it's not a road trip without a stop for food.

Ragnar Vegas - Road Trip

We are officially on the road to Vegas. Ragnar, here we come!

Ragnar Vegas - Live Blogging

It's time for Ragner Vegas, and I decided that I'm going to live blog the entire event. Not sure how well it will work, but we'll find out.

First up, Kelsey and I have to go get the rental car.

Oh, and this is Kelsey!

Monday, October 14, 2013

And The Student Will Become The Master.

Not so long ago, a Marine Corps Brother of mine kept seeing my posts about health and fitness and decided to make a few changes of his own. Shortly after, I had the honor and joy of accompanying him on his first half marathon run. It was a brutal experience for him, but he stuck with it and finished all 13.1 miles.
The last mile of the half marathon, and Jeff is all go and no quit!

Fast forward to yesterday's Depot Days Run. That same Marine Corps Brother, Jeff Lester, took first place in his age division for the 5 Mile Run. And he has the big, shiny trophy to prove it.

Who got a shout-out? This guy. How cool is that?!

I imagine Jeff is feeling proud of himself, but honestly, he can't be any prouder than I am of him. He credits me for getting him started, but this is really a story of full circle inspiration. Because right now, I am seeing what he is doing and thinking, "hey, it's time to step up my training if I want to keep up with this guy... he's a rock star!"

I'll see Jeff later this week in Texas. We are both teammates, running the Capital to Coast Relay from Austin to Corpus Christi. And right now, I'm just hoping I can keep pace with him.

Congrats, Brother. You earned it!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What happens when I'm the jerk.

So, this blog isn't about me being awesome. Or me being amazing. Or me being anything good at all. It's about two separate occasions when I realized that I was the jerk.

First up, my trip to Colorado last weekend for the wedding of a Marine Corps brother and his amazing fiance'. Through the bride and groom, I met many wonderful new people that were also involved with the wedding. Unfortunately, my sense of humor managed to make one of those people very uncomfortable, and I have no one to blame but myself.

In an attempt to be funny and mock people who are racist, I made a comment that I thought would be obviously understood as entirely contrary to what I believe. But to the other guest, who is also the adopted father of two multi-race young children, the comment sounded serious enough that he actually asked the bride later if I "had a problem with black people."

No, he wasn't being overly sensitive. And no, he wasn't just looking to be offended. I knew what I meant by my joke, but I had no right to assume he would feel the same. And if the situation was reversed, and I was the one on the receiving end of the comment, I would likely have questioned him, as well.

So to that Father, I offer this very sincere and public apology. I spoke without considering those around me, I made you uncomfortable, and I sounded like an asshole. I am sorry. And all I can do is try to remember this the next time I decide to be "clever."

Next up, this morning and me signing up for the VFW Mane Event. It's a fundraiser for the VFW and for military servicemen and women dealing with PTSD. People sign up to get a military haircut on Veterans Day, and other people donate money to encourage them. Simple, right? What could go wrong there?

When I signed up, I had the option of registering as an individual, starting my own team, or joining a team already in place. I scrolled through the teams, found one called "PTSD Sucks," and decided to partner with them. I registered, joined the team, and made my own donation to kick off my fund-raising efforts.

Afterwards, I decided to drop a note to the team captain introducing myself. I clicked through the links and found his email address. Imagine my surprise when I saw that it was an email address for Liberty University ( Yep, THE Liberty University. The one founded by Jerry Falwell. The one that is on record as being proudly, adamantly, and defiantly anti-gay. And I just joined a team captained by someone connected somehow with the university.

My first thought? Get off the team. Why do I want to align myself with someone who obviously is anti-gay? But it was too late, since I had already made my own first donation. I could sign up again, but I would lose my own money and I would then have two profiles out there as a participant.

My second thought? Wow, I'm being a complete jackass. I'm judging this team captain as being a bigot just because of his email address. Honestly, the hypocrisy was a gut punch. He wasn't the bigot, I was. Sure, we might have different opinions on many things. But we both obviously feel strongly enough about military veterans and the need to support them as they return home that we signed up for the event to help. What kind of jerk was I to judge him as anything less than honorable, committed, and caring? What would *I* think if he had been the one to search my email address, see a picture of my husband and I, and decide to kick me off the team because I'm gay?

To the team captain, I say that I am sorry for presuming what I did about you. I had no right to think the worst of a person who had only presented themselves as a person who wanted to help Veterans. I apologize to you and I want to say that I am honored to be on your team.

It's really easy to judge other people for being racist, bigots, prejudiced, etc. It's much more difficult to recognize when we are the ones in the wrong. When that happens, the only thing we can do is admit it, make amends as necessary, and try to be a better person in the future.

And that's where I am right now.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

National Poetry Day

Storm Warning

Like a Gulf storm, he has come to my life suddenly and completely.
Will he leave the same way? Will I be here alone and empty?

Love for me has been like a southern storm,
Appearing without warning, catching me by surprise,
Emotion pouring out around me like a squall.
First the wind, then the rain, then it’s gone. And that’s all.

So here I am again, standing on the pier,
Watching the clouds forming,
Feeling, knowing, the storm is near.

What do I do now?
I could turn, run. It’s not too late.
Inside, the storm would pass me by,
Though I’d watch it, feeling alone but safe.

But I am still me,
The child who chased rainbows and believed in magic.
Not so innocent anymore, but still that child.

Let the rain come down, and the beads of water pour down my face and soak my body.
If this storm is to pass quickly, I want to enjoy every second of its glory.

But what is to be, of it, and of me,
Once this storm returns to the sea?


I wrote this poem years ago, living in Mobile, Alabama, and wondering if I would ever know what it felt like to be truly, madly, completely loved and in love. Thanks to my husband, I do know how it feels. And it is every bit as glorious as I imagined and worth everything I have risked or sacrificed to have it.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Attitude, Adjusted.

It's 3am and I'm wide awake in a hotel outside of San Francisco. Soon, I'll be in the team van heading to the start line of Ragnar Napa. 

Who's feeling better? This guy. It's amazing what good friends and an upcoming challenge can do for a guy's mood.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wanting Out.

There's no way to write this blog without just putting the truth out there, so here goes.

The last couple of weeks, I have felt completely and totally out of control. I have felt distanced from friends, been abrupt with co-workers, and responded irrationally to a seemingly unending tide of day-to-day annoyances. I feel like I'm trying to flee from my own skin, I'm so out of sorts.

Earlier this week, I found these images created by Czech photographer Michal Macku. They represent perfectly every uncomfortable and angry feeling I'm struggling with right now. The first photo I saw, with the artist literally coming apart at the seams, captured my own desire to shred my connection to everything and just be gone, away, anywhere, even if only for a moment. It's as if shedding my skin would magically transport me to a whole new dimension of peace.

I realize that sounds so melodramatic and desperate, and that's so much farther off the chart than I am really am. But the idea of being able to step outside of my life for a moment definitely has its appeal.

The second photo was much more specific for me. Who hasn't imagined anonymity, the chance to go out into this world and say and do anything without repercussions or blowback? The desire is strong to engage completely anew without consideration of all of the baggage that I carry. I imagine it would be similar to striking up a conversation with a stranger on a plane, where the option to be completely honest (or creatively deceptive) would be without fall-out or consequence.

And the other side of that possibility draws me, too. Imagine having someone speak to you without presuming to know in advance how you will respond. It would be conversation in its purest form, speaking and actually listening.

Ask me what I truly want right now and I would have to answer honestly, I don't know. Is it to be left alone or to be engaged by others? Is it privacy or company?

Again, pretty melodramatic stuff, I know. It's just where my head is right now. I know I will work my way through it, because I always do. But the process takes its toll. Unfortunately for the people in my life who care about me, the process also takes its toll on them, in that they are aware of my shift in behavior and attitude but are powerless to do anything to influence it.

I will continue to do what I always do in these situations. I will go about my daily routine as if I am fine, and ultimately, "acting as if" will become my reality. I just have to keep pushing on.

And so I will.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Overscheduled, Much?

This is what my Saturdays look like from now through mid-November:

Sep 14 - Intersection Permissions Project
Sep 21 - Ragnar Napa
Sep 28 - Boot Camp Challenge, Michelle and Jerry
Oct 05 - Steampunk Wedding Denver
Oct 12 - Rik visiting San Diego
Oct 19 - Capital to Coast Relay Texas
Oct 27 - Marine Corps Marathon Washington, DC
Nov 02 - Hard Rock 5k Hollywood
Nov 09 - Ragnar Vegas
Nov 16 - Ragnar Trail Vail Lake

I have nothing scheduled the rest of the year, and I'm thinking I need to keep it that way. Downtime is important and I am way out of balance here.

(photo credit)

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's Fan Boy Friday! Meet Tammy Rones.

I've been rather quiet this week on the blogging front, but I can't let the day go by without another edition of Fan Boy Friday.

This week, it's my friend, Tammy Rones. Here we are just before we ran the Peace, Love, Run 10K here in San Diego.

It's tough to describe Tammy and capture all that she is. On one hand, she's a tough-as-nails runner chick who will step up to do any distance, any elevation, any time of the day on a Ragnar Relay race. She's a multi-marathoner who isn't afraid of the long run, and she is an absolute joy to run beside on the long miles. On the other hand, she's a girly-girl who loves bright colors and all things shiny and sparkly.

We met through, a health and fitness website. We clicked immediately, both of us feeling a passion for running that went way beyond weight loss goals. Over the years, we have crossed paths at countless events, both of us involved with other teams but always happy to see a friend on the course. And one of these days, we will share a team and a van on a Ragnar Relay.

But she's more than a running buddy for me. She is also a sympathetic ear and a strong shoulder. She thought nothing of driving an hour out of her way to be there for me during my Grandfather's Memorial Service at Riverside National Cemetery. As she herself best explained it, "being a friend means more than just being there for the laughs, you know?" I will never be able to explain to her just how much that meant to me, how tough that day was for me.

Tammy is a powerful woman, a beautiful lady, and a true force to be reckoned with. I'm always thankful that she is on my side, and today, I wanted her (and everyone else) to know that I am a fan.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

August In The Rear View Mirror

I went into August with the best of intentions. It was going to be a perfect month, helping me refocus on my health and fitness goals.

How did I do? I wasn't perfect, definitely. But I was successful in getting myself out of the slump I have been in for the last several months. I was good but not great with my eating. I can continue to improve that. I was great with my marathon training goals. I hit every scheduled run and got my miles completed. I can continue to do that.

Overall, I'm calling it a Win! Cheers to that!

Next up, September. I'm running the Aloha Run 5k, the Ragnar Relay in Napa, California and the Boot Camp Challenge at MCRD. 

Ready... go!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sixteen Miles? Yeah, I Got This.

This is what was on my schedule:

This is what I ran:

And this is how I looked immediately afterwards:

Now, let's talk about how it all went down. Because it wasn't all pretty.

I knew the day was going to be a scorcher, so I made it a point to be out of the house and running before 6:30am. I expected the heat but I wasn't ready for the humidity. I mean, it's San Diego, and we just aren't used to weather like this.

The first five miles felt great. I could feel myself wanting to push faster, but after last week's run, I knew better. I chose to stay near my training pace and speed up at the end if I still had the energy.

The next five were tougher, mostly because of the heat. I was not hydrated enough and I wasn't carrying enough water. I know, rookie mistake. And by mile 8, I was in trouble mentally. I started thinking of a hundred reasons why I should stop.

  • I'm too hot. I could be a heat casualty if I keep going.
  • I made all my long runs this month. Quitting this one won't matter.
  • I'm already exhausted. I won't make eight more miles.
It was one excuse after another, all "proof" that I needed to stop. And I almost did. Seriously, I nearly stopped short and quit. But then I realized, my body was not the problem. I was hot and thirsty, sure, but that wasn't my problem. It was mental. I was bored. I wanted to be done with my long run.

As soon as I realized what was happening, I was able to adjust. I started thinking about September, my running plans for the whole month, the marathon coming up in October, etc. I kicked around ideas for my Super Hero costume for Ragnar Napa, too. And it wasn't really about fixing anything or making any decisions. It was just about engaging my mind while my body ran the miles.

And it worked. I got myself through my half marathon distance and knew that I would be able to hang on and get my sixteen miles in.

Mile fourteen nearly did me in, though. By this point, I was way overheated and in need of a long water break. I did a quick water bottle refill and then decided to walk and try to cool down. A quarter mile later, I felt like I was as ready as I was ever going to be. I kicked it back into high gear and got through the rest of the run.

I'm proud of this run. Yes, I walked a quarter mile. So what? I am confident that if I had not taken the extended water break, I would not have been able to get through miles fifteen and sixteen. So it was a good decision that kept me from becoming a heat casualty.

I'm proud of this run because it was a clear mental victory. I realized that I was sabotaging my own success and I took control of my thoughts. Instead of reacting, I chose to consciously think my way through the moment.

If running truly is a metaphor for life, this long run was a moment of clarity. I can choose to quit or I can choose to go after what I want, but I can't do both at the same time.

And I have to say, getting what I want feels pretty damn good.

Friday, August 30, 2013

It's Fan Boy Friday! Meet Susan Patriquin.

As if I needed another reason to love Fridays, right? But blogging about some of the amazing people in my life puts me in such a great mood. While I'm running during the week, I let my mind wander and I think about my different friends. For days, my thoughts return to the people who make my life truly worth living, and I'm happy every single time. To be honest, I never thought about that aspect of it, about how writing Fan Boy Fridays might make ME feel better. But it does. It puts the good in my life front and center and I'm reminded - again - just how fortunate I am. With that in mind, let's get to this week's Fan Boy Friday!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Susan Patriquin.

She has been a part of my life since I was a young boy, when she married my Uncle Tim and became part of the are-you-kidding-me?! huge Patriquin family. For more than thirty years, she has been a part of my life, and I am thankful every single day.

She is my Aunt, yes, but we're close in age and she feels much more like a peer. And although she lives halfway across the country in Austin, Texas, she is my go-to person when I need to vent about whatever day-to-day nonsense is bothering me.

More than that, though, she is the person who really taught me what it means to open your home and be a giving, welcoming host. Over the years, I have shown up on her doorstep alone, with Marine friends, with an entire relay race team of strangers... she never knew just who would be on the other side of the opening door. But it has never mattered. Each and every time, she has invited me and whomever was with me into her home, made us feel comfortable and at ease, and shown by example what hospitality looks like.

"Texas Toast," our Capital to Coast Relay Team
invading Casa Patriquin in October 2012. 
She is a talented decorator with an amazing eye for detail, she is a loving wife and a mother to my cousins, Tom and Stacey, and she is an "adopted Mom" to who knows how many people over the years who needed a stable and caring person in their lives. And she enjoys Jack on the rocks or a good glass of wine. What's not to love?

Susan, you are a truly fantastic person. Without exception, every single one of my friends that meet you think, "dude, she's awesome! I wish she was my Aunt!" And it's true. I am lucky. I'm glad that my Uncle had the sense to hang on to you all these years and not let you get away. You have made such a positive difference in my life and you are, truly, family.

I am a fan.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Good. Better. Best.

Oh, today is a very good day, indeed. It was my first time running since my Saturday long run debacle, and I was anxious to see how I would do.

I'll jump to the end and say, I did great. I really, really had a great run.

The run was simple enough. I was scheduled to run a warm-up mile, four faster miles, and one cool-down mile. After Saturday's screwed up run, I was determined to strike the right balance between pushing myself and overdoing it. And I really got it right.

This was my scheduled pace for the six miles:

But at my third mile, I felt strong and I felt fast. And I thought, pfft, why not try to just get the run finished in less than an hour? So I decided to do it at this pace:

But something clicked in my head and I thought, come on, why not get a full 10K in the hour? I knew that I wold have to really step it up for the last two miles, and I did.

It's not easy knowing when "push yourself" becomes "too far," but I think it's worth trying to figure it out. I had an amazing run today and I feel very proud of myself for the extra effort. And this is the face of someone who pushed hard, kept going, and stepped up to the extra challenge.

It's a good day, indeed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Accepting The Challenges in 2014

I've been running for nearly three years now, and I'm still on the lookout for new challenges. For 2014, I think I have found the perfect events.

I will repeat my 2012 challenge, the Triple Crown Series, which is three half marathons here in San Diego. It's the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January, the La Jolla Half Marathon in April, and the America's Finest City Half Marathon in August.

I will also be running the Beach Cities Challenge, which is three full marathons. I'll run the Surf City Marathon in February, the OC Marathon in May, and the Long Beach Marathon in October.

In addition to those six events, I will also be running Ragnar Del Sol in February, the Irish Run 17k in Arizona in March, Ragnar SoCal in April, the Ventura Marathon in September, the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Ragnar Tennessee, and the Atlanta Marathon, all in October. And I'm pretty sure there are other events that I just can't remember right now.

These are big, big challenges. And I can do them.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Not This Year, Ventura.

Two weeks ago, I made a very impulsive decision to sign up for The Ventura Marathon. And when I signed up, I thought it was a great idea.

But after I spent a little more time sorting out the idea, I realized that there is a difference between impulsive and manic. And unfortunately, inserting an additional marathon into my Marine Corps Marathon training is not a sensible idea. It's a 26.2 mile run on a weekend that is supposed to only be a 7 mile Saturday.

Once I really started thinking about the extra marathon and not running it, all of the other factors seemed to fall into place. I was able to defer my registration until 2014 at no additional charge. The house I am going to stay at will still be available to me to use. And since I have a whole year to plan, I now can find friends who will either run the marathon with me or, at least, travel on the train with me to Ventura for the race weekend.

Instead of a quick up and back by myself, I will be able to plan a whole race weekend with a group of friends.

Thank you, Universe, for making the decision so crystal clear.

And Ventura Marathon? I'm coming for you in 2014!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Let's talk about my Saturday long run. It was good, it was bad, and it was ugly.

Here's the actual plan:

First, the good. I was supposed to run fourteen miles in approximately two hours and forty-four minutes. And I did it. That was very good, indeed.

The bad? I felt so good over my first ten miles that I got cocky, and that led me to make a poor decision. Fourteen miles is no small accomplishment, and I should have been content with that. But no, after mile ten, I decided that I knew better than my training plan and I pushed myself to go faster than scheduled. The first two miles weren't so bad, but the last two? Oh, they were not good.

The ugly? My plan to run fourteen miles unwound during mile thirteen. I pushed myself too hard, too fast and I paid for it at the end of the run. Instead of mile thirteen being all run, I had to stop at 12.9 and walk until I hit 13. It was disappointing, because I had intended to run it all. And as I ran the last mile, it was even worse. I had to stop at 13.4 and walk until 13.5, then again once more before finally running the last bit.

It's not a big dramatic failure, but it was humbling. The first ten miles felt so great that I lost sight of my training goals. And I paid for it. Next Saturday, when I run my sixteen mile long run, you better believe I will stay on pace.

It really does feel good to finish a long run.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. They're all a part of running, right?

Friday, August 23, 2013

It's FanBoy Friday! - Meet The Murphy's.

I've said it many times, but it's always worth repeating. Running has given me so many gifts beyond the weight loss and improved health. It's also given me experiences (Bay to Breakers, anyone?) and opportunities (From Fat to Finish!).

Most importantly, though, running has brought the most amazing people into my life. And two of those people are the object of my attention in today's FanBoy Friday.

Friends, meet The Murphy's.

Yep. In kilts. Because they're cool like that.

Kat and John Murphy. They look like two normal people, but they're not. They are quite extraordinary.

I first met them in April 2011. They were in the second van of my very first Ragnar team, and I had very little time to spend with them. Fast forward to February 2012, and I joined their team to run Ragnar Del Sol in Arizona.

Post 200 miles of running in the Arizona desert.
I knew they were good people, but until my weekend with them, I really had no idea just how generous and giving they were. They not only took on the responsibility of captaining the Del Sol team, they also opened their home to all of the runners after the relay. We had a fantastic dinner and a long night of drinks, laughter and mayhem.

In the year and a half since then, I have had the chance to really get to know them both. And I can't say enough good things about them. Their home in Arizona serves as a hub for their large group of friends, and there is always something happening. Whether it's a barbecue by the pool or an early morning run, the Murphy's make sure that everyone stays connected. And through them, I have also been fortunate enough to meet and become friends with many people in their extended circle. More win!

Thank you, Kat and John, for opening your home to me. Thank you for opening your hearts to me. And thank you for making me feel not like a guest in town, but like a family member who returns and is welcomed each time with open arms.

You two are both such giving, caring people. Being your friend is an honor. And yes, I am definitely a fan.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Life, Setbacks, and The Return of the Awesome.

Oh, life. It loves to throw you curveballs, right?

I just blogged about how my Perfect August not being so perfect, but I was still continuing with the challenge and going to keep myself on track.

And then came Wednesday, my next scheduled training run. Rather than wake up recharged and ready to go, I was exhausted from a long night of sitting up with our dog and her seizures. It was mentally and emotionally draining, which means that I was in no shape to go running. Worse still, I couldn't really even leave the house because I had to sit with the dog until Ric could get home at 3:00pm.

Yep, life happened. Between my scheduled rest day Tuesday and sitting out Wednesday, I felt like my whole training plan was off-track. Despite weeks of hitting my benchmarks, I felt like the whole plan was setback.

Fast forward to this morning. Instead of dwelling on the missed run yesterday, I just made sure I was prepared to get caught up today. My bags were packed and I was out the door and on the way to the gym by 6am.

And man, oh man, was I on fire!

My plan called for a warm up mile, a 9:31 mile, a half mile recovery jog, another 9:31 mile, another half mile recovery jog, another 9:31 mile, and a cool-down mile. Six miles today and just over an hour to do it.

By the time I hit mile 4, though, I was feeling like a crazy man. Everything felt great and I knew I could do more than I had scheduled. So I cranked up the pace and decided to run both of the last two miles at a sub-9 pace.

Yeah. I did that.

Here's what I ran compared to what I had scheduled:

It may not seem that different, but I ran two miles at a sub-9 minute pace after already running four miles.

You better believe I felt awesome after that. And I looked awesome, too.

Who's feeling completely trained and ready for a fourteen mile run on Saturday? This guy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Perfect August? More Like, "Way Better Than Before" August.

Well, it's official. Perfect August has collapsed under the weight of this weekend temptation:

Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. Nom, nom, nom.

After my 12-mile run on Saturday morning, I was craving a burger. And when I stopped by Wendy's to grab some lunch for my husband, I gave in and ordered this delicious lunch for myself, too. And with that, Perfect August and my "no fast food" challenge came to a halt.

On one hand, I'm disappointed with myself. I enjoy this sort of intense, short-term challenges, and I know I could have been strong enough to stick with this one. On the other hand, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I made a conscious choice to eat and enjoy the burger, and that's that.

More important than failing my own challenge is my response now. The old me from years ago would fall into an all-or-nothing mindset, and now that the challenge is lost, fall back into old habits, stop going to the gym, and eat whatever junk I wanted in whatever quantities I wanted.

But I'm not that guy, at least not anymore. I don't have to be an all-or-nothing fatalist about it. Yes, I had fast food over the weekend. This morning, though, I took the time to prepare my snacks and healthy lunch and pack them into my cooler to bring to the office. And then I was right back at the gym and running the recovery miles according to my Marathon Training Plan.

Short-term challenges are fun and serve a purpose, and I am going to continue this one and have the best August that I possibly can. But I won't let a single meal send me into a tailspin. The bigger picture here is my overall health and fitness, and that cheeseburger really didn't impact that at all. And since I am right back on track, I will still have a fantastic August that I can be proud of.

I may not have a Perfect August, but I will still have a way better August than if I hadn't attempted the challenge at all.

PS: To my friends who are struggling right now with their own, "I messed up and won't reach my goals," issues right now, I offer this reminder. You are not your mistake or your slip-up or your occasional bad day. You are your commitment, dedication and determination. So start acting like it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

It's FanBoy Friday! - Meet Eric Strand.

Welcome to another edition of FanBoy Friday.

This week, the shout-out from my little corner of the web goes to Eric Strand.

Which Eric Strand? Not the Swedish Olympic Fencer. Not the Editor of Donnie Darko and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. And no, not the Ultra-Marathoner. Believe it or not, this Eric Strand is cooler than all three of those guys combined. True story.

My Eric Strand is a Marine Corps Brother, Dedicated Husband, Tattooed Grandfather, Healing Practitioner and all-around bad ass kind of guy.

Exhibit A:
Note the shirt. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
And Exhibit B:
See?  A cool mantra and even cooler tattoos.

So why is he my FanBoy Friday pick? Because he's the man I want to grow up and become. He is the epitome of the Marine Corps expression, "No better friend; No worse enemy." He would do anything in the world for the people in his life, and he would stop at nothing to destroy you if you hurt those same people.

For so many reasons, I am in awe of this man. (And not just because his wife is smokin' hot and a justifiable pick for FanBoy Friday all on her own.) He inspires me with his dedication, his commitment, and his single-minded focus.

Eric, I am a fan.  Having you in my corner makes me that much more confident and I thank you for that.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Perfect August, Meet Impulsive September.

Sometimes, I surprise myself.

A kernel of an idea takes hold and, before I know it, it's become a full-fledged plan. That's what happened today.

A great friend of mine from the midwest will be coming to Los Angeles to observe the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. And since she is coming all the way here to California, I decided that I would drive the two hours north to spend some time with her. I hadn't worked out the details, but the trip was a definite.

The vague became the specific quickly. It started with an email from an old friend to a few people, me and her sister included. There was discussion back and forth about an Iron Man Triathlon in Tennessee in 2014, and a plan for my friend to escape that craziness and head to Ventura, instead. And that led to talk of the Ventura Marathon.

From there, the marathon called to me and I answered. Now, I am officially registered to run the Ventura Marathon on Sunday, September 8th.

It will be a busy weekend, certainly. It starts with running the Aloha Run 5k on Saturday morning. After that, I'll spend some time at a birthday party Saturday afternoon, then drive up to Ventura for the night. Sunday morning early, I'll run the marathon. Then I'll head to Malibu, visit with my friend, and check out some of the action at the triathlon. Finally, I hope to meet up with a different friend and celebrate her birthday. A couple hours of driving home back to San Diego and that will be the end of my crazy weekend.

It's still kind of unbelievable to me, that I can decide on a whim to run a full marathon and have the confidence to know that I can do it. My life is so different today than it was a few short years ago.

And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Suck It, Barter Hill.

I'll admit, I have been feeling pretty cocky about my marathon training. The shorter distances and slower paces have been pretty easy. Heck, even the 10 mile run last Saturday wasn't too bad.

But today was different. I was a few minutes into my warm-up mile and I already felt like it was going to be a bad run. At the mile mark, I increased my pace to 10:09 per mile. And less than a half mile later, I hit Barter Hill.
This doesn't feel good today. You could do the miles, instead.
You're just hungry from not eating breakfast. You should run the miles after work.
So what if you blow off one training run? You're still running twelve miles Saturday.
See? Barter Hill. It's where I start making deals with myself to do anything except complete the task at hand.  It starts with a kernel of self-doubt and builds to a full-blown attack on my confidence and determination.


I dig deep, tell myself there is no way around the task except to finish it, and I keep going. That's what happened today. I shook off the "stop" attitude, turned the music up a bit louder, and fought to find a running rhythm. At the end of my scheduled five mile run, I felt powerful and successful.

It doesn't always work. Sometimes, the voices of doubt get too loud and I cave. When that happens, I feel like crap emotionally long after any physical soreness would have faded. And that's my lesson, the big take-away.

Don't let temporary weakness (physical or mental) become more than it is. Push back and fight back. The victory at the end is that much sweeter knowing how much you worked for it.

Confidence, like sweat, is very sexy.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Want to run the blah blah blah?" "Sure!"

I'm just the guy who can't say no, apparently. Ask me to join you for a running event and my response is, "shut up and take my money!"

Want to see what it looks like? Here's my running schedule for Oct/Nov:

  • Oct 18-19 Capital to Coast Relay (Austin, Texas)
  • Oct 27 Marine Corps Marathon (Washington, DC)
  • Nov 2 Hard Rock 5k (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Nov 8-9 Ragnar Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Nov 15-16 Ragnar Trail Vail Lake (Temecula, CA)
Yep. I'm booked with a different running event every weekend for five weekends in a row.

I'm a runner. Stop me before I register again.*

* I'm kidding. There's no stopping me!