December 29, 2008

The holidays

My little girl understood Christmas for the first time this year. She was looking forward to Santa Clause coming. She understood about the presents. Most importantly she understood that it was Jesus B-day. She sang the happy B-day song to Jesus almost everyday. Very sweet.

My son watched my daughter open a couple gifts & figured out exactly what to do. He got on a roll with the present opening to say the least. He squealed every time he opened a new gift & saw what it was. His favorite present was a Pooh teddy bear;)

2 days after Christmas I had annual leave from work so we could watch UFC 92. A guy training out of Albuquerque won the light heavy weight championship belt, first NM'er in MMA to win a championship.

My 2 best buds Jimmy & Brandy came over to watch it with my family & I. Jimmy brought his bike & indoor trainer over & we pumped out a Chris Carmichael sprinting DVD before the fight. Great workout, great company.

On Friday my son woke up from his nap & yelled Mommy for the first time. Then On Saturday he woke up from a nap & yelled Daddy. I was very touched. I must admit I got very teary eyed. This was the best Holiday season I've ever had, by far. God really has blessed me.

Last Sunday I rode my bike to church which is a 40 mile ride one way. The temp was 20 degrees when I started. My feet, hands, & torso were very cold by the time I got to church.

This Sunday it was even colder on my ride to church, 13 degrees, so I tried a couple things differently. I tried a new pair of gloves, a pair of Pearl Izumi Lobster claw gloves to see if it would help fight off the cold better. They did. So much for my $70 Gore-Tex cold weather cycling gloves. Those were no good. Which surprised me because the Pearl Izumi gloves were cheaper but much more affective. I wore 3 water wicking base layer shirts & a wind breaker on top that fellow Clydesdale Jason McClure gave me a couple weeks ago. It was the perfect combination. The 3 layers of clothing pulled all the sweat from my skin & pushed it up against my wind breaker like they was supposed to. It was so cold that once the sweat reached the windbreaker the sweat froze. Check out the pick I took when I took off the wind breaker. That's sweat, not snow.

So no problems fighting the cold on my hands or torso at all. My feet were still cold the last hour of my ride. I'm really hoping Performance bikes sends me my new cold weather cycling boots soon.

My water bottles froze 30 minutes into the ride so I was unable to drink any fluids on the ride. I think dehydration was the reason both of my hamstrings were cramping going up Heart Break Hill. I think if I start keeping my bottles in my cycling jersey underneath the wind breaker my body temperature will keep the fluid from freezing. I'll try it next Sunday & let you know how it works. All in all I am really enjoying my Sunday long rides. It's a great challenge & the conditions have broken up the monotony of the usual same old rides.

I am looking at my last couple weeks, heck, my whole life in general & have realized how lucky I really am. Everything is going better than I could ever hope for. Well, everything except my battle with my weight. I've been trying to lose weight. In the last 2 weeks instead of losing I've jumped up from 226 to 232. Pretty much no way to reach my goal weight of 195 by my next race on Feb 7th like I had hoped. At best I'll make my 195 goal weight by April sometime. Which means I've decided to race the entire season as a Clydesdale. No shame in that at all. It's one of the most competitive divisions in the South West. There are two people racing in the Clydesdale division that have beaten the heck out of me in races this year already. Jason McClure & George Ferland. Should be a fun & challenging season. I'll keep you informed on how the season progresses.

Thanks for tuning in & remember to give all glory to our Lord Jesus Christ.

December 22, 2008

plan to survive

Saturday night I was going in to work. I work at night. Before I left for work I pulled my road bike in the house & prepared it for my ride to church in the morning. I had to get my bike prepped before I left for work because by the time I get home at 6:15 am I only have 15 minutes to get on the road . If I get on the road any later than 6:30 am I'd be late to church.

Sunday morning as soon as I got home I threw on my cold weather riding gear, filled up the tires with air & went on my way. The temp at the start of my ride was 20 degrees. I had on my Gore-Tex cycling gloves, which unfortunately does not keep my hands warm in temps under 30 degrees like they claimed. So I put a thick pair of wool socks on top of the gloves. My hands were still very cold on the ride. But hey, if I don't mind it don't matter.

On my feet I had on a pair of socks, a grocery bag on top of the socks, my cycling shoes, another grocery bag, & lastly a pair of cold weather booties (my cold weather boots were to small so I returned them to Performance bike). My feet felt great the first 2 hrs of the ride, but since the grocery bags don't allow the sweat from my feet to escape, after 2 hrs my socks were soaked which made for feet that felt like blocks of ice. Made for a miserable last 1hr 20 minutes.

As I had said, I pumped up my tires in doors & my bike had been indoors all night. This created a problem. The temps in my house was just shy of 70 degrees, the temp outside was 20 degrees. Its common knowledge that air expands when it warms, & the opposite happens when the air gets cold. When the air in my tires went from the 70 degree temps & 120 psi, to the 20 degree temps outside the air pressure gradually decreased. It decreased a lot! So much so that the rolling resistance went up dramatically! Within an hour of riding I was struggling to keep up a speed of 11 miles per hour on the flats where I'd normally keep up over a 16 mph speed rather easily.

The other part of the ride that I struggled with was staying hydrated. My water bottles froze. Kind of hard to drink Gatorade when it is in the solid form. I know, sounds horrible. & although my decreased speeds & thirst were frustrating, I had a blast! This ride was very uncomfortable, perhaps even dangerous. But not my worst days training condition by far. My most uncomfortable day of training was 2 years ago when I went for a 45 minute run in 4 degree temps with the wind-chill it was negative 11 degrees. When I got back from my run my stomach & the top of my head were a purple-blue & completely numb to the touch. I was in beginning stages of frost bite.

Why train in such harsh conditions? Simply put I want to live. I have the will to survive. The will to fight through situations others wouldn't even think of being in. The drive to not give up when most people would curl up into a ball & hope for mercy is not accidental. It is a mindset. The will to fight is not something people are born with. It's something that has to be harvested. It takes conscious mental training. After 13.5 years of working at the penitentiary I have learned what it takes to live. It takes mindset to survive no matter what the conditions are.

There was a case in California where a teenage kid was shot in the bicep by the cops. It was just a grazing shot. Not at all life threatening. The police told the kid out of spite, knowing it to be untrue, "I don't think your going to make it kid." The teenager died right there. The kid wasn't mentally prepared to fight for life. He heard something he wasn't expecting. He gave up.

There's been numerous times where I've seen inmates stabbed. But they rarely die. I've seen first hand where inmates were stabbed 20-30 times, & they lived. One time in particular an inmate was stabbed over 45 times with a rusted nail in the the face, eyes, neck, & chest. In less than a week he was out of the hospital & back in his cell. Why can they live getting stabbed numerous times, but an average Joe on the streets dies from one or 2 minor stab wounds? Mindset, inmates expect it to happen & are mentally prepared to fight & survive. Most people hope bad things don't happen. When something traumatic happens they go into shock. Shock is more than a physical condition. It has to do with a persons mindset. Along with the physical trauma, shock is determined also by how prepared you are mentally when your put into a position to fight or give up.

How often do you hear of a person curling up in a ball when they start getting beat up. Why did they curl into a ball, stop fighting & hope their attackers compassion saves them? Mindset. They should know they're going to take punishment once they go down to the ground. The attacker will start kicking & stomping them, regardless of whether they curl into a ball or if they roll onto their back & try to kick the aggressors knee caps through the back of their legs. So why roll into a submissive position & give up all hope? Mindset.

Giving up is more than just becoming submissive. Giving up effects the body in ways the average guy could never know. Why does one person fight through & beat a cancer that Dr.'s gave a slim chance of beating & a person who is healthy dies shortly after their spouse passes away? Mindset. You are either prepared to survive or willing to die. There's no in-between.

I have learned to constantly imagine myself in certain situations & think how I will respond. If an inmate jumps me & I'm suddenly in a fight for my life that I was not expecting to be in what will I do? I constantly go through that situation in my head. What will I do if he has a knife? If I get stabbed? If someone comes after me in front of my family on the streets? What will I do? I mentally train myself to fight with every ounce of strength I have in me until I win. No other option. Until I win. There's no surrender or submission. There's no shock, only attack back. Fight! I will use my fear, my strength, aggression, my love, or my anger at being in that situation. I'll strike with my fists, swing my radio like a ball & chain, I'll stab with my pen, gouge eyes, break knees, crush wind pipes, what ever it takes to come out that situation the victor. I train myself mentally to be prepared to win by ANY MEANS. & I've prepared myself to keep fighting no matter what kind of damage I sustain. I'll make them realize they are no longer the hunter. That person WILL think to themselves & very quickly, "oh crap, what have I gotten myself into. I don't think this was a good idea." I train myself to continue the fight for life even after the conflict is over. The fight for life doesn't end with the conflict. The fight continues all the way until I'm completely healed from whatever damage I sustained.

I never allow myself to think, "I'll react this way- but I hope it never happens." I have learned to expect it WILL happen. & when it does I will respond with overwhelming force & determination. & there's no situation I haven't already thought of & put myself through in my head over & over again

Before I married my wife I took freezing cold showers before work to put myself in an uncomfortable situation. To start a certain mindset. Daily I cultivated a mental toughness & will power to over come & expect uncomfortable situations. Now, I take warn showers, just in case your wondering.

A few years ago I went to go on a bike ride & it ended up getting very cold very unexpectedly. It was a miserable ride. I got home & sat in the bath tub filled with warm water trying to stop shaking & attempting to regain the feeling in my hands & feet. It hit me then that I could use triathlon training as a tool to build even more of my will to fight & survive. The will to fight through situations where most people wouldn't even have attempted. Winter is the best time to combine triathlon & building mental toughness. From here on out as long as the roads are dry, I will continue to ride the 40 miles one way to church on my bike this winter. But from now on I will remember to leave my bike outside in the shed & in the cold. I'll also pump up the tires outdoors in the cold. I'm training my mind to be tough yes, but not at the expense of speed!

Thanks for tuning in. I'm out.

December 13, 2008

Polar Bear triathlon & the SW Challenge series

This Saturday Dec 13th was the Polar Bear tri in White Sands Missile Range. It ended up being a5 k run/40k bike/ 400m swim. I had a really poor race. I'm sure the reason is because I just completed Ironman Arizona 20 days before the Polar Bear. Right off the bat I was struggling. I had a really slow run. I just couldn't seem to get up to the run speeds I have done all year. Normally my run is my strength. But today my run was flat.

My biggest competition for the series, Jason McClure, had a great run. What I normally have to do to finish ahead of him is lay a smack down on the run because he's such a superior cyclist. Then I have to try & keep his lead to 1-1.5 minutes on the bike. I can make up a 1-1.5 minutes in the water.

Today he was able to stay with me on the run & beat me silly on the bike There were at least 4 people who could easily qualify as Clydes who passed me on the bike or run & whom I was never able to repass.

I put maximum effort into the bike, but was again flat & had no ability to pick up the speeds. The bike was a 40k. About 3/4 into it I bonked pretty hard. Considering how I felt, I was happy with how I was able to dig deep & overcome the pain.

I got into the water hoping to catch some of the Clydes who had dominated me today. I was able to catch & pass 5 or 6 people, but all of them were either little guys who were obviously not anywhere near the Clyd weight or they were girls. But hey, I'm not picky. At least I was able to pass someone during this race.

Even though I finished with a poor time I had a lot of fun! I was able to hang out with fellow triathletes who are always a lot of fun & supportive The other good news is that this race is only 20 days after IMAZ & I was able to finish with no injuries. God really blessed me with pretty much a bullet proof body. I've never got hurt from racing or training (excluding 1 bike wreck or mistakenly running 800 miles on one pair of shoes).

Unfortunately the race started at 8am & at 11am at the awards ceremony the RD said the results won't be available until 3pm. Hhhmmm. I could figure out the results with a pen & paper in a couple hours. Consequently I was late getting to the South West Challenge Series awards ceremony. But, I was able to get my first place 30-34 age group champion award. All in all a great day!

I found out today that the South west Challenge series no longer gives a quarter point after our 8th race. it's just the person who has the most points up to 8 races. No extra points.

I think the series should give extra points for extra races because it encourages athletes to attend more races. There should be incentives for doing more local races. Why should there be a cap? If I hit 8 ten point races I'm unlikely to sneak in many more, if any. I mean, I'd be maxed out with points anyway. Where as if there are other people in my division who may do more than 8 races I'd be forced to do more to stay competitive. If the series only allows the best 8, after I get 8 great races in I'll just train & avoid the extra costs of gas, hotel, & entry fees. Shouldn't there be rewards for supporting more local races, not less?

Just curious if I'm the only one who thinks that way. Don't get me wrong, I'm very gratefull for the SW series. Best thing since sliced bread. But it could be better by bringing back the bonus points.

Thanks for tuning in.

December 02, 2008

stupid M-dot tattoo & my weekly weight

On to other not so good news. I got an Ironman tattoo on the back of my calf the day after IMAZ. A few days later it had scabbed up well, & I went on a swim. I was in the water long enough that the scab became very soft from being water logged. After I got out of the water I squatted down to pick up my swim gear from the pool deck. Apparently a water logged scab from a tattoo is very fragile. When I squatted down my swim suit rubbed the scab & a good portion of the skin below off. It didn't hurt at all & I keep my tattoo's hygienic, so it's not like there was pain or a serious risk of infection Now that a few days has passed I see somehow ripping off the scab had taken most of the color from my tat. So instead of a red M-dot, it's now a pink one. I called my tattoo guy & he said I couldn't get it recolored until it was fully healed. That would be approximately 5 weeks. Most winters that wouldn't be a problem because I would not be wearing shorts. But on Dec 13th I have the Polar Bear which I'll be wearing a one piece tri suit & my new pink Ironman tattoo will be clearly visible to all 300 fellow competitors & their families, race support crews etc. Uugg. I can't believe this. Make bad to worse people will assume bad things because I live in Santa Fe. Oh man. The things that happen to me. I'd laugh if I wasn't horrified.

I weighed in at 221 this morning. 26 pounds until my goal weight. No problem. Last year I had 61 pounds to lose to get to that same weight. I learned much about my body last year. It should be pretty easy to get to 195 by my next A race, The dessert classic duathlon in Phoenix Az on Feb 22nd 2009.
An Ironman is a major accomplishment for any athlete. But I saw something at Ironman Arizona that straight blew my mind. There was a guy there who did the entire bike leg on a BMX single speed! He was #417. He finished the bike leg in 8:28 minutes & the entire race in 16:27 minutes. I felt that guy needed props.