Beyond Iron
Life … when the training is finished

Aug
22

Middle Fork, American River, Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, California – August 2008

Training complete: 17 weeks – Until race: 13 weeks

Thursday’s workout: Swim 1.854 miles, Bike 23.71 miles

Friday’s workout: Swim 1.854 miles, Run 8.45 miles

Saturday’s workout: Bike 62 miles, Walk (I had no juice to run) 1.43 miles

Sunday’s workout: Run 6.296 miles; Bike 12.5 miles

Week totals: Swim 5.562 miles; Bike 109.1 miles; Run 26.726 miles

This week was the most grueling week of training yet. Thursday required 30 minutes of full blast biking – we’re talking the kind where you stand up on your bike and pump as hard as you can. Friday required 10 minutes of running in a sprint, followed by 65 minutes of keeping an 8:57/mile pace. Saturday – the grandaddy of ’em all – was a 62 mile behemoth of a bike ride: big hills – big, big hills, including an almost 1,000 foot climb over 4.5 miles – and lots and lots of headwinds. And Sunday, required me to find some leftover gas at the crack of dawn to try to crank out something resembling a run. At times, I loved it. At times, I just wished it was over.

It’s times like these you ask: what the hell am I doing? And then, when it’s done, you’re like … hell, yeah. I just did that. As Brody would say: Boo-yah, chip!

A little bragging: I’m muscle all over the place, in places I haven’t been in a long time – forearms, quads, ass. I’ve lost between 25 and 30 pounds since March 1. From 215 to 185. I feel like I’m swimming in my old shirts. I can wear things I once asked: why did I keep this? Now I know.

After my morning run and bike, I spent the day with Heidi, Beckett and Brody and Bartlett Lake – a beautiful lake buried deep in the Sonoran Desert. We packed a big lunch, we brought fold out chairs and sat them in the lake. Swam with the kids most of the afternoon and enjoyed what was, ultimately, a beautiful late summer desert day. At the lake it was just 93 degrees. That’s practically fall weather. Beck and I went fishing. We ate Cheetos and potato chips. We got sun kissed. And then we came home and ate sushi (the kids had pizza) and watched some good lame-o kid fare – Beverly Hills Chihuhua. Kids were in bed by 7:15 p.m.

Great day. Great week.

I’s finally Sunday. And I just want to relax; not spend too much time in front of the computer. So I’m just going to cut it short here.

This next week will see my first race – the Olympic distance tri (1 mile swim, 24 mile bike, 6.2 mile run). Not sure if I will do this Thursday, Sunday or Monday. It depends on how my schedule plays out.

I know some of you have asked about the food report – as in what I’m eating – that will come after week 19. So, literally, two weeks from now. Haven’t done a good job of recording everything that I’ve consumed. But it is a lot, lately. I know one day last week, I ate like 5 meals, including half a large pizzeria pizza in between.

But for now, I just wanna relax. Methinks I’ve earned it.

– Ed

Aug
18

Me, the wife, the kids – Dreamy Draw Recreation Area – Phoenix, Arizona – November 2009

Training completed: 16 weeks, 3 days – Until race: 13 weeks, 4 days

Today’s training: Bike 10.89 miles; Run 3.1 miles

Originally, I was going to title this post “Harmony.” But I think I like “Symbiosis” better, a word defined as “a mutually beneficial relationship between individuals or groups in which both parties benefit.”

Today, I can’t get the idea of symbiosis out of my head.

It takes a lot of people to make our lives function – to bring together the many machines, both human and mechanical, which constantly operate, some within our realm of perception, some beyond – the way they do. To make what is possible, well, possible.

A key example: salespeople, or as their more commonly known these days in industry parlance, account executives.

I would be unable to do what I do without account executives.

I create for a living. I dream up whole magazines, books and newspapers on a daily basis. And put in motion a team of many moving parts that brings those dreams to life. But without the people who go door to door, business to business, phone call to phone call, and bring in the money that funds this operation, this life would be impossible. The extent of my creativity would be a blog, a hobby, a side project. The course of my life, the very definition of who I am, would be impossible with salespeople.

There’s countless other examples of this, both within the workplace and without. Whether it be the ease in which we acquire nutritious food, move from point A to point B, find education for our children or obtain the energy we need to power our homes – you name it – there are countless people working, in part for themselves, but also for our benefit.

A very unpopular viewpoint I carry is my distaste for the media’s obsession with dedicating a disproportionate amount of time to the death of firefighters and police officers in the line of duty. It is not that I’m not compassionate, or appreciative of the work they do, or that I think they don’t deserve recognition and remembrance. I do. They deserve all of it. For the families who go through such a tragedy, the outpouring of community support is a vital step in not only healing, but just straight up feeling good that the person they called mom, dad, son or daughter was loved and appreciated by the community as a whole.

Certainly, any loss of life is tragic.

But I struggle to understand why they’re any more deserving of attention than say, the electrical linesmen who keep our power on daily, the timber industry workers who harvest the materials that provide shelter for most of mankind or the farmers who bring food to our table.

In fact, a 2008 report by Business Insider, found that each of those jobs was more dangerous, statistically, than being either a firefighter or a police officer. But when was the last time we had a public memorial for yet another electric lineman fallen in the line of duty or a farmhand killed in an onsite accident?

I think this varying treatment of the death of individuals has something to do with a long standing characteristic of human thinking – we continually tend to rank things. This type of career choice is more important than another. This race is better than that. This person is a hero. The other is just an average Joe trying to make a living.

In essence we’re saying some people are better than others.

The capitalist in me says knows that’s at least partly true. Some people are better than others – at certain things. We  see that with athletes, and test scores. We see it in the productivity and output levels. But the measuring of “better”, when applied to the whole of a human life, is much more subjective. If “Revenge of the Nerds” taught us anything, it’s that the star quarterback may have the good looks, but the dorkiest kid in school is the one who wields his love stick with the most satisfactory results (at least as far as the sorority hot chick was concerned).

I mention all of this only because I think if we’re to truly break ourselves from the cycle of envy and wanting; to break ourselves of our innate sense that somehow we don’t have as much as the other guy, or that our lives are more unfair than somebody else’s, or that we’re getting the short shrift, we have to shift our perspective and see just how many of us are benefiting from widespread symbiosis. Smack dab in the middle of the world’s largest example of capitalism, we have millions of people working, whether they realize it or not, for the mutual benefit of both themselves and the general population as a whole.

America bashing is incredibly popular these days. That’s nothing new, though. America bashing has been popular since the dawn of its existence. Loyalists bashed the early concept of the United States; warring factions over America and its values tore the nation in half in the 1860s and pit brother against brother, cousin against cousin in the bloodiest battle this nation has ever seen. World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Gulf Wars I and II – and the periods of peace in between – have all brought out vocal interests who see America’s policies, its corporations and its people as individualists motivated by greed.

But not everybody sees it this way.

A few weeks ago, I was watching a television episode of “This American Life.” They were interviewing a man from the Czech Republic (I think) who had married an American citizen and was living lawfully in the U.S. This couple was very much in love. The wife was born and raised in the Midwest, an area of the country where a man’s lawn is a symbol of status, a measurable unit one can use to determine a man’s pride and sense of community. This woman wanted a beautiful lawn: mowed, maintained, pristine.

But her husband just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He understood that Americans were supposed to. He understood that people judged him based on it. But he just couldn’t understand why it mattered, or why people mowed lawns in the first place. In the Czech Republic, he said, we let things grow like they’re supposed to, like nature intended. He thought American’s should do the same.

But in the same breath, he said something else. He admitted that his inability to understand – what he called his cultural inability – probably had something to do with Eastern Europe’s long standing societal, political and economic woes. “Things just work here,” he said. “And that constantly amazes me. You take out the garbage, somebody picks it up on the day they’re supposed to. You turn on your lights, and they go on. No matter what.”

In essence, he surmised, that most people didn’t want to waste two or three hours of their precious free time mowing the lawn, but that, in part, they did it to appease their neighbors, to pacify others, to keep those around them happy. That’s fairly unselfish, even if most people are guilted into that unselfish act.

And that, too, is part of the American way.

This all comes back to that “symbiosis” – all the little luxuries we have that we take for granted. I’m not suggesting that you go outside right now, wave your American flag and start chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.” (although that would be totally awesome at 10 p.m. [if you decide to do it, make sure you’re chugging a beer while doing so … for dramatic effect]), but I am suggesting that you think about all the people who make your life possible, your job possible.

Or at least be cognizant of it, man.

There’s way more good out there in the world than we give each other credit for. And despite our shitty economy – and the infrequent asshats we run across in our work or social life – there’s a lot to be thankful for. Today, I’m thankful for the salespeople – I’m sorry, the account executives – in my life and chances are, if you’re reading this, you.

Let the mockery of my hippie, peacenik diatribe commence. – Ed

Aug
17

Heidi and I - two months before Beckett's birth - Oak Creek Canyon - Sedona, Arizona - October 2004

Training complete: 16 weeks, 2 days – Until race: 13 weeks, 5 days

Today’s workout: Swim 1.854 miles, Run 7.00 miles

Lately I’ve found myself remarking on how uncanny it is that all of these people that I introduced to other people are hanging out with those people and not me. I always preface this by saying something like, “Not that I care …”, but, of course, the truth is, I do care. Otherwise I wouldn’t be saying it in the first place.

The reason I care, however, is not out of some petty jealously that people are hanging out without me. It’s that, even if they called, even if they asked, I’d politely decline the invitation to socialize and then go about planning to get my ass to bed at 9:30 or 10 p.m. so I could wake the next day at 4:30 a.m. I wake most days at 4:30 a.m. or earlier.

This morning I woke at 3:30. Tried to stay in bed until somewhere around 4:15 or 4:20, then I just said the hell with it and got up. I packed up and sat in the parking lot of the gym until the staff opened it. I was standing at the gym pool, waiting for the lights to be turned on, waiting for the lifeguard to show up, so I could start my workout and get done as early as possible.

And that’s when it dawned on me. I’m now “That Guy.”

I’m the freak. The workout nutbag that sacrifices sleep and any semblance of a life for some bizarre goal to conquer a time/distance challenge on one day of the calendar year.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because a few weeks ago, a complimentary subscription to a new triathlon magazine arrived in the mail. It’s called LAVA, and the general gist of the magazine is that it’s a magazine for “serious” triathletes.

It offended me on several levels. 1) I don’t consider myself a “serious” triathlete. In my mind, anyway, I have a life, a family, a job. I drink beer. I go to movies. I complain about the weather. And 2) I think it’s weird to consider somebody who doesn’t do an Iron or Half-Iron distance race as a non-“serious” athlete. I guess I just don’t know what the hell “serious” means.

But this morning at the pool, it dawned on me. I live in a city of 175,000 people and a guy I’d always considered “the freak” – and me – were standing, alone, waiting for the lifeguard at 4:55 a.m. This is not the first time he and I had beat the lifeguard to work. Nah, this was like the sixth time, in the last four weeks. He now talks to me; and sometimes appears in awe of my workouts.

If this doesn’t make me “the freak”, I don’t know what does.

Thing is, it must not bother me. Thing is, this must be what I want.

I miss my friends, I miss hanging out something fierce. But I love the feeling of growing stronger everyday.

It’s an addiction. And like all addictions, it comes with a cost.

I ask myself daily: how much I’m willing to pay? The answer that keeps coming back: a lot.

Otherwise, why would I continue through this?

– Ed

Aug
16

Fall on the Mogollon Rim, Arizona - October 2008.

Training complete: 16 weeks, 1 day – Until race: 13 weeks, 6 days

Friday’s workout: Swim 1.242 miles; Run 6.85 miles

Saturdays workout: Bike 55.03 miles; Run 2.4 miles

Sunday’s workout: Bike 10.85 miles; Skipped run voluntarily due to recovery needs, insane outdoor temperature

Week 16 totals: Swim 4.97 miles, Bike 94.42 kiles, Run 18.02 miles

Today’s workout: No training

The “man period” is real. They don’t come around every month, like a woman’s. They operate on much longer revolutions; appearing every four months or so, but lasting two weeks, or more, at a time. They come on gradual, reach a boiling point of complete control (in which the individual experiencing the period is unaware what is happening to them), gradually taper off, bringing an increasing dose of sanity with each passing day and then finally drop away.

It is only in the aftermath a man period, that we realize we have just fallen victim. I think I’m just emerging from one. Or maybe I’ve just been experiencing my first bout of a chronic fatigue.

The last two weeks have been mentally brutal. Every workout has been a challenge. Every task a pain in my ass. I’ve been short-tempered, pessimistic and as I wrote in a previous post, caught in a cycle of obsessing over irrelevant details or things I read. The bout came out of nowhere.

And while every day last week was noticeably better than the one before, last night all of the feelings cleared away like the final clouds from a storm.

Maybe it was because Sunday, I finally took a break. At 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday – in a weekend full of family responsibility, training and work – I finally plopped my ass on the couch and read a magazine (about triathlon).

With the exception of Saturday’s bike ride – in which I rode 55 miles and very close to my desired race pace – I really tapered off last week. I cut intensity by 10 percent and distances by 15 to 20 percent. It was seriously, seriously needed. And now I’m feeling refreshed, energetic and mentally balanced. Had my best night of sleep in a week last night. That probably helped, too.

There’s two more weeks – this week and next – of relatively “easy training” before we hit the real blast off point. Beginning on August 30, training will shift into the final high gear. Swim totals will exceed 6.5 miles per week, bike totals will gradually climb to 150 miles a week, run totals will peak at the 40 mile per week  mark, before a gradual tapering off of intensity and distance starts on November 1.

In between all that, I’m gonna cram a Sonoma County, California; a Madison, Wisconsin and a Las Vegas trip in there. It’ll be a busy September and October …

– Ed

Aug
12

Me and my buddy, Bang, at my 30th birthday party - July 6 and 7, 2006. It was epic – among the best parties of my career. It lasted more than 12 hours.

Training complete: 15 weeks, 4 days – Until race: 14 weeks, 3 days.

Today’s workout: Swim 1.854 miles, Bike 17.65 miles

I worked out. It was hot. 110 when I got in the pool. I want the heat to end. There’s still two more months of it. It makes people crazy.

I found mental calm today. Had a great swim. An okay bike ride.

The kids were ape-shit batty with exhaustion. Every question was answered in “whine voice.” Every response they didn’t like was met with “whine voice” and psuedo-tears.

Came up with a really cool magazine cover today. Started working on another product – a magazine that all attendees of Tempe’s massive Oktoberfest get upon admission. Played Wii Mario Kart while I rode my bike. Finished in 3rd place. Won a digital trophy. Couldn’t put it on my mantle – although I did once take a picture of the TV screen, when I bowled a 300 on Wii bowling.

Wish I was more incite-ful (and insightful). Am not. Have sleepy head and sleepy eyes. Have cookies on the brain. Minty ones and creamy ones. That’s what she said.

Looking forward to a nice outdoor bike ride on Saturday. Looking forward to going to Sonoma County, California soon and playing paintball with one of the inventors of fiber-optic cable (no kidding). Looking forward to sleep.

That is all. That is enough. Bet I sleep 10 hours tonight.

– Ed

Aug
11

Beckett on the Irvine Regional Park Railroad – Orange, California – July 2010

Training complete: 15 weeks, 3 days – Until race: 14 weeks, 4 days

Monday’s training – Off

Tuesday’s training: Swim 1.864 miles, Run 5.8 miles

Today’s training: Run 2.97 miles; Bike 10.89 miles

Our minds are prone to slippage.

Medical doctors have come up with all kinds of names for the more severe cases of slippage: post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder are just a few.

Some forms of mental slippage are more minor – a tick in thought process that begins as a thought and slowly, but surely, manifests itself into something larger. Stuck in the workings of a busy, tired mind, coupled with a busy, tired body, these ticks amplify into something bigger, consuming larger portions of the brain until they begin to affect larger thought patterns, the things we talk about, the things we say and ultimately, how we behave.

Take the mindset of somebody who, willingly, chooses to enter to an Ironman race. What is the logic?

The healthiest of competitors would tell you it’s a decision to fulfill a lifelong goal, the challenge of pushing one’s self to achieve a monumental task that many perceive to be near impossible. It’s like the person who tries to bag Everest, or swim the English Channel or some other such task – it’s a head-on challenge to maximize the limited time we have on Earth and do something truly incredible.

But I suspect most of those who take on this task do it for different reasons.

It’s certainly not to “be healthy.” Being healthy – truly healthy – is about balance. It’s not just the physical body whose health those who have the “complete health” picture firmly in their grasp aim to protect, but their mental health, emotional health and financial health, as well.

Ironman puts strain on all of those things: it pushes the physical body to extremes; drains financial resources – with bike maintenance, supplement and race costs. And it demands incredible sacrifice from competitors’ spouses and children. It runs counterintuitive to a balanced-life approach among all facets.

No – most Ironman competitors, I suspect – except the ones who are single, or partnered with other competitors – need something extreme to counterbalance an similarly extreme deficit in another area of their life.

I’m no doctor, so I can’t completely diagnose my own situation or inadequacies, but I’d say my issue lies firmly in the obsessive-compulsive range. Those who know me well enough, know how acutely I can fixate on an issue (the Apple corporation, anyone?) and beat that horse into the ground until I probably cost myself a acquaintance or two. My employees are quite familiar with my good-natured rants, when all of a sudden two years of pent up thought about an interaction I had, or an article I read, can result in an explosive diatribe about X, Y or Z.

Sometimes I wish I could just come home and watch TV, or sit on the couch, or cuddle up with a good book, after the work day is done, and be perfectly content. But that’s not the way I work. Or that my mind works.

The journalist in me sees injustice all around the world, all around my city, and fixates on why others in my profession are not tackling the issues, and holding politicians accountable for the things an editor of an entertainment tabloid cannot. The US citizen in me sees those same things and internally rages against the injustice those who have less, or who cannot speak for themselves, face. Some people acknowledge these things, and move on with the important things in their life. I tend to have the opposite reaction. In my quest to further understand those things that interest/concern me, I read voraciously about my “issue of the month.” They say ignorance is bliss.

Trust me, knowledge is just the opposite.

In my most pessimistic moments, I see a planet and a world challenged by serious, serious problems – a place where the wealthy, intelligent and able take advantage of the poor, average-minded and disabled and do so in a constant quest for cash. These observations have pushed me to, sometimes, take thinly-veiled jabs at people I know who work for, or work with, people my mind has placed in this category; and they lead me to constantly question my own life. If there are those of us who have the mental capacity to see bad policy, or bad business practice, or bad behavior ahead of the masses, the press, the politicians – is it not our responsibility to act? To blow the whistle?

I ask myself this question every day. But, shit man, I got a family to feed, you know? Sometimes you got to suck it up and tow the line. And hope that those who are the position to make change, and work for good, step up.

And then, of course, I think: How friggen pompous are you, Ed? Do you really think you’re so damn bright that you see things others don’t? Do you really think if you launched yourself into battle, you could make a difference?

Honestly, these conflicting thought patterns make me feel a little crazy. I leave myself pretty open here; and these aren’t the kinds of things most people talk about publicly, so I have no idea: is this weird? Is this normal?.

The isolation brought on by the demands of training, and work and my finances only serve to amplify it. My social life consists of the conversations I have with my co-workers, and my wife and kids.

Most of the time, however, it’s just me and my thoughts.

This has lead me to reflect, a lot lately, on what I referenced earlier – mental slippage.

I think what I’m going through now – the isolation, the deeper internal analysis of inner thoughts brought on by fewer social interactions – is quite common in people approaching my age. When you’re young you travel the world, go to parties, go with the flow, talk to everyone. Your experience is much broader.

When you settle into your adult routine, however, your life becomes a microcosm of what it once was. You have your job, your neighborhood, your schedule, your few places you go when you have a moment to spare for recreation. You become acutely aware of the things happening directly around you. And whether its your own realization of your own mortality; or your sudden urge to create the absolute best and safest environment for your children; everything that is a threat suddenly feels magnified – largely because slowly, but surely, you’ve lost the bigger perspective by scaling down the scope of your world.

I was recently reminded of this phenomenon when I went on a rant a few weeks ago on this blog about a few murders committed amid the area I train. An old friend of mine, Ken, who I’ve known since elementary school, commented on that post and told me, half jokingly, that I should carry a pistol with me while I run.

Thing is, Ken is in the Army, stationed in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. Reading his comment made me realize my fear was pretty ridiculous. Here’s a guy that faces people who literally want to kill him every day; and I’m cowering like a turd in a place where statistically, there’s probably a better chance I’ll be struck by lightning or win the lottery, than be physically injured by a criminal.

Of course, as I write all this, there’s a kicker. A really big, really fat, kicker.

I’m happier and more content and more satisfied–about all aspects of my life–than I’ve ever been.

I know who I am – neurotic superfreak, and all. And I’m kinda cool with it. Willing to let those who want nothing to do it with it go, and focus all my love and energy and those who return it …

But those two things don’t logically add up.

Do they?

– Ed

Aug
08

What all of us who are training can only hope will be ...

Training complete: 15 weeks – Until race: 15 weeks

Yesterday’s workout: Bike 66.71 miles; Run 3.5 miles

Today’s workout: Bike: 10.05 miles; Run 9.02 miles

Week totals: Swim 5.592 miles, Bike 108.43 miles, Run 30.29 miles

I’m halfway done with training – 15 weeks down, 15 weeks to go. From here on out, the workouts accelerate to astronomical totals.

Tomorrow, I’ll have some insight. Tonight, I need to rest

– Ed

Aug
06

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Training completed: 14 weeks, 5 days – Until race: 15 weeks, 2 days

Today’s workout: Swim 1.864 miles, Run 7.17 miles

Today’s workout was absolutely exhausting. In the last 15 minutes of my run, it took every last bit of willpower to hold it together. My legs tightened, my body slumped and when it came time to kick it into high gear, everything just sort of failed. I had to grind to a 60 second walk, before I could amp the pace back up to an 8:57/mile. I couldn’t push it past that.

When I got done with the run I was fried; and severely calorie deprived. I’ve been trying to save money and skimp on some of the nutritional supplements I need. Bad idea. By my own guestimate, I had taken in only about 1,600 calories in the previous 24 hours. My workout today alone, burned close to 2,000. I left the gym, went straight to the local convenience store and bought a big bottle of chocolate milk, a banana, a jumbo Snickers bar and a honkin’ mega beef stick. Sat in the car and ate all of it – 850 glorious calories and a nice mix of protein, potassium, sodium and sugar – all in about 10 minutes. Only then did I start to come back to normalcy.

Then I went to my local shop and bought the $70 worth of supplements I’d been holding out on – electrolyte capsules, energy gels and soy/malodextrin protein powder (the stuff that gets you through really, really long rides).

Anyway, this got me thinking as I gird up for tomorrow’s 65-75 mile bike ride (+ 3.5 mile run), here’s a look at what this week has looked like:

Monday: Wake up at 7 a.m.; work 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; kids, family and dinner, 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; bed 10 p.m. No training. Sleep 6.5 hours

Tuesday: Wake up at 4:30 a.m. Training (including drive time) 4:45 a.m. to 8 a.m.; Work 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Kids family dinner, 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bed 11:30 p.m. Sleep 5 hours

Wednesday: Wake up at 4:30 a.m. Work 5 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Training 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. Work 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kids, family, dinner: 4:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bed 9 p.m. Sleep 10.5 hours

Thursday: Wake up 7:30 a.m. Training 7:35 a.m. to 8:35 a.m. Work 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meet teachers 4:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. Dinner 6:15 p.m. Training 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Work 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Relax, blog 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Bed 1 a.m. Sleep 6.5 hours

Friday: Wake up 7:30 a.m. F-around 7:30 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. Work 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Training 2:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Shopping 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Relax, dinner 6:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. Bed 10:30 p.m. Sleep 6.5 hours

Saturday: Wake up 5 a.m. Training 5:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Relax, f-around, work around house 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Bed 10 p.m. Sleep 8 hours.

Sunday: Wake up 6 a.m. Training 6:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Relax, f-around, work around house, 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sleep 8 hours.

Total training time: 18 hours (2.57 hours/day) – Total sleep time: 51 hours (7.28 hours/day) – Work: 37 hours (whoops, seems I was a few hours short this week 🙂 Truth is, I’ll make those hours up this weekend, responding to e-mail and stuff …)

So there, you have it. That’s what it looks like.  Notice something that’s missing? It’s called a social life. I haven’t been out with a friend in Tempe (save going to a movie with my buddy Scott a few weeks ago) since July 5 – more than a full month. Although I did have a date with Heidi two weeks ago; and that nice vacation.

The routine is pretty unforgiving.

I thought, for some reason, it’d be fun to share a few pictures from my work day; and my day in general. Thus the slideshow above. All I can say about that is that I love my job; and I love the people I work with. They’re part of my family. If it wasn’t for the awesome company I work for; The Iron Experiment would in no way be possible. Well, the company and Heidi, who supports me every single step of the way …

Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend.

– Ed

Aug
06

Beckett, Brody and I - Ocean Avenue, above Corona Del Mar Beach – Newport Beach, California – July 2010

Training complete: 14 weeks, 4 days – Until race: 15 weeks, 3 days

Today’s workout: Swim 1.864 miles, Bike 20.57 miles

It’s a late night to be certain. 11:30 p.m. and I’m just sitting down, finally, to pen this blog. First one from the back patio, on the laptop. It’s dark. Bugs are swimming all over the screen – the only source of light in this vacant back yard. Hey, moth. Why don’t you come hang out for a while?

If there’s one thing that this has made me all realize, it’s this: there are a shitload of different bugs swarming around my back yard at 11:30 p.m. Little ones, big ones, and the crickets, constantly singing their song. The steady stream of hot, humid weather, combined with the flood irrigation we receive, has turned my property into the equivalent of a marsh. Two weeks removed from the previous mowing, my yard is a 12,000 square foot swamp, complete with ankle deep grass and a miniature, urban ecological playground. Mowing will be a bitch this Sunday.

It topped out at 112-115 degrees today, depending on where you lived in the Phoenix metro. The pavement radiated death. Everywhere was uncomfortable. But here, in the darkness of a surprisingly dry desert night (summers are humid here, thus the “monsoon season”), it’s surprisingly peaceful, comfortable. I like the solitude.

Today was nothing like it was supposed to be. A major project we just completed suffered major malfunctions in communication between our systems and the commercial printer. We spent all day working to resolve it. In the end, I had to put my trust in somebody I barely know. Trust that their expertise was superior to mine. And ultimately, in the interest of time and schedules, let it go and just hope it works out. When you’re the person at the end of the line, the one responsible for the finished project, that’s never easy. It has nothing to do with the fact that it’s my ass on the line – after 8 years of doing what I do, that’s not quite the case. It’s simply that I want everything we do to be awesome; and when you have to trust somebody you barely know when they say, “Hey, it looks all good. It’s gonna’ be fine.” Well, that’s not always easy.

Like I say: It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Thursdays are my day. They’re the day when the insanity of my Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays melt away. The early part of the week is full of all sorts of deadlines that have to met. Print jobs to the printer; electronic delivery of e-newsletters to the interweb. But Thursday is the creative day; the conceptual day when you put things in motion, send reporters on new adventures and get the visual team bubbling on new projects. I like Thursdays.

I only share this because after typing it all, I’m sort of left with a big: “Who cares?” I keep thinking: Don’t each and every one of us have something to bitch about every day of our lives? Scan your Facebook feed any day of the week: people don’t like this, they don’t like that; they don’t like Mondays or Wednesdays or whatever day. And as I left the gym tonight after my swim, I thought: “Do I really want to pollute people’s minds with complaints? Isn’t that the vast majority of what they come across?”

Of course I don’t.

Truth is, despite the fact that I had this idea of what my Thursday was supposed to be; and despite the fact that it turned out nothing like what I had in mind, it was a pretty damn good day. First off, I got my workout in, despite the diversions. Secondly, tonight was “Meet the Teacher Night.” We met Beckett’s and Brody’s teachers for this year. We liked both of them. Beckett will start first grade on August 10; Brody will start the City of Tempe’s preschool program on the same day.

Brody’s situation is kind of unique. The city provides preschool for kids who have special needs and will require extra school before they’re ready for kindergarten. For those kids, school starts at 3 years old. But the district also seeks out so-called “peer students” – normally developed 3-year-olds – to act as peers for the special needs kids to emulate. Brody was selected to be one of these “peer students.” So she will attend preschool in the city, too.

This pre-school, however, is held in a different area of the city than Beck’s. And it really was eye-opening tonight to see how different the schools are in different areas of Tempe. Whereas Beckett’s school, just down the street from our house, is a gleaming, brand new, state of the art school building, Brody’s is much older – akin to a complex of manufactured homes plopped down in a courtyard and aged 30 years. Obviously, facilities have little to do with the quality of education your kids receive – as I say, both teachers seemed incredible and caring – but it’s still hard to ignore the environment.

Regardless, both of them responded well to the classrooms and the teachers, and both are excited to start school. As a parent, that’s just rad: it’s great to see your kids excited to learn.

But beyond that, kids have a funny impact in your life. As they go through the grades, you mentally go through it with them. You start remembering, or trying to remember, your kindergarten, your first grade and you remember just how far apart jumping from grade to grade seemed as a kid. But as an adult, the kids seem to move from grade to grade so fast. It’s a constant reminder of just how fast time is moving. Each week, each year, slipping by with remarkable speed.

I remember early in my working career how far Friday seemed from each Monday. Now, I never worry about Monday, because Friday comes before I can even register the passing of time.

That’s the cruelty of age, I suppose. As our reference of time grows longer, the gap of 5 days in the perspective of 34 years seems shorter than it does in the perspective of a 5- or 3-year-old.

But there’s a silver lining, of course. At least how I see it. But I think it takes a little bit of mental rearranging. Hold on while I try to explain.

My thought is this: We can’t categorize days of the week; because the randomness of life just doesn’t have the patience. Saturdays and Sundays can bring disappointment or bad news; just as Mondays and Thursdays can bring children meeting their teacher for the first time; and fitting naturally in with their soon-to-be new environment.

You just gotta’ roll with it, man. Set your expectations aside and float along. Don’t walk into the movie with the hype planted firmly in your brain. Just go to see it. And formulate your opinion.

And even if it’s full of cliche fluff, let it go. I mean, that awesome action scene, with the cars flipping over and the hero just getting away, that was pretty cool wasn’t it? Who cares if the critics say it’s mundane, overdone, unoriginal?

Most of the time, if you just let go, you’ll think: Huh … that was worth the price of admission. I enjoyed it. Who cares what anyone else thinks?

– Ed

Aug
04

Crystal Cove State Park – Newport Beach, California. July 2010

Training complete: 14 weeks, 3 days – Until race: 15 weeks, 4 days

Today’s workout: Bike 11.1 miles, Run 3.25 miles

Yesterday’s workout: Swim 1.864 miles, Run. 7.05 miles

I know it’s been an extraordinarily long time since I’ve blogged. I apologize.

First, I took a vacation – a total vacation. I didn’t mean to stop training dead in my tracks, but I did. For five straight days, from Thursday last week to Monday this week, I did nothing – no biking, no running. And the only swimming I did was in the ocean. I played with the kids. I hung out with my wife. And man did I sleep – until past 8 a.m. every single day. It was glorious.

Getting back on track has been a task. The first three days of this week have been busy – Arizona State University starts classes on August 19 – and that means things at College Times are getting crazy. I’ve been up at 4:30 a.m. each of the last two days, and not finished my day until 9:30 p.m. last night; and just about now (8 p.m.) tonight. Needless to say, I’m really, really tired.

Just didn’t want you to think I’d abandoned the blog. I haven’t.

I’m getting back on track; slipping back into the regular routine.

The posts shall resume forthwith.

– Ed