A Significant Detour


I look back at my triathlon experience of ten years ago with great admiration.  All the pain, every cheer, every milestone and every race brought a perspective to life that I would never have thought I would experience as a kid who hated PE class.  But, it didn’t last.

The Great February Illness

In February 2012, I got sick.  I was at my prime and the lowest weight of my adult life, under 200 pounds.   As it turned out triathlon had become an addiction.  The months leading up my sickness, I was desperate for a PR and was trying to keep up with the more “professional” athletes. My body said “no more races.”

And so, began a steady and slow return to life as an obese adult.  The weight came back on over a few years.  I still managed to ride the bike and get some runs in, but I was not seriously training on a regular basis, nor was I working with a trainer.

The Workaholic is Back!

In late 2013, the workaholic returned.  I joined a local company as a sales analytics and operations guru and this role turned out to be far from a 9 to 5 role.  The CEO had an extra special personality and required some baby-sitting, as did the Sales VP.  I remember the day I walked into the office and said “F*ck it!” to self care and working out. It was simply too hard to protect your lunch for a nice ride.  It was difficult to ride in the evenings as you got stuck on deliverables and winter brought darkness at 4:30pm.  With an occasional ride on the weekend, my attempts to stick with an intensive workout schedule went out the door. That was a mistake.

Seattle or Bust

I moved to the greater Seattle area.  I had family in the area and needed a reset. But after AricInTraining - Skagit Classic Map17 years of life in Santa Barbara, CA, moving anywhere else was rough, especially a place with at least 5-months of rain and no sun.  I have to say, Washington state is a gorgeous place to live.  I see why everyone wants to live up there.  But with all of these people, traffic, cost of living, and jobs became more and more of an issue.  Seattle’s I5 is a freeway that going one mile can easily take 30+minutes, on a good day.  Riding the bike was a rare event here, as was hiking and even going for a walk after work.  The best moment is that I did finish the Skagit Spring Classic. The 27 mile ride through some exquisite, but soggy country side was proof I still had it in me. Of course, I didn’t walk for a few days after that.  But as time went on, my remote job drove me into isolation and my diet started seriously south in terms providing nutrients over junk.  After two years, I had to make a change and save my life.  The miserable me left rather quickly for Boulder County, Colorado.

The Gorgeous Front Range

Boulder County, Colorado is a gorgeous place.  It is also in the Front Range of the eastern slope of Rocky Mountains.  Boulder is where Mork and Mindy (Wikipedia) lived. Boulder is also where very serious cyclists can be seen cycling in a blizzard, further proof you can do anything when you are prepared!  What drew me to the area is not only the beauty, but the cycling culture.  Boulder County has hundreds of miles of recreational paths.  From the apartment I was living in Louisville, I could access that network from my door.

AricInTraining with Cookie Monster JerseySo why didn’t I ride? Yes, after two years of Colorado living, I only managed to get a handful of rides in, the longest of which was about 10-miles.  As it turns out, my head was bigger than my muscles.  That 10-mile ride did me in.  My legs screamed, “give us a break”, while my head said, “let’s go 100!” Now, keep in mind, Denver is the mile high city and I was living at 5,360 ft above sea level.  I was not used to the altitude.  I was also not used to the extreme dry air and the pounding sun.  Dehydration is too easy.  I was living in one of the most gorgeous areas of Colorado and found myself stuck in my 400 sq ft community garden plot rather than on the bike.

Horribly Sick

Then came January 2019 and my health went south very quickly.  I returned from a friend’s visit in Santa Fe, New Mexico over the holidays to Louisville and became very sick with severe cough, fever, stomach issues, lack of energy, tight chest, inability to focus, and extreme pain in my left calf.  After a week of not getting better, I went to urgent care.  Well, they were quick to diagnose it as bronchitis and sent me home with an inhaler and some antibiotics.  I got better, better then I didn’t.  The chest tightness wouldn’t go away and neither would the cough.  Life as a coughing zombie was the new normal, which was tragic as I just started my dream job in analytics.   After a second visit to the urgent care, I was diagnosed with asthma, given more inhalers, more allergy meds, and a word of caution to get out of town after an allergy test.  The doctor suggested there might be something in my apartment trying to kill me, including my cat.

Allergy Meets GERD

After following the treatment for a few weeks, I got better.  I was learning about asthma and its triggers and inspecting my apartment for what might be killing me.  What I kept finding was a fine grey dust all over the place, almost like lint when you wiped it up.  Then spring came and I turned off the heater.  Then I started to get much better.  The tightness in the chest and the cough subsided.  Long story short, the allergy test revealed a severe allergy to ragweed and dust mites.  I was also diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea and GERD (severe acid reflux). The first key to understanding what happened became the allergy to dust mites as the sleep test revealed a large amount of dust in the air and the air quality really started coming in to question. The second became my own eating habits with too much coffee, too much refined food, and just too much food.   At this point, I had had enough of Colorado and decided to head for lower altitude and better air.

I ended up in San Antonio, Texas where I am typing this today.  Not the prettiest city, but it does have a lot to offer.  The cyclist isn’t the best, nor are the “bike routes”.  But the people, the food, the accessibility, and the cost of living are easy to handle.

I have eliminated coffee and sugars for the last seven days and am feeling really good. My energy is coming back and my stomach feels more like it should. I am also monitoring the amount of food I eat in one sitting and am learning when to stop.

What’s the Point?

So, what’s the point of all of this?  I wrote a really, really long blog post about my significant detour from the wonderful life of triathlon. If you’ve read this far, I congratulate you.  For me, the point of all of this is to make sense of the last few years as I come to another fork in the road along my journey of life.  It makes me realize that I never gave up.  I may have digressed, I may have had some bad times, I may have been living in an apartment trying to kill me, but I persisted through it all.  I didn’t let the negativity win.  The voices in my head certainly challenged my resolve many times, but at least I pushed through it.  I realize a change in attitude and a return to regular training is in order.  Where it goes from there, we’ll see.  Stay tuned and see where Aric ends up.

 

 

A New Beginning


Life.  It happens.

We get pushed, pulled, twisted, and stretched as we conquer our fears, chase our dreams, accept our limitations, and diligently execute on our responsibilities.

Sometimes we make a change seeking something different and better, only to fall down and wish we had never made a change.  It takes us longer to get back up and moving again with another change to change course on the original change.

After moving to Seattle from Santa Barbara, I fell.  My heart was still in paradise and my inspirations were swept away with the grey, dreary rain and cold of a Seattle winter.  Not only did I learn about my allergy to high humidity and barometric pressure changes, but I learned how much being true to yourself and your values is far more important than making any new life work.  There is much more to this story which will be revealed as I move into this new beginning.

This fall, I am relocating to Colorado.  The area of Boulder and Louisville at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  I was born in Englewood, so I feel like I am coming home.  Unlike Seattle, Colorado has a lot more sun during the winter even though it is significantly colder with periodic snow.

You can tell a lot about whether you are in the right place by how you feel. We humans have an instinct which helps protect us.  From the start, I never felt great about living in the Puget Sound area.  By contrast, I am happy in Colorado with a collected, calm head.

This is a new beginning.  A restart of my love for fitness, cycling, and triathlon.  I have 25 “Seattle” pounds to shed and a training program to rebuild.  But I’ve done this before and have fond memories of my triathlon journey.  I am looking forward to not only meeting a bunch of new people, but also feeling great again.

You know, life happens.  But now it will happen a bit differently.

February Cycling Challenge Results


February Cycling Challenge Results

Fitness challenges serve an important purpose.  First they help the athlete focus on a specific part of their training.  Second, they provide a measurable milestone which provide feedback.  Third, if the athlete has taken the challenge seriously, it will result in improvements, regardless of whether the ultimate challenge was met.

The Challenge

A month ago I created a personal cycling challenge to help get myself moving more consistently and lose a bit of weight.  The challenge was to cycle every other day, increasing mileage as I went and cover 230 miles by March 1st, culminating with a 20 mile ride. This seemed challenging, but I knew if I could stick to it and put in the mileage, I could get close.

Reality Sets In

The first three rides were fairly easy, but aggressive.  I didn’t stick to the planned mileage, riding a mile or more than planned for the first two rides.  The third ride was a bit of a stretch and fell just short of the planned goal.  Then I started missing rides.  Two days passed before I rode again. The body was realizing and feeling how aggressive it was to go from riding 8 miles to 11+ miles in no time flat.

This was the start of riding whenever I could while not pushing my body too far. It was also difficult to get rides in during the week of the 18th when an important client was in town for a project.  While catching up to the plan was nearly impossible, I kept riding, trying to get a decent amount of miles in.  It is more important to listen to your body and skip a ride for recovery than to push too hard and injure myself.

The Results

I completed the challenge with 144.4 miles compared with the 230 planned challenge miles.  While this is only 63% of the distance, I still feel great about the challenge.  Yes, I missed the ultimate goal, but my average ride went from 8 miles to 12 miles.  I feel great and am quite happy to be spending more time on the saddle.  Time in the saddle is a spiritual place where I spend the miles brainstorming and solving problems.  The challenge was a success.

Cycling Challenge Actual vs Plan
blue bars represent actual rides with green being planned. Actual falls a bit short

Did I lose weight?  No.  Starting weight was 229.8 with the final weight at 230.6.  The change is statistically insignificant was the deviation across the month was 2+ pounds.  After all of those miles sure would have been nice to be slipping into a smaller sized short.  But at the end of the day, body weight ins’t necessarily an indicator of fitness.  I feel and look more muscular than when I started the challenge.  As an athlete works out, they build muscle, which is heavier than fat. So, a change in weight can be delayed as the body burns more fat than the muscle in builds.  A better measure would be waist and wrist size.

The Next Challenge

With March 1st nearly here, I am thinking about my next challenge.  I like the idea of doing another cycling challenge, but would also like to incorporate a dietary challenge.  Cutting flour and sugar from my diet completely worked extremely well in 2008 and 2009 during my racing best. So stay tuned…  a new challenge is coming.

A February Cycling Challenge


I’ve been so far away from a regular exercise routine, I see death coming for me and he’s across the street. It’s time to get back into a routine and put a little more distance between myself and death. Just the fact that he is so close and I let him get so close is just shameful, but that is a topic of another post. This post is about the new beginning and a new personal challenge.

A Proud Triathlete

In 2009, I was a proud sprint triathlete who worked his way up from finishing at the back of the age group to the middle. I could run a mile and not even get tired. I could cycle 30 miles and call it satisfying, 40 miles would be a workout. I also almost lived at the gym. I had an awesome trainer, participated in the local triathlon club, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Until the day in early 2010 it all came crashing down. I was insanely sick with a nasty cold for 2 plus weeks and lost my fire. I just couldn’t live at the gym anymore. It seemed life had gotten the best of me. And so, I started a slow, long digression back to a state somewhere between office potato and triathlete. I wasn’t exactly not exercising and I wasn’t exactly eating healthy, but I wasn’t “training” either.

Getting Started Again

So today, as the scales push 230 pounds and I feel the fat accumulating on my skeletal frame, I am making “training” a priority. Training means I have a goal in mind, milestones to measure against and I will eat the best food I can. I already have an awesome food log setup in Excel using the TMX Yum Score. I even have an awesome training log setup in Excel thanks to TrainingMetrix (disclaimer, it is my company). I am lacking a trainer, but in the beginning that is fine. I have also decided to focus on hiking and cycling until I lose a few pounds.

What is the challenge? The challenge is to drop at least 10 pounds and cycle 230 miles by March 1st. Yep, riding every other day, starting at 8.5 miles, I will cover 230 miles and an average of 7.4 miles per day. Along the way, I will shed at least 10 pounds. If I can do this, I will not only be ready to start running, but also be able to squeeze into my tri shorts without looking like a muffin top in the pool. hehehe

The First Challenge Ride

I got started early with a ride yesterday covering 9.3 miles. The ride was along Mountain Drive in Santa Barbara and the weather was nearly perfect. The rolling hills and meandering canyon road was certainly challenging with acceleration, braking, and dodging cars on blind curves.  Certainly a bit sore this morning, but it is great to get a solid start. Many more exciting miles to go.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/685701361

Check back for the next update.  A 9.5 mile ride has been scheduled for 1/31!

Getting Back onto the Triathlon Start Line: The Interval Run


Being outside of true triathlon performance for so long is a heart wrenching thought.  From my prime in 2009, I have seriously degraded in my ability to run, bike, and swim.  It makes me sad, but the thought of recapturing my prime drives me on.

Getting Back Into Running

I recently restarted my run workouts after focusing solely on bike workouts.  After cycling religiously three times a week for the past few weeks, it felt great this week to get off the bike and back on my own two feet.

The Interval Workout

This week focused on three run workouts.  While they were short, they are the beginning of a new chapter.  The first two runs were really walks, two miles long and at roughly 18:00 pace each.  Not blistering speed by any means, but even the Road Runner started slow…  I hope.

The third run was the most interesting.  While the SmartCoach app suggested a slightly faster pace, I decided to shake it up with a much faster paced, interval run.  I ran quarter mile (0.25mi) segments, alternating running and walking.  The first interval felt great.  The second, a little worse, and the final two challenging.

Running Form is Important

During the last two intervals, I focused not on run pace but run technique.  I remember an old coach who told me to run from the hip.  Run the hip???  Yep.  Running from the hip means you straighten your back and lean forward to the point you have to take a step or fall forward. You basically let gravity help move you forward as you step and push off the pavement with the ball of the foot.   Once you lean forward and get your feet in sync, the speed comes on fast and you really feel more like gliding as opposed to doing squats every time you step.

Even Slow Can Feel Awesome

At the end of the two mile workout, I managed to shave about three minutes off my pace, down to about 15:00 pace for the combined workout.  It felt great to get the blood moving along with the knees and feet.  While few people would every brag about a 15:00 pace run at two miles, when you have been away for so long, even slow feels awesome.

So, You Fell Off Your Bike?


You are cruising along with the wind in your hair, enjoying the beautiful world around you, when, suddenly, you fall off your bike and come crashing to the ground.

“Ouch!” you scream as the other cyclists in your group either swerve to avoid you or stop to look back at the scene which just unfolded.

You lay there momentarily stunned at what just occured.  “Am I okay? Anything broken or missing?”, you ask.

As the pain makes it way from the nerves to the brain, you realize you can still move and begin to unclip from the pedals and stand up.  Realizing you are okay, you survey the bike, hoping nothing has been scared from contact with the road.  Nothing has.

You realize the pothole was hidden and you were the only lucky one to take that particular path along the road.  You stand, making sense of what happened as your cycle partners help to get you going again.

Falling off your bike is synonymous with the sudden, life changing moments life throws our way.  Losing a job, a friend to suicide, or even just moving to a new, strange place for a fresh start, a shock to the system and normal pace is what makes us better people and triathletes in the end.

2014 for AricInTraining has been a year chocked full of these events.  In the end, after every punch has been thrown by life, I am still breathing and still a triathlete.  As hard as it is at times to get back on the bike and start pedaling again, it is the way forward.  The finish line is waiting and so are my dreams.

The 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon and Beyond…


The 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint starts tomorrow morning at 8:13am.  This is my 8th triathlon and my last planned triathlon of the 2010 season.  It seems like a sudden and unexpected end to my 2010 triathlon season journey.

Expect the Unexpected

The 2010 journey has been full of unexpected moments, unexpected people, and true tests of my devotion to the triathlon sport.  I certainly didn’t expect to lose my my personal trainer in the aftermath of Ventura.  I also didn’t expect to be stung by a bee and end up nearly dead a few hours later.  In fact, the shear thought that I am sitting here typing this post excites me, for I am a live, I can look forward to 2011, and I can say that I have learned SO MUCH this year.

The Lost Dream & The Joy of the Moment

Going into tomorrow’s event is the culmination of these events.  While a few months ago I couldn’t stop thinking about how much of a personal record I would have over last year’s Carp Tri, tonight, I can’t thinking about how lucky I am just to be content with finishing.  Tomorrow, numbers are meaningless…   tomorrow is about enjoying the journey, enjoying the triathletes and their families, enjoying the venue and simply enjoying the fact that I am here.

Sure the swim is going to be hard, long and cold.  The 9-mile bike will be exciting, fun and fast.  The 5k run will be excruciating, a mental test, and full of joy.   It is a triathlon and despite the lost dreams of a few months back, it is the beginning of a new journey.

The New Journey

Many of you have asked what my future in triathlons will look like.  I admit, I was on the fence about what would happen with the Carp Tri and what my 2011 goals would look like.   I felt crushed and demotivated after the Santa Barbara Triathlon and then the bee incident a few days later.   It seemed like someone upstairs was trying to send me a message and I considered hanging up my wetsuit.

However, I have come to realize a few things since then.

  1. You are only as good as your support network.  With the changes following Ventura and the realization of who has your back and who doesn’t, it quickly became clear that I was barking up the wrong tree.  Sure they are great people, but they aren’t the people that will launch me into a top 25% finish.
  2. Success only comes when you have everything else in place.  Success is not luck.  Throughout the events of this year, I came to realize that there are so many more components to success than I realized originally.  Components that include experience, coaches, nutrition, and a few basic life principles.  Somehow, some of these were neglected, some weren’t even on the radar, and some just didn’t work.
  3. The journey must be fun.  The journey is not about training countless hours. It is not solely about spending endless hours in the pool perfecting a technique.  The journey is about the everyday moments of life that include sharing with others, waking up to see the sun in the morning, feeling the sun on your face, and being there to help others achieve their successes.
  4. Good talent comes at a price.  There is a reason that the top triathlon coaches cost a lot.  There is also a reason that some trainers come cheap.   You get what you pay for and to achieve my goals for 2011, I am going to have to reach high and dig deep to bring on coaches that can get me there. Coaches with experience, coaches with all their pieces put in place that know how to make the journey fun.

While I can go on with a few more points, these four are the most important.  They can make or break a triathlete and lead to endless successes when in good order.  With these in mind, I set my eye on the prize in 2011.

But not Before the Carpinteria Finish Line

So, tomorrow morning at 8:13am I will dive in the freezing cold water and side stroke, crawl, and doggie paddle my way to the transition area.  After an exhilarating ride and a painful run, I will have finished the 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon course and my 8th triathlon. I will relish in the achievement, the joy of doing, and the pain.  It may not be a personal record, but at least I did it and I will have yet another story to tell the grandkids in a few years.

Onward…