Stream of consciousness. . .
It is 2105, and I am back in the saddle again. Not yet literally. The amount of energy I had put into ramping up for Ironman was quite remarkable, in hindsight. Only in retrospect can I objectively see how much energy preparing for and executing that race required. Just a few days after the race, I was T-Boned in a car accident. And then my work (that thing I do to eat, pay the mortgage) got very crazy. Subsequently, my blogging, and social networking in general has really suffered. In the vein of New Year’s resolutions, I will be devoting more effort to my online activities. I have some blog ideas that have been back-burnered for some time.
It all works for good. I’ve been in the gym getting strong. I am the strongest I’ve been in my life. Though, my cardio endurance has certainly suffered, my physical resilience has multiplied.
Topical Preview for 2015
. . . Still in stream of consciousness mode. . .
Politically, I have grown more cynical and suspicious as I see the news media and national politicians directing our focus towards distracting events, and spinning even those with thinly-veiled and misleading (at best) narratives.
My spiritual focus has been more on the mundane, than the philosophical. I continue to prioritize practice over philosophy. Though, I have worked to put a definition on my practice. In the past, I’ve argued that this is a gratuitous endeavor. Nonetheless, I have found it instructive, especially in exposing certain emotional attachments I still have to my past practices, despite the fact it no longer serves.
Certain business challenges have brought me into contact with an entire class of people whom I thought I knew, but as it turns out, really didn’t. I knew intellectually, but didn’t really know in a tangible way, the extent to which education, or the lack thereof, acts effectively like a learning disability. The post-Great-Recession labor market environment has left some very large holes in the labor market for my very hands-on, mud and dirt business. In recruiting to fill these holes, I have been introduced in a new way to an entire segment of our society (a significant segment), that I had not fully understood.
In fact, in this post-Great-Recession environment, I have come to a whole new understanding of the future economic prospects, investing, effects of currency manipulations, business direction. I have always argued that our consumer/debt based economy had a certain cannibalistic tinge to it, and that wealth and prosperity required actual production. I feel that it may be more sinister than that.
At any rate, it’s good to be back. Talk to you soon.
I have taken some planned, and some unplanned, time off since completing (read: finishing) Ironman Florida. In that time, I have had time to reflect on what I want to explore in this blog. My focus isn’t going to change so much as it is going to narrow. Heretofore, my focus has been on Warriorship, and in the past 12-18 months or so, specifically on the training aspect of Warriorship. However, it has occurred to me that all of that really begs the question.
The question seems to be more accurately–How do we actually make things happen? or What is the mechanism of Manifestation? These seem to be the questions that go the heart of Warriorship. The Warrior’s key role is to act. The question then is, What does it mean to Act? How does one actually Act? What is it to transform a Thought, Concept, Idea to an Action? and What is involved in Action impacting the larger Reality?
Training and Warriorship remain ideal forums for exploring these questions.
Join me on this new leg of exploration.
To start, it was a great race. The weather was virtually ideal (for the race portion, at least). Had some great camaraderie on the run, and after the race. The hotel stay was decent, though sort of far. And, most importantly, I met my goals in relation to prepping for Ironman Florida.
- The weather was ideal, partly sunny to overcast for most of the race, with moderate temps. Whereas last year the temps were hot, and then it rained off and on for the run. It did rain this year, but only after the race (for most of us).
- I stayed in the Comfort Inn on the west side of town–somewhat far from the venue, and not the hotel I had hoped to get initially. But they did a good job, and it worked out well. As it turns out, the hotel I wanted, that did such a great job last year, didn’t do quite as well this year (some friends ended up in that one)
- Evidently Augusta is becoming a popular race, and all the cheap rooms were gone early.
- On the run I linked up with a football coach from the Atlanta area and we helped pace each other through the second half. In the final three miles or so, we linked up with another fellow from Florida, whose legs were still fresh, and he helped us with the final push for the finish.
- I finally linked up with my training partners, who it would seem, had put me on ignore going into the race. Ran into them on the shuttle back to get our stuff from transition. Was certainly a boon over last year, where I flew solo the entire event.
- Goals: My main goals were to practice pacing for Florida–primarily to not let the bike hurt.
- I also was able to confirm my nutrition strategy for Florida. Nutritionally, with “Special Needs” bags, I should be good to go.
- My cardio was bullet proof this race. At no point was I sucking wind.
- The area of weakness was muscular endurance. On the bike and the run, it was my muscular endurance that was a limiter, not my cardio.
- This is a good thing (I think) as it would seem that muscular endurance is an easier fix in the weeks before Florida.
- Another piece in the nutrition/endurance aspect was my emphasis on muscular hydration. I had zero cramping issues–Success!
- Flexibility and too much plasma hydration remain limiters, especially on the bike.
Some quick thoughts on the race. I’ll sit down and pound out a more thorough race report in a few days.
There is no purpose to my training. There is no real end-goal to all of this. People ask why I train. Last night the question came up with one of our surrogate daughters (as I call them). This time it was in the form of “Why do you triathlons?” We were discussing Ironman. The answer was “Because it was the next step”–Which doesn’t really answer her question.
The question of Purpose implies in part a practical purpose. My training and competing does have some practical side benefits. There are several very real real-world reasons I train. However, these are not compelling enough in themselves to justify what I do. Therefore, in honesty they are not Why I Train.
I have asked this question before.
Training has many practical benefits. I have actually needed it in the real world. Survival is a huge one. General health. Improved mental functioning. Ability to keep up with my kids. Respect amongst my peers. Social outlet. Fun. Improvement in my other purposeless activities (rock climbing, camping, hiking, fishing). It is a tool on my spiritual path. But none of these, even surviving the coming apocolypse, is really compelling enough.
I’ve been reading the “E-Myth” Series of books, by Michael E. Gerber. In E-Myth Mastery he tackles this question of Purpose, Passion, and Vision (his distinctions). Gerber concludes that once something is reduced to purpose, practicality is attached, and the original vision is killed. This is something experienced in business all the time. Artists talk of how earning a living from their art, killed their art. I am going through this in my business right now. My artistic vision has been compromised by the practical needs of operating a business. Consequently, I find my passion waning.
Walking back to the soccer fields last night, approaching from above, I was able to look out over the whole complex spread out under the lights. I was struck by the sheer numbers of kids working hard at something, which, for most of them, will yield no practical results. There will be no soccer scholarships for most. Most will not play on the top state and national teams. Even for those who play on top teams, or make their competitive high school squads, the real practicality of it all is hard to define. There are much better ways to finance a college education than pouring all the time and money we do into sports. We put a massive amount of effort and resources as a society into sports. All of which only yields “practical” results for an improbably narrow slice.
Why do we do this?
I believe it is a primordial longing that compels us. Our obsession for sports embodies a longing for a Human state lost thousands of years ago. I’ve talked about how the Warrior class developed as human society became more organized. How the Warrior class is an embodiment of some of our most powerful Human evolutions. The Warrior is a link between Civilized man and Natural man. We long for this connection.
There is no Purpose to my training. I am compelled by a calling from time before Reason, a root deeper than Purpose.
Another great day at the Georgia Veterans Triathlon (Sprint). I managed to put up a personal best for this race, despite sucky swim and bike conditions.
My previous posts for this race:
This may be my last prep race before Augusta 70.3 and then, Ironman Florida. My main goals were to test some recent equipment changes, some transition tweaks, and nutrition strategies. From those respects, everything went very nicely.
Down and Dirty
I really enjoy this race. It was my first triathlon. This is my third time doing it. The swim, swim transition, bike course, and run course are all very friendly, and conducive to the first-timer, or the vet looking for something fun. This time around, the weather was less than friendly with recent thunderstorms creating choppy lake water, and wet bike pavement. There was a slight drizzle for the swim start, but it was gone by the time we got out of the water. The roads were wet for the bike, making navigation on the older road beds tricky. However, the roads had dried a good bit by the run start. I put up a personal best on this course, despite these issues. It was a good day.
Distances: 400 yard swim, 13.6 mile bike, 5k run. With relay team option, also
Course: Loop 400 yard swim in Lake Blackshear;
13.6 mile loop bike, no aid stations;
5k out and back run, 2 aid stations (can hit them going each way).
Registration: $55, early mail-in, USAT member. I hate online registration through those thieves at Active.com .
Host: Georgia Multisport
Weather: I could see thunderstorms in distance on the road to the race. It had clearly recently rained, and the race start was delayed 30 min, due to the delay in clearing the course from the recent thunderstorms. (good thing too, because a tree had evidently needed to be cleared from the bike course roadway). It was drizzling as we waited to start the swim, but that ended before we got out of the water. The wind did, however, create the choppiest swim conditions I’ve seen to this point. Even more difficult than Turtle Crawl. Good training though–we can’t predict what race conditions will be for any future race, and it is necessary to train and be prepared for all sorts of things. Same goes for the bike. The road was wet, and at least one guy I passed got some road rash. He stated all was good, though. My front tire was skipping on the older eroded sections of asphalt. Perhaps I could have taken a few pounds of pressure out of the front tire, but then again it was fine on the smooth sections which make up maybe three-quarters of the course. Weather for the run ended up being ideal, and I was blowing past people at a high rate of speed.
- Swim–Start at a sandy boat ramp. A simple out for 150 or so yards, hang a right for 100 or so, and back.
- Bike–Fairly flat. The first third to half is twisty and mildly technical. A couple of slow risers on the second half. Virtually dead flat on the last stretch.
- Run–Fairly flat also, a couple of short rollers between mile 1.5 and 2.5. Punch it after the last turn.
Competition: Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers.
My results: Mid pack on swim, Mid pack on bike, and front on run. An improvement for me all things considered. My greatest opportunities still lie in the swim and bike. Need to work on muscular endurance for swim to better overcome tough swim conditions. Once warmed up on the bike, I was able to build speed and hold it. On the run, I kept my strokes short, and continued to build speed after first mile.
General Impression: I really enjoy this race. It is well organized. Safety, especially on the tricky portion of the bike is a priority. There is roadway traffic, but it is light with no jerks. Nice looking t-shirt.
Room for improvement: No complaints.
This time I made the three hour drive from home race day morning with no hotel stay. This year it is important that I control my expense with two very expensive races on the calendar. The previous two years I’ve spent the night before in a local hotel. Also, with more experience, for these shorter races, I can wake up early, make the road trip, bust a race, ride back, all in one day. Trick being, as with all races, to get a really good night’s sleep the second night before. How many races can you really get a good night’s sleep the night before anyhow?
My goals were to test some things in preparation for Florida.
- I had recently installed an new wheel set, which works beautifully, however the new gearing had some kinks to work out.
- I’ve been training in Vibrams, but don’t want to race in them for a couple of reasons, hence I recently bought some Saucony Hattoris and wanted to test them in a race scenario.
- New water bottle configuration, and homemade sports drink.
- New bungee swim goggle straps, which have been working great in the pool, also worked great in the lake.
I woke up about 3am, got packed, out the door, and on the road by 4am. Arrived at the venue right at 7am, set up transition, chilled out for a while. Got a good warm up swim. Bust the race. Ate some post race food. Saw I had no chance of medalling, and made the three hour drive to the princess’s soccer tournament. After the tournament, drove home one hour. Showered and made it to Keb Mo / Aaron Neville concert not too late.
Such is the life.
It was a good day.
Find me on Twitter. Twitter.com/Old454
Wow. I’ve been on this road for 250 days. Today my hams, glutes, right knee and left achilles are bugging me. The hams and glutes are from a return to heavy deadlifts this week. The knee is from my ride last Sunday which revealed some mechanical adjustments I need to make to my set up. The achilles is a flexibility issue, radiating down into my ankle. I ran 6.8 miles yesterday at 11+ pace. Not very impressive.
Taking all this into account, it doesn’t feel like I’m making great progress. However, when I look at my training charts, I can see that I’m posting bigger everything than I ever have, even the month of 70.3 Augusta last year–particularly when I look at overall effort, which I tracked very simply as calories burned. There are a couple of outlier weeks–like the actual week of Augusta, and the week of Warner Robbins 13.1. On the other hand, weeks of other races, which used to be outliers, Olympic distances, for example, now look like normal training volumes.
The great insight in all this? I couldn’t tell you, really. I do know that according to my volumes, I’m ready for Augusta right now–8 weeks out. My prep for Augusta, is really my full Ironman plan, pushed up by 6 weeks. Thus, though it does not feel like it–I’m on track to be good for Florida.
Maybe the insight is trust the training. What do you think?
In the gym lifting yesterday, I had an epiphany. An article tweeted by @EastTriFitCrew drew the analogy of your body as a vehicle you train and prep for race day–a vehicle that it is then up to you the driver to drive for the race. I found this analogy striking at the moment, a great distinction between your body, training, and your self who must actually execute on race day, mechanical malfunctions, inadequacies and all. It is similar, but not exactly, like the guy with the $5000 bike, the bike alone won’t make him go fast. (I also appreciate the role of the self as the observer)
However, in the gym yesterday, it occurred that this analogy can be extended further, and more meaningfully to Practice and life in general. We practice for what purpose? It is not an end in itself. Nor is it for the purpose of the real side benefits–reduced heart rate, longevity, improved health, better focus–but to prepare ourselves to navigate this life, many of whom’s ultimate goal is to not rinse-and-repeat next life, but ultimate freedom from Samsara.
Practice that only aims for the side benefits, falls far short. Yoga, zazen, tai chi–whatever your practice, there are many side benefits (so readily marketed to us now), but what is the point if you don’t then use that improved vehicle to navigate this life.
You are the driver. Your body is a shell. You will eventually shed your body, your mind even. Until then, to what use will you put them?
Training is my Practice. It is what actually keeps me functional in this life. For me the vehicle and driver analogy is perfect. My truck with 316,000 miles on it–I do the maintenance so it will remain functional, and continue to help me navigate around town. I don’t do the maintenance just so it will look nice, or people will think it is cool (though some actually do think it’s cool). I practice so my mind and body will remain functional (sometimes even at peak performance), and I can use them to help me navigate this universe.