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A Struggle Worth Fighting For…

I’ve been doing a lot of introspection lately.

Life has been a pretty crazy ride for me thus far. I grew up the product of two wonderful parents, alongside an older brother who I used to despise but is one of my best friends now. I’ve had a few brushes with death, though I’ve only broken one bone in my life thus far (pinky toe of all things). I’ve had more than my fair share of luck in all aspects of my life, so much so that I can’t figure out how in the hell I’ve deserved it. I’ve come across a wonderful woman who puts up with me, no matter how ridiculous I get. There… I’ve caught you up for the most part.

As I’ve said before, I was told in 2009 that if I didn’t make significant changes in my life, I wouldn’t live much longer. I made those significant changes, lost 150lbs, started running and playing soccer, ran over a dozen races from 5Ks and 10Ks to half and full marathons, rode a metric century bike ride (approximately 63 miles), did a sprint triathlon and was in the best shape of my life.

Over the past two years, that all changed. I got injured playing soccer, and after that I just didn’t feel like endurance running anymore. I was sore all the time. I also had an incident whilst cycling to work one morning when a Cadillac Escalade came within inches of striking and killing me, forcing me into a curb where I couldn’t get clicked out of my pedals fast enough. I came away with a cut-up leg and arm, as well as a jacked up helmet where I hit my head. I also started eating terribly again, going more for fried foods over anything. I’ve since put close to that 150lbs back on, and that scares the hell out of me. 

These are just excuses, of course. After 2009, I thought my will was stronger than that. It’s all about the decisions we make day in and day out that, whilst seeming small at the time, snowball into a big mess. Well, I snowballed big time (NOT a Clerks reference, sickos!).

You may be wondering what brought all of these thoughts rushing forth (or you already know, in which I reply, “READ ON ANYWAY!”). I’ve been feeling physically terrible lately. Though I still play soccer, I’ve noticed that I move around like I’m 40 years older than I actually am. Actually, there are some 76 year olds that could run circles around me. But, I digress…

I’ve been having trouble sleeping, my breathing has gotten more labored whilst doing menial tasks, my feet scream at me after sitting for prolonged periods of time, I have constant headaches, etc. etc. The gist here is that all signs point back to, “Hey! You’re going to die soon!”

I found out this morning that a lifelong friend of my brother’s died of a heart attack. He was 42 (or 43… I can’t remember if he was older or the same age as Drew). Bobby Rhine died at the age of 35 of a heart attack… and I’m 36. Bobby Rhine was way healthier than me. What’s to say I won’t just drop dead this afternoon, tomorrow, a week from now? 

I’m not ready to go just yet. I feel like I still have something to offer this world, and I’m going to fight tooth and nail to stay here as long as I can. I’ve already been playing soccer more often, and I’m working out outside of soccer (including cycling again after a year hiatus). Between that and eating better, I can already feel my endurance picking back up. I’m able to last longer on the field, and not just by standing there. I can move better, and though the soreness is still there, I’m going to push through. I have the fight and the will.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night. 

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

- Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

08.07.13 0
"These are my confessions…"

Every time I hear or think of this phrase, I always think of Weird Al Yankovic’s parody of Usher’s hit. I then laugh hysterically… sometimes aloud. Okay, always aloud.

Anyhow, I’ve had a rather tough time as of late. With soccer injuries and excuses galore, I’ve put on 20-ish pounds. I was still eating like I was constantly running, yet running was out of the equation. Those of you who have battled with your weight will understand the downright fury I had toward myself due to these re-added pounds. The really scary thing for me was this: I *almost* slipped back into that ‘oh well’ mindset I used to have - you know the, “it’s too late,” thoughts? Yeeeeah…. I really wanted to punch myself, or at least give myself a stern look in the mirror.

How do you break free of this? For me, it took a mental snap. I’m running the Cowtown half marathon at the end of this month, and if I didn’t do something soon, that race would eat me alive. I haven’t really been training, as it has hurt to run. But, I think some of that was mental. So, I’ve resolved to buck up and push through. 

I also have some exciting news: As of this week, I’m training to compete in my first-ever sprint triathlon. My marathon trainers have a group out of Fort Worth called Trident Sports which trains crazy people (like me) to compete in tri sports such as sprints, olympic-distance, half and full triathlons. These are great people, and they really know what they’re doing.

Now I’m back on track, which has me thoroughly excited again. I’m eating much better (I’m training now, after all), and I feel incredible again. So, if you’re having a hard time, I feel you… but snap out of it. We can do this. If you need someone to hold you accountable, give you support or just talk to about what you’re going through, PLEASE do not hesitate to contact me here. We all struggle, and if I can help in any way, I would be more than happy to lend a hand.

02.08.12 0

I stand up to cancer by logging miles on my feet. The American Cancer Society’s Team DetermiNation changed my life, and I am very proud to be able to participate with them.

12.16.11 16977
Confessions, or “SNAP OUT OF IT!”

DISCLAIMER: You may encounter some angry-sounding self talk during this post, but it’s all for the greater good. Since this is a journey, it’s filled with highs AND lows. This post just happens to detail a low. It’s still hopeful, but I must share in full disclosure.

The past month and a half has not been a good one. Through a combination of factors, I have put back on at least fifteen pounds, and I haven’t been this pissed off at myself in quite some time. So, I’d like to take a moment to detail a few factors of what went horribly awry. Also, I was told once never to bring up a problem unless you have suggestions on how to fix it. Though I haven’t made a habit of that in the past, I’m going to follow this advice and list what I feel I must do to break through these issues and get back on the path.

In no particular order:

Injuries
Problem: (I put this first, as these were the catalysts to my inactivity) Between running and playing a lot of soccer, my feet have gotten terribly sore at times. I would have to take three to four days off from running at a time to heal from soccer soreness, and that just became habit. I also found my quads and hamstrings getting sore easier as well. I liken this to the fact that I’m a terrible stretcher. I haaaaate stretching. Now, where once I pushed through soreness, I just haven’t had that drive lately (see Motivation below).

Solution: I need to get back into the regimen of alternating ice and heat again when I come across soreness, coupled with Alleve and rest. I also need to stretch. Seriously. Please help me be accountable for this, as I am TERRIBLE at the stretching after working out/running/soccer.

Motivation
Problem: I’ve lost my drive. I think it may have something to do with the depression I’ve found myself back into off and on, and it makes me even more angry. I’ve stopped blogging and tweeting here at At a Loss, and that makes me feel even more down in the dumps. It makes me feel like I’m letting myself and others down when I don’t keep up with it.

Solution: I’m altering my routine. I read somewhere that the best way to get out of a funk is to change up your routine to break up the monotony you may feel you’ve slipped into. I’m also now running with the group on Saturday mornings again, and they’re always very encouraging and motivational. Also, I’m going to blog and tweet more from here at At a Loss. I’m pledging now that I will post at least twice a week (at the very minimum). It helps keep me accountable, especially when I hear from you all on what keeps you going.

Eating and Drinking Habits
Problem: To put it bluntly, I’ve been eating and drinking like shit. When in training (and running consistently), I consume way more calories than if I didn’t exercise and my weight stays consistent. However, even during the aforementioned breaks from activity due to injuries, I’ve still been eating the same amount of food. That, coupled with a rise in my consumption of beer, has caused my weight to jump back up in an alarming rate. 

Solution: I’m going to start tracking my consumption again for a week. I feel this will give me the jolt I need to get my eating and drinking under control whilst shaking off injuries and get this new weight back off. 

So, those are the three main factors that have contributed to my sudden weight gain. But, I’m starting to get the itch again to get off my butt and get going. Please feel free to share what keeps you motivated, what helps you break out of a rut or anything else you’d like to say! You can either comment below or ask/tell me something here. If I get some questions/comments, I may share them in future posts, so be sure to let me know who you are (if you’d like).

11.01.11 49
Zoom This is excellent, and something I needed today. I still need to watch the ESPN 30 for 30 on Terry Fox.
runnersworld:

olive-brain:

If I died, I would die happy because I was doing what I wanted to do. How many people could say that?
-Terry Fox (July 28, 1958 – June 28, 1981)
a beautiful example of what it means to live a life to the fullest potential.

Happy birthday, Terry Fox. Dean Karnazes pays tribute to this famous and inspiring runner in his latest blog post. Dedicate your run to Terry today.

This is excellent, and something I needed today. I still need to watch the ESPN 30 for 30 on Terry Fox.

runnersworld:

olive-brain:

If I died, I would die happy because I was doing what I wanted to do. How many people could say that?

-Terry Fox (July 28, 1958 – June 28, 1981)

a beautiful example of what it means to live a life to the fullest potential.

Happy birthday, Terry Fox. Dean Karnazes pays tribute to this famous and inspiring runner in his latest blog post. Dedicate your run to Terry today.

07.28.11 64
63.18 miles, or How I Spent My Saturday

This past Saturday, July 23, I rode with some friends and coworkers in the Tour de Cure to benefit the American Diabetes Association. There were four different ride levels: 5 miles, 15 miles, 32 miles, and the metric “Century” ride (62 miles). Being my somewhat adventurous self, I signed up for the 62 miler, along with my friend and work cohort Kim (whose husband, Matt, is a bad-ass cyclist that joined us as well). I did that with every intention of training hard for it as I did the marathon.

Well, as always, time got the best of me. My “training” fell by the wayside as work and musical rehearsals moved to the front burner. I even had to borrow a bike for the ride, as I wasn’t about to attempt a 62-miler on my near-death mountain bike. But, my procrastination aside, let’s move on to the event…

I awoke at 4AM in the morning to eat a big-calorie breakfast (just as I did for the marathon) and gather all of my supplies. I hit the speedway around 6AM, then met up with Matt and Kim to tweak my borrowed bike to my size (as well as switch out the pedals). Once we all gathered, we headed over to the starting line to get going.

Me at the start...The beginning of the ride was incredible. They let us all go around the track of the Texas Motor Speedway once before embarking on our long journey, which was a really cool experience. Some of us even took off up the steep embankments of the corners (which was SCARY, but fun as hell!). Once around, we pedaled through the north tunnel and out into the countryside.

I have to say, with this being my first organized ride event, the rest stops were AWESOME. They had them set up around 8 or so miles apart (could’ve been ten, I wasn’t really counting), and they had everything from fruit, water and Gatorade (or Powerade) to pretzels, pickle juice, peanut butter sandwiches and more. It was EPIC. I had packed food and things in the back of my jersey, but I wouldn’t have had to really. It was tops.

I felt really good until about mile 15 or 16, where I started to feel a bit nauseous. I can’t say why I felt that way, as it quickly subsided and I was fine. In fact, I still felt pretty fresh at the turnaround (approx. 32 miles). It wasn’t until about mile 36 or 37 that my body slowly began rejecting my intentions. My left calf (which gave me a quite a time during the marathon) began cramping up, though it never fully locked down like it did whilst running Cowtown. Once we hit the fifth rest stop, I ate some pickles and some other stuff, and I felt better. 

The most challenging part of the route came in the form of a very long and steep hill between rest stops five and six (around mile 47 or so). At this point, I had already gone around seven miles further than I’ve ever ridden at one time before. So, I was already fairly tired. Kim was in the same boat. However, we trudged along as best we could.

Kim felt really rough afterward, so we made an impromptu pit stop in the shade so she could cool down a bit. At the realization that the next rest stop was about a mile away, we continued on. Once we reached rest stop #6, we sat in the shade for a while until Kim felt better. By then, it was getting really hot and the riders were thinning out (by the last rest stop, I think there were only ten riders behind us). But Kim, being ever the tough one, decided she could stick it out the rest of the way in.

Though “the hill” (as it’s now dubbed… by me) was the most physically-challenging aspect of the course for me, the segment between rest stop 7 and the finish line was the most mentally challenging. We had reached 61 miles, and had one more long uphill climb to make (though not the last incline). With the Speedway in sight, I pedaled harder and faster. However, I couldn’t maintain that rhythm more than about a quarter of the way up, so I slowed down considerably. 

I really did, for about 30 seconds, want to walk the bike up the rest of that incline. But, my senses kicked back in, and I spent the rest of the time internally cursing at my muscles to ‘MUSH! MUSH!” until I reached the level area of road. It was tough, but once we reached the north end of the Speedway again, I knew I could make it the rest of the way.

We pedaled hard into the north tunnel, then up the final little incline to reach the finish line. Overall, we went approximately 63.18 miles (so sayeth the Garmin… haha). The finish line was a bit anti-climactic, as almost all of the crowd had dispersed (see earlier comments about only ten riders being behind us), and all but one of our other team members had already left. However, even though I was incredibly exhausted, I felt amazing. 

Afterward, I rested for a while, then played a large chunk of our indoor soccer league game. I felt a bit insane for even entertaining that idea, but I did it anyway… haha. I even performed rather well considering.

Next up: Now that I’ve been bitten by the cycling bug, I really want to train for a full century ride (100 miles). I think that, with proper training this time, I could knock it out rather swimmingly. Also, I do still want to participate in some sprint triathlons. However, my next big endurance events will be the Austin Marathon and the Cowtown Half Marathon double feature.

07.25.11 2
26.2 Part Two, and Other Minutiae

Back in October of last year, I posted this entry detailing what I then thought was a near-impossible task: an attempt at running a marathon. Well, as you that follow know, I accomplished that very task, and now I’m back for more. Fairly soon, I’ll be training for my next marathon (hopefully the Livestrong Austin Marathon on Feb. 19), followed by a half marathon the very next weekend (Cowtown). Before you tell me I’m insane (well, this is a well-documented fact, so… no harm no foul if you do), just know it’s all in the conditioning and training. There have been people that have run so many marathons in so many days, so I’m sure I can handle running 26.2 miles one day, then 13.1 seven days later.

Anyhow, yes I’m crazy, but I’ll be raising money again for an incredible cause that’s near and dear to my heart (American Cancer Society), so any pain I endure will be completely worth it.

OTHER UPDATES
I began a boot camp that meets twice a week here at work, and it’s run by one of my marathon coaches (Tamara). It has been great so far, and my soreness is dissipating quicker after each session. I’ll tell you one thing, though… I thought I was in shape. Apparently, I’m not! The first two classes rocked me pretty hard. But, it’s getting better.

Also, I’m not sure if I mentioned it here or not (I did on Twitter), but I also joined an indoor soccer team here in the D/FW area. We’re into our second season now, and I’m LOVING it. 

07.13.11 1

As a fairly new “commuter” cyclist, this is a pretty awesome idea. I would totally need a light suit as well though, so I could play Tron every time. :)

06.30.11 1
Dusting Off and Moving On…

When things in my life outside of fitness go awry, I sometimes arrive at a crossroads. Every once and a while, I start to move back down that path I so often did before two years ago where I shut myself indoors, sulked and barely moved. This happened a bit last week, where I knew I should go out and just run, but I refused. Instead, I listened to that little voice I’ve been so good at shutting out and shut down.

This week however, I’ve been much better. I’ve fought through that and am back at six days a week. Adding weights to my workouts has been good as well, though I’m SORE. Haha… but, that’s to be expected.

I know that there will always be trials and tribulations, and I also know that I will always overcome them. It’s in my nature. However, my biggest challenge since all of these lifestyle changes has been stifling that voice that has lived inside me all of my life… that voice that constantly tells me that I’m going to fail, and that I have no chance of ever being truly happy.

So, I challenge you all that struggle with the same: fight through that voice. Prove it wrong at every turn. We’re better than that voice… always.

06.16.11 1
"Ch-Ch-Chaaaanges", or Reverting Temporarily to "Old Self"…

Hey, all.

Very recently, I’ve been dealing with some matters of a very personal nature, so I haven’t really been in the mood to blog. Luckily, I didn’t fall back into the pattern I once had where I would dive into food to comfort me. If anything, it makes me push my body even harder now. But, therein lies an interesting dilemma: what’s worse for you?

There IS such a thing as too much exercise, as you can push yourself past that point of it being beneficial to doing damage. I think I neared that point last week. When I’m dealing with affairs of the heart, I really lose all sense of intelligent thought I ever think I have. So, when going out for a lunch run last week, I told myself, “You know what? Screw it. Run until you collapse.”

The sad thing is, I even knew at the time that it was a stupid idea. I know better… especially now. But, I sometimes tend to revert back to that, “no one cares” type of mentality I used to carry with me when I weighed 300+ lbs. So, I set out on the Trinity Trail intent on pushing my body past the point of no return.

Luckily, I did not succeed in this task. About 2.3 miles in, “new me” kicked in and thought, “Dude, you haven’t eaten anything of substance in two and a half days, it’s near 100 degrees outside and you have no water. Knock this off and turn back.”

I didn’t listen to myself for a minute there, and I nearly paid for it. I felt myself getting  dizzy, and my eyes were stinging so terribly from the pouring sweat that I couldn’t see. Common sense finally took over and I forced myself to stop and walk. Strangely, I was disappointed in myself at that very moment. I wanted to keep going, to push myself to the very brink. But, I also knew that would do way more harm than good, and I relaxed a bit.

Once I got a hold of my wits, I alternated between a light jog and walking to get myself back. I did so by giving myself small, manageable distance goals until I got back to the office. After a shower and some water, I felt MUCH better. But, it scared me a bit that I reverted back to that self-destructive mentality I carried with me for so long. Though I have made huge leaps and bounds over the past two years, it seems I still have quite a bit distance to cover before I’m truly changed.

For now, I will just keep twisting and turning with whatever bends this road I’m on gives me.

06.08.11 1