Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Day 8.126 Gotta Do This

Gotta do this.

I keep thinking about time. Time passed, current time and time remaining. There are things I would like to accomplish prior to whatever happens when my heart fades (or reverse crescendos) to its final beat (a transition I rehearsed last night).

There is not a damn thing I can do about the events of the past. Except for tweaking the way that I look back upon them. I can, and I will, give my best effort to keeping focused and present today, now and right here. Time remaining? That is the fun part. And I feel I have an obligation to my soul to maximize the value of whatever time remains. To procrastinate is to die.

I really don't like the 'bucket list' concept. It is too morose and too trite for simple tastes. And mine ARE simple.

I do, however, LOVE the idea of doing what I want to do. Living with abandon. Getting out and mixing it up with life. Setting a course for the winds that fill my sails. If I go off-route, run out of food or scrape a knee, so be it. I like the adventure. I like the freedom and I like the challenge. There is really no such thing as being lost is one listens to the compass of the soul. True North.

The challenge is keeping myself emotionally in the game. There has to be equal (approximate) elements of mind, body and spirit.

It is very simple. Go and do. And so it goes.

The latest:

Crater Lake, Oregon.

The rim ride is 33 miles from Park Service HQ.

Depart Seattle (BI) Wednesday, August 19 @ noon.

425 miles (4.5 hrs) to Eugene. Paint town purple and gold in a nice way. Motel.

Thursday, Aug 20 drive from Eugene to Crater Lake (2.5 hrs)

Ride the rim. (clockwise)

Post ride, drive to Medford, OR (1.5 hrs) Dinner and Motel.

Friday, Aug 21 Drive from Medford to Crater Lake.

Ride the rim (counterclockwise)

After second rim ride Friday, depart CL for Seattle (6.5 hrs) Home by 1900.

Epic adventure for intrepid Argonauts and all PBers.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Day 8.125 Then There Is

A few years back we conducted a protocol that spanned an entire quarter. Three days a week for three months.

I called it The Mountain.

It was a focused and consistent progressive indoor cycling experiment. We started fast and finished strong. Wherever those places were found on each athletes physical fitness timeline - a rough way of saying - do your best, where you are with what you've got - we began. In earnest.

The outline is a simple one that I borrowed from a famous Zen proverb. So popular, in fact, that it became the lyrical accompaniment for a couple of rock tunes. Here is the hook:

First there is a mountain,
Then there is no mountain,
There there is.

From Donavan P. Leitch to the Alman Brothers, and of course, the Dead, we have long pondered the meaning of these sparse but juicy lines. Sometimes we ponder with folk, sometimes with the blues and often with rock.

My take is this (with apologies to DT Suzuki): When we begin an endeavor there is challenge. We are not sure it - whatever IT is - can be done. Think marathon or Ironman or Grand Fondo here. That is the uphill struggle associated with its accomplishment. It can seem Sisyphean At first. We begin, committed to the process along the path.

Soon a strange and wonderful, miraculous and magical thing happens if you are dedicated and disciplined enough to keep your eyes on the prize. Suddenly one beautiful day, the mountain is gone. The run, ride, swim or challenge is gone. You have flattened it out through your hard work and your powerfully positive attitude. You now see the results of your labour. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you are elated with this new gratifying topography. There is no mountain. You have earned the flat.

I would love to announce that this is the end of the story. But it ain't. Because once you have earned the flat, removed the mirage of the mountain keeping you from your goals, climbed it simply because it is here, adapted mind, body and spirit to the obtainment of your lofty goals, and flattened the course figuratively, metaphorically and metaphysically, you face this:

Another mountain. A bigger challenge. More work. Smarter work. Work with a smile, teeth grinning vice grinding. Your heart knows this as well as your spirit. Don't worry, it won't take long before our head figures it out too. And THAT my dear friends, is a major moment.

When your head, heart and humanity (mind, body and spirit) are all in harmonious alignment, YOU CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS.

First there is a mountain,
then there is no mountain,
then there is.

What are you experiencing today?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Day 8.124 Laundry for Free

I am doing laundry.

Not a chore that I enjoy.

It is Sunday afternoon, we started the day at 0600, drove 50 miles, offloaded our bikes, rode 36 challenging miles, 17 up the ridge the hardest, got stuck in open bridge traffic (again) on the way, but made it in one, smelly and fatigued piece, home.

And then this.

I have nothing clean to wear for our 0530 spin class tomorrow. I go through 15 kits a week.  If I don't do it, nothing gets cleaned. We do not fold.

Amazon.com's drone service notwithstanding, I have few options.

I collect quarters from my change tray, grab the dirty clothes bin and head out.

This moment I am 16:10 into the wash cycle.

I come to this laundry mat for a couple of reasons. It is still relatively cheap (2.25 per load) and whoever the owner is, he, or she, has decorated the walls with images from a tropical paradise, roughly six degrees south of the equator, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. God Bless.

Every time I come here to sit & spin I look at the murals and drift back to those good old days.

Fifteen years has gone by, but not a single one of those days has passed without some reminder of that incredible experience.

There was purpose, there was effort, there was teamwork, there was camaraderie. We used to say, One Team - One Mission. We were the footprint of freedom. We rocked.

It was my job to balance the military tension with R&R. That meant morale, welfare and recreation. That was my job. Provide for the troops. Try to keep them in the gym vice on a bar stool.

And I loved every minute of it despite the oppressive and relentless scrutiny of a division known as Navy Quality Assurance Evaluators, whose only job it was to grade the way that I managed, and later directed, the entire department.

This grade so that the American taxpayers could rest comfortable and secure in the knowledge that DOD dollars were being spent well.

In this case, I believe that they were.

But I still miss doing laundry every Sunday night for free.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Day 8.213 WOOF

I will tell you something now that you probably already know.

When we started this internet literary fiasco over eight years and 2,300 posts ago (an era now recognized the good old days), I had a plan. Not perfectly crisp and in the focused cross-hairs of my altruistic vision, but something new, different and for me anyway, disciplined and autobiographically exciting - in a non hedonistic manner of course.

I was mentored in college by a creative writing teacher who suggested that when struck with writer's block, go with what you know.

At the time, the early seventies when we called blogging journaling, that advice would have seen me limited to a very few items.

In 1972 all I really knew was baseball, music and girls. Almost sounds like a Beach Boys chorus.

My 1973 the list had been pared to the latter two. My baseball career was officially over. I had walked away.

In 1974 some interesting items joined the parade. Travel, adventure and literature. That is not to say that music and girls lost their priority ranking, more that they were now augmented by life on the road. That magical augmentation.

In 1975 I got married. I was on my way to winter in Mexico after a year in the orchard.

In 1979 the marriage was over. I might try to explain the what and whys at a later date, but today is reserved for something else.

We had moved back to Southern California, to enter the auto parts business with her family as a last ditch attempt to salvage what was so obviously a fait accompli.

I flew back to Settle on the day Mt St Helens erupted on May 17, 1980.

I have been here ever since with stops in Rome, Paris, OZ, UK, Spain, Cyprus, Mauritius, Norway, Alaska, Alabama and Asia. I also spent the better part of the nineties on a coral atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

In 1984 I went to a University of Washington football game.

It change my life.

In 1990 my girlfriend, whom I adored, called me one-dimensional. She insisted that my entire existence was about sports. But I'm in the sports publishing business and being caught-up, ahead of the curve-ball so to speak, is what makes me good at what they pay me to do, which is how I am able to pay for this expensive French dinner and $25 bottle of Bordeaux, darling.

She came up with a solution.

If you desire to continue in this relationship (we made eye contact and nodded affirmatively) then you need to move a little out of your cultural comfort zone. There is art, language, ballet, gastronomical celebration, water skiing and horticulture all waiting for you. And me too, she said, not wanting, I think, to end her opening  remarks in the category of weeds.

To say that I was amused with her assessment and subsequent good-natured ultimatum, would truly be understatement.

My sweet angel, what dost thou suggest?

You can keep one.

One? One what?

One team. In one sport. All others are toast. We will replace your considerable time spend in fandom with quality time of the trail of culture. Together, you and me.

But, but, but, but, but……..

No buts.

I took a deep breath, wondering if it might be my last inhale of freedom and exhale of independence.

I heard a voice inside plead and beg. I looked in her sky-blue eyes and saw that she was as serious as death and taxes.

Ugh, well, OK.

Which team?

NOW? I have to choose now? Can't a do-up a report and take all this just a touch slower?

I don't think so. Needs to be now.

Well.

You in?

Yes.

What team?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Day 7.212 Progress is a Process

It has been said that progress is a process.

I wholeheartedly agree.

I offer two recent examples:

E1) Me. That recent article suggesting that repeated, long and steady, or high intensity workouts are bad for your heart has received much media play. Happily, much like the lions vs dentists debacle, there are two sides. But wait a minute, you know my stance here, I am a bona-fide vegetarian (I have returned to eating tuna of late, but that will probably end soon) and I choose a vegetable based diet for many reasons, foremost among them that I do not want to add to the pain and suffering of sentient beings by feeding them with growth hormones, raising them in cages lined with their own feces and killing them brutally simply to satisfy the modem bourgeoisie appetite. I'll eat spinach, thank you. But this one really hurts. So much so that I thought it appropriate to announce my services as a proxy for justice.  For the same amount that our dentist friend paid for his African hunt, I will visit his practice (under the guise of needing a root canal) and GO JACK BAUER ON THE SISTERFUCKER. Seriously, wire me 55 large and this piece of shit will never kill another animal, unless medical technology comes up with a hunt-by-braille scope. He will also be rendered unable to pass his demon seed forward. I don't want to kill the bastard but gouging his eyes out with a dental drill and castrating the moron with my surgically sharpened Swiss Army Knife, is something that would make me feel much better. I know Jack would agree.

E2) I am regaining my mojo. This was a good week. True, sleep is the last remaining post-pacer challenge, but I'll make the trade any day of the week, speed for sleep.

As a E2.2 footnote Junior is seeing the progress and process ratio play out as well. We just ran a PR 2 miler of 15:12, almost two minutes off prior best.

Sorry for the gritty departure in example one.

But I think you get the idea.

Don't kill lions and keep on keeping on.

This is a process.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 7.211 No

No

Is the short answer. Grrrrrrr.

The question was, Are endurance athletes hurting their hearts by repeatedly pushing beyond what is normal?

OMG. If ever there lived a headline that better demonstrates the 'call to fear'  tactic (so prevalent in today's fast food-esque, social media hype to 'look inside') I have yet to visit it.

It is cheap. misleading, sensationalistic and filled with weasel-wording innuendo. But you looked inside didn't you?

Of course you did - and so did I.

What I found was some data, a few stories, anecdotal research and a boat-load of fear mongering. Again.

We have seen this before. And I seriously dislike the model.

Upon further review (thank you NFL) we find the following glaring paucity of explainational depth, in JUST the header!

1) Define an endurance athlete.
2) How often is repeatedly?
3) What is normal?

The body of the piece is OK, presented with a relatively unbiased examination of the data and seemingly without a sales agenda.

Having lived through the procedures described, being an 'endurance athlete', and wanting to continue both my existence and experience, I offer this to those whose response was one of fear:

Fear not.

If you receive a modicum of value from your training, racing and testing, do not allow this propaganda to slow you down. Do what you love. Love what you do. Run hard, run long, ride hard and ride long. Race your ass off. Take it to the limit several more times.

We are ALL going to lose the final battle. We are ALL going to die. Many of us from heart related issues. Many are avoidable if attention is properly placed when choosing one's style of life.

I do not consider fear and sloth, laziness and apathy, obesity and diabetes elements of a high quality of life.

I am going to go, go hard and go long.

As long as I am able.

My body will tell me, as is the way of the natural and organic, when the time has come to back-off, slow down or take a break. Please do not expect me to use this crap as an excuse. Ain't gonna happen.

Look, I have a genetic code that puts me at-risk for atrial fibrillation. I have it, and it is chronic. I also have Bradycardia, the polar extreme of Tachycardia. Too SLOW a HR vice too fast.  The only time I feel OK is when I am training, can you guess why? I have undergone the invasive and the benign procedures. There is  pacemaker in my chest. I take medications. I am 63. I train every day, most days X2.

Comically, I hope everyone in my age group responds to this article by discontinuing their training and racing immediately. Sadly, I know that most will not especially those who I have been chasing for 25 years. I know their MOs, they race to win, they put the hammer down when caution is just as appropriate. They hate my guts for making them work so hard.

Additionally, I don't care. I have made it through six decades marching to my own set of drums. I have made plenty of mistakes. I have remorse, sure, and I wish I could take a mulligan or two. But I can't. If I drop dead tomorrow from myocardial infarction, or get flattened by a texting truck driver, who cares? Not me. I am gonna live this thing out at full volume, full throttle and with full experience. Not half-assed because I might stroke out by doing the very thing that gives me purpose and joy.

Here are my final thoughts:

1) Four percent of the US population has AFib.
2) On its own it is not life threatening.
3) The danger is in clotting and stroke.
4) Get a good diagnosis.
5) And by far the most important…..

DO NOT LET ANYONE TELL YOU TO SLOW DOWN. EVER.

The article thinks the answer is maybe.

The weak think the answer is yes.

My answer is no.




Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 7.210 What If

I was forwarded an interesting article this morning.

The back-story is largely paradoxical, what some call serendipitous. I will tell it here:

Since our return from the Nation's Capitol one week ago, I have been frequent and fervent in the attempt to regain whatever fitness was lost during the fantastic Eastern trip. I like to say, 'hitting it hard'.

Yesterday was particularly painful as my left piriformis and illiotibial band went on strike simultaneously in an effective display of solidarity. As I was training with Junior, examples of fortitude and focus are effective motivational tools.

So I shuffled along, trying to cushion each foot strike with as much balance and finesse as I could muster. The slightest irregular movement sent lightening bolts of sharp pain down the port side. I wanted to quit at 5K but managed to slug-out the scheduled 10.

At 1800 we staged the traditional Tuesday night cycling session in the PB.

Afterwards, knowing I needed rest and a quick recovery, I limited myself to a single episode of 24 (First Season) as wind-down routine. As a footnote, this is the third, and last, of my 'all nine seasons' of 24ing. At last I have become an expert at something.

I lay down and replay some of the day's highlights. I get cozy and comfortable with the warmth and wonder of this profound farce.

And then it starts. A sensation with which I am quite familiar. Chest pain.

This time featuring a dull inner left side ache accompanied with bouts of ice pick stabbing.

It'll go away I self diagnose. Like it usually does.

It doesn't.

I pop three antacids and think about Jack and his situation, the rock and hard place of protecting a presidential candidate while trying to rescue his kidnapped wife and doughtier. By comparison I have it easy, a 23 perhaps.

Minutes pass like hours and the pain worsens. OK, I'll talk.

I try again, in vain, to make sense of all this. I want to come to an understanding with it. Are we going to die? Will it be painful and slow? Are my affairs in order? Will anyone miss me? Would Jack approve?

In the dark I locate my Tylenol and fumble with the easy opening top. I look at the clock. I have one hour before wake up call for this mornings spin class.

Finally I get to sleep but the two phones chime their 0400 greetings in an eerie form of two-part harmony.

I spring up and sit in the darkness listening to the alarms and the beating of my heart.

Seems I am good-to-go.

After a particularly challenging indoor cycling set I get home, ready for a nap, and see the article.

And I wonder what if.