Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Pile of Stones

Sorry its been a while, friends! We're gonna get deep today... I apologize in advance.

Beneath a tree near the top of a particularly large hill on California street in the Dundee neighborhood of Omaha, there is a pile of stones. Its nothing remarkable, about two feet in diameter and maybe a foot tall, and the stones are all about the size of a golf ball. It will more than likely be removed at some point by the property owner. Why am I writing about this pile of stones, you ask? Because I put it there, and each stone means something to me.

I got the idea from one of those inspirational YouTube videos. Basically, in the video, you see this guy get up one morning, grab a small rock from his driveway, and start running. Finally, after the voice-over says a bunch of inspirational stuff about never giving up, the guy tosses the rock on this huge pile of similar rocks at the top of a hill. He looks out over the city, and it flashes back to his former self putting the first rock on the hill, and all the changes he's gone through since.

"That's a neat idea!" I thought. On my next run, a cold day this last spring, I grabbed a small stone from my apartment's parking lot, and took off. I went on my favorite-least-favorite hilly route, and put the rock under a tree, and that was how it all began. The other night I was tossing yet another rock on the pile, and I noticed how big it had gotten, almost without me realizing it. I couldn't help but feel proud of myself. I was building a mountain.

There's rocks in there that are probably still cold from some of our late spring snowstorms. There are rocks that probably still have some of my sweat on them from some of our scorchers this summer. There's rocks that smell more like Coors Light than sweat from those Sunday mornings after nights out with the boys. There's rocks put there when I should've been at work, or hanging out with my girlfriend, or applying for grad school, or doing anything but running but I just couldn't do anything else but run. Yes, there's all sorts of my blood, sweat, and tears from hard times and heartbreaks that hold that pile of rocks together like mortar.

How much have I changed since that first day this spring? Well, I've PR'ed in my 10k off the bike, for one. I'm swimming and riding better all across the board than I have since, well, ever. On a deeper level, I've grown so much stronger, and grittier, and hungrier. I'm sure I've grown up a ton, given all the life changes I've had since then. The funny thing about consistency is it breeds more consistency. Suddenly, your consistent effort is your habit, a part of who you are.

People always want quick results and quicker answers, but that's not how all things work. How did I cut a minute off my 10k off the bike? By running almost every damn day. Rain, shine, tidal wave, hangover, whatever, I ran.

I've seen so much frustration with my clients at the gym. They don't get quick results, and so they give up. On the other hand, I've seen too many people disappoint themselves by comparing themselves to others who have been doing it way longer than they have. You just can't carry all those stones up that hill on California street at once, trust me, its too steep.

I'm not done building my pile of stones. Maybe it'll be a mountain someday, or maybe it'll get scooped up by some annoyed property owner. All I can do is keep building it, one rock at a time.

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is, be patient. The next time you are wondering why you haven't seen success in whatever you do, ask yourself, have you given it a consistent effort? How big is your pile of stones?

Hope this helps, y'all! FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!

Friday, July 18, 2014

To Draft or Not to Draft?

What's up guys? Its been a busy season and an interesting past month for me. A couple races and a couple big life changes later, and I've decided to focus on non-draft racing for a while.

This does mean setting aside the Olympic dream. However, I don't know how realistic that ever was for me, which is why I never really marketed it like some people we all know (YOU know who you are!) And, with non-draft triathlon being such an amateur-focused sport, there are ever fewer opportunities to make a living in it. However, I don't have to travel as much to chase points, and I get to ride my bike a lot more!

I've always compared draft-legal racing to a bar fight: You will probably get punched in the balls and get a bottle smashed over your head, you might throw up at some point, and you'll wake up the next morning feeling like hell. The guy who wins is usually the guy who knows the exact right moment to throw a punch and is a really fast runner.

Non-draft racing, however, is much more like Civil-war style warfare. We will line up in neat lines, exchange southern-gentlemenly pleasantries, and take turns shooting at each other until one side runs away or drives a bayonet into your spleen. No touching of the hair or face. The guy who wins is either from south of the Mason-Dixon line or has the most expensive equipment.

I like that draft-legal racing is less of a gamble, and focuses better on my strengths. Also, I'm not a confederate, I'm not racist, I'm not even a Republican (ha!) but I do consider Robert E. Lee to be one of my heroes. One of the best battle tacticians ever, and his men would've followed him into the gates of Hell.

I've even had the results to back it up. In Austin over Memorial Day, I raced CapTex and came in 6th. All of the work and none of the prize-purse. A week later I raced the PATCO Championships in Dallas, which was draft-legal. There, I found that, like most American elite males, I'm not that well-suited for draft-legal racing on an international scale. And, like most American elite males, I have a huge junior-high crush on Taylor Spivey... After this I decided to take my talents to South Beach like Lebron James and chase either a championship or the money or whatever and focus on non-draft.

Since then, I've raced a couple local races to throw down a tomahawk style dunk and let the local boys know whats up, and I raced Minneapolis last weekend. I did not execute on the swim, but the rest of the race was decent. I wound up a disappointing 11th. This weekend I will race the Kansas 5150, which was not on my schedule until about Monday, but hey, life happens and sometimes you wanna race instead of going to a wedding! I'll let y'all know how it goes! Until then, FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!! But you better be 5 bike lengths behind and staggered or that's drafting, which is like a 2 minute penalty...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Top-10 Things I've Learned From My Dad

What's up guys? Well, today is Father's Day, and I wanted to give a huge shoutout to my Dad. Dad is one of the funniest, gentlest, and hardest working people I know. He is the one person I always look to for an example, and he has guided me my whole life. As such, I thought I'd share some of my favorite bits of wisdom from him that we could all learn from. As you can imagine, not all of it has completely stuck with me yet, but here we go in no particular order.

  1. If you're going to be particular about how something gets done, do it yourself. This applies to everything from hiring a landscaper to dining out to asking your significant other to help with chores. Simply put, either do it yourself or don't micro-manage!
  2. Know how to drive a stick-shift and operate some power tools. You're an adult. Odds are, there's going to come a time when you'll need to know how to drive your drunk friend's truck home, or drive in a screw to fix that cabinet.
  3. Be a Gentleman. Or a lady, for that matter. Dress nicely, stand up when you meet someone, be on time, always say yes to a dance, even if its an ugly girl! (He literally said that verbatim before my first 6th grade dance at Kearney Catholic.)
  4. Most of the time, its best to stick to beer. You won't get a beer gut if you ride your bike enough, and you never hear about someone dying of alcohol poisoning after too many Budweisers... you might still puke though...
  5. A hangover is not an excuse. Pops will pound IPAs with me all night... until about 10:30 PM... at which point he pulls an Irish Goodbye and sneaks off to bed. Why? Because his mornings matter. 
  6. Don't take yourself too seriously, no one else does.  Dad used to joke with us kids in such a solid deadpan that we didn't know if he was kidding or not. When asked, "DAD!! Are you serious??" He would calmly reply, "I'm as serious as a heart attack." 
  7. You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running. At 60, my dad is "younger" than some of my clients half his age. Why? Because he gets up every day and moves his ass. 
  8. At the end of the day, you're going to do what she wants anyway. My dad has set for us kids the best example of how to love, and I am eternally grateful for that. He knows that ultimately, its not up to him, but to Mom how the yard looks/where we are going to eat/what to wear/who to invite. He taught me to do the same thing with Rachel, and its worked out pretty well so far. 
  9. Take pride in what you do. How can you expect someone else to pay you for your services, whatever they are, if you don't have some pride in them? I remember Dad coming home from work, and bragging about how nicely he'd put a crown on some poor bastard in his dental chair. The layperson wouldn't even know good work from bad probably, but Dad was pumped about it. For some reason, this always stuck with me, and I think that's how everyone should approach their workday. 
  10. I'd rather be out on my bike thinking about God than in church thinking about my bike. Dad was quoted as saying this to the priest in Rolfe, Iowa, who one day asked about his spotty Mass attendance. I don't know if this is true or not, but Dad did teach me to love my bike. He taught me the best water I'll ever have will be 96 degrees, taste like plastic, and be in a corridor of corn on a July day in Nebraska, 40 miles from home, with saddle sores, numb hands, and fire in my legs. 
Colorado's mountains are beautiful. The ocean in Mexico is awesome. But, my favorite bike rides will always be through that pancake-flat corn field they call Kearney with Dad. Hope y'all enjoyed this as much as I did! Happy Father's Day, pops! FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

#TriathlonTuesday: Cat-Calling

What's up guys? Well, given that its a Tuesday and I was struck by inspiration, here I am! Today I want to talk about cat-calling. Now, for those of you who don't know, by "Cat-Calling," I mean any random yelling at a passerby.

Generally this is done by a yeller (who may or may not be physically attracted to a yellee) as the yeller passes the yellee. It is my personal belief that the yeller feels some sort of anonymity, since the yelling is often done from a car or at the very least from a significant distance. I'd even go further to say that most yellers, when face to face with a yellee, would remain mysteriously silent. That's right, whatever the yeller had to say is not so important that he/she would say it "in person." In other words, most yellers are just casual people who are struck by the need to yell, and not necessarily knowledge-filled gurus.

This is a practice I have never fully understood in any form, although I've rarely had to worry about it since I'm generally not on the receiving end.

Now for some reason as a triathlete I have encountered this problem a lot more frequently. That's right, I get yelled at. On the pool deck, on the bike, or while running, people seem to think its ok to yell at me. Sure, I understand speedos, cycling kits, and split shorts are not your typical attire, and a yeller might feel the need to make me a yellee and inform me that he/she thinks I look weird. The fact is, I'm just doing my job... leave me the F@*# alone!

Ok, ok, sure. I hear your argument; "Sam, you're running shirtless along a busy street, and you happen to have about 6% body fat." I realize that this makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Let me address these "offenses" one at a time.

Sure, I'm pretty lean. As it happens, I train my ass off (literally) to be the the best athlete I can be. I don't do this for looks, although its a nice bonus... just ask Rachel! The fact is I wasn't always this way. Buried deeply in me is the fat middle schooler who got bullied, and I still have to remind myself sometimes that I am not him anymore. So, I'm sorry if my tall, thin frame bothers your insecurities, but I'm still working on my own, so please don't yell at me.

Second of all, I live near Midtown Omaha. All the streets within a 10 mile radius are reasonably well-trafficked, and I'm not going to drive in my car 20 minutes just so I can run on a quiet road by myself and thus not offend your fear of skinny shirtless white guys. Its not like I'm running on Dodge street here... Besides, none of you people said anything all winter when I was stomping up this neighborhood in 3 layers, so just continue to leave me alone now as the weather warms up!

Finally, I could leave my shirt on to make you feel better about your beer gut. I could swim in trunks to not offend your pasty praying-mantis legs. But what is this, Saudi Arabia? No! And quite frankly, I don't care how it makes you feel when you see me training. I'm not any more worried about you than you should be worried about me, I'm focused on what I'm doing. Speedos allow me to swim faster! Split shorts allow me to run faster! And the no-shirt, well, its hot out and I don't want tan lines... there ya go, a little vanity on my part...

Since I generally can't understand what you say while blowing past me in your Dodge Ram with dual rear tires, mud flaps, and 6 inch muffler tips (all of which you totally need in downtown Omaha), and since you never stop to allow me to respond, here are my canned responses to your cat-calls. Please read and pass along to other yellers.

  1. "Nice body/You're hot/I want you in some form": Since most yellers are either dudes or underage girls, I'm flattered but I'm REALLY not interested. Plus, I like my girlfriend a lot.
  2. "Nice shorts/tights/speedo" : This is pretty much my work uniform. Do you want me to come into your place of work and make fun of your ugly-ass polo shirt with the Applebee's logo on the chest?? No. Good job on the employment though, I hear they have great benefits... #RubyTuesday4Life
  3. "Get off the road!": Actually, its illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk in most metropolitan areas. Just think of me as a smaller piece of farm equipment. I'm much easier to pass!
  4. "Insert derogatory phrase": GET BACK HERE AND SAY THAT TO MY FACE YOU SORRY-@$$-CHICKEN-$#!+-MOTHER#@*&#%!!!!!! 
...Sorry about that. Generally speaking, if you yell at me from your car window halfway through my threshold hill rep, you will be met with hostility on my part. That is because your fellow motorists and yellers have conditioned me to believe your yelling at me is an act of hostility. If you are a friend, maybe just wave... let's be honest I'm not going to know who you are anyway...

The only form of cat-calling I will acknowledge as dignified is clanging a cowbell out your window as you pass. Other than that, please refrain. I'm not asking you to go out of your way for me, in fact I'm asking you to not go out of your way to yell at me! By all means, follow the pace rabbit, just don't yell at him! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

March Racing

Well, March happened before I even knew what hit me. I raced 4 times (5 if you count the Super Sprint Relay) travelled all over the deep south, experienced spring break in Mexico, turned 26, got my own health insurance (Thanks a lot, Obama...) and definitely didn't do anything very productive!

Rather than bore you all with race reports on every race, I will provide you with the bullet points of the races, and next I'll give you a list of the Top-10 best things I ate in the month of March. For your reading pleasure;

  • March 1st was my season opener in Clermont, Florida. It was a draft-legal, Pan-Am Cup sprint race.
    • The field was pretty stout, and this race is always a bit of a shit-show (pardon my language) 
    • I had a decent showing, finishing better than last year in 29th. The important thing here is that I am clearly learning how to put together complete races.
    • There were a few glaring mistakes (slow swim, over-biked), and a few strong points (good positioning, fast transitions)
  • The whole next week I spent in Florida training. I've realized that I need to invest in some good training partners. Riding, running, and swimming with Brian MacArthur (B-Mac) Brandon Nied (Beenie) Alex Libin (The Russian Princess) Eric Lagerstrom (Nordic Thunder) and John O'neill (The Baby Giraffe) was a pleasure... Sorry boys, you don't get to pick your nicknames when I'm writing!
  • Until the boys and I can all get a sweet house together in North Carolina or something, I will be taking applications for Omaha training partners!
  • Shout-Out to our wonderful home-stay family, the Daughertys. A beautiful home, a well-stocked fridge, and a couple awesome dogs and you've got 5 happy triathletes! Thank you so much for everything! #TeamDaugherty 
  • March 8th was the Pan-Am cup sprint in Sarasota. 
    • I'd gone down on the bike the day before the race, and I think that affected my mindset more than it should have.
    • Swim started out strong, but I got dunked by a large, smelly French dude. Again, this affected me much more than it should have.
    • I wound up 32nd. Now, bear in mind this was basically a World-Cup level start list, and being that I am a swimmer, if I have a bad swim it doesn't bode well for my race. I did have a strong run though. Back to the drawing board!
  • March 22nd was the Pan-Am Cup in La Paz, Mexico. I hadn't planned on doing this, but the boys talked me into it. 
  • I found myself renting a car and driving across the Baja Peninsula... which is not even the sketchiest thing I've ever done before. 
  • The race was blisteringly hot, and I was not prepared for that. Nor do I feel was I prepared for an Olympic triathlon in general.
    • I was in the lead group out of the water, but in a Mexican bike pack, being the only gringo means you'll be attacked repeatedly until the rest of the field catches you. 
    • In Mexico, the bike packs only go fast after the big gringo goes down... Remember kids, HOLD YOUR  LINES ON YOUR CORNERS! 
    • I melted on the run. 19th place. Ugly.
  • Cabo San Lucas on spring break is exactly what you'd expect it to be like. 
  • The next week was the New Orleans 5150. I drove down with Rachel, Erin Dolan, and her mom.
  • 16 hours is a long time to spend in a car
  • New Orleans is a lot like the third world; Tragic poverty stands next to extravagant luxury, all with the back-drop of idyllic beauty... And the roads are shit...
  • The race was pretty ugly over all, but I had a solid result in spite of that. Lets be honest, the field was as soft as the Huskers defense.
    • The swim was the choppiest I've ever experienced. Seriously, worse than the Pacific. The group all stayed together.
    • The bike was windy, and a 40k TT takes a lot different kind of fitness than a draft-legal bike leg.
    • If you feel like you ran a 34, you probably ran a 36. 9th place is only disappointing when you could've been first.
  • The French Quarter is one of the few things in life that is not hyped up enough. Everybody says its crazy... Nobody tells you its random-guy-passed-out-in-a-gutter-of-a-strip-club-while-people-make-out-in-the-street-at-8-o'clock-on-a-typical-Saturday-crazy. Vegas has nothing on New Orleans.
This crazy month of March racing would not have been possible without the help of a few certain people. HUGE thanks to;

The Daugherty Family
The Boys (as listed above... remember, what happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo)
My wonderful parents
Tom and Mikki Tye
Leo V. and Prairie Life Fitness
Moxie Multisport
Coach Zane
As always, my loving, patient, and beautiful girlfriend, Rachel.

Well, that sums it up for ya! Now that I'm 26 and a mature adult, I'm going to be timely in getting my next blog post out... but I'll still laugh when I fart... Anyway, look for the March Food Blog later today. Until then FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!

Monday, March 3, 2014


Sometimes, the Rabbit becomes the Wolf if you put him in the right race....

That's right folks, just follow the pace rabbit... OR WE WILL FIND YOU!!!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

#FBF: TriathlEATing

You know those internet memes showing the old-fashioned lady eating a cookie saying something like, "There is a skinny girl inside me, trying to get out, but I can usually shut her up with cookies.."? Well, my internet meme would say, "There is a fat kid inside me, trying to get out, but I can always shut him up with 3 hour bike rides and 18 mile runs."

If you can relate to this, then you are a triathlEATer. I like to think I coined this term myself, but really anybody could combine the words "athlete" and "eat," so I probably wasn't the first. On that note, this phenomenon is not exclusive to triathletes. Any athlete who has a large workload (except wrestlers... or as I call them, "anorextlers") and needs to eat a lot can probably feel my pain here.

The bottom line is, I train a lot, so I have to eat A LOT! Believe it or not, this is not as cool as it sounds. In fact, it can be annoying sometimes. The following is a list of signs that you have experienced "triathleating." Again, keep in mind this is exclusive to athletes with a heavy training load; if you just eat a lot and don't work out (I'll try not to call you "gentiles") you have clearly let the fat kid out of his cage.

  1. You have experienced great dismay at the portion sizes in a restaurant. There really is nothing worse than that realization of, "ugh... this is just not enough food..." While most people complain about huge portions, you are already finished and your stomach is still rumbling... but never fear...there is peanut butter, jelly, and bread at home!
  2. You get irrationally angry with picky eaters. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? YOU THREW AWAY HALF YOUR SALAD! The simple fact that people actually have a choice in what they eat sparks rage and jealousy. We should all be so lucky... some of us just have to eat, regardless of the taste.
  3. You get two mints at drive throughs... when ordering for yourself... Places like Sonic and Amigos always give you an extra mint. Because there is no way all that food is for only one person... right?
  4. You've gotten to the last bite of something before realizing it doesn't taste all that good. At this point, there is a moment of self-loathing... before you get over it and make another snack. 
  5. When cooking for friends, you forget that they didn't ride 65 miles that morning. This goes back to different portion sizing by non-triathleats (again, I didn't want to use the word "gentiles" here). Sorry I poured a half a pound of pasta on your plate... and two chicken breasts...
  6. Going to the grocery store requires eating beforehand. You already spend half your paycheck on groceries as it is. Let's make sure we go with a full tummy so we don't get 3 different varieties of Oreos... and beef jerky... cuz its Paleo, right?
  7. There is a post-workout-pre-meal snack. Meal preparation takes energy, and energy takes food. Yes, I will eat a turkey sandwich... so that I have enough energy to make another turkey sandwich. 
  8. You go by the Hobbit eating schedule. Before and after every workout there is a meal, along with all the other meals in the day. We're gonna have to make time for second breakfast, eleventies, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper. 
  9. "Hungry" is a relative term. It is a constant state. If someone asks, "Are you hungry?" The answer is always "yes," but there are varying degrees of "yes." There is I-Just-Ate hungry, I'm-about-to-go-workout hungry, I-just-finished-a-workout hungry, I'm STARVING, I-will-literally-eat-a-baby hungry, and Hangry. 
  10. You get irrationally angry when people call you "lucky." Yes, there is a lot of irrational anger in triathleating that gentiles (I mean, non-triathletes... sorry) do not understand. Probably due to low blood-sugar (see #9). Sure, I'm lucky to be living my dream, but I am NOT lucky to be able to eat so much! If you'd done what I've done today, you could eat a bacon cheeseburger with Krispy Kremes as a bun too (not that I've done that...) Trust me, you don't want to do what I have to do in order to be able to eat so much. 
All in all, we just eat more, because we do more. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go make a snack. Until next time FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!!!