Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fiction: Infinity is Green

            He was proud of himself. More so than he had been in a long time. The new home was beautiful, and in it he could see his future before him. On the final day of moving in, they invited all their friends over to celebrate. They all talked, laughed, and drank and shared long into the night. Finally, long after she’d gone to bed, he decided it was time to join her.
            The master bathroom was the crowning glory of the home. It was nearly 1000 square feet of heated tile and marble, with a full wall of mirrors behind dual sinks. His side cabinet was also a mirror, perpendicular to the wall of mirrors over the sinks. As he stood brushing his teeth with the cabinet open, he peered into the dueling mirrors, facing off against each other into infinity.
            “Infinity is green…” he thought, as he looked at his own reflections shrinking off into the distance, each one growing smaller and greener than the last.
            Just then he saw it; or rather thought he saw it. Near where his own reflection grew too small to recognize as him, it was not him at all. The face was charcoal black, with yellow eyes and pointed teeth. It did move with the rest of his reflections, and in fact did not even seem to be awake, but there it was; not-him staring back from a mirror.
            He slammed the cabinet shut and crawled into bed with her. He was fortunate enough to write the black reflection, the not-him off as something he’d drunk or smoked that night, and nothing to be alarmed over.
            The next morning he woke up with the worst hangover he could remember. It took a full three days for the pain in his head to subside.
            Weeks later, after a long day at work and a splitting headache, he let his glass of scotch turn into two, and then three, and then four, and then when she offered a smoke he joined her. Later, as he was preparing for bed, he suddenly remembered the black reflection, the not-him, and couldn’t help his curiosity.
            As soon as the mirrors were facing each other and he put his own reflection in, he saw it. It was closer this time, only a dozen reflections away. To his horror, the not-him was moving without his other reflections. It seemed to be chanting, or praying.
            The next morning he woke up again with an atrocious hangover, and a headache that would not go away. He initially had written off the vision in the mirror as again something he’d drunk or smoked, but after a week of the same splitting headache he couldn’t get it out of his head. Somewhere between too terrified to look and know and too terrified to not know, he polished off the last of his scotch and went to his beautiful master bathroom alone. He opened the cabinet and looked into the reflections of reflections.
            The vision he was met with knocked him off his feet. The black face was closer still… only 4 or 5 reflections away. It was looking directly at him with its yellow eyes and repeating the same phrase- prayer or curse- over and over with a sneering grin over its pointed teeth.
            He did not sleep at all that night.
            The next morning, he woke up and set up an appointment for a CT scan, without telling her.
            The following afternoon, he was standing in a sterile room, alone with his doctor, looking at an image of his own brain… his brain, with a spot the size of an acorn in it that was as black as the face in the mirror.
            He didn’t know how to tell her, but he knew it had to be said. He had half of a bottle of wine after work, trying to come up with the words to say. After she’d gone to bed, he finished the other half, and decided to look into the mirrors, the green of infinity, one last time.
            His own reflection was gone. The black face with yellow eyes and pointed teeth stretched on into eternity. It was laughing hysterically, roaring even, while screaming the same thing over and over again, prayer or curse.

            The next morning he woke up dead.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Four Days in the Life

Its easily the question I get asked most when I tell people I am a professional triathlete:


Yes, to be quite concise, most people have no idea what a triathlon is... let alone that you can be a professional at it, or what all that would entail. Up until I qualified for my elite license, I didn't know professionalism was an option either, and I am still learning what all it does entail. Long story short, we all need some answers.

To be honest I am a bit leery of writing this... I don't like posting details to my workouts for various reasons. On one hand I don't want to brag, and on the other hand I know there's guys who will read this and laugh at the numbers I put up. But, as I stated above, answers are necessary so I'll give away my secrets here.

This post was in part inspired by some coworkers. They mostly all know that I race triathlons at an elite level, so naturally they like to ask how things are going/what kind of training I'd done that day, etc. One day my training had sounded particularly gnarly to everyone at work, so they were giving me shit at every little mistake I'd make saying I was "too tired from training." I was like, "guys, this was a pretty routine day for me..." To be honest I found their lack of understanding more insulting than their insults, so I decided it was time to pull back the doors and let everyone into a few days of my life.

I wanted to paint the best picture possible, so I figured a Thursday-Sunday segment was the best cross-section of my life. For no reason in particular I chose May 5-8th. It was about four weeks from my last race, and about two more till the next, so right in the thick of things, and a rather busy weekend at work which made things interesting.

There are two quotes I live by that I want you to keep in mind as you read about what my days entail. The first is from legendary triathlete Tim Don; "Its not just what you can do in a day, its also what you've done the day before and what you'll do the next day." This theme of consistency is big for me, and it gets overlooked WAY too often.

The next is from an anonymous Navy SEAL; "Under pressure, you do not rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of our training, and that is why we train so hard." This quote is like a mantra to me when training gets hot and heavy. I ask myself, what level do I want to sink to under pressure? I find that level and I hang on to it like I am too stupid to let go... which I am...

Without further ado, here is the brutally honest, slightly abridged version of my Mother's Day Weekend:

Thursday, May 5th
168 lbs, 7 hrs sleep

  • 5:30 AM: Wake up, coach Master's Swimming at the Y Downtown Omaha. Brief nap after coaching before bike ride. 
  • 9:00 AM: 3 hr ride w/ steady state intervals. "steady state" is what I would loosely define as half-ironman race pace. For me, this is about 290-325 watts. I did this on a trainer due to some questionable weather, and there were 6x15 mins at this pace with 5' recovery between. The last one was rough, but I had no problem staying within the parameters. 
  • 2:00 PM: Mid-long run with hills. 1 hour & 20 mins of steady, aerobic pace with some good punchy hills. Those of you familiar with Omaha know that's about everywhere around here, so I took my usual route through Dundee... After the week I'd had prior (track workouts, threshold swims, peak intervals on the bike) and the morning on the bike, I was moving pretty slowly! There's this house that I often run by off California street, and they have this huge German Shepherd fenced in their back yard. This dog barks like a frickin' hellhound, and on tired runs like this, it occurs to me all too uncomfortably that if Cujo were to jump that fence, he would dine on some stringy, free-range white boy. 
  • 4:00 PM: Work (Restaurant). I wait tables and tend bar at a Northern Italian restaurant in Dundee. The food is delicious, the money is good, the rhythm agrees with me, and I don't have to be there till 4PM. Say what you will about working at a restaurant, but I enjoy it and it works great with my schedule. 
  • 11:00 PM: Bed time! I think I may have had a little tequila and a taco or two for Cinco de Mayo... OK OK fine it was maybe like midnight and there were a few Coronas with lime as well...
Friday, May 6th
166 lbs, 8.5 hrs sleep... Usually a lighter training day due to heavy work load. 

  • 8:00 AM: Wake up, breakfast, and a yoga class. I find yoga really helps my mobility and its basically the only sort of strength training I do. The body awareness and mindfulness are hugely beneficial for me as a triathlete (or anyone, for that matter)... And besides, the last time I was the only dude in a room full of this many babes was.... well... never mind... 
  • 10:00 AM-2 PM: Work (PT Clinic). I run the Wellness Program at an outpatient Physical Therapy clinic in West Omaha. This is a hugely rewarding experience for me and it solidifies my career path as a future PT. The environment and the people I work with here are so positive and even I know that is all too rare. 
  • 2:30 PM: Speed endurance swim... This is my least favorite pool workout, since the thoroughbred swimmer in me says "speed" and "endurance" are not used in the same sentence. The main set was 5x200s broken. The first one was my fastest, 10" rest at each 50. Added up it would've been a 1:47, which is irrelevant since I don't race a 200 and if I did I wouldn't get 10 seconds of rest at every 50... but that's neither here nor there... 
  • 4:15 PM-11 PM: Work (Restaurant) I was behind bar tonight, and as I recall it was neither particularly crazy nor was it boring for a Friday. 
  • 12:00 AM: Bed time! I knew I had a big day coming on Saturday so I got to sleep as quickly as I could. 
Saturday, May 7th
168 lbs, 8.5 hrs sleep... long ride day!

  • 8:30 AM: Got up and went downtown for breakfast at Culprit Cafe, one of my favorite spots to be a basic white bro. Using proper hipster vernacular I got a doppio con panna and I even pronounced "croissant" as though pretending like I didn't grow up in the middle of cornfields and feedlots.  I was in the water by...........
  • 9:30 AM: Race simulation swim. I usually enjoy these workouts even though it goes against my nature as a swimmer to take it out faster than I finish. To give you an idea of this type of set, it starts out usually with some shorter, faster intervals, and then some longer, steadier swims. Today was 50s and 100s fast (around 26-27 for 50s and 55-57 for the 100s) and then a 100-200-300-200-100 steady state pyramid for which I held around 1:02-1:04 pace for the 100s. After a couple rounds of this I was already tired and hungry, but I was just getting started!
  • 11:00 AM: On the bike for a long ride! Pretty much this whole day was a race simulation, so I went straight home and was pedaling within 20 minutes of getting out of the water. Now, I'll avoid getting overly technical here, but generally in a race the first 30 minutes on the bike are a dick-measuring contest, for various reasons other than chauvinistic over-compensation. Everybody is vying for position and trying to out-gun everyone else, so we tried to simulate that today with a 30min TT straight out of the gate. I averaged 320 watts for this portion, 331 normalized... For those of you who don't know, that's quite a lot... for those of you who do know, that's about ~4.25 w/kg, a bit below FTP. After this I had 30 mins easy, and then 4x20 minutes at sweet spot. I'd define this as roughly half-ironman pace, right around 300 watts for me today. The remainder of the ride was just aerobic endurance. 3250 kJ total energy output!
  • 3:00 PM: Quick 20 minute transition run off the bike. The purpose of this was to make sure I'd fueled properly on the bike and to get my legs used to running when they are tired... Quite frankly, I am glad I do this all the time so my legs already knew what to do... I was pretty tired! I had time for little more than eating and showering before work. 
  • 4:00 PM-11:00 PM: Work (restaurant) This was a very busy night, but other than getting very hungry as the night wore on, I'd say I crushed it. Can you make a recommendation for a Northern-Italian wine that will pair with grilled octopus, spaghettini carbonara, and steak? Because I can. 
  • 12:30 AM: Bed time. I needed a beer or two after work, and it was a friend's birthday. Also very much in mind was the opportunity to sleep in tomorrow!
Sunday, May 8th
167 lbs, 9 hours sleep. Long run day. 
  • 10:00 AM: Wake up, breakfast of an egg sandwich and coffee. I drove to the Wabash-Trace trail over in Council Bluffs. 
  • 11:00 AM: 2hrs long run. This spring has been a bit of a roller coaster in my personal life, and I wanted some solitude today, which I why I chose the Wabash trail. Its an old railroad bed with crushed gravel, and there are plenty of fun little off-shoots that the local mountain bikers have made. I saw maybe a dozen other people in the whole two hours, and the canopy of trees really helped me quiet my mind. This is my church. I feel closer to God at mile 15 than anywhere else. I like to think He understands. The last 30 minutes were tempo, and as much as I'd love to say I crushed 5:30 pace, it was really about 6 flat, so right at 5 miles. After a brief cool down, I bought myself a protein shake and a slice of gas-station pizza and rolled home. 
  • 3:00 PM: Call mama! My biggest fan and the reason I am who I am. Love you, mama!
  • 4:00 PM-10:00 PM: Work (restaurant) Behind the bar on Sunday nights has a much different rhythm. It's a lot of service industry people and regulars, so it almost feels like I'm just hosting a cocktail party for some friends. 
  • 12:00 AM: Bed time! I had to watch the new Game of Thrones and hang out with Champ for a bit to wind down after the weekend. Tomorrow its back to work at 9 AM though, so no Sunday Fun-Day for me.
It is a busy life I lead, but I can't imagine doing things any differently. I love training and racing, and I still feel like I've got something to prove in this sport. The work I do gives me balance and pays the bills. What little social interaction I get is priceless to me, and I would never give that up. In other words, for the time being, this is a typical weekend for me. So next time you feel like telling me I'm crazy for riding 4 hours on a Saturday, at least act like I've heard it before! Until next time, FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

#TriathlonTuesday: Clermont Race Recap

I raced the ITU Clermont CAMTRI Continental Cup last weekend in sunny Clermont, Florida. Luckily for me, it wasn't all that sunny and the weather was agreeable for a northman like myself...

For some reason (probably because I hadn't raced ITU for 8 months... and even then not that well) I was stuck seeded dead last... 57 of 57. That meant I got to pick out my starting spot on the beach last, which is almost always a big disadvantage at a race. Basically, I got the worst line available as a result. Also, the water was choppy and we swam in wetsuits...

Now, I am a huge fan of the show "Bar Rescue." Jon Taffer is the man, and as a long-time service-industry guy I love his insights. One of his sayings is "I don't embrace excuses... I embrace solutions..."

The fact that I had a bad line is an excuse. Wetsuits and choppy water are excuses. A solution would've been to B-Line it to the buoy and just be the swimmer that I am. It just wasn't in the cards today, so I wound up farther back than a 4th year pro should have.

The bike was decent, I found my way into a pack and we worked pretty well together. I tried to be vocal and get the guys moving, which worked. At one point, I'd finished yelling at a Mexican athlete in Spanish, yelling at a French athlete in broken French, when a Canadian athlete was up. For some reason I continued yelling in French (I assumed he was French-Canadian, I guess?) to which I got a blank stare and a "Dude, seriously??"

We got off the bike all bunched up, and it felt good to show off the legs a bit and dust up some of the younger kids... I haven't done a ton of speed work this year, so I felt super-strong but not very snappy... I ran decent, but it felt like I ran a lot faster. That will come though with some sharpening up!

This race was mostly over-shadowed by some glaring negatives. A bad swim, atrocious transitions, and rusty bike handling are all some things I need to dial in before next weekend. That's right, I race again in 5 short days at the ITU Sarasota Continental Championships on Saturday! Hopefully a week of training with the boys will get me sharpened up!

Until then, wish me luck and FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Season

Well, here I am, 3 months later, staring down the barrel of what could be my last season racing elite for a while. If you haven't heard, I was recently accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Marymount University. This is both very exciting and very terrifying for me... hopefully they have a station that plays country music in DC...

Anyway, in the mean time I wanna throw down at some races!! I kick the season off this weekend in Florida at the Clermont CAMTRI Continental cup, and continue the following weekend in Sarasota. I am really looking forward to hanging out with the boys and seeing what my winter training has been worth this year. 

After that, the plan is still to continue more along the non-draft path. These are easier to get to, and lets face it, I'm just better at them. It looks like my season will probably be cut short as I start classes in August. I'd like to continue racing, however on a smaller level, all through school... but we will have to find out how realistic that is I guess. 

In the mean-time, I'd like to do something a little different with my blog. Since I'm not really trying to look for sponsors or necessarily please anyone, I want to give people a more candid glimpse into my life. I realize not all professional triathletes are the same, but I hope those who are reading will be able to relate, and I hope my readers who aren't elite triathletes will be able to understand us more. Anyway, look for more of that to come in the coming months. My plan is to write more regular, shorter posts... let's see how long I can keep it up!

In the mean time, FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!!! That's gonna be Dr. Rabbit to you someday... 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Top-12 Moments of the 2014 Season

Well, the 2014 season happened in spite of several big life changes and a few important decisions. I had a lot fun, I learned a little, and I spent way too much money... kinda like college! I broke into the top-5 a few times, I changed jobs a few times, and I cried myself to sleep a few times.

I could write a really long-winded post about everything that happened, but I wouldn't even want to read that. In lieu of boring you all to tears, I'm going to steal a page out of my boy John's blog and do a top-12 list for the 2014 season. John is a solid writer and an even better triathlete, even though he went to CSU. So, after you're done reading this go check out his blog! John, its OK if you look...

Anyway, here are my top-12 moments from the 2014 season in somewhat-chronological order. I hope you enjoy reading about them half as much as I enjoyed being in them.

  1. Key West training camp; Everything from motorpacing off of Zane on a moped to swimming 6000+ a day to partying with the coaches after camp was awesome! I can't wait to do it again.
  2. Chasing KOMs with Team Daugherty in Florida; When my rental mid-sized car reservation was lost - and exchanged for an F-150 - I knew this was gonna be a great week. I didn't race all that well, but I had a ton of fun with the boys and I am eternally grateful to the Daugherty family for hosting us all! 
  3. YOU BOYS LIKE MEXICOOO???!!!; Yes, we do. I can unofficially say that driving a shitty rental van across the Baja peninsula with a bunch of gringos is not even the sketchiest thing I've done in Mexico. A tiny hotel room, some super hot racing, the Mexican fans, a jaw-dropping villa in Cabo and getting twerked on in the biggest club I've ever seen are a few things I will always remember.
  4. Omaha Duathlon; Actually it turned into a muddy, rainy, and very expensive 5k. Sometimes, you've gotta show up to the local race and show the townies what's up. I got soaked, covered in mud, and I only won a bottle opener, but getting brunch with Mom and Rachel afterwards made it all worth it. 
  5. CapTex; It was at this race that I realized my own relevancy in triathlon. It was my highest finish ever, and it was just the motivation I needed early in the season! To top it off, I got cheered on by some fellow Moxies in jorts and mullets. 
  6. Will Huffman's Dallas After-Party; North America Vs. South America flip-cup, teaching Dominican's how to swing dance, and dirty dancing with.... well... nevermind... Awesome time!
  7. Tempo Runs in Memorial Park with TNT; Throwing down with Ben and the other guys from Team Nebraska Triathlon in the July heat taught me how to run tough and set me up for some great PRs.
  8. The Break; Yes, it was ugly. Yes, I did more drinking than I should have during this time, but I found an edge that I'd lost and I re-learned how to stand on my own two feet. 
  9. Kicking Down 5th Place in Kansas; At the time I was running I thought I was running into the money. Only after I'd finished did I find out that they'd cut the prize purse to 3-deep. I'm glad I didn't know while I was hunting down that poor kid, though. The run was my shiny new weapon and I showed it off. 
  10. Going all-in in Bentonville; This was an awesome race all around. I led through the whole first round, and the second swim and second bike. I'd felt second place stalking me the whole time, so I fixed bayonets and hit it as hard as I could on the second loop, but it wasn't enough. Still, I was happy with second place and a big check! 
  11. Surviving off my Starbucks Card in Oceanside; It was a great few days in California to end the season. I raced tough in a tough field, enjoyed the beach, and partied with the tri-squad. Coming home from the airport though I had no money left in my checking account and I was starving. Reserving myself to a long, hungry drive home, I remembered my Starbucks Card with $20 on it! You bet your ass I enjoyed that mocha and that scone. 
  12. The Off-Season; I've done some running races, slept in a lot, partied too much, and applied for PT school. If that goes well, this next season could be my last, so lets make it count! Here's to a great year in 2014 and to being excited for what 2015 has to offer! FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!!!

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...