Saturday, July 19, 2008

Between Life's Bookends

There have been a few things in various recent events that have brought back some re-occurring thoughts of mine. Important thoughts that I should never ignore, but always examine and evaluate myself. A lot of people that I know are dealing with tragedies within their families: loss of family, news of cancer, more deployments. At the same time life is blooming. Some of it is new life and and many families I know have precious new additions to their families, while others are finding out whether the little one they are carrying inside is a boy a girl. Yet others are finding life through death--the selfless act of organ donation. Life is absolutely incredible, fragile, precious, and unpredictable. Both the heaviness of death and the celebration of life should be a reminder to us all of how we choose to live between life's bookends. From each example of life we see, for each hardship we persevere through, through each joyful moment in which we rejoice with others we learn. We are accountable for what we learn. If we learn we should love more, and yet do not, we fail. If we learn that we tend to avoid risks because of a fear of failure, and yet continue to hold back and not step out, we fail. If we learn that we should encourage and support others, and yet continue to focus on ourselves, we fail. But see, life is short. When our life here on this earth comes a close it's not whether five or a hundred people show up to honor your passing, it's about what they learned during your living and remember in your going that matters. What is your legacy? It's less the stories that others remember about you, and more the things that your life taught them. Prayerfully, I hope my life, both during and after, is an example of constant learning and growing. I'm not perfect, boy that is the truth, but what I don't want to do is make the same mistakes in life over and over again because if I do, it means I'm not learning from life. I'm not learning from those great people (and sometimes the not so great) around me. There is a lot that I'd like my legacy to be someday, and it's not all there yet. Life SHOULD be a constant growth process, and not just to make us better (that is a selfish motive) but to make those around us better. Sometimes it is the things that we do that inspire others, or things that we say to encourage others, but the bottom line is--it's our choice of what we leave. Will it be nothing? Will it be positive? Will it impact generations? Will it change lives? I want to leave a legacy.

Nichole Nordeman, a Christian songwriter and singer wrote a song that is exactly about it and is one of my favorites.
The basic lyrics are as follows, or click here to watch/listen to her YouTube of it.
I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Some productivity maybe?

I am SOOOO enjoying my off time from work. Granted, I'm not going on any huge vacation, but just relaxing, doing some of the tri's, training, and knocking out projects suits me just fine. Davey (they hyperactive poodle) is glad I'm not going to work either! I did accomplish some necessary tasks today: cleaned my bike well, especially the drive train, chain, and cassette, with my new knowledge thanks to a bike maintenance 101 course I took, made yummy and healthy bread, made granola, did some filing, some working out, and some general cleaning (that never ends...really, I need cleaning elves...someone please send me my cleaning elves!). More productivity is necessary tomorrow as well some "fun yardwork" and I think I'll do some reading and writing. I need to find out some details of this weekend too. I am doing a good long ride with a friend in Temple on Saturday morning, and am supposed to cheer on a friend at an XTERRA Tri (swim-mountain bike-trail run) in Austin on Sunday morning. However, her arm is slightly injured, so we may relay it and I might be doing the swim leg. I am NOT a mountain biker. The Muddy Buddy race proved that to me. It was a fun race, but I prefer going FAST on the road with the only "rough" road being the nasty Texas chip seal.

I know I probably chat about the "tri" thing more than some of you readers care and you probably view me as slightly obsessed. However, living where I do, with nothing more than work to focus on, this hobby gives me an outlet, an opportunity to meet people, and fills what would otherwise be wasted time or time filled with much of nothing. It's truly a little difficult to explain to someone that is not into endurance sports like triathlon and running. It is my hobby and it is part of my lifestyle. I do it because I want to be fit, I fully enjoy meeting and training with other athletes, I enjoy racing, and I needed something outside of the big, green Army machine that can take some of my effort. It actually HELPS me balance life because I do not dwell on the stresses that work can produce, and I have something to do when I am not at work. As an upper-20's single, I'd much rather put my time and effort into this than playing video games or mulling over life and dwelling on the job. Am I dedicated, yes, am I obsessed, no. This is just my outlet. It takes time, and it is exciting for me. That is why I share it. I have other things I'll put out too, and plan to do more of that in future. I am fond of writing and need to collect some of my thoughts and throw them on here.
Here are some pictures from the Disco Tri this past weekend. One of the BT'ers was out there with a great camera and took some of the fun action shots. The "official" photos are not out yet.

My transition area Having fun on the run! I tend to have a good final kick

More final kick--I really don't know where I get the final kick energy!

Taking it into the finish line!
This next one, the bike, is my favorite by FAR!

Getting my 2nd Place Hardware and loading it back up to head home.

I stayed with this crew over the weekend--we all placed in our AG's and William, on the far right, was not only 1st in his AG, but also 6th overall. He is FAST! Friends are great!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Disco Weekend and Great People!

WOW---GREAT WEEKEND!! I have obviously become quite used to driving as the 3+ hour drive and back to N. Dallas wasn't too bad. Davey behaved himself better than usual in the car (maybe the treats helped?). Sat. night I stayed with friends there in N. Dallas--several of us racing stayed there. Sat. afternoon we all picked up our race packets, which was somewhat odd in that the pick-up place was a Krogers, and you got the first part of your packet in the wine department, and then had to go across the store to the meat department to get the rest of the packet, odd.

One of the absolute best highlights of the weekend was not the race (though that was great and I'll get to it), it was the PEOPLE! After packet pick up, our merry group met up with several of DFW triathletes from (BT) for an early pre-race dinner. At first we didn't know how many people would show up, but it ended up being quite a crowd and was a lot of fun. If you do triathlons or are interested in doing triathlons, logging your workouts, etc. you really should check it out. Second to the friend that convinced me to give triathlons a shot, this site has been great in my journey to learn about triathlons, log my workouts, get plans for specific distances, learn from and encourage other triathletes at different levels (from age group champions to newbie right off the couch). Great people with great encouragement frequent this site. I got to spend some time, both on and off the race course, with lots of those folks this weekend and it is definitely encouraging and fun to meet BT'ers at races. Not only did I meet many fellow BT'ers, I also met fellow blogger Kathleen (well, she found me--which is good cause I space out right before a race and go into "race mode") as we got ready to head out on the swim. It was her first Olympic distance race and first beach start for an outdoor water swim, and she did excellent--even scoring a medal!

So, before I go into the race details, let me just say that one of the absolute bests parts of triathlon are truly the PEOPLE. While you may get one or two "snobby" racers out there, the vast majority are just really incredible and full of encouragement. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, and skill level constantly encourage each other on the course, regardless of whether they know you or not. The folks on BT and the bloggers here in blog land are always encouraging, and I think it is because regardless of levels in athletic differences, we all feel some of the same pain, we all have to persevere over the same course, and we all know that you can't just decide one day to get up and do a triathlon. From some of the pros that have been out there to the newbies, even with so many of us being aggressive Type-A personalities, seeing others succeed and improve and struggling through the same things, even if at different levels is pretty incredible. Triathlon is an individual sport when it comes to individual execution, but it is truly an incredible community of athletes. I have been highly impressed at every event I have been to thus far at the high level of sportsmanship that exists. I have made friends some good friends here in the Central TX area due to triathlons, I have found workout accountability and sanity and friendship through BT, and I have enjoyed learning from and reading the incredible journey so many triathlon bloggers here take. I truly thank God for giving me the physical ability to enjoy this sport, and the many blessings He has given me in crossing my path with other triathletes out there. I was in desperate need of a hobby or something outside of the Army/work in which to focus my time and energy, and I have found so much more in the endurance sports/triathlon world: new lifestyle that makes me more fit and confident, great people, and more than enough places to spend my money (<--haha)! So, to my fellow triathletes--THANK YOU. To those of you who are now intrigued at the sport (anyone can do it, it just takes some learning and training!) check out BT or your find a local tri-club and jump into the swim, bike, and run! You won't regret it!

Oh, so the race. I will do a detailed race report on BT again and post a link to that, but in a synopsis, total time= 2:24:25
Swim (1500 yds not meters)- 26:43, 1:57/100m time (meter split is what I record, BT converts it for me). This is within my expected range of 1:50-2:00, so I'm okay with it. I drifted TOO FAR left on the leg out to the first buoy, kept an okay line to the second buoy (but still drifted left) and did pretty decent coming into the beach. First real running beach start (Buffalo Springs was just odd and different) and the contact was interesting, but not distracting. I just have to stop drifting left so much. The swim cap stayed on though, so that's a huge plus. I swam till my fingers touched sand, got up, and ran past lots of folks that walked the long 200m or so to transition. Out of 283 total racers, I was 127th out of the water time-wise. In my Age Group (AG) I was actually 4th of, again, I'm not slow but not way fast in the swim. It is my least favorite of the three-sports, and it was more choppy out there than I've dealt with in the past. Not bad overall.
Transition 1- 2:09min, at first I was irritated at this time...I wanted sub-2 minutes, then I remembered that we had a 200m uphill run from the beach to transition, make that shorter and I would have easily had sub-2 mins. This was a great fast transition, the only booboo was a tiny container of body glide I accidentally had let slip into the toe of my left bike shoe, so I had take that shoe off, dump that thing out, and put it back on. Besides that, I did well here--ran all the way to transition from the beach and got everything on and out fairly quickly.
Bike (23 miles)- 1:06:23, 20.79 mph avg. THIS BIKE WAS AWESOME! It was a rolling hill course, but nothing really worse than what I train on, so I was ready for this. I truly tried to hammer it nearly the whole time. I did keep my cadence good, but I just felt like I was flying. It was overcast, and it did rain some, but nothing like Buffalo Springs. I passed LOTS of people- men and women- on the bike. I took advantage of every downhill and worked hard to get that free speed. I stayed aero virtually the entire time besides turn arounds, to include the hills, and never had to shift out of my big ring. I played leap frog with the Women's Master Winner (51 years young and kicking butt) for the first 2/3rds of the bike and then finally dropped her. In the last 4 miles I got passed by the only woman to pass me on the bike (she was 36, so not my age group). We leap frogged a little bit, but she pulled out front the last mile. I would catch her on the run. So, excellent bike, so PLEASED with this!
Transition 2- 0:41, yep 41secs. I got out of my shoes before the dismount line, jumped off the bike (sort of--this needs work), ran in, racked my bike, threw on my shoes (without socks--yay for body glide in shoes) grabbed my hat, water bottle, and race belt and ran out on the run. I put the hat and race belt on while on the move. This is a GREAT improvement for me, and my transition times actually put me ahead of the girl in my age group behind me.
Run (6.2 miles/10k)-48:31, 7:50 min/mile pace. Good run. It was rolling hills, but about fair in both directions. I stayed right on the heels of the lady that passed me on the bike, and I ended up passing her just after the 5K turn-around point, and I passed two other women then as well. I almost overtook another one near the finish line, but was just shy of beating her. I was not passed by any women on this run. I did have a great finishing kick, and felt great aftewards, so I think I could've pushed it a little harder on the run...but still, I'm happy with this!

Final Results: 2nd in Age Group (F25-29, 13 total women...1st beat me by 15 mins and was 2nd woman not even close!), 84th overall out of 283 men/women, 12th out of 80 women racers. I am happy! Great race, highly recommend it. The awards was a little long and unorganized, but everything else was well done. I think I would try this one again.