Thursday, December 15, 2011

Let's Get it Started

I have reached that time of year where it is time to get the ball rolling.  My offseason if there is such a thing is quickly coming to an end.  I have used the past couple of months to refocus and enjoy time with my family.  My body has recovered, for the most part, and is ready for the next year's punishment.  This offseason has brought about a couple of new goals and areas of focus.

I have begun with the help of a good friend Kurt a new cycling team. THRIVE Cycling Team has started as an invitation based race team promoting the sport of competitive cycling.  We have an elite, developmental, women's, and junior's program.  I am pumped about this and I am truly looking forward to this new venture.  I am also excited about it because it directly involves my wife and two boys.  They will all be racing under the THRIVE banner.

My wife and I have big plans for later in the year (and No it does not involve a 3rd child) and I am looking forward to those.  My goals as well as my family's goals are lining up and it is quickly looking like 2012 will be a breakout year for the Bernstein family.  It is here that I will give pause to my good news and do a little reflection on 2011.  Not that I won't give you insight into the coming year but I don't want to spill all my beans in this little ditty.

With the close of 2011, I am stepping down as president of the Altoona Triathlon Club.  For the past four years I have been encompassed, engrossed, and at times overwhelmed with this project.  What began as a couple of friends saying we should form a club, opened the door to the creation of a 100 member club that benefits entire communities.  I have always felt a need to do more, to share what I know, and to try and give back in some form.

I dove in and built a club from scratch. I learned and had hiccups along the way.   I had a lot of help in the process, and to those I say thank you.  I have had opportunities stem from this venture that I otherwise may have never had.  I have seen people find a sport that they never knew existed and excel in it.  At times it felt like a job and I admit there was a time that I got buried and was not very happy in what I was doing.  But I think that is natural for any leader or organizer.  After all, an organization is only as strong as it membership is, and I tried to remember that in every venture that ATC took on.

After four years I am stepping back and looking from the outside in.  I question myself as to whether I kept to the original intent of the club's mission, and I have to answer yes.  In four years ATC gave $8500 to charity, created a race that has made a name for itself in a community that needed one, and helped over 100 athletes find one another and learn together that triathlon is fun.

I extend a big heartfelt thanks to those that helped the club succeed, sponsors that stood behind us, and to all the members that make ATC possible.  I hope that 2012 will bring continued success and a clear vision of what ATC can do and bring to the community.   As for me 2011 was a great year.  THRIVE Multisport is growing and helping new athletes find their way to success in their goals. 

2012 looks to be busy, fun, and exciting.  I plan on updating you on my continued musings and stories from the trail.  We have more trips, training, and projects coming and I can't wait to share my biggest news, but that is a story yet to be written...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grab a tissue...

So I sat down and wrote a full page on post season depression.  It was really good.  I had some scientific data and real life examples.  I think many of my readers would have found it informative and insightful.  Unfortunately I think it was just a cover and full of crap.  It is not who I am.  I think by now many of you have read my musings and hopefully found them written from the heart and sharing the values that I believe in.

That brings me to the reason why I deleted every word that I spent writing previously.  It think we all get run down in life.  In my line of work I see too many people medicated to the point that they become numb to what is a real feeling.  I will never be like that.  I will never let my family be like that.  No one has ever said that life is easy.  There are ups and downs and you must truly live life to every degree to appreciate the good times as much as the hard times.

I have found in my life that communication and passion are the two things that will keep me going day after day.  Communication is a must.  Clear, concise, and thoughtful words help make any situation an easy one to handle.  Passion must fuel you.  Every day I have my goals.  Every day I want to improve on the last.  Each day must be better than the last.  Along with that communication and passion, I have found the one person that makes every day worth more than living.

What fuels me? What makes me want to better every day? There are many little reasons such as pride, honor, personal values, etc.. But the big reason is my wife.  I have reached a point in my life where we have been together longer than apart. We are at times a well oiled machine. But there are hiccups at times.  We have developed the ability to work through any monumental problem. There may be tears, there may be some hard feelings but there is always understanding and resolution.

Passion is hard to come by.  There are times when we are in that dark place and just don't want to come out, but we do.  Why?  Passion. I come out of the dark for her.  She gives me reason.  She gives me life.  She fuels my every day. She gave me two boys, a beautiful home, and the freedom to be me.  She is the perfect interpreter, she is a rock with great curves, blond hair, and a smile that lights the room.

I push hard to prove myself every day. I teach my boys our values and the way to treat others.  But most of all I hope they find the one.  The one that fuels their passion.  The one that makes them want to be a better person.  The one that they want to get home to no matter how exciting an event they are in.  The one that you think of every moment.  I have that one. I am thankful.  I often question myself why she hangs out with me.  But I think I know the answer.  She shares my passion. 

It seems that every song the radio plays nowadays makes me think of her.  I want to be the best for her. I want to do the best for her.  I know I may slip and stutter, but I know she knows I do everything for her.  Post race depression be damned!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Been There, Done That

    This weekend I finally completed my sticker collection.  You know when you were younger it was a special day when we went to the grocery store, because we may have gotten something.  For me it was sticker books.  If my chores were done and my sisters didn't overshadow me I was rewarded with sitckers.
    Back in the day stickers were all shapes and sizes and details. We had photo albums full of them.  We even traded them.  We saved our quarters till the next time to get some of the more ellaborate stickers and kept pages open waiting for them to be placed.
    I don't remember when I stopped collecting stickers.  As a matter of fact I don't think I really ever have.  My stickers have gotten bigger and the meaning behind each of them has changed.  I drive around nowadays and see all sorts of stickers. Letters, Calvin without Hobbs, stick figures, race teams, the list could go on. 
    My collection has now become oval, white, and numerical.  I have now in my collection: 1.5, 5, 10, 13.1, 18, 51.5, 70.3, 140.6, 100, and my latest 26.2.  Now if you know what each of these numbers represent you are the type of person that may have a few of these on your vehicle.  I have come to a point in my life where I not only look at the number but the journey, sacrifice, and lessons that I took from earning each sticker.
    I have never once competed for reasons of only to earn a sticker, tattoo, or ego.  I have always approached every event as a possible life changing one.  I learn from every endeavor I undertake. Each day I learn, endure, push, and hope to survive.  And at the end of each event I take at least a day to reflect on the day and make my mental notes.  Then I hit the bath and rest.  The next day I think about what I can do next.
    Going long, short, or in between is not about achieving a sticker. It is not about the event.  It is about the album that you are compiling. 
    What is your album full of? Are your stickers ellaborate?  Do you have a favorite one? Wanna trade any? And most of all, have you filled that special spot with the one that you save all your quarters for?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seeking Admiration

            It seems to me that I am often try to model myself after those that I admire.  I think it is natural.  If you see some attribute that you like or find, it resonates within you and you begin to mold to that look.  This is sometimes good and sometimes not so much.

Miranda Carefree & Connor

            The beginning of this month I had the opportunity to spend some time with some really amazing people. I met Olympians, world champions, and people that put forth efforts that most normal people would not understand nor appreciate.  In meeting most of these individuals I found humility and their surprising willingness to speak about most anything. 
            I try to not act like a “tourist” for lack of better words, when I meet these athletes.  I look up to them a bit and constantly strive to push myself in the same manner and effort that they do.  I know that I will never be at their caliber, but I try.  I make sure my boys take a moment to watch them and help them to understand what hard work and dedication looks like in action. 
            It is my hope that my boys pursue their dreams as they grow.  Perhaps in meeting some of these amazing people something will click and they too find their niche.  I truly hope they find happiness in their endeavors.  In seeking out the people I admire I am able to share with my boys the qualities that I believe will help them be successful in life.
            Keeping my boys grounded yet allowing them to fail, succeed, grow, and learn on their own are rungs on life’s ladder.  The elite people in the world of sport suffered their setbacks and achieved some of their highest set goals, all the while they never stopped.  I think that is what I seek to share with my boys the most; don’t stop.
            We are surrounded by ways to be a success, some seek it, some write it, some live it.  I am for sure that I will live it for my boys, so they can model it and soon enough begin to feel the rewards of their own success.  You can find a lot of distinct qualities in elite athletes.  You just have to have the chutzpah to approach them.  I think they want to share with you as much as you want to share with them.  We are all human and we all have our moments, just be sure to pick the right moments (awkward inside shout out to Sam McGlone). 
             The more we keep our kids active, sometimes we miss the opportunity to have that time to impress on them why we keep them active.  They can quickly fall into a humdrum or go through the motions in their activities and as parents we can become frustrated with them.  But if we take the time to have them watch and talk with people like Liz Blatchford, Bella, and Rinny, the more they can start to pick up on the qualities that are needed to be successful not just in sport, but in life.  I know it is my job as a parent to do this, but some outside support never hurts. 

Liz Blatchford, Kerrie, Me, Annabelle Luxford

Saturday, August 27, 2011

More Stories from the Trail

Near the summit of Twin Sisters Peak
    For those that read my last post, my 4 year old son Cooper had a revelation about the looks of God.  This was where he thought God had a mustache.  Well this little musing is along the same lines.  So I will begin by setting the scene for you.
    We had begun the day in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We had decided to summit the Twin Sisters peaks.  These were two peaks that are 11,250 and 11,400 respectively.  The trail was roughly 3.5 miles to the top.  The peaks themselves are just a few hundred feet apart so once you top the first you walk the saddle and then scramble up some boulders to the top of the next.
    It was a beautiful morning, temps were in the mid 60's to start and not a cloud in the sky. The family was coming off a hike yesterday of nearly 8 miles and 2000 feet of elevation gain.  It seemed that everyday we managed about 8 miles and some sort of elevation gain.  Every day both our boys Connor (10) and Cooper hiked solidly.  Connor hiked every day without complaint and I think proved a lot to himself about how strong he was.  Now Cooper on the other hand was pretty resilient in that he hiked for at least an hour and a half each day roughly 3-4 miles at our pace, and once he tired he hopped in the backpack which I happily hauled each day.
    We had made the first summit in roughly 3 and a half hours.  Cooper had hiked about an hour of the three and a half then I hauled him the remainder of the way.  At the top we chose not to spend too much since the winds were picking up and the rain was in the distance.  Kerrie and I made the decision to pack up and begin the long hike back down. 
    We made good time and Cooper had fallen asleep in the pack for about the first hour.  This helped me focus and move quickly through the most technical portions of the descent.  Once Cooper woke up he asked to walk a bit.  It is here that the walk became very interesting.  Cooper had once again regained his chatterbox mood and had a multitude of questions, the way I know they were questions is the "Right Daddy?" following the constant stream of chatter.
    The clouds darkened and I knew we were going to get caught in the rain.  Cooper on the other hand had a different thought. 

Cooper turned and said,"God has made a beautiful mountain right daddy?"
Me: "Yes". 
Cooper: "We are good people right daddy?"
Me: "We try to be."
Cooper: "Well if we are good people then God won't let it rain on us right daddy?"
Me: "Well sometimes good people get rained on."
Cooper: "I know God won't let that happen to us right daddy?"

    It was at this point the first drops of rain began to fall.  Cooper was still walking and chattering but I was encouraging him to move a bit faster.
Cooper: "It's OK daddy we are good people, it will be OK"
    Well, we must not be entirely that good, and I blame it on me because the rain started to fall a bit heavier.  I stopped and told Cooper to hop in the backpack so we can move a bit faster.  Cooper was a bit upset, and finally lashed out;
Cooper: "Daddy, why isn't God listening and making the rain stop?"
Me: "Because he needs to water his garden"
Cooper: "But our garden is far away, is it raining there?"
Me: "No I think it is just raining on us"
Cooper: "Well, I think I will ask him again to make it stop, OK Daddy?"
Me: "Sounds Good."
    Well the rain never really stopped, it did slow and became intermittent but I think Cooper talked to me more than God the rest of the way down the mountain.  But for one hour of that hike, I again walked in amusement and fascination of the mind of my 4 year old.  It really thought hard about how I need to keep impressing our morals and values because I know deep down something is resonating. 
    I also need to keep listening a bit more because I think I have agreed to give Cooper, a new car, truck, four wheeler, bike, trees, dog, house, toys, tractors, end loader, a combine, and who knows what else!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Does God have a mustache?

  I have recently returned from our annual family vacation. My wife, boys, and myself had been looking forward to this trip for at least 4 months.  We made a loop from South Dakota, Wyoming, and concluded in Boulder, Colorado, prior to our return to Iowa.  This was one of the best trips we have ever taken as a family.  It also had one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had with my 4 year old Cooper.
  It truly is amazing what your children absorb.  The smallest things that you think they will never hear or pay attention to, you hear uttered back to you verbatum.  Not only verbatum, but they remember them for years!  I truly try to always lead by example, use teachable moments, and always talk about our values and morals.  Now, whether that gets absorbed in their heads is yet to be seen fully, but I do have two of the best boys a dad could ever have.
  The stories that really stuck out were at the oddest moments and I truly wish we had them on camera.  Our family was at Mt. Rushmore on the second day of our trip.  We were told to stick around till the evening and watch the show.  The show is amazing and really brought me to tears.  They brought all the veterans that were at the Mt. and had them come on stage.  The presenter then said these are our vets and let us say thank you.  For fifteen minutes the crowd stood and clapped, everyone in the crowd.  What a moment.  So stick around for the show.
  Well before the show we were hiking on the trail that goes near the Mt.  Cooper was walking next to me and we were talking about the trail and nice day, when out of the blue he points (to George Washington) and states, "Daddy, is that God?"  I was so taken off guard.  What a concept.  At this moment of our serene surroundings, Coop was thinking about God.  My answer,"No, that is one of the founders of our country and a very special honorable man."
  I could hardly contain myself.  I was left with nothing to say. I quickly told Kerrie about Cooper's comment and that moment he and I just shared.  It was about ten minutes following that comment that Cooper then set the tone for the rest of our trip.  We were still walking under the Mt. when he turned to me once again and said,
                 "No, I think your right daddy, that wasn't God.  He has the mustache!"

  I beamed and held my laughter, and stood beside myself.  The ability for my little 4 year old to think about God, to think what he looked like, to think he even could grasp what he was saying.  It is too funny.  I was proud and just said to him, "You know Coop, you might be right." 
  More stories from the trail to come...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Boulder 70.3 Post Race Expressions

  Well, it is in the books.  My final half ironman for the year is complete and with that the main focus of my race season is done.  I can say with utter validity that I met 2/3's of my goals with this race, for reasons I will explain as you read on.  As I always do, I must first thank the best support crew any racer can have.  Lil' Coop and Con have been real troopers and managed to show up on the course when I needed a smile the most.  I race with them always in my mind and my heart.  I love seeing them around the corner with their hands out waiting for a high five.
  But truly the best support is my wife Kerrie.  She has been there for every smile, minute, and tear.  And after this race there were a few.  She has been my biggest fan, loudest cheerer, and first one that I look for when I cross the line.  Thank you Kerrie for making me what I am.  She knows that I write this on purpose by the way, just for the tear jerker moment.
  Now for the race.  The city of Boulder is at an elevation of 5500 feet above sea level (give or take a bit). The weather started absolutely pristine, temp at race start was 65 degrees, 0 humidity, and no wind.  The reservoir itself lies east of the foothills to the Rockies.  The water was dead flat.  My race started with not a cloud in the sky, and the most beautiful sunrise, water temp was 74 degrees so I donned my wetsuit.  The gun sounded I hit the water, we started at shoulder depth so it was not so much a tread start which is my favorite.
  Within the first 400 yards I felt a bit overwhelmed and could not feel right.  It was a weird panicky feeling that I have never had before.  I slowed my stroke a bit and pulled stopping my kick altogether.  I found my groove as well as two swimming partners and quickly picked up my pace again at the first turn.  The rest of the swim was uneventful, with the exception of a swimmer that tried to swim over top me with 200 left to go.  For those that do this it is unnecessary. There was no need for this action and I wished to pull this guy back as well as throw an elbow into his gut, but I did not.  The swim split was 00:38:02.
  First transition was quick (2:28) as I was excited to hit the bike course.  The weather had begun to heat up a bit and still no clouds, and no wind!    The bike course starts with about a 6-9 mile climb at a 3% grade roughly.  Then it turns into nice rolling climbs for the next 5 miles, until you make the turn on St Vrain Road.  When I made the turn, holy cow!  They say that Boulder is the fastest half iron bike route there is.  Making that turn I went to 44 mph with out peddling.  I did not touch my pedals for 5 miles. Once I did pick my pedalling back up I held 30 mph for another 3miles or so.  I finally settled in to a pace of roughly 23mph for the remainder of the loop.  This is a two loop course and the second loop was met with increasing winds and heat. 
  At around the mile 40 mark I noted that I was no longer hungry and could not stomach my normal nutrition regime. I tried to force a bar in as well as fluids but I was focused on my cadence and keeping my head down due to the increasing head winds.  It was difficult to determine which way the winds was as the mountains and turns kept it always swirling around.  Winds were constant and steady at around 15mph.  The sun was getting hot well on its way to 95 degrees plus, but still no humidity.
  If finished the second loop with a PR at 2:26:49 avg 23mph (or for those that wish to be exact 22.89 for 56 miles) this also put me 33rd out of 180 in age group.  I came into transition pumped because I knew I was right on pace for my 5 hour flat goal. I made a quick transition again (1:38) and headed out on the run.  I saw Kerrie, and hollered quick that I killed the bike and was uber pumped.  I kept my pace easy out of transition to start.
  The run is barren and very lonely.  It also is a two loop course.  It has three long climbs at about 3%grade and is about 80% gravel and crushed rock.  It also lacks shade.  There is absolutely not a lick of shade on the course.  Water stations were at every mile, but fans and motivations were lacking.  By the fourth mile I knew I was in trouble.  The temps had risen to over 95 degrees, still no humidity, and the winds were picking up even more.   I ran a slow first 6.5 knowing that I was not feeling at all like myself.  I was dizzy, bloated, cotton mouthed, and suffering with every stride. 
  I coaxed myself to continue running, albeit slow through the party atmosphere and finish line area.  I saw Kerrie and heard her cheering and did not wish to alarm her as to how I was feeling, but I know she knew.   The dizziness was increasing and getting worse.  I had told myself to run to mile 7 then I could assess and walk to make sure I finished.  I could not drink enough to quench my thirst.  I also noticed that I had not sweat for about the past 3 hours.  I knew dehydration or something had settled in and the only way to salvage my race was to begin my death march. 
  I tried to run a bit and walk but ultimately for 3 miles I walked.  I was devastated.  I had worked so hard to hit my goal, but now that was not going to happen.  It was all I could do to keep moving forward because the trail was moving in circles, my stomach felt huge and bloated, and my mouth was dry as a desert.  By mile 11, my friend and teammate Jared had joined me, and I was relieved to see that he was having a hard time as well.  We took a quick photo together and continued on.  The run left me miserable and depressed.  My split (2:33:47).  This was about 45 minutes off my goal time.  The race finished for me at 5:42.
  All in all, the race was a big lesson.  Altitude for me was not a factor.  I spent 10 days prior to the race at altitudes above 7000 feet and even three days at 10,000 feet.  I did learn that I was definitely dehydrated.  The dry heat left me without the normal sweat rate that I was accustomed too.  We had a great family vacation and summited 3 mountains.  I did not drink enough water prior and my race nutrition leading up to the race was not the normal for me.  I look forward to next year and possibly re tackling this monster course.  
  On a side note, there is a big congrats to my son Connor.  We found out when we are on this vacation that he has qualified for the IRONKIDS National Championship race in Des Moines.  Thanks again for all of the followers and well wishers.  I have one more story to come, so keep your eyes looking for the next motivating story to come.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Focus on You

  Most of us have the opportunity to go to sleep and relax our bodies and minds, and start off on a fresh slate the next day.  The next morning is the most opportune time to really get your goals in order.  Perhaps you had a bad day prior, a lousy experience, or things just haven't gone your way.  With the next day you have the ability to start fresh.
  It is always important to set the tone for the day first thing.  Ever notice that when you oversleep, have a crick in your neck, or just had a bad night sleep the day just does not go well?  The first morning light brings the opportunity to set your goals.  Have a big workout? Have a lot of errands? Running the kids around all day?  Whatever the day may bring it is important to take the first few moments of the day to set your goals and focus on you.
  The world can wait a bit.  Asking yourself what do you want to accomplish out of each day you start is quite important.  If you are going to change your life, and stay on track you need these little moments. I think we all make an effort to start off right, but often times somewhere the day may go askew.  Again it is at that moment you need to reset, refocus, and restart.  Focus on what you need, where you are going. 
  Every day we start has to have a purpose.  Even if we choose to veg, there is a purpose.  Our bodies are smarter than we think.  Your body tells you many things if you take the opportunity to listen.  Crave sugar, legs heavy, just in a mental rut?  Take the moment and listen, there is a way to fix and change where you are headed every day.  It just takes the willingness and want to change.
  Life has many opportunities that are unknown unless you are willing to seek them out.  Live each day with a purpose.  Start each day with a goal, and be sure that your goals extend beyond just getting out of bed.  Your life will be so much more rewarding if you focus on your needs and set your daily goals.  Live with your cup full rather than leaving the question of whether it is half empty or half full. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who is your Governor?

  As this blog thingy continues I try not to force topics or make up moments.   I try my hardest not to be fake in any manner and truly wish to be inspiring and insightful.  My company, around which the blogs coincides, I will write about the values I try to speak and teach to my athletes and customers.  With that being said I had one of those, "I have to write about this moments."
  This morning I enjoyed a fun ride with my wife and a friend.  While it had it's pertinent workout moments this ride taught me, or rather, reminded me of why I do what I do.  The weather was quite perfect for a hammer palooza on my whip, but I held back.  I kept looking over my shoulder at my wife working her darnedest to keep pace.  Our friend was somewhere between the two of us working equally hard.  I chose to focus on a different method of work for today.  How long could I push the same gear.
  I read a lot and I have studied most of the tricks of the trade when it comes to training and I have come to a conclusion.  They forget the utmost important principle: Enjoy what you do.  It is my opinion that you can mix fun, enjoyment, and a desire to be the best in a beneficial manner.  It just takes a little perspective.  We all try to be the best in one way or another.  But many times we get trapped by numbers, we become focused solely on output.  We become data focused. 
  With my goal to push the same gear for 40 miles I was able to really see how far I have come as a rider and athlete.  I challenged myself up the climbs, and even surprised myself a bit.  Was it the best ride I have ever had, no.  Was it the hardest route I have ever done, no.  Was it rewarding, yes.  Was it enjoyable, yes.  It was a different ride, better yet, it was entirely off the cuff.  I had the ability to change it up.  It was still a workout, but, I didn't care about numbers and focused more on the challenge ahead.
  My wife and I rode into town together, as she spoke of her numbers and how satisfied she was with her effort, I reminded her, was it fun?  Did you enjoy the ride?  Then it was a good ride regardless of the outcome.  There comes a time to leave the numbers, data, and hard focus on the side of the road.  Today was one of those days.  So as you are out there in the daily grind, remember you are your own governor. Either let it loose and seize the moment or focus too much and miss the big picture.  Just a by the way, I did hit my goal but I did shift once... to a harder gear at least.   

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I grew up on the classics, Looney Tunes, 3 Stooges, and Laurel & Hardy.  I think these affected me in a multitude of ways both psychologically and mentally (yes I know)...  They each had a running theme if you looked deep enough.  Mind you I was young when these were at their heyday but I remember them vividly.  The main running theme I pulled from them is persistence.

By know you are possibly thinking I am done with this blog.  But please let me make my point and I assure you it will get you thinking.  While these classics found their beginnings in early Americana, they have yet to lose their relevance today.  They subtly implanted their messages while being entertaining and on point.  Every character in the above programs had their adversary, had a conflict, and had a desire to overcome their given scenario.

The message was never as obvious as it is in today's programming.  In fact as a viewer you had to be just as persistent to see the message through all of the goofballs and wackiness.  My life has been very much a parallel to their subtle theme of persistence.  I have worked hard for every dime, I have stayed focus and on point when needed, and I have surrounded myself with a cast of necessary people to make life enjoyable.

Being persistent can lead to great success.  Persistence is one of those qualities that many people look forward to and often get imaginary points for.  Lessons are learned, rewards are earned, and goals are met.  While the Roadrunner was always the hero, wasn't Wyle E. Coyote a stronger character?  After all he had the ingenuity, the desire, and the persistence to try to reach his goal.   While he never reached his goal he was much stronger for all the effort he put into every day.

Persistence.  Desire.  Goofball qualities.  These are all very much pillars in my life.  If you want to be the best you have to work hard.  You have heard this many times.  The question is, do you desire to be the best?  If you don't, what is holding you back?  Do you need a goofball in your life to help you along?  All these questions and more can be answered by the next mornings toons.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dedication to Doing it Right

In the next coming weeks our family will be racing in some different venues.  The best thing is that my wife and I are not racing!  My oldest son Connor will begin his triathlon season in two weeks.  He has been racing now for nearly 5 years.  He has done at least one triathlon a year.  Though this year he has made the decision to compete in the IRONKIDS series.

We are very excited and of course very supportive.  He has set the goal to qualify for the championships which will be held in our backyard in West Des Moines.  This summer my son has shown a bit more maturity than he has in the past years.  It has almost scared my wife and I a bit.  We have always tried to teach the important prinicples that will help him to be successful in his coming years.  So it is very nice to see they are taking root.

This summer has seen my son go out for morning runs, mind you he is 10.  He goes and runs a mile in the morning then later in the evening he will run another.  He manages to get a bike ride in here and there as well.  He has told us that he wishes to give up baseball next year to pursue competitive cycling.  It is amazing to stand back and look at him and realize that he really wants to do things right.

This past weekend he raced a mile run in the Quad Cities and he hit a PR.  He improved his time by nearly 2 minutes!  I think that he is seeing how hard work can really pay off.  Mind you we still want him to be a kid and he is still very much a 10 year old.  But it is great watching the moments where he gets "it".  He wants to be successful.  He wants to be good, but most of all he wants to be a part of something bigger.

My youngest is right on cue with him.  He will also be competing in his first triathlon but that is not until August.  But until then, he is working with big brother on transtitions and most of all having a smile and enjoying every moment of being active.

So when you hit the roads, or pool, or work, remember to have the dedication to do things right.  As I tell my son, if you only go halfway, you are only halfway; and it is a long walk back.  See everything through to the end and be sure to have a purpose in your actions.  Good luck out there and we will see you on the roads. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

It's a Niche type thing

For the last decade of my life I have been trying to find that niche.  You know what I mean, that place where you fit in, you're accepted, where you feel like you.  For the past 5 years of my life I have begun to narrow that niche slowly.  With every day, week, month, year, etc, I am getting closer.  I dabble here and I dabbled there.  Found what works and what doesn't.

All along my travels I have found a lost part of myself.  I grew up a Boy Scout in the mountains of New York.  I spent summers camping, tying knots, building fires, a real woodsman.  As I grew older I moved from the mountains to the plains.  The scenary did not allow for the adventures I was accustomed to.  So I moved more towards my athletics and work.

Now that I am settled in my life, career, and family I have found those old passions alive and well.  Now I am able to share those moments with my boys and wife.  In planning our summer vacation all our plans revolved around our passions.  Triathlons, training, camping, climbing, you name it we have bcome a regular family Robinson .

I found that these activities bring a peace and solice to my life.  After years of struggle and searching for that something, I am now able to enjoy it with my family.  I believe having a clear focus will help anyone find their niche sooner.  Though I must say that the journey to get this point was well worth all the emotions involved.  I encourage you to find your niche, share it, and help others to find theirs.  It is just as rewarding to see others find peace and joy in their passions as it is to find your own.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finding your smile

This past weekend I got to watch a sprint triathlon that occurs in my neighboring town.  It is an odd time for me in the fact that I am a spectator, chief of support crew, or head kid wrangler.  Any way you look at it I was not competing.  My wife and all five of my athletes happenned to be racing though, so it was the first time I get to watch my work happen.

The morning was fun and full of anticipation.  I hopped on my bike and rode with my sons to the race site.  An easy 6 mile ride with the burley in tow.  I watched my older son, Connor (9), stay with me with a smile.  He stated proudly, "Dad I am hanging in your draft, and it's easy."  I looked at the speedo and we were cruising along at 18mph.  He was excited.  He has been working so hard to pedal right and use good mechanics, which he kept reminding me of.

We reached the site, and I made quick rounds to see all of my athletes before the starting gun went off.  I always make sure to see my wife and give her a kiss and smack on the butt just to remind her to push hard and have fun.  My sons and I found some good viewing spots and we waited to see the first of our athletes.

Jeff came through first, then Brooke, when my wife came in we cheered loudly and gave her some quick advice and once again hollered for her to have fun, then came Brad, ecstatic to have finished his first competitive open water swim, Jackie came along looking strong, then Katie also made her way into transition.  Once the athletes were out we moved to the finish line.

I saw all my athletes cross the line, in various states of determination and expresions.  Kerrie came through and my older son took off to help pace her in, he is very good in the final 200 meters having paced me and Kerrie in for a number of years now.  The one moment that really made me proud was seeing Jackie in the final stretch.  She had a smile that went ear to ear.  She had done something that she had never done before.  She had confidence, she felt good, she had the knowledge and willingness to finish her race.

I loved to see and hear their stories of the expectations and realities they faced throughout the race.  More importantly I loved to hear that they wanted more.  They had genuine fun.  They wanted to go longer, faster, and harder in their next ventures.  I look forward to seeing them continue reaching their goals.  I am here to help you reach your goals, but more importantly, I am here to help you reset and reach the new goals as well.  "Commit to the Effort".  Continue to race with a smile...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Breaking the Ice

I recently had a brand new opportunity placed in my lap.  Part of my venture with THRIVE is to incorporate public speaking.  I have done some lunch and learns and small group talks but this was my first paying gig.  I was anxious and eager to finally throw my hat in the ring and grab a hold of this opportunity.

My message runs along the lines "How I changed my life, and how you can change yours."  I believe that stories from a personal standpoint are very effective.  Through my activites in triathlon, rock climbing, firefighting, and just my life in general I have a variety of experiences to fall back on.  I have acheived the change in my life because I took the steps to ensure success.  I found a place to start, I committed myself, I was determined, I found a sense of passion, I finished, then most importantly, I RESET my goal to progress on.

Goals and the importance of resetting your goals is where my niche lies. Too often we get caught up and focused solely on the one goal we may have that we forget about the little things.  Life is busy and if you are narrowly focused you miss the beauty and events happenning around.  So as you set the goal, be sure to take in the entire experience.

The reward of acheiving that first goal are two fold.  First they give you a sense of accomplishment and reward since you enjoyed the journey, and hopefully it leaves with the desire to do more and continue on.  The second, is a bit of depression due focusing solely on the single achievement.  Remember when it comes to goals avoid the depression and enjoy the journey.

Changing your life is easy.  Being Committed to change your life and make it stick is the hard part. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What is THRIVE Multisport

  I started THRIVE for a couple of reasons.  I have spent the past 3.5 years creating and organizing the Altoona Triathlon Club in Iowa.  This has been a rewarding, learning, and time consuming project.  The club now has over 100 members and is headed in the right direction.  We have continually focused on the family aspect of triathlon and keeping families fit through fitness.
  We put on numerous clinics and group workouts and I found that quite frequently I was always leading them.  I would take time with new members and help them to learn the basic skills so they would enjoy being a part of the group.  As I did this more and more I found that I really enjoyed seeing people succeed and grow into their fitness of choice.
  With the club functioning I found my son, Connor (9), taking an interest in starting events and wanting to learn how to be more involved.  So we sat down as a family and made the decision to formally create a company that would be a legacy and pave the way for my boys to chase after their dreams. 
  The name was the hardest part.  THRIVE is what I want my clients to achieve.  I want them to learn how to train properly, be well rounded and educate themselves.  I want to share the tools that I have learned and help them find the passion to keep progressing in their goals. So as you see THRIVE athletes on the course, know that they are knowledgeable and have a full understandng of how and why they are doing certain things.  They will push to succeed and reap the benefits they seek.
  Know that THRIVE also offers other services: Motivational Speaches for your business functions, Race Direction, and Consultation services.  Check us out at

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kansas 70.3 6/12/11 Race Review

I tried something for this event that I have never done.  We camped at the race site via tent.  With some unexpected weather and animal occurrences this was the absolute best weekend I have ever had before a race.  Our site was great and shaded for the entire day.  The temps were moderate and the folks we met were a ton of fun.  As it was Saturday night before the race it was a mini firefighter convention with guys from Sioux City, IA and Fargo, ND as well as my own department.
            The morning of the race temps were perfect and a light breeze kept it nice and cool.  Kansas is setup with two transitions, with one at the top of the “hill” and the other at the bottom.  I had a great feeling and was especially focused on my goals—Be 5 hour flat and run the “hill” both times.   I set up T2 and made my way down to T1.
            The morning passed along uneventfully.  I was in the third to last wave which gave me the opportunity to watch the pro’s come out of the water and make their way on to the bike.  It is nice to see that they struggle with their wetsuits as much as we do.  I was caught a bit off guard that they had moved up the wave starts in time and saw my color caps headed to the ramp.  So I quickly got my goggles and cap and made my way to the water.
The water was warm.  They say it was 74 but I believe it was much warmer.  The start was smooth I got right out and felt my stroke doing well.  There was a wind across the water which was noticed more once we got out further into the open area.  It felt as though a boat had crossed our path as the swells were rhythmic and constant.  It felt much like Galveston without the salt.  The swim is rectangular in shape with two left turns.  The first went smooth and headed us into the current. 
The second turn is where I lost my time.  I rounded the second buoy in a small pack spotted the net buoy and hit the gas.  After about 200 yards I spotted again and everyone was gone.  I looked to my right and realized that I had spotted the wrong buoy and swam the wrong way.  So I adjusted my course and swam once again against the current to correct my line.  I finished the swim in 40min.  In looking at my prior attempt I was 5 min slower this time, but in general the entire race was 3-4 min slower in their times this year.
I headed through T1 quickly and efficiently.  I hit the bike and focused on keeping a level head and smart race plan. It would have been very easy to hammer this course.  It is nice rolling hills that seem to go on forever.  It is truly a course built to my strengths as a rider.  The wind was a bit hard to judge as it seemed a bit more swirling and never really had it solid in one direction or another.  The Kansas route is one of the nicest I have been on.  They recently paved about 20 miles worth and it was like riding on glass.  Fueled and pedaled exactly to plan and finished my 56 miles in just over 2 hours and 30 min avg. 21.6 mph.
My dismount into T2 was one for the record books.  I braked too late unclipped erratically and narrowly missed two other riders since my feet were unsteady.  I heard John Madden in my head “rumbling, stumbling, bumbling”.   I saved the bike and other riders and stayed on my feet to the claps and cheers of the surrounding crowd.  I hit my spot and once again made a quick transition.
I headed out on the run to finish my goals.  One thing of note was someone brought to my attention that my leg had a stream of blood running down the back.   Thanks to my rookie dismount my crank slammed my calf cutting it a bit.  No biggie.  But I hope my tat survives.  I felt strong and my heart rate was right in line.  I wanted to run 8:30’s for my 13.1 miles.  I nailed it.  Smooth and steady for the first half then picked up the pace for the second loop.  I think that this greatly aided by the overcast weather and gentle rain shower on mile 9.  My run was completed 1 hour and 50min or so. 
I finished in 5 hours and 11 min.  I was off my goal of 5 hour flat, but I did hit the goal to run the hill both times.  I felt great and was ecstatic about how good I felt.  I have big hopes for Boulder in August.  Crossing the line I gave Chrissie Wellington a big hug and got a publicity shot as usual.
Before I finish I have to thank my support crew.  First I thank Brooke for helping my wife and being an awesome cheerleader.  It was fun sharing this weekend of first time experiences with you.  I know you made a lot mental notes and learned a lot about ticks, spiders, beetles, and making s’mores.  I look forward to your future success and continued determination. 
Second.  But she really knows she is first, my wife Kerrie.  It is not often we get to enjoy such an environment without interruption and this weekend was amazing.  I could not do what I do without you.  There is no one else that I would rather have by my side, than you.  You are my everything.  I rounded every corner on the course looking for you and waiting to hear your voice.  You fueled my fire.  You put love in my heart.  You help me race with passion.  You give me purpose. 
Lastly I have to tell you a quick story.  As we headed out of the park we decided to grab a bite to eat. We were driving down the road into the city of Lawrence when ahead there was a rider pedaling in the distance.  As we got closer the rider was on a tri bike and in a race kit.  I said out loud, ”No Way”.  The girls said, ”What?” I said, ”That is Chrissie Wellington.”  She pulled into the left hand turn lane so I naturally rolled up along side her.  I said you just won and they make you pedal home?  She said she was headed to her home stay only 10 miles away!  She said that she thought that every hill in Kansas was packed into those 10 miles.  There is no truer person than her.  If you need a role model look her up.