Letting My Child Swim, or Sink – a tale of football, failure, and (hopefully) perserverance

A few months ago my oldest son, Jackson, told my wife and I that he wanted to play football.  Jackson (11), is the oldest of our boys – his 8 year old brother loves football and has played it into his 4th season now, and Seth (5) is trying it on for size in his first season.  Jackson is a good athlete, but hasn’t learned what it takes to win, and worse, is really bad at losing and often has a negative attitude about all things new.  For that and other reasons, his mom and I discussed the commitment of the season, the collisions involved, the work of practices (which are more frequent and intense than soccer and basketball) – frankly, I tried to talk him out of it.  Personally, I was excited he wanted to try something new and because I knew if he didn’t try football soon, he would miss the window of learning the fundamentals and the life lessons it teaches.  “Maybe he’ll take to it and really find something he enjoys!” I thought.  However, his mom and I braced ourselves for the worse and seeminly inevitable “I hate football and want to quit” and the crying when he got tackled, and worse, the other kids (and parents) ridiculing him (and us) over his behavior.  I talked to the man who would be his coach and explained our situation; he was a seasoned coach who understood the predicament, and I was comfortable that he could handle him well.  We signed him up and begin mentally preparing ourselves and Jackson for the challenges to come.

In an effort to help him gain some conditioning, he and I (and his brothers) went on a run-streak starting in early June.  Our deal was that we walked/ran 1 mile every day for 30 days, and at the end of thirty days I would give them $30 each.  The caveat was that they must complete the full 30 days, so they couldn’t quit at some point and collect a portion of their earnings – it was $30 or bust.  Jackson was the only one of his brothers who completed the streak with me, and by the end of the month he was running the whole mile!  Now I know that running a mile a day wouldn’t prepare him for stardom, but I wanted to do something that would give him a fighting chance.  While there were days it was a battle (and many when I felt like he was giving less than his best effort), I was proud of him for sticking with it and completing the streak.

Jackson looked forward to his first practices.  The first week or two is mostly conditioning and getting used to equipment.  He always told us he was looking forward to practice, and never gave us a hard time about going.  This was a small victory in and of itself.  His effort at practice was, in my estimation, lacking.  I was not a great athlete, heck, I wasn’t even a good athlete – so I wasn’t expecting the apple to fall far from the tree, but I do expect my boys to give their best effort, and I just wasn’t seeing it.  However, he was showing up, following direction, and participating as well as most of the other boys.

Every football coach knows there are some kids where football just isn’t for them.  This usually materializes fairly quickly in the second or third week of practices when contact begins.  There is the kid that cries endlessly. There is the kid who does everything he can to avoid contact.  When Jackson’s team started contact, about half the players were new to football, so the coaches did a good job of easing them in.  I was reassured.

Jackson is one of the smaller boys on his team; I was expecting him to cower from the contact, but what surprised me that he wasn’t giving even close to his all at sprints, running, and other fitness drills; he was half-assing it.  He didn’t do awful in tackling drills, but I heard his whimpers when I did see his practices (I was coaching his brother for the first hour of his practices), and mom informed me on more than one occasion that he was not having a good practice.  At the end of practice they ran sprints up and down the sideline and around the goal, then stop, then sprint again.  Jackson was always one of the last, usually staying with guys who had 90’s on their jerseys (these are often the husky kids).

I’ve worked hard on not criticizing his performance (though I have a long ways to go), and I’ve stopped punishing him over his pitfalls in sports – I’ve stuck with the mantra that this (sport) is for him and not me.  He should be having fun – I don’t want him to hate the game/sport (and in my mind losing things you really enjoy to do things you may not enjoy is not a recipe for positive reinforcement).  I want him to love sports, to have fun, to gain fitness, to learn life lessons, to meet new people and make new friends.

His mom and I watch from the sidelines as he’s jogging while all the other kids are sprinting, and he’s back-peddling as the opposing linemen is pushing him back – I’m disappointed in his effort.  But again, I have to remind myself that I won’t punish him for sports.  Instead, I would talk to him about his effort, only to hear him tell me he’s trying his hardest, and that he cried because that tackle hurt, and so on.

After a few weeks of practice, his team had a scrimmage.  The coach finally put him in for the last minute where he saw 2 snaps.  He had no idea what to do, or was most likely scared to do what he knew he was supposed to do.  He embarrassed himself, and was lucky not to get hurt.  The next week he gave the same effort, and one night I watched a practice where I reached my limit with watching his effort.  I consider myself a hard-working man and a good dad; I was embarrassed of his level of ‘effort’ (and tired and frustrated with other things in my life), and so I berated him after practice.  I was angry, upset, and hurt that he just wasn’t trying hard enough.  Now, I could go into detail here, but I don’t need to – he was giving the least amount of effort possible – he was just showing up.  I said a lot of things on that ride home I’m ashamed of, I hurt him with my words; his brother, a passenger, was upset at me, his mom – who was waiting at home – was hurt and angry at me.  I was angry at me, I was hurt that I hurt him.  I was a frustrated dad who was running out of answers – how do I motivate this child?

I fear raising a child who will be unemployable, one who will rely on the kindness of others just to get by.  I fear my child not becoming a positive, contributing member of society.  I’d rather be hard on him and he hates my guts when he’s grown then to give him a pass and let him be a quitter who doesn’t give the effort required in this life.  I love him and want what is best for him, I am not afraid to be the bad guy when I’m backed into a corner – but on this night, I went too far.

In the second and last preseason game.  Jackson did not play, not a minute.  He stood there on the sideline in his pristine uniform.  He did pay attention the whole game, and even cheered when his team scored.  This was an improvement; his previous game he just kicked the grass and walked around not even showing the slightest interest in the game going on.  His mom, brothers and I sat and cheered on his team.  The dad in me wanted to shout “get my boy in (I’m not here to watch these other kids)!” – the coach and father in me knew the truth; putting him in would be dangerous for him and the other boys on the field; He still doesn’t know his assignment, he would run in and potentially be unaware or out of position and get hurt or get someone else hurt.  This had happened in practice when he was being blocked and was back peddling when a receiver who was running his route, crashed into him violently.  More than anything, rewarding his behavior would show him he could half-ass practices and still see the field on game day.

I started encouraging my boys to keep goal journals (okay, I make them fill them out once a week).  They write one school goal and one football goal.  I want to show them to work towards tiny goals to get a lot better over time.  I asked Jackson if he wants to go through the practices (which typically aren’t super fun), and then stand there on the sidelines on game day – he answers with a resounding no.  Jackson wants to play.  He still looks forward to practices, and really looks forward to games (though he’s played a total of 2 snaps in 2 preseason games) Hell, his mom and I want to watch him play in games.  But I can’t fault his coach, and I can’t fault his parents – as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, and we’ve done that.  He is 11, and the effort is up to him, he will sink or swim when it comes to football, and for that matter, other things in his life.  Only he can choose to do the work to become successful, or live the life of someone who won’t.

The last 2 Sundays, we’ve lined up his 8 year old brother against him and go through some additional tackling practice to help him get accustomed to the contact and have faith in the tackling skills he’s learned.  I encourage him, and talk to him about working hard, about giving the effort for his teammates, coaches, and family.  I remain hopeful and faithful to the fact that being consistent and letting him earn his way will make him a better man someday – even if that means mom and I have to root for his teammates while he stands on the sidelines.

In youth sports, children often get participation trophies.  In life, there are few rewards for people who show up and participate – and I desperately want him to learn that lesson.  It is hard to watch, and the dad in me is shouting for him to see some playing time – but life comes first – he has to work harder to be rewarded.

My Review of the University of Southern Mississippi Youth Football Camp

My eight year old participated in the 2015 University of Southern Mississippi Youth Football Camp. Below is a summary of the good and bad experiences that he (as a participant), and me (as a dad) took away from the experience.

Disclaimers:

  • I’m neutral about Southern Miss, neither a devotee nor detractor. I’m not star-struck by the name on the jerseys or the coaching staff. While I respect the coaches for what they do, it’s not a fan experience for me. Instead, I wanted my boy to have a good experience that ingrains a further love for football, fitness, and that will give him a favorable memory of his childhood. Further, I was hoping he’d learn something that would make him a better football player.
  • This is our first year on the camp scene – I don’t have much to compare our experiences against.  My only other comparison was the Florida State University youth football camp, which I wrote about here.

Why we chose USM Football Camp: After my son’s camp at Florida State, we were anxious to try another camp out. This camp fit the criteria of 1)within driving distance to our home 2)affordable 3)reputable and 4)It fit our schedule.  Since his mom and I both work full time, and we have a family vacation planned in the near future, we needed to find a camp that wouldn’t require us to miss work.

About USM Camp:

  • Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi (USM football athletic facilities)
  • Ages:  3rd – 8th graders
  • Dates: Monday June 15th 9a – 5p
  • Cost: $50
  • Camp Details:
    • 8a-9a: Registration
    • 9:30a-9:45a: Group picture
    • 9:45a-1p: Football Drills
    • 1p-2p: lunch (catered by Jimmy Johns)
    • 2p-5p: Football Drills
    • 5p-530: Awards & camper dismissal
  • What each camper had to bring
    • workout gear and football cleats
  • What they didn’t tell us to bring: they covered all the bases

Things that made this experience great

  • I was easily able to register my camper; contact information was readily available (more on this below under “things that would make the experience better”)
  • Facilities were impressive at this mid-major program.  The boys got to spend the first couple of hours in the stadium
  • The coaches were very approachable and nice to the campers
  • Parents could view the entirety of the camp, or had the option to leave their camper to the care of the staff.  I dropped my camper off then came back late in the afternoon to view the last couple hours.
  • Instruction from USM coaching staff
  • The boys were told they could ask for a water/bathroom/other break anytime they wanted.  They were not expected to “tough it out”.
  • Everyone got a group photo of all the kids and the coaching staff
  • There were only 15-20 kids per age group.  This was a manageable group for the kids to break into and still be involved and coachable.  More than that, the coaches moved quickly and had multiple kids involved in each drill. Several coaching stations were set up and the kids were rotated every 20 minutes or so to keep things moving along and fresh.

Things that would make the experience better

  • The presentation of the website was good, as you might expect from a mid-major university.  However, there was not a detailed camp schedule.  This concerned my little camper, as this was only his second football summer camp, and it would’ve been helpful for him to know what to expect.  I told him what I knew: we’ll register, he’ll do drills and then eat lunch then do more drills.  We drove 3 hours to get to the camp (we stayed Sunday night in a hotel then drove home Monday evening).  I did some work from the hotel, so It would’ve been nice if I would’ve known the schedule so I would’ve known when events were occurring that may interest me.
  • When I did have a question, I emailed the contact and did not receive a response.  I registered my camper on Friday morning and the camp began the following Monday – perhaps my lateness was a reason.  However, it could’ve been a good reason for me not to register.
  • Learning from our previous experience at FSU, we showed up at 8am for registration – this was a mistake.  We simply had to wait for an hour until all the other campers showed up.  We were “entertained” with football videos from you tube that weren’t even specific to the university.  At a minimum, perhaps they could’ve played highlights from USM season/s.
  • Pictures- while the group picture was great, it would’ve been a nice personal touch if the coach/es would’ve taken an individual picture with each kid – perhaps as we waiting watching YouTube videos for an hour.  Or they could’ve taken the kids measurements (what parent doesn’t want memorabilia to save on the height, weight, wing-span, vertical jump, et cetera).
  • Camper Safety – When we picked him up, we simply met him and left after checkout – nobody checked to see who he left with. Perhaps I’m a bit hypersensitive or I’ve watched too much Dateline, but what’s to keep someone with bad intentions showing up and leaving with a child?
  • The awards ceremony was a bit unorganized and the kids were impatient and a little rowdy, especially at the end

Here is some feedback from my boy:

  • The coaches didn’t curse – my 8 year old was taken back by the language of a couple coaches of the FSU camp.
  • They had to stop the camp at 4:30 due to lightning.  My boy was happy they got everyone in and away from the lightning.
  • “I liked the USM football camp becuse the coaches were nice.  In 2016 i would like to go there again!”
  • “I realy like that football camp!” “thank you!”

Thanks for reading.  We really enjoyed this one day camp and look forward to attending again in 2016!

My Review of the Florida State University Youth Football Camp

For three hot days, my eight year old participated in the 2015 Florida State University Youth Football Camp.  Below is a summary of the good and bad experiences that he (as a participant), and me (as a dad) took away from the experience.

Disclaimers:

  • I’m neutral about Florida State, neither a devotee nor detractor. I’m not star-struck by the name on the jerseys or the coaching staff. While I respect the coaches for what they do, it’s not a fan experience for me. Instead, I wanted my boy to have a good experience that ingrains a further love for football, fitness, and that will give him a favorable memory of his childhood. Further, I was hoping he’d learn something that would make him a better football player.
  • This is our first year on the camp scene – I don’t have much to compare our experiences against

Why we chose FSU Football Camp: Last college football season I was flipping through the games and stumbled upon a FSU game.  The atmosphere at Doak Walker Stadium was electric, with fans practicing their tomahawk chop – Owen’s eyes got big in a way that only children’s eyes can, as he smiled he exclaimed “What are they doing?!”  I explained this was a home game for FSU, and that the fans were doing the Tomahawk Chop.  “That’s where I want to play football!”  I filed this away, and when we began looking at football summer camps, this one was at the top of our list.

About FSU Camp:

  • Location: Tallahassee, Florida (FSU football athletic facilities)
  • Ages:  3rd – 8th graders
  • Dates: Sunday June 7 – Tuesday June 9
  • Cost: overnight campers paid $315
  • Camp Details: We opted for the overnight camp.  The camp had a daily schedule that looked something like this, just shorter on first/last day.
    • 8am: Wake-up/Get Dressed/Eat
    • 9a-1p: Football Drills
    • 1p-2p: Lunch
    • 2p-5:30: More Football Drills
    • 5:30-6:30: More Eating
    • 6:30-8:30: More Drills
    • 8:30-9:30p: Watching Video
    • 10:30p: lights out
  • What each overnight camper had to bring
    • Sheets, workout gear, football cleats, basketball shoes
  • What they didn’t tell us to bring: snacks/drinks to put in the camper refrigerators. I didn’t think to leave a phone with my 8 year old for him to call home if he got homesick, but I wish I had. The policy said that children who got home could speak to the chaplain.

Things that made this experience great

  • Great website.  I was easily able to register my camper; camp schedule and contact information was readily available
  • When I did have a question, I emailed the contact and immediately received a response
  • Facilities were impressive, and this wow factor is just one reason this came with a pretty hefty price tag
  • Instruction from FSU coaching staff and top high school coaches
  • Coaching was very organized and progressed through drills as quickly as could be expected
  • Campers competed against kids they don’t normally see from all around

Things that would make the experience better

  • Camper Safety – because my camper was 8, and this was his first trip from home, I was worried about him. When we picked him up, we simply met him and left after checkout – nobody checked to see who he left with. Perhaps I’m a bit hypersensitive or I’ve watched too much Dateline, but what’s to keep someone with bad intentions showing up and leaving with a child?
  • Tell us to show up on time for registration – the email I got when I registered said that we should arrive “between 11a-2p for camper registration.”  Since we had to drive 3 hours to get there, this allowed us time to do that and to stop and give our boy a nice lunch before he went to camp, since lunch wasn’t part of the schedule for the first day. The result of us showing up at 1 is that we rushed around to get everything done that had to be done, all of which involved long lines:
    • Camper gets a picture with Coach Jimbo Fisher – we ran out of time for this, and was told there would be make-up times; however, we didn’t receive a picture. Like I said, I’m not a fan of the school, but I think this would’ve been a cool memoir to have.
    • Pizza – if you wanted your camper to have this special treat, you had to pay additional money.
    • Parking pass
    • Sign our camper up for a team for the 7 on 7 games (AKA ‘Nole Ball)
  • Pictures- I was not there most of the camp. It would’ve been nice if they employed a photographer who took videos and pictures and posted them someplace so that they could be viewed.
  • Reduce the number of kids per station/drill –there were a lot of kids to each coach, and lots of coaches; kids were doing lots of waiting for their turn to perform a drill. As a coach, I know this is something that will get you in trouble – kids get easily distracted and need to be focused to improve.

Here is some feedback from my boy:

  • Two of the coaches were “mean”, and he was shocked & appalled that the coaches used foul language.  He insisted they shouldn’t curse (“especially around children), including (in his words) “The F-bomb”
  • His team didn’t even make the “playoffs” – which meant on the day that I arrived to pick him up the “championship game” was going on and he was watching other kids play.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll be posting a review of our trip to the University of Southern Mississippi for their youth football camp in the near future

Race Report – Pensacola International Airport Runway 5k

This race didn’t start until 10am on Saturday 12/6, so I didn’t have to get up earlier than I normally would, and that was a really nice plus to this race.  I did have to arrive early to get my race packet as I was busy the evening before, and couldn’t make it between 3-6pm to pickup the packet.  We had an abnormally warm day that morning, and quite frankly, it felt hot compared to our (relatively) freezing November in the Florida Panhandle.  Below are the high points – comments and questions are welcomed!

Stats

Weather at the start of the race: Sunny, 77 degrees, light wind

136/550 Participants

11/26 Age Group (35-39)

25:58 minutes

8:23 average pace

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Finish line selfie @JasonOfFlorida

What Went Right

  • Fuel – I woke up at 7, and had a filling bowl of Oatmeal with Honey, Cinnamon, and Brown Sugar.
  • Goal time – My goal was to finish this in under 26 minutes; achievement unlocked. However, I could’ve stood myself if I’d run a bit faster.

What Went Wrong

  • Pre-race walking – Airport parking, I guess I should’ve expected this. I parked at the first parking lot we were allowed to park in free.  This lot was also the furthest away – to make matters worse, I parked at the far edge of the parking lot, as is my habit in any parking lot.  So after my walk to the packet pickup area (which I’m guessing was .75 miles away), I had to return to my car.  Then I walked back to the pre-race gathering area, and then walked probably another ½ a mile to the start line.  I’m not complaining about the arrangements, but I surely wasn’t at my fastest due to the heat and walking 3 miles prior to the start of my 5k.
  • More walking – maybe worse than the actual distance was that there was a real lack of sidewalks when traversing to and from these areas – this made me pretty uneasy, there was actually a stretch where I had to walk down the main airport road; I suppose, if I had searched, I could’ve found a sidewalk that would’ve made my distance double…
  • I invited my two oldest boys (10 and 7) to run this race with me. I can’t get either one consistently interested in running, though they both do forms of it for various sports.  Alas, they decided they didn’t want to do this run.  And, that made me a little sad – but now I am more determined to find a way to share this experience with them in the future.

Takeaways

  • Scenery – well, it was an airport runway, and while this airport likes to call itself an International Airport, there is no international flair there.  Grass, barbed-wire fences, runway lights and a few planes.
  • Runways look flat – but I can attest they go slightly uphill or downhill, depending on which way you’re running.  I didn’t expect this slow upward climb.
  • Swag and Entertainment – There was a live band that played mostly 80’s country and few rock songs.  There were a few vendors that gave out t-shirts, koozies, key chains and the like.
  • Food – Pizza Hut gave away pizza (which seemed counter productive.  Considering I just burned 300 calories, do I want to eat 800 heaping calories of lard?) *Yes I did btw*.  There were more carbs in the form of bagels, and some oranges and bananas for those who preferred something less filling.

Do you have these common running traits?

Most people notice you’re a runner by the way you look; more and more, I notice other runners by the way they live their life.  Runner’s have a beautiful spirit, heart, and mind.

You have a beautiful spirit

Your spirit is shaped by miles of inclement weather, and a few precious rays of sunshine.  You have cried through pain and joy.  You were broken, and you healed.  You will be broken again, but you run anyways.  When you run, your spirit shines through.

We don’t race to the finish line against other runners.  Our race is one against ourselves, always pushing back that devil who’s telling us to quit.  Every time we finish, we have won.  Sometimes, we win in the form of a Personal Best, sometimes we win by finishing, sometimes we win by starting.  We win because we push our limits each run.  What’s your best victory?

You have a beautiful heart

You took a few wrong turns, and you were lost.   You ran anyways, because one simply does not stop.  Maybe you paused to reflect, or to ask for help, yet you persevered.  When you run, your heart is full.

We find a way to achieve what most find impossible, we run regularly; we run in the snow, rain, heat, darkness, pre-dawn, during our lunch break, or after the kids go to bed.  We find ways to solve our runner problems.  I tell my children what separates heroes from the rest of us is that when heroes get scared, they get brave.  When runners get tired, we dig deeper. When runners are faced with obstacles, we find a way over, around, or through them.  Has running brought out the best in you?

You have a beautiful mind

You started running without having a clue.  Over the weeks, months, and years, you have learned and now people look to you for guidance.  When you run, your mind is stronger.

Running gives our mind a chance to catch up with the hustle and bustle of the day.  During a run, we’re often thinking of ways to improve upon our career, education, parenting skills, relationships, or running techniques, to name a few.  What do you think about when you run?

5 Surprising Ways Running Makes You Smarter

Thank you, dearest runners, for shining a beautiful light on my world.  

What traits do you see that are common among runners?

 

Are you prepared to be great?

You can only be great if you’re prepared

greatness

I will not inspire a generation with my words.  I will never lead the NBA in scoring or the NFL in rushing.  I will not win an Olympic medal.  I will not save a soldier from gunfire.  But there are things at which I aspire to be great.

Dad

I work to be a great father to my children.  I am the only dad they will ever have, I owe it to them and their children, to teach them to be men.  I want to leave a legacy of love that they can aspire to, that they impress upon their children, so that when I leave, I leave a legacy of great men in my wake.

Career

I aspire to be great at my job.  I don’t wake up each morning hoping to just do enough to keep getting a paycheck.  I choose to be a fully engaged participant with my employer, co-workers, stakeholders, and customers.  I want to be a great servant-leader, I want to inspire others, so that when I leave, I will have left a legacy of hard work, knowledge, and substantial effort to solve challenging problems.  I like being the first person in the office each day, and last to leave because  I’m not the smartest, most experienced, or knowledgeable…but I give the greatest effort I have.

Running

I perspire to be the best runner I can be; I work to get faster, and more durable. I will push those in front of me; should they stop trying to be great, then I will be on their heels, prepared to take the thrown of running greatness.  I push other runners to greatness.  If we find ourselves nearing a finish, I will sprint to beat you in a race.  Because I strive to make you great.

Dare To Be Great

 

Take One Step Toward Your Personal Greatness Today

Are you ready to sprint by that guy in the cubicle next to you, or the mom in the drop off lane at school?  Are you working hard today so that when opportunity knocks, you will be ready to answer?  If the answer is no, that’s okay – start where you are, start right now, because you aren’t defined by what you did yesterday.

 

“I’m going to show you how great I am!” – Mohammed Ali (and Jason Of Florida)

How to #RUNch

Need more time in the day?  fitting in your run during your work day could give you those few extra minutes you need each day.  Several times each week I run (or cross train) during my lunch break at work, and have done so for more than a year.  Here are some tips if you would like to try a #RUNch on for size:

1. Fat kid has to eat! – prepare and pack a quick lunch that can be consumed in a hurry if needed – I eat the same lunch everyday, red or black beans and whole grain brown rice.  Clocking in at less than 350 calories, I can gobble it down pretty quickly at my desk after I get back from my run.  It’s also a good recovery meal (protein + carbs) according to Runner’s World Magazine.

2.  Bring a gym bag to work – I pack my shoes, running (or cross training) attire, phone armband, ear buds, shower flip-flops, and a towel.  I simply throw my stinky gear in the trunk of my car on my way back to the office.

3.  Find a place to get naked (and shower and change clothes) – For me, my gym is right next to the office.  I leave my desk, walk next door, change, and run out the door for a run (or hit the treadmill or cross train as needed/planned).   I return and take a shower and change back into my work attire.  Also, don’t get aroused in the gym shower (like this guy), that’s just gross:

Now ladies, I know you’re thinking that gym locker rooms are full of young, hard-bodied men.  But let me tell you the dirty, dirty truth – ain’t nobody more proud of their naked body than an elderly man (OMG I just googled “naked old men” and I’ll never live that down – all in the name of providing you with an awesome blog).  Also, Butthold Stamping is apparently a thing.  Now, back to our topic…

4.  Put your workout on your work calendar – because if you don’t, you’ll  find yourself in a meeting 45 minutes into your lunch hour, and there’s no way you can run without first eating because proper fueling (starvation), and you can’t eat then run (cause then upset belly).

5.  Arrive early, stay late – occasionally my workout runs over because the gym showers are full, or I get caught up in the magic of a run, or because I find myself unusually spent after a workout and need a couple extra minutes to catch my breath.  To cover myself, I often arrive a few minutes early for work or stay a few minutes over to make up for time lost.

That’s how to #RUNch in 5 simple steps!  What’s keeping you from exercising during your lunch break?  Did I leave anything out?

Bicycling as Crosstraining

Bicycling Again

I wanted to run today, but didn’t because I’ve got my mileage for this week, and my legs could’ve used the rest.  Since it was in the low 60’s today on the Gulf Coast, I decided to go biking!  I haven’t biked a lot in the last couple months due to the cold; in fact, in December I biked just over 35 miles, down from 180+ miles per month during the spring and summer  –  Here’s the dirty proof via RunKeeper.  if you use RunKeeper, please friend me and I’ll add you back!

40 mile scenic loop

Things I saw on my ride today – a word of caution, I may take the WORST pictures of any person you’ve ever met.

1.  A Giraffe – passing The Gulf Breeze Zoo, this guy was hanging out doing Giraffe things.

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It’s a Giraffe!

2. Navarre Beach – a little coastal city, known locally for its rustic charm.

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It’s a little resort town!

3. Gulf Islands National Seashore

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Signs!

4. Pensacola Beach (picture from atop the Bob Sykes Bridge) – I run this bridge often (gotta do something to make a hill workout!); in fact, I have a 4 – 5 mile run route over and back this bridge that, in the summer, is one of my favorite routes.  Nothing like running and people watching when the tourists hit the beach!

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It’s a bridge!

6. Powder soft white beaches

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It’s a beach!

7.The crystal clear emerald waters that the Gulf Coast of Florida is famous for

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It’s the Gulf!

During my ride, which took a few hours, I listened to some Jams on Spotify.  I have a paid subscription, and enjoy it immensely.  I also listened to two recent episodes of This American Life via a podcast app called Downcast.

What is one of your favorite programs/shows/apps to listen to when you’re running/biking/cross-training?

Race Report – We Believe in our Children 5k

My first race of 2014 was the We Believe in Our Children 5k in Pensacola, Florida.  It was a rousing success!  Below are the gritty details.

STATS 

You can view the official stats below, or for those of you who might be skeptical, here are the official documents.

  • #34 of 215 men
  • #7 out of 14 in my age group (35 through 39)
  • 24:47.56 total time
  • 7:59 per mile pace

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • I woke up at 5:30 AM and fixed oatmeal for breakfast – this was a smart move.  I had plenty of fuel for the entire race.
  • I was fast – for the first half-mile or so, I shook off the nerves and warmed up the engines, then blasted through the rest of the course.  About 2.5 miles into it, I was feeling pretty fatigued, but kept the peddle to the floor.
  • I had fun – given that I really, really dislike running in the cold, my mind and body held up well.  

WHAT WENT WRONG

  • It was cold, much more cold than what we, in the Florida panhandle, are accustomed to; at race time, the temperature hovered around 40º
  • I lined up too far back in the finish line, behind kids and other slowish people.  I didn’t know they would be so much slower than me.  I’m hoping they do a better job of putting the faster people in the front next time.  There were even some walkers in the first group of people.
  • There weren’t any discernible mile markers on the course – though my RunKeeper kept me mostly aware of where I was – I only have the time notifications set for every 10 minutes and don’t have the distance enabled, meaning it only tells me 10 minutes (then 20) have passed, and since I didn’t wear headphones and had the volume all the way down, it wasn’t super easy to know where I was.

TAKEAWAYS

  • Running is fun, even when it’s too hot, too cold, too early or too late.  If you have doubts about your ability to enjoy a race, know that you inevitably will – to runners, running is always full of awesome!
  • 5k’s don’t offer very good swag – I can’t complain as I scored a free entry (and the race raised money for local public schools), but It would be nice, right?  In this case we got a free long-sleeve t-shirt and some snacks/drinks post-race.

 

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My Mistress

The Other Woman

She was familiar, easily available, and very desirable.  I ran to her; no, not at first.  At first I walked to her, then I walked faster, then I ran slowly and for short bursts.  One day I ran the whole 30 minutes to her house.  Today, I run to her, around her, and from her.  She has given me great comfort; she has listened when nobody else would (and when I didn’t care to tell anyone else); she has held me close, and she gave me love before I gave her anything.  I love her, and cannot ever imagine a day without her.  This passion with her, this love, it is beautiful, it is healing, it is all I ever want or need. 
My mistress is called by many names, but today most of us call her Running.  I am passionate about Running like I have been passionate about few things in my life.  Today I read, watch videos, and generally obsess about all things Running.  I think about Running when I’m not running; I dream about Running.  I am compelled to do things I would have never have done before to become a better runner.  I tolerate embrace cross-training; I do speed work on a treadmill; I talk to people I don’t know; I run with people I don’t know, sometimes whole groups of people.  As a introvert recluse, this is a big deal. I constantly go out of my comfort zone all in the name of Running.  I want more…passion. 

Why should I be a one passion man?  

Today it occurred to me that I started out running so easily, with so little expectation, and today my life nearly revolves around running – so why can’t I grow new passions by first making them habits?
This year I have resolved to learn to write code; I don’t know that I’ll be good at it and I’m not even sure it will enrich my life that much, but I know that I want to try it.  When I started running, my goal was to run a total of 10 minutes for every 30 minute exercise session.  So I would run 1 minute, and walk 2 minutes, and when I kept this up for 30 minutes, I would have met my goal.  Before that, I walked around the neighborhood for 30 minutes.  Then I walked faster.  Then one day I literally thought, “I bet I can run.”  
…and I haven’t stopped since.  So how can I apply the lessons from my love affair with running to a new goal?  

Scheduling Passion

I have carved out two 30 minute sessions every week in my calendar to learn how to code.  What I really want to do is buckle down and tackle it 2 hours a day until I’m really good – but that’s not my style.  This week I had to alter my schedule to make the sessions 1 hour long because 30 minutes was just enough time to find a problem I couldn’t solve.  I’ll revisit this schedule again next week.  
Two years ago  I wasn’t a runner, I wasn’t into fitness, and I wasn’t even so fit.  Today I can’t write a simple program.  

Let’s see where this new journey leads me – what do you want to be passionate about?