Lake Zurich Triathlon Race Report

A few weeks ago I finally got to race my first triathlon of this year! After seeing a bunch of my teammates at the Chicago ITU race a few weeks before, I was itching to race. That night, I signed up for the Lake Zurich Triathlon, a nearby triathlon. I didn’t know how I was going to get there, just simply that I was going to race.

Getting to the race was no easy task. My plan was to take the train to my aunt’s house, sleep over there, borrow her car the next morning and drive to the race, then drive back to her house, and take the train back home. Turns out I chose the ONE weekend of the year that you can’t take bikes on the train (due to the Taste of Chicago)… After lugging all my tri gear to the train station with me (and managing to not crash on my bike there) I was crushed when the conductor told me I couldn’t board. After pleading my case for the next 15 minutes, he decided to break the rules and be a decent guy and let me on. Thanks conductor–you’re awesome.

The rest was pretty simple–except that they didn’t have my registration when I got to the race site that morning. Turns out I had just signed up late but there were no issues with me racing.

The water temperature was awesome; wetsuit legal but not too cold. I wore my Wattie Ink exclusive BlueSeventy wetsuit and got off well with the age group pack I was in. My swim was feeling strong but, as has happened in many races before (only is open-water, wetsuit races), my left shoulder started aching. I don’t know how to describe the feeling except that it felt like there were only so many strokes I could take in a row, or only so much power I could put behind the stroke before I had to give that arm a second of rest. I gave my shoulders a ton of warming up before the race in fear of this, but it still happened. If anyone has any insight, I’d love to hear it!

I came out of the water in a time I was pleased with given the circumstance. My bike was ready to go, but after scratching the visor on my helmet, I had opted to remove it and race with sun glasses instead. My Rudy Project glasses look sick anyway, so it was a good move.

Screenshot 2014-08-03 18.41.34

H/T teammate Cate Demet for this image (these are her glasses and picture but I have the same pair)! Image source: Rudy Project

The bike was a 2 loop rolling course so you had the benefit of learning the course during the first lap and attacking more aggressively on the second lap. The course had enough hills that it was fun but not so many that you couldn’t still go consistently fast. I was caught by a few of the strong older guys, but spent of the time passing earlier waves.

I much preferred riding without the visor on my helmet as I could see a lot clearer and didn’t have to worry about to the visor fogging up, especially early on during the bike. Nor did I have to worry when trying to wipe away any sweat or water that would collect on the visor.

I decided to really push hard on the bike and had one of my fastest bike splits to date on an olympic course. This left me more tired for the run, respectively, but I still felt good. It was my first run of that distance in a while–my training as of late has been much more focused on short intervals and tempo work, so I was happy to be able to keep the pace I did.

The run was 2 laps as well. On the first lap I felt strong, but knew I would be hurting by the end (but that’s supposed to be the case!) I started running alongside a guy in an older age group and paced with him for most of the race. He actually was passing me and I wasn’t going to let that happen, so I filed in immediately behind him and basically drafted off him. Whether drafting during a run is mental or there really is some benefit, it seemed to work! At one point I ran up next to him said “Just to let you know, I’m not trying to be a dick, just trying to keep up!” His response was something like “Fuck you kid, you’re 20 years younger than me!”  To which I just gave a grin… While there was nothing memorable about the run course, I would rate it as “difficult”. It was all pavement and only partially shaded with small rolling hills.

I finished with a time I was happy with! I placed 3rd in my age group and in the top 10% overall. It felt really, really good to medal in my first race in 7 months. I’d really like to figure out this shoulder issue and see how well I could do in the swim if I could really give it my all.

 

2014-07-13 14.34.20

A fun start to the season and I’m looking forward to a few more races I have planed for this year! Let me know if anyone has insight on my shoulder issue!

- Rock the W -

 

Resistance–And how to beat it

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying”

–Steven Pressfield

I want to do a lot of things. A lot of different things that seem to have no connection with one another, but there seems to be something that keeps getting in the way.  I’d love to write more… but I “don’t have time.” I want to start taking improv classes… but it might “get in the way of my workouts”. I’d like to start taking gymnastics classes and combining it with my current training to get my walking handstands perfected… but it’s “too far away and too expensive.”

5758251968_11139c664d_z

What’s really getting in the way? Resistance

Enter Coffee with Kate

A few weeks ago I met up with another trainer and incredibly awesome friend of mine, Kate Galliet of Fit For Real Life. Kate isn’t only an awesome trainer who owns her own gym where she trains endurance and everyday athletes, but she is wickedly smart and has awesome insight and a positive and practical outlook on life. And she bought me an awesome cup of coffee.

She and I talked about a lot of things but namely about plans we had and things we were working on. There was a big difference I noticed though—Kate was doing these things while I was till thinking about them. Sure, I’ve started a new job which I’m loving and is keeping me crazy busy, but I can make time to explore new ventures. Kate told me exactly what that problem was: Resistance. She recommended that I read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.

The book was fantastic. In it, Pressfield defines everything that Resistance is: Invisible, Internal, Insidious, Implacable, and Impersonal. Resistance is what keeps us from reaching our full potential and accomplishing the things that we are in fact capable of achieving. To overcome Resistance, you’ve got to choose whatever it is you are striving to achieve and become a professional at it. It must become like a job—something you do because you are excellent at it and something you can separate yourself from.

How to beat resistance:

Just start: Just write. Just run. Just do handstands against a wall. Want to read more? Start with magazines or websites, but just start and create a habit of it. Your results don’t matter, but you are doing it and with practice comes getting better.

The next step is to create a routine. I’ve finally started mediating every day. I’ve put this off for ever and ever, even though it’s been something I’ve wanted to do. Now, every night, I finish getting ready for the next day, then I read for a few minutes, then I turn off all the lights, sit quietly, and go through a programmed meditation practice from an app on my phone. Then I watch a few minutes of Breaking Bad, if time allows, and go to bed. By keeping this pattern, when I get ready to meditate, I know that is all I’m setting out to do.

The same can work if you want to write more—Create a routine. For me, it would be to go to a nearby Starbucks (have to be out of my house), catch up on Twitter so I won’t have it on my mind, end all text conversations and put my phone on silent, and then finally, my mind is free of obligations and I can begin to write.

The next step is committing. You’ve got a routine, you’ve made the pledge to just start, but now you can’t give up. Just keep doing it. Over and over and over.

So far, I’ve been able to use the lessons I learned from Kate and this book to start meditating, do more personal journaling, and commit to a lifting program I’ve been on for the last month. My next steps are to apply these to finding a cause to volunteer at and to begin improv classes or a sport league—Chicago just needs to get warm enough so I can ride my bike to these commitments.

What about accountability? Can I do recruit someone else to do this with me? I would say yes and no. Sure, it nice to have someone to keep you accountable, but you’ve still got to do the work.  You have to be a professional. J.K. Rowling didn’t say to another author, “I’ll write a book if you write one too”. No, she was broke and took on the commitment to become a professional and commit herself to writing. You just need to look at what you’re doing and ask “is this something that is short term with a defined outcome, or is this something I want to become a part of me and continue long-term.

Now you tell me, what things does Resistance get in the way of in your life that prevent you from achieving something you want?

Good luck and when you encounter that Resistance, call it out and make note of it! Once you start looking you’ll start seeing it a lot more… and finding more ways to overcome it!

My 5-Minute Journal

The five minute journal – a new daily challenge for me. I really need to get back to writing because I miss it so much. My hope is that this will help me generate new ideas, blog posts, and ways to handle anxiety along with good things that happen in my life. When do you do to write daily or to spark ideas? Any other tips for writing more?

From San Diego to Chicago (and into the Polar Vortex….)

My time in San Diego was not only amazing, but exactly what I needed to do for myself. I have no regrets about leaving my job in Tampa and spending 6 months in San Diego working as a personal trainer, helping launch a business, and making some amazing friends. What I did realize, however, was that a part of me felt like I was treading water–not making progress down my life path. Granted, while every single thing that I  did was, in fact, making progress with my self, internally and externally, I knew that it couldn’t last forever.

After getting confirmation on Christmas eve, I have taken a new job and moved back across the country, this time to Chicago!

This called for another epic road trip, only this time my dad flew out, helped me pack, and made the trip with me. Literally, everything I own fit in (and on top) of my car. My first reaction to this was “wow, everything I own can fit in my car!” Followed closely by my second reaction “why do I have so much shit??”

Loaded up

Loaded up

After an awesome surprise going-away-get-together with some friends and saying goodbye to my awesome roommate, my dad got everything packed in one day and shoved off: First stop, Vegas!

IMG_3999

We spent the next 3 days basically just hanging out in Henderson, NV, right outside Las Vegas, with my dad’s best friend and my Godfather, Scott, whom I’ve gone and hung out with man times over the past year. It was really nice to just relax, ride some bikes, and enjoy my last moments of warm weather. Scott and I got an epic ride in, riding 43 miles all the way to Boulder City, with 2,300 feet of climbing and getting to see some gorgeous desert scenery.

Rockin the W

Rockin the W

It seems that, indeed, my Dad and Scott are actually old dudes. The highlight of the weekend for me was watching them just glued to the TV screen for 3 hours watching Downton Abbey. It was hysterical. I, instead, went down to the strip and tried my luck and some roulette.

After Vegas, we got back on the road and headed for our next stop, which was Grand Junction, Colorado. One of my goals on the trip was to stop at as many random places as possible to commemorate the journey.  The first of those: The giant soda cans in Utah!

IMG_4013

I don't know why they exist, but they're awesome

I don’t know why they exist, but they’re awesome

At the same stop as the cans, we figured it was a good place to get some lunch. Little did we know what some good Utahan cooking consisted of! We checked out a place called “Mom’s Diner”, a sure classic, right? We lasted about 5 minutes in there… My dad, a guy who just can’t be rude, decided to order a scone so that we didn’t have to order a meal. It turns out a “scone” means something else in Utah…

It was so. bad.

It was so. bad.

IMG_4022

He tried to eat it but couldn’t stomach it. I hid it some napkins and we snuck out of the restaurant.

Besides it’s scones, Utah is absolutely gorgeous!! You almost feel like you’re on another planet.  Here are some gratuitous landscape shots:

IMG_4024 IMG_4025 IMG_4031 IMG_4040

That night we arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado. We had left warm weather sometime long ago in Nevada… but we managed to find a great local brewery and get a great dinner. The Ale House had some really nice local brews and great collection of old cans.

Pictures of taking pictures... super meta

Pictures of taking pictures… super meta

Great collection on vintage cans

Great collection on vintage cans

After our quick sojourn in Grand Junction, we grabbed a great workout and headed on to Denver. This drive was, again, gorgeous. But also incredibly frightening. We hit some bad snow going over Vail Pass, at about 10,000 feet elevation, and were driving on, or in, snow for most of the time.

IMG_4056

My dad, being from upstate New York, did a lot of the snow driving (and also so I could read out loud to him from different training websites about dead-lifting, glute activation, and shoulder rehab…) My favorite moment though was when we hit some bad snow and ice coming down the mountain. Traffic stopped pretty quick and my dad started pumping the brakes but it looked like we might hit the car in front of us. He yells at me “Chuck, I can’t stop!” I guess I just don’t get that excited, but my, very calm, response was “what the hell do you want me to do about it? Here, turn left.” Luckily we got out unscathed.

We finally got into Denver where we spent 2 nights so that I could see a ton of friends I have there. You might recall, but I spent most of summer there a year and half ago and that city and the people had an incredible, life-changing, impact on my life.

The first thing I got to in Denver was meet up with an awesome girl whom I met last year and who still lives in Denver where she is going to school. We met up for dinner… and not only was it amazing to see her  maintaining the personality and liveliness that she had when I saw her last, but at our meal there was no guilt, no shame, no anxiety, nor any destructive thinking. I loved it.

The next day was literally one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. The first thing I did was head over to the Eating Recovery Center, where I spent the better part of 4 months, and got to sit down with my entire treatment team that I worked with during my time there. They were all doing great and it was fantastic to be able to speak with them all like friends and to let them know that, yes, I of course still have some struggles, but that everything they did for me was amazing and that I am doing great.

After that meeting, I headed up a bit north of Denver and met another, more recent friend of mine, Jeremey, for lunch. Jeremey is a trainer as well, but has recently made the switch to a more digital-publishing based role, although he still writes for sites like Menshealth.com and Greatist.com. We caught up and talked about life, fitness, writing, life goals… all that good stuff.

After that, I headed back to the other site for the ERC and met with a another member of my treatment team. This guy is someone that I can always count on to be there for when I need an ear and also knows how to help. And, usually, that “help” is just being able to say to me, “hey, I don’t know what you’re going through, I’ve never been through it myself, but know that I am here for you and I know that you’re struggling.” I’m hoping to collaborate a bit with in the future on some resources for males dealing with eating disorders.

Finally, I spent some time just walking around Denver before meeting a last set of friends for dinner. This couple recently just had an amazing little boy, and, no joke, he’s a cutie.

Baby!

Baby!

The next morning, after grabbing a workout, we shoved of across the great plains to make our way to Lincoln, Nebraska, where we planned to stay the night. This was the most difficult driving I’ve ever done! I’ve never been in wind that strong, and was petrified that the rooftop carrier was going to be blown off the car and that my bikes were going to go flying off the back! Luckily, this didn’t happen, but we literally saw 18-wheeler trucks that had been blown over onto their sides from the force of the wind.

Basically a hurricane

Basically a hurricane

This day was full of goofy stops. While I wanted to stop at “Pawnee Park and Recreation Center” and pay homage to one of my favorite shows, it was too dark and out of the way when we got there. However, we did stop and see the biggest ball of stamps in the world!!

Stamps!

Stamps!

After a thrilling morning of stamps, we decided to stop at the one and only Volkswagen Beetle Spider! When we stopped to ask for directions, the guy we talked to asked if I’d seen Cadillac Ranch, to which I was able to say “why yes I have!” (Thank you road trip to San Diego!)

It's poisonous

It’s poisonous

Once we finally got to Lincoln, we met up with a family friend whom we hadn’t seen since we moved from Texas about 14 years ago

IMG_4098

Finally, it was a straight shot into Chicago and another full day of driving. Nothing super exciting happened that day, that I remember, except finding random British and Irish candy in a gas station in Iowa and then driving under this bridge:

Some Bridge

Some Bridge

That night we stayed with my… Great aunt(?), my dad’s aunt, I believe, who lives a bit outside Chicago and sort of gave us a home-base as we prepared to move me in, plus gave my dad a place to stay. The next morning, of course, it started to snow, to make my move-in experience perfectly “wonderful”. As you may not know, I hate being cold and get cold incredibly quickly, so I’m learning the art of “bundling up”! Thank God my mom found my old snow boots from high school and sent them with my dad so that I would have them.

My new place is in a cool neighborhood right outside downtown. The move-in wasn’t too hard… just cold

Brr....

Brr….

But you know cures coldness? Deep Dish pizza!

IMG_4099

We went to Lou Malnati’s and it was awesome–although, according to my roommate, and which I whole heartedly agree and wish he’d told us before we ate, the best way to order it is with the sausage crumbled and fully cooked.  Point noted for next time.

And that was it! My walk to work is less than a mile which is great, but bundling up takes me a lot longer in the morning… but it’s worth it to be here!

IMG_4118

Making this trip with dad was amazing and makes realize that I need to spend more time with him and my whole family. It will be great to just a quick, direct flight back to DC to hang out with them.

Thanks for reading!

Grateful

If you follow Twitter, the news, TV, blogs, or any websites then you’ve by sure gotten the message of what Thanksgiving is about.  Apparently, it’s about one, or more, of three things:

  1. How to not overeat, how many calories are in your meal, and how you should eat healthy (and probably not enjoy Thanksgiving very much)
  2. How many calories are in your food and what the best workout will be to burn it all off preemptively
  3. Black Friday sales and what the best deals are.

What happened to being grateful? What happened to not putting so much emphasis on food and our bodies, and instead focusing on spending time with families and friends? What if we all stepped back and thought more about the things in life we take for granted and took a moment to appreciate them?

I am as guilty as everyone else in that I’ve forgotten this message too, in the past. This year, as last year, I won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving with my family, as they are on the other side of the country. It makes me think about how much I wish I could be with them, and appreciate even more the friends I am getting together with who can’t be with their families either.

Yes, I plan to also be very grateful to the chef, the turkey, the football players, and the gym for being open in the morning. There’s no reason not to be. I just ask that we all take a moment to be thankful for one another as well.

t2vcC

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Things that drive me crazy at the gym

I spend a lot of time at the gym.  As a personal trainer, I’ll spend many hours a day training clients and will then do my own workout before or after.

This is a list of the things I witness that make me force myself not to walk up and say something.  Granted, I may be guilty of some of these myself so I’m listing like I am some gym etiquette guru, however, I try to avoid these at all costs. So here we go!

1) Texting!

I get it–you have your phone on you in case of emergencies or to listen to your music. You get a text, something important, and you think “hey, I need to respond to this!” But this should ONLY be acceptable when you’re either (1) switching from one exercise to the next or (2) starting a new circuit of exercises.

Here is when it’s NOT ok to text:

  • WHILE using a machine! (Really? You need to text while using the adductors and abductors machine?)
  • On the treadmill.  You’re going to fall.  I’ll laugh,
  • On any other cardio equipment
  • While sitting on a bench–Someone wants to use that to get fit, so please move

2) Eating

You probably don’t need that protein bar while you ride the bike after your workout. A shake while you’re out in the weight room is permissible, but you don’t need to walk around eating your chicken, rice, and salsa out of your Tupperware between exercises (I swear I’ve seen this multiple times)

3) Bringing your entire tub of protein to the gym.

Just throw a couple scoops into a bottle before you get there and add water. It’s simpler than EasyMac.  Need more protein? Bring a second bottle…

4) Holding on to the treadmill with a death grip and walking on an incline.

When was the last time you walked up a really steep hill that had magic handrails that hovered right in front of you? Just walk at an appropriate incline and let go–You’ll get more fit.

5) Recumbent bike. Enough said.

6) Not re-racking the weight.

Bro, if you just squatted 450 pounds, please take all the plates off when you’re done. And for God sakes, why are the 100 lb. dumbbells stashed in random corners of the gym? If you’re strong enough to carry it over there, put it back.

7) Using the assisted dip machine to do a leg press movement.

If you want to work on your glutes, I have hundreds of exercises I could show you, or go to my man Bret Contreras’s website and learn the many variations of hip thrusts.

No.

No.

8) Bad form.

I preach over and over “form before function.” If you do the movement correctly, you’ll get a lot stronger and won’t get hurt

9) Chit-chatting.

Don’t tell me you spend 2 hours at the gym every day when you really spend 90 minutes talking to everyone you see and 30 minutes lifting weights.

10) Using the machines in ways they’re no designed to be used.

11) Performing “reverse lunges on the Bosu ball while balancing on the exercise ball holding uneven kettlebells”

A set of squats or deadlifts will you get you a much better body than any crazy exercise combo you can invent.  And if you can’t squat or deadlift a heavy amount of weight than there is no point in working on your “balance” work

12) Laptops on the cardio equipment

yo-wtf-dawg

13) Curling in the squat rack

Never ever ever ever ever ever if there is someone that is waiting to squat

Squat rack

Image Credit Nia Shanks

14) Living at the gym

Not figuratively, literally.

15) Leaving the gym without proper clothes on

I don’t care that you just swam, put on a damn shirt if you’re going to walk out of the gym!

16) Pick up your stuff

This goes for the gym floor and the locker room–we are kind enough to provide with you free towel service so please be kind enough to put them back in the huge bins we have all over the gym.

Well that’s all I have for this volume, but I’m sure I’ll think of more!

Disagree with anything I said? Anything you would add?