Taking a Break

I’ve decided to take a break from triathlon this year. Not from exercise completely, but from triathlon. My only goal for this year is to run the Atlanta Half Marathon with my wife on Thanksgiving Day. For a guy that typically is always training from something, this is a welcome relief. But, a few people have asked, “Why!?!” So, I thought it would be nice to explain.

Setting Priorities

The truth is I have to adjust my priorities and there simply isn’t enough time for me to do everything I really want and need to be doing in my life and so to reduce the stress, I have to let some things go. Triathlon was a logical choice because it takes up 12-15 hours a week. Obviously, I could have given up work, but I like to eat and sleep indoors.

Everywhere I go I hear people talking about how “crazy busy” they are and how they don’t have time to do it all. So, I decided a few years ago, that I wasn’t going to be a drone that just keeps adding things to my schedule. I set up a process to determine how things get added to my calendar. This isn’t perfect and there are seasons of my life that are busier than they should be, but I make a big deal out of keeping some time margin in my life.

In my current job I simply cannot commit to 12-15 hours of exercise each week and spend enough time with my wife to maintain our relationship. That relationship is my biggest time priority.

Choosing my Wife

I choose my wife ahead of everything else. And that means that I also choose her goals and dreams above my own. Last year she cheered me on as I conquered a Half-Iron Man event. She stood outside watching me exercise for 8 hours. This year it is her time to achieve and I’m not going to miss it.

In 2013 as I was getting starting in Triathlon and re-engaged in running, my wife one day said that she didn’t think she could ever do a 5k. So I challenged her and said that if she trained I would run a 5k with her. So, we did. A couple of days before Christmas I paced her as she completed her first ever 5k run.

After her 5k she said she would never be able to run a 10k. So, in 2014 I challenged her to run a 10k. So, she trained and on Thanksgiving morning she ran her first ever 10k and I was right beside her again.

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After that you would think she would stop saying she could never do something, but you’d be wrong. Earlier this year she said she didn’t think she could run a Half-Marathon, but that she really wanted to get a medal for running a race. So, I signed her up for her first 13.1.

I have picked up a touch of plantar fasciitis and while I could probably train around it and complete my second 70.3, there is a very real probability that I would be unable to complete the half-marathon with Courtney in November. I couldn’t do it. I choose her. So, I’ve dropped out of all of my races this year except that race. I’m planning to lift weights, do yoga, and swim while I’m rehabbing my feet. I’ll start training to run in late August. That should give me enough time to be ready to see Courtney accomplish yet another distance.

I promise you’ll never regret choosing your wife. Ever.

 

 

We saw “Inside Out” last weekend; the newest Pixar film. One idea really stood out to me. The Joy character knocks over a box of fact and opinions and they get mixed up. She says something like, “These facts and opinions are hard to tell apart.” To which Bing Bong, the imaginary friend character says, “Happens all the time, don’t worry about it.”

I see that all the time. I’m sure you do to. Makes me more mindful of my own opinions and the need to not mix them up with facts.

Perfection as a Goal, As Close as Possible as Reality

I remember geometry. It is not a fond memory, but a memory nonetheless. I think geometry and I didn’t get along because I was too concerned with not being labeled nerdy. One thing stuck with me from geometry and it was the asymptote.

In analytic geometry, an asymptote of a curve is a line such that the distance between the curve and the line approaches zero as they tend to infinity.

Or read a different way: a line is close to touching the other line, but never quite gets there. EVER. This idea that the line never reaches zero came to new relevance for me as an adult. I bought a bed in 2005. It was the first big purchase of my adult life. For 18 months I slept in a sleeping bag on the mattress of that bed because I couldn’t find the perfect sheets/comforter for the bed.

I realized after 18 months that it was probably not likely that I would find the perfect sheets. And I remembered asymptotes. I decided then and there that my definition of perfection would be an asymptote. I wanted to get as close as I could probably get and be okay with that. So, that’s what I did. I still do that today.

I’m not sure what in your life you need to be perfect. But I know that you can change the definition of perfect for yourself. All you have to do is admit that perfection isn’t attainable and adjust your expectations. This might not be mind shattering to you, but to me this was huge.

 

Being Considerate: A Primer

This post is going to sound a little get-off-my-lawn-ish, but I’ve noticed a HUGE lack of people who are considerate lately. It’s evident all over the place: offices, stores, on the highway, in the airport. Oh, MY GOSH, are people inconsiderate in the airport. I’m not sure if people just aren’t being taught how to be considerate or if people just don’t care.

Why Being Considerate is Important

The biggest reason I try to be considerate of others is that it reminds me that I am not the center of the world. Inconsiderate people choose to inconvenience others in order to make their lives easier. This shows a glaring lack of respect for other people and their wants and needs. Too often I see people that don’t realize the world doesn’t revolve around them. They block intersections instead of wait through another light change. They stick their hand into the elevator to keep the door from closing instead of waiting for the next one. They walk 4 people wide down the sidewalk.

It’s always good to be reminded that everyone else wants to get home after work, just as badly as I do. Unless my destination is a life or death matter, then I shouldn’t inconvenience someone else.

The Best Way to be more Considerate

Be aware of your surroundings. That doesn’t seem very hard, but I am convinced that most of the inconsiderate behavior I see is due to people simply thinking that they are the only people around. If you are walking through the grocery store, don’t barrel out of the aisle at full speed, be cautious and make sure that others aren’t already pushing their cart on the cross aisles.

Likewise, if you are exiting an escalator, take note that there are most likely others behind you and keep walking. The bottom of the escalator is a dangerous place to stop and look around. This happens in the airport as well, people stop walking in the middle of the concourse trying to figure out which way to go. This could be avoided by making sure that if you need to stop and get your bearings that you move to the side away from the foot traffic before stopping.

The Second Best Way to be more Considerate

Punish yourself for your mistakes, instead of making other people pay for your mistakes. This happens all the time. Someone gets into the turn only lane, but wants to go straight. They have made a mistake. They have two choices:

  1. Make the turn find a way to get turned around and then go back the way you wanted to go
  2. Stop in the middle of the turn lane, hold up everyone behind you that didn’t make that mistake, and force your car into the correct lane.

Obviously option 1 is the right choice. Yes, you will be inconvenienced, but you SHOULD be inconvenienced, it was YOUR mistake. If you punish yourself for making the mistake instead of everyone else, then you’ll learn pretty quickly not to make that mistake again.

The Third Best Way to be more Considerate

Be prepared or think ahead. If you know you are going to an area you aren’t familiar with, Google it and try to get a feel for the roads so you aren’t slowing up traffic. If you need to stop to get your bearings, look ahead and find a safe place to pull to the side. As you are riding an escalator, look around while ascending or descending to know which way you will turn when you exit.

These are small things, but they can have a big impact on those around you. I assure you, no one lost friends because they were “too considerate.”

Parents should Teach Consideration to their Children

The reason I so firmly believe these things is because they were drilled into my head when I was little. Watch where you are going, walk on the right hand side of the hallway, don’t stop in front of people, everyone else has somewhere they need to be just as much as you do. These phrases were repeated so often when I was growing up I probably dreamed about them. My parents were hyper-vigilant about teaching us to respect the time and space of others. I hope parents are still teaching those values today.

(Header Image: danramarch)

On Death and Dying

I ran across this article from Esquire Magazine. It is a very tough read, but for those of us that have struggled beside a dying loved one, there is much truth.

Here are a couple of the quotes that resonated with me:

I told our family counselor, Julia, I knew things would get worse. “If I have to put her in a backpack and carry her to the chemo ward, I’ll do it if it means getting an extra day with her.” Julia is a kind woman, but honest. “Before this is over,” she said, “you will long for it to end.”

And

The way dying looks, or so I expected, was like this: A small group of friends and family gather around the patient, watching as she draws and releases her final breath. People hold hands and exchange glances to acknowledge how profound the moment is just before a doctor checks for a pulse and announces, “It’s done.”

The way it actually happened was like this…

Nicole’s pulse had faded days ago, to the point where no one could feel it. So we stood watching her for a couple minutes. She simply didn’t breathe again. No spiritual release. No change in complexion. No shift in facial features. She just stopped.

HT: @zatapatique for the link.

Image by: Seven Hills

Dealing with being Overwhelmed

We’ve all been in a situation when we are feeling overwhelmed and there are only a few responses I have seen people have: Collapse, Pretend, or Deal.

Collapse People

If you are a collapse person, when the going gets rough you just fall apart. These folks ramp up the activity and appear out of control. Everything is done at warp speed, but not done well. You rush from project to project like someone spinning plates. Inevitably as more is added you cannot keep up with it all and there is a collapse.

Deadlines are missed, other work is turned in on time but is half-finished, and you are physically exhausted.

Pretend People

If you are a pretend person, when the going gets rough you just ignore some of the stuff you have to do. These folks don’t change anything and appear clueless. They don’t change speed or approach, they just stick stuff in a drawer and pretend it wasn’t assigned. They do the things they like and most likely do it well, but completely drop the ball on everything else. Inevitably a deadline is approaching, work hasn’t been started, and this person leaves the office at 4:30 to spend time with friends.

Entire projects are completely ignored, other co-workers are left holding the bag, and you are blissfully unaware of the drama you have left in your wake.

Deal People

If you are a deal person, when the going gets rough you realize that you have probably overcommitted or that this is just a season of business. These folks tend to hit a “pause button” of sorts and create a game plan to maintain organization and triage their task list. They talk to those that are owed work product and provide feedback about timing and the current work load. They negotiate extensions or simply stay later or take work home to complete it.

Projects are completed within the original or newly negotiated time frame. Co-workers appreciate your willingness to roll up your sleeves, and your supervisor is happy you have taken the steps necessary to overcome the obstacle.

Your Choice

I’m a deal person. I haven’t always been a deal person, when I was a kid I was a collapse person, I have trained myself to be a deal person. The best part is that your response to being overwhelmed is completely within your control. 100%. Sometimes you will be overwhelmed. No matter how much you try to avoid it, life has a way of putting you in those situations.

So, choose to be a deal person. Stop making excuses for why you can’t deal, and just deal. Take a minute, look at everything on your plate and choose to deal with it.

What sort of person are you?

America has invented sports trained generations of our citizens to be good at them and then start calling them world championships, all because we are horrible a soccer. Well, all except the USWNT. They have had years of sustained success. What makes that so?

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