Friday, September 16, 2016

It's always been for my Mom

Despite my New Year's goal to write in this blog more frequently, I have failed miserably.  Part of it is having a baby at home, part of it is questions about how public I want my life to be in Saudi Arabia, but mostly it has been because Mom died this summer.  She died suddenly at home from a heart attack.  She died in my dad's arms.  I was at FSI when I found out.  It was a week before my Arabic test and 8 days before we were supposed to have a big family reunion.  It sucked.

Since then, I haven't been able to blog, not because I haven't had things to say (Passing my Arabic test, the pack-out from hell, Saudi Arabia is fascinating!), but because I didn't know how to start writing again.  How do I write anything about this summer without talking about the massive hole in my heart and my soul?  I didn't (don't) want to write publicly about her death.  But skipping over it and pretending it didn't happen wasn't an option either.  So every time I thought about writing something, I had this giant decision to make - talk about Mom's death (and it's impact on every

thing, every moment this summer) or skip over it on the blog.  This choice blocked anything else I wanted to write.  This post is my feeble attempt to address the issue.

And that brings me back to writing this blog.  It sprung from letters I wrote home when I was a high school exchange student in Italy.  By the time I was a college exchange student, I had upgraded to an email list serve.  When blogs started to gain popularity I switched formats again and I started this blog in 2010 just before I started A-100.  Whenever I wrote, I always knew that whatever I wrote, Mom would read it.  She was my audience.  Others could and did read what I wrote, but I always wrote with her in mind.  If I wasn't willing to tell my mother a story, I knew I shouldn't blog about it.  And my Mom was a great audience.  She would always comment to me (either online or on the phone) about what I wrote.  She loved my stories.  I always assumed that at least 80% of her love for my stories was because I was her son and maybe 20% was the writing or the story.  I've always been okay with that.

Right now, I don't know if I will keep blogging or not.  For 6 years, blogging has brought me joy. Today, it only brings me sadness.

I miss you Mom, I love you the most.
Thanksgiving in San Antonio
Drinking beers at the British High in Belize
Dancing at my wedding

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I didn't drown

I finished the triathlon last week and most importantly, I didn't drown.  Although I probably didn't do as much training as I should have, I managed to complete the swim in about 25 minutes, which was five minutes faster than my goal.  For the most part, I alternated between freestyle and breast stroke, which helped me keep my breath while continuing to move.

Although the swim portion went faster, the bike leg went slower due to a leaky front tire.  I pushed through on a flat tire for most of the race.  Not fun, incredibly slow, but I still got done.

The run was the easiest part - just a 5K run.  For the first time all day, I actually managed to pass other racers (all of whom had already passed me on the bike, but still) for the first time all day.

I finished the whole race in just over 2 hrs.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

In the deep end (again)

For the last year or so, I've talked about doing a triathlon.  Crossfit is too expensive here, I had been getting bored with running and I've realized that I need a goal in order to effectively work out.  I simply don't have the motivation to just work out regularly without a plan and a goal.  I don't push myself.

So, with the support of my wife (she bought me a nice bike for Christmas), I have begun training for a triathlon in June.  This week, I started my swim training in earnest by joining a "master's swim class" at the YMCA.  It is completely kicking my ass.  Although I learned how to swim as a kid and I know all the strokes, etc., my form is crap.

Frankly, I am embarrassed by my complete lack of skill in swimming.  It is WAY harder than I thought it would be.   I struggle with breathing, kicking and "pulling" (as I learned the part with your arms is called).  Not only am I relegated to the "slow lane" during the class, but I am also easily the slowest of the three guys in this lane.  I can barely swim 50 meters without needing a rest. It reminds me of how awful I was at running when I started.  I am still not a fast runner - I never will be - but I can run  5 miles if I need to.

To make matters worse, we swim A LOT.  When I was learning to run, my first race was a 5K.  During practice, I only ran that distance once or twice before the race.  I mistakenly assumed the same theory would apply to the swim in the triathlon.  For my tri, I have to swim 750 meters (30 lengths of the pool).  The WARM-UP at the first practice was 500 meters!  The total work out was 3400 meters.  I am limiting my workout to an hour, so I only did about 2200 meters. That is still three times the length of my race.

As bad as it has been (and it's been pretty bad), I just have to remember how it was when I started running and how it was when I started cross fit.  In both cases, I was by far the worst person doing this when I started.  But, over time, I improved (incrementally) and other worse people started up.  Improving my technique and building my endurance made it so I eventually wasn't the worst.  I assume and hope that will be the case again with swimming.

Additionally,  I went on a long bike ride (7 miles) a few weeks ago.  I could barely walk for 3 days, so we'll see how that goes.

Wish me luck.