Friday, June 12, 2009

What I did during my summer vacation…






Chocolate chip cookies…Chocolate chip cookies with bacon…huh?

“Balance” seems to be all the buzz in the mag’s lately – everyone is writing about it...

I am reading about it…people are giving advice (I guess I am not really any different in that regard) – but why all this focus?

Shouldn’t we be talking about LT Intervals, VO2 Max HR % vs. Baseline, OBLA or some other geeky stuff?

It’s probably because that stuff is easy.

What’s hard is that this sport and our addiction to it can create such disarray in our lives that it is only measurable and manageable a “social” level. The adaption phase (aka slippery slope) for new triathletes is VERY slick and we have a wealth of enablers (aka training partners) at our beck and call to help us feel “normal” as we slide.

I can basically guarantee that during an Ironman train up you will utter the words, “Not too long, just an easy ride…only 3 hours” and you will say that as a serious comment and not meant as a joke.

The result – before we realize what has happened…family time in gone, work time suffers, our new fascination consumes our every waking hour and we end up sleeping upside down because we read on Slowtwitch that it gives you 1.8% increase in LT Wattage ☺

(Seriously – this thing works great to unload the back – I think the company is Teeter?)

So, if we are not training, we are reading about it, studying it, planning for it…it is all consuming until which point the system breaks.

Fitness is the easy part.

Load, Load, Load…unload.

It is built into ANY training system that you find. We all embrace those key words “Recovery Week” as a badge of honor to say – “I have done the work and NOW – I am recovering”. It is the perfect end to any request from another enablers who asks you to do a Tempo run or a Group ride – “Sorry – recovery week” Ahh – no guilt – no one is getting stronger while I am getting slower…yes…the good life ☺

We all know we need to recover our bodies to allow them to heal, to get stronger to absorb the load but what about unloading OUR functional system?

The system we live and love…our families.

When is the “unload” or recovery week for them?

For me – it’s now…and it has been the same time every year for a lot of years and I think it works – at least I think it works.

Twice a year I unload – 6 weeks – summer and the holidays – no scheduled training plan at all. I still “exercise” because I enjoy it and I might even race but it is for purely fun.

My priorities shift completely and VERY consciously.

For me, it is about spending big blocks of time with the kids, catching up on experiences and making sure that I reduce stress in the whole system. I also try to learn something new or fix something “broken” and for the last few years that has been cycling skills and this year it will be core – Gym Jones baby – more on that once I get HUGE ☺

I take this “off‐season” seriously – I actually plan for it.

Last week, I had to be out west for work on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then again the following Wednesday through Friday. Instead of flying home on Sunday and back again on Tuesday – I decided to stay out west.

In trying to figure out what I wanted to do and knowing I would have 2 pseudo days off before work started again on Wednesday, I was struggling. I planned on racing on Sunday (I know – off season and racing doesn’t go together but this race was purely for fun – World’s toughest Half – huh – sounds fun ☺) and I would have my bike out here.

I thought, a couple of days in SFO with a bike – man – that sounds great – just like last spring…big climbs…better weather…time to ride. But really – it didn’t feel right…I didn’t feel like “training”…sure riding sure would be fun but I also felt my balance was off – this was of course, my “off‐season”.

I talked with Drew and we found some cheap flights, and Bone and her came out and met me on Saturday afternoon before the race.

Bone always makes me laugh. He is so cool and loves life so much that I feel better just being around him and it really rubs off on me. They played while I raced and we chilled (literally) when we were done. The river is incredible and very cold so it felt awesome after 5:30 in the hills.

After the race, we headed for “The City”.

The plan was do up San Francisco in complete 5 year old style and it was awesome. I would never have thought it but SFO has more for kids than Disney – incredible places and things to do. We did it all.

The Exploratorium, The Museum of Science, the Aquarium by the Bay, A blue and Gold cruise, The discovery Museum at Fort Baker, Marin Headlands hike to the gun placements, the Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, Boudin’s Clam chow in bread bowls and even a little Sushi at Sanraku (my favorite) and we even built the Bionicals (which are awesome) while Mom went shopping.

All of this was in 3 days (and evenings) with 16 hours of work mixed in mostly while he slept. It was not hard, actually it was really easy.

Sure – I exercised – it makes me a more internally balanced person but my priority was Bone and play time. I got in 3 ½ hours (again – mostly while he slept) and even got to take Marissa across the GG to meet him in Sausalito for breakfast.

My point is not to say I am balanced – I am not…I know that…no one that races IM distance as any level of competitiveness can be truly balanced, it is just too demanding.

But as with everything in our lives, when we see something “wrong” it is up to us to make a plan and start to fix it. I identified this YEARS ago and have been working to fix it and in the process making the whole system less stressful therefore much healthier.

Quality time with the Bone is EXACTLY what we needed and I think – judging by the smile – he enjoyed it too.

So – balance is better – not perfect – but moving in the right direction.

Fitness is falling but that is also moving in the right direction for this time of year.

More balance last weekend...Josh and I went to Philly for a weekend and to check out the Philly Pro Bike race. He won the Wall and is was not a gift - congrats mate.

Before I go back “on‐plan” – Drew and I will hit a concert or two and Shane...Ah – Shane will have to tolerate the old man dropping in on him over… and over…. and over again – hey – I pay his car payment – I get to pick my waves ☺