Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Goals For the Year...

Angela and her friend headed off to the hot tub so I'm going to steal a few minutes and write about what I'd like to accomplish fitness wise this year. 

Last year, my cycling was almost non-existent. I rode one century, not even making it the whole way (here's the elevation profile if you're curious)
This ride SERIOUSLY kicked my ass. Basically, heading out of Buena Vista at 8,000 ft, you climb 2,000 ft over the first 20-30 miles. You get a little rest, then you continue heading up into Leadville. It was one of the more painful experiences in my life. 
One: because my friend Russell ditched me, wanting to climb faster. 
Two: because even though I'd gotten SOME miles under me, I didn't have nearly enough climbing miles in my legs.
Three: I got a really bad rash on my posterior just outside of town and had to stop riding every few hundred meters because my ass was on fire. It sucked. It sucked even more when, upon arriving at the first rest stop, Russell asked me "what took so long". It's been a long time since I've wanted to punch someday. He almost got punched that day. 
After short-cutting the climb into Leadville, we had lunch and turned back around. If there was anything about the ride that made all of the pain worthwhile, it was the view of the collegiate peaks we had on the way back to Buena Vista

On the way down it should be obvious that the wind picked up and negated any downhill advantage I may have had. It should also be obvious that if there's any time for something mechanically to happen to my bike it should be when I'm going downhill. In this case, I lost the cabling to my rear derailleur... I had a hard nasty gear or a way too easy gear. Did I mention that it sucked? 

Also (mostly because I have panoramas left I haven't posted), I should mention that Ang neglected to bring any cold-weather camping gear with her, meaning that I had to give her mine. So, starting the day century morning, I was absolutely freezing. I should also mention that I hardly slept all night because the area we were camping in had a raging snow-melt fueled creek less than a 100 yards away. All night long we were treated to a cacophony of bubbling, gurgling, creek sounds. It was probably as bad a situation as it could have been. 

All of that goes to say, I really want to go back there this year and kick the century rides ass. I REALLY want to ride that thing and make it my slave. Sense some century ride animosity? I thought you might. 

I also want to ramp up my running. Assuming we don't move this year, I'd like to do the list of Colorado Springs Grand Prix races

Long Series - Series runners must run 1 5K, 3 10Ks, and the 5Mile.
5K on St Patrick's Day (March 15)
Garden of the Gods 5Miler (May 3)
Sailin' Shoes 10K (June 21)<>

and maybe a half marathon or two. I haven't looked them up, but I'd like to at least do one this summer. Assuming I'm in town (events seem to conspire against me every year) I want to do the Red Rock Canyon century again this year. Russell and I did it a couple of years ago and it was a great century ride. I'm looking forward to getting back to it. 

Day 17 part 1

Sorry I didn't blog yesterday, got caught up with life. The cars brake lights went out for some reason (mind you, every other light works in back, including the brake light on the hatch) but after replacing the brake lights, they still didn't work. That means money on auto repair which is always depressing.
Ang and I also spent a lot of time cleaning. She did a masterful job on the kitchen and guest bathroom. I did a mediocre job on the car and the garage. This morning, more cleaning. Hopefully it will be at a point where it's 'guest visitable' tonight.
I feel like I've fallen into a routine with the fast. Part of the routine is kind of strange though. It's not a craving for food so much as it's my mind thinking about food fairly constantly. I've taken to reading food blogs, I read a book called Julie/Julia that's all about one woman, in the year leading up to her 30th birthday, who decides to cook through Julia Childs' Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I started reading that one in the early days of the fast. I'm not sure what that says about me.
These are the books I'm working through, meditating on, at the moment...

I stumbled on Eugene Peterson's Eat this Book the other day while I was grabbing a copy of the Message. I haven't had a chance to dive into it yet, but I'm hoping that there's a lot I'll get out of it. I'm continuing to really enjoy working my through that translation.

I'm about mid-way through Morgan Spurlock's book. It's not that there's anything I don't know in his book. It's stuff that's been pretty well covered in a variety of places. That said, it's not bad reading on a fast. It certainly makes me want to continue the fast food sabbatical I started well before the fast after this fast ends. There's just so much good and nutritious food for people out there. Why rely on chemical injected franken-meat. Like I said, the book acts as an appetite suppressant.

I've mentioned Messy Spirituality earlier this week, but it is a pretty great book. It's mostly composed of stories from around Michael Yaconelli's church. Here's a selection of writings put out just after he died in 2003. I was first exposed to Yaconelli through the publication he used to write for, The Wittenburg Door (looking at The Door's website, I thought this was funny and pretty representative of The Door). My friend Lance used to read it, and he was maybe one of the biggest molding influences on me in Junior High School. Lance is the one that introduced me to alternative Christian music. The one that played bands like Adam Again, Daniel Amos, The 77s and The Choir for me... and introduced me to the Door.

I haven't started on The War of Art yet, but I added it to my reading list after Stu Maschwitz, one of the partners at special effects company The Orphanage, raved about it at his blog.

In 1999 I made the most difficult decision of my life: Quiting my dream job at Industrial Light & Magic to help two friends start a little company called The Orphanage. At the core of the DV Rebel code is the impetus to do what you love, against all odds. Whenever I need a kick in the Rebel pants, I read a bit of The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. A better book on the creative process you will not find. Warning: ProLost is not responsible if you quit your job after reading this book! Well, maybe a little.

Weight this morning was 230. Whoop de doo. I mean, I think it's great, but at this point, I'm mostly interested as some sort of scientific experiment.

If I get a chance a little later I'll try to run through my 2008 fitness goals. I've been thinking about them quite a bit the past few days.

More later.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 15 part 1

I feel good this morning. I'm quite happy that last nights stress passed over. Getting through the day today should be easy, then I'll have the weekend and that's surprisingly easy and we'll be at seventeen days. I know I can do that. 

More later.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Day 14 wrap up

crisis averted. I had a nice glass of pineapple juice and quite a bit of water. heh. I tipped well, mostly because I felt a little guilty. My friend Dave mentioned something that he's been experiencing during his fast though. He feels like God has really been impressing on him to put 'Him First'. So as he was feeling a little guilty as well on his way over, he came back to this thought about God being first... and how even if he was uncomfortable and felt bad that he wouldn't be ordering something and annoying the waitress with a 'cheap table', that that was what he had to sacrifice to put God first. I guess I can relate to that. 

Thanks to Nate for encouraging me to 'sleep on it' with regards to breaking the fast. Those were the key words to kind of get me over the hump. 

26 days to go. I need to take them one at a time. Just like in the Ironman, you can't focus on the end goal, you have to focus on finishing the first task in front of you. Maybe I needed to learn that lesson again. 

More tomorrow. 

Day 14 evening

have to head to Real Men Of Genius in a few minutes. For some reason I've really been struggling with continuing tonight. I'm not sure where it's coming from. I'm not particularly hungry. I think part of it is that the group meets at Applebee's. Ugh. I mean, the two guys in my small group are on the fast too, so maybe it won't be so bad, but the cravings right now are pretty strong. 

Is that a sign to stop or is it a sign that I'm being tempted?

who knows. 
January 8 - Our Pilot Our Guide
The following passage is taken from a seminary commencement address

Christ is our employer as surely as the general contractor is the carpenter's employer, only the chances are that this side of Paradise we will never see his face except mirrored darkly in dreams and shadows, if we're lucky, and in each other's faces. He is our general, but the chances are that this side of Paradise we will never hear his voice except in the depth of our own inner silence and in each other's voices. He is our shepherd, but the chances are we will never feel his touch except as we are touched by the joy and pain and holiness of our own life and each other's lives. He is our pilot, our guide, our true, fast, final friend and judge, but often when we need him most, he seems farthest away because he will always have gone on ahead, leaving only the faint print of his feet on the path to follow. And the world blows leaves across the path. And branches fall. And darkness falls. We are, all of us, Mary Magdalene, who reached out to him at the end only to embrace empty air. We are the ones who stopped for a bit to eat that evening at Emmaus and , as soon as they saw who it was that was sitting there at the table with them, found him vanished from their sight. Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Rahab, Sarah are our brothers and sisters because, like them, we all must live in faith, as the great chapter put it with a staggering honesty that should be a lesson to us all, "not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar," and only from afar. And yet the country we seek and do not truly find, at least not here, not now, the heavenly country and homeland, is there somewhere as surely as our yearning for it is there; and I think that our yearning for it is itself as much a part of the truth of it as our yearning for love or beauty or peace is a part of those truths. And Christ is there with us on our way as surely as the way itself is there that has brought us to this place. It has brought us. We are here. He is with us - that is our faith - but only in unseen ways, as subtle and pervasive as air.

~Frederick Buechner

I love Buechner, he says things in a way that sums up what I have to say in a way much more eloquent than I could ever say it. I wasn't particularly good at reading my copy of The Message yesterday (I accidentally left it in my car), but it's sitting next to me here in my office today and I'm going to continue working my way through Ecclesiastes.

This morning I'm at 232. Strangely, looking in the mirror this morning I noticed that when I sucked in my gut, I could see the bottom of my rib cage jutting out under a layer of fat. It was kind of strange.

Angela has decided that she needs to do a week to two weeks along with me to deal with some crap that she wants to deal with. She was talking last night about how she hasn't been tempted by the biscotti that she sells at her store or anything like that, she's been tempted more-so by images on the TV. Emeril cooking this salmon dish on his program, a Papa John's ad for cheese bread (that I will fully admit I looked at wantonly the other day while on the treadmill).

I spent some good time on Sunday talking with two fairly new friends from the young marrieds group Angela and I are a part of. They've been reading the posts on Facebook and it was really good to just sit down and talk through what I've experienced so far. I thought it was really cool that they were genuinely interested.

Lately it seems like people are mostly freaked our or amazed about this fast, like it's some sort of thing that they could never do. I don't think I'm particularly special. I know that I have a mixture of talents that have allowed me to excel at my job, but I have all kinds of fallibilities that keep me from being any different from anyone else. So when someone tells me that they don't think they could handle something like this, or a century bike ride, or the Ironman I have to go, "You can! You really can! There's nothing that I'm doing or that I've done that you couldn't do!"

I think if you're willing to extend the effort, God will fill in the cracks. When I did my first double century, a 200 mile ride out of the Twin Cities and up and around a gigantic lake called Lake Mille Lacs . There were quite a few times I wondered if I could make it. By the time I finished I had been pedaling for over 14 hours. That's a lot of loneliness... while it's not 40 days, the sensation you go through as you're pedaling in silence (these are country roads and while there's an occasional dog bark, there're no iPods or anything like that) is I'm finding, quite similar. Time slows down, especially when you fall out of the zone. There would be periods where it almost felt like time stopped as I felt my body pedal and barely perceived any movement in the grassland all around me.

My mind raced throughout the day, thinking about how if I just pedaled one mile an hour faster I'd cut this much time off and I'd be done at time x:xx. Then, after slowing down, my brain would let me know, "Hey! Guess what! Now you're not going to finish until time z:zz!" To get through that, I had to still myself and meditate. Find the place in me where I COULD meditate. Athletes might call it the zone, and I think that's apropo, but I also think that it's not totally out there to acknowledge that it was a time where I was meditating with God. Often when I'm riding I'll find bits of worship songs or other lyrics floating in my head. I find myself singing out loud or just remarking to myself or my riding partner about the beauty of God's creation. I'm finding just a little bit of that in this fast.

Fasting as an endurance race. I guess I wouldn't have initially thought about it like that, but I think there's something to be said for it. I'm sure I was drawn to it because I'm drawn to stupidly large sized things. I mean, I do think that everyone is capable of an ironman, or a century, or a marathon, or a forty day fast. We just have a habit of falling into what my friend Commodore likes to call Common Man Syndrome. Maybe the reason that I've done these things is that I have a propensity to want to break through that. Like I said, it doesn't make me anything special, just different.

Have to get to work, this is a bit of a mess, but hopefully it makes some sense. Maybe I can expound on it later.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

From the archives... or: Nothing Ever Changes

The other day I was digging through the archives with a coworker, trying to find
a picture from my Ironman race. As we were digging, I found an entry I wrote that surprised me. When I started talking about doing this fast, I mentioned wanting to put things on the shelf. Apparently, five years ago, I was still talking about packing things up and putting things on the shelf.

Reading closer, those things have changed. When I first read the entry, I didn't read closely. I thought that I was talking about putting the same things on the shelf. There are some things that are still there from five years ago, but I think they've changed enough that I can say I really have progressed in my life.

Anyway, I'll let me speak for myself...

As I was out running yesterday night, I was really kind of thinking about why I'm doing this. Why am I doing the Ironman and is it for the right reasons? Unrequited love is a powerful thing. It can be a hard thing to get over, and even after you meet the most amazing person in the world, who changes everything about you for the better, there are those nagging things that you want revenge over. Part of Ironman at first for me was to shove athleticism down the throat of the girl that told me I would never be an athlete. I thought, what could be the most extreme thing I could ever do that would prove once and for all that I won't live up to that comment. That, as much as anything else was fuel.

I came to the realization though, and brought it up to myself again just now, that those words wouldn't even be in her mind anymore. She spoke them without even thinking and they floated off into the distance. She could have no idea how they scarred me. I've already proven to myself that I can be athletic, and Angela has been really supportive in letting me know what I am in her eyes. That itself means more than I could even say. Still, that wound is there. I pray it'll go away. In fact, until yesterday on my run, I was assuming it had gone away. I thought about elementary school and David Wilke's 7 minute mile... being so envious of his speed. I thought about the years of taunting and teasing, crater face, fatboy and I ran from that.

Y'know, maybe what I'm aiming for in Ironman is just sheer running away from my past. But maybe it's not entirely running away from my past. Maybe it's putting a seal on it. That putting myself in that situation and burning off that chaff and struggling through that event is going to put an endcap on it. Finish it off for good.

Foot Shoveling

I've developed a new exercise, maybe even a new sport. It's called 'Foot Shoveling'. With the way our buildings are set up, the staff is spread all over the place. My department seems to have taken that to a new level. The building we're in used to be part of a car dealership. There were two rooms set up for the sales guys to hang out in while they were waiting for people to come on the lot. These rooms only connect to other parts of the building by going through other rooms to get to the hallways. These other rooms, being big meeting areas aren't really used much during the week mean that, for the most part, we're completely disconnected from the everyone. Some days I really only see the one other person that works back here.

Because of those circumstances, we get neglected. While they hang wreaths from all of the doors throughout the buildings during Christmas, we're ignored. When trash needs to get picked up, we get ignored. When snow falls...? You get the idea.

Waiting for a DVD to burn this morning, I decided that I'd shovel the steps. I couldn't find anything in my office to use as a shovel so I thought I'd use my feet. Surprisingly, it worked fairly well. I wasn't able to get EVERYTHING off, but enough of it's gone that we won't end up with the ice steps we developed in the last snow storm...

Will 'Foot Shoveling' ever make it to the olympics? I don't know that it will. But I would encourage it. It wasn't the greatest workout, but the shuffling back and forth to try and scrape up snow with the side of my shoe actually got my blood moving just a LITTLE bit... and now I've accomplished one of my small tasks for the day.

back to the grind.

Day 13

Have to head to work in a minute admist the snow, blah. 234 this morning. 

The Message seemed to help yesterday. It's kind of interesting reading the Bible in a different way. I kind of liked this passage I really enjoyed reading Ecclesiastes yesterday. I also started reading 1 John. 

Anyway, better go brush off the car. blah. I'm glad we have very few snow days here each year. 

more later.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Day 12

Good morning, everyone!

(picturing myself as some 'sound of music'-esque teacher happily waking up/engaging my underlings)

234 this morning. I meant to blog last night after I got an e-mail comment that I really want to respond to here on the blog, but I got tired and went to bed early after doing some reading. Just know, concerned reader, that your comment will be written about and that I do take it seriously. I was a bit annoyed with you at first, but after some time thinking about it and rereading your comment a couple hours later, I felt differently. One should probably not read comments via your cell phone browser in a quick minute between things at your Sunday night small group. Your author stands corrected. 

Picked up a copy of The Message on my way home from work yesterday night. I admit that while I love having the bible illuminated by quite a few people that I respect, and whom I've learned many things from, I find it hard to dig into the bible on my own. It's just not something I've ever been able to dig up a lot of interest in. So, I'm thinking that carrying around this copy of The Message with me will help with that. I was reading the psalms last night (admittedly the one thing in The Message that I don't think translates very well is the book of Psalm)

Anyway, I thought Psalm 1 was interesting, 'message-ized'

Psalm 1

1How well God must like you— you don't hang out at Sin Saloon, you don't slink along Dead-End Road,
you don't go to Smart-Mouth College.

2-3 Instead you thrill to God's Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
You're a tree replanted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.

4-5 You're not at all like the wicked,
who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
unfit company for innocent people.

6 God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.

More later. But dear reader, again, before I respond to you in more detail, I AM trying to dig in. I am encouraged by your words, and I'm NOT shirking that aspect of the fast by watching movies. If you knew me better, you'd know that my wife and I have a great passion for movies. We're looking to relocate to Austin, partially so that we can be closer to a more vibrant film community. We're still in the early stages of trying to make our own movies. We know people that are more passionate than we are about all of these things, but we've met very few people here in Colorado Springs that are bigger movie geeks than we are. 

Furthermore, there were several illuminating things in the movies we saw on Saturday. Things that make me look at God and say "thank you". One of the films we saw was even, technically, a 'Christian Film'. 

Like I said, I want to spend more time going into your comments, but I wanted to let you know that after some thought, I'm not offended. I'd just like to address things more clearly. 

More later. 


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Day 11

After a pretty restful day watching movies yesterday (we did a marathon at the discount theater, seeing Across the Universe, Dan In Real Life, Bella and Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium), it's off to another Sunday morning at work. 

236 this morning. This morning's passage from My Utmost talked about giving the Blessing God has given you whenever he blesses you. I hope that I do that with the design talents I have. I think that I struggle with working at a church sometimes. It's not particularly where I wanted to be, but it was a job that was there as I was being laid off from another job and it really was a blessing that I got a raise and just a weekend layoff before I started the new gig. I struggle with whether or not I'm a 'member' of a the church I work at and whether that means that I tithe my salary back to the church. Which just goes to say that I have a hard time with blessing. Is it giving back to God that I use my skills professionally?  I imagine that sometimes it is. I don't think that that's as far as it goes though. I think it goes much, much further than that. I also think that I'm a long ways from properly understanding that. 

Off to work. More later.