Friday, July 27, 2007

Belief, with a dash of Hope (for flavor)

I go back to a little scene that I saw on a run one day. Three kids were playing in a ditch (imagine that, kids playing in a ditch in South Louisiana) filled with water. Each kid took a turn going to the edge of the road, building up their courage, and trying to run as fast as they could and jump over the water-filled ditch. What’s so special about that, you ask? Well, before each of the ankle biters tried this daredevil feat, they screamed, “I believe I can fly!” And the funny thing is that I could tell that each of them genuinely believed if they just ran fast enough, and things fell just right, human flight was well within reach.
Why do I tell you this story? Because I want to know at what age did we have to trade in our superhero’s costume (mine was Batman) for a pair of khaki’s and a polo, and trade in our dreams of extraordinary for the plight of mediocrity? Why can’t we as adults dream the impossible dream? When was that fateful day that I screamed, “I believe I can fly!” and one of my friends/associates looked at me and replied, “Get off the crack, dude. No one can fly.” Or was it a self-realization that I need to give up the dream, as the disappointment of possible failure could be too much for me to bear? And once that first dream is shattered, what happens to the rest of our dreams? Do we suppress them in the backs of our minds, as the sting of failure is too fresh and too painful to relive. And then after a while, we give up and don’t have any more new dreams. We just accept the defeat, and slip into the ever-growing line of lost and timid souls who settle for mediocrity. And I’m not referring to the lucky, or gifted few that we always hear “realized their dream” or made it through repeated hardship. I’m just talking about enabling ourselves to go back to the playground, back to the field, back to the ditch, and stick to the convictions of our dreams. To chase something, anything, with the same passion and vigor that once dominated our young lives. To embrace the ideal that we, no matter what the odds or consequences we faced, with whatever gifts and talents we’ve been given, could do something extraordinary. To accept the knowledge that deep inside every person lies an extraordinary dream; a passion that wants to explode out into the world, and excommunicate any ideas of conformity or acceptance of mediocrity.
As I sit here, and think about the belief of those little kids, and seeing a good friend realize his dream of going to Ironman Hawaii, I think about hope. Hope is a powerful emotion, and is almost inseparable from belief. Maybe the worst case scenario is that you don’t realize your dream. Its bases loaded, 2 outs, game is tied, and you strike out. You go all in with a flush, and the house has 4 aces. You take your shot at extraordinary and miss. But what about the hope that you’ve given others through your fight? What about other people who you’ve met and interacted with throughout your years of dream chasing, whom you’ve inspired to chase their dream. Maybe it’s like a domino effect. Maybe that person you’ve inspired inspires 2 more people. And maybe, if it all goes on long enough, we’ll have a world of inspired people that go out and go for it, chase the impossible dream, believe again that they are capable of great and mighty things. And if we’re lucky, we’ll find ourselves back at the ditch, believing that we too can fly….

Thanks for reading.

You'll never lose that one in the Transition rack!

All this bad boy needs now is some spinners....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Warriors and cowards

I'll only spend a minute on the cowards. Vino, Rasmussen, you are ruining pro cycling. Newsflash, Vino. The country of Kazakhstan sponsors you. For Pete's sake, your team kit's colors are the national colors, as well as the country's symbol proudly displayed on the front of your shirt. Do you think you'll ever be able to go home again? You were a national hero, a hard-nosed, everyman of cycling. I sure hope that this is all a big misunderstanding, or that the stitches in both knees somehow messed with the blood test. Or maybe you did need a transfusion with all the blood you lost. Let's not forget also that this is the same lab that screwed up Landis' results (read the book, I won't explain). Anyway, I want to believe you, but if you did do this, shame on you. You've set fire to your own house. As one of the Patron's in the peloton, you have now marked this beautiful sport for extinction. And it is a shame, as there was not a cooler story than a country backing their son for glory of professional bike racing, and for Kazakhstan. As for Rasmussen, you sir are a turd. I never liked you since the first time I heard about your antics with making mechanics' shave .4 grams off of your bike. Now you're a smuggler, too? In America, we call smugglers' Pirates. Or if you are in Italy, Il Pirata. You remember the last Pirate of the Peloton? Yeah, he's dead. Keep messing with blood boosting agents, and "conveniently" getting lost in Mexico. You are a theif, as you shouldn't have been allowed to start the tour, and are stealing it from Contador, Evans, Sastre and Leipheimer. I hope Denmark not only kicks you off of the National team, but also revokes your citizenship. Ride for the Mexican national team, then we'll see how talented you really are.

Ok, onto warriors. KSP, Ken St. Pe' for those watching at home, qualified for Ironman Hawaii this weekend. In short, I'm proud of that kid. Maybe he needs a Fulltriathlonracing kit to wear in Kona. For real, if you see him around, be sure to congratulate him. It's not just the race, its this guy's continued pursuit of excellence, and his constant focus on making himself and others better. By my count, the last male from Lafayette to get his ticket to Kona stamped? 1999, Charles Brenke. (Yes, I know 2 VERY talented young ladies went to Kona recently. I am not snubbing them). So KSP, it is a special moment indeed. I want my KSP autograph to read, "Thanks for letting me beat the crap out of you every Gurzi session, and every bike ride." And kids, if you want to know the secret of KSP's success, ask him about his patented "St. Pe' Superbrick." It's the magic bullet.

And yes, rumor mills are swirling. My ride, as Xhibit would say, has officially been "Pimped." Gaudy paint, 27" black and silver rims, this baby has it all. Pics to come later. So if you are interested in my BBQ pit (aka 2005 Cervelo P3SL, size 55), drop me a line. She could be up for sale.

Hopefully there is some dignity left in the Tour, and we see some beautiful Spanish trouncing tomorrow when Rasmussen is destroyed by Contador (or anyone, for that matter). I'll watch with baited breath, and an unwavering hope like a kid that refuses to give up on Santa Claus that some rider's in this Tour are still racing on courage and effort, with no artificial colors or flavors.

Thanks for reading....

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Simplicity (or Race Cars and Candy Bars if that's cooler)

Forgive me if I jump around. I’ve been writing this Blog entry in my head since we got in the RV for the trip back to Louisiana. I think it was during my fifth different article in Triathlete magazine telling me the perfect race taper, or how I should schedule my long course nutrition, that this Blog entry started to manifest itself in the ole’ noggin of mine. It’s about simplicity. It was re-emphasized when I met with a friend of mine to help him with a training plan for an upcoming Half Ironman. We visited for about an hour, and I just kinda downloaded my thoughts, ideas, and biases for success at that distance. At the end of the meeting, he was appreciative, but I think he was waiting for more information. Like a workout that would give him an advantage, or something I did that was completely revolutionary or unorthodox, and produced results. How do I know? Because at the end of the meeting, he said, “So, that’s it?” Yep, that’s it. And basically, what I told him is what I follow, “Beat yourself up, rest, and repeat.” About as technical as it gets is the Power meter, and that’s only a basis from day to day so I can see if I am shelled or not. My favorite answer of the day was to the question, “How hard do I go on the bike?” I simply said, “Go as hard as you need to so that your vision starts to get blotchy.” Simple enough, I guess. But not so simple to implement, as I have a tendency to shy away from working myself so hard that stuff goes on the fritz. I’d love to know how swimmers do it daily.
I’ve tried to extend this simplicity theory in everything that I do. Take only what I need to work, and the camp, without hauling around 15 things “Just in case”. Simple nutrition, and trying to follow the JQ diet of “If God didn’t make it, I don’t eat it.” Once again, easy to understand, but hard to implement. Why? Because I, like most people, crave complexity. We love the technical aspect of things, and we equate hard to understand with cutting edge, and ultimately complexity is immediately associated with better. I’ve followed Gordo Byrn ( and his blog for quite some time. I would always laugh when reading about his training because his advice was so vanilla. I thought it was too easy, too straightforward. He had to be keeping something a secret. Good thing I’ve saved most of the blogs on my computer, as I’ve gone back and re-read them. It’s as if I’m reading these things with the super-cool 3D glasses this time. More stuff makes sense, or maybe it makes more sense because I’m not trying to muddy things up with complexity. Go hard, go easy. And if all else fails, just get out the door and go.
Keeping with the theme of simple and complex, I read Floyd Landis’ book, Positively False. I say simple, because Floyd is a simple dude, and this book is very simple to read. The complexity comes in with his positive test for the Testerone/Epitest ratio during Stage 17 of last year’s tour. Whether you think he is guilty or innocent, you owe it to yourself to read the book. I have always felt that cyclists’ are misrepresented with anti-doping measures, and the UCI prosecutes riders even before they have a chance for a trial in the court of public opinion. Even if Floyd loses his arbitration case, hopefully the rights of professional cyclists’ changes for the better. These guys work too hard, and sacrifice too much to be just tossed aside in the name of being politically correct. Now granted, I do understand that this is Floyd’s side of the story, so some stuff will be biased and slanted toward his point of view, but there is some pretty good evidence that points to his innocence. Especially the difference in what constitutes a positive test in different countries. Ok, I’ve said too much. Go read the book. And if you want to reach further into the conspiracy bag, watch the movie, “V for Vendetta” before you read the book. A great movie, and appropriate for the time and state that our world is in right now. Some of the parallels are a bit scary.
Next on the read list is “Walden”. I might need some strong coffee to get through this one though, from what I’m told.

Thanks for reading…