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Vader for President – Our Only Hope

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It is a period of political war. Rebel hackers, striking from a hidden base (USSR), have won their first victory against the evil Political National Convention.

During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret emails revealing the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the RIGGED NOMINEE PROCESS, an armored space station with enough power to destroy 318.9 million freedom lovers in mere minutes.

Pursued by the Presidential Candidate’s closed minded agents, Prince Aladdin races home aboard his starship, custodian of the bitter truth that he can do nothing to save his people and restore freedom to the galaxy….

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The Tri-Triple Threat

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Three weekends. Three races. Three states.

Three sports. Three different distances. Three different finisher’s medals… One heck of a ride!

Ah, Friday. Who thought we would ever make it this week? The time has come to put the wraps on tri season.

It’s been a very, very busy year. Wedding, house, IRONMAN training, work, more IRONMAN training, trips, home projects, etc. But it has all been wonderful and there has been ample taco consumption. Mmm!

I am now about to close out my tenth year of racing. Wait, what!? That’s bizarre. That’s a decade… 3,402 days since I first put on my goggles, biking shorts, and running shoes, and took the plunge in the American River. Ah, to be not old again…

My first brush with the sport came when a friend encouraged me to sign up for a triathlon training class with a local ex-pro. It took all of about three days before I knew that I was hooked. Since then, triathlon has always managed to weave its way into my busy schedule, and oddly enough, it is one of the few consistent things in my life, despite the inconsistencies offered by such activities.

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Regardless of which races are selected or what states I get to road trip to, triathlon is always there with expectations around training, adequate sleep, squeezing in extra workouts between a career and family responsibilities, and yet in all of the demands that it makes, it also offers up some peace in that consistency. You bust your butt, take some time to recover, get back at it, throw in a few warm-up races, fix the nit-picky stuff, and then have a great (or not so great) time at your A race (highest priority) before settling back into the remainder of summer. Rinse and repeat annually.

Funny how something as simple as swim goggles, a comfy pair of running shoes, and a bike can provide this extra element of stability into your life…

The multi-sport lifestyle, and it is a lifestyle, works in all facets of our journey down the winding river of life. When things were trying in a prior job, I found some sanity in my training, including many stress relieving swims after bad days in the office. When things were great after college and I moved into my first condo, I had an epic running path to wear out and new bike routes to find.

Things have changed yet again, and training time is more limited but that just forces me to be smarter about the time I spend in the saddle. Plus, I am slowly learning that there are plenty of things more important in life than simply training hours, the training only supplements the exciting things in life and makes them more scrumptious.

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Looking back over a decade of racing *gag*, there were certainly a ton of highs and lows. Favorite race moment so far: crossing the finish line at Coeur d’Alene and high-fiving my parents on the way down the finisher’s chute. The mere fact that I found them in thousands of spectators is incredible! That moment will be forever cherished because not only did they believe in me enough to show up (and road trip with me), but they were there at the finish, knowing that I would make it. I shouldn’t be surprised – my family has always been there for me, prodding me along my stubborn way. It’s how the Aaron’s roll. It was topped off by having three other friends waiting for me at the end with a burrito in hand. Such sweet, glorious Mexican food!

Check it out here:

 

Last year’s big race was special in its own way. My Best Man and my (then) soon-to-be-wife traveled out of the country with me to Canada, which in itself was a brave endeavor, but little did we know that was only the beginning of the adventure… a few rainstorms and 12 hours and 10 minutes later, our suffering finally ended, but despite the race not going “well,” we still made great memories on our journey. Unsurprisingly, there’s lots more to be learned from races that don’t go well.

And Canada:

This year, capping off 75+ races and a decade of racing, plus my 4th IRONMAN starting line, we will once again jump into the fray. Regardless of outcome, my wife and I have experienced a heck of a lot this year, and as of 8/7 (11 months of being married), we’ll see how this next 140.6 miles pans out.

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Here’s to many more years together, and at least a few more seasons of some great racing :D

I’ve never ended a season with such a bang, so I’m looking forward to the challenge. And I’ve always struggled with feeling stale in the taper phase, so here’s hoping kicking it in gear over the next two weekends will set up success for the grand finale.

Skidoosh!

Tour de France and the Extra 1%

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It’s Tour de France time, one of the greatest athletic events of the year in terms of size and scope, and with it comes the all the excitement and buzz and cycling shenanigans that is bound to happen as cyclists race 2000+ miles over 21 days. Nearly 200 athletes have been going toe to toe and cleat to cleat since 1903 to vie for the honor of wearing the yellow jersey.

As a triathlete, I am of course interested in the cycling portion, only because I spend hours in the saddle training for the 112 mile haul before a marathon and after a swim, but these guys can do 100+ miles without breaking a figurative sweat. Plus, they have really huge legs, although I don’t envy them for their upper bodies – there’s a joke that runs in cycling circles that professional cyclists need their wives to carry the groceries in – I’ll take the triathlete physique any day :D

There are many different ways score is calculated in the Tour, points for climbing, sprinting, and team points, etc. It’s a unique mix of individual talent and team cohesion. For team Team Sky (Britain), they were faced with a unique challenge in 2010. Having a team that never won the Tour de France, their coach had quite the job ahead of him, but he came up with the concept of marginal gains, also known as improving everything by 1%. Do some research on Team Sky, and you’ll see some really cool articles how their team started streamlining everything – nutritional plans, daily workouts, the pillows they slept on, and all of the 7 billion tiny details that go into getting a team through 21 days of cycling hell. They focused with laser precision on itty bitty, incremental changes and found great success in the cycling arena a mere three years later.

I even wrote a blog on 1% improvements, inspired by a section in my IRONMAN training book Be Iron Fit. At the time of writing, I had only competed in three half IRONMAN events (70.3 miles). In preparation for my first full IRONMAN at Coeur d’Alene just a mere seven months later, I had the foresight to set my goals high. “If I’m going to break 11 hours (I’m shooting for 10.5) then there will have to be a ton of little improvements in training and racing, and ideally those improvements will spill over into other areas of my life.” I ended up coming in at 11:07 – not too bad if you ask me. I don’t specifically remember each little 1% change I made, but as I prepare for IRONMAN Boulder in just 24 days, 20 hours and 48 minutes, it’s still not too late to think about the 1% improvements. Sleep, final workouts of the highest quality, solid nutrition, and plenty of down time. I think I can handle that!

Back to the topic at hand! In researching the Tour de France, I stumbled upon an excellent blog and article by James Clear, primarily in relation to Team Sky and their 1% improvements:

“Most people love to talk about success (and life in general) as an event. We talk about losing 50 pounds or building a successful business or winning the Tour de France as if they are events. But the truth is that most of the significant things in life aren’t stand-alone events, but rather the sum of all the moments when we chose to do things 1 percent better or 1 percent worse. Aggregating these marginal gains makes a difference.”

Source: http://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains

 Sky Procycling rider and leader's yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins of Britain cycles during the individual time trial of the 19th stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Bonneval and Chartres, July 21, 2012. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT CYCLING)

Bradley Wiggins crushing it in the 2012 Tour.

Bam! Boy, did he hit the nail on the head. I’ve never been to the Tour, nor do I ever plan on participating, but I can say that duking it out with 140.6 miles of race isn’t just a single event. It takes months and years to get your body’s endurance and muscle capabilities to a realm of competing at that level, and even then, the event itself is only just that – the event. Everything that goes on behind the scenes is what is taking place 99% of the time, the event itself is just your chance to put those tasks to good use.

When the brain fog sets in and you’re tired and hungry and want to quit, it’s all about that extra 1% and what you did with it that will make the difference in the end. Sure, your time may suck or you’re embarrassed about your effort or too many unplanned trips to a porta-potty, but in the end are you going to bail for weak reasons or are you going to grind through and make it to the finish line?

Work promotions aren’t built on a single good decision; lifelong friends aren’t made in an hour; and you won’t marry the woman of your dreams by simply sitting back and hoping for the best. In all areas of life, you should be putting your best foot forward, and then add an extra 1% on top.

A Blog About A Wide Variety of Things That I Can’t Seem To Unify Under a Single Title

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Happy Friday, and especially hot on the trail of summer. Ah, the glorious time of year when the sunscreen is out, baseball is (literally) in the air, the BBQs roar, and ice cream provides a reprieve from the scorching summer blaze. It’s a wonderful time of the year, almost as good as September and fall in northern Nevada. Almost.

It has been a very strange four weeks. I have attended two funerals – one of which was somewhat expected and the other which just caught me off guard in many different ways. I have been to many funerals in my time, unfortunately, and it never gets easier. They’re always so bittersweet because you get to see friends and family that you may not have seen in years (decades), but you’re there mourning the loss of someone who was near and dear to you all, granted, celebrating their life, but it rarely feels that way.

On the other side of the coin, it has been three years since I completed my first IRONMAN in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It’s hard to believe that 1000+ days has zipped by in the blink of an eye. In 2013, I attended six weddings, went on all kinds of trips, and graduated with my MBA. Within the past 12 months I have gotten married, traveled to Greece, purchased a home, and got rained on for hours at a race in Canada. Oh, how time is fleeting.

I think of the things in life I have a passion for – my wife and son, racing, friends, my dog Lucy, food  – and realize that they are such temporary gifts from the Lord. Growing up, my father always told me how short life really is, and now he’s on the other side of the fence looking at me about to enter another decade, adjusting to becoming a grandpa, practically living the dream job/retired lifestyle, and watching me blunder my way through a new chapter, just as I’m beginning to instruct the little human in our household to be a man of integrity, appreciate each day for what it has to offer, and raising him as a man better than I. It’s a tough gig – and I think it makes me appreciate my dad that much more. And yet all of it is so quick in passing! I’m not ready to be an adult! I still want to know why the rum is always gone…

The comfort for me at each of these funerals was that I will see these people again when the day comes. That’s often not the case, and when it isn’t, those are the saddest funerals to attend because you truly are saying your goodbyes, and there will be no great reunion.

How I somehow feel in the vortex of terror.

How I sometimes feel in the vortex of terror.

For the time, I feel like I am carrying a heavy pack of sadness, and some guilt. It’s always hard wondering what your last interactions with that person were, how they remembered their relationship with you, and whether or not there was anything in the air that you wish you had cleared before their passing. Perhaps that’s why we all gather at events like this – to mourn as a community but also to build up and support.

And so here I am, making my way towards a new chapter, and careening off of some of the bumps along the way, but the path forward is clear. I have a race to train for and a house to get in shape. So that is exactly what I am going to do! After all, once IRONMAN Boulder is wrapped up, it’s smooth sailing. Weekends with tons of free time, no six hour rides to go on, and definitely copious amounts of sleeping in. That, I’m especially looking forward to.

There’s always a time, usually when I’m knee-deep in the five ‘super training’ weeks (18+) that my mental and emotional game get crushed a bit, and it’s hard to press on and focus, especially in the run discipline which I loathe after 15 miles. And yet, year after year, there is still something rewarding about making it to the starting line of any long race. It’s a reward in and of itself, and even though I may miss the forest for the rain-covered trees (Canada), the reward is often very clear… and that will be a reward worthy of pursuit!

 

A Guide to the Galaxy From the Business Triathlete

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So you’re a new freelancer, heading out into the wonderful wilderness of wild and wonderful experiences, but you don’t really know where to start or how to begin, or better yet, even what your first step should be. Here’s some thoughts:

  1. Establish yourself (branding) and hammer it home – Before you attempt to help others in a volunteer or a professional capacity, make sure you know who you are, what you stand for, and what you want your brand to be. Be courteous and do what you say you’re going to do. I’m not a freelancer per se, yet, but I do keep a list of all the big ideas I have. I also blog about my observations in the business and technical universe, from the perspective of a husband and triathlete. I get some interesting observations based on my experiences, and fortunately it ties into my brand of “Triathlon Lessons for Winning in Business.” That, and my bike is named Black Beauty, so that totally makes me a professional, right?
  2. Attack fearlessly and hone your skillset – Leverage the power of “yet” to convey progressiveness and urgency. Setup long term goals for yourself, places you want to be or things you want to accomplish, and always dwell on the idea that they aren’t done yet, but you’re getting there and taking the steps to realize what is needed. Also, don’t forget to remain balanced in all that you do. You need to stay in equilibrium from a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, work, and family perspective, or you won’t be doing much of anything well. Take well-calculated risks, figure out where you can provide a value that others cannot, and jump in (the deep end) with both feet!
  3. Take time to question assumptions and understand the process – I’ve said it before, that my job is to extract business requirements from my unsuspecting colleagues. OK, maybe they are suspecting, but it’s often times hard for people to tell you what they really need. The same goes for processes. Most of the time, people are unable to describe a full process to you in great detail, and it’s up to you to decipher. Keep your eye on your freelance strategy, but don’t do it the way everyone thinks you should. Check out this post on the $27,000 cocktail for ways to do business differently. Over my racing career, I’ve had plenty of time to develop and keep these lessons in mind, and apply them to the business world too.
  4. Bonus – Own your mistakes but rejoice in your accomplishments. I hate admitting when I’m wrong, but in my career so far, it has served me quite well to own my decisions and admit to my mistakes, but I also make sure I am well-equipped or have some kind of plan to propose in order to fix said problems. Also, you MUST rejoice in your accomplishments. I understand you may not always be finishing an IRONMAN (Iron Journey) but you better be taking time to celebrate the big and little wins, or you will burn yourself out. In addition, you probably won’t be having very much fun either :(

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Honey, I Shrunk the Peanut Butter Cup

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It’s rapidly approaching 95 degrees and I just smoked a 5 mile run. Needless to say, I was parched, burning up, and in dire need of delicious nutrition. I threw together what I had, and was actually quite pleased with the spontaneous result… give it a go!

These ingredients weren’t chosen with an exact, scientific method – it was pretty much whatever sounded really good. So don’t judge. Or hate. Just enjoy the peanut butter!!!!

  • Preferred amount of smoothie liquid (I used a large glass of almond milk)
  • 1 scoop of protein (I had plant based Vega Protein and Greens)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp raw, local honey to balance the cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa
  • 6-8 dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • A nice heap of nut butter. Yummy in the tummy!

Calories: a lot – this isn’t for the faint of heart so make sure you earned it.

Delicious: totally – it’s mmm, mmm good!

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April Showers Bring May (Super)Powers

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Hello my fellow Internet audience!

So, yes, we’re all busy, and yes we all have a lot going on, but I’m really glad it’s Friday and even more glad that it is BEAUTIFUL outside. We’ve had record-setting rain, which is nothing to complain about, but it’s nice seeing some blue for a change. I’m also incredibly thankful that I don’t live in Las Vegas anymore because it’s probably 97 degrees there.

I have once again fallen off the blog train, so my new goal for the summer will be two blogs a month. That seems super doable.

I just experienced one of the craziest and yet strangely most fulfilling weeks (plus a few days) of my life. It all began on 4/27 when my wife and I signed 103 pages of lawyer-filled-gook written for the not-so-common-man that’s only purpose in life was to proclaim that we had, in fact, purchased a home. Wow, was that a stressful process. I don’t think I enjoyed much of it, except possibly picking out the home customizations. That was pretty neat. That being said, we have survived the initial two week onslaught of WHERE ARE MY BOXERS and WHAT BOX HAS ALL THE FOOD IN IT, and are now well on our way to making it feel like home.

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This happened. Go see it!

In addition to moving, and a huge thanks to everyone who helped with that, I also ran a half marathon the day after hauling a crap ton of @#%^ to the new place via Uhaul. Normally, I wouldn’t really recommend it, but this is not the first time that I have run 13.1 miles the day after moving. Last year, as a matter of fact, as my first Quasi-Semi-Annual- House-Change-Half-Marathon, or the Downtown River Run as I like to call it. All things considered, I nailed it. Crushed my pacing, dropped a little time from last year, and finished feeling pretty fresh. Why yes, I will take 1:34, thank you. I have no reservations about not breaking 1:31 to PR. After all, I did have to move my dad’s heavy steel couch up the stairs along with 7000 boxes the day before…

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