Happy Birthday, Max

Dear Max,

I got in the water off the shore of Cozumel shortly after 7am today and never stopped swimming, biking, and running until I crossed the finish line a little less than 12 hours later.

More importantly, for a year now I never gave up. Every time my resolve was put to the test by the next setback, I thought of you. Then I simply did whatever needed to be done to be the father I think you deserve.

I often dreamt that somehow, someway you’d be waiting for me at the finish line. I didn’t see you there, but that’s ok. You were with me from the first step I took a year ago to the last step of today’s race. I’ve kept you in my heart the whole way.

Happy birthday, Max.

IRONMAN Eve

It’s been a while. To be honest, things haven’t been going the way I had imagined. For one, I never imagined that my training would leave me with little-to-no time to post updates on my how my training was going. So I guess it’s been going pretty well.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In any case, I figured I’d drop a quick note while I’m chillaxin here in Cozumel on the day before the big one.

Let’s start with what’s happened since I last checked in:

  • A half IRONMAN in Santa Rosa. Tragically, the swim was called off due to fog.
  • A half IRONMAN in Santa Cruz. This one went swimmingly (sorry not sorry).
  • A handful of 5 and 10k’s that Jen and I ran together. We like to keep it weird when we’re funrunning, so drop me a note if you know of any quirky events we might be interested in.
  • My 44th birthday.
  • The rest of life.

My expectations for tomorrow’s race have evolved, too. When I started this journey, I indulged in occasional fantasies of an alienated father’s pain writ large in my own blood, sweat, and tears from the first stroke to the last step of this IRONMAN. While there have been plenty of all three over the past year, if things go well tomorrow I will be too focussed on executing against my race plan (in this case, to finish an IRONMAN in good form) to give much thought to what got me here.

And that MO captures my overall journey as a father much better. It’s not that hard to put in an appearance when things get tough- when a loving parent is what a child needs most. Or to drop in on Christmas in a fake beard to lodge a few good memories in your child’s head before they get all angsty and pubescent. What’s hard is showing up every day for all the ups and downs, the good and bad, and walking alongside your child for as much of their journey as you can. It’s becoming the kind of person you want your child to want to be.

I promise I’ll check in again after the race. In the meantime, here’s a picture of me shaving my legs:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Irondad (@imirondad) on

-IRONDAD

Never Give Up?

irondad_icon_smallIn the last post, I mentioned that the biggest challenge of never giving up may be to grok what it means to never give up in the first place. As if on cue, my journey as an IRONDAD took a turn that offers up an excellent case-in-point.

It started with the marathon I mentioned. I felt pretty good immediately afterward, and, finishing in under 4 hours, I had done what I had come to San Diego intending to do. After the endorphins wore off, however, I noticed pain on the outside of my left knee. When I put weight on it, my leg would occasionally fold as if it couldn’t hold my weight. By the time I got to the airport, I was hobbling along so slowly that my friend Reisel had to push me through the terminal in a wheelchair so we wouldn’t miss our flight.

The next day- a Monday- I felt good enough to go in to work, albeit on crutches. The day after that I felt even better; I chucked the crutches and got around with a slight limp. And on Wednesday I decided I could run through the limp to do my regular track workout.

But after a few weeks, I noticed that my legs never felt fresh anymore. All of my regular running paces were down by 30-60 sec/mile, and I felt like I just couldn’t keep up at the track. When I talked to some more experienced triathletes about it, the first question they asked me was how much time I took off after the marathon.

So here’s the first takeaway from this post: apparently you’re supposed to take time off after a marathon. Maybe a few short jogs in the first week; no intense interval workouts and certainly no running up and down the slopes at Northstar the following weekend like I did. I really screwed the pooch on this one.

Clearly, the all-out, all-the-time approach to training that felt most intuitive to me was no longer working. I had to do something that isn’t always easy for me- I try doing it someone else’s way.

First order of business was to see what damage I had done and fix it. I went to see a doctor who specializes in sports medicine. After examining me, he said I was in the early stages of overtraining and that  easing off the training for a couple of weeks along with a little physical therapy should do the trick. About the best prognosis I could expect, and it did indeed do the trick.

But how would I continue to make progress without making rookie mistakes that might cost me weeks of training time? I came to the conclusion that I’d have to borrow or buy someone else’s expertise, so I hit up three of the most renowned triathlon coaches in the Bay Area. And then I waited.

And waited. And after a week of radio silence, I came to another conclusion- that not only were these coaches uninterested in taking me on as an athlete, but that no coach would ever want any part in a story as raw as mine. It was a momentary crisis of faith that a friend- the same friend who wheeled me through the San Diego airport- helped me understand was inevitable in a journey that means so much to me. Fact is, I could do this with or without a coach, and her confidence that I had the determination to get it done either way made it that much easier to believe in myself. Second takeaway from this post: friends like this are few and far between. You should keep them close and hold them dear.

As it turns out, a few days later my top pick replied with a few questions for me. After a day of volleying emails back and forth, I convinced him to coach me. And, with that deal done, my chances of finishing Cozumel went dramatically up- along with my training volume. This time- and with this coach’s guidance- it has been ratcheted up in a way that always seems to leave me good to go for the next workout.

What this post boils down to is that Never Give Up does not mean Never Let Go. In fact, letting go is an important skill in the art of never giving up. If you’ve chosen a worthwhile goal, you can and should turn your back on checkpoints that initially looked like they would keep you on track yet lead to dead ends as you get a closer look at them. Put another way, the destination may or may not look like what you expected when you set out, but the journey will constantly surprise you. That’s what keeps it interesting.

I realize that the let-go sounds like some sort of washed-up spiritual claptrap. That’s because it is. But I’ll save it for the next post; right now I’ve got a long workout to put in and only 6 hours of sunlight left.

-IRONDAD

Happy Father’s Day

And I hope all the IRONDADs out there have had plenty of opportunities to be the best fathers they can be today. I’ve found my own opportunity in building this site to share a journey I’ve undertaken. I’ve decided to complete a full IRONMAN in Cozumel, Mexico on 11/18/2018- my son’s 14th birthday.

A little background is probably in order. For the last couple of years, I’ve spent Father’s Day alone, missing my son terribly, and generally not knowing what to do with myself. I haven’t had contact with my son since last December. And it’s very difficult for me to be an active part of Max’s life in the chaos of the legal action his mother took in San Francisco Family Court and with the distance she put between us by moving to Paris, France. That’s all I can say about that, but it should give you some idea of why this journey is so important to me.

SDMarathonFinish
Things have been going well so far. I completed my first Olympic triathlon at Wildflower a few months ago. I followed it up with my first marathon in San Diego. I’ll be doing at least two more half IRONMANs before the big day in Cozumel.

While it may not have an immediate impact on my son, this is the best- albeit hardly the easiest- path I’ve found to become the best father I can be under the circumstances. I may not be physically present in my son’s life, but maybe I can teach him a few things from afar. Like, the secret to success is no secret at all. Successful people all say the same thing- the most important thing is to Never Give Up no matter what challenges you face. Maybe the first- and for some of us the biggest- challenge is to really understand what lies beneath the surface when they say that.

Fact is, we won’t overcome every challenge. Not only will we not always win- sometimes we won’t even finish. That’s exactly when we have to remind ourselves to never give up; when we let go of what didn’t work and open our minds with love and acceptance, a new approach will become apparent. As goals go, the path to mine is pretty well worn. Thousands of men and women have completed IRONMANs over the decades. But that doesn’t mean I should expect my own path to be a straight line.

I hope you come back and check in every now and then. Until next time, please keep in mind that being a good father is a full-time job, and an occasional word of appreciation on one of the other 364 days of the year wouldn’t hurt. But for today, the very happiest of Father’s Days to all you IRONDADs out there.

-IRONDAD