Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My life is much better today because of my ongoing commitment to fitness, but it wasn't always the case. There was a time(s) that my priorities were not in my best interest, and I found myself going down a less than favorable path. Fortunately, I decided to go down the road of self improvement by lacing up a pair of running shoes, and a bit later throwing my leg over the saddle of a bike. That decision has led to countless blessings, and a wonderful improvement in my life. Early on I had realized "my gift" was that of athletic ability. With commitment and a little effort, I was able to run and ride farther and faster than most of my friends. I also found I simply felt great after working out, and that's all it took. Running became a part of my life, and truth be told my best days are those that include a good workout.
 I remember when this all started, I learned of the holy grail of running - The Boston Marathon. It was much more than just a race, much more than a marathon. To enter it,  you had to qualify by running a marathon in a very respectable (FAST) time. Ask anybody that runs, regardless of the distance or their reason, to name a landmark race, and undoubtedly Boston will come up. If you are serious about running, then chances are at some point in your running career, running Boston was or is your dream. It certainly was for me, and by the grace of G_d, I had run fast enough to qualify for it back in the early 90's. I still have the entry form tucked safely away as a trophy of my proud accomplishment. I did not run it, instead I used the money we would have spent on the trip to buy my first road bike. No regrets...It has led to numerous great cycling memories and accomplishments, and a passion that burns strong to this day.
 Yesterday, when I heard of the devastating terrible tragedy that occurred at this years event, my heart sunk, and I had a sickened feeling inside. I ultimately decided not to watch the news on TV or the internet. Instead I reflected on how tragic this act was. It was unimaginable to think of running in such a great race, so proud, with family and friends there to support your wonderful accomplishment, only to experience such an unspeakable nightmare. So sad...
 My family life has always focused on going to races and supporting each other. Always hurrying to the finish to be there for, and congratulate each other on our accomplishments both big and small. So many early weekend mornings have been spent waking up at a ridiculously early hour and driving to each others "big race".  It has always been a way of life for us, and something we feel keeps us close, and hope will be many happy memories of a close and supportive family. There is the feeling you get when you have succeeded and crossed the finish line, overcoming all challenges and obstacles that brought you to where you are at that moment. More often than not breaking down in tears of joy. This is the feeling you are supposed to have, this is how it should be, but the tears of joy were replaced by tears of extreme sadness yesterday afternoon. What should have been a celebration of tremendous commitment, numerous sacrifices, and great accomplishment turned into something so terribly tragic and sad. I have read that a majority of those injured were spectators. Those same family members and friends who were there to share the experience, the early morning wake ups on a weekend, and the hours of standing around to see and encourage those we love. It was these wonderful people who experienced such a terrible fate. My heart goes out to all of them, my prayers and thoughts are with them and their families as they try to heal from such a terrible tragedy.
  I had signed up to run the Chicago Marathon this year, and I will be doing so to honor all of you, and to thank my family and supporters for always being there for me. You truly inspire us to be the best we can be, to do what we do, and overcome all obstacles to reach our goals. Each and every one of you on the sidelines, with signs, clapping, whistling cheering and supporting, are TRULY an inspiration...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back in the Saddle

I guess to a point, all of us can change. This is especially true when it comes to habits we develop as the days, weeks, and years pass by. But the one thing that I believe remains a constant, is the core of who we are. Me for instance, I did develop some habits, that thankfully I have been able to work thru and replace with new, more positive ones. Habits that had kept me from being the true me. I love running, cycling, and things of that nature. I also enjoy the focus and determination that I have which allows my G_d given talents to be exercised to their highest potential. I truly believe these interests, and my way of approaching them is a fundamental part of who I am. When everything is on track in my little world, I have the ability to produce results better than your average athlete.This has been something missing in my life over the last few years. I'm nowhere near my potential and have been wasting my gifts, up until the last few months, when due to a variety of circumstances (which I AM greatful for),I have been slowly but surely able to get back on track. The one thing I have had to practice is reminding myself that results don't come overnight. It takes time, dedication, and perseverance to reach ones potential. I know this from past experiences both in sport and in real life. The good thing is I have all of these things available to me, and can see sucess returning thru a personal redemption. Even though free time and circumstances have changed, i have been doing what I can to prepare for an upcoming race, a race that a few months ago I was talking myself into not doing. So next week, regardless of my current fitness level, I am heading up north for a challenging long distance mountain bike race on some very challenging Birkbeiner trails. To do well? I hope, but quite honestly, the preparation I have done,and just showing up is a victory in itself. For that I've got to be satisfied with and greatful.Strangely enough, it's the same race my last post was about. Where does the time go??

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chequamegon do do do do do

Saturday was the Chequamegon 40 mountain bike race WAY up north in Hayward Wisconsin. I spent about 3 solid weeks getting in as much off road riding as I could to prepare for this challenge. This coming after a forced 3 week layoff due to a stress fracture and plantar fasciitis. My plans for running the Chicago marathon were scrapped but this was my one shot at getting in a great race to end the summer. a great race it was! Aside from an 8 hour drive to get there, the weather was perfect, temps in the low 60s for race day. Trail conditions were wonderful. Dry and fast... This year I raced a 29 inch hard tail, last year it was a 26" full suspension. I was curious how the 2 bikes would compare. My condition was not where I wanted it to be due to the injuries and a few other circumstances, but all you can do is show up and do your best, and that's what I did.
I am normally pretty stressed before a race but thanks to our car experiencing a breakdown a block from the start, my focus changed from race stress to how the hell are we going to be able to drive back home in the car stress. In the end it all worked out, and the car was fixed when I returned to the Telemark lodge finish area. KUDOS go out to my long time personal manager Anne for playing it cool and taking care of that mess, leaving me to do what I came to do - RACE.
I weighed more than what I wanted to be at, I had done no bike races this whole season, and my running was ground to a halt for the 6 weeks leading up to the race so cross training was ground to a halt.
So away we go, the typical tense first 3 miles thru the packed streets with about 2000 other mountain bikers, praying to god that you dont get taken out by streets PACKED shoulder to shoulder with mountain bikers racing for the trails. Unfortunately I did hear and see carnage on the streets but luckily I made it to the trail unscathed, and then we hit the trails. I've done the race about 4 times over the last 20 years and can visualize it pretty accurately at this point.
People love my candid sense of humor.
The pirates on pirate Hill ROCK Ride to the right , Rum to the left (I rode to the right)
The birkbiener trail system is epic (as in hard) If you know anyone who has done the cross country ski race on the birky, they totally deserve your admiration because they are hardcore!
The Seely fire tower climb is brutal and this year I had a glimmer of hope to climb it but was stopped by walking riders about 200 feet into it, climbed back on and climbed till the last part of the climb, and was stopped once again by walking riders. Maybe next time. That hill is epic, and it will break you unless your a pro, or in AWESOME shape with good luck thrown in.
The last 10 miles are probably the hardest when your put back on the birky trails. The riders go silent, the walking and cramping begin to take its toll on a good amount of riders, and the inevitable throwing up occurs. I'm glad to say I rode the entire course except that damn evil Seely hill.
I got very emotional at the finish (just like last year).I think I do because i look back at the season, wish training (and he rest of my life) would have been perfect,  and realize that is it for the year.
The interesting thing is during the race I felt as though my time was slower than last year, and assumed the full suspension may have been better, or I was faster last year. But NOOO This year I finished 10 minutes faster, so was it the 29'er, or was it me? I'm thinking a little bit of both :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

10ks and stuff

I did my 1st 10k yesterday. Funny I've done EVERY other distance a number of times but the 10k never interested me. 5K you almost red line the whole event, a marathon you run forever at a more relaxed pace, but the 10k is different. You can't go all out like a 5k, you need to learn the art of backing off ever so slightly from the 5k pace to do well. I've been out running a few times with some neighborhood runners, and managed to beat them in the last 2 longer distance events, but I was getting tired of the competition that was created. I was not liking the idea that every race I see them at will be a cat and mouse game, so during the 10k I let them stay ahead by a close distance and did not chase them down. I simply wanted to run my own race and was not interested in racing them. I seen them in the finish area and knew they came in right in front of me. Chasing them down and nabbing them at the end of the race would have been throwing down the gauntlet for the rest of the year and kind of bogus. PLUS I really think they brought their "A game" to do what it took to beat me... All in good competition :)
So here I am with a break in training which starts for the Chicago marathon beginning the 2nd week of June.
Beverly Ridge Run Memorial day 10k 2011 unofficial time 48:07

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A WINNING, Duh! soccer season

WE DID IT! The soccer team I co-coached this spring has gone the season undefeated, and won the championship game. We literally has a storybook season that both coaches and players dream about. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS! My younger guy is on the team and I'm not saying this as a parent, more as an observer, he is phenomenal. He's found his God given talent and it was a thrill and pleasure to coach his team, and watch him play. Time sacrificed for my kids has always been worth it, TOTALLY...As time passes and they grow older, I find it  becomes a challenge to be actively involved with my kids, they, like all of us did, eventually begin to need their space and the coolness factor of me being around diminishes regardless of how much they love you. So I'm always looking for ways to continue to be a part of my kids lives, and it may become more challenging but I will always be looking for my in.  They will appreciate it later in life, or at least I've come to when I think back of what my parents did as I was growing up.
I wrapped up the experience by going to see another  phenomenal (at the World Cup level) team play our local soccer team  It was Manchester United against the Chicago Fire. What an exciting experience. I managed to score us 3rd row center seats,and we walked out of there with all the Manchester merchandise we could get our hands on LOL. A perfect ending to a perfect 2011 soccer experience. So heres to my son who can "Bend it Like Baniewicz" , and a great fatherhood memory.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

So far so good so what!?

Well I've made it thru the 2 weekends of long running events relatively unscathed. The left heel was tender at the end of the hilly 10 miler, but an 8 mile trail run Thursday was fine. The interesting thing I've noticed is I do pretty well on climbs, but lose time running downhills. I guess it would be rougher the other way but never the less I need to work on that. Today I got a good 2+ hours on the mountain bike this morning out near swallow cliff. Did the whole loop in the big ring and then continued on with extra miles. Gotta tell you, the zoot compression wear is showing to be really nice to have. Recovery is simply quicker after wearing them :) The last thing to drop on all of you is my times for these last 2 events are minutes faster than the last time I did them :) 6 minutes better on the 1/2 marathon, and 3 minutes better on the crazy hilly Quarryman challenge 10 miler. So yeah, the training mix of riding and running is going ok. Soccer playoffs are in full swing with my team undefeated and it wraps up first week of June. After that it's vacation time then I begin to train for the Chicago marathon. Good stuff.

Monday, May 9, 2011

runners high continued

That was the phrase that pays this past weekend. Saturday I did the Quarryman challenge in Lemont. The 10 mile race is advertised as the Chicago land areas hilliest running event, and it certainly is. I did it last year and knew what to expect but the only difference is this year I did not train in the hills prior to the event, and although I have been riding hills on the bike, was a bit concerned. The group of  friends I see regularly were there as first timers, and just like last week, this race looked like another edition of cat and mouse. Turns out we went back and forth during the run which kept  our competitive juices flowing the entire time. Races like that keep everyone honest, and bring out the best in all of us. This event was no exception. By mile 7 I decided that if I was going to shake everyone off, I would need to do it following an extended climb, and I did just that. I took a guess that my friends are not used to digging into the pain cave and hurt for extended periods of time, and since I do have that experience, I decided to try and put the hurt on and see how it went. The plan worked, and I stayed away down to the last mile in which I dug deep and really took an extended charge at the finish leaving everyone a good distance behind. Don't get me wrong, I like these guys, but who totes the line not wanting to win? It's all in the spirit of good honest competition, and I'm VERY greatful to have been provided the ability to score my own personal victory once again. The ZOOTS compression wear ROCKED post race, and I was able to go out for an easy ride in the evening and a recovery run on Sunday. I do have heel pain probably brought on by 2 weeks of big milage races, but with no immediate running events on the calendar I can now retreat to the bike for some much anticipated time on the bike. So 2 races in the bag and a very good start to the year. Runners high once again.
10 mile quarryman challenge 1:18:29 11th place in age group 7:51 pace