“Matthew, Where Have You Been?”

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been on to write and share what’s going on in my world.  I said from the beginning of this journey that consistency with this blog was going to be somewhat of a challenge, but I’m getting there.  I love to get on here and just start writing, but I have to say, it’s hard when life is so busy; busy in a good way! IMG_20170819_183645

This past weekend, the kiddos and I had a great time together.  They have started their fall soccer season and Hannah had her first tournament of the year and was named team captain.  I’m so proud of her and was proud of her team.  They played three games, winning two and losing one.  It’s really fun to watch them play hard and have fun.  I do get a little intense during the matches and have to keep to my self down in the corner of the field.  I guess it’s the competitor in me!?!  This past weekend, we visited my step-sister and her family for a sleepover.  The kids love their cousins and it’s fun for us adults to hang out, something we don’t do often enough.

I’ve also been busy with work.  I love my job and absolutely have the best team to work with each day.  The mortgage industry can be a high-stress industry, but when you are around people that love their job, work hard, and who truly seek to help, the job is fun and exciting.  We’ve had a good year and I am so proud of our team!

What’s really on my mind to talk about, that has also kept me really busy lately, is my triathlon training. IMG_20170819_120601 I have really gotten addicted to the exercise, the competition and the fun I have with this multi-discipline sport.  It’s something that is hard to explain because it can be so tough and challenging on the body but yet so rewarding both physically and emotionally.  This is a topic that I’ll be writing and sharing more on in the near future.

So, it was almost two weeks ago that I competed in the Lake Lure Triathlon and I’ve been back in serious training mode with only two days off to get ready for the NationsTri on September 10, in Washington DC. My training plan has changed some as I have been focusing on my biking and running, areas where I believe I can cut some minutes off of my finish time at this next event.  That’s something I really enjoy about triathlon, is that there are three disciplines to work on during my training sessions.  Training on all three is required in order to be successful, however, after a race, you learn about the improvements that can be made to help post a better time and place the other competitors.

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While I do want to improve my times across the board, the bike and the run are my focus for this next race.  Because of the longer distances, reducing the time it takes to bike or run each of those events, even a little, can add up to multiple minutes off of my total time.  During the swim, there just isn’t that much distance to make up a lot of time.  Yes, every second matters, but for this race, I am focusing on reducing my bike and run times significantly.

Twice this week I have completed “brick” workouts.  “What is a brick workout,” you may be asking.  Well, it’s going from one discipline’s training to the next, in order to mimic the transition at the actual race.  Since I’ve been working on my bike and run, I’ve been working on that transition.  Yesterday, for instance, I rode the bike hard for thirty minutes, at race pace, then immediately jumped off, wiped the bike down, and set off on a three mile run.  I felt really good after the bike last night IMG_20170823_080558and was able to keep a run pace at eight minutes per mile.  At the Lake Lure Triathlon, I ran at a nine minute pace, so if I can get it down to close to eight, that’s a three minute difference in my total time.  I feel good about my training and look forward to seeing the results in DC.  I have one more week of hard training and then it’ll be race week.  It’ll be here before I know it and I can’t wait!

Well, it’s time to go get in a swim this morning and then off to work.  I appreciate you stopping by and reading what has kept me from more frequent posts to my blog.  Things are busy but going well in many areas of my life.  I’ll do my best to share my journey more frequently.  Speaking of, next week, I’m excited to be working on a post titled, “Transformation at the BIG 40.”  I turn 40 next Saturday and feel that it is appropriate to be a little more vulnerable and share more specifics of my journey, striving to be a better man and a better dad every day!  I hope you’ll come back to check it out!

Have a blessed weekend!

Matthew

Lake Lure Triathlon “Reflection”

Wow, what a weekend!  It was a weekend that I’ve had on the calendar for a few months now and one that did not disappoint.  Saturday morning at about 9:40, I finished the 2017 Lake Lure Triathlon in a little over an hour and thirty-six minutes, eight minutes faster than my last race at Lake Lure!  In this blog post, I want to take you back to the race and share some of my thoughts and feelings that I had before, during and after the triathlon.  Put on your swim cap, your goggles and let’s go.

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I had my two alarms set for Saturday morning to wake me at 5:00 am.  While it was only a 30 minute drive to Rumbling Bald Resort from my mother’s home, I felt I needed to get up and get moving early.  When I awoke it was absolutely pouring the rain.  I just knew the weather would cause them to cancel or modify the event.  Regardless, I showered to “wake up” and ensured all my gear was in my pack and ready to go.  I made a cup of coffee and set out on my way.  Just as I got to the Lake Lure area, the rain stopped and I could see some twinkling starts in the sky.  “Yes, it’s going to be a beautiful morning for the race,” I thought.  I arrived at the site early, but chose to drive the bike course just to familiarize myself with the route.  Some of my thoughts during my drive around the bike course were, “This climb is going to be a tough hill.  Oh, I can come out of my saddle and not lose momentum on this ascent.  Wow, this downhill, with a hairpin curve, is scary.”  I remembered the course some, but just a little extra knowledge couldn’t hurt for the race.

When I got to the parking area, I was one of the first thirty or so racers there.  It screenshot_20170813-211938.pngwas 6:33, almost an hour and a half from the start.  I had plenty of time to get my registration packet and organize my transition area.  As I parked, I had my Spotify playlist blasting ALO and Jack Johnson’s “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down.”  Some of the people in neighboring cars, who were unloading their bikes, may have thought that I was being a little obnoxious to keep it playing loudly with my doors opened, but I didn’t care.  I was into the song, one that I had recently added to a my playlist because well, let’s just say it’s a good song that has a great “groove” to it and it really gets my heart pumping.  Music allows me to focus mentally, and this song was doing just that.  I didn’t care what others thought at that time; I was going to let the song come to an end before I turned it down.

With my earbuds now in, and my bike beside me, it didn’t take me long to get my pack and gear down to the transition area where I gathered my registration packet, my race number and my time chip.  I also had to get my race number and age marked on my thighs, calves and biceps.  This helps the race organizers to keep track of you and for the other competitors to IMG_9728know if you are competing against them in their age group or not.  Once I completed those tasks I organized my transition area, the small area where you store your bike, change into your shoes and get ready for each element of the triathlon.  It was 7:30 and I was ready!

At 7:45, I made my way over to the start line. I was so antsy to start the race, not really jittery, just ready to go.  With a little more time, I stretched properly,  warmed up a little more, and had my swim cap on and goggles ready.

A triathlon is an endurance sport, but so much of  it is also mental.  Being in the right mindset, being positive and focused on each event, one at a img_9718.jpgtime, is so important.  As I stood there at the start line, I kept my mind focused on getting to each site-buoy, keeping my “form,” and maintaining my pace, not the other racers’ paces.

The race started and the buzzer beeped.  I hit the water and I was off, unfortunately, letting my adrenaline dictate my pace.  I started off a little fast and could feel it after the first hundred of so meters.  I tried to reign myself in, but the competitor in me wanted to keep up with the guy right in front of me.  At about two hundred meters into the swim I came up for a breath, just as the wake from “that guy” crested into my mouth.  I took on what seemed like a half of cup of lake water and had to swim the next few strokes trying to cough up the water and catch my breath.  I didn’t panic and was able to regain my composure and get to the turn buoy without missing a stroke.  As I made the turn, I was heading to the swim finish.  During that final stretch I felt strong and had finally settled into a good pace with a good rhythm.  In my mind, I was swimming to the songs that I had blasting in the car from earlier.  The last 200 meters were also refreshing because, with each breath I took, I could see the sun rising above the NC mountains.  You see, I breath only on my right side when I swim and each time I came up for air, the sun was there encouraging me on.  Sixteen minutes from the start, I had made it to the swim finish.  I came out of the water feeling good, time for the bike segment.

At the transition, I put on my sunglasses, fastened my helmet, tightened my shoes and drank a little energy drink, IMG_9722before pushing my bike out of the transition area where I would start the next phase of the race.  The bike portion of the race was 22.5 kilometers of mountain roads with long, steady climbs and fast descents.  I did my best to settle into a consistent cadence and power my way through the hills.  Getting into the right gears, at the proper time, was a strategy that I knew was important to keep good momentum on each and every decent-to-ascent along the course.  Missing a gear, or waiting too long to change the gears, can really cause you to lose some serious momentum and allow other racers to pass with ease.  During this race, I felt like I did an excellent job with implementing my bike and gear strategies, allowing me to cut over 9 minutes off of my previous bike split during my last Lake Lure Triathlon.  The last descent back into the resort was very steep and very curvy.  Proper braking was required to ensure that I made the curves safely.  Emergency crews were standing ready at the top and bottom, ready to help, if needed.  Fortunately, all racers remained safe.  Forty-six minutes after I mounted my bike, I was back at the transition preparing for the last leg, the run!

As I transitioned off of my bike to the five kilometer run, my legs were exhausted.  If you’veimg_9725.jpg ever ran in a triathlon, you know the feeling you have when your legs are used to going in circles from the bike and then all of a sudden you are trying to get them to go up and down.  To make it worse, the first half of the Lake Lure run, when my legs felt mostly like Jello anyway, was all uphill.  I was struggling to keep a decent pace, but was determined to keep up with the runners in front of me; I was going to finish strong.  Just as I got to the turnaround to head back toward the finish line, my left quadriceps kept feeling like it was going to cramp and the medical bracelet holding my time chip was cutting into my heel with each stride.  “Mind over Matter,” I kept telling myself.  I altered my stride just slightly and the cramp never came and I ignored the pain coming from my bloody heel.  I was getting close and could think of nothing but picking up the pace and finishing the race strong. Coming around the last turn and hitting the white sandy beach at Rumbling Bald Resort was quite the feeling.  Sprinting to the end, I IMG_9726made it through the corral, lined by spectators cheering on all of us racers.  I crossed the finish line as the announcer welcomed me in by name. The amazing volunteers at the race draped an iced towel over my shoulder, handed me water and kept congratulating me on the race, like I was the winner or the only one there. What an amazing feeling to be welcomed at the finish line after a race like that!  I finished the race in one hour and thirty-six minutes, 65th place out of 157 male racers.  I was proud of my results and my accomplishments.

I committed to doing the Lake Lure Triathlon at the end of April and trained almost every day since then to prepare for it! There were times during this triathlon journey that I didn’t feel like working out or wanted to cut my runs short, but I stayed persistent.  I kept thinking about what I wanted to accomplish.  My mind kept going back to a quote that I read from my all time favorite athlete, Michael Jordan.  He said, “If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working on it.”  This quote not only applies to my triathlon training and my thought of my fitness goals, but also personally, with the relationships that I have been blessed to have in my life.  I constantly think of the people that are important to me, so I strive each day to work on those relationships by being a better man and a better dad!

Do you have someone or something in your life that you can’t stop thinking about?  Are there goals that you want to achieve, or habits you want to break?  If so, turn on your favorite play list to get your heart pumping and start working on them.  Imagine yourself running through the corral as you approach your finish line with all of the people you love there, cheering you on, congratulating you on the goal that you are about to accomplish!  The journey may be, and probably will be tough.  It may be exhausting at times, but stay persistent because the accomplishment of getting past the finish line is such a great feeling!

Have a blessed week!

Matt

Past Weekend (and then some) Recap

Well, my consistency with the blog has started to wane a little this past week, but I’m back at it, FINALLY!  It has been quite the week since my last post.  I’m down to the final two weeks before my next triathlon.  The early mornings, before the kids awake, are spent at the lake running, biking around the county, or swimming.  Training takes a lot of the little spare time that I have these days.  Speaking of the early mornings, the picture below was from a vantage point at Lake Junaluska that I found after a recent morning run.  What a special place and a special view!

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The last week was also a little crazy because I was wrapping up some things at work so that I could take this week off to spend with the kids.  If you know anything about the mortgage business, the last week of the month is usually the busiest, and last week was no exception.  Preparing to get out of there was difficult.  Nevertheless, I’m on vacation this week and the kids and I are enjoying every moment of it.  So, today’s post is going to recap some of the things the kids and I have seen, done, or experienced since Saturday.

It felt good to sleep in a little on Saturday.  Friday, I had “pulled” my calf a little and decided that Saturday was going to be an “off” day from training.  Wow, sleeping till 7:30 has never felt so good!  I let the “littles” sleep in while I got some much needed housework completed.  You know, laundry, sweeping, bathrooms, dishes, typical stuff that has to be done, but the stuff that’s easy to push aside for more important things, like playing board games with the kiddos.  Hannah was at the lake with some of her friends, so it was just Christopher, Julia and me on Saturday.

Julia came home from camp one day last week talking about a fashion show at Belk on Saturday.  She was so exited to go and be in this fashion show.  After a pretty good job of painting her fingernails for the fashion show, I got them loaded up and off we went.

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The fashion show was, well, a little overwhelming for this dad at first.  There were kids and parents everywhere in the children’s section.  The “stimulus” from the music, food, balloons and the “EVERYTHING is On Sale” signs was just a wee bit much for me, but I hung in there.  Back and forth I went from the girls section with Julia to the boys section with Christopher.  They finally decided on the outfit they would wear in the fashion show, along with a few outfits for the upcoming school year.  After an hour of picking out clothes, it was time to model one of the outfits.  Julia and Christopher had a blast walking the runway showing off their style (Fashion Show Video) .  I embraced the experience and smiled watching them strut their stuff.

Later that afternoon, we decided to go into town for the Folkmoot International Day Festival.  If you live in Western North Carolina, this is a festival that you need to put on your calendar and experience.  It was the highlight of the day for me and the kids.  The kids loved IMG_20170729_153812dancing with a group from India and a group of cloggers from Florida State University.  Julia and Christopher did not hesitate to get in among the dancing action and I had a blast watching!  The festival would not be complete without funnel cake, kettle corn and sodas from Waynesville Soda Jerks, a locally owned artisan beverage company.

Saturday night, the kids wanted “Daddy’s” famous shrimp and grits.  Bacon is the not so secret ingredient.  The kids love bacon. After a LONG day, this old boy was whooped.

Sunday morning we got up and went to church.  I have been the “head” usher for the past few weeks, but had some help from Christopher and Julia this time.  They love assisting in any way they can, whether its getting the attendance count, handing out the bulletins or passing the plate!  I love that they enjoy serving!

After church, we grabbed some sandwiches, got our canned goods and headed off to watch the Asheville Tourist play.  It was “Kid’s Day” and also “free” general admission with the canned goods we brought being donated to the Manna Food Bank.  The kids love watching live baseball.  They stayed engaged and really attuned to what’s going on. IMG_20170730_163303Christopher’s goal is always to get a ball and today was a success in many ways.  A foul ball made it’s way to us, but since he got a ball the last time, he handed it to a little boy sitting close to us.  Such a good gesture.  He was rewarded later when, during the last inning, a batter broke his bat and as the teammate carried the bat back to the dugout the coach nodded for him to hand it to Christopher.  Talk about making a kid smile!  Getting a ball is quite the treat, but walking out of the stadium with a bat, will be a memory Christopher and Julia will never forget!

Monday, during the day, was fairly low-key!  I had some yard work to do and I was thankful my dad came up to help.  Hannah was back from the lake and Christopher was in AIG camp, so it was an afternoon with the girls that we spent at the pool for a few hours after lunch.

Tuesday, the girls and I had a fun day, out and about, in downtown Waynesville.  We had lunch and walked Main Street browsing some of the girls’ favorite local stores.  We had such a good time just hanging out in town.  We even treated ourselves to ice cream from The Strand at 38 Main.  Julia had Mocha Oreo, Hannah had Death By Chocolate and I tried the Espresso Crunch.  Yum, Yum Yum!

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Last night we went to Canton’s National Night Out event.  My employer was a sponsor for the event that brought together the community with all of our first responders in the county.  It was a very nice event and the kids had a good time.  I volunteered to work at our booth, where we handed out Popsicle with “Popsicle” Koozies!  How creative!

We have quite a bit planned over the next few days, but I’m using the day today to catch up on a few things that have taken a back seat to hanging with the kids, like the laundry and the dishes!  We’ve enjoyed our “stay-cation” so far.  Let’s just see what we can get into the rest of the week.

It’s “Hump Day.”  I hope your week is going well!  Thanks for stopping by!  We’ll chat soon!