DIY Halloween adventure with my teenager daughter

Halloween has never been a day during the year that I look forward too. I don’t like the stress of zipping around town trying to catch all the trunk-or-treat locations and the busy neighborhoods with all the other ghouls and goblins. I’m just not a fan of the early darkness with all the children in the streets, the knife-wielding adults that are too old to be walking around with a candy bag, or the kids bloody and scary horror-themed masks. I’m not as bad as Ebenezer Scrooge was when it came to Christmas, but I’ve always been fairly ho-hum when it comes to Halloween, until this year.

Now, I want to get this straight, I’m no mom-blogger that has all these fancy Pinterest-like posts to share how to make the most incredible do-it-yourself Halloween costume. In fact, I don’t have a Pinterest account or know how to make this DIY post look all official with “ingredients” and numbered steps. I’m a dad that loves hanging out with his kids and found myself having a great time with my teenage daughter, Hannah, making her “Holy Cow” Halloween costume.

Holy Cow

Last Friday night, while the younger kiddos were at a birthday party, Hannah and I had less than two hours to hustle from store to store finding the items she needed to put together her costume.

First, we had to get some food. Hannah and I have this propensity to get a little hangry when we need food in our bellies. She wanted orange chicken from one of our favorite Chinese restaurants. I had mixed veggies and fried rice. It was so yummy.

After dinner, we went to the Goodwill store to find some things or see what they had that may work for the costume. We walked out with a large white tee-shirt and a black tee-shirt to cut up for the cow spots. Finding nothing else that caught our eye it was time to move on. We spent $3.60 on the tee-shirts at Goodwill.

With the tee-shirts in hand, we still needed a halo and angel wings. We made a quick dash to K-mart and came up short, finding nothing that would work. We did find some wings that could have worked, but they were $20, were black and red, and didn’t feel very angelic for a holy cow. Hannah thought we could spray paint them white but we decided it wasn’t worth it and moved on. It was 7 o’clock, we had to hurry so we could pick Christopher and Julia up at 8.

Our next stop was Michael’s. Still in need of a halo and angel wings, we explored every aisle trying to find those perfect components that would work. The Christmas decorations looked promising but too expensive and nothing suited what we were looking for. Luckily, we came across the foam boards, perfect for two angel wings. We left Michael’s with tacky glue for the cow spots, a gold metal head band to support the halo and pipe cleaners to complete the halo. We spent $8.40 at Michael’s. We realized we still needed a few items to make the wings more glittery and angelic. We headed over to Walmart.

The time was 7:30, meaning only 30 minutes to finish at Walmart and get across town to pick up the kiddos. Up against the clock, it kind of felt like Hannah and I were in the Amazing Race.


At Walmart, we found exactly what we needed and at an incredible price. We bought 15 feet of gold tinsel to line the wings and two elastic head bands to hold the wings to Hannah’s shoulders. We spent $1.90, and made it out in time to pick up Christopher and Julia by 8 o’clock.

After spending $13.90 on the components in less than two hours of running around town, it was time to put it all together.


Hannah did most of the work, but Julia and I helped cut out spots from the black tee-shirt and glue them to the white tee-shirt. Hannah did a great job carving out wings from the foam board. She and I glued the tinsel around the edges to make them heavenly and angelic. We joined the wings together with Gorilla tape and Hannah punched holes in the wings for the elastic head bands. Hannah shredded the pipe cleaners onto the wings to add a glittery effect.

The final thing needed was the halo. Hannah used the pipe cleaners, twisting, shaping and then attaching them to the metal head band for the perfect halo.

The complete DIY shirt with cow spots, wings and a halo, to go along with black tights that Hannah already had, and we had made the perfect Holy Cow. I’m so proud of Hannah for her creativity and the time we could spend together laughing, joking, and working together to figure out how to make a Holy Cow.

For $13.90 and a incredibly fun time with my teenage daughter, I believe I may be able to buy into this Halloween stuff. Next year, I’m going to plan early and see what other creative DIY Halloween ideas we can come up with and do together.

Happy Halloween.


Transformation, a noun, meaning “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” When I think of transformation or to transform, I think of my childhood love for Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots in the Transformer series. I remember transforming this large action figure from a red and blue tractor trailer to a great warrior, equipped with all kinds of armor and a huge gun.  I loved that transformer and can still hear the noises I would make with my mouth as I twisted and turned the different components, trying to imitate the sounds those parts made as they moved on the “real” Optimus Prime.

Pretend transformation is easy.  Actual transformation is not.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for quite a while but just couldn’t decide on the best time. My dilemma has been whether I should have shared it before I turned 40, after my latest triathlon, or even wait until the end of the year.

Now’s the time; I’m feeling it.  For one, it’s been a while since my last blog post and two, I’ve had many people, friends and family, make comments about how much weight I’ve lost saying, “Dang Wells, don’t turn sideways, we may not be able to see you.”

IMG_20171004_115042-01The purpose of this post isn’t to gloat about how much weight I’ve lost or to show off my new physique.  I’m also not implying that I have become this great Optimus Prime-type warrior through my transformation. In fact, my reasoning for sharing this is quite the opposite.

I am writing about transformation because sharing my journey could possibly inspire others to seek a positive transformation themselves, whether it’s physically, emotionally or mentally.  The transformation story I’m sharing will seem to be mostly physical, but there is no hiding the fact that my emotional and mental transformation has been paramount as well.

Shortly after the first of the year, I found myself in a dark place.  It was supposed to be a new year, a time for a new start, new beginnings, a new job. Yet, there I was separated from my marriage, struggling with loneliness, probably some depression, and living in an eerily quiet apartment.  For the first time in my life, I sat at a bar with people I didn’t know, watching the Super Bowl.

A bar or casino could’ve been where I ended up most evenings after work but I knew my weaknesses and thankfully instead chose to belly up to the treadmill and the bench press machines at the gym.

Back in December, I stood on a scale that read 224.4 lbs, the most I had ever weighed.  That was an eye-opening moment for me.  Looking down, I was ashamed that I could grab a hand full of belly fat in both hands.  I didn’t really feel overweight, but I was.  I guess I just “carried it well,” as some would say.

Initiating a workout regimen was very tough, but once I started, I loved it.  It had been a while since I’d lifted weights and early on, I found it very difficult to even run a couple miles without stopping to walk.  I knew I had it in me though and I kept going, digging IMG_20170822_142405deep to stay committed.  I was determined to get back in shape, both physically and mentally.

Weeks of going to the gym and getting up early to run passed yet I still wasn’t seeing much physical improvements from the effort.  I would drag myself out of bed and kept going to the gym daily, sometimes even two and three times a day.  I would lift weights, run the trails at a nearby lake, and sometimes even go back to the lake later in the evening to walk.  My dedication and commitment was confirmed when the employees at my gym would ask, “So, will we see you here again later?”

Eventually, the exercising started getting easier. I would stay on the bike longer, lift heavier weights and run faster. Feeling stronger was great, but with all that hard work and effort, I still had that dang innertube around my waist.

By the time May rolled around I was down to 210 pounds. I was feeling good and it was then I decided to start training for triathlons again. Swimming, biking, running and lifting once, sometimes twice a day, six days a week, became the norm for me. I was thoroughly enjoying the training. My motivation to get stronger and faster kept growing like that proverbial snowball rolling down the hill, growing larger and larger with every turn.

June and July were full of early morning runs, runs that ended with incredible sunrises over Lake Norman and Lake Junaluska.  I was running longer and faster. My 5k pace had dropped from 10-minutes per mile to under 8-minutes per mile. I was mixing in long swims and bike workouts throughout each week to get ready for the Lake Lure Triathlon in North Carolina and the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, DC.

In late July, I was not only beginning to shed fat, but I was getting much faster on my runs and swimming faster than I’d ever swam before.  My weight had shrunk down to 188 pounds; I was losing weight in my sleep it seemed.  I haven’t weighed 188 pounds Photo Oct 01, 8 13 56 PMsince high school and that amount of weight loss worried me a little. I had to reevaluate my diet to ensure I was getting enough calories and carbs to fuel my training.

Ironically, a good friend had just shared some great recipes. She suggested ways to incorporate healthy carbs, like whole grain pastas and sautéed vegetables, into my diet.  I was already getting plenty of proteins, but never realized the amount of carbohydrates I needed to fuel my workouts. The shift in my diet was a huge component of my overall training plan.

The hard work and training throughout the summer paid off tremendously.  I felt very good about how I performed and my successes in the Lake Lure Triathlon and The Nation’s Triathlon, finishing 67th out of 491 racers in DC.  These were great events and I look forward to competing in them again next year.


So, here it is, October 4th and my weight is 185.6 pounds, down 38.8 pounds since December 31, 2016.  I am at, or very close to, my “normal” weight for training and competing in triathlons.  I am so excited about continuing to train and planning my 2018 race schedule. I am ready and I feel fantastic.

I also feel great mentally and emotionally and am certain the training I put in this year has a lot to do with that transformation.

Yes, I was in a dark place earlier this year, struggling to be confident in myself and just being me, but all of that has changed and for that, I am so grateful.  I’m no longer in that dark place or scared of what the future has in store for me and my three amazing children.

I underwent a tremendous physical transformation this year, but I’m most proud of where my transformation has taken me mentally and emotionally.

I have not transformed into anyone different, I’ve just transformed into myself.

Character and Sportsmanship in Triathlon

Last Sunday at 6:35 a.m., I was prepping to race the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, DC. This would be the largest triathlon I’d ever entered. It was a beautiful morning in our nation’s capital. The sunrise over the Washington Monument was spectacular; the sky perfectly blue and clear. I was pumped up, to say the least. I had a few pre-race jitters, but I was super excited. I said to myself, “Let’s do this!”

Triathlons begin with the swim and then racers’ biking and running gear is organized and waiting in individual transition areas. The Nation’s Tri staff had a strict closing time of 6:55 a.m. At that point, everyone had to be out of the transition area and making the 100-yard walk to the start on the bank of the Potomac River.


While there were some nerves, I felt great about the race and confident in my training. Before I started my walk out of the transition area to get a “good-luck” from my cheering section, I felt I needed to check my bike’s tire pressure.

Front tire. Check.  Back tire. Holy shit, it’s flat.

Was this really happening?

While I’ve changed a tire tube before, I’ve never done so in less than 15 minutes under such an intense time crunch. Here I am, at the Nation’s Triathlon, my back tire is flat before the race begins and I’m thinking, “All that training for nothing, race over.”

This is where the sport of triathlon separates itself from other competitions.

Sportsmanship, support, encouragement and comradery seem so paramount with this sport.  The events that unfolded during the next 15 minutes will show you why triathlons are so special.

Once I realized my back tire was flat, three of the competitors near me saw the horror on my face and quickly volunteered, jumping into action to assist me with getting the tire fixed.  Luis, Jeff and Jeff, all direct competitors in the 40-44 age group, showed a side of this sport only witnessed as a participant of triathlons. IMG_20170910_062333

Ten minutes prior to realizing I had a flat tire, we were all organizing our stuff, chatting about other races we’ve competed in, discussing the water temperature, and other normal transition area pre-race conversations.  Then suddenly, we were all hunkered over my flat tire, working on fixing this unfortunate situation with only minutes until the proverbial transition area doors slammed shut.

The weather was cool and everyone’s hands were a little numb.  Taking a tire off the rim is hard enough on its own, but when temps are frigid, your hands are cold, and the clock is ticking, it is especially difficult.

As added pressure, the announcer was counting down, over the loud speaker, every minute we had to get out of the transition area.

Luis, Jeff and Jeff could’ve easily said there was no way to get the tube out, replaced, put back on the bike and pumped up in 15 minutes or less. They could have told me I was on my own, that it was my problem, but they didn’t say these things. These guys helped a fellow competitor during a desperate time of need.  With about two minutes to spare, my tire was fixed and pressurized to 100psi.

Wow, my heart was absolutely pounding; all pre-race jitters were gone and out the window. During those 15 minutes when I would have normally been thinking about the swim or how cold the water was going to be (69 degrees), all my focus was on fixing my flat tire.  Any anxiety had disappeared very quickly.  I was ready! Somewhat in shock, IMG_20170910_065433but I was ready to get the race started.

The Nation’s Triathlon was my absolute best triathlon to date. I finished the race in 67th place overall, out of 491 racers and was 7th in my age group, out of 30.  I had personal best times in each segment of the race and finished feeling very proud of how I performed in this amazing event.

I could find tons of inspiration from many parts of the race or could easily write about the unbelievable weekend I had in DC.  My race results and memories of the entire weekend will always hold a special place in my heart, but the acts of those three men was the first thing I wanted to highlight on my blog. Luis, Jeff and Jeff, whom I’d never met before and will probably never see again, willingly gave away some of their pre-race preparation time to help me overcome the adversity of a flat tire.

The sportsmanship and character of the competitors and racers like Luis, Jeff and Jeff, is what makes triathlon so special.  Yes, the sense of accomplishment and adrenaline rush you get at the end of a race help make the sport addictive, but it’s more than that.  The support and encouragement that you feel as a triathlete, even from direct competitors, is something that can only be experienced as a participant in this great sport.

Many times, I’ll hear, “nice pace, keep it up,” or “great job, keep pushing,” as racers pass me or run alongside me during the run.  No matter how fast or slow I am, other racers and spectators are always encouraging and cheering one another along the way.

Last week, three competitors pitched in to help me in a crunch, allowing me to compete in one of the most amazing triathlons in the country.  I will never be able to repay them for their acts of kindness, but I will always remember the generosity of Luis, Jeff and Jeff.  They put me, a fellow competitor, before themselves during that integral 15 minutes before the race.

Photo Sep 10, 10 03 05 AM


What really inspired me was the 2nd place overall finisher was Jeff Zickus, bib number 1422.  I was bib number 1421; our bikes were right beside each other in transition.  This Jeff was one of the Jeffs that willingly helped me with my flat tire before the race and who went on to stand on the podium as the 2nd place overall male finisher. I knew I wasn’t going to win the race that morning, but I had goals set to beat my previous times.  Someone that finishes 2nd overall goes into the event knowing he can and was trying to win the race.  Jeff wanted to win, coming very close, yet he took the time, prior to the race, to help me with my tire. That’s some amazing sportsmanship right there.

For many reasons, the Nation’s Triathlon in 2017 and the weekend in DC, will always hold a special place in my memory.  Today, though, is about how the acts of complete strangers inspired me in such a great way.  I hope sharing what inspired me can also motivate someone else out there because what Luis, Jeff and Jeff did to help was beyond special.

Have a great week!


It’s My Birthday! My 40th!

It’s Saturday morning, Labor Day Weekend.  I’m up, sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee as Julia watches “True and the Rainbow Kingdom” on Netflix.  Hannah and Christopher are still snuggled in bed.  It feels like another Saturday, like so many that I have been blessed with throughout my life.  Today, however, is just a little bit different; It is my birthday, my 40th birthday!


The birthday wishes started early with my first “Happy, happy birthday” sent to me at 5:51 this morning.  I read it feeling special, feeling loved, even at such an early, predawn hour!  My phone continued to buzz and beep and ring from family, friends, co-workers sending their birthday wishes.  My dad texted me, then immediately called me, my first birthday phone call at 8:00 am.  He seemed to be in shock that his son is 40.  Yep, I’m 40, but I don’t feel 40.  I feel like I did yesterday.  I feel loved.  I feel blessed.  I feel grateful!

So, I just got interrupted by a surprise, 8:30 am birthday party from the kids,.  I didn’t even notice Julia disappearing from her show.  It was a fun little morning birthday party.  We had a chocolate on chocolate cake, grits, sausage, cards and gifts.  Christopher also wrote the sweetest letter.  He has such a big heart!  What a day it has been already and it’s only 9:24….9:24….the exact time that I was born 40 years ago!

I’ve always heard that being 40 is “over the hill” and that at any moment my eyes are going to get blurry, that I’m going to need reading glasses soon and that my body will just start “changing.”  Maybe all of that will happen, but right now, I don’t feel it.  I feel great physically, emotionally and just blessed beyond blessed as a 40 year old!


I did have all of these thoughts about the last 39 years of my life to write about today, but I’m going to save that for later.  I want to spend today with my kids and the ones I love.  In fact, the kids and I are going to all go for a run in just a bit.  I am still in training mode for next week’s triathlon, but last nights fajitas, margaritas, tequila, along with this morning’s cake, is sort of giving me the twitches right now.  I think an easy run with the kids will help and maybe a birthday run with my kids will become a tradition that we can start today.

I don’t know what the next forty years of my life has in store for me, but something tells me that I have a lot to look forward to.  I’ve been very blessed in many ways the past 39 years.  As I have said in many of my posts before, I strive to be a better man and a better dad every day.  Today, on my 40th birthday, I will reflect on the last 39 years,  cherishing the memories, embracing the challenges and living to be the best dad, the best man, the best person I can, even as “an old man.”

Have a blessed day everyone….on my birthday!


“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.


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!


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.


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!


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!


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.


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!


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!

Blue Ridge Parkway Sunset

Saturday night, at 7:45 and kind of on a whim, I took a trip to the top of Richland Balsam, the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway to read and watch the sunset.  When I got there, I set up my “soccer” chair, got out my phone, my book and cracked open up a bottle of Hi Wire Brewery’s “Aerialist” and settled in for my front row view of the sun setting from atop the Blue Ridge Parkway.


I immediately took in the grandness, the beauty, the peace and the serenity of this place; a place i’d been before, just not for a sunset.  At this time of day, there are few cars on the parkway and it is so quite and peaceful.  There are birds chirping all around.  The sun is creeping lower and lower, gently hanging over the mountains of Tennessee.

IMG_20170722_204152I find it amazing that the atmosphere shields so much of the brightness of the sun and you can look at it without harming your eyes when the sun is that far down on the horizon.  The sun appears as a perfect circle, almost like there is a hole in the atmosphere, slowing moving down with a bright light just peering through.

When I arrived at the “overlook” the sky was as “Tarheel” or “Carolina” blue as it could get, the sun still bright in the sky, but slowly descending on the day.  There were some wispy clouds in the sky and some thicker cumulus clouds off to the south to frame my view.  As the sun crept closer to the horizon, the sky started to turn from blue to orange.  Pink tints began to flow out from below the orange glow of the sun and then a stroke of purple lined tops of the distant mountains, which were now deep shades of blues and grays.

The sun slowly disappeared behind the mountains with nothing more than beautiful sun rays left glowing in all colors from below the horizon.  The sun had set on another day here, but is rising on another day somewhere else in the world.

IMG_0419I had no real reason to go up there on Saturday, but the thought crossed my mind after I ate dinner and I thought, as I have a lot lately, “why not?”  I decided to go up, watch the sun set, relax, read, and just to enjoy some time alone to think about my life, my children and all of the many blessings I have, blessings that I never want to take for granted.

I’m so glad I made the short drive up to The Parkway on Saturday.  It was so refreshing and good for my soul.  I’ll be back up there soon!

Are you missing out, or taking something for granted that is right in “your backyard” like I was?  If so, grab your loved ones, a blanket and just go! Why not?

As John Muir said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”

Have a great week everyone!


21 Days and Counting, Then 30

Counting today, there are 21 days until I race in the Lake Lure Triathlon; my first triathlon since 2010 and I am getting really excited about that race.  In fact, I have been so excited about the race and confident in my training, that I just signed up for another triathlon in Washington DC, on Sunday, September 10th (51 days away)!  I have never been that spontaneous, but when I saw the event advertised in Triathlete magazine, I thought, “I’m free that weekend, Why not?” I immediately went online and registered for the “Nation’s Triathlon!”  Plus, it’s also the week after my BIG 40, so it’s going to be a happy birthday road trip to myself in a city where I once lived, worked and can visit some old friends and old clients.


Training for these races has been tough with early mornings and tired muscles, but I have gotten addicted to the training and I feel really good.  It has also started to become much easier to get up and go to the gym, or to stay there longer, because I’m starting to see the results in better times and distances when I train.  For instance, when I started to specifically train for the Lake Lure Triathlon I was running two to three miles at a time and at a pace of 10 to 10 1/2 minutes per mile.  Just this month alone, I have ran over 50 miles, am averaging over four miles per run, and running at a pace of eight minutes per mile.   That’s at least a six minute time savings on the run portion alone in a sprint triathlon compared to how fast I was running earlier in the year.  My confidence in my training has increased so much and I am having so much fun getting ready for these races.  I do have a goal for the Lake Lure Triathlon and that’s also part of my motivation.  I not only want to improve my times from 2010, but I also want to place in the top three within my age group.  Both of these goals are achievable and are within reach.  Knowing that, I am motivated to go a little bit harder and a little bit longer each time I’m out training.

Training for an endurance sport, such as triathlon, has obviously helped me physically as well. IMG_20170720_171919  Over the past six months with training and a new healthy diet, I have seen incredible changes in my physical well-being, my strength and even my physique.  This is very motivating to me because I finally started noticing more muscle tone and was beginning to feel that increased strength I had gained during runs and swims.  Of course, like many others, I wanted those immediate results when I first started to train, but it didn’t happen very quickly.   However, with continued work and effort, I did start to notice the changes in my strength and began seeing evidence that there is a “something”-pack in my abs.  I had to buy new clothes because my “old” ones were all baggy, bunched and cinched.  Then on Thursday, it really hit me when I wrote down 192.6 lbs on my gym card.  That was down from 224.4 lbs since December 31st.  My goal was not to lose 30 lbs, but I must say, I feel as good physically as I have ever felt, I am motivated to get better and I am having so much fun training for these races!

I am motivated in many ways in my life right now, and it’s not just to train for these races or get stronger and more toned.  I am motivated by my kids to be a better dad each and every day.  At work, I have a great team and a great organization that motivates me to be the best that I can be on my job, for them and our clients.  I have also found motivation in conversations that I’ve had over the past couple of weeks about life and not getting discouraged when things get hard but to keep moving toward the destination of where I want to go and where I want to be.  Have you thought about what motivates you?   I hope you can find motivation to be who you want to be and to go after your wishes and dreams for you and your family!

Alright, it’s Saturday morning and I have some biking and running to do this morning.  Enjoy your day!