Thursday, November 5, 2009

Living The Dream

I've started doing something that I've wanted to do since I was 9-years old, to learn to fly. When I was growing up I dreamed of being an Air Force fighter pilot. My adolescent career path had me attending the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, which in my opinion was the most efficient way of getting me into the cockpit of an F-16. When it came time to start getting my ducks in order and to apply for a Congressional nomination, I did not. I chose to listen to people around me stating that it was almost impossible to get in, that my grades were not up to par, that I wasn't doing enough extracurricular "stuff", or that the odds were too long. In the end I walked away from my dreams of being a pilot.

Oddly enough, years later when I was a Green Beret officer I met several Air Force and Naval aviators, only to discover that they were no different than me; not any smarter, no less motivated, and often less skilled. I painfully realized my error of youth, I let someone talk me out of something that I desperately wanted, and since that time I've counseled countless young adults to never let it happen to them. "Never, ever let someone talk you out of your dreams".

So here I am thirty years later making amends and finally living the dream.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Guinness and Atrophy

I completed my last triathlon of the '09 season sixty days ago, and at the end of the race I was not only physically exhausted but mentally burnt out as well. The endless days and weeks of 2-3 workouts a day had taken their toll, and as I crossed the finish line I told myself that I was done, that the next workout will be sometime in January.

For the last two months I've eaten anything that I wished, tipped back a bunch of Guinness and Laphroaig, and worked on other interests like bagpiping and getting my private pilots license. Last night I had a huge bowl of cookie-dough ice cream, the tan lines have all faded and the hair on my legs has returned with abandon.

This morning before dawn I laced up the running shoes for the first time, and headed out on a run that two months ago would have been so inconsequential that I would have passed on it; 4 miles nice and easy. I was shocked to see how much my condition had atrophied in the weeks that I had taken off. My knees hurt due to the muscle imbalance in my legs, my core was all over the map, and leg muscles were string-tight threatening to pull at any moment. At 46-years old I can see now how fleeting physical condition is.

Five to six hours a week; that's what I've now promised myself until January, enough to stop the free-fall of my physical condition. If not, it'll be a long, painful haul back into race shape for an early season half-Ironman.