Dad Focus

My family just left for France for the next….forever (4 weeks) and as I face my first full day without them I am given a chance to reflect.  Reading the below article by Mr. Becker resonated with me and I felt compelled to share it here so that I can keep these statements as a sort of reminder to imprint the important lessons with my kids with my actions.

35 Things I Hope My Kids Will Say About Their Dad

by joshua becker

“To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.” ―Josh Billings

Children learn more from watching their parents than from listening to them – more is caught than taught. As parents, this puts great weight on how we conduct our lives. It requires us to be intentional about how we live. It requires us to self-reflect and evaluate if our lives match our words. And it requires us to be intentional about identifying the lessons we hope our kids will take from us.

Here then, as my two children get older, are the 35 Things I Hope They Will Say About Their Dad. They represent the 35 most important lessons I hope they will learn from my life.

1. “He loved us.” I could see it in his words, his face, and his actions.

2. “He loved our mom.” And was always faithful to her.

3. “He was honest” Both to us and to others. I never remember him telling a lie.

4. “He was spiritual.” He valued things bigger than this world and kept his eyes open for them.

5. “He worked hard,” He understood the value of a hard day’s work and wasn’t afraid of it.

6. “But he always came home on time.” He worked hard at his job. But he knew when to quit for the day.

7. “He cared about people more than money.”

8. “He was a good friend.” He taught me what that meant in a world that doesn’t.

9. “He helped others.” He looked for opportunities to serve… especially those who couldn’t help themselves.

10. “He was generous” with his home, his money, his time, and his energy.

11. “He made us laugh.” It was always fun to spend time with him.

12. “He loved to read.” He read for work, for pleasure, and for self-improvement.

13. “He loved life.” He cherished all the moments of life – the big ones and the little ones.

14. “He always had great hope.” His hope was new, it was alive, and it was lasting.

15. “He had our best in mind.” We were disciplined, but it never felt motivated by anger… only love.

16. “He was proud of us,” And he told us often.

17. “But he pushed us to improve.” He parented out of love and a genuine desire for us to succeed.

18. “He saw the best in people.” And sought to learn from them.

19. “He loved his family.” He cared for his parents and loved having everyone together.

20. “He was always good to mom.” His love for her provided a healthy model for my family.

21. “He had a smile every morning.” Each day provided a wealth of opportunity. And he chose to greet it with a smile.

22. “He lived within his means.” We were taken care of. We did fun stuff. We had nice things. But he knew where to draw the line.

23. “He was unselfish.” Life was always about more than getting the most for yourself.

24. “He was wise.” He had a healthy grasp on people, life, and situations.

25. “He was quick to forgive.” He knew that he had been forgiven much. And was quick to offer that same grace to others.

26. “He didn’t let culture dictate his beliefs.”

27. “I knew I could count on him when I needed him” Anytime, day or night.

28. “For some reason, I couldn’t get away with lying to him.” He demanded honesty and I respected that. He could read me too well.

29. “He was always asking about my friends.” He wanted to know everything he could about the people I chose to spend time with.

30. “He knew how to rest.” He knew when and how to take time refreshing his body and soul.

31. “He dreamed big dreams for me.” Even when I didn’t believe in myself, he did.

32. “He loved eating meals together.”

33. “He treated his body well.” He knew the importance of keeping his body healthy – not for vain reasons, but to remain effective to this world as long as possible.

34. “He loved his job.” He worked hard at his job not because of the money, but because he believed in what he did.

35. “He knew the difference between want and need.”

And with this many life lessons to teach my children, I better not waste a single day—including this one.

2013 Y Spudman Triathlon….Movement

At the 2003 Y Spudman Triathlon I finished my first Olympic distance race with a satisfying feeling of accomplishment, some real pain, and the prevailing sense that I could get better with sounder training.  Fast forward 10 years after well over 100 triathlons and take out the word ‘first’ and that statement still sums up racing today for me.  I have learned to love moving on deeper and deeper levels while slowly whittling my form into its most efficient energy.  There is still a long journey ahead.

One thing life has taught me is that we are here to move, physically move our bodies, and to do it every day on varying degrees.  People are happier and healthier when they are engaged in one of the thousands of ways that we can move.  With this as your foundation, life is fantastic.

In this way triathlon has been a welcoming teacher for the three basic forms of movement; swim, bike and run.  It is a humbling, rewarding, always challenging way to find a better way to be.

There is much joy in trying to find a better way to be physically, mentally, and spiritually.  As soon as you think you have arrived; check yourself…because you will never truly arrive as there will always be another layer or another level to master.  Triathlon has helped set my life on a journey where I see endless opportunity well beyond ‘sport’.

There will always be a fun personal self-challenge but the endless opportunity lies out there in our community with the potential to simply help people become happier and healthier.  This enrichment of our community far exceeds any joy I receive from successfully competing in any of my races.

When I’m fortunate enough to race with friends and/or an athlete I coach and work with it is awesome to feel the joy that comes from seeing them successfully take on challenges while thriving.  This gives me more strength from somewhere deep within.

Being a coach at the Y and racing a Y event, I’m fortunate to see story after story of athlete’s thriving; most of them racing, gritting their teeth and still smiling.  If not smiling on the outside, there is a big inner smile.

I felt this for much of my race, this inner smile that brings so much joy; being grateful for the simple fact that I can race and thrive.  Thriving is a relative term that one can self-adjust as needed.  Adjusting your thriving parameter is important because climbing Hill Top into the wind (95% of the race headed west right into a stiff and steady wind) will not feel good for even your strongest cyclist but we can all thrive while climbing it.  Thriving is the new suffering.

In the short 10 years that I’ve been competing in triathlons I’ve witnessed a boom in races and participants.  For our neck of the woods, here in Boise…we all need to thank the Y for helping set the wheels in motion to create the infrastructure to take triathlon to its inevitable next stage.

Thank you to my sponsors for your support!  Special thanks to the Y and the volunteers for letting us storm the streets of Boise.

Y Spudman Triathlon Link (results, registration, course)

 

2013 Pacific Crest Satori

Pacific Crest 2013

Hortense and I have been racing at the Pacific Crest triathlon on and off now for 10 years.  It’s a wonderful place to be and fun for the whole family. We love coming to Oregon; it is a sweet state and has bountiful exploration opportunities; we get a taste of it each time we drive over from Boise.  This year, with Guillaume and Lola turning 1 & 3 in July, we traveled for the first time without them.  I think it ends up being great for the kids and grandparents while Hortense and I get to miss the kids and be a couple with ‘free time’.  While Hortense will be the first to say she didn’t get any reading done, we did have time to talk about our kids (of course), and plan for the summer (mostly beach and mountain excursions) and dream together about how we’d like our lives to unfold.  There is so much to do and experience and see and learn; never a dull moment.

Three weeks ago at the Boise 70.3 I got sick the night before the race and brazenly started anyway having to stop during the bike.  It was gratifying to start the event and in some ways easier to deal with because I at least got a taste of racing.  However, that massive effort allowed the virus to sink its teeth deeper into my system and although I’m pretty good now, it’s still lingering a bit today.  Ahh, the power of hindsight.  One of the more difficult issues with that was camping with the family the next weekend and being too sick to go on any solid endurance excursions.  It’s not always wise to sacrifice one moment for another.

Fast forward to Pacific Crest race week and déjà vu, this time Hortense catches the same symptoms.  Sympathizing is too easy with my cut barely healed. We have to recognize the value, forcing further reflection on the lessons to be learned.  At least we understand each other pretty well, both of us ‘looking in the mirror’.  Her fitness is back to strong as or even stronger than 4 years ago when she got pregnant with Lola.  It was going to be fun to see what she could do with her newfound mom fitness.  Later in the summer she will be back to full strength and celebrating her fitness and appreciating it that much more.

That is exactly what I did; appreciate the simple fact that I was healthy enough to race.  Simple pleasures bring the most joy.

8:45am July 29th

Setting up in transition I notice my sparring partner for the day on the other side of the fence dressed like a normal guy, i.e. not wearing his superman cape.  Matt Lieto then lets me know that he is not racing due to some stomach issues.  I sympathize well with the choice of not doing the hometown race and admire his wisdom.  My first instinct when he told me this was disappointment in not having the competition.  I’d rather get second place in a battle with a good performance, learning something about myself in the process than win easily.  Then, the race started.

I assumed the lack of spunk in the early part of the swim was because I didn’t get in a warm up for the first race in a long time.  It helped to reinforce the importance of a solid swim warm up if I want to feel ‘it’ in the beginning of the race.  I started the process of shutting down the mind and finding the flow.  First, I felt the awesomeness of the refreshingly clean water and the wonderful scenic mountain views.  Then, I enjoyed the balance and effort of my body.  Sometime after that I became a swimmer in the truest sense.  I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

Recognizing moments of flow in your daily life is like connecting with the source of life.  It’s what I’m seeking out in my races that teach me so much about being.  I’ve discovered that this is an ancient concept called Satori.  Learning to apply satori to all aspects of life is a key to understanding who we are. Satori is a state of being, a Zen concept, it occurs the moment the mind is free of thought, pure awareness; the body is active, sensitive, relaxed, and the emotions are open and free. When meditating an action, you’ve released all thought, even the thought ‘I’. There’s no ‘you’ left to do it. In forgetting yourself, you become what you do; your action is free, spontaneous, without ambition, inhibition, or fear.
Become the swimmer, biker, runner, dancer, musician, gardener, walker, surfer, kayaker, SUP’er, painter, skier, skater, sailor, archer, climber, gamer, footballer, rower, bowler, diver, skater, adventurer, or whatever it is ‘you’ do.

I love challenging movement coupled with exploration.  The movement and exploration can take many forms and be on many different levels.  These moments bring me closer to the source of pure joy.  I know on a certain level we are all here to play, I like to play hard.

I often feel like a much younger version of my 38 year old self when racing and more importantly ‘playing’.  When I can lose myself in the game or the challenge, time flies because the mind takes a back seat to being and yet the moment can last for eternity.

Starting the Pacific Crest Bike course one should be giddy with excitement.  The ride up and around Mt. Bachelor is breath-taking.  No, it truly takes your breath away as we climb up close to 7,000ft.  But you can be awed by the splendor around you and magically find more power for your cranks.

 

72.3 miles of racing is a long time to find your flow especially when doing it solo.  It helped to have the duathletes out on the bike course before us and give me both some people to catch and share the suffering with.  I enjoy giving everyone I passed some words of encouragement, usually a ‘good effort, keep it up’.  Much better than yelling, ‘on your left’.  I get pumped when I see guys and gals with a decade or two on me out there tearing up the course but everyone is inspiring in their own way.

Around mile 30 the climbing and the temperature start heating up.  I felt like I had been nailing my nutrition.  I ate two of my mom’s homemade goodness, Jete Bars, and drank Osmo.  It was also my first time racing without any salt tablets!  I know crazy, right!?  I may be one of the world’s heaviest and saltiest sweaters.  If I’m not thee guy…I’m one of the guys.  So I did this with some trepidation but also confident that I had done my homework and prepared well.  At mile 30, I knew that I was on it.

Every racer has to grit their teeth and enjoy the views of high mountain lakes with Mt Bachelor in the background for the next 8 miles.  Getting to the top is satisfying and super fun.  Like magic the road turns to glassy asphalt and 8 to 15% descents.  You could ride the next 14 miles without a pedal stroke or blast down the mountain at 50+ miles per hour spinning out in your biggest gear.

The mile markers start to click off in a blur, seconds apart 40, 41, 42, 43…  The dichotomy of slow strong pedaling to fast spinning tires the legs before finishing out a flat last few miles requiring effort to go fast.

Starting the run, we all truly feel the heat of the day without the built in air conditioning on our bikes.  It’s not awful but its high altitude mid 80’s heat and has to be respected.  I spent my first few miles hydrating with some Osmo preload easing myself into the effort of closing out a half marathon in an event with 72.3 miles of racing.  I’ve learned the hard way a few times, that blinking on your fueling on a day like today for even 10 minutes can have extreme consequences.

Around mile 3 at an aid station I tossed my bottle and felt like I began running in earnest.  At the aid stations I generally had to stop to ensure getting some ice to pour down my suit, some water for pouring on my head and another for drinking.  I wanted to maintain strong form throughout the run and that meant staying hydrated and cool.

I was able to enjoy the run.  A big win considering running mile after mile on a hot day used to mean instant suffering.  I was able to smile and enjoy the volunteers while soaking in the scenery and the effort my body sustained.  It’s really satisfying to move your body so far and thrive.  I think it fills a deeper urge in all of us to explore our boundaries whatever they may be.

I’ve never felt so good finishing a Long Course Triathlon and much of that had to do with applying a sound nutrition plan on a hot day in the high central Oregon Mountains.  I felt the gratitude.  Thankful to be healthy and celebrating my fitness with friends and family.  I’ve definitely learned to appreciate the top end health when it is there, each of us will lose it here and there.  Be grateful when you have got it.

Be thankful, do it now.

Special thanks to Scott Running for supporting this awesome event, it’s a privilege to be running with the best endurance equipment available.  Ditto Scott Sports for the biking equipment.  Thanks to Aqua Sphere for allowing me the joy of swimming in amazing bodies of water all over the world.  Thanks to CEP for not only the compression but also the sun protection and cooling.  Thanks to the Y TriClub for enriching my life everyday with coaching and training opportunities abound.