Serendipity, Synchronicity, and Transformations

Serendipity, Synchronicity, and Transformations – A powerful week in July

Coaching is something I’ve been drawn to do for most of my life and it has been with thoughtful devotion that I seek to master a skill you can never truly master.  The best way I’ve found to discover the truths along the journey are to find joyful ways to engage in play.

The week of July 20th, 2014 will be remembered as a powerful week of serendipity for my life experience. Life is stunning in its synchronicities and being aware of powerful coincidences can bring about extraordinary transformations. Being a coach is a wonderful gift everyone should experience. Being able to witness, first-hand, what people can do with a bit of support is a profound understanding to experience.


A student will come to a coach, hungry for something more…hungry to get more out of themselves.
We feed and nourish the student with ideas and attitudes. We find the angle for their next step.  Day after day you start to see changes in their thought and emotional process. We hold the student accountable. They begin to have a feeling. When this mirrors up with belief; amazing things happen.  The transformation is often seamless; happening in small increments daily until together the days add up to a completion of form.

Coaching for over 2 decades, I’ve witnessed countless transformations each one powerful in its own way. Witnessing the adaptions take place can be just as powerful for me as a coach as it is for the student going through the process of change.  As a coach we store each experience in our library to use in creative ways for the next metamorphosis to take shape.

I’ve been fortunate to work with 6 year olds and 70 year olds all seeking out their own unique conversion. Witnessing these alterations has had a profound effect and I’m grateful for seeing how fast people make a change when they decide it’s time. I love being a catalyst for setting up serendipity.  In the process I always get coached as well.  The synergy is powerful.

The week started off with one of the more powerful transformations any parent will witness. Seeing my daughter turn from 3 to 4 gave me a wonderful feeling of sadness swirled in with happiness as these two emotions began dancing and blending to give me a supreme moment of gratitude. Surrounded by friends and family I hit the pause button on life and felt an internal/ external connectedness to eternity.
 Change is a beautiful thing to accept and witness, it is all around us and must be embraced with an open mind.

On July 23, not one but two of the bigger transformations I’ve played a role in became national stories. Meaningful coincidence? Synchronicity!

First came the news that Lucas and Noah were getting coverage on the Today Show and that they were going to send out a film crew for their next Triathlon in Emmett, Idaho!

I met Alissa and her boys on April 30th after a short exchange of e-mails and an introduction from my father and CEO of the Y.  He had met with the family and had the foresight to send them to the TriClub. Knowing only that Lucas was born with a rare and life-limiting neurological condition and was limited to a wheelchair.  I did not see this as a problem but more as an opportunity and a challenge to find play in one of its many forms.

Triathlon!? For a 6 year old boy confined to a wheelchair, you say?  Absolutely! 

See the possibilities. 

One of the key characteristics of a coach is to see, create, and imagine the best in people.

Alissa, Noah, and Lucas came to the Y and met with me in the ‘cave’ (our TriClub office tucked away nicely in the basement with no windows and lots of endurance equipment).  It was striking and immediately noticeable the bond the brothers had.  For most other brothers the closeness would have been crossing personal space boundaries.  But these two had a different way of communicating.  Lucas has an amazing presence.  I’ll never forget the smile he had when we first met.  It said everything I needed to know about Lucas.  The intelligence in the eyes opened up my heart.  The eyes are his best source of communication albeit with the closeness of the brothers I think Noah picks up more than just Lucas’s gaze.

I was struck by Noah’s poise as well.  At only 8 he seemed to have some character values well beyond his years.  I recognized the gift of having a younger brother with special needs.  Noah has an ability to empathize and be compassionate that envelopes his character.

Lucas has severely impaired motor skills from a disorder known as lissencephaly.  The family was there to meet and talk about ways to incorporate Lucas and Noah into our youth triathlon program at the Y.

I knew we could make this work, I wasn’t sure exactly what we could do but I knew it would be a playful journey of discovering the ways we could train.  My main objective was to be welcoming and to listen so that we could be supportive of their needs.  Then, walked in Willie.  William Stewart also known as the legend that he is, “one-arm Willie”.  Willie is one of my favorite people and he’s taught me so much.  He is one of those characters that has experienced a rich life and has energy to give back.  He helped convey the possibilities and I think Willie was the first to recognize that the story had implications at the national level.  Shortly after that another super hero of the TriClub coaching staff came in, Kelly Driver, and the meeting really took on a celebration to start this playful journey.  We were all psyched to set the stage for some brotherly play.

The next day Alissa, Lucas, and Noah came to a TriClub practice and we facilitated some play.  We found out that Noah had some work to do on his swimming and that with a little help from Alissa; Lucas could participate in all our swim, bike, run activities.  I think we had subtly mentioned some racing opportunities in our first meeting but hadn’t really locked anything down yet.  After a few TriClub practices we had a summer goal; The Y Not Triathlon on July 12.  That gave the family just 2 months to get ready for Noah to pull and push Lucas through an entire triathlon.  Did I mention Noah couldn’t really swim…!  That didn’t faze Noah; he is brave, determined and fueled with love for his brother. 

I’ve seen kids transform from barely keeping their heads above water to completing a 150 yard swim in one week.  So I was confident Noah would gain the skill he needed to swim in a lake while pulling his brother.  But he would need to be committed to weekly practice/play.

Alissa and Noah came to a few of the adult 1 hour swim clinics that I coach.  For Noah we mostly just enabled some time to be in the water and play for the first couple sessions.  After a few sessions he was getting confident in the water having learned his balance.  The seamless transformation had begun.

The journey was amazing for me; I can only imagine the joy for the Aldrich’s.  We spent several weeks out biking around downtown Boise meandering down the greenbelt.  It felt good to have a family playing together in our program. Sometimes Alissa would pull Lucas in a chariot and sometimes Noah would show off his strength by taking a turn.  Alissa is fortunate to be able to come out and play with her sons and it brings much joy to see them play together. 

Our sport is wonderful for creating imaginative ways to get outside and explore as an entire family.

Lucas and Noah completed the triathlon and did it with smiles, just 2 months after walking into the cave and inquiring about our wonderful sport.  Little did we know that the local News coverage was soon going to go viral on a national scale

Playing a role and seeing a transformation take place is a life changing event.  It is wonderful to see the Aldrich Family be able to share their story of love and its profound implications with the nation.

I’m grateful for getting to know you guys this summer!  Love manifesting in the power of play.  Keep playing Aldrich family; we’re just getting warmed up.

As if this story was not enough for the whole year, I found out about another transformation getting its start in the ‘cave’ and getting national attention later that same day.

Restwise had just been awarded one of the finalist positions for The Big C Competition!

Matthew Weatherly White is a co-founder of Restwise and another one of my favorite people who has taught me much and I’m very grateful for his mentoring.  Right around the time that Matthew had started educating me on the implications and applications for the Restwise tool, Chad Ward approached me about private coaching. 

Chad had been a weekend warrior most of his adult life with a background in competitive sports in his youth.  He was always up for the challenge.  Then, in the span of 2 years he battled and won against melanoma and then prostate cancer.  When Chad attempted to get back to the active lifestyle he had been used to, he was experiencing abnormal amounts of fatigue.  Some level of frustration and depression set in.

Upon meeting with Chad I empathized well and recognized many signs of overtraining.  I haven’t experienced cancer but like Matthew, (much of his inspiration for RW came out of doing a ‘number’ on himself with overtraining) I had been a chronic over trainer in my younger days.  The summer going through this overtraining at its peak was tough but the experience for being a coach today is incalculable.  Chad’s pre and post cancer bodies, at least for the time being, were very different.  It took much less stimulus than he was used to, to see the immediate effect of over-doing-it.

I was eager to coach Chad and support him in finding his playful activity levels again.  But I also recognized a part of him in me.  A competitive, determined, I’m-tough-enough attitude that can get you in a whole lot of trouble if you don’t channel the energy appropriately.  I also knew that mirroring up an athlete that is driven and motivated with a coach that excites this aspect can be a recipe for disaster.  The last thing I wanted to do was push Chad to hard, even once.  At this point he was standing at the edge of a cliff, one wrong move or a stiff breeze and he would have seen his active lifestyle dreams take a potential long term plummet.

I also knew he was ready for activity; we just needed to reset what exercise and training met for Chad.  That’s not to say that it needed to be this-really-easy-don’t-do-too-much kind of thing.  But it did mean recognizing the wide range of variables that play into optimizing the day.  Being able to listen to the body and very clearly know where the sweet spots lay.  While understanding that the sweet spot floats around from day to day. 

Restwise was just the tool for creating a powerful feedback loop between Chad and I.  Matthew was gracious enough to sit down and discuss the tool in a serendipitous meeting between Chad, Matthew and I.  I was still understanding the magic of the tool and Matthew continued to tutor us on a wide array of training methodologies. 

The snowball was just launched from high up on the mountain. 

RW allowed me to adjust his training daily to meet the needs of his body and mind based on the RW scores.  Initially, I wanted it as a safeguard.  But the tool was instrumental in morphing Chad’s attitude and knowledge about training.  He evolved and transformed over the coming weeks and months.  He began to find his pre-cancer activity levels.  He began to play again but this time he had more tools in the toolbox for optimizing each and every day;  setting the stage to find more enjoyment in being active.  The RW tool is almost magical in how it sends the user on a journey while giving them the tools to start optimizing each and every day.  The rite of passage is captivating in its simplicity when understood and applied appropriately.

The first test with Restwise and Livestrong proved to be a big win for everyone involved.  I introduced Matthew to Mary Biddle with the Livestrong group at the Y and they took the Restwise tool all the way to being a finalist in The Big C Competition!

The day was shocking for sure; two transformations that I played a role in and witnessed first-hand had just become much bigger national stories.  The synchronicity from these two events coming out on the same day seemed to be a powerful message from the universe.

The very next day I met with an amazing Life Coach with many talents, Shelli Johnson.  I’ve been wanting, asking, yearning for mentorship and Shelli is exactly the breed of coach I want to learn and emulate from.  We had a short but insightful meeting and I gained so much from the experience.  Thank you for breaking trail on the path I’d like to emulate and for daring me to be better.

Thanks for listening, I’m grateful for the mentors in my life…and that includes every person I have the pleasure of working with.  I’m grateful for being able to witness and take part in all your journeys.    
Seeing possibilities,

Coach KE

Lifetime Tri Minneapolis

Lifetime Tri Minneapolis

This was my first year getting to do this iconic race that I have seen on TV over the years and watched some amazing performances.  I was excited to throw my hat in the ring and be a part of the action.

This is the birth place of the Equalizer, where the women get a head start (10:01 this year).  It’s fun to feel like a hunter on the run!  This was the first race for the Toyota Triple Crown.

Chris Foster and I had a sweet location for our AirBnB, right next to Lake Nokomis where the race took place.

The water was refreshing and at a wonderful temperature for not wearing wetsuits.  This is the first race in years, that I can remember not being on the front line for the start of the swim.  I got there just a bit late and the pole positions had been taken.  So I just lined up in the 2nd row and felt good about my chances for getting out well anyway.

Sure enough, after running in things spread out and a couple dolphin dives put me at the front of the race with Hunter and I drag racing Cam who came over and took the lead into the first buoy.  I enjoyed the swim and maintained the sweetest spot in 2nd or 3rd throughout the swim.  I was able to let go, in that the mind shut down and my attention was on the form that we know as swimming.

I came out of the water bracing for one of the hardest parts of the race; standing and sprinting to our bikes with guys that throw down 4min miles.  I was on the soft side for this T1.  Hunter and Cam pulled out a few seconds on me.  I was able to get past Hunter on the bike but Cam was gone…

I had no sense or idea where I was on the bike course.  I looked over the course map well but was having trouble applying that to the real world.  I was shocked at the road conditions and wishing that I had put less than 120psi into my wheels.  I was bouncing all over.  Can I get some time on the ground!?

It took massive power and core strength to ride the bumps and keep the effort up.  Not much free speed on this crossbike-like course.

Greg Bennett and Ben Collins rode threw me early in the bike while Hunter Kemper and Brooks Cowan rode near me the whole way.  I was tentative to lead because I just didn’t know which way the next turn was coming.  When Hunter started taking off his shoes to enter T2 I thought we had another 5 miles to go!?

The three of us started the run in 4th, 5th, and 6th.  Hunter had the run of the day and flirted with over taking Cam for 2nd place but missed by a handful of seconds.  Ben Collins had the race of the day with a solid bike and break through run to win the race. 

Only Chris Foster ran threw me having started the run just a few seconds behind me and on his way to the second fastest run on the day.  With Chris came Dave Thompson the local legend and owner of the bike course record.  When Dave caught up we were closing in on Brooks who went out a bit too hot with Hunter.  “Alright boys, it’s a battle for 6th”, I said with a bit of sarcasm.  I heard a little smirk from Brooks as he fell off the pace.  Dave and I battled it out for the remaining 4miles. 

We each attacked the other a couple times but couldn’t get away.  I was enjoying all the cheering Dave received as the local guy.  It was especially cool to see his wife and little boy out there cheering him on.  It gave me a huge boost to think of my family back in Boise.  “Thanks for the dad power” I mentioned to Dave as we tried to break each other down.

With a little more than a mile to go he pulled away from me on one of the diverted grass and mud sections.  I reeled him back in and then picked up my cadence.  It felt good to be racing and pushing the pace.  For one of the first times in my career as a triathlete I ran with mental fortitude.  I created a small gap but could still hear Dave’s breathing and footsteps.

With a mile to go I maxed out my effort for the next 5 minutes.  It worked and gave me enough cushion to avoid the sprint finish for which I am 0 for 10 in my career.

In the Race for the Toyota Cup I caught all the girls save for Alicia Kaye (who kept Ben at bay by a few seconds and is leading the Toyota Triple Crown race by those few seconds) and Radka who finished as the 2nd female and just 7 seconds in front of me.

Very happy with 6th, thrilled with the swim and run and the bike is moving in the right direction.  I’m ready to pop all three here pretty soon.

Results

Racing in the Central Mountains of Oregon

The Pacific Crest Triathlon weekend has been a summer highlight going on several years for Hortense and I.  It’s a beautiful area of wilderness with a great landscape for exploring.  I raced the Half on Sat and Hortense raced the Olympic on Sunday.  We both placed 3rd overall!

Just 3 weeks removed from the IM Boise 70.3 I was able to gain some remarkable fitness albeit not enough time to shake off some fatigue from the bump.  The highlight for me was getting tough on the run.  After Matt Lieto broke me early on the bike I turned things around and ran amazingly well.  11 minutes faster than I ran at Boise!

This video needs some music but it has some clips of the swim, bike and run beauty of this event:

race coverage
race results

Moment of Truth; Ironman Boise 70.3

The moment of truth.

Going into an event with 70+ miles of racing and a 5 week tapper sets you up for a difficult moment of truth.  My wife asked me more than once in the week leading up to the event, “Have you been biking enough?” an innocent question that I could not face yet.  It was too late to do anything about it so I responded with a curt, “sure I have.”

For the first ninety minutes of the Ironman Boise 70.3 I maintained myself at the front of the race while doing so with some of the best pacing and form of my life.  I have been in this situation before but often stretching my boundaries and burning matches.  This time, I found myself in the dream scenario with the skills to deliver a most satisfying performance; flirting with your potential.

Hope.  Hope can be a dangerous feeling in triathlon.  Hoping to regularly race at the front and beat other professional athletes that swim, bike and run around the world in their swimsuits for a living is akin to running full speed across a thin iced lake every day in the spring; eventually you are going to fall in before you get to the other side.

It can be hard for me not to get caught up in having a feeling or desire for a certain race outcome to happen.  At a simple level we race for a desire to do well.  That desire is not there to the extent it was in my younger days.  Now, the desire is more about potential.  Triathlon is a wonderful challenge to find your best self; not just your strongest body, but your strongest mind and soul as well.

Often, poor or tough race experiences bring out the strongest lessons.  If you understand the lessons you can begin grappling with the next lesson.  Applying this new understanding of reality allows you to adjust and find more joy in racing and more importantly life in general.

This was the 7th year of the IM Boise 70.3 and the first year I haven’t focused on it.  I have evolved into a much stronger athlete over those 7 years and the experiences from each of the previous years at Boise’s race have been monumental in my development as an athlete a coach and person.

2008: finished 16th being way under prepared in almost every category but wanted a chance to race a big event at home…and loved it.

2009: finished 13th with a very strong race and vastly improved from 2008

2010: DNF I raced at the front with Crowie in one of the most exciting races of my life but I held onto hope much longer than my body could handle and blew up on the bike.  Getting behind on hydration/nutrition with too much intensity was sending me to the med tent. With my wife 8 months pregnant;   I wisely pulled out in the run.

2011: Very ready for a strong race but came down with a virus and did not start the race

2012 Finished 7th in the year the Bike was shortened to 15 miles due to cold weather.  Had a great swim and run but 5 of the 6 guys in front of me were probably 5 of the better runners in triathlon and my weapon that year would have been biking.

2013: Came down with a virus just a day or two before the race; shouldn’t have started but I was so well prepared I had to give it every chance.  I pulled out in the bike and was very sick for the next 10 days.

2014: I decided that I would stay focused on Olympic distance races, so for the first time I didn’t come in with laser focus on Boise.  I would be peaking for the 3 race weekends in a row with a focus on the vroom, vroom tactics needed for the 2 hour-ish races.  First race was to be Captex 2 weeks before.  But I came down with a cold and did not go.  That race was to set me up nicely for Escape From Alcatraz which was going to be maybe my main event of the year.  I missed the boat!!!???!!!  Now I’m coming into Boise with less than ideal race fitness and definitely missing some bike endurance.  Ah well, I’m in great form and good fitness so I’m hopeful for some gritty racing.

High Noon on the second Saturday in June:  Lucky Peak

I have swum against Josh Amberger a number of times but never been on his feet more than a moment.  He is with out a doubt one of the strongest swimmers in our sport.  He is consistently swimming at the front and with big international competitions.  Every male swimmer in the water wanted to minimize the damage to Josh in the water.  The gun went off and Josh and I took off drag racing.  Heading north I took the inside easterly position.  After a few minutes without having to redline it became clear I had amazing form in the water.

I became the swimmer.  Years of work shutting off the mind and just being took over.

We changed pace several times from hot to hotter.  Coming into the first buoy I noticed Brent was nicely tucked in, enjoying both of our drafts while everyone else had been gaped.  This motivated me to pick up the pace and without spiking the HR, (I’ve been working diligently on my turnover) I increased the tempo and went around the buoy first and accelerated out of it.  I was hoping for a strong counter from Josh to shake off Brent, but it seemed Brent was too strong.  Around the second buoy Josh and I went back to vying for the lead side by side with some subtle attacks.  I stayed on the eastside now, keeping Josh between me and the direction of the wind.

 

Around the last buoy it became apparent our blows were not going to knock off Brent so I settled in behind Josh’s feet as we turned into the wind; an attempt to save energy for the long day ahead.

I love the swim finish at IM Boise 70.3, with my family and friends being there, several still waiting to start the race I want to get the day off to a good start for everyone.  I take the lead through transition.

On the bike I took the lead but went easier than I wanted or felt I should be going.  Again, recognizing how long the day would be + the hot and windy conditions, I was very aware of conserving energy and hitting hydration/fueling needs.  It wasn’t long before Brent took the lead and I stayed comfortably back 12 to 20 meters.  Feeling like the pace was too comfortable but being at the front of the race and only concerned with staying there as easily as possible.

After about 5 miles of our comfortably fast pace Luke Bell was able to bridge up the minute gap we had on him from the swim.  He wisely sat at the back of the train and recharged.

 

Josh took the lead with some aggression going up the gravel pit hill and I was happy to see someone take the lead from me after holding it longer than I wanted.  Everything went smooth as we finished up the last bit of headwind for a few miles and made the turn around past mile 25.

Here Luke went to the front and hit us hard.  I saw it coming and reacted well.  I did not have a sense of urgency and it seemed like just a little bit more effort would close the gap any second.  After several minutes of this very strong sustained effort the gap still grew.  I held on to the hope, everything was going so well and the race situation had gone close to perfection for all the variables I can control on race day.

This race is about conserving and I could not have drawn up a better plan than what took place the first 90 minutes.  And yet, out of nowhere I was blindsided with less than optimal energy.  With hindsight a simple matter of recent bike fitness.  But I’m hopeful.  Always hopeful that the stars will align and all the variables for racing as strong as possible without anyone being able to step on your heart will happen.  The assassins of triathlon are here to stomp on your heart.  They are masterful at taking that last bit of hope that you have and kung-fuing your heart right out of your chest.

The moment of truth came when Luke Bell, after 20 miles of riding at the back attacked us.  I saw it coming and responded quickly.  It never felt like something I wouldn’t be able chase down until suddenly after a few minutes of chasing it became clear the gap was growing.  “Now or never”, I knew in my mind.  Did I have an explosive 30 seconds to catch back on?  The legs just did not respond like they have for me in past races.  The moment of truth; magnified the fact that although my form is outstanding the fitness was not there to back it up.

Setting yourself up with a fast swim and knowing your bike form is better than ever and the past 10 years of riding will surely be enough base to keep you at the front; sets you up for a lot of heart stomping.  6 times in the second half of the bike; an assassin would ride up and through me and each time making sure to do further damage to my bleeding heart.

Triathlon is a humbling sport; everyone has their heart beaten up by someone stronger on the day at some point.

The professional triathletes play this game over and over again with only one athlete strong enough on the day to finish without having the heart ripped out.  Ha.

You will get broken over and over again.  The key is getting up again and again.

These triathlete assassins are like light-saber waving Jedi Knights, they are masterful and peaceful and genuine but when challenged they will take you to your limits only to show you that you can go further, come this way if you can.  You won’t and can’t always make it but it sure is fun to try.

It takes a lifetime of hours upon hours and days upon days, and weeks upon weeks and months upon months and years upon years and decades upon decades to be able to set the stage for a peak performance in triathlon.  Just when you gain new insight and begin to master a new level, you slip and drop the ball on a previous level.  It’s an exciting place to be.  Some level of frustration is the driving force to continue the training fresh and with renewed passion.

Why do you race?

It has evolved into more meaningful and transcendent experiences.  You start out just learning what it means to be in a race.  You finish.  Then, you begin the long journey of trial and error learning to become faster at the simplest game in the world…getting from a to b before everyone else.  Eventually, it becomes a lifestyle.  You appreciate the day to day training just as much as any race.  You focus and become more present in all aspects of life.  You pull back the curtain on racing and dive into the true essence of competition; to go forth together to discover what is possible.  The journey continues to deeper levels of satisfaction for the simple ability to race and celebrate fitness with endless challenges and self-discoveries.  Racing is like a diamond, it takes enormous amounts of heat and pressure over a long time to create a beautiful stone.

Thanks to my family and friends for their support.  I do my best to balance life but moving at this level takes a bit of ‘putting on the blinder’ in this world.

Thanks to RODS Racing for giving deeper meaning to what it means to race.

Thanks to some awesome sponsors that enable me to compete with the strongest athletes in the world:

SCOTT, JETE Bar, Aqua Sphere, CEP, WN Precision, ASEA,