Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Running With The Coyotes

The word "Coyote" has a number of definitions. There's the Arizona pro hockey team. There's the evil people who illegally bring people into the US across our borders often giving them inhuman conditions and treatment during the journey. There's the Road Runner's nemesis in the cartoon many of us watched growing up and then, there are the actual, real, non-animated animals. We lived in Phoenix almost 9 years and so, on occasion we'd see one or two. 

This morning I got up early for a 45 minute run before catching a plane back to Omaha. Jen and I had enjoyed a nice week with our kids there. About 5:20am, just as it got light outside, I headed out the door in the Cactus and Tatum area. I headed east to a wash that went north/south and headed north. The wash was widened out to about 100 yds. across. I ran on the far right side and as I glanced to my left I spied wait, there's another one...four coyotes. Hold on...there's a fifth one. Cool. I love seeing non-domesticated animals out in nature.

This wasn't quite "in nature" as it was a fairly populated, residential area but as the folks in Phoenix know, that doesn't stop these critters. Two were chasing each other, playing together, they were all basically running north parallel to me about 50 yds. to my left. Cool again. Running with the coyotes. They ran a little faster than I did and disappeared behind a bridge I was running towards. As I went under the street, there they were again continuing north just a bit ahead of me. (You may be totally bored now and if you are that too is cool. You can bail anytime.)

But, I've always loved nature and God's amazing creation. I love the incredible creativity and diversity of all that He's made. So, seeing five coyotes running along beside me was a treat. As I turned back to retrace the same route back, they too turned and started going south. Serious? Double cool. Will they run all the way back with me? They didn't but that's OK. I wondered where they "lived." I assume they'd been out all night on a scavenger hunt looking for food and water. They've been known to easily jump over 7 ft. walls that surround Phoenix homes to drink out of swimming pools and maybe grab small pets for dinner. Yikes.

I've always felt sorry for the coyotes. They look skinny and thirsty. Gaunt and lean. Probably over-populated. I'm sure they do some damage and bad things in areas where folks live, but they're just trying to survive. Here are a few interesting facts about coyotes:

1 - They hunt in packs
2 - They "sing" to their family members to communicate when apart
3 - Both the male and female care for their pups

I try to learn something everyday and as I ran with the coyotes this morning I wondered what I could learn or what the Lord might want to teach me through this little, cool encounter. Here's my best shot at it.

*There's strength in numbers. Since coyotes can run in packs, so I was reminded of how important the positive, encouraging people in my life are to me. I need to hang with them, run in the pack with them (literally and figuratively.)

*It's good to "sing" / communicate with your family. In this day of nano-communication and texting, actually talking and laughing (like what people do when I sing) is SO important.

*If you're a dad, don't bail on the responsibility you have to raise the pups. Strong, engaged, loving fathers are at the core of this nation and the lack thereof is a primary reason for the meltdown of the family.

If you get a chance to run with coyotes, do it. You might learn something like I did. Ok...that's all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Season Is Flying By...Just Like Life!

Have you been amazed at how fast life goes by at times? Hoka running shoe's motto is, "Time To Fly" and I think everyone would agree with leaving the "to" out and just saying, "Time Flies!" This triathlon season is half over and I've been meaning to post a blog for about...four months now. Oh well. This "low-key" season has been a ton of fun so far. Did a couple of open 5Ks to work on a bit of speed this Spring. I was blessed to nab a 5th and 2nd overall at these races.

Then a couple of sprint tri(s) in May with one going great and other pretty badly.

I've had serious breaks in training from one to almost three weeks so far. Travel, work, sickness, minor surgery, etc., have all put me behind where I've been at this poit the last couple of seasons.

But, it's all OK 'cause I'm not doing any huge races like Nationals or Worlds this year. Did my first duathlon in about 12 years and quickly was reminded that runners rock duathlons. I was blessed to get 10th in that du in KC, had one of the fastest bike splits and won my age group, though some of the run times were ridiculous.

June brought another 5K (5th overall, 1st in age group), another duathlon (7th overall, 1st in age group) and the Norfolk Tri which I was blessed to win overall. I then found myself dealing with a calf issue which wiped out a duathlon I wanted to du :) I'd not run for two weeks before the Omaha Sprint Tri, so I was...well rested shall we say? I won that race by 25 seconds to a tough competitor and followed that up with the overall win at the Falls City (NE) Triathlon that last Saturday in July, by 42 seconds.

My 87 yr. old father and I will be competing in the NE Senior Games in ten days. He'll be playing tennis in the 80+ division. He's such a stud! I'll be doing a cycling time trial and my first swim meet ever, doing the 50,100, 200, 400 free and 50 and 100 breast stroke. Then two more triathlons in August and that'll pretty much be the season. I do plan on racing road and trail races this Fall and even some this winter so I don't gain my usual 15 lbs. of winter weight. That's getting harder and harder to get off each Spring.  So, as I said, time flies, especially when you're having fun!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Year – New Dreams…

Adios 2013. It was a good year and it was a tough year. Probably every year that comes and goes could have that line applied to it. We’re moving through the first month of January and ’13 is in the rear view mirror and getting smaller by the day. What are your “take aways” from ’13? What did you learn? What would you have done differently? How will you let ’13 influence ’14 for good?  Don’t mindlessly move into and through the beginning of another new year without pausing to reflect, learn, evaluate and make some course adjustments.

How will you order your life this year? Will you be driven by the tyranny of the urgent…or live “ordered” according to your life’s values and that which is truly important?  The urgent vs. important is a constant battle isn’t it? An ordered life, lived according to the important things, means saying “no” to many good things. It means taking control of your time, turning off the TV, taking time for quietness, prayer and people that you love. 
We’re daily bombarded by hundreds and hundreds of ads and messages all trying to shape us and conform us into what THEY want us to be. In some grocery stores, TV show names are now being stamped on eggs! Imagine opening a carton of eggs and getting the CBS TV line up for that night! Insane. Bus stop billboards can now emit odors, enticing you to buy those chocolate chip cookies pictured in the ad. Double insanity. You can’t pump gas now without having a little TV screen there pushing the latest “whatever” on you.

It’s my goal to turn down the “noise” this year. Yes, I have athletic dreams and goals for this year. I love racing! But I want to spend more time with my adult kids, my wife, my parents and help my 88 yr. old mother-in-law as much as possible as her health fails. I want to read more and try to be an encouragement to as many people as possible in 2014.
Yes, go train, race, have a blast and enjoy your health. But remember the really high value objectives in life - God and people. I know as I lay on my death-bed someday (way down the road – I want to live to be 100), my loved-ones and close friends won’t care what my Ironman time was, 5K time or best Olympic distance tri time was. They’ll care…that I cared about them.  Press on, caring for people!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Triathlon – An Individual Sport??? Maybe not…

Triathlon is referred to as an “individual sport,” which is true until one takes a little wider view and deeper look. Yes, the athlete is out there swimming, biking and running by him/herself having to persevere to get to the finish line.  But, for most athletes there are people behind the scenes that have done things to make it all possible. A loving spouse, cheering children, friends who have been supportive, athletes that “push” during training, but are a super fun community to hang out with, shops and companies who have given the athlete a special deal of some type to help them have the solid gear to train and race with…all these, are part of the “team.”

I’m SO thankful for the team that surrounds me and encourages me in my training and racing. First, there is Jen my wife. Though not into endurance sports herself, she’s endured me and my craziness for 37 yrs. now – guess that should count. She’s followed me around the world, washed a
Just found out I had won Nationals 
ton and  half of sweaty clothes, lifted me up when I’ve been discouraged and cried tears of joy for me when I’ve done really well in big races. She’s my one-and-only, life time  Ironmate. My parents have also been incredibly interested and supportive, praying for me and attending races as they are able though both in their 80s. The rest of my immediate family, extended family and friends are part of the “team.”  My friend in Phoenix, Randy, is what I call my Emotional Coach. He’s one of my biggest supporters, but is never afraid to tell it like it is, calling me out when I have a wimpy attitude telling me to knock it off, but always answering my phone calls with, “Hey there National Champion.” He makes me smile and laugh and loves me enough to give me a good kick in the butt when I need it.

The wonderful companies that support me – see left column of this blog – are amazing. I use and believe in the services and gear these companies provide for me. They make some of the best products on the planet and there is no way I would have achieved what I have without them. As this race season quickly ends, I want to offer a huge shout-out and thank you to Hammer Nutrition, Barracuda Swim, Hoka One One, XTERRA Wetsuits, Louis Garneau, Dual Eyewear, Little Red Barn Beef, Active Release Technique Dr. Faye Jones, Valdora Cycles, Skin Strong, Zensah Compression, MACKS Earplugs, XTENEX Laces, Lion Gear and The Stick.

I also love racing with my FCA-Endurance yellow hat on!  FCA-Endurance helps answer the question, “Why do YOU race?”  I race because, to borrow a line, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”  Thank you Lord, for all of this!   Who’s on your team? Be sure to let them know how much they mean to you!

Triathlon an individual sport?  Nah…definitely a TEAM sport. Love my team!