From paper boy to pool boy

Luther College PoolThe first three minutes when you wake up at 4:45 a.m. to go swimming at 5:30 a.m. can be pure hell. Typically you’re waking from a deep sleep at that hour. With your head still pinned to a pillow and the light not yet turned on beside the bed, the instinct to roll over and go back to sleep is so powerful it can feel as if your brain is made of melting cotton candy.

Paper boy

But years of practice in rising early can get you through. At the age of fourteen, I had a paper route that required me to be out delivering newspapers starting at 5:30 a.m. I learned to get my hind end on the Huffy Three Speed and pedal down to Smith’s Bar-B-Cue in time to load up the mix of newspapers for the four-mile ride around town to get them in the door before 6:30 a.m.

Being a paper boy paid $8.50 per week in those days. But I didn’t have to collect. Just get the papers to the homes on time. I was a paper boy and made some money. It gave me a sense of pride and a feeling that I was needed in this world.

That experience served well when it came time to do two-a-day workouts in college cross country. We’d get up at 5:30, run six miles in 40:00, get showered and eat breakfast to be to class at time by 8:00 a.m.

Back at it

It’s taking a bit of practice to get back in 5:30 a.m. shape again. I’m a bit older than I was as a stupid teenager dragging my young body around on that Huffy bike. But truth be told, there are many days I feel as young as that teenager. I can still run two miles as fast as I could at 12 years old. So what’s the problem?

Well, the problem is that life gets a little more complicated as you add obligations. Which means that sometimes you get to bed on time, and sometimes you don’t. My fiance excels at getting up early but it does have a cumulative cost sometimes. That happens to any athlete. Every Olympian we just watched in Rio faces the same challenges. It’s no easier to get up at 5:30 to work out even when you do that for a living. The previous day’s training lags in your veins. I know that feeling well from having done intense and long training for so many years. Those 100-mile running weeks in college were an exercise in radical exercise.

Laps

I pondered all this while swimming laps in the middle of the pool this morning. The workout was broken down into increments and I’d bob up after each section to check the next group of intervals. We all need our checkpoints.

As a kid, I memorized that paper route and could nearly do it in my sleep. Once in a while, a home might drop the newspaper or a new customer would come online. Then I’d have to make a mental note about which paper they wanted. It always took a few days and sometimes I’d forget and have to backtrack, smacking my head in the process. On cold winter mornings, that meant even more freezing hands and cold feet. The elements are unforgiving. But it’s how you learn to think ahead.

It’s a very similar process to learning how to swim. You have checkpoints of distances to consider. Form counts too. Keep those elbows high. Point those hands on entry. Pull with the arm all the way back. I used to take the same sort of pride in delivering papers. Quick off the bike to the door. Slide the paper in an close the door in one smooth motion. Trot back to the bike. Finish the route in under half an hour.

Pool boy

Slowly I am becoming a pool boy just as I was once a paper boy. It only costs me about $8.50 a week to use the pool in the Master’s program. About the same amount I once earned as a paper boy. It’s funny how life offers up these strange balances of investment and extraction. In between we pedal and run and swim, keeping track of it all in our heads.

Paper boy. Pool boy. Let’s see if I can deliver on this promise too.

 

 

 

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Honey I Shrunk The Bike

Shrunk the bike

Honey I Shrunk The Bike

I have a confession to make. I’m sitting here eating the last bowl of cereal from a box of Cap’n Crunch that I purchased on sale at our local Jewel grocery store. It was a bit of nostalgia to into a bowl of that sweet stuff. We ate it as kids. It’s pretty terrible stuff, but was fun in its day.

 

Similarly, I glanced down at a bike on the floor of a cycling friend’s garage yesterday and noticed a kid’s bike on its side. My own children had bikes that size on which they learned to ride. I had a bike nearly that small too.

I well recall my father pushing me across the yard of our home in Seneca Falls, New York. I was five years old when I broke free from training wheels and took off on that venture across the grass. That’s a bit of a devil’s bargain, you know. It’s much tougher to ride a bike on the grass but it hurts less when you fall. I made it across the lawn before tumbling to the earth. No harm, no foul. The feeling of liberty and balance was secured.

Then we moved to Pennsylvania where our neighborhood offered a network of smooth roads named for golf clubs. Niblick Avenue. Yet even our own long driveway was suitable for that type of riding you do as a kid. Circling round and round, just enjoying the feel of tires on the asphalt.

I lusted for a Schwinn Sting Ray bike in those days, but had to settle for a copped pair of Sting-Ray handlebars that I stuck on my fat tire bike. That worked until the moment that they dropped toward the ground because I had not tightened the nuts that held it in place. So down I went, chagrined and hoping no one had seen.

Felt 4C.jpg

The Felt 4C post garage incident

That was not the last bike crash due to my mechanical failures. I tried putting a smaller front tire on my bike and again, did not tighten it sufficiently. When I yanked up to make a jump off the hill in our yard the wheel flew free and I crashed into the ground with a front fort that stopped my progress cold. Lying there in a grass with a smashed pair of nuts between my legs, I groaned into the turf until I started to laugh. Because it was pretty darn funny, and I shared that tale with many a friend. Most of them had a similar story to share.

 

That big bike was simply not meant for doing stunts like that. I tried to shrink it but that wasn’t going to work. The little bikes on which I’d learned to ride and even do wheelies were better suited to that kind of riding. But it would be decades before those smaller stunt bike evolved into being. The bike industry shrunk the Schwinn Sting Ray into BMX bikes but by then I was grown well past the desire to sit so slow and tear around the dirt.

When we moved to Illinois I was thirteen years old and we left most of our fat tire bikes back eat. My father purchased two Huffy Three-Speed bikes, one for him and one for my mom. His was black and her’s was light blue with a drop center bar. A girl’s bike, in other words.

My friend’s Eeker and Roy (nicknames) would come by and we’d ride around the little town of Elburn all day and all night. There was nothing else to do, really, except troll for time and the hope of meeting some girls.

I was always embarrassed by that Huffy Three Speed. My buddy Eeker had a bright yellow Schwinn Varsity. His was the wealthiest family in town and my Huffy seemed to symbolize our own family’s modest means. Truly, I’ve always felt like a Huffy Three Speed in many phases of life. Even in running, I never had the biggest engine but always tried to go fast enough to keep up with other athletes and their better means.

Specialized.jpg

Perhaps the Specialized Venge Expert is compensatory for my mother’s blue Huffy 3-speed

Then one year the gear cables on my dad’s Huffy gave out. I was reduced to riding my mother’s blue Huffy. That was near tragic at the age of thirteen or fourteen years old. It already felt like my masculinity was being questioned on a daily basis. That’s simply how it works in small towns.

 

Then three big hotshots from another town came to visit a girl I really like. They saw ample opportunity to ridicule my “girl’s” bike under their breath. It was evil and mean and they knew it. But they wanted me gone in competition for attention from the cute girl in our town. I hated didn’t like how they talked about her. “She’s got a nice jelly ass,” they’d murmur to each other. “And nice titties too.”

There were three of them, and one of me. I really liked that girl, and yes she did have those attributes, and I fully admit that I noticed them. But we also walked the streets talking to each other about life. I felt like I knew her better. But there I was, still riding my mom’s Huffy Three Speed around town while those three boys would pull up in a Camaro with a cassette deck mounted under the dash. Which is more likely to impress a girl?

In college, I borrowed a friend’s Schwinn to ride out of town into the secret canyons around Decorah, Iowa. The bike took me on birding junkets where I’d spy wild turkey, ruffed grouse and pileated woodpeckers flying among the cedars and white birch. These were great escapes from my daily grind of running 70-90 miles a week. Sometimes my legs would be so tired from training it was tough to pedal the bike at all. But I’d go. And find some birds. And come back to the dorm unable to describe to my friends the delicious mysteries of all that I had seen. You had to be there.

After college, I purchased a Columbia 10-speed. It was heavy as a rock, solid metal and trimmed with black and gold letters. I’d ride that cumbersome thing around on summer evenings because a college town in summer can be one of the most lonesome places on earth. That bike kept me sane. I was in love with a girl who lived three hours away. Yes, I owned a car. But those lonely summer nights almost killed me a times. So I rode, and I ran, and plunged my tired legs into the ice cold water at Dunning’s Springs.

Then came a procession of bikes through marriage. The Raleigh Assault 10 speed mountain bike I bought was used for short commutes and riding around local forest preserves. I’d take that bike up north to Wisconsin as well, pedaling the sand trails and hammering around the actual mountain biking routes at Chequamegon east of Eagle River.

Sometimes I’d tie my clothes around my waist and ride naked around the woods. The national forests were so remote there was never anyone around. I’d ride till I was sweaty and go for a naked swim in some deep forest lake lined with a sand bottom, which made mine sandy too. Just me and my skin and the call of ravens coursing through the woods. Freedom. From life

Mountain bike

The Rockhopper. 

15 or so years ago I bought a Specialized Mountain bike, a Rockhopper that I still own and ride in the winter months. It takes me back and forth to my art studio as well.

 

But in 2003, I got the urge to try road cycling and was given a Trek 400 steel frame bike. That got me through a few seasons, and I even averaged 18 mph one ride on that baby. It was a bit tall and clunky, but it fed the appetite.

Then came the Felt 4C, the first carbon fiber road bike. It was fast and light and I raced it in criteriums. Some years I topped 4000 miles on that bike. Enough to call myself a cyclist anyway.

But I crunched the Felt last fall while driving into the garage and it suffered mightily from the encounter. Now it sits like a wall ornament ready to be stripped for parts.

Its replacement is a Specialized Venge Expert. It’s a fast bike too, and my riding has actually improved this year. Yesterday we rode 35 miles under cloudy skies that felt like fall. On a section of country road that curves multiple times and I felt that sensation we all love as a kid. Lean deep into the turn. Swing through and turn again. It recalled all those moments on the bike, for all those years. The kid in me emerged, and Honey I Shrunk the Bike for a moment there. It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?

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When you’re feeling gassed

DieselLast night I just took a night off. The week had been full of workouts already. Morning swims on both Monday and Wednesday. Cycling all three days. Some hard riding, some easy. So I was feeling a bit gassed by last night.

There was a time I’d run right through that feeling. Obsession helps you do that. But I’m no longer obsessed with fitness. Once in a while it’s okay to refuel the mind and body. Take a break. I went out in the garden instead and pulled some weeds with my mosquito buddies helping out. The creeping charlie was demanding attention too. Yank and toss. Then I came back inside when the rain threatened and lightning flashed to the northwest.

Down into the basement I went. It’s cool down there in summer and warm in winter. But it needs to be cleaned out. The clutter of existence included boxes and bins of abandoned bike parts. Old running shoes that never quite got tossed. Lots of extraneous stuff, including old boom boxes from when my kids used to hang out with friends down there.

Toss and pitch. And once you get going, it’s a gas throwing things out. You take a look and ask the question, “When’s the last time I used that?”

Cleaning up your fitness program

The same attitude applies to old training methods as well. Doing the same thing over and over, year after year creates a malaise and a sort of clutter in your head. It’s time for fresh territory.

That’s why swimming with all its challenges in building endurance and learning proper form has been enervating. There have been rewards. Those moments in the cool open water swimming the day before the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon were superb. I was anxious before the start but thrilled as heck during the swim. Sure, my arms cramped a little after 700 meters but what do you expect. I’m not experienced at this yet.

Open water, open mind

This past three years has been a bit of open water for me. When you spend eight years trying to keep someone else alive through cancer there is a mental cost to it all. The same goes for people going through divorce or other life-altering experiences. Yesterday I was interviewed by a local media maven named Dolly McCarthy. I was interviewed about my book The Right Kind of Pride, and my new art show Urban Wilds. I also talked about my next book Nature is My Country Club. When people ask me “How do you do it all?” my response is simple. “I can’t not do it.

That’s sort of the opposite of the Nike slogan “Just Do It.” When I wake up with blog topics already fully formed in my head, I need to write them down. Some of this might be an escape from reality. I’ll admit that. There’s been a lot to process in life, and I didn’t come to all this blank-headed or light an empty slate. When my late wife was diagnosed with cancer, my high school track coach called and said, “Your whole life has been a preparation for this.”

He meant that the perseverance gained from endurance sports like running can be directly applied to life. And one of the other skills you learn from distance sports is how to detect when the mind and body are nearly on empty. When you get gassed and you are running on fumes, it is important to pause and refuel your mind, body and spirit.

Managing up

My son Evan has set a wonderful example this past year. He’s gotten into a number of activities that combine fitness, meditation, and mental release. He’s been through a lot in his life as well. We share some of this, and his big measurement of my actions and well-being comes through the question, “But Dad, are you happy?” Because he sees me frustrated by the world of politics and injustice. He knows I project some anger through those social media channels. So I’ve been working on balance. But I will never quit working for equality and social justice. Neither will he, I suspect.

That “Are you happy” phrase is a complicated question. At times happiness has simply been freedom from immediate strife. For weeks after my father passed away I’d make mental checks to see if he needed something. Coming to grips with the fact that he was actually dead was a strange experience. For years, I’d built in mental space to prepare for all those last-second calls. See, he never called ahead about anything, nor did his caregiver. I was On Call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Decluttering

Now I’m trying to de-clutter my overall existence and look ahead. While I’ve done well in my business in many respects, and gotten some great results for my clients, I’m looking at the long-term plans and where I best belong. I just took a test on the Northwestern Medicine website where I inquired about a marketing position and was interested to see the questions they asked. “Do you like helping people?” was one of the questions. “Strongly agree,” I responded. “Are you uncomfortable around people of different backgrounds, race or religions?” it also asked. And I said, “Strongly disagree.” And as well, “Do you like being a member of a team?” And I thought, Yes, and I’ve also led them quite often.

And while my art and writing are often done in solitude, both are actually ways of reaching out in communication with the world. They also refuel me when I’m otherwise gassed. Of course, there are times when I get tired while writing or painting. So I go for a run or a ride, a swim or a garden walk. It’s a positive circle if you’re mindful.

Batavia Night and Day PosterAnd speaking of circles. I’ve completed some new paintings that are going to be installed in the new hallway at Water Street Studios. They depict the parallel worlds of everyday existence and the decision-makers who help our community grow and change. A pair of figures walking on the roof of some buildings symbolizes those people who do all the high-level decisions, yet also work on committees and commission.

Meanwhile, the days and nights of Batavia go by, and in that sphere, almost like a dome over the city,  is pride of place as well. You can see the two paintings in their original form at top. But they also “pair up” with the circles built into each work. The two unite in concept.

It’s work like this that helps me feel real and involved in the world. And even when I’m gassed, or lying down on the bed at the end of a long day or waking up in the morning, that is often when a spark of creativity will come along, and I fan it into flames, and make it come alive.

And that’s always a gas.

 

 

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Through clouds and winds and mountains

Clouds 1We’re called Flatlanders here in Illinois for a reason. The terrain does not feature many hills, much less mountains. 150 miles to the north, west of Madison, there are plenty of hills. We travel there to ride the Ironman course and participate in rides such as The Wright Stuff and Horribly Hilly. The last hill in the latter features a 2000 foot climb to the top of Blue Mound, a rise in the landscape visible from 40 miles away.

But back home in Illinois, the best we can offer is a glacial moraine called Johnson’s Mound. The road curls through deep woods into the park and climbs the northern side of the closest thing we have to a mountain. It has a section of 11% grade. That’s what you get when you live in Illinois.

Clouds 2Yet we have something else to offer resistance on the road, and plenty of it. That something is called wind, better known as the Illinois Hill. There are headwinds and crosswinds, tailwinds and shifting winds. Winds that change from West to East when you turn around and head back home. Winds that kick your tail and then kick it some more. Winds that grab your bladed spokes and laugh at your aero bike and position. Winds that try to wipe the contact lenses right out of your eyes. And winds that lovingly caress you on calm summer evenings.

We have it all.

Clouds 3We also have plenty of clouds, in equal variety to the types of wind. There are high floating cirrus clouds in fall. Low scudding storm clouds, gray and sullen in winter. Impetuous mixes of nimbus and cirrus in spring. And tall, foreboding storm clouds in summer.

These last clouds, filled with the furious energy of heat and moisture and sun, can tower 50,000 feet over the earth. Some rise over Lake Michigan to the East like a wall of mountains. They have their bright peaks and low valleys just like real mountains in the Rockies. As we ride toward them with the sun setting, they grow temperate and morose, a purple mountain’s majesty of angled sun. The tops glow pink and the horizon mixes with their bottoms. Sometimes lightning flashes and we know it will rain over the lake.

Clouds 4There are tall cumulus clouds that rise over the farmland. That landscape, formerly composed of deep prairie, is now a corn desert that extends 150 miles to the Mississippi. The clouds over this terrain rise in anvil shapes. They take on the size of furious gods. If these clouds roll or drift east we get rain.

Storms typically arrive on a crisp ridge of dark clouds  punctuated with a clean white line where the temperature of the air changes. The air then cools. Rain pours across the earth in sheets. Once the dark clouds move past, a wall of gray, flat rain and clouds takes over, driven by the sometimes insane winds raging through the maple trees.

A few years back a storm that held a microburst came roaring right through our neighborhood. The winds uprooted aged old maples and knocked down an entire parade of power lines. It took days for the work crews to fix the mess and right the poles. All because some angry clouds and a bitchy little wind wanted to have some fun.

We’ve been caught in conditions similar to that while cycling. We tried to beat the storm one night a few years ago, but it caught us out in the open. The rain stripped the mascara right off my girlfriend’s face. I felt rivulets of cold water slipping between my ass cheeks. We were soaking wet, and half laughing. Yet the storm was scary.

After it cleared, and the storm clouds passed, bright white clouds appeared on the western horizon. We pedaled home grateful to be safe and not struck by lightning. It is reported that a lightning strike can stop your heart and disturb the electromagnetic pulses that keep it beating for the rest of your life. If that happens, it takes powerful medicine to kickstart the ticker lest it just stop beating and you die.

Clouds 5Which should make you appreciate the power of the skies, and not worry whether you get to ride among mountains or clouds. There is majesty everywhere if you respect it. But don’t always expect it to respect you. That’s not how it works.

So we run and we ride and we even swim under these furiously changing skies. It is ours to draw energy from the experience.

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Gotta Love A Locker Room

Gotta Love a Locker Room.jpgThe timeworn cliche of a rough old coach on the playing field calling an end to practice by yelling, “Hit the lockers, boys…” may not be what it used to be. Times have changed. Some kids refuse to use the locker room at all, and for a variety of reasons. That’s none of my concern any more. People too shy to use a locker room have problems that will likely haunt them the rest of their lives.

You just gotta learn to love a locker room. I recall the introduction to the locker room at Martin Meylin junior high just south of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Our gym teacher Mr. Davis was a disciplinarian. If you forget to bring  the right gear for gym class, he’d make you pay the price by writing 100 times on the locker room blackboard, “I will not forget my athletic protector.” There were inspections and everything. Like the military.

From gym class to sports teams, the locker room was the passageway to participation. That musty gym smell rising from the sweaty, wet gear of 50 or 60 athletes just became part of your daily life. And most lockers rooms were used by multiple sports teams. To get to our cross country lockers in high school we had to wade through the steaming mass of football players who were rank and defiled by hours of practice in the heat. We’d slip though without shirts on after practice and try to avoid rubbing against their heaving, pimpled bodies. But it wasn’t easy.

Then we’d retreat to the showers, where we sang songs by The Who and The Beatles, laughing at the fatigue rife without our bodies. .

And in college, the locker room became transporter like the one in Star Trek where people would be beamed from student to athlete and back again.

Beyond high school and college and into real life, the locker room turns into something of a social litmus test. At the XSport gym where I lift and swim, there are almost always 15-20 guys milling around getting changed. But some literally stand there and flex in the mirror, drinking protein shakes and glaring at their reflections.

One huge guy with massive rolls of fat on his body perches himself at a shelf with a mirror in the middle of the locker room and does who knows what for close to half an hour. It takes him forever to change. You have to walk past or around him to get anywhere in the locker room. Perhaps he should just paint his big body red, white and blue like a barber pole, and charge admission.

While working out years ago at the East Bank Club in Chicago, I found myself standing between TV star Robert Wagner and tennis great Arthur Ashe. Just people. But it’s a strange thing to be in a locker room with famous people. It just is.

So many locker rooms over the years. At posh golf clubs, I’ve watched Japanese executives lead their corporate proteges in a line. The pawns fall into formation and follow that social protocol without exception. Out to the golf course they go in a line.

At the finer golf clubs I’ve visited, it was always interesting to have my golf shoes shined spotless, and to have warm towels handed to me as if I were someone important in life. It always stuns me to be treated to luxury moments like that. I can’t help thinking the service people see through my lack of real expectation. I tip them the best I can. But I don’t travel in that brand of locker room very often.

Outside of town here in Batavia, there’s a golf club for MEN ONLY. It’s called Black Sheep and it thrives on the idea that men need a place to retreat without the imposition of women. The same guy that formed that club also mowed down a patch of woods at one of his other golf course locations because the city was trying to get him to preserve it. He didn’t like being told what to do so he sent in bulldozers overnight and knocked down all the trees.

One does not get the feeling he was a very good locker mate in high school. And to that end, I can recall a few locker room confrontations with teammates over the years. One objected to my being chosen for the opening lineup in a JV basketball game, so he tried to start a fight in the locker room. The idea seemed so foreign to me, and yet there’s a pecking order to everything in life. I stood my ground but almost got pummeled.

Recently White Sox baseball pitcher Chris Sale took offense to an ugly set of throwback uniforms the team was scheduled to wear. He hated the floppy collars on the old White Sox jerseys, so he went around the locker room with scissors and cut up the shirts. To me that’s funny. But he was fined and banned a day for team insubordination.

I love the scene in the movie Moneyball in which the Billy Bean character played by Brad Pitt walks down the hall after yet another loss by his high-risk baseball team and hears party music being played in the locker room. One of his more controversial players has a boom box playing while doing a bump-and-grind dance while the other players clap along and laugh.

Bean trashes the rooms with a baseball bat, smashing the boom box in the process. Then he points his finger to the sky when silence overcomes the room. “That’s the sound of losing,” he says.

And from then on, the team starts to make progress.

Our cross country coach in college had pre-workout talks in a classroom, but the locker room was still reserved for the athletes. I’ve never known any coaches that made a habit out of hanging around the locker room. I do recall a football coach walking through the college locker room and catching sight of my 140 lb. body. He turned to me and said, “I don’t know how you guys do anything.”

Not exactly a compliment. But again, when a coach is accustomed to the sight of multiple pounds of ballistic flesh, the sight of a runner strained thin through miles of training is likely a scary sight.

This morning after the swim workout I stood in the tiny locker room of the Regole Natatorium at Marmion High School and beheld the space of the locker room. I was amused comforted at the sight of worn out benches and dead gray locker doors. It’s a familiar environment, as welcoming as a local forest preserve with all its quirks and benches and rusted signs. Countless athletes and coaches have passed through that space, all with hopes and dreams and plans of victory. Many have succeeded, and many more have failed. But the locker room welcomes them all. And you gotta love that.

 

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Pool time and conquering fears

The process of learning a new discipline in triathlon takes time. There’s the experimental phase in which you simply try running, riding or swimming the first time. That might bring the thrill of trying something new, but also the frustration of having a hard time trying to improve.

Me in the Pool

Masters coach Chris Colburn captured me checking my watch between intervals. 

For example, I love working with people learning the running trade. I’ve coached the sport many times over the years, and offer more than 40 years of experience as a competitive distance runner. So for me, the excitement in helping others comes from identifying problems they can avoid in the learning process.

 

This is true for people who coach swimming as well. Most are happy and excited to share their experience. But it’s a different process. Because while running is done on land, and the effort is difficult at times,  you aren’t exactly at risk of sinking when you’re running over the ground. And let’s face it, not too many people actually fall over while learning to run. You can just stop.

Different animal

Swimming is a different animal entirely. Pool time comes with the obligation to actually stay afloat. Really rookie swimmers need to start with this simple principle: keep your head above water.

It still astounds me that you can submerge a baby in water and they’ll not suffocate or drown. No fears. The innocents instinctively know from wallowing around in the womb not long before… how to navigate underwater.

So we must ask ourselves: Does the experience of swimming as an adult recall any of those tiny instincts? Hard to tell. When I see my fiance in the water, how natural and smooth she moves, I feel as if there is something aquarian in her soul.

Only when we grow up and develop fears by association do we struggle so much in the water. One could see that as an allegory for life as well. We see and hear others expressing fears and we might see fit to adopt them. Or, some traumatic experience exposes the raw nerves of the inner conscience and a phobia develops. People spend lifetimes in the grip of these fears. Some can be cured. Some cannot.

And in that context, some folks absolutely dread the act of swimming. They either miss the opportunity to learn as a child or find some other excuse to avoid it their entire lives. The water thus frightens them. Even the Sundance Kid perched on that cliff above a canyon stream had to shirk his fears and jump into the water after admitting, “I can’t swim.” But that was as much allegory as a literal statement. The entire movie was about the act of facing fears in life, love and relationships. Sometimes you choose to jump on in. At other times, you have no choice. In either case, you are forced to act.

Leveraging fears

We must maintain empathy for the fears of others. The great religions of the world are heavily focused on helping people overcome fear in all phases of life. Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Fears alone are never the foundation for personal progress in any category of life.

Entire nations can be caught up in the grip of fear, especially after some traumatic event such as Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 tragedy. In those times, it’s as if everyone is swimming in the same cold pool of fear. Leaders are the lifeguards in those moments, translating the meaning of those moment, and promising to assuage our fears.

In the wake of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese navy, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke boldly when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He recognized the importance of confronting fears first, then taking action.” 

By contrast what George W. Bush said after 9/11 did little to assuage fear, but instead encouraged it: “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” 

It is much too easy to mistake bluster for courage in such times, and fear for patriotism. Because what if you did not accept the administration’s course of action in the aftermath of that tragedy? Did that make you the enemy as well? Thus Bush put millions of Americans in a position of conflict with their own nation. I was one of those people who recognized the falsehood of the tales constructed to justify going to war in Iraq (not with Iraq). In that period, I stood against our own government in that respect. My conservative friends tried to lecture that I was “weak” in my liberal position, and “unpatriotic.” Having been proven right about my doubts over the misdirection and tragedies that resulted in Iraq, I have no fears of resisting further acts of bluster and false courage now on display in the political process. In turbulent times, the pool in which we swim is not a comforting place to be. But you either choose to swim your own path or get drowned in falsehoods and waves of fear.

Conquering fears 

All my life I’ve lived with an inherent form of anxiety that is wired into my brain. Through long consideration and acknowledgment of this innate wiring, I’ve come to recognize the ruminative quality of thoughts that feed or increase chronic anxiety. I’ve become far more mentally healthy through a cognitive approach to personal, political and religious considerations. But breaches of justice and equality still piss me off. That trait of righteous anger I will never relinquish. It is not liberal guilt, but simple conscience that drives the desire for social justice. In fact, it is our job to live according to principles that honor the equality and assuage the fears of others. Anything else succumbs to the temptations of money, power and corruption.

Through long experience in the workplace and world, I’ve also come to recognize fears in its many forms, and why they come about. The very personal act of overcoming fear is a practiced art. Learning to swim again is just such a journey.

That’s that part of learning how to swim again that feels so real. Conquering fears is a critical part of every person’ personal growth. It’s taken a little longer than I’d like to get confident in the water, and I’ve yet to swim a mile continually. But that is still my goal this summer. The local outdoor pool shut down this weekend with the lifeguards going back to school, but the indoor pool is just as good a place to build endurance.

And, there is an opportunity coming up in a few weeks to participate in an Olympic triathlon. So we’ll see how it goes.

Mastering swimming

In the meantime, I’m finally signing up for the Masters Swim program at Marmion high school. It’s an early morning commitment that requires a bit of change, because the swimmers in the program gather at 5:30 a.m. before school opens for the day. I’m an early riser by nature, but heading to the pool and swimming two or three times a week is a real commitment at that hour. My fiance does it with panache. So I have a role model. Damnit.

Chris Colburn coaches the program and his sweetheart has improved so much in swimming this past year she is headed for long course nationals out in Portland. I shared a lane with her this Monday morning and enjoyed watching her smooth swimming form. Nikki Marasco has lost a bunch of pounds and gotten to be a really good swimmer through persistent dedication. She’s also a mother of six or seven kids. I’ve lost count because they’re so active and vibrant it’s like counting chicks in a pen. It hasn’t been easy for her to make all this happen. Next she’s going to learn to ride her new triathlon bike, and I’ve offered to help her learn.

 

Nikkie and Chris

Nikki Marasco and Chris Colburn with some creative progeny in the background. 

 

The first thing I realized upon entering the pool this Monday morning is that I’ve learned to like the water much more than I used to. The second thing I’ve learned is that I’ve probably been warming up for swimming all wrong.

Typically I’ve been getting into the pool with a swim buoy and freestyling away for 200-400 meters. That’s not bad, but perhaps it’s not allowing my body to fill those corpuscles with life-giving, oxygenated blood. I get out of breath too soon.

So the shorter intervals of 50 and then 25 meters that we used with punctuated rests at the beginning of the workout worked wonders. So by the time the actual workout came around I was far more ready to participate. That gave me the confidence to do the 125 meter repeats in succession. I took more than 20 seconds rest between, but it all still worked pretty well. Other than the bathroom break in the middle, I did the entire workout. Yay! I didn’t feel like the loser at the far end of the pool getting away with murder.

Pool time is a strange combination of focus on the workout and letting yourself go into the act of swimming. You still need to count laps in a 25-meter pool, but soon enough that becomes a native instinct.

I’ve also learned there are a couple tweaks that need to be done with my freestyle stroke. My left arm swings a little low, and Coach Tim noted that I was pinching my elbows and impinging my shoulder. In fact, I’d noticed on watching swimmers in the Olympics the difference in how world class swimmers flash through the water. Their windmill strokes were different in form and function than mine. So it was interesting to hear how to refine my stroke for the future.

Then I watched the 10K open water swim in the ocean outside Rio. Unreal. Crazy. Waves and shit. Different world altogether. Not sure that will ever be my goal. Ocean swimming? What am I, made of kelp?

And so it will go. Pool time for the fall and winter and spring. And by next summer, confidence in the open water, wetsuit or not. That’s the goal. I can be a good swimmer with practice, dedication and pool time. I have no fear of that.

 

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It was a DNF for the RRCA coach certification clinic

 

OIl and WaterCover

Detail of painting Oil and Water, acrylic on board, by Christopher Cudworth. 

The best intentions sometimes don’t work out. Last Friday night I held an art opening for my solo show “Urban Wilds” at Water Street Studios. People liked the work and visitors were still arriving at 7:30 p.m., but I was scheduled to leave for a drive to Ann Arbor that evening at 8:00.

 

Under normal conditions, the trip was supposed to take just over four hours. I’d planned to leave by 8:00 and arrive by midnight, then get up to attend the running coach certification course held by the Road Runner’s Club of America.

I’d done my homework. Watched the required video on Vimeo about the history of running coaches. I already knew them by heart, for the most part. Arthur Lydiard. Percy Cerutty. These were the guys who informed our training in the early 1970s. However, I never purchased a pair of Lydiard-brand shoes because they were $70 at the time. How times have changed.

I was excited to take the course but a bit concerned about the drive east. When I signed up the art show dates were not set. But then they synced up with that Friday and I decided to make do.

 

Storm Path.png

The storm path was approximately 100 miles wide and headed in a northeasterly direction. 

There was one problem. Big storms were pushing through the Chicago area and up into western Michigan. The skies were dumping boatloads of rain as I climbed in the car to start driving. I made it all the way to Woodridge, about 30 miles southeast, before pulling off I-355 to look at the radar on the Weather Channel app.

 

It did not deliver good news. The rain storm was coming from the southwest and heading on a continual, broad path in the exact same direction I’d be heading on Route 80 to 94 and up in to Michigan.

While sitting in the car on the road shoulder next to the tool booth, my phone made a strange sound and a FLASH FLOOD ADVISORY came up. That equated to a DNF in my book. It would be too stressful to drive through that weather for hours without relief.

I took one last look at the radar. The band of dark green indicating rain clouds was at least 100 miles wide and flowing like a river northward over the path I needed to drive. I sat there with a sigh. Then I called the hotel in Ann Arbor and told them it was impossible for me to make it that evening. So they cancelled my room. Thank you, Candlewood Suites.

Then I emailed the clinic organizers and explained the situation. It simply wasn’t advisable to attempt that drive at that time of night in what would likely be driving rain for the next three hours. I hope they’ll let me apply my course fees as a credit for a future seminar.

 

Oil and Water 2.jpg

Oil and Water 2, Original Painting by Christopher Cudworth, for the show Urban Wilds. 

As a younger idiot I might have attempted that long drive in the rain. But I’m an older idiot now who possesses a dose of common sense. So I turned around and headed back home.

 

Only I had gotten myself so pumped to do the drive it was difficult to get to sleep. So the DNF on the RRCA turned into a CNS (Could Not Sleep) night of fitful rest.

But I still got up and rode 30 miles with my buddies, who were fortunately a bit hung over from a class reunion the night before. So we rode 16 mph and called it a morning.

The funny thing about the entire evening was the strange resemblance between my painting Oil and Water and the image of the weather from Friday night. There indeed seemed to be some sort of flow going on, and a lesson that life isn’t always what you want to make of it.

 

 

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A new meaning to fields of grass

CornThe squirrels who visit my front yard bird feeder played a bit of a practical joke on me. A tall corn stalk has popped up in the front garden. It stands nearly five feet tall now. Whether it will produce ears of corn remains to be seen. But it’s still August. So there’s time.

I looked up corn on the Internet because I’d read somewhere that it is a form of grass. Here’s what I found from a study of corn genetics at the University of Utah:

“Through the study of genetics, we know today that corn’s wild ancestor is a grass called teosinte. Teosinte doesn’t look much like maize, especially when you compare its kernels to those of corn. But at the DNA level, the two are surprisingly alike. They have the same number of chromosomes and a remarkably similar arrangement of genes. In fact, teosinte can cross-breed with modern maize varieties to form maize-teosinte hybrids that can go on to reproduce naturally.

Scientists study teosinte-maize hybrids and their offspring through the process of genetic archaeology. This process helps geneticists understand what is happening at the DNA level to make teosinte and maize so different. By combining clues from genetics and the archaeological record, scientists have pieced together much of the story of maize evolution.”

Wow. So all that corn growing across America’s heartland, and through which I ride and run every day here in Illinois…is actually a form of glorified grass.

The products that come from corn are so diverse they cannot be listed here. But check this out: 10 products that you did not know were made from corn. 

The reason all this runs through my mind is that we take all this stuff so much for granted. This week I rode 38 miles with a group ride and we passed miles upon miles of cornfields. They are green and tall now. Sweet corn is for sale at farm stands everywhere. There will be a big corn boil out in Dekalb soon, and our local high school has a big corn boil to raise money for all the athletic teams.

Everyday citizens take all this for granted. We don’t need to think about corn, as a rule, for our daily existence. But agriculture does. And these massive monocultures we’ve created across the entire United States exist except in exceptionally arid regions.

Corn grows like a weed, essentially. It is a highly refined weed. We’re nudged and coaxed it genetically and companies like Monsanto own the patent on strains of corn that cannot be kept from season to season. Farmers that do so have been sued and impoverished for the simple act of keeping corn seed stock from season to season.

One can see why Monsanto wants to own and enforce its patents on corn. It pumps money into its research programs and wants to protect that return on investment. All to own the rights to a glorified weed. A grass, turned into the princess of farm products. It’s almost a Cinderella story, if you think about it.

Marijuana plant

big cannabis marijuana plant detail

Contrast that narrative with another type of “grass.” That would be marijuana. There’s a whole science to growing “weed” as well. It hails by origin from south-central Asia. Yet in many parts of the world, growing marijuana is illegal. Still, people with a penchant to get high took hold of marijuana and turned it into a cash crop that perhaps rivals even corn in its commercial viability.

Because of its illegality due to the fact that marijuana can get you high as fuck, its propagation is often a highly protected secret. And because of that fact, you do not want to stumble on a marijuana plantation guarded by people with guns, which I almost did one time while visiting the Hawaii island of Oahu. I was determined to visit some back country and went for a run-walk up some trails into the mountains. I got lost and wound up walking back through a military base where I pretended to be one of the residents and walked right out the front gate.

Later, while relating this story to a semi-local in Waikiki, he turned to me and said, “Are you fucking crazy? There are pot farms up there and they’ll shoot you in the head if you find them.”

Such is the world of the innocents. I also encountered a fair number of call girls working the streets of Waikiki that day. They seemed too beautiful to be whores, but that’s a naive judgment as well. While running through the streets of Honolulu I was asked point blank whether I’d like oral sex in the alley. And sitting in the Blue Water Cafe, I learned that the stunning woman next to me in the transparent tee-shirt made a very good living in the company of very rich men. She traveled the world and looked the part.

So this world of expectations and illegal activities is always near if you go looking for it. If so moved, I could score a bag of grass this very day with one or two phone calls. Illegal or not, grass is everywhere. Pot is a recreational drug. Michael Phelps got busted using it. NFL and NBA players toke the stuff. There are strains from Jamaica or Hawaii or Turkey that can take the top of your head right off.

Bike Lanes MeI recall smoking some weed back in college days when my buddy handed me a pipe and sat chuckling in the front seat of a 7-11. I took a draw or two and then my head slammed back against the seat. “Like it?” he squealed through squinty eyes. “It’s hashish!”

And later, on the way to a party my friend and I got high in the parking lot and engaged in an impromptu kickboxing match for the fun of it. Some dude walked out in the parking lot and wanted to know what style we practiced. We both stood there laughing like dopes. “We’re high, dude. We don’t practice nothing.”

That was many, many years ago. I have not smoked weed in more than three decades.

But I do eat a lot of corn, and as we’ve learned, corn is a glorified form of weed. The chemical aspects of corn actually have far more influence on our daily lives than anyone might care to admit. Corn syrup is used in sodas, for example, which can make you fat faster than almost any product on earth. Corn syrup and its sugars are more powerful in some ways than crack cocaine, much less pot. Our bodies grow so addicted to the sugars made from corn syrup we cannot eat, sleep or drink without craving them.

So we have to ask which types of weed or grass are really our worst enemies? Is it the illegal kind that makes us high and builds cravings for trays of brownies? Or is it the corn-based products that drive obesity and are the ruination of healthy diets through all the processed foods we ingest by habit and by aisle at the grocery store.

These are things worth considering, because the drugs we choose and the foods we use are often no so far apart in our dependencies. Alchohol causes all sorts of addiction problems, as well as obesity. Yet it’s perfectly legal. But pot? That’s a “gateway drug.”

But things are changing. Now that marijuana is becoming legalized in some states, it might be time to turn around and actually take a look at regulating products like corn instead.

And we might start by telling Monsanto to shove a genetically modified corn cob right up its ass, as they did in some European countries that have banned GMOS like certain brands of corn because they can spread and cause strange effects in the plant and human population. These countries are standing up to the unpredictable and possibly dangerous side effects of GMOs in plants and the food we eat.

It is indeed a funny world when our formerly legalized and beloved plants are being stopped at the borders of countries who consider it an enemy. Yet formerly illegal plants like marijuana are suddenly being embraced by nations the world over, and hemp products too, which can be useful for manufacturing and energy, to name a few.

Whether we we like it or not, we’re all just running through grass of one kind or another. Might as well enjoy the ride, huh?

 

 

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Hugging a wheel

 

cud-racing

ABD Kit. Circa 2008. On the Felt. 

Athletes By Design is a cycling club to which I belonged a few years back while doing a bit of criterium racing. The group is housed out of a pair of Prairie Path Cycling shops run by Mike Ferrell, whose own pro years mix with those of epic teams such as 7/11.

 

ABD and PPC put on some of the best races in the Chicago area. They also host the Tuesday night criterium racing in an underdeveloped tech corridor area south of DuPage airport. Every week 50-75 riders from throughout the Chicagoland area and in all categories practice their road racing skills because ABD/PP puts on the events.

They also host a solid group ride on Wednesday evening. Years back when I began cycling that group ride was a staple of my training weeks. The ride once attracted 20-25 riders and a mix of men and women. It was popular but a bit unwieldy at times.

This week when I showed up I recognized the familiar young face of a rider named Konrad Witt. I recall his first ventures into cycling when he was just 13-14 years old keeping up with guys ten years older. He’s a beast now, with massive cycling thighs and a competitive record of which most would be envious. He’s attending school at College of DuPage and intends to transfer to a school named Lindenwood University in St. Louis, Missouri. I had not heard of the school prior to that, but I guess they have a good cycling team.

Witt rode with us for a while , the first 10 miles or so, but disappeared at some point to go ride at a faster rate, I’m sure. I overheard a quiet bit of coaching from Mike Farrell to Konrad before we departed. “The last five miles should be hard,” Coach Farrell instructed the young man.

Riding in the company of someone so talented as Konrad can be disconcerting. No matter how fast the group may be going, or how good you personally feel, there is an awareness with a rider of that caliber that they can pedal away from you any minute. In fact, there was a bit of joking at the start of the ride about how The Kid has to carry all that muscle around in his thighs. He chuckled quietly and kept pedaling. Elite riders know that there are always people who can beat the hell out of them on any given day. Elite runners and swimmers know that too. No amount of muscle or confidence equals perfection.

Instead, the act of perfecting your riding is a constant journey. And as we rolled out on the roads west of Batavia, the pace picked up and I found myself doing one of the first pulls. This is both wise and unwise with a group that you have not ridden with in a long time. Doing pulls requires more energy, and when you don’t know what the typical pace might be, or how you might be at sustaining it, doing pulls is risky territory.

But I figured that would figure itself out. I’d ridden with the group years back and discussed pace in advance with a couple other riders, and was told it was 20 mph on average. I knew that was possible because my riding has been going well. So I did my two minute pull at the front and tried to drift back. But we were on narrow roads and the back did not come forward right away. So I wound up doing another pull fairly quickly, but felt fine. And then another. Well, so it goes.

As a relative newbie to the group, this was perhaps silly of me to carry on like that. One does not want to send some arrogant message or suggest that you’re a superior rider by doing too many pulls. When the next stop sign came around, I made sure to drift further back and hug a wheel for a while.

Then we turned west onto country roads toward Kaneville and the group dialed it up again. This time, we were at 23 mph, or so I ascertained when my turn at the front with another rider came along. We were pedaling two abreast and spinning off the right and left in rotation. He turned to me and asked, “Keep it at 22?” So that told me that we were riding decently, but not out of control.

Because a few years back the ride turned into a weekly race. Guys on the front might hammer the group to pieces. It wasn’t constructive for anyone that could not hold that pace, and eventually, the ride busted up on its own accord.

It’s been formed again with a firm yet friendly hand. Everyone is into the scene for its steady benefits, and the ride still goes fast now and then, but cooperatively so. That makes for a great group ride. If you’re feeling strong, you do more pulls. If you need a week to regather, you sit in, do the pulls that come along but don’t stay on the front too long.

Only the most pitiless riders take pleasure in dropping people on group rides anyway. There are a few cycling sociopaths who live for this, their big egos focus on small things like that. But the ABD guys were in this thing together, and it was a great ride as a result.

As expected, the ride truly dialed up the last 10 miles coming in from Kaneville. Hard riding when everyone is warmed up and nearly home is acceptable. I did have to pedal hard to stay on and not let a gap open up. In fact, for most of the ride, I ignored the scenery, which was beautiful on a summer evening, focusing instead on riding a clean line with the wheel in front of me just inches from my own.

At some point, another rider actually tapped my rear wheel with his. A quick apology was issued and I was glad it was not any worse. That can turn a lovely ride into a living hell. Fast.

We rolled back into town and my legs felt good the entire way. My phone died and my Strava lost the last six miles, which was too bad because someone after the ride shared that we’d averaged 21.5. A perfect mid-week ride in the company of good guys who love their “work.” I took no photos because that’s a good way to crash when you’re riding in a group of 10 or more. But I kind of like the photos held in my mind. The whirr of wheels. The slide from front to back in rotation. The feeling of being on the front and doing pulls, and getting quiet compliments on the quality of your pulls. It’s what you want from a group ride. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Thanks, ABD. We might see you again to hug a wheel and ride until the sun sets.

 

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Hybrid dreams

 

SpecializedMidway through my ride yesterday, I turned right from Burr Road onto Silver Glen Road heading east toward a bridge across the Fox River. It was a mellow ride thus far, a bit of recovery two days after the Sprint Triathlon in Naperville.

As I turned right at the T intersection, another cyclist on the bike trail across the road came whipping past. He wore a plain white tee shirt, black shorts and wore sneakers on his pedals. The bike he rode was a hybrid. He sat upright and pedaled like a madman.

Proceeding east, I slowly caught and passed him. He was doing 18 on the flat, by my estimate, and 20+ on the downhills. His loose tee flapped in the wind and he was enormously focused on what he was doing.

On the uphill I passed him and then cut into the middle of the road to make a left turn at the big road ahead, then changed my mind and decided to go straight.

At that point, the light changed and the tee shirt guy came ripping past again. He was still on the bike trail across the way. I clipped in and started pedaling at my normal rate.

Ahead on the trail, he was now hunched slightly over and pedaling even harder. I was focused on a high cadence ride yesterday, so I kept it near 100 rpms and pedaled past him on the Venge.

The guy was clearly having a good workout. Doing what he likes to do. And as I stopped to wait at the next intersection where the road was under construction, and traffic was tied up in impatient knots, the hybrid dude swung past on the left and began pedaling against traffic on the newly laid tarmac headed north. He vanished around the long arc of Route 25 at Stearns Road before I could get across the street.

I figured that was the last I’d see of him. Yet two miles later, when I angled through the forest preserve to grab the bike trail heading south toward St. Charles, I heard the banging of bike tires crossing the trail bridge with its wooden boards. Sure enough, as I turned onto the trail, the hybrid guy was at the base of the long climb up Tekakwitha Woods. It’s a Strava segment. Yesterday I dialed in an rode my best time which measured 288th all time. At 2:18 I’m about one minute behind the fastest of riders. So I make no claims to be a stellar cyclist at any level. At the top, I nearly caught hybrid guy. But purposely did not pass him.

These days I remain something of a hybrid guy myself. The Venge I ride is technically a road racing bike. Yet I hump it through triathlons while riding in the drops. I’ve rather decided not to put aero bars on it.  Specialized warns against that with the particular carbon bars that came with the bike. It would require replacing the factory bars($300) recabling the bike ($300) and sticking aero bars on it (another $300). I’m not all that sure all that work will make me any faster on the ride segments of triathlon. My riding improvement this year has come about through smarter pedaling, smarter training and some strength work. If I can average 24 on the bike, I’ll be doing just fine. I averaged 22 in the last two triathlons I did. Aero bars aren’t going to do that. Riding harder will.

Last weekend I passed tons of people riding aero. I only got passed by a few people during the race, all of them pushing big gears and bearing down in aero. Triathletes love that big gear stuff. No high cadence for them, as a rule. Not that I’ve seen anyway.

I admire their strength. And purpose. But something in me still likes the snap of climbing on my road bike, and cornering, and having fun on the bike as a rule.

So I remain a hybrid triathlete of sorts. I’m sure there are those who view me and my road bike with the same curious (judgmental?) eye that I apply to the guy in the white tee shirt humping along the bike trail at 20 mph. But we’re all hybrids of some sort. Triathlon is a hybrid sport. Its entire premise is based on trying to become adept at three very different sports.

Part of me is curious about what it would have been like to race triathlons when I was supremely young and fit. At that stage of life, it would not have been hard for me to run 16:00 in the 5K even coming off the bike at that point. I ran those times in my sleep, and 17:00 was a training run. That’s elite-level stuff in triathlon.

Whether I could have gotten equally good on the bike is another consideration. My two best buddies did triathlons back then, with some success.

The swim would have been tough for me. My arms were skinny. But I was a damn determined kid all through my 20s. I won the college Superstars competition doing seven different events from a choice of ten. But the only thing at which I sucked in that event was, admittedly, the swimming. That 50-yard freestyle damn near killed me.

So it would have taken some work on my part even back then to become a decent swimmer. That’s still very much a work in progress. I’m a hybrid animal in the pool, with just enough fat on my body to float a little yet skinny enough in my frame to sink at the hips like runners do in the pool.

I guess it’s time to take pride in being a hybrid. As both a writer and artist, my days bounce back and forth between the two, with some marketing and sales thrown in. The triathlon of my work world.

And if you’re curious whether I caught and passed that hybrid guy a third time? No, I did not.. I held back and let him cruise on ahead. What was the point? My ego is not that hungry that I had to make some sort of point by catching and passing him after the hill. Instead, I veered off to ride some new roads, because that was what my ride was all about yesterday. Tee shirt guy headed south on the bike trail along the river. No doubt he was getting in a good 20-miler or so. And good on him. His hybrid seems like it loves a good workout, and he gives it a go. Godspeed, Hybrid Guy. We all have our hybrid dreams.

 

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