Friday, April 22, 2011

(Half) Century Man

Today, I hit the big 5-0!!!  That’s right.  I have now been around for half a century. (How many of you cyclists out there thought the title referred to a cycling event?)  The funny thing is I don’t feel 50.  Mentally, emotionally, and even physically, I feel like I stopped getting older at some point in my early 40’s.  To put it the words of Jimmy Buffett, I’m growing older but not up!

I am sure cycling is a big part of that, especially when you consider I started cycling at the age of 42.  I discovered a passion for riding my bike and that quickly turned into a love of all things cycling.  I love to ride bikes, talk about riding bikes, watch other people ride bikes, and so forth and so on.  It is amazing that something like this could have such a large impact on who I am today.

bday 4 When you start to break it down, it’s pretty easy to figure out.  I feel like a kid when I’m on my bike and that helps me feel young.  The sheer freedom of being able to hop on my bike and simply roll around for hours is exhilarating.  I also tend to act like a kid on my bike as you can guess from the photo.

I am a firm believer that stress and a lack of physical activity has the biggest impact on “aging” and cycling fixes both of those.  It doesn’t matter how stressful the workday was, I can make it all go away by getting on my bike.  Plus, when I am riding with friends we tend to talk about cycling and not work and that helps provide another mental escape from the daily grind.

BDay 1  I think another big part is that I do ride with a lot of people younger then me.  Most of my cycling friends are in their early 30’s or 40’s.  It may seem silly, but hanging with them and participating in their conversations goes a long way to warding off the fuddy-duddy factor so many of us fall into.  Yes, for me, hanging with young people makes me feel young.

Speaking of friends, they have this nasty tendency to want to make you feel better.  They’ll make you laugh when you’re down.  They’ll stand by when times are tough.  And, listen to your stories no matter how many times you’ve told them before.  How could anyone feel old with that kind of positive energy surrounding them on a continual basis.

Bday 2There’s one last thing.  As a fairly dedicated cyclist, I typically ride between 4,000 – 5,000 miles a year.  I have to admit that I get tremendous satisfaction when some 20-something hears this and looks my way with complete admiration.  That or they think I’m crazy.  I am okay with either look (I think I prefer crazy).  Or, when you’re standing around the coffee bar at work saying you rode 125 miles that weekend and they say they didn’t drive that far.  Or even better is when you hear this conversation - “Can you believe Lee is 50?” “Yes, but I wouldn’t want to keep up with him on a bike.”

So there you have it.  Cycling is a big part of why I still feel young and why I am ready to face the next half-century with the same je ne sais quoi that got me to this point.  I can’t wait to see where it takes me.


Monday, April 18, 2011

(Half) Marathon Man

As 2010 came to a close I began to consider my goals for 2011.  You see, I am the type of guy who needs goals.  Otherwise, I will let the comfort of my chair and a good cup of coffee keep me from heading out into the cold to train.  So without the hard-driving internal motivation that so many athletes possess, I have to rely on upcoming events to keep my mojo on track.

From a cycling perspective, it’s pretty easy to find local events to ride so this is not a problem.  Plus, I am always up for riding with friends whether I have a pending goal or not.  However, I have be honest and say I ended last year a little burnt out on cycling and very, very tired.  I was beginning to feel like it was time for a slight change of scenery.

So, I started running again this year.  Running was my exercise of choice many years ago until I broke my ankle trail running in Annadel State Park.  (BTW –This accident led me to road cycling but that’s a story for another day).  My original goal was to use running for a little cross training and to provide a kind of mental break from cycling.

Of course, as I sat in my chair with my coffee and listened to the rain this winter, running became an excuse not to ride on the trainer in my garage, which I detest.  I wouldn’t get on the trainer because I was going to “go for a run”.  I needed a goal if I had any hope of turning this around.

I half-heartedly decided to run a half-marathon.  I’ve participated in hundreds of 10k runs so that didn’t seem long enough to be a good goal.  I say half-heartedly because while I did choose a distance I didn’t actually choose an event so I don’t think that qualifies as a real goal.

That’s when I discovered that about 15 people from work were all running the Windsor Green Half Marathon on May 22nd.  It did not take much convincing for me to jump on board.  Now that I finally have an event, let the training begin.

My original plan was to ensure running didn’t interfere with cycling.  What was I thinking?  With no major cycling events on the horizon running is my main focus right now.  I usually ride between 4,000 – 5,000 miles a year, which translates to 1,000+ miles a quarter.  I finished March with just over 600 miles of pedaling and nearly 100 miles of running. 

As to the running plan, well so far, so good.  It was sidetracked just a bit as I worked my way through a nasty cold in February but otherwise, it’s going smoothly.  I already reached the 7-mile point and with 5 weeks remaining I am confident I will be ready.  The really cool part is running with friends in Annadel again.  I forgot just how beautiful it was up there (running in Annadel will be featured in a future post).

Will I keep running after my half-marathon?  Probably!  However, it will be relegated back down to my secondary activity that helps with a little cross-training.  Still, it will be nice to have that running base just in case another cool opportunity arises in the future.  And when it does, all I’ll have to do is make it a goal and I’ll be ready.


Monday, April 11, 2011

And, he’s back!!!

January 24, 2011.  That was the last time  I posted a blog on Lee’s Life Adventure.  This is definitely the longest unplanned break but as many of you know, life happens!  It’s been a crazy busy year so far but it’s finally starting to return to normal, whatever that is.  Here’s a recap to get you caught up.

alphonse The biggest issue has been work.  As some of you know, I was selected to attend Western CUNA Management School last year (think of a mini-MBA program for credit unions).  This is quite an honor but it also comes with a bit of a price tag.  Between classes, held in July at Pomona College, there is a significant project that must be completed.  How significant?  Well, let’s just say that 250 (or more) hours and 170 pages after starting it, I managed to get it shipped off on March 29th to meet the April 1st deadline for receiving honors or high honors from my reviewer.  Of course, it also has to be damn good to receive to received such accolades.  I am confident it is a respectable effort but won’t know the result until our next class in July.

Snow in the hills on a very cold ride. Now, all that school work might have hindered my blogging but it did not interfere with riding.  No, it was Mother Nature that filled that role.  We had a very cold and wet winter this year and getting out on the bike was a bit of challenge (March was the second wettest month on record).  Still, I’ve already had some great rides with friends and the season is just starting so I know there will be many more. 

From the cycling perspective, perhaps the most interesting thing is my new unofficial team role with Team Revolution presented by Fitness Journal.  Last year, I was one of the B ride leaders however we never really got on track as a group.  This year, there were three of us that took charge as it were and we now have the B rides rolling along nicely.  During this time, I somehow became an unofficial leader.  It’s a role I enjoy so no complaints here.  However, it does mean I’ve spent a fair amount of time creating and leading rides, posting rides through email and on Facebook, and trying to provide post-ride comments on Facebook as well.  All of this was designed to re-energize the B riders and it seems to be working if I do say so myself. 

I am also training for a half-marathon in May but I will save that for another blog. 

So, there’s a quick update on my world.  It is returning to normal so the adventures should start to occur with more frequency.  Hopefully, I will also have the time and energy to write about them.

Until then . . .