Monday, May 11, 2015

Making up for lost time

On Friday Coach Eric posted an article on FB that he wrote for Training Peaks last year entitled Making up for Lost Training Time.  I immediately replied to his post "Did you write this for me?"  Was he calling me out and using Coaching Psychology to put it in a forum like that so I would know he was talking about me without coming out and saying it so that no one else knows he is directly talking to me?  I know that may seem silly to the rational mind but the athlete that believes that s/he is behind feels the guilt and immediately starts to wonder what can I do to make up that lost training time?

Last year in my pursuit of doing 3 Ironman races in 11 months saw me take virtually no time off from training.  Just one race jumping into another then another.  I didn't want time off.  I didn't feel the need for time off.  I was enjoying myself and my life's journey and experiences.  It was my intent to continue along this path into my 2015 race season.   Then came a mid September day when my life started to go in a bit of an uncontrollable downward spin. My training had drastically reduced in the final 6 weeks leading up to IM Fortaleza due to what I perceived as unrealistic and irrational conditions at work.     It was so bad that I almost backed out of competing......almost.

Those conditions didn’t change when I returned from Brazil and for the next four months continued to get increasingly worse.  Interestingly enough, although signs of constant improvement were being shown at work in all areas (Guest & Associate Satisfaction and Fiscally) for the 1st time in years, the US Corporate office of the hotel suddenly was asking, unrealistically, for more then had ever been produced/asked for of the hotel and they wanted it yesterday.  Yet major mechanical malfunctions existed around every corner, Hot Water Boilers out of service, multiple Elevators not working, constant roof leaks during rain and public spaces of the hotel still not functional or operating since the flood over a year prior had not been addressed.  

I did the only thing I knew how......put my head down, put my team on my shoulders and carried on.  Fix it the best I could with the resources and manpower that I had. We were short staffed over 30 people from the previous year due to the new hiring freeze and policies set forth by the Corporate office in their attempt to try and have more money hit the bottom line.  My training and personal life suffered.  I virtually lost a half of a year due to stress and uncontrollable circumstances.  I could no longer look a guest in the eye and apologize for an elevator that had been broken for 1.5 years and explain why they had to walk up four flights of stairs.  I could no longer look an employee in the eye that had just gotten yelled at by a guest because the full paying guest had no HOT water during their stay and their only option was to be escorted to another wing of the hotel where a room just became vacant so that they did not have to take a COLD or no shower.  This is after months of pleading with the company to replace the 25+ year old heater.  Fun huh?

I could not put my name or my face to such a place and I left.   On Jan 20th, I said no more and tendered my resignation.   I realized that I lost a bit of myself during that time.  Any time spent maintaining to stay in shape and preparing myself for my second year of Ironman competition completely ceased.  Many important things to me in my personal life took a back seat to work.

I was raised to do the best job that I can.  That you don't quit.  That you make your company, your family and your friends proud.  I have never walked away from anything before.  I have never not been successful in any work venture that I put my hands on and name to.  And here I was quitting.  Walking away from an entire Executive Team that I built and hired with the lure of my dreams of the potential that was held in the hallways of the hotel.  Walking away from all the guests through the years that I befriended and gave business to this company because I would ensure their stay or meetings would go off without a hitch.  Walking away from over 100 employees that I lead through a national disaster, that I cross trained and personally created events so they would have shifts to pay their bills, that endured for over 12 years of virtually no capital improvements to the hotel compared with now a 100 room renovation, new public bathrooms, new public spaces, new kitchen equipment, new Wi Fi, new gardens and bars, painting of the building and  increased safety and security systems in place.. yadda yadda yadda...I could go on for hours.  We have come an incredible distance in my few short years at the hotel.  I did it all because I was passionate about it and I truly LOVE what I do.  Leading, building, creating, improving operating efficiencies...all that stuff is righteous to me and where I excel...........and I quit.

For a guy that tries to live in the now and the present, I let a lot of time slip away.  Those 4 months from September to January, I will never get back again.  I will never get those miles back in my legs and lungs nor the time missed spending with my girlfriend or my boy or experiencing life.  Doing the things that make me laugh and smile and just enjoy the shit out of my journey, my path.

So here I am, at almost the heaviest I have ever been, in horrible shape and feeling bad/guilty about quitting work.  After months of roadblocks and trying to find solutions with the corp. office I know it was the only choice I really had at recapturing my life and getting my essence back.  I begin the job search but I am hesitant about training again.  I am so far behind where in my mind I should be.  Starting all over again is never easy and a bit of a daunting task. Besides how can I have the luxury to train all day when I have no job?  How irresponsible of me!  How can I be biking and swimming and running for hours when I have 2 mortgages to answer for?  So I stayed away from committing to race training.  I mean, I hung on or tried to.  I would do the occasional swim or ride or run.  

I started to lead easy group rides for The Boulder Tri Club on Saturdays and Sunday is a Fun day for a Run Day group trail runs on Sundays.  I was doing what I believed I could to try and stay in shape and be fiscally responsible at the same time.  I wouldn't spend the money on lift tickets and saw the least amount of on hill time that I had experienced since about 1997.  I did share one epic ski weekend with my godson in beautiful Steamboat.  

Then March rolled around and I realized it was 2 months out to Boise 70.3 and 5 months out to Boulder Ironman.  Man I was going to be in trouble.  I need to pull my shit together and get back in the game.  I would not give up on myself and the 2015 race season just yet.  As Coach Eric stated in his Blog  "The 2015 racing season has started. However, some athletes may be behind in training and the thought of a race makes you shake your head and think, “There is no way I am ready to race right now.” I’ve heard that before and there are plenty of legitimate reasons for being in this situation. The question is what can you do now to get in shape quickly but safely."

To me the answer to this question was easy. So I called Eric and asked for a sit down.  With my racing schedule in hand we chatted about where I was and what I wanted to have happen.  I still felt a little guilty about going into this without having a full time job but I knew I would feel a lot worse giving up on myself because I would be physically incapable to compete.  We decided to start our new journey together aptly on April Fools Day, April 1 and Eric was officially Coach E again.  I have said it time and time again, the single best investment any triathlete can make is to hire a Good/Great Coach.  In Boulder there are a ton of posers and people who call themselves coaches.  But if you can find a good one they will help you achieve your goals safely.  Three Ironman finishes in a year, without ever competing in a triathlon, injury free is a testament to that.

So April 1 comes and with baby steps I begin to get back into a real training mindset and mode. Then it hits.  Simultaneously, Bronchitis and a sinus infection.  I am out again.  I struggle to try and train and realize I may be doing more harm then good and am sidelined once again.  The pressure of being "race ready" is even stronger than ever.  Mentally I am there and ready to commit now physically I cannot.  During this additional 2 weeks away from training I realize that it is impossible to do a job search for 8 hours a day 5 days a week.  I definitely notice how more "free" time I have had and how it has been wonderful to spend with Jess and to continue to allow our relationship to grow.  

I am able to stop everything for a moment and reflect on my journey.  Much of the outside world (Work & Training) that once gobbled up my time ceases to exist.  I am able to calm the outside demons in my head and am allowed to focus.   I started hosting Full Moon Wine Soirees again, put together plans for a few 14er hikes, meet up with friends for dinners and shows, go for mountain bike rides and hiked Mt. Sanitas for the first time in over a year.  

I volunteered to be a guide for a visually impaired runner at a race and the time with my boy has increased dramatically.   Being sick and stopping my training for those few weeks allowed me to reflect.  I was gung ho to jump in with both feet almost mindless of what was surrounding me because I was feeling soooo far behind and needed to catch up.  I am back to living in the present and feeling with even more sense of gratitude the path I am walking and the people who are besides me along the way.

So now I'm off the medication and finally back at training full force again and loving it.  Each session feels better and better than before.  I am psyched for the race season ahead and although getting a late jump on things, I feel more confident right now then I did at this point last year.  I still have a long way to go to achieve my race goals but my mindset is as good as it can be.  And I'll persist to search for that career position that I desire at my pace without obsessing over it.  And will not settle for just a job but would rather go without and be happy in my life.  And I'll continue to cherish my long Sunday trail runs in this beautiful Boulder town with my boy and gal along my side.

Am I making up for lost time??  I'm not sure but I know I am taking control of my life again and in a way that I haven't had since that September day.

"I often tell my athletes “worry about the things you can control. Not the stuff you can’t” ~ Eric Kenney

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for keeping it real Marty. I appreciate your writing. Keep it up!


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