mental toughness

If you want to do it...

"If you want to do it. I'll help you." Those are the words, I heard my father say when I mentioned the idea of entering an 18 hour mtb race 8 years ago. It wasn't the first time I had heard them in my life. They've been spoken to me since I was a kid. I didn't know what I was getting myself into except my friends said it would be a good time. I can't imagine he had any clue either. 18 hours later, we both knew it wouldn't be the last limit pushing task I would take us on.

Yesterday, I was able to sneak away from the house for a quick 5 hour ride. While riding past the various crop fields in Hanover, a song came over the Pandora airwaves which sent me down memory lane. It was "The Impossible" by Joe Nichols.

My dad chased monsters from the dark
He checked underneath my bed
He could lift me with one arm
Way up over top his head
He could loosen rusty bolts
With a quick turn of his wrench
He pulled splinters from his hand
Never even flinched
In thirteen years I'd never seen him cry
But the day that grandpa died,I realized

Unsinkable ships, sink
Unbreakable walls, break
Sometimes the things you think would never happen
Happen just like that

The lyrics resonate deeply with me. If you know my dad, you would think Joe wrote the song about him. Even to this day, I rely on him to loosen bolts I can't break. I was lucky enough to grow up with a role model in the form of a father who taught me life long lessons. He taught me how to work with tools by granting my brother, sister and I access to his toolbox to build a treehouse. Then coming back to make sure it would stay in the tree. He would teach me to operate a motor vehicle without causing havoc all over the county.

One of the biggest lessons he taught me was that he would always be there. He taught me to dream big. That nothing was impossible. He did so by stating those nine words, "If you want to do it. I'll help you." over and over again with every bright idea I ever had.

Over the years, I have been told by many who have met the both of us, I am the spitting image of my father. There couldn't be a bigger compliment I could ever receive. My drive, determination and good looks I got from him.

I recently read on article which stated that Father's Day will take a backseat to Mother's Day this year. Thankfully it is not and will not be the case in our family. Dad, thank you for always helping.

As a thank you to all the fathers out there, the team and I have put together a gift box which we will be raffling off this week. The box contains a stunning silk tie and leather card case donated by Lilo Collections, a variety of rubs for your grilling and eating pleasure and a hand-turned pen made by the finest woodworker I know, my Dad. Every donation between now and 9pm Friday night, will receive a #NothingToItButToDoIt t-shirt and an entry to win the gift box for a special father in your life. Entries can be made here.





When was the last time you stayed up to watch a late night movie despite having work in the morning? Or got a drink with friends after work instead of going home? The last time you chose to live instead of rest? More times than not as endurance athletes, we choose to follow the plan and go home to rest after work or a good workout. Yesterday was not one of those times for me.

Sunday was such a productive day around the house I knew I would have the majority of the day to get a ride in. As I was thinking about where I wanted to go, one fact kept weighing on the decision making process. I just want to ride my bike. After filling bottles, getting dressed and stuffing my pockets full of food I scrolled through the courses loaded on the Garmin. I chose "Around the Lake" and shoved off. Which lake? Lake Chesdin of course. I hadn't been down there since last Fall and thought it would be fun to do something different.

And it was. I wouldn't think about doing this route on a warm weekend due to boat traffic and other overly excited lake goers but on a Monday, it was great. I was able to go for miles without seeing vehicles. It was nice to be out in the sun with the headwind blowing across my beautiful head of stubbly hair. The views couldn't have been more green.

Farm Pond in Mannboro

Shortly after stopping to take this photo, Mother Nature brought me back to reality. Open fields after open fields means two things. Nice vistas and no place to hide from the heat. About 10 miles from a small country store at the marina, I noticed I had stopped sweating despite being on schedule with my hydration. I stopped to refill and met a incredibly welcoming family running the store. They directed me towards the cold beverages. After a few minutes of small talk they asked if I needed anything more and wished me a safe ride. I was off with three more full bottles and one in my belly.

View of the Lake from the Bridge

The remainder of the ride home proved to be a bit tougher mentally as I tried to deal with the heat. Knowing I only had about 25 miles to get home, I focused on drinking not how hot it was. When my foot would start to ache due to the swelling caused by dehydration, I drank. When my legs burned, I drank. When small country dogs lying in wait charged into the road, I squirted them. Then I drank. My new schedule was to consume a bottle every ten miles. By the time I got back to the house, all three bottles were gone and I had started to sweat again. I layed on the cold bathroom floor and thought I'm tired but I'm sweating. It's a victory in my book.

Days like yesterday are the ones I look back on during races. When I get into tough spots on the road, I turn the memory back to these long hot days of training on the roads I love. I turn back to the days of battling through hard speed work which follow the days when I disregard the plan. I remind myself I chose to do this. When asked why, I reply "I just wanted to ride my bike."



With just a few days remaining in April, a few things are coming to an end yet so many are just beginning. All of Jenn and I's travels are over which means training is back in full effect. As I headed out for a quick ride on Monday afternoon, I knew the race between the rain and I would be a fierce one. Looking at the radar I hoped I wouldn't need the rain jacket I packed in my jersey pocket until the end of the ride when I was close to home. Alas, the rain started a mere 15 minutes into the ride.

A few minutes of talking to the many voices in my head debating whether to turn around and ride the rollers indoors or to keep going, left me five miles down the road without a decision. At some point in the process, I was taken back to a week prior when I sat on rock above Washington's State Waterfall admiring the beauty of untouched America.

The rain began to feel less like rain and more like the spray of the water in the air as it rushed across the rocks toward the waterfall. After sitting on the rock and continuing down the trail on the hike, I remember saying "You know it's funny. If we were getting this wet at home because it was raining, we would be annoyed. Yet I could sit there on that rock all day with no complaints. It's all a matter of perception."

Little did I know at that moment, I would be given the opportunity a week later to make the decision as to whether I would allow the rain to annoy me. Whether I would allow it to derail my efforts. Mental clarity soon followed and instead of turning the bike for home according to the original plan for the day, 
I headed for the river.

After playing with an Old Gun, I headed for home. Not far from the house as I slowed for a traffic signal, a silver Honda passed by with a teenager's dropped jaw hanging out the open passenger window. I had a good chuckle as I imagined his perception of me riding my bike in such a hard rain. A few miles later I arrived back at the house feeling great with a rejuvenated perception on all that is life. It quickly faded as I then perceived myself a dead man if Jenn were to find out just how much water I was about to track through the house.

Curry and Post It Notes

There is something about ultra endurance racing. What that something actually is, is very different for everyone involved. For me, it is the continuos reminder of what can be accomplished with a positive attitude. That just because something doesn't go according to plan doesn't make it wrong. Maybe it's a sign. A gentle reminder not to forget something from someone up above.

This past weekend, Jenn and I spent an awesome evening at the Harlow drive in movie theatre with Gabe, Quinoa, L to the B Soon to be K, Thin Mint, My Fairy God Mother, Stephanie and Michael. Because Thin Mint and I were going to be coming straight from work Jenn and L2TBS2BK picked up Thai for us. I made the decision to try something new and ordered the red curry with duck.

It tasted great. After the movie, we called it a night and headed home for bed. After all, I did have a ride planned for the morning. Shortly after laying down in bed my stomach decided it no longer liked red curry with duck. I would spend the next 3.5 hours sick, running back and forth to the bathroom with the greatest of stomach cramps. A level of discomfort I've never experienced.

I was eventually able to close my eyes and get close to an hour of sleep before the alarm went off. It was time to get ready for my last multi hour ride before packing everything up and heading back to Texas for this weekend's RAAM Challenge 400. I put my bike on the trainer, got dressed and started pedaling. The ride didn't go so great as I felt extremely dehydrated and started to cramp. On top of that, things felt a bit raw.

Some people might get discouraged if they got sick and were unable to do get the last workout before traveling in. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't included in the "some". That was until as I was gathering my work clothes from my bag, I reached into the side pocket only to realize I was out of something. Something very important. Something that would ensure post ride comfort should comfort be compromised in Texas.

The red curry with duck was more than a new tasty way to dehydrate myself. It was a post-it note. A gentle reminder to purchase more Desitin before leaving for Texas. A reminder to not allow my mind to slip away. A reminder to keep it posi.