Monday, June 11, 2018


Recently I was telling a friend that I was going through a pretty extreme transition right now, and it may not be obvious to some people. For the last decade I've built this identity as an athlete. Triathlons, Ironman, Trail Ultras, always training and looking forward to the next race. Marathons are still my favorite, in fact I've got another one coming up next weekend in Colorado.

But it's a transition. I've barely been training and I'm going in about 45 lbs overweight. There are no races on the calendar after this. I'm having a small surgery (umbilical hernia repair) on June 28 that will take 4-6 weeks to recover. No training or heavy lifting until August. And I am starting grad school in August. All I've been motivated to do lately is work on a sailboat I'm building and other home projects, like landscaping.

I'm not the only one going through a transition! My Evil Genius has now graduated 5th grade and is a full blown middle schooler. First time in 8 years we haven't had a student in the local Elementary School.

With the teacher and principal

EG with a painting she did in the library at school
The garden is in a transition too. I shortened the beds this year and added a 3rd taller bed with the difference. Still end up with a smaller garden space overall, but it's really full this year and thriving with the extra topsoil/compost we added!

buying plants at the farmers market

Those beds used to be as wide as the muscadines behind them

Today's garden - huge growing plants!

The new bed is only squash & zuch this year
I had to shorten up the garden beds because of my next huge project. I'm going to rip out this existing front porch and rebuild it the way I want! That also means relandscaping the entire front yard in front of the house.

stairs at the wrong angle have got to go

The front porch is tiny and crumbling and it has got to go

The before picture. Crap landscaping, that stone L path has got to go
I want stairs that go straight into the front door. This existing porch has a hard L 90* turn to get into the front door. It's barely big enough for the door to open before hitting the handrail. I hate the handrail. Moving a couch in that front door is impossible. I'm going to rip it all out and put in a 10' x 16' long front porch with a block/brick foundation and extend the roof out to cover it, tying into the existing roofline. That means the stone pathway that leads to the existing stairs have to go away, and I can finally turn that weird azalea hedge (that's not how you're supposed to use azaleas or structure a hedge!) into some actual landscaping. With trees and hardscape and a path and everything. Enjoy the before pictures.

The boat is looking really good right now too. I got the keel attached to the stem and all of the frames, so the base structure is totally in place. I have 4 more boards to connect (chines and clamps on each side) before I can put the plywood on the hull, so I'm trying to find the cash for the plywood now. That might be an August thing as well.

But the biggest transition that I'm struggling with is still going from athlete to student/woodworker. As of June 1, I stopped the monthly billing for the swim team that I've been on since 2011. No open water races for me this year still feels dirty and strange. But the arthritis hurts so much I can't finish the workouts anymore. So no more swimming, at least for now. No more biking for the last few years, eh, that's not new. Running? in this heat? there's just no motivation. At this weight and with arthritis it just hurts so much more. at this weight...

I ran across this picture when the tattoo sleeve was new back in 2015 and tried to recreate it with today's belly. The tattoo is still awesome. But the difference in my belly between 2015 (when I ran a bunch of marathons and went to Minnesota) and this summer is obvious. The people I see every day don't think I've gained much weight. With a shirt on it's easy to hide. Even in the pool people don't think there's much of a difference. but yeah. this is painful to look at. On the left I'm about 170 lbs, on the right is about 210. Today I weighed in at 216 so it's gotten a bit worse.

trail running fixes everything, right?

So here's the plan for the transition. I'm going to do this marathon in Colorado next weekend no matter what. By the time I'm recovered from that it will be time for the surgery - 11 days apart. By the time I'm recovered from that (4-6 weeks) I will treat it like I'm starting a base/weight loss phase. No runs longer than 5 miles, go vegetarian again, 1800 calories a day. It worked in the past, it should work again. It will be easiest with the heat to run in the morning before work, and I can do grad school classes/work in the evenings and squeeze in the woodworking stuff when I can. Now I typically get about 45 minutes a day to work outside before dinner then hit the gym after, so now I'll get the same 45 minutes (maybe) outside before dinner and do the online school after that. It will be the right time and structure to get my health back in line. Just losing weight won't help the arthritis, but it will help me feel better about myself. No marathons for at least the rest of the year, maybe no marathons until the end of grad school. Then I can take a closer look at how my body feels and where my motivation lies.

I told my friend to start with small goals, and when you achieve them see what kind of bigger goals those lead to. My small goals are to get my health problems under control and keep these house projects going. No timetable on those, just be sure I can pay for it as I go. This summer I don't want to let the Seasonal Affective Disorder ruin my mood. I mean, there are a lot of reasons to be down on myself here (they all start with "shit I'm old" and "that hurts"). But I'm not going to let the heat get to me this year. Acclimate and accept. All I can really do in this transition is keep a short focus and see where it takes me. I could end up someplace that I love as much as Ironman.