Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A look back at 2008. A look ahead to 2009.

2008 was a memorable year; mostly good, some bad. There just isn't enough space to include everything, like birthdays, trick or treating with the boys, etc. But below is a recap of some of the events that stood out to me in 2008.

I decided to try and get some sponsor support for racing. Not because I think I am a high caliber athlete, but because I simply wanted to alleviate some of the costs associated with racing. I sought support only from the businesses I prefer, and luckily, they were all willing to help me out in some capacity: Infinit Nutrition, Personal Best Nutrition, and most of all, Schlegel Bicycles.

I graduated from OSU with my Ph.D. It was a long road, and difficult, but the satisfaction of finishing was well worth it.

Another highlight I'll never forget was the first airshow I got to take my boys, Alex and Brady, to go see. I posted a blog about it previously here.

After having sporadic training for the whole year, I finally had an opportunity to train consistently for a full month. It was a great month, and I really surprised myself when I took 5th place at the Rt. 66 sprint triathlon. I was the first Oklahoman across the line, which made me the state champ by default. It was a thrilling experience, which I blogged about here. Unfortunately, this was the only decent block of training I was able to do for the remainder of 2008; the rest of the season was essentually a bust.

One of my dissertation chapters was published in a prestigious journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. I was elated. What was so unexpected was the media coverage that ensued. I was lucky enough to give radio interviews for NPR, CBC (fast forward to 15:25), and BBC. Our paper was also featured by Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Science News magazine, New Scientist magazine, Chronicles of Higher Education, National Science Foundation, Nature, Science, and popular news outlets including The New York Times, Fox News, and newspapers in Germany, UK, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Thailand, China, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. It was a very surreal, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Also in July, I visited Chris and Justin Wolfe down in Austin, TX. What a blast. We rode 250.6 miles of massive hills in just 4 days, which included 2 Time Trials. The 4 day training fest was capped off with a 26.1 mph TT...I was real happy with that for as dead as my legs were. I ended up getting in 306 miles that week. Biggest block of riding I've ever done. Some bad memories, but lots and lots of good memories from that trip.

This was a busy month! I started my post doc position at TCU officially on August 1, so we put our house up for sale in Edmond, OK. Fortunately, it sold in just 2 weeks. Unfortunately, we had to close on it in 2 weeks, which gave us a small window to buy a house in Fort Worth. We house hunted constantly and aggressively, and luckily, we found a house we liked and were ready to move into within the 2 weeks. The horrible housing market meant that we got one heck of a good deal on a house we never thought we'd ever be able to have. It's much bigger than we need, but we love it and the price was low, so we took it. Because life was so crazy, I cancelled all my remaining races for August and September. Training stopped...completely.

We moved into our new house on Sept. 1. The moving process was horrible for many, many, many reasons and we racked up substantial cost from the move. But life was good. We loved our house, we love the area, and I love my job.

I still hadn't trained since late July, so I had to cancel racing at Nationals in Las Vegas. I was disappointed, but everything else in life was going well (but hectic). Did I mention that I absolutely love my job? :-)

After the move, Melanie continued to work for her employer in OKC. But this relationship was wearing out, so she looked for a new job. Talk about stressful. What if she didn't get one? What if the pay was much less? So many unknowns, but thankfully, she found a job. Most importantly, it was the job the liked the most. She absolutely loves working there now. With both our jobs going so well, our house, and loving the area, everything was shaping up to be nearly perfect. Oh, except for training...still hadn't done that since late July!!

Things were finally settling down with being so busy, so started training again. I also found out that I made 'Elite' ranking for the South Midwest region (OK, TX, AR, and LA). This was a fluke since I only had one good race, and I understand that, but I'm proud and happy anyway. This motivated me to get back to training after a 4 month layoff. I was ranked #4 out of 313 in the 30-34 AG, and #32 out of 2,010 overall. Again, that is skewed since my Rt. 66 race carried all the weight, but I'm still happy about it.

Just as I get back into training again, I was hit with a nasty finger infection. They were unable to culture it, but it was probably staph. While visiting family in MO, I ended up having to go the hospital for a few days and have surgery to clean it out. Not fun to be in the hospital on Christmas morning, but what can you do? Fortunately, looks like it's clean now and healing up. The downside is that it has to close up on its own (i.e., no stitches), so it's open but covered. As long as it's open, I can get it wet. That means no swimming and limited running and riding (sweat). One step forward, two steps back. Not the way I would have liked to have ended 2008, but could have been worse.

Overall, it was a good year. But I realized some areas that I wasn't happy with, so I've established resolutions for 2009 (I think of them more as goals or objectives).
  1. More pics of Melanie and the boys. She took so many good pictures of me with the boys, but I realized I had very few of her with the boys. I want to get more of her with them.
  2. Balance time budget. It's too easy to get focused on one area (usually work). Even when work is overwhelming, I need to make more time for family time and training time.
  3. Chip away at house stuff. We've got a lot of things we want to do to the house (mostly painting rooms, ceiling fans, etc). It's a lot, but instead of looking at everything, I just want to pick a small task and finish it every couple of weeks.
  4. Eliminate major gaps of no training. Looking back at my training log, it was scary how little I actually trained this year. I mean I had entire months with 0 yards swam, 0 miles ran, and only a few miles ridden. Once I start skipping workouts for a few days, it's easy for me to downward spiral and blow it off completely (see #2 above). I don't have to do a lot of training weekly, but I just have to do something. At least 2 swims, 2 runs, and 2 rides a week. I don't care if it's only 5 hours of training per week. 4 weeks of 5 hours is better than 4 weeks with 0 hours. Just be consistent.
  5. Keep blog and website at least moderately up-to-date. Once a month at the minimum seems feasible.