Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Prioritizing and Finding Life Anew in 2015 - Part One

As winter rolled into the Indiana Dunes in late December 2014, I was knee-deep in some heavy duty contemplation about my compass heading. As many who may read this already know, my wife and I had a vagabond existence for most of the year. We moved east and we moved back to the midwest. While we currently still reside in the midwest we feel as if we are still living out of our suitcases as our roots are yet to be firmly planted in the ground…anywhere. For most of my life, not being settled was fine. In fact, I loved it. As a husband and owner of two anthropomorphized mongrels, still living out of bag is rather unsettling. While I have loved training hard for and attending races over the last few years one thing became quite apparent in 2014 - family comes first. Attending races was low on the list as I tried to make sure that my wife had all the support and breaks from the mongrels she needed as the main breadwinner.

While being iced in and unable to train until April had a little something to do with the course I took last year, being a little more fiscally responsible also played into the equation. Gas prices were outrageous. I had yet to find work and I just didn't feel like a good husband having my wife foot the bill for a hobby that can be damn expensive at times. I really decided to pick and choose what events I attended based on proximity, cost, rating of goody bags handed out, and energy level the morning of. In 2014 I missed a bunch of great events and even the not-so-great ones run by greedy race directors just trying to make a buck.  

Prioritizing wasn't easy. The Carolina Cup, the Key West race the following weekend, and the Gorge Downwinder were all on my list for 2014. None of those were made. There were a few instances of pouting. y wife would say "Go!" and I would just pout for a few more minutes then get over it realizing that being around just to walk the dogs made my wife's existence a little bit easier. However, when I missed out on a big week in Maryland, which was to coincide with my mother's birthday, going to the East of Maui race in Annapolis followed by Walk on Water's and the other East of Maui's races the following weekend I took a little longer than a few minutes to get over the disappointment. Also, I missed both of Dawn's events. She works hard to put on two great events in Ocean City and I missed both! Dang, that was upsetting…

Living in my mother-in-law's beautiful beach house and being able to spend those weekends with my wife and mongrels wasn't a bad alternative. I had a fun summer with my wife and the dogs. In fact, we spent so much time together in 2014 that my wife often asked - "isn't it time for you to go visit your mom?"

I feel I need to interrupt the flow of this blog to fill people in on a little backstory. When my wife and I first met and started dating, I was working as a lighting technician on movies and commercials and also as a photographer's assistant. I would be gone from anywhere between 2 to 4 to 6 weeks at a time depending on the job. That worked well for us. We both loved me working on location because that cliche absence makes the heart grow fonder is 100% true for us. As I phased out of work that took me away from home my absences were fewer and farther between. To make up for my lack of location work my wife LOVES me going to races now! I just hope she will make it to a few more races with me this coming year!

Back to the point I am trying to make…

Sure it was time for me to go visit my mom but what was I going to do back east? I still enjoyed paddling but I wasn't training of anything in particular. You can only paddle around Oxford so many times… Something needed to give. As 2015 loomed around the corner, I really had no idea what direction to pursue. I had sent out hundreds of resumes from teaching at a community college to bagging groceries at the local Jewel Osco. Having spent most of my meditation and prayer time asking God for direction, I was working on patience and faith for much of the year and was having a hard time keeping my side of that bargain. Then I finally got an email about a job!

I was hired as a driver's assistant for UPS over the holidays, with the possibility of moving into a full-time position at the warehouse if I proved myself. Having worked outside in all types of inclement weather, I thought for sure that I would sail to the top of the totem pole and receive the MVP award for driver's assistants and start raking in the dough and then start ordering all kinds of custom paddleboards. After two shifts, and a total of 6.18 hours worked, I had to hand in my uniform as one who was not physically able to handle the demands of the job. What a humbling experience that was. Not only was I mortified but I was as humiliated as I ever remember being. Sitting on the little flip-down board those trucks have as a seat for the driver's assistant destroyed my, already susceptible, lower back. I head in for an MRI this thursday to see if anymore damage has taken place since my last MRI in 2010. Ugh.

The only thing that has really helped my back over the years is exercise, especially paddling. This is even more true now. The shape of my BARK Unlimited allows me to lie down and kneel positions most advantageous when it comes to helping ease back pain. So paddling I did. Now Lake Michigan in December is not the most fun place to paddle but it sure is beautiful! I have the gear to stay warm so as long as there was access to the lake and I was able to stay near to shore in shallower water I was going to paddle. I also started swimming again. While it was disheartening to realize that I have to be more choosey about what jobs I can handle, I was enjoying the results of multi-hour training sessions. Ice moved in so I spent more time in the pool and at the best gym in the world - Applied Strength and Conditioning in Chesterton, Indiana. Check out their website; it's quite an enjoyable read! http://www.appliedsc.com But what was I doing all this for? I was still unclear as to where I was heading and why.

Being the midst of all the trauma dealing with the fact that I am just not one who is able to handle the rigors of working, I received an email from Hammer Nutrition welcoming me to their team for 2015.

What!!?? Where did this come from!!?? 

Oh yeah, I know where it came from. It was a heavenly gift sent to me at the right time when I needed a little nudge in the proper direction. Hammer was responding to an email I had sent them almost one year earlier. I had almost forgotten I contacted them about the 2014 season. The email from Hammer Nutrition, some praise and thanks sent high to the heavens, some articles written by athletes, and encouragement and support from my wife, have given me a renewed motivation for 2015. So I have an idea of where I am now heading. I know I am heading to Wrightsville Beach, NC in April for the Carolina Cup!

More to come on the rejuvenation soon!

In the meantime if you have any questions about Hammer Nutrition hit me up through email or a Facebook message and I will be happy to give you my take on their products. I am really happy with how they have helped me, especially recently as my training has really picked up in intensity.

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