Monday, October 17, 2016

Getting the go

I promised to continue my explanation of what drives me to do what I do, however, I am feeling a bit of an itch that I need to scratch.  What better way to scratch the itch than to go?  So, what do I plan to do?  I was thinking about the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains:

The hike is 21.7 miles (~35 km) long with 8,800 feet (~2.7 km)  of elevation gain.  I want to do it in 24 hours or in a single push where I can go fast and light.  My friend Neal told me about this hike when we were in Nepal together.  Ever since that chat, I was intrigued.   

Anyone care to join me?  Before making a decision, I want to you to make it an informed one.  Yeah sure, it will be a blast.  It might also totally suck.  I can't promise much beyond the facts I have in hand.  Speaking of facts, I managed to collect a fair bit of beta on the hike.  Here are some details:

1.  10 peaks to summit (North to South order)

Peak 1:  Madison – 5367 feet
Peak 2:  Adams – 5774 feet
Peak 3:  Jefferson – 5712 feet
Peak 4:  Clay – 5533 feet
Peak 5:  Washington – 6288 feet
Peak 6:  Monroe – 5384 feet
Peak 7:  Franklin – 5001 feet
Peak 8:  Eisenhower – 4780 feet
Peak 9:  Pierce – 4310 feet
Peak 10: Jackson – 4052 feet
2.  Weather

Late October is always a little dicey weather wise. I figured the leaves turning colors and the fairly decent dry weather we all enjoyed over the past few weeks shouldn't last long so time is of the essence.  So, like any good climber, I check the weather forecast for the most volatile peak:  Mt. Washington.  The forecast calls for rain, ice pellets, and snow this weekend with 20-35 mph winds.  Sheesh!  Sounds like my kind of weather.  A great start to a Fun 2.0 journey.  I plan to monitor the forecast all week and make the call on Friday if I plan to go.

3.  Water

Looks like water may be an issue.  Two of the water stops for most traverse hikers close in mid to late October.  If I push off next weekend, I may not have water for two long stretches of the hike.  No refills mean I need to carry more.  I figured I could get away with a collapsible Nalgene like this one:

and my LifeStraw tucked inside for filtering:

That won't work if I need to ferry too many liters of water.  Of course, I could haul up a 3-4 liter camelback but that defeats the aim of fast and light.  We shall see.

4.  Trail conditions

Apparently the hurricanes that blew through the Northeast over the past decade laid waste to some of the trails - at least on the trail guide books.  I don't know the validity of that account but I do know if the rains come down, the trails will be a mess.  So, I might need to hike in something other than my flip flops.  NOT GOOD.  I prefer my flip flops to just about any other footwear.  

The All-terrain Olukai Ohana - my footwear of choice year round

Yeah, you think I'm crazy.  I never get blisters and my feet are always warm.  Heck, I hiked to Everest basecamp in flip flops; what might 10 small peaks in the White Mountains offer me that Nepal doesn't?  Don't answer that question.  Please.  Still, the trail conditions may alter my gear options.  I'll consider some closed toe shoes of some sort.

5.  Transportation

I am not sure how I will pull this off - either solo or with friends.  Right now, if I go alone, I need drive up to north side of the traverse, hike down south and then find a ride back up to my car.  Another option is to go with someone else.  We would drive separately to the south side of the traverse, leave one car, then drive together to the start (up north).  When we finish, we would drive up to the start and collect the other car.  Makes sense to me.  The downside of that is we need to haul two cars all the way up to NH.  I prefer to hangout with my adventure mates.  If we hike together, I like to drive together.  Doesn't make much sense to drive for hours separately so we can save being stranded 20 miles away from our car.  I could run back to the car if necessary - that might make for more adventure and an even better story.  Better be sure there is a ton of beer ready to consume if I hike then run.  Need to sort out these details later.

So, there you have it - my initial ramblings about this weekend's potential adventure.  I'm getting totally stoked just thinking about getting out of suburbia.  So, any takers?  I'll buy the beer and gas.  

More Beta

Anyone interested probably ought to read some more beta for your own edification.  Here are some links I found useful:

There are probably a few other links elsewhere on the internet - especially on SummitPost.  I couldn't access SummitPost this morning (or last night for that matter) but you may be able to later.


One other important detail.  I cannot take off until Saturday morning; Friday, we have a lab shindig at the pub.  Also, I might be a little slow that morning after consuming a few too many pints of the fine stuff.  I'll do my best to curb my thirst for Guinness but I cannot promise I'll deliver.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Telling my story: The beginning (Event 3)

So now you know that my thirst for adventure comes from my desire to create new memories where adversity allows me to perform optimally.  Today, I have a more somber event to recount but, perhaps, the most profound event in my life.  

Event 3:  My greatest loss

After college, I felt directionless so instead of pursuing a job, I decided to enter the Peace Corps.  Why not?  I figured.  Well, a few snafus later and that option went away.  The options seemed rather dangerous with the Peace Corps and my mom wasn't too keen on the idea of me being shipped off to some far-away place and get killed.  We agreed that I could live with her for a summer, train for triathlons and volunteer at the hospital she worked while I figured out my next steps in life.  She really wanted me to get a job and start acting like an adult.  I had other plans...or rather no plans to be an adult.  I did what I knew how to do, learn.  So, I decided to stay with her and learn what I could about my options.

That summer was great.  I swam every morning with my youth swim team and masters group at Roberto Clemente State Park.  After practice, I would head up to Montefiore and enjoy all the great food the Bronx offered at the time (bagels, fresh fruit, and egg sandwiches).  Every work day, my mom and I would meet for lunch and then travel home together from the office.  I am sure she treasured that summer as much as I did; we had a ton of fun.  The weekends often revolved around my triathlons.  She drove me up and down the east coast in search of better competition and more interesting race terrain.  I recall many instances post-race where she offered her candid and sharp feedback.  Given her sacrifices, she wanted me to do well and her feedback was often tough to swallow.  Regardless, we still laughed a lot and I learned to really enjoy my mom's company.

That summer was the last time I really had much time with her alone.  Late that summer, I decided to move to Tucson, AZ sight unseen and go to graduate school - one of the best decisions of my life.  While there, I met Kat (my wife), dedicated myself to triathlons and science, and became who I am today.  Two years after my move out west, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She asked us to fly back to NYC in August 1990 so she could tell us the news in person.  She died 15 months later.  

I still find myself choked up when I recount her last year.  To say that her dying was the single most significant event in my life doesn't do justice to her.  She was my critic, defender, supporter, cheerleader, apologist, and all other roles that ever boy needs from his mom.  I never really thought she would die.  Seriously.  The thought never occurred to me.  When she was diagnosed with cancer, I thought she was in good hands at Montefiore Medical Center and that the cancer specialists would find a way to save her.  We all watched helplessly as she wasted away.  I couldn't bear her suffering but I wanted to be around her to tell her how much I loved her.  In fact, during the past few months of her life, I divulged every wrong I ever did and told her that if she lived, I would dedicate myself to making up all those wrongs to her by doing something good for her.  For her.  Yes, for her.  I never got the opportunity to make good on my promise.  In December, 1991 she passed away.  She never had a chance with that cancer.  I was devastated.  I couldn't even bear to be around my family so I left NY and didn't return for a while.

Mortality:  My mom's death forced me to confront the one thing I never comprehended - my own mortality.  I was young.  Before she died, I was 25 and still had the sense of immortality; afterwards, I realized that life could be short.  Time was of the essence to experience things that life had to offer.  Every day counts.  Be kind to people, soak in what life offers you (good and bad), and be grateful you have the opportunity to gain that experience.  

Make every day count:  I am not always a good practitioner of this motto.  Some days seem to flit by without any importance.  I know this because even to this day, I recall what happens each day and at the end of each week.  My memory game really sheds light on the importance of each day for each week.  Still, some weeks go by and I don't feel like I am doing much at all.  I write, work with my students, analyze data, train, and read but those things seem trivial to the big picture.  One event really put things into perspective for me.  I qualified for the national championship triathlon - a race held every year and that year was hosted just outside of Chicago (Gary, IN - not far from Notre Dame where I went to college).  My race went horribly wrong.   I just didn't care any more about competing.  The thought of my mom struggling with cancer made racing seem so trivial.  I couldn't muster the drive to compete any longer.  That race was the last one I ever did as a way to best others.  From that moment forward, I realized I had to race against time - make every day count by not doing things that mattered to others but not to me.

My legacy:  My greatest sense of accomplishment these days comes from my son (below) and my students (too many to count or fit into one picture).  If you think I am adventurous, compare my son's exploits with mine.  Before he turns 21, he will have been to more countries, watched more crazy events, and camped out more times than I ever did at his age.  Hopefully he takes to adventure like his dad. 

Since birth...
Patrick logged countless hours in the jogging stroller,
Probably logged 2000 miles in heat, rain, wind, snow, and sleet
Driving from Tucson to Portland, OR - every year, twice a year.
Coming back from the UK after my EC swim.  First class...of course.
On the boat during my Catalina Channel swim - at the finish
Aboard SUVA before my EC swim

Patrick on Aconcagua among the penitentes
Cool dudes on Rainier in 2013
and back yards:

Not happy with me at the moment....because I asked him to help me clean up the back yard.  Oh well.

Every time they succeed, I feel successful.  Each step they make along the road to improving, I feel productive.  Their failures are opportunities for advancement and I tell them that repeatedly.  They are collectively my legacy - something I learned from my graduate advisor (Lee Sechrest) and from my mom.  Lee taught me that it is far more productive to model and reward scientific productivity than to merely practice it yourself.  I subscribe to that model as I subscribe to all methods of leveraging my time and energy.  My legacy comes from modeling how to deal with adversity.  Only through working hard, trying new things, and extending myself beyond what I thought possible will my son and students realize their own potential.  My pursuits provide a legacy that my mom would be proud to follow.  She might find it a bit harrowing at times but she would realize that I need to do this to feel alive.  I know it and hope she is following me now.

Every day I reflect on my memories, the opportunities that adventure offered me to optimally perform, and thank my good genes and dedicated preparation for more adventures in the future.  The three events recounted in these posts keep me focused and keep my thirst alive.  

An obvious follow-up question is..."isn't this just an adrenaline addiction?" or maybe you are asking yourself "will he ever find himself?"  The answer to the latter is easy - I found myself a long time ago.  My answer to the first question shall be detailed in my next post and it my surprise you.  Stay tuned for rest of my story.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Telling my story: The beginning (Event 2)

Previously, I recounted how fleeting memories pushed me to want to create new, meaningful, and important events that deserved to be recalled.  Today, I offer you the second important event that shaped my thirst for adventure.  Here goes....
Event 2:  Hurricane David

One event that really shaped my thirst for adventure was a trip gone wrong that ended in us sailing through Hurricane David in 1979. 

Hurricane David's path in late August through early September 1979
 You need to see what we sailed in to really understand the gravity of that adventure.  

Our boat:  an early 1970's (don't know the exact year) Ericson 27 called Luffin' Lemon.  Yes, it was yellow.  It was our first family boat and one that lacked most amenities except for horizontal spaces to sleep and some sails to help us move through the wind.  The boat was more like a floating camper.  Here is a nicer version than our boat - perhaps a few years newer too:

Below deck was comfortable for small people and offered plenty of space of the inhabitants of Lilliput:

A "newer" Ericson 27 interior - Very Spartan

Our crew:  I grew up as a reluctant sailor - often forced to go on trips I didn't really appreciate at the time.  Sean and I frequently commented on the "cool" power boats; we sensed my dad found those comments irritating at best but we persisted.  To say we were a happy sailing family might be a stretch.  We shared each other's company on a small boat with very rough sailing skills.  Still, we made it work.  

The Trip:  Then came our family decision to sail to Newport, RI in the late summer of 1979.  Newport hosted the America's Cup every 3 years and 1980 was the next event.  Every year between those events, the boats and crew would train and match race in the waters outside Newport.  It was a really cool place to be during that era.  Sean and I enjoyed those trips while my mom would drive and my dad would yell at us.  You know, it was family sailing in the late 20th century - perhaps no different than sailing in the late 19th century among the famine ships. But I digress....

A Friendly Visit:  After departing at night from Newport and sailing through the wee hours, we noticed a huge flood light cast upon our little boat.  The flood light was the start of a bizarre event.  The US Coast Guard boarded our boat at about 2am.  Sean and I were half asleep and my dad held onto a bilge pump handle ready to defend us from attack.  The officers who boarded our boat appeared ready and better prepared than my dad for a fight.  They had their weapons drawn and were likely to fire at him had they detected his possession of the deadly bilge pump handle.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and they were off the boat after an hour of searching for contraband and illegal aliens - from Rhode Island no doubt.  I never knew why New Yorkers felt the need to keep Connecticut and Rhode Island residents from stealing their way into our fine state.  These folks could drive after all; there was no need to sail through the night.  Heck, walking might have been faster than sailing - especially on that night when there was no wind whatsoever.

Weather?  We heard the vague storm forecasts, but in those days, NOAA weather radio wasn't really the definitive source for bad weather.  We figured the best source would be the US Coast Guard.  As the officers left our boat, my dad inquired about the weather.  Their response?  "Nice weather ahead for you.  Have a safe sail."  That was it.  That forecast couldn't have been more inaccurate.  The real forecast was for torrential rains and strong gusts up to 90 mph with stead winds in excess of 70 mph.  Yes, the forecast called for hurricane David to blow through as we sailed down Long Island Sound from Newport, RI to Port Washington, NY (our home port).  The storm tracked well eastward of us leaving Long Island Sound on the deadly right side of the storm.

Water and more water:  Immediately after the Coast Guard left us, the light breezes we experienced over the past few hours gave way to strong, steady winds with noticeably warmer air.  In fact, it got really warm.  There were no comfortable spots down below even though that area was drier than the area on deck.  Sean and I sat with my dad in the cockpit as he steered our little boat's tiller with both hands.  The wind wasn't all we experienced; the waves started building too.  We found ourselves in a tempest as the winds picked up the choppy waves and turned them into walls of water.  I saw only water - water blown into my face, water in the cockpit, and water falling from the sky.  There was water everywhere.

Fear takes hold:  My dad ordered us to go down below.  We weren't really concerned so we asked to stay topside and watch what was going on.  It was clear from my dad's voice that he was growing tired and feared we might not be able to sail out of this storm.  I think Sean had that sense too.  We sailed close to the Connecticut shore where we knew huge bands of rocks made those ports almost un-navigable in even the best conditions.  We weren't in the best conditions.  In fact, we were in winds that were slowly ripping apart our little boat.  First, our mainsail ripped.  The boom sunk lower toward the deck as the mainsail tore horizontally.  If it weren't for the few threads that held some bits together, the main would have cut in two and dropped the boom onto the deck with some force.  I guess we ought to have been grateful for those threads.  Meanwhile, up on the bow, our jib was in tatters.  We had no way of dropping the sail because it was just too treacherous to leave the cockpit.  Heck, even the cockpit was treacherous.  

Holy s#*%!:  We limped along without much functional sail area at a fairly steady 8 knots.  For many of you, that may seem rather slow.  Our little boat was no speed demon but it wasn't a barge either.  In most reasonable breezes between 10 and 20 knots, Luffin' Lemon would cruise at about 5 knots.  Again, not bad for a small boat.  Now, we were going much faster; Sean and I took great pleasure in yelling out to my dad..."Dad, holy s#*%!, we are going 15 knots."  I think my dad almost had a heart attack.  He was exhausted and ready to call it quits.  At one point during a few exchanges, he was preparing us for our uncertain fates.  The boat was handling poorly, we had no communications, no clear navigable coordinates, and no clue how we were going to survive any longer in these conditions.  We decided to head for land.  It was really our only choice.  The boat was falling apart, the waves were huge now (20+ feet) and we could barely keep the water from crashing into the cabin.  We sailed into Guilford, CT at about 3pm that afternoon after nearly 12 hours of sailing in extremely high winds.  My dad could barely speak or move he was so tired.  By some luck, we managed to avoid all the rocks, sand bars, and break walls in our path and beached the boat in an estuary up some little isolated, overflowing river.  The town's people came out in force and helped us secure our boat and gave us shelter for the night.  We were safe.

The importance of this event:  At one moment during those last few hours, I did have the sense that something awful could happen to us.  We were all confident swimmers but the wind and water were intense.  I am not sure we would have survived had our boat sunk.  In fact, my chips were on us all dying.  I felt a certain peace with that outcome - not that I wished to die but rather I was not nervous, nor did I panic when I sensed that unfortunate end may be near.  Instead, I watched in awe as my dad, brother, and I kept our wits about us and we solved the problem.  

I was totally hooked afterwards and thought about that event for years - even to this day.  You never really know how people are going to respond to adversity until you experience an event with them.  In fact, you never know how you will respond until you experience it.  My dad and brother were calm - as was I - and I had an incredible sense of calm afterwards.  I knew no matter how bad things got in life, I could keep a clear head.  We told a few jokes during the event and that kept up our spirits - like the laughter we all shared when we noted the apple pie stuck to the ceiling of the cabin.  Yes, the pie was on the ceiling.

Bringing out the best:  Since that day, I sought to experience what life had to offer to see how I respond.  I doubt I need monthly, yearly, or even semi-regular checks on my response but I do appreciate how adversity brings out the best and worst in us.  My experiences including that sail along with countless others tell me that I am at my best and I love that feeling.  Adversity offers me the opportunity to perform at my best.   Adventures open the door to those adversity.  

I wrap up the "thirst" developing events tomorrow with my third and final event.  Stay tuned....

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Telling my story: The beginning (Event 1)

Now you know that I carry out adventures to feel alive.  What remains is why.  I have several stories that tie all of the why together.  Pour yourself a nice cup of your favorite beverage and read on!

Part 2:  The beginning

Over the past few months, I had plenty of time to reflect on my lifetime goals and figured after all the time reflecting, I would share those thoughts with you - my friends and family.  These reflections have more to do with "why?" than with the usual things I post about the "how" and the "where."  I decided to write the post in multiple parts to keep them light enough to read with your first cup of coffee in the morning but deep enough to get you to reflect upon them during your day.  Without further delay, I give you my story...

The thirst for adventure

Most people either never experience or never attend to life events that make them crave more; I have three vivid ones that shaped and continue to shape my life.  I call these events "my thirst" - an insatiable one that gets slaked by only more adventure.  My post-adventure malaise fuel my thirst even more and, as a result, my longing for more never ceases.  None of the events I recount below were sought nor were they profound enough to cause me to tell others.  They were mine and mine alone.  Now, because I am telling you about them, they can be yours and, hopefully, you can find your own.

Event 1:  A moment to remember

When I was about 6 years old, I recall standing at the entrance to Central Park at Engineer's Gate (90th and 5th) and feeling frustrated that I could not recall events that happened in the past.

Engineer's Gate - Almost the exact way I remember it on my "moment to remember" event.
 My frustration lead me to decide or rather will myself to remember everything that happened afterwards.  I said to myself..."I will never forget another thing that happens in my life."  Perhaps I was an odd kid but I doubt it.  Events prior to this were often recalled by my family members as if I were an "extra" when, in fact, I played the lead role.  Happenings such as riding my bicycle into our pool, peeing in the closet before potty training kicked in, or even misbehaving during kindergarten escaped my recall.  I vividly do recall feeling frustrated by these lapses in memory and I never wanted to utter the words "I can't remember" ever again.  

That frustration began my lifelong pursuit of recalling what I did each week to ensure that no significant event ever went unnoticed or unrecorded.  I often lay awake at night thinking about what happened, what was memorable enough to remember, and what were the inconsequential events that may inhibit remembering the more important ones.  My rationale was and still is that repetition would help me remember.  I do remember now most events but not everyone and rarely trivial ones.  Memories shape our lives.  My friend Alan Arnette has a saying on his website:  Memories are Everthing.  I believe this truth to be self-evident.  

Why was this event so important?:  After years of rehashing my previous week, I soon realized that I wasn't doing much with my life.  Weeks would fly by without any noteworthy activity.  I soon feared that I might not need to remember much because not much seemed to transpire throughout each day.  I lived a dull life as a kid.  

When was this realization?  Not sure.  That fateful day was probably when I was about 12.  Seriously.  Yeah, I was probably weird then and I still am a little gonzo.  I cannot recall the exact age but I do know my approximate age because soon afterwards I started getting into trouble.  

What kind of trouble?  Since my son is 16 right now, I am deliberately withholding those sordid details until he is older ... perhaps 50.  Let's just say that I started to experiment with life.  The experimentation lasted for about 4+ years and I truly experienced many things that life had to offer - none that bear repeating and none that shaped me much more than to help me figure out that a life of stupidity did not suit my tastes.  I moved on.

Memories shape our lives.  That seemingly innocuous event at Engineer's gate lead me to appreciate all memories.  

In my next post, I recount the second event that influenced my thirst for adventure.  Stay tuned.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Telling my story: I begin with the conclusion

I purposefully interrupt my adventure narrative to provide you a glimpse into my story - the story of my drive.  Many of you have asked me directly "why?" or, perhaps, ask yourselves..."why would someone do these things?"  I don't know why others do them but I am ready now to reveal a bit about why I do them.  Are you ready?  I am.  Here goes....

Over the past few decades, I spent countless hours thinking about, preparing for or carrying out adventures.  Those hours included some calculations about potential gains and losses.  Each balance sheet showed the gains always outpacing the losses - even if these were weak forecasts of cognitive riches and dire consequences.  But still, why?  Why would anyone put themselves in harm's way to reap any benefit except to save another's life.  Well, I think there are other reasons to press yourself into service - even if there are no potential lives saved except your own.  Perhaps the reason we all put ourselves in harm's way is to save our own lives.  That is my story - or at least part of it.

The reason I hunger for adventure is to feel alive.  I mean it.  Each adventure allows me a taste of life.  The stress and strain along with tough living conditions, social isolation, and often shared exhilaration form the porthole into my sense of being.  I feel alive during these adventures.  Yeah, sure, I also feel exhausted and often really sick but nothing makes me more grateful for creature comforts than a little deprivation and suffering.  To really feel what it means to live drives me toward adventure.  I love the feelings before and during adventures; afterwards, I feel a slight depression or letdown that lingers for weeks.  The only antidote to that lingering malaise is more adventure.  So, I plan for more.  I am driven to experience the world's offerings for no other reason than to feel alive.

I can recall the source of that drive with ease.  Others may not readily recall it for themselves.  My plan over the next few days is to slowly unravel my story so you can better understand me and why purpose lies at the heart of my adventures.  By doing so, I may shed some light on why each of you is drawn to adventure.  My sense is that we all have similar tastes and thirsts.  Some of us do the odd or strange to slake the thirst that comes from years of creature comforts.  I have no idea of my story's length but I plan to continue posting until I feel it is told.  Today, I leave you with the conclusion.  

Adventure allows me to feel alive.

Next up, the beginning.

P.S.  My friend Aaron crashed during the Ironman Hawaii bike leg last weekend.  He is fine and home now - no doubt a little disappointed in the outcome.  Keep him and others in your thoughts; we all need a little support now and again to get back on the proverbial horse.

P.P.S.  Kat, Cheryl and I just returned from the REI screening of Paul's Boots <--- b="">HINT:
 click on the link and watch it.  That movie and a few exchanges with friends and family over the years prompted the current and forthcoming posts.  Do yourself a favor and watch the movie.  Read my blog posts too.
Thanks for following along.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Some reflections about the past and future plans

Greetings friends.  I took some time away from my blog to gather my thoughts.  Today, however, I break my silence to talk about some current events and plans for the near future.  Sit back with a favorite beverage and enjoy my mindful ramblings....

Charitable reciprocity

I mentioned many times in the past that most of my adventures were possible because of you.  Yes you.  My wife, son, family and friends accommodated my crazy adventures.  You all played a part - even if you sat on the sidelines and cheered.  I felt it all from the crushing blows of defeat to the exhilaration of achieving the improbable.  For that support, I thank you again and remain in your debt.  The reason I bring this point up came from yesterday's Hawaii Ironman race and another call for your support.  Our friend and swimming mate Aaron Church was there to compete.  Aaron is a beast.  He has the heart of a lion.  If I had his heart in swimming, there is no telling what I might accomplish.  Aaron outworks us all.  He dives in first, completes every set, and stays until the end (and even afterwards) to improve his stroke.  Nobody outworks Aaron.  Nothing stops him - not even the cold water.  I doubt Aaron has an ounce of fat on his sinewy body.  The man is just one or many muscles and we all marvel at his determination.  So how does Aaron fit the theme of this section?  Kat and I were dutifully following the racers online and noticed that Aaron was not making any progress after about 80 miles on the bike.  I assumed it was a glitch in the system but this morning I noticed that the final results posted a DNF (Did Not Finish).  I know Aaron's family - the entire crew including the GMU Patriot Masters Swim Team and friends - will give him the support to overcome this bump in the road.  Through adversity, we all learn the sweet taste of success.  I hope we all find some bit of compassion for those who experience defeat.  Lend a hand.  Be kind.  Remember, we all taste defeat and experience setbacks; do someone a favor and extend a hand of support.  You did it for me - do it for Aaron and for everyone else who might need a little boost.

New Adventures

I have two adventures on the horizon.  The first is Cork Distance Week (CDW) - organized and managed by Ned Denison.  

Outside article title:  Not sure I fit into the "elite" category.  
Ned was kind enough to offer me a spot so I grabbed it right away.  I can't wait.  Swimming twice a day in frigid waters, drinking pints of the good stuff with new friends from afar, and soaking in the scenery of beautiful Ireland sounds like a dream come true, right?  Well, before you say yes, read a few takes on the adventure.  The first is a recent blog post from a really funny bloke - Brendan O'Brien.  He recounts the entire week (9 days!) in a witty manner.  Hope to run into him when I go out there.  Second, you need to read Outside's summary of Ned's camp.  If reading is not your thing (why are you reading my blog?  Ha!  Caught you), then check out this great video Ned sent me a few weeks ago:

and this one that documents the week:

The Showtime segment makes marathon swimming sound much crazier than I view it.  Sounds more like boot camp than summer camp.  I'm not up to the challenge at the moment but will be by next July.  Kat and I are already booked for the trip - at least we have an AirBnB with some other swimmers.  I can't wait!  We celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this coming March so it will be 25 years and 4 months since we were last in Ireland when we land in July 2017.  Hopefully, I don't gain the same 25 lbs I gained on our honeymoon.  Yes, don't laugh.  I lost it and more eventually but had fun putting it on with fish & chips and Guinness (6 pints/day - doctor's orders).

CDW is my first adventure.  My second?  I figured since I am already in Ireland, I might as well swim the North Channel (Ireland to Scotland).  Why not?  I'll post more about the swim but suffice it to say that the North Channel is to the English Channel as K2 is to Everest - in a word:  challenging.  

The track above shows Steve Walker's 2016 crossing (11:05 according to the MSF track but 11:19 according to this recap).  So if the North Channel is like K2, you are probably thinking it is a tough challenge.  Yes, it appears to be.  But, why not take it?  Seems like a foolish task for a foolish person, right?  If I am successful - and that is a big if - then I would be the 4th American male to finish that swim (according to the online solo swim database and Steve's recap).  By posting about the swim, I guess I am committed or should be committed.  I'm doing it.  Yes, there you have it!  Well, presumably they will let me give it a go.  I'll keep you all posted on the application process.

These adventures mean I need to keep swimming.  I am still steadily losing my walrus figure (down 13+ lbs or 6 kg since mid-August and losing more by the week) but will need to hold onto a few extra lbs of blubber for insulation.  Wish me luck and stay tuned for a few more updates as I prepare.

One final thought before I get some work done....

Surviving Bad Days

Today was a bad day.  I worked out for 3 hours yesterday running for 30 minutes, lifting for 30 minutes, and striding mindlessly on the elliptical for 2 hours as I read and watched TV.  It was exhausting.  I haven't felt very motivated the past few weeks because I have no purpose for my training.  Yeah, sure I am trying to lose weight but that is not a very strong motivator for me.  I know if I really needed to lose weight, I could just go climbing for a week and lose a pound (.5 kg) each day from the exertion and limited food to match the caloric expenditure.  What I really need is a fire under my fanny to stay focused.  Yesterday and today showed me that some days when all feels awful, I just need to survive through the workout to get some benefit.  This morning, I went to swim practice and endured 4,000 yards.  It wasn't pretty and I wasn't in a particularly good mood but I got through it.  I felt a great sense of accomplishment just by surviving.  If Aaron were at practice, I know he would have pushed us all.  Adversity makes us all better.  Embrace the setbacks; turn lemons into lemonade.

I need to sign off now and get my work done.  My next post consists of a few thoughts about why I do these adventures.  Read them if you want to know what makes me tick.  Who knows?  You might find some insights to keep your kids from following in my footsteps.  

See you soon....