Friday, July 27, 2012

Safety Nets of the Interesting Kind

Its a slow burn moving back up the ranks of race readiness.  I think the hardest thing I could have done was to jump right in the fire by showing up at the Short Track races.   Last night # 5 and next week a bonus race, #6.  I should begin to show some improvement next week.  Being mid pack in the B's is a far cry from mid pack in the A's two years ago.  It is baffling as to how much fitness can deteriorate in such a short amount of time.  For a while I didn't want to wear my kit because of, well, the "Potato Sausage Look" that many of us get when falling out of...focus.  I fell victim to a bunch of stuff, falling out of the culture of fitness. A safety net caught me before getting too far down the abyss.  I am thankful, I think.  And sore.

I took two years off of competitive cycling; the sport gives that "kick ass" fitness level that, once achieved, you feel pretty invincible.   Prior to June 30th, I hadn't ridden a bike much at all in 6 months.  I was eating horribly, going through a tough time in the business and things generally sucked from top to bottom.  My pants weren't fitting right, this pissed me off.  It was a slow burn, one that creeped up on me; the giving in to the failed discipline and the pursuit of fitness by indulging in a contradictory mindset. Heck, I probably haven't gotten into race fitness for the past 5 years, having my best run at things back in 2001-2004.  There were glimmers of greatness in 2006, my dad died that year. My fitness has been the death of a thousand cuts since then.

I think we need to think in terms of renewal from time to time. At least some of us do.  For those of us wired a certain way, there must be a time for renewal, the need for a slap in the face, an inventory of things.  Previously I dedicated a large part of my life to physical fitness and training towards a hand full of really cool goals; some I achieved, others, well, they are still in the bucket.  I was extremely successful for the most part, and caught the disease of the culture of active living. I made a bunch of new friends, I participated in races all over the area, lost 45 pounds, kept it off, told my story, motivated others in public speaking endeavors, opened a restaurant all about active living, wrote countless blogs about O-sports, promoted races, sponsored all sorts of active living events all over.  I was even friggin voted Citizen of the Year in West St. Louis County!  (no parade).

To be totally transparent, the catalyst for all the above was an embarrassing hospital visit back in 1998.  I had used up too many markers on the body, and it was time to shake it up.  I won't go into a lot of detail, but I was one of those folks who found themselves in a predicament; heading towards 40 with a gut, some bad habits (cigarettes) and low energy from a bad attitude about everything. I started walking, then running, riding, then racing.  It changed everything.  I became connected to my inner being, and a bunch of other inner beings; like minded people; a support group of Lycra clad wannabees, like myself who like a good malt beverage.  We are all cool with that.

So this year I found myself in the same spot, not as bad, not as helpless, no hospital, no total crack up.  Its was different. It was all mental. Sure, I had a  couple pounds on me, nothing too bad, nothing that some training couldn't cure.  I sure as heck didn't smoke and I was no where near collapsing on the front steps of St. Lukes holding my chest. Nothing like that. Things would never be like that.  I'd simply step off the grid if that were to be the case.

So now I am humbled, coming up through the ranks again, seeing the faces of the new folks getting into the culture is very motivating, inspiring.  But don't be mistaken, I hope they are friggin scared that I am coming.  I know that I am 50 and all, but I don't feel it.  I feel good, real good, and feeling better every day.  #imback!

It occurred to me, about the time that I embarked on my original fitness quest, I also started Pfoodman.  Active living, nutrition and O-sport was a suitable platform for the brand, so the branding and the colors and the graphic art were created to reflect this.  This was a good move.  They remain core values of the business today.  I did sell the business and joined another partnership using the Pfoodman assets that made it great.  I am a partner in that new business and free'd up to do what I do best, promote the business.  It was a dream come true to build the company to a point, then sell it to start something great with people far greater than I.  My life is good now that it is over. We are on a roll with my new partners out of Nashville, and the business is less about me and more about our culture of excellence.  See how this is playing out?

Back in 98 I was burned out, ready to evolve away into a dependent, unhealthy lackluster lifestyle, until I saw the light and got fit.  The light, a combination of spiritual enlightenment, embarrassment and personal challenge.  The buzz from he fitness was the catalyst for the business; we thrived for 13 years.  Paradoxically, right before the acquisition, I was headed right back to where I was prior to starting the business , stressed, feeling ill a lot of the time, bad attitude and low energy.  Well, I wasn't hospitalized, I had a safety net, a couple folks from the fitness culture flicked a switch and POW!  I saw the light.  Thank you Wendy Davis and her kind words, TTM and the #getchasum thing, Sally Drake and Chuck, and the members of Pfoodman Racing for reeling me in. The system worked.

It's the culture of fitness, the safety net important to keeping the fire lit, the people and the stories that keep you coming back.  Its that which is the key to staying focused, and in culture.  In my case, it required renewal, a renewal 12 years after a re-invention that changed my life for good.  There are ups and downs in everything, just as there is hope and perseverance to be had when things seem the worst. ifyouknowhatimtalkinbout.   

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