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The Child Custody Battle

I’m in the midst of an ugly child custody battle as we speak. Luckily there are no lawyers involved and both sides are being somewhat reasonable. Ironically enough, you, yes you reading this, are in a child custody battle of your own. The custody battle for your inner child.

When we first start out as little fledglings we are full of dreams, hope, passion, and vigor. There are very few bounds and the possibilities are limitless. However, slowly but surely, the “real world” makes an effort to beat it out of us until we become a compliant drone. There are endless rules that don’t really make all that much sense when you step back and look at it all. “Wear this, do that, listen to that person, you have to get this type of job, work for the man, work isn’t supposed to be fun” … the list goes on. Somehow we have been convinced that life should not be enjoyable for at least 40 hours a week, that all posted rules must be followed, the way things are should just be accepted, and that we should be saving ourselves for retirement. We delay fulfilling gratification and convince ourselves that we need to consume the latest and greatest gadgets. So the vicious cycle continues…

Life doesn’t really, or shouldn’t really, work this way. Nothing is guaranteed with the exception of the very moment you are currently in. Even if only for several minutes a day, you should seek to release that inner child and do what you truly want to. Running is a great way to do so as it is such a rudimentary form of play and relaxation. While running there are no bosses, silly suits, or reports to be created. There is you, the trail, and being the best version of yourself.

The lyrics to the latest Avicii song “Wake Me Up” capture the sentiment rather well. “Feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart. I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start. They tell me I’m too young to understand. They say I’m caught up in a dream. Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes. Well that’s fine by me.” I live in a world where decisions are not made based on money, but passion. A world where silly jargon and outfits used to show intelligence and rank are laughed at. The world where “life is a game for everyone, and love is the prize”. If I am just living in a dream, certainly don’t wake me up. I’ll always win the battle for the inner child because it is a fight worth fighting.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y_KJAg8bHI]

Well-Done Wednesday (6/6/2012)

HAPPY WEDNESDAY! Hope your June is off to a great start! Here are this week’s picks!

1.I Bow to You – Runners come in all shapes and sizes. This article does a wonderful job to celebrate a running group that oftentimes does not celebrate themselves. – from FlintLand

2. The Relentless Road Runner – One of my best friends, Brian Beatty has started a new blog to chronicle his journey to the Chicago Marathon. This is his first post on how he has reached the point where he stands now.

3. My Very Guilty Pleasure – I have been known to have a soft spot for awful bubble gum pop music, however, I’ve hit a new low. Carly Rae Jepsen has now made it on to my mix. I dare you to listen to it and not tap your foot to the beat. It’s fun to run to;) So call me, maybe?

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7ppxF4O130″]

4. Wonderful Showing of Sportsmanship – ESPN article about a high school track runner who helped carry another runner across the finish line during the 2 mile.

5. Really Cool Ryan Hall Commercial – thanks to Relentless Road Runner

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hDBouSrSjE”]

That’s it for this Wednesday! Please feel free to share with the great stuff you’ve found or created and I just might feature it next week! Send me an email or leave a comment:)

Always in Stride,

Jack

My Complex…Keep Running

A family of five winds along the asphalt path beneath the tree line canopy of Ohiopyle State Park. Each pedals along on their bicycle at a leisurely pace, or so it seems. Though it may look relaxed, within the mind of the 10-year old boy it is an all-out race. To him, everything that can be a competition is a competition. As the group enters the final miles of the ride, his sister begins to pull away and the boy gives chase. This will prove to be a common theme for him growing up, chasing the footsteps of his two older sisters.

I have recently come to a conclusion, one that has been in the works for a while:  I have a complex. I can’t quite say where it came from or what sparked it. I know for sure it’s not family as I have one of the most loving, encouraging, supportive families one could ever hope for. It’s just that to me the idea of what is “enough” is an ever-moving target as I grow older and I’m not sure any personal performance will ever live up to my standards. I have convinced myself that being content is to grow complacent, something that I never hope to do. I know that these viewpoints can come off as extreme and unrelenting but it is how I keep myself progressing, or as a good friend once put it, staying in a state of “relentless forward motion”.

I think that this is one of the reasons I am so drawn to running and triathlons. There is no end. You could be a world-class athlete, but someone better will always come along. World records are not made to stand, nor are titles. I keep on telling myself that if I just do this race or complete this one goal, then I will be happy with my performance. However, this is never the case. I live in the moment and enjoy my races for what they are, but do not allow myself to savor it for too long. For the most part, I cross the finish line with a smile, enjoy a moment with those I am close with, and then say inside my head “What’s Next?”

My best way to describe it is a lyric from the end of Kid Cudi’s Up Up and Away: “The end is never the end. A new challenge awaits. A test no man could be prepared for. A new hell he must conquer and destroy. A new level of growth he must confront himself. The machine in the ghost within. This is the journey of the man on the moon.” In short, as our video of the week puts it “Keep Running”.

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zaowgfeycp0″]

I’m curious to hear if anyone else has the same type of “complex”?

Always in Stride,

Jack

Song – Up Up & Away – Kid Cudi

Quote – “The end is never the end. A new challenge awaits. A test no man could be prepared for. A new hell he must conquer and destroy. A new level of growth he must confront himself. The machine in the ghost within. This is the journey of the man on the moon. “ – Kid Cudi

Video – Keep Running Short Film 

Well-Done Wednesday (5/30/2012)

HAPPY WEDNESDAY! I hope you’re enjoying the short week after the long weekend! Here are my 5 picks of the week!

1.The Past Shapes Us, in Life and Running – “Whether it is in running or relationships, our past experiences shape us into who we are, but we shouldn’t cling to them blindly. ” – from Runnin’ From The Law

2. Running Passion Picture – from Living for the Adventure

Image

Courtesy of Living for the Adventure

3. Couch to 5K Success Story in Progress – Becoming a “runner” is just a step away:) – from Jules, Jam & Journalism

“It’s blurry cos I took it while running.”

4. You Can Always Find a Finishing Kick –

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ-_3Ug3wqU”]

5. Down But Not Out – Something that we can all relate to, impatience during injuries. Just have to always remember that: “It’s a good day to have a good day.” – from GuarnteedHome

That’s it for this Wednesday! Please feel free to share with the great stuff you’ve found or created and I just might feature it next week! Send me an email or leave a comment:)

Always in Stride,

Jack

Well-Done Wednesday (5/23/2012)

HAPPY WEDNESDAY! I have 5 brand new picks for ya that I know you’re gonna love! Check ’em out!

1. It Gets Easier – “So I’m here to say, right now, to every runner or aspiring runner out there: Keep it up. You’re doing great, no matter what you might think. And it gets easier.” – from StaufenRunning

2. It’s Like a Switch – “When you really focus and make concrete decisions to do things, suddenly you remember how to run and how to jump and how to sweat your ass off.” – from Idiot Runner Girl

3. Great Quote for the Week – from It’s Progression Not Perfection.

Good Luck to Progression Not Perfection in her Half Marathon!

4. Color Run – I have no idea what this is, but it looks so awesome and fun. Put a smile on my face:) Thanks to Win! for the find.

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EERSfHiqT8″]

5. Bay to Breakers Pictures – Nice write up on Bay to Breakers complete with Top 10 costumes. I NEED to do this race at some point. It looks like such a blast!

That’s it for this Wednesday! Please feel free to share with the great stuff you’ve found or created and I just might feature it next week! Send me an email or leave a comment:)

Always in Stride,

Jack

Ironman St. George 2012 Race Recap

As promised, here is the race recap from Ironman St. George 2012!!

I awoke race day with a nervous anxiousness as adrenaline pumped through my veins. Dad and I checked the weather and it was to be a perfect day in St. George with 5-10mph winds and 80 degree temperatures…or so we were told (I really don’t like weather persons). I was excited with this news and what had appeared to be a continuation of my beginner’s luck. In my previous endurance events (half marathons and marathons), I have been afforded the most perfect of weather conditions, my streak would be broken. The ride to St. George was mostly quiet as we looked out towards the lights that lit up Sand Hollow in the distance as my motivational instrumental music lulled in the background. Dad dropped me off with a smile, an embrace, and a simple phrase “go get ’em”. We choked back emotion and I was off to begin my journey.

Arrival to T1 was nice as I chatted with others about the race to come, listneing to their “stories”. I am fascinated by the wide array of athletes from varying background and hardships. I spent all of my prep time socializing and preparing the bike. Ironman competitors are some of the nicest I have ever met. I never had time to listen to my “pump up” music as I was enjoying myself just talking to those around me. Time came to head to the water and I was psyched up and ready to go. There was not a doubt in my mind as my coach and the workouts he gave me had prepared me for what I was to take on. I had a huge smile on my face and was loving the pre-race music. “Wild One” by Flo-Rida is one of my favorite songs right now and was the second to last song I got to hear before entering the water. Before the start, we were graced with Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”. I usually can’t stand Kelly Clarkson, but I must say I enjoyed this one as I entered the waters of Sand Hollow.

The Perfect Storm

The swim cannot be called just a swim. I renamed it to The Perfect Storm and with good reason (press play on the video to understand). When the race started the weather was absolutely perfect. However, this was not to be the case for the day. After the initial chaos of the mass swim start settled down, it seemed like it was going to be an enjoyable remainder of the swim. I turned the corner around the first buoy and was immediately assaulted with white-capping waves. I assumed (and hoped) this would only be during this short portion of the course, but it was not to be. After turning the next buoy it became even worse. The winds were up to near 40mph and the waves were white-capping at 3 to 4 feet. I ended up drinking a lot of Sand Hollow water by accident as we were being punished by the waves that assaulted us head on. I became airborne several times and could not keep a breathing pattern longer than 2 strokes, breathe. To complement the waves, the current pulled athletes further from shore and the buoys. However, it was impossible to tell as you could not see the buoys over the waves. The only thing we could do was swim towards the rock that we knew we would have to go around to get to the finish. I have never seen athletes so spread out across the width of the course, so late in the race. Nobody knew where they were or where they were going. The swim was disorienting and challenging to say the least. Coming up out of the water, I had a feeling of elation wash over me. To complete the swim in itself was a mini accomplishment for me as I had learned how to swim only 2 months before. I was ecstatic.

Swim Time 1:42:02

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKWdavNM0Tw”]

Leaving T1

T1 Time: 6:47

The Bike

After the swim I took my time in transition as I was recovering from the swim. I was worried about hopping on the bike in a haze and getting knocked off by the wind. As I neared my bike after getting dressed, I heard a loud, booming voice “ALRIGHT JH!!!”. My Dad was there at the edge of the fence with a huge smile on his face. I returned an even bigger smile, complete with a fist pump and yelp of joy. It was on to the bike course.

Immediately after leaving transition, 40mph winds smacked us in the face. At that point, I knew it was going to be a long day, seeing as this was supposed to be the easy downhill part of the course. We winded back in towards St. George and I started to find my rhythm as I came out of my swimming daze. The crowd support was nice in the surrounding towns with great volunteers who were encouraging and cheery. The first 30 miles of the bike went okay until we got out of town. It would all go down from there. It was like a horror flick where all of a sudden a series of unfortunate events occur: the road surface got rough, the crowd disappeared, aid stations became few and far between, and the wind reared its head with a vengeance. For the next 30 miles or so we fought these conditions with no break from the wind. I cannot describe it with any other word than brutal. I recall cursing out St. George in my mind as rage built up inside me (big mistake). As the paddy wagon passed me with athletes who had dropped, I longed to be on it. St. George was spitting his worst in what was to be his last hurrah (seeing as the race is being downsized to a 70.3 in 2013). He was playing to each and every one of my weaknesses with his wind, heat, and elevation. I knew at this point, today was not going to be a Kona day for me. I knew that in order to finish I would have to race smart and save Kona for my next Ironman attempt. I summoned strength from my friends and family who were watching me across the world. Their love and support is what gave me the will power to go on as it replaced my rage and anger I had towards the weather and course. (Detailed in my post That Which Ironman Demands in Return)

The descents on the bike were treacherous. The eventual winner nearly got blown off his bike and had to clip out to keep his balance. The 40mph winds that were headwinds during the backstretch were cross winds during descents. It was essentially the worst of all possibilities. I didn’t trust myself in aero position and held on to the outside bars for dear life. I felt as if I was getting blown all over the road and was doing my best not to ride off over the ravine. I know I will need to work on this in my next training set as I lost a lot of valuable time here by riding the brakes. Getting back into town after the descent provided some relief along with better road surfaces, crowds, and more frequent aid stations. The grind of the backstretch was better the second time around as the wind was not as powerful and I focused on zoning out with thoughts of friends and family. I made it back in to St. George only to be greeted with one last “slap in the face” hill. By the time I got off my bike, I was ready to throw it across the town, never to see it again. It’s a good thing they take the bikes from you;)

Bike Time: 6:50:19, 16.38mph

T2: 10:22

The Run

Gutting Out the Run

Coming in to transition off the bike, I had long since come to the realization it was going to be a long day. I decided that I would take my time and make sure I was comfortable. I collected myself, used the restroom, got some sunscreen, and headed out for the final leg of the journey. On the way out I caught my Dad, Aunt, and Uncle along the edge and they were cheering as loud as can be with huge smiles on their faces. I once again bit my cheeks to hold back from getting choked up. Their energy and love rejuvenated me and I can say with complete honesty, I would not have made it through the day without them being there.

I decided early on in the run that my goal would be to keep a pace that I could maintain throughout the duration. My first mile clicked off at 7:00/mi pace and I knew this would most likely be too fast. I ended up dropping it down to 8:30/mi – 9:00/mi which proved to be a wise choice. The 85 degree Saint George sun beat down on us as we winded through loops that were in the shape of “M Dot”. While this was great for crowd support, it was a tad repetitive and difficult on the mind to hear Mike Reilly’s voice proclaiming the finish of others when I still had so far yet to go. The first lap went by rather uneventfully and was a nice cruising pace. I think that part of the reason it felt so good is I was happy to just be off the bike.

By the time the second lap came around, I had lost my stomach. I was unable to keep down my Clif Shot gels and would be forced to seek new nutrition sources that I had never experimented with before. Any seasoned veteran, self included, will tell you this is not a wise choice. However, it was the only choice I had left as 18 miles on no nutrition is not a good idea. I ended up trying Bonk Breaker bars, orange slices, freeze pops, pretzels, flat Coke, GU Gels, water, ice, bananas, and many other things I can’t recall. I would pay for this later.

To begin lap 3, I was excited and picked up the pace despite my ankles and calves screaming in protest. I cruised along, walking through age stations to ensure I got my needed nutrition, until mile 20 came around. I then paid for my “experimentation”. Sparing details, I was forced to stop for 15 minutes to collect myself and make sure I could run again with no “issues”. I regained my stomach somewhat, but would only be able to consume water and nothing else for the remainder of the race. The last 6 miles went by relatively uneventfully, though I could feel the fatigue start to set in.

The final mile was glorious. It was so much more than I could have ever dreamed of. It was a rush of emotion and joy as I closed in towards the words I was longing to hear. The last 50 meters I spread my arms and let out a scream of joy with a huge smile on my face. The crowd erupted as I sprinted the final 20 meters. Mike Reilly’s voice boomed as I finished “from Manhattan Beach, California, John McPheron, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!”. I was in tears at the finish as I searched anxiously for my father. We didn’t even attempt to hold back emotions as i collapsed into his arms. I had completed the Ironman and been rewarded with what I had been seeking.

Run Time: 4:23:01, 10:02/mile

Overall; 13:13:31, Rank 363, Age Group Place 15

Pure Joy at the Finish

Overall it was an amazing experience and I cannot wait for my next one:)

Always in Stride,

Jack

Song – Flo Rida – Wild Ones

Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)

Quote – “Ironman is every person trying to find out what he can do. Trying to find out what his limits are and convincing himself that he can break through them. You can quit but nobody else cares, and you will always know.” – John Collins, Ironman Founder

Video – The Awards Ceremony/Ironman St. George Recap Video

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LDTI3yhluM”]

Well-Done Wednesday (5/16/2012)

HAPPY WEDNESDAY! I have 5 brand new picks for ya that I think you’re gonna love! Check ’em out!

1. The Running Life – Great New Yorker article by Nicholas Thompson on running, form, The Boston Marathon, and much more via What It’s Like.

2. Running Tips for Newbies – by Karen Janos from Active.com via Running Force.

3. Summer Goals, Have You Set Yours? – Summer Goals from a blogger I just found incorporating both lifestyle and fitness goals. A perspective I enjoyed. Concrete, achievable goals. Go get ’em Run John Run !

4. Quick Ab Work – I’m a big fan of quick workouts for strength training that are manageable. Here is a great one via Ink and Stilettos, give it a try, I dare ya;)

Great Workout via Ink and Stilettos

5. Risk – Quick piece on risk by Runvolution, what risks are you taking on?

That’s it for this Wednesday! If you have some to add PLEASE DO! I’m a running/motivation junkie and can never have enough! It just might show up in next week’s list:) Email it or leave it in the comments!

Always in Stride,

Jack

That Which Ironman Demands in Return

The Ironman race is complex with mystery and wonder weaved into the fabric of the event. The race possesses a unique meaning to each competitor as they place monumental expectations on the experience. The race is expected to be an answer to the unknown, a holy grail, a return to life, a means to discover the meaning of life, and an arena in which to push the limits of the human mind, body, and spirit. As one of our videos of the week puts it: “The birth of a dream like this can come anywhere and be nurtured anyplace. The dream where the Ironman becomes a symbol of achievement or maybe a symbol of something greater. There is in no way any guarantee that you will get what you want, Ironman awards glory to those who survive.”   With all of this being required by her competitors, it is only fair that the race is permitted to ask of something in return…and she does.

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65ugopJ5S4A”]

The Ironman is a remarkable event and this video shows you exactly what it can mean to many.

When I began my Ironman training, I was under the assumption that it was an individual event. The Ironman was to be proof to myself that I am capable of anything on my own and that I am an island. I wanted so badly to believe that I am a fully self-sufficient human being, requiring no help or aid from anyone. As with most hard-nosed beliefs I have held thus far in my young life, I was wrong. Ironman made sure to hammer this lesson home the hardest of ways possible.

Before I began the race, I knew I was going to feel pain and a lot of it out on the race course. However, I did not anticipate nor expect Saint George to throw 40mph winds and 3 to 4 foot white caps at me along with high heat. I had imagined that I would handle any struggle of mind or body on the course by channeling thoughts of motivational videos, songs, and quotes that I had accrued over the years as a motivation junkie. In the end, I only remotely referenced one video, shown above. My strength would be summoned from other sources.

The Ironman asks of one thing and one thing only throughout the course of a race: everything. She requires that you give absolutely every ounce of energy, heart, and soul that you possess in your body, and then she asks for more. So how is one to complete a race in which everything has been given and more is required?

Around mile 50 on the bike, doubt and and despair crept into the recesses of my mind. As I watched the “paddy wagon” go by, carrying athletes who had dropped from the race, I contemplated throwing in the towel to join them. The winds were more vicious than I could have ever expected and much of the bike course was in no man’s land with little to no crowd support. It was just athletes alone with their thoughts in the red-hued mountains of Saint George. I had not a clue as to from where I was to summon the strength to carry on the final 100 miles…and then it arrived. Thoughts and memories of loved ones flooded my mind. I realized that I had people from all over the globe cheering me on and watching me from California to Pennsylvania to Iowa to Indiana to Michigan to Montana to Egypt to Ireland to Scotland to England to Canada to Ohio to Illinois to Texas and many more. I was grateful for my sunglasses that day as they hid the tears that began to well up in the corner of my eyes. I bit my cheeks to hold back my emotions as I imagined my mother staring intently at the computer screen wondering if her baby boy would make it through the day. Thoughts flashed of my father, aunt, and uncle anxiously awaiting my arrival back into St. George to cheer me on through the run course. I was not fully aware of it then, but this would be all that I needed to finish this race. Love and life flowed back into my veins and carried through to my muscles, giving me the strength to hammer on.

It took 13 hours 13 minutes and 31 seconds of swimming, biking, and running to realize it, but in the end I was awarded with one of the greatest lessons I could possibly learn: no man is an island. I know I will always be an independent soul but I now realize that nothing I have achieved in my life would have been possible without the love and support of my friends and family. No achievement can solely be one’s own no matter what it is. My loving parents taught me how to ride a bike, my coach helped me to learn to swim, and my running has been fostered and cared for with the love and support of many over the 13 years it has been my passion. The Ironman is not an individual achievement, it is a shared glory between loved ones and friends. Only by channeling the love and strength of friends, family, and the crowd, is the individual able to reach that line to hear the voice that proclaims “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”, and I must say, those are some of the sweetest words one will ever hear.

This is what I look like when I have the joy of the world.

I love you all so much and can never thank you enough for all of your love and support. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing group of family and friends. I’ll be forever grateful.

Always in Stride,

Jack

P.S. Full Race Report to come on Thursday and more frequent posts, the writing is flowing right now:)

Quote – “This is about limits. Reaching them, exploring them, exceeding them what you thought yours were. Coming to the conclusion that there aren’t any: limits.”- Unbekannt

Songs – Coldplay – Paradise

Video – The Brian Boyle Ironman Story MUST WATCH

Well-Done Wednesday (5/9/2012)

Happy Wednesday to all you wonderful readers/runners!!! I hope you’re having a great week and loving life:) Here are some videos to help you get motivated and inspired with your running and life:)

1. Make it Count – All you get is one shot. Live. It’s as simple as that. I love watching this video to motivate me to do this in every way possible. Some great running shots as well:)

2. Running 2.0 – “Want a little motivation? Lace up your shoes, find a quiet path, and think about what you have to give to someone else. I bet it’s more than nothing.” – from mindfirerunner

3. New Definition for Being “Stronger” – Fantastic video from Seattle Children’s Hospital that makes me really like Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” – from Courtney Milleson

4. Why I Do This Thing Called Running – “Running makes me feel free, alive. Like I can be a better person when I go out into the world because I took the time to make myself a priority.” – from thedancingrunner

5. Yesterday, You Said Tomorrow – from krhtoday

from krhtoday

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Well-Done Wednesday links! Check back next Wednesday for a new 5!

Always in Stride,

Jack

Well-Done Wednesday (5/2/2012)

Happy Wednesday All! Hope you’re having a great week and getting in some quality runs before it heats up too much! Here are this week’s picks for Well-Done Wednesday:

1. Tomorrowland Music Festival Video – I have recently become obsessed with running to house music thanks to a buddy who showed me this video of a festival called Tomorrowland in Belgium. I have since downloaded all these songs on to my running iPod and really want to go to this festival. If you run well to beats, you just might love this and may want to download these songs. My favorite lyric is from Swedish House Mafia – “We’re far from home, it’s for the better, What we dream, it’s all that matters, We’re on our way, united, Turn the crowd up now, We’ll never back down.”

2. Smile of a Child Running – click the link for the quick story:)from 365 from the Archive.

3. 7 Things to Love About Marathon Training – from I Crashed the Web. Also has some good motivational pictures:) There really is a lot to love about marathon training!

4. Best Race Signs – from Best Race Signs. Just found this blog and it’s GREAT! A collection of awesome race day signs. The Kim Kardashian one cracked me up.

5. Acapella to Relax and Smile to:) – With Ironman St. George only a few days away, my coach said to relax my mind and not think about it. My solution: A Capella from my favorite Disney movie: Lion King:) For some reason, always puts a smile on my face.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Well-Done Wednesday links! Check back next Wednesday for a new 5!

Always in Stride,

Jack