Everybody in my family is all worked up and excited about rock climbing right now, and since it was basically free for me to be on our family gym membership after paying for the four of them, I went ahead and added my name to the membership.
Works out for everybody–I can roam around while they climb, helping the youngest get hooked up to the auto-belay and being available to belay everyone else on the top rope areas. Plus there’s a weight room, yoga classes, treadmills, etc. so that I’ll always have something to do there while everyone else is climbing or in a class.
Makes sense, right?
Except that last night was free shoe night. So even though I don’t have shoes I could jump on and climb for free too.
Boo. After an hour in the bouldering cave I want to climb too.
Not a big deal, but just once in my life I’d like to pick up something and do it without immediately trying to quantify and measure my progress and effort.
I mean, I’m not going to forego these things with rock climbing. But maybe the next thing?
I’m really happy to be on a team with guys who write up race reports and post them to the ol’ Facebook for the broader team to read. That means I don’t have to write the whole thing myself–I can just take what he wrote and comment on it. Honestly, I can barely remember parts of this race as I was hanging on by a thread.
I did not want to do this race, but I’m really glad I did.
Just want to jump in and comment on Tom‘s race report right at the beginning. You can have up to 8 riders on a team, and the time of the fourth rider across the line is the one that counts. We only had 5. That means 3 fewer people taking turns pulling. Even if they were only doing 15 second pulls, that’s an extra 45 seconds of rest per rotation, which is a lot.
This course was well suited for us, being mainly flat and with hills of moderate grade. As this group has accumulated TTT experience everyone is focusing on some of the finer points of the experience—bike and wheel selection, various tactical approaches, watching earlier races (an advantage of being in Z14), studying the course profile, etc. If nothing else this gives us plenty to chat about in our warmup meetup.
I really benefit a lot by being a part of Team Skofnung, and the larger Valhalla team in general. Someone else takes responsibility for putting us on teams and registering us with the league. And once we get to the race, our team captain takes responsibility for deciding on the order and length of our pulls based on the abilities of each of us. Basically, all I have to do is show up on time, follow directions, and suffer. Watching races earlier in the day is super helpful as well. It gives me an idea of where other teams have issues and a general idea of how long I’m going to be on the bike.
Once everyone was warmed up and in the pen we took to the pairing screen to stay loose pending our 12 minute delay. Derrick had a glitch where the pairing function released him for a second and he drifted right to the banner, but stayed in the pen. Then in slow motion his avatar drifted sideways into Tom Neuman and pushed him over and even piled into Sylvan. Everyone stayed upright and on the right side of the line, and then we were off .We quickly got into our rotation, having agreed that we would use the rider panel except for the hills, when we would blob as is our custom.
Great lesson we learned in last week’s race, which had lots of rollers, is that we were pretty strong at sticking together as a blob instead of a line when we needed to do it. It’s a good tactic for us because we have a wide range of weights on our team–if we tried to ride w/kg on the rollers it would split us up pretty easily.
For this race we agreed to target a speed (40kph) rather than a w/kg as the pacing metric, and it worked really well. Tom N was assigned 60 second pulls in exchange for his request to be 4th in the rotation, with Sylvan and me each at 30 secs and Scott and Derrick at 15 secs. Sylvan made the call to increase his efforts to 45 secs to help him remain calm and nobody objected. He later raised it to 60 seconds, again without objection especially from me since I was behind him.
Lap 1 went exactly to plan, rotating thru the flats, and then maintaining a seamless blob up out of the desert and over the KOM. Either Sylvan or I would be at the front keeping tempo, Tom N staying in the middle to help close any gaps that might open, Derrick and Scott riding spot-on and maintaining position. We anticipated the possibility of the post-KOM rollers breaking things up, and simply did not allow that to happen. We worked hard that first lap but very deliberately within ourselves, understanding that a big challenge of this course was the distance and wanting to conserve energy to be strong for lap 2.
That last bit was huge. I’m a big fan of going out conservatively. If you have extra oomph at the end, you can always find spots to use it. But if you burn all your matches early, there’s no coming back from it. I learned from my very first attempt at a TTT that once my heart rate isn’t recovering I’m cooked. And not just for a minute or two. I’m really happy to be riding on a team that feels the same way. My splits for the two laps in this race ended up being 2 seconds apart. That’s pretty good for a race that lasts over an hour.
By the second lap we were still going well. Tom N and Sylvan were dieseling through their pulls, Scott and Derrick were tightly in the group, occasionally rolling through the front, and I covered some extra rotation time on top of my pulls to keep things going. We had noted early on that we were putting time into the team behind us, and that on lap one the team ahead of us put time into us, but on lap 2 we slowly cut into the advantage of the team ahead, and passed individual riders dropped by their squads. This was all further incentive to keep the engine room stoked.
The second time up out of the desert and over the KOM was definitely grippy, as everyone was feeling the effects of the distance and the effort. There were occasional 1-3 second gaps but always closed, with once again Tom N doing mini-sweep work with Derrick and Scott as Sylvan and I maintained tempo up front.
So appreciative of the sweep!
Down through the rollers really started to hurt, and at one point Scott encouraged us to press on without him. He must have been hypoxic to suggest that, as it is clearly against Skofnung Company Policy, especially with only 5.5 to go.
Huge advantage of riding on a team–they forced me through a tough minute or so, and I came out find on the other side.
So we gave the slightest easing of effort, he went inside-out to close back on, and we were again 5 as we hit the true flats to the finish with 4km to go. Those last 4km were awesome. We kept it tight like a for-real TTT, cranking the watts up front well north of 4w/kg and ramping up to over 5w/kg as the line approached, Tom N and Sylvan clearly giving it the stick and me contributing what I could, Scott and Derrick blowing up heartrate monitors to stay hitched on. We were putting even more time into the team behind and wiping out the early advantage of the team ahead. That last 1 km was absolutely brilliant, full gas and maximum effort by everyone to finish fast and together, knowing there was not a single watt left out on the desert flats.
No lie here. Upper 160s HR is the “danger zone” for me on the bike, and once I cross 170 I really don’t have any hope of coming back. I was 170+ for the last mile. If my front wheel had been rotating I probably would have tangled my tongue up in it.
Fabulous ride, and a real pleasure. Very much looking forward to next week already, and to having some of our regulars back with us (looking at you in particular, Laurence!).Have great weekends everyone, until next time.TP
I’m really excited about riding again next week, especially if we’re able to field an 8 person team. We are improving every week, and I feel like we’re starting to know each other better as riders. Last week we were 136th overall in the Latte League. This week, 106. We made big gains in our Zone as well. It feels like we’ve just begun to gel!
If it ain’t one thing, it’s another. At least I didn’t crash this time. Actually, the issues with this race probably worked out in my favor. For some reason, my trainer was not being controlled by the terrain of the map. If you’ve ever ridden this course and had to deal with the rollers at the beginning of each lap, you’ll know why this worked in my favor. I was able to ride a pretty steady power profile for this race, but it would have been “cheating” a little if I’d been able to place highly.
I was able to ride the way I wanted for a big part of this race–didn’t even try to stay in the lead group. Unfortunately I got dropped by the group I was in at the beginning of the 6th lap. I noticed that the next group was 38 seconds behind me, and decided to ride hard enough for them to have to chase (and catch) me, but easy enough that I could recover some and do well at the end.
I think I was in 23rd place at the time I got dropped.
The plan worked out pretty well, but now I’m not sure it was the right plan. The other group caught me at the beginning of the 8th lap. I rode with them until the sprint finish. I ended up 24th (on the Zwift screen, not in Zwift Power), which means I basically only lost one spot.
I wonder now what would have happened if I’d ridden harder. Since I was able to hold them off for that long; would I have put them out of reach by riding harder? Would I have caught up with the next few people who got dropped from the group I’d been in previously? Hard to tell, but my average heart rate ended up being my all time high, which makes me think I was legitimately dropped and that I wouldn’t have been able to continue that effort level that whole time.
Then again, maybe I would’ve had 45-50 seconds less total time riding. As it is, I was about 10 seconds slower on this race than the other one I completed without crash. I think I rode better though–my splits were pretty even up until the time I got dropped.
Then again, not hard to ride even splits when you can’t feel the terrain. Meh.
I pushed my old ‘puter to its limits, and Zwift crashed on me during the 6th lap of this race. Really disappointing, but since then I’ve replaced my old disc drive with an SSD drive. Basically a brand new computer for ~$60, and this thing screams now. I’ve done a couple of rides longer than an hour on high resolution graphics (I always used “low” before) and haven’t had any problems.
Unfortunately, I was doing pretty well in this race. I mean, I wasn’t close to being in the front group or anything. I think I was like 68th out of 133 when all ones and zeros broke loose. But I was riding pretty steady splits on the laps, didn’t go out too fast, had one other person I was working with the maintain position, etc.
Big changes from the first race were a lower cadence, not trying to get in the lead group and stay there, and riding the bumps much better. I also have a better feel of when to coast on the downhill section and when to use the powerups.
Anyway…that’s about it. Second try out was a dud, but will try again next week.
Zwift crashed on me during the 6th lap of an 8 lap ride today. Frustrating, but more frustrating because I want to at least look at the stats of the part of the race that were recorded. I did some research and found a great solution — FitFileTool.com –that will repair partial Zwift rides using their “Corrupt Time Fixer”. It’ll even upload the workout to Strava for you.
Not so fast. Everything seemed to work well. I could see the individual activity on Strava without any problems. But when I went to my feed and profile the activity wasn’t there. What the?!?!
I checked one more place…my activities. Not showing up there either.
But what happens if I search for it. There it is! It’s just showing up as happening on January 6, 2015 instead of March 5, 2021.
Sure enough, when I go look at the activity, it has the wrong date and time associated with it.
The Fix–Not Exactly
My first inclination was to download the file with the wrong date from Strava, do a search and replace for all the dates in the file, then upload it again. That mostly worked, but I think the local timestamp of the virtual location the race took place threw things off.
There’s a better way
Go back to the original file that was repaired for you by FitFileTools and run it through one of their other utilities–the “Time Adjuster”. This lets you set the start date/time of the activity and makes that fix for you.
Download THAT file and upload it to Strava, and you should be all good.
I considered doing individual time trials and crits, and I chose crits because:
There are more of them
They included drafting (just like TTT)
They are usually pretty short efforts (8 laps), so they don’t disrupt my FTP program much. I can just do these on an off day.
There are a bunch of Bell Lap races, so I thought I’d give this a go. I’ll be able to race on the same course over and over, try different tactics and strategies, document them, see what works best, etc.
Added bonus–I think there may actually be a correlation between how fast I can do these races and how fast I can run a 5k. Remember, I’m cycling in lieu of running so much, but still hope to get faster on race day. We’ll find out if this works..
I’m a boring nerd. I’m not going to even mention the spreadsheet I’ll be using to track all this…yet.
I picked the Friday 11:45 am EST race to be my “standard”. I’ll be able to make that one most weeks, so hopefully I’ll be racing against the same people over and over as well, which gives me another control point in the experiment.
Before racing, I did do a little recon. I watched a couple of races on this course live, and watched a couple of videos on how to race the course. Quick recap of what I learned and observed:
Like all Zwift races, start fast! Shoot for 4.5 w/kg
Flyers get caught in the first minute
Leaders ride the first lap in the high 3’s w/kg
After a couple of laps, the chasers are ~ 7s back, and some riding solo
After the halfway point, leaders are riding in the low 3’s, high 2’s w/kg
People get strung out on the bumps–that’s where attacks happen
Don’t fall for attacks on the 7th lap
Strategy and Reality
The winners of the races I watched were finishing in just over 21 minutes and around 3.3 w/kg. My 20 minute best effort is around 2.7 w/kg.
So…I’m not going to win in Cat C, and if I can put in a solid effort, a finish under 25:00 would be pretty good for me. The game is going to be trying different approaches in multiple races to see what works best for me.
The strategy for this first race was simple–stay with the lead group as long as possible and see what happens. I knew I’d get dropped, but the question was “when?” and “what happens after that?”
The good news is that I think I found something that doesn’t work. I was able to go out with the first group and stay with them for the first lap and a little beyond. But just like going out too fast in a running race, it caught up with me. Positive splits on every lap except for the last one (by two seconds…just barely).
I was able to finish in 24:22, and I think I could do a lot better than this by evening out my splits (negative splits?), but what makes cycling way different than running is that I need to find a group to ride with to make it happen. I rode the last laps by myself in this race, and I think that really shows in the results. I was putting out wattage that were around the same or higher than previous laps, but not getting any benefit of the draft until the last lap.
My question and challenge for the next race is how to find that second group, and can I stay with them. I think the key for me to do my best in these races is to find the right group that can support me for as long as I can stay with them, or find a group I can ride easy with and attack from on the last lap.
One thing is clear–I’m not worried about winning any time soon.
Still, I did want to do the makeup stage of the 2021 Tour de Zwift. It happened to be the climbing stage, and since I was only going to do one ride in this stage, I chose the most advanced one. Gulp. This took about 20 minutes longer than I was hoping it would. It was brutal. Another confirmation that I’m not where I need to be.
I did take a day off, but wanted to stick to the schedule. Legs were pretty heavy, but I went ahead with the FTP test. I’d done these before, back in the Trainerroad days, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Luckily, Zwift has a different type of FTP test that doesn’t take nearly as long and isn’t as grueling. I did a ten minute easy rise to get my trainer warmed up and did a quick calibration, then on to the test.
Unlike the 45 minute efforts I’ve done before, this one went pretty fast, and it only hurt for a little while. It’s a 5 minute warmup, followed by 1 minute intervals at increasing wattage. It didn’t even take me 18 minutes to complete and for my HR to get to critical.
I ended up at 243 for and FTP–for real this time, not virtual power. That makes sense. I was hoping for somewhere around 250. It’s funny to read back through old posts from before and see that history may not repeat itself, but it rhymes. I’m at 2.6 w/kg, and my goal (once again) is to get to 3.0 w/kg. Roughly, that means increasing my FTP to 270 watts and getting my weight down to 198 pounds.
Totally doable. In fact, I’ll have a hard time keeping those 7 pounds on if I’m doing all the workouts. My raw wattage may not jump all the way to 270, but if I weigh in at 195 pounds and hit a raw score of 265, the result is the same.
I’ve been doing a weekly Zwift recovery ride on Wednesdays with the Vikings – Valhalla team. This ride is super-fun, super-inclusive, and they seemed like a great group of people to ride with and represent. It didn’t take long to realize that this was the team for me. I’m doing this for fun and health, not for champeenships or money. Is there any money in Zwift racing? A different topic to explore.
After doing a race where I was not up to snuff, I can confirm that these are some cool people. No one dogged me out for not being able to keep up. In fact, they did everything they could to keep me in the group and only dropped me after the 2nd or 3rd time I told them that they should drop me.
As a member of a team I definitely feel like I let them down. But the best thing I could do was to let them go on without me. These guys were way stronger than me, and as I watched them finish as I continued to putter along the course I was amazed at the effort they put in. I have a lot of work to do before I try one of these again.
Race Report – Or at least the part I participated in
Zwift TTT is made up of up to 8 riders, and the time of the top 4 riders to cross the finish line is what counts. In the league we were in, there can be 3 “B” class riders and the rest “C” class. I’m a C rider, which means the responsibility to pull the group and ride at the front didn’t fall on me as much as others. We had a team of 6 in the start pen, but one of our riders had a technical issue, which had us start with 5 riders.
The call was to ride on raw watts over w/kg because we were riding a flat course. We were shooting for 300 watts at the front.
That’s 3.2 w/kg for me.
*Gulp* That’s hot. I was already a little worried. In the start pen I noticed my HR was over 100, and I wasn’t even pedaling–just nervousness and adrenaline, and that didn’t serve me well at all. Then again, they were only asking for 15 seconds of effort from me for my turns. I was determined to stay on for as long as I could, and I knew it was going to be about recovering for the 1:45 seconds my teammates would be pulling.
Since I’ve started riding again, the highest HR I’ve touched so far is 173. And I mean that I TOUCHED it. I can’t stay there for any amount of time. So I was really mindful of where my HR was and paying close attention to it. Two minutes into this ride I hit 158 on a pull, then I recovered. I hit 160 at ~4:00, and I recovered.
At ~5:00 I hit 161, and I climbed up to 169 in the next three minutes, and it just wasn’t recovering.
Somewhere between 10 to 13 minutes I fell off the back, and teammate Sylvan pulled me back to the group. I stayed in the 4th position for the rest of the time I was with the group, until the 20:00 mark or so. But I was stuck in the mid 160s and still struggling, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do this for another 25 minutes. I fell off again, and Sylvan slowed down to try and help me catch back up, but I was cooked. I was having some trouble with Discord to tell the guys to go without me–wasn’t sure they could hear.
When they made the call to drop me (great call!) I was tasked with “just finish”. That way if someone else had an issue we would at least get credit for the race…just a horrible time. It’s clear from the power graph above that I immediately started soft pedaling and trying to recover. I knew my best chance for a better time was to get my HR under control and then ride the best I could.
It took me 12:00 to get my HR under 150! Once I recovered, I tried to keep my HR at a reasonable rate and get the best time I could. Pretty boring work, so I decided to watch the rest of the team finish. Wow–the effort those guys put in was inspiring to watch. And it was great to hear how happy they were at the finish line!
They finished at ~44:00. There’s no way I could have stuck with them. No way. It’s crazy to look at the graph of Sylvan’s ride to see how much he was recovering when trying to pull me back to the group. And the work he put in after I dropped is just crazy.
I still had 2.6 KM to go after the team finished, but now there was zero pressure to get any kind of time. Just riding for pride at this point, and I’d already had that taken from me LOL. I pedaled into the finish and did the sprint at the end. Woopity Doo!
Ok, so how do I fix this?
I learned a lot on this ride, and it’s pretty evident what I need to work on:
Increased FTP–I have a lot of room to grow in the C class
Weight loss (to give me better w/kg)
Intervals, intervals, intervals
So Friday was a light swim day–just short and easy to get the heaviness out of my legs. Today I’m doing the last Tour de Zwift ride that I missed to get every stage completed and a short easy run. After that (and a rest day on Sunday) the work begins.
Monday: FTP test. I need to baseline exactly where I am. I think my rating on ZwiftPower is a little inflated at this point because I’ve only had a smart trainer for a week. It’s evident that the power readings (estimated) from my dumb trainer were super inaccurate as the power increased. So I need a better baseline
Tuesday I’m going to take a rest day. Well, a rest from cycling. I’m actually going to get to roll on Tuesday! Woot!
Wednesday is going to be the start of a 6 week FTP builder. That takes care of increasing FTP, and if it’s like other plans I’ve done before there are lots of intervals on the menu.
And for the elephant in the room…almost literally…weight. When I was at BJJ peak fighting shape, I was walking around at ~190 pounds for most of the day. I was never under 200 when I was doing triathlons back in the day, and I think that extra 10 pounds made a big difference. I just hadn’t been small in so long I thought 200 WAS small. Now I’m aware of how much more athletic I feel at 190, and I’m motivated to get there from my current 205. Picking up some BJJ training is going to help with that for sure, but it’s going to be a tough row to hoe.
Yesterday was the day. I’d scheduled my appointment for early in the morning, and I’m glad I did.
Pretty normal–got the injection at 7:45, then hung out for 15 minutes just to make sure there’s no adverse reaction. Around 1:00 in the afternoon I started feeling a little tired. Not really sick, just like I needed a nap. That’s kind of normal for me at that time of day anyway.
By 7:00 pm I was getting sick. This is the only time I’ve felt this way and been happy about it. If your body is responding to the vax, it’s doing its job and the immune system is ramping up.
It wasn’t horrible–maybe like a really mild and really short flu. I was a little achy, had some chills, and was pretty tired. Luckily, I woke up this morning and most of that had passed. I had a slightly sore throat and a little bit of congestion, but the worst of the symptoms passed overnight.
Hopefully things will continue to improve as the day goes on and I can get back on the bike tonight!
I hate what happens when I try to look up recipes. I have to scroll past 8 paragraphs describing the food I’m trying to make (duh) and its history, a bunch of pictures and a bunch of ads. This is not one of those posts.
Put in two spoonfuls (I don’t know what size…just grab a spoon) from the last batch of yogurt or from a different starter into the Instant Pot. If you need a starter, some off-the-shelf unsweetened Greek yogurt should work fine. You can lookup different articles on what yogurts you can start with if you’re really that curious. This is just a quick start
Add part (I dunno…a quarter or so?) of a gallon of whole grass fed organic milk. You can use 2% milk or whatever you want. If this all goes horribly you are out a gallon of milk–not much risk involved.
Stir it up
Add the rest of the milk. Doesn’t have to be a whole gallon…make however much you want.
Close the lid and push the “Yogurt” button. You don’t even have to worry about whether the Instant Pot is set to pressure cook or vent–it’s not going to get that hot.
Go to bed
Wake up and strain the whey out of the yogurt using one of these nut milk bags if you like thicker yogurt. The longer you strain it, the thicker it will be. If you able to read this far, you can probably figure out how to do this, so no instructions needed. You can catch the whey and use it in smoothies or something later if you want.
No pictures necessary here. You probably know what an Instant Pot looks like and what yogurt looks like. I’m seeing 3 or 4 steps here you probably can skip and still make good yogurt as well. Stirring probably isn’t that crucial. You don’t have to go to bed. You don’t have to strain it at all if you don’t want to.
When the ‘rona hit and I couldn’t go to BJJ any longer, I decided to take the time off to get back into the deep end of running. Is a sub-20:00 5k possible for me?
I haven’t been super dedicated to running for several years. Still, I knew what it was going to take to get faster. A weekly long run, a couple of easy runs, and a weekly HARD workout. I hate running intervals. But I decided to buckle down and do it.
Problem is, I’m not as young as I used to be, and I was getting really beat up on the hard workouts. I didn’t have any real significant injuries, but it seemed like I was “hurt” all the time. I’ve run enough to know that running hurt is the path to injury, mostly because of the repetitive nature of running and what happens when you change your stride to accommodate the hurts.
Enter the solution (maybe): Hard bike workouts to get in the zone 4/5 training and doing all the runs at an easy pace. I’m still keeping the weekly long run, but I’m just looking for time on my feet. I have faith this will work based on the improvements I’ve seen in my running in the past when I focused on cycling along with the running race results I was able to get when I was REALLY fit from BJJ and doing no running at all.
The added benefit here is that I get to keep all the things I love about running easy and jettison all the things I hate about running hard. In truth, I dislike races less than 10k as well, but doing a race every now and then for the good of the 5 9s team isn’t a huge ask.
Not much to report around the experience with the vaccine itself, more about the experience of the experience.
First of all, I’ve already had several people ask why/how I was able to get it so fast (first injection on December 23). In short, it was a result of my employer’s (a hospital and health care company) plan for distribution. While front line staff had first dibs, the vaccine was offered up to supporting staff as well. I get their logic–these are the people supporting the front line people, and we need them to be healthy as well. Plus, we have to distribute this stuff before it goes bad.
I also get the other side of the argument; it doesn’t make sense that a healthy person with no pre-existing conditions would get to go early, no matter what. And I guess that’s a lot of what this post is about–the thoughts/emotions that came with the vaccination.
A month ago, there was no way I was going to take this vaccine. My assumption was that I wasn’t even going to be eligible for it until late spring at the earliest. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure about the new technology. In fact I was suspicious of it. So why take the chance on new technology when everyone else has been vaccinated anyway.
But when I received an email telling me I could get on the list, things changed. It was a little like someone asking me if I was hungry and I replied no. And then they tell me they have ice cream.
On the day I was eligible to sign up I went on a run to try to figure this out. I came to a few conclusion during that four miles:
I needed to learn about the new vaccine tech before dismissing it
By taking the vaccine early, I could eliminate a bunch of threat vectors for my family. I could take over the bulk of the food shopping and things requiring contact with others
I could get back to jiu jitsu at some point in the foreseeable future (selfish)
I could donate plasma during the time period that I have antibodies and maybe help someone else recover. Also, counterbalances the selfish part above. Hey…I need to rationalize that away
Most importantly, any risks associated with the vaccine are probably less likely and less severe than risks associated with infection. It has been closing in around us lately, and at some point the scales tip and you are choosing virus over vaccine. No thanks.
After watching this video on the technology, I was quickly over that concern. I won’t try to pretend that I know anything about the immune system and how cells operate. Just watch it.
Talked it over with The Missus, and she supported my logic. She’s not quite ready to take it yet, but she doesn’t have ice cream being waved in front of her face like I was either.
This is getting long, so I’ll skip ahead to sitting in the chair and getting the shot.
It was a weird mix of feelings. “The end is in sight.” contrasted by “You’re four weeks away–don’t mess up now.”
I had to stop by the grocery store on the way home from my appointment, and it was slammed (day before Christmas Eve). I was suddenly a little paranoid about being around so many people. I really didn’t want to mess this up.
I haven’t really written about it, but paranoia is a new feeling for me throughout all this. We’ve been pretty careful, but not paranoid. No need in taking unnecessary risks, and definitely wear a mask, wash hands, etc., but we haven’t locked ourselves in our home either. We’ve met up with people at the beach, our kids play outside with other kids (just no hugging and stuff), and I even got on a plane so I could drive a moving truck from TN to FL for my parents.
All of a sudden, Covid is on my mind more than ever. I’m now aware of every little cough, scratch in the throat, sneeze. For the first few days that was an awareness of reacting to the vaccine, but now it’s really focused on Don’t. Mess. Up.
But no reactions, and no infections. So far. I’ll update if anything changes, and will definitely have more to say after my second round of shots. It’s scheduled, and I’ll be going to donate blood soon after so I can have my antibodies verified.
If you think about it, it’s a little strange to decide to make major changes based on some arbitrary time when a number changes on a piece of paper.
Still, we’re human, and I guess we need these imaginary lines to psychologically break up time; this year more than any other in our lifetimes.
But I’m not making resolutions. I mean, I’m definitely making some changes that coincide with the calendar change, but they aren’t really resolutions. The timing is merely a coincidence. So…listed in no particular order:
When we moved from FL to Las Vegas a few years ago, I cut back on blogging a lot. I’ll write later about the reasons why, all the other changes that happened, etc. But I do plan on updating things here much more often. Not because anything I have to say needs to be read, but because it helps me to write it.
Going past actually writing, I think there’s something therapeutic/cathartic about putting it out in the world to be seen, even if it’s not widely read. It feels weird to make yourself a little vulnerable and realize that you’re still ok.
This one is really important because it’s my outlet to talk about everything else on this list.
I was really into cycling on Trainer Road a few years ago. It looks like I’m going to be transitioning over to Zwift, and I plan on talking about why along with tracking some of the technical stuff around it.
There’s a whole other aspect to this beyond training–lots of emotions tied up in it. Again, lots to say later, but the passing of my friend Bill this year ultimately led to a fire being lit under my behind.
Religion? Therapy? I don’t know. It will take a lot of long runs to figure this out, but it’s something I’ve brought back into my life more this year. I didn’t know how much I was missing it. I have a lot to say about how my feelings around running have changed and this new need I feel to protect it.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Holy moly do I miss BJJ. I can’t wait to go back, and the end is in sight. Taking all this time off has given me a chance to reflect on how bjj plays into my physical and mental health. Like running, it’s something I need to protect. Both are activities I don’t want to risk being sidelined from.
Enterprise Architecture and TOGAF
Wow. There’s a switch in topics. I’ve spent the last year reading and studying a lot. Again, lots to say here, but all of it can wait until after I take my last exam and have a certification that can’t be rescinded.
Greatest game ever. As years pass, I’m increasingly amazed at the breadth and depth of impact rugby has had on my life.
I wish I could have just one more season in a 28 year old body.
The Missus and I have spent a lot of time this year thinking and talking about this. Shocking, right? Some about the specifics around the actual virus, but a lot more about it’s implications for our family and society going forward. I think our experience and journey through this has been really healthy, but it has made me look at our culture/society a little differently.
As I’ve gotten older, I’m subscribing less and less to “isms”. I think that’s because I’ve realized I don’t really have any answers and neither does anyone else. There are so many nuances to everything. Oh to have just one more day of being young and knowing everything (or anything). I’ve shied away from writing about politically charged stuff for years, but I think it may be easier for me now that I have more questions than answers.
Besides that, I’ve been listening to great music, reading some cool books, and reading some trendy books. I should share, or at least leave some thoughts I can refer to later.
I’ve gotten hooked on some really interesting stuff on YouTube. And while I haven’t been posting here, I’ve written quite a bit as well. Mostly on Twitter (lol), but also done some gratitude journaling (how trendy), and even had to get up in the middle of the night to get a poem out of my head.
Yeah…not really ready to share that yet.
Things I want to learn more about
Spanish, literature, music theory, economics, etc. This list is ever-expanding, and I’ve come to the realization I think a lot of people come to–I’m running out of time to cram all this in.
On July 23, 2020 I woke up to the horrible news that we’d lost Bill McArthur to Covid.
If you knew Bill but don’t know me, it’s probably easiest to introduce myself in relation to Bill (“Tiny”). Professionally, Bill was the best leader I’ve ever worked for. He was one of the best teammates I ever had. Most importantly, he was also one of my closest friends and he had a tremendous impact on my life and family.
Without going into details that are embarrassing for me, the beginnings of my relationship with Bill can be explained pretty simply–his gracious, accepting, and easy-going nature was so strong that it made up for my “personality challenges”. To be fair, he also gets most of the credit for us continuing to be close over the years and allowing me to get to know Stacey, Sarah, and Billy along with his parents and siblings.
I’m guessing what I’ve already said Bill’s personality rings true with Bill’s family, anyone who worked with Bill, competed alongside him, or had the opportunity to be his buddy.
I’m lucky that I got to see the way he carried himself in all of those situations.
Bill was genuine, authentic, and consistent in every setting. “Mr. McArthur” the Leader (wha?!), “Tiny” the Teammate, “Big” Bill the Friend, and Husband/Dad/Uncle Bill were all the same person.
Bill loved rugby, so I don’t think he’d mind me making this easier on myself by using the game to frame what I want to say. If your relationship with Bill was strictly professional, just stick with me for a minute. You may think you only knew Bill in a work setting, but when I describe who he was as a rugby player, you’ll clearly see the guy you know in a suit and tie.
Same guy, just muddier.
If you’re loosely familiar with rugby, you may have seen a scrum. There’s an aptly named position in the scrum–Prop. As the name implies, props are the people everyone else is leaning on in the scrum. Props are the foundation of the scrum. Imagine being in the center of over 1.5 tons of mass pushing in opposing directions. Without good props, scrums are pretty much just a big pile of injuries. Props are the ones who make sure that a rugby match is able to restart safely so that the other 26 guys on the team get to have fun in between scrums.
In rugby and in life, Bill was a prop. He didn’t play prop….he WAS a prop.
Props do the least glamorous and most grueling work. They don’t get the recognition they deserve, except maybe from the guys who have tried to fill in at prop. Not all leaders are props, but all good props are leaders. Bill was the best kind of prop. He worked tirelessly for the goal, but Bill never made the achievement about himself. He didn’t care about receiving the credit, just the progress of the team. He led by example instead of by rah-rah. He was the kind of teammate who made you want to give your all because he deserved your best.
It only takes one or two guys like Bill on a team to create a positive culture in which everyone feels accountable to the cause. In every situation, Bill wasn’t just a role player, he was always a leader in setting a positive and successful tone. I’m sure it’s obvious, but I’m not just talking about rugby here. Family, Sports, work, whatever–groups of people who feel that connection and responsibility to one another are groups that succeed and thrive.
I could run down a pretty extensive list of Bill’s professional achievements, but I think Bill’s memory is better served by mentioning the joy he received in helping other people achieve their goals.
By being a prop.
Bill was passionate about other people’s growth and development. When Bill asked you where you wanted to be in 5 years, he didn’t want to hear what you were going to accomplish on behalf of your employer. He wanted you to have a vision for YOU and YOUR family. Family meant everything to him, and as a leader he wanted what was best for you and your family. If you didn’t have a plan, he’d help you come up with one. And he wanted to help you get there with education, opportunity, and mentoring along the way. He was full of generosity. He was always proud to see someone on his team growing and knowing that he was able to play prop for them.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the one area where Work Bill and Play Bill may not have matched up perfectly. As much as Bill loved seeing his team achieve amazing things, he also enjoyed laughing with (hardly ever at) his buddies when they achieved absolute ridiculousness.
Bill loved to be around people who were having a good time and enjoying themselves–especially the people that he loved. It’s not his fault that some of the people he loved have unconventional ideas about what constitutes a good time.
He always did his part (usually more than his part) to help create the best experience possible. Even if you were making a mistake, he’d be there to support you. He was always encouraging and positive and always believed in you.
Bill never said things like, “I don’t think you can do that” or “that’s a crazy idea”
Instead he’d say, “Nah…I really think you’ll be able to digest it” or “It’s not illegal. It’s only a health code violation”
In all seriousness though, one of the things Bill helped me learn is that the best feeling in the world was helping other people get to a place that makes their life better. I really believe he chased that feeling every day–maybe the only selfish thing he did. He made the most of his opportunities to have a positive influence on everyone he came into contact with.
For his family, friends, teammates, and coworkers, I hope Bill’s legacy is the memory of how hard he worked for you. We should aspire to continue that legacy and continue to work hard for each other and support each other.
Be a prop everywhere you can.
For those who made it to the highlight reel of Bill’s best stories, please continue to do things to make him smile down on you. When you get the urge to do something stupid that won’t hurt anyone else, don’t hesitate. You can do it!!!
Please take video, and please tag me in the post.
One of rugby’s best traditions happens immediately after every match when both teams cheering each other and the referee off the field. Even when you don’t get the ending you hoped for, the last act of every match is an expression of your appreciation for everyone involved in creating the experience.