July 20, 2010

The Heartless Can't Keep Me Down

One year ago tomorrow was an interesting day. It was my last day of work before I would be packing up the Suburban and heading north with the family to race Ironman in Lake Placid. It was also my last day of work with my then employer.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. As I awoke that morning, I had a certain bounce in my step. Training was just about over with Ironman just 4 days away. I had had a good 8 months of training that started the week of Thanksgiving in 2008. I felt I was prepared to meet my race goals. IM training is a long, hard grind and when you get to the last week, it's quite a relief. Even though you are feeling the stress of the approaching race, you know the end is near.

My job was as a manager in charge of a sales team in the IT staffing industry. I was looking forward to putting in a good day of work and then taking off until the following Wednesday when I would return. My family was looking forward to this trip as well since it was also serving as our summer vacation.

I was in my office when my then boss kept trying to come in to talk with me. I kept getting phone calls so he would duck back out again. It was like musical chairs. Finally, he got in, the phone didn't ring (Bummer!), he sat down and he laid it out on me: "We're letting you go." Did I just hear that? Wait a minute, I have been giving my heart and soul to this place for the last 2 years for little in return. Since November, I have been training for Ironman, which he knew, and not once did it ever interfere with work. I was also taking off for only 4 days all of which I had earned. He didn't even have the heart to wait until I returned. He made the choice to pile on more stress on top of the stress I was already feeling from racing 140.6 miles on Sunday. More than anything, I was insulted.

I packed up my things and left abruptly. The heat that day was unbelievable. It must have been 90 degrees. So, there I was in the parking lot of our building, in a suit, sweating and pacing back and forth. I was angry. I was upset. But I was also, in a weird way, relieved. I really couldn't stand working for this guy anyway. He was the sole owner of this small, Mom & Pop company. He was arrogant, pompous, thought he knew everything but really knew nothing on how to run and grow a company. He could care less about the people who worked for him. Since I was there, I saw it repeatedly how poorly he treated people.

But I was also nervous because now I had to call my wife and let her know. She would cry. She would be angry. She would be upset. And the worst of it, our little vacation would now have a black cloud hanging over it.

Fast forward to now. I can honestly say that losing my job that day was a great thing for me. I am with a much better company run by managers that care about their people. They also know how to run a business.

I didn't let the firing ruin my race. Even though I didn't finish in the time I wanted, it was still my fastest IM finish by about 10 minutes. And my wife and daughters had a great time too! My niece gave me a great motivational tool for that day. She said, "every time you want to slow down, get angry and think of your boss." But you know what? I didn't think of him at all. I thought of good images not bad. Even though I had good reason to think of him at Mile 10 of the run when I had the drive heaves.

July 17, 2010

The Summer of Nothing

No races.
No real training.
No alarms going off at 5 AM to get to the pool.
No cold pools half awake.
No 100 mile rides.
No hills at 90 degrees and humid, ready to throw up.
No 3 hour runs.
No sore knee's.
No Nothing.
Well, almost nothing.

I haven't totally forgot how to lace up my running shoes or pump air in my tires but basically this has been the Summer of Nothing. And I can't decide if I like it or not. I don't miss the time commitment. (How did all this work around the house ever get done?) But I do miss the challenge and the good tiredness all that training brings. I always seem to sleep better when I did something earlier in the day. Now I just sleep.

July 04, 2010

1 Year Ago: 100 Miles

One year ago yesterday was my final long ride for Ironman Lake Placid before the great season of tapering began. I looked back yesterday and honored the day with a shorter, albeit grueling, mountain bike ride. Not 100+ miles in the saddle.

It is true that I am enjoying this "no racing season" but I am starting to get itchy. There will be no Ironman in 2011 or 2012 for that matter. But next year I get back in the game with a half-IM and some shorter races. Heck, I might even pick up a sprint race this September if I can drag myself back into the pool anytime soon. For now though, it's a few morning runs, lots of Mountain Biking, and Miller Lite's.

I think back to that ride last year and remember it as being pretty hot and it involved a lot of hills. I get butterfly's when I think of it and the entire training plan overall. When you look back on what you need to do for 35 weeks, it's mentally challenging. How does one do it? The answer: you just do. Like anything in life, if you want it that badly, you go for it. Failure is not an option. There will be bumps in the road to Ironman but if you want to cross that finish line, and I did, then you just do it.