Ahead of What?

me riding on the Trace on Saturday.

me riding on the Trace on Saturday.

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate

I worked my way through it. The first big overdistance training weekend of my 20 week training cycle. I’ve done  a few rides in excess of race distance (56) and plenty of long runs, but this was my first weekend to pair a ride longer than race distance and a run longer than race distance.

I rode 65 miles on Saturday and followed it with a 14 mile run on Sunday. I felt great physically. And mentally I’m gaining a lot of confidence ahead of Rev3 Knoxville on May 5th.

The long hours on the road gave me more time to think about the path I’m trying to find to contentment.

I rode with my buddy Bruce on Saturday. I have a few men, older (sorry Bruce) and wiser, in my life. I lean on them a lot. I find that young men who think they know it all are often foolish, naive, and arrogant. I don’t want to be one of those guys, so I ask my friends with more life experience for their advice and stories.

Bruce is a great triathlete, so despite being 20 years older than me he has no problem riding at my pace for 65 miles. We chatted as we rode. I told him about my life. The hard parts about being a young father (is 38 still young?). Trying to make the right decisions in life.

“It’s hard sometimes watching other people get ahead,” I said.

“Ahead of what?” said Bruce.

I thought about it. “I don’t know,” I finally said as we climbed a hill.

I thought about that conversation the rest of the ride. Wondering what I was so worried about getting ahead of. Why it mattered. I thought about a tweet I saw a few days ago by Donald Miller:

What if the whole idea you were in competition with everybody around you was a lie? What if you were just supposed to connect and enjoy?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve wasted much of my energy the last 5-10 years trying to compete with people. Trying to “get ahead”. I’ve forced myself too often  into a caricature of something I never wanted to be to begin with. I described it to another friend as a hamster wheel. Constantly chasing something. Never quite getting there. Never having wanted it to begin it.

Bruce’s words echoed in my head: “Ahead of what?”

After Bruce and I rode on Saturday we had a great family day at home. You kids rode bikes in the driveway while I sat in a chair, fetched you water, got snacks. That evening I lit a fire in our backyard fire pit. We roasted hotdogs in the fire. You girls took turns sitting in my lap while you ran around in the yard chasing Coco, Max.

We made Smores after we ate dinner. Mommy and I sat in the adirondack chairs that Papaw made. We held hands. Watched the fire burn low. Listened to slow George Strait songs, as you kids played on the swing set and with the dog, each of you with a melted Smore in your hand. It was a perfect evening.

Sunday morning before sunrise I set out for a 14 mile run. I ran well. Holding something back. Not wanting to leave my “race” on the training roads. I have 3 weeks until Knoxville.

I made a quiet list of things I love in my head: a Braves game on the radio, a fire in the backyard, the smell of pine needles carried by an ocean breeze, a sky full of stars, memories of watching Andy Griffith with my parents, a Jimmy Buffett tune…..the list started getting long. So I punctuated it with the big things: Mommy, Izzy, Max, and Kate.

Again I thought about getting ahead in life.

Ahead of what? I wondered as I floated through 14 miles. Reflecting on the big things.

I love you,

– Daddy


SAT: Rode 65 miles / ran 2 miles in 16 minutes

SUN: Ran 14 miles in 2:01

Kate, you practice being my support crew for Rev3 Knox on Saturday.

Kate, you practice being my support crew for Rev3 Knox on Saturday.