This year’s season opening race for me is the Azalea Triathlon in Wilmington, NC. It’s a short sprint that can be done in about an hour or less. This year it is a remarkable race for two reasons.
I Have Two Reasons To Race
The race date is March 11, 2017. For many Americans, that date doesn’t mean too much. September 11 is usually more meaningful. However, it was on March 11, 2004 that Madrid, Spain suffered its worst terrorist attack in modern history. The train station bombings left 197 dead and almost 2000 injured. Events like this affect me deeply and I want to show Madrid that there are people around the world who care. I will commemorate the event during the Azalea Triathlon by wearing a symbol of 11-M (the 11th of March). One small symbol will be painted on my left calf and another will be on the back of my number belt.
My goal with the TriRiot webshow and blog is to inspire others to join an active lifestyle and discover that “finish line feeling”. One of my coworkers will be racing in his first triathlon this weekend. I’m happy to have trained with him and excited to find out what he thinks of triathlon after the race. But there’s something more amazing in this story beyond one person beginning their journey into the endurance lifestyle. This coworker I’m talking about lost 180 pounds in the last 18 months. Two years ago, he said he wanted to do this very race. For him it started with a dream and soon it will be a reality.
Anything is possible. It took triathlon to make me believe that and through triathlon, I keep seeing it over and over.
There’s a guy named Ben Masters who is not a triathlete and he probably wouldn’t call himself an athlete. But he has definitely pushed himself to extraordinary limits… with wild horses.
TriRiot is mostly about triathlon and endurance athletes. Not today. Today it’s about going that extra mile because of passion. Ben Masters has a great story to tell. He and three friends rode horseback from the Mexico-Arizona border to the Canada-Montana border. As if that’s not enough, they did it riding horses that were wild only a few months before they left. And this wasn’t in 1874. This was only a few years ago. There’s a very good movie about it.
If Ben’s story interests you, I highly recommend watching his movie, Unbranded, and reading some of his articles.
Why Wild Horses?
The reason I picked this subject is because the very thing those men did is something I would love to do. Not only that, but when it comes to endurance events, riding border to border like that is far beyond participating in an IRONMAN or even the Race Across America (RAAM). I have enough difficulty planning, training, and paying for an IRONMAN. It’s hard to imagine what Ben and his friends went through.
I don’t have much more to say on this topic even though there is a huge controversy raging over mustang policy. I guess my point of this post is that life is an endurance event… training for triathlon is training for life.
I’ve decided that I want to do another ultra distance triathlon within the next year. Maybe it will be an IRONMAN or maybe it will be a HITS race.
To keep me motivated, I am going to wear my Ironman North Carolina wrist band until the next event. It is a constant reminder that I love this sport and I want to improve my performance. But it’s really more than that.
It reminds me that I am not alone in my passion.
It reminds me that I can not be successful without the help of others (in any aspect of life).
It humbles me that I have done something so few others dare to attempt.
It shows me that gratitude for all I have and for all those around me is necessary to feel like a champion.
If you don’t know Mike Reilly, you’ve probably never heard the phrase, “You are an Ironman.” Mike is the most well known of the IRONMAN announcers and he coined that phrase. For all I know, it may be under copyright protection! Many triathletes dream of the day they hear those words as they cross the finish line of an IRONMAN race. And many dream of hearing those words come from Mike himself.
This year, he will announce at IRONMAN North Carolina, formerly called Beach2Battleship, on October 22, 2016.
AND GUESS WHAT…
I contacted Mike, and he agreed to do an interview with me while he’s here in Wilmington for IMNC. I’ll know more about the interview schedule after Mike finishes announcing at Kona.
If any readers have questions they’d like to put to Mike, let me know in the comments or by email ( email@example.com ).
There are so many products on the market for us to ease our pains and satisfy our cravings. Everyone with any sales experience knows that you can sell almost anything to anyone if you can tap into their human psyche and emotions.
The latest product I’ve come across attempts to cure muscle cramps. Not the female type… although there are plenty of women that get these cramps too. No. I’m talking about muscle cramps typically experienced by endurance athletes, novelists who still use pencils and rubber-neckers passing a 3 car pileup. The product is called HotShot and claims to be backed by science. The type of science conducted by a Nobel Laureate, not a snake oil salesman. They make a pretty good case for why it should work.
Pickle Juice and Mustard
There are so many athletes who experience performance hindering cramps. I’m one. I had them at mile 1.9 of a 2.4 mile swim once. That was the slowest half mile swim ever. But the problem is that there is no sure cure. I’ve tried salt, Gatorade, mustard. Mustard? Yep, mustard. Look it up if you think I’m the only one with that remedy. Even pickle juice is supposed to help. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to drink it or pour it on the affected area. Either way, it doesn’t provide satisfactory and consistent results for me.
Along Comes HotShot
So I saw this Facebook ad for HotShot. I read their claims and I shared their ad on my facebook page with some smart-ass remarks.
The funny thing is that HotShot took notice of my comments and asked me to report my findings if I do use it. Well… I’m not convinced, but I am willing to give it a try. Forget all that science and Nobel prize stuff. They tapped my emotional pit called ego by writing on my Facebook page and now I’m considering a purchase.
I have almost exhausted my supply of Hanukkah comments… (I think I just heard a sigh of relief from everyone following this blog).
Today is all about political correctness and because Hanukkah occurs around the same time of year as Christmas, there’s plenty for the politically correct people to worry about. There’s been a lot said about this so I don’t need to say too much.
If you want to wish me a Merry Christmas, that’s great. If you want to wish me a “Happy Hanukkah”, or greet me with Kwanzaa’s ‘Habari gani”, or Islam’s “As salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu”, that’s great too. “Happy Holidays” is just as good.
The reason I bring this up is that the former CEO of my company used to send an email of Christmas wishes to the whole company. It might have been nice and sincere had he not included a couple of paragraphs almost apologetically justifying why he wished everyone a Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays. It’s not his fault, he’s just trying to be politically correct by recognizing people that may not celebrate Christmas. His political correctness turned a holiday greeting into a legal document.
I think the key here is to be sincere and compassionate. All the political correctness in the world can’t hide insincerity. But a sincere wish for goodness on others is always a good thing no matter what time of year it is.
If this political correctness crap continues, we’ll all be writing legal disclaimers at the ends of our greeting cards.
Happy Hanukkah to everyone. And peace on earth all year.
This blog post does not intend to ridicule, defame, or insult any person or group of persons who may or may not acknowledge common rituals and customs of celebration within the approximate time period of late Fall and early Winter regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation or preferred genre of music.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Hanukkah is a celebration of triumph over oppression and the miracle of a very efficient lamp. If I’ve confused you, read The Eight Days of Hanukkah – Day 5. Actually, it’s more about the lamp than the oppression. The Jews have overcome oppression so many times, that it’s not a fun thing to celebrate any more. But an oil lamp that stays lit for eight days on one day of oil… now there’s something to celebrate. My little Japanese car is a lot like that lamp, by the way.
Hanukkah Is Nothing Like Christmas
The two holidays sometimes overlap and there may be other similarities, but not in the details. So I just want to be clear that if I bring a tree into my house around December, it’s not part of a religious ritual and neither are the lights that are draped on the eave of my barn.
My wife gets excited about Christmas, because she was raised in a Christian household. She has a family tradition. I’m not sure why I get excited about it, but I do. Maybe it’s because of the media hype and the dream of snow and family and togetherness and peace on earth and all those warm fuzzies.
It’s hard not to get excited about something when everyone around you is going nuts with hyperconsumerism and wearing red pointy felt hats and ugly sweaters which don’t make sense to wear when it’s 75F outside.
Sometimes I do shop for gifts, because I want to do something nice for my family and friends. I’m also more charitable this time of year. Does that make me a terrible Jew. Probably not. I’m sure there are plenty of other things that give me that distinction.
My point is this. If someone wants to put up a tree in their house or sing some songs or exchange gifts on December 25th, I don’t think that makes them a good Christian or a bad Jew or a bad atheist or a heathen of any sect.
What do you know about Hanukkah? If you were not raised in a family that celebrated this holiday, you might think it’s what the Jews celebrate in late Fall or early Winter so they don’t feel left out of the holiday season. And you’d be wrong… sort of. The story behind the holiday predates Christianity, but the celebration of the holiday, from what I’ve been told, is relatively minor among the Jewish orthodoxy: light some candles, tell some stories, go to bed. No days off from work. Nothing about dragging Mother Nature into your house and dressing her up with blinky lights and delicate glass balls. No mass gatherings at midnight to pray.
Hanukkah is about triumph. It’s about a small group of people bound by a common belief who overcame the oppression of the oppressive tactics of an oppressing regime. Oppression may not be unique to the Jews, but Jewish holidays are like a historic perspective on school yard bullying. To bad there were no public service announcements several thousand years ago about bullying your neighbors just because they prayed to a God that you couldn’t see or touch.
And what would you do after being freed from terrible oppression? Eat, of course. But not just any food. No sir. You would want to pick out just the right foods that have meaning and connection to your freedom from bondage so that you never forget how awful it was to live under the rule of a tyrannical tyrant. This is sounding more like Passover. Let me get back to Hanukkah.
The Symbolism of it All
Hanukkah is not only a story of triumph. It’s a story of a miracle. It’s a story of oil (Surprise! Surprise! Oil in the Middle East?). To make a long story less long, there was only enough oil to light the lamp above the arc of the covenant for one day. I’m not sure exactly what that arc thing was or what was in it, but I think it is like the constitution of the United States. It was a symbol of the power that held the people together. Anyway, the oil lasted eight days. I guess in those days it was more important to keep the lights on than to care for the wounded and feed the masses. But it lasted for eight days and that was seen as a miracle.
It has become a tradition to celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah by eating foods cooked in oil. For both Jews that still live in the South it might include fried chicken, chicken livers, chicken gizzards, collards swimming in bacon grease, pork cracklins, and fried pork rinds. I know, I know. Jews aren’t supposed to eat pork. Maybe they’re Jew-ish like me. For the rest of us, the traditional foods are potato pancakes and doughnuts: both cooked in plenty of heart stopping, artery clogging, shirt staining oil. You think I’m kidding about the doughnuts? Not at all. Check it out here. For a holiday meal, it sure beats lutfisk.
I think the real miracle of Hanukkah is that we Jews eat foods like that all year yet we survive!
I may be Jewish, but I’m not a very observant Jew. To be honest, I’m actually Jew-ish. However, I do light candles on Hanukkah and the menorah, the candle holder, is the centerpiece of my Hanukkah holiday.
I have several menorahs, and I keep forgetting to get official Hanukkah candles for them. Several years ago, I was determined to light the candles but I didn’t have the right ones. The candles that I had were not official Hanukkah candles as sanctioned by the International Tribunal of Jewish Federations and Kosher Households. (No. That does not exist). At the time, the only candles that I did have were leftover birthday candles; not the sparkly kind, but the small spindly kind that drip wax and burn for two minutes. My menorahs were too big for the happy little birthday candles, which meant that I needed a new menorah.
One thing about myself that I want to point out is that I don’t like to spend money on an item if I can make it myself. I’m too cheap to buy a new menorah just to fit the candles. So what did I do? I made one. And anyone who knows me knows that I do the blacksmith work for my wife’s horses. The best part is that horseshoes come with the holes predrilled. Not only am I cheap, I’m lazy too!
This is the menorah I’ve been using for a few years, because not only am I too cheap to buy a new menorah… I’m too cheap to buy the good candles. I make Jack Benny look like Mother Teresa.
So how does all this fit in with triathlon? I’ll tell you on day eight. Until then, have a happy Hanukkah.