Professional athlete and 3-time Ironman champion

Even God Took a Rest on the 7th Day!

It is Monday and that means REST DAY! Not total rest, mind you, but with only one stupid easy session on the slate for today, it’s cause for me to wake up and smile just a little, knowing I earned every ounce of the rest I’ll take today!

It’s been an awesome first full week here in Austin. The weather has been all I had hoped for and more. Perhaps not the totally balmy conditions Austin-ites are used to, but coming from 40 degrees, even 70 feels spectacular, and we’ve had enough of 80s mixed in, that it’s plenty hot for me. Windy too. Perfect for making you strong on the bike!

So my first full week was a delightful balance between what my friend Hillary could call "smash-fest" style training, intermittent social breaks with good friends, and a few walks down memory lane.

On Monday, the Stanford Women’s Swim Team arrived here in Austin for the 2011 NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships and I had the chance to have dinner with the team before they got to work. 10 girls, with me and Lea (and assistant coach Shane, who still looks at me with a hairy eye after I went running with him at Stanford 2 summers ago, promising an easy run that was maybe not so easy as I’d billed). 10 college girls and Lea and I are the ones at the table cackling like school girls. Nobody makes me laugh like Lea does.

Her laugh alone is infectious and is the ONLY thing that got me thru years of Richard’s "white board ridiculousness" (another blog on that another day, but you Stanford girls know what I am talking about). Lea even got me to laugh at it every once in a while, when really, as my friend Eva would say, all you really wanted to do was cry in your goggles. So I love Lea and I am a HUGE fan of hers and the team that she has created. It’s no small task to take a group of type-A individual college girls and turn them into a cohesive unit that works as a team in an individual sport and Lea has done that in her 6 years with her very own blood, sweat and tears (with the help of her patient husband Erik, and the hairy eyeball Shane). PLUS she brought me presents, which I will love and cherish as a superfan!

On Wednesday, I got a visit from my good friend Barb Metz. She’s Barb Lindquist now and following her extraordinary career as a Stanford distance swimmer, she went on to have a second athletic career as an ITU/short course triathlon standout, making the 2004 Olympic team. Barb joined me for my swim on Wednesday morning. I was a little apprehensive. The girl can flat out swim. I had "the Monster Set" on the docket and I as I explained the set to Barb, she got a twinkle in her eye. Barb has a reputation of being one of "those people"; the harder, the better. Back in the day, Richard would turn that massive white board around and there’d be every reaction possible; some would gasp, others (I may have fallen into this camp) would quietly swear under their breath, Lea, as I mentioned before would simply belly laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Most would quietly cry in their goggles. But then there was Barb. She would genuinely love the torture that that man could dole out. "10 x 1000 on the 10:00? Cool! Awesome! Breathing every 47? Come on guys….let’s make it every 49th. We did every 47 last week and I think we can add some challenge this week!" Again, THAT is the fabric of an Olympic caliber athlete.

So we swam my set. I told Barb my goals for the set and she didn’t bat an eye. Like a metronome, she held the pace and I fought to keep with her stroke for stroke.

She only told me after that it was her 5th swim…..of the year.


Thursday, Friday and Saturday became a blur of train, eat, watch swim meet, sleep. Having the meet as an evening activity was fun, but making it to 9PM to watch the end of the finals session each night proved too tall a task. Still, I relished the chance to have that walk down memory lane and remember the 20-ish years ago that I was down on that pool deck.

I sat in the stands with the Stanford parents. Times have changed there, too. "Back in the day"….our parents would all head out to lunch together after the prelim session. I am not sure who’d be the first to order some liquid refreshment, but I have a guess. And it wouldn’t take much encouraging before all the parents had racked up a bar tab that would make any Irishman on St. Patrick’s Day blush. Then they’d pour themselves back to someone’s hotel room and come up with a new cheer for the evening session.

One year, the dad’s all spelled out "Stanford" using their bodies while the mom’s called out each letter. I seem to recall the 19 of us looking painfully toward the stands, part proud that our parents had more spunk than just about any other group of parents, part mortified that we were related. One team mate looked at me and muttered, "Think anyone noticed the spelled it wrong?". (the kick on the D was backwards so they actually spelled Stanforb, but an "A" for effort)

God bless parents.

Saturday was an epic solo ride where I encountered over 7 different species of road kill. Said to myself, "We’re well out of New England now," when I biked past a decomposing wild boar on the side of the road. (it’s a good thing I crack myself up, because when you are alone out there, ya got no one else gonna do it for ya!)

Finished off Sunday with a track session with Mrs. Richie Cunningham. Melissa is a former BC runner and man, it shows. Sort of a threatening position to be in, knowing she could open the throttle at any moment and leave you in a "Road Runner"-esque plumb of smoke with a "meep-meep" to boot! But she didn’t. She was patient, not only running the pace I could run, but tolerating my abysmal pace on the track. I’d hit the first 100 (Melissa had to show me where that line was and taught me how to check my pace running thru it…novel concept!) too slow, then over correct by the quarter, but then figure I was going to die like a pig anyway, so why not treat it as money in the bank? When Melissa led, we were steady and even every single time. Aaaaah….to be a gifted and talented runner.

So that’s that….a little bit of everything my first week in Austin. And racking up quite a Skype tab (thank God it’s free) with my DaveyG and Riley back home.

Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

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