Chicago Marathon Recap – Putting the Pieces Together (Finally)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve considered myself an athlete…someone reliant upon body, mind, and spirit in pursuit of “something” greater.  Of course the “something” has changed, evolved, and grown over time, but my belief in needing all three (body, mind, spirit) to get closer to “it” hasn’t.  And while my pursuit continues…and I know I won’t get “there” till I get “there”…maybe surprising to some, I’ve never considered myself a runner, but instead often choose to run…and have even set running-specific goals, for the lessons it’s continued to teach, and the ways it’s helped me to strengthen (my body), sharpen (my mind), and enrich (my spirit) along the way…
I guess you could say breaking the 3 hour marathon mark has been a bit of a lifelong goal…or at least the primary athletic focus since 2010 when I first “publicly” stated it…not exactly sure why…maybe it’s because I’ve always been inspired by my Dad’s story of breaking his marathon goal by exactly 1 second…maybe it’s because after my first marathon in ’08, I knew it was something that was possible with a great deal of work..but not something I could just wing or rely on “natural” ability to achieve…or maybe it’s because in my five failed attempts and the events leading up to each in the years precedingChicago 2015 (2:58:30), I’ve continued to learn more about myself and things I’m passionate about (health, training, nutrition, fitness, the importance of relationships, faith, community, etc.)…and have met so many great people, training partners, and  friends throughout.
But when I look back…the “how I did it” isn’t really all that different than anything we’ve talked of before……the pieces of the puzzle were the same…the elements that make them up..the same…it’s just that this time around, I paid closer attention to them…acted upon them with more discipline, focus, and precision…
BODY: MOVE + FUEL + RECOVER – For years I’ve placed too much value on “harder” and not nearly enough on “smarter”.  This year I made use of all of the resources available to me…and with the help of our team here and the various training systems we use, I closely monitored each training session and the stress (training load) each placed upon me…training almost exclusively with a watchful eye on heart rate (the body’s objective window into the inner workings) instead of subjective “pace” as my guide.  I followed a systematic progression where I provided ample time for my body to establish a fitness “base” prior to encouraging it to “build” speed and strength via increased intensity, all while balancing and allowing the appropriate time to recover both in between workouts, and throughout training cycles (3 weeks up, 1 week easy, repeat x 4-5).  Although looking back, I probably could have done a better job adhering to my strength training routine (2x / wk), I made sure to jump in the treatment room whenever I was on the verge of breakdown or felt something not “right” (happened twice), and was so very fortunate to be able to rely on our PT’s to help me get back on track and facilitate the recovery process, FIRST, prior to returning to intense training….the results?…The blue line below is indicative of fitness progress / gains from 5/27-10/12 (race day)…something I was able to complete injury free for the first time since I took up this type of training…maybe the tortoise was on to something with his slow and steady approach.
My FUEL choices moved from primarily to almost exclusively a whole-food, plant based selection, and for the first time since I began extensive marathon training I didn’t “ache” post long run….I was somewhat surprised to finish a 19+ miler on more than 5 of the final 8 weekends in the season and still feel relatively fresh later in that given day…I guess I shouldn’t be given the anti-inflammatory properties of this type of nutrition…but to take it one step further, I was very excited to get down to “race weight”…nearly 15 lbs lower than I started in January…without ever feeling hungry, all while completing LESS total training volume (mileage) than in years past….can only be attributed to one thing…the right mix of FUELING (actual myfitnesspal results below).
MIND: ENDURE – If I’m totally honest, in years past…I’d have to admit that I’d often slip mentally before physically.  I’d approach workouts with ONLY the end in mind…cutting a little off the front here and a little off the back there….I’d tell myself I’d listen to my body if I was aching..but wouldn’t totally trust it and would default to cranking out more mileage just because “that’s what the plan says to do”….I’d tell myself how I’d eat “almost vegan”, but often almost turned out to be during the week with a junk binger on the weekend because “hey I just worked out really hard”….and what’s worse…if / when I failed, I’d often be more worried about my pride than the ways in which to improve….
Enter the world of positive psychology…the power of mindset…theways to make stress your friend…the concepts of grit and resilience..and so many more….with the help of these “friends” and their teachings…my mind stayed (for the most part) focused in the moment….on incremental change…knowing full well that my actions in the moment would dictate my outcome in the end.
SPIRIT: CONNECT – I had the opportunity recently to attend a mindfulness meditation led by a Tibetan monk…and though much of what he spoke of was fascinating…the two things that stuck with me were 1) we are all connected by something much greater than each of us individually…and 2) faith above all is the most powerful thing in this world…A “believer” even before I attended, not sure I could agree anymore strongly.
Throughout the training, and most especially on race day, there were so many people in this community I was pulling strength from.  If you’ve read this far, you’re most assuredly one, and I’m not sure any words will do justice to the gratitude I feel towards each of you.  When the going got tough…as it always does…I thought of you…struggles you may have gone through and obstacles overcome….I prayed almost continuously, and especially when the “hurt” set in between miles 22-25 and I began to lose time while fighting with what I had left not to lose faith……it became a bit of a mantra for me, “I can do all things through God who strengthens me”. With calves literally seizing on and off from mile 22 to 26.2, I’m convinced that your strength, prayers, and God saw me to the finish line right when I was supposed to arrive, in time to reconnect with a stranger I’ve only met once before on the sidelines of the Boston Marathon 2011, where he tells me I may have helped save his life (scoll to bottom of linked page), and in achievement of my goal, one step closer to “there”.  Somethings aren’t coincidence.
The 2015 Chicago marathon and events that led to it pushed my body…it pushed my mind…and it pushed my spirit…and when I crossed the finish line, arms outstretched in gratitude, it broke me emotionally, like only something you’ve emptied yourself for can.  Whether you know it or not, whether we’ve connected recently or not…you and yours helped push me through.  Should you be ready, I eagerly await the opportunity to repay the favor.
Happy Training,
-E
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First Things First…

ImageIt’s been one full month since my last post….and maybe not so ironically, 3 weeks since the birth of our second, a son we named Thomas John Eisenhart – named after 4 of the strongest and most giving men I’ve come to know….both of his grandfathers, his great-grandfather…and one of his Dad’s truly best friends…..it’s been a whirlwind of a month…..an incredible display of strength by my wife (in the delivery room for 24 hrs. and consistent pushing for the final 3)…lots of emotional highs…..and lots less sleep!  Blogging hasn’t exactly been the top priority as I’ve made a consistent effort to keep first things first.  But now, as my life STARTS to get back to some semblance of routine…and I sit here on the eve of my 33rd birthday with what I hope to be “only” 1/3 of my life behind me…I take a moment to reflect…..how am I doing…what have I learned….where do I go from here?

– How Am I Doing?

Hmmm….always my own toughest critic…my initial urge is to criticize…talk about all the things I should have accomplished by now…how much more I can / should do….BUT….if I balance that and take a look at the gifts I’ve been given…..a healthy and loving family and support network of friends….a strong faith…a beautiful part of the country to live and work….a job that allows me the opportunity to do good, meaningful work for the benefit of others all while having a bit of fun in the process….well, things seem pretty good, but certainly with room for improvement….after all, no sub-3 hr. marathon (yet)….haven’t amassed the seemingly millions I’ll need to pay for kids college (likely never)…haven’t conquered the world (alright maybe I’ll reconsider this one)…

-What Have I Learned?

Well…there have been MANY things…some things unfortunately more than once….but probably the most powerful thus far are as follows:

1) I haven’t learned everything yet, nor will I ever, but it’s important to not stop trying (had to learn this one again last year)

2) Surrounding myself with amazing, caring people has provided me more opportunity, greater experiences and higher life satisfaction than is probably reasonable for any one guy to expect.

3) Pursuing purposeful work ahead of $-full continues to yield valuable dividends.

4) Consciously putting faith and family first….although not always easiest …continues to be the right approach for me…I’d argue for others too.

Where Do I Go From Here?

I have this vision….one that builds strong people, fosters healthy families…and leverages physical resource… for the benefit of those that need it most.  I’ve mentioned it in prior posts as “Fit4Duty”……and though my progress towards this goal has been slower than I’d like….and there’s much work to be done….I believe with consistent effort….we can create a movement…..one where groups of good people come together and train for a purpose greater than personal health & well-being (although that’s clearly a nice side-benefit)…a purpose that would allow them to gain physical strength and mental stamina alongside their friends and families in the process …but most importantly prepare the group to serve and labor in communities and areas of the world with need.  If you think this sounds good and you want to be involved in the “from here” or know someone who would…drop me a comment, a message, or a re-tweet and we’ll talk next steps.

Happy Birthday to Me,

-E

 

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FUEL: Paralyzed by the BURGER

For as a long as I can remember, I’ve (from time to time) experienced the feelings some might describe as anxiety.  As a kid, I never really knew what anxiety “felt like”, and even today the only way I’ve been able to describe it is to imagine you’re taking a deep breath and for some reason can’t open up your lungs enough to get that good, full, oxygenated feeling.    It wasn’t really anything I worried about until I was old enough to know it “wasn’t normal”….and by the time I was in sixth grade, it had gotten so deeply ingrained into “mental game” that it damn near consumed me in vigorous competition.  In fact, I’d get so wrapped up in worrying about it, that any time the going got tough (in a youth wrestling match)…I’d find myself worried I couldn’t breath….and eventually allowed a downward spiral from there…..the concern would push me into a state of exercise induced asthma…and eventually I REALLY couldn’t breath….almost paralyzed until I could regain control of my mind and force it to regain control of my body.

The episodes drove a concerned young athlete and a set of worried parents to seek answers…..and after numerous doctor visits and cardiology tests, it was determined that I have mitral valve prolapse (click link if interested), and one of the main side-effects was “shortness of breath”….and so it seemed our questions were answered.  And since, with a bit more mental ease….I’ve worked through the anxiety like symptoms and couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve experienced them as a result of vigorous exercise.  Maybe it’s because I have a better understanding of what was going on…maybe it’s because multiple doctors have told me I have no more risk than anyone when taking on vigorous activity….or maybe it’s because at this point, through enough repetition without tragic outcome…I’ve learned the human body is incredibly resilient (mine not being an exception) and has far more to give than most of us think, or allow.  And believe it or not….even through maximum exertion cardiac stress tests, more than my fair share of high intensity workouts through collegiate athletics and the last 7 years competing in endurance sports (marathon, triathlon)….I’ve not had one single exercise induced episode……..BUT

….from time to time, they still occur during the “normal” day.  WHY….is it the mitral valve prolapse?

Well – I’m not a cardiologist….but over the last couple of years (since my last cardiologist visit just prior to my first Boston Marathon when I was told “don’t come back…if I had more patients like you, I’d be out of business”) I’ve keeping a relatively close eye on the trend of when the feelings come on.  And it seems as though two things tend to serve as a catalyst for the all-too familiar anxiety, tightness of chest, and lack of adequate breath that I got as a young athlete.

1) STRESS – shocking I know – but more on this at another time

2) Low-Grade Fuel – as in food intake.  If you’re someone who typically eats pretty healthy….with the majority of your diet coming from plant-based foods…..you know what it feels like to fall of the wagon and pay for it.  If on the other hand, you’re yet to get on that wagon and are like the roughly 97% of American’s who (according to the journal of nutrition) don’t consume enough daily fiber….you’re probably yet to experience what I’m talking about, after all…hard to fall off a wagon that doesn’t exist yet in your life (never too late to start FYI).  But for me, this past weekend….not only did I “fall off the wagon”….I took a swan dive off the very tippy top.  I let Saturday get away from me….exercised vigorously in the morning (7+ miles, then High Intensity Strength Intervals for 30 min)…had a sensible breakfast…and went back to a work project that required a bit of physical labor….and by the time I got home, I was starving for calories….and craving total crap food….a burger with all the fixings (it happens).  And with almost zero convincing of the 8.5 mo pregnant wife to go out and “not cook”….we went, and down down I fell…feeling the repercussions since (just now subsiding, now Monday and 48 hours later). So…it got me thinking.

I remember sitting through a lecture a few years back by famous Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn who boldly told his audience (many physicians, health professionals, HR representatives, fitness professionals, etc.) that we should “only consume everything in moderation if we ONLY want a moderate heart attack”…and further explained the effects that animal protein has on temporarily damaging our artery’s endothelial cells, and inhibit their use of nitric oxide (a vascular dilator that allows the artery to relax and widen).  It was a powerful statement and one I’ve not forgotten…yet consistently heard from other nutritional experts…like one of my favorites Michael Greger who quoted research stating a single meal primarily comprised of animal protein and fat can paralyze the arteries and restrict blood flow (see video HERE).  And so I wonder…..could part of the reason that we (I) feel so crappy after falling off the wagon be related to damaged endothelial cells and temporarily constricted arteries and blood flow…..hmm doesn’t seem like too far of a stretch….back to the books to learn more!

 

 

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Legacy….What Will Yours Be?

The concept of legacy is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.  In my professional world, my colleagues and I are constantly talking about the best ways to help clients obtain personal achievements (Pro-Activity is a Human Achievement Company)….and I consistently find myself coaching athletes (who we define as anyone who relies on a strong body and confident mind) to not be afraid to dream big and go after something amazing…so that they may get the most of their life.  But the more I think about it…I believe at the heart of many of these pursuits is the concept of legacy……or the mark each of us will leave on this world as we pass through it.  And so I got to thinking….am I taking the action today to leave the type of legacy I want to in my path?  Am I doing all I can to leave the mark on this world that I’m hoping to….and if not, why….and what should I change?

Although I’m not sure I was always as clear as I am today, my pursuit over the last 10 or so years has been to do what I can to leverage my abilities and the resources I’ve been blessed with, so that I may inspire, strengthen, and assist others in their own pursuit so that together, we may have the opportunity to leave the world a better place than when we entered it.  And although I’m far from a doomsday-er, nor do I think the world is all bad to begin with – I wonder how it would be if each of us (myself included) spent more time thinking about, planning, and acting in a way that would leave it better off for our having been a part.  What legacy would we leave, ….what will we have achieved….would we be proud of the mark we’ve left…would the gaps in our life that so many of us attempt to fill with other pursuits be filled?  Would those that care about us be honored for having been a part?  Worth considering for sure…and something I intend to do better in acting upon.

And what about the legacies in action we are witnessing day by day….do we appreciate them?  The unique additions those we’re closest to are making on the world while seemingly just “doing their job” or being themselves?  I found myself stepping back in the last week, thinking a bit more deeply about this and finding inspiration in a pair of “Toms”.

Tom H. – my father-in-law…..the guy just won his 300th career game as a high school basketball coach…an impressive milestone to be sure…but beyond the accolades he’s gained over the years (frequently being named coach of the year by various media outlets) what struck me most when taking a moment to reflect on this most recent one was the way he’s done it and why….consistently and through personal sacrifice for the last 25+ years…for others…for the betterment of the kid’s he’s coaching, ….because sport is a gateway to “real-life” where giving your best is not only something to strive for, but an expectation…but above all playing the game the “right” way (insert metaphor here) is the only way.

Tom E. – my Dad……it’s 9p last Monday and New Jersey is again getting pummeled with snow…and I’m getting ready to board a plane in 8 hours for an exciting client conference…leaving my two year old, an 8-month pregnant wife home.  I’m rushing…trying to do too many things at once (like usual), and frustrated to AGAIN have to shovel the damn driveway (after the snow blower he lent me stalled)…and I place the call “home” and get “Eric, your dad ran out (in a snow storm) to pick up Mary X. (made up name for anonymity) who’s car broke down and is stuck in the snow….I’ll tell him to call you when he gets home”.  And then it hits me….Tom E., the Good Samaritan does it again.  This is a guy who went out of his way to bring a homeless man into our home (unannounced) for Holiday dinner….the guy that marched his family to the Pro-Life rally….and other charity functions, homeless shelters, etc. intended to serve others…..brought communion and his young children to the local nursing home just to visit the (un-related) residents.  The guy has made a life of putting others (including his family) ahead of himself…and wow, how lucky I have been to be on the receiving end so many times, and have learned by example on the way.  And just as those thoughts were swirling my head (as I pushed snow around the driveway)…he showed up….hopped out of the car and helped a long side me….finishing the job and leaving with a sincere hug and message – “Eric, if Amy or Emma need anything while you’re gone, please have them call”.

These are legacies….marks being left on the world, day by day.  We have each been given the opportunity to do so, even in the seemingly most minor interactions with others, and if you look around…you might be surprised just how many you’ll see in action.  May each of us find our pursuit…and have the courage to do it the “right way”, leaving a legacy we’re proud to look back on in our path. And hey, maybe someday we too will be honored with a namesake in the next generation (Thomas John Eisenhart, due 3/9/14).

To your legacy,

-E

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Investing in Spirit, Fueling the Soul

This year, unlike year’s past, I have no specific athletic event goals.  No big races I’m training for….no “PR’s” I’m trying to obtain (although I haven’t given up on a sub-3 hr. marathon performance in the future).  No…instead, after much thought at the end of 2013, I decided this was the year where “purpose” would come first…and my goal would be to pursue and develop a program that recruits and builds on the passion of others, so that we may collectively facilitate greater good through volunteered physical labor in this world in areas that need it…relying on things I know most – health & fitness.  I call the program “Fit 4 Duty” and details are to come….BUT in prep…I vowed I’d find ways to invest in my personal spirit so that it may be centered and rich enough to keep me moving forward…in the RIGHT direction, putting first things first.

This weekend, after being recruited by friends and family members regularly over the last few years, I attended a men’s retreat at the church I’ve belonged to for all of my years 30 in NJ (since I was 3).  While I’ve often considered myself someone of strong faith, and have had many moments in my life where I’ve felt an incredible sense of spirit burning inside of me, outside of regular attendance at Sunday mass, I’ve pretty much resisted anything that might seem a bit too “churchy” for me, and at times have gotten a little off path.  Actually the thought….or even using the word “retreat” has historically been a bit out of my comfort zone.  But having known and respected many of those who attended before me, including numerous community members, client-friends, parents, siblings & siblings-in-law (is there really any difference?), and most recently my brother Mike who has taken a slightly more active role with the group of organizers….I decided this year was the year I’d push out of my norm, and I promised myself to enter with an open mind.

Heading into the weekend, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, and had a decently realistic perspective on who I was….what my God-given talents are, and the principles and values for which I stand.  I figured on some listening….some sharing…. and some reflection.  But what I didn’t expect, at least as much, was the inspiration and wisdom I would receive from the other men in attendance, and the consistent opportunities  that seemed to come slowly but surely one time after another, to refine my focus on what is (and maybe isn’t) important in life as each of us travels down our own unique roads.

I left the weekend feeling enriched, having learned a bit more about myself and my faith and gaining a deep appreciation for the others in attendance, and their willingness to share the lessons they’ve learned about themselves and the role God (and their faith) has played both in good times, but more powerfully…in the bad.  I left the weekend feeling stronger, knowing that going through trying times is a part of EVERYONE’s life, but when relying on God, we can endure the hard times, and actually find strength in our pain.  I left the weekend feeling blessed….blessed with an amazing support network at home, and a community that has allowed me every opportunity to thrive, should I choose to pursue them AND do the right things for the right reasons.  And I left the weekend feeling clear….clear that while I’ll never be alone on my “journey” through life.. it doesn’t make it any less mine, full of choices and responsibilities, and opportunities for good….and after “randomly” selecting a bible out of a stack of 50 with the below passage highlighted…I’m clear that I’m on the right path.

“There are different kind of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them.  There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service.” – 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6

 

 

 

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When do we start the “Fit Life”? Thoughts from an expecting father

With only 7 weeks until my wife is due to deliver our second (a son this time!), for the first time in this go ’round, she seems to be “nesting”.  All of a sudden the cleaning supplies are out, and things “have to be organized”….in all honesty, it’s music to my ears…I’m a big fan of organization to keep life as simple as possible.  Maybe I can thank my Dad who drilled “put things back where you found them” into the heads of my five siblings and I growing up…or maybe it’s because, well…I’m a bit “type A”.  But regardless – Amy’s mad dash for organization, and various trips to all the stores I love to hate provided plenty of “daddy-daughter” time for my two year old and I to CONNECT on Sunday….and after a day that included a trip to our “BaseCamp31” training facility so Emma could MOVE (run around, hang from the pull-up bar, and bounce on the stability ball in between practicing some core exercises some of our PT friends showed us), a celebratory fruit smoothie for FUEL,  and a 2 hour RECOVER(y) nap….it got me thinking…when does / should the “Fit Life” start if we’re to set our children up to ENDURE a long and full life?

The answer?  Well, for those not interested in reading further – as early as possible…..as in before the child is even born where possible.

For those seeking a bit more fact instead of just my opiniong – consider the following articles and research that has come across my “desk” (aka incredibly overfilled email inbox) recently.  According to an article recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine: Preschool-age children whose mothers did not smoke or gain excessive weight during pregnancy and who were breast-fed for at least 12 months and slept for at least 12 hours per day during infancy had a predicted obesity prevalence of 6%, as compared with 29% among children for whom the opposite was true for all four risk factors4; the rates were similar (4% and 28%, respectively) when the children reached 7 to 10 years of age.

Or how about this research review by nutrition expert Michael Greger (you should definitely subscribe to this guy’s Youtube channel), where he provides us the data that supports the linkage between meat and egg intake and the increased risk of gestational diabetes in expecting mothers, while providing further reasons to consume more plant-based foods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysCuZT2t7XM#t=176

The “Fit Life” relies on our ability to balance our MOVE, FUEL, and RECOVER…and if we do it right we’ll set our children up for the same, so that as they grow we may be a society who CONNECTS around these ELEMENTS, and ENDURES a long and fulfilled life.

-E

 

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Pride….

I’ve never been one to easily impress.  I can probably blame my parents for that one.  I was the kid (as were my siblings) that so desperately wanted a few bucks for getting an “A” on my report card….but what I got – “You’re a smart kid, you should get A’s!”.  One might argue that this statement along with others like, “No one can ask anymore of you if you did your best” which would come as reassurance after a personal lackluster effort….led  me to become a relatively driven individual with pretty high standards….thanks Mom & Dad.

Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to be around some people doing some pretty amazing things (have witnessed my wife give birth, have watched siblings complete ironmans, completed a few Boston Marathons, watched a friend compete in the Olympics, have seen countless clients overcome adversity in their lives to make major health and performance gains, among many others), but only once in a while (actually once in a long while judging by the date of my last post) has something struck me enough to blog about it.  But this weekend at the Timberman Ironman 70.3….alongside some of other “Pro-Activity family” members…I again had the opportunity to witness the extraordinary time and time again!

There was of course our crowd of first timer triathletes Jess & Lindsay…people like Diane returning to the “tri ring” after a few years….some first time half iron competitors Amy, Brian, Justin, Gina, Roy, and myself…and of course our seasoned ironmen Mike, Nisim, and Chris doing it again……there was our amazing support crew and “loud mouths” that included my wife, daughter, brother, nieces and nephew, and a handful of other awesome friends willing to give up a few final days of their summer to cheer for hours on end (check out the photo coverage here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?

set=a.10151592436230920.1073741837.103261070919&type=1)…and all and all, it was an incredibly successful and achievement-filled event.

Now, of course I may be biased or just in a good mood since this turned out to be arguably my best event ever (came in at 5:08:44 and had expected to come in at 5:30 ish)…something I’m pretty proud about….but the performance that stood out most to me…the one that made me most proud, was that of my colleague Gina S.

Here’s a girl who’s relatively new to the endurance sports world (3 years) and less than 1 year from the start of her triathlon career has now completed her first 70.3 ironman event….one that took her on a swim 1.2 miles around Lake Winnepesaukee, 56 miles cycling through the hills of NH, and 13.1 miles around the surrounding neighborhoods.  That in and of itself is an impressive achievement….but let me paint a little picture for you…the one that inspired me to write this blog…..

Imagine this, you’ve just swam 1.2 miles, biked 56, and ran 6.5 miles….continuously…exhausting yourself with 6 hours and 31 minutes of consistent exercise.  Imagine coming into the finish line area, having dealt with back spasms all day long, seeing all of your friends cheering for you (all of whom have finished their race)….and having to go back out…by yourself… and do one more 6.5 mile loop of running.  This was Gina’s reality, and a potential breaking point for any competitor.  The easy thing would have been to sit down and give up….to blame it on the back or to kick back with friends in a moment of mental weakness and physical depletion.

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But in this picture….in this moment…Gina did something I’m not even sure she knew she could…..after accepting the emotional drain that would be the next 6.5 miles…Gina wiped the sweat and tears from her face….dug deep into her reserves…those she probably didn’t know she had…and said “I’m doing this”…and less than an hour and a half later…she did!

It’s not often that I’m impressed….but Gina, I hope this achievement has made you as proud as I am…and we are of you.

Here’s to having the COURAGE to start…..the ENDURANCE to continue….and the RESOLVE to finish!

-E

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Wisdom, Empathy, and Thankfullness

A few weeks ago I promised to delve into what I’ve been up to since posting on a more regular (weekly basis).  To be completely honest, I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to this post, and in some ways have had it hanging over my head…as I knew what it would entail…..a reflection on the year…a re-organization of my “personal plan”…and a real personal gauge of what I’ve gotten accomplished vs. what I had set out to do in 2012.  A little daunting to say the least…but thankfully, and for me somewhat typically, I found a bit of clarity on a recent trail run last weekend (having been inspired from some of my trail running friends Nick P., Todd J., Joe G. who swear by it!).

And although I wasn’t planning on “thinking about things” per se as I went out for my run (8 miler)….it just sort of happened.  I found myself, in one of the more beautiful sections of my area, within the Round Valley Reservoir trail system, jogging slowly and dashing back and forth, under and over trees that had blocked the path after their battle with Sandy….and my mind started to wonder.  It having been only one week away from Thanksgiving, I started to think about all the things that had happened recently due to Hurricane Sandy….and then all the things I was thankful for this year….and what my brain quickly locked onto as I recounted the year in my head, was a pretty consistent trend.

I’ve had some pretty extraordinary shared experiences in 2012 that have helped me to gain wisdom, empathy for others, and grow as a person, not simply because I’ve gone through them, but because I’ve done so with people I care deeply for…and for that, I am most Thankful!

 

January 2012 – Amy and I, along with the rest of the Eisenhart, Hank, and greater Pro-Activity family welcome Emma into the world.  Everything people say is true….you’ll never love something quite as much as you love your child…and your life will never been the same.  It’s hard to even comprehend what life was like just 11 short months ago before she came, and it’s hard to express just how much appreciation, love and respect I have for my wife who continues to make it all look easy.  Emma continues to be our greatest blessing.

 

Feb-March 2012

I start to learn to ride a bike and swim….ok not literally…but as far as triathlon goes, not too far off.  This would be my year to jump into the triathlon world officially.  Thankfully the training principles aren’t all that different from any endurance sports (base – build – peak), but there’s much to be said about and appreciation gained for technique.  I’m incredibly thankful for my friends who met me for Saturday morning spin sessions (Justin, Mike, Wes, Chris, Derek, & Jeff) and those that met me in the pool (Chris, Cassy, Mike).  2013 could be a big triathlon year for me!

April 2012 – After months of limited training.see January 2012 above :)…I decide this was the year I’ll learn to appreciate running again, and take to the Streets of the Boston Marathon with one goal….find my fun again.  And after battling the unseasonable 90 degree heat for 3 hours…around mile 20 or so, I run into a “friend in need”….thinking very little of it at the time, I stop what I’m doing, and stay with this man in the middle of the race for somewhere around 10 minutes to ensure he is safe and with medical personnel.  My finish time that day was humbling…40+ minutes slower than usual…but the wisdom I gained after the fact…in realizing that the journey IS the destination is something that will stick with me forever and I continue to (have to) remind myself.  The outpouring of support and thanks that I received from readers for the actions I took that day continue to catch me by surprise but further reinforce to me that we truly are “in this together”…and that when the opportunity presents to help another, sometimes simply taking action can be the best thing.  Read recap here if interested

May 2012 – I decide, with some reassurance from some more experienced Triathletes, that one month of focused training, with a decent endurance (marathon) base under you, is enough for complete the Jerseyman Sprint triathlon.  My expectation was simply to finish and gain more appreciation and empathy for those that compete in this sport, and of course do my first triathlon with my brother Greg (also doing his first that day).  Mission accomplished and a sub 2 hour finish in a longer than traditional sprint distance.

June 2012 – Main health & fitness goal for the year accomplished.  2:38 Olympic Distance Triathlon finish along with some of my training partners Chris, Derek, and Mike….great day, and reassurance that “anyone can do this if you put your time in”.

July 2012 – After spending the last 12-15 months supporting / training a local group of professional athletes (NJNYTC), I watch with 50+ other community members, overcome literally with tears of joy, as my life long friend, and a member of our Pro-Activity family realizes her personal dream.  Julie Culley wins the US Olympic Trials and claims her stake as an Olympian (I still get chills writing this now), and we send her to London in style!

August 2012 – Are you kidding me….who seriously gets to watch their friend compete in the Olympic games!  Another lifelong friend Kristen P. and I travel to London to watch “our” Julie tear up the track with the world’s best.  Having already accomplished more in 2012 than most could dream about in a lifetime…Julie again overachieves and advances to the Olympic Finals!  My respect and admiration for her and all those that have sacrificed for 20+ years for simply the opportunity to get to this kind of level of performance  leaves an unforgettable mark on my heart and mind.

September 2012 – After 6 months of planning, our Race Directing team successfully directs the 2nd Annual “O’er Hills & Far Away Race” – a Vineyard 5k with a harvest fest flare.  We hussled to pull it all off, but were so pleased to watch as so many conquered the challenging course, many completing the 5k distance for their first time….and realizing they have so much more within than they even knew.  I’m so pleased and thankful to watch our Fuel Good Cafe team put on a great catering performance, and love the guts shown by colleague Gina Strouse who officially brings “Rocket Girl” to life!  Check out pictures at http://www.ohfar.com

October 2012 – After challenging my colleague Phil Cyphers to use his incredibly impressive fitness and strength to their highest function…we work together and he pushes me through the NJ Tough Mudder in 2:10 minutes, qualifying us for the “World’s Toughest Mudder”….not bad for two first-timers.  See video HERE

November 2012 – After a week of devastation at the hands of Hurricane Sandy, our area of the world is stumbling back to form.  And even though our business was without power….in following the leadership of colleague (and sister-in-law) Lindsay, who had this crazy idea to host a “Sandy Relief Marathon” in lieu of her earned right to participate in the NYC Marathon…..our team gets behind her with full force, and the community rallies like none other as we officially form the BaseCamp 31 “Co-Motion”.  In 48 hours, a simple, yet passion-filled, idea turns into an impressive display of community service…and we collectively host the first “pick-up game of marathon” for 250+ runners, and raise $10,000 in support of Sandy Relief.  I take a step back, post event, and realize….we truly live in a great nation….and I’m so thankful for the community that surrounds me.  To get more involved, check out http://www.basecamp31.com

So where do we go from here?  Good question…but it’s almost time to start writing plans for 2013.  Prior to this blog I went back and looked at what I had really set out to do.  As in year’s past I had broken my goals into 6 areas:

  • Relationship / Family
  • Personal / Financial
  • Professional
  • Health & Fitness
  • Faith
  • Community Service

In total, my goals had 66 different working parts (crazy I know)….The not so great news…only 51% are 100% complete…the better news is that I’ve made substantial progress on 92% of them….but the best news, I’ve learned and am thankful for each and the experiences gained along the way.

I sincerely hope this Thanksgiving finds you just as thankful, and that you and yours are truly Happy!

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Check out what we’re doing tomorrow! Sandy Relief Marathon

We couldn’t sit around and NOT do anything.  Check out the below, and get involved!

http://www.facebook.com/events/135768946570548/

http://www.basecamp31.com/

http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2012/11/run_this_hunterdon_group_offer.html

http://blogs.dailyrecord.com/highschoolsports/2012/11/03/looking-for-a-nyc-marathon-alternative/

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A Short Note of Thanks

You might not see them as much as you’d like, but rest assured…they’re out there.  In the work we do at Pro-Activity, we’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the best in the Utility business, and although it’s incredibly easy for some to lose patience and get frustrated in the aftermath of something like we just dealt with (Hurricane Sandy for those following from afar)….especially when you

may be without power…I can personally attest (having gotten to know some of these folks) that the Utility workers in the tri-state area are some of the most committed folks you’ll find.  For those Utility workers and other first responders out working hard to restore the infrastructure that allows us the privileged lives we live…please know that at the end of the day….you have our most sincere thanks and that all those who matter realize it’s more important for you to return safe to your families at the end of your seemingly round the clock shift…than it is for us to have our lights, tv’s, or even hot water.

Stay safe, and thank you for your commitment to restoring the comforts many of us rely on.

And to my followers…I promise…a recap of what I’ve been doing while not blogging is soon to come…..here’s a little taste….and just think, some of us actually pay to get soaked with mud

 

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