02/26/14

All Things in Due Time

It’s almost March… and that means only about a month and half until I head to New Orleans for the 70.3.  It will be my first time racing at that venue, so I’m really looking forward to it.  It happens to be the weekend after my birthday, so I’m hoping to have good reason to celebrate while I’m there!  The first race of reason season always brings with it a lot of anticipation, anxiety, excitement, and, of course, a little bit of pressure to see what the training over the winter months has done and how this race performance stacks up to races last year.

These winter months have been… for lack of a better word, “stressful.”  But not for the reasons someone might think a professional athlete stresses about.  It had little to do with performance in races, or how well I’m going to represent my sponsors for 2014.  It had to do with something much more basic than that.  My (real) job.

To make a very long story as short as possible (so I don’t lose people half way through this blog), I started a new job with nursing company that places people in the homes to take care of patients.  After being at the job for about 6 weeks, the person’s insurance decided to stop making payments.  So, as a result, we were force out of the house until that whole situation got straightened out.  Essentially, I was laid off.  I was able to get a few hours here and there, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough.  I started to panic.

Thankfully, my coaching business and rental property had really started picking up since it was January when this happened.  However, I could see that if things didn’t change by the time September rolled around and coaching clients began falling off due to their seasons wrapping up, things would be difficult.  With lots of changes going on in the healthcare scene, nursing jobs aren’t as prevalent as they used to be in Louisville.  I began thinking about going after a job that wasn’t even related to my nursing degree.  It had to be a part-time job because of the coaching clients I had were paying for me to do a good job at looking at their data and giving them workouts that were specifically selected for them.  Plus, if I wanted to get to races, a full time mon-fri job would make it very hard to travel the distances required to get to a lot of the big races.

I spent hours submitting applications for anything I could find.  Meanwhile, my motivation to train was lacking.  I was still doing it, but my heart wasn’t in it.

I found a job posting on-line for a home health job.  Part-time!  I almost didn’t apply for it because I figured I wouldn’t even get an interview since it said in the description that prior experience was preferred.  But I figured I give it a shot… what did I have to lose?

Skipping a lot of unimportant details, after 3 interviews for that job, I was offered the position.  It will be a lot more flexible than any other nursing  jobs out there that I’m aware of at this point.  It fits my needs and desires perfectly.  That same week I signed 2 more athletes for my coaching business (and hit the cap of 15 athletes that I set for myself), resigned FCA Endurance as a sponsor for next year, and got an email from USA Triathlon saying that I had been named Pro Rookie of the Year.

After walking through a valley for such a long time, I learned a lot of things that I think God really wanted to me (re)learn:

1.  He promises to provide all our needs – God gave us the money we needed to pay the bills and make ends meet while I was laid off with income coming in from self-employed ventures and my wife’s nursing job.

2.  God is more concerned about our relationship with him than our comfort – sometimes, the only way we can get back on track with God is by going through a tough season that brings about a lot of growth.  If other things take priority in our life, God will do whatever it takes to reclaim that position.

3.  All things happen in God’s timing, not ours – I had been offered a job at long term care facility as a PRN RN.  It wasn’t anything what I wanted, but I was going to settle on it for the sake of having a job.  Thankfully, God had better plans and I was offered the home health job just two days before starting orientation at the long term care facility.  Ironically, I got that email from USAT just hours after all this happened.  It was like God saying, “now that I’m back on top, you are free to race for my glory again.”

Looking back on all this, I can see why I went through all of this.  I learned a lot, and ended up in a much better place than before this whole situation happened.

With all this in mind, it doesn’t change my desire to do well in the sport of triathlon, represent Maverick Multisport and the rest of my sponsors well, or my motivation to push myself to new heights.  I believe that I’m supposed to do everything with 100% effort, whether that’s racing, spending time with family/friends, my coaching business, my job, or anything else in life.

So, if you see me at races with the FCA Endurance logo tattooed to my body somewhere, it’s not only a because I’m trying to be an ambassador for them/Christ, but it’s also a reminder to me of why I race and where my abilities come from.

02/14/14

Cobb Saddles Review

Biking, in some shape or another, has always been a part of my life.  I started out riding the big wheel around in circles on the little cement portion of the driveway when I was younger.  I tore up that driveway.  Power slides, burning rubber (probably more plastic than rubber), and, of course, going super fast:

Sadly, I out grew this speed machine and moved on to something a little bigger and with one less wheel.  I got my first bike and learned to ride it without training wheels.  Just a little  guidance from my dad and… off I went.  However, I can remember 12 mile round trip for breakfast a few times a year as a tradition with my family.  These were my longest rides.  Getting off the bike felt so good to relieve that saddle soreness.

The wooden blocks on the pedals were because my legs were too short yet to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke. My dad, being a wood shop teacher at the time, came up with a great solution!

Eventually high school rolled around.  I was known for riding my bike to school and work when everyone else that could drive took advantage of their four wheels.  Not me… I preferred two wheels.  By the middle of my junior year, I finally decided it was time for a real road bike.  I had no clue what I was looking at, and bought one off the internet (big mistake).  I rode that thing in my first triathlon and for my first three years of racing.  I’m not sure what saddle was on there, but believe me… it wasn’t very comfortable.

This is one of my first rides on this bike. I hadn’t gotten any bike clothing yet… the spandex scared me a little back then.

Fast forward to college.  I finally broke down and bought a TT bike for triathlons.  I had a Selle Italia Gel Flow saddle on it.  It was fine for shorter rides, but when I started doing 70.3 and 140.6 races, the long miles on that saddle really hurt.  By my Senior year at college I got my first really nice bike.  It was a huge step up from what I was riding at the time.  The saddle that came with it was a Fizik saddle.  It didn’t take me very many miles (less than 20 on my first outdoor ride) to know that this bike saddle was one of the worst that I have ever been on.  My plastic big wheel seat from my toddler years was more comfortable that this thing!  Unfortunately, I was a poor college student and decided to just man up and deal with it.

After moving to Louisville, I was connected with a new triathlon store called VO2 Multisport.  They suggested I try using a John Cobb saddle.  The most popular one they sold was the V-flow Plus.  They put it on the bike I was getting and I immediately knew this was the saddle.  Every saddle I had before this wasn’t very comfortable to start with, and over time either my body got used to it or the saddle broke in a little bit and it became tolerable.  But Cobb’s saddle was on a whole new level that the rest of the saddles I tried.  I used that saddle until I wore it out (probably over 20,000 miles on it).  When time came to buy another one, I didn’t even bother looking at another brand.  I knew Cobb’s saddles were the best for several reasons.  I never got saddle sore while riding… even during a race with minimal padding in the tri shorts.

John Cobb has lots of information on their website about their saddles, but here are a couple images to help you decide which one may be the best one for you:

 

They also have a new saddle called “Fifty-Five JOF (just off front)” that isn’t on these charts.  For more information straight from John Cobb himself about this product, click here.

When ordering your saddle, remember that you can save 5% on your saddle and receive free ground shipping by using the coupon code “MavMike” at checkout.