Most years on my Birthday I do something brilliant, or stupid, depending on your perspective I guess. I’ve had some memorable birthdays and most are tied to some outrageous workout that I decided to do. And even some outrageous workouts weren’t even on my birthday. When my buddy Sundy turned 30 we went to the Boulder Res at 5:30am – swam 30×100 in the Res, and then promptly rode 30 miles with a 3 mile run off the bike – 3x. We ended with 3,000 yard of swimming, 90 miles of biking and 9 miles of running. That day started with 14 guys and only 6 did the entire workout. The issue was the heat – 104F that day in Boulder – July 7, 2002. A little crazy for sure.

Back in whatever year I turned 30, I decided to run 30 miles. I wasn’t in great shape and was trying to balance my MBA, working full time as an accountant at mutual fund company and having a girlfriend that lived a good forty miles away. To make this as painless as possible, I ran 11 laps around the outside of Wash Park (2.75m per lap). I switched my shoes out every lap and I changed cassettes in my Walkman every other lap. What’s a ‘walkman’ you ask? Ha.
On my 33rd birthday I was preparing for IM California in May, so I needed some big days. I was planning on doing the Annual GHGH (Go Home or Go Hard) event that I started in 2000. It was a 50 mile bike ride to Ft Collins at 4:30am, a half marathon of epic proportions, and then a 50 mile ride home. A 7 hour long workout. But before that I had to get in shape for it and on my birthday I got up early, went to Master’s Swim and swam 3,300 yards. That was easy enough. Next I rode up to Ward (9,200 ele) and added some more miles around town to get to 3:33 of riding, and then I ran 1:33 off the bike. I started at my house and ran around the Boulder Res and back. I remember being about 6m from my house and just thinking, “I better not stop, this would be a long walk home”. It ended up being a pretty epic day. I went on to have a great workout with GHGH that year and a PR at IM Cali.
My 35th birthday included more of the same with 3500 yards of swimming a 3:50 hour ride and something like 1:35 of running off the bike. Since that time, the epic workouts have fallen by the wayside. Until this year…
About two weeks ago the CU Team had their spring break which included an epic 4-5 days of cycling. I decided I needed to jump in to as many workouts as I could in order to have any chance of an epic birthday workout. I rode about 18 hours in 8 days which wasn’t too bad as I paced myself well throughout. When you are building fitness and you are riding with some of the fastest 18-23 yr olds in the country, you have to put the ego aside.
The week of my birthday I was pretty tired but motivated for a good hard day on April 6th. I woke up with the intent on getting my run out of the way first. But, my wonderful wife got up early, made me eggs and French toast and that plan was put on hold.
I had coordinated with a few members of the CU Team who were riding to Ward (a 25 mile climb from my house, and up to 9,200 feet above sea level). We started out at a nice easy pace and I kept the watts in check I know my ‘break even’ wattage – meaning the wattage I can ride all day, and the wattage I can ride for 20-30 minutes and they are substantially different. Just as I had the week before on our Estes Park ride – which was a 93 miler in 5:30 with 6,000 feet of climbing, I looked at my power meter and stuck to my plan. I know I was holding the guys back, but they were nice enough to not crush me like the old guy that I am. Once I hit the town of Ward, I made the decision that I was going to keep pedaling along the Peak to Peak highway to Lyons. This would make the trip and the day a bit longer, but I was up for some suffering. The 22 mile descent to Lyons is usually quick, but with the crosswind, and headwind, it wasn’t anything close to easy. I was managing the bike quite a bit and it was tiring. Once I hit the last 16 mile descent to Lyons I thought I would be home free, but once again it was work. I got into Lyons, hit the local gas station for a birthday treat of coca-cola and a snickers and was on my way again. The ride on Highway 36 was windy but not terrible. I just had to laugh at myself for having to do the entire loop and end up with head wind almost the entire time since I had summitted the long climb almost 1.5 hours before.
I got home, changed up and headed out the door for my run. The legs felt good and I cruised the 4 miler in less than 32 minutes. Not bad at all.
I took a quick shower, scarfed down a recovery drink, and headed out to Wahoo’s to get some lunch and a meet up with a new D3 Athlete. After the meeting I was hemming and hawing about going to swim. I convinced myself that I could swim 1500 yards. On the way to the pool, I decided I would swim 200s and to see how many I could swim before I got out. After my first 200, I put a pull buoy on and thought about ending an epic day with an epic workout – could I pull off 22×200 (4400 yards)? I thought it might be possible, and why not try it. The first set I did was 4×200, 3 with a pb (pull buoy), 1 with a pb and pads (paddles). The second set was 3×200 with pb, and 2×200 with pb and pads. The third set was 2×200 with pb, and 3×200 with pb and pads. The 4th set took me to 20 total 200s and I swam those as 1×200 with pb, and 4×200 as pb and pads. The final 2×200 I swam as just pb. I was happy to see that even tired I swam them all under 3:00, and my send off was never greater than 3:15 on any swim. The best part of the swim was that I ended up sharing my lane with 2 other people. One guy was swimming about 2:00 per 100, and the woman sharing our lane was a bit slower than that. They were very nice to move aside every time I passed on a turn and I thanked them both when I got out. When I was done, I just kind of stared at the clock realizing that the mind is so much stronger than our physical bodies. Kind of like that great quote, “Wherever the mind wants to go, the body will follow”. No question that I don’t have the physical fitness I had 12 years ago or even 12 months ago, but if you can will yourself to achieve things you don’t think you can, you will become stronger, both mentally and physically. I look at this birthday workout day as my ‘New Year’. I know I’ve got a long way to go in order to reach my goals for the 2012 triathlon season, but mentally I know I can reach any goal I set for myself, especially after having such an epic birthday workout.
The bottom line and my take away from this, is don’t ever short change yourself into thinking you can’t do something or that you don’t have enough strength, power, endurance, or whatever you want to call it. You CAN do it. There’s no question with a little bit of resolve you can achieve great things in your life. It doesn’t take a ton of talent, but it does take a ton of heart and perseverance. While I was studying Latin in high school, my favorite quote was from Cicero:
“Constant Practice, devoted to one subject, often outdoes both intelligence and skill”.
If you practice excellence, it becomes a habit. And there’s nothing better

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