Category Archives: Feburary ’10

With trust

The first time a parent watches his or her kid walk independently, interact with other kids, run into their kindergarten classroom, I can understand it would be a proud moment. It is the natural process to go from total dependency on a parent as a child to having to someday live without them even on earth.

When my mom dropped me off for college her teary eyes upset me. But somewhere I knew that she was crying because she was proud to witness the day her child who grew from eight pounds to 138 pounds,  to live alone and be nearly self-sufficient. I doubt she credited herself for my ability to walk alone but of course she was the reason. I’m sure she was simply just excited to be witnessing the miracle that something she created could become a grown-up.

I wonder though, what is teenage rebellion other than something a parent should be proud of. The teenager wants independence, typically artificial and premature but still yet it is a desire to be strong and self-sufficient. And a parent at some point typically will fight that child’s desire, clinging on to that which gives them purpose. So maybe it is justified for a teenager to fight, almost a necessity to rebel to break that sense of ownership a parent might have adopted over the years.

But also maybe it is the essential need for a child to go beyond what is necessary to find the limit. All of us know the experience of where we do something we vow never to do again. I mean it took me to hike through two feet of snow in negative sixteen wind on top of the highest ridge line in northern Virginia to find my limit. And afterward I announced I will never do that again. I have taken my training to intensities that I vow never to reach again. It is only natural to surpass a limit to discover where that line is drawn. Some maybe teenagers need to jump beyond the limit of self-sufficiency and independence to truly understand that they are still, and will be for quite a while longer, dependent on their parents.

A couple weeks ago I came out of my house to the snow covered ground to find the gate had become stuck in the frozen surface. Despite the freedom to run for miles, my dog Lola was running around the yard, sniffing about, playing the foreign fluff. And when I yelled “RUBY! Come here Ruby!,” the panting canine rounded the truck, hoping like a bunny, plowing a trail behind her, back into the yard. They were granted freedom to roam, to cause trouble and yet they stayed close. A week later I decided to go play with them outside of the feces infested backyard. I opened the gate and they stared at me, curious as to what my intentions are.

I could see them questioning me, “What? With no leash?”

“Come on. Lets go!”

They ran ten feet out and looked back at stopped to look to see if I was coming. “Are you serious? With no leash?”

Ruby and I ran around the block and I found that with the trust I granted to her, she recognized the privilege and while knowing that her gushy puppy-dog eyes prevent us from ever punishing her, she still did not run away. Every time I would turn, she would continue on straight a few paces and upon realizing I had turned, would quickly change directions and race to catch up with me.

Let me remind you that these dogs on leashes are the most ill-behaved little devils, pulling till they have dislocated every joint in my arms. But with granting them my trust, they did not abuse it.

Maybe if a parent at some point gives the child more slack then maybe the kid will pull less. With this of course I mean a trusting, loving, attentive parent, not an ignorant parent who simply does not care to hold the leash in the first place. I guess if parenting were so easy as step one, two, three and the same for every child then I would not have felt the urge to write this in the first place. Still without knowing the psychology behind the action, I do feel that teenage rebellion may be something to be simultaneously embraced and limited rather than shunned and prevented.


It is much easier to break up with a girl than to deal with change and adapting to the needs and desires of another person.

In the same respect is much easier to quit eating all together in order to lose weight than to diet. The eating disorder such as obesity or binge eating is unlike any other addition, to end it you cannot just stop eating. Eating too much is a far too common disorder, drastically more common than eating too little or bulimia. But unlike alcoholism and drug addiction where the victim simply stops drinking or doing whatever, with eating you cannot simply stop.

“You’ll die faster if you stop eating than if you eat too much,” I said to a lady who was embarrassed about already eating at Chipotle on her first day starting weight watchers. Sure it may have been me marketing with a little propaganda, but also there is some truth to my statement. I know, she did order double meat, a large soda, and a bag of chips, but just like her, to shed my extra pounds, I cannot simply stop eating.

With the addiction to food we have been trained on since we were prehistoric cavemen, not knowing when the next meal would be, we have to fight against the instinctual urge for life-sustaining calories.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not support obesity. I just understand how it happens. With eating, we have to stare down, consume, and digest that which is killing us and keeping us alive.

I, in addition to the failing “weight watcher”, need to lose weight. No, I am probably not going to become ill of heart disease early in my life like two-thirds of the American population. But I do need to watch my weight for my own reasons.

“A runner weighing 160 pounds has to muster about 6.5% more energy to run the same pace as a runner weighing 150 pounds,” I read in the book “Racing Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald. According to that statement, if at 140 pounds I run a 18:40 5k, at 130 pounds theoretically I would be able to run the same 5 kilometers in 17:20. Of course there are other factors such as body composition and slight power loss due to muscle loss. But still yet there is no way to overstate the drastic difference that a simple ten pounds could do.

However, it is much easier to subtract 10 from 140 in my head than on the scale. If I had my way I would do a three hour ride five out of seven days a week, consume half the calories I was burning, go to bed hungry, and be at my race weight in a couple weeks. I wish it were easier to reprogram my innate desire to eat more but especially after coming off a trip involving four months of rationing, that pantry is looking pretty inviting.

If I want to win though I have to start a progression, a chart of my weight and my body fat percentage which currently is supposedly at 14% (Whoa!) and 139 pounds. According to my body fat percentage, and my body type, I can lose eleven pounds before I begin to tango with genetics. So I will read the book Racing Weight and commit to a diet plan so I’ll show up at my mid-season races  92% of who I am now in weight and 106.5% who I am now in speed.

Call me anorexic, say “But Grayson you’re skinny already.” The only reason I look thin is because I am living in a world of low standards for weight. We should be carrying around almost no extra fat. We need almost no extra fat to live so why carry it up and down stairs ten times a day? Everyone in this world should be able to grab his or her tummy and hold it, thinner than a newspaper. I consider myself overweight, not because I am unhealthily fat, but because I am as I said over-(my ideal)-weight. I don’t blame the world for being so chubby, it is the way our instincts led us to be and a difficult addiction to hinder. But at some point we need to take control of our calorie-crazed culture and recognize that we are stronger than instinctual beasts, that something greater than us had better expectations. Some big dog gave us a brain, the power of will and deduction and the understanding that we can change and the desire to commit that change.

My new schedule

My shoes get wet and I set them aside to dry while I don another pair in the meantime. My shoes got wet in the woods and my feet would turn purple and need to be amputated. I am so glad I am home.

I have a new task now, maintain the dining room and man the register at the Shortpump Chipotle.

I can honestly say this is the longest I have ever been happy in my entire life.

I am at a perfect place now. Work is fairly easy, sometimes quite fun, and the people are awesome.

A New Season

We were all set up on the trainers facing the full wall mirrors in the back of the Endorphin Fitness facility. I did not know how I felt about this addition. Maybe I would like it mid-season when my muscles bulge and my body is toned. But today with my hairy skinny legs, bulging hips and my child-like upper body I am not liking what I see.

However, although I took an extra lenient off season enjoying hiking as opposed to training, something tells me I am strong, and I am fast. Sure I was dropped in the shop ride last weekend and sure I have a couple pounds more fat and a couple less muscle. But this will be my seventh year running, sixth year cycling, and fifth year competing in triathlons. And I think after that much time on the road, in the saddle, and in the pool that I can take hints from my body.

I know something is different this year. Something within me is responding and adapting faster than ever before. So my hesitation with this workout is purely visual trusting that even the subtle curves of a Ford Crown Victoria can hide a nasty surprise.

On my first run back my legs flowed like my Peak race was just yesterday.

I joined the YMCA to see if the EPO-like boost that hiking gave me transferred to the water. While not so immediate, the improvements I have gained from the past couple weeks in the pool have given me times faster than ever before.

I tested myself yesterday. After hearing a quote from Will Smith declaring that if he were to race anyone on a treadmill he would win or die trying I ventured down to my dusty basement clad in synthetic wear and a cotton headband, sweat rags draped over my shoulders. In suit the dogs came close behind. As the belt began to turn and the floor began to shake as the machine lifted up to top speed, my dog Lola, stared at me with curiosity. But the stare could not be returned. The mission, not impossible, was to complete three mile repeats in six minutes each. By the last minute of the last interval a near grin formed on my face, a smirk that could not find the ease I found with a formerly difficult pace.

Something has renewed me physically and mentally that has brought an extreme change in my level of fitness. Whatever it was it is sure to lead me to my best and most enjoyable season yet. With being away from training for such a long time I had doubts about my fitness and my inspiration suffered from those doubts. But seeing the times and the heart rates and feeling the comfort, I think I may test my legs at Smithfield triathlon this year. Last year I was owned by my teammates at Tech and Endorphin. This year it is time for redemption.

But for now my goal is to struggle on these trainers facing the ugly reflection of  the side effects of my four-month relaxed hike.