I Choose Kurt Warner

I’ve thought a lot about Kurt Warner this week. Now I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. (I’m a sports nerd and I can’t hide it anymore.) I don’t think there is any better example of perseverance or humbleness. In case you don’t know who Kurt Warner is, let me recap his career in as few words as possible.

Warner played college football, but was undrafted in the 1994 draft. He was given a workout by the Packers, but failed to make the team. They felt he had potential to be a great QB, but just didn’t think he was ready. With no job and his dream dashed, Warner got a job stocking at a grocery store. He wanted another opportunity to tryout for an NFL team, but no one was interested. Well that just sucks for Kurt doesn’t it? Determined not to let that stop him, he looked to the Arena League. He signed with an Arena League team all the while still pursuing his dream of being an NFL QB. Before the 1997 season, he was finally granted a tryout with the Chicago Bears, but guess what happened? He got hurt. Yep. An injury. So this might be where many of us would give up–not Kurt.

He kept plugging away and was finally signed by the St. Louis Rams for the 1998 season. He spent the year as the third string QB, but was then promoted to backup for the 1999 season. As fate would have it, the first string QB suffered an injury and Warner suddenly became “the guy.” Most people know what happens next. He goes on to be named MVP of the 1999 season including leading the Rams to a Superbowl. He has a repeat Super Bowl appearance in 2001 as well as being named league MVP once again. Way to go Kurt. You are nailing it.
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This is a great story, right? Well, it gets better.

Warner struggled in his next few seasons and had an injury that kept him from playing in top form. So, he was released by the Rams. Yep. Two time MVP and Superbowl player. Gone. Just like that.

He should probably have just quit, right? I mean, I probably would have. You’ve played in two Superbowls. You’ve been the MVP twice. Let’s just call it a day.

But, nope. Not Kurt Warner. He signed with the New York Giants and played pretty well. But, he lost two games in a row and people started to get antsy. Typical New Yorkers. There was this rookie in town called Eli Manning and people were ready to see him play. And I don’t blame them. With a name like Manning, you have to be good. Right? RIGHT? Answer me people!
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So once again Kurt Warner was out of a job. I think I’d give it up. I mean, people clearly don’t want you around, right? My ego would be shattered. How embarrassing to not be wanted! And how horribly humbling this must have been.

Cue the Arizona Cardinals. They signed Warner and thus began a 5 year battle for the starting QB job with rookie Matt Leinart. One year it’s Warner, the next it’s Leinart, then Leinart’s benched for not playing well, then Warner’s injured, yadda, yadda, yadda. In 2008 though, Warner was named the starter for the season, and guess what? He led the team to another Superbowl.
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Kurt Warner then retired after the 2009 season with so many records and accolades it would be nonsense to attempt to mention them.

So, why has Kurt Warner been on my mind this week? One word: Disappointment. We all deal with it. Sometimes it’s small disappointment like not being able to make it through a triathlon training. Sometimes it’s huge disappointments like not getting something that you’ve worked your ass off for and are deserving of. This is life. This is being an adult. This is where character is built. How are you going to handle the disappointments? Are they going to stop you from pursuing your goal or are you going to be like Kurt Warner and keep going no matter how much it hurts? I choose Kurt Warner.

I’ve been a Kurt Warner in life for most of my years, and what makes being a Kurt Warner so difficult is that life is full of Peyton Mannings. (Like I said, sports nerd, stay with me here people.) Some people get to be Peyton Manning in life and its just not fair. They come from football royalty, get drafted first overall, play fourteen seasons for one team, become a four time MVP, eleven time pro bowl player, and SuperBowl winner. I hate these people. Seriously. I look at them and think, what do you know about perseverance! I’m a Kurt Warner in life and you’re a Peyton Manning! We can’t be friends!

But then I have to remind myself, one persons success is not my failure. These people may experience great success in their goals and their life in general, but that doesn’t automatically make me a failure. Just because Eli Manning was successful for the Giants, doesn’t mean that Kurt Warner was a failure. It just wasn’t the right time or place for him.

As I face disappointments in my day to day life, I look to Kurt Warner for inspiration. He knew that he wasn’t a failure no matter what anybody said or no matter how successful other players were. When it’s all said and done, I’m sure that both Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner will be in the Football Hall of Fame together. Their paths are nothing alike, yet they will both end up in the same place as heroes of the sport.

So, I ask you once again, will you let disappointment stop you from achieving your goals or will you be like Kurt Warner and keep going?

I still choose Kurt Warner.

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Getting Better

On Tuesday I did NOT want to work out. I spent the day with Dr. Amin and Dr. Branski at the NYU Voice Center watching them work with patients. It was fascinating, but I knew I had to leave there and hit the pool. I took my gym bag with me and headed to NYU’s Palladium. The facilities there are really nice. I love swimming in this pool.rp_primary_natatorium
I had an easy swim mostly consisting of short distance, higher zone intensity drills, so that was good. I felt good after and was happy that I didn’t come up with an excuse to skip it. I thought the week would get easier, but no.

Wednesday was biking and if I thought I wasn’t in the mood on Tuesday, I didn’t know what was coming on Wednesday. I just didn’t want to do it. It’s not that I’m not excited about my triathlon, but I just didn’t want to do anything on Wednesday. Well, I wanted to do anything but bike. I know that my body is tired at this point, so I have to attribute some of that to fatigue and not get to down on myself for wanting rest. But, I biked anyway. The weather was iffy, so I once again biked indoors at the gym. I really hate doing that, but it’s better than not doing it.

Luckily things got better yesterday! I had a 30 minute run planned. The goal of the workout was to run for 30 minutes and see how far you get so you have a sense of how well you are progressing towards race distance. I made it 2.5 miles in 28:00. I was so proud of myself! I ran outside for the first time. The weather is finally forgiving enough to do so, so I took advantage of it! I was so impressed I just couldn’t even stand it! I was running about a 14 minute mile when I started and I ran my first mile in 10:11 and my second mile in 10:58. That is something I never thought possible. I am so proud of my accomplishments so far in this journey. I’ve done things that I never thought I would do.

Yesterday was a big inspiration and I feel less lethargic and fatigued. I swam my 500m swim this morning in about 10:15. Another improvement from Sunday’s 11:53. These small victories are keeping me going. I can’t even imagine how much better I will be in 2.5 more weeks once I race in my triathlon. I’m excited to find out!
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Accomplishing Goals

Yesterday was a big workout for me. It was my first combo workout that included all three sports. I started with a 500m swim and was able to get it done in 11:53. This may not be a good time for some, but I was really happy with it. I was mostly happy that I made it without stopping! I then moved to the bike for a 50 minute bike ride. At this point I was running behind schedule and had to cut it a bit short because I had to go to work. Note to self: Allow more time for these combo workouts. I stopped my ride at 43:07 because that’s when I hit 10 miles. My race is 10 miles, so I thought this was a good place to stop so that I wasn’t late to work. I then started my 10 minute run. I’m running about a 12 minute mile right now, so in 10 minutes I made it .8 of a mile. I’m also really proud of the 12 minute mile. My asthma has always held me back when it comes to running. I was running about a 14 minute mile when I started, so shaving 2 minutes off is big progress.

My triathlon is three weeks from yesterday and I have to say that I actually feel like I’m going to be ready. I’m starting to get really excited about it. I’m going to try and stay really focused these next few weeks and try and not let football season and school get in the way mentally with what I’m doing. I’m starting to feel like I can actually do this and that’s a great feeling! A few months ago I would have never thought that I was able to accomplish the things I did yesterday. It’s so great to set goals for yourself and actually see yourself accomplish those goals.
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Weekend Update

Wow! What a weekend! I’ve fallen behind on blogging because my weekend was filled with so much excitement and adventure. I’ll break my weekend into three parts for you so you can skip the parts that might not interest you. Hopefully that won’t be the entire thing.

Part I: No Longer A Seahawk Virgin

Yep. I watched my first game as an official Seahawk fan, and to top it all off, my brother was the starting quarterback. Not a bad way to start off your weekend. I had a few friends over and we drank, ate and watched my brother do what he does best. I made cupcakes and was proudly sporting my new Seahawks shirt. My brother hasn’t bought my jersey for me yet. Hint, hint if you’re reading this Matt.
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My friends came over and watched with me, which really helps calm my nerves. I have good friends.
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I still get a kick out of seeing Matt on television. Can you tell?
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Yep, I took pictures of him on the screen. I’m officially as dorky as you thought I was.

I was really pleased with how well Matt played. Matt is a cerebral quarterback and plays the game that is in front of him. He can read a defense like nobody’s business. He’s not out to please the crowd or show off his arm strength. He’s there to move the football down the field with smart, accurate football. He wants to win games by helping his team put points on the board, not by being the hero. Of course, this is translated in the media as not having a strong arm and being too safe on the field. Frankly, the media makes me crazy and has always made me crazy. Somewhere along the way, someone decided Matt had a weak arm and now it’s all people talk about. Has anyone ever seen him miss a long throw in a game because of his lack of ability to throw the ball? Nope. It’s just something that the media clings to because it was said at one point in his career. Maybe he doesn’t throw as hard as some people, but that doesn’t automatically make him weak. When he played with JaMarcus Russell in college, of course he had a weaker arm than JaMarcus. So did everyone else on the planet. No one has every thrown a ball harder than JaMarcus Russell. Playing quarterback is not about being the best athlete on the field. It’s about being the best quarterback on the field, and there’s a lot more to that than athleticism.

End Soapbox.

Next week we play the Broncos and my brother has been given the opportunity to start again. I’m excited about him getting another week of starter reps. That does more good for him than anything else. Hopefully this quarterback competition will come to an end soon, and I hope that my brother proves the victor. He’s earned this. It’s his time.

Part II: A Trip To Cap Cod

Rob and I got up Sunday morning and took a two day getaway to Cap Cod. We were craving the beach and some time away from NYC, so this was the perfect fit. We had some amazing seafood. It started with unbelievable clam chowder with homemade cornbread from The Blue Eyed Crab in Plymouth, MA. It was the best clam chowder I’ve ever had. The clam was so fresh and it was perfectly balanced.
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I had a lobster roll because I love lobster rolls and I wasn’t disappointed. It was super light and fresh and the bun was just toasted enough to add a little bit of crunch. Yum!
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The next day, we headed out on an adventure. We decided to do some biking on the Cape Cod Rail Trail. We packed our backpacks and bikes and headed out. We biked about 9 miles to the beach and spent some time laying out and enjoying the water. The water was about 59 degrees so I didn’t venture too far out, but Rob loved it. It was seriously a beautiful day.
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We biked back and enjoyed another seafood feast for dinner. We headed home the next morning and stopped at a great place in Providence, RI called Olga’s Cup and Saucer. It was adorable and the food was delicious. I highly recommend it if you are passing through Providence. I had the Mayan Chicken Salad Sandwich and Rob had the Mozzarella and ham calzone. Yum! It was a delightful getaway filled with beaches and seafood. Two of my favorite things!

Part III: Training With A Crazy Schedule

I knew that my weekend was going to be crazy, so I headed to the gym first thing Saturday morning. I had a 30 minute workout on the books. 5 minute walk/run warmup, 20 minute run, and 5 minute walk cool down. I was worried about the 20 minute run, but I made it through. I was really proud of myself.

My original intention was to wake up early Sunday and get my combo workout in before heading out of town. Because the game was so late on the East Coast on Saturday night, I was way too tired to get up early. There was no way to make it happen. So, we headed to MA and I decided that I would take Sunday as my day off instead of Monday. I knew that we were going to be biking a lot on Monday, so I wanted to be fresh. This was a great opportunity to get more action with Taylor Dayne and see how she did with her tires freshly filled and on a new course. It was just what I needed. I finally felt like I got the hang of biking and particularly biking with Taylor. It’s taken me a while, but I did it! I now feel like I can bike well. We biked about 18 miles all together, which was a nice way to get more miles in on the bike.

We got home yesterday and after a long, stressful drive, I was in no mood for a workout. I decided that I wasn’t going to get behind though, so I put on my suit and headed out for my swim. When I got to the pool, it was jam packed. I mean, at least two people in every lane and two classes going on. I just couldn’t deal with it. Horrible attitude, I know, but I just couldn’t do it. So, I went home. I felt defeated and exhausted. I hate feeling both of those things.

I woke up this morning and was determined to play catch up. I headed straight to the pool and caught it at the perfect time. There was no one there! Amazing!! I did my swim and felt great. I headed home and rested for about an hour and then decided that it was time to catch up. Typically I bike for about an hour on Wednesday, but since I did logged serious miles on Monday, I decided that today I would do my missed workout from Sunday. It was my combo workout of biking and running. I nailed it. Seriously. I felt so good. I could have kept going on my run, but didn’t. I was worried about overdoing it, so I stopped.

I’m determined to stay on schedule from this point forward. Barring injury or illness, I should be able to make that happen. I have 25 days until my triathlon. I can’t afford to miss any workouts in this last home stretch. This weekend was a good test for what training will be like when I’m back in school in a few weeks. I really have to prioritize my training schedule into my life or I’ll find myself falling behind.
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Triathlon Newbie, Party of 1

Well, I feel like in idiot. Can I just remind everyone that I’ve never competed in a triathlon before and that this is all new to me. So, I’ve been struggling with my bike. If you have been reading my blog, you will remember my post about my first bike ride in Central Park and how frackin’ hard it was. So, I realized that my tires were a little low. I decided that this must be why I was having such a hard time on my bike. Sounds reasonable, right?

I headed to The BIke Stop in Astoria this morning to get a frame pump since I didn’t have one. I thought, “This way I can pump my tires before going out on my ride.” They are always super helpful there and they helped me pick one out that had a foot bar and a gauge. Pretty fancy for a frame pump. I headed back home to start pumping before heading to Central Park.

I’d like to have a word with bike accessory manufacturers please. Would it kill you to include an instruction manual? I mean, seriously! I get that you bikers are an elite breed of superhuman that don’t require eye contact or instruction manuals, but I could have used a little help. So I did the best I could and did manage to get a small amount of air into my tires. I probably would have been better of blowing into the tire, but I was determined to learn how to use my new fangled gadget. I headed to Central Park with Taylor Dayne (that’s my bike’s name). We were ready. I looked her in the eye and said, “I will make peace with you Taylor. I will learn to ride you well.” She didn’t respond. Typical.photo 3
It was a beautiful day for a ride, so I was feeling good.
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Things started off a little better. I noticed that my bike was riding much smoother, but as the ride continued, I started to feel the tires sinking. What the crap? After the hour I just spent trying to use my alien contraption to get more air in there? Seriously? After two laps (yes, this time I found the shorter path, thank you sweet baby Jesus) I had to head home. I stopped by my house and grabbed the air blower contraption and took it to The Bike Stop so they could solve this air-tire-alien-pumper-thing situation for me. They took one squeeze of my tires and said, “You have hardly any air in here!” Thank you Captain Obvious. They very kindly showed me how to use the frame pump and I realized just how low the tires actually were. Wow. Could I have been more dumb? No wonder it’s been so hard to ride. I’m lucky I didn’t’ damage my poor baby Taylor. I knew I was a better biker than this bike was allowing me to be. I hoped on the bike for half a block as I was headed home and it was a totally different bike. Thank you to the amazing staff at The Bike Shop in Astoria. If you live in the area, you should check them out. They are great.
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It’s taking me a while to figure out all the nuts and bolts of this triathlon business, but I’m getting there. I’m determined to be successful and learn as much as I can, even if it takes having a few idiot moments like riding your bike on almost empty tires. I will master the triathlon.
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Starting

Today something really big happened. Yes, I had a successful swim and run, but more importantly, my brother was officially given the nod to start this weekend for the Seahawks first preseason game. For those of you who don’t follow Seahawks football, he was picked up in the free agency to come in and potentially be the starter, but knew he was going to have to compete for the job. He’s been competing this last week against the incumbent QB and the new rookie. It’s been difficult because he’s had to share reps with the other guys and that makes it hard on all of them. Luckily Matt is great at taking mental reps and keeping his head in the game all the time no matter who has the ball. He’s a hard worker both mentally and physically and his hard work is paying off.

He gets to start this weekend, but more importantly, he gets the first string reps for the rest of the week. Taking reps with the starters for three days in a row will be like manna from heaven. Who knows what will happen after Saturday, but I am living in this glorious moment for now. He’s the starter!

The news broke on twitter first, but it was only moments before this came across my phone. What a beautiful site! (Note the picture of me with my sister and two brothers in the background.)
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So, on Saturday night during the game my apartment will be filled with my dearest friends offering me support as I enter this new era in my life. My apartment will also be filled with whiskey and vodka offering me support as I enter this new era in my life. Both are equally important.
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Rainy Days and Mondays...

No matter what Karen Carpenter says, I love Mondays right now and they definitely don’t get me down. They are my day off from training and I love it. It gives me an excuse to sit on the couch in my pajamas and flip between the NFL Network and the Olympics all day long. This might be my favorite activity of all time.

This weekend presented both major inspiration and challenges. I had trouble sleeping Friday night and was up around 3:15. I knew that the women’s triathlon came on at 4am, so I decided to stay up and watch. I’m so glad I did! It was really inspirational. Those women are amazing athletes with better endurance than I’ve ever seen. It was incredible watching them work so hard and let nothing stand in their way. There were falls on the biking portion that left some really nasty bruises and cuts, but they kept going. I even saw the American Gwen Jorgensen actually ride her bike over the midsection of a fallen rider. Women’s Triathlon: Take No Prisoners. The Americans Laura Bennet and Sarah Groff were really incredible. Laura was in the lead for the first part of the race, but couldn’t hold on. Sarah played it a bit safer. She stayed towards the front most of the time, but pushed herself into the leader pack towards the end and was so close to a medal! Probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in an Olympic sport happened towards the end of the race. After 2+ hours of swimming, biking, and running, these women had it in them to start sprinting towards the finish!! I mean, look at them! They are running for their lives like they haven’t just been racing for two hours.
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They were so close that it came down to a photo finish. It took them a good 10 minutes to determine the winner. It was ultimately Spirig from Switzerland who got her toe across the line a few cms before Norden from Sweden.
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I mean, wow. What inspiration that was. I’m so glad I watched. Sarah Groff was so close and even though it’s really frustrating to get 4th place in the Olympics, she’s only 30 and I foresee her taking a medal at the next Olympics!

Saturday got away from me and I missed my workout. I was devastated. So, I decided that I wasn’t going to let it get me down or throw my training off. I woke up early on Sunday and did my run workout that I missed on Saturday. Then I went back to the gym Sunday evening and did my scheduled Sunday workout. Yes! I was so proud of myself for doing that. It would have been so easy to miss the second workout after going to brunch with my friends and then watching a movie. Typical lazy Sunday. But, I wasn’t going to let that happen!

The Sunday workout was particularly important because it was my first combination workout. The workout consisted of a 30 minute bike ride and then a quick transition into a 10 minute run. I did it! It was easy! I pushed through any sort of asthma issues I was having to make it through the run. It was the best way to cap off what was an excellent week of training. It’s the best feeling to feel accomplished and feel like I’m getting better at this. I may be able to pull this triathlon business off after all.
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Mental Toughness

I am going to start off by saying welcome to my new blog followers. So if you are one of them, welcome! It’s amazing what happens when your best-friend-forever Warren Moon retweets you. I’ll buy him an ice cream sundae next time I see him. And by next time I mean first time because we’ve never met.

I started this blog last month to chronicle my attempt at a triathlon in September. So far, so good. Once again I struggled less with my swim today. This is great news! I ran easy yesterday and swam easy today. Maybe I’ll be able to pull of this triathlon business after all. Who knew!

Joe Friel talks a lot about mental toughness and wellness as being an essential part of your triathlon training. I’ve spent A LOT of time around athletes and I can say that your mental state really does separate the men from the boys (or women from the girls to be politically correct). It’s so important to stay tough mentally in order to be on top of your game. I’m finding this particularly true with endurance sports. I’ve never been good at endurance. I mean, I get winded walking up my third floor walkup. I used to pat myself on the back if I made it 15 minutes on the elliptical. I mean, I’ve really always sucked at endurance. This is one of the things that is so challenging with my training: pushing myself into endurance. I find that my mental state has a lot to do with whether or not I can make it through a workout. Can I push for the last few minutes of my workout? Can I swim another 50m? Yes! I can! I have to find ways to stay motivated.

I think of two things that I find inspiring, and not surprisingly, they are both family members. I think of my older brother Adam who is a normal dude who pushed himself and has competed in a few triathlons. If he can find time to train everyday between running his business, making rounds as a doctor, and tending to his four children, then I have no excuse. Here he is competing in his last his last triathlon. (I also wrote more about him in my first post, so scroll down for that)
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I also find the mental toughness and discipline of my younger brother is pretty amazing. He handles pressure better than anyone I know. He is always calm and collected especially when it matters the most. He has always been disciplined and focused on his NFL goal for many, many years. I look to him as the prime example of mental toughness and discipline. If I can find an ounce of that inside me, I just might make it!
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Easy Peasy

Guess what! I had an easy workout! It was my first and I feel like this was a huge accomplishment. Running is my weakest part of the triathlon. I have asthma and while it is under control with my medicine, I’ve always struggled with endurance. This has always made running really hard. But, today I didn’t struggle with my running. I can’t tell you how good this felt. I wanted to keep going on the treadmill, but I stopped when I was supposed to. I didn’t want to overdo it.

I should also say that I’m really sore! I’ve made it through the first few weeks with no soreness and now I’m crazy sore. What gives? After my swim earlier this week, my triceps have been burning. I did a sprint workout this week and my quads and groin are tight. This makes getting up in the morning and getting my workout in really hard, but I’m digging deep and finding the motivation to do it. I just find it odd that I’ve not been sore until now. Maybe I’m starting to kick my workouts into a higher gear? Either way, the workout are finally getting easier and I’m really grateful for that!
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