Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Happy 26th Anniversary...

Twenty six years ago to the day I did an Olympic Distance triathlon in the morning and got married in the afternoon.

Starting off as High School Sweethearts and dating for 6 years we decided to get married. Which means if we counted dating years we've been together 32 years. We've only been apart 16 years of the  48 years we've been on the planet.

People ask what is the key to a successful and long marriage. I can give many answers yet the only one that keeps coming back is "Alice".

There is pretty much no other women on the planet that I know of that could handle me in any way. I had one friend tell me that once men get married their wives neuter them. I've seen it many times myself. They go from being their own person to having to check with the wife on everything.

In my case I've retained my sense of selfishness. If I want to do something I do it. It's the decide first and explain later.

From day one Alice knew what she was getting into, we dated for 6 years and lived together for at least 2 years. She saw all my "warts and pimples" but metaphorically and literally.

To be married to me you need to be super secure. For business I've travelled most of my life and when doing Ironman's I train up to 22 hours per week. There is lots of alone time. When I'm there there is also lots of adventure, fun, madness and laughs. Sometimes tears if I have to much to drink and start feeling sorry for myself at 2 am in the Pig & Whistle.

Looking back I do have regrets. If I was to do it all over again I wouldn't have taken my career so seriously and I would have put family first. Instead work was number one priority and all decisions were made based on my chasing the American dream.

I think back and I can remember many work circumstances and yet I can't remember many family special moments. Like Alyssa and Reid taking their first steps. Either I was there and didn't remember or I wasn't there or didn't think it a big enough priority to remember or feel bad. I do know when I was there I was often thinking about work.

Don't get me wrong we've had lots of good family time and vacations, it wasn't totally one sided. Although mentally I was often somewhere else.

The reason we are still married 26 years is because of Alice. I probably would have left me looking back. I was so focused on career and now I look back and think how foolish I was. I remember working early mornings, late nights and weekends for years and years as the kids were born and younger. I miss a lot or if I didn't miss it, like a school play, it was an in and out and back to work.

If I could turn back the hands of time I would. I can't. So the only thing I can do is learn from my past and adjust for the future. It's really been within this last year that I've had these epiphanies.

Many people I know don't look in the rear view mirror and many will say there is no value in looking in the rear view mirror. I disagree. I think looking in the rear view mirror is important and living in the rear view mirror is detrimental.

I've often said that people who do Ironman's have issues. People laugh at it and yet it's 100% true. As an Ironman we have demons that drive us. I know it's true in my case. Same with career I was motivated to succeed. I worked full time summers since I was 13 years old, which is another regret I have in that I didn't get to enjoy my summers when I was young. It wasn't my parents choice it was mine.

Looking back my motivation is to prove people wrong and show people I was just as good as them if not better. My whole life I was told I wasn't good enough, or didn't apply myself in school, or I didn't finish what I started and the list goes on and on.

My first Ironman I did to prove to myself I could finish something. I used to join teams and clubs and drop out all the time. Ironman Canada in 1987 was the first time I started something and finished it other than high school football. From that point forward I never started and didn't finish anything ever again.

Career wise I was motivated to prove all the teachers and classmates that questioned my abilities. I wasn't the best student, other than one year that I tried in a public school and got an award for the highest marks in History and Physcology. For most of my school career my goal was 50%. My son follows the same principal. I hated school and totally understand my son's thinking it's the equivalent to prison. I thought the same thing.

For my entire school career every teacher gave my parents the same talk during parent teacher interviews. "Bryan has the ability if he would just apply himself".

I graduated, well kind of, from a Jesuit Boy's School and was as far as I can tell the only one out of the graduating class that did not go on to post secondary. I couldn't torture myself doing another 4 years of school. I say kind of graduated because I was one credit short and when my younger sister of 6 years was about to graduate I went to summer school in my 20's to get my high school diploma.

Being ridiculed and told I was stupid motivated me to drive hard and succeed in business and prove the others wrong. To me school was a fantasy world and business was the real world.

The other motivation for me was to not lie. As a kid we all lie. I'd tell lies to someone I didn't know that I was on the honour role, not true. There would be other little lies to build yourself up in the eyes of others.

I decided when I left school and got into business I wasn't going to lie ever again and accept who I was and be proud of it. That' trait has really helped me as a leader because people may not agree with me or my style but they know that I'm not a bullshitter.

So one would look back and think "well Bryan you made some really great choices and look where you are now?"

There is some truth to that, however, all my motivations have been geared towards "me" and I'd do the bare minimum to still be a decent husband and father.

As I look in my life's rear view mirror at the age of 48 I look back at the last 24 years after starting my first real business and think of how much I missed with family and how I thought my customers, employees and associates were more important.

Now I think with a 48 year old perspective and realize that if I'm lucky I might have another 24 years left. That would put me at 72 years old. I know how fast 24 years can go by and as you get older the years tend to fly by.

I ask myself what the next 24 years is going to look like? What do I want to make them look like? What should they look like?

The one think I'm truly thankful for and blessed with is that Alice is still by my side. It could be worse, I could be looking in the rear view mirror and having the big regret that I lost the love of my life and my kids by being so focused on myself and my interests.

Some of the things I've learned over the years that is helping me prepare for the future is that people don't think like me. When I was younger I figured it was obvious what was the right direction and the right thing to do and most people agreed. That's not the case. In fact if I was to guess I'd say 5 - 10% of the people out there think like me.

Another is other than family and those rare true friends no one cares about you. No matter how good you are to your customers or employees or associates they don't care about you. They might think they do but they don't. I've always cared about personal relationships, business or not and always felt if we were at war you could rely on me in that foxhole. I've come to learn most people don't share that philosophy and often look to others as a means to an end.

People lie and present themselves differently than who they are. I've often told the kids to look across the street to our neighbours and believe it or not one of them is probably beating his wife. Or you see a super tough buyer making your life miserable and when you met him with his wife she owns him. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. I see that with people all the time they present themselves one way and when push comes to shove they don't walk the talk.

The only group of people I've met in my life that I can count on are Ironman triathletes. There is something in them that makes them mentally tough and secure. You can't mail in the training or fake it. I can't even imagine an Ironman being a serial killer, they are not weak enough mentally. The one thing I love about the Ironman brother hood is they have integrity.

What I really respect about some of them is how they balance Ironman, Career and Family and so all well. Especially multiple Ironman finishers. That is no small task and very few can do it.

So I look back and it's our 26th wedding anniversary which is surreal. On one level it seems like yesterday and on another is seems like a lifetime ago. I'm definitely not the same person I was when I got married, I like to think I'm much wiser from my past experiences.

If I was to do it over again what would I do?

1. Only work a regular work day and odd weekend. Once you start putting in more than 8 hours a day and start working weekends you lose perspective.

2. Be there 100% in mind during anything family related. Like school plays, birthdays and vacations.

3. Don't think customers, employees and associates are your friends. Don't mistake church friendly for friendship. In most cases you are just a means to an end.

4. Don't live your life caring what people think. Don't ruminate on it. Don't make your choices based on being liked or how you want them to perceive you.

5. Understand it's okay to quit if you're not happy. Don't believe the key to success is perseverance. That's a slogan. Quiting and moving on if your not happy is fine. Go back to the rule "don't care what people think". Personally I think it takes more guts to quit than it does to stick it out.

In short, live is short. Enjoy. Be happy. Live with no regrets. Family is family and the only people that care about you.

I believe the only time regrets count is when you are on your death bed. That's the moment you can't reverse them. I have many regrets at this stage of my life. The difference is I have the ability to learn from them and correct them moving forward. If I can do that then in my books, "All's well that end's well".

For me the reason I'm not going to do anymore Ironman races after Ironman Boulder is because I'm coming to terms with my issues and resolving them. I'm not driven by the same motivations.

They are also HARD. Not only is the race hard the training is even harder. Forcing yourself out the door to do a 6 - 7 hour bike ride and a 2 - 3 hour run every weekend is no longer becoming fun to me. My past motivations and issues that have changed and what got me out the door in the past are no longer as strong or there at all.

I'm glad I'm committed to raise money for Doctors without Borders. Right now that is my motivation to get out the door and train. My other motivation is to make my last Ironman as painless as possible and if you show up not in shape or fat you are going to pay the price. My biggest dread is pulling off a 14 hour plus Ironman and having to walk the Run. I just want to finish the race as soon as possible so the pain stops as soon as possible. I've done 14 hours before when I was 23, it's brutal. I showed up virtually untrained.

In the past I've always felt awkward and obligated to give money to those I know that were raising money for charity. I don't any more. It's not like I'm Morman and set aside 10% of my income for charity. I, like most have no plan or I give when people come to the door. Now my plan is I give when my friends and family ask. It's my charity plan. Now the secret is out.

The one thing with Ironman's is it seems so romantic when you sign up for one. And you brag for a year you are going to do it and then when it comes it's so damn hard you wonder what you were thinking. The only thing I equate it to is a women having a baby and then joy of talking about it until they are down to the final weeks and then the pain in the delivery room. Then of course, like an Ironman, they soon forget how hard it was and do it all over again.

Today's training was kind of a homage to our wedding. The morning of our wedding I did an Olympic Triathlon so I did three training sessions today, weights, swim and bike and I didn't mail in any of them, except the swim. I hate swimming and my arms were sore from doing the weights right before.

I'm pushing crazy weight and the speed bike I did today was one of the best I've done in a long time. I was dripping sweat. I loved it. I took a picture after and it's one of my all time favourite pictures. The last one I loved was when I was going so hard to make it to Kona (which I did) that there was snot coming down my face like a bull.

The one good thing about doing speed work is the recovery and warm up and warm down is so enjoyable. You enjoy it more as you know what the pain of intervals is like. It was also beautiful going through my favourite road area in the escarpment on Britannia in between Cedar Springs and Guelph. It's like a canopy of trees and so peaceful.

To me today was a perfect day. Not only did I get in over 3 hours of training, Alice and I went for an early dinner. We ran some errands, picking up new runners for me. My old ones are just trashed. Never before have I worn off the rubber of the bottoms. I'm thinking I haven't changed shoes for 2 years or more. People saying you need to change your shoes every 400 miles are crazy. That's a ploy from the shoe companies and it's been proven that the more spongy the shoes the more likely hood of injury.

What injured me was the $190 price tag for the shoes. I normally buy them online for $85 and just didn't have the time to order and weight this time around. What a rip off for shoes in Canada versus online in the United States.

We also picked up a battery for my speedometer and a pole and stand I had welded for the parking meter I bought for the Pig & Whistle. Another man cave speciality. I have it along with drive in movie speakers. I'm building a heck of a museum down there. Only thing I realized I need is a rotary old school phone.

Diet wise I BLEW it today. I was doing so well on my 1000 calories or less diet for one day. Then we go for dinner. I do well with a salad. Then few beers. Then get back home and have some more beers and then lose control and eat popcorn, Doritos, Snickers bar, ribs and potato chips. I weighted in today at 200 lbs on the nose and tomorrow might have been the day to get into the 190's. Will have to wait. Although I am firming up for sure. Body is not looking as fat and blubbery.

Weights - 50 minutes
Swim - 50:49 / 2196 meters
Bike - 1:31:12 / 38.4 km

P.S.Looking for all the support I could get as I fundraise for Doctors without Borders. Big our small donations welcome. Support a great cause.

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