[caption id="attachment_8295" align="alignright" width="225"]mind games - control - triathlon - ironman Control The Mind.....Not The Other Way Around[/caption] Mind games are going to happen when you race an Ironman and is, what I believe, to be the difference between people of similar ability.  Your thought process is going to swing all over the place during an Ironman but playing mind games and controlling what you are thinking of will help you tremendously in accomplishing this monstrous feat.  If you think about how many thoughts you have on a typical day at work then add in the pain and struggle of exercising for 10-17 hours straight and you can begin to see where an Ironman race is won or lost.  When I refer to won or lost I am referring to your personal goals and not necessarily an age grouper who can finish in 12 hours coming across one day and beating Craig Alexander.  The race is between you and yourself and always will be.  If you beat yourself you'll beat others. Often, I am asked the question: Do you think anybody can do an Ironman?  My answer is a resounding yes.  I believe anybody can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles consecutively but whether they can brave the training and RACE an Ironman is a different thing.  When you break down the race and the three portions that make it up you do not have to move fast (that is a relative term depending on your ability) to complete the distances.  Here is a break down of the time allotted to each discipline and the average pace at which you have to move to accomplish finishing an Ironman in 17 hours:
  • Swim: You have 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 2.4 mile swim.  I swam what was the worst time of any of the Ironman races I have competed in at Ironman Texas 2013 with a time of 1 hour 48 minutes 59 seconds or a pace of 2:49/100 meters.  If you took up the entire time before they stopped you from racing you would have to swim at a pace of 3:37/100m.  This is not a pace that is unsustainable for a lot of people.  Yes some people don't make the swim cut-off but I don't believe it is because they are not capable of this pace, but more than likely the result of anxiety or an issue in the water that caused them to swim at a pace that would not allow them to continue.
  • Bike: On the bike you have 8 hours to travel 112 miles.  If you break this down into a miles per hour reading you would have to average 13.4 mph to finish in 8 hours.  Again this is not an impossible task if you have trained properly for the race.  If you just decided that you were going to hop on a bike and compete at a 140.6 distance race then yes it would be very difficult.
  • Run: The marathon may be the most daunting portion of this because a stand-alone marathon is hard enough but having to do one after you have swam 2.4 miles and cycled 112 miles makes it seem that much harder.  The difference between a stand-alone marathon and one at the end of an Ironman is that you are not racing in Zone 4 for 3 hours but instead working that steady burn in Zones 2 and 3.  In order to finish before the 17 hour mark you have based on the two scenarios of a 2:20 swim and 8:00 bike with 10 minutes in T1 and T2 combined, you will have 6 hours and 30 minutes.  At a pace of 14:53/mi or what you probably average if you walked the entire course you would be able to cross the finish line and call yourself an Ironman.
When you look at these paces it doesn't seem as daunting does it?  Can you do those things?  I say yes, but the difference between finishing in 17 hours and thinking that you can't is what takes place during training as well as during the race and it isn't in your legs.  The muscle that you are going to work the hardest during training and racing is the brain.  The brain will play mind games and tell you that you can't.  On rainy days, on cold days, on snowy days, on a Tuesday the brain will say stay in bed.  Staying in bed is not an option if you want to be called an Ironman and so you have to fire back and play mind games yourself. Another question I am often asked is why continue to race Ironman Texas or 70.3 Puerto Rico where the temperatures are like being on the sun and the humidity makes breathing seem like you are swallowing pea soup on every breath.  My answer is I am willing to suffer more than the next person.  I enjoy the ability to race in these conditions and it is because I know that others are not willing to do it.  I play mind games with myself that it isn't that bad and that I can push harder especially when I know that the person I am passing is thinking: What the f*ck is that guy doing? This year at IMTX the temps were in the mid-90s with a heat index over 100*.  Throughout the run I was given a you look great.  Awesome pace.  Keep up the great work.  That motivated me to keep going and those comments would get locked into a vault and when I felt like I couldn't take another step I would pull one out and think: what if that same person saw you now?  Get going.  Mind games are that simple to play.  Think about hunting down the next person with a number on their calf that is in your age group.  Nobody within eyesight?  Make them up.  Do whatever it is you need to do to keep moving and avoid walking.  The simples way to do this is to go into the race with a very well-studied strategy.  Since Ironman races don't always go according to your strategy you will have to adjust on the fly and this is where the mind games happen. I remember on the third lap that I was starting to have severe foot pain but I also knew that there was a corner with music playing and people cheering loudly. I made the decision that I was going to dance at that corner if for nothing more than to get a bunch of screams and high-fives.  Those cheers were going to lift me up and move me past the pain in my foot and I was proven correct.  Once I got past that point my paces picked up and the pain in my foot disappeared. The biggest mind game I am playing today is the 'get comfortable with the uncomfortable.'  As you read in my post about meditation I have high anxiety when it comes to the swim.  Swimming the 2.4 miles is not something I am afraid of, but rather the treading of water.  Sitting there waiting and waiting and then the thrashing and thrashing and my heart rate climbs into an anaerobic state.  This has a domino effect on my ability to push on the bike and run and so I am doing what I can to make sure that the anxiety is not negative at the start of the race but instead turned into adrenaline that can be used for good.  Visualizing a calm and efficient start.  Seeing my wife's face so that I can bring my heart rate into a steady zone.  All of these things are going into play because I know I can swim a 1:15 but will my mind allow me to is the question.  My answer is yes and I will overcome my mind by tricking it into believing that the uncomfortable is comfortable. At some point during an Ironman, or any race for that matter, you will have a conversation with yourself.  Your ability to respond and take your game to the next level is what is going to allow you to push to the finish line.  Conquer your fears and fight the demons that will undoubtedly show up.

Do You Play Mind Games?

Are You Willing To Do What Others Won't?

Published in Race
Instagram is at the top of the list of daily enjoyments for me.  When I first started using Instagram I was looking for inspiration and motivation for the kitchen.  99.9% of my pictures are of meals I have created.  The reason for this is to showcase that making delicious and healthy meals does not take a Culinary Institute Of America trained chef, nor does it take a lot of fancy ingredients.  I like to make my meals simple and tasty, thus the hashtags #KeepItSimple and #KeepItTasty.  No reason to cloud the flavor of the ingredients in your meal with items that don't enhance the flavor of the dish nor have a purpose. Along the way instagram took on a different role in my daily life.  The inspiration and motivation was still there but the unintentional comedy rose to new levels.  Before I discuss the pictures that are my favorite let me say that I love laughing and these pictures help to take the stress away from life even if for a few moments.  If you are on Instagram then I think you can agree with these pics in that they make you chuckle when you are scrolling through the pictures on your iPhone or iPad.

Top 6 Reasons I Go To Instagram Daily

The Artist At The Coffee Shop Pictures We have all seen these pics. The one where the barista, do they only call them that at Starbuck's?, decided that they were either bored or a starving artist and turns your cappuccino into a canvas.  You see the heart shapes all the time but I have never seen one of a face or of an animal.  These pictures always make me laugh because I can envision the person order their cappuccino with the hopes of tasting that steamed milk and hot coffee and easing their stress and outcomes a heart.  Who does the barista decide gets the heart?  Why does the person on Instagram decide that another picture of milk in the shape of a heart is something to be posted.  We get it.  Coffee as art.  Let's move on! [caption id="attachment_8190" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Instagram - Coffee - Pictures The Artist At The Coffee Shop[/caption] Quest Bar Pictures I am not sure when the Quest Bar became the face of healthy eating but if you visit a healthy feed there is almost assuredly a picture of a Quest Bar.  And it isn't enough to just be a Quest Bar but this product has been chopped and put into cookies and cakes, broken up and tossed into yogurt and so many other variations of its use that this post would be too long.  I have never had a Quest Bar and most likely never will so I cannot comment on the taste.  Why do the Instagram pictures make me laugh?  They are everywhere and you cannot go a day without seeing a picture of them. [caption id="attachment_8194" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Instagram - Quest Bar - Pictures Quest Bar In All Its Glory[/caption] Starbuck's I mentioned the pictures of coffee barista artists up above but a day cannot go by without pictures of cups of Starbuck's.  They may be just the outside of the cup, they may be the inside of the cup.  I have even seen pictures of the inside of the Starbuck's.  I see them and I think to myself: you purchased a Starbuck's coffee and at some point between paying and drinking you decided you need to photograph it but did you taste it first?  Did you sit down and talk with your friends and stop the conversation to take the picture?  I have a lot of thoughts float through my head and I laugh because I am putting a conversation together that most likely is not taking place but in my mind it is and it is hilarious. [caption id="attachment_8197" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Instagram - Starbucks - Pictures The Starbuck's Logo Is Daily Occurence[/caption] Mug Cake This is my third favorite picture on Instagram .  I am not sure why it cracks me up when I see them but they do.  I guess on the inside I am thinking to myself: when you cannot bake use the microwave.  Maybe secretly I want to make mug cake.  I'm not sure, but I am certain that when the pictures on the Instagram show up I laugh from the gut.  I can say that I have seen some wonderful mug cake creations like the molten chocolate mug cake.  That is incredible in my mind, but the old I poured 1 egg, protein powder and whatever else and voila I 'baked' a Protein Mug Cake just cracks me up. [caption id="attachment_8192" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Instagram - Mug Cake - Pictures Mug Cake Bakers[/caption] Green Smoothies These just kill me.  They are on Instagram in droves and they make me laugh because my thought is:  Wow, you know how to use your blender.  It is a cooking snark of course, but how many pictures of green smoothies can one person see before thinking: awesome, now try cooking those greens in a different form or fashion.  I know that smoothies are fast and I make them as well, but when I do make them I don't share them with Instgram because I didn't do anything other than adding water, vegetables and fruit to my blender.  I want my Instagram feed to be inspiring and motivating to get people into the kitchen to cook but that being said if a green smoothies gets somebody started on the path to health then I am all for it.  Let me be clear and say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with green smoothies or smoothies in general it is just when you see 20-50 green smoothie pictures per day you have to just laugh. [caption id="attachment_8191" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Instagram - Green Smoothies - Pictures Green Smoothies AT Starbuck's......Double Laugh![/caption] Seflies Before, During Or After Workouts These are my all time favorite.  The picture of the flex pose is the best, but today I am presenting my friend Marlene of Mission To A(nother) Marathon because her selfies have me just about hyperventilating.  I love when she posts pictures of herself from the bathroom at her office after a sweaty ride or run and her face tells the whole story.  My favorite picture of Marlene is in her swim goggles as she looks like those dudes in Despicable Me and hence my nickname for her is Despicable Marlene.  Selfies are the gift that keeps on giving because you know you will see dozens of them at any given time and one is just funnier than the other.  Do you wait until the bathroom is clear to take the pic?  Do you not care if the bathroom is crowded? [caption id="attachment_8198" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Instagram - Selfies - Pictures Selfies, Especially Of Marlene Are Hilarious[/caption] These 6 reasons are why Instagram will always have a place in my daily routine.  How you cannot laugh at some of the stuff you see on Instagram is beyond me.  There is a ton of inspiration and motivation, like the 21 Day Sugar Detox I will be posting about on Monday, but some are comical as well.  I truly enjoy following the people in my feed to generate creative ideas for cooking, to get me out to the gym and to make me laugh.

Are You On Instagram ?  What Is Your Account Name?

What Is Your Favorite Part Of Instagram Or Any Social Media?

Published in Train
Monday, 29 October 2012 20:40

Ironman Arizona Update

[caption id="attachment_6664" align="alignright" width="276"]IMAZ_ironmanarizona_triathlon_140.6 Source: My Running Doc[/caption] An Ironman Arizona update is long overdue.  I thought about this post yesterday for quite some time and how our bodies go through the ups and downs of training, but more so our minds.  Our bodies will move as long as our minds tell us to and whether it is faster or slower than we want to go the process all begins between the ears. This training cycle has been mostly positive.  With the experience of having just gone through one cycle for Ironman Texas I knew what I had to do to have a successful trip around the training calendar this time.  I knew that if I was to run for 1 hour that if I got to the end of my loop in 58:29 I did not have to do the remaining 1:31 to fully realize my potential.  This training cycle was going to be a smart one.  One where I did not fall asleep on the couch at 8:00p EVERY single night (even on rest days.) So as the weeks ticked off the calendar and I was staying up past the witching hour of 8pm and even up to 10pm I was feeling great.  That is until the peak weeks hit. For the past three weeks my training has looked like this in terms of hours and minutes: 22:36; 20:08; 22:29 and the week prior to that was 16:37 and only because I raced the US Open Championships that week otherwise a 20 hour week would have been in order.  Peak week training is a bitch.  Every fiber of your being hates waking up, hates training and mostly craves sleep and carbs. I would get up and go to the gym to swim and lift and could not wait to get out of there.  I would get on the trainer in my garage and spend 20 minutes going through Netflix just to watch something to keep me occupied for the next 2-3 hours.  Running was my saving grace.  It was my way of getting out of the gym and off the bike, but there were days when intervals were scheduled.....and those hurt.  They hurt bad.  You just couldn't wait for them to be over no matter how long they were (mile repeats, 800s, 400s.....didn't matter.) Then this past Friday I was heading to the lake for my Friday open water swim of 2 miles.  Thursday night a cold front moved in and it was about 45* on Friday morning, but worse than that the winds were howling.  We had sustained winds of 24 mph and when I got to the lake and saw the water crashing ashore I thought twice about getting into the water as safety was the only thought I had.  When my swim training partner showed up we chatted for about 10 minutes about it and we both decided to call it a day and not go in the water.  For the first time in a few months I was taking a rest day (not really as I had gone to the gym to lift and do core work prior) and it was going to be glorious.  I ate and lounged and worked and did not feel exhausted. This Saturday I got on the trainer for a 6 hour tour of my bedroom.  I layered up the clothes and made sure no fan was on.  The heat would kick on and I was going to sweat and sweat I did.  I was pedaling as if this was my last ride forever.  I was ticking up sub-3:00 miles and smiling.  I was practicing my fueling and hydration all the while watching Food Network, Cooking Channel, CNN, ESPN, NFL Network and sending out Tweets and Facebook posts.  It was going great even for a 6 hour trainer ride.  In case you are wondering it was 34* when I woke up on Saturday morning and there was no way I was going to suffer through 6 hours in the bitter cold. Once the ride was over I laced up my sneakers and out the door for a one hour - lactate threshold run.  I had laid out a course that I would run on Sunday that should take me about an hour.  Once I started running I felt great.  The first mile went by and my Garmin said 7:20.  WTF?  I was on cruise control and not breathing heavy and the 2nd mile showed 7:10.....huh?  Before I knew it I was back at my front door in under an hour and had covered 7.85 miles.  I was on cloud 9 and barged through the door hootering and a hollering about how ready I was for Arizona.  A rest day does wonders for the body. Sunday was a 22 mile run and I just nailed it.  I setup a 7.3 mile loop with the approximate elevation of Ironman Arizona.  I also setup a water station at mile 2.6, 5.1 and 7.3.  I would stop here and take a sip of water and walk for 10 seconds just like IMAZ.  This was going to be my test run before the big day.  I carried a HoneyStinger in my sleeve and a bottle of EFS Kona Mocha with me.  I would get all my calories and water without having to carry too much.....just as I plan to do in Tempe.  I ran the first loop in 1:06, the 2nd loop in 1:05 and the third loop in 1:03.  I got faster as the miles clicked off and my heart rate was never too elevated.  I knew that I was ready and the pain and torture of peak cycle had ended. My mind only knows the ups of this training cycle.  The ideas that were in my head during those 4 peak weeks are a distant memory, one to not be remembered until they come around again for Ironman Texas. Similar to the stock market with its ups and downs and corrections this Ironman training cycle has not only lifted me up but slammed me down.  It has shown me I have what it takes to be faster, but also made me question why I was doing it in the first place.  It has proven to me that I can get faster even when I don't think I can, but it has also slowed me down when I needed to.  When I cross the finish line on November 18 I will look back at this weekend as the one that was the perfect training session, but in reality it has been every single workout on every single day with the proper recovery that will have gotten me to that point. Ironman training has its ups and downs for sure, but in the end it will end on a high note because of who I have become through these days, weeks and months.
Published in Train
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 15:49

What's Your Motivation?

[caption id="attachment_6629" align="alignright" width="271"]triathlon_motivation_inspiration_ironman Source: CK-MultiSport Coaching[/caption] Motivation is a word that gets thrown around quite a bit?  I am motivated to run.  I am not motivated to run.  Where did my motivation go?  I am a very self-motivated person and a lot of that comes from my competitiveness.  I am always trying to improve my standing against myself.  Last month I had 5 sales this month I want 6.  It is almost never-ending regardless of what I am talking about.  I know it drives my wife crazy and it is also how I can relate to a guy like Roger Clemens (competitor not drug user) when reports are that he brushed his wife back in a wiffle ball game.  I get it....I may not do it but I get it. Right now I am in the midst of peak training for Ironman Arizona and getting up in the morning is getting harder and harder.  The workouts are getting harder and they are getting longer.  The mental push to sustain this lifestyle through peak training can be hard.  Who am I kidding?  It is downright crazy someday.  There are days when that alarm goes off and all I want to do is say F U World I am laying here, but then one of two things happens.  Karen finally gets angry that I have hit the snooze button for the 10th time and tells me to get up or I turned the alarm off and she pushes me out of the bed and tells me to get going. At that point I am walking around the bedroom and the bathroom like a drunk on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras.  I have no clue what time it is or where I am at but I know some form of exercise is coming.  As I get on the trainer for the 3rd time this week (this is true) or I pack my swim bag for 4000+ yards of swimming I start talking to myself about what I am going to do.  For example, today's workout was 1:30 on the trainer with 8x5min at Anaerobic Threshold with 1 min Recovery followed by 30 minutes of running at a steady anaerobic threshold.  HOLY SHIT!  Uhh.....Coach I'd like to make it to Arizona ALIVE! Once I got on the bike I started pedaling and my legs felt alright but I was just warming up and after 20 minutes I would start my sets.  I got engrossed in a terrible movie and when the sets started I hardly noticed the pain in my legs, that is until the last 3 sets.  It was at that point that I could have punched babies and started thinking about the run.  30 minutes anaerobic threshold just means run really fast for as long as you can, but wait it says steady.  Ok, so pull back a bit so that you stay steady but wait that wouldn't be AT.  My motivation for this run was starting to slip. At first I wanted to tie my record for running 4 miles off the bike in 30 minutes that I had set over two years ago and had not matched until yesterday when I ran 4.14 miles off the bike (yesterday's set was a steady 1 hour at Half-Ironman pace or 20+ mph).  I had my motivation for this run but then my legs started to really hurt.  Combination of a year-long of Ironman training, 5am start and just the volume from last week (23 hours of training.)  I was done and if I ran a 9 minute per mile pace I would know that it would hurt and that it would be pushing it at that point. Thing is I had sent a text to my coach a few weeks ago when she asked me how I was feeling.  I told her that I felt good (not great) and that I came to a realization.  It was going to hurt no matter what pace I went at and this was for swim, bike or run.  So why not just do it as fast as you can and the pain would go away faster.  Logical wouldn't you say? So when I started running I decided I was going to run not only hard but run a harder course than I ran yesterday.  I was going to prove I had a lot left in my tank to not only do the interval set, but also capture the 4 mile flag.  I was determined and I was going to do it.  All the sudden, Mr Motivation was back and all it took was a memory.  A memory lit my competitive fire inside me and off I went.  I hit that first mile at 7:26 and I thought that this was going to be a close call since I know that 7:30/mile would equal 4 miles in 30 minutes.  Second mile was 7:27 and I actually felt good even though I was breathing so heavy.  I was pumping my arms and legs going up every hill I could find.  This was not going to be a 4 mile run around a track.  My thought at this point was that if the training was extremely hard than the race would be cake. When I saw the 30:00 on the Garmin and I hit stop I could not remember if I had heard 4 beeps from the tell all machine.  I looked down and the number was 3.93 miles.  I fell just shy of hitting that 4 mile mark on a much harder course.  I was not happy and when I went into the garage to gather all my gear from the trainer ride I had the following thought:

Dad - I am sorry that I could not get to 4 miles today but rest assured that on November 18 I will run as hard as I possibly can to make you proud.

The motivation to get up every morning stopped being about me.  It stopped being about getting to 4 miles in 30 minutes.  It stopped about being a 2x Ironman in the same year.  It was now bigger than anything I could imagine.  I have about 30 days until the cannon goes off in Tempe, Arizona and I now know what will not just get me to the starting line but to the finish line.

The motivation will change between today and that day but in the end when I reflect on Ironman Arizona I will know what the underlying motivation truly was.

I also want to say Thank You to my wife, Karen, for putting up with peak training AGAIN.  I know it is not easy on you or the family but I want you to know I appreciate your ability to allow me to get out every morning to do what I do.  Without you this doesn't happen (and some mornings that is a literal statement.)

What Is Your Motivation?

Published in Train
Thursday, 11 October 2012 15:40

It's A War - Make No Mistake

[caption id="attachment_6598" align="alignright" width="262"]mentaltoughness_ironman_triathlon_war Source: PopScreen[/caption] Ironman is a war and don't be fooled by the joy and smiles at the finish line of the competitors.  They are smiling because they won the biggest civil war anybody will ever be a part of.  Civil War?  Yes, it is a Civil War.  You versus your mind.  You versus your body.  Ironman is not about beating the guy next to you because you will never know how he or she feels but you will certainly know how you feel. Today during my run I thought about the war that will rage within me on November 18th and I wrote a letter/story about it and here it is: ==================== To Those About To Race Ironman: When you pull down your swim cap and place your goggles over your eyes you have just announced that the fight is about to begin. You swim into the masses and some people think that the person to their left and the person to their right is their competition, but their competition is the person within themselves.  There will be questions that you ask yourself and you better have an answer prepared. The cannon goes off and signals the first shot in the fight.  The blood surges and the masses move but again you are not waging war against the competition.  You are about to engage in hand to hand combat with yourself. With each swim stroke comes another body blow and another announcement that your victory lies 140.6 miles away and you will do what it takes to get there.  That first buoy seems to be days away but when you get there you have just planted your flag into the landscape and are ready to take on the next battle in this war. After each buoy know that you have made a major move on the board and are gaining ground on victory.  The exit ramp is nothing more than the first days signal that this battle is over and there are two more to go.  Recoup in transition and prepare mentally for Round 2. As you take off on the bike your goal is to prepare your troops for the last battle.  The battle that will determine who wins the war. Stock your troops with nutrition and liquid.  Prepare them for what is about to come.  You have a long ways to go on the bike and the questions will begin to be asked once the adrenaline from the swim battle are gone.  Your mind will tell your body that it is time to slow down and your body has to react to this and tell the mind that it will not tolerate negative thoughts. Soon thereafter the body will tell the mind that it wants to quit because it hurts too much.  Your mind will have to remind the body that this in not the time to stop.  That the body can stop after victory has been claimed. You pedal and you eat and you drink and it is all second-hand nature because you trained for this for months and maybe years.  Auto-Pilot takes over and you do not recognize your body nor your mind as it just moves like a well oiled machine.  You see the final mile marker and know that your mind and your body have cooperated long enough to bring you to this point.....the dismount line. You are so ecstatic to be here but quickly you must recognize that the uphill battle is about to start.  Once you take that first step you know it is about to get harder and harder.  You move to the beat of your own drum as you are so excited to be off the bike.  Your legs move you forward but then that first hill shows up and you start to feel the lead in your legs. At this point your mind has to reach into its bag of tricks to remind the body that this will be over soon enough and then it can sit back and relax.  You crest the hill and you start moving again and you feel good but then your mind wanders and it realizes how much pain you are in and wants to shut down.  Your body quickly decides that now is not the time to quit.  And there in lies the truth.  Ask yourself if you want to stop or if you want to quit.  By responding with: I Will Not Quit your body continues to move forward. This back and forth will repeat itself over and over but know that with every step you take you are closer to victory.  You are closer to leaving the battleground and entering the area where all the spoils are laid out for the victors. Visualize that treasure and chase it down.  Your body will react favorably and your mind will not know what is going on until the end and by then you will be enjoying the fruits of your labor. Make no mistake about this sport.  The moment you hit the Register Now button you have declared war.  You will battle over and over again but when you cross the finish line you will lay claim as the victor over both your mind and your body.  Celebrate like a king because you are. ====================
I have about 5 1/2 weeks to go until Ironman Arizona and training of the mind is beginning in earnest.  I know that I will push my envelope to the edge of the table and will see just what my body has to give but to do that my mind has to be prepared to absorb the pain.  It has to make the decision that quit is a four letter word and that no matter where I am at the course another swim stroke or pedal push or step brings me closer to my goal of finishing.  Finish what you started.
Published in Race
Tuesday, 11 September 2012 13:51

From Fat To Finish Line The Documentary

From Fat To Finish Line the documentary is a movie that is being put together by a friend of mine and I wanted to share a bit of it with you.
My friend Jen Roe has been blogging about her up and down journey from being overweight to half marathon runner / marathon runner and (so she vows) eventual triathalon competitor. She's someone who transformed her life the good old-fashioned way, through healthy eating and exercise. No fad diets, nothing crazy just learning and continuing to learn about good nutrition and hitting the pavement. Ultimately, her persistence has paid off -  she's lost 100 pounds and have kept the weight off since December 2010.
Now she's embarking on a whole new journey. She's teamed up with 12 other people who've each lost 100 pounds or more, like her and they are running the 200-mile Ragnar Race in January 2013. Because they all have such incredible weight loss stories and because her mission is to motivate others to get moving, she's decided to make a documentary film about the entire journey called, From Fat To Finish Line.  The first part of the film will highlight what it took for these 12 individuals to get the weight off and the second part will document the actual nitty-gritty of the race.
Jen Small, fellow Tri blogger of Miles, Muscles and Mommyhood (whom I just met and did the REV3 70.3 with) is also one of the documentary subjects. As is Ada Wong (who I worked with at Marathon Makeover two years ago), Season 10 Biggest Loser runner-up who has done a few 70.3 Ironman competitions and is training for a full.
Jen is fundraising to help bring this project to light and she's struggling to get to her goal. If you want to watch the trailer and possibly support the film you can check it out here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/AngelaLee/from-fat-to-finish-line
You can also "like" their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/FatToFinish
Take a look at these pictures and you can see how far both Jen's have come.  What a great inspiration these two are to anybody but especially those that believe that they can't do it, and by it I mean lose weight and keep it off.
Thank you for reading and thank you in advance for donating.
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Published in Race
Friday, 06 July 2012 14:07

D-Day: Determination Day

[caption id="attachment_6156" align="alignright" width="360"]determination_inspiration_motivation_triathlon_imaz Source: Nancy Santana Blog[/caption] D-Day is how I'm feeling today.  What I mean by that is I am putting a stake in the ground and taking my training and living my life to the next level starting yesterday but since I already wrote a post yesterday this is becoming D-Day: Determination Day. Yesterday as I was driving home I heard that song that has the word YOLO in it.  Not being the hippest cat on the block (I know you are shocked) I had no clue what YOLO was, but then I listened to all the words and figured out that it stood for You Only Live Once.  At least that is how I'm interpreting it and since this is my blog that is what it is going to stand for. Then after Karen got home she posted on Facebook the song by Eminem to which I trained for Ironman Texas to which was Till I Collapse.  The lyrics are perfect for training in these dog days of summer and in general when training for an event:

'Cause sometimes you just feel tired, Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up. But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation tonot give up And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.

I got fired up and decided to go back and read Maria's post on Becoming The Athlete I Need To Be.  I don't know how many times I have read this post but it gets me fired up every time and with all of these things circling me yesterday I decided that July 5th was D-Day.  Determination Day.  The Day I take the step forward to crushing my IMTX time at IMAZ.

From this point forward my training will take on new meaning.  I am no longer training to complete the distance I am training to race the distance.  There will be bouts of pain and fatigue.  There will be moments of misery and failure.  There will be times of questioning but in the end the product that goes to the starting line on November 18, 2012 is not going to be the same one that went to the starting line of Ironman Texas.  This athlete will have done all that he can to not just beat that 11:59:51 but done everything he can to obliterate it.

My diet is being cleaned up and tracked.  I have never liked tracking my food but it has helped over the past couple of days to see exactly what I am consuming and how it can affect my workouts and mood.  I am currently at 145 pounds and while it is a good weight for me to be at I want to be down to 140 by August 5th and training at 140 pounds since that is what I plan to race at.

All of these items coming together on one day could not have been a coincidence, but even if they were they came at the right time.  The time to make the declaration that this race will be different and I will make sure of that.

Published in Train
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 13:38

Just.....

just_triathlete_definition_enduranceathleteJust is a word I hear quite often when discussing endurance sports with others.  Let's list a few of the things that get the adjective (it is in this case, trust me) JUST:
  • I just ran 3 miles.
  • It was just a half-ironman.
  • It was just a 45 minute swim.
  • I did well but it was just a short race.
The list can go on and on and it is the one word, besides the word like, in the English language that I probably dislike the most. If I were to use the word just to describe how I was just a few short years ago this would have been the description:
  • I am just a divorced man living in New York going to work in the city.
  • I am just a sports fan.
  • I am just a person who cooks to feed himself.
  • I am just.....
I am not going to use creative writing but I do not think these are accurate descriptions. I am a vegetarian triathlete who has not had a drink of alcohol in nearly 1.5 years.  I am a husband and a step-father.  I live in Dallas, Texas and write a blog while also being a partner in a web design and internet marketing company. I am a running coach.  I love sports and movies.  I enjoy reading books and magazines.  I enjoy talking to people.  I enjoy being around other people and hearing their stories and learning from them.  I enjoy having a different opinion so that there can be a conversation.  I am not JUST one thing. I am that and a whole lot more.  When I hear the words just it lights a fire in my belly because we are not just. There were a couple of comments left on this blog that didn't use the word just but they might as well have and they got me fired up this past weekend.  They lit a fire in me that will stay with me for a long time.  Whenever I was getting tired those words would ring in my ears and they would get me going again.....thank you. Next time you are having a conversation listen to what you are saying and what the other person is saying and if they insert the word just into the sentence stop them or yourselves.  You are more than the next few words that are going to come out of your mouth.
Published in Race
Friday, 01 June 2012 17:26

Motivational Friday

We are officially into race season and that means that training is picking up or that the 'A' race is here.  Either way we all go through phases of questioning why we are doing what we do.  Most of us can answer with:  because I love it.  You have found the ability to dig deeper than the person next to you but when the temperatures turn 90* and the humidity is even higher than that or you are on Mile 20 of the marathon you have questions and you are seeking answers to keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will talk to yourself about beating that person in front of you.  You will speak in incoherent language that you want that PR badly.  You will curse your legs and all around you to keep moving forward.  Whatever it takes to get there.....but sometimes that is not enough. Today I received an email from a mentor of mine that spoke volumes.  I stared at it and applied it to my business, to my training, to my parenting.....to everything and I have not been able to wipe away the goosebumps or the smile of what can happen with the right frame of mind.  I want to share it with you so that when you are out there and searching for something to get you fired up, you can remember this:  

"Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you."

~ William James

Find a path and stay on it. Don't quit. Keep walking. You will arrive. You will get tired and winded, but the second wind will always kick in for you when your body, which is bluffing, realizes you are not going to quit.

Choose a path and stay on it.

We place too high a value on comfort. We have lost the old fashioned work ethic. No one has ever written a book (though I have been tempted) called Great Moments in Human Comfort.

But a mind shift can turn it back in an instant. Now you are working for the pleasure of working. And because you didn't quit, you got your second wind and now you pass everyone else because they never even know what a second wind is.

Does it get any better than that?

Happy Racing and Training.  Enjoy your weekend....I know I will
Published in Race
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:27

An Open Letter To Ironman Competitors

This open letter was not written by me but I found it on a Facebook page that I belong to regarding Ironman Texas.  A fellow participant posted it there and it was so well written and struck so close to home that I wanted to repost it here and on the Cook Train Eat Race Facebook Page as well.  There are plenty of friends and strangers racing Ironman Saint George this weekend that this applies to as well as those racing Ironman Texas.  As a matter of fact it is not just for first timers but for those that have been in the sport for some time.  No matter where you are in your Ironman career this is worth the five minutes it takes to read. Enjoy the read:
SUMMARY OF IRONMAN So without further adieu, to those of you heading to Ironman - to the IM-Virgins, the veterans, and everyone in-between...  Right now you've entered the taper. Perhaps you've been at this a few months, perhaps you've been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.  You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take months or more to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that may have been longer than you slept for any given night during college.  You swam in the cold. You rode in the rain. You ran in the heat. You went out when others stayed home. You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.  You have survived the Darwinian progression that is Ironman training, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lays before you...and it will be a fast one.
Time that used to be filled with never-ending training will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind, cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.  It won't be pretty.  It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:  you are ready.  Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.  You are ready.  Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every $#%& week will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.  It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. It is not easy, but you can do it.  You are ready.
You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl against your skin, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for, for so VERY long, is finally here.  You will tear up in your goggles. The helicopter will roar overhead. The splashing will surround you.  You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one.  The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the final shoreline grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up to the edge and head for the ladder. You may have to wait for someone to get off that sucker before you, but you will get your turn.
You’ll find your transition bag—don’t worry about the sea of bags the same color, someone is there to help you--and run off to prepare for the bike (don’t forget the sunscreen, pick a volunteer near the end!). You may not always realize just what is happening but you won't wipe the smile off your face for anything and you'll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll be on the bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman. The site of a seemingly unlimited line of bikes before you and behind you is a site to behold. You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot—there’s shade in the tree cover at times. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right? Your training got you this far—TRUST IT NOW! You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to slow down as you ride for what seems like hours, well it is for hours but you’ve practiced this many times in training. You reach Special Needs, maybe you’ll stop a bit to fuel up, and head out again.   By now it'll be hot and you'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here, not today. You'll grind the false flats to the climbs. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. The occasion cheer will come back to you help you here and there. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter. Grind. Fight. Suffer. Persevere. You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back - you'll see people running. You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're almost back, with only the 26.2 mile run to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.
You'll roll into transition and volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your transition bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change and load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman season – this is the one that counts.  You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a hot Saturday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year-long.  That first mile will feel great. So will the second. By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good. That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You may see leaders passing you on their own way through. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last. You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon….by remote control….blindfolded. Expect things to go wrong and then just deal with it. How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't stop and don't EVER sit down. You'll make it through the first loop. You'll load up on special needs if you need. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the rest, you’ll be back here again anyway. Keep moving and start looking for people you know and cheer for people you don't. You're headed forward, some of them won’t be. They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people heading out faster than you earlier. Share some energy - you'll get it right back.  Run if you can. Walk if you have to. Just keep moving.  The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You'll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. Keep moving. You'll soon only have a mere lap to go. You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you...puts a medal over your head......all you have to do is get there.  You'll start to hear the call of the Waterway. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them, or just wave a bit—they’ll understand what you mean. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, when you left on the run, and now when you've come back. You'll be running along the water for a while for the last time. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a “decent”pace (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible. You'll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it. You'll run.
You'll find your legs. You won't know how, but you will run. You will feel like you’re flying at the end. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps. Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you. Remember to take a moment to make this the finishing memory of a lifetime. They'll call your name. You'll keep running. You won’t feel the pain. The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you. You'll cross the mat. The flash will go off, well actually many flashes were already going off. You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly be capable of nothing more.  Someone will catch you. You'll lean into them. It will suddenly hit you…
You are an Ironman.
** Thank you to Richard at Running Into Life
If that wasn't enough I got this picture from my step-son yesterday:
[caption id="attachment_5836" align="aligncenter" width="269" caption="Inspiration For Sure"]ironman_race_texas_triathlon_motivation[/caption]
Published in Race
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